Nancy's Books

Sunday, May 21, 2017

I’ve struggled with this first draft, writing and rewriting the ending, far longer than expected. Each version is a learning experience in which Muse and Inner Critic debate what works and what doesn’t, so I don’t consider the rewrites a waste of time or energy. Each time I string words together, the experience becomes a building block for success. The more I write, the stronger my writing becomes. I’ll take bits and pieces from each version and weave together, tear apart, reweave until Muse and Inner Critic are both happy with the results. Applying what I learn about writing one book will carry over to improved writing on my next project. Writing stronger with stronger writing hones skills (Muse speaking here).

Endings need to provide closure and reflect a truth about life. So far, I haven’t been able to create a humorous ending, according to Inner Critic. A warm feeling of contentment doesn’t seem to work for this story, either. I’m leaning toward a cliffhanger, in which the reader defines the ending. Some readers will think one way; others with “see” it another way. It’s open to interpretation. I want to take the reader to a place they didn’t expect to go as they finish the book. That makes the reading journey more exciting, rewarding, and fun. But how do I do that? By focusing on cliffhanger endings only and writing a number of them. By letting Muse direct me with an imagination for the delightful, suspenseful, or strange. By letting Inner Critic opt for memorable and noteworthy.
I don’t want to settle for an acceptable ending. The ending is my last contact with the readers so it can’t be ho-hum.
As I played with different ending variations, I thought about a predictable ending, and from that, ventured the opposite direction (Way to go, Muse!). An unpredictable turn of events that allows the reader to determine what will happen next is my ending of choice for this book. Is this my final decision? Probably not. As I revise the manuscript, any portion is susceptible to change. (Inner Critic, are you back again?)
Surprise the reader. That’s the key to a successful ending. Easier said (Muse) than done (Inner Critic).
My motto: Breathe. Just breathe.
Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:

Narrative Magazine. The Spring Contest is open to all fiction and nonfiction writers. They are looking for short shorts, short stories, essays, memoirs, photo essays, graphic stories, all forms of literary nonfiction, and excerpts from longer works of both fiction and nonfiction. First Prize is $2,500, Second Prize is $1,000, Third Prize is $500, and up to ten finalists will receive $100 each. All entries will be considered for publication. Click here for more information. 


Nancy Kelly Allen has written 40+ children’s books and a cookbook, SPIRIT OF KENTUCKY: BOURBON COOKBOOK. Check out her blog at www.nancykellyallen.com

Sunday, May 7, 2017

First Draft, part 3

            With pen in hand, I wrote the first draft of my latest manuscript on paper. Sometimes I think better, and Muse is more cooperative, if I write in longhand, rather than type on a keyboard. The feel of the pen making long strokes across the lines and the sensation of shaping each letter takes me back to my youth when I wrote everything by this method. What better way to reconnect with childhood than experience a common activity that all children understand; after all, our stories are about connecting with the inner child. 

            My sweet Muse is an inspirational goddess, pure creative karma. That busybody loves everything I write, even if it’s hogwash. I feel so blessed having Muse for a number of reasons:

1.      Ideas offer creative energy. Ideas feed upon ideas, creating notions and concepts that expand story plot and offer numerous routes to explore.

2.    Ideas knock down writer’s block.

3.      Ideas discourage procrastination.

4.      An I-can-write-this attitude empowers and carries me from the beginning to The end.

            When I finished writing the first draft, I began keying it into the computer. By the time I wrote the third paragraph, Inner Critic called out, You call that publishable?

            I wrote a few more sentences, read through them, and made changes as I referred to the written draft.

            See? Isn’t that better? the perfectionist chirped.

            Yes, Inner Critic improved the manuscript. Each time it commented, I asked myself, What can I do to make this better? The method worked and the Inner Critic quietened. I still have a long journey to travel with the story, and I’m fine-tuning the ending. (Thanks, Inner Critic!)

            Inner Critic and Muse play tug-of-war with all my writing. I need the creativity and the critical judgment. Both are a writer’s best friends. Embrace them. 

Call for Submissions for Young Writers will resume in September.
 
Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Step Outside Your Comfort Zone
101 Stories of Trying New Things, Overcoming Fears, and Broadening Your World

We all have a tendency to get in a rut. We start to say no to new things, and that can only lead to a narrower and narrower life. When we try new things, we end up feeling energized and pleased with ourselves. There is tremendous power in saying "yes" to new things, new places, and new experiences. It makes you feel more dynamic, younger, and more of a participant in the world. You're not distancing yourself from change any more. Step outside your comfort zone!

Tell us your own stories about stepping outside your comfort zone and how that changed your life.

Submission guidelines at

http://www.chickensoup.com/story-submissions/story-guidelines



Nancy Kelly Allen has written 40+ children’s books and a cookbook, SPIRIT OF KENTUCKY: BOURBON COOKBOOK.