Amanda Kenney's Notebook This is where my creations and I hang out.

Happy Thanksgiving!

November 27

Happy Thanksgiving, faithful readers!  I hope you enjoy a bountiful Thanksgiving with family and friends!

Adverbs: Use Wisely

October 17

You may notice that this week’s quotation is: “The road to hell is paved with adverbs.”  I like using adverbs like a machine gun: I just spray-fire them all over the page.  But they’re really more like sniper rifles: one quick, powerful shot should suffice.  I would suggest one or two a page at most.  Instead of saying, ‘he walked confidently’, say ‘he strode’ or ‘he strolled’ or ‘he sauntered’.  This gives an even clearer picture of the character’s attitude and personality, and the mood of the action.  So save those adverbs for when you really need them.

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Happy Birthday

October 13

Once again, I have the pleasure of wishing my favorite characters, Benjamin Gold, a happy birthday.  I’ve had the pleasure of writing his story for four happy years now.  Hopefully, by his next birthday, the book will be done.  But we’ll see how that goes.

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October 7 (Tuesday)

October 7

I know it’s been quite a long time since I posted anything; things here at college are crazy.  But just recently I started going to a Creative Writer’s Group here on campus, and now that I’ve experienced one, I can say that I highly recommend it.  If you can find one, join it.  If you can’t find one, make one.  It’s incredibly helpful to have other writers’ insights into your work.  They can find ways for you get over blocks in your writing, give advice, and help you to see your writing with a fresh perspective.  And even if you don’t bring anything in to read, you’ll be inspired and excited by what others bring in.  Altogether, it’s great to be supported by a community of people that are as passionate about writing as you are.

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Happy Birthday

August 16

Happy birthday to me!  I’m officially eighteen.  And August is the anniversary of my current manuscript, Season of Betrayal.  Happy fourth birthday, book!

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Shut Up To Speak

July 21

Narration is a delicate balance of telling the story and letting the story tell itself.  Whenever possible, let the story speak for itself.  If what your character is thinking, feeling, or saying is not clear enough, you’re doing it wrong.  If it is, then you are just being redundant.  Let the characters say what they mean and mean what they say without you having to interrupt and explain it to the reader.  This is hard work, and where the real skill of the writer is revealed.  (Or the perseverance, which is often the same thing.)  You’ll say so much more if you shut up.

Once Upon A Time…

April 25

It goes without saying that the beginning of your book is the most important part as far as catching the attention of the reader is concerned.  Different writers have different styles and methods, and some genres are just better suited for a particular opening than others are.  For instance, a fantasy fairy-tale might do well with the classic ‘once upon a time…’, but that probably wouldn’t fit as well for a sci-fi novel.  However you decide to open your story, the beginning should be original, compelling, and establish a firm foundation for the rest of the story to build on.  Believe me, I’m learning the hard way that you’ve got to set up the world from the get-go or the whole structure of the story is going to suffer.

However, on that note, it’s important not to fall into the dangerous extreme: telling-not-showing, also known as info-dumping.  Basically, instead of cleverly inserting information through dialogue and short, simple descriptions, the writer comes right out and bluntly dumps all the information into the reader’s lap in large chunks.  This is just clumsy and awkward, and suddenly inserts the author’s voice into the story, turning it from something that is happening into a story that is being told; from real to made-up.  A writer should weave characters, plot, theme, setting, narrative, dialogue, description, and action together seamlessly and skillfully.

And that’s not just my opinion, but the opinion of most, if not all, publishing companies.  I currently have an internship with a publishing company evaluating submissions and determining whether or not they’re ready to be accepted.  If there’s one thing publishing companies will not forgive or overlook, it’s telling-not-showing.  The publishing company I work for rejects outright any manuscript that has too much telling.  So to appeal to readers and publishing companies alike, set your book on the right track by showing and not telling.

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Happy Easter!

April 20

“On the third day the friends of Christ coming at day-break to the place found the grave empty and the stone rolled away.  In varying ways they realized the new wonder; but even they hardly realized that the world had died in the night.  What they were looking at was the first day of a new creation, with a new heaven and a new earth; and in a semblance of the gardener God walked again in the garden, in the cool not of the evening but the dawn.”  ~G.K. Chesterton, ‘The Everlasting Man’

Enjoy your Easter!

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April 3 (Thursday)

April 3

Well, I realized that it was April and I hadn’t being keeping you guys up-to-date at all.  And April is special because I’m doing Camp NaNoWriMo!!  You remember in November I wrote 50,000 words in 15 days?  This is like that, only different.  Instead of 50,000 words, you get to set your own word goal.  I decided on 25,000- nice and easy.  And it has been great so far; writing a thousand words a day is really easy.  So I’m writing yet another sequel that’s totally different from the other one I write back in November, although it’s supposed to be happening during the same time period.  Hopefully this version will more exciting than the other one.  There’s just one little problem.

I don’t like it.  Now, I know that NaNo is all about quantity and not quality, and that’s what the editing months are for, but, honestly, it’s painful.  Only two days into it and I am dissatisfied with the measly two chapters I’ve written.  The characters aren’t being themselves (a problem I encountered last time and eventually defeated) and I think perhaps my world isn’t developed enough (I only designed it two days in advance- not enough time).

Last night I fell into my little writer’s Pit of Despair and wondered if I’d ever be happy with any sequel- I’ve written about three different versions now and don’t really like any of them.  So now I’m wondering if I should just press forward and hope it gets better, or abandon it now and try an entirely new idea.  I’ve got until this afternoon to decide.  Either way, I’m writing a thousand words today.  It’s just a question of what.

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March 14 (Friday)

March 14

I realized I hadn’t posted in awhile, and since I have all these thoughts swirling around in my head I’d like to share, I reckon now’s a good a time as any.

What?  No, of course I’m not just procrastinating!  Why would you think that?

Yeah…anyway… I did a totally fresh rewrite on chapters thirteen and fourteen, and now I’m working on chapter fifteen, which is even more totally fresh.  Dad was really pleased with chapter thirteen, and I hope the rest of this revision comes out as successfully.  Interestingly, it looks as though chapter fifteen is going to have to be split into two separate chapters (it’s already twenty pages long), which means I’ll have to join two other chapters together in order to maintain a total of seventy-seven chapters.  See, by decree of my evil twin, the final draft of the book has to have exactly seventy-seven chapters, not including prologue and epilogue.  (It’s a crazy writer thing; don’t try to understand it.  Or is it just a crazy Amanda thing?  Same difference, I guess.)

Fortunately, I think I’ll be in need of an extra chapter, because I’m anticipating some reduction in the climax.  Certain events need to be merged together, resulting in fewer chapters; some secondary plot lines are going to be dropped, resulting in some chapters becoming null and void altogether.  Of course, the ending is morphing all the time, so how can I really know one way or the other?

Speaking of which, I’ve tried to rewrite the last chapter a couple of times, but I couldn’t really finish it because I needed a special design for a medallion and I just couldn’t come up with one.  The design had to reflect the characters and somehow be meaningful for the whole story.  Then, just this last Tuesday, something about the warm weather inspired me and spawned a whole new plot device.  I invented a national holiday called Helm Hyelt, closely related to the main character, came up with a symbol for it, and- ta-dah!  Gap filled!  It may morph yet, but for now I’m satisfied.

And now, back to chapter fifteen.

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