Wednesday, October 5, 2016

IWSG: Wednesday, October 5, 2016 ~ How Do I Know When My Story Is Ready?






It's the first Wednesday 
of the month ~ 
the day when members of the
Insecure Writer's Support Group
share their writing struggles
and offer their encouragement
and support to other members.









To visit the IWSG website, click here.

To become a member of the IWSG, click here.

Our wonderful co-hosts who are stepping up to help IWSG founder Alex J. Cavanaugh are:
Beverly Stowe McClure , Megan MorganViola FuryMadeline Mora-Summonte, Angela Wooldridgeand Susan Gourley.

I hope you have a chance to visit them and thank them for co-hosting.
I'm sure they would appreciate an encouraging comment!
~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~


Wow, this IWSG Day arrived quickly!
It finds me happily writing in Victoria.

Certainly Victoria has been the perfect place to draft
a fantasy story for the 2016 IWSG Anthology Contest,
and now I'm working to bring that draft to its final ready state. 



The Premier's Rose Garden
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved



Victoria often feels otherworldly to me.
The ubiquitous presence of
water and sky, flowers and art,
and culture and history enchants me.
It's easier to slip into the fantastic here.



Wawadiťła, The Mungo Martin House
Thunderbird Park
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved



So, I took the plunge,
and I'm writing fantasy for the first time in my life.
My tiny suite in Helm's Inn is a perfect place to work.



My Writing Space
Helm's Inn
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved


And October's question for IWSG members is certainly timely:
When do you know your story is ready?

I'm sure I'm not the only IWSG member
working on an entry for the IWSG anthology contest!
And I'm sure I'm not the only member
whose story is definitely NOT ready!

After writing the first draft,
I found myself in a position
I've never experienced before.

Instead of having thousands of words over the total allowed,
I was hundreds of words short of the minimum.
I think that's the result of striving to write succinct blog posts.

Good thing too, because my plot still needs serious work!



Otherworldly Bridge
Johnson Street Bridge
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved



It's strange to be immersed in a dreamlike city
plotting fantasy and trying to make the fantastic seem real.



Surreal Water
with Seagull and Kelp
Ogden Point Breakwater
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved


So how do I know when my story is ready?
It's a simple question, but a difficult one to answer.
There are certain writing elements that guide me when I write fiction.

First, as a writer, I am inspired by setting,
and most stories begin for me with a concrete place.

I think who you are is absolutely a result of where you are.
I think place shapes you and the path you take in life,
so my characters must be grounded in place.

For me, the setting must ring true.

Don't ask me to define that!
It's a feeling of authenticity that my heart hears.


Setting, an Inspiration for Story
Straight of Juan de Fuca
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved



Second, as a writer, I strive to create well-developed characters. 
Major or minor, a character has to be rounded,
not flat or stereotypical.

Again, my story is ready when I sense that the characters ring true.
There can't be any discordant vibrations.


Character, Defined by Place and Well-Developed
The Legislative Building
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved



Third, the plot has to be strong and plausible.
Now this is a challenge for me,
because I can get tangled in setting and character.

Relief was my first reaction when learning
I had more words to work with in the anthology contest.
On rereading my first draft,
I realized that fantasy plot of mine needed more conflict ~
Not to mention more clearly-defined motivation
to drive that conflict and improve its plausibility.

So that's where I'm putting those extra words to work.


Plot:  Men in suits with wires in their ears
always up the tension and potential for conflict.
The Official Start to the Royal Tour
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved



If I can nail place, character, and plot to my satisfaction,
then I'm into the fun part of getting my story ready:
playing with language!

I'm on a hunt for precise nouns and strong verbs.
I'm rooting out cliches and extra adjectives.
I'm trying to limit alliteration.
I'm slaying the passive voice wherever possible.
I'm building variety with sentence structure.
I'm racking my brain for fresh and original,
even when I despair of finding anything new.
I'm ruthlessly slashing unnecessary words.
I'm listening for dialogue that sounds authentic.
And always I'm hearing the words in my mind,
checking for rhythm and flow.


Language:  Reaching for Perfection and Flow
 “Red Dragon” by Ping Tsing at the corner of Pandora and Government streets.
Chinatown
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved



Next I check for conventions:
spelling, punctuation, grammar, and useage.
I may not catch everything, 
and I'll deliberately break the rules if it suits my purpose;
but generally I am perfection-driven.

If I've done the best I can do with setting, character,
plot, language, and conventions, then I'll sketch an outline
to make sure my piece is organized and connected with transitions.

Then finally I ask myself, 
"Does this sound like me?  Is this my unique voice?"

If this rings true, then my story is ready!


Voice:  Unique and Authentic
This could only be Victoria
with its inner harbour, dancing water taxis, and imposing Coho.
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved



No wonder it takes me a long time to write! ~ LOL

How do I know my story is really ready?
When the deadline is about to cut my feet out from under me!
It's hell being a perfectionist!

Are you entering the 2016 IWSG Anthology Contest?
Is your story ready?
I can't wait to learn how you know a story is done!

Happy writing in October!  


Lovely, Dreamlike Victoria
Fisherman's Wharf
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved




42 comments:

  1. I would be inspired there! You took some amazing photos.
    Lucky for you - we reduced the word count for the anthology! So now you don't need to fluff it up with more words.

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    1. Never fluff! Never fluff! LOL By the time I've strengthened my plot, I'll probably be back to over the max and my usual cutting, Alex! Thanks for your kind words about my photos. I do love to play with my camera and computer. Have a great IWSG Day!

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  2. I wish I had the imagination to write fiction! Good luck with your story in the contest. (And you KNOW how much I enjoyed seeing these photos of Victoria!)

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    1. I do love Victoria, Debra! I've fallen under its spell. Thanks for the well wishes for my story. It is a stretch for me, because I rarely write fiction. Win or lose, it's been fun! Have a good one!

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  3. Well you certainly have a lot of cool places from which to derive your inspiration. I'm jealous. Sounds like your anthology submission is well on its way. I haven't even started mine yet.

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    1. Thanks, Ken! This is an inspiring city, even if the actual setting for my story is elsewhere. Good luck on your story once you get going! Have a great IWSG Day!

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  4. The place can play a big part indeed. Sounds like you are well on your way to getting your entry done. I haven't even started one yet lol

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    1. What?! I thought you had next year's submission almost done! LOL I'm getting there with my entry. Have a great day at your bay!

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  5. I love that the anthology is encouraging you to try a new genre. Stretching is good! I'm rooting for you. (I know what you mean about the words too. I had to add about 1200 on my entry for the last anthology. It was all good stuff though.)

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    1. Thanks for the encouragement, Crystal! I'm having fun with this writing stretch. Most of the writing I've done in my life has been non-fiction ~ although decades ago I managed to get a rare short story of mine published in a literary journal in Canada. Unfortunately that high was followed literally by 30+ years of having to train for a second demanding career and many long, long days of work. Now I can play, and I am a happy writer! Have a good one!

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  6. I really love Victoria! And Best of luck with your fantasy story. I participated with the last one--the speculative fiction--and it's been a great experience. Fantasy is just a little too out of my comfort zone. I really hope you end up with one you are happy with!

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    1. I remember your story, Hart! I was in Honolulu when I read it, and there were a lot of homeless people on the streets near Waikiki. It was chilling to think of big pharma using them to test drugs. I've lived long enough to not be surprised by how money and power can drive certain individuals and corporations to unthinkable things. I was delighted to hear that you know the lovely city of Victoria! Happy IWSG Day!

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  7. My older sister and brother were born in Victoria while our dad was stationed there after the war. It's a beautiful city. I love it. Have you gone out to Butchart Gardens? Were you there while the Royal Family was in town?

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    1. Hi, Joylene! I've discovered some Victoria lovers through this post. That's an unexpected and fun bonus. What a wonderful place for your dad to get stationed. My dad landed in Greenwood, Nova Scotia; but that was great in its own way. Yes, I was there to watch the Royals arrive and depart. I hope to do a post about that in the not too distant future. It was a great experience and well worth waiting in line! I've been to the Butchart gardens several times, including just a week ago. Terry first took me there on our honeymoon in 1984, and it is magical! Happy IWSG Day!

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  8. Hi! Say your comment on my blog and decided to check you out. Your post was lovely and you truly have the heart and grit of a writer. Definitely plan to visit you again.

    It's a feeling of authenticity that my heart hears. - Favorite from this post.

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    1. Thanks for your kind and encouraging words, Sheena-kay! I enjoyed visiting your blog last night. I'll be back there too! Have an enjoyable IWSG Day!

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  9. Some great pics and what a wonderful place to be writing. Good luck with the contest. Knowing when a story is finished is hard isn't it? I actually enjoy the editing process so sometimes it's hard to let go.

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    1. Hi, Suzanne! It's funny how some writers love editing and others don't. And you're right, it's hard to know when a story is done. To me, a draft is like a snapped photo; the real artistry comes with the rewriting/editing of a draft, and the playing/editing with a photo ~ both raw materials to be massaged to bring out the best. And it is way too much fun! I hope you've had a great IWSG Day!

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  10. Superb photos, great words, a Royal visit, your fab photos of them there, and now a fantasy plot.You can do it, and when is it ready? When you read your last page and feel that the questions are answered? It seems to be the end? or you have those numbers of words allocated. You can do it, ( yes, I checked and wrote that twice, on purpose)!!! and what a beautiful view from your desk there.

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    1. You're just the best, Jean! I appreciate your enthusiastic support. I'm usually pretty much done with a piece of writing (any writing, not just fiction) when I've worked through my questions. If the final draft is above the maximum word number, then I still must cut. Blogging has been a great taskmaster, let me tell you! I'm glad that you have enjoyed my photos ~ You can probably tell that photography is a passion of mine. Have a great day and hugs to you and Hugh!

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    2. Thanks heaps, here we are in Springtime, cold as???????( 7 letters, starts with C) Gale winds, lots of rain, and we lit the fire!!! Do you have friends in Florida, or Carolina? anywhere near Matthew? I am hoping mine are all going to be safe. Thanks for the hugs, I will pass one onto Hugh too, he will appreciate it , specially his name right there.

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    3. You have my sympathy, Jean! I do worry about the people in the path of Matthew. I have blogging friends up and down the eastern seaboard, so I'm hoping they will be okay. I have compassion for all the people and living things in this storm's path.

      I read a scary article about subduction earthquakes yesterday. The western coast of the US and Canada are at risk. The article said that such a massive earthquake is pretty much 0% survivable along the coast, the one risk in nature like that.

      Fortunately people can survive a hurricane, if they take the warnings seriously. That's the big risk ~ People who want to ride it out or can't get out. Terry and his brother used to go down Florida whenever a hurricane threatened where their elderly mother lived. Such good men!

      Sending you and Hugh more hugs and wishes that you stay warm and dry!

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  11. That is the perfect writing spot. I have a few I like to chose from in my house. One is a big, overstuffed leather chair. The other is my dining room table overlooking the front yard. Each gives a great view to the outside world :)

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    1. I'm sitting in that spot right now, Elsie. In a small hotel suite you don't have much scope for variety ~ LOL At least I don't have to resort to putting my computer on the bathroom sink, like I have to in Honolulu when Terry is sleeping (which he is doing right now). Thanks for visiting! Happy IWSG Day to you!

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  12. Replies
    1. Thanks, Anna! I'm off and running with my short story for the fantasy contest for sure! I do a lot of walking in this lovely city which is great for thinking writing things through. Have a great rest of your day!

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  13. Beautiful photos, Louise! I love the art, too! Here in Quebec we call seagulls "McDonald's birds" (les oiseaux McDo in French) because you can find them, very often, flying and hovering around McDonald's restaurants. They love the fries. LOL! :) I also love your writing spot!

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    1. LOL, Linda! I had seagulls after my fries today at a little waterside restaurant today. The kitchen of Red Fish Blue Fish is an old container, and customers eat on stools at long slabs of log on the wharf ~ great food, great fun! I think of you every time I pass a cool shop window, and I've been snapping photos. I hope to get a blog post up with the pictures in the somewhat near future. You would fall in love with this place, I am sure of it! There is art everywhere. Have a wonderful evening ~ well it's probably getting close to bedtime in Montreal ~ Have a wonderful Thursday, my special Montreal friend! XOXOX!

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  14. Gotta love those deadlines. And I love the setting you are able to write in. Very inspiring! Best wishes for finishing your story before that deadline looms.

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    1. Thanks, Lynda! That story will get finished before I leave Victoria! I'm glad this is my third trip to Victoria, because I've been all over the city and I don't mind holing up and writing some of the time. There are none of the usual distractions that plague me at home. Have a good one!

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  15. I love all your setting photos. I love setting as well and with a vision of setting in my head, I can write. I use audio to help with setting too, you should try it if you haven't. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Thanks, Gwen! I had great fun coming up with the photos for this post! My fantasy is actually set in another location, but I have oodles of photos for that setting. But that place is so prosaic; the dreamlike feel of this city sure helps me slip into the unreal. I sometimes use music to help with the emotions in my writing, but I hadn't thought of audio from a particular place. What an awesome idea! Thanks for visiting ~ have a great day!

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  16. Awesome post! And thank you for all those gorgeous pics of Victoria - my uncle lives there, these bring back cool memories :)

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    1. Thanks, Angela! I'm finding all these people who have Victoria connections, like you! Victoria is a lovely city. Your uncle is a lucky man! I can't manage to do a post without photos ~ I'm so visually oriented. So thanks for your kind words! Have a good one!

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  17. Love the photos!! I'm jealous you get to write in such an inspiring place. Deadlines do help a story to be ready. Fantasy is such a wonderful genre.

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    1. Hi, Jennifer! Thanks for your kind words about my photos ~ Photography is my passion, even though I just have a point and shoot. I'm enjoying the novelty of writing in a new genre; fantasy is fun! Happy writing!

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  18. What lovely photos! I've never been to Victoria. Some day...

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    1. Thanks, Diane! I hope you do get to Victoria. It's a beautiful place! I'm still sitting in awe of all you have done in September!

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  19. What lovely pictures. Thanks for sharing them. I hope you saw that the word count was changed. Your story can be between 3,000 and 6,000 words.

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    1. Thanks, Susan! By the time I fix my plot holes, I'll probably be cutting to make it under the 6,000 word count. And thanks for the kind words about my photos. I had such fun creating them! Take care!

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  20. Wonderful post and absolutely amazing pictures. I'm writing a story for that anthology too, so we're in the same boat. Or rather, our boats are very close to each other, rocking on the same waves. Hello from Vancouver.

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  21. Your writing space is super, I am joining you there ;) Love the pictures! I am hoping to write a story for the anthology too, but as of now I'm revising a manuscript and plotting another one.

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Thank you for your comments! I appreciate the time and energy you put into making them very much.