Stephanie Hurt – Romance Author

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The story that dies slowly…

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I have several books that started out really good, but then the story lost something. Sometimes when we’re working on a manuscript it loses something and maybe even we lose the story for a moment. Usually I can sit it down for a little while and pick it back up later.

Although some stories do come back in slowly, others just don’t make the cut. I went through my files this weekend and eliminated some stories that started out as a ‘great idea’, but when I tried to create the bones of the story, it flopped. It was like ripping off a Band-Aid, I did it quick and took a deep breath. Maybe one day those ideas will flow back in.

In order for a story to live and become something worth publishing, it has to be strong enough to flesh out. If you can’t even create the bone structure of the story, then how will it ever get to the final stages. After all these years of writing, I’ve learned not to dwell of the things that just don’t work. If it’s starting slow, then put it to the side, work on something else, then come back to it. 

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

 

 


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Edit until it hurts…

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Why does editing hurt so bad? For one thing, you’ve put your blood, sweat, and tears into the work, so yes, it will hurt. The other thing is, it’s hard to cut out what you think needs to be there.

But I have some advice, and I had to take this advice myself. In order to make the work the best it can be, then you’ve got to trim the fat. And believe me, it hurts, but once you’ve done it, you’ll see the better product. Sometimes I look at my editor and shake my head. But, once I see it in another light, then I’m better with it.

So, here is what you need to tell yourself, it only makes it better. Yes, you will have to do this multiple times.

Repeat after me… It only makes it better!

Now, let me tell you the worst thing that can happen, and this happened to me. One of my previous editors told me to get rid half a chapter and I had a meltdown, but once I took the plunge, I saw it worked and flowed better. And in the end, that’s our goal, to make our work flow. If it doesn’t, then the reader won’t enjoy the read.

So, edit without mercy and keep the tissues close as you do.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…


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Clearing out; Cleaning up…

Good Saturday afternoon! It’s hard to believe that Christmas has come and gone. With everything this year has brought, we needed that reminder of good friends and family love. Now, on to the clearing out of the uneaten Christmas treats and cleaning up the decorations.

This year I’m clearing out some old decorations that haven’t been used in years. As my hubby says, I’m purging. He’s glad because it makes the Christmas bins lighter for him and our son to haul back up to the attic. But what about our everyday things? Do we need to do some clearing out and cleaning up there too?

What do I mean you might be saying? Well, as I sat around with family and friends during Christmas, I thought about all of the things that we have that are not even used. There are so many what not’s just lying around, collecting dust. So, I’ve decided to clear some out and make room for some minimalism.

And what about our writing. Should we go through our works and clean out some unnecessary words? It’s so hard sometimes to get just 50k words down, but to think about clearing some of those out just makes a writer’s head hurt. I’m not talking about the meat of the story or the descriptions that help to carry the reader into another time or place. I’m talking about the unnecessary filler words. Or as I like to call them, fluff.

Now, all writers have a tendancy to use too many fluff words. It’s those words that add some extra words to the count. They don’t need to be there to make the story work, but they are just there to up the word count. Why not just clean them up, clear them out, and let the manuscript breathe without all of that added weight.

You will be surprised at how much better it sounds once you get rid of the fluff. I’ve done some fluff removing lately and the wording actually zips along without hinderance.

As always, Good writing and May God Bless You…

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Outlining the story easier…

Good Tuesday morning! With tax season in full swing and a couple of manuscripts on deadline, I’ve been a little behind on my posts. But I found something that has helped me a lot.

So, as most of you know, I use Scrivener to get my manuscript typed up and ready to go. But, I had never taken the time to look into the outline part of the program. I’ve always typed my outline in Word or wrote it longhand, which was alright, but I had to keep it beside me, sometimes losing my place while going back and forth.

But now that I’ve taken the time to figure it out, I don’t know how I worked without it. In the program, you can have the outline points for each chapter on the same page that you’re typing on. It’s amazing. And you can also scroll the outline points back or forward while working, which helps you to keep on focus. This concept has made a huge difference in my writing.

If you haven’t started using Scrivener for your writing, then I suggest you give it a try. It’s great and keeps you on track. Not to mention your character bios are always at your fingertips and places. But now with the outline set up, wow!

As always good writing and May God Bless You…


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Three cups & a book…

Good Thursday morning! I do hope you’re all well…

This morning I’m working on the outline for the 2nd book in the Wishful Harbor Series. It’s exciting when you start a new manuscript, but it’s scary too! As a writer, you want to pull the reader in with the first paragraph, but what if you don’t? Publishing your work is scary, but satisfying when you see the sales and responses from readers.

As I outline, I have a bad habit of writing instead of outlining. Yep, some of my outlining will be used in the actual book because I get carried away, but that’s fine. One thing that helps is I use Scrivener, so I can set up my chapters and copy/paste the part I love that will go in the book. Yep, another win for Scrivener.

But, along with writing, I have to grab another cup of coffee to keep me going. So, I’d best get back to finishing this outline and getting another cup of coffee.

So, great writing and May God Bless You…


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Seeing it clearly…

blurry

Good morning! Hope all is well…

Have you ever looked at your work in process and your mind was more like the picture above? I’ve done this so much that sometimes I have to step away. But what can we do as writers to clear up the fog in our brain?

This weekend I spent most of the time laying around, trying to get over the cold that took over my body on Thursday. I’d planned on doing a major catch up on word counts, but every time I looked at my laptop, I groaned. My head was fuzzy, which is understandable with a cold, but the fuzziness I’m talking about is story line fuzzy…

As you know from my many posts, I try to outline all of my manuscripts, but even then, fuzziness can take over. Just this past week I had one of those, ‘where was I headed with this part of the story’ moments. I went back and forth between my outline and my manuscript, making notes and trying to regain the momentum. The best thing I did was to step back, take a breath, then go back to it.

Ok, so sometimes with deadlines we can’t do that, but I’m not talking about stepping back a week or more, just a couple of hours. Maybe take a long walk, going over the story in your head. And yes, the walk will help clear your head of the fuzzies. I’ve worked out more story problems while putting my tennis shoes on and walking up the road. Amazing how much it helps. If it is raining, then you can watch a movie, lay back and listen to music, or even plot out another story.

But what I’m getting at is when the story gets too much to handle, step back, clear your head and begin again. It helps. I actually scraped a whole manuscript doing this. Yes, it scared me to death, but I did it and was glad I did when I started over. For some reason, we go down a rabbit hole that there’s no way out of, and that can lead to a deeper hole, LOL!

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

Highlander’s Bride is coming soon… Keep watching for the cover reveal!


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Picking the tree…

My son took me to the local Christmas tree farm Thursday. It was cold, but we had a long walk to the tall trees. We actually had an amazing time, laughing as we went from tree to tree, trying to find the perfect Hurt family tree.

As we walked among the trees, looking at aspects of the trees, it reminded me of editing a book. When we look at our manuscript, it’s with anxious eyes. We search for the holes in the story, like the holes in the tree that ornaments and lights can’t hide.

Then, of course, we look for the best branches to hold our ornaments. Same way with editing our story. We have to make sure that it’s a strong story and doesn’t fall off the edge of interesting. That’s a hard one, because we’re close to the story and love it. My editor assistant always finds these easily.

Oh, and don’t forget the straight stump! If you get home with a curved stump, well, it’s a disaster. If your manuscript doesn’t get the story straight, if it curves away from the story line, you’ll lose the reader.

So, today I’ll finish decorating my tree and yes, I’ll post many pictures. This is my favorite time of year, so my house looks like it threw up Christmas (my son’s words, not mine). I love my Santas, Snowmen, Angels, and Christmas village. So, I deck the halls!

As always, Great writing and May God Bless You…

Happy Saturday!

 


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At Series End…

Good morning! Hope all is well…

I’m working on the last of the Five Oaks Series and feel a bit out of sorts. Not sure if it’s a feeling of being glad it’s almost at an end or sad about it. When you pour your heart into a series and the characters are part of your daily life for over a year, it’s hard to say goodbye.

Then again, as a writer, I’m ready to begin the new series and stand-alone manuscripts that are outlined and ready to come alive. With the plan of putting this series to bed by the end of this year, it’s played with my mind.

How do you feel as you get to the end of your series? Do you start to mourn the end or relish in the thought of it?

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…


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5 steps to The Clear Picture…

blurry

Have you ever looked at your work in progress and seen this? For many writers this is where the lines blur and you want to hit your head on something because you can’t seem to clear them up. This is a common problem for writers, but there’s help, really, this too can be pushed aside.

Lately I’ve been working really hard on a surprise manuscript, but also on Chase. Of course that means that the two stories can get blurred together at times. In order to get from one manuscript to the other I have to clear my head. It’s the only way or I’ll have to make sure I don’t get my characters mixed up.

Here are a couple of steps I take to clear the picture:

1: Step away! When the blurs take over, then take a moment to step away. Sometimes I have to go for a walk or maybe even do housework, but I have to step away from the manuscript to get it cleared up.

2: When the lines blur, pick up a book. Amazingly enough this can help clear up the blurred lines. Read something to get your mind occupied.

3: If your current manuscript becomes overwhelming, try working on another one for a couple of hours. Recently I stepped away from a manuscript for several days and it helped. When I went back to it everything seemed clear.

4: What about those scenes that you just can’t seem to get right? Try moving forward with the manuscript and then go back to the glitchy scene. Believe me, sometimes this works really well. Once I did this and realized the reason the scene wouldn’t get straight was because it didn’t need to be there to begin with.

5: For the final way to clear the picture, well, this one can be tricky, no not really. Go grab some caffeine. If hot tea is your thing, then grab that, or maybe a coffee. It stimulates your thought process.

Hope that this helps you. This is just a couple of things that I do when I get stumped.

As always, great writing and May God Bless You…


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If you cut it off, it will grow back, Who knew!

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You may be wondering what I’m talking about. Today’s post is two fold. Since I’m on a low calorie diet, that means I’m eating salads, salads, and more salads. That means I’m buying lettuce constantly. A couple of weeks ago as I scanned down the many thousands of posts on Facebook I ran into an article about regrowing lettuce. Well since I’m eating so much lettuce (feeling somewhat like a rabbit) I decided to read the article instead of passing it by.

It was talking about the kind of lettuce that I eat, which is Romaine. All you do is cut the hard end off which you can’t eat anyway and put it in a cup of water. Now I have letter regrowing in my cups. Yes I did a happy dance on my patio the other evening when I saw my little lettuce sprouts reaching up to the sky. Of course my hubby and son laughed at me and they’ve played some really mean tricks on me regarding my little baby lettuce sprouts. Who knew you could grow lettuce from your cut off stalks, well maybe some of your knew, but I didn’t.

As for the 2nd meaning, I’m talking about your manuscript. I’ve been working on Chase, the 3rd book in the Five Oaks Ranch series and something just didn’t feel right about one of the scenes. I read it and reread it until my eyes crossed. Then I made the decision to cut the whole scene and start over. Guess what? It worked! Once I decided to delete the whole scene that wasn’t sitting right with me, I felt better.

Then as I started back over with this section of the book it took on another feel altogether and actually led into another scene I hadn’t even thought of. So, it helped to cut it off and let it regrow and then it multiplied! Now that’s the kind of cutting off I like.

So, how’s your writing going? I hope it’s going well. Also, have any of you ever replanted something in order for it to regrow and multiply. I’d love to hear about it.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You!

P.S. Just a little exciting news, I’m featured this week in Southern Writers Mic Nite! Here’s a link to said article:  http://www.southernwritersonline.com/mic-nite.html

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/7467877@N07/4970032832″>Novelty Gene Autry Barlow</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;