Posted by: lizricewrites | May 18, 2016

Your Characters Are Plotting

Most writers, and many books on the craft of writing, state that writing a story starts with character. Before you have a plot you need to have character because their needs and wants dictate what the story is about.

I’ve found a writing craft book that helps me see the characters and their internal and external conflicts. And it uses movies!!! There are templates to fill in, answer questions, about your characters. I think that while you’re filling out the templates, one for each important character in your novel,. . .those characters are Plotting = showing you the plot!

The book is BREAK INTO FICTION by Mary Buckham and Dianna Love.

Break Into Fiction cover

A GREAT feature is that the answers to templates are filled in after each chapter – based on the characters and plots in these movies. . .


WRITING PROMPT – taken from a character template in the book BREAK INTO FICTION

~~ How are you going to create [show] reader sympathy for the character in the opening of your story? ~~

Until the next time, I’ll be watching those movies and checking the answers.




Posted by: lizricewrites | May 11, 2016

Breakfast [ or Lunch ] with an Author

I love studying authors. Sometimes studying and dissecting their books is a writing workshop in itself! With this in mind, I’ve started to study Jack Gantos this week. I’m reading DEAD END IN NORVELT and then I’ll read the sequel FROM NORVELT TO NOWHERE. I’ve been listening to the book on CD of that story, which is read by Jack Gants.

Sometimes I’ll have breakfast with an author – by looking them up at this website

The Library of Congress National Book Festival. It’s held every September in Washington D.C.

It’s inspiring and validating in some ways to listen to the authors talk about their struggles or their writing process what inspired them to write the books they’ve written.

Who are some of your favorite authors to study?

Check out Jack Gantos on these interviews and talks—

There are 3 videos of him speaking at the National Book Festival – in 2005, 2011, and 2014.

At this site below you can download the interview with Jack Gantos and also read a short excerpt of From Norvelt to Nowhere

A video interview with Jack Gantos

Have you read any books by Jack Gantos?

How do you study an author?


Posted by: lizricewrites | May 4, 2016

I Hadn’t Thought Of It That Way

“You don’t really understand an antagonist until you understand why he’s a protagonist in his own version of the world.”

~~ John Rogers

Did you ever think of it that way?

As I was pondering that quote and trying to uncover the antagonist’s world in my middle grade novel, I started thinking about the Wicked Witch in The Wizard of Oz.

I could imagine the world of the Wicked Witch, and how the story could be rewritten from her perspective. A house is dropped on her sister. The magical ruby-red slippers, which should rightfully go to her, are instead put on the feet of the girl whose house killed her sister. All she wants is to get those slippers, but she has to face many obstacles. She tries and fails a few times. She uses all her skills to get those slippers. . .

Can you think of any other examples, in books or in movies, where you can almost redo or reimagine the story from the antagonist’s version of the world?


Write a few pages from the point of view of the Antagonist in you work in progress novel, early on in the novel. What do they want or need more than anything? Who or what is in their way of getting it?

Those pages will help you find out more about that character and their world ‘offstage’  without any interference from the main character/protagonist.

AND – speaking of the Wicked Witch- This is the house where L. Frank Baum wrote most of the books in the Wizard of Oz series. It’s in Coronado, California. There’s a street sign across the porch door    Wizard of Oz Ave.


L Frank Baum House in Coronado


Posted by: lizricewrites | April 22, 2014

Split the Screen & Write Away

How cool is this??!!

In a previous post – CORKBOARD & Save your Visual Inspirations & Ideas [ ]
I showed you how to import a picture or photo from your computer to you project binder.

This week I’ll show you how to use the Split Screen feature to write a scene in the top half of the screen, while you can look at the photo/picture on the bottom half of the screen.

Here’s an example of what I’ve done with a photo I took from the window of a covered bridge.
From here I can create/develop a scene in my novel – about Michael and a specific bridge that may be symbolic of his journey.

Split Screen bridge scene

How to do it:

Open up your project.

Novel Template

Go to the Places folder on the left – under Binder- Click on it.
Then click on the corkboard icon near the top of the screen.

covered bridge window

Select the photo / index card you want to use, to write a scene or to write about an idea for your story.
Click on it.
Then under the blue circle with the letter – i- you will see an icon that looks like a rectangle with a horizontal line through the middle of it.

Shoiwng split 2  photos

You will now see that same photo twice because you just selected Split Screen.
[ if you want to see it split vertically – you can click on the icon of a rectangle with a line down the middle of it = under the blue circle with the – i- in the middle. ]

Click on the bar right above your top photo
Now – to get a document to appear in the top part of the split screen— look on the left at the list of items under the word –Binder-

Click on the small rectangle next to the word – Scene–
[ it’s under the folder marked – Chapter-]

You can double-click the word Scene and label it with a name [ maybe the name of the photo you used to write the scene].
Then you can type a scene, or whatever, while you study the photo on the bottom half of the screen!

Have fun with creating more scenes and ideas using the Split screen feature with other photos and images you’ve saved in the Places section.
** To get back to the regular screen, click the split screen icon [ the rectangle under the blue circle with an – i – in it].

Split Screen lesson

Posted by: lizricewrites | April 21, 2014

Immersing Myself in the Homes and Lives of Famous Authors

Last week for my birthday trip, my husband and I took a tour of the homes of Harriet Beecher Stowe and Mark Twain.

Harriet Beecher Stowe’s house.

Mark Twain’s house.

I would LOVE to sit here and write. . .

Confession time – I have never read any of their books. I bought a copy of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn which I will read next. Then I will read Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

In a way I’m glad I took the tours and heard about the lives of these authors –before- I read their work. It will be interesting to see how they wrote from what they knew & lived.

Have you ever taken a tour of a famous author’s home?
On our next trip we’ll go to Emily Dickinson’s home.

Posted by: lizricewrites | April 14, 2014

Writing Prompt – Starting with a setting

Below is a photo of a writer’s house.
Start a paragraph or short story using it as the setting.

What comes to mind first for you—creating a character who lives in/ visits the place?

Or do you first create a plot & then work on the character?

Writers’ Museum in Edinburgh. In Lady Stair’s House.

Writers Museum

By Jeremy Keith (Flickr: Writers’ Museum) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Posted by: lizricewrites | April 10, 2014

Permission to Work From the Inside Out

I stayed in a cabin at Boyds Mills – for an UnWorkshop – a chance to be on my own with room to create. My plan was to go there and type like crazy, word sprinting though a first draft of the novel, TS. Only stopping to walk to The Barn for meals.

Inside a cabin at Boyds Mills [not mine].

inside a cabin

The Barn at Boyds Mills

inside the BARN

I had a plot done – in a narrative chapter by chapter. . . this-happens-and-then-that-happens format.

I created a Scrivener project folder for the novel and had set up folders for the chapters and Corkboarded a few Scene/ Sequel cards to get started on, when I needed to ‘focus’ in on each chapter as scenes and sequels.
I also brought books from the library that I could use for research and maybe inspiration.

And as a last minute thought – I packed some blank journals.

What happened instead of typing like crazy from what I had ‘plotted,’ is that I had a few breakthroughs about the characters. . .

One afternoon I took a journal and decided it would be the MC’s [Michael] journal. And instead of using it for character sketches, as I had in the past with other novels, I decided I would use it to ask Michael about his life.
I wrote the first question – “Tell me about your brother.” My hand moved like hands placed on a Ouija board – with information about Michael and his brother and even more importantly= about their parents. I hadn’t ever really mentioned or thought about their parents!

Just then, elated that the journal and question started a flood of narrative from Michael= the character, I gave myself permission to slow down and get to know them & the plot better. . . This time from the inside out.

Michael’s journal—-

Believe in Yourself journal

Posted by: lizricewrites | April 8, 2014

CORKBOARD & Save your Visual Inspirations and Ideas!

Scrivener Tip Tuesday April 8, 2014

Another reason I *LOVE* the Corkboard feature of Scrivener — You can import pictures, photos, webpages etc. It’s like having your own private Pinterest board that you can take anywhere = don’t need to be where there’s a wi-fi connection because you have the photos and links right in your Scrivener project binder inside your computer 

This time. . . I’m showing you the fun you can have using Scrivener for pre-writing.

Open up Scrivener

Click on File . . . Go to  New Project

Click on Fiction in the Pop-up Box

Then click on Novel [ in blue in the screen shot below]

Then name it and save it where you want it. And click on the Create button.
[ my current project is in the background — yours will be too if you’ve used Scrivener before and have a project saved.]

New Project

Scrivener has saved your project as a folder wherever you selected to save it.
As – name of project.scriv –

You will see a column on the left. Look for the Places folder. Click on it.
Click on the Corkboard icon near the top of your screen.

Now, we’re going to put a photo on the corkboard to use as inspiration – when you write about the setting of your story.

Go to File  Import then move arrow to right and highlight Files

File Import

Browse through your computer files for pictures, or photos you want to use. Select one. Click  Open

You will then see the Import Files pop up [ shown below ] click OK

Import Files

Tah! Dah!

Places example

Have fun using this tip and steps to create a corkboard full of Places. Then do the same for photos of your Characters!

Posted by: lizricewrites | April 6, 2014



This photo always makes me smile! I took it outside the café at Grounds for Sculpture. The Peacock Café. Truly, that’s the name of it.

In relating it to my current novel in progress, it makes me think about how Michael, the MC, sees himself. What does he reflect on about himself when he sees himself in a mirror? How is he a reflection of his family’s values?

How are his goals, wants, needs a reflection of where he lives and how he lives?
AND also – Does he ever feel that he is on the ‘outside looking in’? When? Where?

Do you take the time to reflect on your characters? As you’re writing OR as a ‘prime the pump’/warm-up kind of exercise before you sit down to work on your story?

“My role in society, or any artist’s or poet’s role, is to try and express what we all feel. Not to tell people how to feel. Not as a preacher, not as a leader, but as a reflection of us all.”
~~ John Lennon

Posted by: lizricewrites | April 2, 2014

Keep Moving Forward. . . Move On

Those two phrases have become my writing mantras this year —
I use them to remind myself to stay focused and also to spend only a few moments on doubts: about my writing projects, ideas, abilities. Especially when I get a response on a submission and it’s a decline. [That’s my word this year for ‘rejection.’ It basically means the same thing but it’s shorter and sounds softer. Words have power and the sound of a word has power over your reaction to it. ]

Keep Moving Forward – – – is my way to remember Ira Glass’s observations quoted below.

Move On – comes from the wonderfully empowering song from the play Sunday in the Park With George – [I posted it below]

This is great to keep in mind about any creative process, especially writing. . .

“What nobody tells people who are beginners — and I really wish someone had told this to me . . . is that all of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. For example, you want to make TV because you LOVE TV. There is stuff that you just LOVE.

So you have really good taste. But you get into this thing where there is this gap. For the first couple years you are making stuff… but what you’re making isn’t so good. It’s not that great. It’s trying to be good, it has ambition to be good, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, your taste is still killer. And your taste is good enough that you can tell that what you’re making is a disappointment to you. It’s still sorta crappy.

A lot of people never get past this phase. They quit. But the thing I would say to you with all my heart: most everyone I know who does interesting, creative work, went through years of this. We knew our work didn’t have this special thing that we wanted it to have. Everybody goes through this.

If you are just starting this phase, still in this phase, getting out of this phase, you gotta know it’s totally normal and the most important, possible thing you can do is do a lot of work. Do a huge volume of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week or every month you know you will finish one story. You create the deadline. It’s best if you have someone waiting for the work, even if it’s somebody that doesn’t pay you. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions.

In my case, I took longer to figure out how to do this than anybody I’ve ever met. It takes awhile. It’s going to take you awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. And you just have to fight your way through that.”

—Ira Glass

Move On

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