Save the Dangling Characters!

I needed to read Essential writing skills: why a bad first draft is better than no first draft by M J Wright this past week. I’ve been beating myself up lately. Here’s why:

I began a story last year in a flurry of excitement. I finished chapter 10 or 11, and the going got tough. After writing approximately 30,000 words, I started to wonder, “Is this really good? Am I wasting my time?” It was the “make or break” phase. My fear of commitment kicked in. I thought, “What if I invest in these characters, fall in love with them, and find out they aren’t who I think they are?” Weird? Maybe, but that’s how I tick. So, what did I do? I hung it up. Left it. Left my characters dangling. I don’t want to admit to you how many characters I do this to. It’s painful.

And I hate to quit. So I told myself, “You are going to finish this, even if it’s bad!” I wanted to commit to the project, to put my heart into it, but I couldn’t. I needed to know my characters were lovable, relatable. I needed feedback to continue.

None of that friend-y stuff would do. I’m talking about your best friend who reads three lines and says, “Oh, this is wonderful! You’re such a great writer! I don’t know why you’re not submitting to every publisher!” I needed the real reaction of the reader who wasn’t influenced by my wonderful personality and incredible wit. (heh)

Where could I find that? Where could I find an audience who would only pay attention to the story? If it was good, I’d know it by the following it garnered.

This is where I cracked. I gave up the dream of professionally publishing the book. I changed the story up a bit and posted it on Fanfiction, knowing I was giving it away for free. Why? Isn’t that like shooting myself in the foot? Ah, my friend, a free book is better than no book at all.

I’m deep in my latest obsession, The Kiss of the Gobboling King. It’s one of those fairytale-revisited works. It’s fun. It’s freeing. No requirements. No target audience. It’s already found a little following. Readers tell me they like Esda and Draill, so I feel safe that these characters won’t disappoint me. I can love them unreservedly. I can finish the story.

Is it written the way I imagined it, shined and polished for the bookstore shelf? No. It’s a first draft. But when I’m finished, it will be the entire first draft. That’s what matters.

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A Warm, Toasty Treat!

It’s November, which means my mind is on food again. I thought I’d share with you a couple of my current fall recipes to season the season. I posted my Stone Soup recipe, which is a favorite year-round, but this time I thought I’d give you a meat-less soup to try. Realm rarely lets me get by with a meat-less soup, or any soup that doesn’t end in “ili” and start with “ch.” The secret to getting your meat-loving husband to eat soup is to serve it with something that contains a little bit of meat. That’s where a hearty bread spread comes to the rescue.

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Yes, another one of my fabulous photos. You can’t get enough, I know.

Vegetable Lentil Soup

2 medium carrots, sliced
2 medium celery sticks, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, minced
2 cups dried lentils
1 ½ cups chicken broth
6 cups vegetable broth
½ cup water
salt & pepper
2 tsp dried basil
2 tsp thyme
1 tsp paprika

Add all ingredients to a big pot, except lentils. Bring it to a boil. Add lentils. Turn it down to simmer, and simmer on the stove for an hour. (Or realize you only have about 15 minutes before your hungry husband will be home, and crank that baby up to a raging boil!)

Hearty Italian Cheddar Bread

French or Italian bread loaf, sliced in half length-wise

2 tsp Italian dressing mix
1 cup chopped, fresh spinach
3 tablespoons butter, chopped in pieces
¼ cup of cooked ground beef
2 pieces of bacon, crumbled
¾ cup cheddar cheese, shredded

Mix the last six ingredients together. Spoon beef mixture onto the flat sides of each half of the bread loaf. Broil bread in oven for 5 minutes and serve with soup. (You can use any kind of meat you have: turkey, chicken, pepperoni, etc. Be creative.)

I used homemade flatbread instead of a store-bought loaf. That’s good, too. For gluten-free folks, you can top rice cakes with the spread and toast them in the oven, too. They come out crispy-browned on top and very, very flavorful.

Your tummy will totally appreciate this!