Sodaro's Stories

June 28, 2016

30 Days of Blogs: Author things — Outlines

Filed under: Writer's thoughts — michelle sodaro @ 12:48 pm
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I really meant to write about this right after I wrote about prompts, but I got distracted. I know…I was shocked too. Me distracted? That hardly ever happens…ooooh…shiny….

I used to scoff at people who used outlines. I didn’t want to be confined to the constraints of an outline. I was a creative spirit. No outline was going to cage me. I would be free to write what I want and hear me roar. Oh sweetie, sit down.

So it turns out having a game plan (even one that is literally written in pencil) is pretty handy to keep the plot moving a long at a steady pace. Knowing where you want your characters to get and what (in general) is happening next, is rather effective…and surprisingly was not at all restrictive or confining as I had feared. So the protests died on my lips as I just picked up my pen and wrote the next scene for the draft.

My outline is not what I made my students do when I taught English. Not that formal, not that scary. I am not writing a five-paragraph essay where every paragraph needs a topic sentence and at least two supporting details. I am writing a novel and that is so much more complex and messy than any essay I have ever written…not to mention the novel trumps the essay in length, breadth, depth, and most other ways we have of “measuring” the writing that gets done.


June 15, 2016

30 Days of Blogs: Author things — pancakes

Filed under: Writer's thoughts — michelle sodaro @ 1:57 pm
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I had something else planned to write about today, but decided instead to pay homage to my favorite author food. (And it is one that I can ALMOST eat with my left hand.)

I was stuck on how to finish a chapter. I’d write a few words. Stare at the page…my pen…my kittens…the wall…write a few more words…stare at the page…my pen…the kittens…the wall…you get the picture. In an hour and a half, I only wrote 150 words. This is a deplorable wph (words per hour). I knew how I wanted the next chapter to start…and so much of me wanted to just skip to the next chapter to get the pen moving again. Just leave half of Chapter 22 unwritten and move on…but instead I switched to another project.

So this morning, I had to wait for the DMV to open, so I went to IHOP and had their pancakes…their perfect, fluffy, pancakes…and I opened my notebook to Chapter 22…took a deep breath and the magic happened. Chapter 22 practically wrote itself and as is my favorite writing time, it was my job to just keep up with the pen moving across the page.

Now to plunge head first into Chapter 23…which has been waiting patiently at the tip of my tongue…or pen, as the case may be.


October 25, 2014

People Watching

Filed under: Writer's thoughts — michelle sodaro @ 10:49 pm
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“It always feels like somebody’s watching me. And I have no privacy.” “Somebody’s Watching Me” Rockwell

Chances are, if I have seen you, I have watched you…studied you.

One of my favorite ways to research characters is to people watch, which sounds so much better than that “stalker” nonsense…although evidently both have a tendency to make people nervous if you “research” them by staring at them and writing in a notebook…so you have to learn to be a bit on the subtle side of things to get it right…but when you manage it — It. Is. Glorious.

the best way how to learn how to distinguish your characters and make them stand out not only from the other characters in your novel, but also from the millions of characters which already exist…is to study people. Why do Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy stand out among all of the characters in all of the love stories? Because they talked and acted like real people.

I find people’s mannerisms to be fascinating. I always have enjoyed studying people and their behavior. I have always been enthralled with, why do people do what they do, why do they say what they say, and interact with others so differently? It’s why I studied psychology; it’s one thing that makes me a good teacher and it’s one thing that helps me as an author as well.

I study people…how they dress, how they carry themselves, their hair, their dress, their smiles (both real and fake)…how they talk…how they wait (so revealing, by the way)…how they check out other people (some REALLY need to learn about subtlety)…how they flirt (or try to) etc. It is an unending source of research and if you see me out in public, or more accurately, if I see you…you can bet I’m taking notes, whether or not I actually have my pen and notebook out.

Consider yourself warned — your actions may end up in a book if I find you interesting enough ๐Ÿ˜€

June 12, 2014

Time alone

Filed under: Writer's thoughts — michelle sodaro @ 8:44 pm
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Writing is an amazing world…I take these beautiful shiny pens and I combine them with blank paper and magic happens. And when I finish the magic, I want to share my magic with the WHOLE WORLD!!! I want to talk about my books, my characters, my muse. I want to sing my book’s praises from the tops of all rooftops, if I actually found myself on rooftops, which would be rather tricky.
SO the after part, is ALL about people…talking to people and sharing with people…and I LOVE IT!!!! If you are ever talking to me and I’ve gotten irritated or have lost focus, just ask me about my novels and we will be good to go!!! ๐Ÿ˜€ So the after part, is all about people.
The writing part of things is completely alone. Isolation and time to just be with my notebook and my pens. Alone. It needs to be comfortable for you to be with just you…anyone who has ever said to me that they want to be a writer (don’t get me started on this rant…), the first thing I say to them is “you better really be okay with being by yourself.” Editing and writing groups and critiquing…those are fantastic and should be done in groups. But when it gets down to the basics and the bare bones of writing, you are going to be spending a lot of time alone.
I say this, and it is the absolute truth. You need to have time alone if you are going to be a writer. As supportive as everyone is, it is really hard for someone to sit in the same room as a writer and not be curious…or ask questions…or breathe loudly…or hum…or whistle…or get up and sit down and get up and sit down…and all of those things are lovely…but not when someone is writing.
I also feel like I’m not really ever alone. At any given time, I have my muse (constant) and my characters with me as I frantically try to capture the scene or bit of dialogue. So it’s not REALLY time alone…it’s just time away from people or things that may prevent the magic from appearing on the page. And heaven help you if you interrupt a writer when there is a streak of magic appearing on that page…if you sneezed and the writer lost focus…yikes.

August 2, 2013

Stone Soup

Filed under: Writer's thoughts — michelle sodaro @ 7:07 pm
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โ€œYou canโ€™t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.โ€ Maya Angelou
Remember the magic of the story, Stone Soup? Where the more soup they ate, the more they had…yeah, this is what it’s like with creativity. Maya Angelou put it perfectly…of course.
I have had people ask me if I was afraid I would run out of creativity…if like an empty Coca-Cola can, I would run out of that which helped to bring my novels and teaching to life. Nah…I’m good. I may run out of patience occasionally, I may run out of ink in a pen (a moment of pride each and every time it happens), I may run out of hours in the day…but creativity??? Nope.
The nice thing about being a teacher and an author is that they keep the creativity going and bounce off of each other. My muse loves to play…and whether the play is a novel and the characters or the play is with lessons and lectures, my muse gets more energy and is therefore more productive. The happier I keep her, the more creativity that pours out of my fingertips either through pen or through keyboard.
It is an amazing phenomenon, to be sure. The more I get to be creative, the more creativity I feel…which is good…because I have a lot to do.

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