Thursday, February 14, 2013

When the Teacher Becomes the Student PLUS a Great Giveaway!

My most recent book is Teaching the Story: Fiction Writing in Grades 4-8. Although intended as a teacher's guide for upper elementary and middle school students, I draw upon it when I teach writing classes at Central Piedmont Community College

I was looking over this week's class on Creating a Character and found my instructions for students to write "fast" by revealing their characters through their

    F-  Feelings
 A-  Action
 S-  Speech 
     T- Thoughts

Besides teaching, I am also deep into the second draft of my historical young adult novel, Half-Truths. I am fortunate to have Rebecca Petruck as a writing coach; she consistently pushes me to reveal who my characters are. 
Rebecca & I recently talked shop
at the Whole Foods in Wilmington, NC

In my opening chapter I had written a scene where Lillie, my protagonist, overhears her grandmother's employers arguing with one another. I had written:  

“What’s going on?” Lillie asked. 
“Missus Dinsmore is fussing at Mr. Dinsmore like usual,” Big Momma said, fanning herself with her apron. “Telling him that while his grandchildren are visiting he’s got to get his nose out of his books and stop playing around with his glass thingamajigs.”  
Rebecca commented, "We don't have much from her other than to be present and watch what's happening. I want her reaction to things, her interpretation of the world around her. This is her chapter, so we need to get to know her more. [I want to see more] of Lillie's internal experience."

I could have slapped myself "upside the head" (as a character in my book might say). I had forgotten the "T" in FAST. In fact, there wasn't much "F" (feelings/emotion) in this snippet either!

Several rewrites later, this passage now reads:

 In between claps of thunder, Lillie heard bickering coming from the other side of the kitchen wall. “Mr. and Missus Dinsmore fussing again?” Lillie asked. Missus Dinsmore was always acting better than everyone else.  But Lillie had overhead enough arguments to know that she could be as nasty as a barnyard dog.
 Big Momma fanned herself with her apron. “Missus Dinsmore be reminding him to get his nose out of his books and stop playing around with his glass thingamajigs while his grandchildren are visiting.”  Lillie knew exactly what Big Momma was talking about. A few times Mr. Dinsmore had invited her into the library to look at the different colored glass pieces displayed on his shelf. Cullet, he called it. Leftover glass from factories he’d worked at as a boy. Missus Dinsmore didn’t appreciate her husband’s glassmaking stories the way Lillie did. 

I thanked Rebecca for helping me to instill more internalization in my story and she wrote back: 

"I think calling it internalization isn't really correct because it is a very active connection with the protagonist--we are in her mind, trying to process the world, understand the why of things. That's where the story is for us, much less so than the actual stuff that happens." 

Along with providing helpful insights into my manuscript, Rebecca encouraged me to read Wired for Story by Lisa Cron, retyping sections of other books in a similar genre, and reading when the Show, Don't Tell rule may be broken. 

I have learned a great deal working with Rebecca from her critiques as I write, revise, and write again. (Here is a helpful handout from Teaching the Story that demonstrates the revision process.) Her suggestions reminded me of to Lorin Oberweger's handout on Deep Point of View that was part of the Your Best Book packet. And a recent post on Janice Hardy's blog, also offered excellent advice on how to include internalization in your story.

Since Rebecca is such a wonderful writing advocate and coach, she is providing this week's giveaway! She is donating either a ten-page critique of a middle grade or young adult manuscript, or a copy of Wired for Story-winner chooses. I am so pumped about Rebecca's giveaway offer, that I'm giving you TWO chances to win.

  • Post this blog on your social media site of choice OR become a new follower of this blog and I'll enter your name once. 
  • Post this blog on two different social media sites, OR on one site on two different days, OR become a new follower of this blog AND post it on a social media site and I'll enter your name twice.
  • Either way, leave a comment with your email address (if you are new to my blog) with what you did. 
  • Winner will be drawn on Saturday evening, February 16th- so get those entries in!
Good luck to all of you and if the winner chooses a critique from Rebecca, get ready to grow your writing and revising skills!


Anonymous said...

You do the work, Carol--no matter how many times I suggest a little something more. You have stamina and that's the first thing a writer needs. It's always a pleasure to work with you. Thanks for sharing this post!

Carol Baldwin said...

And you know how much I appreciate you! I'm glad that when I was little one of my favorite stories was, "The Little Engine that Could." I learned perseverance from an early age!

Rosi said...

I am a follower. I've posted the link on my FB page as well as on the Northern California SCBWI FB page. I hope that counts! Great giveaway.

Carol Baldwin said...

Rosi, you're in for two! Thanks for entering. Carol

Halli Gomez said...

Thanks for posting Carol. This is the hardest thing to do so every little tip helps!
I did share your link on Facebook and I'm already a follower.
Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

Dear Carol,
Thanks for sharing such great ideas that Rebecca Petruck shared with you about how to create good characters from the inside out.

I Tweeted about it. I also put a link on my Facebook Author page and on my Facebook PubSubbers page.

Thank you, Rebecca for the Giveaway.

Celebrate you, Carol Baldwin.
Celebrate you, Rebecca Petruck.
Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards

Linda A. said...

It's great that you have Rebecca as a mentor. I can tell she is helping you to put forth your best writing. Yay!

Carol, you have quality gems in your teaching guide. I love the "FAST" tip. Thanks for sharing it.

Even though I can't participate in the drawing, I comment because I love your posts.

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Linda, Hali, and Joan for leaving comments. Linda-- you're sweet to stop on by just to encourage me! Joan and Hali, your names are in the hat!

Barbara Younger said...

Getting ready to start a revision and not enough main character insight was the editor's major complaint. I'll remember FAST. Would love to win the book. Will tweet and FB share. Great post!

Carol Baldwin said...

You're in twice, Barbara. Thanks for sharing!

miriam said...

Rebecca sounds like a great coach! Thanks for offering the giveaway. I've posted on the Blue Boards and have sent a message to my critique group!

Linda Phillips said...

Thanks for the great post and opportunity to learn more through the book or critique. I'm posting on FB.

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks LInda and Miriam. You're now competitors for this great prize!

Gail Hurlburt said...

Sounds interesting!


Anonymous said...

And if the winner chooses the book over the critique, s/he can choose for a brand-new copy OR my recently tabbed, underlined, folded-down-corners copy. That could be fun!

Bonnie J. Doerr said...

Another informative post, Carol. You and Rebecca make a terrific pair! Oh, I posted on fb and gave it a tweet.

Carol Baldwin said...

You would give away your own marked-up copy? Well, Rebecca, that's really sacrificial!

VGC said...

I'm a new subscriber, but not new to Rebecca's work -- she did an amazing manuscript review for me! said...

Awesome contest! I posted it on FB, Twitted and sent a link to my crit partner. said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks VGC and Sue! Your names are in the hat!

Joy said...

This was a great blog! Thank you so much for sharing your writing journey and all the great advice other outstanding writers give you along the way!! I shared this blog on my FB page the other day :)

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Joy. Your name is in the hat!

Joyce Moyer Hostetter said...

I hear rave reviews regarding Rebecca's critique so please sign me up. I'm off to link on FB and Twitter.

Carol Baldwin said...

Glad you joined the party, JOyce! And you KNOW better than anyone else how I love giveaways!

Unknown said...

Carol, awesome giveaway with Rebecca! Bummed our Charleston writing group missed the deadline, but we'll be watching for the next one.

Carol Baldwin said...

Rebecca has agreed to do it again, so keep watching, Kathleen!

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