Monday, April 25, 2016

One Stop for Writers: The Place to Go!

Congratulations to Clara Gillow Clark who won EMPTY PLACES by Kathy Wiechman.

Illustrators and artists have brushes, pencils, and digital tools. Similarly, writers have their own set of tools: journals, laptops, and a wide array of websites, blogs, and online resources 

In today's blog I'm featuring my new "go-to" website: One Stop for Writers. The last time I blogged about this fantastic tool created by Angela Ackerman, Becca Puglisi, and Lee Powell, I hadn't started using it. Today you're going to hear some of Angela's observations about the site, interspersed with examples from my WIP,  HALF-TRUTHS.

What is the inspiration behind One Stop For Writers? 

Becca and I love books, and as writing coaches, we love helping writers. But because our books are part list, anyone with a digital copy has to scroll through many pages to see a single entry. This isn’t ideal.  And, with many more descriptive thesauruses on our blog, nothing was in one place either. This left us frustrated and searching for a way to have everything in one spot. Lee Powell, the creator of Scrivener for Windows, came along at the perfect time, and his passion for helping writers matched our own. Together we created One Stop For Writers, a unique online library of description that also contains an arsenal of tools and information tailored to elevate storytelling. We are all about building stronger writers so more stories get into the hands of readers.

From Carol:

For those of you who are new to my blog, my YA novel is set in Charlotte, NC in 1950 and is written from 2 POV: 15-year-old Lillian (Lillie) Harris, a light-skinned descendent of a slave; and 14-year-old Anna Katherine (Kate) Dinsmore, who just moved in with her wealthy grandparents, along with her siblings and a goat named Eileen. In the course of the book the girls discover they have the same great-grandfather. The girls meet when Lillie gets a job helping Big Momma at the Dinsmores.

In the chapter I was working on today, Lillian is in the Dinsmore kitchen, helping her grandmother (Big Momma) prepare ambrosia for a fancy luncheon for Kate. Earlier I had randomly looked through One Stop's Symbolism and Motif Thesaurus and found this on "Enslavement."

The helpful tip on that page reads: "Symbolism is something that many readers recognize on either a conscious or subconscious level; including it adds a layer of richness to the story. Think about how you can add specific motifs or symbols to your setting that will reinforce the symbolism you are trying to convey. Additionally, symbols woven into the description of your scene can help reinforce your character's emotions and mood. In this way, you’ll be able to do more with less."

Since part of Lillie's struggles revolve around being help which she swore she never would be--I added this paragraph:
The kitchen is quiet except for flies buzzing outside the screen window. I hear Frankie yelling at Eileen. The goat is probably pulling on it’s rope and not wanting to be led around like a dog. Can’t say I blame her. She doesn’t belong in a small field like this. She needs to be somewhere she can romp and play.  
I had already included the texture, taste, and smell of the pineapple which Lillie was cutting and enjoying (although it made her want more), but I wanted to deepen the scene and introduce more conflict. I opened up One Stop, looked through the Setting Thesaurus list under kitchens, and found:

Rotten food! I started thinking how layering something distasteful into this scene might create more conflict. The tip on this page reads: "Settings should always be chosen with care. Consider the emotion you want your viewpoint character to feel and how setting choices, weather elements, and symbolism might build a specific mood in the scene, create tension and conflict, or even raise the stakes." 

I came up with this:
I’m about to ask Big Momma if she knows that she’s working for her half-sister when Missus Dinsmore looks in on us. "What on earth is that smell?” she asks. 
Big Momma sniffs the air. “I don’t smell nothin’ but this lovely ambrosia.” She gestures to the mixing bowl that is almost full of oranges and pineapple.  
Missus Dinsmore crinkles her nose in disgust and looks around the kitchen. “Not that. I smell something rotten.” She opens the back door, lifts the lid of the trash can, and then slams it back down. I’ve been so busy this morning I haven’t had time to haul the can out back.  
Missus Dinsmore storms back inside. “That is disgusting! Lillian, make sure you empty that can before Anna Katherine’s guests arrive!” Missus Dinsmore’s face is as red as the maraschino cherries Big Momma is spooning into the ambrosia.  

Back to Angela:

You’ve been up and running for just over 6 months. What’s the reaction so far? 

We’ve had nothing but good feedback. Hurray! I believe users are finding this site saves them time when it comes to character creation, world building, and sensory description because ideas are a click away. Story Maps is also popular, demystifying structure and character arc while allowing writers to “see” the turning points of their novel visually. And of course the expanded Emotion Thesaurus is a big favorite. It’s nice to not be stuck mid-scene trying to figure out how a character should behave and instead access lists filed with ideas for realistic body language, thoughts and visceral sensations. Writing time is precious, so anything we can do to make sure more of it is spent actually writing, the better! 

From Carol: 

When you check out this valuable resource you'll see why it's appropriately named, One Stop. And when you do, you'll be able to generate a list in your notes index that looks something like this:

These notes help me remember quirks and nonverbal behavior that are characteristic of each person. Inevitably these notes not only help me stay consistent but also prompt further associations. 

In an earlier scene Lillie boards a bus to work right after a confrontation with her best friend, Darla. She is debating about sitting in the white section. I thought about how she was feeling at that instant, looked up Self-loathing in One Stop and related words under Depression and Death. The word hollow jumped out at me and I wrote this:
Someone is coming up behind me. I hear Darla’s voice describing me as high yaller. I could sit here, but should I? 
“Girl, you need to get movin’,” a voice behind me says. I drop my hand and shuffle forward. 
I’m glad someone made the decision for me but I feel as hollow as an empty casket. What am I doing—letting someone else tell me where I belong?  
Back to Angela:

Your first upgrade included the ability to bookmark favorite content, a massive new Setting Thesaurus, and Story Maps, a visual story structure tool. What’s next? 

Deciding what’s next is always the hardest part for the three of us. We have so many ideas! A Scene Map tool and a Timeline tool is coming soon, rounding out the story structure element at One Stop. 

It won’t matter if you are a Plotter or a Pantser, we’ll have helpful story planning tools for every comfort zone! Also, an organizational system is in the works, allowing users to group bookmarks, worksheets, notes, and maps by project. This way people can have multiple stories on the go and keep everything organized. 

Honestly, it’s just a lot of fun dreaming up new ways to help writers and creating tools we believe will help them succeed. 
I hope this quick look at One Stop will whet your appetite to explore the site yourself. For those of you on Pinterest, Becca and Angela have shared some of their amazing worksheets there

Have you tried One Stop? What features do you like best?


Sandra Warren said...

Great blog, Carol. Thanks for posting this and reminding me of One Stop for Writers. When I went to sign up I discovered that I already had an account. I had obviously forgotten about this amazing resource. I will be using it from now on.

I particularly liked the way you showed how you used One Stop to improve your story. It was not only helpful to all who read it, it also cleverly gave us all a taste of your WIP, wetting our appetite for what's to come.


Carol Baldwin said...

Guess what, Sandra. I signed up and didn't really use it all the time either. Now I use it practically every time I sit down and write. You're going to love it. Glad you found my blog helpful.

Angela Ackerman said...

Carol, I love this post--what a treat for Becca, Lee, and I to get a window into your writing process and see how the site is helping with your WIP. Thanks so much for asking me these questions, and for your enthusiasm for One Stop. We are so thrilled to know it's helping you get this book written!


Bonnie J. Doerr said...

Carol, you just opened up a world of resources for writers. Thank you. As always, your blog is so informative. This time I got a taste of your own book and my mouth is watering more than usual. I can't wait for it to come out.

Melodye said...

Thanks for modeling One Stop's usefulness with examples from your own WIP.

"Hollow as an empty casket," heh. That's not such a bad thing, is it? ;)

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks Bonnie and Melodye! I'll have to rethink the empty casket analogy!

sheri levy said...

Thanks, Carol. I have the Emotion Thesaurus and use it all the time. How do I sign up for this? Loved your insights on how you used the One Stop Program. Fabulous!

Carol Baldwin said...

Angela, as a fellow compulsive helper, I am happy to share what has helped me.

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Sheri. Click on one stop's link and you should find directions there.

Linda Phillips said...

Great resource, Carol. So glad there are people like you who dig up this stuff for people like me (lazy). Thanks! I just signed on.

Clara Gillow Clark said...

Thanks for an in-depth look at One Stop for Writers. What a great resource. (I enjoyed reading snippits of your w-i-p, too!)

Carol Baldwin said...

Glad you enjoyed the blog, Clara. It's a great resource!

Linda A. said...

Awesome resource! Thanks for sharing how you're using it, Carol.

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Linda!

Rosi said...

Angela and Becca always have such good things of offer. As soon as my life calms down and I can get back to writing, I will be visiting and exploring their site. Thanks for the reminder.

Carol Baldwin said...

You won't be disappointed, Rosi!

Joan Y. Edwards said...

Dear Carol,
I enjoyed reading about One Stop and how you use it and how others use it. Great resources to help out when you're stuck

I reblogged this post on my blog:

Celebrate you!
Never Give Up

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks for sharing this resource on your blog. It's awesome, Joan!

Anonymous said...

And I add my thanks as well, Carol. I'm going to sign up right now. I'm also looking forward to reading your book when it comes out. Keep up the good work.

Carol Baldwin said...

Thank you, Sarah. I'm delighted that you're signing up for One Stop. You won't be disappointed! Glad to hear this post was helpful to you.

Anonymous said...

Carol, this is such an informative post! I have used,LOVED, and recommended the Emotion Thesaurus, but haven't had a chance to go to the One Stop yet. But I plan to now! It's so helpful when you give your examples from your WIP! Thank you for doing that.

Carol Baldwin said...

So glad you found this helpful, Kathleen. I open it up almost immediately when I start writing!

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