Monday’s Muse

See, I didn’t abandon the blog completely even though Holly Root and Barbara Poelle said I could.

I was going to post a contest today, but I’m not quite ready with all the pictures I need. First of all, I injured my ankle on Thursday (“it’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt”—truer words were never spoken). According to the x-rays (yes, it hurt enough that I went for x-rays), nothing is broken—just severely bruised (they called it acute bruising, but there’s nothing cute about it). They gave me an air cast (a brace that has inflatable things on each side for support—it’s weird and probably alien made) and told me to stay off of it for the next 2-3 days. So I did—mostly. I was a good girl and propped it up and wore the wrap and the cast, but they also gave me crutches.

Yeah. In case you weren’t aware of it, using crutches takes upper body strength. And I learned just how little I had. *sigh* My arms ached within minutes of crutch use. No kidding. And every time I used them my poor arms burned and begged. And I was huffing and puffing like I was going to blow down the little pigs’ houses (like I had enough breath left for that?). So I gave up the crutches, spent most of my time in bed, and hobbled/hopped whenever I needed to walk anywhere. In spite of my walking on it, it’s doing much better today. So why no contest?

Things got crazy with J’s online school today and I haven’t had time to take pictures (yes, I need pictures of the prizes to entice and excite—I hope they will anyway). I’m going to take pictures now though and should be all ready for contest posting tomorrow morning. YAY!

Okay, enough about that. This is supposed to be a Monday’s Muse post. Let’s get to it.

As many of you know, I’ve been taking some classes from Joyce Sweeney. It’s a ten week course and today was lesson nine. I’m sad that there’s only one more week to go, but I’ve learned so much I’ll probably need another ten weeks to absorb it all and get my notes typed up.

In addition to the course by Joyce, I’ve also been studying some books on writing. Right now I’m reading James Scott Bell. And I’m amazed. It’s crazy that after almost eleven years of writing, I’m still learning new things about the craft. It’s true that you never stop learning. And some of the things I thought I knew, I realize I wasn’t as knowledgeable as I thought.

For example, at the beginning of the class with Joyce, she had us grade ourselves (A-D) on these novel elements: Plot, Voice, Structure, Concept.

I gave myself the following scores :

Plot- B

Voice- B

Structure- C

Concept- D

Okay, so I have a big ego. Winking smile

After taking the course and learning about each of these four elements, I’d rate myself thusly:

Plot- C

Voice- B

Structure- D

Concept- B

I always thought I was pretty good at plot, but I discovered it’s one of my weakest areas. Yikes. There’s a lot more that goes into plotting that I realized. And for some reason I had it in my head that plotting and structure were basically the same. Yeah. WRONG. Joyce said structure is the vehicle that carries the reader through the story and plot is the road the structure travels upon. Who knew (probably you, but it was news to me)?

So now my eyes are open and I’m moving forward armed with knowledge and Joyce’s awesome plot clock. I so wish I could share that with you! It changed the way I’ll plot forever. But it’s her secret weapon and she only shares it with those who take her class. Sorry. No, truly, I am!

All this knowledge won’t guarantee me a perfect novel with amazing sales, but it sure has improved the way I write and even the way I think about writing. With what I’ve learned from these newest founts of knowledge, I’ve come up with some new methods.

Two of my favorites are my book planner and my scene planner. These will be huge in helping me organize my structure and make sure my novel is delivering the emotion it needs (did you know that structure is what delivers the emotion? I didn’t). Once I get the planners typed up, I’ll share them with you.

I’m excited about writing again and can see ways to revise my past work and write future work that I never before imagined.

Hope things are going well for all of you! See you tomorrow for the contest posting (seriously, it will be here).

Write on!

About Joan Stradling, Author

Joan Stradling is a middle grade and YA author of stories with magical elements. She loves painting, baking, crafting, pet wrangling, and anything else she can fit into her schedule. A passionate believer in the power of books, she still hopes to one day ride a dragon, meet a Hobbit, or discover new worlds by walking through a wardrobe. In the meantime, she imagines and writes about her own incredible worlds and characters–and continues to live vicariously through the adventures in other’s books. You can find her on Instagram (@JoanStradlingAuthor) or Twitter (@justJoanS) or FB (Joan Stradling aka Joan Stewart) Join me on Patreon:
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