Top 8 Reasons I Didn’t Finish My Book: Be successful; be prolific.

1. Kids were crazy last night. I couldn’t get them to write for me. Of course, they’re 3 and 7.

2. I’m waiting for Kristen Lamb’s next blog post to tell me how to do it right.

3. I have conflicting advice from two different blogs, so I’m waiting for them to fight it out and tell me the correct rule.

4. I’m still collecting rules on writing. I need to read more writing craft books before I can start.

5. You can’t push this sort of genius. It happens when it happens.

6. I have writer’s block today.

7. I could write, or I could play Planetside 2. They need my help in that virtual war.

8. That clickbait about “When you see this picture, your jaw will drop!” or “Mind. Blown,” with a thumbnail intriguing enough that I have to find out what it says? There’s chains of that stuff. It’s like smoking, but much, much worse for your body. Must… click… next… blurb. “Top 5 underdressed red carpet leading ladies.”  “Kanye’s simple trick that will earn you millions.”

Look, you guys, if you write 2000 words a day, you will finish your book in a month and a half. So easy!

Over 20 years, you could have written  14,600,000 words if you did 2000 words a day. That adds up to 146 books of 100,000 words. It’s 243 books of 60,000 words.  It’s hard to ignore an author with a body of work that large.

Perhaps you’re giving me the wall-eyed stare.  I had a professor who taught a very nifty landlord/tenant class at the local community college who was wall-eyed. You could never tell if he was calling on you.  He’d have to point. The class materials were useful, though. I wish I’d had the class back before I’d rented from the one lousy landlord who decided to keep our deposit.

Yeah. Wall-eyed stare. “If that’s true, Pontius, why haven’t you finished <i>your</i> book?”

*Ahem*. Yes. There is that. I’m working on it! I’ve got excuses saved up, and I’m going to sell those on amazon instead. “The Book of Trite Excuses Why I’m Not Finishing My Novel Timely You Guys,” that’s the title.

If you wrote 3000 words a day, you could finish a novel in 20 days. It’s a month and change if you want 100,000 words.

So, what’s your excuse for not finishing a novel? Join me wallowing in guilt! Comment away. And then get back to writing.

Motivational Reaction Units

I wrote about 600 words last night, and I was attempting to use the Motivational Reaction Units (MRU) style.  The idea is that the narrative follows this format:

Event (motivation) happens. It’s something that anyone in the room or scene could see or hear or sense. For example, Elsa, Anna, and Olaf walked into the room.

Characters react instinctively; then with thoughts; then words.
The protagonist first reacts instinctively. Taylor threw up her hands. This happens first because it’s the natural reaction, the instant reaction.
What is that? she thought.
Then she finds her voice: “A walking, talking snowman?” she asked.

Let’s view that as one unit:
Elsa, Anna, and Olaf walked into the room. Taylor threw up her hands. What is that? Taylor thought. “A walking, talking snowman?” she asked.

Then you repeat the format. What would happen next in a scene where a young pop singer meets the cast of Frozen and they’re real? Remember the format:
Instinctive reaction.

By making up these motivational-reaction-units, you will create strings of an interesting narrative, in the sense that each one will move the story along in a brisk manner. Taking the elements out of order is jarring to the reader. The order is exactly how it would be done in a movie. You don’t hear speech and then see a reaction. It’s the other way around.

Sure, it’s easy to say, but does it work?  And does great literature employ it? What about great fiction? If I go to Mr. Tolkien’s opus and try to match this method up to his fiction, is the template going to fit, or did he do something different? You’re saying, but, but, that’s TOLKIEN, dude, that’s different, he can break rules because he’s the man.  So what? Does he have a good commercial sales technique, does he employ MRUs or not?  And if he does something different, why does it work and what is his method?

And does any combat vet pan his books by saying, “Tolkein doesn’t know squat about cavalry charges, everyone knows who’s done one that it isn’t like what he wrote.” or “Helm’s Deep was totally unrealistic, I fight in the SCA and that’s not how combat really is.”

As a side note, the Hobbit clearly doesn’t utilize the Scene/Sequel format.

Back to MRUs. I am doing my best with them, but then my characters want to talk to each other and it doesn’t fit the MRU template.  Maybe it does.  Is this a format you have attempted, and if so, was it successful or was it an exercise?