Category Archives: Laura’s Posts

Seek Out the Solitary Spaces

Laura Ayo

Recently, I holed up for two nights in a cabin in the mountains for a much-needed mini writing retreat. It rained nearly the whole time I was there, which helped me stay focused on the task at hand – getting as many words on the page in the limited alone time I had. Free of interruption and distraction, I produced a decent chunk of new content during my impromptu trip and came home re-energized about my work-in-progress. Continue reading

The Perils of Summarizing an Incomplete Manuscript

Laura Ayo

Here’s my take on how to write a novel synopsis for a work in progress (and an explanation for what I’ve been doing earlier this week.) Enjoy.

Middle-aged author wannabe Laura can’t wait to attend a writing conference to learn more about her craft. After discovering she must bring a synopsis of her work in progress with her, she struggles to summarize her book because  she isn’t really sure yet how her novel will end. Fueled by a deadline for when the summary must be turned in, she digs deep to get to truly know her characters and understand their goals and obstacles to achieving them. Along the way, she discovers a group of fellow writers struggling to write their own summaries for the conference. Together, they bounce ideas off one another, lending advice and encouragement to each other as they work to finish their pieces. Though riddled with interruptions by the demands of her career and family, Laura completes the synopsis before the deadline only to learn it can be no longer than 250 words long. Hers clocks in at 282 words. As she rushes to edit the summary with the deadline looming, she discovers she has mad editing skills. She turns in the summary with 50 minutes to spare and celebrates with her writing friends. Bolstered by a newfound belief that she may just have what it takes to one day become a published author, Laura decides to share in a blog post her insights about what she learned about synopsis writing in the hopes of inspiring other aspiring authors.

Focus Your Writing Through Focused Research

Laura Ayo

I once dropped a watermelon out of a second story window in the name of research. With my husband armed with a video camera and two preschoolers hopping with excitement from the sidelines, I let it plummet to the driveway below. I wanted to see how far the pink flesh would scatter after it hit the pavement. I wanted to hear the splat, watch the rind split open and analyze the juice spray pattern from the impact. I sacrificed a perfectly good watermelon for the sake of gathering sensory details that would lend authenticity to a story I was writing at the time. It ranks in the top five of the most fun I’ve had while doing research. Continue reading

Inspire Fellow Writers by Talking About Your Work

Laura Ayo

What’s the one thing you can’t be a writer without?

Imagination. Dedication. A thick skin. Pencils.

The question elicits multiple answers, depending on the person asked and their perspective. For me, there’s one thing above all else that I absolutely can’t live without as a writer: other writers.

While I’ve long known the benefits of having fellow writers in my life, this past weekend I realized just how vital they are to helping me maintain my daily writing routine.

My first day of Write by Midnight was a technical success. I wrote. I got in some words before the stroke of midnight. But I fell short of my desired word count after off-and-on attempts throughout the day. In addition, my efforts produced painful-to-read, utilitarian sentences.

As I drove on Saturday to meet a friend for coffee, I analyzed why I struggled so much the day before. I came up with several explanations. I wasn’t feeling well. I had other things going on Friday that distracted me. I didn’t have a clear picture in my head of what needed to happen in the scene. I had more research to do.

I walked into the coffee house with the excuses floating around in my head, vowing to shake them off and have a better writing session on day two. I drank coffee with my friend, also a writer, and her husband. We chatted about work, kids, travel and, as all writers do when they get together, books and writing. I only met this energetic couple a few months ago, so we’re still getting to know one another. As it turns out, that was an important piece to helping me identify what had been missing on Friday.

When I first met my new coffee buddy at a writing conference in the fall, I was working on a different manuscript than the one I’ve recently started writing. I hadn’t shared my new project with her yet, so I found myself filling her in on the basic premise on Saturday. Having to tell someone who is unfamiliar with your material about what you’re working on rekindles the enthusiasm that led you to write it in the first place. I left the café motivated and itching to get my fingers on the keyboard.

Then, on Sunday, a fellow WriteOwl needed some help with writing struggles of her own. After a few email and text exchanges and a 30-minute phone conversation, not only was she back on track, but I, too, found my words flowing onto the pages. As I fleshed out my protagonist’s plight in a high-stakes action scene, my phone beeped with a grateful text from her:

“I don’t know what I’d do without you guys! I just hope I give as much back as you give.”

I assured her that she does and realized, at that moment, that I needed to set a second goal for myself for Write by Midnight. In addition to writing every day for at least an hour, I also plan to talk to other writers every day this month, even if it’s just via text, blog or tweet. I challenge you to do the same, either here or with the writers I hope you have in your inner circle. Share your successes and your struggles. Talk about your characters, your voice, your plot, your setting. It’s always an energizing, positive, motivating experience that will only make you a better writer.

Write Now, Research Later

Laura Ayo

I’m five days into one of the biggest personal challenges I’ve ever taken on as a writer. Like thousands of other writers across the globe this month, I’m attempting to write a 50,000-word manuscript in 30 days during National Novel Writing Month. To hit the target, I need to write 1,667 words a day. I’ve either met or come close to that goal all but one day. On Nov. 2, I only wrote about 400 words. I’d love to say that life got in the way that day. I had work to do, children to mother and other responsibilities that needed my attention. But the reality of the matter is I spent four hours working on my novel that day. So, what happened to result in such a low output? I got sucked down the research rabbit hole. Continue reading