Monday, October 19, 2015

Jacqui Jacoby & the 2nd Paragraph

Please welcome Jacqui Jacoby back to the blog today!

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This week we have author Jacqui Jacoby with a writing craft post of 'Second Paragraph'.

Award-winning author, Jacqui Jacoby lives and writes in the beauty of Northern Arizona. Currently adjusting to being an empty nester with her first grandchild to draw her pictures, Jacqui is a self-defense hobbyist. Having studied martial arts for numerous years she retired in 2006 from the sport, yet still brings strength she learned from the discipline to her heroines. She is a working writer, whose career includes writing books, teaching online and live workshops and penning short nonfiction.


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Second Paragraph
Every writer faces it.  Every writer worries and dreads that it is going to arrive.  You sit down to type, whether it is a novel, an article or a blog entry, and there it will be: a blank document with a blinking cursor asking you to begin. 

We sit in our chairs, ready to write, the ideas in our head ready to pour onto that page, but we just can’t get it. We can’t get it to sound perfect, moving from our mind to our fingers, even when we think we know what to say.

“Why don’t you just start on the second paragraph,” Lucien Carr said when he at worked at the United Press International, no doubt kick starting a writer at a type writer. And Carr was right. Sometimes skipping the beginning to fill in later and moving on to what comes next is all it might take to get forward momentum.

Hitting a wall of “writer’s block” can be cured by something as simple as Mr. Carr’s suggestion.  You can’t get that first paragraph to work, move down the food chain to the second and see if that doesn’t jump start your ideas.  Sometimes something as simple as going back to write the beginning last can fix the problem.

If hitting the wall, however, turns to jumping off the cliff, then it might take a little bit more creativity to break through.

Ted Schwartz, in his book Time Management for Writers gives excellent advice on multi project.  It is, as Mr. Schwarz says, only writers who set off to work on one solitary project at a time giving it your full interest, until that interest is burned out. “Doctors see several patients. Lawyers see several clients … but writers often believe the myth that they are not being professional unless they stay with one project through to completion …”

Editing a book?  Have you started the research on the next, giving equal time to both projects?  Have you volunteered to guest on a blog? How about your favorite RWA chapter?  I bet the editor of the newsletter would love to have you ask to contribute as well as serving on a board or committee.  Contest judging? Always a fun way to share our creative thinking while helping out while getting a chance to see what other people have to say.

The key to finishing a novel is regularity, to be able to face that first paragraph on a daily basis and say “This is what we’re going to do.”   You must commit to it with a set time and a set goal in order to move from Page One to The End.  Nothing can get in the way of this goal. Not TV programs, telephone calls, requests from family or even that cat who decides your keyboard is the warmest place in the house.  Here is a little known truth: You can move the cat.

On the days the book talks back rudely, telling us “writer’s block” is on the menu, then we need a to attack from a different angle, letting that book know it is going to get written.  We’ll just spend twenty minutes answering writing related e-mail, or maybe we’ll write an entry or our blog.  Or better still … we’ll start on the second paragraph and see what the story has in store for us.

 Jacqui Jacoby's newest release is MAGIC MAN



Detective Peter Mackenzie knew crime and knew his job. With The Cemetery Man schedule to leave the next body on the next grave Peter doesn’t have time for the puzzling Alexandra Madison. Her wild stories of a stolen life and family and friends who don’t remember her. Her last resort, she tells him is him and the relationship they shared. Peter doesn’t need this nonsense and his eccentric father walking in only irritates him more. Until his father utters the name everyone forgot, giving hope to Alexandra for the first time. 

Time is their enemy as the weekend grows closer and on Sunday, Peter knows another body will be waiting. 

What he doesn’t know, what he couldn’t know, even with Alexandra delving deeper into his father’s past, the victims are not random. They are chosen with reason and the monster who takes them is not done. She is coming for one of them.

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Thanks Jacqui! I tend to work in a linear fashion, but I have jumped ahead to writer certain scenes that are calling to me, and I definitely have worked on more than one project at a time - it's fun!

How about you? Anyone cheating on their MS with another MS at the same time?

31 comments:

  1. Excellent advice!

    "We can move the cat." Love it! The cat does get over it (eventually). :)

    Happy Monday to both of you.

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  2. Any way that gets it done is acceptable, be it outlines or winging it, starting at the beginning, starting at the end. I have jumped whole chapters once in a while, because that's the only way it comes out sometimes. Thanks for the post!

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  3. What a great idea to skip the first paragraph when you're struggling with it. I never heard that advice before. Thanks.

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  4. Great advice. Sometimes if you're stuck with the first paragraph and you don't go around it for a bit, you never get the rest of the story out.

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  5. Regardless of whether it's professional or not, my brain only works with one manuscript at a time.
    Smart to start with the second paragraph. Or basically, don't worry about the first one and just start writing.

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  6. I don't worry if it's the first paragraph or not, I just start writing. Often I either add more later or cut some to find my first one.

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  7. I like the idea of working on multiple projects, but that fear I won't complete anything always creeps in. It's true that other professions work with more than one client or project at a time. Sound advice, especially when a writer is stuck on a project. I guess the key is not to give up on a project.

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  8. This is great advice! Though I haven't skipped to the second paragraph, I do work on multiple projects at once, as long as I'm at different stages in each of them (outlining, drafting, grammatical edits, or more complex edits.) But now I'll keep in mind to try the second paragraph idea if I get stuck. Thanks!

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  9. Very good advice in this post Jemi! Thanks for posting. Congratulations to Jacqui on the release of Magic Man!

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  10. Elizabeth ... I rarely move the cat, but it has been known to happen. If it helps a story, anytime, right?

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  11. JeffO ... forward motion from any direction is what I say.

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  12. Natalie: I saw this movie with an actor I really like. He was playing Lucien Carr. I was so intrigued by the character I looked him up and he said that. Won me over.

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  13. Mason--As long as you keep the typing going ... works for me.

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  14. Alex ... if that is what works, run with it. I can switch around alot so I usually have three to five projects going.

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  15. L. Diane ... typing. That is the secret. Keep typing.

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  16. SA Larsen: At this very moment I was writing a novella called "Illegal Exits"; I have two blogs to write today, preparing two classes to teach in November and I am prepping for the NaNo to major proportions--probably my highest level of concentration. And then the blogs. Still need to write that letter to Charlotte, though.

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  17. Shelley, sounds like you have a good handle on it. Good luck.

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  18. Great post and awesome advice. Thanks for sharing Jacqui!

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  19. Jacqui - thanks again for dropping by! :)

    Elizabeth - that line made me laugh as well!

    Jeff - I'm thinking of jumping a chapter right now - haven't tried that yet :)

    Natalie - me neither and it makes so much sense!

    Mason - it sounds like a great way to get unstuck!

    Alex - I can write one and edit one - most of the time :) - but it's easier to focus on one!

    Diane - that's a good plan!

    Sheri - agreed! If I need a break I can work on something else, but I'm not dropping the first one!

    Shelley - I'm like that too :)

    Nas - agreed!

    Kelly - definitely :)

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    Replies
    1. Please let me know what you think!! I would love to hear the comments.

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  20. Great advice. I used to work on several manuscripts at once, but lately have concentrated on one at a time. Might be time to revisit the multiple manuscript scenario!

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  21. Great advice for writers getting blocked. Thanks for posting Jemi. Congratulations to Jacqui.

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  22. Hi Jemi and Jacqui,

    I totally understand the thoughtful advice. However, the every writer gets it in reference to writer's block, does not fit into the equation in my case. Then again, I've never considered myself a writer as such. I do know that to just sit there and force yourself to write is not natural. I also know that writer's block isn't happening because I can write aimlessly about alleged writer's block and thus, there is now writer's block.

    Consider this post and this excellent author's advice, shared.

    Take care, eh!

    Gary

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  23. I actually rather live for the first couple lines. They're the easy part. It's that middle where everything likes to get muddled that bothers me. =)

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  24. Beth - I just go with my heart :)

    RBH - thanks!

    Gary - thanks for sharing! I don't have enough time to allow writer's block anywhere near me! :)

    Crystal - those muddy middles!

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  25. Good advice! I go about it a little differently, by writing almost anything that comes to mind to just have something. The ideas usually come as soon as those first sentences are written.

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  26. I will sometimes jump ahead to write paragraphs or even just sentences when I think of something that I think should be in there. Once I get started writing I get going. Getting started is often my biggest difficulty.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Wrote By Rote

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  27. I have been seeing Magic Man around and it was great to learn more about it here. I loved hearing the advice from Jacqui. Starting with the second paragraph sounds like a tip that will work when writing gets sticky. Thanks for sharing!
    ~Jess

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