Thursday, September 30, 2010
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
I thought I was editing SPY CHICK. I mean, I am. Or was. Or something. I plotted out the first third of the book and started rewriting and got through the first couple of chapters and...
here's the thing: I have no idea what I'm doing. There are huge gaps of things I DON'T KNOW about this book. In the first draft it was fine because I was all LALALA FIRST DRAFT WHO CARES IF IT SUCKS!!!??? and just went type-type-type even when I hated it and had no idea where I was going.
Except, now that draft is over. And it's different because this is the editing process and I'd like to know more than I do. In the past there've been a few book ideas I've had that I haven't been able to write for years (yes, years) because that's how long it took me to figure out how to tell the story and what the story really was. I'm starting to think this might be one of those books and I might be better of just putting it on the back burner because it's not as if I don't have a zillion other stories I could be working on.
So, I need your advice. Should I set SPY CHICK on the back burner and try to think through all the things I don't know (her past, who the love interest is, whether a main character is good or evil, etc etc etc) while I work on other things? Or should I just struggle through a second draft that might not be any better than the first draft? (Honestly, right now I'm leaning towards the first thing.) (And this isn't a case of me not knowing how to revise... it's this book in specific I'm having trouble with, not revising in general.)
SO HALP ME, PLEASE!!!??? What would you do in this situation? Have you encountered it before? Do you have words o wisdom??
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
In the aforementioned story-I’m-writing-with-Aud, there’s this exchange of dialogue...
“You should wear mascara,” I say, almost absentmindedly. I’ve said it before.
“I abstain for the greater good,” Nora returns. “The public just couldn’t handle it. Mascara and rectangle glasses, it’s a deadly combination.”
Just from this the reader has a sense of Nora’s character. There are some physical details that pop up; Nora wears rectangle glasses and probably has very pretty eyes, but light eyelashes. Also, Nora is witty and on the sarcastic side. In addition, there’s an idea of her relationship with the narrator—they’ve known each other for a while, probably are good friends, and are used to bantering.
That’s just one example of how awesome dialogue/dialogue tags/any conversation between characters can be. It’s generally showing-not-telling, giving a lot of information about characters--the best part!--and it’s more fun to read, anyway.
Monday, September 27, 2010
One thing I've learned about my writing style is that when I start writing a book, I have to WRITE it. I can't start writing it and then get busy and not work on it for a few days or weeks because it'll never go anywhere.
So I've come up with a crazy plan. A crazy plan that I'm probably going to fail at. But that's okay.
I'm going to start and finish the book in 5 days. Aka Monday through Friday. Since it's MG, I'm going to aim for 25k by the end of the week. That's pretty much the lowest possible acceptable MG word count but I'm also one of those writers that adds a LOT in the rewrites so I figure it's a pretty good goal.
That ends up being about 5k a day. Crazy, yes. Possible, I hope so.
Keep in mind that I cyber-school, so I'm not in school for 8 hours a day and I have the ability to work ahead on my lessons, which I did. There are a few days where I'll have to put in an hour or two of school work in the morning and I do have a few hour-long classes during the week but for the most part, I'll be able to write from about 8:30 until 3:30. Of course, I'm going to schedule in a few breaks and lunch because it's impossible for me to sit still that long.
I'm a little anxious to get started (I'm writing this Sunday afternoon) so I'm going to spend some time today outlining and brainstorming so I hopefully don't get stuck. This is definitely going to be an adventure!
(P.S. I'll be blogging about my process every evening at my review blog.)
Saturday, September 25, 2010
If there’s one thing we as writers do very well, it’s worry. Well, and procrastinate. (Facebook games, anyone?) But worrying is right up there, too.
I sometimes joke that I have a “list” of worries. While this isn’t quite true, there are a lot of things that I worry about in the back of my head. I worry that I won’t ever get an agent (even though I’m not even querying yet). I worry that if I do get an agent, I won’t get published.
I worry that if I get published, people won’t like or understand my characters, that they won’t buy the book, that (if it’s le WIP1 that gets out into the world) a certain character will be bashed, that my old high school/library will ask me to speak or something. (No, seriously, this terrifies me. I hated the high school I went to and I work at the library.)
I worry that people won’t like me.
Since I semi-like le WIP1 and I have friends who have told me they like it, I worry that WIP2 won’t be as good. I worry horribly that it’s not any good (even though I tell myself revising is a very good thing). I worry that my voice won't sound any different from project to project, that I'll just be writing the same voice over and over again.
I worry about all these things and many, many (many) more, but I don't believe I'll ever let myself stop writing, or stop trying to get my work out there in one way or another. I pretty much constantly have someone "talking" in my head, and I don't know how not to write.
So I don't let these worries get to me too much. (Some amount is good, I think, because it keeps you from getting a big head.) And I keep writing.
What are some of your biggest worries? What do you do to handle them?
Peace and cookies,
Friday, September 24, 2010
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
“Ted Hughes gave me this advice and it works wonders: record moments, fleeting impressions, overheard dialogue, your own sadnesses and bewilderments and joys.”
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
I’ll admit, I’m a thesaurus addict. When I’m writing I love to use the thesaurus to find even better or stronger or weaker, even, words to describe something. The smallest differences between words can create the largest differences between visions for me. It also helps build a huge vocabulary.
There’s a difference between knowing words and knowing how to say them, as I’ve found out. Multiple times. At one point I was reading aloud a section of Rain at BookFest PA and I got to the word “beige.” In my mind I read it as beejsh—you know, with jsh being the J sound in Jaques. (And I got that part right.)
“…a beige dress…” I read, and a motion caught my eye. It was my friend Katie, shaking her head and giving me a weird look. I spared her a look of my own before finishing the reading. After I was done and back at my table, she came over with her arms crossed.
“Beejsh?” she demanded.
“Um,” I said, “yes?”
She pursed her lips. “It’s bayjsh.”
“Oh,” I said. She shook her head again, and went on to grumble about past pronunciation offenses I’ve committed, which include “botanic” and “queue.”
The moral of this semi-rambling story: thesauruses are great. But look up a pronunciation before you actually say your new words.
In the time being, what's the best writing advice you've ever received?
Saturday, September 18, 2010
So remember last week when I talked about my difficulties with beginnings? Then remember Thursday when Kelsey posted about beginnings and middles?
(You don't? Okay, I'll remind you.)
I got stuck around 8k. Probably some part of that was because I was sick and cold medicine makes my brain foggy, but in the end, I was still stuck. Completely, utterly, oh-my-goodness, what am I doing, what the heck do I do now, stuck.
The process of dealing with it went something like this: I whined on Twitter. I cleaned my spare room. I whined on Twitter. I cleaned my bedroom. I whined on Twitter more. I cleaned a little bit of the kitchen counter where I throw stuff when I come home and it collects into a disaster zone. I whined on Twitter some more.
Then Sarah Ockler tweeted something and I remembered this post, which has helped me so many times in the past.
So here's my take on that.
You can click the image to enlarge it, but it's not the best picture. Here's how it breaks down:
The dark purple numbered cards: Things that had already happened. Not in any great detail. Usually about one sentence, each card may or may not make sense to anyone but me, but it works.
The green numbered cards: Scenes I've written that aren't in le WIP yet, one per line.
The magenta numbered cards: When that all was done, I thought about my WIP and I thought about what I wanted to happen and wrote it down. This didn't really need to be done on an index card, but it was way less intimidating to do it on an index card than on a piece of paper or a word document. Plus, that way I can keep it close while I'm writing.
So, that's all for this week. Sorry it's a little short (again) but I went to a craft show today and I'm exhausted.
Peace and cookies,
Friday, September 17, 2010
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Say you do have to do homework. You can use this as prime motivation for thinking about your story! How, you ask? Well. There are times when I need to expand on a scene, or think of a scene, or more about a character, and when I sit down to think about it, I'll find myself drawing blanks. I get my best ideas when my mind wanders, and apparently I can't always force my mind to wander. It has to be unintentional procrastination.
If you're like me, then use homework to your advantage. Once you have a pressing idea your mind probably won't let it go, so once you start reading about the Renaissance something will trigger a thought and that thought will trigger a different thought and pretty soon your mind will be wandering right down Story Idea Lane.
The point is, homework is a good device to use to induce unintentional procrastination.
(But then you still have to do the homework.)
Monday, September 13, 2010
When I first start writing, I write everyday. My wordcount soars. I'm so excited about the story that I just have to get it out. Then, I get past the few beginning scenes and start pushing my way into the middle. As long as I keep writing everyday, I'm okay. But once I don't write for a day and then another day and another, things get icky. I just don't care anymore.
I want to get the story finished. I want to get to the climax. But that excitement I felt when I opened my WIP every day? It's gone.
So when I do sit down to write, I find myself procrastinating instead. And sure, I could force myself to write but then I feel like I have no clue where I'm going, having been away from my WIP for a while.
The obvious treatment is to write every day and then hey, I wouldn't have a problem. As much as try to follow that, life keeps getting in the way.
So I'm currently left with a manuscript that needs to be written and not a whole lot of excitement about where I'm at.
Has this happened to you? What do you do?
Saturday, September 11, 2010
So maybe I'll just babble. I'm currently a few thousand words into a new WIP (work-in-progress) and it's hard. Let me tell you, I am not a glamorous writer. I whine on Twitter about my characters (dumb stubborn characters), I make fun of the names that Behind the Name's Random Name Generator comes up with... I had more, but the Nyquil is getting to me and I'm getting distracted.
Right now, though, my biggest problem is getting to know a new MC (main character). I spent a good two months in the head of someone whose voice was very strong. She had serious issues, hobbies almost as soon as I "met" her, had music preferences (she loves The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, likes Megan McCauley, loves Bat for Lashes and makes fun of Glee music but secretly loves the cover of Total Eclipse of the Heart - no, seriously), and was like a fully developed person by a few hundred words in.
In this WIP, the character is slower to let me know who she is. Her hair has gone from long to short, I'm not entirely sure how tall she is (it's important!), I don't know her last name, her parents' names...
So how about you guys tell me your tips for starting a new WIP! Because I'm fading and I have no ideas for a real post. This is a tiny bit of a cop-out, but I'm sick so you guys will forgive me, right?
Peace and cookies,
Friday, September 10, 2010
Thursday, September 9, 2010
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
I call it my Covert Writing Notebook. (Yes. It has to be in that font.) I use my Covert Writing Notebook to combat Boredom. Like in Subject X, when my teacher has us mindlessly copying notes, I'll race ahead with my sloppy handwriting, and covertly switch notebooks to a fresh page in my Covert Writing Notebook and have at it.
Hey, as long as your pencil is moving, it's pretty easy to get away with.
Today I Wrote Covertly and got almost an entire page done. In cursive. (I'm training myself to write in cursive, because my print is so horrible. At least cursive looks neater by default.) It's a great way to kick-start a difficult scene. When you're sitting at home on the computer, with a million distractions--twitter, facebook, email, brownies--it's hard to concentrate on actually starting that scene. But once you're in class, with those distractions gone--what else would you do? Actually take notes? That's crazytalk--it becomes easier to come up with a great way to start. Then once you get home you just have to copy it into the computer, and you're already in the middle and ready to keep rolling.
Which is what I plan to do now. (Be quiet, Homework.)
[Note: I'm not necessarily advocating not paying attention...]
Monday, September 6, 2010
One of my favorite things about having writing friends is that I'm often given the chance to read their work and offer my opinion on it. Sometimes these opinions can take a novel from pretty dang good to amazing and help turn the manuscript into something an agent is willing to take a chance on. Now, I'm not saying this makes me amazing or anything. Because it doesn't. It's the writer that's amazing and deserves the credit but there comes a point when we can't find all the flaws in our own writing and need someone else to point them out.
I love being one of the people to point them out. But, the first time I did it, I had no clue what I was doing. Now, I have a method. It varies slightly for every manuscript but here's my basic process:
1.) I read through the entire manuscript, almost as if I were reading a book. If something sticks out to me, I write it on a sticky note but at this point, I'm not specifically searching for flaws.
2.) Once I finish my first read-through, I start typing up a general overview of my feelings. I try to start out with some positive but genuine comments, then point out some things that make a difference through-out the story and effect the novel itself. Things I mention in this include characters or plotlines I feel could be developed more, possible changes to the plot, comments on the romance, and other things.
3. ) Then, I go back to chapter 1 and do a chapter-by-chapter critique. I usually stay away from those that need line-by-line critiques so what I focus on in this is pointing out unrealistic dialogue, confusing moments, if anything gets boring, as well as my favorite parts and lines that specifically stick out to me.
That's my general process, though I will tailor it to meet the specific needs of the writer. I also always remind them that what I say is purely my opinion and leave it up to them to take it or leave it.
Saturday, September 4, 2010
Jordyn (aka Wednesday) asked: What genre do you write? I mean, I know it's (mostly) YA but do you only write paranormal/supernatural or anything?
I do mostly write YA, though I've dabbled in adult novels but I don't quite have the voice down for that... and YA is more fun. :P I love paranormal and supernatural, and that tends to be my niche. I've had a couple contemporary ideas, but the voice never quite clicks. Maybe one day, though!!
Now, on to my post!
I am in the middle of revising le WIP1 at the same time as writing le WIP2. Which, of course, means I'm going absolutely crazy, because WIP1 and WIP2 are very different. WIP1 is darker, a little more emotionally draining. (And my MC curses like a truck driver. I do not curse at all.) WIP2, so far, is light but more challenging in different ways. (And the MC in that one does not sweat. At all. She's weird.)
As I said, I'm revising le WIP1 (which is called Spyder and from now on will be referred to as such because this WIP1 WIP2 stuff is giving me a headache). This is my... fourth round of revisions, I think. This last round was like the real, serious kind of revisions, fixing passive sentences, killing dialogue tags and adverbs, all that stuff that makes your writing stronger.
And I noticed something. I'm not always very good at being consistant with my facts. Even in WIP2, I noticed this. One of my characters went from having short hair to hair down to her waist with no explanation. Whoops.
This is okay in a first draft, but in revisions, it really need to be fixed. One of the things I did while revising Spyder was create a character fact list. I started this round of revisions (after a couple round of revisions where mostly I made sure everyone had last names, only two hands, and three demensions) and started a document where, as each character was introduced, no matter how small they were, I wrote down their name and, briefly, every fact about them that I stated as I stated it.
But Laina! You say. (don't you remember I can hear you thinking?) Isn't that, like, writing the book all over again?
Nope. But if you're totally confused, it's not you, it's me. I wrote this on a day that I woke up at 3am and was up til 8pm. Here's an example of what mine looks like.
- Brown hair, brown eyes
- Likes to cook
- Shoe addict
- Dating John Dear
If she were a real character, I would include important ages, food preferences, anything that I said in the book and might need to fact check later.
The reason I do this later is so that I don't have to search through the book to find things I've said, and my character's reactions won't be totally off-base. Supposed I say Jane Doe is an awesome cook. If she cooks dinner for John Deer, I know that it should either be successful or empasized how out of the ordinary it was for things to go badly.
I find that since it's in list form, it's more clear and obvious when things don't match.
And that's another one of the things I do to keep myself (sort of) sane while revising! How about your revision tips? Share 'em in the comments!
Peace and cookies,
P.S. If you liked the Ask Saturday thing, keep the questions coming!
P.S.S. Did you like the Ask Saturday thing? Would you prefer it like this or below the post, like... where I'm talking now?
Friday, September 3, 2010
Thursday, September 2, 2010
Have a great week, everyone!