31 March 2014

Sticker Shock

As you may know, I'm in the process of rewriting the manuscript of my first book and writing the second book. Both of those will be parts of a larger series.

Last night, I was reading on a blog that belongs to a literary agent company and got sticker shock. One of the blog posts by one of the agents gave the numbers for word counts of varying types of books. So, naturally, I copied and pasted my novel into a single document (instead of the individual chapters that it is in while I'm working on it) and checked the total.

Now, I have been very aware that what I have in the first draft is the skeleton of the novel. In the second draft, I've been adding to the story, rewriting scenes that don't work, and fleshing things out. I'm aware that my descriptive passages are pretty scant, and that my dialogues are few. Most of the book is the bare bones of action that get us from the start to the end, and it's getting beefed up. Slowly, but surely.

Turns out, I have a little over half a book.

Even knowing that I'm adding muscle to the bones, I'm still in shock. I didn't think I was quite that short (roughly 35,000 words short) of having a viable novel. It's a bit disheartening.

It's not as though I can't write another 35K words. In fact, I knew the story was going to be longer after this rewrite. I haven't even gotten to the part that needs the most added to it. And, I'm still planning to write multiple books in this series, so that's not much in the broader scheme of things. It's not as though I won't write more. I'm not going to just give up and say, "Well, I'm pooched," and just forget the whole thing. That would be silly. But it is a little discouraging to know that I'm that far from being marketable.

So, now I get to take that new-found knowledge and put it to use. I'm treading that line between "just sit and write and don't worry about all that other stuff" and "study the requirements so that you know how to tailor what you're doing to the market for it." Wish me sanity!

In shock,

18 March 2014

Writing Exercises: Declutter

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I'm skipping ahead to the eleventh writing exercise, because that's where I am with the actual work, right now. I will probably go back and do some of the exercises that I have skipped, as they become relevant, just in case you were wondering what happened to all the stuff on the list in between my posts.

Today is about decluttering, and that's part of the rewriting process that I'm in with my first draft manuscript. I have temporarily set aside my second book's development, in favor of rewriting the book that has all its bones in place.

Rewriting/decluttering is quite an interesting process. For me, it's not entirely about eliminating unnecessary fluff (as the exercise post would suggest), though there is some of that. For me, it's more taking the bones of the story and filling them out. I'm going through and identifying the questions that the current manuscript leaves unanswered. I'm finding loose threads and deciding if the thread goes or gets more fully woven into the book.

The biggest decluttering moment for me was deciding what the key component is of the story, and it was one of those "aha!" moments when I remembered that the story I was writing is God's story. It changed the impetus of the whole book for me and released me to make changes. I have been cutting things that I was very pleased with (at least writing-wise) because they don't work with the overall theme. It's very freeing.

I've decided to take one story line at a time and address each individually and entirely before moving on to the next story line. I found that there were questions leftover in each story, and the theory is that completing each story individually will most likely help me to end up with a coherent book. I'm down to the last chapter or so of the story line I was working on yesterday, and that feels pretty good. Yesterday, after a hardcore workday, I spent nearly as many hours rewriting as I had in my full-time job, and managed to work through draft 2 of five chapters. Let me tell you, I was fried, but in a good way, when it came to bedtime. My brain is still sizzling.

My estimate for the book is that draft 3 will go out to my test readers for review. The second draft should be pretty good, but the third draft should have all but the minutest of details addressed. My current intuition is that I'll be comfortable receiving feedback on that version. I'm hopeful that only copyediting will be needed at that point, and I'll be able to move on to publishing and focusing on book 2 (and the rest of the series).

Making progress,

{This writing exercise is the eleventh from "15 Habits of Great Writers," which I came across on Pinterest.}

17 March 2014

Writing Psychosis

No, I am not intending to make light of any mental health issue. It's just that I think sometimes we all feel a bit crazy for one reason or another, and right now mine seems to be tied to my writing. 

I told my mother and my best girl friend in the last few days that I'm feeling a bit schizophrenic. My brain is so occupied with the writing exercises, backstory writing and development, rewriting of the first book, story line development for the second and later books in the series, etc, that I feel like I'm having a hard time keeping on task with anything. Especially things that are unrelated to writing. How can I possibly expect to work through a spreadsheet analysis in a coherent and rational manner while the creative part of my brain is going full-tilt to develop names, ideas, and prose??

I'm guessing that this is some glimmer of what it's going to continue to be like, as long as I create. I feel this way when I'm working on sewing or crafting, too, especially where those activities intersect with the practical, everyday mundanities. This reminds me of the quote from Terence Blacker I came across on Pinterest, last night. 
As much as I'd love to be a full-time housewife, if I have to do something else, it would be oh-so-nice for that something else to be writing, rather than corporate spreadsheet work. :) 

Forgive my mad ramblings.


10 March 2014

Writing Exercises: Build

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My darling husband and I recently attended the premiere of a short film that was created to use as a conversational tool in the pro-life advocacy world. One of the things that struck me about the film was that the creators put in the work to build it to completion. It takes a lot of effort to create a film. It took a lot of people, a lot of time, and a lot of effort.

God often inspires us to do things, but what we do with the inspiration, at least in my case, is somewhat lacking. How many things has God given my brain and I let them sit until they're lost into the recesses of my memory? How many stories have I not written? How many gestures have I not made? How many gifts have I not given? Sadly, too many.

Well, I'm working on following through with my books. I haven't done a lot of the rewriting, for one thing because the uninterrupted time I have tends to go to my job. I am thinking about taking a few days off and just working on that.

I have, however, been writing. I've been writing back-story and descriptions. I've been writing things that may not end up in any of the books, that may not be seen by anyone by me, but that help me think in an amount of detail that, I believe, will help me create richer images in the books. Perhaps the story of the First Dark Queen's curse won't ever be shared. Perhaps no one cares about the geography of the continent(s) where the stories take place. It helps me, though.

I have taken some of my thoughts and created a map, which helps me mentally place how things need to happen. I'm not much of an artist, but it helps me visualize the story line. It also has broadened the possibilities to me, and I have begun a list of potential story lines I can pursue in future books. I'm building, however slowly, the foundation that I can use to build a series.

Yay, me.


{This writing exercise is the eighth from "15 Habits of Great Writers," which I came across on Pinterest.}

07 March 2014

Writing Exercises: Practice

Or "practise" for those who hold with British English. :)

Specifically, the challenge for today is to "practice in public."
  • Pitch a magazine you want to write for. Follow some of the templates in You Are a Writer. This article might help, too.
  • Ask a friend (or stranger) to guest post on his/her blog. Here’s another useful post.
  • Publish something on your blog you’ve never shared with anyone. Take a risk (we’ll be doing more of this soon).
  • Submit that book proposal. Don’t “work on it.” Finish it. Send it off. And say a little prayer.
Well, I don't want to write for magazines. I don't know that I have anything to guest post about, and my books aren't ready for me to submit proposals, so blog it is!

Technically, I've already done this, since I basically announced on here that I'm a writer and that I have written the first draft of my first book. The thing is, I'm fairly certain that I don't have a blog following, so announcements in empty rooms (and equivalents thereof) don't mean much.

To be honest, blogging sometimes feels somewhat egotistical. Sometimes I feel that sitting down to type out a post is basically saying, "I'm so very important that you should know how wonderfully important I am, too! Look at me! Look at me!" And then, being the introvert/hermit that I am, I cringe and don't post anything. haha. So to write this post about my books is not comfortable for me. It is, however, practice.

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There are times that words well up in me, and I simply have to write them down. There are times that I have had the words, failed to write them, and then regretted it. I didn't want the story in my first book to be one of those things. I had thought of a piece of the story line (though I think "was inspired with" might be more accurate), and I actually followed through and started typing it out. It was actually pretty good, so I told my parents about it. They each wanted me to read it to them, and then they each encouraged me to keep writing. In a fairly short amount of time, I had 21 chapters and a decent story.

I recently visited my parents, and they had me read the entire book to them. On the trip, I began the second book. One of the beautiful things about reading what you've written out loud is that you find out where the flow is broken, where the ideas don't work properly, and where you need more or less explanation, so that process helped me see that the book would need a rewrite. I began the rewrite yesterday.

In the rewriting process, I'm not scrapping anything and completely starting over. I'm actually building more detail and fleshing out what I didn't realize was bare bone until I read it aloud.

I had already had a list in my book journal of questions that had gone unanswered, of ideas I'd like to develop, of story lines that didn't come into play, etc., so now I'm adding to that list.

There are several story lines that I know are percolating that were either tangential to the stories in the first book, or didn't come into it at all. Those are books yet to be written. There are questions that I could have answered in the first book, but never quite got around to answering, so now I'm looking for places to pull those answers in-- and this feels, to me, like working a snagged, loose thread back into the garment where it's supposed to be.

Toward the end of writing the first draft, I got so caught up in the momentum of the unfolding events that I failed entirely to explain what was happening, even though I could see it clearly in my head, so now I'm going back and writing those scenarios more carefully.

There's an entire running metaphor that I pulled out of the first draft, because it wasn't working, but didn't entirely eliminate from everywhere it was mentioned, so now I get to deal with that. Do I rework it and put it back in? Do I erase all mention of it (which is where I'm leaning) and not even try to explain it? It's a conundrum, surely.

The biggest problem I have at this point is the fact that I don't yet know the names of the books or the series. I'm not saying that they don't have names. I'm certain they do. It's just that they haven't introduced themselves to me properly, so we're carrying on these deep conversations, getting to know each other intimately, but we're both kind of referring to each other as "you" and "um" instead of by name.

Anyway, this is more information than I've shared with anyone about my writing process and my first book(s), so if there's anyone reading this, welcome to my world!


{This writing exercise is the fourth from "15 Habits of Great Writers," which I came across on Pinterest.}

Writing Exercises: Initiate

Alright, so I'll be honest. The challenge for yesterday was to get up 2 hours early and write, but I don't function as well in the mornings, and I didn't do that. I'm not likely to, to be completely frank. Well, at least not unless that's the only way.

I did, however, actually do some writing. I started the rewrite on the first book, and I hand-wrote in my book journal some of the backstory (8 pages worth) for the books. I also initiated a conversation with my husband about some plans which include the possibility of publishing, so there's that.

Since the key point about getting up early was to "make room" to write, I think I'll stick with making room during the part of the day that I'm mentally functional. Now, where will it fit today?


{This writing exercise is the third from "15 Habits of Great Writers," which I came across on Pinterest.}