First Whole Novel Revision

Did it. I finished writing my next book in the War Unicorn series, standing now at 64K. The writing was a long and hard part. My relief is sweet, but short. Now onto the next hard(er) part (whole novel revision) before more revisions and sending off to my first editor for even more revisions.

Most of my chapters have already sailed through my critique group. They are a remarkable group. I find it amusing how one can spot things the others don’t, and that’s true for each person. I love my critiquers!

For this first whole novel revision, I’m basically using Darcy Pattison’s book Novel Metamorphosis. It’s meant as a workbook. The spine glue on my copy is coming apart even though the only writing in it is Darcy’s signing on the title page. The book is well-worn because I’ve used it for nearly every one of my manuscripts. This particular book is a bit more complicated than my others, so I needed wider eyes to evaluate it.

I just finished my Connotation Worksheet, found on page 69 of her book, but expanded it. In order see my characters more clearly, I adapted her basic form to my own categories. I have many characters. By doing this, I am able to see where to strengthen the individual’s relationship to his various aspects. These are some of my categories across the top of my page:

CHARACTER    FAV FOOD   SECRET   AFRAID OF   ANTAGONIST   MAIN GOAL/DESIRE

 Okay. Enough sharing with you all. Off to do more analyzing of my novel so I can revise better and delight you each with this book coming out in September. And here’s the cover reveal:

Carlson-WarUnicorn2Escape 4mb

Whole Book Revisions

I have a book which is half done-ish at 50K. That is, I’ve completed the rough draft of one of the character’s POV, with lots of hours of revisions and rewrites already done to it, which also means the word count fluctuates as I add or delete. I was going to start in on the other character’s POV. I mean, I already have done that with 18K down, but decided to hold off until NaNoWriMo in November to completely rewrite it and add a bunch of twists and complications. It is so hard to wait when all I want to do is write. In the meantime, until November 1st, I am doing a whole book revision on the first guy’s story.

Some of my writer friends love revisions as the best part of the writing process. Perhaps that’s because the story line is done, the characters already developed, etc. Revision means delving into both the big picture and the micro (even down to a single word use) picture. To me, that’s like wading knee-deep in mud. That said, I really, really like my completed revised drafts. I just whine pitifully all the way there. And these are just my own personal revisions, not an agent’s or editor’s input.

I’ve got Darcy Pattison’s shrunken manuscript workbook next to my tiny-print manuscript and go back and forth and back and forth between them. I’ve done the “simple” tasks of marking strong chapters, boxing off scenes, etc., and can’t help but also do some micro editing. Sorry, Darcy. I know. I know. Big picture first. And so much think-time! They never teach you that in writing classes/books. There’s so-so much think-time to writing a book.

After I do this particular whole book revision, I’ll then print it off again and mark any major, medium, or detailed changes still needing attention. And then print it off again for another look-though.

You would think I would be content doing whole book revisions. I mean, it is writing, after all, isn’t it? Well, in fact, no, it isn’t. Revisions are a part of the writing process, the part to make your story stronger, to plug up those plot holes, to make your characters more loveable…or more hateable. Whether I particularly like this bit of writing or not, it sure will fill my time for the next five weeks. And then–hurray!–I can start in on a new story which has been teasing me ceaselessly to pay attention to it, which is actually the other side-of-the-coin story.

(All right, Sandy, quit writing all these fresh words and thoughts and get back to work already! Revisions-ho!)

How Much Social Networking?

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Admittedly, I’ve been too busy lately to keep up with others’ blogs. I struggle just with planning out my AAA — Aggressive April Attack  with daily humor posts & writing daily poems & revising a novel). I’ve resorted to turning Darcy’s Fiction Notes into a weekly message since I was not getting around to reading so many of her posts. As much as I bow down to Darcy’s wisdom and writing advise, lately, I don’t even read those grouped posts. Today, I read a couple of her most recent ones — one was on social networking. She said to start small. Here were some of her suggestions of setting small goals: Make a goal of 10 comments a day. (Or do similarly on Facebook, posting daily and liking 10 things daily. Or new video daily and 10 comments on others. Or Tweet once a day and message 10 others.)
 

So… I didn’t comment or read anything more. It was just too daunting for this writer. Maybe I’m just unique that it takes me L.O.N.G. to write out even the simplest response (like this), because it gets me thinking, because it stirs a response, because I want to word my response well. You see, I’d rather spend more of my valuable writing time actually writing or researching or revising or submitting than responding to posts. Sure, doing what Darcy says gets your name noticed, published or not, and I love her gumption and challenges, and marketing (getting your name out there) is definitely a related topic. Responding to her post here on my blog has taken writing thought time. Off to write a poem and revise some more.

 

The Amazingly Creative Darcy Pattison

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A little behind on my email catch-up, but too early for epiphany (January 6), I saw this writing reflective article by author-speaker Darcy Pattison, and absolutely had to share it. In it, she gives writing tips from the song, “We Three Kings.” She also lists other writing tips from other Christmas-y subjects. Amazing, fun, and creative woman!

http://www.darcypattison.com/revision/7-writing-tips-from-the-3-kings/

SCBWI-MI Fall 2010 Writers Conference, Final Conference Post

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The final speaker-talk at our SCBWI-MI Fall Writers Conference was Darcy Pattison. She spoke on Social Media. First, she did a hand-show questionnaire. I must admit that I felt rather proud of our chapter with so many raising their hands to having a website, a blog, on FaceBook, on Linked In, on Good Reads, YouTube, etc.

Darcy told us to focus, that social media is driven by content.

Know who you are – What do you like to do, consistently?

Who is your audience? Kids? Parents? Teachers? Librarians? Writers? Illustrators? Your on-line presence is different, depending on your audience.

When do you do things on line? For instance, Twitter is today’s news gotten yesterday.

Where does your cyber audience live? (i.e., which listservs, forums, chats, etc)

Research what is typical for what you like. Follow 10-15 blogs. Join in on conversations; leave comments.

Why do social media? Darcy did it to find a peer community. (I can relate to this point. When I lived in South Dakota, there were a total of twenty-eight SCBWI members in both North and South Dakota combined. The closest member to me lived several hours away. My live critique group in Rapid City were all adult writers who thought what I wrote was “nice.” Yeah. Needed more than that – a peer community.)

Put sustenance of real value on your blog. Don’t let it just be about me, me, me. Let what you say be of value to your audience.

 There was so much more she shared, lots of interesting details or suggestions. Buy her books or CD, or go to a conference or retreat where she is a speaker. You will not regret it. Check her out at www.darcypattison.com (Thanks, Darcy.)

SCBWI-MI Fall Writers Conference, Part I

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Our SCBWI-Michigan Fall Writers Conference is going on this weekend. I am commuting since it is: 1) close to where I live; 2) cheaper than staying there; (Those reasons should probably be reversed, but I’d sound too cheap if I wrote it out the other way.) and 3) I get to see my husband, and sleep in my own bed, actually sleep during  conference! Nice.

Our speaker for Friday was fantasy author Cinda Chima. She spoke about fantasy. (Surprise.) She directed us to: Why write fantasy? What are the categories of fantasy? And, what is magic? To greatly summarize her talk, she said that the elements of fantasy are character, setting, plot and magic, with magic being why it is fantasy, and the first three elements being the reason why others would want to read your story.

I do enjoy live writing conferences. It has been wonderful (as I anticipated) to see all my writing friends whom I only see at conferences, and some I’ve only known via the internet. I was also able to eat dinner with spot-on author-speaker, Darcy Pattison. Words flow from her mouth like diamonds. I was in a workshop with Darcy several years ago, and have her Novel Metamorphoses book, and get her Fiction Notes. Since I’d invited her to this conference, I didn’t expect anything less than diamonds.

Last night, I also had to privilege to introduce myself to Tor Senior Editor, Susan Chang. I was the one who invited her, too, to the conference, so naturally, I was looking forward to meeting her and listening to her pearls of wisdom. I’d heard many wonderful things about Susan pre-conference. Face-to-face (even for a minute) has been a thousand times better. First impressions are very… impressionable. She is gracious, knowledgable, reasonable, an excellent listener, quite charming, and (I’ve been told) humorous. (No, I am not buttering her up! She truly is quite nice.) I look forward to her talks today and tomorrow.

My guess is that I will not post again about the conference until Monday. Need to focus. On to the writers conference.

Darcy Pattison’s Random Acts of Publicity, Part II

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This is good discipline for me. I read. I write. But I rarely review. For me to come up with even a short paragraph of something which makes sense, can take hours. I don’t want to offend, yet I don’t want to be all rosy. Which reminds me of the Rose Crystal Tower I saw today at Meijer’s Garden in Grand Rapids. It’s a huge tower made of glass by artist Dale Chihuly, but looks like it’s rose quartz! There were red reeds, also out of glass, standing on a hill behind a driftwood horse, which is really bronze. Giant glass flowers looked like they belonged there. Everywhere I turned I thought Ellie McDoodle would have loved to be checking out these glass sculptures.

Who is Ellie McDoodle? Why illustrator-author Ruth McNally Barshaw’s spunky character, of course. Barshaw has written three graphic novels for the 8-12 year old, similar to the Wimpy Kid books. Ellie is our young heroine , camping (in book one), moving (in book two), and doing an animal research project at school (in book three). Barshaw is also a Michigan author. So, check them out — both the glass sculptures at Meijer’s Gardens until the end of this month, and the Ellie McDoodle books, available for a long, long, long time at a bookstore near you! Enjoy.

How To Write When There Are Others Around, Part IV — 1 More from Darcy Pattison

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In Darcy Pattison’s “Fiction Notes,” she addressed this very topic this week. There are too many other people to list who have also given suggestions. Gee. Sounds like a book idea! Wait. There are probably lots of books concerning how to write when there are others around.

One of Darcy’s suggestions is to use pen and paper. I do this so much — even journaling daily in marble notebooks — that I think about this suggestion about as much as I think about being a woman, i.e., it just is a part of me. So, thank you, Darcy, for rattling my brain a bit.

Not long after Hurricane Katrina struck, I headed south on a mission trip with PDA (Presbyterian Disaster Assistance). For the first few days, I helped cut trees and drag branches to the roadside for later pickup and became spotty with gnat and mosquito bites. During our shade-and-drink breaks, I’d whip the small notebook and pen from my back jeans pocket, and write furiously until we started up again. Then, during the leaders meeting, the director of the camp asked if anyone had a writer in their group — to work on the website, write down stories, etc. My fearless leader’s hand shot up, indicating that I was the only one in the group of 90-some volunteers there at that time who was “a writer.” One man from NJ who’d worked with me and the trees that week, confessed he wondered why I hid behind tree trunks scribbling all the time.

The next day, I was left alone in the tent camp, except for my gnat and mosquito friends, staring at the computer. The wall-canvases were pulled to the poles so I could look over my lonely territory. I stared at the screen, tried to organize my notebook thoughts, feeling lonely and deserted and wondering how I could stand the pressure of being the lone writer, and what I would write about first, when who wandered into the shade of my tent, but the big honcho in charge of all PDA camps in the area. Interview time!

I had lots to share with him from my scribbles to bring him up to current speed of the camp, and he gave me lots more to write about, dealing with the camp’s short history.

Robert Louis Stevenson (one of my literary heros) always carried pencil and pad with him and scribbled away notes and snatched bits of conversation. Of course, this was pre-notebook (computer) days. But there are many times when technology is unavailable even today. So… keep those notebooks and journals and a couple of pens (in case one runs out of ink on you) handy.

My Writing Rejection Goal for 2010

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I just read a post on Darcy Pattison’s blog about setting a goal of 20 rejections per year. It wasn’t the rejection bit which she stressed, but she was saying that at least 20 times you’d have submitted your “baby” somewhere.

This idea was a twist to my goal of 4 subs per month — making mine 48 possible rejections (or never hearing back from), and I’d like to stress the possible part. Since I’ve been working on mostly revisions for the past couple years, my submission level has somewhat dipped; to be honest, it has very much dipped in the past two years. But my thought on that is that I am getting my story/stories stronger. Each month I feel that I learn new things about the craft of writing. This means I’m (hopefully) becoming a better writer, enough to someday stand out in the eyes of some cautious, but very supportive editor (or agent).

Thanks for the poke, Darcy. But I think I’ll pass on a Writing Rejection Goal, and go back to mere submission goals. I know the rejections (or worse yet, the ignorings) will come. I’m just more the-cup’s-half-full type of person. But 20 subs for 2010 isn’t such a bad goal to shoot for.