What I’ve Learned About Whole Book Writing – One, Two! One, Two!

Nearly everyone in the profession says to first get your story written – the rough draft bit. Only from that point can you see: 1) character development; 2) plot twists; and most importantly, 3) the big picture. Here, you might be like me, and after seeing all the holes and inconsistencies, you drop your head to the desk and never want to write another word, because calling what you spent months writing a rough draft is simply being polite. But you pick yourself up to see what can be done.

After the rough draft is completed, you start hacking away at it, cutting scenes and even chapters which don’t push the story or character development forward. I’ve even thrown away major characters because they were redundant or didn’t serve much purpose.

Then comes your rewrite.

Then comes revisions, lots of them.

Then comes letting your critique group read some. Although sometimes my dear critique group reads subs which I later eliminate, but that is because they only see slices at a time (1-3 chapters) v.s. the big picture (whole novel). They do, however, keep me writing and writing and writing, as well as continue being terrific friends.

Then come the editor’s comments to address.

Then comes the word-by-word read to make sure every single word is right, and not just spelled correctly. (And sometimes, you all still miss some.)

My next book, Escape: The War Unicorn Chronicles, Book 2, is scheduled for a September 2018 publication date. A month ago, I switched plans and decided to combine two books. Whatever was I thinking? Plus, I feel writing in two points of view is distracting, both for the writer and the reader, yet here I am, doing just that.

It was only after finishing the rough/rewritten/revised draft of one and starting on the next, that I realized the two needed to be mashed together. I’ve already cut out about 20,000 words from the second story, but need to now finish that rough draft  to another 20- 30,000 words, making sure they not only make sense as one story, but that they mash seamlessly together. I’m painfully deleting from that first story. Painfully, because I adore those scenes, those dialogues, those descriptions and interactions, but…“One, two! One, two! And through and through the vorpal blade went snicker-snack!”

So…1) finish your rough draft; 2) delete and add; 3) rewrite; 4) revise; 5) send through critique group; 6) revise; 7) send to editor; 8) revise; 9) do word-by-word check; 10) release your baby to the publisher.

 

Why I Drag During NaNoWriMo – The Sloppy Copy Stage

It’s always about now – midway through November – when I tend to drag during NaNoWriMo, trying to get in my 1,167 words written each day on my project. Of course, there is the natural panic that about ten of my November days are packed with non-writing stuff. So right off, 50K in 20 days seems impossible.

Over the years of doing this, I’ve learned to make my story outline ahead of time, as well as resist the temptation to write on it at the moment (pre-NaNoWriMo). I’ve also learned to “bank my words.” In other words, I write more than the expected, steady 1,167 words each day. That way I won’t feel so badly on non-writing days. But now I’m in that awkward teen-age test out everything stage: the sloppy copy stage.

Years ago, I’d heard that phrase connected with rough drafts. I told my second graders that I didn’t expect that this sloppy copy would be their best-final copy, that there would be scratching out of words, different sized letters, squished words in the margins, etc. What I got back from even my best students were…works of art. They’d intentionally scratched out and smudged words, and made some letters small including some within the same word huge. Totally unreadable. They’d done as I’d asked, but not as I’d expected. (Bad teacher!)

Now I find myself in the actual sloppy copy stage of my NaNoWriMo project, and I feel like those second graders – intentionally creating sloppy work: writing in this character’s head, going off into a scene which will happen at least a year or two from the end of this book, rambling out on the keyboard about where I think the story is or should be going.

I am so off-outline at this point. It’s going to take me months into next year just to figure out all the paragraphs and chapters to shuffle around, or to simply delete. BUT AT LEAST I’m getting some words down, sloppy-sloppy-sloppy as they may be.

So all of you participating in NaNoWriMo, keep going! Don’t worry about your sloppy copy. Not until next year.

 

August Writing Challenge

 Literature Blogs

Here it is.. With three and a half weeks left in the month, the challenge I charge to you is to write 10,000 RAW (i.e., new) words by September 1. No, I do not mean for you to write out a list of words like erity, makeabee, xabertous, and bbbbletah. I mean, 10,000 raw writing words, put together into a rough draft stage of a new story or part of a story. Simple dimple, right?

Need a starter word? How about starfish? Or xabertous?

Ready? Set? Go!