Friday, March 10, 2017

Procrastination with positivity

While not writing Zoe's Shadow, I've read-thru When Winter Comes four times -- each time I edited, mostly for word count, but also for continuity and content. I made a few minor scene adjustments, removed a ton of extraneous words and managed to pare 12,169 words and about 34 pages from the book.

It's hard to part with words. I write as I hear things. Each conversation has taken place a thousand times in my mind. Each character has a voice, and a cadence, phrases they say, word usage particular to them. They umm, they add helper words, just as we do in conversation. When I read, it helps me to hear them if they speak naturally like real people.

Lately I've come to understand that someone reading my work is not coming to it with the same ear. The voice they have inside their brains will not share my rhythm and intonation. Extra words, rather than being helpers, will bog them down, trip them. I've tried to keep the characters intact, but I've let go of expecting the reader to feel my beat.

One of the very first comments about When Winter Comes was from a friend of a FB friend who seemed rather callous in his remarks. I was happy that he read the book, and that he managed to finish it (despite being an adult male-- not the target audience). What he said stuck with me though.... 'too much local action'. In other words 'she reached for the door handle', 'he leaned back and sighed'.
I just made those up right now, but you get it. I was kind of hurt by his bluntness, yet I know that much of that 'local action' was stage direction. It didn't flow. It was just there because I thought it should be.

I can't rewrite the book from scratch, but having gone through it enough times, I have removed the fatty tissue. It isn't skeletal, but it's lean. I'm happy to have taken it to a manageable level, although for its genre, it's still somewhat high in terms of word count.

This weekend I'm going to give it one more go -- this time to breathe some life into the stale bits.

Wish me luck.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Editing is also writing

When I wrote When Winter Comes, I believed it to be as good as I could possibly make it. This past week, I've not only re-read it, I've been editing it. Mostly for word count, but when you edit for word count, you're admitting there is extraneous material. For me, it's lots.

I started editing this week and the word count was 131,416 --- today it stands at 124,274. The page count was 369 and so far, I'm on the third pass, I'm down to 352 pages.

What astonishes me is that I've lost no content. I haven't removed any scenes or plot points or even much description. Mostly I've lost a lot of 'local action'. It makes me realize how much I over write.

My goal is to try to reduce the count to about 110,000 which for a coming of age novel is still pretty hefty. Honestly, I still like the story and it doesn't seem like a long or arduous read even at its present length. I'm not sorry about having trimmed because I don't feel like I've had to gut, which I guess was my fear. I do feel in a way that I'm losing a bit of Sara's voice, but I'm ok with that.

This has taught me a lot . . .  about writing and about myself. I wish it hadn't taken me so long but I'm glad I've finally taken it on.

By the end of the month I will be finished and I will start resubmitting the new version with the original title and see how it goes. It's worth a shot.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Distractions

When I got the new computer, I also got a new keyboard. It has buttons that I have no clue what they do. I have thought about trying them out, but even though they are a distraction, I get distracted from them.

Only writers get writer's block :(
There's a lot going on in the world, in my life, with my family and I'm back to where I feel like writing is a luxury that I can't afford. When I take the time to even write a blog post, I feel like I'm stealing those minutes from something else. And yet, so much of my time is, by default, spent in front of a computer, and by accident, on Facebook and Twitter. :)

Seriously though... I don't know why something that is so important to me is so hard for me to put my mind to. I shouldn't have to be ready, but how long ago did I start this blog, already knowing that. Two chapters. That's all I have. And really... if I could write 500 words a day for 120 days ... I'd have a first draft.

Maybe I'm not a writer after all.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

A writer's holiday....

The best laid plans of writers seldom come to pass.

I haven't written a word. Well... not a fictional one that is. There just seems to be so much distraction around lately. Lately lol.

Since I set up the computer, I've added all of my email accounts, posted on my political blog and mostly played on FB and Twitter. So, it would seem that the lack of access to a computer was less of a problem and more of an excuse.

That said, I continue to plot. This is a good thing, although I suppose instead of trying to store it all in my head, I should use the computer to get it all down. Why am I procrastinating??

Tomorrow. Tomorrow and tomorrow.

If you never finish, you never have to worry that it wasn't good enough.

What a wimp.

It's a good story. It's mine. I have to believe that I'm up to it.

But then I spent more time looking at writing clip-art and memes than I do writing.

Well . . . back to work.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

#amNOTwriting

I have a computer again!

Twice, once in 1998 and now nearly twenty years later, my friend Michelle has been the recipient of computers that were being replaced by her workplace. Twice, I have been the beneficiary of this largess. I can't begin to express how grateful I am. Michelle has been clear: she isn't giving me a computer because I am without one, this is an expression of her belief in my writing.

I have the computer mostly set up, but for the keyboard which I'll finally get to tonight. Glenn might be giving me a desk and then I'm good to go. No more excuses. I'm so excited! There's something about an empty 'Documents' folder that makes me want to fill it.

Today I #amNOTwriting, but tomorrow-- Tomorrow is a shiny new day, just waiting for me to write on it.

 

Monday, December 19, 2016

The gift of the unexpected

Sometimes you think you know how things are going to go. You're so sure and you have it all planned out. Because life is life, you always know to expect curve balls, but in writing, when you've plotted, it's hard to imagine straying from your outline because although it's just an outline, and nothing is written in stone, you are in full control. You get to decide what happens next so it's weird to swing at a curve ball and hit it out of the park. It sure is fun when it happens though.

This story was meant to be Aiden's journey of discovery. In finding his sister, he would find his family and ultimately, himself. I only gave Emma a narration role because I needed to reveal things that Aiden couldn't possibly know. A better writer might have adapted, created a masterpiece where the reader would infer all of the things it did not read because Aiden wasn't writing, but for me, this was the only way I could figure to get it all out. I'd thought about changing to third person, but I've gotten so used to writing in first that the idea scared me more than changing speaker.

While writing as Em (who we all know as the little sister in 'When Winter Comes' -- which may be re-released as 'Care or Control' -- more about that another day). While writing as Emma, I found myself feeling like, okay, she could tell Aiden's story from a different POV, but why? She had to have a stake in this herself. Nothing came. It was hard to think of how to weave a storyline for her, in a way that might feel unexpected, and yet connected to Aiden. I think I've found a way to weave a subplot in that will somewhat explain or make understandable, Emma's investment in this whole thing. It's something independent of Aiden and of Zoe, and even Maybe-Zoe. It's her own life circumstance that she has to go through.

You sometimes think that you're stalled, that you'll never have another idea that will tie things together, and then when you least expect it -- there it is. Like so many good things.... you just have to wait for them.
 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

We interrupt this chapter to bring you something you hadn't thought of yet

I don't want to jinx it, but I've been writing.

They needed more words for the piece that's going into the anthology. Now, truth? I'd have liked to get it up to the 10,000 they wanted, but I got to 6k. It's over half... less than what I wanted, but more than I thought I'd get done a month ago.

It's weird about what I wrote. I'm pleased enough with it, but I'm still not sure if this is the way to go. My writing seems ok. The voice of the two characters I'm going back and forth between is maybe a little too similar. I'll need to work on that. I'm not sure there is too much of a distinction between how people speak, so much as what they say. And young people, friends, tend to mimic speech patterns so I'm not sure it's going to be an issue. The funniest thing though, was that I planned to end the piece one way, and ended another. As I wrote, the plan I had was interrupted in my brain, by something entirely different. It had an element of the story that I knew was going to happen, but not now... it was coming later in a different way. I was pleasantly surprised by this shift in thinking... the abrupt intrusion of a component that I hadn't been expecting forced me to rethink the action. It was fun in a way that writing hasn't been in a long time.

This is just the beginning... I'm barely two chapters in, but now that I'm writing again I feel like I need to keep going. I am far better with plotting than winging it, but I think allowing for change is important. For too long I've clenched, unwilling to yield my structured thoughts of how this story would play out. Now I've hit a bump in the road that my character was not prepared for .. that I was not prepared for... and I have to write my way out of it.

I feel like if I can do this for say, twenty more days ... I could have a book. Yay!

#amwriting