Archive for 'drafting'
Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017
I’ve been doing a series of posts over at the Bookview Cafe Blog. I’m going to start mirroring them over here. They come under the heading of Writers Club. These are the Rules. Or Guidelines. Or something. Anyhow, here you go:
I’m not saying that self-editing is bad. It’s not. It’s just we often do it while writing and that’s when it’s evil. Sometimes we do it when we aren’t aware and that’s when it’s really awful.
When I first started out writing, I wrote for me and me alone. I was trying to entertain myself and so I didn’t worry about whether this would be offensive or that would be sappy or if readers would hate my characters. None of that entered my mind because it was all about the fun of telling myself the story and getting lost in it.
Then I published. This was a dream come true. But that’s when the evil self-editor started sneaking in to my creative zone. I’d write something and then delete it because it was too something: too off-color, too disgusting, too violent, and so on. That limited me in ways that I stopped noticing. I internalized those limits and made them an unacknowledged part of my writing process. It’s like a house. You don’t pay attention to where walls are or light switches because they just exist and are necessary and you’re glad they’re there doing their job.
Only really, the self-editor at this point in the process is really a saboteur. It’s a swarm of termites eating away your writing in secret and you have no idea it’s even happening.
Recently I accidentally started a . . . something. Since it’s well-over 45K by this writing, I guess it’s a novel. It started as just a fun thing I wanted to write down. My main character–Beck–is obnoxious and says things that are not polite and yet are very funny to me. I found myself writing on it constantly and racking up big word counts. I’d stay up late. I write through obligations. I’d forget time. At some point, however, I realized that I was losing her voice because I’d begun self-editing. I began to worry about what readers might think or how they might respond. So I slowed down. I started thinking more and being more careful about how I was telling the story, rather than focusing on actually telling the story and entertaining myself.
Not so coincidentally, I slowed down. I didn’t feel like writing on it as much. It took me a few days to figure out why and I wanted to smack myself for doing it. The thing is, the self-editor is important. Finding and questioning the issues of your story is very important, but not until you’ve written and know what it is and what it needs. I also don’t think your words and story should necessarily change because a reader my object or feel a little annoyed. You have to decide what’s good for the story. You don’t have to throw glitter on the ugly or soften all the rough edges. You have to tell a good story with powerful, compelling characters that engage your readers and carry them on a fun ride from beginning to end.
Writers Club rule: Revel in the creative, and chase the editor off with a pitchfork. Hunt it down, put it in a mayonnaise jar with holes in the lid until you’re ready to let it chew through your manuscript.
Wednesday, February 24th, 2016
I came back from the writing retreat having written 32, 281 words in basically 3.5 days. I am completely stunned. I have never written that much in that little time, ever. I worked on the sequel to The Incubus Job (comes out in just six days!!). It’s what you might call a zero draft. That means that I tried to just write story and not worry about the research elements, or making up names for particular people or things, and so on. I just put and asterisk and described what should go there. I’ll be able to search asterisks and fix those, though I’ll probably just end up combing through the whole thing when it’s done and revise and catch them that way.
I never write like that. Devon Monk encouraged me to try and it was kind of freeing. I’m going to use that technique in the next couple days to write an anthology story I have due soon. I doubt I can do 10,000 words a day since I’ve got obligations here that I didn’t have in the rainforest, but I think I could get at least 4 or 5K. If I don’t get bogged down in doing stuff on the net. I’m thinking of getting the Antisocial app, but I’m wondering if there’s a free sort of thing out there that works the same way.
The writers retreat is at The Rainforest Resort Village which sounds a lot less rustic than it actually is. We got to stay in a cabin with a back sliding glass window and deck overlooking a very babbley creek and beyond that, the lake. Geese flew in and out and it was absolutely lovely, even raining most of the time. We had a fire going in the cabin and a little kitchenette, and we hunkered down and wrote like fiends. It was fabulous. I love doing this retreat and plan to go next year, crossing my fingers I register before they sell out.
Once I got back, I had to finish the copy edits on Whisper of Shadows, the next Diamond City Magic book, which will be out April 15. Got that done, then worked on the tax receipts. I always have the best intentions of inputting those receipts into my spreadsheet throughout the year, and I always have to do it right at the end. They were all in one place. I keep a file bin hanging on my wall in my office to stuff them into.
I also went out and bought some manure and worm castings for the garden, along with three plants for the rock garden we hope to put in shortly (we need to create better drainage in that location before we can.) My peonies are all in bloom and so are some other flowers. Plus the crocuses are up and so many. The former owners had planted them and this year some came up where they hadn’t before. I guess the wet this year really helped them.
I’m just about on schedule with my reading for this year. Trying to read at least six books a month, not including my own. Need to finish the one I’m reading–a British police procedural–to get my 12 for the year. I tend to let reading slip when I’m tired or really busy and just veg in front of the TV. I’m trying hard to avoid that and read, which most of the time I enjoy a lot more. A lot of them I get from Netgalley, which lets me discover a wider range of authors than I might ordinarily encounter, and a wider range of topics. So that’s been very nice.
And now, to go do some of that reading . . .
Sunday, October 4th, 2015
I had a kind and generous friend beta read the manuscript I’ve been working on. It’s something I’ve worked on for awhile and yet very quickly–at a couple writing retreats mostly, and then a little more. She made a comment on something that a character does and it totally messed with my whole plot. First, she was right. Her question was essentially–if that can happen at this point, why didn’t happen earlier when a similar situation occurred? My first reaction was to stick my tongue out and say Cuz! in that snotty voice of eleven year olds everywhere.
Obviously my first reaction wasn’t actually useful. The problem was I didn’t want to change my plot. Except for that one nasty little inconsistency, it works and it builds into a really good story. At least, it entertains me, and of course, I do this to entertain myself. But what to do about it? I considered. And pondered. I showered, where many solutions arrive. I made the bed. I folded laundry. I did dishes, walked the dogs, drove my kids to school and picked them up, and I couldn’t come up with anything. I attempted writing out some ideas, because that often jars things loose. Nope. Days passed.
I got entirely distracted from the problem by last week’s shootings. I don’t think even my lizard brain was thinking about solving this conundrum.
I got a brilliant idea to solve the plot issue on Diamond City Magic book 4. (I’m attempting to plot it out). This was NOT the knotty problem I’d been struggling with, but it was a problem. It’s a really solid idea and I don’t know if I can make it work, but it would solve all kinds of issues in terms of tension and stakes and developing the ongoing plot and deepening characters and conflicts. Obviously tremendously important, but not really an impact on my current dilemma.
I’m not entirely sure what the moment was when the solution arrived on the first manuscript problem. I trusted that would. I trusted that my head and my creativity would work on the problem and the solution would arrive. It has. It’s only a small change, maybe a sentence. It’s elegant and completely within the plot and characters.
My point here is, there are two somewhat contradictory truths to writing. One–you have to push and make yourself write and get words down. Persevere and make words. Tw0–you can’t force it. Sometimes you have to wait for ideas to flow out on their own time.
Now that said, I think you can court creativity. Woo it. Encourage it. You can’t wait forever and sometimes you have to prime the well. That might be through creative exercises, brainstorming, freewriting, and so on. Whatever it takes. Sometimes you write on something totally different, but encouraging the creativity on one thing can get it running on another. It’s like love: the more you have the more you make and can give more.
The main thing is that you have to trust yourself. That you can do this. That the logjam will break and the words will flow.
Thursday, September 3rd, 2015
I have this book that’s been poking at me for a long time. It’s not anything to do with anything else. I read a bit of it at Miscon a couple years back and folks there have been asking for more. Haven’t had time to work on it and I’m not sure when I will. But that’s not the only reason I haven’t touched it. The fact is that I don’t know where it’s going. I don’t know what’s happening with some of the things. I wrote three chapters and stopped, and the second chapter doesn’t fit.
I realized, just now, a few seconds before starting that post, that I don’t actually HAVE to know where it’s going to write it. I mean, I could try just exploring and seeing. These days, that’s not a waste, because I can always self-pub if no one wants it. The thing is, I like these characters and this story. A lot. It’s definitely romantic, and more of a lighter, dreamier urban fantasy. I wanted to get at the sense of wonder of magic in the real world, rather than the grittiness and danger.
But it does have spiders. Lots and lots of spiders.
So I’ve decided that in the little spaces between projects and such, I’m going to write on it. I’m going to explore and have fun and see where it takes me. And enjoy the ride.
Tuesday, June 30th, 2015
Let’s start with what has nothing to do with the title. My dad’s foot is infected again. Apparently the bone infection wasn’t completely gone. He’s now getting daily infusions for the next month, so they put a PICC line in. There’s a scary possibility that there might be gangrene. I’m not sure when we’ll know. Anyhow, we wait and hope.
As for the subject of the post, I hit a wall with the book. I backed up and chopped out about 3K words and now I’m trying to pick up where I”m going next and how this book is going to finish out and I’ve got about fifty gallons of stuff to stuff into a teaspoon. I can do this.