4

How I Edit

Well, hello there. I think it’s time I gave you guys a proper post, don’t you agree? I’m sorry for the silence, but silence means I’m working on things. Lots and lots of things that I think you will enjoy. Mainly, I wrote the sequel to The Sight Seer! Yep, from June 8th to August 12th, I was hard at work on the first draft. It took me longer to write than Seer did, and I had my moments of, “THIS IS SO BAD WHAT AM I DOING?!” but that always happens. To every writer. You just can’t let it get to you. In the end, I kept plugging along, and I’m pleased with the results.

So what happens after I finish a first draft? Revisions! Lots and lots of revisions! Every author is different, of course, but I thought I could share my process with all of you. The first thing I do after finishing a first draft is take a break! Writing takes its toll on me; I have trouble sleeping (I have lots of crazy, vivid dreams), and sometimes it’s difficult for me to form coherent sentences. My brain obviously needs some time off, so that’s exactly what I do. Watch some TV. Read a book or two. Relax. Don’t even think about the manuscript that’s sitting on my computer, ready to be revised. This time around, I had something else to work on, so I finished that first, and then started on my edits. For the first time ever, I loaded my first draft on my Kindle, and read it off of there. And what a difference it makes! I do not enjoy staring at a computer screen for hours on end, so when I edit, I can only do a few chapters at a time. Plus, you know, there’s tons of things to distract me (Twitter, email, Facebook etc.). My Kindle has no distractions, and the screen does not hurt my eyes at all, so I can easily edit a huge chunk at a time. And I think it’s easier for me to find typos (missing/incorrect words, especially). Because my computer is full of distractions, I end up writing any changes I want to make in a notebook. I’m probably doing double work here, because then, later, I have to open the document and find the spot I want to change, rather than change it the moment I see it, but like I said, DISTRACTIONS. This way, I’m avoiding them altogether. Searching the document for the changes isn’t that horrible, in all honestly. I’m going to continue using my notebook (I even took advantage of a great back-to-school sale and bought a new one!), because that method works the best for me.

So I do this for the entire manuscript. What’s next? Sending it off to my beta. She reads it, fixes any typos, and tells me what does and doesn’t work. After she finishes, we discuss what doesn’t work in detail, and I will rewrite whole scenes if I have to. I send her those newly written scenes, and we hammer them out until we both agree they finally work. In a perfect world, I would just send her the manuscript and she would read it and say, “Everything is great, no changes are necessary!” But of course that would never happen. Sometimes, I can’t get a scene the way I want it until I discuss it with her. I’m very thankful to her and all her helpful input!

After I receive all of her edits, I then go back to my manuscript and start making changes (I should mention that these are all saved on my computer as different files. The first draft is the raw, unedited version. The second draft is the one I make corrections to. The third draft is the one I make corrections to using her suggestions. I like looking at the different drafts; sometimes there will be something in the first draft that I deleted for the second one, but decided to put back in the third draft. You don’t want to lose this stuff forever, because you never know when you might need it again!). This doesn’t take as long, and doesn’t require my Kindle. However, once those changes are in place, I will reread it one more time (with my trusty notebook by my side)! It’s only after that do I start passing it on to other people.

It’s a long process, as you can see. I’ve been asked about the sequel, and I wish I had a date, but as of right now, I do not have one. The story needs to be edited and approved and all that fun stuff before I’m given a date. As soon as I know it, I’ll let you guys know. Until then, it’s back to work! And hopefully I’ll remember to post more often.

Advertisements
0

4/14/13 Author Event

On Sunday, April 14th, I had a chance to attend another book event at Books of Wonder in Manhattan. This one featured five authors of supernatural or paranormal books. I haven’t had a chance to read any of their novels yet, but everything sounded so interesting that I’m definitely adding them to my to-read list! And all five books varied greatly from one another. There was a book about missing girls, one about witches, another about Frankenstein’s daughters, a book set 400 years in the future in Brazil, and a book about memories.

006 (Small)

The five authors were (from left to right) Nova Ren Suma, Brittany Geragotelis, Suzanne Weyn, Alaya Dawn Johnson, and Jesse Karp. They started off the event by reading passages from their novels, and then answered questions from the audience. As always, I enjoyed hearing other authors talk about how they write and edit. For example, I’m not the only one who hates to share a manuscript until it’s been edited quite a few times! They even talked about National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo); Nova Ren Suma said she attempted it once, but failed. And Brittany Geragotelis talked about Wattpad, which I had never heard of until then! Free stories, how cool is that?

The weather was nice and I had a chance to do some exploring, but due to another commitment, I had to rush home sooner than I liked. I’m hoping to take advantage of another warm day and go back to the city in the very near future, camera in hand.

9

The Outline

Here’s a confession: I don’t enjoy outlining. I’m not one of those people who sits down and HAS to know what happens BEFORE writing the story. Oh no, I make things up on the fly. While writing my latest manuscript, I kept telling Amy, “Yeah, I’ll figure out the ending when I get there!” Which I eventually did, although it took me a couple of tries to get it right (not just the ending, I mean. The whole manuscript!). This is perfectly normal, and I highly doubt an outline would have helped me get the story to the place where I wanted it to be.

One time I spent a summer outlining a story I knew I was going to write for National Novel Writing Month. I was commuting to college and spent my time on the train writing out every single thing. By the time November rolled around and I sat down to write the actual story, I was bored out of my mind. I had basically written the thing already, now I was just adding in the details. I already knew the story, and had no desire to, in effect, write it again. Lesson learned, I never outlined like that again.

002 (Small)

When I’m writing, I keep notes in whatever notebook is closest to me at the moment. I do take notes on the computer as well, but there’s just something more satisfying about grabbing a notebook and curling up in bed to scribble down names, descriptions, and plot points. It feels more real to me. And it’s convenient. Maybe I’m trying to fall asleep, and I suddenly think up an important plot point. It’s much easier for me to grab my notebook than my computer. Again, this is just to take notes, or maybe quickly write out a scene or dialogue I just know I’ll forget the next morning when I wake up.

For potential sequels, however, I do try to outline the plot because I know I’m not going to go back to the story, the universe, the characters, for months, maybe years, and I don’t want to forget what I had planned. But again, it’s all very basic, because I WANT to give myself the chance to fill in the plotholes as I’m writing. I’m not sure how other people outline, but mine look a bit like this:

A and B go to the movies

  • A suddenly screams and says she saw a ghost(?)
  • B tells her she’s crazy, there’s no such thing as ghosts
  • A gets mad and storms out(?) or maybe she stays, and gets mad at B later(?)

That’s exactly how I do it. Characters are reduced to the first letter of their first name, and question marks for anything I’m not sure about. The question marks don’t bother me, because I know once I’m writing the story, I’ll figure it out. I just list the basics, no little details. And, of course, the outlines are NOT permanent. They’re just there as a guide, a reminder of what I want to happen. But the possibility of me changing things halfway through the story is more than likely.

I have outlined while in the middle of writing a story. With one manuscript, the beginning was far too long and plodding, so I ended up starting over again, deleting a huge chunk of it as I revised. To help keep myself focused, I outlined the middle and end, and followed those notes (again, my summaries for chapters were ONE sentence each. No excessive detail!) as I wrote. I’ve noticed, also, that when I’m creeping towards the end, I will outline what I want to happen as a way of encouraging myself, to show that the end is in sight and I just need to keep at it a little bit longer. I guess I don’t have a set method when it comes to outlining, besides knowing that I cannot plot out the entire thing in extreme detail and still be interested in actually writing it.

Do you outline? If so, is your method similar to mine, or do you have you own way of doing it?

5

Back It Up!

Here’s a silly question, but for those of you who write (or draw, paint etc on your computer), do you back your documents up consistently? I ask because in this day and age, when you can get a USB drive in just about every shape/color/animal possible, I still see people bemoaning the loss of their work when their computer dies. I can’t help but wonder, why aren’t you backing your stuff up?

I’ve always made sure I’ve had copies of my stuff somewhere, either on a CD or an external hard drive, but once I started writing things that I hoped to publish someday, and my laptop got older and slower, I invested in a simple 2GB USB drive. It sits on a shelf on my desk, directly over my laptop, and when I finish with a session of writing and/or editing, I immediately back up my stuff. Every single time. Multiple times a day, if I need to. In addition to that, every few months I’ll email myself copies of all of my manuscripts (completed drafts and works in progress). This is especially necessary during natural disasters (hey, we’ve had two hurricanes in two years over here!). Even if I were to lose my laptop AND USB drive, at least I would still have the manuscripts!

Do yourself a favor and back your work up as often as possible! You never know when your computer will turn on you, wiping away a day, week, or even MONTHS of hard work.

1

A New Beginning.

Just a quick note to let you all know that my lovely agent, Brittany Booker, has launched The Booker Albert Literary Agency! They are accepting queries, so check them out to see if your manuscript matches their interests.

I’ve also been getting quite a bit of traffic thanks to their site, so hello to everyone who’s been dropping by! Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about writing, querying, or any of that fun stuff, and I’ll do my best to answer.

4

The Perfectionist Problem.

Being a bit of a perfectionist, it’s impossible for me to send my beta an incomplete manuscript. Oh no, I need to have the whole thing written, edited, revised, and edited again before I can send it to her. And even then, if it’s not quite where I want it to be, I get all nervous, knowing she’s reading something that’s not, well, perfect.

Which is so ridiculous.

Take my current manuscript. Novel Number Nine. I wrote the first draft and then went back and proceeded to rewrite a huge chunk of it. There are still a few parts that I’m not completely happy with, but after writing some chapters two, three times, I knew I needed a fresh pair of eyes to look at it. She’s currently reading through it for the first time, letting me know which parts don’t work. Those parts are usually the ones I had problems with, and after emailing one another back and forth, I’m able to finally turn the scenes into what I want them to be. The whole process is actually a lot of fun, too!

I don’t think I’ll ever be able to write a chapter and pass it on to her just like that, without having the rest of the story written. Once a perfectionist, always a perfectionist. But at least I’m now able to pass along a flawed story without feeling (too) uneasy about it!

0

Distractions (the fun kind).

Progress report: I’ve managed to write every day since I started this new project on the 12th! This is very surprising, considering the distractions in my life:

I’m probably the last person alive to discover how amazing this series is! I’ve been wanting to watch it for awhile, but only just started a few short weeks ago. I’m in the middle of the third season, and hope to catch up soon. It’d be great if I could watch the new episodes as they air! But seriously, The Big Bang Theory is great. I’ve never laughed this hard over a TV show, ever.

I don’t play very many video games, but I’m a huge, huge fan of the Kingdom Hearts series. I own and played every game in the franchise, and right now I’m in the middle of their newest one, Dream Drop Distance for the 3DS (no spoilers, please!). What’s not to love about these games? Great music, a chance to interact with Disney characters and their worlds, and, of course, a compelling storyline. When I play these games, I end up devoting a few months of my life to them, trying to get every little thing so I can get the secret endings. Needless to say, this game is constantly calling to me, begging me to play it.

And, of course, books. I’m not happy if I’m not reading. I read as fast as I can, and still, my to-read list never shrinks! But I’m definitely not complaining!

So how does one compete against these distractions? My usual routine is: write first, fun stuff later. I’ll “reward” myself with some game time if I can pump out 1000 words in the manuscript. Things like that. I also find the writing itself fun, so it’s not like I’m forcing myself to get through work so I can go play. If there’s ever a time while writing where I do feel like it’s a chore, I take a step back. Churning out words just to make the word count go up does not equal good writing. If I’m not enjoying it, I probably won’t enjoy what I’ve written, either. Luckily this doesn’t happen too often. Maybe it’s all these distractions that help keep me happy!