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Busy Times

I keep planning all these great posts to write, but there’s never any time to write them! I’ve been working on a few, small projects, but they’re enough to keep me occupied! Recently, I sent my agent Novel Number Nine, which she read and sent back with edits/suggestions. I got to write a new scene! Which, at first, I was a little nervous about (“What if I’ve forgotten how these characters speak/act?” I asked myself), but once I started writing, I realized there was nothing to worry about. I’m quite happy with the new scene, too. I also wrote a synopsis, which was ugh, not as much fun as I remembered. Did I once say I actually liked writing them? What was wrong with me? Finally, I’ve been working on a couple of outlines (and by couple I mean FOUR). Writing a few from scratch, tweaking others that were already written… I still haven’t figured out everything, but I’m sure it’ll come to me. Eventually.

I also want to write another entirely new book (or two *coughs*), but that’s nothing new. I always want to write *something*.

And of course I’ve been reading. Books, lots and lots books! I’m super psyched for Book Expo (one month away!), where I’ll come home with even more books!

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Changes and ideas.

Hey guys! I’m still here. I wish I had a reason for my silence, like I was writing another book or something equally exciting but, I don’t. Sorry. I have, however, started rereading the manuscript I wrote early last year while querying (I wrote to distract myself from the stress of querying. Anyone else do that?). I decided to change a couple of minor details, and while I could have gone to the specific scenes and changed them rather easily, I decided to refresh my memory of the story and characters and start from the beginning. On Sunday, I only had time to read two chapters. Last night, I read over fifty pages as I found myself sucked into the world once more. This story, a YA fantasy, was meant to be a standalone, but all day today I was playing around with ideas for a potential sequel. I did this last year too, while writing it (and afterwards, too!), but I never jotted any of them down because… Well, I don’t know why. I’m pretty sure after I finish my reread, I’ll make some notes this time around. And we’ll see what happens!

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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.

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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?

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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!

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The Emotional First Draft.

I always experience a multitude of emotions when writing a first draft. It usually beings with excitement:

“YAY, I’m starting a new story with new characters and a new world!! I can’t wait to write all day long!”

But then, somewhere around the middle, it hits me:

“WAH this is terrible, I hate it, I can’t show it to anyone!!”

Suddenly, writing becomes a struggle. I want to give up. I want to throw the draft away and never think about it again. I hate myself for being such a poor writer. Luckily, I’m also incredibly stubborn, and always have a fierce desire to see things through to the end. So I keep writing and eventually, I get over that middle hump, which means it’s time for the ending:

“I love the ending, the endings are always so much fun, ooh I can’t wait to write this part and that part and…”

And before you know it, I’m done. And happy again. Until it’s time for edits:

“I hate editing arghhhh–oh wait, this part is actually better than I thought, let me just read a little bit more…”

Writing. It’s a roller coaster ride from start to finish.

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The Beginning.

I started a new work today! As in a brand new story, set in a brand new world, with a brand new set of characters. It’s an idea I’ve been playing with for the past couple of weeks; I had an idea and I’ve been expanding on it whenever I can. Today I actually sat down with my trusty notebook, jotting down some notes. I’m not the type of person that has to outline every single little detail before I can write, but I like to write down the general direction I want the story to go. Of course, none of this is set in stone, and it’s fun to go back and look at my notes when I’ve finished the first draft to see the differences. I don’t even know how I want this story to end, but I’ll figure that out while I’m writing. That’s how my brain works!

The only reason why I didn’t start writing the moment I came up with the idea was because I didn’t have any names picked out. And as you know from this post, I can’t write unless my characters have names. I was hesitant about starting a brand new story (as when I write, the story consumes me like a black hole, taking over my life until I’ve finished it. Also, I forget how to speak properly. And I have crazy, bizarre dreams. I’m not exactly sane during the process!), so I refused to even think about names. But the story was calling to me today, so I spent some time browsing through sites and playing around with letters. Once I got my names (for the main characters only. Apologizes to the secondary characters, but I spend very little time on their names!), I was ready to start.

Like usual, I found it hard to tear myself away from the computer, and I wrote almost 2000 words. Already the story is surprising me, with the main character acting not quite as I intended her to. But that’s not a bad thing! And also like usual, even when I’m not sitting down and writing, I’m working on future scenes–see why I don’t have to worry about not having an ending just yet? It’ll come to me when my brain is ready. Usually this is when I’m trying to fall asleep at night (hmm, maybe that’s why I have strange dreams?).

I’m going to chart my progress this time around, recording how many words I write per day. It might only be interesting to me, but I can share it if anyone would like to see. Maybe on a weekly basis? While I have no deadline for this, I want to continue my tradition of writing everyday (unless I have a headache, in which I then go to bed extra early and try to write even more the next day!). Wish me luck! Anyone else working on a project right now? How’s that going?