Writing Irresistible Kidlit by Mary Kole: Craft of Writing Book Review

Writing Irresistible Kidlit by Mary Kole

There are so many reasons to read this book by literary agent Mary Kole. If you've been a writer for a while and already know much about the writing craft, you can probably skim that part. But there are so very many more reasons than that to read this book.

If you write for children and young adults, it should be essential reading material. I downloaded it to my Kindle. When I finished reading it, I had left 80 notes. It's that chock-full of specific information.

Here are some of the things that Ms. Kole addresses:

  • Optimum manuscript length for Middle Grade and Young Adult
  • Definition of Middle Grade and Young Adult
  • Age of MG and YA readers, and age of the protagonists in MG and YA novels
  • MG mindset, Teen mindset
  • Popular genres in each category 
  • The distinctions between literary ("quiet") and commercial fiction
  • Definition of "quiet"
  • The definition of high concept (books with an obvious sales hook) and definition of sales hooks
  • A definition and discussion of the Dystopian genre, and why it's so popular 
  • How and why story endings differ between MG and YA
  • Definition of historical fiction (anything set in the 1980s and prior) and caveat: The history must be integral to the story. If the same story can be set in the present, then do so.

She also goes into specific reasons why agents reject manuscripts: How to start well. Common opening cliches to avoid.

Here's a quote from her that piqued my attention on a personal level:

From a craft perspective, here’s why I’m such a stickler for a shorter word count: It’s always easier to add just the right thing to a sleek and streamlined project than it is to cut from an overlong one. A shorter, tighter manuscript often shows me that the writer has many skills in his revision toolkit. An indulgent longer text is usually a red flag telling me that the author is either a beginner or someone who will be especially precious when it comes to revision. I’d much rather work with the former, and I know a lot of editors who agree.

It gratified me to hear this because I have spent a considerable amount of time over the past year studying just this. I played with removing the subplots from my manuscript to see how it read in an ultra-streamlined, almost subplot free version. I discovered how easy it is to excise subplots, and then to drop them back in, judiciously, for a fuller story. 

Among my 80 notes, I also especially liked reading the following:
. . . some editors and agents are clamoring for strong contemporary stories where nobody has any magic powers and nothing falls out of the sky or crawls out of the ground. They (and readers) want real life . . . 
Teens feel everything very intensely, and two things in particular: An interest in romance and darkness.
My story isn't terribly dark, but it is definitely a romance, with all of the genre-specific scenes requisite to telling a romance, and that readers expect to find in a love story. 

Mary Kole works for MovableType Literary Agency, and also writes a popular blog, Kidlit.com.

Again, if you are writing for this market, should you read this book? Absolutely. 


Four Steps to Line Edits that are Actually Fun

I discovered a great way to do line edits yesterday. I’m so excited about the results that I needed to share (even though I am trying to wean myself from writing about writing).--But hey, if writers can't talk to other writers about the shiny, cool things that excite us in practicing our art form, who can we talk to? 

Here’s the process:

STEP ONE: First, I uploaded my completed manuscript into my Kindle. If you have a different kind of reader, you can probably do the same, although I can’t tell you how. I can tell you how for a Kindle, below.

(If you are curious, and decide to enlarge the picture to read the text, no, it's not my book. I don't know what it is, but it does sound interesting.)

How to upload your manuscript to your Kindle:

  1. Find your Kindle Email address by going to Your Account>Manage my Kindle on your Amazon account.
  2. Click on Personal Document Settings. That’s where you’ll find your Kindle email address. Mine has a version of “my name @kindle.com.”
  3.  Your regular email address needs to be listed on the “approved personal document email list,” which you find below your kindle email address. If it’s not there, add it.
  4. Send an email, with the attached file "My Book for Kindle.mobi" to your kindle email address. 
  5. Go to your Kindle and download your book. It could take a minute or two, so be patient. This won’t work if you have a Kindle App. It goes only to your Kindle. Sorry about that.
It is so cool to see your book in an e-reader. You will see at a glance if some of your paragraphs take up the entire screen. That’s a clue that you *might* want to break some of them up, although that depends also on the market you’re targeting and your pacing goals for the passage. Maybe you want it to 
be slow.

STEP TWO: E-reader in hand, read your book into a voice recorder. This is essential, and half the beauty of this technique. It struck me that some people might feel a little shy about doing something like this. My advice: Get over it! Learn to love the sound of your recorded voice as you read the fruit of your imagination. 

As I read my book aloud, my brain just naturally and fluently corrects my sentences. It drops unnecessary words. It fixes incorrect prepositions. It gives me a strong sense of where I should keep proper names, and where I should substitute them with pronouns, and vice-versa. 

My voice pauses where a comma is needed, or if a long sentence needs to be split in two. It perks up my dialogue.  If I stumble over a sentence, that’s a red flag. Read a passage until you come to a natural break, which is probably the end of a scene. Or if the writing is craggy, it might be only a couple of paragraphs.

If it's particularly craggy, I will pause and give myself direction as I read. This sounds like the following examples: “Delete next sentence entirely.” “Delete the telling phrase and keep the showing aspect in that sentence.” “Insert or strengthen character emotional response.” “Less is more: eliminate the first response and keep the second.” “Out of order sentences: reorder according to SR (Stimulus/Response) blocks.” [The need to reorder sentences is a big one for me. I note the need, but do not attempt to make changes at this point.]

Sometimes part of a scene isn’t sufficiently digested. I hear AUTHOR VOICE instead of CHARACTER VOICE. My teenage protagonists are quite bright, but sometimes I put wisdom in their mouths that they (probably) have not fathomed. Or if they have, it’d be on a more subtle, subconscious level, and would not be expressed using the same words. When I read it aloud, the need for those kind of changes becomes obvious.

STEP THREE: Bring your manuscript up on the screen of your laptop or desktop computer. Turn on the voice recorder and listen to what you just read while also reading it on your computer screen. 

When you get to a part that your reading voice changed, highlight it. Don’t stop and change it yet. It takes only a second to highlight it, and it doesn’t break your concentration as you continue to listen to yourself reading your manuscript for overall narrative flow.

STEP FOUR: After you have finished listening to the segment, go back to your computer screen and look at every highlight. Sometimes it’s a single word. You’ll remember what you wanted to say instead, or if you don’t remember, just listen to your recording again.

You can always stop listening to the recording at any point, fix the problem and then move on.  Sometimes, an entire sentence or paragraph will be highlighted. Listen again to how your reading voice told you to change it. Wash, rinse and repeat as often as necessary until the passage sounds exactly as it should. 

This was such a fun discovery for me, a great help in my line-editing process.

It reminded me of the 1650 storytimes I performed for audiences over an eleven-year period, when I read many thousands of picture books to children and their parents. Picture books have an embedded pacing to them, and the reader's voice just naturally speeds up and slows down at certain junctures. 

The same holds true, or should, for longer narratives. If it can be read aloud without the reader tripping all over their tongue, it may not be publishable still, but not because of log-jamming sentence structures.   

I hope that if you try it, you will enjoy the process, and the results, as much as I do.


Six Reasons to Love Throughline (Interactive Index Card Software)

While revising my manuscript over the past two weeks, I was chugging along, no problems, following my notes about what needs to be added/changed/deleted from each scene as I revise it. I had already dumped all scenes that do not fit into the revised concept for my story.

But then, on Monday, when I was four scenes away from the big turning point at half, I discovered I needed a way to see, in a highly abbreviated form, what's been happening in each scene, in each of the story's four throughlines. That way I will know if, emotionally speaking, I have adequately set up the big thing that happens at half. You might be a gifted writer who can keep all of this in your head. Unfortunately, I am not.

How to do that easily? I had originally thought that yWriter would do the trick for me. It has a story boarding component to it, but working with it, I felt boxed in. I had long since pulled everything out of it and gone back to using Microsoft Word.

So, what was I to do? I could use the painstaking, time-consuming process of writing it out on scene cards. Ugh. Are you as tired of that process as I am?

Then I poked around the web and discovered Throughline by the Wright Brothers, who also developed Dramatica Pro, which I love. Here's six reasons why I love "The Deck," as it's called, and you might too:

  1. You are working from your computer to create and arrange the index cards. No writing them in pencil until you fingers cramp, and then standing on your head, arranging all those cards on the carpet. The carpet, which you suddenly become all too aware that you haven't vacuumed for two weeks. Maybe more.  
  2. You can add and delete cards with a single click. If you want only the scene title to show up on your card, you can do that, and then double-click for scene contents. I like having it all up front, and so I write everything on the front of the card. Oh, the glory of having a bird's eye view of my manuscript, from my computer screen! 
  3. Editing content is SO EASY, compared to index cards. Add, subtract, cut, paste, change font, text color, size--if you want to get that fancy with it. 
  4. To rearrange, just drag and drop.
  5. You can have as many cards as you want in a row by re-sizing all from the lower right of the screen. Because I am now ordering my manuscript by Dramatica Pro's Signposts and Journeys, and every story is comprised of four throughlines, each with a total of four signposts and three journeys, I've set my cards (see above), according to that. (Note on image above: you are not looking at the complete manuscript, but only to the halfway point.) I've given each throughline a different colored card, so I am aware at a glance of what's happening in each one, and where the characters are emotionally in each. By Dramatica "rules," if you are working in Signpost 2, for example, then each of the four throughline Signpost 2 scenes need to be completed before moving on to Journey 2, although they do not need to be completed in the same order each time. The colored cards show me this at a glance. 
  6. You can also export this information and print it up.

Here's another great reason: It costs only $9.95, and you have it forever, for every manuscript you write. 


Who are You Writing To?

When we’re working on a manuscript, it’s helpful to have a visual in mind of our audience. Charlotte Rains Dixon wrote a post on it recently, which I mentioned in last Friday’s link roundup.

I don’t have much trouble visualizing the teenage girls that I’m writing to as I revise my Young Adult manuscript. It's a contemporary romance about two teens, one with a very big dream and the other who, it would appear, is okay with “ordinary.” It takes place in think "Music Man" small town America.

I have seen plenty of girls (and their mothers) in the library where I used to work, who would enjoy this book, or one like it. 

They’re probably not the girls who frequent the library sporting shades of hair from blue to orange, and wear short, skin-tight skirts and army boots with four-inch heels. I have nothing against these girls, but they are probably not my target audience. 

The purple haired girls are the hip and trendy girls, or the geeky, maybe wanabe hip and trendy girls. It's possible that they might go for the type of book I write. My heroines are not Buffy. They are not Bella. They may not single-handedly save the world, but they're not passive wimps either. Their world is smaller in scope, school and community-sized, actually, but certainly important to them and the people sharing it. They are also girls who want and need a great boyfriend!

Mostly, I envision my audience to be the other girls, and there are just as many, possibly more, of them as the blue-haired girls. They are the popular girls and the girls who are being homeschooled, and/or are from strongly conservative backgrounds. They're the girls whose mothers try to exert some control over what their daughters are reading. 

When I was a children's librarian, these mothers frequently came and counseled with me about appropriate titles for their daughters, and  became irate when they discovered their daughters had stuffed books for an older, or more worldly-wise, YA audience into their checkout bags.

As authors, we need to be true to ourselves and write books that reflect who we are, our values, what we like to read and, what we want to offer our audience. We write to an audience that shares similar tastes and values.

Who is your audience? Who are you writing to?



It’s been a while since I’ve written about my writing. What have I been doing? Since March, I’ve been studying the DRAMATICA software and theory.

What is DRAMATICA? It’s what Hollywood screenwriters (and probably a whole lot of professional novelists) use to help them structure their stories. You tell DRAMATICA about the story you’re thinking about writing, or one you’ve already written (and is in need of ideas for revision), and it helps you hone in on theme, plot and character to end up with a perfectly structured story.

There are many ways to use DRAMATICA, but the Query System (see image below) is a great place to start. It asks you about 200 questions, which successively narrow your story, until it has created the perfect structure, or story form, for the story you want to tell. 

Then it offers suggestions about other story elements that fit, or complete, your story. DRAMATICA may not have a human brain, but it does generate copious reports that give the writer lots of food for thought. The reports are specific to your story form.

I especially like how it shows me which of my characters will conflict with each other, and why, depending on the dramatic function I’ve assigned to them.

When I first started using DRAMATICA, I felt cheated that I’d been a writer for many years, but hadn't heard about the software that I believe will revolutionize my writing. Seriously. No more groping around in the dark for months or years, trying to figure out my story. The flood lights have come on. The path is lit. 

DRAMATICA has been in existence for about 20 years, and is used in many university classes. My guess is that it’s used in all screenwriting classes. 

DRAMATICA is amazing. 

It also has a STOUT learning curve. Anyone can download the 350-page DRAMATICA THEORY book off the internet, which gives you the theory behind the software. I’ve read the book twice now and still do not understand it as thoroughly as I intend to. The book also includes about 60 pages of word definitions, many of which are particular to DRAMATICA and are essential to understand correctly, if you expect the software to be of any real value to you.

Since March, I have run several of my story ideas through the software and am beginning to understand it quite well. Last weekend, I completed my Story Form for the Inspirational Romance that I will begin to write in a week or two. I had first imagined the story last January, before buying DRAMATICA. I used the 90-Day Novel to help me get a handle on my characters, and to begin to flesh out the plot.

What DRAMATICA added to it is HUGE. 

I now know, which I would never have figure out myself, the thematic focus of each of the four essential story lines (throughlines) for a well-told story--MY PARTICULAR STORY--and what the characters will be concerned about at each of the Plot Points, which DRAMATICA calls Signposts and Journeys. It’s helped me understand how all of my characters will interact, and the potential conflicts they will cause. I wouldn't have thought about these things otherwise, or certainly not to the depth that DRAMATICA has suggested to me. 

To quote Glen C. Strathy, “Dramatica is undeniably a work of genius. Melanie Anne Phillips and Chris Huntley, who invented both the theory and the software, have made a totally original and monumental contribution to our understanding of how to write good stories. I fully believe Ph.D. students will one day be writing dissertations theses based on their work.”

I do not doubt that what Glen said is true. 

I also know that I intend for DRAMATICA to be my partner with every manuscript I write from here onward. I only wish I had discovered it much, much sooner. I'm almost certain I would've been published by now, if I'd had DRAMATICA to help guide my choices, and to understand what it takes to write a WELL TOLD STORY. 

This is one screen shot of the software, when you're in the Query System module:

Should you go out and buy DRAMATICA? If you're willing to put in the time (a LOT of time) to understand it, YES. If not, don't bother.


Back to the Writing Life

Not only did my mother's passing take up most of my time last week, but the week before, my younger daughter moved to Honolulu. My husband and I took a whirlwind trip to Seattle to help her and her boyfriend clean out their apartment, to get my daughter's car to the shipyards, and to get them to the Sea-Tac airport for their flight out.

These things drain not only one's physical energy, but in a way that has more far-reaching impact--one's spiritual and emotional energy. And wouldn't you know it? Now that my daughter's been in Hawaii for two weeks, she's decided she doesn't like it. Bah! It's for her to figure out.

In the past two weeks, I've hardly looked at the Young Adult manuscript that I am revising (again). Typically, if I'm at home and not dealing with other life issues, I do have 60-90 minutes of spare time each day. In that time, it's always a choice between two priorities: To write? Or to exercise? I am currently 35 pounds overweight. You can guess what my choice had been for quite a while (writing!), and what my choice probably should be instead (exercising).

Until my routine got broken, I actually had been exercising in my spare time. I'd made my goal of jogging 12 miles/week for six weeks straight. Woo-hoo for me. I'm trying to get back to jogging a 12-minute mile. I'm currently at a 16-minute mile, and so I have a ways to go. Last winter, I'd feared I might not be able to get it back. Now, I'm confident that I can ... eventually.

Instead of jogging today, I decided to take a look at my MIP. My goal is to make it more solidly into a romance, which means I will need to do far more sculpting of scenes where the hero and heroine are together, and to make sure the hero is in every scene that is possible for him to be in.

I also need to be in love with him, and to have a really strong idea of what he looks like. I knew immediately who I wanted him to look like: Cesare Borgia on Showtime's The Borgias. Jeremy Irons, the Pope, is probably closer to my age, but whenever Cesare is on screen, my eyes devour him. Here's a couple of off-screen photos of him.

You think he'd be a great, smoldering, "goth-ish" YA hero? I do.

Jeremy Irons, left and Francois Arnaud


A to Z Challenge 2012

I did it. I signed up for the 2012 A to Z Challenge. If you're not aware of it, each year bloggers are invited to post (almost) every day during the month of April.

To unify the theme, each day's post follows one of the letters of the alphabet in consecutive order, beginning on Sunday, April 1 with "A". The rest of the Sundays, you can have off.

It's fun to visit blogs and see how bloggers tackled each day's letter theme.

Last year I did posts on Enneagram types and subtypes, which were very popular, and can still be read. (See page bar above with that title.)

This year I've decided to highlight where I live, the Palouse of southeastern Washington / northern Idaho.

I like doing the challenge because it's an opportunity to get acquainted with many, many new bloggers. Last Sunday when I signed up, I was already #1182. Today, just under 1300 have signed up for the challenge.

What does that mean for the month of April? One huge, exciting blog fest. It's a great opportunity to follow new blogs and also to get new followers.  

Arlee Bird started it in 2010, but it's now so big that he has the help of about a dozen co-sponsors. Go HERE to sign up.

It's not too late to join the blogging frenzy that will be happening in just ... five days!


Novel Content-Management Software: yWriter5

A writer friend recently told me about yWriter5, which is software that helps you organize your novel.

I was dubious at first. The "Cadillac" for this type of software is Scrivener, made for Mac users, which left me out. Then Liquid Story Binder was created for windows users, which I bought.

I was never happy with Liquid Story Binder. You can do untold numbers of things with it, including storyboarding and mind mapping and so on, but the software is not intuitive. Even when you've learned how to use it, the resulting products (storyboards, mindmaps) are terribly klunky looking, and moving information around is not easy.

I stopped using it and fell back on my own rather frustrating methods. I've always created my own storyboards in Microsoft Publisher, but that is time-consuming. You can move things around, but in a less-than-ideal way.

So when my friend got excited about yWriter5, I was not at all sure I wanted to spend time learning yet another piece of software that might have a steep learning curve and, in the end, be unsatisfying.

It took me three weeks to finally download yWriter5. I was learning four other pieces of software during those three weeks, one of which is mind-blowingly incredible and has a steep but totally worthwhile learning curve, and is for another post. Once I had finished playing with the other new pieces of software, I downloaded yWriter5 and discovered ...

It is totally intuitive, with almost no learning curve, and is everything I could hope for in content-management software. It was developed by Simon Haynes who has twenty-five years computer programming experience, and is also a multi-published author. His website is full of useful information about the craft of writing, and worth taking a look at. (I've included a link to his website at the bottom of this post.) 

Some of the things I love about yWriter5:

  • It keeps track of word count of individual scenes, chapters and overall project. 
  • There is a place for scene notes and notes about locations and the characters. If you're in chapter 10 and you can't remember the color of a particular character's eyes--just pull up that character's notes. 
  • It will save all versions of your scenes in a neat little package that you can grab whenever you want to look at it. One of my big problems is that I may have re-written a scene 10 times, adding and removing information each time. Then I get to the 11th revision and I realize I need some information that was in one of the earlier versions. It still exists; I never destroy my drafts, but which draft was it? It would take me countless hours to sift back through hundreds of files to find the information. 
  • There is a screen where you can keep track of the scene conflict in a few words. Or if what you wrote was a scene-sequel, it allows you to note the character's decision that will create the next scene's goal.
  • You can set it up to keep track of a daily word quota and project deadline. It will show you how  well you are keeping up with your daily output in order to finish on time. 
  • The notes field can be used, if you wish, to summarize the scene in a sentence or two. If used in this way, yWriter5 will then generate a synopsis based on the scene summaries. (How cool is that.)
  • The storyboard works very well. It looks nice and the scene cards are easily movable. 
  • You can also, very easily, re-order scenes within chapters and chapters within the entire project. 

Even more good news? It's free, however once you've tried it, you will probably like it so much that you will want to give Simon Haynes a donation for creating such a lovely piece of content-management software.


Cheryl Klein 2012 Revision Workshop: Spokane, WA SCBWI

Four of us from the Moscow, Idaho area drove to Spokane yesterday for a day-long workshop on revision with Scholastic editor Cheryl Klein, sponsored by SCBWI.

The workshop did not disappoint. If Cheryl ever comes to your area, don't hesitate to attend this workshop.

However, in the event that that is not a possibility for you, you can glean 80% of what she had to say from her book, Second Sight: An Editor's Talks on Writing and Publishing Books for Children and Young Adults. This is mostly a compilation of blog posts she had written over several years when she was known in the blogosphere as Brooklyn Arden. She drew heavily from it in her presentation.

I would have to say that if you've been studying the craft and techniques of writing for a while, not much of what she had to say will be new to you, however, a refresher is always good.

If you are new to studying the craft of writing, you will probably come away with your head spinning from information overload.

I especially liked her explanations for the numerous uses of BOOKMAPS. She is extremely left-brained, extremely analytical, as you might expect an editor to be.

There was one new piece of information, one missing piece from my "Understanding the Craft of Writing Puzzle" that she did answer for me. I have always wondered where, exactly, a manuscript should begin. She gave the example (which is typical of my own book) of a young adult who is in the process of moving to a new town. Where should the story open? When the young person gets the news that the family will be moving? As the family is on the road, moving to their new home? Driving into the driveway of the new home? The first day of school? A week later?

Her response was a simple, slap yourself upside your cheek and wonder why you never had that figured out before: You begin it where the protagonist comes in contact with whatever your overarching story is about.

If your overarching story involves conflict between two people, your first scene is where those two people meet and conflict. If it's about a mystery, it's where the person who is to solve the mystery comes on scene and gets the first clue or bit of necessary information. If it's a love story, it's when the hero and heroine meet.

The first scene ends where the protagonist is faced with a choice that determines the next action step in the story.


Don't Break the Chain

I bought a piece of software this morning from The Writer's Store. While browsing, I ran across an article about Jerry Seinfield's method for success. In a nutshell, he makes a big red X on every calendar day that he writes. Seeing those X's lining up strongly motivates him NOT to break the chain.

The Writer's Store has a free download of a 365-day calendar. You can begin on any day of the year. It sounds like a great idea. I intend to try it.

You might be wondering what software I bought. It was strictly an impulse purchase, and I am almost embarrassed to say that I didn't even read any reviews before purchasing it. Generally, I read reviews and then dream about something I want for a few days before buying it. I build my enthusiasm, my yearning for it, until I reach a point where I just gotta have it.

But this one looked like something I would want, absolutely, no matter what, and have great fun with, no matter what. It's called Character-Writer 3.1. What made it an instant purchase was that it helps you create characters based on the Enneagram, of which I have been a serious student for a decade or more.

When you combine basic styles, their wings and instinctual variants, you come up with 70 types. Additionally, the write-up mentions that the software includes how the characters will behave at various levels of mental health.

I used the enneagram as the basis for characterization in my current manuscript, including the use of mental-health levels. A wealth of information, including about the levels, is available at The Enneagram Institute for purchase. It helped me so much to know how each personality would behave in a particular scene, depending on their stress level.

As to the software, I am excited to see what professionals have done with these concepts. I'm sure it will be very fun to play with.

Do you have favorite writing software that is useful and fun to use?


Keep On Keeping On

I woke up at 4:00 am this morning feeling sad. It's not unusual for me to wake up so early. I liked that it was 4:00 am instead of 1:30 or 2:00 am (which is also not unusual).

If I wake up at 4:00 am, then I get to get up in only an hour or two. If earlier, I'd have to try to get back to sleep, or be tired at work the next day.

Waking up isn't unusual, but waking up with a sense of sadness really is. Generally I am such a morning person that I can hardly wait to spring (happily) out of bed.

But this morning? Well, it struck me. The last post I wrote, only a couple of days ago, I thought I was so close to being able to send out queries on my YA manuscript. Now I see that I'm still weeks, months, away from doing so.

I LOVE that 14 people critiqued the manuscript. I'm planning to read each and every one of their suggestions and take them to heart. The problem is the time it will take. When will there be time in my schedule to start working on my new manuscript idea? Probably March or later.

Friday-yesterday, I worked all day each day on the manuscript and was able to work through only parts of only THREE people's suggested changes.

  • It took me all day one day to remove unnecessary uses of the word "said" from the manuscript
  • I also did a global edit and removed "language"--such words as Jeez, damn, God--not that there were so many of them, but my critiquers have a point: Without them, even the most discriminating readers, who will set a book down if they run across a swear word, could enjoy reading it.
  • I removed word doubles--times when I inadvertently wrote the same word twice. 
  • I addressed the issue of the hero's white gloves with the fingertips cut off: I clarified, then eliminated overkill and brought the mention of gloves down to a dozen instances, all necessary. I also "more fully rendered/realized" the scene where he finally removes the gloves.
  • I changed the scene where the heroine meets the bad boy/wrong boy and made him a little more likable in the beginning, so there's a more plausible reason why she ends up spending time with him instead of the hero.
  • I got through ALL of the comments made by only ONE critiquer, addressing questions that came up for her while reading the manuscript. 

I know without looking at the others' comments that there are still many more issues to be addressed; I wrote them down during the group critique, or what my friend Sharon calls, "The Inquisition."

It appears that it will take me a full day or more (8+ hours) to address each critiquer's issues.

It feels like an effort to "get up one flight of stairs," only to turn at the landing and start going up another flight, and another, and another.

It will get done, but given the small amount of free time I normally have, and less in the next three weeks, it will be months before the revision is complete. At that point, I might want to give it to the critique group for one last pass.

Anyway. That's where I'm at. Happy to have been given excellent suggestions. Sad that it will take so long to make all the changes. Sad that it'll be months before time opens up enough to begin working on a new manuscript.


Need a Helping Hand to Jump Start Your Next Idea? Look no Farther than The 90-day Novel by Alan Watt

I LOVE books on writing. Some writers couldn't be bothered with them. They need, come hell or high water, to forge ahead in their own way, in their own time. Me, I guess I'm a wimp. I love having a professional, published author in my life (so to speak), looking over my shoulder, giving me tips, encouraging me, helping me to pull my dream toward me. In this case, to begin to discover the next story I want to tell myself. The next novel I want to write.

Alan Watt helped me to do this--sketch out the possible scenes for an entire novel--in 40 hrs' time. He claims writers can plan and finish writing a rough draft of an entire novel in 90 days. He takes you through the process day-by-day.

The first 30 days are planning days, in which he expects you to spend two hours each day planning your novel, based on questions to ask your hero and your antagonist. I busted through the first 30 days last week. Good lord, I was so inspired, I managed to write up 13,000 words of notes about my characters, possible scenes, and where those scenes might appear in the novel. I have never in my whole life written so many words in a week. It helped that it was a three-day work week at the library, with a four-day weekend on one end and now, with my Fridays off, a three-day weekend on the other.

I have just printed up my notes--24 pages' worth, and am going to do some further scene-building, this time using tips learned from Holly Lisle, before launching into the rough draft. But in one week, using Watt's book, I sketched out my entire story. Seriously. Not only that, but I cannot wait to begin writing it. Do I sound dazed? I am. Dazed and delighted.

What methods do you use to jump start your imagination? How do you go about planning a new book?