Monday, January 16, 2012

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.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

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?
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