Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Delete delete delete

Yesterday I did some major cutting, which hurt my heart. I was so proud and, I'll admit it, so in awe of my brilliance. I carried around the scar on my heart all day afterward, and into the morning. Then today I revised one of my favorite scenes, cleaning it up and giving it some style. Today I know that this favorite section of mine is stronger for the cutting that I did yesterday.

It's a good reminder that when we take out passages that don't belong - no matter how UH-MAY-ZING we think they are when we're writing them or re-reading them. By removing what doesn't belong, we're increasing the value of what does belong. So I'll delete delete delete to my heart's desire!

And if I can't delete delete delete, then I'll at least cut and paste into a blank document to slip under my pillow for the too-much-detail fairy.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Show & Tell

I'm struggling right now with showing and not telling. I have this whole world built up in my head, with a constitution (no amendments, it was done right the first time), and a social order, and a judicial system, and castes and... and everything. It's all there, in my head and scribbled into my notebooks interspersed in scenes. I already know that the best way to get this information across is to do it slowly, in bits and pieces as the reader moves through the novel. This is easier said than done.

I'm also having difficulty with being a lady, and not showing too much. Just because the information isn't part of a three-page expositional word-vomit (new phrase!), that doesn't mean that it's suddenly okay. As I go through and make my revisions, I find myself highlighting and deleting one and two paragraphs at a time - yes, just one and two. They're these little gems of information that put the characters into more of a context, but this isn't a history textbook, this is a novel.

My response to this is to go through and find new places to put more action and dialog. I'm not talking about using dialog to tell this same information, but to put more actual action into the pages. Right now the characters are shackled by my own world building, so really, these revisions are a rescue mission to save my novel from early burial.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Satellite office

I like leaving the house so I can get work done. When I'm home I don't feel guilty for wasting my time like surfing through Facebook, cleaning out my Kindle account, or looking for new employment. Sitting in the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf or Paradise Bakery I feel like I have to justify my butt being in the seat. Empty tables all around me, nobody waiting to order, and still I feel like doing something that isn't part of the writing process is somehow a blow to whatever place I happen to be patronizing.

On the other hand, if I stay at home I usually don't get any work done because it offends Pippin. If Pippin is one of the best things to ever happen to me (he is), he's also one of the worst things to ever happen to my writing. I can be wandering around the house, knitting, playing computer games, reading, whatever and he leaves me alone. As soon as he sees me writing in a notebook or typing on the laptop, he needs to stake his claim in me.

Don't get me wrong. I love having his furry little body curled up on my lap. When I first adopted him, I assumed that he'd sit at the end of the couch, or behind me, or maybe maybe he'd curl up beside me and sleep. Instead I spend most nights with a mound of black fur and a few sparse spots sprawled out on top of me. He's really the most precious.

So I end up contributing to the service sector of the economy by grabbing a table somewhere and getting my writing done. And usually drinking way too much coffee. So if you need me, I'll be the one in the back of CB&TL bouncing off the walls and sometimes landing on the keyboard.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Now what?

I finished the first draft of my novel this weekend. I'm walking around a little numb, knowing what I need to do next and feeling nervous about starting the next step. Really what's on my mind is finding some beta readers who aren't going to be worried about hurting my feelings.

Really what I need to do is sit down and seriously work on editing and adding. I know what I want to include in there and all that needs to be added, and now I just need to get to it. I just wish I could carry around a notebook and do that, like I'm used to doing.

(picture from

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Mood music

The initial inspiration for my novel was a B-side song by Jimmy Eat World. In 2007 I worked on a NaNoWriMo, which turned out to be a "first draft" that would be eerily similar to the Hunger Games. I guess it was a good thing I never finished it.

When I started working on the revamped version of the novel I spent very little time listening to the inspiration music and a lot of time listening to peaceful folk-esque music. The novel took a very different turn and after a while I wasn't happy with it. I liked the writing, but it wasn't where I wanted my novel to go.

So I went back to the original inspiration album and BABOOM. The novel takes another turn, going exactly where I want it to go. I didn't realize the importance of going back to the original inspiration so that I would be able to write the novel that I wanted to write. I'm at 53,600 words, and I'm most excited to finish the first draft so that I can go back to the beginning and weave the original music back into the pages.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Outline to Freedom

I've never been a fan of outlining. Even as I taught my students to write five paragraph essay by outline, in my head I was poo-pooing the idea of outlining. Then last night, when I was starting at my notebook trying to get myself into my protagonist's shoes, I thought... why not?

Boy, have I been wrong! An activity that took me fewer than thirty minutes, put me onto the path to completion. I would pull out the notebook for some specific examples of how this helped my writing, but Pippin is napping on my wrist. Trust me. It was very helpful.

Now I know how many chapters my novel's going to be, who my protagonist is going to meet along her journey, and how I'm going to include exposition. Now all I need to do is go through and make sure I'm following the rules that I just made up.