glitter_n_gore: (mia)
Results of the BluRay experiment: Nope. Not surprised really, but I *had* to try.

Next, since I started this blog as a way to keep folks posted on my adventures in writing and trying to get published, let's get back to that for a minute. It's been a very productive year for me--I had two articles published in the actual paper last year, which was my first print publication ever; and earlier this year I sent in a manuscript to a publisher I've had my eye on for a while. I'm not done submitting--going through the most recent edition of Writers Market and a few other places to see how gets it next--but this one's my top choice. Fingers crossed!

That second adventure forced me to actually write and finish a synopsis for the first time ever, which was an accomplishment in itself. Here's the worksheet that helped me do that: http://www.publishingcrawl.com/2012/04/17/how-to-write-a-1-page-synopsis/

I've seen dozens of different How To Synopsis type books, websites, workshops, etc., and this is the only one that's really helped. It's excellent, so definitely check it out if you're in Synopsis Hell and need some pointers.

So, here's what I'm working on now: Revising another project that's set in the same fictional universe as the one I submitted. Not a sequel, but a completely separate story with entirely different characters and a different target audience. Like the previous story, this one has been drafted to completion, perused by my trusted beta reader, and combed over with notes. So this is my (hopefully) final draft before I send it to a publisher/agency and cross more fingers on its behalf.

I want to share with you the method I've been using for my revisions lately, because I only just started doing things this way a few months ago, and it's been the most helpful, and the most likely to actually get me through to the last page. I'm sure you've heard this before, but every writer is different, and this might not necessarily work for you, but it's certainly working for me, and I'm excited about it.

What I do is take what I call the "Master" file of the manuscript--in this case, the Word file of the last one I revised back when I went over it with my beta's notes and mine. I keep that open in one window. In another window, I have a new document, which I name "Title_Draft X" based however many it is by that point. (For me, it's usually three or four.) I copy around 10 pages of text from the "Master" file (or a chapter's worth, depending on the chapter length), paste it into the "Draft X" file, and go over every line one more time. Sometimes I cut things out. Sometimes I add. Sometimes I move lines around or fluff up/trim down the descriptive paragraphs. But every time, I'm only dealing with those ten pages. Period. Then when I get to the end, I write [SEE PAGE X] at the bottom so I know where to pick up again in the "Master" file when I'm ready to do the next ten pages. Save, back up, repeat.

And that's it. I do that until I'm at the end of the manuscript. Sounds simple, right? It kind of is, and it kind of isn't. I do sometimes find a scene that will work better earlier in the story, and when I do I mark that spot with [INSERT SCENE FROM PAGE X], *or* I lift the whole scene from the text and plop it into Notepad until I'm done with those ten pages, and plop it back in when I'm done.

It sounds somewhat tedious. And it is. Revising is the least fun part of the writing process, especially for us pansters.* Because there's this bug in my brain that says, "But we've written it already. We know how this one ends. Let's play with the NEXT one instead." I write to find out how the story ends. If I know how it ends, I lose interest. So yeah, this part of it is tedious. But working on it in small chunks like this? I don't know, for some reason it just works.

*For those not in the know: "Pansters" are writers who start at the beginning and just write until they finish the story. As opposed to writing an outline and working from that. Outlining kills the creativity DEAD for me, every single time. I'm never doing it again.
glitter_n_gore: (jean gray)
So, since I'm not that great at blogging regularly, and since I've noticed that I tend to write faster and more smoothly when I'm doing it longhand, I've decided to use one of my (many, many) notebooks as a Blogging Journal. Meaning, I'll write up blog-style "essays" (That's what we call these things, isn't it?) in one of my black-and-white composition books before typing them up. I don't know whether this will do any good or not, but it's worth a shot.

Anyway.

I've been thinking about the various challenges in writing in different genres. I've blogged before about the challenges in the time-travel plot specifically, and included a few examples in which I thought the subject was handled particularly well.

Another thing I've talked about before is that I read books (and watch movies and television) above all for the characters. I enter fictional worlds to meet new imaginary friends anf follow them on their personal journies. And I still maintain that a compelling cast of characters can make readers overlook a great number of sins like poor setting description, unambitious word choices, or a hackneyed plot.

However, one place attention to detail is absolutely necessary, no matter how great your characters are, is sci-fi. And I'll tell you why: the audience in sci-fi is not reading just for the characters. They will watch you like hawks to make sure you get the science right, in order to make the fiction plausible.

Historical fiction fans are the same way--you must get the history right, or the fiction won't fly.

I mention this because I've been fighting with the details yet again for "Hoppers." One of the great--and one of the damning--things about having a dedicated writers' group to critique you before the thing goes to print, especially when you have a novel with lots of weird technology, parallel universes, and time travel, is your fellow writers/readers will call you out on everything. And I do mean everything:

"Wait, how many alternate universes are there?"

"How does X Character know which world she's going into when she goes through Portal A?"

"Who's in charge of this evil empire anyway?"

"How do they get WiFi down there when the evil empire cut their power off in Chapter 3?"


And so it goes.

Some of these are questions I had in the back of my mind filed under Deal With Later while I was powering through the first draft--others are new things I hadn't thought about before. In either case, I now have to deal with them. Will my theoretical future readers ask all these questions? If they do ask, will it stop them from reading the rest of the book if they decide I have no idea what I'm talking about? Most importantly, can I live with myself if I know these questions need dealing with and decide to ignore them anyway, or should I commit to making this the best possible book I can write, even if that means many more hours of research and revisions?

Ultimately, that last question is one every writer has to answer for herself. Me? I'm doing the research. It'll take time, and I might not enjoy it, but the story will be better for it in the end.
glitter_n_gore: (underworld)
I have finished my latest round of edits for "The Carrion Girl"--I'm not saying "final edits" because I know that I'll have to edit it more if/when someone decides to pick it up for publication, but this is the last I'm doing before sending it out into the world. Which now means that I am at the furthest stage I've ever gotten in this writing game: the query letter.

I've successfully written one of these before, for another project that I've since put on the backburner for reasons I don't want to get into right now, but never sent it anywhere. So, once this one is ready, and I start sending it out, THAT will be the furthest I've gotten towards publishing. I guess we'll just see how much closer I can get from there.

(Yipe!)

The other part of this is I haven't written a synopsis before. Not every agency/publisher asks for one, but enough of them do that I'm going to have to figure that out as well before this adventure is over. Them things terrify me. Not sure why. I guess just because it's still new territory. A synopsis is basically a 1-3 page summary of absolutely everything that happens in the book, spoilers and all. Like an outline, but more nicely worded, so whoever's reading it can get a feel for the author's voice.

I think I find it daunting because I have issues with word count. I'm worried about making it run too long, or not long enough, even though I know I can always fix stuff like that later. (Again, yipe!)

I'll keep y'all posted. The query itself is now on Draft Two. Let's see how it goes...
glitter_n_gore: (sleepy hollow)
This is just an observation on my part of the way my brain works. I'm at, not so much a standstill right now, but I'm stuck nonetheless. "Writer's block" operates differently depending on the writer. Since my main project currently has been editing The Carrion Girl, there's not a lot I need to do with the story itself--the plot, characters and major events are there already. I'm just cleaning it up and trying to make it sellable. That's not the problem.

The problem is the five thousand other ideas bopping around in my head begging to be written at the same time. I've seen those things they call 'writing prompts,' designed to get those creative juices flowing, or to just plant an idea that will grow into a larger work. Ideas are never a problem for me. So far, there has never been a moment when there aren't at least three different ideas vying for my attention at any given time.

Right now, I've got about seven. There's The Carrion Girl, of course. Then there's my other WIPs--Dusty, Doppelganger, and Hoppers. So that's four already. Now I have another one about a witch coven living in a suburban neighborhood bordering the coastal wetlands; another that's a modernized re-imagining of my favorite fairy tale, "Sleeping Beauty;" and another that'll probably turn into a series pieced together from the salvageable bits of my trunk novel, Dragon House.

You can't scatter your focus and have the resulting work turn out well. You just can't. You have to give a WIP your energy and attention if you want to make it shine. Which is what I've been trying to do with The Carrion Girl lately--make it shine. If I could only shut off that jabbering muse, this'd be so much easier. A few fellow writers have told they'd love to have this "problem" of mine instead of not being able to think up ideas. Believe me, I don't think this way is easier.

By the way, I'm not trying to complain here. I do like that as soon as I'm done with a given project, I have several more that I can pick up immediately and get right to work on. It's important to have backup projects to focus on once you start sending out submissions or finishing up drafts. This is just an observation.
glitter_n_gore: (sleepy hollow)
I have a decidedly love/hate relationship with the editing process. I imagine most writers are like this. For me, it's because it's more in the realm of Work than Fun. I love writing--I really, really do--but certain things about it do make one want to shove one's head through nearest wall and be done with it.

For example: I mentioned last time that there's a purple prose prologue that I'm trying to get rid of for "The Carrion Girl." (If you're not familiar, this is purple prose.) The problem is I dropped some essential scene work and information into that prologue, so what I've been trying to do is figure out how to work that information into someplace else in the novel, so as not to lose it entirely. I know where to put it now. This is a good thing, and decent progress. HOWEVER. What it means is I'm now faced with the task of rewriting an ENTIRE chapter, and just thinking about it makes me tired. This particular chapter took ages to crank out the first time I did it, and still needs some work on its own, but just....blah! It's gonna take some time.

In better news: "Doppelganger" is flowing along quite nicely. I'm 2000 words in now (which translates to about four pages, single-spaced, in 12 pt. Times New Roman font) and my first plot point has been flung. I'm aiming for short story/novella with this one, so 2000 is farther along in the plot than it would be if this were a novel. I have to do some research for this scene though--I know song lyrics are heavily copyrighted and a HUGE pain to use if you go that route, but I'm not sure what the rules are for song titles--but that's something to deal with after Draft 1 is finished.

Back to work!

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