September 28, 2010

Editing Progress

Anyone who has followed this blog for any length of time has no doubt had to listen to a few of my rants about my dislike for the editing process. Dear friends like Heather and the Traveler get to listen to it even more in phone calls and emails. It's no secret: I hate editing and I wish novels could just be perfect the first time around.
But, alas, it doesn't work that way, and so I am left with the humongously overwhelming task of editing Draft 1 of my novel, Son of The Shield--all 108,642 words of it (as of last count at 1:00 this afternoon). Yes, it is a huge novel.
These days, editors seem to want stories that top out at 100k max, and with that in mind I'm trying desperately to reduce my word count. Unfortunately, I keep finding and being informed by friends of all these scenes I need to add to clarify and develop things. So far I've only come across two scenes in the entire novel that need to be cut.
However, aside from those little problems, I have actually started making great progress with editing, for the first time since finishing Draft 1 at the end of December!
Since there's a lot of clarifying and explaining to be done throughout the novel, I'm focusing on streamlining as a way of reducing word count right now. It can get frustrating, taking down the word count 1 and 2 words at a time, but it makes for better quality, so I'm glad to do it.
And, the big thing that has (finally) kick-started my editing: I have finally managed to nail down my main character in my head! I know it sounds crazy, to have been working on a novel for three-and-a-half years and to just now be able to really grasp a character's (especially the main one) essence, but it's the truth.
I've had trouble with this character from the beginning--everything from understanding his thought processes and feelings, to simple things like being able to picture his face clearly in my head. I've had recurring dreams of being in the world where SOTS takes place, running in circles trying to get a look at this character's face, and he keeps turning away from me. No joke. Needless to say, this created a major problem when it came time to develop his character and write the dialogues, thought sequences, and scenes that he starred in. I managed to bungle my way through a blurry and disheveled Draft 1 in spite of it all, and since I was my only critic at the time I could let myself get away with it. But then came the critiques from my cohorts, Heather, LoriAnn, and Katrina. And they weren't letting me get away with anything. They dragged me, kicking and screaming, to face the awful truth: my main character needed to be more solid, more developed. But no matter how I tried, he just wouldn't seem to come to life like the other characters.
Until last week, that is!
I am absolutely ecstatic that Sorek has finally come to life in my mind! Now I can picture his physical appearance perfectly, and I understand his personality at a very deep level. And to make matters even better--he's really cool!
I'm really not sure what triggered the change and made him finally come to life for me, but I can tell you that it is making editing SOOO much easier! Instead of feeling like I'm dragging my main character around and forcing him to act out scenes like a marionette, I'm watching him take charge of his own scenes and live out the story like he's supposed to. Draft 2 is finally underway and rolling... and I'm beginning to think that this might actually shape up to be a pretty good story!

September 20, 2010


By Helen Hunt Jackson
(Sometimes the best way to get inspired to write is to sit down and read some really great writing!)

The golden-rod is yellow;
The corn is turning brown;
The trees in apple orchards
With fruit are bending down.

The gentian's bluest fringes
Are curling in the sun;
In dusty pods the milkweed
Its hidden silk has spun.

The sedges flaunt their harvest,
In every meadow nook;
And asters by the brook-side
Make asters in the brook,

From dewy lanes at morning
The grapes' sweet odors rise;
At noon the roads all flutter
With yellow butterflies.

By all these lovely tokens
September days are here,
With summer's best of weather,
And autumn's best of cheer.

But none of all this beauty
Which floods the earth and air
Is unto me the secret
Which makes September fair.

'T is a thing which I remember;
To name it thrills me yet:
One day of one September
I never can forget.

September 7, 2010

Learn to laugh!

All of us have heard the jokes and teasing remarks about how weird we writers are. If we're not careful it's easy for us (especially those of us who are female) to get sand under our feathers over family and friends who laugh at our sudden attacks of inspiration or emotion over fictional stories. We can very easily become insulted when they tell us we're weird.
Face it, guys: we ARE weird! Like it or not, we writers simply are not normal. Period. Just because something is normal for a writer does not mean it is normal for any other species of human. It's high time we just accept the fact.
Now, we have some options as to what we do with that fact. We can continue being insulted by remarks and jokes about how weird we are; we can try to convince our non-writer friends and family members that it is they, not we, who are abnormal; we can follow in the footsteps of Mr. Edgar Allen Poe and become morbid, suicidal drunks; or, we can step back, take a good look at just how weird we really are, and learn to accept it with grace and humor.
We are what we are. We can't do anything about it, and we can't change how 'normal' people see us, so why waste time and energy being insulted or angered by it?
Admit it: we're writers, we're weird, and we love it. It's time to shake the sand out of our feathers and learn to laugh at just how crazy we really are!
One of the ways that my personal case of writerhood manifests itself is all over the walls of my bedroom/office. I have a pad of sticky notes that I keep on the end table. If I need to suddenly write something down, I just jot it down on the Post-It pad and slap it to the wall for safe keeping until I need or want it. Then of course, I have the whiteboard hanging on the wall, for more organized visual storage of ideas. It currently contains the title list of the fantasy series I'm working on, as well as my current favorite quote and my current reading list. Not that I have anything against writing in a notebook. Indeed, I have several notebooks stashed in various purses, bags, jacket pockets, and locations around my room. It's just that I like having things on the wall, too, where I can see them and look them up at a moment's notice.
How about you? What are some of your laughable writer's quirks?