Write Now

Ah, the best laid plans.

I’ve been trying to do Monday and Wednesday posts on the blog. They haven’t worked out that well lately.

I’m looking at how to work that out. Today I wanted to give a little blurb about how my fiction project is progressing.

I am almost done with my second revision. I have to write a new chapter and revise two more and then I’ll have finished. My plan at this point is to find a freelance editor to go over it and help me refine it more. Hopefully there will be enough time to do a third revision before I go to the ACFW Conference in Indianapolis in September.

If you don’t see me around here, I’m working on writing. Like, right now. Write now? I’m getting a little confused…

Critique Muscles

Work that cerebral cortex!

You’ve heard of muscle memory, right?

Athletes will do an activity over and over again until their body automatically does something. They don’t have to think about it, so they are able to focus on the bigger picture. They’re not the only ones that use muscle memory though. We writers have it in our fingers if we type. My boys are amazed at how fast my fingers can fly over the keyboard. Even though it isn’t always the highest accuracy, I still have good speed because I do it so much.

Do you exercise your critiquing muscles?

I’ve done some critiques with people along this writing journey, but it hasn’t been regular. Lately I’ve had more opportunity to offer suggestions to people. I’ve found an online critique partner, and I’m participating in the ACFW critique email loop.

Even though having my work reviewed is a bonus to find those words and phrases I’m blind to, I think the greater benefit is getting to critique people.

I’ve been reading books on craft, quality novels, and blog posts for years now. I’ve assimilated a lot of knowledge. But nothing beats the application of knowledge to truly get it.

Now that I’m looking at other people’s work and offering suggestions, I understand the reason for minimizing speaker tags. I see the flow of logic and the motivation/reaction unit so much better. By using it in other people’s writing, I’m developing muscle memory in looking for these things.

The end result is that I’m then able to take it back to my own work and see weaknesses better.

Of course we’re still going to have blind spots, but I’m amazed how things pop out at me more. It shouldn’t be surprising. Practice makes perfect, right?

If you get a chance to participate in a critique group, remember that it benefits you in more ways than one. It’s always good to help others and be a blessing when you are able, but you’ll get more than other people’s perspectives on your writing. Your perspective on your own writing will grow.

Revision All The Time

Two weeks until the conference.

No big deal or anything, right?

I know I don’t have to have my first revision done before I go to the ACFW Conference. If I am lucky enough to get some interest, I will have a little time to get it finished. Still, it provides a handy deadline and incentive to get it done. I am one of those writers who works better under pressure.

Just as there are many helps out there for writers when plotting, I’m finding a lot of resources for revision. I’d like to pull together a post of links for helpful sites, but guess what? I’m on a deadline. 😉

I’ve been impressed with the American Christian Fiction Writers member resources. I signed up as a member a few years ago but I wasn’t as serious and didn’t take advantage of the services. Right now I have signed up for their novel editing loop on email. They run this every couple of months. They have you set a goal and report your pages edited to give accountability and encouragement. They also offer mini-lessons on editing basics. There are handy tidbits in there.

The one book I’ve fully read and used is James Scott Bell’s Revision and Self-Editing.This helpful guide gives an overview of Bell’s fiction teaching and applies the knowledge to the revision stage of writing. He is one of my favorite writing guides, so I’m happy to dig into it. I’ve also read the ubiquitous Self-Editing For Fiction Writers by King and Browne, but that was a long time ago.

Today Nathan Bransford had a helpful post about revision. When you get to the point that you hate your novel, that you can’t imagine another change – well, then you’re close to being ready. Go check the post out for yourself.

And in closing, if you didn’t see Bransford’s Publication Process in GIF form, then you missed one of the best posts for writers in a long, long time.

I’d say more, but those revisions aren’t happening by themselves. Back to the grindstone.

Do you have any specific revision resources you like? Please share them in the comments below.

Revising Characters

It is time to revisit some old friends of mine.

You’d think after working on a novel for 7 years that I’d know these people pretty well by now. However, sometimes you don’t really ask the questions that get you deep into a relationship.

When I’ve had critiques done of my work so far, my main character Jenna usually comes across as well-rounded. She was a little too head-strong initially, but I think I’ve worked some of her rough edges down.


I think Tebow is more than just a cutout



Now the male lead and her romantic interest, Derek? He’s another story. I think I start off showing the differences he has compared to Jenna, but he later on blends into being whatever she needs him to be. I think I lost track of who he was. In doing so, I don’t think he is very three-dimensional.
I know I love it when a book has numerous 3-D characters, people who reflect reality and could be someone you know in real life. The cardboard cutouts in a book get boring fast.
This is the right time to recognize this. I’ve got the whole book in front of me to show who Derek is in more depth. Why does he accompany Jenna to Thailand? What does he want?
I’m not settling for two 3-D characters either. I want to evaluate my secondary characters and see what I can do for them. One or two of them are fairly well-rounded. I’ll have to evaluate that when I get to them.
I am finding that the first draft is hard to get down. The framework of the story needs a foundation, and that can be tricky for me at times. The revision seems to be going smoothly for me. Now that I see the outline, I can work on filling the meat out onto the bones. And mix my metaphors.
What do you do when it comes to creating depth in your characters? How do you beef them up in the revision process?

The End (Just The Beginning)

There comes a day in every writer’s life when they must type these words.

The end.

I’ve resisted calling myself a writer or an author, because I’ve never written those words on something significant. Sure, I’ve finished a few short stories, but my novel WIP was something that seemed like it never would get done. Other people might argue that since I write regularly (this blog, a newspaper column) then I am a writer. I never felt like I was there.

Until this weekend.

On Sunday evening I sat on the couch, my laptop warming my legs. I finished the last sentence of my novel. Set the laptop down to think about it. Picked it up, read the last chapter and reconsidered.

Then I typed, “The end.”

I finished the first draft of a labor of love. I started with the initial idea and first couple of chapters in 2005. Yes, it took me this long! I thought about giving up several times. It never seemed right to quit though.

After 60,000 words (what the word processor counts, not including all the erased words that didn’t make the cut), I had the basis for a novel. I could say it.

I had written a book.

Well, I finished the first draft. Which I count as significant, since so many people say they’re going to write a book and never do it. I vowed last year to not be that person.

So…now what?

*Looks at his watch, taps his chin*

Oh, you’re still here? Cool. Me too.

Now of course is the dreaded revision process. Although, I liked the last time I did some serious revision. I realize that my writing needs a lot of work. Characters are flimsy and need a work-out. Plot points disappear like the Big Lost River here in the Idaho desert. Cliches need filleted.
And it’s not like I’m on a deadline or anything…
(more details next week)

The Dreaded Revision

H/T to Paperback Writer

There comes a time in any writer’s life when they confront the dreaded beast.

Revision.

I’ve been plugging away at my novel for so long, making slow and (sometimes) steady progress, that I haven’t really confronted this issue yet.

That time came with my entry into the American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis contest.

I had written my opening chapters years ago. I had edited them many times when trying to get unstuck, but I had never really revised them. I knew with entering the contest that I had some fatal flaws. The generic weather opening? Check. The first character has nothing to do with the main story? Check.

Since I’ve heard how horrible it is to revise, I didn’t look forward to it, but a handy thing called a deadline forced my hand.

I sat down, hands at the keys.

It flowed.

It wasn’t bad at all! In fact, I rather enjoyed it. It took me a few days to do the first two chapters, but because I had a framework to build off of, I could adjust weak links, build up strong points, and overall tighten things up and make my characters jump out more (I hope).

I guess some of it is I’ve learned so much in the last several years that I can see what didn’t work with my initial thrust, but I could identify the kernel that did click in the writing.

I don’t know if this will be true through the whole novel. I still need to finish it, so I went back to my new work. I really wanted to keep revising, because I felt a sense of accomplishment and improvement. I know that I need to get the skeleton laid down though, and come back to help put the muscles and skin on later.

Hopefully it won’t be long until I get back to revising again. Does that make me strange?

Don’t answer that…

P.S. In an attempt to be a little more helpful, here is a link that talks about revision.

P.P.S. You can actually buy the towel above here. You’re welcome.

The Dreaded Revision

H/T to Paperback Writer

There comes a time in any writer’s life when they confront the dreaded beast.

Revision.

I’ve been plugging away at my novel for so long, making slow and (sometimes) steady progress, that I haven’t really confronted this issue yet.

That time came with my entry into the American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis contest.

I had written my opening chapters years ago. I had edited them many times when trying to get unstuck, but I had never really revised them. I knew with entering the contest that I had some fatal flaws. The generic weather opening? Check. The first character has nothing to do with the main story? Check.

Since I’ve heard how horrible it is to revise, I didn’t look forward to it, but a handy thing called a deadline forced my hand.

I sat down, hands at the keys.

It flowed.

It wasn’t bad at all! In fact, I rather enjoyed it. It took me a few days to do the first two chapters, but because I had a framework to build off of, I could adjust weak links, build up strong points, and overall tighten things up and make my characters jump out more (I hope).

I guess some of it is I’ve learned so much in the last several years that I can see what didn’t work with my initial thrust, but I could identify the kernel that did click in the writing.

I don’t know if this will be true through the whole novel. I still need to finish it, so I went back to my new work. I really wanted to keep revising, because I felt a sense of accomplishment and improvement. I know that I need to get the skeleton laid down though, and come back to help put the muscles and skin on later.

Hopefully it won’t be long until I get back to revising again. Does that make me strange?

Don’t answer that…

P.S. In an attempt to be a little more helpful, here is a link that talks about revision.

P.P.S. You can actually buy the towel above here. You’re welcome.