Changing Tracks: From Drafting To Revision

So this week I finally finished the extremely ugly first draft of my latest WIP (tentatively called FROZEN STAR.) Which means that now suddenly I have to switch from drafting-brain to revision.

It sometimes make me secretly suspect, especially when I consider the kind of revision I’ve undertaken previously, that somehow or other I was smarter in my past than I am now, perhaps better at revision than I am now. It’s a strange thought: to consider that perhaps I had the answers…and lost them, which now leaves me having to search for them all over again.

Maybe all of this comes from the whole difficulty of switching from the freely creative “write whatever you feel” phase of drafting a book (especially first draft), to the much more analytical and editorial task of revision, where I need to assess the mess I’ve spewed out and try to find the story therein.

Indeed, in an ideal world, I suspect this is why it’s “best” (so says the advice) to leave the WIP for as long as possible before turning around and trying to revise: that time not only helps provide distance from those words you barely got done, but also allows you time to switch gears in your mind, to go from creative to analytical.

Which led me today to go back through my blog archives to look up my own Rewrites in 4 Ease Phases (click the link too if you’d like to check it out – it’s from back in 2013.) How bizarre is it that I found myself wondering about the process all over again? Oh well. I’m very encouraging to myself, so hopefully this will help the revisions. 😉

That said, I’m onto the first stage: assessment. Eek. Just how ugly will this first draft look?

Now it’s your turn: how do you switch from drafting / creative brain to revision brain? Have you ever found yourself surprised by something you wrote / considered in the past that now seems somehow foreign? Leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you. 🙂

Thanks for reading, and hope you all have a great week out there.


Choosing a Setting: How do you choose?

Scotland2007 019I’ve been thinking a lot about setting and atmosphere recently. It definitely isn’t one of my strengths, and I want to change that – and what better opportunity than the latest rewrite? I’ve also found a few problems where the setting I chose just doesn’t work.

Which begs the question: how do you choose the right setting?

The question works on two levels. First there’s the general setting for your entire story, whether it’s Regency England, or maybe the darkside of Mars. Then there’s the more specific question of what settings to select for specific scenes. I’ve heard differing things about how many settings you should have for your whole book – some suggesting about a maximum of five. And while I understand that this helps ground the reader – and the writer, too – I do find this a bit limiting, especially in some books where necessity demands you move to different settings, like various crime scenes (unless all your victims are killed in the same place … wouldn’t that just make it easy to wait around until the killer comes back?).

Anyway … how do you choose? What makes the best setting?

Donald Maass in “Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook,” suggests that each location can be “an opportunity to enrich your story” (176). The setting can alter and create a mood. I’ve seen this done lately (and really well) by Amanda Stevens in her Graveyard Queen series (which I confess to being totally addicted to – read them. They’re awesome.) She seemingly effortlessly creates this creepy and intriguing setting, especially in “The Kingdom” (book 2), where even the arrival of the protagonist, Amelia, hints at what’s to come. In that novel, the setting really is a character … but what character to choose?

The easy answer, of course, is “whatever I want,” but that’s a silly answer. Just because I want my second scene set on the moon with naked dancing alien-babies in the background doesn’t mean it will work … especially in my Regency romance. Thus, one must look to the overall setting to decide on the specific. The possibilities are not endless, but they seem to be. A tavern? The protagonist’s front parlor? A boxing club?

Time for your input. If you’re a writer, how do you choose your settings? What is it about a particular setting that makes it matter more? Do you limit how many you use? As a reader, do you have a preference for setting? Is there a point when there’s too many settings?

Thanks, as always, for reading, and hope you have a fabulous week. Oh, and if you like this post and don’t yet follow, why not? You wouldn’t want to miss a post would you? (Don’t worry I don’t bite … trying to set a good example for the kidlet.)

The Journey to Publication

How to Celebrate the Joy and Success of Others

I’ve recently realized something: I’m better at dealing with people when they’re down than when they’re happy.

It’s a strange thing to think about. But I’m quite good at offering sound advice, helping loved ones plan a way out of the hole they feel trapped in. That I’m great at. But when things are really great? When something wonderful has happened to them? The words sound hollow and chunky to my ears. “Congratulations” just doesn’t convey what I want to say. It’s the same when I meet someone – say another author at a book signing who I really admire. What do you say without gushing they’re the best author  you’ve ever read – which probably isn’t true anyway (the more wonderful the author I read, I’m likely to pick up someone just as good or better the next time – that’s why it’s so hard to have just one favorite!).

So … how do you congratulate and compliment someone and be sincere about it? Okay, here’s what I have so far …

  1. Be Specific. Instead of just “congratulations” or “that looks great on you,” explain a little, make it matter and try to convey your sincerity with the “why.” It also backs up the compliment and makes it matter more. Why was this the best book you ever wrote? Why do they look nice today?
  2. Don’t be phony. If the person’s speech was terrible, complimenting them on it will probably sound insincere because it is. Instead, is there something you can compliment them on? Coming out? Volunteering? Other achievements?
  3. Make it about the person and their success, not you. It can be hard to offer congratulations to someone who’s just achieved what you haven’t been able to yet, or when you’re feeling a bit down in the dumps. BUT, celebrating your loved ones success can make their achievement that much sweeter. Later, they’ll listen to your problems. But first, celebrate the good times, and who knows? Maybe it will help you forget the bad.
  4. Don’t have a hidden agenda. Don’t just be kind to get something (ie: an author to promote your book, or your husband to buy you something, etc). Be kind for it’s own sake: it will make someone else feel good, and it will make you feel good, too.
  5. Give kindness to someday receive it. Okay, that sounds really, horribly selfish, doesn’t it? Here’s the thing: I sincerely believe we receive back what we put into the world … you know, cosmic balance and stuff. And if something great happens to you, you’d want to celebrate, right? So give and allow that same joy to whoever you’re congratulating.
  6. Don’t cloud the joy. If you’re a bit of a cynic, like me, it can be easy to see that a small success isn’t the end of the road, and there will always be hard times ahead. BUT, unless you remember to enjoy the good bits, how do you think you’ll manage to get through the bad? Let the other details go, and savor the pleasure of joy. It can be far too fleeting.

Okay. That’s all I have. And I’m still not sure if it’s enough. Any advice? How do you help celebrate success and achievements? How do you spread joy and kindness during the good times?

Thanks for reading. Have a great week!