Writing

Choosing Perspective: First Person vs Third

The gobbledygook mess that is my current WIP is throwing more challenges my way. I had problems writing the heroine’s voice so I changed to first person and wrote the next 3/4 of

Still waiting to see if my primroses survived the winter.
Still waiting to see if my primroses survived the winter.

the novel that way … and now I think I’ve changed my mind. The question is why this is worth the extra work this will require (although why I keep changing my mind about everything is a good question too. However, no answer to that just now.)

The issue is first person vs third person perspective. And the limits and strengths of both.

An obvious strength of first person perspective is clearly allowing your reader to truly experience the story and experiences through your character. I also found it easier to get into their head when I was able to use the pronoun “I.” Even in works where I have written in third person, for some reason I sometimes find it easier to get into first person POV (point of view) to be able to literally get in my character’s head. This can allow for some very “in” jokes, and perhaps I was influenced to try out first person POV because I’ve been reading some great books (like the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher, the Grave series by Darynda Jones, and the dragon books by Katie MacAlister.)

That said, the reason I’ll be changing to deep third person is because I’m finding first person rather limiting. And, even in those great books, especially when it comes to romance, I’m frustrated that the non-POV character (usually the male lead) becomes a bit “shadowed.” Even when you try to show their experience and have them share their story with the heroine in her perspective, it remains the heroine’s story. Frankly, this is a problem for me because I believe a romance should be about both of the characters, showcase both of their stories (even if one has greater obstacles and a more significant character development arch), and allow the reader to see how both characters find love.

The other problem: despite the many issues I’m having with this current WIP (work in progress), somehow or other this is my favorite hero I’ve created so far. In truth, I probably like him more than the heroine, and I can’t bear for his story to be neglected.

To me, the choice of perspective (even choosing which character’s perspective a particular scene is written in), always comes down to who has the most at stake. And in this case, while my heroine perhaps has the most at stake, my hero still has something to lose (and gain) as well, and I think it’s only fair he gets to share the stage equally.

Of course, I’ve frequently been known to be wrong (and change my mind). 😉

So, to you: Have you read a book written in first person perspective (written completely using the “I” pronoun like a confessional almost), where other characters came through extremely vividly? If so, would you mind sharing the titles?

Thanks for reading, and hope you’re all having a fantastic week out there. It looks like spring has finally decided to arrive. 🙂

Writing

Rewrites in 4 Easy Phases: Phase 3: Implementation of Macro Changes

Hello, and welcome back. Hope you’re full of energy and enthusiasm, because today we look at Phase 3: Implementation of Macro Changes which is probably the hardest bit. Today we enter the real meat of rewrites. You know, the actual “rewriting” bit.

Okay, so get ready. Get yourself psyched, remind yourself that you know what you’re doing (yes, do it anyway, even if you don’t feel like it), and get your materials in order. You will need your chapter by chapter outline with the initial notes you made on the manuscript. Your “new order” outline / summary. And lots and lots of energy. 🙂

These steps can vary a bit in the order you address them (for example, you may want to create new scenes before messing around with the order of the old, etc.) The point here, though, is to try and work non-linearly so you put off re-reading the entirety of the manuscript as long as possible, thereby trying to avoid the “I hate this stupid thing in a horrible bad way” feeling.

So, off we go on the 5 steps of Phase 3: Implementation of Macro Changes:

  1. Start by re-saving you manuscript under a new draft. This is a personal thing, since I like to keep track of the changes. Skip if you don’t care about old versions.
  2. Go through and add your titles to each of the actual chapters / scenes. This will help you identify them after you start moving things around.
  3. Move the chapters in the manuscript to reflect your “new order” outline. Add space for new chapters (if applicable). At this point you may also want to write the scene cards for each scene, ensuring you have an idea what your purpose for the scene is, what the protagonist goal is for the scene, if they achieve it or not, and how this leads to greater conflict and furthers the story goal.
  4. Start working through the chapters and changes with “biggest changes” down to the “smallest.” For example, perhaps start with the creation of fresh, new scenes if you’re adding any. Then amalgamation of chapters. Then partial scene re-writes and weaving / peppering objects / details.
  5. Check off / address your initial notes from your read-through so hopefully you’ve caught those problems. Then yay! You’ve made it through this phase. Another treat is in order. 🙂

 

You did it! Yay you! You have made it through the hardest part thus far, and hopefully, it will be smooth sailing from here.

Next week, the final phase: Phase 4: Micro Assessment and Changes.

But before we go: what do you find hardest about rewrites? How do you keep your enthusiasm for a piece? What methods have you found worked to get through the rewrites – especially the really extensive ones?

Thanks for reading, and hope your week is merry! Oh, and hey, liked the post? Why not sign up for the blog?

Writing

Rewrites in 4 Easy Phases: Phase 2: Macro Assessment and Changes

Herein we enter the phase of rewrites I never properly considered … and have had to do many, many more drafts of the zombie book than I should have. So hopefully you don’t have the same problems, I’m here to help.

Phase 2 looks at the big issue changes and issues to address during the rewrite. One of the things I’m trying to do is spend less actual time reading the actual text ad-nauseum until you get to the point where you positively despise every word, good or not (you know that feeling, right?). That’s why this phase makes a lot of use of the notes you made in Phase 1.

Do note that this is a big phase. Unless you are superhuman (and I totally envy you if you are!), then it may take you a while to get through each of these steps. To give you some idea, it took me a bit over a month to read through and make notes, a day for the chapter by chapter, and almost a week for the re-organization. I wish you all the best if you can do it faster – and it’s certainly possible – but don’t beat yourself up if you can’t. So not useful. 😉

Phase 2: Macro Assessment and Changes in 4 steps:

  1. Read over the chapter by chapter summary you created. Do scenes flow seamlessly and logically into other scenes? Does the progression of the story make sense to you? To others who might take a look? Do you have multiple chapters saying and doing the same thing?
  2. Structure Test. Can you clearly identify which scenes are the major structural elements of the plot? Are they behaving and coming across the way they need to? Are you missing pieces of the plot?
  3. Scene test. Beside each chapter / scene, write out the scene purpose and goal for you the writer. That is: why is this scene in the book, what does it do, why do I need it? Do you have scenes without a purpose? With weak purposes? Consider how these can be strengthened, or deleted.
  4. Re-organization. If you found some red-flags in step 2, now it’s time to fix the problems. Weak structure is often a failing of many unpublished novels (which is what I remind myself of too when I’m annoyed at the mistakes I make – you can remind yourself of the same). So, now make a second copy of your chapter-by-chapter (just the chapter summary) and chop each chapter into its own little strip. Start with the major plot points, and work through the plot either using a huge drawing of the plot arc, the four-act structure, or whatever works for you. You want to re-organize to make sure a) each scene flows logically from one to the next, b) the character growth and plot intensity progresses logically, c) you haven’t missed anything. This might mean chapter 5 becomes chapter 20, or vice versa – the number doesn’t matter. You may also combine chapters, switch some out, and delete others.
  5. Filling in holes. Once you determine what’s working, you may find that some scenes don’t progress from one to the next, or that you’re missing steps on the character growth or plot progression. Fill these in with rough notes of what you require in the scene, and perhaps brainstorm a few ideas.
  6.  Name your chapters / scenes on your main chapter-by-chapter summary. Nothing fancy, perhaps the purpose of the scene or something that helps you identify it. This will be important when you start moving things around in your actual manuscript, especially if you use a word processing program.
  7. Tape together the new order of your scenes, and make notes. They can only get taped or “finalized” if the scene flows from one to the next. I made additional notes of each chapter to understand the flow, especially because I added new chapters / scenes and needed to clarify what I needed, and because I was combining other chapters, and wanted to know what the heck I wanted out of each.
  8. Read through your new chapter by chapter (or scene) progression. KEEP THE OLD CHAPTER BY CHAPTER, because it has your earlier notes, and you’ll need those later. If things still aren’t working, go back to step 1. Otherwise, behold the new order and wonder your book will be. Post somewhere you can see and refer to them later.
  9. Take a moment to smile and be proud of yourself. Try to forget that now, the real work begins.

Phew! That phase wasn’t easy, was it? Pat yourself on the back or feed yourself a treat for getting that all done. You deserve it!

Next week: Phase 3: Implementation of Macro Changes

But first: how do you assess major changes and rewrites? How do you decide what needs to be changed, and what stays? Any tips to help the rest of us write the best darned book we can – and survive rewrites?

Thanks for reading, and have an awesome week. And hey, why not stop by and sign up for the blog? It’s fun here. 🙂

Writing

Rewrites in 4 Easy Phases: Phase 1: Assessment

Hey! Welcome back to my rewrite method. This week we examine Phase 1: Assessment.

At its most basic, this phase means you need to go through your completed draft and make an honest assessment of what’s working, and inevitably, what’s not. I’ll pause with the caveat that different people recommend different amounts of time to let the piece “rest” before you dive into rewrites since it allows you a certain amount of distance. For myself, I’m often too impatient, so only sometimes do this. Most of the time, I find it was at least a month since I’ve written or re-read the opening chapters, so it already provides some distance.

Here’s the phase broken down into 5 easy steps:

1. Read through the draft and make notes. You’ll be making notes on scenes, general impressions, suggested changes / ideas. NO ACTUAL CHANGES YET. Consider this similar to a critique you’d do for others. Recently, I’ve found that reading through a .pdf file on my tablet was fabulous because I couldn’t make changes, only notes. Whatever works for you. Remember to write down what you really enjoyed as you read too – you don’t want to end up deleting that chapter accidentally (unless you have to.)

2. Create your chapter by chapter summary. As you read, write down just enough information to understand what the chapter is about, usually the major action and significance. Or, if you prefer, after the re-through, go back and do the chapter by chapter, but make sure you do it. This will be an important tool later on.

3. Consider your general impressions and major concerns. Especially when you reached the end of the book, were there plot threads and details that hadn’t been woven into earlier sections? Were there overall issues / problems? At least make note of these, though you don’t have to solve them just yet.

4. Consolidate onto chapter by chapter summary. Go through and make the major notes and impressions from step 1 and from step 3 into your chapter by chapter summary. This will give you a pretty good idea of what’s going on. I format this using the chapter summary followed by the notes / impressions for that chapter. Usually, the more notes, the more problems, which can act like a red flag in later phases.

5. Finally, perhaps most importantly, remember that not all (any?) books started out super-awesome-perfect in their early drafts. Yours is no different. It will get better. You don’t suck. I promise.

So, that was hopefully fairly painless. Yes, it will probably be disappointing that some things aren’t as polished / ready as you’d hoped. But, at least now you have some idea of the issues at hand.

Next week: Phase 2: Macro Assessment and Changes, where we make use of that chapter by chapter outline, and the notes from Phase 1.

But first, what do you think? Is this similar to you rewrite process in early phases? I’m also experimenting and trying to get more efficient, like most of us are. Any ideas you’d like to share? Come on,  you know you want to. 🙂

Thanks for reading, and happy writing. Oh, and make sure you sign up for the blog. You don’t want to miss the next post. 🙂

Writing

Rewrites in 4 Easy Phases: Yes, seriously

So, if you’ve been reading, you know I’m in rewrites. Yep, still. But I think I see the light ahead (then again, I always say that. Makes me happy, true or not.)

Anyhoo, I thought I’d share my method and what I’ve learned about rewrites and their 4 phases. Because as much as I hear refer to it as Rewrite Hell, it doesn’t have to be. (Yes, really-really, I pinky-swear.) In the coming weeks I’ll go over each phase in greater detail, broken down into easily digested steps and lists (ooh, pretty lists!).

This week, I’ll go over a broad-picture of the plan.

Phase 1: Assessment. This is where you have to go through your completed manuscript and make an honest of assessment of what’s working, and what’s not.

Phase 2: Macro assessment and changes. This is where you determine if the structure and “big deal” items of the plot are working. Here a “revised vision” may come into play to help structure your rewrites.

Phase 3: Implementation of macro changes and the revised vision. Actual rewrites taking place.

Phase 4: Micro assessment and changes. Here you get to finally go through and make the polish, cleaning up excess wordiness, adverbs, overused words, etc.

See? Totally easy. Didn’t I promise? 😉

What about you: do you have a rewrite plan or method? Does it sound completely different than this? Is it super efficient (if it is, you MUST share for the good of the world and happiness of baby kittens everywhere … and the sanity of fellow writers). 😉

Otherwise, thanks for reading, have a great week. And hey, why not sign up to follow the blog while you’re here?

Writing

Rewriting like a fiend!

So, in an update, my last methods for improving my success rewriting seem to have worked. I beat the wall – actually, I discovered that I just needed to back up, and there was no wall. Therefore, I’m trying to fly through rewrites, and have very little additional time for anything else (there’s also that whole Christmas thing coming up, and since I make most of my gifts, I’m swamped.)

Consequently, a short post today.

I wanted to actually pose a question and share: what makes your rewrites go well? How to you avoid hitting the wall / stalling out, or what do you do when it happens anyway?

For me, this rewrite I’ve done 5 different things:

  1. I have a revision plan (took notes, have a map of the document as it stood, and how it needs to be – mostly chapter by chapter summaries with red-pen scribbled all over them for my planned suggestions).
  2. I’ve found critique partners. Having someone who’s waiting for new chapters all the time helps me keep moving, even (and especially) when I don’t want to.
  3. When I hit the wall, or things stall, I back up and delete what wasn’t working. In most cases, it’s usually a chapter / scene preceding where I ran into trouble that things went wrong, and when I redo that, things loosen up and I can write again.
  4. Have a deadline. Self-imposed or otherwise, this keeps you pushing hard – and will get you onto something else sooner.
  5. Have patience for my method. I understand that like when I’m writing earlier drafts, I often have full steam for the first 1/4, start getting lost around the midpoint, and then gather steam again near the end. My writing and my methods reflect this, so I need to have some acceptance and understanding of this – as well as a plan for how I’ll overcome.

Okay, so speaking of those rewrites? Have to get back to them. What about you? What’s working for you? What’s not?

Thanks for reading. Have a great week, and happy writing.

Writing

Stuck in the Middle: Or, singing the rewrite blues

Once upon a time, my rewrites were going GREAT! I mean, things were just ticking along as quickly as they could, and some of the scenes I discovered – even I liked them! I raced towards the midpoint and then …

And then I hit the big ol’ midpoint wall.

I’m not sure what I did wrong (although that is one of my “hunches”), or if I’m just tired, but suddenly, I have no idea what I need to write. I can see the midpoint, I can see the crisis points and the climax … and I can’t quite connect the midpoint to the crisis points. Chapters and … “something wonderful I haven’t figured out” is missing in that section, and it’s driving me insane.

Sigh. Maybe that means it’s time for a break. Pushing really hard as I have been, maybe what’s broken isn’t the WIP exactly, but me.

What do you think? Have you ever hit the rewrite wall when you’re about half-way done? You can see the end … but no possible way to get there? Let me know – I’d love the help!

Take care, and have a great week. Hope your writing is going fabulous!