Eager to Start Something New

These cupcakes won't fill you up; my pin-cushion cupcakes I made as gifts. :)
These cupcakes won’t fill you up; my pin-cushion cupcakes I made as gifts. ๐Ÿ™‚

You know when you’ve been working away at rewrites, and the whole time, like creamy, calorie-filled desserts when you’re dieting, a new story keeps teasing and tempting you to stray? Then suddenly you’re done, and holy honk, you have

no idea what the heck to start with?

That’s almost where I am right now.

The rewrites are FINALLY entering their final phase. [ Cue the: “ding dong the witch is dead” music here; seems suitable somehow. ]ย I’m into the final stretch, going over it one more time. And yes, I’m still finding a few annoying scenes / chapters that aren’t what they’re supposed to be, but mostly it’s clipping down excess words, smoothing out the odd sentence, etc.

And soon, I’ll finally be able to start something new. The idea has me salivating, and confused.

You see, I’ve had characters bouncing around in my head all year. “Pick me! Pick me! Pick me!” they say. But they’re from all over the place. Take the group of brothers that showed up who don’t fit anywhere into a series properly, and who really seem to want to be written first person (not how I generally write). And of course, there’s the novel that’s partially plotted, which is in part a rewrite of yet another beloved story, taking only the barest of the original concept and going from there. Then there are other neglected manuscripts, one that is complete in first draft but a terrific mess.

Famine over, I stand at the dessert table, and I have no idea what to pick. I can have and do anything I want, and suddenly, I’m not sure I want anything. The decision seems so difficult.

Perhaps part of it is getting back into the drafting phase when I’ve been stuck in rewrite-mode for so long now. Perhaps too it’s that throughout this rewrite, I’ve changed as a writer, grown. And I am also firmly resolved to never make as much of a mess as I did with this last book, especially taking on rewrites without a proper plan. (Foolish? Incredibly. More so? I did it more than once. Sigh.)

So, when offered the freedom to finally do whatever you want, how do you decide? Have you been in this position? How did you handle it?

Thanks so much for reading. And hey, like the post? Why not follow the blog? Have a terrific week, and happy writing to you. ๐Ÿ™‚

Rewrites: 5 Reasons it’s Worth Sticking with them

Yes, my post is late. Again. And I plead rewrites.ย  I’ve probably used that excuse at least once, but there it is. I could go for plague, but then you might be a bit surprised if I ever wrote again.

Anyway, I am FINALLY nearing the end of an epic round of rewrites. I have never spent as long in rewrites – I am now over the 1 year + mark on the same novel, which is unheard of for me. And yes, many times it has felt like I was smashing my head into a rock in hopes of the rock breaking. Believe it or not, I think it has.

Today’s post is about WHY I would continue to with these endless rewrites (other than sheer stubborn pigheadedness and a refusal to quit). Here are my 5 reasons to stick with a massive overhaul kind of rewrite (like the one where the whole book essentially needs to be chucked.)

5. You are a bit of a fanatic when it comes to “making it right,” and perhaps earlier attempts were misguided. This time, you have an actual PLAN! (For more on rewrite plans, see earlier posts Rewrites in 4 easy phases and accompanying pieces.)

4. You deciphered what the problem was, and have confidence you can fix it .

3. You have gotten outside help and suggestions that have given you back energy and excitement for the piece.

2. It’s potentially connected to other books in a series, or is part of a larger series plot.

1. There is something you still LOVE about the story that means it doesn’t deserve to just rot in a drawer somewhere.

For me, reason #1 is perhaps the only reason I was able to stick with rewrites for this long. Because, despite the hardship and the frustration (andย  yes, I have tried to throw away this book before), there is something I still find compelling about the characters and their journey. Even when I am so frustrated I want to burn the whole darned thing, that love halts my action. And frankly, if you don’t have that love, it probably is not worth such an arduous journey. Go write something new.

This book will, someday soon, actually be DONE. And these horrifically long rewrites have made it worth it. The book is better. And you know what? I think I’m a better writer, too. This was one of those “learning” books where I think I came up another level, achieved something more in my craft. It doesn’t mean it’s perfect, because as a writer, I’m still learning – I hope I always will be. But darn it, I think I can actually see the light. And I know that no matter what becomes of this book, I’m proud of myself for improving it, for forcing myself to learn and grow to bring it closer to my original vision.

What about you – have you ever had a really long rewrite? Was it worth it? What makes you stick with a rewrite when things get tough?

Thanks for reading, and have a great week. Happy writing out there! ๐Ÿ™‚

 

 

Rewrites in 4 Easy Phases: Phase 4: Micro Assessment and Changes

March2013 003We’ve made it. We’ve arrived at the final phase of the rewrite, and from here, you know you can succeed. (Um, is it just me, or have I really been that obsessed with plot structure that I think the 4 phases are also based on the four plot sections?) Well, good news is, we have just the climax ahead, and we will succeed – no martyrdom allowed here.

So, the 5 steps of the final phase: Micro Assessment and Changes.

  1. Read through and make notes as you did on step 1 of Phase 1. If possible, do a search and highlight of overused words / phrases, throw-away words, etc. Look for awkward wording, anything unclear, and particular weaknesses (like a tendency for talking heads or lack of setting, etc.) Note opportunities to fine tune scenes, along with suggestions. Again, I highly recommend doing a read-through and only making notes in this phase. If you start making changes, you’ll get caught up and not be able to enjoy the “read” as hopefully your readers will.
  2. Assess. Are there still big problems? Loose ends? Stray plot threads? If so, go back to phase 1 and start again. (I’m sorry, I know that hurts!) If not, then proceed.
  3. Correct and Implement. Using your notes, make the minor corrections like deleting extra words, tightening up sentences, and making scenes as strong as possible. Consider heightening description, the use of the five senses and imagery. If your gut says something still isn’t working, go back and correct it. BUT, don’t get caught up in the need for absolute perfection; it’s a losing battle.
  4. Celebrate! You’ve completed rewrites. Now you can go on and do things like marketing material, send it out, etc.
  5. Get to work on your next book. You’re a writer. That’s what you do. ๐Ÿ™‚

So, you’ve survived the four phases of rewrites.

I love hearing from you. How did you do? Any sections you suffered through? Any tweaks or suggestions for improving the method? What’s your next plan?

Thanks for reading, and hope you have a terrific week. Oh, and if you liked the series, why not follow the blog? There’s sure to be more. ๐Ÿ™‚

Paranormal Randomness

So it’s Wyrd Wednesday, and seriously, I’m a bit tapped out for anything really interesting to share with you (still stuck in rewrite hell – and yes, it is that).

Which of course makes me wish that there were such thing as a a magical rewrite fairy – like a fairy godmother, but able to help alleviate rewrites. Thing is, I’m not certain whether she’d be purple and sparkly, turning every page into wonderful things. Or, if she really wanted to help with rewrites, that she’d have a whip and a pointy stick to keep forcing you on (the purple sparkly gown seems off, so I’m guessing she’d be into a lot of black leather, too). A fairy godmother dominatrix.

Writing life is not, of course, all rainbows and unicorns. And, seeing as both the unicorn images and fairy godmother dominatrix images I find are copyrighted, this email is going to look a lot less rainbowy.

Seriously, though. While “what if” can be a powerful tool for writers, I think it can also be a loaded gun. Because while it’s great to think, “wow! what if now my hero transforms into an eight foot hall wolf – and bangs his head!” It’s not as useful as: “wow. what if the phone rang right now and someone wanted to pay a gillion dollars for my book, so then I’d have to finish it – and have ample cause to!”

Most of the time, fantasy and magic stay firmly stuck to our pages and words. Real life … well, there’s lots of balancing work, family, and maybe attempting to have a life somewhere in there, too. And if there’s writing, there will inevitably be rewrites.

Above my doorway, so I can see them from the computer I have a few different quotes that I try to use as inspiration. I’m thinking perhaps I need a unicorn peeing on the words – somehow that seems suitable.

Anyway, here are a few that I have:

Separate yourself from the road you’re on. The pitfalls are part of the road – NOT you.

Revising ripens the first draft. (Not by me, but I’m not sure who said it.)

Today is the day you succeed. No one can tell your stories but you.

Everyday, and with every word, you become an even better writer.

If it was easy, everyone would be a writer.

 

What’s above your doorway or computer? How do you keep pushing through rewrites and writing even when things are tough?

Thanks for reading, and hope you have a fabulous, unicorn-filled week. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I’m off to the rewrites. They definitely won’t get done if I don’t work on them.

How Batman Saved My Book – And He Can Save Yours Too!

I have been in the midst of stressing over rewriting and restructuring my book. It’s become an obsession, especially regarding the plot structure. Which is how Batman comes into the picture.

You see, I took a bit of a break and watched the Christopher Nolan Batman Trilogy. And by the time I got through Dark Knight Rises (my favorite), things finally started to click as I analyzed the movie and plot structure while watching (I’ll try not to offer spoilers if you haven’t seen it.)

Part 1 – The Set-up – The world is revealed where we learn 8 years have passed since the actions of the last movie, in which time Bruce Wayne / Batman has become a recluse. Meanwhile, we meet Bane (the villain) and see him doing horrible things we don’t fully understand yet. Then there’s Selina Kyle / Catwoman. The actions of Commissioner Gordon and his regret about the lies he’s had to keep. And of course, Officer Blake, a young Gotham officer with a clear sense of moral justice – and sometimes in conflict with the situation.

What’s fascinating is watching all the characters going about their own path (their Ordinary World), while it was clear they were all heading on an intercept course without knowing it. Until bang! You hit the First Plot Point and Gotham is under direct threat.

Part 2 – The Response – The characters – including and especially the protagonist Batman – try to react to Bane’s threat, but they try to do it the way they always have. Batman has been out of commission for too long, and he’s not a young man anymore. Which leads to the Midpoint, when he loses those most important to him, is defeated, almost killed, and betrayed.

Part 3 – The Attack – Imprisoned, Batman must watch while Gotham suffers under Bane, Bruce Wayne’s greatest fear. The citizens of Gotham – and the other characters left behind – fight to survive and act without their biggest asset: Batman. Only when Batman is able to solve the secret to escaping the prison – and his own weakness – can he head back to save the day.

Part 4 – Batman arrives back, just in time before the city is destroyed. With his new power and understanding, he brings together all of the disparate forces so they can respond with strength and win the day. In the end, he finds a way to achieve what has become his ultimate goal: a way to no longer be Batman.

So, how did this save my book? Because by analyzing it, I was able to see how it worked – and worked well – and then apply the same logic to my plot. So indeed, by doing the same, Batman can save you too (or another well-plotted book / movie of your choice if Batman isn’t your thing).

Next week I’ll discuss the 4 stage plot structure in more detail.

But before I go: Has watching a movie or reading a non-craft book ever helped your writing? What has helped you learn and understand the elements of writing?

Thanks for reading, and hope you have a fantastic writing week. Oh, and hey: like the post? Why not follow the blog? ๐Ÿ™‚ Have a good one.