Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Shitty First Draft

Why would anyone want to write a shitty first draft? Why pour hours of hard work into something that you know isn't going to be good enough to share with even your most trusted readers? The answer is simple. When you’re done you have a beginning, middle and end. You've gotten to know each of your characters. You've created their world. You've discovered what’s important to your characters. What they will face. How their actions affect the people around them. You started a journey and made it to the end, a task some writers never accomplish.

I think it’s important to get the first draft written. It creates a foundation you can build on. I've found that by the time I reach the second half of a first draft I've learned so much about my characters that I hadn't know when I began their story. By pushing my way through the first draft I discover little hints that can be woven into the beginning chapters to foreshadow things to come. I know exactly what needs to happen in that chapter I stumbled through.

The revising process is when I look at my work with a critical eye. I add sensory detail that I may have missed. I add in the necklace that is important to my character because it represents the memory of her mother or the brief encounter with a quirky neighbor that explain something that happens later on in the book. And I add the missing details needed to allow readers to draw a picture of each scene in their minds as they read.

Everyone has a process that works for them. Over the years I've discovered that there’s no need for me to stress over what my characters discuss at the breakfast table in chapter two because the answer will come to me as I work my way through the first draft.

How about you? Do you polish each chapter as you write them or do you let the words flow and go back later to do the polishing?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Gratitude and Best Wishes

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I have so much in my life to be thankful for. My wonderful and supportive family and friends, my amazing and talented critique partners, my day job and the talented group of people I have the pleasure of working with, my publisher and the entire publishing team who helped bring my novel to light, my editor whose keen eye helped to shape Embrace, my agent who has been absolutely a dream to work with, the wonder friends I've met on-line, and my readers for their kind words and their support.

To those who celebrate Thanksgiving, have a safe and happy holiday.


Friday, November 16, 2012

Feature & Follow #22

Feature & Follow is hosted by Alison of Alison and Parajunkee of Parajunkee's View. It's a fun way to make new friends and to interact with old ones. Click the links above to learn more and to join the fun. 

Q: Books are turned into movies all the time! Turn it around. What movie would make a great book?

Sweet Home Alabama. I fell in love with the characters in the movie. It would have made an awesome book.

What movie would you pick?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Picking Your Next Writing Project

Aspiring authors have asked me how I decide what to work on next when new ideas keep popping into my head. Because I’m always working on something, new ideas end up on the back burner. This is good, because it gives me time to think about them. Some ideas come and go. Others stick around, reminding me that they are a story waiting to be told. Only, they do have to wait until I finish whatever it is I’m writing, be it a first draft or the revisions to another story. I use this time to get to know the characters who are merely a spark waiting to be explored. When I finally sit down and start writing this now familiar idea I have at least one scene pretty well played out in my mind. It ends up being my starting point to the journey into new lives and worlds, even if it’s not the first chapter of the book.

But what happens when more than one idea is speaking to me? Which story gets my attention?

The first thing I do is take out a few sheets of loose-leaf paper and I give each one a title. This is usually the basic plot point for an idea summed up in a word or two. When I’m done I have a separate sheet of paper for each potential story.

Next I write what I know about each of these ideas: genre, characters, what they are facing, what they must overcome, who their friends are, and as much about the MC as I can. Then I start to ask what if. I follow the guidelines I talked about in my previous post, Kick Start an Idea

Sometimes I find my stories overlap and I can combine them. Other times I realize that Story A is more developed in my mind and the best story to work on. And then there are the times I discover which story I’m most passionate about. How do I know? It’s the story that had me grabbing more paper because one sheet just wasn't enough. I know that it’s the story that is begging to be told now.

If you have any tips on how you decide what to work on, I’d love to hear them.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Feature & Follow #21

Feature & Follow is hosted by Alison of Alison and Parajunkee of Parajunkee's View. It's a fun way to make new friends and to interact with old ones. Click the links above to learn more and to join the fun. 

Q: Do you mind books with similar ideas to other books? Similar concepts, backgrounds, retellings or pulled-to-publish fanfic?

For me it really depends. I've read books that I can see overwhelming similarities to other books, but the characters are interesting or the plot has a unique twist so I keep reading. If a book is beautifully written, I'll keep reading just because I love the author's style of writing. I guess that's the key for me, if a book is intriguing and makes me want to follow the characters' journey then I'm going to keep reading. If a book tells the same story or the writing is bad then I'm going to put it down. It doesn't matter where the spark for the story came from.

What about you? 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

IWSG: The One Sentence Hook

Happy November!

First, congratulations to Ellz Reads who won an autographed copy of Embrace plus the Embrace hemp bracelet and bookmark at my stop on the Spooktacular Giveaway Hop last week.

It’s the first Wednesday of the month, which means it’s time to talk about insecurities. Before I do that, I’d like to thank Alex Cavanaugh for hosting this wonderful meme.

Summing a novel up in one intriguing sentence is always a challenge. As writers, we try to create a hook that’s succinct, unique and can be said in thirty seconds or less. I often worry I’ll get a blank stare from the person I’m talking to. You know the one where you can almost see the question marks above his or her head as if that person is thinking, huh, what did you just say? I’m thrilled when someone says my short spill sounded interesting and I can see they mean it.  

I’m actually pretty happy with the hooks for my latest novels. When I work on a hook, I’d print it out and tack it to the wall in front of my desk, make a tweak here and there, and then print the new version out and repeat the process. When I think I have it just right, I let my CPs and family read it and tweak some more if need be. If you need help with your hook, check out my post Writing a one-sentence pitch. 

So what’s the problem? For me, it’s remembering the hook a few weeks after I’ve stopped thinking about it.  I spoke at a writers’ group last month and realized just how awful my memory is. I have Embrace’s hook down, but that’s only because I’ve said it so many times it’s embedded in my subconscious. The hooks for my latest novels, not so much. So there I was talking to fellow writers about publishing my first novel and someone asked what I’m working on. I stumbled through the summary thinking you know this! Lesson there, tack my finished hooks to the cork board over my desk so that I see them on a daily basis. Maybe then I’ll be able to recite the hook I spent so much time writing when asked about my books. If that doesn't work, I've sent them to my phone. If you have any tricks for remembering your hooks, I'd love to hear them.