Monday, January 18, 2010

Myths about writing

This past weekend I spent much time working on the book. That's right, I'm still working on it. Why? Well unlike what has been shown in the media, writing the book is only one part of working on the book. And that gets me into the subject of my post today - myths on writing.

First a book - a full novel - CANNOT be written in one sitting. I am sure that besides myself there are thousands of writers out there that wish it can be done in one sitting. I was watching a story on J.K. Rowling and in it they had said that it took her six years to write the first Harry Potter book. SIX YEARS!!! And I thought that two years was a long time for my first book. I've seen the myth portrayed in movies several times. You watch the whole movie and in the end the main character sits down and over night has a three hundred page manuscript of the story. That my dear friends is bullshit.

Here is another myth that I caught on that piece on J.K. Rowling. In it they said that she locked herself in a hotel room for an extended period (not sure if they actually said how long). But at the end they show her finishing off the last of the last chapters of the last book. Sorry to say people, you just don't "finish". There is no "THE END" and your done with the book.

Nope. That is just the beginning. My first draft of my book took me 15 months to write. I finished the last line of the last page and thought "I'm done". Man was I happy - until a week later when I read what I wrote. OMG! It sucked! The idea was there, but it was far from being a story. Even at 303 pages I knew it needed a lot of work. The result is a nearly complete rewrite of the entire book. That took until last week. Nine months after I started the rewrite. I compiled the book into a pdf for people to read - its now 505 pages. Okay, so the size is irrelevant. I am not disillusioning myself this time. I know that I need to edit, but as I read through the book this time, I think that it now looks like it should have the first time.

But the point still remains - there is no "I'm done" to writing. There is always the next step. Even Rowling wasn't done there. She had to sit down with an editor and go through the book again. Which leads me to the next myth. Or at least what I think is a myth - one I hope to prove with my book. An author does not sit in a conference room in a chair next to an editor and go through the book page by page making corrections. OMG! that would be painful. And her books aren't small. I am sure it took several days or weeks to edit through the book. Then I am sure that there are the bickering back and forth between editor and author about sentence structure or some technical crap like that. Oh how I long to get to that point....

My point is that writing a book, at least in my experience, is not what you see on television or in a movie. Writing a story - a full length novel - requires a massive amount of work and a long term commitment. Is it worth the time and effort?

I hope so.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

So the editing begins

It has been several days since I have done any blogging. Most of the time because I was writing. The roll was on so I wrote, and wrote, and wrote. The two chapter climax turned out to be three. Could it have been done in two - perhaps, but I like the way that I worked the chapters out.

The first of the climactic chapter provided the action. Essentially the best laid plans blowing up infront of the characters faces. Nothing worked the way ANY of them wanted. The second of the three focused on the main character's pivtol break down. A character can not have a massive change unless something cataclysmic happens. That was the second of the three. The third chapter is the rebirth of the main character. The epiphany. The realization that there is something more out to the character's destiny than they would have ever dreamed.

Hey it worked pretty well. I am happy with the climax. I am even more pleased that I have acheived all the objectives that a good climax should have. I may have done more exposition than I should have, but I'll let the readers tell me that. Which brings me to the next step.

I had decided early on in the rewrite to use the final two chapters from the original draft. However, I need to read over the chapters to make sure that I didn't miss anything because of the changes that I had made from the original draft. I already I need to make mention of one thing in the last chapter, but a one line comment would suffice for that.  While I am reading the last two chapters I'll go ahead and edit them as well.

While editing I need to focus on working on the sentence structure, spelling, tenses, and basic grammar. I don't want to wind up rewriting entire sections - like I just got finished doing. No. The objective is just to only do enough to make the story flow easier and convey the story - without essential errors.

While I am doing this I will be compiling the entire book into a single pdf file. I will then email the file to my "readers". The readers are people that have volunteered to read the book and provide me suggestions and comments on the story. I will have a few editors helping me correct my spelling and grammar, but that is not the objective of the reader. I want the reader to go through the story - from cover to cover - as a real reader would and tell me where I need to make improvements.

Interested in being a reader?

Send me an email...

Monday, January 11, 2010

Starbucks ramblings

This evening I am filled with excitement. The final two chapters of the 2nd draft are in progress. I've taken the time to write out bulleted items outlining the actions to occur in chronological order. Now I only need to go back and fill out the passages that correspond to the bullets. But it is much harder said than done.

The passage for my first item took nearly a page to write. I need to remember to focus on keeping exposition out of the passage - or at least limit it as much as possible. I don't really need it, with the amount of action that is happening in these chapters I can use dialog to convey more of the information. It is still difficult not to considering that I have been doing it for the past 165K words.

Today Starbucks introduced the full leaf teas. The 'Awake' tea is stronger in the full leaf style. I'm wondering if I could get the venti tea with a single tea bad and be charged only for the grande size. Damn Starbucks is trying to nickel and dime us to death.

I do really enjoy sitting at Starbucks though. It give me an opportunity to people watch. Today's Starbucks is the one in North Richland Hills on Pipeline. The weather is a bit warmer today so there are more people sitting outside than there has been in recent days. At the moment my largest oddity is the group that is sitting on the west side of the building. A thin black man with glasses and a goatee is strumming on a guitar. I say strumming because he will play a few chords then stop. There are two other people sitting at the table with him, but they are blocked from my field of view by a shelf of coffee. I know that the two are young white women, but can't tell anything more significant.

The man with the wolf-like dog just walked by. I have been coming to this Starbucks for a couple of years now - ever since I started playing at the orchestra. Every time I am here the man walks by with the dog. In the summer time he will stop in the store and get a cup of water, most of which he give to his dog. I say that the dog is wolf like, but it more than likely is a Siberian Husky - as skinny one. I wouldn't really know how to tell the difference between the two - especially at a distance. I may want to look into that somethime.

The group with the guitar grew by one memeber, another black man with a reggae do. I take that back it is two young black kids selling candy bars. Interesting - I didn't know that the store would allow it. That might be because the employees aren't looking in that direction. I am watching the crew as the two youths make the rounds of the store. I give a gentle nod - no. The youth continues on. They have made their rounds, selling a few bars, and have left. The crew never even noticed. Funny too. Now that I look at the boxes I realize that they are not selling the candy for a fund raiser. They are selling directly out a Crunch and Twix box. A box that you could purchase (or steal) from Sam's. How's that for being an entrepreneur.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Climactical Chapters

I've finally come to that point in the book that all the pieces must fit together. That scene the is the culmination of all the efforts of the characters in the book. The point that all the best laid plans come tumbling down. The climax of the story is also the breaking of the novel.

A well written climax will give the reader the satisfaction from staying with the story throughout the hard parts of the book. A well written climax will give the reader the a sense of completion, as if the whole thing was worth it. The climax can also be used to snag the reader into coming back for more, like a thrill ride. If the ride is good there is desire to do it all over again.

This is especially useful if there are going to be more than one book, as I plan on writing. There is so much that rides on the climax chapters. No pressure huh?

I think that I have a good outline for the climax. I have a good vision of the choreography. So I'm thinking that it willl work out well. But as I write this I come to a realization.

Of all the books I have read, they all say that the climactical chapters are important; but none really talk about the archeticture of the climax. For example, there have been books writeen on the opening of a scene or the opening of the book. They have examples, guidlines, and what-not-to-do. There are books written on all othe aspects of the book; dialog, expositions, plots, etc. But the only thing said on the climax is that it is important.

So what are the guidlines of writing a climax? The only thing that I have to go off of is what I like about climax chapters. I seem to really enjoy climax chapters that are filled with actions and movements. Expositions should be kept to minimum, hopefully I have set most of motives in the chapters leading up to the climax. Now is a time for action. I also like climax scenes that are fast past. This will mean brief passages from multiple angles.

I think I have those angles covered. I'll write out an outline a the begining of the chapter that flows with what I wrote in the first draft. I can then use that to keep me on track for these two chapters. Once these are done, I am finished. The final two chapters of the novel I'll use the first draft manuscripts.

It's so close to being done I can taste it...

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Resuffle madness

Life is slowly returning to normal from the holidays and wedding. I am trying to focus my free time on completing book. The estimates show that I am just over 12K words from completion. That is still a large number of words, but considering the end result is 172K, a measly 12K is a drop in the bucket. I wonder if 160K words is enough for a story and I am confident that 150K was enough. But this story demands more. I must continue until I am satisfied.

Chapter 32 is proving to be interesting in the manner in which I have been creating it. I began the Chapter with the understanding of what needed to be accomplished. It is a combination of segments from two scenes in my first draft. However, with the desire to increase tempo and do the climax of the book justice I have combined the concept into one chapter, but I am using it from different POVs - a lot of them. But that is not what is uique about writing this chapter.

I started with the key elements I wrote in my first draft. Key conversations and instrumental actions. In the chapter I wrote the passages in the order that they would occur. I then left a line space between the passages. From there I was able to go back and expand on the passages that I had a clearer vision on what would transpire. Doing it this was I was able to actually write out the end of the chapter before really having a beginning or middle. Knowing the ending my job is to get the cast from their point in the beginning of the chapter to what has to be the end of the chapter. Do I know everything that will happen? No. But it must happen.

Now I wonder if I have written myself into a corner...

Honestly, I don't see it being an issue. My concern at the moment is determining if I have too many POVs and if the shifts are occurring at resonable points.

Thought popped into my brain as I write this... I have noticed that I as I write more I am finding ways of eliminating adjetives from my passages. I'm not sure if this is something that I have read somewhere or something that has progressed naturally over the course of writing 250K (90K from first draft + 160K from this draft). I'll have to pay more attention to that as I move forward.

I'll add that to the list of other things I am avoiding, such as starting a sentence with an 'ing' word or 'It was'. I also have stricken certain words from my vocabulary - such as 'just', 'something', 'and', 'probably', 'no doubt'. Just to name a few.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


Last night was night full of small lessons. The first of which was that it is exceedingly important to bring ones laptop charger when when one plans on having extended writing sessions at local Starbucks. Seeing how I had failed to learn this lesson prior to last evening I found myself stranded without my laptop and over an hour to go before having to show to my rehearsal with the orchestra. Bored and not wanting to remain idle I ventured into the local Barnes & Noble to check out the works of those that have come before me. I am utterly convinced that my book will sit upon the shelves with Patricia Briggs, Anne McCaffery, and Doulgas Adams. It was then that I learned my second lesson. My book will be placed upon the others only if I have the determination and dedication.

I believe that it is the determination and dedication that creates published writers. Looking through many of the books on those shelves I see that my work is on par if not better than some of the works there. The only reason they have their books on the shelves and I don't is because I have not finished yet. I must remained determined and not give up on myself or falter in my faith that I am at least a good a writer as those already published.

I also came to another realization while browsing the Science Fiction/Fantasy - Young Adult shelves. The first is that every Dark Fantasy novel deals with the same concept - Werewolves, Demons, or Vampires. I think that in that respect I have a leg up - having a Dark Fantasy novel that does not deal in those areas. Secondly, and more depressing is that most main characters are female. I can conclude two theories from that. The first is that until recently most heroes were male, so now it seems that the market is flooded with female leads. I theorize that it is because that doing so appeals to the largest demographic of readers - young females. I am hoping that this will mean that there is a good demand for the book that I am writing.

We shall see, but first I got to finish it!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Chapter 32 Rambling

Chapter 32 may be taken from one or two POVs. The thought is that it’ll start with Emily move to the Queen of Hearts. Then end with Emily. However, I might take the whole scene from Emily’s POV. The advantage of doing the chapter from two POVs is to quicken the pace of the story at this point. The reader is just coming from a 12 page chapter with the Queen. Granted that I might reduce Chapter 31 a bit by removing transistions and use line breaks between locations. It's still a long chapter and breaking this chapter up might be advantageous. Another possiblity is to take the second POV from either the April Hare or Beth, neither of which have really been heard of since the early chapters.

Thinking about April and Beth leads me to think that doing the chapter from their perspective would not be so bad. In fact doing it from all three perspectives would be beneficial. Start with Beth and her impression of the Queen, then move to April, and ending it off with Emily as she is being sentenced to death. Or go from Beth to Emily then to April.

The order at the moment is not really important, but I think that I just decided on a major factor to writing the chapter. Using the three perspectives. Moving from POVs while running the time line will help increase the tension as well as the pace. This will also give more greater freedom to jump around in chapter 33 (and possibly a new 34).

As for Chapter 33 - oringinally "the party crasher" I've nearly settled up breaking that into two chapters as well. There is too much happening in that chapter to be only one. It'll mean that I'll end up with 36 total chpaters, but that isn't too bad.

I am so close to finishing the book - or at least the second draft. There are several areas that I need to do revisions on, but I don't think that a major revision as I am doing now will be required. Editing though - that is a different story. I have been told even though I have tried to be conscious of it, I am still lapsing into present tense while writing. A bad habit of mine. But the fact is that I am nearly complete - 94.57% complete according to my estimation. (Yes, I know, I'm OCD. Bite me.)