Friday, March 30, 2012

Revisions

So I've been talking about revisions for a while, so I figured I'd share how I do it.

For me, revising is a big process.  My first draft is crap-tastic (I know everyone says that and if it's not, then it's not a first draft), but mine really is.  For me, this first draft is just getting the idea down on the page.  It's pretty bare-bones-y with not a lot of description and long rambling sentences.  I also tend to invert word order instead of having it flow naturally.

The first thing I [should] do is make an outline, documenting the inciting incident, rising action etc.  Then I write out all the scenes/chapters along with the point of each.  Does the MC find out a specific bit of information?  How is she feeling at this point?  Does this part need more magic?  What is the point of this scene?  What is her motivation?  Then I actually start revising.

I print out my novel.  I'm lucky that at work I can print out as much as I want.  I totally use this to my advantage.  (And I recycle!)  I start reading with my outline side-by-side.  I add to the first draft what needs to be added when I come to that part.  I'll make little notes in the margins, cross out what needs to be deleted, and whenever I find a long winded sentence (um, like all the time) I'll put it in brackets, writing "reword" or "condense" on the top.  I do this for a chapter at a time.  After I finish a chapter, I'll take my paper filled with red marks, and correct it on the computer, adding in the scenes that need to be added and whatnot.  Then I print it out again and do the same thing.  (Usually I do one chapter a day, so I'll sleep between the first read and the second read, then go on to the next chapter in the same day as the second read).  I do two passes for each chapter.  Unless I have an epiphany and realize I missed something completely and then I have to start the whole thing over, weaving that in throughout the story.  If there's something I'm really stuck on, though I usually try to fix them all, I'll make a comment in Word, using the comments function, which adds it to the margin.

Then I have CPs read it.  I do have an alpha reader who was amazingly helpful (thanks Lesley!) in making the first draft cohesive and giving great advice on how to change big picture things to make it better.  She read it before all the revisions and I can't believe she had to wade through all that crud, lol.

Then I do the same thing after CPs read it.

How do you guys revise?  Do you print out your work?  Or do it on the computer/e-reader?  Do you do it chapter by chapter or scene by scene or what?

I'm actually leaving for vacation in a few hours so I won't be posting for the next week or so.  Everyone have a good week!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

why the world needs introverts

EDIT: I found this article on why the world needs introverts from Emma Pass and she has a cool post about her introvert/extrovert survey, so head over there and check it out! 

I think there are a lot of introverted writers out there who can relate.  This article talks about how there is the belief that the ideal self is "gregarious, alpha and comfortable in the spotlight".  That society thinks more highly of extroverts. Specifically that introverts "as a child you might have overheard your parents apologize for your shyness.  Or you might still feel a pang of guilt when you decline a dinner invitation in favor of a good book. Or maybe you like to eat alone in restaurants and could do without the pitying looks from fellow diners. Or you're told that you're 'in your head too much,' a phrase that's often deployed against the quiet and cerebral."

These all kind of resonated with me.  (Especially the parents apologizing for my shyness part, since my mom is, like, the biggest extrovert everrr).  I've also been told I have no personality, which, I mean, is kind of impossible, but whatevs.  And I like eating lunch alone at work so that I can read.  Why do people feel the need talk to me about work when I'm obviously in the middle of my lunch and reading?  (I def need those Go Away I'm Reading book covers that were floating around the interwebz).  Just because you see me reading, doesn't mean I need you to talk to me.  I might actually like to read.  Crazy, right?  Sometimes I do get the feeling the people are having a pity conversation with me, which just makes me annoyed, because I could be reading.  But I digress...

This article talks about how some of the greatest minds, inventors, writers, scientists were introverts.  That, that's what really allowed them to become great, always being in their head, and preferring environments that weren't over stimulating.  That's it's actually a good thing.  That it is something we can be proud of.

The article also goes into shy extroverts and the difference between shyness and introversion, which I thought was interesting.  ("Shyness is the fear of social disapproval or humiliation, while introversion is a preference for environments that are not overstimulating. Shyness is inherently painful; introversion is not. One reason that people confuse the two concepts is that they sometimes overlap.")

I do think I have outgrown my introvertedness a little bit, but part of me that is still like that is never going to go away.  This article actually made me feel proud to be an introvert, something that I hadn't really felt before.  My shyness has been something I've had to combat for a long time, but I'm so happy that now [some] people are seeing the GOOD in being an introvert.

So I don't think we introverts should feel guilty when we just want to curl up with a good book at home instead of going out to party.  Albeit, I don't think we should do that every time, being social creates friendships and close ties, but hearing that the world needs introverts is a boost of confidence, and makes me just want to be me.

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Hunger Games

So I'm sure by now, most of ya'll have seen The Hunger Games.  I even got The Boy to go see it and he really liked it!  (He's not a reader, so the fact he was still asking questions a few days after seeing it was awesome).

I liked it and I think it was a pretty good adaptation of the book.  Obviously they had to change things in order for it to work on the big screen, so that didn't really bother me.  I think seeing the movie really helped me understand more things about story telling, plot structure and character choices, even more than the book did.  (Or just because I read the book so long ago before I started reading with a critical eye/writing).

For me, what I'm struggling with right now, is when my MC has to make the choice to fight, despite having originally being a timid/self-conscious person.  In seeing the Hunger Games, for me that part was when Rue is killed.  Katniss sees this innocent little girl killed on the Capitol's whim.  She sees how sick the Hunger Games are, (though she already knew that), and makes a conscious choice to start playing the game to win.  It's also the first time she directly kills someone (the track jacker kills just being a by-product of her actions, but this time she kills a tribute directly with her bow).  It's this choice that defines Katniss as a strong character and someone to root for.  We also see her compassion towards Rue.  While I don't think Katniss grows that much as a character in this book, this scene and choice is the most significant.

More of this would have helped. 
The one thing I did want more of in the movie, was her inner conflict.  I didn't think that same across as well on the big screen than in the books.  With the books, since it's written in first person, we are inside her head and are privy to her thoughts.  We feel the torture she goes through with Peeta and he decisions on whether to trust him, whether their love is part of the game or real, and just the general torture of the Hunger Games.  I wanted to feel more from Katniss and more of that inner conflict for the movies.  Though it is hard to get that across without voice overs and I don't think that really would have worked in the movie.  So I do understand that it was hard to get that across.

I also wish they hadn't change the interview scene with Caeser and Katniss/Peeta.  The whole point of why Peeta kept his feelings a secret and revealed them on stage was so that the audience could see the reaction from Katniss.  I think that would have helped the inner conflict a little more, and helped show how much the audience and rest of the nation liked the Peeta-Katniss love story.  They focused more on the political side of the story instead of the love story, which I think was definitely a cool statement, I just which they hadn't short-changed the love story as much.
And this as well.

I think I also liked Gale a lot more, because we actually got a glimpse at his pain.

How did you like the Hunger Games?  What was your favorite part?  Or part you wish they would have included or changed?

Friday, March 23, 2012

Book recommendations

So sometimes my big TBR pile becomes a little overwhelming.  I think I have 130+ books on Goodreads to read.  And I want to read them all now.  The hardest part for me is picking which one I should read next.  So this is where ya'll come in.

I just finished A Fault in Our Stars by John Green and lurrrrrrrrrrved it.  Ohemgee.  I couldn't put it down.  The characters are AMAZING: funny, interesting, sympathetic.  He's a really clever writer and some parts I laughed out loud.  I also may have cried, but we won't discuss that.  Why hadn't I read John Green before this??  I'm thinking maybe I should continue and read the rest of his books.  Because if they're all like this, which I assume they are, they will be awesome.


I also read Cinder by Marissa Meyer and was quite pleasantly surprised.  I wasn't that interested in a Cinderella retelling, (but somehow ended up reading it) and was really intrigued. It's described as a "re-envisioning" of Cinderella, but there isn't that much Cinderella going on, she kind of just hinted at it and created her own story, so I really liked it.  The story outside of the Cinderella story was what got me hooked.  Her world building was cool too.  (Cyborg Cinderella, um yeah, awesome.)  I can't wait until the sequel comes out.



I also read the Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare.  She's one of my favorite writers because of the worlds she creates.  This is her steampunk series, which is cool, cause I like really like steampunk.  But this book really developed the character relationships, which is another reason why I like Clare.  (Jace and Clary in The Mortal Instrument series, um yeah, also awesome).  The focus in this book is Tessa, Will and Jem, and I reeeally got into it.


Currently I'm reading Girl of Fire and Thorns.  It's good so far and I've heard good things.

So those are the books I like.  
Anyone have any good book recommendations?  Which books are your faves?  Or ones that you read recently that blew your mind?  I need some suggestions for what to read next.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Lucky 7 Meme

Yep, Meme-ing it up today thanks to Amanda Olivieri!

Here are the rules:

1. Go to page 77 of your current MS.
2. Go to line 7.
3. Copy down the next 7 lines/sentences, and post them as they're written. No cheating.
4. Tag 7 other writers. 




Cool?  Cool.  Obligatory pre-ramble: I'm not finished revising, but that's what you get with a WiP.

Sun streamed in through the cracks in the cave walls, poking my eyes awake.  The rays of light criss-crossed, illuminating different areas of the cave.  Dust bunnies danced in the beams, like the light of a movie projector.  I tried to sit up and instantly regretted it, letting out a soft groan.
"Elle, don't move," Brodie said, kneeling close to me.  "You'll only make the pain worse."
The cave spun and I slid back down, trying to focus on something solid like the cave walls.  They had little picture-type etchings, like hieroglyphs, running along the edges of the stone.  The rays of sun highlighted various markings, but with the agonizing pain in my shoulder I couldn't focus.


There you go!  Consider yourself tagged!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Character arcs

So I've been thinking about character arcs this weekend because it's where I'm struggling right now.  I have an arc for my MC, but I'm not sure if it's as believable as I want it to be.  She goes from this nervous, self-doubting person to someone who has to save the world.  So big change.  I know it has to be gradual, but I'm not sure if I've done it correctly.

The part I'm struggling with is the scene where the MC realizes she has a choice, a major choice, and she has to make the right one.  As readers, we know she has to choose the good side. I'm not sure how much doubt and tension should go into that decision though.  Is she wavering between the two and ultimately choose good?  Or is she definitely choosing good, which is a little out of her comfort zone because she's standing up to the antagonist, and how did she get from this nervous character to someone who isn't afraid to stand up to someone?  Is it believable?  Did her choices along the way lead up to this massive choice?  So that's what I'm grappling with for now.  (Does that even make sense? It's been a long weekend...)

In other news, linked my blog to my twitter.  I got a smart phone so I'm going to see how that goes.  Follow me!  (If you want (link in the sidebar)).

So yeah, character arcs.  Any tips?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Wednesday Update

So I'm 75% done revisions for CotF.  woohoo!  So I'm chugging.  Still slower than I'd like and there's still a ton of tweaks left to do.  This revision was to make sure the plot came out in a coherent order and I think it's working.  My magic system is making sense (finally) and I think the character motivations are apparent.

And you know what?  I think I'm actually starting to like this story.  What did you say, Steph?  You're just starting to like it now?  I mean I liked it before, as a concept.  Faeries plus elves plus secret messages, what's not to like?  But now it's actually coming alive and taking shape.  I still have to send it to CPs so hopefully they'll be able to make it into a better shape.  I got some positive feedback about the first chapter which is always nice, and gives me a boost of motivation.  I really want to be finished so that I can just send them off and get some more feedback.  And then of course, more revisions, lol.  But overall, I really like it.  Really.

I won't be posting on Friday like I usually do.  I mentioned before, The Boy is getting knee surgery so I'll be there, hopefully on my laptop revising away and not fainting from the hospital-y things.  But it's just an outpatient procedure, so he'll be out Friday night, so I'll hopefully I won't be too distracted and be able to get a lot done while I'm there.

Have a good weekend everyone!  

Monday, March 12, 2012

To tweet or not to tweet?

So I have a twitter.  Yeah, a lot of people do, Steph.  What are you getting at?  I don't use it that much.  It could be because I don't have a smart phone.  No smart phone?  How do you live??  Well, hopefully that will be changing soon.  Anywho.

I know a lot of writers tweet.  It's a good way to connect with people who ordinarily you wouldn't be able to.  It's short sentences.  I totally get it.

I don't have my twitter linked to the blog for a few reasons.  The first being I don't tweet a lot, as I already said.  The second being, I don't tweet a lot about writing.  I follow a bunch of writers and agencies, but the whole interaction thing is hard for me.  I do tweet about writing.  But I also tweet about food, Ultimate, parties, and general stuff.  That's why I haven't linked my twitter to the blog.  Though I guess even published authors don't tweet only about writing.  Maybe I'll be more inclined to tweet and post pics when I have a smart phone.  Maybe I'll reply to more writers and agents because I'll have an easy way to follow them every day.  I'm definitely interested in connecting with other writers and this seems like the best way to do it.

Why do you like twitter?  What do you use it for?  What made you decide to link twitter to your blog?  I'm generally interested in why and how everyone uses it.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Writing Events!

For all ya'll writers in the Philadelphia area, I wanted to give you a heads up on two events.  This Sunday, 3/11 from 12-3, The Liars Club, will be hosting their first Philadelphia Writer's Coffee House in the Rittenhouse Barnes and Noble.  Yay for having it in my neck of the woods finally!  It's a free series about networking, business and the craft of writing for established and new writers.  It's also led by two of my writing teachers and fabulous authors, Jonathan Maberry and Marie Lamba, along with the other members of The Liars Club, who I'm sure are just as fabulous.  If you're in the area, check it out. Sign up here so they make sure they'll have space.  You'll probably find me lurking in the corners, trying not to disturb anyone, since I will [unfortunately] be showing up late.

Another one of my writing professors and another fabulous author, Melissa Jensen, will be at the UPenn Barnes and Noble at 36th and Walnut on Wednesday, 3/21 at 6pm.  It's the only appearance she's scheduled in Philly before the summer.  She will be sharing tips and advice for the up-and-coming Young Adult-genre, writing for the YA market, books, and the writing life.

If you're in Philly, go see them!  I will be.  Jon, Marie and Melissa are all wonderful people and authors, and always have time to give advice to aspiring writers.  I learned so much from them in the few classes I took and would definitely recommend going to their chats.

Plus they will be signing their books afterward, so whether you like zombies, or contemporary YA, there's a book for you.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Outlines

Outlines are very important.  This is not something I learned quickly and I really really wish I had.  It's one of those things that I look back on and think how did I ever do it without one?  The answer is, if I'm being frank, I didn't really.  When I began writing Code of the Firefly, I didn't have an outline.  I was pantsing it to the extreme.  It was fun, stuff happened, but things were really jumbled; I couldn't keep all the plot threads straight, especially since they changed so much in every revision.  I needed a way to organize not just my thoughts, but the timeline of everything that was happening.  Voila, outline.  Or I should say, duh, outline.

I had already written the whole first draft when I realized I was missing a few things.  In order to get them right, I wrote an outline because I was just fed-up with missing things.  (Really, I wrote a few outlines).  I wrote out every major scene in each chapter, and what the MCs find out in that chapter, or what they have to find out if I hadn't already included it, all in different colors.  I love color coding!  
I also included keywords like INCITING INCIDENT, ESCALATING TENSION, RESTING POINT, THE BLACK MOMENT, TURNAROUND etc.  This helped me sort out where specific points of tension of the story would go where.  I think this also helped me with pacing, to make sure the story was moving forward.

I think outlining really saved my book.  It was a jumbled mess before I revised it using an outline.  It really allows you, as the writer, to see all the arcs of the all the plot threads.  I also used it to sort out when and where the MCs find out specific pieces of information.  Before outlining, the MCs would find out massive amounts of plot information at a time.  Then I realized I could let the information progress through the story.

I'm still in the middle of revising using my outline.  If I had used one in the beginning, I really could have saved myself a lot of time and work, and be done revising, which I feel like I've been doing foreverrrrrr.  But it's all part of the process, right?  Better to get things right now, rather than start querying too early.

How do you feel about outlines? Do you use them?  Why or why not?

Monday, March 5, 2012

Monday Update

So here's a Monday update.

Finished a fair amount of revisions over the weekend.  Always wish I could do more, but my brain doesn't function late at night.  (Had the same problem in college.  I've never pulled an all-nighter.)  I'm about 2/3 done revisions, which is farther behind than I'd like.  I was hoping to be finished these revisions by March 8th, in time for my critique group, but alas, I'm running behind schedule.  Still toying with the idea of cutting my flash-forward.  Might give to some CPs and see what they think, but I think the overall consensus in the writing world is to cut prologues/prefaces/flash-forwards.  I like the idea of cutting it, but I'm just wondering if I need more set-up for the rest of the novel.

Joined Pinterest.  Totally addicting just like everyone else says.  BUT great for maintaining photo inspiration for books.  Check out Code of the Firefly's board here.

The Boy's ACL surgery is schedule for Friday the 16th.  I hate hospitals.  And needles.  And blood.  I literally almost fainted when I got my ears pierced.  Twice.  But I'm being a good girlfriend and taking him.  Totes bringing my laptop so I can spend all day getting some more much needed revisions done.  Making a bad thing into a good thing, right?

How was everyone else's weekend?

Friday, March 2, 2012

Set-up and Twists

Every book has twists and turns that help feed the tension of the story.  What is talked about less, I think, is the set-up of those twists.

I read a book a few months ago that seemed like a contemporary novel, but then in the middle of the book, BAM vampires.  Excuse me?  Where did that come from?  I was confused and angry, because it didn't seem like vampires should be in the story at all.  It was about boarding school; there was no hint of vampires at all.  The twist was way too big that it wasn't believable.  The author didn't include enough set-up or clues for me to realize that there was potential for vampires in the book, so when that twist occurred, it didn't make any sense to me.

It's really important to set-up a world shift or character shift, otherwise it leaves the reader feeling cheated and unfulfilled.  (If you've never seen HANCOCK with Will Smith (what up West Philly!) and Charlize Theron, this is exactly what happens.  I don't recommend the movie unless you want a good example of what not to do).  There needs to be careful planning and clues that something is about to happen that might blow your mind, leading up to the twist.  It seems a little counter intuitive, right?  A twist is supposed to be a shock, a surprise, but just putting in a twist with no set-up can confuse the reader to the point of a turn-off.

A great example of good set-up and twists is Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor.  I highly recommend it, not just for the beautiful writing, but the way she weaves her fantastical elements into the world.  The set-up of the magical world is not over the top or heavy-handed (like it is in HP1), but has a very good balance, which is hard to do.

Obvi, twists are important to novels, but I think just as important, is the set-up.