FB is Where I’ve Been

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I haven’t had a lot of extra time lately. What I do have has gone to actual writing (revising, rather) of my novel. I do post quick thoughts on my FB page, though: www.facebook.com/awdowner, so check that out if you’ve been missing me. :-)

I will be getting a new computer soon, and I hope that will motivate me to get back into regular posts. Until then, I will just say that I am enjoying the writing process at the moment. :-)

What Are You Reading?

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Obviously, I haven’t written in a long time. All of my spare time lately has gone to critique group, including any reading time. I’ve been sort of beating my head against a wall trying to revise based on critique comments. Reading current books (and not-so-current books) is really important to growing as a writer. Reading would also help my sanity. So I need to relax and read a book.

I’d like to pick up the sequel to The Way of Kings. The size of that book was hugely intimidating, but my best friend recommended it. I forced myself to open the pages, and I was hooked. With my critical writing brain, I saw holes in the worldbuilding. The extra prologues/interludes from the POVs of characters who never showed up again drove me crazy. However, the world was richly created. The characters were deep and real. I thoroughly enjoyed it and think it’s a great example of the slow reveal (feeding bits of information over time until finally showing what happened).

I’m also working through The Ranger’s Apprentice series. I really like this series, even with it’s corny humor. It’s just fun. Although, I wanted to give the publisher/author a stern talking to for cutting off Book 5 in the middle of the story. There’s a normal chapter ending and then—poof! no more. No closure of any arc. Not even a To Be Continued kind of thing. I guess by the time a series gets to Book 5, it can break some rules.

What books are you reading right now?

The Unmentionable First Draft

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I think I’ve mentioned before how I typically do my rough and first drafts in my head before I ever put anything on paper. This makes my first paper drafts much smoother than the ones of many writers I’ve spoken with. Well, for the first time in my life, the mental draft isn’t working. This story is one I’ve had bouncing around for years. I even have a few drafts from before I got my MFA. The problem I’m faced with is breaking away from the events of that early draft and discovering what the story needs to be.

I have finally given myself permission to write a throw-away first draft (also called something less polite ;-) ). I’ve never done this before! I’ve never written out of chronological order. I’ve never written scenes that will probably be thrown away. I’ve never written just to explore the story, but that’s what I’m doing now. I have to say, it’s a lot more enjoyable than I expected and, instead of being terrified, I’m actually looking forward to the revision process. Yay!!

What to Do Differently

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I may have figured out part of the problem. I need to write the story, not the book. Does that make sense? The book is the finished product that will be published. I don’t need to worry about that yet. I can think about marketability and what editors and agents want during the final revisions. For now, I need to focus on the story. Once I got that pounded into my head, things started going smoother.

Stuck pulling teeth

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I am stuck. In three places at once. Part II is where I’ve been doing most of my writing. I’m at an entire sequence of battle scenes, and I hate writing battles scenes. I have written one good battle scene in my life, and when I went back to look at it, I thought, “I wrote this?” There was some divine inspiration on that one. I have been arranging and rearranging the order of battles. I’m about to give up. Sigh.

To give myself a break, I started rough drafting Part III. :::bangs head on table::: WHY IS THIS SO HARD?? I think I’ve decided on using a third POV character. I had to figure out his motivation as well as the motivation for my MC. That helped. The plot at least is moving along, but the writing is horrendous. I’m afraid of what revising will be like.

And then, in Part I, which I was pretty well done with, I finally have some chapter-by-chapter specific feedback from people who don’t know the story at all. Now I am heavily debating revisions of Chapters 3-5 and what that would look like, whether it’s necessary, etc.

Writing used to be easy. I mean, it was hard work, but it flowed. For the past three years, writing has been like pulling teeth. I’m not sure what I need to do differently . . .

Beginnings

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Why are beginnings so hard? I’m working on Part 2, which is it’s own book. Once again, the beginning is a convoluted mess. I would like to just cut it out and move thirty-five pages in, after a natural break in the story. But if I do that, I’ll be skipping over a lot of emotional development of my character. His choices wouldn’t make sense without it. I would also skip a very important near-fatal accident that is referenced multiple times later on. Oh, and the reader would miss my MC’s learning to play an instrument, which is pivotal to Book 2. Hrm.

Sounds pretty important, right? Then why does it seem so unimportant when I read through it? What do I skip? What do I include? And how do I reintroduce everyone just enough to jog a reader’s memory without annoying the readers who don’t need their memories jogged. Why was Book 2 so easy to write when every part of Book 1 is so hard?!

Don’t Start Your Book This Way . . . Unless You Are Wildly Successful

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I just read an interview of several agents. All of them said they didn’t want to see any more beginnings with characters waking up or looking in the mirror. Oh dear, I thought, my book starts with my character in the morning, already awake and he doesn’t look in the mirror, but still. Maybe I should change it. Again. So I looked at some other books to see how they begin and what do I find?

The Hunger Games begins with the MC waking up.

Divergent begins with the MC looking in the mirror.

I don’t know if those were the openings sent to agents or publishers, but obviously there are some exceptions to the rule. :-)

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