Tag: first drafts

November 17, 2017

Hi, yes, hello again. It’s been a while.

 

via GIPHY

 

I’ve been absent from the blog (though not anywhere else) for far too long. So now that it’s my favorite time of year, NaNoWriMo (it is a time, don’t question it), I figured it was also time to return to you, and with a much-needed update on how the month is going. Here is the quick and dirty version:

 

I am…

  • Writing a new genre this year, sci-fi. It is much harder than anticipated.
  • A Municipal Liaison for my region. It is fantastic and a little more time consuming than anticipated.
  • Daily vlogging my experience over on YouTube. It is alsdkvja;wljg;a than anticipated.

That being said, one of the responsibilities of Municipal Liaisons (or MLs for short) is writing pep talks for our Wrimos. And while I do address our region at the beginning, I hope the content will be helpful for you too!

 

Copied below, in full:

 

Day 4, “Writing Superheroes & Double Up Donation Day”:

Welcome to Week 1, InSANoWriMos!
This year, the theme is Superheroes. Which is very fitting, because as writers, we’re up against a lot of Dangerous Foes. We have a hard path set before us to create a world and characters that exist only within our imagination. We must overcome Crippling Doubt, the Distractions of the Internet, and the dreaded Interactions of Family and Friends, all to write a novel within one month. It’s a hard challenge, but I think you’re up to the task.
I hope the first three days have been smooth-sailing, but if they haven’t, just remember that your story is one worth telling. Lots of times we can lose the battle to Crippling Doubt. We can convince ourselves that someone else has already done it, and better, or that we’re not capable, that we’re not worthy. It’s during NaNoWriMo that we throw that doubt aside. We lean on our fellow writing superheroes to reassure us, to motivate us, and to congratulate us when we succeed. Every word written is one you didn’t have before and no one can ever write a story like you will.
Whether you’ve already hit 50,000, are just typing your first word, or somewhere in between, I want to say that the fact that you’re participating in NaNoWriMo alone is AWESOME. You’re helping to cultivate a community that celebrates the craft and love of writing, gives back to writers in need, and applauds the hard work of others.
In that spirit, I want to remind everyone that TODAY NaNoWriMo HQ is running a day-long writing and fundraising marathon. There will be virtual write-ins, Twitter shenanigans, and a special treat for anyone who donates $25 or more today.
NaNoWriMo is a nonprofit and this fundraising push helps ensure the programs can continue year-over-year. Your support helps cover the cost of sending materials to Young Writers Program classrooms around the world, bringing the power of creativity to thousands of children and youth. It also helps keep our programs and websites alive to continue making NaNoWriMo happen every November!
Hop online to take a look at the schedule of events and track our worldwide word-count goal during the day!
Happy writing!
– Your ML

 

Day 15, “Stuck In The Middle With You…”:

We’ve made it halfway, InSANoWriMos!
All of the pep talks recently have been talking about the Dreaded Second Third slump and this will be no different.
I won’t mince words. This is the hardest part of NaNoWriMo.
By now, the newness has worn off. We have fifteen days separating us and the kick-off, plenty of time for our excitement to dwindle. If it feels like your story is beating you, like you don’t know where to go, or that you do know but you don’t know how to get there, if NaNoWriMo is slowly eating your soul, I just want to be here to say: I hear you. I get it. This part sucks. Days 11 – 20 lack the fun and fanfare of the other twenty days, and include the beginnings of Thanksgiving stress. Not only that, but this is the part where our novels can be toughest too. We’re past the beginning, past the set-up and the introduction, but we’re not yet at the big ending. We’re somewhere else, slogging through chapters, hoping that we can do justice to the image in our head. It. Is. Hard.
But here’s the awesome part: You’ve written the words, you’ve put in the hours, and your story is forming. Something that once was only an idea in your mind is becoming a fully-fledged novel. You’ve gotten halfway. You’ve done it once, now you just need to do it one more time. You have all the support of your fellow InSANoWriMos, you have the forums and the Facebook, participants ready to encourage you in-person and online. You aren’t going through this alone. And you can do this.
As Neil said in his pep talk the other day, it’s just about putting “one word after another.” So whether you’re preferred method is slow and steady, fast and frenzied, or somewhere in between, we only have fifteen days left. We can do this!
– Your ML

I’ll make sure to update this space with the next pep talk I write in its own, separate post.

 

If you’re looking for daily NaNo updates (ranging from honest talks on creativity to milestone words to writing slumps to random things about my characters), check out my NaNoWriMo 2017 playlist here:

 

 

As always, I’m also active on Twitter for in-the-moment NaNo thoughts and on Instagram for pictures of weird bears in coffee shops. (Don’t ask. Or do.)

 

Questions for youuuuu:

What are you writing this year? And now that we’re a little beyond the halfway mark, are you still as excited (or more?!) about your idea as you were at the start?

January 9, 2017

 

It’s on to Draft #2.5 for me! Time for revisions, revisions, and more revisions. I’m certain I’m not the first, and I definitely won’t be the last, to tell you how important revising and editing your drafts are.

 

For the longest time though, moving past the first draft was the hardest part for me. I could write first draft after first draft (NaNoWriMo had trained me well), but would never revisit the story after I’d typed “The End.” And if the goal is to be published one day, you cannot stop after “The End.” There is so much more work to do!

 

Part of that work, once you feel comfortable, is to ask for feedback. And that’s what I want to share with y’all today. Below is the note I sent my first reader, detailed what they can expect, where I’d like them to focus, and any expectations I have regarding a review. (Don’t forget to profusely thank your friends for willingly reading a draft not in its best version! And if they’re also writers, volunteer to do the same for them when they’re ready!)

 


 

Note to Start

This is a first draft, which means you will find:

    • Typos
    • Rhythm/flow issues
    • Tense changes
    • Other grammar problems

I don’t want you focusing on these things, though! (At least, not right now…!)

If you’re like me, and it’s just TOO MUCH to not correct something, just mark through it! I’ll read over all of your notes and can figure it out.

The reason I encourage not focusing attention on grammatical errors is because this is the easiest change to make! I need your help on the BIG things. Which leads me to…

 

Where to Focus

  • Plotting
    • Do you like the plot? Do some scenes need more explaining? Do some scenes not make any sense? Do you just plain not like a scene (as a reader)? Do the subplots fit in the main plot, and add to it?
  • Pacing
    • Not to be confused with rhythm/flow of each individual sentence
    • This is a bigger view. Does the pacing make sense within the chapter? Across a series of chapters? Not enough ramp-up to big events? Too much ramp-up and then the actual event happens too quickly? That kind of thing!
  • Character Development
    • This goes for main characters to supporting/minor characters
      • Believability?
        • Could there actually be someone like this? If not, is it at least amusing/add to the story?
      • Likability?
        • This is especially important for main characters! They need to be rooted for or, at least, something felt for them. Most important (to me) is that they’re not annoying.
      • Consistency?
        • Does this decision make sense for this character?
      • Growth?
        • Do the characters seem like they’ve grown over the course of the story?
      • Dimensionality?
        • This is a first draft, so I know there will be plenty of issues with this, especially in more minor characters!
  • Story Arcs
    • Main plots and subplots
      • Are there enough subplots? Do the subplots make sense within the story? Could you have guessed how the story was going from the beginning?
  • Major Inconsistencies
    • Were major or minor plot points abandoned? Did one character say something only to contradict it, without explanation, later? Does something just NOT MAKE SENSE?
  • Additions/Deletions
    • Do you see a place for the story to expand? Were you curious about something that wasn’t in the first draft, but you think should be? Were there scenes that could have been longer? Conversely, were there scenes that didn’t move the plot forward or seemed unimportant?
  • YOUR OPINION/OTHER IMPORTANT THINGS
    • Does the writing style come through? (Since I’m writing from first person, can you tell that the Main Character has a clear VOICE)?
    • What do you think of the work as a whole, after finishing? Were all of your questions answered? Was everything tied together well enough? Since I imagine this as a sequel, would you be okay with the ending enough even though you have to wait a year for the next one (or does it seem like it could “stand alone” for a period of time)?
    • Is this story marketable? Who do you think will read this/who would you recommend this to?

Comment Frequency

Feel free to take notes whenever or wherever you want, but my expectations are just a few notes at the end of each chapter and then maybe a written page-length at the end of the story to summarize your feelings and answer the questions above. They can be real quick jots and I’ll follow-up, if needed.

 

Finally,…

You da best!! Thank you so, so much for agreeing to read my “zero/first” draft! I value your opinion and really appreciate you taking the time to look over this. I hope it’s the first of many! <3

 


 

Okay, there you have it! This gives your reader plenty to focus on, and a much better idea of what kind of feedback you’re hoping to receive than “just read it and tell me what you think, mmkay?” Good luck to everyone working on their first/second/third/millionth draft! We’ve got this!

 

What has been the hardest part for you? Hitting “The End”? Revising? Draft #10? Querying? Let me know!

October 7, 2016

 

PRO: You’re writing a story with your best friend.

CON: You’re writing a story with your best friend.

 

It’s hard, man. (But can be so, so worth it.)

big-ben

Story time! My best friend and I met years ago, while we were studying abroad. We got lost together in London and bonded over our early love of Meg Cabot, author extraordinaire, while we unsuccessfully navigated the Tube. (We accidentally happened upon Big Ben, which is an amazing feat seeing how huge it is (above), and had a great conversation with a police officer on the best place to get a pint.) We became friends after I was already pretty involved in our local NaNoWriMo group and had created the writing organization at our university, but she joined in both once we were back home!

 

Fast forward four years, and it just seemed natural to write a book together. We like to read the same genres, more or less. (I tend to lean more into sci-fi and she leans more into contemporary, but otherwise the same.) I’m not even sure how the conversation came about, but soon enough we were sitting down at our favorite bubble tea haunt and plotting a New Adult novel! (The picture below is actually from our first brainstorming session! The terrible penmanship is mine…)

Brainstorming

As of a few weeks ago, we officially finished our first draft! We’ve even received feedback from our lovely first reader (check out his blog here)!

 

While the overall experience has been nothing short of UH-MAZING, there are still some arguments against (and for, I’ll talk about those, too) co-writing a story with your best friend, such as…

 

CON: As with co-writing anything, agreeing on direction/character motivations/subplots/etc. can be a challenge. This is harder with your friend, whom you likely haven’t worked as closely with as you will when writing a novel, and whom you may be completely disagreeing on a number of things with for the first time.

SOLUTION: Both writers need to practice give-and-take. If your friend staunchly opposes one character trait for your MC, and you only kinda don’t care, go ahead and go with what your friend wants. And vice versa! As your plotting, make a list of these things and check at the end, so that one friend isn’t being steam-rolled in the decision-making choices.

Another good solution is, depending on the story, splitting the characters each person writes and is responsible for. If you can agree on the plot, then each person has their respective characters to do with what they please (within reason).

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September 27, 2016

reading-slump

I’m sure we can all agree on something: reading slumps suck. And at some point, they’re kind of embarrassing, right? I mean, we’re readers. Reading is what we do.

It’s not just one of our favorite pastimes, it’s a sort of identifier. We gravitate toward other people at parties who are talking about the most amazing book they just read (assuming we’ve been dragged to a party, because we’ve been in our homes reading too much and our friends are worried about our health, obviously). We sometimes decide we want to be writers, to create books that we aren’t currently reading but would want to. We make lists about books we can’t wait to read, and we have a TBR list so long we’ll never be able to complete it.

I mean, there’s article upon article upon article about how to get yourself OUT of a reading slump.

What about when you can’t, though? That’s where I’m at.

Technically can’t isn’t the right word. I could. I’m not incapable of picking up a fiction book, per se. But I’m on a sabbatical from fiction.

A forced reading slump.

And let me tell you, it sucks.

You might be thinking, if something sucks so much, why would you bother doing it?

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