Did I finish my legal thriller? No, but this is what I did instead in January (in addition to my actual job):
1) I wrote three proposals for cozy mysteries with three books plotted out in each. Therefore, I plotted out nine books total! My discussion of how I did this is on my post at Downtown YA: http://downtownya.blogspot.com/2012/01/generating-story-ideas.html.
2) I got back edits for YA MEMOIR OF DEATH that is coming out in May and am almost finished with those. My editor there likes everything told in “real time.” My approach usually is to take information that doesn’t seem to deserve its own scene and weave it into the next scene. This drives her crazy, and she likes me to take out all that information and attach it to the prior scene or create its own scene around it. She also wants more of an ending. I have to admit to getting bored when authors take the time to sew up everything at the ending of mysteries, so I tend to end abruptly when the murder is solved. She wants more, and I know it is typical because the ending is a bit of trick in this book, so I do have some explaining to do.
3) I finished my steampunk novel, THE MECHANICAL HAND, which turned into a novella because of its short word count (about 35,000 words). I won a pitch contest on the blog Rockville 8 that Entangled editors threw and was asked to submit the entire manuscript for one of Entangled’s new digital lines. Winning the pitch finally motivated me to finish the darn thing. I had been stuck at the ending since August (six months – aargh!). I think a lot of the stuckness was trying to make up my mind whether I should be content for MECHANICAL HAND to stay as a novella or whether it needed to be expanded into a full-length novel.
4) I participated in a SavvyAuthors.com online writing class on Interactive Fiction by Mima. This was a fascinating course on choose your own adventure type formats (most famous for the 1980’s middle grade series). Mima herself writes erotic romance (hence the mysterious first name only) but she has collected the more contemporary examples of interactive fiction on her website. I toyed with the idea of perhaps making my steampunk novella into one of these to expand it, but Mima said that since I was so close to finishing it, I probably didn’t want to go that route. These types of novels need a lot of planning from the start so that options begin to branch off very early on. I would like to attempt one of these at some point, and with Mima’s advice and materials, I will be prepared to do so.
5) I made progress on the legal thriller. I now have about 25,000 words, and I know the usual advice is to keep writing the first draft in a white heat, finishing it all before going back through and editing. But, at some point what I have is so rough and sketchy that I am compelled to start from the beginning and clean it up, so that what I have approximates a more complete draft. I used to do this for my critique groups, but now I am so busy that it’s hard to find time to meet with like-minded critique partners, especially in an area like Washington, D.C. where people may live in Northern Virginia, the district itself, or Maryland, and a lot of driving may be required. It’s easier for me now to pay an editor for her time. This gets me motivated to actually finish each chapter, and the feedback helps me catch all the little things I didn’t see or to be more logical around the character or plot. So this has turned into my process:
• Write as much as I can until I stall on what to write next. My writing at this point is very dialogue-heavy and sometimes there are barely any setting or character descriptions or action. Next to dialogue, the most common element I write is interior thoughts.
• Go to the beginning and clean up, adding description, action, and summary sections, chapter by chapter,
• Submit to my editor one chapter at a time
• Get the reality check on each chapter and see if I can use any of the advice going forward as I continue to clean up and write
In summary, I didn’t finish a whole novel, but I did end one, edit and add to another, plot nine more, take a course on learning how to do a different type of novel, and make significant progress on my work in progress. How did your January go in terms of your writing goals or progress?
Category: editing | Tags: editors, Goals, interactive fiction, writing process
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