Posts Tagged ‘revision’

AHHHH

A sneak peek at my inner monologue right now, squiders.

You know, I suspect at one point in my life, I got a lot more done than I do regularly now.

Con starts tomorrow! How ready am I for it?

Eh, I’d say middling. The list from last week looks like this:

  • Sign up for author co-op table slot
  • File sales permits with the usual government agencies
  • Figure out what horse panel is supposed to be about (alas, no descriptions are available yet)
  • Research how far a horse can actually travel
  • Prepare moderator questions for editing panel
  • Costumes? (Probably too late, but ponder anyway)
  • Make Writers’ Motivation Series fliers to put out
  • Order fun masks?

Also, according to the schedule the con sent out very early this morning, I have autographs at 5 o’clock tomorrow? I don’t think I’ve ever had autographs before. I am unsure what this means, actually.

(The answer on the costumes was no, it was much too late to get on that. I could re-wear something but I’m not feeling anything.)

Panel information is out, so I just need to sit down and write things down (horse panel is about realistic travel in fantasy, which I generally know about, but it would be good to have some facts at hand about how long horses can generally go in a day, how fast a sailing ship can go, etc.) and think up some moderator questions for the editing panel (none provided this year, can probably steal/modify from my questions for last year’s panel).

Masks are unlikely to happen at this point. It moving weekends this year really did throw me off.

Actually, I didn’t really check book stock either. Uh. I hope I have enough with the added autograph session (whatever that is–I’m just going to ask when I get there).

Oh, no, I forgot about the laundry.

*kermit flails*

In non-con news, I started my new job outside the house this weekend, which is going fine. It’s weird, not going to lie, but it’s probably good for me, except I am definitely drinking too much coffee.

And I finally put together my revision plan for Book One! It only took me about 20-30 minutes. An example of one of those things that keeps getting put off that doesn’t actually take too long.

And now, alas, September is over. Or, yay, September is over? September always feels like a weird transition month to me, with no substance of its own. Part of me is sad, because my creative work took a back seat to other things I needed to do. The rest of me is like YAY OCTOBER, which is counterproductive, really.

I am excited for the con this weekend, even though I’m not as prepared as normal for it. It’s always nice to just get out of the house and hang out, and I normally get a lot of work done between panels and feel productive.

Well, wish me luck, squiders! I’ll see you next week for the wrap-up.

Why Do I Even Bother Making Plans?

Oh, squiders. My month is so off from where I planned it. And I thought I was being realistic! I only had to do two real things: come up with an editing plan for Book 1 and outline the novella for TDP.

Have I made any real progress on either? No, of course not.

We talked last week about the…no, sorry it was two weeks ago. Good lord. Two weeks ago we talked about the writing books I got from the library.

(I actually got an email this week about that hold I’ve been sitting on for over a year to let me know that the book was not on the shelf and they would not be sending it to me. But then I discovered my library now has a copy, so soon it shall be mine. Whenever the person who has it returns it.)

I am most of the way through The Story Grid. A lot of it is things that are already included in my normal revision process, so, uh, I guess I feel good about that?

One thing it does point out to track that I don’t however, is the change throughout a scene. Like, does the scene start on a negative and end on a positive, or vice versa? Basically, is there a change in the MC’s situation.

Not sure how I feel about the whole thing. I mean, if I do the process outlined in the book, it’s going to be a lot of work that’s going to take a long time. Probably put me into October easily. And while I want to make sure this book gets done right, as I said above, a lot of it I’ve already looked at. Maybe it just makes sense to go through with a focus on a couple specific things. But then part of me feels like I’m trying to cheat things.

Brains are whack, dude.

Aside from that, well, I had a repeat editing customer pop up with a job. Probably won’t take me more than a couple of weeks, but certainly eats into my work time.

And, well, I’ve been offered a part-time job, outside of the house. For the first time in 10 years. And I’m going to take it.

Which is scary! But I think it will be good for me. To be completely honest, I waste a lot of time right now, and perhaps having more structure to my schedule will help my focus. Or I shall completely self-destruct. Time will tell.

My general hope is to finish up The Story Grid today or tomorrow and make my editing plan, and then spend next week outlining. But at this point, who even knows.

You know, some months I’m so good at following my plans. Maybe I need to make this one more concrete. Set times and session goals. Yeah, I think I’ll do that.

Wish me luck, squiders!

Already Distracted

So, yesterday, my spouse woke up and was extremely upset about his lack of camping and specifically backpacking this summer. And I said, “Look, we’re super busy this month, so the only day we have to go is, well, today.”

So guess who had to go backpacking out of nowhere yesterday.

(Also just after we booked the campsite we got a freak hailstorm, which shredded all our plants and also flooded our basement, so we got out of here late to go backpacking. Yesterday was…something.)

So we talked Wednesday about World’s Edge being done finally, and how now I need to either revise Book One or outline/write the novella I owe Turtleduck Press or both.

And then I proceeded to do neither.

One because choices are hard, but, two, because I have two writing books out from the library. You see, a month or so ago I was going through some list of recommended writing books, and I thought I might actually read some of them.

But not now, no, that would be crazy.

So I put some on my To Read Later lists on my library card, or downloaded some samples to my Kindle, but there were two that my library did not have/were not available on the Kindle, so I decided to request these through my state’s Interlibrary Loan program, with the idea they would show up at some point but probably not soon.

(It’s been a year on my request for The Man Who Was Thursday. I know it’s still in the system because I check with the librarians periodically.)

So of course they came immediately.

They are The Story Grid, which is a revision technique, and a book called Plot Perfect, which is about plotting, as the name implies.

Now, the issue with Interlibrary Loans is that you get a single renewal. Six weeks and then they go back from whence they came, do not pass Go, do not collect $200. And from last year when I was attempting to read a writing book a month, I know that it is not fast to go through a writing book. You have to sit and absorb them, or sometimes do exercises. You have to try out the content, or what is the point?

Anyway, I’ve started working through The Story Grid. It proports itself to be a system that allows you to pinpoint what’s wrong with a story so it can be fixed in revision, which sounds like a lovely idea, and maybe will be helpful with my Book One revision.

I’ve mostly just made it through the set-up part of the book (because backpacking) but hopefully we’ll get into the process here soon. I admit to being a bit skeptical that this or any system is going to be able to pinpoint exactly what’s wrong, but here’s hoping!

My revision process works pretty well in general, but I’ve already run Book One through it once, so it probably wouldn’t hurt to try something new.

So, it’s kind of like I’m working on my revision? Very kind of.

But it does throw a wrench into things, because I do still need to get to my novella and if I’m going to try out a new revision technique, it may mean that it’ll be longer before I can switch projects. I mean, you don’t want to stop something new in the middle. That way lies madness.

Sigh. Dang it, occasionally efficient library system.

Have you tried the Story Grid technique, squiders? Thoughts on stuffing both projects into my schedule?

Also I just realized we’re less than a month from MileHiCon. Oh no.

No, no, I’ll worry about that next week.

Hope you’re having a lovely weekend!

WriYe and Revision (Again)

Well, it’s March, and March continues to be connected to NaNoEdMo, even though it’s dead. (And every March, I’m not revising. Well, I might get there later in the month. Or not.)

I feel like we do some variation of this prompt every March, and since this is my third year of doing the WriYe blog prompts, well, I guess if you want more info, check previous Marchs.

Explain your revision process. Do you go through multiple stages of editing?

I’ve talked about it before, but basically I spend a bunch of time looking at the story as it is, then solidifying my arcs and plot lines, and making notes about what needs to be fixed. Then I RE-outline everything and essentially re-write the entire story, even re-typing scenes that are not changing.

I realize this is an inefficient way to work, but I find the story sits better in my head if I work through the whole thing from start to finish. Also, it allows me to take note of issues on a line level, such as repetitive wording or filtering, which gives me less work in the end.

After I finish my major edit, I tend to read the whole thing out loud, which helps me find any weird flow things, fix dialogue, find typoes that I’ve previously missed, etc.

I don’t typically edit again after that, aside from smaller fixes.

Or just one and then leave the rest to the professionals? Do you/will you use professional editors?

As a freelance editor, I recognize the value that having someone else–especially someone else who knows what they’re talking about–look at your work. That being said, I don’t tend to use professional editors myself, mostly because I can’t afford to and partially because I can self-edit fairly decently.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with using beta readers and critique partners in place of professional editors. You will need to gauge if you’re getting value out out it, of course–not all feedback is created equal–but if you can’t afford an editor, it’s not the end of the world.

Of course, on the other hand, sometimes it’s easier to use a professional editor than beta readers/critique partners. Oftentimes, betas/CPs are part of an exchange thing–you look at mine, I’ll look at yours–which means you need to have the time to look at someone else’s work too, and betas/CPs aren’t always the most reliable people, so you may find yourself waiting a while, or forever, for feedback. A good professional editor will get feedback to you when they say they will.

So, really, using them or not is up to your personal circumstances. My advice is to edit yourself before you hire an editor. You don’t want to distract an editor with things you could have fixed yourself. And make sure you’ve done your research, and that the editor you’re working with understands what sort of feedback you’re looking for.

That turned into more of a lecture than personal experience, so, uh, sorry!

Anyway, see you guys on Friday!

Moving Forward

Hi, squiders! Sorry about missing Tuesday. It’s been kind of a rough week, but I don’t really have an excuse.

But anyway, we’re in to March! Crazy, right? I know everyone’s focused on how it’s been a year since the world essentially turned upset down, but isn’t that insane? I can remember the last time I did a number of things–we went to the movies on March 8, to the theater on March 12, out to dinner on March 14. No one thought we would still be here a year later, not then.

ANYWAY.

February was a loss, really–I did write some alternative openings for Book One, but with the waiting on feedback and my inability to focus, not much else got done.

Last thing I want is for March to go that way as well. And it could–I am still waiting on feedback. But I’ve come up with a solution.

Do you remember World’s Edge? I worked on it for Nanowrimo in 2019. (Lots of info there, if you’re interested–character pics and worldbuilding and the works.) As a refresher, it follows Marit, who’s taken passage on a ship to escape something back home–a ship that’s attempting an ocean passage no one has successfully made in centuries.

I finished up Nano with about 55K out of a planned 100K.

So, Kit, you might ask, how does this solve anything?

Well, World’s Edge takes place in the same world as the Trilogy and hence, Book One. About 700 years before hand, yes, but same world nonetheless. Which means I can work on completing this draft of World’s Edge without getting too far from the Trilogy, which means, when I have everything I need (and find a direction), it won’t be too hard to switch gears back to revision on Book One.

And I’ll be doing something instead of going insane.

Of course, now I have to figure out where I was and what I was doing. I’ve read back through the current draft. It cuts off rather abruptly, but really I should expect that by now. Hopefully by going through my outline and notes I’ll be able to pick everything back up and get going.

World’s Edge was on my list of things to do this year anyway.

So! Onward!

What are you working on this month, squider?

Frustration

Let me just say, this is the worst revision. I finally got my alternate beginnings done and sent them out to my betas, so now we’re in for more waiting.

(I just got an email from one beta that says she loves chapters 1-9 so she doesn’t even know if she wants to look at the alternatives. Which, I mean, fair, I guess? My other beta also said that they thought the beginning was mostly okay as is, but I haven’t heard back about the alternatives.)

So is the weird pacing at the beginning all in my head? Easily fixed by adding in some seasons underneath the chapter headings?

I am so very frustrated. I’m not sure what direction I need to be going in, here, and so I’m not sure how I should be working. Getting the alt beginnings done was something, but now that it is done, I don’t know what my next step is and I’m itching to be doing something. But I feel like I can’t finish tweaking the rest of the book until I know how it starts.

nnnnnnrrrgggghhh

I don’t really want to work on something else while I wait for feedback/ponder things, but I also feel quite useless at the moment.

I’m obviously too close to this whole thing, even though it’s been three years since I finished the last edit. I have written and rewritten and revised this book so many times, and I am ready for it to be done.

Have you ever felt like this, where you want to be working on something but can’t quite figure out how?

I suppose I could just make a judgement call on my own, but the whole point of asking betas to look at the beginning was for this exact reason.

Anyway, I need something to direct my energy into, but it’s got to be something that won’t take up too much mental energy.

Any ideas? Or any thoughts about what I can do while I try and figure out where the story should be starting?

WriYe and Inspiration

It’s that time of month! But before we get into the questions from WriYe, I wanted to let you guys know that I have the first past of a serial up over at Turtleduck Press. It’s called Deep and Blue and follows Kaeri, a scientist in an underwater city who finds herself having to deal with a mystery.

Now, onward!

What inspires you?

I mean, anything really. A picture, a song. A weird dream. A line of dialogue on a television show. I find that inspiration can be anywhere, if you’re looking for it, and even sometimes when you’re not.

I would say that finding inspiration isn’t necessarily the problem when it comes to writing.

How do you hold onto that inspiration through less-than-inspiring times?

This is getting ahead of the questions, I suspect, but, for me, inspiration is the spark that starts you thinking about a story. And I do think you can force inspiration, to some extent. That’s part of why I keep several Pinterest boards full of story, character, and setting ideas. Sometimes you’ve got to get a story going, because you’ve promised one to an anthology, or you’ve got a challenge you’re part of, or whatever, so it can be good to have a stash of things to get you started.

When writing is tough, because of emotional or mental states, I find working on shorter pieces is helpful. A novel can be overwhelming, especially if you’re not feeling it, and there’s nothing like getting 15,000 words into something and finding out you hate it. Something short keeps you in practice, can spark something bigger, and isn’t overwhelming.

Is inspiration different than motivation for you?

Yes. Absolutely. Inspiration is the spark of a story, as I mentioned above, and motivation is the drive to actually do something with that inspiration. I think a lot of us have had the experience of thinking up a story or a scene or what have you, and then not being able to actually get it out. How many times have you laid in bed, writing dialogue in your head?

Motivation can be harder to drum up, even if you have a story in place. I think maybe that’s what the above question was really asking. How do you write when it doesn’t feel like you can?

I find baby steps can help if things feel really awful. Okay, so maybe I don’t feel up to writing a whole chapter, but I could outline that chapter. I can write a paragraph, or a scene. Sure, I’m not getting things done as fast as I wanted to, but I am still getting something done.

(This is also why I like stepping it up challenges, where you add a little bit more each day. You either reach a point where you know what you’re currently capable of, or you find out you’re capable of more than expected.)

On to revision talk!

My betas are already starting to send me feedback, which is so so helpful. I do think I’m going to stick to writing the alt. first chapters, so I have them on hand no matter what, but my betas do seem to kind of feel like the disconnect isn’t as bad as I’ve made it out to be. So I guess that’s good!

I also made a master document with all my beta comments from previous beta rounds, which is actually less than I thought. I think maybe I’ve lost some. This is why you should keep track of things, a lesson I may some day learn.

Have a good weekend, squiders! I’ll see you next week.

A More Complete Plan (and Tournament Follow-up)

Okay, so first things first–I did end up playing in my Among Us tournament final. Two of the original top ten couldn’t play, so I got moved up. And I came in 8th overall, which is, like, a million times better than I thought I was going to do.

Now I can never play in another tournament again to maintain my streak. >_>

In writing land, I’ve finished my readthrough of Book One. And I, uh, also read through Book Two. Meaning I’ve read the whole trilogy over the past few weeks, except I remembered I didn’t start at the beginning of Book Three, so I may go and read the part I skipped, just because.

The beginning is definitely 90% of the problem on Book One. I’ve got it sent out to two betas now as well, with hopes that they’ll get back to me by the end of the week with their thoughts (and hopefully some suggestions).

The other 10% is filtering and crutch words and general clean-up. I’m considering looking at a service like ProWritingAid or other basic editor, where it will yell at me when I do lazy writing. Do you have one you use and like?

(Book Two is a whole ‘nother can of worms, but I finished the most recent draft in 2011, so it’s old writing style-wise and because it’s working off of plot points that no longer exist. But we’ll worry about it more when Book One is done.)

Anyway, I think all three of the options we talked about last time are still on the table, plus my spouse suggested starting with a later scene and then going back to the beginning. Which is a totally viable strategy, so I’ll give it a try. He suggested a scene near the end of Book Two (hence why I re-read Book Two) but I don’t think that will work (he may be remembering an earlier version of the scene), plus I don’t know about using a scene from a different book. That may be too far in the future.

Have you ever seen that? A multi-book series that starts with a scene that doesn’t show up until a later book?

Hmm, decisions, decisions.

My plan of attack going forward is to go through my beta comments and consolidate them (to see if I’ve missed any options or spots that other people think are problems), then to write a couple of alternative first scenes to see if they work any better. And then hopefully I’ll hear from my betas and we can discuss things.

And then, perhaps, the path forward will be clear.

How are you guys doing? Projects going well?

Thorny Beginnings

Well, squiders, I’m still working at reading back through the latest draft of Book One (we were out of town over the weekend, so I didn’t get much working time).

The beginning is worse than I remember. Or, well, not worse, but not as easily fixed as I was hoping.

For some context, the beginning part of the book takes place over several months. It’s actually less time than it originally took, because when I did the massive rewrite about three years ago I moved the beginning of the story and cut out a lot of stuff. But it still is difficult. My instinct is that the time frame is necessary, for the relationships and plot points to feel appropriate and not rushed, but that’s one of the things I’m evaluating as I read.

So, because each chapter takes places weeks or perhaps a month after the one before it, each of them feels more like a short story than interconnected with a larger narrative.

I’m only about halfway through–it’s either the first seven chapters that have this problem, or seven where it fixes itself–and some chapters are worse than others.

But here’s my going theories for how to fix things:

  • Leave things more or less where they are. Add in some overarching character motivations and more plot elements.
  • Move the beginning of the story and/or condense the plot elements/character arcs currently being represented by the beginning so not as much time has to pass
  • Or, counterintuitively, start a little earlier. Now, hear me out. The first chapter feels really crowded–too many things to introduce: the world, the characters, the plot, etc. It’s possible that giving each main character–it’s dual viewpoint–an earlier chapter may help smooth everything out.

There may be other options. Still mulling.

I’ve reached out to a couple of betas whose opinions I trust to see if they’ll read the beginning and make suggestions, so hopefully I’ll get some feedback from them as well in the near future, or will at least have people to bounce ideas off of. I know that really helped when I was organizing the rewrite initially.

Anyway, things are going! Fingers crossed that the solution comes to me soon!

Digging Back In

Have I told you guys about RaTs? It stands for Runaway Tales, and is a prompt system based on flavors. It’s a fairly big deal over at WriYe, so when I reconnected with the community at the beginning of 2019, I signed up as well.

(In case you’re wondering, the flavors I’m working on are Green Tea, Tangelo, and Rhubarb. There’s 20-30 prompts within each flavor, so I’m still working on my original three.)

People use RaTs for various projects, but I use mine mostly for little characterization snips, writing main characters when they were children or when they’re much older than in the actual novels, or digging through various backstory events that will never make it into the main story, or writing pieces from side characters that I don’t normally use for a point of view.

(I tend to do 1 or 2 RaTs a month, so it doesn’t take up a lot of my time. But I think it does help with story depth, so it’s fun and useful at the same time.)

(And it’s always nice to further explore worlds that are already built than having to always build new ones.)

Anyway, long story short (too late), Wednesday I went through and picked out my prompt for the month, with the thought that I’d write it from a side character’s point of view during the third book of my high fantasy trilogy.

Now, it’s been a while since I’ve touched Book 3 (I’ve rewritten Book 1 since then), so I thought it best to go into Book 3 and make sure what I was remembering happened actually happened, so my RaTs was as accurate as possible.

And…I ended up reading all of Book 3. This is a problem I have with the trilogy, at times. I’ve been working on it forever, so it’s never really all the way out of my mind, and Book 3, well, it’s pretty good. All my betas stayed up too late while they were working on it, which is a huge compliment. Of course, there’s some tweaking to be done, to update it off the Book 1 rewrite, but still, very solid.

None of that matters though, because Book 1 still needs work. And I’m going to start it today! The idea is to read back through it, leaving myself notes, then add in beta notes and make an editing plan. If I’m remembering correctly, most of the problems are right at the beginning of the book, so I’m hoping the revision will be fairly straightforward.

(I’m thinking that I’ve just got to end my first couple of chapters in different places, so they read more like the continuation of a longer story than a series of short vignettes. But that’s what re-reading is for.)

But the characters have been in my head for a couple of days now, and while I was lying in bed last night, I was actually super excited to get going on my re-read. I mean, like, full of happy anticipation. It’s different than the excitement you get before you start a new story–it’s more like getting to see friends you haven’t seen in long time and have been missing.

Here’s hoping this bodes well for working on the revision!

I hope you’re having a lovely January, squiders, and I’ll see you next week!