Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Finishing a book

I'm writing this moments after finishing the first draft of book four in my Lost Ancients fantasy series. The Sapphire Manticore is alive!

This is a seriously big book, currently at 400 pages. I know it will shift a lot with rounds of editing, mine and others, but right now it's a very big, bouncing, baby book.

I have mixed feelings right now. I'm glad it's done- been waiting this week to get there, and finally hitting it was amazing.

But I'm also a little sad. Yes, I'll be re-reading it until I'm blue in the face, and editing like mad the next month or so, but it's not the same. This book I really pushed. Since the end of August I've been hitting 5 or more pages a day- for a writer with a full time day job, that's pretty good (at least this writer ;)). That type of rate builds a closeness to the story I wasn't expecting.

And it's left me a little sad. But like I said, there will be edits, and book five and six will be waiting :).

Sleep well my little drunken hooligans, another adventure has been recorded.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Push it...

Yeah, okay, so sorry if some of you now have Salt & Pepper's song in your head. But today I wanted to talk about pushing ourselves--in this case for writing, but it's true for most everything.

It's easy to believe we are driving ourselves as hard as we can. That we're doing the most we can do. This is especially true if we're trying to do more than one thing with the bulk of our time--in my case, a full time day job and building a writing career.

I would love to say that I am a naturally driven person, that I set goals before the sun comes up and have them weeping in the corner before breakfast.

But that would be a lie.

I'm naturally very lazy. REALLY lazy. Unless I'm trapped somewhere I don't want to be, I am never bored simply because I am that good at doing nothing.

Yet, I have written more words since the end of August than I probably did for the six months prior. And, as noted in prior blogs, it's not because my day job slowed down--I work at a college and the start of the semester is intense. 

It's because I made a conscious effort to stretch myself, to increase my writing goals in the face of intense madness at the day job. I started with a goal of 1500 words a day in The Sapphire Manticore (the fantasy series), and if I hit that, I could start working on Victorious Dead (space opera trilogy) at 500 words a shot.

With a few weeks of that under my belt, I increased to 1600 a day--these are work days mind you, the weekends are between 2000 and 3000 depending on what is going on. But I am writing every day. If I'm sick, I might write less, but I am still writing something. It keeps me set in my worlds, so even when I'm not working on them, part of my brain is thinking about them.

I've been at 1700 words since October first, and am now going to bump it to 1800 (aka about 6 pages a day). I am actually kind of surprised at this pace, but I've noticed that I feel much better when the words are done. And I feel better about the books in question.

When we push ourselves, even just a little at a time, we stretch what we're able to accomplish. Right now, stand up. stick your arms out from your sides, and twist one direction. Go as far as you comfortably can. Note how far you go, then turn back to where you started. Now do it again. Your "as far as you can go" is a little further. Because you stretched yourself, and can now reach further.

That's why things like NaNoWriMo (Google it ;)) can really help some folks, they make you stretch further than you thought capable. 

Pushing what you think you can do by constantly stretching just a tiny bit further will get you closer to your goal. And will help you realize just what you're capable of.

If it works for a lazy person like me, it will work for anyone.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

#IWSG- Is it done yet?

Welcome to the monthly blog collection from the Writer’s Insecure Support Group! 

Today, a question was suggested—How do you know when your book is done?

Well, kids, here at the Butterball School of Writing, all works in progress come with a handy little pop up device. Once you’ve run through enough drafts, editing, beta readers, more editing, more readers, etc—the button pops up and voila! You have a finished book!

*waits for the laughter to die down….okay, gives up on the attempt at humor*

Homage to Thanksgiving and comparing our books to cooked poultry in an attempt at humor aside, this is a tricky question. Far more so, the more you look into it. Like most all aspects of writing, it depends on the individual to know when their book is done, there’s no one size fits all program.
For me personally it’s still an “it varies” answer, as each book has a different cooking time. But there are some components that follow through on each book.
I throw a lot of stuff on the page (I’m a pantser folks) and my first draft is sometimes pretty wild. I do little edits/re-reads as I’m working on the first draft, but nothing really big. Then I print it out and edit. I slice and dice for story and character arcs first. Something doesn’t actually go somewhere (or set something up for another book in the series- so if you see something touched on in say book two- it might not have an impact until say book five) it’s out. I may cut and save it, if I really love it, but I’ve learned to be brutal. If it’s doesn’t move things along- it’s outta there. Your “darlings” (the words) lose individual strength when compared to the entire piece. Move it or lose it my little wordy friends!
After a few edits, I send it to my developmental editor. She calls me on anything I may have missed, or just refused to see was a problem. Then my beta readers have a whack. I am totally lucky to have some insanely talented friends who are willing to point out where I’ve screwed up, typos, and major “WTF?” issues. Then a nice line/copy edit for clean-up. I also go through a few passes before and inbetween all of these.
At each of these stages, I’m keeping an eye out for anything major, something that tells me the story isn’t doing what I need it to do. If it flies through after all these folks poking and prodding it, and feels solid, I pronounce it DONE!
Told you the pop up button idea was better ;).

Happy IWSG day!!!