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October 2017

My writing process

Everyone has their own process. Some sit and throw words onto a paper until it’s finished. Some plot and outline until the book is written before it’s begun. I’m a mix.

Each book is different for me, which is both awesome and frustrating. I have to plot some. My stories are too complex not to. For example, in my first Cupolian book, I knew the ending would be XXX, and certain things would have to happen over time that I had to set up from the beginning. So I do have to plot. Planning of characters and such is a little different. With Cupola, I didn’t have to plan out characters for the most part because they were so passionate and bigger than life. They told me who they were. There were a few, like Avaline and the royal family, who I had to think on. “What are their desires. etc?” but that’s about it.

This new book/series, however is different. I had the original idea and then changed it. Like completely. A lot of that is because I need it to appeal to others. I wrote Cupola for ME. No one else. MEEEEEE!!!! I have a new series I will one day write, maybe, if I ever get the chance, that I will also write for me, but right now I’m writing for others. As in, I want a larger audience to like this book. I want this book to get picked up and do well in the traditional market, etc. I’m also writing it for a different audience. The style and voice, to me, is like it’s written by a different person. Maybe my readers will read it and go, “No. It’s you.” But it’s been very difficult for me because it is so different. But that’s a good thing. Stretching your abilities’ boundaries, practicing that which is difficult, improves your craft.

Now. Where was I? Oh yeah, my process.

So, I plotted until I had a basic plot. I can’t plot further than that. I have to write after that. Writing allows the characters to have faces, personalities, desires, etc. I rarely write the ending and sometimes not the beginning. On this book I had the beginning. It was the first scene that came to mind even before I changed the whole concept. It never changed. And it’s awesome 😉

But, after I get the rough draft finished, I take 7 days off. Sometimes it’s more, but that’s not on purpose. That’s just when life happens. Those 7 days allow me to come at it from a new light. So, my first edits usually add several thousand words to my piece. In other words, my rough draft is like an overly expanded outline that’s still missing a few things and out of order. It’s  a big mess. From my understanding, most writers write a ton of what they don’t need and then cut it. I’m the opposite. I go back in and add the details. I also add the first/last chapters if they’re missing, completely flesh out the characters as far as their roles, needs, desires, etc, and make sure the plot flows and makes sense and such. This is why first edits take so long for me.

Second edits are like most people’s firsts, from what I can tell. Second edits are like, sentence structure, any missed inconsistencies, grammar and such. They’re made after the entire book is written and no longer an indecipherable mess. Second edits also transfer the piece from Scrivener to Word and make sure the chapter breaks are where they need to be. By now, I want a title and should be working on a blurb. I want that blurb by the end of second edits, its rough draft anyway.

Third edits are basically just grammar, typos, etc. I may have to add another round of edits in there if I feel it’s missing something or there’s a spot I just can’t work on anymore in a previous edit and I’m like, “Just skip it for now.” Then I have to go back and fix it. I usually print out third edits and do them on paper. I also catch any overused words or phrases by now, hopefully long before now.

Fourth edits are where I read the whole book aloud. Yes, the whole thing. At this point, my beta readers should have a copy. They can read while I read. I can easily do two chapters a day this way. Any more, and it usually starts to run together and make it to where I don’t do as well. After that, I’m done. If a beta tells me something I need to change, I’ll go over it and see what needs to be done, but then I’m done. I either publish it or query it. I’m going to query this next one.

There is a long list of things to do at that point, polishing the blurb, getting a cover if it’s self, making a list of agents to query, that sort of thing. But that’s another topic for another day.

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The difference between professional and the rest of the world

Since I’ve become a writer, an author I guess, I’ve noticed something. How the professional world of writing works.

They’ve read it all. They’ve seen it all.

But the readers haven’t.

This is something the agents, the publishers need to keep in mind. For example, I recently gave a survey on my author profile and my personal facebook profile. This survey asked, “Would you rather have it to where the first parts of a series you haven’t read or forgot the plot about were interspersed within the first few chapters or a small prologue that wrapped it all.” The answers were complete opposites. The writers wanted it dispersed, like it’s traditionally done and considered to require more “skill”. The readers wanted a prologue they could skip if they wanted to.

Listeners don’t care how hard a song is to sing or produce, they just like the way it sounds. For example, I hate the song “Barracuda”, but as a once professional singer, I totally see the extreme skill and talent required to do this song and was blown away by this rendition.

Now, I love Alice in Chains and have their tunes, not a big fan of country, but after listening to this, I have a total new respect for Gretchen. That girl’s got talent.

Does this change whether I like the song or not? Nope, can’t stand it, not even this cover. I don’t care how hard a book was to write. I like it or I don’t. Readers, listeners, watchers of TV and movies are the same. Producers, artists, and agents need to get this in their list of comprehended items. Hey, do the hard stuff whether it’s considered good by the “common population”. Go for it! But don’t expect them to think about it the same way you do. If you want to be a successful anything, you need to put yourself in the shoes of the audience. Period.

Setbacks Happen

In my writing, I have had many setbacks. Many many many setbacks. But this one really upset me. Why? Because I had it all planned so perfectly. I’m one of those people that strive on routine, to a degree. I mean, I don’t want to do the exact same thing every day at the exact same time, more just a rudimentary schedule that I follow. Rise at X:XX on these days. Go to work. Exercise. Play time. That sort of thing. You know, normal.

I don’t ever get normal.

OK, OK. I got normal for about 6 months recently, and I loved it. But I digress.

No, I had just finished a crapload of appearances and storytelling performances, and the high holy days were here, and it was just a big mess of do everything at once. The crazy schedule was over, and all I had left was to send out a newsletter with photos of last month, make it through Sukkot, and finish my edits of Inhabitants. But then I got the flu.

I haven’t been sick a lot lately, like in years. So when I didn’t feel well, I took it for granted and left work early. I could afford to; it was just a few hours. But, about a week later, maybe less, that not feeling well came back with  vengeance. I’ve been nursing this flu for seven days. Yup, seven days. Feels a lot longer. In fact, I’m glad I wrote this. Knowing it’s only been seven days makes me feel a lot better. I was beginning to wonder if it was becoming serious.

What sucks is that I finally had a couple of days to really work on my writing and catch up and get some things done, and I spent those two days in bed. No, seriously. The two days I had off I slept straight through. I forced myself to drink and go to the bathroom, but other than that, I was in flu coma mode. I went to work the next day and have been working ever since. Those two days were supposed to be a Sabbath, Sukkot. They were supposed to be a time of joy and celebration and worship. At least I didn’t bow to the porcelain throne during this illness, for that I am grateful.

Yes, I complain, a lot. I’m angry. Angry that I take such good care of myself yet this happens. Angry that I was finally meeting some exercise goals only to have to quit for over a week. Angry I was just catching up with writing goals but now have to spend every minute away from work resting. Angry angry angry.

But I also learn. I try to learn in every opportunity. I’ve learned a lot over the last year, and am still learning. Right now I’m trying to learn that setbacks happen. If I don’t meet my goal, that’s OK. I can reset the finish line and try again. The important part is I’m realistic, and right now, the realty is I need to rest. Reality also states that continuing on my goals is the best option. Once I’m well.

Hope you all accept your setbacks and realize they happen to everyone all the time. Just because the finish line moved doesn’t mean you’re a quitter. Would you fault someone who had an accident and broke their foot for not running their trained for a planned race? Of course not! But if their goal was to run that race, then they should most certainly try again the next year. And the next and the next until they meet that goal.

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