Oops. My Bad

Sorry. I didn’t do my book review this weekend (I will try to write and post it tonight, instead). I haven’t written almost anything.

In fact, the only writing news I have is that I’ve started a second blog. It’s a little more focused on everyone’s favorite subject, which is of course, their selves. Anyway, it’s just about adjusting to my new city and, well, the mess that my life seems to be in currently. Check it out, if so inclined, because the only people reading it are, like, my aunts… possibly my mom.

As for my book… well, I’ve been killing my darlings… I’ve slaughtered the poor things, even. In my head, there are almost no details which I haven’t changed. I’ve even changed the age of my protagonist. I’m about to sit down and re-write chapter one. I think, in all honesty, that I will be re-writing the whole thing. Every. Last. Word.

Color me daunted.

I once read that J.K. Rowling had to type the first Harry Potter ten times. In a way, it may have been a brilliant, albeit accidental, editing technique. You’d have to really consider the importance of every little word when typing it out so many times.

So, structurally, the book is getting a makeover, but I think the story will remain almost entirely intact. The school, though, is about to be town apart. I really messed that up and, after all this writing, am returning to an earlier version of the structure of the school, which I’m actually very happy with. It’s a lot closer to my original vision of the story. No one wants to read a book about something boring.

So. Shall we do what writers do best and make a hella great story?

Back to the drafts.

Advertisements

Onward

Hey. I’m in Las Vegas airport waiting for my connecting flight to San Francisco/my new home, which is very weird concept. Not sure if that’s because I’ve been moderately homeless in recent months or if, well, it just isn’t home yet. I don’t even have a bus route yet.

But I have a job and new sheets and an elderly roommate. And so I guess now it is my home…

Anyway, I haven’t been writing as I’d hoped to, but I have been tearing my book to shreds in my mind. In a good way. In a way that, I know, makes the story better, but only illuminates how much work I still have to do on this story.

I figure that writing a book is like doing a puzzle. At first, you just put the puzzle together in the easiest way possible. And as soon as you finish the puzzle, someone tells you you have to do the puzzle all over again in a whole new way. So you have to set about rearranging everything as if you’d never solved the puzzle in the first place, but you still want to come to the same puzzle in the end.

So now I’m rearranging my puzzle. It’s a lot to do, but I feel my excitement mounting all over again. It’s almost as exciting as it was when I’d first thought the whole thing up. I’m dreading the work, but I fall more in love with this puzzle every day.

Editing is Terrible

So… Seeing as I’ve been stuck at home, where my most interesting hobby is drowning ants in my shower (why are there ants in the shower?), you would think I’ve done some really great editing and am feeling really awesome about my book and writing.

Nope.

Editing sucks. Editing is like looking at every word you’ve ever written and thinking, “My god, I sound like an idiot.” And the worst part is… You do sound like an idiot.

It’s very rough on my self-esteem. I am genuinely embarrassed I ever allowed anyone to read this crap.

The good news is, well, at least I can realize it’s crap. At least I look at it and see what I can do to make it better. And mostly this means I have rewritten every sentence. I had to strike the word “excitedly” out of almost every exclamatory dialogue I have. Why must I be so redundant?

Anyway, yes, it’s almost painful to read my own work right now. I’m seeing the project with fresh eyes, and maybe that means I want to tear the old eyes out but…

Hopefully, my writing won’t get any worse.

Day Seventy-One: Just Stop Editing

I’d let my book get stuck in my head and, other than a few measly scenes that were all wrong, I hadn’t written much of use this whole week.

So I sat down and–in a text-only version and therefore unable to edit–I read my entire book today.

You know, these things get so mental and detailed, that you forget to just enjoy your story. Could my sentence structure be better? Yup. Were there plenty of cringe-worthy typos? Of course. But was the story there? Did I manage to read the whole thing in one sitting? Yes.

It doesn’t matter as much what other people think. I genuinely enjoyed reading my book today. I enjoyed reading it as if someone else entirely had written it. I found myself worried for the characters, even! Worried about the characters I wrote! Can you believe that?

It really helped get me back on track, to fall in love with my own story all over again.

So, a week after finishing Chapter 17, I started 18. I wrote 1,300 words in the past 45 minutes (more than I’ve written all week… at least on this project) and completely rearranged my ending. The ending is still there, I just need to write it and now I see why it had been causing problems, clear as day.

I’ve also figured out a huge detail at the beginning that will solve my two biggest problems. A) It’ll add a bit of excitement to the beginning and really up the stakes for my protagonist (thank you to Amy for pointing out how much potential this detail could have) and B) be a really good motivational factor/bonding point for my protagonist later.

All hope is not lost.

Day Sixty-Nine: Let’s Think Bigger

Over the weekend I was discussing the first four chapters of my novel with a friend. She told me that a character of mine was heavily cliche in that she just seemed like almost a stock character… Snotty, Tennis Club Bully.

I love when people say things like this because I can just shout, “You are absolutely right!” and fix it. It’s a first draft. You’d have to be stupid to not think a first draft isn’t a work in progress.

But this got me thinking… well, this is a very small-time character. She is written currently as a 1-D Bully, but I only have about two scenes (maybe 500 words) with this character so time is not on my side. So I started thinking about how to make her more than just that… I mean, look at Dudley. He’s not much more than a spoiled jock.

So I’ve decided that I’m going to up the ante. Don’t write about a silly, insecure girl that picks on a future protagonist. (Been there, seen it a million times. Wow that makes our protagonist a better person… Surprise.) Write the meanest, cruelest little girl that has ever picked on a strange child. Why not? Kids can be sadistically cruel. It won’t even be unbelievable. If anything, malicious creativity can make a character seem more real (Hannibal Lector?).

Let’s think bigger.

You need two characters to have a talk about how incredible the world is. Don’t just put them on a mountaintop. Put them on the most spectacular, breathtaking mountain of all time. Why not? Trust me, there are way more insane sights in real life than there are in our minds.

Don’t let your character say something uninteresting. Don’t let them make the predictable choice. Look at every decision they make and ask yourself, would everyone do that? Because if they would, what makes your character extraordinary then? I once had a professor, when describing his favorite book (Rabbit Redux), say, “What I loved so much about Rabbit was that every time I thought he was going to do one thing, he did the complete opposite.”

We are not in the business of writing reality. We are in the business of writing Fiction. Let’s make Fiction spectacular. Let’s make the world as big and bold as we can. Up the ante. Put everything on the line. I mean, everything. Writing a book is like placing a bet and if you’re not going all-in then you’re not putting enough into it.

Let’s think bigger.

Day Fifty-Seven: The Book So Far

20140313-161941.jpg

Yesterday I e-mailed Le Novio my first 12 chapters to print at work (jobs with free printing? This isn’t a myth?) and came home to find this behemoth waiting for me on the kitchen table. It was pretty adorable (he even made alternate cover options…) and sweet that he’d gone to all the trouble of making my first full book into… Well, a book.

Hilariously enough, I used to do this same thing with my work as a child. There is just something so lovely about seeing your work on paper.

But there it is. 212 pages, 55,000 words (publisher’s count, not word count. Be sure to know the difference). My book so far with room to grow.

I’ve spent the day sleeping reading The Golden Compass my book by the pool.

There it is… Elysium Academy in all it’s first-draft, flawed glory. Someone get me my red pen!

Day Twenty-Seven: Back to the Drawing Board

Yesterday was a weird day. It left me feeling weird all the way well into this morning. Therefore I spent a lot more time than I could spare staring at an empty screen.

After a while of wasted time, I decided to run a word count and was a bit surprised to find that I was upwards of 40,000 words and not even a third of the way through my outline (or even into the actual plot of the book, but rather extendedly setting up the world). This was not good news. The average Young Adult/Juvenile novel is about a max of 80,000 words (for comparison, the first Harry Potter was about 72,000). At this rate, my book would be about 600 pages which, maybe possible, would be extremely difficult if I ever wanted to sell it.

I really didn’t want to run a word count. I didn’t want to try to shape myself to some arbitrary limits. I read plenty of books that are long (even in a younger oriented genre). But I think my book is already way too long! And it’s not about words, it’s about fluff. I feel like I’m about to have to pick lice off someone’s head and spend ages trying to figure out every superfluous word so far. I have too much happening to afford fluff. I need to get this thing as tight as I possibly can. The problem is… there’s just so much information! I know too much about it all. My world is too big.

So I went back to the outline and started trying to compress it as much as I could. I got it down from 29 chapters to 22 (but they’d be longer chapters). Sadly, I think a lot of what I’ve written already is going to have to take huge cuts so that we can get down to the meat of basic story and focus less on “look how cool I can make this place.” (Which is sad, because it was really cool!)

I also need to stop setting up future books. I need to almost pretend this isn’t a series, but a stand-alone. Start taking this project one book at a time. But it hurts! There’s a really big story here and I don’t want to put that aside to make it more marketable…

What’s better… to ravage some of my description in favor of the story or to screw limitations and just write?

With that in mind, I started Chapter Nine… I feel overwhelmed.