Writerly Blatherly Type Post

All done with AS IS synopsis, yay! Beta readers loved it, also yay! Agent is at RWA National this week so she’ll see it when she returns. I’m a little sad, oh, okay, a lot sad I wasn’t able to make it this year, LOL. But I know everyone is having a great time and there’s always next year in NYC, which I will attend (even made arrangements with the parents to hang with kids as the dude will be traveling for work during part of that time)

The details for several books I’ll be writing through the end of this year are beginning to come to me. I’m making notes and realizing I need to figure out a way to do a series encyclopedia. Some have suggested One Note, someone from Scrivener pinged me at twitter to suggest it too. I’m going to check them out this week to see if they fit what I need. My system of notecards worked fine until I hit critical mass on my Federation Chronicles books and I realized I had something like 400 cards with all sorts of details and it took forever to find things.

I suppose really, even though it sounds sort of insane, I like when I discover new ways to manage my writing, new ways to write and all that jazz.

Speaking of writing (shocking, on a writer’s blog and everything, LOL). Each year I try something new. Multiple somethings sometimes.

Part of my process in the last six months has been this need I have to endlessly tinker with the opening of my book until I get it just right. Part of it is, I suppose, the knowledge that a book’s opening is hugely important so I get all hung up on it.

BUT, I can’t get it just right until I hit the epiphany portion – that sweet spot where I finally *know* my characters and why they do what they do. And then I have to go back to adjust later. Anyway, it’s a process that is less linear than I’ve used before but I find I like the end product and it’s a further distillation of what I’d been doing before so I’m going to go with it.

The last eight months or so, I was on a series of back to back to back deadlines. I normally like to give myself all sorts of extra time so I can turn the book in early, but I used up every bit of time more often because I wanted to spend more time tinkering. (and a bunch of life stuff that sort of made everything else fall away – oh and I got the swine flu right before a deadline last year, man was I glad to see 2010, LOL. Part of the reason I was so close to deadline when I usually try to keep at least a week or two ahead, is that I had this opportunity to write a novella for an anthology at Heat. I was absolutely beyond thrilled to be asked to be in this anthology so it was totally worth it to me to do and fit into my schedule.

But back to that tinkering with the beginning thing (I do have a point in here somewhere)

I re-started the novella four times. Twice I gave up on ideas all together and twice I honed in and changed essential elements and had to totally start over with the new idea melded into the old one. It seems to me when I type it, that it was a pain in the ass, and indeed it was to get 12K into a 25K word novella and suddenly think, “Damn this story is not going to wrap up in the next 12K.” or “This has no conflict, it’s just meh” But it was a creative challenge and I took the risk of time to just wait for the right elements to hit me and click.

That was totally beyond my comfort zone. I tend to be a lot more control freaky when I write than that. It totally made me nervous as I did it, but I let go and listened to myself. And the end product is a story I really love. And I got a single title length new contemporary romance series proposal written too (the idea that I knew was too big for the novella length).

It may not work for every project. Sometimes you have to ride out the “Oh my god this is horrible” feeling and keep writing, knowing that there’s a “this sucks” time in every single book. Sometimes you hang on, write through it and by the time you finish the first draft, you know exactly how to go back and fix it.

But I love that I keep learning. Writing has been such an unexpected and wonderful thing to me. It’s always changing and offering me new challenges and event though I kid about being busy and all that, there’s no better job in the world. I get to create every day. For my job! I love doing this.

I’ve also been using Write Or Die to get my words in, which has led to me plotting scenes when I haven’t really done that so much before. Last year I tried it a little, but this year I’ve been working on it more and I find with the Write or Die format, I can map the scene out in varying levels of detail – sometimes it’s like, “firefight at mine pit” and others it’s more broken down into goals for the scene with elements I need to bring out – “discussion – show anger about past, she finally gets it and shares story about sailing” . Then I set the timer for short bursts 20 or 30 minutes, leaving the settings normal but with a fairly aggressive correction (for instance the screen behind the text window will go pink and then to red if you don’t type for a certain time and after that it blinks and gives you horrible sounds like babies wailing or klaxons.

I find that the background screen changing makes me snap back into focus. I can easily give myself 30 minutes with outside stuff shut down, no internet, stay working, etc. And in 20 – 30 minutes I can get on average about 900 – 1400 words. If I don’t finish the scene in the first timed burst, I start another right after that to get it all done at once and then I go into the document to smooth, revise and correct.

I’m starting a novella and then on to finish Goddess With a blade and I’m definitely going to keep using Write or Die to get my daily words in.

And speaking of words, I’m off to get mine in!

One comment to “Writerly Blatherly Type Post”

  1. Anilu Magloire
    July 29th, 2010 at 7:03 pm · Link

    Thank you for sharing this glimpse into your creative process.

    …”until I hit the epiphany portion – that sweet spot where I finally *know* my characters”…
    That is what makes your books so perfect to me.

    Thank you LOTS!