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I hate hate HATE writing setting. I can imagine the scene unfolding in my head. See all the background and the details.
But they always feel like background. Window dressing.
Never the meat and potato of the scene.
And while revising, I’ve giggled at myself. Because I saw the entire scene in my head. Envisioned all the details of the blue sky with shredded cotton scattered across it. Of my protagonist in her seafoam chiffon dress.
And none of that was written down. Because I was focused on capturing the dialogue. the emotion. the moment.
And as usual, setting took a backseat with me.
Thank God for editing and revising. For beta readers. For the opportunity to paint in the setting to bring the scene to life.
Mind you, dialogue used to be the bane of my existence. But after months of practice. Dialogue is my new bff.
Ah setting, you remain my one true nemesis.
What a delight to turn on Chelsea Lately Monday night and find Ross Matthews hosting! He’s my fav on the roundtable and now a whole night of Ross.
His opening monologue had me ROFLMAO. Troop Beverly Hills–hysterical!
His infectiously unbeatness was a great contrast to Chelsea’s devastatingly funny dark humor.
The roundtable was a laugh riot. Phenom chemistry abounded.
My favorite part was when he met with the animals. GREAT GREAT GREAT INTERVIEW!
And almost touched a worm.
I <3 Ross Matthews!
They have to give this guy his own show.
This is some of the best New England Clam Chowder around. Found at Sam the Clam’s in CT. Delish.
But no two clam chowders are made with exactly the same process. Everyone has their own way of getting to that perfect chowder.
I’ve found the same thing with novel writing. My first manuscript, I had a page of character outlines and a 12-page plot outline. And then I just dove into writing. At each chapter, I’d stop and outline the things that needed to happen and the scenes necessary for this to occur.
A very stop and start writing process. But it worked and I completed a draft.
A very very very bad draft that required many many rounds of revisions.
So next book. I wrote a 40 page outline. Um yeah, very detailed. But it made the writing easier because I had a GPS navigating my way to the end point.
Next book I tried a different approach. I spent weeks just daydreaming and imagining everything. Then I wrote a 4 page outline of the first 50 pages. Once I got those 50 pages written, I wrote a 5 page synopsis of the whole book. Then the query letter. Then I wrote the rest of the book in fits of 15-20k words.
The first draft turned out better than my others. Still needed edits and revisions. But the bones were laid out in the right order.
And as I wrote, I did light edits on the previous 2-3 days’ worth of writing. Some people frown on this.
For me, it helped me move forward. I can’t if there’s a fly buzzing around my head saying “Fix it!” Plus, when I’d get stuck on inspiration, I’d edit the previous day and as I came to the end, I’d know what came next.
I don’t know that any of these ways is universally the best. One might be best for me or for that book. But the point is each time I ended up with a delicious bowl of clam chowder.
So how I got there doesn’t seem as important as the fact that the method got me there.
What about you? Do you have a tried and true method for writing? Are you an outliner? A pantser? An edit-as-you-go or a strict-no-editing-until-the-end writer?
I’ve been working part time on an adult commercial fiction manuscript, TSTTW, since November 2009. It started out as a short story. Then it became chapter one of a novel.
I’ve had to put it aside for several months and then pick it back up as time allowed. Because my YA novel was complete and every time it received some feedback, I went into revision mode.
I was at 42K words in August for TSTTW. But I still saw ways to improve the YA book. So I stuck with that in October. Then I picked up TSTTW in November and got another 20K written.
But then more revisions were required on my YA manuscript. Major revisions that took up all my time until February.
In March, I decided to finish TSTTW draft. I wrote another 19k. Not my best writing. But a first draft. 1K words a day, 5 days a week. And in a month I finished my first draft of TSTTW.
It is an indescribably wonderful feeling. To finish a manuscript I’ve toiled over. Pride. Completeness. Satiation. They all flooded my system. I felt like I could take on the world and win. I felt indestructible. And I knew I could do anything I set my mind to.
Still everything I wrote in March is, well, rough. Think tree bark with eight inch thorns sticking out of it. So I have to take this week and do some editing/revising. Removing the thorns.
Then in April, I start major revisions. Stripping away the bark to reveal wood. Smoothing it until I can build a bookcase out of it.
I know wisdom says let it sit for a few months. But the first 150 pages were drafted before July 2010. So they’ve been sitting around for months. Waiting to be tended to. Pruned.
And I have feedback from auction critiques. Ready to be applied.
So I’m going to start revising.
But this weekend, I basked in the elation of completing my manuscript.
The bones are all there. Now I just have to attach the muscles and skin. Form a living breathing being.
It feels awesome squared.
The best part about writing the ending?
The surprises the characters gave me. Showing up where I didn’t anticipate them being. Changing the final scene completely. Telling me how it happened and why I was wrong to see it any other way.
That question always feels like a trap. Because no one is ever supportive of your answer. Whatever you say you’re going to do, someone will explain why it’s simply impossible.
So I don’t like answering. I dodge by responding: I don’t know.
And then they repeat the question as if pretending they didn’t hear my first answer will elicit another response. So I repeat myself.
And they act like I’m absurd. For not knowing. For not saying something that makes them feel better.
But I kinda do know. I just didn’t feel like confiding. Sharing. I prefer advice when requested. And I don’t want any at this juncture.
So what am I going to do?
You”ll have to wait and see.
Thanks to all the participants in my first blog contest! Everyone who answered the four questions correctly was entered into the contest. I put the email addresses in a hat and drew one.
And the lucky winner is: Stacie Amelottefirstname.lastname@example.org.
Stacie, Paige Shelton will email you to follow up with you on whether you want the autograph personalized and your mailing address. If you don’t receive the email, shoot me an email at: email@example.com.
Congrats! Hope you love the book as much as I do.
This is my parent’s dog, Reagan. Reagan found a pail full of tennis balls that Dad tirelessly gathered out of the woods a few weekends ago. Reagan spent 10 minutes staring into that pail full of balls. Hesitant to pick the wrong one. Afraid she’d miss out on the best one.
I watched her. I picked one and tossed it in the yard. She can trotting back 5 minutes later and began her gazing routine again. Just mesmerized by all the choices. It was like a kid bobbing for apples. And she took her time before actually making a decision.
That’s what happens when there are too many options. Which ties into my writing goals.
See, when I got back from Italy, I set a goal of 1ooo words a day to finish my adult novel. I was at 62,412 words the first week of March. I’m now at 78,111. I think the book ends around 80K words. Maybe 83K.
Each week, I was proud of meeting my word count goal. 5k a week. It sounds hard, but 1k a day is 1-2 hours of writing. And about 3-4 of thinking and imagining.
But then when I hit 68K, I got scared. What was my next writing goal?
Sure I had to edit the entire manuscript. Send it to beta readers and get feedback, but what was my next story?
I got really nervous. What if there wasn’t one. What if the two books I’d written were all the story in me? And I didn’t want to write the next in the series. Since I don’t have the first book agented or sold yet.
So I went through my idea file. Where I write kernels of ideas. Flowers of characters. Sometimes a sentence. Once in a while a page or two.
And I found my next story. So I wrote the first 3 pages. Just enough to have a beginning. A place to go next. And now I have no anxiety about finishing the adult novel. Because I know where I go next.
As I finish the other novel, backstory flies around my head for the next story. Things I need to know to write it, even if the reader doesn’t find out. The characters are talking to me. Telling me what I need to know. Making me want to outline. To get it all down.
For me, goals have always steadied my hand. Given me a focal point. A purpose. So I tend to set them. I tend to adhere to them. And I value them. For the security they provide.
What are your writing goals? What sort of personal timetable do you set for yourself? Or do you just let things flow without expectations?
As a general rule of thumb, I’m not a jump-on-the-bandwagon girl. As a matter of fact, I resisted reading the Harry Potter series for years.
Because I don’t like doing what other people are doing. Even if I miss out on cool stuff. Plus all the hype created unbelievably high expectations and I figured it would never live up to it.
Eventually I gave in and loved each book. Same with the Vampire Diaries TV series. I refused to watch it.
Until a fellow blogger, Loren Chase, sung its praises. So I started reconsidering. But I’m super slow to change my mind once it’s really made up. Finally last week, I flicked on the tv and was channel surfing. I stopped on the CW, not realizing what I was watching.
Just knowing I liked it. It captured my attention. It took a few minutes to realize it was Vampire Diaries. When the episode ended, I read the wiki entry on it. Then I read about the novels (written in 1991–when I was starting high school). Wow.
Watched the most recent episodes on the CW website.
At Target, I saw the original 4 books and decided to pick them up last Sunday. I read all 1000+ pages in a week. I ordered season 1 of the series.
So Loren, sorry it took me so long to try it, but you were 100% right and I love Vampire Diaries.
What hooked me? The characters. The conflict. The show also has some wicked hot actors. And some great music.
With the books, I wanted to see how it ended and L.J. Smith had a habit of ending the book where you had to know what happened next.
I’m reading her newest additions to the series this week. Curious to see what happens next.
What have you stumbled on lately that you liked? Or tried to avoid only to fall into its clutches and be glad for it?
Your chance to win a free autographed copy of Paige Shelton’s Fruit of All Evil ends at 11:59 PM EST tonight.
This is one of my favorite cozy mystery series by an author who can have me chopping my nails in anxiety and giggling like a five-year old.
To enter to win, check out Paige’s blog where she’s hidden answers to my little blog quiz.
Then go to my blog contest page and comment with the answers to the 4 questions.
Best of luck! I’ll announce the winner on Thursday’s blog.