Thursday, 30 April 2009

May Goals

At the suggestion of the lovely Karen Pinco, we're holding a May writing challenge over at Will Write for Wine. I have quite a few things going on right now (at least in my head!) so I thought it might be a good idea to write down my goals for the month.

- Write a 3000 word short story - it's pretty much all planned out now, and even has a working title (which is more than I can say for my NaNo), so I hope to get started on that in the next couple of days.

- Work through Lesson 8 of the How to Think Sideways course, Planning.

- Type up all my handwritten edits for my NaNo story and send it to my sister to read. Will also probably get my husband to read it, although he's insisting that he wants me to read it aloud to him! Try and line up another writer to take a look at it, terrifying thought though that is.

- Put the pre-plan modules from Lesson 7 of HTTS into practice for my new novel idea.

- Edit the short story.

- Put Lesson 8 into practice for new idea.

- Further research into possible markets for short story.

And if I manage all that, maybe I'll even get to start writing that new story!

Monday, 27 April 2009

Deadline's creeping up on me....

I have seven chapters left to edit. Fifty-four pages. And three days to do it if I want to reach my self-imposed deadline.

I've been averaging a chapter in the morning and a chapter in the evening, so in theory if I do one extra chapter in a session (and I know a couple of them are quite short) then I don't need to make any real extra time for it. Of course that doesn't allow for any additional scenes I might need to write in. So far I've added an extra ten or so - well, sort of. Some of them are really extensive rewrites rather than actual new scenes.

Anyway, one way or another I think I should be able to make it. It would be nice to be able to just say I'll take a morning, an afternoon, even a day and get it done, but unfortunately work is rather hectic at the moment so that's not really practical.

Once I'm done with this bit, of course, I'll have to figure out the best way to process the changes - I can't decide on the practicalities. On one hand, working in yWriter 5 is amazing - I love the way I can move scenes around and so on. On the other, though, I don't want to overwrite the original draft in that form, and it doesn't seem to come with a Save As button! If I were to work from an exported file, I'd have to do all the scrolling that comes with a long Word document, but I wouldn't be making any changes to the original. Decisions, decisions.

I decided a while ago that I wanted to try my hand at writing a short story, and with some considerable help from Thinking Sideways I've come up with an idea I really like. I've done some work on the idea and I think I have it pretty well mapped out, so before I start transferring all the edits I think I'm going to try and write that. It should mean that when I get back to it I'm a little more distanced again too, which will hopefully help.

As an extra bonus of the How To Think Sideways course (and yes, I know I'm linking to it a lot, but really, it's wonderful) I had the chance to submit up to 500 words to Holly Lisle for a new concept she's starting, the Writer Crash Test. Essentially, if she picks mine I'll get a free crit - but in video form, on the internet. If you visit the site you'll see that the first crit is up - and even if mine isn't used, I think it's going to prove to be quite a useful resource.

I'm currently on Lesson 7 of the course, which is to do with getting everything you need together before you start writing - pre-planning, if you will. It's not plotting, exactly, more getting particular ideas and conflicts in place. I'm just working through the theory at the moment but it will be interesting to apply it to both the short story and the novel idea I've had recently.

And I think that about wraps it up for now.

Friday, 17 April 2009

Progress Update On Edits

The past week has been fairly slow for edits, what with being away and Easter get togethers and so on. Still, I'm half-way through now, and although the really bad bit is still to come (that would be the bit before I completely changed the villian's story) I still think I can reach the end before the 1st May. I think there will still be some tidying up to do after that - mostly making sure that I've actually followed up on all the notes I've made during this process - but to my surprise I'm finding that there's less actual rewriting to do than I expected. I've only got about five A4 pages of completely new material, although of course that's on top of all the bits I've written directly onto the manuscript.

I had a bit of a breakthrough the other day when I finally got a handle on my single sentence blurb (thank you, Thinking Sideways course!), quickly followed by figuring out my theme. So my sentence is as follows, although I'm sure I'll rework it a few times:
With powers so great they scare even the Guild of Magic, a naive new witch is dragged into a struggle with the ambitious King of the Elves for control of magic itself...

And it turns out that my theme is all about how people deal with the pressure of expectations. I suddenly realised that this affects all of my four main characters in pretty significant ways, but I'd completely missed it until now.

So all in all, I'm feeling fairly positive about things at the moment. I am definitely thinking that this WIP may be veering to YA, but that's okay - my younger sister ought to be able to tell me if that is the case. She loved my sentence and kept trying to steal my manuscript when I went to visit this weekend, so at least I know she's willing to test drive it!

I haven't yet completed another Thinking Sideways lesson, but the next one is all about figuring out your market, so it should be fairly appropriate.

One last thing - a fabulous quote from Dennis Lehane printed in my Writers' News magazine last month:
"It's good not only to realise that you can't please all of the people all of the time, but that you don't want to. There's a certain type of reader that you don't ever want to write for. And that really helps."

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Edits & Sideways Thinking

I'm more than a quarter of the way through with my edits now and I think it's going quite well. I've scrapped a lot, but rather than being disheartened by that I'm finding it quite exciting. I can't remember where I heard this metaphor, nor indeed exactly what it was - but it's like I've got the rough wood or clay into a vague shape and I'm now smoothing out the bumps, chipping away the bits I don't need and adding the extra details. There are a lot of people who say they hate editing - but the process of refining this is proving rather enjoyable for me. Of course, I haven't got to the really bad bit yet. I've also got back into working on it morning and night, which is much better for me. It means it sort of tops and tails my day very nicely, and I get an extra chapter done each day. Although I'm letting myself off the evenings at weekends!

The only problem I'm considering at the moment is one particular scene. A couple of days ago I decided I should bring it forward, reworking it to fit in before one of the key moments. I was all set to do that this morning, and then I looked at the chapter and a half that would end up happening after it and realised that actually they're pretty key to making that scene happen. So now I'm sort of stuck. On one hand, I was convinced that putting the scene earlier would give a particular decision the extra kick I thought it was missing. On the other hand, this is going to mean a lot of rewriting - and so far, I haven't done more than a paragraph at a time of that since I started edits. (Which is probably why it seems so much easier than I expected.)

So really, I guess this is the bit where it gets difficult. Essentially I'm going to have to rewrite two, maybe three chapters, changing the location and various points which feed in and out of this particular scene. I think I'll have to condense them a bit, since I don't want to push this key moment any further back if possible, and then add some extra bits afterward to fill the void. This morning I almost convinced myself that I didn't need to, but thinking about it now... yes, I do need to. The practicalities are interesting - up til now I've been making my corrections, additions and deletions on the MS itself, and adding notes for clarification in the spiral bound notebook I bought for this very purpose. I think I'll need to use separate lined paper for this though - I don't want to start using the notebook differently as I've got a decent system in place that I'm happy with, and there's going to be too much to write it onto the MS itself.

Right, there's that decision made then. I'll let you know how I get on.

As for Thinking Sideways... ohhhh, I'm loving every minute. The last lesson I did was Lesson Five, which looks at how much you should develop your story idea before you start to write it - how much background information you need, how much worldbuilding you should do, etc. I got some great story development from it for my favourite of the three ideas I mentioned last week and I'm starting to get really excited about the story. It's all about looking for the extraordinary in your ideas and making it unique, and to my surprise I'm getting on really well with Holly's rather unconventional methods. So far, I wholeheartedly recommend the course.