Changing Your Writing Routine

women's fingers on keyboard

Two years ago, I wrote a post about writing your story down on paper or via keyboard and Word document.

When I started writing again in 2014, pencil and paper were my number one tools in writing my stories, and all would start from a stream of consciousness.

Truly, that method was used to write my published short story, Summer Memories, my play, Falling Up Stairs, that was performed on a small stage in January 2018, and the starting chapters of my debut novel, Passage of Promise, released May 1 for print copy and May 4 for ebook. Although with the latter, I took extensive notes midway and throughout during many rewrites, revisions, added and deleted chapters.

Since 2018, I don’t know why, but my method of writing changed.

In creating my novella, Mourning Dove, and my novel, What She Didn’t Know, I took notes on both, most extensively on What She Didn’t Know.

Before each chapter, I’d write down my ideas about what the scenes would be, which, in turn, helped encourage me to get the words typed on the computer screen.

A few days ago, I listened to an excellent video lesson from fellow blogger and writing coach, Kate Johnston. She actually talked about the importance of at least having some notes on your plot, characters, and having a good idea of how your novel would end.

Having evolved and grown as a writer (as we do every day) since picking up this true passion of mine from my pre-teen years, I’d done exactly that without realizing it was the better approach for me!

I found this method of jotting down my main character(s) and plot made it more structured and cleared my mind of jumbled thoughts, as well as stream-of-conscious ideas that wouldn’t always get me through the entirety of my book.

The exception was the couple I mentioned earlier in this post.

So, I’ve transferred from stream-of-consciousness, pen and paper story writing to pen and paper for notes to prepare my next story and directly typing on my computer’s Word document.  Whatever would come into my head, the ideas would be centered around the guidelines regarding the character(s) and plot that I’d scribbled in my notebook.

Therefore, I’ve discovered you can change how you prepare and create your writing routine, and in my case, it was for the best.

What is your preferred way of writing? Stream-of-conscious/whatever comes to mind, write it down and go from there, or making an outline or notes on your characters and plot before starting to write your story? Have you tried to do the opposite? Did it work for you?

Happy writing!

 

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Pick up your copy of Passage of Promise  via Amazon or Barnes & Noble!

Me with PofP final print copy April 27 2020

I Spy The “No-No” Words in Fiction Books, and They’re Fine!

steaming mug and book

Lately, I’ve not had much to blog about. That is, until this post. Something popped into my brain, and I started writing, and, violà.

Actually, I’ve been busy reading fiction and writing fiction.

I’m still revising my novel, Passage of Promise. I just finished going through the whole story, adding scenes and revising and editing others. And it’s been great. Every time I do, my story strengthens and my main character ARC is more coherent.

Last week, I finished one of the best books I’ve ever read. It’s called The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah. I’ve read another book of hers called The Nightingale, but The Great Alone is superior to The Nightingale, in my opinion. The characters were chiseled out with such superb precision, and the plot was excellent. The evoking of emotions was fantastic, so much so, I cried in four different sections of the story. I was so moved by what was going on with the characters! Bravo, Kristin Hannah!

If you haven’t read The Great Alone, GET IT AND READ IT!!

Here’s the synopsis via Amazon:

Alaska, 1974.
Unpredictable. Unforgiving. Untamed.
For a family in crisis, the ultimate test of survival.

Ernt Allbright, a former POW, comes home from the Vietnam war a changed and volatile man. When he loses yet another job, he makes an impulsive decision: he will move his family north, to Alaska, where they will live off the grid in America’s last true frontier.

Thirteen-year-old Leni, a girl coming of age in a tumultuous time, caught in the riptide of her parents’ passionate, stormy relationship, dares to hope that a new land will lead to a better future for her family. She is desperate for a place to belong. Her mother, Cora, will do anything and go anywhere for the man she loves, even if means following him into the unknown.

At first, Alaska seems to be the answer to their prayers. In a wild, remote corner of the state, they find a fiercely independent community of strong men and even stronger women. The long, sunlit days and the generosity of the locals make up for the Allbrights’ lack of preparation and dwindling resources.

But as winter approaches and darkness descends on Alaska, Ernt’s fragile mental state deteriorates and the family begins to fracture. Soon the perils outside pale in comparison to threats from within. In their small cabin, covered in snow, blanketed in eighteen hours of night, Leni and her mother learn the terrible truth: they are on their own. In the wild, there is no one to save them but themselves.

Now, to discuss the subject matter mentioned in the title of this blog post.

As you know from my previous blog posts where I discussed reading a book on showing instead of telling, I shared some examples of what words to avoid and how to use certain words. Well, let me tell you. How many of us writers have been told don’t use the words “began,” “started,” “because,” “realized,” “wondered,” “knew,” and the like because they aren’t really active verbs.

Guess what?

I’ve read two different novels in the past few weeks, and both of them contained a few of these words. Did it ruin the flow of the sentences, the storyline, the action of the scenes? Nope. There’s a point when those words can be gingerly sprinkled throughout the many pages of novels, and it won’t drag down or mar the stories.

This is what happened for me.

I mean, I couldn’t help but notice all those taboo words and acknowledged where excellent descriptions and images were written. I think we writers tend to do that. But when you can get past that and be drawn in, or in my case, literally sucked into the lives of the characters in Hannah’s, The Great Alone, the few mentions of those less active words read just fine, fit in just fine because the rest of the words surrounding them make up for it.

Therefore, what I’ve learned is we don’t have to be totally anal about show, don’t tell, or banning these simple words from our sentences. In reality, it’s natural to have a conservative smattering of these words in our works. There, now. We can draw in a nice, cleansing breath and exhale with relief.

My novel, Passage of Promise, goes back through my critiquing group in a couple of weeks into the new year, and we’ll see how it goes from there. My next step is to re-read over my whole story and see if there are any parts that aren’t relevant or interesting enough to the storyline…read the flow and see if it all fits together the way it should. Upwards and onwards!

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Revising Once, Revising Twice…Going, Going…Keep Going! It’s Worth it

Michener-rewriting

How many times have you revised your novel before you think it’s in pristine shape for the publishing process?  A dozen times?  Fifty times? A hundred times? There’s no end, right? It feels that way often.

Author, Roald Dahl, says of this subject, “By the time I am nearing the end of a story, the first part will have been reread and altered and corrected at least one hundred and fifty times. I am suspicious of both facility and speed. Good writing is essentially rewriting. I am positive of this.”

So, how many times have I revised my stories?  I’m not really sure.  Perhaps a dozen times total? Teetering on the barely-broken-in writing scale. But it’s all good.  Some writers may not need to revise their work dozens or hundreds of times.

With that said, I’m back to revising my novel, Passage of Promise.  Yes, my first novel I wrote back in 2015.  I’m back at it after the last editing, proofing, and editorial suggestions from my editor (second round?).

show don't tell book cover

Since reading through half of the Understanding Show, Don’t Tell (And Really Getting It) book so far…and I will finish it soon…I truly do understand it for the most part and can see the difference in my sentences and wording through my latest revisions.  I’m strengthening my scenes, character traits, and dialogue.

But I must admit.  A part of me has this urge to turn the story on its head, change it up drastically. Yet, another part of me says don’t jump in the deep, murky water.  You’ll get pulled into the endless, bottomless sea.

I’ve got to resist the waves of temptation and focus on making the story sharper, deeper, and stronger with the plot, characters, and scenes posing in proud, unique form on the stage of my make-believe world.

I may have to run it through the critiquing group again, which means my thirty-nine chapters will travel through the queue for the next few months, but it’s worth it.

My editor said it wouldn’t hurt. People’s feedback may give me a different direction or new ideas, and of course, in the critique realm, I take some of the suggestions that work and discard others that don’t.

I heard some authors have spent five to ten years on one book.  That’s a huge chunk of time, but when you want your work to be its best, three, five, or even ten years may be in order.  J.R.R. Tolkien labored twelve years on his book, Lord of the Rings, before it was published.

lord of the rings wizard book cover

I don’t think it’ll take ten or twelve years to finish my novel, especially since my novel has considerably less words than Tolkien’s sequel to The Hobbit. Also, in my case, a stressful deadline doesn’t exist, whereas it does for some others.

This fresh return to my novel fell on the heels of my novella’s (Mourning Dove) feedback journey through my critique group the past several weeks, counting this one and next week.  I’ll then collect all the comments, remarks, suggestions and work on revising it.

What made me delve back into the revision process of my stories? I am presently reading a book by my muse, Jodi Picoult. THANK YOU, JODI!  Keep writing! 🙂

What are you working on, how long have you been working on it, and what’s your average number of revisions?

 

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