So, here is a plan:
I’m going to update this post with revision progress day by day until I’m querying. WHICH means the last update to it will read:
“MM/DD/13: Sent out first batch of queries. BRB vomiting.”
And that will probably be the only thing I say re: querying on this blog because it’s seems kinda jinx-y to put that out there for the public.
ANYway. I shall start with today’s progress:
5/2/13 2:30 PM: Completed Alex‘s revisions up to the end of Act 2. Began making a list of crutch phrases. Created a Wordle to help me figure out the really BIG crutch words.
5/2/13 10:47 PM: Finished Alex’s revisions. (!!!) Also I had a minor stroke-type episode where I decided I was going to rewrite the whole book in 1st person present tense… it’s currently 3rd past. I think I’ve decided most of it works as is, but the problems where I’m having trouble getting CLOSE/in Bree’s head, I might do it as an exercise. WOOO.
5/3/13 9:46 PM: Nope, okay, I’m switching it to first present… And all of today was consumed with doing that with one chapter. But I think that one chapter is actually much stronger now so WOOO. Butttt this will probably delay my querying.
5/6/13 10:03 AM: I had a friend visiting me over the weekend, so though I had a GREAT weekend, I got very little work done– just two pages when I woke up before my guest– but as of about 20 minutes ago, another chapter is complete and hopefully one or two more today!
5/7/13 10:06 PM: Made the POV/tense/other changes through Act 1! 2 acts left and 70% left to goooo. I have high hopes that this round of revisions will be complete this week!
5/8/13 1:40 PM: Was hoping to finish a chapter, but a possibly rabid raccoon scared me away from the picnic tables behind my office building during my lunch break. Sadness.
5/18/13: Whoops, I’ve been lax about updating this, so here’s the breakdown. I officially passed 80K, was interrupted by the raccoon another day, heard back from CP Lindsey, and have 6 1/2 chapters left of Act 3 before this pass is done. If all goes well, there will be another entry from me today declaring that this pass-through is COMPLETE.
Sometimes, when I browse writing and publishing blogs, I see excerpts of blog readers’ work– whether it’s a query submission or first pages, or anything else. Sometimes, the work is strong, sometimes not so much.
But sometimes, they make mistakes that make me blanch and wonder “Why didn’t their Critique Partners or beta-readers catch that?”
And sometimes, I can guess the answer to that question: They don’t have a CP or beta.
Because here is something else I see in the comments of those blogs: complaints about the difficulty of finding a CP or a beta.
First of all, to those people, I say: you are wrong.
Involve yourself in the writing community or in the community around your genre and it becomes easy. I met one of my CPs, Alex, in an online YA writing class on Litreactor. My other CP, Lindsey, is a fellow YA book blogger. I know of people who have met their beta readers through fanfiction communities or through Fictionpress.
Some blogs create posts to match people up as CPs. People have been known to find CPs through events like WriteOnCon. And if all else fails, by getting active on a forum like the Absolute Write Water Cooler, I’m sure you can find a CP. Or betas. Or BOTH.
Why am I telling you all of these ways to find betas and CPs? Because I believe that if you’re a writer, you need readers.
Personally speaking, I need to know that I have CPs waiting. While I worked on my “discovery draft” of Apparent, I was close to miserable. Every sentence felt terrible and I couldn’t have been less motivated. It took me about a year to finish it. And I was close to hating it.
I needed the encouragement of someone telling me what they LIKED. I needed to know that someone expected to see some of my work. I needed the affirmation.
But maybe you’re the type of person who is motivated enough on your own for a first draft. Maybe you’ve revised it to death on your own and you’re relatively pleased with it.
You still need a CP.
You need other eyes on your work. Maybe a sentence seems clear to you, but isn’t as clear to others. They might catch crutch phrases you didn’t realize you had.
And they’re WONDERFUL people to whine to when you have revisions to make but need help sorting out. They can often offer some direction.
Showing your work to people can be scary. But isn’t that the end goal anyway? Why not find people who will help it to its full potential?
Last night at approximately 11:33 PM, I finished the third
second? fourth? to be honest, I don’t even know anymore. My drafts were a pretty messy affair draft of Apparent with exactly 75,100 words.
And I cried.
There were many reasons for this. One was that I was flipping tired. I get grouchy when I’m not snuggled under my covers by an hour that my sleeping schedule deems satisfactory. The second reason was something I shall never reveal because I have to keep a certain air of “writerly mystery.”
…I mean, I guess that’s is how this is supposed to go anyway.
But thirdly and finally, I cried because I finally felt close like I’d gotten close to what I want the book to be.
Both of my other drafts were… how do I put this delicately? They were a mess. I had SO MANY plot threads, scenes that really didn’t make sense, characters that disappeared halfway through the story. I hadn’t figured out everything about the world (Not OUR world… I am obviously still clueless about that) or the story I was trying to tell.
It is one of my many gripes about being a pantser.
But anyway, this draft… this is the story I want to tell. It’s the first draft that has a real ending. It has taken me this long to puzzle out the ending, and I’ve finally wound up with one that basically has me all:
I know that there’s still plenty of work to do. I want to try adding in one more scene in the first act to heighten tension, and I have plenty of feedback that I want to incorporate. And there’s a chance that some of the things I love won’t work, in which case I have to trust my readers and fall back a step to fix them. After all of that… then, I’ll obviously be agonizing over querying.
I’ve written two trunked novels. Started a third. But finishing this… I feel like a real writer today.
So, I’m off to ride this “I-finished-my-draft” high for a day or two more before diving back in and getting elbows-deep in my MS again.
See, this is just a blog post so I hardly even care that I’m mixing metaphors horribly there.
For now… I’m out like this:
Once, when I was in college, I went to my university’s writing center for extra credit on a paper. As I left, on a whim, I grabbed a few of the postcard-sized promotions that they had out for grabs to decorate my dorm room wall.
I’ll never forget the question one of them posed:
ARE THERE ANY NEW STORIES?
What a stupid question, I remember thinking incredulously. Of course there are new stories. Countless books come out every week! There are short stories and fanfics and even multi-part works uploaded online (probably) every minute. How could anyone doubt that there are new stories?
My twenties self could use a dose of the self-assuredness of my collegiate self.
I think this is a plague of doubt that a lot of writers suffer from. We’re on twitter. We’re stalking agent blogs. We’re keeping an eye on Publisher’s Marketplace for new deals, adding things to our TBRs on Goodreads and between all of that, sometimes we come across a book that sounds a little familiar and induces this queasy, sinking feeling.
Hey, I know it well. The mere mention of the sort of magic present in my novel sends me into a frenzy. There’s even a New York Times Bestselling YA novel that has a certain aspect in common with the manuscript I plan to query soon. CP Lindsey and I frequently e-mail, tweet, and DM each other in a panic when we come across a book (or book deal) that has something in common with our projects.
But that’s the thing (and future Jen, when you fall into another one of those inevitable hopeless spirals, pay attention here). My collegiate self had it right.
OF COURSE THERE ARE NEW STORIES.
Even in stories that have already been told. There are retellings to be told and different POVs to be shared. I mean, just today, Alex, Lindsey, and I jokingly threw around the idea of Pinocchio as a horror novel. The idea stuck for Alex, inspiring her.
Humans evolve and change. Why shouldn’t our stories have the same opportunities?
Furthermore, we’re all different. Even if we have similar seeds of an idea, it’s our own experiences, interpretations, and idea that allow them to grow into separate creations. No two books written by two different people can be the same.
They’re special snowflakes that way.
So what if someone else wrote it their way? Write it your way. Your story has value. Even if it’s a hard sell. Even if it doesn’t sell. You earn something in the writing, revising and sharing.
So keep telling your stories and I’ll keep telling mine.
And maybe they’ll meet somewhere along the way.
So Lindsey and I are BACK to give our darling manuscripts a little TLC. The last time that we did this, I was trying to finish up Act 2 of this draft (draft 3). This time around, I’m finishing up Act 3.
So, what does this translate to? Well, I know I’m making some big cuts to a scene that currently goes on WAY too long and is MOSTLY unnecessary, so I’ll need to tweak it to where I talk about what MATTERS and edit it to make it ~flow. I’ll be killing lots of darlings and cutting other scenes that no longer work with the ending that needs to happen.
And now that I’m really LOOKING/thinking about what is left to REWRITE in this draft, I don’t think it’s 3 chapters like I’m been saying. I think it’s 2. Maybe. It might even be ONE long one. Perhaps an epilogue?
We will just have to see.
Now I’m going to get dressed. Because honestly, I feel like I can’t concentrate when I write in my PJs.
(Side note: I also know that I’m going to be taking either a lunch or dinner break, as a friend is in town, so I will just WATCH WHAT HAPPENS)
(Side side note: Newsies is in my head today so I took the opportunity to poorly work in that line)
And of course… we’re live-blogging
11:28 AM: Draft stands at 71,198 words. I’ve also just learned it’s a NaNoWriMo writing marathon day, so we chose our day well.
12:48 PM: I have allowed myself to get distracted multiple times. But now I am dressed, fed, watered, and I have priced out Newsies tickets for BEA, so NO MORE DISTRACTIONS (until lunch/dinner plans). On to SRS BSNS. 71,198 words.
1:36 PM: 1 scene down– trimmed and expanded in different places. And now for the one that needs SUCH MAJOR TRIMMING. Not a lot of progress thus far, but… it’s still SOME progress! 71,327 words. 1 scene. 0 chapters.
2:52 PM: I’m not really sure if this scene is coming across as stilted. It is supposed to have a lot of tension, but I think this is one that I’m just going to have to see what the CPs think. Regardless another scene down, with some cutting and some expanding! 71,233. 2 scenes. 0 chapters
4:08 PM: Mildly concerned that I am letting my own penchant for jokes in serious situations break up some tension, but come on, I just can’t bring myself to cut all of my lines like this:
“Listen to me,” she breathed into his ear. “And don’t react.”
His hand clenched around hers. “Ow. You’re reacting. Just… waltz, all right?”
70,818 words. 3 scenes. 0 chapters.
4:24 PM: Same status, but now LOLing at this random sentence because I forgot that this was a thing I initially wanted to have happen:
Bree had run into her during one of her baking escapades in her early days at the castle.
Self, when would she have had time for baking? Just… LAWL.
5:14 PM: I MUST DEPART FOR DINNER. Draft is currently at 70,805 words. I’ve revised 4 scenes and 1 chapter. I think my earlier goals of finishing this Act must, as usual, be amended. I always aim just a little too high. But I think that shooting for another chapter after dinner is reasonable
Edit, Monday 4 PM: OH HEY, REMEMBER THAT TIME WHEN INTERACTING WITH PEOPLE MADE ME SO TIRED THAT I WAS IN BED BY 9:30 PM ON A SATURDAY?
Anyway, obviously I am still working. And I lament the fact that I always aim too high with these “a-thons,” but I sense that the END IS NEAR and I’d like to wrap Apparent up.
(I blame you, Alex.)
For round 2 of revision procrastination, today I made Game of Thrones House sigils for few of my characters. I’ve been meaning to do this for a few weeks, since Alex did it and… well, I was on a procrastination roll. You can make your own here!
It seems only appropriate that since I ended my heroine generator post with my main character last time I posted, we let Bree kick things off this time around.
Now, none of my characters actually have house crests (that I’ve discovered thus far anyway) and Bree has always lived as a peasant, but this is good representation of her path to self discovery and the mission she has to take on in Apparent.
Side note: I thought about making her house motto: “Leave me alone and drink your beer” since it is SO something Bree would say and expresses what she wants her life to go back to pretty succinctly. But it didn’t sound very house motto-y to me.
This one is probably my favorite. It is so so so Kat.
I love Aleta so much, guys, but I don’t want to say anymore about this one.
Now for some characters you haven’t met at all!
Here’s the crest for the king of Egria. Egria isn’t technically their House name, but it seemed a very “him” thing to do to claim the nation and himself as one entity.
This one is a bit of a joke. The king takes his power super seriously, but Alex suggested I make his motto “Have it your way” because she knows that in my head he looks just like the Burger King.
It was too funny to pass up entirely, so I tweaked it just a tiny bit to fit his personality better.
And finally, I created one for Bree’s Da, Ardin.
I’m not too thrilled with this one, so there’s a chance I’ll redo it later, but Ardin, though Bree doesn’t know it, has lots of secrets to unfold. I chose the tree to represent him because Ardin means “great forest,” and the home that he raised Bree in was on the edges of a wood.That’s it for now! I have one or two more characters that I’d like to do this for, but yeah… done for now.
Again, if you do this, let me knowwww! If I make any more sigils or edit any of these, I’ll just update this post.
A few months back, I stumbled on this post on Diana Peterfreund’s blog. Peterfreund lamented her lack of a drawing ability because she couldn’t create and share pictures of her characters.
I suffer a similar fate. But yay for Diana Peterfreund for cluing us all into this “Heroine generator!” I can show you guys an approximation of some of the characters in my head!
First, let’s meet Aleta, the princess of Nereidium and ward of the king of Egria.
Aleta is wearing purple to denote her status as royalty. The wedding veil is a nod to her betrothal to the king’s son, Caden. She wears the roses in her hair in a specific scene and they definitely mean something… that hopefully you’ll all be able to read some day.
Aleta doesn’t wear her emotions on her sleeve, so when the calm facade that you see here breaks, it’s a moment of really strong emotion.
One of the first characters you meet is Lady Katerine du Eirya.
This is actually pretty damn close to what Kat is wearing in the first scene in book when she meets my main character. This hooded black robe serves the dual purpose of denoting Kat’s ability as an Adept and keeping her warm in the freezing woods.
Notice the red stone at Kat’s throat? Red has a specific purpose in Egria and Kat wears it like a badge of honor.
And finally, we can meet my favorite girl and my main character, Breena Rose Perdit!
Breena usually goes by Bree, and this is pretty close to what you’d find Bree wearing for the first seventeen years of her life. Boots that keep her feet warm in her tiny northern village of Abeline, comfortable pants, and a long-sleeved shirt. All that’s missing is her Da’s monstrously ugly fur coat that she pulls on when she has to chop firewood in the winter for their tavern.
Does Bree look angry? I hope so. She’s feeling awfully betrayed and like she doesn’t know who she is. She’s feeling controlled and penned in, and my girl Bree doesn’t do so well under those circumstances.
Obviously, this was a great use of my time, what with 3 chapters still left to write. But it was also so much fun.
Now all I need is a “Hero” generator so I can show you guys the men of Apparent!
(PS, FRIENDS, LET ME KNOW IF YOU DO THIS, I WANT TO SEE YOUR CHARACTERS!)