First of all, thanks to everyone who responded to my last post about when to join a writers’ group.
I have been doing some research and a lot of learn by doing as I am working on my first novel. One theme that keeps on coming up is that for each step in the process, there are many different ways of accomplishing that step. I am so glad there is more than one way to do things. It’s not that I can’t follow the rules when I need to, I like logic, math and science for sure. But I think it is really awesome, that when you are creating something new and unique, you get to also create your own unique creation process.
It means that I can look around at what everyone else is doing and take the parts I think would work for me, and add new bits that I want in order to make the process my own. I really value all of the experiences that I have been able to hear about from other bloggers. Thanks for sharing.
I am thinking about how I want to go forward with the writers’ group thing now that I’ve had so much great advice. I think I have decided that I don’t want to wait until I am totally done with my rewrite, because I would like to get to know the other writers in the group a bit before they start hacking away at my baby. But I would also like to have a bit more done before I start looking for a group so that I have something to offer them in case they ask me, “so whadda ya got?” I am still not sure exactly how it works, and don’t want to be the new kid who shows up to the potluck without a hot-dish.
It looks like I need to do a bit more work on my MS before I start the writers’ group hunt, but I am currently starting book three of the two book reading break I was taking. I am slacking off a bit, which means that it is goal setting time.
- Rewrite outline – to make the magic work (1 week) March 14-20
- Rewrite first chapter – almost from scratch (1 week) March 21-27
- Look for writers’ group and send out feeler emails
- Rewrite other chapters (2 per week)
These goals are not set in stone. If I need to adjust them I will. However, my hope is that putting these goals out there in blog land will make me more likely to stick to them.
I took some much needed time off editing my manuscript. (I’d tried to add magic to the story, and almost killed it in the process.)
While on break, I decided to read Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. I finished reading the book in just over a day. Turns out it wasn’t really my style. Without giving it away, it is a good book for high school and junior high kids (has a good lesson), but it does not have what I–as an older reader of teen fiction–am looking for.
Anyway, only a few hours after I finished reading the book, ideas for how to make the messy storyline in my MS into a great one just started flooding in! It was sort of inconvenient since I’d finished the book at lunch, and was still at work when the ideas started assaulting me. I guess it’s better than getting the ideas in bed (my midnight, written in the dark notes about awesome ideas are really hard to decipher the next day). But I was really lucky I could find a mindless task to do (I don’t think people should pay me to play at work) while I combed through the ideas.
It’s not all sorted out yet, I still have a lot more work to do. I have tons of stickynotes and scratch paper bits that I need to plot out on the outline, and some semi big questions to answer yet, but I think it may work really well. It also helped me to see what the sequels will look like a bit better. I knew there would be two more books, but now I have an idea of the why and how of them.
So it looks like reading Speak, was just what I needed in order to pull my mind out of my WIP and be able to come back to it with fresh ideas.
Oh, I should add that I also had a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Half Baked fro-yo. I have to give them some credit too.
Lets just say I had no idea how messy things would get when I thought I might try to add magic to the already finished manuscript of my young adult fiction novel. Turns out it is not only hard, but may also cause the collapse of my story. I don’t know what I was thinking.
I just wanted a little magic at first, but then I realized that the story wouldn’t work with magic unless I put a lot more in. So the magic became this thing that grew and grew into this huge plot devouring monster. I am only half way through now, but I noticed how many holes were appearing in my story as I made the changes, and decided that I needed to switch from changing the manuscript itself to pulling out an outline and adding in the changes to see where the story would end up.
Turns out the magic actually manages to kill the point/climax of the story. Good to know. So I am panicking a lot.
I have had to put the book down for a bit because I was worried I would kill it if I continued on with it while in this mindset. I reminded myself that I did a save as before I started this round of editing, so if the magic doesn’t work, I can go back to the previous version. But I am also thinking I may be able to continue on with the magic version of my story, once I calm down. I do like the way it writes. I may just need to put it on hold for now and consider my options, and maybe come up with alternative endings that work with magic.
What I have learned: If you want to make changes to a story, try it in an outline before rewriting the whole thing. If it works, cool, but if it doesn’t, look at how much time you saved by not rewriting your story!
I’ve heard that if you have ideas for plot changes after the first draft is finished, you should save those ideas for your next project. That seems like sound advice to me.
Has anyone else had a story collapse on them like this? Is rescue possible or likely?
How much is too much?
Should I go the traditional route, or is it okay to make up my own new kind of magic?
These are the questions I am asking myself. I originally wrote my story with hardly any magic in it at all. I was going for the type of story that just teeters on the edge of the cliff of reality without having any really certifiable magic.
Since I wrote my first draft though, I have been reading a lot of Y A fiction and I have found that I am really drawn to the stories that have some sort of mystical force at work. (Yes, I admit I do like vampire stories, but not all of them.) So I’ve been wondering if I should add more magic to my story. And if so, how much?
The other question for me is if I should do the standard vampire, witch, or werewolf, or if I am allowed to make up my own. I am trying to think of stories where people broke from the standard types of magic. Does new magic ruin a story? Have all the good magical beings been thought of already? My answer is that I hope not. Because I already promised myself that my characters would not be vampires, and they would not be going to magic school.
I’m also really freaked about how much work would be involved in adding magic to the story at this stage. The book has already been written. If I add magic it would need to be sprinkled throughout. Oh that is so much work. But if it makes the story better, I think it would be worth it.
There is definitely room for magic in my book. It would make it more dramatic. But the original story feels really authentic and real.
Well, tomorrow I start a four day weekend of rewriting and editing. I would love to have this all figured out before then.
Any opinions? Suggestions?
I have always known I was a pantser. When I started writing my novel I knew who the main characters were (sort of), what the basic plot was and the setting. But I still had no idea how I wanted it to end until I was at the end writing it. Rather than making a neat outline and creating the characters beforehand, I just wrote by the seat of my pants and let the story take me wherever it wanted to go. It is a fun way to write a story, but now that I am working on editing my book, I am not sure if it was the right way to go.
As I have been reading through my book I am finding a lot of editing needs to be done. I am also not sure that the way it flows–as a stream of consciousness–is really the best way for a novel to be organized. I am concerned that the lack of structure will be so loosey goosey that my readers will lose patience with me.
So what now? I am considering going back and doing an outline. Not a full blown 80 page outline or anything. Just something that will run a few pages and help me visualize how to organize this beast of a story. I think that will at least help me figure out where the chapters go, what is really necessary and what can be moved/removed, and what is missing.
I guess I am wondering if there are any other pantsers (or non-pantsers) out there who have run into this problem? How have you dealt with organizing the story? Did the first draft seem like it was a bit out of control, or hard to edit?