Tag Archive: ideas
Hello everyone, today I want to give you all a little insight into how things are going with my latest novel.
Some of you may know that I had started working on “The Door” some time back, but then set it aside to work on “The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home”. I did this originally, because I’d hoped to get the vampyre book out last October, but of course that didn’t happen. My classes at CSU Monterey Bay got crazy with the workload so I couldn’t finish in time.
Now, the vampyre book is set around October so I wanted to keep with the whole Halloween timing, so after finishing the 1st draft I’ve set it aside and gone back to “The Door”. This is actually beneficial since “The Door” will temporarily wrap things up for the heroes of my first two novels “The Bridge” and “The Ship”. So by going back to “The Door” I can have a sort of trilogy to put out as a box set come Christmastime.
With this in mind I dove back into my first draft of “The Door” which was about 2/3’s done. And below you’ll see how I felt about this at first…
But then something happened. I’d forgotten where I started that book out and who was where when I completed my second novel “The Ship”. Originally I just had Alex and Veronica in the scene at the end of “The Bridge”, but at the end of my second novel “The Ship” I had my other two major characters Julie and Cassandra showing up on the scene seconds later.
Now, I figured adding Cassie and Julie would be easy and I wouldn’t have to change too much of the scene I’d written for “The Door”. Oh there might be a few details here and there, but nothing too major, right? That’s what I kept telling myself two weeks ago…
This is how I feel now…
I swear it feels like I’m rewriting just about every sentence, every word, even the commas and periods! Why? Because I wanted to have my four main characters back together right away and so did my audience. In doing this, I changed the entire dynamics and course of events that followed. The main story is following close to the original plan, but the dialogue and actions changed dramatically.
Furthermore, I’ve also had to remove other characters and events I had planned from later parts of the book as well, because they don’t fit anymore. Yet, I’m not disappointed or sorry to see them go. The story I has had it going originally was becoming too complicated. I needed to simplify things a bit. Plus, thanks to “The Ship” I was able to introduce certain new characters there who would be appearing in this third installment, thus simplifying some of the upcoming scenes.
There’s still plenty of intrigue and mystery in store for my readers with “The Door”. But it’s taking a slightly different form than what I’d originally envisioned, which in my opinion is for the better. There’s still a long haul ahead, but sometimes you need to walk away from a book you’re working on in order to get new ideas and a fresh perspective.
But if you do this, be prepared to be flexible and ready to jettison parts or even entire ideas, chapters, or characters from the story. DO NOT DELETE them though. Save those fragments and put them in special file on your computer. Just because they’re no longer useful for this story, you might find they have a life of their own that may give birth to a whole new idea down the road.
Rewriting may not always be fun, in fact it can be downright infuriating at times. However, it can be a very effective tool to help you create a much better product for your audience.
Until next time, take care and keep writing.
This week I got 8 people lined up as “Beta-Readers” for my second novel “THE SHIP”.
For those not familiar with beta-readers, they are basically test readers for you book. They will read the story and give you feedback on what they thought of it. But what kind of feedback am I talking about?
Well this may vary from writer to writer. For me I’m looking for the following feedback:
1-Did they like the story? (this is a given, I have to know whether or not the story is even working for my readers in the first place)
2-How was the pacing? Did the story drag a lot, or was it too-fast paced and hard to keep up with?
3-Were the characters likable and did you come to care about them? Did they intrigue you? Did you want to see more of them in the future? (I’m working on an ongoing series where I will rotate some of the cast from time to time)
4-Spelling errors? (I’ve done my best but some things will still slip past me so a few more sets of eyes doesn’t hurt)
5-Grammatical issues? (I’ve chosen my team from a variety of people including a few authors and grammar nazis who will be more than willing to point out areas of concern)
6-Did the story flow well? Were there areas where there were contradictions in who was where during an action sequence? Was there an idea that got confused and hard to follow?
7-FINALLY: What did they think of the piece overall?
This is a lot of questions I know, but this is the book’s testing ground. One of your last chances to work out the bugs and iron out any problems before you unleash your work on the public. And trust me, sometimes the public can be unforgiving and harsh. Remember, most of them will be putting out money to buy your work, so make sure you strive to put out a really good product. Your reputation is on the line whenever you put out a book. Never slack off on quality or it’ll hurt the sales of your next book.
As I mentioned earlier in this entry, I’m doing a series. So one of the things I made sure to do was get at least a couple of beta-readers who did NOT read the first book. People are not always going to buy your books in order, so make sure you keep each story neat and self-contained that anyone can jump into whatever part of your series they happen to spot. Give enough references to past events from earlier books so intrigue them enough to maybe want to check out the earlier books, but not detract from the one in their hands at that moment.
Beta-Readers can help your work tremendously. And like editors, you don’t have to take EVERY suggestion they make to improve the book. You want to keep faithful to your own vision, but weigh the pros and cons for each change. Some may prove to be a master-stroke, while others may not. After all beta-readers will not know your long-term vision for your book and have all the insights you do. So be careful how you take their advice.
Finally, always be gracious even if they give advice you don’t agree with. Remember, they’re trying to help your book become something even better.
Until next time, take care and keep writing.
Well, one third of October is gone already and Halloween is coming. But so is something more terrifying, at least for those who brave the challenge. November is Nanowrimo Month and I’ve signed up for it. For anyone unfamiliar with Nanowrimo, it’s quite simple. Starting on November 1st you have until the November 30th to write 50,000 words of a brand new novel. That’s right. You start a brand new novel from scratch at the beginning of the month and try to write at least 50,000 words in 30 days. It doesn’t mean the novel has to be completed, you just have to have written that amount of words for your novel.
Now to some this sounds easy, to others it sounds daunting. The object here is not to create finished product, but a first draft and have those 50,000 words of it done by the end of the month. It has been calculated that a person would need to do 1666 words per day, without missing a single day to make this goal. Easy right? Wrong! In my case, I will have to fight perfectionist tendencies and resist the temptation to go back and redo certain sections I’ve already written. This happens to me all the time while writing. So this will be one of the major challenges of the exercise. I have to remind myself that fixing areas and rewriting scenes is what 2nd, 3rd and 4th drafts are for. The purpose here is to get that 1st draft done period.
I’m hoping this experience will help me overcome that problem, which is one of the reasons why my 2nd novel has been taking so long. I keep going back and fixing areas or changing things which affect the rest of the 1st draft so I wind up doing more fixes elsewhere instead of just getting the damn story finished so I can go back and make changes. An unfinished story is an unfinished story, period. We’re not meant to have a perfect 1st draft, just a full story.
Oddly enough, I didn’t have this problem with my 1st novel “The Bridge”. It was more like a Nanowrimo story. I got the 1st draft done and then spent weeks cleaning it up. I need to get back to that mindset. Why did I change my habits? I think because I’m more aware of how rough the 1st draft of “The Bridge” was and I’m afraid of wincing over and over again at what I’ve done and trying to fix it. Getting a cleaner 1st draft seems to be what I’m trying for with “The Ship”, but it’s hampering my attempt to get to the final big climactic scene. I have to remind myself that those errors will be caught LATER! I dont’ have to work on them now.
As for what I’ve got planned for Nanowrimo? Well, it will involve vampires with the typical weaknesses of legend, yet there will be a twist that makes it fit in my Para-Earth Universe. That’s all I’ll say. I’m creating a bit of an outline and getting my characters lined up and getting to know who they are before I begin on November 1st. All of this is permitted in the rules. You just can’t start writing the actual story until November 1st.
So here’s to Nanowrimo. If you want to take a crack at it yourself, here’s the link to sign up:
I’ll be talking more about Nanowrimo in the coming weeks so stay tuned. I’ll try not to bore you all with it, but just share some of what I’m going through as it happens. I promise to still post about different parts of the writing process and giving tips. So until next time, good luck and keep writing.
PS: Here’s a sneak peak at what the cover for my Nanowrimo project may be. It’s not the final product, more of a work in progress. I want to do some more tweaking to the image, but I think this is close to what the final image may wind up being.
Okay fellow writers, here’s a question for you all. How many of you find yourselves working and reworking a scene because something just isn’t right? In your mind, you know what you’d like to happen, but something just doesn’t seem to be working right. You make a change here, then a slight a tweek there and suddenly everything goes KAFLOOEY! You suddenly hit a dead end, or the entire plot has taken a detour to No-wheres-ville. When this happens to me, I get the same feelings I had whenever I tried to solve a Rubik’s Cube. I know all the parts and where I think they should go, but they’re just not in the right spot. And trying to get them in their proper place can be a nightmare some days.
Now this has happened to me on a number of occasions. Some people tell me to have an outline, but that never works for me. Why? Because my characters start going in other directions by saying or doing things I hadn’t originally planned. Admittedly I let them get away with it, but only if what they’re doing seems to be working better than what I originally planned. Sometimes this works, but not always. When it doesn’t I do one of two things: I’ll delete it completely and try again OR I’ll save the scene in a separate folder on my computer. You never know when an unused scene can be useful later in your present story, or could wind up being perfect for another book entirely.
Personally, I kind of like it when I can just delete the scene because then I get to point and laugh at my characters saying, “See? I told you this wasn’t going to work… NEENER-NEENER.” Unfortunately, I tend to do this out loud and get some really strange looks from anyone within a 30 foot radius. It’s at this point my unseen characters got to point and laugh right back at me, which is really annoying because they know I still need them and can’t kill them off. Damn, my creations can be annoying at times.
Anyway, getting back to my original point. Writing a scene can be quite frustrating and difficult at times. But, there are many ways of tackling this problem:
-You might change who’s in the scene, keep the ones who are most poignant and add someone else from the cast. This can change the tension levels and the entire feel of the moment.
-Change the location where the action is happening. Maybe the setting is the problem and you can get more out of a different location.
-Is a major piece of information about to be revealed in this scene? If so how much of it do you really have to unveil at this moment? Maybe you should only reveal a portion of the information. You can whet the appetite of both the characters and the audience with this method. By doing this your characters can go off half-cocked, which can make for some very interesting scenes as they make any number of mistakes or jump to wrong conclusions. I personally like this because the character who isn’t perfect, and learns from their mistakes, is someone the audience can really relate to sometimes. On the other hand the characters can aware that something is still missing and we can follow their efforts to learn more which can lead to some very tense and exciting scenes as well.
So, don’t be afraid to tear apart a scene that’s frustrating you. Try some really different ways of reworking it. And if you find yourself still hitting a wall, ask yourself if the scene is truly relevant in that particular point of the story. Maybe it can be replaced by an entirely different scene that can serve a similar purpose. Who knows, you may wind up with something that opens new avenues for your plot that are even more interesting than what you originally had in mind.
What other methods or tricks have you come up with? I’m sure everyone reading this would be interested because we’re all trying learn from one another when it comes to writing. So please leave your experiences and suggestions down in the comments section below.
And for the record,I did finally defeat the dreaded Rubik’s Cube. Mind you I did not remove the decals and change them around (which is something my wife did when she was kid). Nor did I take the cube apart and reassemble it so the colors matched up. What did I do? Simple, I spray painted the entire thing silver and used it for a paperweight. A very creative solution, don’t you think?