Happy mother’s day to all those mothers out there! Thank you for choosing life and dedicating your own to your children!
Happy mother’s day to all those mothers out there! Thank you for choosing life and dedicating your own to your children!
For the longest time I found it hard to commit time in my day to writing, and in some ways I still do. However, I finally learned that I’m really creative at night. After dinner something just happens to my brain and I go crazy! It’s like, ‘okay, time to go to bed’ and suddenly my brain says, ‘NO! Don’t sleep like a sane person!!! Stay up late and write!!!’ So I do. I take my laptop into bed and read two or three chapters each night (I don’t plan that, I just stay up until ten, so how many I read depends on how much time I have, length of chapters, etc.). In the afternoon I have loads of time, but for some reason I just can’t concentrate. I get really tired and easily bored. I used to try to use all that time to write, but now just a half hour before bed gets more work done than two hours in the afternoon. So study yourself and figure out when you’re most productive and leave that time free for writing. And also know your personality: I do well with routine and schedules, but maybe you’re better just wingin’ it!
I don’t know about you, but perhaps my biggest problem is finishing a novel once I’ve started it. Countless stories have died in my imagination before they ever got to paper or computer, and many that I start writing never get beyond a few sentences. In fact, if you think about it, so far I’ve only finished two out of the hundreds I’ve started. That’s not very good odds. Before I finished Dragon’s Heart, my biggest challenge was persevering and completing what I had begun. Writing all of Dragon’s Heart from beginning to end taught me a lot about writing and how to finish. Still, I undertook a lot of projects after that, and none of them stuck.
And then came the novel that I’m working on now. Only a month had gone by when I knew that this book was different. I was thinking about it all the time; I heard the characters in songs, got inspirations for plot twists everywhere I went, and I was enchanted by the imaginary world they lived in. Never once did I think I wouldn’t finish it. Something inside me just knew I was going to. Certainly, writer’s block and phases of disinterest inevitably came, but there was never a question in my mind about getting through. It was just a matter of time. At times there were rivals to my attention: other stories I also developed simultaneously, and I confess sometimes I found them more interesting. But as the months (and eventually years) passed, they fell away and this novel alone stood as my goal. I wondered what exactly it was about this book that was different and had kept it alive after all this time.
Finally it came to me. What made this story so thrilling to me was a character. Just this one character (and his relationship to the main character) kept me coming back. As dictated by the plot, he had to be a complex and three-dimensional character with many, many layers. To clearly understand his motives, em0tions, and actions, I had to invent a past for him, and know his hidden thoughts, even if none of them ever came up in the book. For a writer, that’s absolutely fascinating. There was (and is) always something new to learn about him. I came to know him so well I can see his face clearly in my mind, and he doesn’t just look like someone I know or someone from a movie. He’s his own unique person. This is true of any story I write; as much as I may like the theme or plot, what I love best about writing is watching the characters come to life. That’s what keeps me going. It doesn’t take long for me to become convinced they’re real. They become my best friends.
What all these vague and off-topic paragraphs are leading up to is simply this: find what enchants you about writing in general and your novel in particular and focus on that. Whether it’s the characters, the plot, your theme, or something else entirely, find it, hold it tight, and develop it until you finish. Then let it go, stand back, and admire your work.
Besides working on my current novel, I’m also starting to put more time into the sequel, just because I can. I really just want to, but the sequel will really reveal more of my favorite character, important stuff to know about him, so I’m excited to do that. It’s going to be a challenge. More than that, it’s going to require something totally new, something I’ve never tried before. And I’m also nervous that since it doesn’t have much action or peril, it won’t be compelling enough. But we’ll have to cross that bridge when we get to it, I suppose.
And I’m going to take this opportunity to rant. Not only do I have to take the SAT tomorrow, but I’ll be missing my fencing lesson to do it! It’s really annoying.
Well, I just finished reading my whole book for the forth time! Or is it the fifth? I keep losing track. Anyway, point is, I’m closing to being done! (If that’s possible; I’m still not sure.) I made a lot of changes, but mostly little ones. Nothing changed majorly; other times I’ve had to rewrite whole chapters and change events, but fortunately things seem to be in their proper order now. Now I’m having my dad read it, and together I’m sure we’ll make good progress. I don’t see the end coming soon, but we’ll get there. Eventually. By myself I’m catching a lot of problems, but there’s always things you just can’t see that really stand out to other people. Most of all I’m glad to have someone else to discuss things with, because sometimes you’re not sure if the reader will see what you see. There are some parts I’m just not sure on. This time around I made some great revisions, but there’s still more to be done to get it just right.
When moving through various stages of character development, always be sure there’s contiguity. I’ve never devised a character yet that ends up the way I originally planned them. Sometimes they don’t even stay the same in the transition from my mind to the page; often I’ll imagine them in my mind one way, and they’ll come out entirely different. Plot and characters depend upon each other; plots grow and change to accommodate characters and the characters will evolve and change to help the plot. Thus, if your character is required to talk to a lot of people and do it well, it wouldn’t make much sense for her to be shy. If in the first draft you describe her as shy and then in later drafts have her be very socially comfortable, it’s going to seem silly to the reader, and make any previous descriptions contradictory. Remember, actions speak louder than words. Change and develop the character as the story grows. This may mean old drafts of a chapter have to be trashed or completely redone, or that the plot or even the ending redirected, but don’t try to fight it; if you let them, your character will naturally become exactly who they need to be, and the best version they can.
Oh dear. It’s April Fool’s Day. Fortunately for me, my sister, the prankster of the family, is feeling ill so she won’t be pulling anything on me today. Or, at least I hope not. She’s a crafty one.
Well, anyway, I finally made it through Part One and am now in Part Two, which, as we all know, is so much more awesome. Part One is necessary and has its good moments, but when I start to read Part Two, I’m like ‘oh, yeah, this is where it’s at.’ I think that maybe Part One is finally strong. Of course it’s going to need more work (it always will) but I think now it’s solid and won’t need any more major renovations. There is a weak section that my dad and I will have to consider carefully, but other than that I think (fingers crossed) it only needs minor work. I really really want it all to be over and done, but I don’t see that happening soon. I just gotta keep working at it.
So, as it stands now there are 77 chapters, 700 pages, and over 200,000 words.
Well, I’ve long since finished my new prologue and though it still needs some work, it’s a much better way to start the book. So I’ve moved on to editing the rest. It was difficult at first, but I wrestled through the slow, tiresome editing to get to the easier, more fun stuff. Part One really isn’t as fun and engaging as Part Two, so it’s harder to get through, but that’s why I’m excited to work at it and make it better. Editing can be a drag sometimes, but on the other hand it is a joy for a writer to see her work improve. It can be embarrassing to see just how bad your writing was, but to fix them is a wonderful experience.
Monday my dad and I finally talked about the prologue of my book, something I’ve been anxious to discuss for a long time. I wasn’t satisfied with it at all, but I wasn’t sure what to do about it or even what it was missing. We finally agreed that instead of trying to fix up the version I have now, I should just completely start afresh from a totally different approach. Don’t tell him, but I took my brother’s advice and started the story from the bounty hunter’s point of view, which, once it occurred to me, really makes a lot of literal sense, since it’s very important to understand this character; starting with him just makes sense since the story’s about him anyway.
So I enthusiastically started writing the prologue, only to find, to my dismay, that I couldn’t get passed the first word- that word being ‘Prologue’. Since then I’ve gotten down five paragraphs or so, but it’s just not coming to me. It doesn’t feel right, or maybe I just have so much to say I don’t know how to say it. I’ll get it right eventually, but for now it’s painfully slow.
Yesterday I finally got to the end of my story! I must of read a dozen chapters and over a hundred pages, but it was easy because I had finally gotten to the fun part! Everything was more natural and the words flowed easier. Most of the chapters were already pretty well structured and didn’t need much editing at all, so it all flew by. Right before then I was tackling the hard, emotional stuff and then I was finally in the clear where it was just action and dialogue. Things were much simpler. But now I have to go back to the beginning and read it all again. That’s okay, but it was a bit of a shock to go all the way back there again. Things were quite different; characters changed more than I remember they had. It feels like even my writing style is different. I’ll have to consult my dad about that. I shudder at the prospect of rewriting that, but I may have to. We’ll see.
Meanwhile, I’m thinking about what would be the eleventh book in the series if I manage to continue the story after this yet unnamed masterpiece of mine. I know, I haven’t even been able to finish off the first one, and I’m thinking about the eleventh?!?!?? But that’s the way my mind works. Besides, it just really interests me and I keep thinking up new things that will happen in it! In addition to that mad endeavor, I’m also planning out my western novel. It’s not really a western, since it doesn’t even happen on earth, but it’ll remind you of one if I ever write it. Hmm, come to think of it, I’m actually writing the sequel of that one… Oh well, it’s been too long since I’ve written in a notebook anyway. And it was a good excuse to write in the language I made up. It’s really just different symbols for our own letters, but it’s got slightly different grammar rules; for instance, the sound a vowel makes will determine where it goes. It’s been really fun doing that.
Can you believe Lent starts tomorrow? That sneaked up fast, didn’t it? I’m giving up music for Lent, primarily, and it’s not going to be easy, 1 because I listen to music all the time, no exaggeration, and 2 because I just got an awesome new CD from my favorite band. But, of course, if it was easy, it wouldn’t be a sacrifice, would it? The harder the better, right? I’ll keep telling myself that.
A site to talk about Dragon’s Heart, writing tips and tricks, events, the publishing process, upcoming books, and me. Get to know me better and learn behind-the-sceens of all my books.