Writing Process Update – Revision Stage!

Here’s another update for those of you who enjoy hearing about my writing process.

I’ve completed the first draft of my new book. I actually typed THE END almost two weeks ago, but then proceeded directly to the second draft, also known as the beginning of my revision stage.

Which I love.

The first draft is where you meet your characters and learn about their world.

Revision is where you find your story.

I feel – very strongly – that this stage is the most important part of the entire writing process (and for me it’s obviously the most enjoyable). You find out a lot about your characters in the first draft, but in order to develop them fully – to give them dimension, to make them leap off the page, to ensure their actions make sense – you need to be able to look at the story –and the active role your characters play in it – as a whole. And I really can’t do that until I’ve written the first draft.

The first thing I do when I start the second draft is send the first draft to my Kindle. Then, as I read the entire manuscript straight through, I highlight sections and take notes, adding them to the items I’ve already listed in my revision checklist. For example, there is an element of the hero’s backstory in the first draft that is totally cliché, and I’m sort of embarrassed that I couldn’t see it. But that’s one example of why revision is so important. Often the first idea that pops into your mind is the one everyone would probably think of, so it needs to be replaced by something not quite as obvious. A character’s backstory is part of the reason they act the way they do, and – bonus! – the element I came up with in the second draft actually makes more sense for the hero. Double bonus – it added some more dimension to a secondary character as well. This is the power of revision. 

I mentioned in my earlier updates that I’d written a synopsis of this book for my agent, and that it had really helped give me a road map to follow as I wrote the first draft. But with the good comes the bad, and there was one particular plot point in the synopsis that really didn’t work the way I needed it to once I’d written it. And that drove me NUTS because it was a pivotal plot point and I thought it would be so awesome when I finally got to write it.

But it wasn’t awesome.

At all.

Because by the time I wrote it, I knew a lot more about my characters and their motivations. And the reactions of both characters in this particular chapter didn’t really ring true for the stage they were at in their relationship. This realization was incredibly frustrating and at first I tried to force a solution, which only made it worse.

Last week I was on vacation with my family for spring break. I had lots of time to let my mind wander and when the answer finally came to me, I realized where I’d gone wrong and what I needed to do to fix it. But I was only able to do this by looking at the story as a whole (and allowing myself the necessary time to figure it out). Interestingly, I had originally planned for this chapter to occur earlier in the book but then moved it a few chapters later. This no longer works, so I’m re-writing the whole chapter and moving it to where I’d originally planned for it to go. Sometimes this is the only course of action and I’m just thankful it was one chapter and not half a book. However, any time you pull a plot thread you run the risk of loosening something in another location, which means I now have a few other things that also have to be changed and moved.

That’s okay. That’s revision.

One of the other things I’m able to do once I have a completed first draft is look at my story arc. I like using a three act structure (you may need to click on the picture to see it better).

3-act-structure

This doesn’t mean it has to be followed 100%. But it’s a great way to see if I’ve got rising action (including enough smaller conflicts), a big enough main conflict, and a nice wrap up.

I hope to be done with my revisions by early May. Then I’ll send the manuscript off for beta feedback. After that, I’ll write the third draft, do a hard line edit for grammar and rhythm, and give it a final polish. This is why I’ll probably always be a 1 book a year (or maybe 1 book plus a novella) author. I’ve learned (the hard way) that I really do need this much time in order to be satisfied with a book.

I would love to give you more details about this book (including why I decided to write it) and hope to do so in the next couple of months. I can tell you that it’s not The Girl He Used to Know, which is what I had planned to write next. I’ll still be writing that one, but not until I’ve completed my current project. This new book is straight-up adult contemporary romance, which is something I haven’t done since On the Island (at least in a full-length novel). After the heavier subject matter of Every Time I Think of You, I really needed to write something a little lighter (and I think my readers are ready for that, too).

In one word, this book is fun. The hero and heroine have lots of dialogue (and banter!). There is an external conflict in addition to the romantic conflict, which is my favorite kind of contemporary romance. Many of you have asked for a bit more steam, and I tried my best to kick it up a bit. However, you still won’t see certain words because I don’t think they’re necessary, nor do I personally find them romantic. The heat level of this book is similar to Jill Shalvis (who’s an author I love).    

So there you have it! I’m very excited about sharing more on this project in the coming months.

Tracey

 

 

Fiction Friday – What Am I Writing Now?

Happy (fiction) Friday, everyone!

I’ve been getting a lot of questions about what I’m working on now, so I thought a Fiction Friday post would be the perfect way to let you know. 

When I’m in the drafting stage of a new book I don’t usually talk about it that much. It’s not that I’m trying to be secretive, it’s just that for me, the drafting stage is a very solitary endeavor. I might bounce things off members of my writing group, like POV questions or other technical things, but for the most part I spend a lot of time in my own head, just thinking. What I’ve found is that if I try to tell someone what my book is about before I’ve finished writing it, it will sound kind of stupid. I have a tendency to leave out key things when I’m describing it and there will inevitably be a lot of, “Wait. There’s something else that happens before the part I just told you about.” The end result is that the premise will sound like it’s all over the place.

Then, the person I’m telling it to will look at me like this:
 
 
And then I’ll want to do this:
 
 
 
 
 
 
So that’s why I don’t usually share much about the manuscript until it’s done. Not even my husband really knows what this next book is about. I mean, he knows the high-level plot points, but that’s about it.
 
But here’s what I can tell you: My new book is a contemporary romance (it could also be described as commercial fiction or possibly even romantic suspense). There is a mystery element with this book because the inciting incident (the event that sets the plot in motion) involves a crime being committed. The victim of the crime is the female protagonist’s grandmother (who has raised her). The male protagonist is a crime reporter. So these two characters will be spending quite a bit of time together, and the way their relationship will develop reminds me a bit of T.J. and Anna. By that I mean that their relationship develops alongside other things that are also happening. But unlike T.J. and Anna, these characters are fairly close in age (he’s thirty-five and she’s thirty). The female protagonist also has a three-year-old son from a previous marriage, which gives the story a bit of a Jerry McGuire feel that I especially love. I still don’t have a title, and I don’t have a publication date or any publication details. I will share all of these things when I know them. For now, I’m just focusing on writing the book.
 
The book I’m going to write after the one I’m writing now will probably be categorized as women’s fiction (like Covet is). I love the song “Same Old Lang Syne” by Dan Fogelberg. Here’s part of it:
 
Met my old lover in the
grocery store
The snow was falling Christmas Eve
I stole behind her in the
frozen foods
And I touched her on the sleeve
She didn’t recognize the
face at first
But then her eyes flew
open wide
She went to hug me and she
spilled her purse
And we laughed until we cried.
We took her groceries to the
checkout stand
The food was totalled up and
bagged
We stood there lost in our
embarrassment
As the conversation dragged.
We went to have ourselves
a drink or two
But couldn’t find an open bar
We bought a six-pack at
the liquor store
And we drank it in her car.
We drank a toast to
innocence
We drank a toast to now
And tried to reach beyond
the emptiness
But neither one knew how.
 
That, in a nutshell, is the premise of the book I’m going to write. I don’t have a title for this one either, but I have a loose outline and a document full of notes.
 
So there you have it! I’m very excited to share these upcoming books with you. Please remember that things can and do change, but this is where I’m at today.
 
Have a great weekend, everyone!
 
xoxo,
 
Tracey