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Fiction Friday

  • July 14, 2010

Happy Friday everyone! It will be a busy weekend for us because Matthew turns eleven today and this weekend is all about him with a family party tonight and a sleepover tomorrow. Sniff, sniff, my little boy is growing up!

It’s been a good writing week. I didn’t get as much blogging done as I wanted but I’m really happy because I finished the first draft of my novel a little ahead of my August 1st self-imposed deadline.

I think I have already mentioned, ad nauseum, that I don’t know what the hell I’m doing and I’m learning as I go. And for some reason I got really antsy this week and just started “writing to the end.” A lot of the final chapters are only three or four paragraphs (to capture the main idea). I wanted to know where I was with the pacing so even though it bothered me a little to have such a skeleton version of the final chapters, I did it anyway. Then I asked Dave, “what should I do?” Should I go back and expand those final chapters before I start the second draft or should I just start the second draft?

Dave was, as always, worried that it was a trick question or at the very least, completely rhetorical, so he suggested I ask someone else. I posted the question on the forums. I got lots of helpful answers, about the methods everyone uses, but it really came down to “You’ll just have to figure out what works for you.” But, um, I don’t know what works for me ’cause I’ve never done this before.

So, what I decided to do was go ahead and start the second draft. I had things in the first that I already knew were going to be changed and moved around and deleted so I opened up a shiny new document and started writing.

I’m glad I did. When I first started writing this book, I decided to tell it in first person, past tense, from the point-of-view of my thirty-year-old female main character. But about a third of the way in, I decided it would be even better if I did alternating points of view with my other main character, a sixteen-year-old boy. That meant I had some chapters to fill in so I went back through the first draft and, at the top of each section or chapter, reminded myself whose POV I wanted it to be in.

The first chapter is told from her POV but the second is now from his. In the first draft, the second chapter was only 284 words (I inserted one of those paragraphs to remind myself what needed to happen and then I moved on). When I re-vised chapter two on Tuesday, it grew from 284 words to 1,110 for a gain of 826 words. That made me really happy because, not only was it a way to show the voice of the other main character early-on, he was able to provide information that was missing before. I am happy about my decision to do the dual narratives and wish I had thought of it sooner.

The second draft is going to be harder. As I mentioned, not only are there summaries that have to be expanded into whole scenes or chapters, there are also places where I wrote “show don’t tell this here” or “use more description” or the even more worrisome “more!” so now I have to do that. I’m also a little worried about word count. The first draft came in around 60,000 (once I added 8k from my “scenes to add” document) but ideally, I want the word count of the final draft to be approximately 80,000 so hopefully all the things I need to add will get it where it should be while also allowing for the words I’ll need to cut.

So, that’s where I’m at this week. Hopefully I can keep moving forward and also try to get some more blogging done next week. And start that super-secret blog I hinted at because, holy smokes, that story needs to be told.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Fiction Friday And Some, Um, Other Stuff

  • July 9, 2010

Good morning everyone, welcome to Fiction Friday!

Today’s word count on my first-ever attempt at writing a novel is 47,597 or 7,597 more than last Friday. That makes me happy because it means I’m still on track to finish the first draft by August 1st.

As I mentioned last week, I’m an outliner so I pretty much already know what’s going to happen. However, new scenes, or things that can be added to existing scenes often come to me when my mind is idle. When I’m getting my nails done or taking a shower and especially when I’m driving in the car, scraps of dialogue or ways I can improve the overall structure of the book come to me and I rush to write them down before I forget. I have a “scenes to add” document with another 8k words in it that will be woven in during the second draft process. The middle of the night is also a popular time for my mind to turn over things, especially if I’ve been writing before I go to bed. I used to be the world’s greatest sleeper but now I have a raging case of middle-of-the-night insomnia that can only be cured by firing up the laptop and writing down whatever I can’t get out of my head.

I’ve heard about other writers saying things like, “My character demanded that I write more about him or her”, or, “a character just refused to act the way I thought he or she should” and I was always all, WTF? Is your keyboard possessed? But this week it happened to me for the first time and it was pretty cool. A character who had, up until now been hanging out in my “scenes to add” document as “blonde girl” introduced herself to my male main character at a party. Huh. I didn’t even know she was going to be there. She wasn’t due to make an appearance until much later. Then, one of my supporting male characters stole the scene he was in so I wrote him a bigger part. He’s been in the book since the beginning and the scene I wrote for him in the final chapter is one of my favorites (it’s hanging out in the “scenes to add” folder too).

This is the part of the fiction writing process I didn’t expect and being surprised by a character and having a really good scene float into my head is what keeps me going. I’m excited to see what else might come to me when I least expect it.

And I can always sleep later.

Okay, on to some other things. You may or may not have noticed that 13,000 words of this blog are no longer here.

Thirteen-fucking-thousand. It pains me to even write that.

However, Dave and I felt it was best to take some preventive measures so those 13k words are hanging out somewhere else for now.

I think I’ve made the decision to split this blog in two but I’m not sure how long it will take to do that and I have some technical issues I’ll need help with. I’ll pass on more information about that when I have it.

The counter is up to 8 (from 4 a couple weeks ago). We were not directly involved in the increase although it is a good indication of how far-reaching the actions of desperate people have become. The ‘hood is sitting at a code level orange right now.

And I think I speak for all us when I say we’re pretty pissed about that.

Welcome To The First Ever Fiction Friday

  • July 2, 2010

Hey, remember when I used to have Flashback Friday? But then I quit doing it because several of my girlfriends were all, “Oooooh, I’m gonna send you some pictures to use for Flashback Friday but then they didn’t *coughAmyandStacycough* and I kinda ran out of funny old pictures of me from the eighties so I just quit coming up with new posts?

Well welcome to Fiction Friday which is really nothing like Flashback Friday except that I’m going to try and put up new posts on Friday (sure, like I haven’t said that before).

I’ve been sitting on this post for a while because I wanted to get my blogging groove back a little before I mentioned the main reason I took the last four months off from posting. I’ve already said I was a little burned out and busy with the first full time job I’ve had after being home with the offspring for ten years, and that’s all true, but there’s another reason I didn’t post anything for a while. Remember when I said a few posts back that writing a novel and querying agents was on my bucket list? Well I decided I’d better get started because that book was not going to write itself.

I’ve been working hard on it and as of today, I’m approximately 40,000 words in which is roughly half of the 80,000 words I need.

What a process.

I am learning how to write a novel as I write a novel, if that makes any sense. I think taking writing classes is great and you can even get an MFA if that’s your thing, but nothing can teach you as much about writing as novel as sitting down and writing one.

I spend a lot of time over at and cannot say enough about the excellent feedback and assistance I get from the wonderful writers that hang out there. If I’m not writing, I’m over there learning something new.

I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned it, but the whole reason I started this blog was to have an outlet for my writing, to get it flowing again after years of putting it on the back burner because the offspring needed my attention more than my writing did. And the blog ended up being a blast and I met so, so many cool people who reached out to me and for that I am totally thankful and blessed.

But fiction was always the one thing I wanted to accomplish. And let’s face it, I’m not getting any younger. And I know some of you would like it if I wrote a book about the Yeti but that’s just a lawsuit waiting to happen (sorry Elisa and Jules!).

Right now, I am totally immersed in getting my first draft written. There are two types of fiction writers, outliners (people that have a pretty detailed outline and know their beginning, middle, and end) and pantsers (who have a general idea but just sit down in front of the computer and start writing, letting the characters tell them where the story is going – flying by the seat of their pants, if you will).

I’m an outliner and the challenge for me now is turning that outline (really just a 5K word summary) into an 80K word manuscript. Once that’s complete, I can turn around and rip it apart. Move scenes, improve the pacing and flow, and layer in description.

And edit. Oh my God, the editing. My first draft needs a lot of things to turn it into the second draft and I can tackle that head on as soon as I get the first draft done (self-imposed deadline: August 1st). Then it’s on to the second draft which is when it will get really hard but really fun. My motivation to power through the rest of the first draft is the excitement I feel when I think about being knee-deep in the second. About how the manuscript will change and grow and become that much closer to the final draft.

The art of writing is re-writing and there is a commonly held belief over at Absolute Write that you can’t revise a blank page so just get it down on paper and go from there. I totally agree.

Do I think it’s the next hot best-seller?

Oh hell no.

But what I do believe is that I can actually be one of those writers who finishes the novel they started.

So, that’s what I’ve been doing for the last four months. And I thought you might be interested in coming along for the ride. It’ll be super fun. Or filled with rejection.

One of those.

But even if every single agent I send my query letter to rejects me, I can still say I wrote a novel.

And that binder I told you about, that Lauren decorated with the kitty stickers?

It’s filling up. And that makes me super happy.

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