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Writing Process Update – Revision Stage!

  • March 23, 2015

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).


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.




Fiction Friday

  • September 3, 2010

I’m sorry I haven’t been doing a better job of blogging. I really meant to but the house has been so nice and quiet with the offspring in school and I’ve been trying hard to finish the second draft of my novel.

I finished about an hour ago.

I also wrote the epilogue, which I hadn’t yet, not even in rough draft form and it made me cry so I hope that’s a good thing. Actually I’ve cried several times when writing this book and I have no idea if that’s normal or not.

I hope it is.

I am feeling pretty good today, now that I’ve reached this point. The book is not done, it still has to be revised and edited and polished and read by those who have graciously offered to give me feedback, but I am really happy to have made it this far.

I printed it out, all 356 pages. They won’t fit in the binder Lauren decorated for me but that’s okay.

I’m just glad I have them.

Have a great holiday weekend everyone!


Fiction Friday!

  • August 27, 2010

I know, I missed last Friday. It’s been crazy around here. The offspring have been busy guilting me into taking them swimming and to the mall and out for fancy lunches and to the place where we painted our own pottery and the zoo and the bookstore and a whole bunch of other places because, “Mom, school starts soon and we haven’t done ANYTHING ALL SUMMER! Which, hello? I totally beg to differ because all I’ve done this summer is drive them all over town bleeding money and don’t forget the trip to Disney World that jump started their summer vacation.

Ungrateful little mess-makers.

Seriously, the idea of hiring a nanny next summer and paying her to drive them all over town while I work has crossed my mind.

But! School started two days ago and I.Am.In.Heaven. You know I love the offspring with all my heart but my tolerance for their knock-down-drag-out fighting and whining and yelling is at an all-time low and frankly I’m surprised I didn’t start swilling wine as soon as the school bus pulled away from the curb on Wednesday.

I didn’t, yanno, in case you were nodding your head and thinking, “Yeah, that totally sounds like something Tracey might do.”

I wrote instead. Approximately 2,500 words.

Frankly, I had been a little worried about my WIP. I found it hard to write the last couple weeks of summer vacation. I was tired of snatching two minutes of writing time here, or fifteen minutes there and having my train of thought constantly interrupted. I started to question everything about my novel because I was so used to it pinging around in my head constantly that when it wasn’t, I worried I’d lost my focus and might not have what it takes to finish and I’ve got way too much invested in it to quit now.

Luckily, the one thing I needed to pick up steam again turned out to be SILENCE and I’m thankful for my (now) quiet house. And I’m back in the groove so my head is all crowded again but that’s fine with me.

I am still working steadily toward the completion of the second draft. I have about 10-15k words left to write (give or take) and I’ll be done with it. Then the real fun starts – revision. I’m actually looking forward to this step because I’ll have the major creation of drafts 1 and 2 behind me and will move on to the editing and the tweaking and the polishing. Then my readers will get a copy and then I can start final edits.

I’m in a good place. The three days I’ve had to write this week have done so much for my confidence and reminded me why I started this project in the first place.

Because I just love to write.

Have a great weekend everyone!!


Fiction Friday

  • August 13, 2010

Happy Friday the thirteenth everyone!

Hey, you know what sucks?


Yeah, it’s really hard and I’ve hit a rough patch. You know how I was all “Oh, I’m just gonna write to the end of the first draft and then start the second?”

Yeah, well, there was a lot of writing left to do. There’s a big difference between knowing what’s going to happen and actually writing it.

As I mentioned last week, I’ve been getting up at the ungodly hour of 6:00 AM to write before the offspring saunter into the family room demanding that I turn on SpongeBob. The problem is that I’m in such a groove when they come down that I wish I didn’t have to stop. And sometimes I don’t. I’m amazed at how much writing I can do with so much background noise.

I have no intention of stopping as I’m certain I will reach my goal of finishing a novel and querying agents. I’m just not sure of my timelines anymore. And that’s okay because there’s nothing worse than an undercooked novel.

But it’s kicking my ass right now. I won’t lie.

I think the best remedy is a two-day hiatus from writing, a big glass (or two) of Sauvignon Blanc, and reading a novel.

I just started Girl with The Dragon Tattoo. Something better happen soon.

Just sayin’.

Also, Suzanne Collins’ Mockingjay comes out August 24th and the offspring go back to school August 25th. Don’t call me that day. Don’t text me, or tweet me, or e-mail me. Don’t ring my doorbell. I’ll be on my patio reading to see who Katniss chooses.

*crossing fingers* Please be Gale!

Have a great weekend everyone!!


Fiction Friday

  • August 6, 2010

Happy Friday peeps!

I don’t have a lot to report on from the fiction front other than to say I’m still plugging away on my second draft. I’ve been waking up around 6 AM most days to get in a few hours of writing before the offspring come downstairs and turn on SpongeBob SquarePants and as long as I don’t get lured away by the shiny Internet, I can usually meet whatever word count goal I’ve set.

I read something on Absolute Write that really resonated with me this week. Someone posted about not putting too much stock in critiques of your work done by other fiction writers. Writers all have a personal style and a favorite genre and if your chapter or novel doesn’t match up well with either of those things, the critique can leave you feeling dejected and suddenly doubting any word you’ve ever written. The post pointed out that it’s often readers that give the best critiques because they are able to see the story and not get hung up on technique. That’s not to say that writers don’t give great crits, it’s simply a reminder to have a mix of both.

My sister Trish is the only one who has read anything from my novel. I chose her because she has no tact whatsoever will be honest with me and not pull any punches. It was her enthusiasm about my first chapters and my premise that helped motivate me to continue writing and I was very appreciative of her feedback. Trish will probably always be my first reader. Cowboy Dave also fields his share of questions regarding my male main character and whatever he can’t answer, my pal Google does. If you pulled up my search history right now you’d be all, seriously, wtf?

Hopefully I’ll have something for Trish and my other readers to read by the end of September but if it takes longer than that, well, that’s okay. If there’s one thing I know it’s not to rush the process.

That’s all I’ve got today – Have a great weekend everyone!

Fiction Friday

  • July 30, 2010

Happy Friday everyone!

Before I get to my weekly fiction update, I thought I’d let you know that my other blog, the one I’ve spent time working on this week instead of writing entertaining new blog posts for this blog, is coming along. If you see any links posted, here or on Facebook, and the title has a word in it that rings a bell, click on it. It’ll be a work in progress for a while but eventually, I’ll get everything transferred. Also, the ‘hood is a happy place right now because a certain “problem couple” was told by the fine men in blue to STFU and quit calling them. I think the final copper counter was somewhere around 12 with the last 7 calls coming in over a 5 day period(none of the them involving my address, somehow) but geez, it was crazy here in the ‘hood for a while.

Ah, revenge is a dish best served cold with alcohol.

As for my novel, I am making great headway on the second draft. I am about a third of the way through it and hoping to have it finished by the end of August. I also wrote my query letter this week. A query letter, for those who may not be familiar, is a business letter you send to agents. Its goal is to get the attention of the agent, tell them what your novel is about, and get them to ask to see more.

The first two paragraphs introduce your main characters and give a brief summary of your plot. After that you give your book’s genre and word count and list your publishing credits (hahahahahahah).

At the very end you ask them to contact you if they would like to see the completed manuscript.

Lots of writers feel the query letter is harder to write than the book. I somewhat agree. It doesn’t take as long but if it doesn’t work, agents won’t request your manuscript. Luckily, there are several online query critique options available to help you make it the best it can be.

The next couple weeks will be spent trying to meet my second draft deadline and hopefully, getting some more blogging done.

Have a great weekend everyone!


Fiction Friday

  • July 23, 2010

Happy Friday everyone!

Sorry I haven’t been blogging much. I really want to but I’m afraid to take my laptop to the pool ’cause I heard they don’t work well when you get them wet. It’s been so hot in the ‘hood that the offspring and I have had to escape to our local aquatic center to avoid melting.

Now that I’m writing my first novel I’ve been spending a lot of time reading agent blogs. There are a lot of good tips and I enjoy reading them.

Especially this one.

If you have time, read all the entries. They’re hysterical.


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!

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