Progress

I’m dropping in to blog for a few moment I am in the final stages of a re-edit and have been nose to the grindstone for three months now. I have gone through the MS but found organizational errors in the third part so I had to pay particular attention to the timeline and straighten it out. I need to print out the changes and go through them one more time. In the past I rushed through and it only serves to stop the writer later on. Diligence and painstaking methodical writing is what is needed to insure the MS stays out of the slush pile.

I realize that my MS may still end up there, however, I know I dotted every i and crossed every t. I would know that in my evaluation of another failure that it wasn’t from skimping. However, that is not going to happen this time. I usually am a positive thinker, so I must remain so. It has been a long time since I wrote a query, that will be my next step. I plan to find ten agents to submit to. I already have all I need for this story. I only need to rework the synopsis, log line, and query. That will be interesting reading the docs I sent previously. I should have a better, more concise way to introduce my MS.

If I have any advice for someone in my shoes or just starting out, it would be to focus and keep writing. The blogging is important and as I have said many times it is key to perfecting the art of writing, however, it is distracting and a commitment that should only be second to your dream of being a writer.

I feel as though I have made so much progress. I have learned so much from the other media platforms but I haven’t felt so accomplished as I have by the intense focus I have dedicated to writing and concluding my story.

And, I am well aware that once I get through the hurdle of agent representation and a publishing contract there is going to be more editing to be done. Which brings up another point. The line between letting go of some of your efforts and staying true to your ethic. That will be a whole other area of experience that I’m sure would be interesting to blog about. I hope I have such a road to cross someday.

Coming up for air

I didn’t plan to blog at this moment. I checked in to see comments and I had several good comments and questions. I have been tearing up my MS for the past three months. I’m finding I’m making progress. If you’ve been following me there are many suggestions to follow, as well as mistakes I have made. My biggest mistake, I think, was jumping the gun and submitting work that wasn’t complete. I have been nose to the grindstone. I picked one of my stories and applied Diane O’Connell’s tips in her Novel Maker’s Handbook. Yes, I even took each scene and made a color-coded system for POV (129 scenes) with the seven elements that are required in a dramatic scene written on each. Who, Where, When, What, How, Why, Want and Obstacle. Similar to the Goal, Conflict, Disaster Scene and the Reaction, Dilemma, Conclusion Sequel format, yet different. Each element is needed for a compelling page turner.

This past weekend I completed another read through, out loud with a friend. A very good friend. My sister who is monumental in giving a subjective view of my story. It’s difficult to get someone to read a well marketed best seller, let alone a rough draft that may or may not be marketable or readable. I am halfway through going over the corrections and suggestions of my 63,000 word MS.

Earlier, in my blogging I truly felt the raw writing was helping me hone my craft. Each step was necessary, but I went and pitched a Sketch Draft, thinking I was ready.

I recently learned that a Sketch Draft is what I ended up with after four months of raw writing. My blogging style. I am a pantser after all. I have come to these conclusions after reading the Novel Maker’s Handbook by Diane O’Connell that I highly recommend, by the way, if you haven’t figured it out. There are several chapters building up to the first draft. Character; details on knowing your characters, even their likes and dislikes, Scene; building vivid scenes and compiling all these elements into a MS.

Yes, I have over simplified the process. Reading this helped me to see the error of my ways. Also, I read every day. I have stopped all other Social Media and distractions. I have about one more month to dedicate to this story, then I will apply all I learned to the MS that I submitted for edit and want to re-edit with a little more substantive direction.

Follow me on Twitter. @SNomakeo. I haven’t been doing much but I do read tweets and have found some great info.

Plotter or Pantser?

Does a pantser ever change? Can a leopard change his spots? I first learned the term last summer at the WD Conference. I blogged a little rant about it earlier. I am definitely a pantser although, I don’t particularly care for the term, it seems to have a negative connotation attached to it. Both ‘terms’ are at either end of the, ‘I plan every step’ to ‘I plan nothing’ spectrum. I’m reading the Novel Maker’s Handbook by Diane O’Connell and trying to take the advice to heart. I just completed a stack set of scene cards, color coordinated by character covering all 129 scenes in my 63,000 word novel. It took me a week of long hours and hard work. It was a good feeling to see my novel in a stack of colored cue cards and then laid out on my kitchen table. The process does make the scenes and their merit or lack thereof, stand out.

The author, Diane O’Connell, goes through a step-by-step process of writing a novel. Most of the suggestions have a similar way of putting together a story as others I have read online and implemented previously. However, I wasn’t familiar with the process and this informational guide seems to have come at a time when I’m more ‘willing’ to try something, anything to get my stories past the slush pile.

Another step is the Sketch Draft, basically the first draft. A framework of the novel. Done, just as it says, in a sketchy, loose, and fast format. Compared to, by the author, as a pencil sketch an artist may use to layout the map for his final product. This is what I’m thinking my first drafts of all my stories represent. The next step is the Write with Feeling Draft, where the framework is filled with feelings of the characters usually in First Person Singular POV. This step, as well, is most likely included in my first draft–without the ‘I meant to do that part’ I’m thinking that somewhere in my MS the elements are there I only need to draw them out. I can only hope.

My novel Summer Palace, Historical Fiction Fantasy, has been my focus for the past three months. Originally, a short novella now barely qualifies as a novel. I’m trying to mold what I have into the framework of the process covered in this handbook. When I am done. Hopefully, within the next month. I plan to upload it to PandaMoon.com for review and then start the ominous task of rewriting my Fantasy, Time Travel, Science Fiction  Places You Will Be From the subject of the editing services I received from Diane O’Connell.

My novel, at this very moment, is a 17,000 word WIP cut from a 55,000 word MS to be focused on the first quarter of my original story. The final needs to be at least 70,000 words. What I’m learning with the process on Summer Palace will be applied to Places more closely following the steps recommended.

I haven’t been doing much with Twitter, Facebook, YouWriteOn.com, or blogging. I have been concentrating on my book. I haven’t entered any contests or sent out queries. I want the satisfaction of a completed marketable novel.

Thanks for reading, keep the comments coming.

Learn Something New

I’m reading through a text book that was recommended to me. It’s the Novel Maker’s Handbothe book by Diane O’Connell. I’ve mentioned the book before, but working through it has helped me to clarify. 1) I am definitely a pantser, I still am not fond of that term, but the author uses it, quite often, the other half of the club for novice writers is the plotter. Which I definitely am not. I don’t plan for anything. 2.) My topic – POV. I have tried to make heads or tales of that concept. I thought I’d sit down and write a novel without one consideration of how I wanted to write it.  However, there are rules and not following said rules can make for a confusing Hodge-podge of words. I am attempting to write in Third Person Multiple, which can be considered omniscient except the POV needs to be limited overall (up to five) and only one per scene. So I am going to explore an idea I have using the 3pM format. Every edit I have done so far was doable, but I had to keep in mind that the POV in the scene cannot read the mind of the person they are engaged in a dialogue with. They can only hear what is being said, witness body language, and can only analyze their own thoughts. So with that in mind I will attempt it out of the box.

Her place of solace was her own chamber. She would spend hours in the window seat looking out her window. It was a ritual she had developed by necessity. Away from the scrutiny and comparisons to her sisters by her mother. Years ago her brother left a picture book behind and she quickly absconded with it and tucked it away. She would often be positioned in her window seat with her feet above her head, ankles crossed, and petticoats drawn back to expose the skin between her slippers and shin–reading the book. Her brother had read it to her on visits so many times that she memorized the words and began to recognize them on sight. The corresponding pictures, barnyard animals and green countryside, also gave clues to the words she began to know. She played games with the words and watched the seasons change while hidden behind the veil of the window dressings that concealed her space.

She could never be caught in such an unladylike position and slipped the book underneath the cushion at a moments notice. Instead of learning an instrument or endless hours of needlepoint she wore the pages of her book to a much thinner and creased version of itself.

She calculated the routine of the servants, who cooperated with her by their structured schedules. She knew when they would come and go, what areas would be skipped on a certain day due to a more pressing obligation. It was those times she would sweep through the servants quarters looking for journals, newspapers, and flyers. Anything containing words she could make use of.

Once in a great while her father would come up to the terem and spend time with her. Her mother would not approve of the individual attention he would give her. She would simply attribute her mother’s objections to her unusual interests and pastimes so foreign to her she couldn’t bear it.

“Father, where is Pavel?” she asked not so much for the fact that her father alone wasn’t enough for her entertainment, but she wanted to know what he did on a daily basis.

“He’s with his tutor, Katia. Same as every other time you ask me.”

“What is he learning today?” she asked.

“He’s with Moncliff, so it’s mathematics I believe,” he said.

“What does he need to know that for?” she asked.

“Katia, you have too many questions. Show me something you’ve done.”

“Why father, I’m observing,” she went to her window and opened the Damask drapes and voile panels. “I had Trudy open the window, can you smell it?”

Her father stepped by her side and breathed in the fresh air. It was pleasant enough and he looked at her sideways and smiled.

“It’s Spring, it’s quite a different smell than Winter. Of course, I can’t have my window open when it’s cold, but sometimes Trudy freshens the room and I love the smell of the clean cool air and the patterns the frost makes on the window.”

“Katia, you remind me so much of…my mother. I wish you could have known her. You have her coloring, but she was a very sensual woman as well. She loved the sights and sounds and…life, she loved life. She was taken away from me far too soon. She would have loved you, too.”

“Why do you only talk about her when we are alone? Wasn’t your mother…?”

“Now, Katia, we don’t mention her to the others because…it’s our secret. Our little secret. The others would feel bad because they look nothing like her. So, we’ll just share her between us. All right? Well, Katia, I have to go collect Pavel, he’s coming with me into town.”

“Why, can’t I ever go into town with you?” she said stomping her foot.

“If I bring you, I’ll have to bring everyone of your sisters including your mother and the maid servants.”

“Father, that used to work when I was small, but now? What is the problem? Why can’t I spend more time with you? Outside of this?” she spread her arms out wide and turned in a compete circle ending in his caress.

“Katia, you are my precious girl,” he said. “Too precious to take outside where there are those that could harm you.”

She looked at him with one eyebrow raised.

“Well, dear,” he said taking her to the door of her chamber. “I have to speak with your mother before I leave.” he said and she walked half-way down the hall and let go of his hand. He disappeared around the corner and she turned to go back to her room that still held the essence of her father mingled with the Spring air coming in through the window of her private world.