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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Slice 'n' Dice

The new book is coming along nicely. If you had asked me about it over the weekend, my answer would have been different. After slogging through it for a while (and abandoning it in favor of my knitting projects) on Saturday, I finally finished the second chapter and started a little of the third (and posted that little snippet from where I'd left off on Sunday). I'd had this book mentally planned out for ages and had just been waiting to start it after the house stuff settled down. I couldn't figure out why I was having such trouble with it. At first, I blamed losing the nice momentum I'd built up at the beginning of the summer on the move. But something just didn't seem right.

I looked at the beginning of Chapter Three. I thought about what I had planned for Chapter Four. Even though I pretty much knew the response I was going to get, I made a post over at the Absolute Write forums. They confirmed my suspicions: I simply started my story in the wrong place.

I won't lie, parting with my original vision wasn't completely worry-free. No one really likes to admit that something they put a lot of time and effort into simply didn't work out, for whatever reason. I chose to look at it this way: if I was getting bored writing it, it would be ten times more boring for the reader. Wouldn't it be a lot less painful to just cut it now rather than getting feedback later about how the plot was slow to start and the whole book was just difficult to get into?

I didn't completely erase those two chapters, as they could prove useful somehow down the line. Even if I don't use everything in them, I don't consider them a complete waste of time. I moved them into a separate file called "unnecessary prologue", as that's what they really were. However, while the information in them may be unnecessary for the reader, it gives me a clearer picture of some of the characters I want to portray.

As soon as I got rid of those chapters and retitled Chapter Three as Chapter One, I immediately felt a million times better. Much like with the aforementioned knitting, cutting can be a scary thing. Frequently, though, the results are worth it!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Widget is an Awesome Word...I mean, Come Win Stuff!

Now that I'm at the mailing address I plan to use for the REST OF MY LIFE, I was finally able to order some paperbacks! I'll eventually host a giveaway here, but I'd been curious about the Goodreads giveaway system. In addition to everything else, they provide a fancy schmancy widget to post on your website, so let's try this out! You have a week to enter!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Edge of the Sphere by Thea Landen

The Edge of the Sphere

by Thea Landen

Giveaway ends September 01, 2012.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Sunday, August 26, 2012

My Own Personal Cliffhanger

I generally don't set writing goals for myself. If I say I want to write 1000 words a day (which I consider pretty good for myself and the way I write), I'll just get more frustrated if I don't hit that mark. Don't get me wrong, there are definitely times when I think, "Hey, I really want to finish this chapter today!" Sometimes it happens. Sometimes it doesn't. I'm not saying that setting goals is a bad thing, either. I just don't want the added pressure.

When it comes down to it, the reasons for not writing and/or hitting those goals doesn't matter. Sometimes I get on a really good writing kick and then I realize it's late o'clock and the husband wants to go to bed and I have responsibilities in the morning as well. Other times, I'm just feeling uncreative and unmotivated and I've spent the day zoned out to video games.

There are days when just opening up the Word document to start writing feels like an epic battle. Worse is when it's open and staring at you and NOTHING is coming to mind. (Which begs the question: why can't all of those brilliant ideas that keep me awake at night come to me when I actually have time to write them down?)

One technique that works well for me (in certain situations and when I remember to do it) is to not finish the thought or idea I've been working on before I call it quits for that particular session. It doesn't have to be a major cliffhanger every single time. But if I leave it unfinished, then I'll know exactly how to start up again when I come back to it, and then I've gotten myself into the writing routine with little difficulty.

Last night's example:

The door opened behind them. “I thought digging in the dirt was going to be my job today,” Callum said, chuckling. When he turned around, he saw Meyta had something in her hands.

Now, if you were reading this, I'm going to assume you wouldn't just stop there and put the book down. What's in her hands? Is it a good thing or a bad thing? Is it worth millions of dollars or is it going to jump up and bite Callum in the face?

Again, not the most significant cliffhanger in the world. But I know what she's holding, even if I haven't written it down yet. So those are the last words I wrote last night, and as soon as I finish this blog post, I generally know what words are coming next. With luck, the words after that will come to me more easily.

(Have I done this before, opened the document the next day, and have zero idea what I was planning on doing next? Oh, I'm sure I have. Some cut-off ideas are more specific than others.)

Monday, August 20, 2012

Clearing the First Hurdle

The new house is mostly unpacked, the Olympics are over [hurdle joke goes here], so I guess I need to start writing this next book!

Okay, I started already. I have a chapter down. Truth be told, I am not completely enamored with it. It's easy to get frustrated and shove the document to the side and pretend it doesn't exist. I keep trying to remind myself that I wasn't crazy about the first chapter or so of The Edge of the Sphere either, and that got a lot better (or at least I hope it did).

I'm one of those people who needs to write in order. With every story, there are parts that are very detailed in my head, and I'll know exactly what I want to do when I get there. Usually those are important/climactic scenes. I know myself, though. If I jump right into those scenes and have my fun right away, I won't want to go back to the "boring" parts. I'm also concerned about the overall flow of things if I tried to write out of order. Don't get me wrong, I edit the crap out of everything and I've definitely shuffled scenes around and reorganized chapters (and sat down and pulled my hair out when I realized my initial plans weren't working out so well). But even if I know my final scenes are going to be AWESOME, I hold off on writing them until I actually get there.

In a way, it's more satisfying to write that way. Pretend I wrote some insightful commentary about how we've become a culture focused on instant gratification and no one has any patience these days. When I finally get to the scenes I've been looking forward to for so long, writing becomes an exhilarating experience. I know what's going to happen at that point, the words practically write themselves, and it feels so, so good.

(And with the type of books I write, things should feel good....)

Monday, August 13, 2012

Multi-Tasking Like a Champ

Phew. I am exhausted. The house is shaping up nicely, but there's still a lot to be done. The kitchen is mostly unpacked and organized, and that is filling me with glee. I estimate I might actually feel like cooking dinner by Wednesday or Thursday! I'll tackle the bathroom tomorrow after our trip to IKEA for more bookshelves. (And really, who doesn't love IKEA? Watch us come home with a carful of stuff.)

I've been itching to write, but I'm so tired, I don't know if anything I put down would be coherent right now. It feels like I've been waiting for an eternity to start my next book, and I really hope I'll be able to do so by the weekend. I'm toying with the idea of trying something crazy - while I'd always sort of known which idea I was going to work on next, there's a second one fighting for prominence in my mind. I try to maintain "project monogamy" in both writing and knitting, but I'm really considering working on both simultaneously. They will be very different in tone, and I think the balance could work out well for me. Or it could turn into a colossal disaster. We shall see!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

An Excellent Reason to Take a Little Break!

I've been working mainly on some shorts (just to keep in shape, nothing I'll post here) and holding off on starting my next book because I knew I would need to take a break around this time. It's for good reason, though - we bought a house! I'm a homeowner! Yay! (with a little bit of "eeek!" thrown in there)

The rest of this week and next week will be devoted to moving allllll our stuff, cleaning up the apartment, retrieving everything we stored at my parents' house, and setting up the new place. There might also be a couple days when I disappear from the internet entirely when we switch the accounts over. (Days without the internet? I hope I survive! Though that might be a fine time to get some writing done.)

I have all these great visions of sitting out on the deck, a pleasant breeze drifting by, with a cool drink in my hand as I write. Granted, it might be a more quaint picture if I were the pen-and-paper type of person, but it'll still be nice enough when I drag the laptop out there. The neighbors' kids might be screaming and their dogs might be barking, but I don't care. I'm just glad to finally have a deck and a backyard!