Thursday, April 29, 2010

Me on Self-Editing

or, why i'm feel nauseous when i have to edit something i wrote.

i don't really know what my deal is with editing. probably cause i've never really had to do any major editing on something. except for this past semester when i had a first draft due early March and had to edit it by mid-April.

for some reason, probably a bad one, i'm used to writing something once and not going back to check it or edit it.

i've also had little workshop critique experience, so i've never really had a lot of edit suggestions from other people.

the other day i finally realized that what i'm working on now will need lots of editing. i've written bits that, while i put them in there cause i thought they should be there, i know that they don't totally need to be there.

when i'm done this first draft/zero draft, i really want to print it out and write all over it with a pencil and a pen, marking it all up.

i'm still sort of afraid of doing it. i know what i want to put in it, but will it be what someone wants to read??

the best I can do it edit it to where i totally love it (and hopefully not take forever), then send it off to find an agent who totally loves it, too.

i can only hope i don't totally suck at self-editing.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Me on Twitter

it's okay. i use it mostly for babbling. i babble a lot, but that's not the point.

okay, so i don't use it mostly for babbling. i'd like to think i use it for future networking when i've finished my current WIP (and i mean finished like written and edited and polished to the best of my ability) and start querying agents.

it's also a way to secretly stalk authors and writers who write books i like. :D

maybe stalk isn't the right word, but it's made them a lot more accessible as well as a lot more human. after taking English lit classes in a university setting for the past few years, and after being in university for the past six, it's bizarre when you have to make assumptions on what the author's beliefs were when they're Charles Dickens or H.G. Wells or William Shakespeare.

following writers on Twitter, from published to hopeful nerds like me, makes everyone sound human and fallible. i'm not perfect, and seeing published books in bookstores that are the same genre i'm writing in intimidates me.

plus i'm 23, so i've got most of my life ahead of me, but when i read about teenagers getting multiple book deals for their first novels, it sucks just a bit, knowing i lacked the motivation to finish writing something earlier and query sooner. but it's good for them. they deserve some props.

(my first actual novel was written in high school and should be burned. it's that bad, trust me.)

Twitter also makes it possible for the writers to hear from the readers about what they really think. sure, they could get slammed, but i bet they really love it when they get a reply from someone who said they just read their book and loved it. i don't think i've done that yet. probably should. (*wave to Becca Fitzpatrick and Maggie Stiefvater because i loved both Hush, Hush and Shiver, i'm waiting not so patiently for the next books ;) *)

because i'm always on Twitter, i'm going to copy and paste some good tweets i read over the past few hours (feel free to find me on Twitter at @writing_goober and go through my who i follow list for more Twitter fun):

@mstiefvater: Sharpie on laminated bookmark is slippery. I have signed my desk twice by accident. Come back, you little bugger.

@tawnafenske: Agreed! I will join you in your noble battle. RT @DanKrokos: The skinny jeans plague must be stopped.

@ScottWesterfeld: Some sequel ideas for Jude the Obscure: Ned the Mundane, Jill the Obtuse, and Mel the Unkempt. #hardyharhar

@HeidiRKling: I'm writing a scene that takes place on one of these: SO FUNNY

@emilytastic: I feel like 80% of my friends/Twitter feed is at LA Times Festival of the Book. AND I AM CRAZY JEALOUS. #latfotb #grumpyface

@heatherbrewer: The lady behind me just said "I cheated on Michael". *gasp!* I wonder who he is & if he knows! #soapoperaairport

@melissa_marr: For the not-yet-pubbed writers out there: Harper is doing a contest where the prize is crit notes from me.

see, Twitter isn't so bad, except for when the Fail Whale appears.

stupid whale.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Me on Writing and Motivation

it's been a while since i updated this thing. probably should, since it's the weekend and i'm not really doing anything.

i should be writing, working on my WIP, but i'm not. it's because i'm a slacker. sometimes i wonder if i've got the right work ethic to be a writer. i've barely got the right work ethic when it comes to cleaning up around the house.

i have to drill into my head that having the Word file open does not mean i'm writing. i can think about what i want to write next, what chapters and scenes will come after the one i'm currently working on, and i can write down outlines in little notebooks at 3 in the morning, but when i sit down to write my brain freezes and i start playing games instead (the current game is Virtual Villagers 4).

i don't recommend anyone writes where i currently write: in an armchair in front of the TV. my laptop's plugged into a nearby outlet, and so i sit in the chair and write. well, sometimes write. the past few days when i've tried to write something, i've barely averaged 1000 words.

what i need to do in order to write more each day and treat my WIP as something serious that I want to query to agents once it's written and edited and polished to the bast of my ability is to take my laptop back up to my room. TV is terrible when it sucks you away from writing.

i imagine that if i had an actual real serious deadline for my WIP i'd be writing a lot more, and i'd have a lot more than 15,000 words written.

i did that NaNoWriMo thing one year and hit the 50,000 word mark after 20 (or 25, i don't remember) days. of course, that was when i wasn't working and didn't have class that semester, but i still did it.

with me not having class right now and work not a whole lot except 1 or 2 afternoons a week, i should be able to write more than what i'm writing now.

i'm sick and tired of not writing when i should be. after dinner, i'm taking my laptop upstairs to write more than 1000 words tonight.

i need to write. i have this compulsion to write, but i also let things get in the way of me writing.


until dinner, i'm going to try writing, finish watching Dogma (so funny), and play some more Virtual Villagers.

and maybe babble some more on Twitter.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Me on Novels versus Short Stories

Since I prefer novel writing, I enjoyed what Hodgins wrote in his “Structure” chapter in A Passion for Narrative. There’s always been something about novel writing that appeals to me more than short story writing. You have to limit yourself in short stories, you have only one or two points to discuss, and you have a few characters to introduce. In a novel, you can introduce many characters, have more than one setting, and have a variety of ideas and plot points to show the reader.

I don’t mind reading short stories, especially ones that are connected to other stories I’ve read or ones that end with a joke, but I don’t think I like writing them. I could write and write for pages and pages, but with short stories there’s usually a word limit, maybe 5,000 to 10,000 words. Novels are often upwards of 90,000 words long, with a number of chapters. Novel writing makes more sense to me. I can tell a story for a longer period of time, drag it out, tease the reader with twists and turns and red herrings, and end it with a satisfying ending (that might hint a sequel).

What bugs me about short stories is that I always have the ‘what happens next’ question after I read them. Sometimes they end abruptly with only solving the main problem, and I always want them to continue on with the story so the plot can keep on moving.

With novels, just about every question is answered at the end, satisfying the reader, and what isn’t answered can lead to a continuation of the series.

I think I’ve got a strange fascination, or obsession, with writing and reading series of novels. There’s one big story that involves all the same people with different personalities, and in each book there are little stories that move the big story along. It’s like watching a TV show, only there are words and no pictures. Well, often no pictures.

i hope you people are enjoying these forays into my brain. i can be odd at times, but i hope these bits make sense.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Me on Setting

Sometimes it’s hard for me to describe the setting of a scene when I write. I can see where the characters are in my head, and I can write what they’re thinking, saying, and doing, but describing their location is often an afterthought. I forget that not everyone can see all the little details I can see in my head.

In regards to my workshop assignment (my current WIP), I imagine not everyone saw the posters taped to the walls inside the school, the papers tacked to the cork board of the classroom, and the grey clouds, heavy with rain, hanging in the air outside the building.

Writing a descriptive paragraph, or paragraphs, isn’t hard, but I have issues in terms of selecting geographic locations as my setting. It’s difficult writing about a place I haven’t been to before, and so when I have to guess it feels awkward in my head. I tried setting a novel I wrote in 2006 in Dublin, Ireland, but I had to guess a lot in terms of building size and street layout because I hadn’t ever been there. I actually made it to Ireland in 2008, and it wasn’t at all what I expected. Of course, I probably should’ve looked online for pictures of the city, but at the time, that never crossed my mind.

At a writers’ conference last October, I overheard two women talking about one woman’s manuscript. She had set half the novel in the US and half in Thailand, but she’d never been to Thailand. When she pitched the manuscript to a literary agent the year before, the agent asked if she’d been to Thailand, and the woman said she was going in a few months. When she returned from the trip, she rewrote almost everything and set the entire novel in Thailand.

I think you have to have been where you set any piece of writing, whether it be an apartment, a house, a farm, or a different country. Unless you’ve seen the buildings and smelled the air of the location, you can’t describe it accurately enough when you establish setting.

happy Easter weekend. enjoy the chocolate.