Posts Tagged ‘editorial revision’

The Big, Bad UGLY We Don’t Talk About: EARLY WRITING

Tuesday, June 7th, 2016

How to explain how planning and prepping and early drafting for a new novel feels…?

It’s like finding out you’re pregnant, I guess, and wondering what your new baby will be like. Or graduating from college, hoping and dreaming about that first/new job. Or meeting the man/woman you think will be your soul mate, and wondering if your life together could really be that amazing.

Or, if you’re an angsty writer not liking not knowing if what you’re doing is going to suck EGGS, like this.

head in hands

Or this.

crazy writer

Or this.


I’ve written 27 wildly successful novels, by many’s standards. I’ve often made a living creating something out of nothing. Which is decidedly more often, lucky me, than most who get a hankering to write a book and embark on the crazy journey I’m on.

How can I still be so nervous? Worried? Troubled to my very core, so much so that I can’t really write deeply yet, because all the reflections on the surface keep shimmering in and out and away from me, too quickly for me to see clearly.

You know you want to do what you’re doing. You’re dying to get see what the beautiful thing your creating will be, once it’s done. And you’re petrified. You’re feeling less than. You’re stumped as to how anyone could possibly think you could do this. Or is it just me?

fear what would you do if you weren't afraid

We sense the danger of being wrong, of failing, of not living up, I think. (more…)

How We Write: Revising WITHOUT Fear

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

I received editorial revisions the other day. I’m a multi-published author. So, no big deal, right? WRONG. Revisions are hard. They’re built that way. If they were easy, everyone would be published traditionally and selling millions. And any working writer that tells you differently is just plain fibbing.This post is for everyone who wants to see their words in print, the published and the unpublished and the newly “WINNING” nanowrimo masses and those who think it’s always easier in someone else’s writing reality. 

rewriting R

The reality is, the better you revise, the better your book will typically read for your reader. The more push it will have from your imprint. The more established you will find yourself within the very small world of publishing. Those who’re self-publishing without the benefit of a third-party editor, you’re in the same boat, except that you have to see the holes in your story that are more and more difficult to see the deeper you get into creating it. So we all schedule and accept it into our process the way you do everything else right?

revisions calendar

Yeah. No.

Why is it so hard?

Two reasons, one that veers toward mechanics and one that takes a head trip inward to the heart of all that we do for our creative dreams. (more…)

How We Write Wednesdays: Love Your Backstory, Make it Shine

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

How We Write’s focus turns to backstory this Wednesday. Jenn and I have talked planning and plotting and revising and characters and story structure. But what about working what happens BEFORE, into your story’s now? That can sometimes be as much work as all the rest–combined.


You may have noticed my blog’s slowed down the last few weeks. Why? I’m heads down into the most complicated proposal I’ve written yet (and that’s saying something considering I just finished Sara and Maddie Temple’s story), and I’m trying to sort through everything I’ve been researching and planning for the next three books in the Legacy series and start the story, set the story, yet propel the characters through the first three chapters of the story without dampening the kick-ass pacing of the psychic thriller/magical realism my readers have come to crave.

I teach “free writing” to my students. To write to the end before you go back and revise. But I always qualify that I first get through the proposal stage. The initial 50 – 75 pages. The three chapters my agent needs (along with the BEST synopsis of the full story or series I can write) to sell my books to my publishers. Those first three chapters are an art form, a story, all to themselves. They need to establish your story not just for a reader, but for the editor you want to buy your manuscript.

You’ve heard me say it before–how you handle the inciting incident has plot and character ripples that flow through the middle and most importantly the dark moment and climax of your story. But it’s not just that. Weaving in the backstory of your story, intriguing the reader without revealing too much, all while you’re being sure to tell them enough at the exact moments they need to know… The finesse and delicacy in which you do this is part of your voice. And it has to change in subtle ways with each story. You can never be too careful or creative about how you handle it. You can’t just dump in the “goodies,” then get back to the creative work of telling your story. Some of the most creative writing you do comes when you craft the past into your on-the-page world.

Theres’ no quick and easy way to describe how to handle the “no dumpage” mandate for backstory, or how to work around the “show don’t tell” rule we’ve all had beaten into us. What a surprise!

type keys

There are no simple rules for backstory, any more than there are for anything else. If you don’t give enough in the right places, you frustrate and lose your reader. If you throw to much at the story when it’s not needed in ways that don’t fit your characters and world, your pacing crawls to a painful halt. (more…)

How We Write Wednesdays: Plot Points You Toward Better Drafting

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

I asked the #weWRITE faithful on Twitter what terms and trending craft topics did they want us to explain in more detail. The top choice? Plot points, and how come they’re so important to the escalating tension in a story. It sounds basic, but Jenni and I have learned, just like every other working fiction writer, that you can never take for granted just how important the basics are.

First, let’s start with quick glimpse back at where How We Write Wednesdays (HoWW) has already been:


In March, Jenni covered basic story structure terms. It’s a great blog on the “secret” to discovering your own writing process (because as much as we like to teach together, we’ve learned that we plot very differently). Go back and read it for that insight alone. But within the post is an excellent summary of the basic turning points within a novel: Inciting Incident, 1st Turning Point, 2nd Turning Point (also known as Midpoint), 3rd Turning Point, Dark Moment/Black Moment, and Climactic Scene. This  is a purely external way to look at the bones of your story. What happens and how each major thing that happens is connected to the next (and the last) one.

In February, I shared my “Character Chart” that I use to plan/plot my characters’ emotional arc through the beginning (Inciting Incident), Middle (2nd Turning Point) and end (Dark Moment/Black Moment) of a story. Take another look, to get a refresher on how I chart my characters’ internal growth through the three most important turning points in a novel, long before I figure out exactly how I’m going to motivate the character(s) externally.

So, that’s the basics, at least the way we seen them. But what does it all mean, when you’re looking at planning/plotting, drafting, and revising your own story? (more…)

How We Write Wednesdays: Draft Free, Revise Strong…

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

Drafting with creative freedom is key. Writing without constraint. Drafting without clinging too tightly to planning or expectation. BUT we’ve said over and over on How We Write Wednesdays (HoWW)–you have to revise every rough word you draft. How do you lay the groundwork for the “rework” you know needs to be done, while you’re giving your stay committed to your creative freedom?

Jenni’s taking the lead over on her blog, revealing wondrous and amazing secrets for how she spreadsheets and charts her way into keeping track of story while she writes it. Me? Remember I’m a geeky, techno-loving girl who while drafting must continually slap my hand and let go of the overly organized stuff that enables the more analytical side of my brain. So nix on the forms and charts for me. But keeping track of changes I see coming and new things I draft into the story on the fly is still key. But I had to find a way to do it that wouldn’t break the delicate flow of my drafting…

draft free

So, what do I do?

I’ll talk more about it on Twitter, using our growing #weWRITE hashtag where writers from all levels of experience are sharing their writing process and learning from ours. But, to keep things simple here, let me say that I keep up with everything I’m learning as I draft a story in Microsoft Word.

Using the “Notes” toolbar/feature, which enables you to leave searchable notes you can easily track and keep up with, here’s the basics:

  •  Whenever I recognize a change that needs to be made in something I’ve already written, I leave a note where the change first needs to be implemented. I DON’T make the change, just the note.
  • When I introduce something completely new into the story (a new character, unexpected scene, different detail or symbol or mannerism, etc.), I note where it first begins and from where it needs to be worked into the stroy, then move on.
  • (more…)

How We Write Wednesdays: Let’s #weWRITE our way to a new draft!

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

It’s been four months of HoWW craft talk, from characterization to planning to rewriting to drafting. Amazing! And Jenni and I are amazed by the growing enthusiasm for our #weWRITE Twitter hashtag. It’s time to put our money where our mouth is, and challenge our readers and fellow writers to WRITE EVERY DAY for a week. Not for a month. Not an entire novel or story. Not a perfect draft. Just write, fearlessly, until you plug into the energy that calls you to create.

This year, more than any other, that’s what this blog has been for me. If you follow my Revising a Yearseries, you know I needed something to daily inspire me to re-engage my creativity. I challenged myself to write something interesting and meaninful and creative, every day. And the various categories to the right have been buckets of inspiration that refuse to let me off the hook when I sit in front of a blank screen and the doubt demons begin to weigh in on whether I can put imagine on the page that anyone in their right mind would want to read.

Not just How We Write, though working with Jenni on this series has been an amazing experience. But talking about my teenager’s quirky view of life, and about the crazy things I hear throughout the day, and my shoe obsession, and how Publishing Isn’t for Sissies, and my personal challenge to visit all the waterfalls I can reach in North Georgia,  Tennessee, and North and South Carolina. And some of the most amazing mornings have been writing about the dream theories and psychic realm parapsychology that thrives in my psychic fantasy novels.

But… That’s not getting the next book written.

once upon a time

Sure, I’ve worked on several proposals that are now with publishers. Still, the need to write books is always there, waiting for me to dive back into that flow. And I know many of you are in the same place daily. Will I write today? Will I make real progress toward my daily goal? Will I make that book or story or whatever real, when it only exists for now in my head???

So. Here we are. We’ve talked the basics of writing craft. Jenni and I already have plans to cover more formal story structure, etc., because we get so many questions about the terms and techniques we use. And we’re approaching other authors to join us for guest blogs over the summer, to share how THEY write. But that doesn’t get those words on the page, and filling that page with amazing story is ultimately what HoWW and #weWRITE are all about. (more…)

How We Write Wednesdays: I Draft. You Draft. He, She, We and They Draft…

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

We all draft story differently. We all find our own way to create something magical from raw creativity and intuition. HoWW today is about finding your own way to draft AND helping each other grow!

Jenni shared last week all the amazing, structured, spreadsheet-y ways she keeps up with details while she writes “freely” during her drafting phase. It’s pretty impressive. I tried it that way for a few books–NOT a pretty picture, me drooling in the corner, clutching all my charts close and whining because I can’t be creative with the analytical part of my brain engaged…

But I’m REALLY glad it works so well for Jenni, and that she looks so cool and professional with all her screen shots and all. You know, while geeky little me left show and tell behind when I was talking planning and rewriting, and all I’ve got to share now is my, “I can’t do anything but free write when I’m drafting, or my imagination shuts down…” advice to share.

Let me look. Maybe I have an image to help you visualize what I’m feeling as I write this…


No, it’s not that bad.

But Jenni and I DO draft that differently. She has to keep up with the details or she shuts down. I have to write blind, or I never let the details of what I’ve planned and already written go long enough to actually create something new.

If you’re someone who starts a book and months (even years) go by and you never get any further than chapter three or four, you might be one of “my” people ;o)

More than that, if you find yourself stopping your forward momentum too often and never achieve a rhythm in the drafting phase of your process–if you never feel that swell of knowing you’re in the right place with your story and you could keep writing forever it feels so good–SOMETHING is stalling out the imagination and confidence that feeds you.

If that’s the case, then it’s time to take a closer look at how YOU’RE writing. (more…)

How We Write Wednesdays: The ONLY WAY to Draft Your Novel

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

As promised, today’s the start of our all-in, sure-fired, do it THIS WAY month of novel drafting instruction. Because if you don’t do it THIS way, you’ll fail. What way? YOUR WAY.


one way

Yeah, this month’s blog courses won’t be any more straight-forward than the last three (which are summarized at the bottom of the post). Jenni’s starting today with a great discussion of her drafting method. So NOT my method, because she’s still all about spreadsheeting and outlining when she draft writes, and geeky me can’t let myself go there while in this “in-between” creative place.

In between planning and rewriting, I have to stop thinking. No, I don’t actually turn my brain off. But I do have to tone down the analytical volume of my cognitive thinking, so that juicy imagination takes over. I’ve tried it Jenni’s way. And, I know you’ll find this hard to believe, her very structured method of drafting doesn’t work for me. Spreadsheets and outlines are like crack for a mind like mine. I’d be hitting that pipe all day long, while  never giving free rein to those characters and settings and turning points I planned for.  The creativity that comes second to my nature, behind the drive to understand EVERYTHING before I write anything, would never take the wheel.

Jenni and I aren’t polar opposites in our process. We share many of the same drafting techniques–and I’ll get to them next week when it’s my turn. BUT, we each have our own individual method. No matter how many times we talk and compare notes and critique for each other, we’re never tempted to trade in our individual approaches to writing story for the other’s. Because doing exactly what she does would stall my creativity, and vice versa. We have to understand and trust our own writing strengths and weaknesses and own the drafting approach that gets us to the end of that “ugly” first draft with the best story we’ve ever written.

And so do you.

stop signs

The only GUARANTEED method of drafting success is your method. Your way. (more…)

How We Write Wednesdays: Rewriting and Planning–Bookends for Drafting

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

I’m wrapping up revisions today and making plans for May’s Drafting HoWW lessons. Yes, Jenni and I taught planning first, then rewriting, and next we’ll do drafting. Messed up?  No. Why? Because your plans and your faith in your ability to deconstruct and rework a novel are the bookends of your process–mastering these first two techniques frees you to draft without constraints.


Think about it. Once you plan as carefully as time and tolerance allows, you have a game plan. If you’ve invested in your process enough to be confident in your skills as a rewriter–of anything, no matter what you come up with–then there will be no anxiety waiting for you at the other end of your drafting. So what’s to stop you from writing free, using your plotting work as a guideline?

I teach students at my workshops and weekend retreats that how we approach our writing is a metaphor for how we approach life. Everyone’s blocked by something. Everyone fears something. (more…)

How We Write Wednesday: Discovering What You Don’t Know

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

Revision is discovery? Yes. Revision, once your manuscript is complete, is about understanding, FINALLY, what you didn’t fully realize about your novel while you were planning and drafting. Revision is getting it. It’s triumphing over the unknown that threatened to overwhelming your story while the big picture once eluded you.

Jenni has the reins today, and her HoWW blog post is a triumph of inspiration and mining deeper into her process. Which, I assure you, will be different than your revision process and my revision process and your critique partner’s revision process. But she’s as committed to revision as I am. As we hope you will become. We both see as much value in rewriting as we do planning and drafting. We both hope you’ll make it as much a part of your process as you can.


Don’t fear what you don’t yet know about your story. Embrace it. Dig deeper. Discover the revision adventure you’re about to embark on with your WIP. Understand more with each pass through your manuscript and your writing process. Make your creation even better. So your books will be even more amazing. So we, the readers, will take a more breath-taking ride with you than ever before!

Embrace what you don’t know at the end of your rough draft. It’s your greatest opportunity to create magic. Your instincts are honed. Your characters and plots and settings are finally on the page. All the raw ingredients are primed. It’s time to season everything and add just a dash more of what you held back your first pass through the story. Basically, to add just one more metaphor ;o)–when you revise, you’re cooking with gas! 

Don’t miss the power of this vital step to your writing process. Make the time. Revise and discover the amazing things you’ve yet to write in your WIP!

Once you’re finished reading Jenni’s post, catch up on the rest of our  HoWW lessons. The come back next Wednesday, when I’ll be wrapping up our revision discussion here and talking about what’s coming in May ;o)

April’s Revision Adventures:

March’s HoWW plot speak:

February’s Character (and critique/brainstorming) posts: