Rewriting. What to do and when to stop.

I love rewriting better than writing the first draft of my novels.

  • First I’m much more relaxed because I know the hard work of getting the storyline on “paper” is done.
  • As I rewrite I find mistakes and have a feeling of satisfaction when I fix them.
  • I find little treasures like a paragraph that I can rewrite using dialogue rather than boring narrative, and I’m pleased with myself for figuring that out.
  • I can’t believe I fell for the use of other words as dialogue tags instead of “said” and “asked” and I fix those, reaffirming that I can make the dialogue do the job of expressing the emotion rather than relying on the dialogue tag to provide it. Fancy words like “inquired” and “replied” just slow down the action. “Said” and “asked” are more like punctuation—necessary, but meant to be glossed over. This is also the place where I look for “ing” words and get rid of them if possible. (For example: “I’ll be right there,” she said, putting down the phone.) If she was putting down the phone when she was speaking into it, I wonder if the other party even heard her.
  • I look for repeated words and try to avoid using the same words or expressions in one paragraph. Repetition becomes obvious immediately when reading your work out loud.
  • Speaking of repetition, character names are often overused, especially in dialogue. Have you ever noticed that when you’re talking to someone, you rarely speak their name? The other person knows you’re talking to them and you and that person both know his or her name. Why would you keep on saying it? So for natural conversation, use the other person’s name sparingly. I often have to take out names in dialogue, and in narrative sections I replace them when possible with he or she.
  • In dialogue, the sentences should be fairly short. I need to check for long sentences that give a lot of information. People just don’t talk that way. Often they use only one or two words or phrases. Besides, short, snappy dialogue heightens the tension and that is what every author is striving for.
  • In the rewrite, I can also add little tidbits of description of people or places, but I try to be careful to do it in small doses. Long descriptions have a huge “yawn” factor.
  • When someone speaks, they may have some physical or emotional reaction that should be added, usually before the quotation. This is a good time to add that information.
  • As I reread my first draft, it’s important that I remember which point of view I’m in. I’ve made some awful POV mistakes that my critiquing buddy or I have found. For example, if I’m telling the scene in Andrea’s POV, I can’t write a thought that is happening in Jim’s head. Andrea has no way of knowing what he is thinking. I’m so thankful to have the opportunity to fix POV problems before publication and save myself some embarrassment.
  • Now that I’ve mentioned my critiquing buddy, I have to say that my writing efforts are made so much easier because of her. I try to do the same for her and it makes us a great team. If you don’t have a writing buddy to exchange files with and help each other out, it’s very much worth your while to try to find someone who is willing to work with you. I find my buddy’s help invaluable! Oops! She’ll say not to use exclamation marks unless it’s for a one- or two-word expression, but in this case, I do want to stress that her help is invaluable!

 Most authors are perfectionists and they tend to rewrite over and over. I’ve heard it said that an author can tell that they’re finished rewriting when they end up with what they originally wrote in the first rewrite. I wouldn’t go quite that far, but sometimes you wonder ….

What Inspires Us?

My guest today is author Sharon Black. I’d like to tell you a little bit about her.

Sharon grew up in Dublin. She studied history and politics at University College Dublin and then did post-graduate in journalism at Dublin City University.
She has worked for national newspapers, including The Evening Herald and The Irish Examiner.
Sharon had short stories published in U Magazine and won the 2010 Dromineer Literary Festival short story competition.
When she is not writing, she reads, walks, and sees friends. She co-founded a local book club 14 years ago. She loves theatre, old Hollywood films, science fiction, and good stand-up comedy.
She lives in a Dublin coastal village, with her husband and their three children.

 

Sharon 254 ac

Going Against Type is a romantic comedy, set against the backdrop of Dublin newspapers.
It’s the story is of two rival newspaper columnists, who write under pen names. Unknowingly, they fall in love with their bitter enemy: each other. They have good reason to keep their alter egos safe, so as their relationship blossoms, each is blissfully unaware of whom the other is. Until they are forced to reveal themselves….
My inspiration for Going Against Type, was the 1940s Hollywood film, Woman of the Year, starring Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracey. Hepburn played a high brow pundit, who rubbishes sport in one of her columns. Tracey is a sports columnist, defending his beloved sport. In the film, however, they meet quite quickly and despite knowing who the other person is, they fall in love.
In Going Against Type, I turned the stereotypes upside down. So Charlotte ‘Charlie’ Regan is the sports buff. At the beginning of the story, she is given a chance to write the new, anonymous sports column, Side Swipe.
My hero, Derry Cullinane is a fashion writer and also writes the back page gossip column The Squire for the rival paper. They fall in love, but they don’t discover that they’ve fallen for their bitter rival.
That build up was fun to write, but very challenging. Charlotte and Derry’s columns had to be sharp. That way, you could see a huge contrast between their weekly banter in their columns – and how they were with each other. It also meant there was more at stake.

 

Going Against Type by Sharon Black - 500

 

Excerpt:

‘I hope you like Mexican food,’ said Derry as they drove from Charlotte’s house into the city centre on Thursday evening.
‘Well, I’d love to try it,’ Charlotte said, uncertainly.
‘Maybe another time, so. We’re actually going Greek tonight,’ Derry deadpanned.
Charlotte smiled and snuck a glance over at him from the passenger seat of his twelve year old, very beautiful Ferrari. She placed her hands tentatively over her stomach, trying to calm her nerves.
She’d spend an hour readying herself, much to Helen’s amusement.
‘Why are you so nervous, Charlotte? It’s just a date!’
‘Oh come on, Helen. The last guy I dated was Mr Uptight Conor, and before that I dated sports jocks. Derry is different. He’s Premier League status!’
‘And you’re Scumthorpe United? Take a look at yourself, woman!’
‘I’m not sure what he expects, but I’m not his type, Helen. I’m floundering.’
Helen caught Charlotte’s hands and forced her to meet her gaze.
‘Don’t you dare run yourself down, Charlotte Regan. You’re intelligent and totally gorgeous! But you need to do one thing!’
‘What?’
‘Allow yourself to be a woman! How do I put this without you taking it the wrong way? Don’t talk sport all night. You are incredibly bossy when you start. Let Derry take charge a bit. Allow him to be a man!’

*****

amazon.com

amazon.co.uk

Work in Progress

Renee

Renee Rivers

Renee Rivers has tagged me to participate in a “Work in Progress” blog tour. Renee is almost finished writing a book that I can’t wait to read. Find out about it by clicking her link here: unpacked writer.com

The “Work in Progress” blog tour rules:

Link back to the post of the person who nominated you.

Write a little about and give the first sentence of the first three chapters of your current work-in-progress. Some writers give more than the first sentences, and I like that idea, too.

Nominate some other writers to do the same.

My nominations are:

Patricia Sands at http://patriciasandsauthor.com/

_DSF0005

Patricia Sands

Patricia Sands lives in Toronto, Canada, when she isn’t somewhere else.  An admitted travel fanatic, she can pack a bag in a flash and be ready to go anywhere … particularly the south of France, for her annual visit.

As of January, 2015, along with being a proud indie author, Patricia is also delighted to be under contract with Lake Union Publishing for her Love In Provence series. This is the women’s fiction arm of Amazon Publishing.

With a focus on travel, women’s issues and ageing, her stories celebrate the feminine spirit and the power of friendship. Encouraging women of all ages to stare down the fear factor and embrace change, Patricia has heard from readers (men too!) ages 20 to 83.

Her award-winning debut novel The Bridge Club was published in 2010 and the audiobook, read by Patricia, will be ready by December 2014.

*****

Darlene Jones at https://emandyves.wordpress.com

Darlene - beach [1][2]

Darlene Jones

Darlene says:

A long time ago, I lived in Mali. Every single day, I wished I could wave a magic wand to relieve the heart-wrenching poverty. The story line of my books reflects my desire to wave that wand and make the world a better place. If only wishes could come true. And of course, every novel needs its love story, so along with the sci-fi magic, I’ve added the requisite romance.
I’ve always believed we can’t be the only beings existing in the vastness of the universe. There must be others “out there somewhere” and I brought some of them along for the ride.The setting stays, for the most part, within the realities of our world, but I’ve found that I love the magic the sci-fi element of other beings can bring to the story.

*****

I was thrilled that these accomplished writers have agreed to take part in this work-in-progress blog tour. Please stop by their sites and get to know them and their work.

*****

Anneli[7]

Anneli Purchase

And then there’s me. I live on Vancouver Island, where I write and work as a freelance copy-editor. I have always loved animals and the outdoors, so much of my writing reflects that. I have three novels published and am working on my fourth.

My “work in progress” is just that — in progress. I have finished the first draft but still have a lot of work to do before it’s ready for publishing. In a way, it feels wrong even to “publish” anything about it on my blog, but as long as you understand that there are still big changes underway, I don’t mind sharing some of my first efforts.

The story is a sequel to The Wind Weeps. It is meant to continue that novel and resolve some issues that were purposely left unfinished.

My main character, Andrea, is no longer as naive as she was, and is making better decisions in the sequel. She is still trying to avoid being found by the husband she ran away from. It is difficult to tell much about the sequel without spoiling the first book, so suffice it to say that the sequel continues where the first book stopped, and resolves the situations that developed in both novels.

Here are short samples of “not polished” beginnings of the first three chapters of my WIP.

Chapter 1

Setting – St. Paul’s Hospital, Vancouver.

“Nurse!” I screamed. “Nurse, come back!”

Robert’s smile vanished. He advanced and tossed the three orchids onto the foot of my bed.

I twisted around grasping for the call button. “Get away from me!” I hit the button frantically.

Robert lunged for the cord. “No, Andrea. Don’t!” He ripped the cord away from me. I pulled my fist back to punch him, but he was quick and caught my wrist in an iron grip. His eyes narrowed into slits.

Chapter 2

Setting – St. Paul’s Hospital

The next day I woke up feeling groggy, struggling to make my brain work, struggling to remember where I was and why I was in bed with sunlight streaming in through the window. Why wasn’t I up and … doing what? Where was I anyway? Flashes of memory formed in my scrambled mind—hospital. Why was I here anyway? I was running away…. Robert—Robert! I lifted my head off the pillow with a cry.

My eyes quickly took inventory of the room. Oh my God! There he was! Behind the curtain, I could see his legs sprawling out from a chair in the corner near the foot of my bed. He must have heard me. He was getting up. I opened my mouth to call for the nurse again when I heard him say, “Sh-sh-sh, Andrea. It’s okay. You’re safe.”

Chapter 3

Setting – In the parking lot outside the hospital

I must have dozed off for a few minutes. Stupid to fall asleep. I might have missed them. I’d give it five more minutes and if they didn’t show I’d go back in and look around.

Hah! There they were, him all huddled over her in case she fell. What a namby-pamby. He looked stupider than usual without his glasses. I took care of those all right. Bloody four-eyed freak. Can’t figure what she sees in him. Ah, piss on it. What did I care? Let him look after her until her leg got better. She wasn’t much use to me until she had two working legs anyway. I could always grab her in a few weeks when she was stronger and could do a good day’s work around the place. Building a cabin was going to be a bit of a grunt and she could damn well help me. After all, it was her fault the cabin burned down. She shouldn’t have made me so mad. And anyway, she was my wife.

*****

While I’m working on the sequel, you may want to read the first book. Click on the link to order The Wind Weeps.

The Wind Weeps

To find out more about The Wind Weeps, click on:  amazon.com

And They Lived Happily Ever After

IMGP2096

The setting of my next novel.

Everyone loves a happy ending. At the end of a novel we want to read the equivalent of “And they lived happily ever after.” But is that realistic? Do we even want “realistic”? Maybe that happy ending is too predictable.

After months of agonizing over writer’s block, I have at last reached the end of the first draft of my next novel.

In writing the ending, I was conscious of trying to follow the storyline in a logical manner, and still craft an ending that the reader will find as satisfying as a perfect dessert after a  tasty meal at a five-star restaurant.

How can the author prepare such a gourmet dessert?

1. The events that wrap up the plot must be believable.

2. These events must follow in a logical sequence, while keeping the reader wondering if they will indeed happen.

3. The characters involved should have their character flaws redeemed and resolved by this time.

4. Our hero should be successful in his endeavours.

5. The villain should finally get what’s coming to him.

These steps would allow for a happy ending.

Of course, in real life, happy endings can often have twists. But do we want those twists to happen in a novel?

What do you think? Do you want that dessert to be perfect, or do you want some degree of reality weighing in?

Reality comes in many varieties. The dessert might be too sweet, too bland, too rich, or too ordinary. There might be a fly in it, or worse yet, a hair.

Think about some endings you have read. How do they make you feel? What kind of endings do you like?

Writing Partners

My guest today is Joanna Gawn, to tell us about herself and her writing partner Ron Dickerson.

??????????

What happens when a series of synchronicities introduces a wannabe novelist to ‘subtle energies’ and a re-emergence of her highly sensitive self?

What happens when she meets a man whom she feels she’s known for decades (or even centuries?) and who, over time, becomes her best friend? One who offers her a new way of looking at life and relationships?

What happens when she uncovers an inspirational focus for her writing, and her new best friend gives her a little push into making her dream of writing a novel come true?

She writes her first novel, of course. And then her second. In partnership with said best friend, naturally. :-)

And that’s a true and auto-biographical story, I swear. :-)

From nowhere (or so it seemed) my husband’s long-term friend, Ron, was encouraging me to write – a fantasy tale incorporating the ‘natural magic’ I had begun to see and feel. As a natural healer himself, what I experience with my ‘attuned senses’ is quite understandable to him.

From nowhere, we began writing a book together. A novel about synchronicity, natural magic, stone circles, positive energies, unconditional love.  A story about leading from the heart-space, the inner voice, and doing the right thing. A book about working with light and energy and bringing positive change to the worlds (yes, more than one; Cordello is a parallel world).

So, now that we’ve been an official business partnership for nearly four years, with two novels and two short story ebooks published, how does the writing-and-editing aspect of our partnership work?

First of all, I sit and tune in, and start to write. Maybe 1000 words in a session, maybe more or less (it depends on my health at the time). If I’m already partway through a work, I’ll re-read and lightly edit what I produced in the previous session. This gets me back into the language, feel, and place of the story … my story-world experienced with all my senses.

Sometimes I’ll have no idea what I’m typing before I put fingers to keyboard. A whole scene may unravel onto the screen as I work, and at times I may be completely unaware of what my characters have been up to … until I stop typing and read what I’ve written. It truly is an adventure - and those surprises keep writing special and magical for me.

Once I have something to work with, Ron will take a look and offer his constructive suggestions, or query anything that doesn’t make sense to him, as a reader. He’s really good at finding holes in scenes or identifying something which doesn’t fit. Now and then, he’ll add something to ground the energies of the story. Without exception, our work is better with our joint input. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts, that’s for sure.

We work together using a cloud-based document system, so that we can both type (and see the other’s remarks) in a document simultaneously. Comments can be left, emailed, and replied to, as each knot and niggle is worked through. I can’t imagine how we could work together on our writing without this system – not efficiently, anyway. We live about 30 miles apart, so passing over printed sheets of text every so often isn’t really an option, and email alone – which we used in “the early days” of our partnership – got confusing and unwieldy. And now that we are both regularly writing pieces for Writers’ Circle, we need to keep on top of it all.

As with any combined work – particularly a creative one – it takes a huge amount of trust to edit each others’ writing in this way. And even with our best-friendship at the heart of our writing and business partnership, we are human and sometimes still say things that are misunderstood or difficult to clarify. Occasionally, we even upset one another! Trust is the key, and also the belief that we are both doing the best we can, and never with any intention to wound.

As much of what we write as a duo falls under the genre of Visionary and Metaphysical Fantasy, what we write and publish can redefine what’s possible – at least to those unfamiliar with the ideas and concepts. The genre offers a new (perhaps pioneering) way of thinking and living, and can upset the status quo. Some readers already resonate with our work; others find it stimulates their own ‘extraordinary sensing’ or ‘awakening’. However some readers may not be ready for that. I believe that the trust we share is essential to support the times when self-belief is rocked by someone who doesn’t understand what we’re sharing, or when I get wary of putting myself and my stories out into the world.

Would I change it?

I certainly don’t plan to! But it all depends on what I’m guided to write next … :-)

Anneli, a big thank you for inviting us to write for your blog and your readers. :-)

If you’re a writer, did something specific trigger your writing journey?

If you’re a reader, do you wonder where some of the stories you read come from?

~~~

Book Image Group (with extra)

            website: http://www.lazuli-portals.com/

            blog: http://lazuliportalswriting.wordpress.com/

facebook: http://www.facebook.com/lazuliportalstrilogy

twitter: https://twitter.com/LazuliPortals

Keywords and Clustering

Writing is basically a way of putting thoughts on paper. Our aim is to organize those thoughts cohesively for the reader to understand. Over time, many methods have been developed to help us transfer thoughts from our brain to paper or computer screen, and into the brain of the reader.

As I struggled to come up with a plan for the next scene of my work in progress, I remembered a basic method that worked well for me in the past. When too many thoughts are crowding my head, I like to organize them using “clustering,” sometimes  called “webbing.” It has been around for a few decades, but it is still a wonderful tool.

We all know about keywords. We use them in web searches all the time. One main word will trigger many other related words and ideas. In clustering we use keywords to trigger associations. The beauty of using keywords is that you don’t have to write whole sentences in order to remember the thoughts associated with them.

To organize your thoughts, start with a keyword for the main topic of your scene. Close your eyes and imagine that word. What thoughts come to mind? Choose a keyword from one of those thoughts and write it down, Circle it and link it to the main keyword. Do this for each of the ideas that come to you when you think about the main keyword.

Below you can see how I used clustering to come up with ideas about Tenedos Bay, the setting of my scene. Associated with that keyword, I have come up with five lesser keywords (like subheadings): rocky islets, trail, other boats, shelter, and forest. When I think of each of these in turn, more ideas come to me and I jot those keywords down, linking them to the origin of the thought. Once I have done that for each of the main keywords, I end up with five groupings of ideas. Now I’m ready to write.

img750I may not use all of the ideas that I jotted down, but it’s better to have more than I need than not enough. If you were using this particular cluster map, you might want to make some sentences about the trail to Unwin Lake. You can follow the links in that series of mini clusters and build your sentence from the keywords, adding any of the associations that you had in mind as you wrote them down. Using “rocks, roots, well worn,” and “Unwin Lake” you might come up with a sentence like: I followed the well-worn rocky trail to Unwin Lake taking care not to trip over tree roots that crossed the path.

Two shorter sentences would probably be better, but you get the idea of using the cluster words in your writing. Once you have your basic idea written, you can play with the sentence to make it better until you’re happy with it.

You can elaborate on these ideas until you’ve reached into the farthest recesses of your mind to pull out every associated idea that you feel is relevant, and when you’ve finished, you have a paragraph of sentences that are all related to the keyword “trail.”

Each of the groupings will make a good paragraph. Your thoughts will be organized and no longer be mistaken for scrambled eggs in word form.

If you haven’t tried clustering, why not give it a try just for fun?

 

Hooked? – 6

Here are three more books and their opening lines.

Assuming the book is in a genre that might interest you, do you want to continue reading after the first lines? The authors hope so. What do you think? Are you interested enough to turn the page? These books probably target women more than men, but we appreciate all opinions.

1. Getting to Mr. Right by Carol Balawyder

Missi Morgan hoped this weekend would bring the magic back into her marriage with Max. She pictured the resort where they were going with its indoor pool, sauna and Jacuzzi and imagined how relaxed they would both feel, their daily preoccupations forgotten as they focused on the pleasure of being together. She couldn’t even remember their last romantic getaway.

New Picture (9)

amazon.ca

*********************

2. The Bridge Club by Patricia Sands
“Silent night, holy night,
All is calm, all is bright. It wasn’t Christmas, and it’s not about religion, but whenever I think of that night, those words filter into my head. Kind of bizarre I know, but that’s how thoughts are sometimes.”
TBC Kindle cover-2
***************************
3.  Julia’s Violinist by Anneli Purchase
Men’s voices, harsh and abrupt, sent a stab of fear through her. She peered cautiously up an alleyway towards the town square.
Front Cover  jpg (1)(2)