GroggSpot Quote of the Week: Jill Jepson, Write to Done

“All you need is the will to work hard, develop your skill, and keep submitting your work, even when the going is tough.

Do that, and you already have what it takes. The decision is yours.”

After my latest rejection last week, that’s just what I needed to hear. Thanks, Jill!

Here’s the link to that article if you need more.

A Plantser is Born: Wrestling Your Inner Writer

If you’ve been following my posts the last two Saturdays, you’ll know I’ve been struggling with the question of how to write faster, how to write better, and how to write period.

Up till now, I’ve been an extreme pantser, grabbing hold of that first sentence like it was a parachute, and jumping out of the plane, knowing I’d land somewhere, just not caring where or when.

Pantsing is a great way to discover the magic of writing. It’s just not a great way to write quickly. It’s not a great way to get the final draft done (at least not for me).

Then there’s plotting, the opposite extreme, which depending on the writer might involve collages, storyboards, index cards, a precise outline, a perfect itinerary of your trip.

Now I love plotting my vacations, the goal being to see as many things as I possibly can before coming home. But I can tell you right now, when it comes to writing, that ain’t me. The one time I tried it, I wrote a 20 page outline in an hour, and then lost all interest in the book. I just couldn’t make myself write it after that.

I really don’t ever want to do that again. Thanks to some much appreciated comments on my earlier posts, I won’t have to. I now understand that there’s a hybrid method that just might work for me.

Introducing the plantser. I’m having this image of me with a pen in one hand and a trowel in the other, but maybe that’s because the daffodils are finally blooming.

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I suppose there are as many types of plantsing as there are writers, but I think plantsing for me will involve the following:

  • A first sentence (cuz that’s how I roll. First sentences don’t scare me, they just set the mood for the entire story, and like everything else, they can be re-written or beaten into submission with my trowel).
  • A genre (there was a time when I would write not having any clue what kind of story I was writing. No more. Now I know what I like and what I want to write. So from now on, it’ll be Romance. Most likely Regency. Possibly New Adult. And if there are zombies, it will be with the understanding from the get-go that I will self-publish those. See bullet 1 below).
  • A heroine (I may not know her name, but I will know why I like her).
  • Ditto for the hero (just being hot isn’t enough).
  • A problem that must be solved by the end of the book.

To you plotters out there, that probably doesn’t sound like much, but to me, it’s so much more than I’ve ever started with, it feels like the book’s half written already. I think I’ll add another bullet. Or two.

  •  As I think of scenes to write, I will figure out where they fit in the story BEFORE I WRITE THEM.
  • In fact, I’m thinking I might make a map of sorts (possibly with pictures, definitely with a dashed line showing the trail and an X marks the spot at the happily-ever-after ending) and when I think of a scene, I’ll put it on the map where I think it goes. Kind of like “Here Be Monsters” or “The Lonely Mountain.”

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I feel better already. Now for this week’s progress on #WriteMotivation. Here’s what I set out to do for the month:

  1. Email editor to check on status of MFM.
  2. Design cover for ADIAR.
  3. Revise ADIAR if I get editorial comments back.
  4. Plot next book.
  5. Blog every Saturday.
  6. Visit other #WriteMotivation blogs at least once.

And here are the results with one week to go:

  1. Yep. Got rejected. The editor said my writing was strong and my revisions were great, and then he stressed again how much he enjoyed my writing (he used those words! Yay!), but romance and zombies just don’t sell well enough for him to take a chance on it.
  2. Yep. Will tweak as needed closer to publication.
  3. Ugghhh! Still on Chapter 11. Forgot that kids had Spring Break this week! But don’t write me off yet. I still have a week to go. Miracles have been known to happen.
  4. Nothing yet. Gotta finish A Duchess is Always Right revisions first. Just gotta.
  5. Yep.
  6. Yep. If I didn’t comment, it was because I couldn’t find a #WriteMotivation blog post to comment on. :( But it was still fun to visit everybody.

See you next Saturday. And just because I can’t enough of these silly bulleted lists:

  • Hope everybody’s blasting through their own #WriteMotivation goals.
  • Hope nobody else got rejected.
  • Hope everybody else’s daffodils are coming up, too.

As usual, if anybody has anything to share about this crazy plantsing thing, leave me a comment. I can use all the advice I can get!

Mr. Darcy’s Man Cave

Sure he owns Pemberly, but once Lizzy moves in and redecorates the place, Mr. Darcy finds himself desperate for a place he and Bingley can hang out in.

Join me on Pinterest at Mr. Darcy’s Man Cave.

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A Pantser Repents: Confessions of a Slow Writer

As I explained here,  I’m a pantser. That means I don’t plot my stories before I write them. I start with a first sentence and go—without knowing characters, conflict, or anything else. I absolutely love writing like this. It feels like magic when characters start popping up out of nowhere, saying all kinds of crazy things that I would never say myself. I wrote the first draft of A Duchess is Always Right like that, scene after scene after scene of beautiful, amazing discovery. The fact that many of those scenes had nothing whatsoever to do with each other didn’t bother me a bit, until I realized I’d written 50,000 words that went nowhere. My solution to that was a painful one: print the whole thing, cut out each scene, and cobble together a plot from a whole stack of random strips of paper.

Yep, really.

As you can imagine, there were holes in the plot, scenes that hadn’t been written. There were also scenes that had been written (scenes I loved) that wouldn’t fit the plot, no matter how hard I tried to shove them in there. Draft #1 was a disaster.

Draft #2: filling in the gaps.

Draft #3: working on transitions between scenes.

Draft #4: Fleshing out, smoothing out, and figuring out random bits that still needed to be worked on.

Draft #5: That’s the one I’m on now. Responding to Laine’s comments. Upping the emotion. Really working on the relationships between the characters.

Draft #6 and Draft #7 still to come. See that? I have at least 2 more drafts to go before I can get this book out there to readers. Ugghh.

While there is a light at the end of this tunnel, and I’m really enjoying crafting a better book, I’m also thinking this is no way to write a novel.

But Book #2 is calling to me. Flashes of my main character are starting to appear in my mind, kind of like when you see something out of the corner of your eye. Snippets of dialog on scraps of paper are starting to litter my bedside table. I even bought a book about corvids (crows, ravens, and rooks) because my main character has a pet rook.

I think I’m becoming a plotter.

And maybe breathing a serious sigh of relief. Maybe. I’m not quite sure yet whether this is a good thing.

I feel a bulleted list coming on.

The downside to pantsing:

  1. Slow. Trust me, I’ve been working on Duchess for something like 7 years now, not always with the intention of writing a novel, or even the intention of finishing it, but still, I should’ve knocked this one out a long time ago.
  2. Too many drafts. The fresher things are for you, the easier it is to see the work. I think one of the reasons this book has taken so long is because I’ve had to take breaks from it just to be able to see what the heck was going on.
  3. Too easy to procrastinate. Without a plot, if it doesn’t “feel” right, it’s very easy to walk away from the computer and wait for the muse to want to hang out with you again.

The upside to plotting:

  1. Faster. No, you don’t dive right in, but the work you put in up front seems to save you a whole lot of time and heartache.
  2. Fewer drafts. FEWER DRAFTS! Just the thought makes me giddy.
  3. Focus. If you know where you’re going, you can focus better and hopefully create the kind of discipline you need to get the book written. Plot out your book. Plot out your life. Here’s where I’m headed today kind of thing.

You can tell I’m trying to talk myself into this, can’t you? Or maybe trying to justify changing the way I write.

Like I need permission. Hah!

This coming week, I’ll be thinking about what plotting means to me. Will I know who my characters are? Will I know what happens to them and why? How much planning do I need to do, etc. What tools will I use to create my next book? I’ll keep you posted. Meanwhile, if anybody wants to share their plotting tips, I’d love to hear them.

#WriteMotivation: Scary Goals and Status Update

 

  1. Email editor to check on status of MFM.
  2. Design cover for ADIAR.
  3. Revise ADIAR if I get editorial comments back.
  4. Plot next book.
  5. Blog every Saturday.
  6. Visit other #WriteMotivation blogs at least once.

We’re one week in. So, how am I doing?

  1. Did it. Heard back. There may be good news coming. Or not. Either way, I get a margarita.
  2. Done. Ish. I’ll need to tweak dimensions and file sizes for individual retailers, but I’m loving this cover and I can’t wait to show it to the world. I’ve made the commitment to go indie with this one- without even trying to get a publishing contract. My feelings on this subject change hourly, but here’s a good article about diversifying your portfolio at Chuck Wendig’s blog.
  3. Started. Laine was super fast getting her comments back to me (yay her!). As usual, I need to up the emotion big time. I’m on Chapter 6 of the rewrite. 21 chapters to go. That’s about a chapter a day, which is the same break-neck pace as last month, but so far this round of revisions is a lot more fun: more love, more hate, more drama. Give me more!
  4. Got this.
  5. I’ve visited half a dozen or so, and commented on those blogs that had a #WriteMotivation post. I’m working my way around to everybody just so we all know we’re not doing this writing thing in a vacuum.

Sounds pretty good, right? I mean except for that glaring blank space beside number 4.

Plot next book.

It sounds easy, I know, maybe even fun, but I’m a pantser. A start-with-the-first-sentence-and-jump-off-the-cliff pantser. The idea of plotting a book scares the heck out of me. How can I possibly know what my characters are going to do before they do it? Ack!

So, I’ll be thinking more about the plotter vs. pantser thing this week. See if I can’t come up with some answers. If anybody has any thoughts, I’d love to hear them.

#writemotivation: Onward

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A new month–the third month of the new year!–and I already feel behind. But it’s onward with #writemotivation, so here are my goals for March:

  1. Finish full revision of AJ. Hand off to Bess on March 31st.
  2. Write a page every day.
  3. Play with ideas for revision of E.
  4. Read and critique Bess’s latest.

That last goal is a new one, added after I did the official sign-up for March. And it’s already done! Yay! Snowy weekends are good for reading your buddy’s novel.

Now it’s my turn for the finish-it-all pressure cooker. Let the games begin (and may the odds be ever in your favor!!).

#WriteMotivation February Wrap-up: Let March Madness Begin

February was my first time to sign up with #WriteMotivation and I set myself two goals: one giant, crazy, over-the-top, keep-up-the-pressure goal and one little, shoulda-been-doin’-this-anyway goal.

  1. Finish first rewrite of A DUCHESS IS ALWAYS RIGHT and send to beta bestie, Laine.
  2. Blog once a week.

This is me (I think spell check wants me to put “tis I”) shouting from the rooftops: I DID IT!!!! I handed over my manuscript to Laine just before 5pm yesterday. And it felt really, really good to finally whip that W-I-P into shape.

Deep breath. Here we go again. My goals for #WriteMotivation March are as follows:

  1. Email editor to check on status of MFM.
  2. Design cover for ADIAR.
  3. Revise ADIAR if I get editorial comments back.
  4. Plot next book.
  5. Blog every Saturday.
  6. Visit other #WriteMotivation blogs at least once.

I’ve already made a start. Check #1 off the list. Did it last night. Yay. I’ll see you next Saturday.