Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Work Ahead (Revising)

While drafting is more about getting in the mood, revision is more like showing up for work. Lots of light, sit at the keyboard, and work. Just as if you were performing a work task, there are steps for revision.

While different methods works for different folks, my own methods include several concise, repeatable steps.

To set the office-type atmosphere for revision (thanks Kat Duncan for your guidance), I ensure the following:
  • Lots of light (overhead lighting plus lamps)
  • No music playing
  • No special scents
  • Revision Checklist front and center
  • Colored pens and highlighters at the ready
  • Cathy Yardley's Rock Your Revisions at hand

My revision steps include:
  1. Print out entire manuscript
  2. Mark blatant grammar errors that scream for attention
  3. Read manuscript
  4. Highlight margins of manuscript where the story lags
  5. Focus on and read individual chapter
  6. Mark up hard copy
  7. Edit chapter on screen
  8. Run Spell Check
  9. Run MyWriter Tools
  10. Apply changes using MyWriter Tools suggestions
  11. Perform layering editing (add environmental details, senses, reaction to POV character, sentence details)
  12. Focus on and check off items on Revision Checklist (scene anchoring; scene review; scene details; levels of carrying, worry, conflict, and interest; and pacing) [Revision Checklist blog post forthcoming]
  13. Paste chapter into AutoCrit and run analysis
  14. Address AutoCrit categories (overused words, sentence variation, cliches & redundancies, repeated words & phrases, pacing, dialog, initial pronouns, readability, and homonyms) in chapter
  15. Run MyWriter Tools again
  16. Apply changes using MyWriter Tools suggestions again
  17. Run Spell Check again
  18. Move on to next chapter
Lots of steps and a tad tedious, but the process works, and this writer gal's working the revision process!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Revision Week Ahead!

Someone suggested, instead of dividing up a day or spacing out parts of the week for drafting and revising, that I take a full week for each activity. (Kathy smacks forehead with palm, shakes head and mutters, "Why didn't I think of that!")

Light bulb moment, indeed!

Focusing on the individual process for a full week makes so much sense. No changing gears and no feeling pulled away from the other activity. A positive is going to be seeing a significant increase in progress during a longer time span.

I'm excited about the specific drilled down focus. If taking week about with drafting and revision works well, I hope to be more prolific in both first drafting and revision.

I will be tracking and comparing progress to previous weeks. Also, I will be keeping an open mind and welcome flexibility. Perhaps considering a month about is in order. I might be able to complete more writing by first drafting for an entire month, complete the first draft in that time-frame, and then spending the next thirty days revising and editing. (The idea is quite appealing!)

Due to other activities this week, revision is the better choice. So, for this week, revision it is!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Big Results in Less Time by Ian Stables

The techniques Ian Stables shares in Big Results In Less Time are concise, simple, doable, realistic, and feasible. This $2.99 booklet provides suggestions that are so forthcoming that I couldn't help wonder why I hadn't heard about, read about, or figured out these processes long before now.

Had I read and had been familiar with the time management techniques presented in Big Results In Less Time: The time management productivity plan that gets top results - How to get things done in the shortest time for the greatest results [Kindle Edition] by Ian Stables, I would have written far more over the years, even while working excessive overtime. 

Big Results In Less Time's Amazon Description is as follows:

How much better would it be, if you were able to do things five times faster and get excellent results? You are about to learn simple and effective methods that do just that.

These methods are not widely known. They make up a complete system for getting things done in the shortest possible time and deliver excellent results.

You'll learn how to...

Dramatically speed up tasks by removing one thing

Prioritise your tasks in a way that will get the best possible results
There are certain things you should focus on and others that you shouldn't.

You'll learn about a 'powerful question' that will very quickly prioritise anything with ease.

Complete tasks five times faster and get good results
Find the best ideas and methods in just ten minutes
This is one of the best things you're going to discover. It's a very effective technique called 'The writing solution finder'

It gives you ideas, methods, and solutions in just ten minutes. Things that you would probably never otherwise think of.

Work without getting tired
A scientifically proven work plan that keeps you fresh and makes your day a lot easier.

Get any difficult task done with ease
This is the ultimate cure for procrastination. It removes the block of procrastinating with ease. It takes just sixty-seconds and works every time.
___________

If only I'd been able to apply these techniques while working full-time plus.... No worries, the e-book was released on January 25, 2013 and provides information to assist us on our current journeys. I highly recommend Big Results In Less Time.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

In the Mood (for First Drafting)

The lights are low, a nearby candle flickers, soft music plays, and a subtle blend of scents fills the room. Oh, yes, I'm in the mood . . . to write.

First Drafting is an entirely different process than Revision. I recently posted about Changing Gears between the two processes as well as Regrouping when it came to Drafting versus Revision. Different mindset, methods, and courses of action; therefore, I purposefully set an atmosphere for first drafting and an entirely different one for revising. (Thank you Kat Duncan for your guidance!)

Once I've turned off the overhead lights and turned on a low-wattage desk lamp, extended an inch or so of the 60-hour candle and light the wick, I add a few drops of essential oils to the water bowl of the oil warmer and turn the warmer on. I then follow these steps:
  1. Review GMCD chart for current scene
  2. Set a timer for 10 minutes [Cool Timer is my favorite because I am able to set the alarm sounds (currently Wizard of Oz sound clips), and once started the timer can be minimized to the desktop tray so the countdown isn't visible.]
  3. Make a bulleted list of possible conflicts, actions, directions, and happenings of the next scene (no censoring, just flat out brainstorming)
  4. Fill the page of a 9.5" x 6" spiral notebook, either front or front and back, depending on the what's needed in the scene
  5. Stop when 10 minutes are up, ONLY allowing that 10 minutes to brainstorm
  6. Take a 5 to 15 minute non-writing break
  7. Sit at keyboard (laptop, computer, or Neo)
  8. Picture the setting of current scene, visualize characters in the scene, focus on the POV character's perspective
  9. Set timer for 15 minutes
  10. First draft for ONLY those 15 minutes
  11. Set timer for 5 to 15 minutes (alternating the following, as desired)
    - Perform other non-writing related chore
    - Take a reading break (read other author's books)
    - Take a rest break
  12. Return to keyboard and repeat steps 8 thru 11 (adding water and oil to warmer and extending and relighting candle, as desired) until first draft of scene is written
My first draft ambiance awaits. I an SO in the mood to write.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Today I Cried

Today, I wrote a scene that was difficult because the action was emotionally painful to write. I wrote, finished the scene, then cried.

The scene was so discomforting that I wrote the scene in short stints. In between the writing, I took time out to breathe, to pace, to stretch out the tightening muscles in my neck. During the writing, I focused on the action and the character's heartfelt reactions to the action. For the character, the scene was both heart- and gut-wrenching. When I finished the scene, I was heartbroken and hurting because of the character's plight and the character's reactions to adversity.

My primary job as a writer is to evoke emotion in my readers. If my writing does not elicit emotion within me, how can I expect my readers to emotionally connect or engage with my characters or my story?

My character is in dire straights. He's in deep trouble. He's hurting, sad, scared, lonely and alone. He is a child who has been yanked away from his normal world, is in far over his head, and is suffering.

These are my characters, therefore, I care. Why should anyone else care about my character's plight?

As a writer, my job is to give the reader something and/or someone to care about, by combining:
  • Purposeful action, which moves the story forward
  • Stimulus and response scenarios that makes sense
  • Showing, instead of telling
  • Relatable, realistic plight, conflicts, and challenges
  • Character true to traits and self
  • Growth arc true to the character
  • Story arc proceeds in line with character arc

This scene made me cry, from compassion toward and caring about the character. I connected with the character. Isn't connection what most of search for our entire lives? You Can Write a Novel by James V. Smith, Jr. discusses Participation. I, as a reader, want first and foremost to connect with and to participate emotionally and mentally in the story and the characters journey.

Today, I wrote and I cried.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Temping is Hell - On My Kindle

During a few days of downtime, I am enjoying reading Temping is Hell by Cathy Yardley. The first book in the Necessary Evil urban fantasy series, Temping is Hell is about a temp who goes to work in the worst job ever.

The Amazon description is as follows:

WORST. JOB. EVER.

Kate O'Hara can't wait until this temp assignment is over. The woman who hired her is a psychotic pageant queen, her coworkers are convicts-turned-clerks, and it's so boringly corporate it makes her skin crawl. Even her sexy-as-sin boss, famed billionaire Thomas Kestrel, isn't enticement enough to keep her there. Once she makes enough to pay off her bills, she's out. Or so she thinks...

WHAT THE HELL?

Next thing she knows, she's accidentally signed over her soul. Literally. And she's discovered Thomas's real mission: to kill thirteen bad guys in one year, in order to get his—now his and Kate’s—souls back.

IT'S NOT JUST A JOB. IT'S A MISADVENTURE.

From learning to boost the morale of some paper-pushing demons to navigating her way through blood-red tape, Kate has to work closely with her super-hot supervisor and get her flaky act together, before somebody clocks her out—permanently!
______________

I've read the first few pages and am intrigued and am looking forward to reading more! The beginning grabbed me. I will post a review once I've finished reading Temping is Hell. Kindle, here I come!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Downtime and Comfort Quilts

Writing books is not always hunky dory and giggles and light. January 2013, in my household, will forever be known as the Month of the Crud.

Despite the crud-filled month, I continued to write through my husband's two plus week illness, then through two bouts (yes, I relapsed) of upper respiratory gunk of my own. During those five weeks, I completed a novel and planned and began another.

Although I kept pushing and completed my writing goals, now at the beginning of February, I am tired and weary to the point of being stalled in my writing and feeling so sad that an aching emptiness resides inside me.

Perhaps I am being reminded that I am not only an author, but a loving, caring person who finds herself to be weary.

The definition of weary is to be exhausted in strength, endurance, vigor, or freshness.

In addition to bringing the crud back from his trip to rural Iowa, hubby brought the most glorious quilt. The pattern is called Twisted Bargello. What an awesome precious gift!

My mother was a quilter, and quilts tend to signify comfort for me. The weight of the quilt is light and welcoming. For the next few days, I intend to curl up in my quilt literally and figuratively for a brief time out for a few days. It's time for me to soothe and heal my weary self.

Friday, February 1, 2013

You Can Write a Novel by James V. Smith, Jr.

James V. Smith, Jr., in You Can Write a Novel, 2nd Edition, recommends writing the 1) beginning incident of your book, 2) point of no return incident, and 3) ending of your book (climax and resolution) FIRST, then writing the rest of your first draft. Unusual advice, but incredibly helpful to assist in having a direction during the first draft.

Mr. Smith's use of Readability Levels (length of words, sentences, paragraphs) to decrease or increase the pacing of the incidents/scenes is more advanced than most revision-type methods; however, the book walks you through the method in easy instructional steps. I am looking forward to using this method for my final revisions.

My only con about the book is the small text in the hard copy; however, downloading the kindle version handily solved that issue. Definitely Recommend!