Friday, February 14, 2014

Halfway Through February Already?

I guess we're firmly entrenched in 2014 now.  It seems like New Year's Day was a week or so ago, when it's been a month and a half.

Yes, time flies.  I'm wondering where the first half of this month has gone.  But it only takes a few seconds to know that mine has been spent putting words on paper...and then changing them.

Author and friend Patricia Davids and I were just exchanging emails about our writing methods.  We each do our writing in a different way.  Her method is to edit and change as she goes along.  Mine is to write a first rough draft and then go back two or three times to change, add and edit.  Both ways are acceptable, both are perfect for each of us.  I've done the go-back method before, and all it does is confuse me.  Not only am I visual, I'm linear.  I start at the beginning and keep writing.  If I think of something that needs changed, I make a note, stick it on my book bible for use later.  After almost 20 years of writing, I find it's better if I do it my way.  That doesn't mean I don't tweak and change my way.  (Please be aware that I typed T W E A K, not t w e r k.)

The Pluses of Plotting
On top of that tic, I also plot.  I didn't start out that way, so maybe that's why I'm linear when I write.  "No plotting for me!" I cried to my critique partners.  Yeah, that didn't last as long as I thought it would.  Even to pansters I have to say, "Know where you're going!"  Why?  Because there's no reason to write half a book, only to dump it because you've come to a dead end or no reason to go back to the beginning and start making huge changes in the story.  This counts especially for new writers, who sometimes tend to have a super idea, but get lost in the telling and go off on tangents that are great for word counts, but not so good for a great story.  Involving a little plotting is a good thing, and in a week or two, I'll go through some ways that can vary.

Continuing to Learn
I was in the middle of reading Alexandra Sokoloff's Writing Love: Screenwriting Tips for Authors II when I had to stop and do other things.  You know, those writing things.  But I went back to it a couple of days ago and picked up where I left off, which was story middles and endings.  She uses examples from both movies and books, which I find to be a great help.  The thing is, none of us ever know everything, and it's always good to find another and another and even another way of looking at our writing.  I think that's another reason I enjoy writing.  I keep learning.

Making Adjustments
This isn't all about me, this is about you, as a writer.  Are you finding that writing has become more difficult?  Are you growing bored with your story, your characters?  Have you come to a place where writing is no longer something you look forward to?  If so, it's time to make some changes.

Change.  It doesn't have to be a big change.  Even changing the font you use could bring about a change.  No, I haven't tried this, but... ☺ What I did do when editing after that first draft is to change the method in which I read.  I tend to do better when I edit on hard copy, so I print the manuscript and go through with a red pen.  I may do an on-computer read-through afterward, finding a few more things that need corrected or changed.  But with the last ms, I uploaded the file to my Kindle, highlighting anything that jumped out at me and making a note of it.  It appeared more as a book than a manuscript and was different than the other two ways.  I've only done it once, but I'm going to try it again.  If it works, great!  If not, I can go back to my old standby of printing again (ouch!) or reading off my computer.

If It Doesn't Work, Try Something New
Never, never, never be afraid to try something new.  It's not as if you threw out that comfy chair and brought in a new one that makes your back ache.  What you did before a change can always be done again.  But I have a feeling that first way may end up being done in a small, but different way.

Love Yourself, Not Your Words
Great for Valentine's Day, right?  But it's true.  Sometimes things don't go right.  If your story is starting to read the wrong way, don't despair.  Words and ways can be adjusted and changed.  If needed, brainstorm with friends--writing friends are the best for this, not Mom or Aunt Jill or Best Friend Charlotte.  They will always LOVE your writing, even when it's bad.  If you're self-publishing, hire yourself a reader or an independent editor.

And when you're done...

Love Your Work
See how I worked that in to Valentine's Day? ;)
It's always a day brightener when an editor adds a note to a manuscript that something you thought funny is funny or something makes he/r smile.  Even better is having a reader tell you s/he loves your book.  In the process of writing, if you aren't loving what you do or something doesn't feel right, stop.  Then think.  If you're sick of writing and ready to throw in the towel, take a mini-vacation from writing and enjoy all the other things that life offers.  And there are so many things besides writing that life offers.  Grab one.  Or two.  Or even three.  But don't go away for long.  If you're really a writer, you'll stick with it.

Always learn through your mistakes.  Doing so is a gift that only we can give ourselves.  And what a perfect day for gifts!  Happy Valentine's Day!!  And pass the candy. ;)
All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt. ~ Charles M. Schulz

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