Archive | November, 2011

The Art of REwriting

9 Nov

by Susan Dennard

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It’s NaNoWriMo month.

In other words, it is currently hell-on-earth for many writers around the globe. A self-induced hell that anyone who isn’t participating in just CAN’T UNDERSTAND.

Yes, we clearly enjoy torture, but no, we are not insane. (Though, ask again in 3 weeks…)

Anyway, the purpose of this post is to soothe the minds of worried first-drafters. Everyone will tell you this (including Vahini, here on LTWF), and all I can do is reiterate:

It is okay to write crappy first draft.

In fact, we’re all expecting you too…because so will we.

And, if I’m REALLY HONEST with you, then I’ll just go ahead and share a little secret:

I’m a really bad writer.

Like, downright dreadful.

Here’s a quote that pretty much embodies me:

“More than half, maybe as much as two-thirds of my life as a writer is rewriting. I wouldn’t say I have a talent that’s special. It strikes me that I have an unusual kind of stamina.”

~John Irving

This is so, so, so me.

My first drafts are riddled with long pages of backstory and slow, unnecessary scenes in which characters (i.e. me) get to know each other. Every piece of dialogue has a tag–many of which are “snapped”, “hissed”, and “growled” (my characters, it would seem, are easily annoyed).

My first drafts are so bad, in fact, that I would rather be paper cut to death than share them with anyone. I’m serious–no one reads my first drafts. In fact, my crit partners are usually eyeballing third or even fourth drafts. It’s not just that I’m self-conscious about my prose–it’s that I am perfectly aware I can’t write well.

The issue is that my first drafts come out fast. We’re talking all my first drafts are NaNo-worthy, month-long passions of speed-typing.

I usually have a strong idea of the primary external plot, but I have zilch for my subplots or resonance. And as I write, my Muse strikes me with ideas for clever (or sometimes not-so-clever) threads to weave in.

By the time I finally reach the end of my book, the manuscript is what I (lovingly) like to as one giant clusterf***.

But you know what? That’s okay…

Because, by golly, I am one hell of a REwriter.

Just take a look at these massacred pages from the very first REwrite of Something Strange and Deadly. (It was still in third person! HOW WEIRD.)

Ah, but one REwrite wasn’t enough. Here’s the same section during round 2 of a total REwrite:

So let’s lay out some ground rules about rewriting–some things you might want to come back to when NaNoWriMo wraps up and you find yourself crying maniacally in the corner.

The first key to rewriting is to NOT STRESS. You may have a disaster on your hands, but you can always, always clean that up.

You have a story now (something you didn’t have when you began). All you have to do is take what you wrote and make it WHAT YOU WANTED TO WRITE.

If you want to see why stress is a killer, then read this hilarious post by author Libba Bray. My favorite line?

…then Tim comes in, takes a look at the dirt and staples all over you, your bloodshot eyes and borderline psychotic grin, puts his finger to his mouth in a thoughtful way and says, “I’m concerned.” And you say, “No, Tim, it’ll all work out—I swear!” And you staple some fertilizer to the floor and laugh.

The second key to rewriting is to STAY ORGANIZED. Go in with a plan and that messy first draft will seem way less scary.

You are gonna TACKLE THIS BEAST TO THE GROUND, GOSH DARNIT.

Plus, if you need help figuring that “plan stuff” out, well, I’ve got an entire revisions series that you can work through.

The third and final key to rewriting is BICHOK. Get your Butt In that Chair, your Hands On that Keyboard (or pen, if you’re like me…making it BICHOP) and work! You need to max out your stamina and determination for all they’re worth.

Because eventually and with enough hard labor (and possibly tears–those have been known to happen), you can turn any horrible first draft into a masterpiece.

I mean, just look at what my tattered pages above became:

Yeah, that’s an ARC of my book–an ARC of my REwritten, multi-revised (at least 8 times by the end…probably more), crappy-first-draft-in-a-month BOOK.

And with a little elbow grease and drive, you, my friends, can do the same.

So what about you? Do you write clean first drafts or rely on re-writing to get your novel where it needs to be?

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SOMETHING STRANGE & DEADLY cover!

8 Nov

In case you missed it yesterday, Susan unveiled the cover for SOMETHING STRANGE & DEADLY on her blog yesterday. We think you all ought to go take a look, because it’s gorgeous 😀

LTWF Live Blog Word War for NaNoWriMo Begins!

4 Nov

See yesterday’s post for the low-down! Here’s a recap:

Beth Revis and Stephanie Perkins‘ latest writing war live blogged throughout the day inspired us to do our own!

Participants (or people who just want to watch the fun!) can connect with each other through a Twitter List, or using the hashtag #ltwfwordwar

Remember, if you’re participating (or even if you just want to be nice!), please visit one another’s blogs and cheer one another on!!

*Let Kat or Savannah know if you finished and aren’t marked as such below by leaving a comment!

List of Participants

1. Kat Zhang – Word Goal: 6,000 (US Central time)

Finished with 6,063!

2. Savannah Foley – Word Goal: 10,000 (US Central time)

Finished at 10,377

3. Jessica Lewenda – Word Goal: 8,000 (Australia)

Finished with 6,399!

4. Brittany Severn – Word Goal: 3,000

Finished with 3,162!

5. Amanda – Word Goal: 4,000 (US Eastern time)

Finished with 4,011!

6. Kae – Word Goal: 3,000-4,000 (US Eastern time)

Finished with 3,200!

7. Heather – Word Goal: 15,000 (UK) Kat’s note: I know folks, I’m scared, too 😉

Finished with over 15,000! Holy crap Heather totally won the word war!

8. Ellen – Word Goal: 3,000-4,000 (US Central time)

Finished with 3076!

9. Ashelynn Hetland – Word Goal: 5,000 (US Mountain time)

Finished with 6500!

10. Kayleigh – Word Goal: 2,777 (France)

11. Julie Fisher – Word Goal: 4,000 (UK)

Finished with 4,008!

12. Katelyn – Word Goal: 3,500 (US Central time) *Now with the correct link!

Finished with 3,572!

13. Adeeti Goswami – Word Goal: 3,000 (US Pacific time)

Finished with 2,518!

14. Asia Morela – Word Goal: 3,000 (Canada Eastern time)

Finished with 3,051!

The Rules

There are none! Just report your progress in regular intervals, and try to stop by the blogs of the others to post inspiring encouragement! Some participants, like Kat and Savannah, are taking a page from Beth and Stephanie and engaging in snarky commentary (this is a word war after all!), but only with each other. Don’t worry, you won’t get snarked unless you explicitly ask for it!

We’ll post tomorrow with everyone’s results.

Have fun, and thanks for participating!

NaNoWriMo Live Blog Tomorrow! And you’re invited!

3 Nov

(depending on where you live, this might actually be happening…I dunno, today. Don’t look at me to calculate timezones :P)

ETA: Alright, this is Kat here going to bed, so I won’t be updating this until tomorrow morning. Just assume everyone’s started, lol. Either Sav or I will do a fresh post tomorrow with the list and such. Good night! Happy writing!

ETA: Most of us have started now!! 😀

Edit from Savannah: I made a Twitter list so if you’re on Twitter you can follow other writers participating tomorrow as we cheer each other on (or try to psych each other out, as Kat and I will be doing!). You can view and follow the list here! @ me if you’d like to be added! Tomorrow let’s use the hashtag #ltwfwordwar for our live-blog-related tweets!

ETA: We’re getting closer to the start time for those of you in Europe, I believe (again, timezones…don’t ask me), and I’m really excited about the great group we’ve got going! Anyone is free to request to be added anytime, even if the 4th has already started where you are. Just comment below! 

I do want to remind everyone, though, that part of the reason we’re doing this is to get everyone writing as a group and provide encouragement to one another. So please, please, whether or not you’re participating as a writer, visit the blogs in the list below and say something nice! (unless you’re Sav or me….we’re allowed to be mean to one another ;P) This is not the time to be shy. I really hope that by the end of the day, everyone has gathered up a nice chain of comments cheering them on. For sure, I’ll be making the rounds and leaving notes as much as I can!! 🙂

So even if you’re in the US and are behind the people in Europe (or poor Jessica alone in Australia, lol..), go say nice things!! It’s good writing karma. Really.

Hey guys, Kat here! So, how’s everyone doing with their NaNo writing? I’ve heard of some people already hitting 25k, which is RIDICULOUS, I tell you. RIDICULOUS 😉

Anyway, I dunno if you guys saw the writing war that Beth Revis and Stephanie Perkins did a little while back, but we here at LTWF thought it was pretty awesome and fun, so we decided to shamelessly steal borrow their idea for NaNo! Hopefully, they won’t mind, cause we think they’re awesome 🙂

The difference between their liveblog and this one, however, is that we’re inviting all of you!

So this is how it works (you can click on the links above to Beth and Stephanie’s blogs if you want an idea of how theirs looked like)

Savannah and I are both in US Central time, so we’ll be starting in the morning of that timezone…whenever we get up, haha. We’re waiting to see if any other LTWF folks throw down the gauntlet, but at the very least, Sav and I (Kat!) will be doing this for sure for just about the WHOLE DAY. We’ll be posting updates on our own, private blogs (you can find the links in the right-hand sidebar) every so often…as well as talking about what’s distracting us, haha.

But you, dear readers–we’re inviting YOU to join the great writing war! It doesn’t matter what time zone you’re in. You’ll just get a head start on us or get to stay up later! Post in the comments if you want to join the great End Of Week One NaNo Word War, with a link to your blog and your word count goal (if you’d like, tell us your time zone, too), and we’ll add you to the enlistment list here. Then tomorrow, we can all check out each other’s progress, leave each other sassy and sarcastic encouraging comments, and so on!

Any questions? 😀

Enlistment List (please see note in blue at top of post):

1. Kat Zhang – Word Goal: 6,000 (US Central time) <–Has started!!

2. Savannah Foley – Word Goal: 10,000!!!! (US Central time)

3. Jessica Lewenda – Word Goal: 8,000 (Australia) <–It’s the 4th there, so already started!

4. Brittany Severn – Word Goal: 3,000

5. Amanda – Word Goal: 4,000 (US Eastern time)

6. Kae – Word Goal: 3,000-4,000 (US Eastern time) <–Has started!

7. Heather – Word Goal: 15,000 (UK) Kat’s note: I know folks, I’m scared, too 😉 <–Has started!

8. Ellen – Word Goal: 3,000-4,000 (US Central time) <–Has started!

9. Ashelynn Hetland – Word Goal: 5,000 (US Mountain time)

10. Kayleigh – Word Goal: 2,777 (France) <–Has started!

11. Julie Fisher – Word Goal: 4,000 (UK) <–Has started!

12. Katelyn – Word Goal: 3,500 (US Central time)

13. Adeeti Goswami – Word Goal: 3,000 (US Pacific time)

Anyone else?? LTWF wants YOU for the Word War!!

NaNoWriMo Advice: Your Work Doesn’t Suck…That Badly.

2 Nov

by

Vahini Naidoo

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Since NaNoWriMo has just begun, I thought I’d do a post on writing speedily and efficiently without sacrificing quality. It’s not an uncommon sentiment on agents’ blogs that NaNoWriMo is the bane of their existence. The fear (and inevitable horror) of getting inundated with masses of unedited, quickly and poorly written novels, is palpable around this time of the year.

This is probably (definitely) not without reason, since one of the most commonly bandied about ideas when it comes to NaNoWriMo is that first drafts are crap. They don’t matter. You just have to force out the words. You can suck, and that’s okay. It’s okay to suck.

I almost completely agree with this. Suckage is just about the biggest part of writing – but sometimes, I think a healthy dose of egotism goes a long way. You can’t stumble through your draft, obsessing over the fact that you “suck” and then thinking that that’s okay. There’s a distinction there, to me. It’s okay to suck, it’s not okay to be hyper-aware of the fact that you suck.

Why, you may ask? Surely being aware of your general suckitude is a good thing?

In hindsight, I think it definitely is (and you really will have to edit your NaNo novel if you want to get a good final product), but not when you’re writing your first draft. Think about it this way, if you’re delivering a speech and you’re aware you suck at public speaking, you’re going to be super nervous. And if you’re super nervous, your voice is going to quaver, you’re going to stutter and stumble, and get swallowed up in gaping, potholes of pauses.

It’s the same thing when you’re writing. If you’re too self conscious about your suckitude, then your voice will hit the page warbling and off-key. It will ramble all over the place, and fail to seem coherent and consistent. In this case, you have to write with assurance, in order to ensure that your voice, at the very least, is consistent (although half your words may be redundant, your characters may make zero sense, and that subplot about the goldfish swimming about it’s bowl may not be the most scintillating…).

Writing like this, with poise and aplomb, as if you know what you’re doing even when you don’t (especially when you don’t), is the kind of attitude that gets you through a month like NaNoWriMo. So be aware of the fact that you suck, but don’t internalize it to the point where it affects your progress. Instead, push it to the back of your mind, and write with assurance.

And onwards and upwards with your word counts!

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Vahini Naidoo is  a YA author and University student from Sydney, Australia. Her debut novel FALL TO PIECES, en edgy psychological thriller, will be released by Marshall Cavendish in Fall, 2012. She’s represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette of the Erin Murphy Literary Agency. You can read more about Vahini on her blog.

Super-Awesome Announcement & LTWF Halloween Costumes!

1 Nov

Happy First Day of NaNoWriMo!!! For those of you who celebrated Halloween last night, we hope you had a wonderful time!!! Several of us dressed up, and we thought it’d be fun to share our costumes! Enjoy!

Vanessa DiGregorio (as Bo Peep…and her coworkers as the TOY STORY cast):

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Savannah Foley as a maenad:

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Jenn Fitzgerald as the Killer Rabbit from MONTY PYTHON & THE HOLY GRAIL:

Feel free to share YOUR costume pics in the comments below!!!

Onto the announcement….

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By Sarah J. Maas

 Okay, so I posted this on my personal blog, but I wanted to also make the announcement on LTWF, for those of you who missed it!

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So, I know I’ve been all uber-cryptic about all these Secret Projects I’ve been mentioning these past few months. And I know it’s been kindaaa annoying. Believe me—it’s been annoying for ME to have to keep quiet about it.But I (finally) got the go-ahead to make the announcement.And after so many months of having to keep my lips sealed, it’s actually really surreal (and a little nerve-wracking, to be honest) to tell you guys…

You won’t have to wait until Fall 2012 to read about Celaena Sardothien.

No, QUEEN OF GLASS isn’t coming out sooner. It’s still slated for a Fall 2012 release.

BUT…

Starting early next year, Bloomsbury will be releasing FOUR (4!!) QUEEN OF GLASS novellas, all set before the events of Book 1. They’ll be ebooks, and the first novella will release around January, with the other three novellas released every 1.5-2 months afterward, leading up to the Fall 2012 release of Book 1.

All of the novellas will be about Celaena, and are set in the 9 months leading up to her imprisonment (so about 2 years before the events of Book 1). While each of the novellas will stand on their own, the four novellas combined form the arc of events that explain how she went from being the world’s greatest assassin to getting captured and sent to the Salt Mines. And for my FictionPress fans—yes, Sam (formerly named Symeth) will be a major part of them, and YES, you will get to read about Celaena’s epic encounter with the Pirate Lord. 😉

I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am for these novellas. Celaena had SO many adventures and met so many people before Book 1—so many, actually, that earlier drafts of QOG were rampant with flashback sequences just because I was ACHING to tell that part of Celaena’s story. It kinda killed me to cut them all out, but I always hoped that I’d get to write a QOG/Celaena prequel someday, perhaps years and years down the road.

SO, thanks to my amazing agent and the incredible, daring, and lovely team at Bloomsbury Children’s, I get the chance to tell those stories NOW.

SO…Sorry for all the secrecy these past few months, but…I hope that you guys are as pumped as I am about these novellas!!!! 😀

And side note to my FictionPress fans: I know it’s been a long while since you’ve visited Celaena’s world. A long, long while, actually. It’s been just over three years since I took the rough draft of QOG off FP, and some of you have been with me since the very beginning back in 2002.

A lot of things have changed since then—both in the books themselves and in the real world outside of them—but I just wanted to say THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart for all of your support and enthusiasm. It’s nearly impossible for me to put what I feel into words both because of the impossible depth of my gratitude and because I just get too emotional whenever I try to convey it. But…thank you all SO much. I would never have gotten the chance to tell Celaena’s story if it wasn’t for you. And for that, I’ll be forever grateful.

And for all of my new readers and friends—those of you who haven’t yet had a chance to visit the world of Erilea and meet Celaena…I hope these novellas get you as excited as I am for the release of Book 1! It’s been such an honor and a pleasure to get to know you so far, and thank you SO much for wanting to read my book (and thank you to everyone who has added QOG on Goodreads! All 2,450 of you! Holy crap.). Knowing you want to read my book means more to me than I can ever say.

Hooray!!!

~~~
Sarah J. Maas has written several novels, including QUEEN OF GLASS, a YA epic fantasy that will be published by Bloomsbury in Fall 2012. She is repped by Tamar Rydzinski of the Laura Dail Literary Agency, and resides with her husband in Southern California. You can visit her website here, and follow her on twitter.

NaNoWriMo Starts Today! Participate with us!

1 Nov

As mentioned on Friday, NaNoWriMo starts today!

As of this writing the word count widgets are not yet active, but please comment with your username below and we will add you to our sidebar when they are!

Additionally, here are the names of participating LTWF NaNowers, if you wanted to add us as your Writing Buddies!

Savannah J. Foley, savannahjfoley

Susan Dennard, stowersd

Kat Zhang, katzhang

Sammantha Bina, samanthanicole

Julie Eshbaugh, juliesh

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Add your username and tell us what you’re working on this month!