Young Adult Dark Urban Fantasy Author ~

Posts tagged “novel creation

The Only Thing That Can Make You A Writer …

Really, in the end, the only thing that can make you a writer is the person that you are, the intensity of your feeling, the honesty of your vision, the unsentimental acknowledgment of the endless interest of the life around and within you. Virtually nobody can help you deliberately — many people will help you unintentionally.

Santha Rama Rau

*Originally posted October, 2012


What’s In Being A Contracted Author?

Our computers

Our computers (Photo credit: aranarth)

Fear.

Yep, I said that.

Getting a publishing contract is everything you’ve wanted, everything you’ve worked your ass off for, and when you sign on the dotted line, everything you’re afraid of.

It’s a truth I think a lot of authors keep under wraps because some days when you sit staring at your story, the one that has a deadline attached to it now, the one that needs to be as close to perfect as you can make it—some days, it can feel like you’ve signed yourself up to fail. The days when nothing makes sense and you wonder who in their right mind, including yourself, ever thought your story could actually sell. The days when fear seeps in and hangs on.

From the legalese of contracts, to the swell of accomplishment in your chest that is almost immediately replaced by the tightening of panic, to the real edits and real deadlines, being a contracted, and soon to be published, author is both thrilling and terrifying.

But, in those split seconds when rays of light shine through the blinds in your mind, it is incredibly gratifying. The times when, for once, there are no blue, red, or green edits marking up your pages and your comments come back with “Great!” instead of “Huh?” or “Powerful.” instead of “Make it clearer.” Those are the days when every drop of doubt and ounce of fear is worth it. The days when you’re proud as hell. Maybe they’re far and few between, but those rays of light keep the writing fire burning bright and remind you that you should feel proud, maybe even excited–even if only for a second. 😉


Make Your World Breathe

 

Just breathe

Just breathe (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

There is no such thing as too much description.  Okay, maybe later on when you’re a few drafts in some details will need to be scaled down. But in the beginning when you are just writing, just write. Tell your story and every little detail that you see in your mind. First drafts need to be loaded with details. There will be too many but come draft two and three you can pick  and choose what’s important enough to stay and what needs to go. And through those changes your story will start to become alive.

 

Every character in your story needs a voice and I don’t only mean the ones who can talk. I mean EVERY character. The buildings, the car, the woods, the town. The world you’ve created needs to breathe. It needs life. Life in writing is created through details. The edge in someones voice, the creak of a clock tower, the feel of a touch, the sweetness of a flower. The ripped, faded jeans. The wickedly flirtatious smile. The racing blood. The charred forest. The reader needs to see it, taste it, feel it, hear it and know it. They want to walk in the world you create, to feel what the characters feel.

 

I think we all can get caught up in writing dialogue. It is no doubt, extremely important but at the end of the day, if all you have is dialogue, where’s the setting? Why does the reader care if he can’t see your characters sitting on the hillside, or fighting in the alley? The only way to create your world is to give it a personality of its own. Give it an identity and make it come alive in the minds of all who read it.

 

WRITE ON, WRITERS!

 


What Makes A Writer

“I should think it extremely improbable that anyone ever wrote simply for money. What makes a writer is that he likes writing. Naturally, when he has written something, he wants to get as much for it as he can, but that is a very different thing from writing for money.”

~P G Wodehouse

P. G. Wodehouse, Bolton's friend and collaborator

P. G. Wodehouse, Bolton’s friend and collaborator (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


All Writers Are Vain.

“All writers are vain, selfish and lazy, and at the very bottom of their motives there lies a mystery. Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon which one can neither resist nor understand.”

~George Orwell

George Orwell

George Orwell (Photo credit: jovike)

 


To Outline Or…Not

English: Hot-swap states with transitions appl...

Image via Wikipedia

You had two roads to take, the gut instinct or the outline. You chose to write from your gut, let the story pour from your imagination onto the page. You didn’t think about where it was going because you knew it would get there. You’re 80,000 words in. Done. All feels great. Now what?

Now, Editing. You begin to go through your work chapter by chapter, detail by detail and you realize the transitions aren’t what they should be, could be, need to be or what you thought they were. Here is the biggest issue writing without an outline — headaches. You’ve got a great story but it doesn’t roll off your tongue quite right. It doesn’t work quite the way it sounded in your head.

Now for the rewrite. The biggest pain in the ass ever. It even trumps editing. And that is saying a lot. You rewrite from the beginning, move a paragraph here, a chapter there and think, okay, I can do this, it’s not so bad. Until it is bad. Until you have 30 chapters staring back at you asking to be properly read and all your thoughts become a jumbled, dizzying mess.

Now, let me start from the beginning. I’m not methodical. I’m a jumper. I get hit with an idea and I’m off. It’s my way, my style, my inspiration. But let me say that my style completely bit me in the ass. No outline is a bad idea.

I had notes. Pages and pages of notes, handwritten. I had documents–so many I couldn’t keep track of them all. In the beginning, I thought they were enough. In the end, they weren’t. Not even close. I had too many ideas. Ideas that I couldn’t reign in. Ideas that I couldn’t mold in the way I needed to—wanted to. I paid for those amateur mistakes in the end. Through rewrites, a staggering number of drafts, cuts, edits, and revisions. Close to two years worth.

Now my notes are in an abstract outline form, still free-flowing, but an outline nonetheless. Word to the wise: Get your idea, work it through and outline it. Even if that outline is as simple as a few sentences per chapter–a few ideas. Even if you only have a kernel of an idea of what the beginning, middle, and end of the story should be. In the end you will gain a ridiculous amount of time, a better story and with any luck, your sanity.


Finding my way

Today I’m going to go down a slightly different post path. As the weariness of blogs by writers becomes more and more apparent, I feel the need to talk about what I’m doing as a possible means of clearing the clutter from my brain.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my WIP. That’s a good thing because a few weeks ago all I wanted to do was leave it stuffed in a drawer. I still haven’t brought myself to edit anymore or even continue working on the sequel…but I’m feeling better about moving in that direction.

This morning I drug out my old playlist for memory triggers. One of the problems with leaving a WIP for a while is coming back to it later. Finding the same inspiration you left weeks or months before isn’t a guarantee. Listening to playlists is a sure-fire way back in for me. Granted, that doesn’t mean I’ve started writing yet. Only that I’m walking the path again.

The truth is, novels take so much emotional strength to create–and sometimes I simply run out of it. Staying in a particular mind-set for weeks on end–well, let’s just say consumption isn’t always a good thing.

So after riding that dreaded bike of mine for 10 miles this morning, my brain flooded. Without a prod or push, it flowed freely. That hasn’t happened in a long while. So here it flows, onto this page. And again, I’m being guided by that voice in my head. The one that for over a year refused to shut up. It woke up. Or maybe I did. Either way, I’m closer.

Listening to:

Angus & Julia Stone: Down The Way–The Devil’s Tears

Broken Bells: Broken Bells–The High Road, The Ghost Inside

Silversun Pickups: Swoon–The Royal We, Draining, Catch and Release

A Silent Film: The City That Sleeps–You Will Leave a Mark

Blue Foundation: Life of a Ghost–Stained, Enemy, Talk to Me, Watch You Sleeping, Hero Across the Sky.

Placebo: Running Up That Hill

The Fray: How to Save a Life–Look After You

Washed Out: Life of Leisure–Feel It All Around, New Theory

Temper Trap: Conditions–Sweet Disposition

Just to name a few triggers that helped to unlock the vice this morning.


Word Count Goals And The Pathway To Hell.

I’m gonna get some back lash for this one. That’s ok, I’d like to know how you all do it, if you do.

Word count goals. They are everywhere. Literally. Daily I watch as TweetDeck flashes updates of a new word count goal that has been met or missed by another writer.

Who can write this way? Apparently–LOTS of people. I am not one of them. I’d sooner stab myself in the hand than lay down a number count I had to adhere to.

The writing routine is varied, I know, and what works for one writer will surely not work for all. Some can force the words out and tada! 1,000 words today. Yay me! I can’t force myself to do anything. I would feel like The Little Engine That Could. He’s out there dying of heat exhaustion, thirsting to death, but COME ON LITTLE ENGINE! KEEP GOING! Umm….? Give the train some damn water already.

If I forced myself to write 1,000 words a day (or any), it would probably read like I was trying to decipher the lost language of Danu Talis with a rock by moonlight.

Now don’t get me wrong, if you write this way, I am in awe of you. YOU have an advantage. It’s called speed. And speed in this fast-changing industry is a huge ally. So what are your secrets? How do you write this way if you do? If you don’t, what your reasons?

Personally, I’d rather take longer with my ms than willingly walk through the gateways of rewriting hell (been there, isn’t fun) covered in burns and soot trying to unearth a story through all the madness I created with my rock.


Bright Lights…..Small….Town?

When does that magical day come? The one when you wake up and a voice inside your head says, “Ok, you’re ready now. Go ahead, publish.”

It’s the bright lights, big city illusion. The day of, “Ah…I’m here!” I’m not sure if that day really exists. For anyone.

I am pretty sure though, that no-one can tell you when you’re ready. No voice wakes you up rattling in your psyche to let loose the magical words. I’m afraid we all need to make the, “I’m ready for this,” decision on our own.

Even the big dogs in the industry had to suck it up and go on submission. Many of which were denied plenty before ever being accepted by publishers. Some of whom, even now and by their own admission, aren’t completely convinced of their talent as writers.

As the self published/ebook revolution comes more and more to the forefront, authors and writers have yet another big decision to make; whether or not to go it alone. No agent, no publishing house, no one there to pat you on the back and validate your work. No one to tell you it’s time to go public and it’ll all be ok. It’s just you and maybe a few paper bags for when the hyperventilation sets in as you hit ‘publish’ on Smashwords.

No longer is creating a query letter the main focus when your novel is finished. No longer are writers inundating agents slush piles left and right. Nope. Now, more and more of us are going it alone. No net. And for a plethora of reasons.

The big city, big lights dream seems to have shifted itself over the past few years. Writers are looking to simply be heard. And now they have the means of doing exactly that. We are in the age of bright lights, small town and about now, I’m thinking most of us are feeling pretty alright with that. We have the means of publishing our work and in the grand scheme of things, I believe that it is the ultimate goal. We all hope to be liked, have our words resonate, but at the end of the day, we also feel the need to just be read.

The rest is just glory.


Why YA?

Because that’s what comes out.

When I began writing I didn’t say, “Hm…I think I should write a young adult novel.” No, I didn’t say anything at all. I just wrote and YA is what came out. Does it matter that I read YA, that I enjoy that genre? Sure it does. But I enjoy a lot of things–it doesn’t mean I write about all of them.

I mentioned a similar idea in my ‘Why Fantasy’ post a few weeks ago. The same stigma occurs in YA, as does in Fantasy. The idea that those who write in these genres do so because they are attempting to ride the giants coat tails. The giants being the big hitters in the YA fantasy/paranormal genre. You know who they are.

But the truth is, when we write, we can’t always control what comes out onto the page. If I were forced to write horror–I could write it. It would likely suck, but I could still write it. I don’t like horror. At All. However, I know of writers who love horror or romance or chick lit–but they don’t write it. Why? Because it’s not their voice. It isn’t what comes out when they sit down at the lap top.

So why YA? Is it your voice? Were you surprised by it? Do you write in multiple genres?


Fear

Fear is one of those awful and wonderful things. It can hold you back and hold you down, it can warn you and keep you safe, and it can also set you free.

Fear can paralyze you and keep you from the things you want–the things you need. It can glue your mouth shut when every fiber of your core is dying to speak. It can keep you in situations you should be free from and it can keep your finished manuscript hidden away in a drawer forever.

Facing your fear can also surprise you. It may just give you what you want most. It may just open a door.

My fear has been staring me in the face and it has been winning. Most of us have that little voice talking in our head. What if my manuscript sucks? What if…?

These thoughts have held me back too. It’s a risk. A major risk. But if we don’t take it, then why are we writing? Why are we going to all this trouble? All this time.

We will never know the answer if we’re too afraid to put our work out there, too afraid to let anyone read it. Because, What if it’s good? And you never knew it?

Let’s not thin the playing field. Get your work out there. It’ll be ok.


Define Yourself

Confidence: con·fi·dence

A feeling of assurance, especially of
self-assurance.

The state or quality of being certain.

Believing in yourself is one of the keys to success. Without confidence, self-doubt creeps in and sabotages your work–your life. Fear stops you in your tracks.
We all have our reasons for writing, we all have a story to tell.
Writing is difficult enough regardless of what you have to say, without second guessing everything that comes out of your mouth or all the choices you make.
If you are writing in hopes of being published, do your homework, study your craft and write the best novel, poem, short story, article, you possibly can. If it doesn’t succeed, move on to the next one and then the next. Keep moving forward. Believe in your story, believe in your ability–believe in yourself.
Keep writing.

This is when writing gets tricky

This is when nothing clicks anymore. When your sentences sound awful, your story doesn’t make sense, you can’t think or concentrate. I believe this is writers burn out. This is writers burn out for me.

This is the point when you wonder for the first time if you should ditch it. Dismantle it all. Everything.  And call it a day. This is where I am. I hate to admit it. Admitting it makes it real.

This isn’t writers block. This is something completely different, completely foreign.

My novel is still on my mind, new ideas still come to the surface. Some days I jot them down, other days I push them away.

I’m pretty sure this is why blogs disappear, novels go unfinished, talent goes untapped or unseen. This is when writers walk away.

Walking away isn’t my plan.

But I have been putting too much pressure on myself. Listening to too much noise. I suppose it’s part of the process–these revelations of sorts. I hope.

So, I believe the only solution is to leave it be for a while. Take a few more walks, run a little farther–a little faster and try to regain the passion that put me in front of my laptop screen in the first place.


When you don’t know..

My rewrites are numerous. My ideas…off the chart ridiculous. My scope…? I’m not sure it’s wide enough. And honestly, I’m not sure how to figure it out. I know that sounds stupid. Let me say it this way. I can name any number of my favorite books and point out just where they went right. The reasons the story works and flows. I can name a few other books that all but lose me. Or pick me up and then drop me again. The books that I need more from, more detail, more explanation, more feeling.

I read my book over and over with all the rewrites and editing. Some days, I love it. Other days, I wonder what in the hell? The questioning of my work is what messes me up. Really, I’m fine with that part of the process. The questioning, it’s needed to a point. What I’m not fine with is where to cut it off. When you read your own work so many times, it can feel cluttered and clunky. When I walk away from it for a few days, read it again, I see more hiccups and fix them. Again.

That’s just it. That’s the problem. I could do this same drill for months. I know I could. So when do I leave it the hell alone and know it’s where it needs to be? When I have too many thoughts and ideas at once, my head will likely explode. And I think that’s my issue. Too many ideas. I put my novel down, walk away, come back, read it again and “Hey! I’ve got an idea!” Or worse, “What am I saying??” I don’t know how to turn it off. All this second guessing will likely kill me.


What I Know

I know that writing a good novel, one that is worth reading, can’t be rushed. That sometimes it can take years…and that’s ok. (*sigh*)

I know that the social media surrounding this industry is not what it used to be. And that for a lot of writers, who would rather just write and let the rest fall where it may, it can be difficult to see through the haze.

I know that in spite of that haze, we (I) need to find a comfortable space somewhere within the madness of the social aspect to succeed.

 I know that some days I can’t get my head out of the clouds to save my life and that focus can be a four letter word if you spin it just right.

I know that I LOVE my novel and that I love to write. And those two things should be enough drive to keep me moving forward. (But some days they’re not.)

I know that running will clear my head and help me organize the cluster of randomness that my thoughts often become.

I know that I am following, listening to, and taking advice from, some of the best writers in this industry (published or not). And this only makes me a better writer.

And I know at the end of the day, I need to relax about all of it because I will succeed.

If in doubt from time to time, I highly recommend these writers and their blogs:

Kristen Lamb’s Blog

Lisa Kilian’s Blog

Nathan Bransford’s Blog

Bob Mayer’s Blog

Good day:)


And Away We Go..

First off…As if I do not have enough hair pulling going on with simply trying  write,  I have thrown myself into the twitter bowl. If nothing else, it should be entertaining to watch me crash and burn for a few weeks.

On a positive note, writing picked up steam last night and I was not only able to stomach the first 7 again, but actually made some good edits along the way. I’m on the upside of my carousel ride again…I pray it hangs in for a while.


What’s with the yo-yo?

It’s not just me, I know that. But I swear I’m on some whacked out carousel ride with high lifting horses and low riding carriages that keeps going in circles and will not let me off.

These last few weeks have been awful. Writing wise. I lost my thread, my focus, my concentration, my mind and it’s taking everything I have to get it all back–to make myself finish my final draft.

How many times do you have to hear your favorite song before you hate it? You know the one. That great song. The song that gets replayed so many times you could scream. I’m there. I will throw up if I read my first 7 chapters again.

How in the hell do people write the same novel for… years? I’m guessing at some point they say, well it’s a good as it gets, I can’t look at this anymore.

So…I started reading backwards. You know, from the last paragraph forward. Edit one and move up. So far, it’s working. I’m kind of afraid to say that out loud in fear of jinxing myself. But there seems to be some type of odd symmetry happening. My brain isn’t hearing the same story I’ve gone over more times than I can count. It is seeing and hearing mistakes more clearly though and at this point, I think, editing more productively. So if you are in this most trying place with your writing, give the backward edit a try. Hell, maybe writing from the end could work too.


You are what you write…sort of.

In the earliest stages of my novel–when it was only a stream of ideas, my POV took hold. It wasn’t something I thought about at the time. But I think about it now and why it came so naturally. I wonder how much of me was my protagonist in the beginning. As the story moved and continued to unfold,  the characters became a far cry from where they started–who they were, when I started. The personas, voices, thoughts and feelings are distinctly their own now. They are no longer the people I began with and I love that.

I realize that there is a part of me in everything I write. A part of every author is weaved into their landscape, their characters, their stories. In some way, no matter how small, we are what we write. The choices we make, the angles we take, the voices we use–they are all part of who we are. Knowingly or not.

When we write, we create the world, the rules, the behavior and the actions. It is at our command. The possibilities are endless. The ability to change and evolve. The choice to stay the same. But I believe our characters at some point, take over. They have to. They lead us the rest of the way through the journey and to the end. And in that evolution, the real story comes out.

The best idea in the world rarely ends where a writer thinks it will without total manipulation of the characters. Unless we allow them to speak on their own, we can never know the true story. At some point we need to relinquish part of the control and allow ourselves to be led rather than to lead.


This isn’t a rush job

(By Shannon9791 via Photobucket)

This is my new mantra. “This isn’t a rush job!” Only I try to say it calmly.

Do you have those days when you wonder if you should scrap it and walk away–or at least toward another project? But then you read a quote or an excerpt and you remember the reason you’re doing this in the first place?  Me too.

There is this blind sort of faith that goes along with writing and finishing a novel. A faith you’re putting into the void in hopes that it will return the favor. As much as my mind seems to have taken a hiatus from any useful thoughts in relation to my (should already be finished) novel, I know I’ll never walk away from it. So in that light, I am attempting to acquire a new look on my writing. Slow and steady wins the race and all that.

In the end, what matters is that I don’t walk away, that I do stay focused (even when it seems impossible–even when that means taking a break) and that I don’t rush it. The ups and downs and backs and forths are tiring. And although I have been going back and forth for a year now with this process, somehow it feels more overwhelming than it ever has. I’m trying to convince myself it’s because this is the Final Draft and therefore, MUST be right. Either way, it isn’t a rush job and like I’ve said before, I’d rather be slow and right, than fast and wrong. So…I’ll be taking a break.


When it’s not writers block or inspiration lack..

…When it’s not procrastination. What the hell is it?

 It’s something–something I can’t put my finger on. Maybe it’s a break. Maybe I need one. Maybe that’s all it is. I literally can not focus. For days, I can’t. Maybe its burn out. Maybe working on something else for a while would help. Suggestions?  Been here before?


100

This is my 100th post. Funny thing about getting to 100 is you begin to run out of interesting or useful things to say. Or maybe it’s me and my crazed novel blocking my flow of thoughts. So here you go:

‘Writing a novel is not merely going on a shopping expedition across the border to an unreal land: it is hours and years spent in the factories, the streets, the cathedrals of the imagination.’ 

-Janet Frame


It’s here. I can’t believe it.

It’s here. One year. The date is here. April 19th of 2010, I started my novel. After several rewrites, here I am one year later in the middle of my final draft. When I took on this challenge it was literally without thought or pre-meditation. I sat down and started writing. There was no outline, only a sliver of an idea that I ran with. It’s been an interesting ride to the say the least and beyond rewarding…..and exhausting.

As incredibly gratifying as it would be to eventually become published, that was not the reason I began my novel nor will it be the reason I continue beyond it.

My goal of completion comes closer to reality every day. Until then, I am thankful to have the unwavering dedication to see my novel to fruition. Thanks for everyone’s support and kind words of wisdom and inspiration, they help tremendously and keep my eyes on the prize.


Content

    www.thesignsofthetimescollection.com

I’m wondering about novel content today. Novel plot really and how it correlates with content. Being a fan of YA Mythology, Fantasy and recently, Paranormal Romance, I’ve wondered about the content of Urban Fantasy and how it relates to these other YA genres. I’m curious to know if readers, generally speaking, appreciate the mix of these elements in a story. For example, a paranormal romance mixed with modern-day crime or fantasy caught up in  the big city drug scene. What are your thoughts?

Do they mix or distract from one another? Should the supernatural fantasy world be woven alongside the drug scene or inner city crime of say… New York city? And if they can coexist, what creates the draw? What about these two elements entices you as a reader? Is it the idea that this fantasy world could be ‘real’, or more believable if it was just outside your front door? Or is it the idea that it simply feels more relatable? Or let’s take the opposite approach. Do you hate it when these elements are woven together?