Saturday, November 5, 2011

Onward, Writing Soldiers

(Image via DJuliet at Flickr)
I’ve started querying agents on my novel, and as I wait to hear back, I’m planning about my next project.  Here are five things I’m doing differently as I work on my next novel:

                1. Outlining.  “The Rule of Three” evolved over so many years and so many different drafts, that sometimes it feels like I’ve created the Frankenstein of novels (but a really awesome, catchy, cool Frankenstein, agents-who-could-be-reading!). So, for this next project, I’m religiously mapping out the plot, chapter by chapter, in hopes that it will lead to a more efficient writing process. I still expect to throw lots of words out. I had an MFA prof who grimly told us to expect to throw out hundreds of thousands of words for every novel.That happened to me with “The Rule of Three,” but I’m hoping that I can avoid it with the next novel. Or, at the very least, whittle it down to tens of thousands of discarded words.

                2. Researching. I did tons of research with “The Rule of Three,” mainly because I love to do research.  There wasn’t that much of the information I went through that informed the novel, but I think this connects back to the fact that the novel went through so many major overhauls. I plan to research with this novel, again because I love to, but I think the research will prove more directly useful, because I’m plotting out the whole thing in advance.  I'm going to try not get side tracked into researching every possibly related topic, because too many tangential ideas are generated when I do this.

                3. Running every chapter through Style Writer. It’s shockingly expensive at $150 (at least in my world, that’s shocking) but it’s really useful, and there's a two week free trial. I bought it to copyedit “The Rule of Three,” and it helped me see individual errors, as well as figure out what kind of less-than-ideal patterns run through my writing. In other words, it helped me figure out what some of my crutches/weaknesses are. So, in my mind, it’s worth it. I’m thinking that using Style Writer with every chapter as I write it will be a great way to strengthen the overall novel as it comes together.

                4. "Teaser Tuesdays.” Hordes of people do them, and before I started blogging, I always thought, man, I’d be too scared to do that. The idea of putting relatively raw material out there freaks me out a little bit. But, I’m going to try out the meme, as a way to push myself out of my comfort zone. Who knows, it could have a positive effect on the novel, too.

               5. Write without editing. I read this post of advice from Veronica Roth addressed to NaNoWriMoers, and I really identify with the first sentence.  Trying to perfect my writing as I go along as has always been my modus operandi. So, I'm going to try to mix it up, move way away from my typical method, and try out the following:

"I am familiar with doubling back to address the draft, fixing inconsistencies as I go, tweaking sentences, and so on. I wrote my first manuscript like that, and let me tell you something, and I swear it's true: that manuscript took me a year to finish, and it required more editing than Divergent, which I wrote in less than half that time, taking the "don't look back" approach.

My plan with Divergent was this: just. Keep. Going. I would think of things I wanted to fix later and make a note of them on the document and then just plow on through. Then when I was done, I went back to address the comments, but I never even looked at them until I had written the last word."

Hey, if it worked for Veronica Roth, then I'm willing to give it a shot.

P.S. Check out the link under the picture: there's an awesome quote by Lynda Nead that accompanies this picture on Flickr.

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