Be the first to know about new releases - and even read them early!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Who's in what class with who and when now? OR The benefits of a book bible

I am editing a book right now.
I wrote it 2 years ago and it has potential, but needs a lot of work. Two whole plots are changing, so today I finished reading it, hacking and slashing at pages and it turns out I deleted 76 out of 202 pages. And that's just the FULL pages that I took out, not including the multitude of half pages that have big red slashes through them. Oh God...
So um, it's definitely going to be different from the first draft.

I have always been a bit of a panster, when writing. Just winging it, letting it flow, seeing where it takes me.
But with my revision, I am learning, teaching myself to be much more methodical. And I think that is what is helping to keep my head from exploding.

I never kept a Book Bible or anything like that, sure, I wrote down a list of characters and a couple of facts about them, but now, I really think I need more preparation than that.

I came across this scene, a pretty small scene, but it contained a LOT of information I was going to need further on in the book.

Basically, the scene looks like this.

Mads called her best friends MJ (Main Character) and Vanya and had something super important to tell them, and they all had to meet at the tram stop before school.
So MJ and Vanya were there, but Mads never showed.

So this is the scene that got me thinking:

I scanned the faces for Mads as the first period bell rang and everyone got up and pushed and shoved each other out of the room but she wasn’t there. And I didn’t have class with her next either so I had to be all patient and wait until recess to hear the big news.

In English I was totally checking out Dev though. Did he look extra happy about something? Not really, he was squinting at the white board and chewing the end of his pen. Did he look distracted or whatever? Well yeah – but only because he was sitting next to Lachie and they kept talking and snickering about something. I didn’t like it.

What was I saying? Oh yeah. At recess I was standing by Mads’s locker waiting for her, in the process of flattening myself against the lockers as a hoard of year seven’s bounded past, bumping into people and making passing teachers yell at them to stop bloody running and then the teachers would scurry off to the staff room hoping no one had noticed they’d just sworn at some students.

I caught my muesli bar and was contemplating eating it as Van rounded the corner.

“So?” I asked.

“She wasn’t in Math.” She said. Huh.

And then she wasn’t in Geography or Science either or at lunch which was completely frustrating.

So. judging by this scene, MJ does not have class with Mads first period. She has English second period with Mads and two other boys, Dev and Lachie. But Vanya does not have English with them. She has something else second period.

Vanya tells MJ that Mads wasn't in maths, which means that MJ does not have maths with Vanya or Mads. Similarly, MJ muses that Mads wasn't in Geography or Science either (no mention of whether Vanya was, so I can go either way on that one) which means that MJ and Mads have these classes together.
And all of these lessons took place before lunch.

In order to keep track of all this, and what classes my characters should be on their way to at different times of day, if they can walk into class together or have to split up because they each have something different on at that time, I need a Bible.

My brain just can't keep track of it all by itself. So that's what I'm working on right now. My bible. And doing a chapter summary, before I let myself get to writing the new scenes, which I'm itching to do. It's all in the desire to keep my sanity.

Did that makes sense or has my brain actually exploded and I haven't realised it yet?


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

When you finally write "The End"

I finished classes for the semester on Thursday. I have a whole seven weeks to finish writing my Work In Progress. I figured I wasn't that far off the end so I would have it done by this Sunday.
Um, I gotta tell ya, when I have whole days free with nothing else planned? I am PRODUCTIVE.
I had it done LAST Sunday. The one that is 3 days after finishing classes on Thursday - that Sunday.

I walked around all afternoon like this

I live with my older sister now, and she's sick at the moment, and I kept going into her room where she was lying on her deathbed and I just smiled at her and walked out again.

Do any of you other writers get all giddy when you finish a book? It's so exciting, I actually did it! What a feat. It took me four months from coming up with the plot and having a couple of characters, to actually FINISHING it.

Writing a whole novel is a huge undertaking, fellow writers. I hope you realise this each time you churn out another one. You don't merely spend a couple of hours a day on the physical writing, but you spend the WHOLE FOUR MONTHS thinking about your book, your characters. You know? LIVING your story.

Writing for Middle Grade and Young Adult readers, my books are a bit shorter than adult novels, so I definitely hope you adult fiction writers out there get just what a big deal it is, what you accomplish. If you're a writer, whoever you are, reading this. If you're not a writer reading this, well, um... Writing is hard work and I guess I'm informing you of that.

Mind you, this is the first draft. I already know of a couple of scenes that I need to add in, and my awesomely wonderful beta readers are going to tell me if there are any big scenes that need to be slashed and cut out.

In the mean time, I have another book to edit! I'm having lots of fun dreaming up the NEW plot bits to replace the plot I'm choosing to delete. So I'll be deleting many chapters and characters, but inserting heaps of better ones!

So hopefully within the next couple of months I will have not only one but two brand new, polished books to send off to my agent. Hells yeah.

That's all I have for now. Woot for finishing my novel, yeah!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Learning from Crap Books

I’m reading a book at the moment (I’m sure this surprises you).

I was at first attracted to it, enjoying it, because of the voice. Now, voice is something I find extremely important when reading a book, and it’s something I pride myself on. I feel I have a strong teen writing voice. I think I do them well and I think that is what will set me apart from the rest.

I have read interesting books that have a great plot, but the voice is a bit generic, similarly, I have read books with a great voice but the plot is a bit so-so.

That’s what is happening with this book I am reading, but unfortunately, the fantastic voice hasn’t even lasted. It is just a so-so plot. Because of this, I’m not going to tell you what it’s called, or who it’s by or what it’s about. Because I don’t want to bash someone else’s writing, someone else’s blood, sweat and tears. Because writing takes all of that. Well, not necessarily blood (unless you get really bad anxiety and bite your fingernails too effectively) but sweat and tears for sure.

So, this book. Okay, I could stop reading it, but I’m having such a strong reaction to it that I’m going to continue it because I want to learn from it, learn what not to do.

I as a reader am just not invested in the story and the characters welfare because the plot just seems too implausible. And the MC’s reactions to events are just…no one would react like that.

There are some pretty dire situations going on here, lives are in danger, but the reader is directed to not care about that, we’re supposed to only care about what the main character wants, the boy she wants, the social status she wants.

Personally – I care about the lives in danger. But maybe that’s just me.

As much as you can learn from a well-executed book, as a writer you can learn from a poorly executed one as well. What are those gut feelings you are getting, what is it that is pulling you out of the narrative to sneer at the book in disdain?

You don’t want readers doing that to your book, so work out what it is about books that you don’t like, that makes you dislike them. Learn from the best, sure, but take the time to learn from the worst, too.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Pretty Little Liars: Awesome Publicity and marketing

G'day everyone,
I know it's been awhile since I actually wrote anything properly here that wasn't a link to someone else's awesome post, and I will write a proper post all of my very own here sometime soon, but erm, well today's not that day.

I wanted to send you all the The Story Siren's post about the promotional game she is involved in, for the new TV show Pretty Little Liars (based on best selling books as many of you know, I'm sure) . Check it out here, at the Story Siren.

How cool is that? I want to play! Just the IDEA of the game has gotten me excited about the TV show, and that's the whole point of creating the game, right?

Really creative marketing and publicity, in my opinion. I approve.

That's all for now. Lots going on, it's the last day of semester today, and I'm knackered. But that means that I have 7 whole weeks of focusing on writing and editing books ahead of me. This is my productive time, and I'm looking forward to it. Maybe after a nap. Or maybe now. I'm not sure.

Ciao for now,