Psh, who likes Tom Hiddleston anyway? *eyes Tumblr apprehensively*
Psh, who likes Tom Hiddleston anyway? *eyes Tumblr apprehensively*
Good day, people of Earth.
Recently, my alter-ego finished her third full manuscript.
And there was much rejoicing.
She now faces the daunting task of moving from her drafting brain to her revision brain. If you are at the beginning of your writing journey, you may not have had to make this shift yet. But believe me, your time will come. If you avoid it, you're only hurting yourself.
I am a god. I know these things.
What is different about a drafting mindset and a revision mindset depends a great deal on the individual and their process. Take my alter-ego: she drafts with revisions in mind, leaving herself notes throughout the manuscript to make changes later on, insert further detail, or do more research. This makes drafting somewhat easier, because she knows she will not forget anything. It also helps in revisions, because it gives her a place to start.
For some, writing a draft can happen in chunks which are then woven together. For others, it's a straight shot from beginning to end. Pantsers/gardeners tend to want to rewrite whole sections, where plotters/architects prefer to have relatively clean drafts they can make small changes to. Either way, it's nice to have a starting point. This can be as simple as a read-through, or sending it to critique partners. I know one successful author posts her drafts online in password protected posts for readers to comment on as she goes. This allows her to see what things her readers are latching onto, the characters they love and hate, and any confusion they have. This is most definitely an advantage to being a well-known author.
But how do we switch from drafting to editing?
I have heard of author/editors who write in one font and edit in another. Certainly this has merit, as it is an actual visual difference that can trigger your brain's functions. Though I'm sure it takes training. Other strategies are writing something else, or reading a few books to "cleanse the palette" so to speak. Even taking a few days off to catch up on rest can help reset the brain.
For those starting out, it will take some time to discover what works best for you. Trial and error, learning your own process, will be a different journey for you than even your closest writer-friend. Loki and I are brothers, and our strategies for writing are wildly different. I'm sure even the other Avengers can attest to having a whole variety of processes.
But when all is said and done, this switch is an important and necessary one to make. Learning to make it quickly and effectively is important to being a working writer. I would encourage you to share your own strategies in the comments below. And if you are still learning how you work, what are some things you have tried? Have they worked, or not? I am extremely interested to hear.
Good luck, writers.
I’m sure you’re all familiar with the idea of a reward system. Personally, I have days when writing’s so hard I can barely motivate myself to do it. It’s not like the days when you’re so busy you can’t get to the computer: it’s the days when the computer’s right there, the document’s open, and the words aren’t flowing.
The only way to motivate myself in these situations is a reward system. I mean, there’s a punishment system too, but that just means taking away the rewards, so they’re basically facets of the same thing. The former sounds less scary.
It works like this: if I write a certain number of words, reach a certain point, or hit a particular goal, I get a reward. If I don’t, with any luck I’ll have the time to keep going until I do, so I still get the reward (it just takes longer). If my time is limited, that adds as an additional motivation. I don’t just have to write 1832 words, I have to do it in the next half-hour.
But it’s very easy for this to lead to unhealthiness and contrary to popular belief, I do somewhat care what I’m putting into my body.
See, the most obvious reward is food. Whether it’s as self-abusive as, “I’m not allowed any dinner until I’ve written this chapter,” (or worse, breakfast) or more self-indulgent, like, “If I write 2k I can have chocolate,” the outcome is the same. Your diet gets messed up.
And, if you’re particularly productive, you’ll soon be very overweight. I remember once during NaNoWriMo they were advocating having a chocolate reward after every 2,000 words or something. I wrote 200,000 words that year, so I feel like that would have ended badly. Fortunately, there are alternatives to this. They’re not quite as effective for limited timescales but man, they can be motivating.
As a writer, reading is super important. You’ve got to read. If you don’t like reading, why are you a writer? So you can’t use that excuse. Most of us came to this because we loved books so much. I ordered a book recently, and it arrived today, but my things-to-do list was a little long. So I made a deal.
For every task on that list I complete, I can read a bit of the book. If it’s a long task (which some of them are) I can read 100 pages. A short task will only get me 50. It can be my reward.
Sometimes you’re exhausted or you haven’t got a book ready to read, but TV can be just as great a motivator. Halfway through a series? You’re not allowed an episode until you meet a deadline. Reward yourself by doing something else and taking a break.
I find this works better than punishment because it creates deadlines or motivations to get things done without the stress associated with ‘failing’. If you don’t manage it on time, just keep going until you do. Maybe you’ll have to put the reading off until tomorrow, but you’ll get to do it.
You have to let yourself do it, though. I’ve a bad habit of overworking, so I’ll offer to reward myself and then keep going, saying I don’t have time. That completely defeats the point of the reward system.
Now, I’m not saying that food doesn’t work as a motivator. It totally does. If you’re still at school or college or whatever, it works for essays and assignments too. You can have cake when you finish. A biscuit halfway through. And I’ve definitely been in the situation of refusing to let myself have breakfast until I hit 10,000 words for that day, though that was during a particularly mental stage of NaNoWriMo 2013 and isn’t recommended.
However, break it up. Today’s reward might be cake, because you’ve got some. Tomorrow there may be no cake left, but a book just came into the library that you’ve been wanting to read. The day after that, another episode of your favourite show might be aired. Each day sit down and think, “How am I going to reward myself for what I do today?”
It helps encourage positive thinking (“Look, I achieved something! Now I get a present”), increase productivity (“I might have read 300 pages today, but I also wrote six thousand words, so it was still productive”), and reduce procrastination (because you’ve got time set aside to read and watch TV, so it’s not wasted). Plus, it’s a great way to make sure you keep up with other hobbies, like reading or watching TV, even while in the depths of working on a novel.
I mean, yeah, sometimes a novel’s going so badly you’ll procrastinate by working on homework or other boring tasks, but a properly set-up reward system can work wonders.
How do you reward yourself, and does it help? Let me know in the comments! And you know why you should actually, for once, talk to me?
“My first goal is to hammer all this (the ideas) down in to premise: a single sentence that conveys the plot and the theme. Do you know what kind of story you’re writing? The premise is where you discover and solidify these decisions.”--Author K.M. Weiland (Outlining Your Novel)
“A premise sentence forces you to identify a main character, a central conlflict, and as a result, a general plot. Your What-If gives you an idea; your premise sentence gives you a story.”
How long should my book be?
What's the typical length of a book?
Is this right for my genre?
(Unfortunately, back in the day of the notepad and pen, three hard-hand-written-pages usually accounted to one typed page. I know, extreme bummer.)
So, after scouring the Internet (what else is a hulking monster like me supposed to do while they're holed up in India?), I've compiled a list of the word counts of common books! It might give you a useful guide.
Twilight: 118,000 words
Breaking Dawn: 153,000 words
Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows: 198,000 words
Eragon: 157,000 words
Inkheart: 146,000 words
The Golden Compass: 112,000 words
City of Bones: 130,000 words
Shiver: 94,000 words
A Great and Terrible Beauty: 95,000 words
Tithe: 66,000 words
Wicked Lovely: 73,000 words
The Siege of Macindaw: 79,000 words
Clockwork Prince: 139,000 words
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children: 84,000 words
Percy Jackson and The Lightning Thief: 87,000 words
Artemis Fowl: 56,000 words
Book of Three: 46,000
Midnight for Charlie Bone: 65,000
The False Prince: 76,000 words
The Giver: 43,000 words
Across the Universe: 98,000 words
City of Ember: 59,000 words
Delirium: 114,000 words
I Am Number Four: 100,000
The Hunger Games: 99,000
Mockingjay: 100,000 words
The Perks of Being a Wallflower: 62,000 words
Ruby Holler: 44,000
Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z: 48,000
Charlotte's Web: 53,000 words
Note: I've sourced these from all over the internet. They may not be exact.
Sourced from: Authorial Intent, Hardcovers and Heroines, Super Opinion8ted, Jennifer Represents, Good Books for Kids, and Melody Valadez.
Hello there, mortals. I come bearing a suggestion that I wished I had known prior to my first draft (which is still god-like in perfection, of course).
Unfortunately, I know there are plenty of writers out there known as pantsers--they prefer to write as they go without the majority of the plot or details pre-planned. That does not mean you can't read this post (I command you to read this post). But for you plotters out there, this will be particularly helpful.
You should revise your plot before you write.
It never occurred to me to take a red pen to my outline. I was more concerned with finding some coherent form of a plot and then trying to superglue the scattered pieces together as I wrote, like connecting the dots. Part of this problem originated from my not knowing the ending of my story when I started the outline. There is nothing wrong with that, but it makes going back and revising your outline all the more helpful.
A CP of my alter-ego introduced her to this idea, and light bulb! For anyone familiar with the grueling work of moving around chapters, cutting subplots, and beefing up others, perhaps you can see the sense in this.
I know it's frustrating to start revising when you're so ready to start writing. I promise that you'll thank yourselves later. Take that from an immortal being.
Step One: Start with the ending.Things To Think About: Do you like it? Really like it? Is it satisfying? Is it memorable? What sort of impression does it leave for a reader, and is that what you want? If you plan to write a series, does it imply future books? Does it tie enough of its plot up to still stand alone? Does the majority of your cast participate in this ending?
Step Two:Make a list of all your scenes and title them (Nobody will see these titles. It's so you remember what each scene is). Write these on flashcards, sticky notes, a Word doc, or Excel, whichever you prefer.
Note About Scenes: These are not the same as chapters. Some chapters can have several scenes, others can add up to one scene. A scene will be a little plot in itself, meaning it starts with some kind of desire or intention and reaches a conclusion about that at the end.
Step Three:List all your subplots as headers. This includes 1) the main plot line; 2) a romantic relationship or friendship, if you have one; 3) a B-Story (as in, a secondary plot line that starts about 1/4 of the way through the story can converges with the main plot at the end). There could be more or less, but don't go overboard, and make sure you have at least two.
- Main plot: The escalating tension between the factions that centers around the Divergent.
- Relationship Plot: Tris and Four
- B-Story: The training to become Dauntless.
Also: Include a card for your main character's arc.
Step Four:Put your scenes under each of these headers, in the order in your outline. You'll likely have to make duplicates of your scenes since they might (and should) fit into more than one category. Put each of your subplot sections in chronological order (The order of your scenes in your outline, not necessarily how they are ordered in a strictly time sense.). Your main plot line's category should be the largest.
Step Five: For each header:1. Does each one have a catalyst within the first scene or two?
2. Does each have a climax? Does its climax coincide with the overall climax?
3. Does each have a resolution?
4. Examine each individual scene as a domino. They should look like this:
A --> B --> C --> D....
Each new scene should spur the next one, and it should be impossible to have C without also having B. No skipping from A to C.
5. If one of the above does not work, think about reordering your scene, changing the cast present, tweaking the subplot, etc.
Step Six: Now combine all your scenes into one giant, chronological line.1. The domino effect should still exist, even with all your scenes together. There is some room for pauses, of course, but the scenes should not flow disjointedly.
2. Is there a huge gap between A in one subplot and its B? If so, consider reordering your scenes.
And you're done! Be proud of all the work you've put into your manuscript and its improvement before you've even started.
Hopefully this exercise helped you trim the overflow subplots and help paste your story together, and, down the road, you won't need to rewrite chapters to change their order.
Look for a future post about Revising Your Characters Before You Write, by none other than me, your future world ruler.