Tag Archives: editing

Post-Planning

11 Jan

The whole point of planning is to do it before what it is you are undertaking. It’s so all you have to do is follow the path instead of wading through the wilderness. What if I told you, though, there’s also something like post-planning?

You might think I’m mad. And I am, but that’s neither here nor underwear. Personally, I have tried to plot and plan, but my biggest dream of actually plotting most of my novel and writing like the blazes because of it has only happened once. A small thought stepped forward while I was trying to train myself to plot and it occurred to me that writing a first draft IS the plotting. You write it and afterwards you make a lay-out of your scenes and character growth and all that. It makes it easier to check your work and then make any necessary changes. Basically it makes you an edit-plotter, though I’m sure there’s a cooler name for it. Hang on, I’ll think of one.

This means that really there are no wing-it writers, there are just different ways of plotting. What ever works for one writer, will not work for the other. I mean, think about it, our characters are so different from each other. Doesn’t it make sense that humans are are also very different from each other?

DEATH DRAGON WRITER. Yes, that’s the cooler the name. Spread the word. You’re writers, you’ll be good at that.

 

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Summaries, Save me!

25 May

Though plot synopses make me want to hide in a wardrobe so I can rock back and forth and eat cookies, I’ve learned something valuable from them. Which is that a plot synopsis is one of the best writing blue prints there is. Okay, fine, I know this is probably common knowledge but it wasn’t for me so just in case, I’m sharing. If you’re a querying writer then you’ve come across this dreaded monster and if you’re anything like me then the act of writing a synopsis has probably made you cry. Also, it has probably been written AFTER you’ve finished your story. It all depends on what kind of writer you are, but since I’m a wing-it kind of writer, it never occurred to me to write a synopsis beforehand, even if some story aspects will change.

The best synopses are the ones that are only one page long. Two, tops. I always was relieved when I found an agent that asked for longer synopses because wow, is it hard to compress the main plot of your novel and squish it on that one page. But it is also the best way to figure out what the most important points in your novel are and therefore what you have to write towards. Writing a short summary has the same effect as a brainstorming session, especially if you set a timer and try to do it in a short time. Usually I just write and see where I go, or I daydream to see what the best way to go is. The summary forces you to do that without your brain noticing every shiny thing in your vicinity after you’ve only been daydreaming for three minutes.

So, to keep it short and simple: Write your synopsis before you write your story, even if you’re not a plotter. If you want to try your hand at plotting (which I’ll be trying now) you can use the synopsis to fill in the gaps between. I’ve planned out thirty chapters and two scenes per chapter, so I can fill in what will happen during those moments. Plotting doesn’t have to mean there is no room for creativity, it just means you’ve mapped out the way to reach your destination. Which doesn’t exclude unexpected detours. It also means you can think about any possible plot holes and avoid them. And it also allows you to focus on moments that are crucial to your story and therefore could possibly save you during editing. Write that synopsis and focus on the most important points belonging to the main plot. Have someone else read it and see if it gets them as excited as you. Who needs muses when you’ve got summaries?

 

The good thing about a bit of plotting is the use of notebooks and post-its!

The good thing about a bit of plotting is the use of notebooks and post-its!

 

The Art of Revising

9 Feb

And there it is: a plot hole, a character that doesn’t feel quite real, a motivation that is lacking. There’s always something you find could use improving if you take out a magnifying glass and look through it with a reader’s brain instead of a writer’s heart.

And therein lies the rub. Once a story has been written, whether it’s a first draft or not, it’s hard for the writer to erase those words from paper. I like to see it as the power of the written word. They plant their roots in paper and it’s hard for the writer to pull them out, since he was the one who planted them in the first place.

This is why reliable ninja readers are so important, they weren’t there when you planted those words and they only care about how they look when bloomed. And this is also why you should let your story simmer before rereading it. Then you’ll be able to read it more as a reader, as opposed to a writer. Also, your subconscious knows so much, so be sure to take notes about which doubts are shouting at the back of your head. Chances are, if you have a strict ninja reader, that he’ll point out the things you suspected and this will make your inner (re)writer’s hands itch. No writer wants to pee in his own shoe. We want our story to be the best that it can be and we are the only ones that can make that happen.

Now comes the tricky part, which is to actually incorporate those changes necessary to benefit your story. The story is an intrinsically woven web of multi-coloured threads. Pull on one of them and the entire thing could collapse. And since I wing it more than I plan it, I find it difficult to uncover a way that works for me and doesn’t involve a lot of grunting, sighing, muttering and complaining on Twitter. What once really helped me was writing down the situation at the beginning and at the end of the novel and work my way to the middle, writing down the scenes that needed to come after the beginning and before the end. It’s a great way to plan your novel and keep sight of the thread that binds all the scenes together. You’re forced to ask yourself: What needs to happen in order to get to that next point?

So, keeping in mind the changes I need to make, I think I’ll use this method to determine where and how new scenes need to take place. (Easier said than done!) And I’ll probably still complain on Twitter.

This leads me to my question for all of you fellow writers, how do YOU rewrite?

 

writing journal

Writing Update

26 Jul

It is nearly the end of the month, so you know what means…another writing project finished. Well, a first draft, but that means the hardest part is over. At least, I consider that the hard part. It’s easy for me to work with a sketch/blueprint of a story. I’ve never been a crazy reviser. Some writers make whole outlines and travel to distant lands to receive wise words from a sorcerer when they start revising…okay, maybe not that last one. In my case, with my finished story, I wrote along the way. At some point I changed the plot so I started over, using some of the pages that I could from the old version and just wrote. Along the way, I’d see if it made sense, but I knew where I wanted to go. The only rewriting that needed to be done after that was the phrasing of words, making sure it’s not too wordy and other syntax related changes. I suppose it’s good to know that I don’t write in such a way that I have to change scenes here and there and really cut it up and paste it again. Usually when I know the direction I want to go in, I can write it like I’d read it.
Having said that, now that I’ve finished another project, it’s time to revise the first one. The cosy mystery. TUM TUM TUM TUM. In this case, I feel like I really just wrote it to be quick and get the basic idea down, so I do feel like I will need to work hard to get the characterisation right and the plot, the atmosphere. The Writing Guidelines are different for cosy mysteries than for the other stories I’ve been writing so perhaps that is why I need to reread it with fresh eyes. I felt like something was missing. That is also why I ordered a cosy mystery and started reading it to get in the right mind set. I think what I’m missing has something to do with the characters. Cosy mysteries usually have a lot of minor characters, but I don’t like too many minor characters, I need to give them something special to set them apart and in this case, I didn’t feel the need for certain characters. Or scenes for that matter. But with cosy mysteries, cosy is very important. Characters need to be there to provide comic relief even though they don’t contribute (much) to the plot and the same with certain scenes. They need to add to the cosy vibe. So instead of asking myself: Does this character contribute to the plot? Or does this scene contribute to the story? I need to ask myself: Does this character make the story more cosy? Does this scene make it cosy? Which is why I’m soaking up the cosy vibe with other books.
This is also why they say writers should read. It really helps to take away what not to do and what to do from an already written story in your genre. So get your read on…and then your write on!

In the meantime here is the final sentence of the story about the girl with multiple personalities:

 After all, most of the time, the only person who can lighten up a dark room, is you.

 

Dissociative_identity_disorder

 

 

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