The Shambling Guide to New York City by Mur Lafferty

It’s got an elderly kick-ass demon-assassin, zombies that can think, and a death goddess working at a small press. For that, I can forgive the continuity errors and the occasional odd plot point.

Three things I learned about writing:

  • Watch out for the vague “some”: “something made her”, “something told her”, “some sort of sense”…it gets overused too easily.
  • Where you start your story affects how sympathetic your protagonist seems. Start it when they’re under stress, and readers automatically feel for them. Start it with them relaxed but complaining about how rough they’ve got it, and readers might not be as charmed.
  • Vivid, brief descriptions and snappy dialog can pull a reader through the roughest parts of your story.

Strangely Beautiful, Vol 1 by Leanna Renee Hieber

Gothic” in the overwrought, melodramatic sense.

There’s some fantastic ideas in here, but it was tough one for me to finish.

Three things I learned about writing:

  • People falling love notice everything about their beloved. If writing from the POV of a character falling in love, their thoughts will dwell on even insignificant details about their beloved.
  • Constant repetition of unexplained magical elements makes them annoying and boring. Conserve the magic, to make it interesting.
  • Use a deep dive into a character’s thoughts during conversation sparingly. Dialog should speed the story along, interrupting the flow with paragraphs of thought undercuts momentum and frustrates readers.

Cranking Through

Managed to whittle the list of editing passes from twelve to twenty and now back to thirteen.

Which means I didn’t finish them by the end of March, like I wanted.

I *did* finish the biggest of the changes, though: giving each chapter to either the male or the female protagonist, swapping evenly between the two, and filling out her narrative arc so that her storyline has equal weight.

The changes I have left are much smaller: revising character appearances, adding touches to scene descriptions, and making sure everything is consistent.

Still, I’m setting weekly goals, aiming for three editing passes done each week. At that rate, I’ll be finished with the edits in early May :/

Much later than I’d like, but I tell myself that’s better than not doing them, or worse yet, continuing to tweak and edit for a year or more.

Everyone Gets a Pass

My original plan for editing the first novel turned out to be…rather naive.

I thought it would be enough to fix the female protagonist’s plotline, then make a few description tweaks, and be done.

Instead, I’m looking at making a dozen or more editing passes over the novel, each one picking out a thing to fix and make consistent through the book.

I’ve had to change character appearances, character names, city names, backstory, world history…nearly every element needs to be tweaked one way or another to line up better with what I think the novel should be.

So I’m keeping a running list of things to fix as I go, jotting them down as I find them. That way I can focus on just one editing task at a time, getting one thing right all the way through the book before going back to the beginning and starting on the next fix.

My goal was to have these edits done by the end of the month (for a total of three months of editing), so I could spend the next three months editing my second novel. But we’re a third of the way through March, and, well…my list keeps growing.

Still, I’ll push on. I’m finding I still like this novel, still like the characters. I want to do them justice, give them the best book I can. So I’ll keep working through the list, till the list is done.

Done!

Novel’s complete at 50,122 words!

At least, I think it’s complete. Last time I thought it was done, there turned out to be another 45,000 words of story to tell in there.

The cut-off point this time felt more natural, but could seem just as arbitrary to a reader.

Only way to find out for sure is to hand it off to those brave friends willing to read and offer feedback on something so rough and ragged (bless you all).

Till then, it’s back to editing my other projects. I’ve had some ideas for how to trim my first novel into a better shape. *cracks knuckles*

Hope you have a Happy New Year! May your words sparkle, your stories captivate, and your edits be painless 🙂

Outline as Compass

Novel’s at 39,412 words.

Decided to brainstorm my way out of being lost. I took the climax I’m working toward, and mapped out short, medium, and long ways to get there.

They all had scenes in common, but only the long path gave me the chance to wrap up all of the plotlines I’ve got going.

So I’m taking the long path.

It’s still likely to end up a short novel. I’m definitely in the final third of the book, so I know I need to pile on the pressure to build things toward my climax.

With luck (and a lot of work), I’ll be finished somewhere around the first of the year.

Then I can turn back to editing my second novel, and maybe doing another pass on my first novel, and another edit on this short story I wrote in September…

*sighs* Maybe best to ignore that for now. One story at a time.

Where Am I?

Novel’s at 33,986 words.

I’m at a point where I’m not sure how much story is left to tell.

I could be two-thirds of the way through, and so on my way to the end. If so, I should be quickening the pace in each scene, pushing the narrative forward faster and faster to reach the climax.

Or I could just be halfway through. In which case, I should be steadily building toward the next major turning point in the story, pacing things so that the reader’s not exhausted by the end of the book.

I feel like this is something I should know.

I’ve got the rest of the book outlined (even if it’s in my head). I know the scene for the story’s climax. I know the characters that are there, and what happens afterward. But damned if I don’t know how they got there, or how much time there is between the scene I’m currently writing and the last one.

It mystifies me that the only way to find out is for me to write it. As if I weren’t writing a story, but reporting on events. And until those events happen, I’ve got nothing to report.