Typically, I write my entire first draft without getting feedback, with the “door closed,” a la Stephen King. For me this draft is a flow of words as the story plays like a movie in my head. Yep, madness rules when a story grips me.
However, for the past few months, I did not look at my current manuscript. It was although, I had lost interest. Although, I read, edited and commented on other author’s works, mine was left desolate. As the COVID19 months passed, I became worried that the writing bug had left me. I felt bereft. I didn’t mean to stop writing.
Has that ever happened for you?
There are lots of reasons that our creativity, in whatever form, can be cast aside or forgotten. Illness, a new baby, a new relationship, a new home or job, divorce, financial stress and many more. To find that creative spark again, we can use one or more of the following:
1. Firstly, do not feel guilty – it is counterproductive and harassing your muse is a form of procrastination.
2. Start writing – use a prompt, do a character study, write out a story idea.
3. Keep Writing – give yourself a time limit 20 minutes or an hour, or write a page, or 250 words. Choose one and stick to it.
4. Finish a small project.
5. Talk to fellow authors.
6. Change the location of where you write – it can even be in a different room or somewhere local like your library.
7. Take a writing class.
8. Do another creative activity.
9. Make up book titles – based on well known novels or use a title generator on the internet.
10. Create a character description – including all their back story.
For me the spark came back after a discussion on strong female characters and how to make their role believable. It ignited that interest again and I spent the past weekend editing and polishing my steampunk heroine’s character. This writer is back!
Normal programming will continue with an author interview. Slight hiccup with the interview being completed. In the meantime I am re-posting this. It is rather apt as I am currently in the midst of editing a sequel myself and also involved with a small NaNoWriMo editing group where five authors and I are going through each other’s manuscripts. Several chapters a month works well for our process.
As writers we love to be immersed in our own creations -weaving plots, planning and following story arcs, creating character profiles as well as their trials and tribulations. Our minds are full of questions : What happens next? How would my character react? Is that plausible or believable? Can I improve on that scene? Have I shown not told? Is there too much exposition? Would the reader have enough description to envisage the scene?
Graph – speedofcreativity.com
All these questions need to be answered but not when we are writing the first draft. This initial phase is the most enjoyable part of creating a story. Remember to give your inner editor time off enabling you to create freely and get the basic story line written. Once you have finished, the ‘real’ work starts. Continuity, grammar, spelling, character development, revisions to scenes etc. the list is long and sometimes overwhelming. Where should you start?
Once the story is complete put it to one side and go onto new projects. Leave it for a month or more (I’ve left two projects for nearly 6 months). When you go back to re-read you have fresh eyes giving you new insights. Your revision process may be to correct everything above as you read each page or you could concentrate on one item at a time, re-reading each time giving you a particular focus. This second method does lean itself to sharpening the process as you are not trying to ‘spot’ numerous revision types at the same time. With your editing done let your favored readers have it. Take note of their suggestions and correct any errors they may find. No matter how many times you or your beta readers go through the manuscript there will always be a word missed, mis-spelt or a continuity slip up. How do you make your manuscript as good as it can be?
A professional editor – if you can afford one – is a good investment. However, one trick that may work for you in finding those elusive errors is to read the book from back to front page by page. Another is to read it out aloud to yourself or a understanding friend (a glass or two of wine helps with this one!) A missed word is very obvious with this technique.
When editing there may be sentences or even whole paragraphs that you know need to be revised or even omitted from the manuscript to help with the flow of the story line or scene. Deleting these is hard – it is your creation and your words were written through hard work. There are different opinions on what to do with these revisions but I think they should be saved in a separate document until you are absolutely sure you do want to delete them and even then you may keep them as a record of how the scene developed. They are a writer’s jetsam so to speak, which is my link to today’s calendar word. I had to squeeze it in somewhere!
These ejected words from our ‘ship’ may float on our hard drives or become washed up in a document folder but wherever they end up they are part of our creative soul and never truly lost. We may pick them up from the shore in the future to use in another piece of writing or they may stay hidden in the depths of our files. No matter which scenario occurs, they are born of you and precious all the same.
As writers we endeavor to produce the very best manuscript or article we can and that is why we endure the editing process. Without this method of correcting and improving, our creations will not be polished and worthy of reading and that is the one thing we all want – our work to be read and enjoyed.
I wish you fortitude in your process to make your work excel and delight your readers.
It may be a day late but I hope you enjoy this Halloween themed story. I wrote it 3 April 2011, when my writing career was starting.
A Glimpse Through a Window
It started with a glimpse out of the corner of her eye. A movement passing the opened window but when she turned there was nothing there. Dismissing it as possibly a bird or a butterfly floating in the warmth of summer sunshine, she turned back to her work.
Just one more chapter and then she would treat herself to a walk to ease and stretch her aching muscles. Janice had woken bursting with inspiration at five o’clock, now six hours later a major part of the novel was complete. With a flourish she hit the keypad and straightens up. There in front of her was a beautiful face peering through the window. Instinct made her jump and involuntary utter a gasp.
“Hello, who are you?”
The lady smiles but does not answer just reaches out her hand to beckon Janice outside. Her dark shape and long ebony locks float as if in water, it is surreal. Fascinated Janice opens the patio door and enters the warmth of the day time sun.
“Come follow – you will find.”
“Find what, where are we going?”
Without waiting the lady turns toward the rose garden, the oldest part of the cottage garden. The floral scent permanents the air as they approach the blooms. The dark lady stops in the center of the path and points. Janice’s eyes follow her fingers direction – there blooms an ebony rose so dark it gleams.
“Write its story, Janice and release me.”
“Release you – I don’t understand?”
“My spirit resides within the bloom I am relying on your gift of words to free me forever.”
“What shall I write? Tell me what to write.”
“You know my story it is deep within you.”
Janice’s mouth opens to ask another question but the dark lady has disappeared. Was she dreaming? Everything seemed so real, so tangible – the warmth on her skin, the grass beneath her feet. Janice returns to her desk puzzling thoughts race through her mind. There she finds a dark rose petal lying upon the laptop keys. It was real?
A blank page faces her and her fingers begin to type – a story unfolds.
Esmeralda’s roses were well renowned even as far away as London. Each bloom was perfection itself due wholly to her unwavering commitment to their care. After years of trial and error with combinations of manure, egg shells and herbs, Esmeralda had found her ‘secret’ formula. Each season demanded another ritual before the first buds appeared in April. With careful attendance each bud was nurtured to its full potential. Every flower show saw Esmeralda take first place much to the dismay of her rival, Vanity. The competition between the two women was fierce.
During the sixth annual London show Esmeralda was summoned by the Duke of Suffolk. He commissioned her to produce a truly black rose – something never achieved before. With a deep bow Esmeralda had thanked him for his obvious confidence in her abilities but felt she would not succeed. The Duke took her hands and solemnly stated that if anyone could succeed it was indeed the Rose Queen herself.
Upon her return home Esmeralda began researching the deepest and darkest strains of rose. Using grafting techniques and cross pollination she grew several young plants. As they grew and flourished she waited patiently for the first blooms. She achieved deep burgundy and the darkest crimson but never ebony. Three long years past each new bloom took her a step closer to her goal but never close enough. Then in the fourth year a tiny shoot grafted to the main plant produced a bud unlike any Esmeralda had ever seen. It was the darkest green she had ever seen. She tended to this special bud as with all her charges and waited in anticipation for it to blossom.
Sunday 14th April would be a date Esmeralda would never forget – for that morning she witnessed the darkest most beautiful ebony bloom gleaming in the sunlight. She would send word to the Duke that she has succeeded in making his wish come true. However, Esmeralda died that day at the hands of her arch rival, Vanity. It was a dagger to her heart as she breathed sweet words to her special bloom. Vanity took the plant and professed it was her own creation. She became famous over night and revelled in the adulation.
As for Esmeralda her body was buried beneath her rose garden- a place she had loved above all others. Her spirit lived on in the multitude of blooms until one day it rose up and made its presence known. She was the Rose Queen and the ebony bloom her creation.
The words flowed so quickly Janice could not read them quickly enough. At last her fingers ceased their frantic tapping and she realized who her visitor had been. Janice would make sure the real creator was acknowledged for her Black Rose.
Most of my writing for the next couple of months is going to be my freelance project – I have to keep to the deadline! If my brain needs refreshing I will return to my YA novella, Creature Hunt on Planet Toaria, I have maybe 2-3 chapters to complete now. Then I can send the whole manuscript to my illustrator with ideas for the chapter header images.
What projects do you have planned for the winter months?
I am reading this novel by a young local author. She has created her voice and a wonderful cast of characters. Review to follow.
Writing Tips: Hashtags for writers.
#amwriting: Commonly used by writers to indicate they’re generating pages.
#amediting : a writer is going through his or her pages, revising.
#writingtip or #writetip Writing coaches, editors, and others whose livelihoods depend on authors will offer up their tweety pearls of wisdom, marked by these hashtags.
#writingprompt This hashtag is used when writing coaches give a suggestion about what to write, an idea to get the writer going and help to stimulate the flow of the pen on the page.
And good luck to all who are participating this year.
#nanowrimo National Novel Writing Month (November) helps create solidarity among those toiling on their magnum opuses
#book #novel #nonfiction #fiction #paperbacks #short or #short #story or #shortstories or #shortreads #litfic (for literary fiction) #histfic and #histnovel (used for historical fiction) #womensfiction #scifi or #science #fiction #romance #paranormal #crime #suspense #kidlit #cookbooks
My main concentration over the past week and into this week has been my ghost writing project. Fueled with ‘technical jargon’ from my client, I have been incorporating it into the story. The characters are taking shape and after this evening, I will send the revisions ready for our meeting on Thursday. With all narrative’s, be they creative or non-fiction, there has to be a ‘voice’ present. My main character is clear to me and the supporting characters interactions with them is ensuring an engaging story.
I will get back to my YA story in time but need to focus on freelance work for now. I am still undecided on which ‘pending’ novel to tackle next. Each one has its own unique qualities. The Giving Thief – a suspense/coming of age, Willow Tree Tears – a western romance and Life in Slake Patch – a speculative fiction. Logically I should complete Slake Patch, as it is the oldest manuscript and has been rewritten and edited too many times to mention. But with the success of The Twesome Loop – romance with a reincarnation twist – should I follow up with another romance?
What are your thoughts? Which one would you tackle?
Believable and well formed characters, a great plot with lots of tension even after the criminal is revealed and beyond. A real page turner with a climax that keeps you reading in trepidation. If you like detective stories this is one for you.
Currently reading and enjoying this:
Get your characters talking
Writers are observers and listeners. This trait is essential for creating fictional characters. The use of accents, verbal habits and choice of words will enhance the exchange of dialogue within the narrative thus bringing the characters to life. The reader should be able to identify the particular character through their ‘voice’.
Writing has been spasmodic this past week but I have accomplished several ‘to do’ items on my list. I have increased the word count on my YA novella, which now has the new title of Creature Hunt on Planet Toaria. The word count stands at 24,491 as of today. I think the new title reflects the age group and hopefully will intrigue them.
The fairy story, I submitted for an anthology has been edited a couple of times and I am happy with the changes.
My freelance project is continuing and the collaboration with my client is working well.
1. This is All a Lie – Thomas Trofimuk *
2. Maybe This Time: A Colorado Ice Novel – Jennifer Show *
3, Raincheck – Marlo Lanz
4. Origin – Dan Brown
5. This Wound is a World (Poetry) – Billy-Ray Belcourt
6. Alice Network – Kate Quinn
7. A Legacy of Spies – John Le Carre
8. Left-Handed Dinner Party & Other Stories – Myrl Coulter
9. Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro 10. The Twesome Loop – Mandy Eve-Barnett
Enjoying this detective versus serial killer story even though it is not a genre I normally read. My friend V.J. has a great style and keeps the tension going.
Looking forward to reading this by a new local author I connected with a while ago.
Writing Tips for famous authors:
Use concrete imagery when you write about large, abstract themes – Wislawa Szymborska
Work stories out in your head when you can’t write – Alice Munroe
Make people believe in your story first and foremost – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Don’t focus on the end goal excessively as you write – John Steinbeck