Going over 50,000
words on Thanksgiving Day.
I made my pumpkin pie and got
to type away thanks to a very helpful husband who put the turkey in the oven
and watched it until it was golden brown and done.
Still having more
writing to do because my novel has more than the minimum 50,000 words for
changes I’ve made so far.
The change to first person
from third person is going well. I find myself satisfied with the results more
often than not. Actually, I haven’t found anywhere that it hasn’t worked out
for the better.
When I’ve read comparison
pieces at the Writer’s Studio, the results were always evenly split. No clear
opportunity to work on my novel. So many things could have gotten in the way.
Too bad it’s taken so long to
get it done. But I wanted to make it the best effort I could manage. And let’s
face facts—I had a lot to learn.
Best thing to be thankful
I’m in the home
I have so much to be thankful
How do I improve the
“immediacy” of my novel? The request has me thinking. Do I go with first person
point of view over third person? There are advantages and disadvantages.
I like third person. It goes
a long way in shaping the story. I can reveal information and have multiple
characters speak their minds. Important stuff on the way to developing theme,
motivation, as well as action. Works well for the new writer.
But, I can see how first
person shines the spotlight on the protagonist and forces his or her character
formation to take center stage. A pretty good thing for me to consider.
However, what becomes
problematic about this quest for “immediacy” is the use of present tense over
past tense for my verbs.
Using present tense flies in
the face of most writing advice. To avoid fuzzy abstractions and passiveness, I
get lots of encouragement to “swat your Bs.”
The Bs in this case: am, is, are, was, were, be, being, and been.
I’m currently reading two
books for local book clubs that feature first person, present tense: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and The Art Forger by B. A. Shapiro. I’m
finding lots of Bs in both books.
Lots. But they don’t appear to stand in the way of developing action or story.
Every once in a while, there’s a really awkward sounding sentence that makes me
pause and reread. Not good for the flow of the narrative, but then I am being
I have to be picky if I’m
going to consider such a drastic change in my manuscript. After all, it is one
thing to practice first person, present tense in a small piece such as a blog
post, it’ll be quite another to keep it up for an entire novel.
And what about all those
other voices I want to hear from? Those voices I feel the need to hear from. I
have to find a way for them to speak their minds and add other dimensions to my
work, more layers of meaning.
Such is my experiment in
progress for this year’s NaNoWriMo.
Wish me luck. I’ll need it.
weekend I attended a focus group meeting for the Midwest Writing
had a good discussion of MWC's present programs and services and gave our
thoughts on what we might want in the future.
I got home, I decided to go through my pile of MWC workshop folders and
saved everything since I started attending events in 2008. I like to dig them
out every once in a while, sort through them, and see if I can throw anything
away. Never happens. It's all good reference material for some part of my
Jane VanVooren Rogers's tips on editing, 2008.
Vonda N. McIntyre's manuscript preparation, 2010.
Vonnegut's eight rules for writing fiction, 2011.
years from now--the MWC needs to be
right here fulfilling its mission so the shy, quiet people in the back of the
room can continue to develop and grow into real writers.
Survey question #10: How will the world be
a better place when MWC fulfills its mission?
answer: When my book is finished, published, and for sale.
husband’s answer: The world will be a better place with a community of fully
aware and independent thinking readers and writers.
had the better answer.
I spent last week editing
down a submission for Chicken Soup for the Soul. This lead came from a
recommendation on the Funds for Writers website. Apparently a lot of people
have their first freelance writing sales with this series.
The topic for the prospective
book I was aiming for: Hope and Miracles.
I thought I had my story in
pretty good shape from an earlier essay submission that didn’t pan out. No
rejection via standardized email, just nothing. Not unexpected from a national
magazine that would have had thousands of entries.
The website for Chicken Soup
for the Soul had guidelines for its submissions: what they should be—what they
should not be. The final note: Tighten, Tighten, Tighten!
I began rereading my piece smugly
thinking, “This won’t need much tightening.
I’ve been over it lots times already.”
My writing style usually
involves a rough draft with a great many rounds of rereading, rewriting, taking
a break, and then doing it all over again—more times than I care to keep track
When I began reviewing my
essay, I was initially dismayed with the mistakes I found. So much for my proof
reading ability. (I definitely need to develop a better eye—or hire someone.) I
kept at it. Every time I would think “This is it. I can’t go any further,” I’d
take a break and come back to find more spots where I could make cuts and not
hurt anything, even make it clearer, stronger.
The editing took my word
count from 1125 to 979 over two days. It became a personal contest with each
reread: What can I take out? How much fat could there be? Do I really need
Stephen King’s book On Writing strongly encourages taking
out 20 percent. My trimming took out 146 words for 13 percent.
First to go, those pesky and
unneeded adjectives and adverbs: big, quickly, etc. Next, those dangling
independent and dependant clauses I have a habit of inserting—not needed. The
real prizes—whole sentences. Windfalls to stringent editing.
Tighten, Tighten, Tighten!
Probably a good motto for all short stories and flash fiction. However, I’m not
going to go overboard for my novel. I need to keep those extra juicy little
tidbits of color and drama to make things interesting—at least for now.
I mention this journey because
this philosophy of economy, this appeal for brevity runs totally opposite to
what’s needed for National Novel Writing Month. The first rule for NaNoWriMo is:
turn off your internal editor and write,
I’m glad I got the editing
out of the way last week. Now is the time to write with abandon.