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If 1st drafts are meant to suck…

What are second drafts meant to do??

We hear it over and over again. It’s a first draft, it’s okay if it’s not perfect. It’s MEANT to suck. You’re just working all the kinks out. You can’t edit something that hasn’t been written – get that story written down. Once those words are on the page, then you can start getting the story perfect. All first drafts are bad.

Where is the advice for second drafts though? Because I need some. Now. I’m about to admit defeat, throw my hands in the air, and consign myself to being that girl who writes fifty million first drafts because it’s so much easier than trying to edit something to perfection. Because I can’t do this. I can’t. I can’t make it right, or anywhere near right. And I certainly can’t make it perfect. I’m not even sure I can make it ‘good enough’.

So someone, please, tell me that second drafts can suck too. Because I need to find a way to ease off on myself and stop thinking that every word I write is rubbish. If it’s even a fraction better than the original, that’s something. Right? Does it count? Second drafts suck less?

Complete this sentence for me. I’d love to know what you think: Second drafts….

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A new title for the new vision

TCM has undergone quite an overhaul (at least, the outline of it has, I’m yet to get into ripping the organs out of it and replacing them with better working parts), and as such, the title is now completely irrelevant. I think I mentioned this a few months back…  Ah yup. I did.

Anyways! Seeing as Sun-Touched is now finished, and I’m reworking TCM, the time has come to rename it. I was talking about it with Merrilee just yesterday and she fired off a bunch of names. This morning I went through and put them all into Goodreads to see which ones have been used plenty (this is a great tool! you don’t want a name that already has 10 books sharing the title).

I’m pleased to announce that TCM now has a new working title, and it’s Surplus To Requirements. Which I guess means it’ll become STR. I can handle that. It fits the story, which is about a girl who flunks out of her final tests and so is set to be shipped off Earth with the other failures to help pre-colonize planets for the worthy. There is no room for failures on Earth, hence she is surplus to requirements.

I also purchased Scrivener a few days ago. I’ve had the trial version for ages, but keep forgetting to start working in it. Logically, I know it’s a good move, but I just haven’t made the leap yet – well, until yesterday. I opened it up, filled in the scene cards for the first act, and started the first scene of the novel. I’m really excited about the direction it’s taking now, and am looking forward to bringing you snippets of it as I go.

It’s Mother’s Day today (Happy M’day to everyone!), and I’m hoping that means I can get maybe an hour to myself this afternoon to write. That would be the best gift right now. I want to start making a dent in this thing 🙂

 

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Thank goodness for that!

My assignment has been uploaded to my course website where it sits waiting for marking. I feel a world of relief that it’s out of my hands. I did my best, and I can now go back to the fun stuff – academic reading and writing worlds of my own creation!!

This past week as been an interesting time. Normally when I’m not working on a story it’s because I am having a rough patch in life, or writers block, or some other lame reason. This time it was because I HAD to get my assignment done. I didn’t have any energy or thought left for my fun stuff. As a result I craved fiction harder than I have in a long time. I was itching to get back into my story. DYING to reconnect with the characters and when I opened up my files for planning this morning it was like I’d entered heaven.

Pure bliss.

Planning. Outlining. Lining up character arcs and fleshing out details and oh my oh my oh my. Yes it was that good. I feel this sense of peace in my body and mind. Like I’ve had a hit of the drug I love best. I might actually be able to sleep properly tonight, now that the coils of my creative mind have been allowed to stretch and burn off some energy.

I’m so excited to be working on TCM. It’s going to be an awesome book when I am finished with it. The beginning of a kick ass series.

I feel like I’ve been living in an alternate universe for this last week – whats new with you?

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And then it was May

It was almost 9am this morning before I realized we’d entered a new month. A bright, shiny new month. I love those. Aren’t we lucky to have 12 of them every year?

I’m feeling a little silly this morning (in a good way). I have this huge smile on my face and I’m filled with zest for most things. For starters, April was actually pretty successful. I looked back on my first post of the month and checked in with what I wanted to get done. Despite my slackness, I finished Sun-Touched, which was my primary objective!

I also planted a garden, made my new office space my home (my book shelf is where the TV was! yay!!!), purchased a second hand sewing machine (an old Singer, in a table – love it), day dreamed about upholstering my office chair, started writing my first essay for my Counselling paper, polished and submitted a short story, and many other things.

One of which was to enjoy the first beta weekend event for Guild Wars 2. I LOVED playing the game. I tried out a bunch of the classes, and all the races. I love it. LOVE it. Can’t wait until the game is actually released, and am very excited for the next beta weekend as well – hopefully the other two races will be playable!

I was meant to have the whole weekend off after finished Sun-Touched. And it was my intention to. Strangely, I really missed having a work in progress though. Missed having a novel to use as my home base. So really, it was just Friday that I took off. Saturday rolled around, I played in the beta, attended my writers chat in Google Hangouts, and um, opened all my documents relating to TCM.

For some reason, something this simple has really confirmed for me that I AM a writer, through and through. I could have spent all weekend delighting in GW2, but I spent quite a lot of time playing in my own world, tracing character arcs and solidifying plot lines. I love Mel, the main character, and I am loving figuring out how to make her story the best it can possibly be.

A week ago, I would have said to you that May would be the month I’d finally finish Sun-Touched. Get my essay completed and sent in, and then spend the rest of the month planning. I need to fully outline the novella that I’ll write next month, as well as finish off the planning for TCM.

Now that goal has shifted slightly. I still want to do all those things, but I also want to revise the first 10,000 words or so of TCM. (Funnily, that’s in line with my post from the first of April! – I’m amazed how sometimes things work out to plan, even when you think they can’t possibly). I don’t know if I can get it polished to submission standard by the end of the year, but I am certainly going to try.

What has May got in store for you??

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On the hunt for a new album

Throughout the writing of Sun-Touched, I had one album that I put on repeat. Whenever I sat down to write, it was there. If I was trying to write and it wasn’t on, at times I struggled. It helped to get me in the zone, to focus me on the writing – even though the type of music, the lyrics, etc in no way, shape or form mimicked/added to/accented the type of story I was writing.

Now that Sun-Touched is done. I feel a little like I am done with that album. I want something new (to me), something fresh to accompany me while I write my next piece.

May is going to be full of planning, so it’s the perfect time to stop and find some new writing music. Seeing as I have two projects coming up, I need two different albums! And this time, I am going to try and do a better job of matching the albums to the stories.

I’m so out of the loop with the music scene though, that this could prove to be challenging. I may need your help.

The novella I plan to write in June is about an older woman’s journey to reclaim a part of her heritage that many of her people have abandoned. She travels with her baby grandson, whose parents are dead, so a lot of the time she’ll be virtually alone. As much as it’s a physical journey, it’s also an emotional/spiritual journey, so that’s going to be interesting to write.

On the other hand, my YA science fiction series is full of action and drama, romance and conflict (or will be when I’m done with it!).

Any suggestions for music to check out?

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The End

Yesterday, for the first time in almost four years, I wrote those words at the bottom of the last page of a novel.

That’s right, folks. The first draft of Sun-Touched is finished.

WOOOOOOOOOOO. It feels amazing, and yet at the same time, I know that it is in no way a finished novel. It needs a lot of love, a lot of filling in and fleshing out, it needs plenty of tweaks and changes.

But for now, it’s done. I can step away from it, happy that I’ve finally cracked my novel-drought, having proven to myself that I CAN still do it. I think it’s got oodles of potential, and when it’s the right time, I’ll get back to work on it.

So, a few thoughts. I started this novel back in October, on Wednesday the 12th to be exact. I wrote in chunks, some weeks being really good, and others not good at all. I had to contend with Christmas, a road trip, two sets of school holidays and a number of other family/friend troubles. We started going to Playcentre, and I started studying…

It took me seven and a half months to write the thing, but I got there in the end. I’m sure the next one won’t take so long 😉 With everything else that went on, I think that time frame for a first new novel post baby isn’t too bad.

Anyway, yesterday my friend Leigh tagged me in a ‘Lucky Seven’ post, and seeing as pretty much everyone I know has been tagged by now, I am not going to put anyone on the list.

The rules are that you must post an excerpt from one of your books and this excerpt has to be seven sentences, lines or paragraphs from page 77, seven lines down.

Without further ado, here is a snippet from Sun-Touched.

The creature hesitated for just a moment before entering her body. It broached the skin of her chest, half disappearing. She felt sick watching it, so she shut her eyes, blocking out the sight of it.

The same sensations as yesterday crashed over her and she lost the ability to tread water. She began to sink, catching a mouthful of liquid before finding herself buoyed by the creature. It wasn’t doing anything that she could see, and yet it was the only explanation Madea could think of. She felt lighter, stable, despite the emotions that were overwhelming her.

What’s next? Well, I have some major planning to do for TCM, as well as some on another project, a novella which I will be writing in June. I still have to finish polishing off Longing and submit that (Today’s task), and then there is the essay… Funny how I said I was going to do that, and then finished my novel instead 😉

I intend to take the weekend off! I totally deserve it. Though no doubt I will find myself being drawn to something or other… We’ll see. I’m flexible. I feel positive and full of excitement. I mean, I finished my novel!!! How great is that?

I hope April is turning out better than you expected – I had high hopes, realized there was no way I was going to get everything done, and then found a way to do it all anyway – so it’s never too late to turn your month around.

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Project 2012: 1st quarter progress

It’s April 1st, and we’re now moving into the 2nd quarter of Project 2012. It seems strange to think that only three months of the year have passed because it feels like we’re much further in than that. I thought it was time to check back and see what I should have accomplished, and compare that to what I’ve actually achieved.

So, what was I meant to do?

2012: Q1
The first quarter is all about the big picture.  You’ll be looking at your story as a whole.  This is the phase where you chop entire sections, revisit soggy plot devices and give those wimpy characters some backbone.

  • Hook versus climax
  • Plot arc
  • Character arcs
  • Mapping tension
  • Voice, tone and language

Worksheets: chapter list, timeline, character journey

I read through my revision novel (TCM), made some notes, did lots of free writing and brain storming about the world, the story and the characters. I even created a new outline for it. There are still chunks of the novel that need more detailing before I can rewrite, but all in all, I’m feeling positive about where it’s at.

Revision: Getting into the nitty gritty of theme, message, tension mapping and beats.  Scenes rearranged for maximum impact.  All these should be firmed up ready for Quarter 2.

First draftPlotter: You should be 10,000 words in at least.  Pantser: Why aren’t you writing?

I had the benefit of already being in the process of a first draft when the year rolled around, I’m now sitting at 62,000+ words for Sun-Touched and heading towards the end.

While my revision stuff isn’t quite where it’s at, I am hoping to dedicate most of my time to TCM once ST has been finished off. I started reworking the beginning, but it was really odd trying to write in Mel’s voice after spending so much time with Madea. The stories are quite different in ways, though I have noticed some similarities as well.

The 2nd quarter is meant to look something like this:

2012: Q2
Second quarter is all about the chapters, zooming in to make sure that each section of your book develops the story, advances the plot and illustrates character development.   You’ll be looking at flow and movement and making sure each chapter strengthens the work and moves the story forward. For each chapter you’ll be looking at:

  • Hook to climax – chapter
  • Rising tension
  • Character development

Worksheets: scene list, locations and events, character journey.

I’m hoping to get well into the rewrite in Q2 – am giving myself April to finish off Sun-Touched so that I can really focus on TCM. For a month, anyway, and then I am taking a short break to belt out a new novella. It will be the first thing I’ve written that has been totally outlined from beginning to end before I start the first draft, and I am really interested to see how this might impact on my productivity and the writing itself.

So far this has been a year of growth in regards to my writing. Learning to plot, reforming the writing habit, being flexible and pushing my ideas further. I’m feeling really good about where I am going, even though the “I Suck” fairy still does the rounds here on a regular basis.

If I keep going the way I am, I should have a finished first draft of a novel, a revised novel, a newly written, revised and submitted novella, as well as a second novella in first draft stage. Short stories have been given the boot entirely, for now, though I am still intent on polishing up the few gems I have and finding homes for them.

How is your writing year going so far??

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You’re overthinking it!

Over the last few days I have been trying to write an outline for TCM, using a few different techniques. I worry about the structure, I’m pressuring myself to get it right so that I don’t have to do another complete rewrite after this one. I want to make sure that every scene counts, and the story flows and all that other good stuff.

It’s a situation I often find myself in, and I’m giving myself a virtual slap because I’m totally overthinking it, and it’s not helping!

SLAP!

Cassie, you don’t have to get it perfect right this minute.

SLAP!

Cassie, just because you can’t seem to get your head around the technical terms, it doesn’t mean you don’t know how to tell a story.

SLAP!

Cassie, don’t let this stop you. You can’t stay frozen, because you really want to write this story, and you’re the only one who can do it.

*HUG*

Cassie, I have faith in you. Don’t be so hard on yourself, and don’t lose the love you have for this story just because you can’t seem to figure out someone elses way of making stories work. There is no one right way, just the right way for you. You’ll find it soon enough.

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End of Jan summary

Well, a whole month has passed since Project 2012: First draft to submission began.  It was a pretty busy one at home, which posed some challenges, but all up I think it was successful.

I managed to read through the first draft of TCM (which still needs a new title!), and I discovered the opposite of what I thought was true – the bits I thought were exciting and interesting ARE, but they make up a much smaller part of the novel than I had thought. And all the stuff before that?? Well that was interesting too!!

In the end, I stopped counting scenes and making notes around 70% into the novel because everything after that will be different. I found that I wrote a lot of very short scenes, many of which could easily be combined or deleted entirely. I have a few characters but only the main ones are fleshed out in any way. I also discovered that I really like my MC, she kicks butt, and she has some meaty issues to explore.

There is a lot that is going to be cut away from the original story line, but also a lot I intend to keep – more than I thought I would, which gives me more hope for getting this done. I’m sticking with my original premise, and have an exciting new vision for the end of the novel. At some point, I probably will write the other novel – see, there is totally a silver lining to first drafts that veer away from original concepts!

As for Sun-Touched, despite the kids being home all month, I managed to add around 7,000 words to it. It’s just shy of 30K now, and while I had hoped to have more words, I feel pretty good about where it’s going. I threw Madea off a (figurative) cliff and she’s scrambling for purchase now in Act 2, will be interesting to see how it all plays out!

February has marked a return to school for Ivy, and Playcentre has started up for the Littles and I as well. We’re into ‘settle’ in mode, and I am confident that within a couple of weeks we’ll have found a nice little routine.

So January was a pretty good month really, though I have a feeling that February is going to be even better. I’m going to keep writing on Sun-Touched, as well as try to hash out a new outline for TCM.

Woo!

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Refocusing

Now that Hubby is back to work, the girls and I seem to be settling into a serene existence. It’s lovely having him home, but they seem to think it means it’s ALWAYS the weekend and that we should ALWAYS have something to do. Now that it’s just us girls, they have relaxed into chilling out mode and I’m finding more time for my writing stuff.

I say stuff, because I am still getting myself organized. I need to get back into my groove with Sun-Touched as well as finish getting the outline of TCM sorted. I started inputting the info into my spreadsheet yesterday and can already see places that can be merged, or that will need reworking to fit my new vision.

After consulting with a friend, I’m torn about which direction to take the story, but excited by all the potential. I’m enjoying going through and getting to the essence of it, and can’t wait to rebuild it into something more powerful and more amazing than it currently is. It’s reminding me just how much I LOVE revision work.

I’m discovering that it’s much easier to fiddle with something that is already written, editing is a great way to avoid putting new words down on the page. This is not helping with Sun-Touched, as right now I’ll pick the easier option every time. I can’t keep doing that. This novel needs to be written, and I need to immerse myself in it once again.

The thing I really love about Sun-Touched is that there are so many threads in the story. I don’t think I’ve ever written something with so many layers before. I really like Madea, and can’t wait to see how she responds to the things that are coming up in the novel. I’ve put her in the worst situation I could think of, and she is totally confused, but I have faith that she’ll work her way through the lies and half truths, to find what is at the heart of her world.

And Garrett… ah I can’t wait to write more of him. He’s a bit of an enigma, and a fanatic, and while he thinks he’s in control now… He might find that things change when Madea clicks to what’s going on. Maybe this was all I needed, to bask in the glow of the story I’m creating, to reconnect with the things I love about it.

Time to get some words on the page…