2 Month Marathon–Updates!

ImageFor those of you who have been following my journey to complete my novel by the end of the year, you know that these two months have long since expired. Still, the sentiment lingers: a full-fledged effort to complete this project once and for all. Because, as the age-old adage goes, it’s one thing to start a novel and another to finish.

I want to be part of the latter.

And, each day I get a bit closer! Some updates:

1. I have finalized Parts I and II. This is the bulk of the novel, and it feels good to have a draft that I feel confident and happy with. Part III, the short and final culmination, is nearing completion as well. A few more edits and a few final touches to the “big finale” and it will be finished as well. Than I can say I have a complete manuscript!

2.  I have found several readers who are kind and generous enough to read the manuscript. I have already received some helpful comments, and I look forward to continuing to learn and grow from the input of others. It is important at this stage of the game to make sure to keep focused and not get hurt from constructive criticism. I remind myself constantly, that this information can make me a stronger writer, and always find ways to make the negative into a positive.

3. Yesterday I started the daunting task of writing a query letter. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the idea behind a query, it is simply this: condensing the entire, complex, multi-faceted world of your novel into a few short paragraphs, while keeping it interesting, dynamic and conveying your unique voice. Whew. Needless to say, it’s an intimidating task, but I am trying to learn as much as I can by reading successful queries online.

4. I look forward, in the next month, to attending several conferences in the area that focus on publishing options. The timing is perfect, and I lam excited to learn more and make contacts. In one such conference, I will get a chance to have a face to face meeting with an agent, who I will be matched with based on the genre of my novel. This is both exciting and terrifying, but I am hopeful that, at the very least, it will be a great learning experience.

As I close in on the last few months of the year, it feels like every moment counts.

Happy Writing!

2 Month Marathon- Day 20-The Word Whisperer

My readers will know that I am in the midst of a big push to finish my manuscript by the end of July. At the start of each week, I begin edits on the next five chapters of the novel, in the hopes that at the end of the summer I will have a finished product.

I have hit a few bumps along the road. Last week was very busy for me, work-wise. In addition, I was helping my parents get ready for a cross-country trek. I wasn’t able to get my four hours-a-day in. I started to panic. 

Instead of driving myself crazy trying to jam the writing into my already packed schedule, I made myself a deal. Take the rest of the week off. Start fresh on Monday.

Yesterday, over a lovely dinner on the porch with my dear friend and fellow writer, I confessed my recent anxieties over my manuscript. It’s not good enough, it will never get published, I’ll feel like a massive failure in front of everyone I know.

My wise friend said several things last night which helped calm my fears.

1. It’s not only about the destination. The journey of writing a novel has been so valuable in itself. Even if I don’t end up with a manuscript that is deemed publishable, I have learned lessons in persistence and the pursuit of a passion, which are invaluable.

2. Don’t push it. Working on any creative endeavor is so different than most other kinds of work. Even in the editing/revision stage that I am currently in, I need to give myself and the novel, time to breath.

3. Be kind to the novel. Whisper to it, my friend told me. Ask what it needs to grow, to succeed. Listen. Be aware of the novel as an entity separate of yourself. 

4. Visualize success. As with so many things in life, the simple act of visualizing an outcome can help manifest it. Picture the cover, my friend told me. See the pages, each word, your name on the cover. Let that image guide you.

I want to thank my friend for giving me such great advice, and I felt it was my own responsibility to pass this along to other writers out there.

Whether you are struggling, or the words are pouring out, or you haven’t written in months. I hope that this advice can help you achieve your goals. 

As always, Happy Writing and Happy Whispering!

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Using Voice as a Tool

Olympus VN-7100- This is the recorder I bought and I highly recommend it.

Olympus VN-7100-
This is the recorder I bought and I highly recommend it.

As an aspiring writer, most of my life takes place on a computer screen. I see my words, how they look on a page. But hearing them spoken aloud is a whole different experience.

Last week I purchased a digital voice recorder as a part of my two-month marathon to finish my manuscript.

I have been reading each chapter into the voice recorder. I have a paper copy of the chapter in front of me as I read. Then, I go back and listen to the recording and make edits on the paper.

I have found the voice recorder helpful for finding awkward wording, repetitive phrasing, excessive adjectives/adverbs and generally unnecessary fluff words.

Sometimes it takes more than just seeing the words on the computer screen to be able to evaluate my own writing. Especially when it is a piece that I have been working on for almost a year!

Here are a few before and after sentences to show how the voice recorder has helped my writing:

Before: The DJ was dwarfed by the expanse of her loft. The cavernous ceilings were lined with large industrial piping; blank white walls shrunk her further.

After: Blank walls and cavernous ceilings lined with industrial piping dwarfed her.

Before: She wrote up the contracts and then sat behind a desk by the front door and interviewed long lines of eager candidates.

After: After writing the contracts, she sat behind a desk near the entrance and interviewed candidates.

Before: She was dressed in normal street clothes, but Crazy Woodsum could tell that her body underneath was salacious.

After: Her body under street clothes was salacious.

Several writers had recommended using a voice recorder as I go through revisions. Now, I feel like it is my duty to spread along this piece of advice to other aspiring writers out there.

Happy Recording!

Two Month Writing Marathon-Day 1

Today marks the beginning of an important step in the work on my novel. I have gotten to a place where all the writing I have that is being used in the manuscript is in order. The chapters are laid out. Now, I am embarking on a final round of intense edits.

I have decided to give myself one week to work on five chapters. This way, I should get through the entire manuscript in two months. July 15th, here I come!

As I go through each chapter, I will perform basic grammatical edits. On a sentence level, I will work on pairing down, in an attempt to make my language as concise as possible.

I will perform additional research which is needed to fill in details. On the top of my search list are: Los Angeles, professional women’s boxing, district attorneys, Naples and the Neapolitan Mafia. Feel free to fill in the blanks.

I would like to purchase a tape recorder, so that I can read each chapter out loud and listen back to it.  Listening to the words, instead of just reading them, is essential in developing a natural rhythm and cadence.

Today is a starting point. The idea is to put in four hours a day. It’s about to get very real.

Any tips from writers out there on their favorite editing practices?

Suggestions, personal practices and advice are always welcomed and encouraged.

Happy Editing!Image

Changing Direction

As a writer, my vision for a piece often changes. I may begin with a strong idea in my mind, and on paper, of what the project will be. However, part way through I often find inspiration elsewhere, or my characters take me down a path I hadn’t anticipated.

In my current project, I went from having the idea of six lead characters and including full back stories for each, to paring down to one main character. I feel that this focus will lead to clearer growth, a deeper connection to the character and her motivations.

I also have faith that I can share important aspects of the other characters’ past without going into as much detail. A part of me is sad that I may not use lots of writing, some of which I actually think is very good. But on the bright side, I see it as crucial foot work in getting to know these characters.

So as I shift focus in my manuscript I can’t help but feel excited about the new direction. I think it lends itself to more action and suspense. Instead of feeling like the reader is getting bogged down with too much additional information, the main plot can really take center stage.

I am curious to know how other writers deal with these changes. Are you easily able to switch focus? Are there feelings of regret? Where do these changes come from?

For visual artists it may be more difficult to change focus. It could mean completely scrapping a piece and starting from scratch. Writers have the liberty of backspace.

It’s easy to look back and feel nostalgia for characters or chapters that we end up deleting. But at the end of the day, if it makes the piece more effective and dynamic then it was worth it.

I look forward to hearing your input and happy writing!