Tag Archives: Revisions

Post-NaNo Failure Funk, Revisions Funkadelic?

It’s been 25 days since I last wrote a blog post, 41 days since I worked on revisions for Arcana Revived, and 16 days since I last did any writing for my #NaNoWriMo project. I ended NaNo with only about 35,000 words, my worst performance yet. To say I’m in a funk is, frankly, an understatement.

There’s plenty of reasons for it. Compared to this time last year I’m at a new job, in a new relationship, and no longer in college. Things have been rather topsy-turvy for awhile now, and it’s taken awhile to get settled into a new routine. One where I’m no longer fretting about whether the rent will be paid next month, and where I know for sure that there will be food on the table. That sort of thing makes a big difference.

I’ve missed a number of self-imposed deadlines. I do a lot better when someone else is imposing a deadline on me, like when I was in college. Part of the reason that I’ve written six first drafts of Arcana Revived books already is because I was writing a lot of them as class projects, such as my master’s thesis project. After I lost that structure and got out of the academic routine, it became a lot harder to keep focused.

Hopefully I can make some changes soon and get back into a groove again. I was doing a good job writing almost every day during NaNoWriMo. I earned a lot of stickers (one for every 1000 words). I haven’t earned any stickers all month so far, though this blog post counts as one (one blog post = 1 sticker). So hopefully I can fill my calendar with stickery goodness and get back into the groove. We’ll see how it goes.

If it goes well, expect more regular blog posts again. I enjoy blogging about my writing and revision progress, and the feedback I get on these posts tends to help keep me in the zone.


mani_promoManifestation is available in paperback format through:

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and in ebook format through:

Kindle and Nook

Schedule Funk

All of my writing projects have been suffering lately. I’ve only been writing blog posts about twice a month (this is number two). I’ve only managed to work on revisions a couple of times, maybe once a week. I haven’t written any new stories or anything in awhile. And in general, I’m struggling to get back into some kind of regular routine.

I work best when I’m in a set routine. Getting up at a certain time. Writing blog posts certain days of the week. Setting goals on my writing or revisions and not going to bed until they’ve been achieved. Those sorts of habits work well for me . . . when I’m not in a funk. Finishing school, changing jobs, and struggling through “life” has led to quite a funk, and not the psychedelic kind. I have to figure out a way out of this funk and back into a regular schedule.

I can try to get some outside influences to keep me in line (read: friends to nag me until I work), but a lot of my friends are in their own funks, so that seems to be counter-productive. So for starters, I’m going to focus on a small goal. Getting back to three blog posts a week, like I used to do. Blogging about writing is a good way to get me thinking about writing, which in turn can get me in the mood to write. So this could be a good solution to getting through my current funk.

Though a little regular nagging certainly helps too.

Uncertainty About Feedback

As I’ve mentioned a number of times recently, I’m currently working on my Master’s Degree Thesis Project for my MA in Writing at Rowan University. My project is one of the sequels to Manifestation, which will eventually be published some time after my graduation. I’m working on the third draft, making revisions based on feedback from my professor, my classmates, and a second professor who serves the role of “project reader” (each student gets individual guidance and advice from a different project reader, in addition to our main professor who works with all of us). The advice I’ve gotten, across the board, is extremely helpful and insightful.

It’s also really difficult to work with, at times.

See, sometimes you can get a really good piece of advice, say to yourself, “Hmm, this is a good point, I should fix this,” and then have NO idea how to actually fix the problem at hand. For example, I’ve recently received some advice that my WIP has some issues with pacing, and that the story needs to keep moving forward, instead of being slowed down. This makes a lot of sense, but it leaves me a bit uncertain how to proceed. It’s likely that I’ll need to simply cut some scenes that don’t support the overall narrative, but it can be hard to make an objective decision about which scenes need to go. Or I might need to rearrange some chapters to reorder how events play out, so that there aren’t extended slow-moving sections. But that can also be difficult, since it requires an analysis of the overall structure of the story, rather than looking at any scene individually.

Usually, I find I need to take situations like this one piece at a time. I find it more productive to look through the feedback I’ve received and pick-and-choose what I’m going to address right away versus what I’m going to deal with later. It’s kind of like having a To Do list and tackling the easiest tasks on it first, in order to shorten the list. I find a shorter list far less daunting, and at least I can feel like I’m making progress. This works far better for me than staying jammed on a single issue and never moving forward.

It also allows me more time to figure out what to do. When I’m working on one issue, another will be in the back of my mind, simmering. By the time I’m ready to address it, I’ll have had time to figure out some new approaches. Sometimes that makes it a lot easier to come to a final decision. Or sometimes the answer will come to me unexpectedly, usually while I’m in the shower. In any case, setting it aside until I’m ready seems to work far better than dwelling on it.

It can also be helpful to write a blog post about it, because that lets me get my ideas out and keeps me from dwelling on them. Which brings us to where we are now.

Hopefully, before the end of the weekend, I’ll be able to make some serious progress. If not, I’ll just have to keep muddling through it until things start to click. Wish me luck.


mani_promoManifestation is available in paperback format through:

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and in ebook format through:

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Revising for Patterns vs Revising for Story

I just finished some revisions on a section of Book Six, based on some feedback I’d received from one of my professors at Rowan University. But the changes I made were sporadic and spread out through the entire text, picking out individual errors and common patterns the feedback had pointed out. This led to a very different, and in some ways “incomplete” type of revision.

Most of the time, when I’m revising, I go line by line, chapter by chapter, reading the text through from beginning to end. This allows me to be immersed in the story as I’m going along, and in this way I can catch errors in the continuity. For example, I once caught a mistake where I had a character start a scene wearing a skirt, then suddenly I mentioned her putting something in her pants pocket, then later she was in a skirt again. Or other times I might mention the night sky, then later on mention the setting sun (this often happens when I rearrange chapter order, and one chapter is now later than the other). These kinds of errors wouldn’t be noticed by reading an individual page by itself. It takes a careful read through the entire manuscript to catch them.

But a careful read through the entire manuscript might not catch some patterns and bad habits because they’re easy to overlook. For example, the feedback that I got pointed out that, among other things, I overuse the word “then.” Here’s a case of overuse that I just recently had to deal with:

Adrianna frowned and lowered her head. She pressed her palms down flat on the papers that covered the desk before her. “I’m not an invalid,” she said. “I’m perfectly capable of being out on my own.” She glanced over her shoulder at Dr. Pavari. “I don’t need to be babysat.”

Dr. Pavari pushed his glasses up his nose and said, “We’re giving it a trial run. I think it’s good for her to get out and try to get into some kind of normal routine.”

Adrianna pressed her hands down harder on the desk. “Don’t talk about me like I’m not here.”

“I’m sure he didn’t mean it like that,” Gabby said. “It’s okay.” She paused, chewing on her lip. Then she nodded to the papers. “So, what are you working on?”

Adrianna cast a glare up at Dr. Pavari, the turned back to Gabby. “Food inventory. I used to do this at the restaurant.” She patted the papers before her, then smoothed them out, then patted them again. “I know how to do this. I used to do it all the time.”

Three times in two paragraphs, something happens, then something else, then something else again. And page after page, this is a pattern, a bad habit I have. My professor suggested trimming out as many “then”s as possible, so I started to do just that:

I’m sure he didn’t mean it like that,” Gabby said. “It’s okay.” She paused, chewing on her lip. She nodded to the papers. “So, what are you working on?”

Adrianna cast a glare up at Dr. Pavari, the turned back to Gabby. “Food inventory. I used to do this at the restaurant.” She patted the papers before her, smoothed them out, then patted them again. “I know how to do this. I used to do it all the time.”

It’s a small change, but it seems to help the sentences flow better. Once I’d picked out a few instances of it, I did a Ctrl-F search for the word “then” and edited it out over and over and over again. I did the same for semicolons (another bad habit of mine). And when I was editing Manifestation, I had to do the same thing with the word “just.” Everything just happened. Gabby just nodded. Callia just sighed and shook her head. It seems to take some of the weight away from the actions. I took out 90% of my “just”s before Manifestation got published. I’ll probably need to search for those in the other books too.

Issues like these–the difference between careful line-by-line edits versus global patterns–are a big part of the reason why I go over a manuscript multiple times before I’m finished with it. The first set of edits I finished yesterday are just one pass through the document. There’ll be another, then another, then another (see what I did there?). I don’t know how long it’ll take, but I know these are things that can’t be rushed.

Thankfully, word processor tools make it a lot easier. I mean, can you imagine going through a 160,000 word document manually looking for repeated examples of your bad habits? It’s a wonder people ever had the patience to finish a book back before we had all this wonderful technology.


mani_promoManifestation is available in paperback format through:

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and in ebook format through:

Kindle and Nook

Distance and Objectivity

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m currently working on two different revision projects. One is Contamination, the sequel to Manifestation. I’m currently about 80% of the way through Draft 2 (and I need to update that progress bar on the right to show that). I’m mostly working on line edits, making sure everything reads well and is clear, adding descriptive details where needed, and looking for plot holes that need filling or scenes that need cutting.

The second project is my Rowan University Master’s in Writing Thesis Project, a.k.a. Arcana Revived Volume Six (currently untitled). I’m pretty much doing the same thing there that I am on Contamination: basic edits and cleaning up the prose. I’m not to the point yet where I can make major changes since I need more time analyzing what is already there. I already have a few ideas on chapters that need to be cut, but I’m not to the point yet of making those decisions.

Normally, I wouldn’t be working on both of these projects at once. After all, Contamination is book two, so why be working on book six? Well, because I need to for school. Book six obviously won’t be published for quite some time, and I’m only doing the amount of work on it now that I need to for it to be “complete” in terms of what the thesis project requires. Mostly this means focusing on polishing up the first 30,000 words, and leaving the rest for later.

However, I’m running into a slight issue on Book Six that I’m not running into on Contamination, and I think I’ve figured out why. I don’t have enough distance from the first draft yet.

See, I wrote the first draft of Contamination for NaNoWriMo 2013. I’ve had close to a year and a half to get some objectivity about what I’ve written, so I can look at it and decide what needs to be changed, what needs to be cut, what’s working, and what isn’t. It’s a lot easier to say “Okay this is crap, it needs to go” on a scene or chapter that I wrote so long ago. It’s not so easy to do that with Book Six, which I just wrote a few months ago, for NaNoWriMo 2014.

The result is that I feel like I’m slogging through each chapter on Book Six, but I have no trouble with Contamination. The revisions on Book Six feel too “big.” I’m having trouble looking at individual issues instead of seeing the whole novel as, from the point of view of my critical side, one big steaming pile of crap. I’m still too connected to the rush and joy I felt writing the first draft and all the fragile emotions that go along with it.

In his book, On Writing, Stephen King says that when you finish a draft, you should put it in a drawer for six weeks or more. This is so that you can come at it with a fresh perspective. I feel like I need a little more than six weeks. Maybe six months? Which means that if I didn’t have a deadline, I’d be shelving everything to do with Book Six for a long time, until I’m more ready to deal with it. Which is besides the fact that I’ve got four other novels to revise before I touch that one.

I’m not really sure how to address this issue right now, since I need at least one revision of the first 30,000 words before March 1st. Which is totally doable for me in terms of the amount of work that I need to get done in that time frame, but less doable from an emotional point of view.

For the time being, my solution is to focus on Contamination. I’ve got a self-imposed deadline to finish that one by March 1st as well, and I’m more confident in my ability to do that. And maybe, by working on a different project for awhile, I’ll remove myself from Book Six a bit and be able to come back in during crunch time and get it done.


mani_promoManifestation is available in paperback format through:

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and in ebook format through:

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All I Want For Christmas is a Revised Manuscript

Christmas and I don’t get along.

Christmas-Lights-11Okay, so Christmas doesn’t kidnap me, tie me up with sparkling lights, and lock me in the bathroom (though it could!). However, I do tend to have bad experiences with Christmas, and I don’t expect this one to be any better. I’m not on speaking terms with most of my family, my Dad is living on a tight budget so Christmas these days has no thrills, and I don’t expect anyone else in the world to get me anything. Beyond that, I can’t even get on board with the whole “Christmas should be about love and hope and etc etc, not presents!” thing because I’m not religious and I don’t really have the kind of hopeful, positive influences in my life that would make Christmas worthwhile. I have casual friends who I’m sure will text or tweet me some Christmas wishes, but I don’t really have the kind of deep personal relationships where you expect to bond with people over hot chocolate in front of the fireplace Christmas day.

All I want for Christmas is to finish this draft.

I think I’ve been suffering from #NaNoWriMo Burn Out, coupled with a touch of seasonal depression. Which happens every year. After writing 160,000 words on my NaNo novel, I’ve written . . . five blog posts in two weeks, and revised one chapter of Contamination. That’s not much. And I have no excuse. I just sit home all day anyway. It’s not like there’s a reason I can’t get the work done.

All I want for Christmas is some motivation.

I think that Author Fragile Ego Syndrome is keeping me from working on my novel because I’m afraid that it sucks. That no one is going to read it or buy it or like it. That people who praise my writing are just doing so to be nice. That one day soon I’m going to be back to working at a crappy restaurant for a sexist boss, Master’s Degree from Rowan University notwithstanding.

All I want for Christmas is some self-esteem.

What I said a moment ago, about Christmas not being about presents? It’s true. Christmas isn’t about presents. I don’t want material goods. I just want a Christmas where I can get out of this rut and get some work done. I want to be able to send my revised novel to my CPs as their Christmas present. I want to stop feeling like crap. I want to get through a Christmas without crying.

All I want for Christmas is to be successful with my writing. But that’s a gift no one else can give me. So I’ll have to do it myself.


mani_promoManifestation is available in paperback format through:

CreateSpace and Amazon

and in ebook format through:

Kindle and Nook

Timelines and Continuity, Redux

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about Timelines and Continuity. It had a lot to do with rearranging chapters during revisions, due to my nonlinear writing process (note: Professor Ron Block of Rowan University says all writing is linear, even when it’s not, because you have to write it and read it in a linear fashion across the page). As an example, I said I usually write, say, 6 chapters from Gabby’s POV, then 7 from Tock’s, then back to Gabby, and so on. But during revisions, I need to weave these chapters together to flow more fluidly back and forth between each character. The result can throw off some details that need to be fixed in revisions (such as if a character refers to something that happened “yesterday” but due to rearranging the order of events, it now happened “this morning,” or it won’t happen until tomorrow).

So why am I revisiting this topic? Well, my #NaNoWriMo novel, Arcana Revived Volume Six, is requiring me to look at chapter order in a very different way than in my previous first drafts. As an example, here’s the chapter order (before any revisions) for Volume Four, Mutation.

Mutation_Chapter_OrderAs you can see, I wrote 16 chapters in a row of Gabby, just because that was where my Muse was taking me. I kept writing on Gabby until I reached a point where I wasn’t quite sure what to do with her next. Then, to avoid getting log-jammed by writer’s block, I switched to Tock and Mae. I wrote with them for a while, then switched back.

Once I get to revisions, these chapters are more likely to go Gabby/Tock/Gabby/Tock/Gabby/Mae/Gabby/Tock or something like that. But when I was writing them, I just went with where my flow was taking me, in order to get all the words down as smoothly and quickly as possible. And it didn’t really hurt the narrative or the continuity at all, since Gabby and Tock weren’t directly interacting with each other in those early chapters. They’re in different places, going through different (but parallel and directly linked) events. Which was all building up to a point, close to the end, where their individual halves of the story merge and they end up in the same place at the same time.

This is the method I’ve really used with every book I’ve written so far, from Manifestation to Contamination (which is currently on Draft Two) to the next three books (which are all first drafts). It’s worked well each time. But the sixth book, which I’m currently writing for NaNoWriMo, is turning out to be an entirely different process. I’m handling continuity and the order I write the chapters in a completely different way.

Book_Six_Chapter_OrderAs you can see in the chapter orders for Volume Six, I’m alternating a lot more between the characters from chapter to chapter. Really, this is what the above chapter order will look like after revisions. I’m just doing it during the first draft this time, spending no more than a few chapters in one character’s POV before I move to the next. This is because the stories are more directly interwoven than before. As a result, I have mostly fallen into a pattern where I write Gabby/Indra/Jaden/Gabby/Indra/Jaden in order. I have to do this because it’s not just a question of “which event happens first.” It’s a situation where all the characters are having a very direct impact on each other’s actions, so I can’t continue to write the next character’s chapter before I finish the first.

Here’s an example of two scenarios, one from Mutation and one from the new book, that demonstrate what I mean in a more concrete way.

During Mutation, there’s a point where the characters are battling a variety of giant mythological creatures that have come back to life because of the revival of magic. At one point, some of the characters are split up, so that Gabby is battling one Beast of Legend, Tock another, Mae a third, and Callia a fourth. The individual battles don’t impact each other, but they all impact the overall plot and together the battles determine whether everyone will be safe or if the Beasts will crush entire cities and kill thousands of people. So, after each battle has been decided, the characters can reunite and we can see the aftermath, but during each battle, each character is on their own (or “the character plus the miscellaneous supporting characters helping them fight”).

What makes the new book different is that for the majority of it, the characters are coordinating their efforts in the same struggle, instead of battling separate (but related) foes. For example, right now, Gabby is lying in ambush, waiting for a signal from Jaden that a certain task has been completed before it’ll be time to strike. But Jaden can’t do what she needs to until she gets crucial information from Indra and her cousin Vijay. So while I’m alternating between characters from one chapter to the next, they’re working together on a common goal, and their actions directly impact things. Gabby literally can’t proceed from her current position before I’ve written Jaden’s next chapter (unless she wants the entire mission to fail), and Jaden literally can’t accomplish her goal without the key information she’s waiting to receive. It requires me to look at the book differently than the previous volumes.

That’s not to say that either method, “nonlinear” chapter order or direct alternation between POVs, is better or worse than the other. It just means that the revision process for this volume will require less rearranging (in theory), since the chapters are already in more-or-less the order they’re going to stay in.

Hopefully things continue to flow well throughout the rest of NaNoWriMo. And if you’re also writing a novel this month, good luck, and may the continuity be ever in your favor.


mani_promoManifestation is available on:

Createspace in paperback

and Amazon in ebook and paperback.

Timelines and Continuity

The Doctor said it best. Time is a big ball of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey . . . stuff.

Especially when you’re on the first draft of a novel.

How a novel’s timeline works will depend a lot on the genre you’re writing in, how many points of view you’re alternating between, and whether or not your story takes place in multiple time periods (such as between a character’s present life and flashbacks to their troubled past). Even while working on a first draft, these factors are going to influence the decisions you make.

Some genres demand a more traditional linear narrative; romance novels, for example, tend to be very forward-moving in order to show the progression of a relationship, starting with the first meeting, through the first date, and into the complications that develop as the relationships grow. A mystery novel, on the other hand, is more likely to include flashbacks as key events are revealed while uncovering who committed the murder, where, and with what. A novel taking place in two time periods, such as a character’s adulthood and childhood, may alternate between each time period chapter by chapter. Likewise, a novel with two or more main characters may alternate between them, spending one or more chapters with a certain character before switching to the other.

But regardless of whether your novel is linear or not, you may find yourself having to make tough decisions about how to lay out the chapters. For one, it may be difficult to decide which character’s story to show first. For another, it may be difficult to decide when to move between the present and the past. Or you may actually decide to change the order that certain events take place in.

Contamination
Contamination

One way to make decisions can be to consider the emotions, themes, or motifs being represented in each chapter. You can then arrange the chapters to line up those that have thematic similarities.

The image to the right is a screenshot of my Scrivener file for Contamination, Volume Two of the Arcana Revived series and sequel to my first novel, Manifestation. The majority of the chapters are titled “Untitled X” because I haven’t yet picked chapter titles for them. If you look at the numbers, you can see I made some major changes to the order: 23, 24, 31, 25, 26, 32, 27, 28, 33, and so on.

There’s two main reasons why these chapters were reordered. One was to thread together the storylines of the two main characters, Gabby Palladino and Tock Zipporah. For example, 23-29 are chapters with Gabby, originally written all in a row and showing a series of events she went through in a single day. 31-38 are Tock chapters, also originally written as a single sequence showing what Tock went through. Part of the rearrangement was designed to interweave those two stories, since both sets of events take place on the same day. I felt that it made more sense to go back and forth between the two characters so that the reader can keep track of both of them and be carried along to threads of excitement, adventure, and tension at the same time.

The second reason why the chapters were rearranged is in order to keep chapters with the same emotional tone in the same place. For example, if there is a chapter with Gabby running for her life from mutant wolves and another with Tock fleeing from a military helicopter, those chapters have a similar emotional tone and tension. Later, there are chapters involving lots of combat, and even if Gabby and Tock are fighting different enemies, it makes sense to keep the action-oriented chapters back-to-back. And later still, there’s chapters where both characters are going through more emotional bonding (in one case as part of a romantic relationship, in the other, a budding friendship) and I wanted these chapters to be aligned as well.

These techniques keep the storylines in synch, even though the characters are in different places and going through different experiences. To see an example of this in action, consider the following clip from the movie Magnolia. It shows multiple characters in multiple different situations, none of whom interact, but all of whom are going through the same emotional journey.

The director of Magnolia has stated that his goal was to blend the experience of these different characters together so that it feels like one story, not eight. And he does an amazing job at it.

Another good movie to consider is Pulp Fiction. This movies uses a very nonlinear style of storytelling, and the scenes are arranged in an order that takes you on a certain emotional journey. The order of events builds on the emotions evoked throughout this journey, rather than worrying about the chronological order of events.

Of course, if you want to keep things chronological, you can also consider changing when an event takes place. For example, let’s say you’re writing a romance novel where two characters get together, build their relationship, have a huge fight, almost break up, then get engaged, go through turmoil with their families, then get married and have their happily ever after. You might decided that the emotional turmoil of the huge fight will go better with the conflict the characters are having with their families, because that adds additional tension from multiple sides all at once. You could therefore take the same fight and simply have it happen after the engagement, instead of before. Thus you’re rearranging the chronology to better serve the emotional journey.

These sorts of changes can be complicated, and it’s likely enough that you’ll go through several versions as you work through revisions. But I’ve found that reordering events can be an important part of improving a novel. Just be careful not to add more plot holes than you fix when you swap things around. There’s such a thing as being too timey-wimey wibbly-wobbly.


mani_promoManifestation is available on:

Createspace in paperback

and Amazon in ebook and paperback.

Cutting like a Samurai

Most writers are familiar with the phrase “kill your darlings.” To non-writers, this can sound like some kind of cruel joke. Writers know, however, that it means sometimes you need to kill your best words, paragraphs, scenes, or even whole chapters, all in the name of the almighty plot.

Natalie Goldberg may have said it best in her book Writing Down the Bones. The book is filled with advice on the writing process and the psychology of being a writer. In one chapter, she compares the revision process to a battle as a samurai warrior:

“There should be no place in your writing for the ego to manipulate things the way it wants and to become picky. Instead, when you go over your work, become a Samurai, a great warrior with the courage to cut out anything that is not present. Like a Samurai with an empty mind who cuts his opponents in half, be willing to not be sentimental about your writing when you reread it. Look at it with a clear, piercing mind.”

The part about not being “sentimental” is the most important thing to keep in mind when killing your darlings. Sometimes a cut is easy, such as when a chapter is meandering, boring, or pointless to the plot. Other times, however, a cut is much harder. You might have a beautiful, riveting scene, one that makes you cry every time you read it. Yet if that scene isn’t crucial to the story and doesn’t fit in the overall plot, it needs to go.

Consider the example of Tom Bombadil in Lord of the Rings. He was a fun and interesting character, and one of the most memorable ones from the book. Yet he is conspicuously absent from the movies. Why? Well, according to the Wikipedia article on Bombadil, Peter Jackson said he was cut because “he does little to advance the story, and would make the film unnecessarily long. ” If you’ve read the Lord of the Rings books, you should have a hard time arguing with this point. Bombadil is fun. He’s charming. He’s a fascinating character. But he appears only briefly in the books and then has no further impact on the rest of the struggle against Saruman and Sauron. Since he has no real connection to the main plot, he had to be cut, and Peter Jackson did what any samurai had to do.

I’ve been doing a lot of revising lately. The progress bar on the right side of the blog shows the progress on the latest draft of Manifestation, based on input from the independent editor I hired. Part of the edits I’m making have been cuts, and some of them have been hard. In particular, the opening chapters (which I’d already cut down substantially from previous drafts) had to be trimmed. There were some excellent scenes in those chapters, and I really enjoy them. However, they amounted to back story that had no direct relevance on the main plot. It hurt to see some of them go, but I had to be a samurai and cut them out.

I’ve cut a LOT of words all said and done. The earliest draft of Manifestation was 124,420 words. The next revision actually expanded on several scenes to fill in some holes, and ended up at 139,312 words. Then I cut a lot of back story and any slow scenes that were dragging down the plot, and it went down to 112,297 words. The most recent set of cuts have dropped me down to 102,663 words. Yet even while I’m cutting, I have to add a bit here and there. For example, when I cut one chapter, I’ll need to add some elements to the next chapter to make sure there isn’t a hole now because of the missing material. What that means is I can’t just take the longest draft of 139k and subtract the current 102k to see how much I’ve cut. When I added up my individual cuts, they added up to a grand total of 58,391 words. Which means I added back in about 21k of new scenes while I’ve been making all the cuts (and the new scenes are a whole lot cleaner and better than the old ones).

Fortunately, “killing your darlings” doesn’t have to mean killing them dead. You can just “critically wound your darlings” and leave them bleeding in a sub-folder on your computer somewhere. Then you can use them again, such as in a future short story. I’ve written a lot of short stories for the Arcana Revived series, starting with Radiance the story of a young girl who has to cope with change when she undergoes a supernatural transformation. I plan on releasing a number of other short stories later this year. Some of the chapters cut from Manifestation may be adapted into short stories as part of that set. After all, an interesting and fun back story might not fit with the main plot, but it could still be a fascinating standalone piece. Such a piece could serve as an origin story for a character, revealing important pieces of their history. By using a cut scene as a short story like this, your “dead darlings” can be brought back from the grave and given a new life.

Writing is hard. Revisions are hard. Some of my writer friends say they think the first draft is the hardest. I disagree. You don’t need to kill your darlings in the first draft. Unless you can keep a cold, controlled samurai view of your work, revisions end up being the hardest part.

Juggling Projects

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m currently trying to write one novel and revise one both during the same two-month period between now and the end of July. Aside from the fact that I’ll be needing a straightjacket and some medication by the time I’m done, this is leading to an interesting juggling process in my thoughts, ideas, and writing processes.

My writing process over the last few days has gone something like this:

Freelance Assignment > 1st Draft Book Five > Blog Post > Revisions on Contamination > Freelance Assignment > 1st Draft Book Five > Freelance Assignment >Revisions on Contamination > Freelance Assignment > Rowan blog post > this blog post.

That’s a lot of switching gears back and forth. I haven’t really been approaching any of it with any sort of real plan. I try to put the freelance job I’m working on ahead of everything else because it has a deadline, but in between writing 13,500 words on that, I’ve also written over 5,000 words on Book Five, and spent a few hours on revisions, in addition to blog posts. It’s a pretty high volume of work; over 20,000 words in three days if you count all the different projects.

I’m feeling a bit scattered. A bit out of sorts. And stressed because, well, I don’t have a full time job anymore.

Part of me says I should pick one project and stick with it, but I also know that sometimes I need to take breaks. I simply can’t work steadily on 13,500 words of this freelance job without taking a break and doing something where I get to flex my creativity more. My brain gets fried, and then I need to switch to something else.

Though the good news is that the freelance job is almost done (and I have feelers out for some more), and I’m pretty happy with the setup I’m starting in Book Five. I can’t say much about what’s going on in it yet, but I’m very happy with it.

So hopefully I’ll get my brain sorted out again soon, and be able to settle into a more focused routine. Either way, expect to see those progress bars on the side continue to grow. I have every intention of finishing both this revision and this novel draft on time. I’m not going to let a little thing like my brain stop me.