December 10, 2012
First off, the Hamilton region TGIO was last night, and I had a really great time. The food was awesome, the company even better, the prizes and raffle seemed to be enjoyed by everybody. It was the perfect night to wrap up my first tour as a Nanowrimo ML.
I got some good progress made on the short story revision yesterday, and now I’m ready to go to the Short Story Shrine, which is the equivalent of the ‘How to Revise your Novel’ Monastery. As I said last spring, the Writer’s Monastery is not a place but a state of mind. Doing the Monastery exercise means leaving many things behind – you leave all previous drafts of your story out of sight, and all your notes, and don’t refer to them. Ideally, you leave behind most of the internet, all television and videos, and any music with lyrics. You don’t talk to other writers, or complain on your blog, or read other books.
You just take what you know deep down in your heart about what you want your story to become, and you write it down as a rough synopsis, one sentence or short paragraph per scene, from beginning to end, doing your best to write with care but not second-guess anything.
The Shrine is probably going to be less intimidating than the Monastery was, both because I’ve been through the Monastery and I really like what I got from it, and because ‘The Storm Mirror’ is shorter and won’t have as many scenes in its outline. But who knows! I’ll give you an update whenever I post next.
December 8, 2012
Okay, I finally got started on my modified revision process for ‘The Storm Mirror’ this morning, and I think it’s working out pretty well so far. I’ve finished the lesson 1 exercises, more or less – I didn’t want to go through the Despair worksheet the same way, so instead I just took my printed pages and marked them with highlights in different colors to represent the different parts of Despair – Green for the ‘Keeper stuff’ that I really like, Orange for broken elements that need to get cut or fixed, blue for worldbuilding issues, and purple for character issues.
I decided to either mark character/worldbuilding positives in green or ignore them, because I didn’t have enough extra colors to keep them all straight, and using the same colors for positive and negative elements seemed like a recipe for trouble when I wasn’t doing the full worksheet. Yellow was supposed to be the ‘So boring I skip over it’ color, but I’m pleased that I didn’t need to use that once.
I also did the third target worksheet for Lesson 1, where you imagine your ideal story and put your finger on the three biggest changes you need to make – they lined up rather neatly ind the end, middle, and beginning of the story respectively (but they’re not the WHOLE end, middle, or beginning.)
I’ve decided that for reasons of time I’m going to pick and choose which lessons I’m doing with Storm Mirror, so lesson 2 is a skip – I’m happy with the characters, don’t think I need to do much work with them. Step 3 is the scene inventory, and hopefully I can get some more work done on that this evening before I turn in.
December 5, 2012
Well, I’m still in gliding mode, working on archiving the old Stringing Words, trying to figure out how to apply Holly Lisle’s revision program to a short story, and learning the ropes of the new wordpress.com dashboard upgrades. But there’s something new that I wanted to let you know about.
Rhianna was one of the wrimos that I did a spotlight interview with in late October, and she’s asked me to return the favor now with a post-Nano interview for her blog. She’s sent me the questions and it looks like a fun interview, but it won’t be scheduled until January.
Still – I wanted my friends and followers to be the first to know!
October 1, 2012
Well, it’s October, and among other things, that means it’s time to get ready for National Novel Writing Month! The forums have been swept clear in the annual autumn cleaning and the new website rolled out. I’m still not sure what I’m going to write this year, but I found a delivery slip on my doorknob this evening when I got home, so hopefully I’ll be able to pick up ‘Goal, Motivation, Conflict’ and another great book from Gryphon press to help fire up my imagination. I also snapped up Holly Lisle’s ‘Create a Character’ workshop book from Amazon, since the big sale was held over for a day and a bit.
Still really excited about being an ML for this year, and a little nervous. It’ll be a fun ride, that’s for sure.
So let’s see, what else has been going on? I did quite well with my September goals, all except for posting a full polished story up on fanfiction.net, which just took too much time. And I haven’t settled on my October to-do list just yet, but I put in more time this evening on lesson 18 for ‘How to Revise your Novel.’
I’m excited. Did I say that already? Are you excited?
September 15, 2012
I’m on Holly Lisle‘s mailing list and get some interesting tips from her on a weekly basis. There was a particularly great email yesterday talking about Goals and what she calls ‘expectations’, which a lot of people confuse. Basically, in her terms, a goal is something that you can achieve, (pretty certainly) if you work at it hard enough, but expectations are the things where all you can do is keep trying, do your best – and hope. Like being signed by an agent, being published, having a best-seller, or winning awards. I think that’s a pretty good way of looking at it.
On the other hand, I’m also a bit of a nit-picker. One of the examples Holly gives as a goal is accumulating X many rejection letters from submitted stories. Myself, I would say that submitting stories X many times is the goal. A rejection letter is an outcome that you have no control over, just like a sale, so you can’t necessarily reach X many rejection letters just by hard work. You’re quite likely to, but that’s not the same thing, because by fluke luck you might keep getting sales.
Yeah, I know that doesn’t make much of a difference in the real world, but I like to think about the remote impossibilities as well.
So – what goals are you working on now, and what hopes and expectations are you entertaining?
September 8, 2012
So, I said at the end of July that I’d resume Block Revision (Lesson 17 from the Holly Lisle ‘How to Revise your Novel’ course,) in September after I was back home from Dragon*Con. It took a few days, but I started on Thursday, and now I’ve got four new scenes blocked out, taking me up to scene 39 out of 57 scenes on my Focus Outline.
It’s going okay so far, but I feel like I’m in stop-and-go traffic instead of cruising down the revision highway. I’ll set the timer for 45 minutes, play the Monastery music, sit down, bang out one scene, look at the next… and have just no idea what I need to do with it. I think maybe I’m just out of touch with the Focus Outline, and maybe what I need to do next is review every card from here to the end of the book and let my subconscious chew on them and figure things out.
Or I may need to get the entire Block Revision layout back on the living room table. I’ve only been getting what I need so far, which includes:
- Focus cards
- Completed pages
- Pages yet to work on
- Important character notes
- Binder of not-so-important notes
- Beverage container
- Snacks if I can work them into the diet
Then again, maybe I’m worrying over nothing. It took me a while to work up to speed in July, even after the week of preparations I took to make sure I was ready to start on Block Revision.
I’ll get it done. I’m sure of that.
July 31, 2012
Well, it’s the last day of July, and I’ll be working on a new story for Camp Nanowrimo starting tomorrow. Which means that I’m going to put the Holly Lisle ‘How to Revise your Novel’ course, and my Block Revision, aside until September, even though I’ve only finished 35 scenes out of fifty-seven.
Even though I’m still a little disappointed with my progress, I’m really pleased with the revision so far when I look at what I’ve accomplished in the past few weeks. I’ve rewritten the majority of those scenes in their entirety, because I could see what I wanted, but not find enough of the right words in my first draft. (sigh.) I’ve learned how to edit in pen on paper where the scene was ‘green’ enough to do that, with my own little markup notion of insert scenes from the Alphasmart Dana where needed.
I think that the break will do me good, and I’m looking forward to getting back to Holly Lisle in September… around the 4th or so, because for the first few days of September I’ll be much too busy at Dragon*Con to do any revising!
I still haven’t packed up all the revision stuff on my living room table, (some of which I haven’t really used – the blank typing paper, the scotch tape and pens, most of the post-its, three colors of pens, and the jerky.) It’ll probably get packed up somewhere safe over the next few days.
So – how are your summer projects going. Is anybody else looking forward to Camp?
July 23, 2012
Block Revision is still doing pretty well; I got up to scene 24 at Williams yesterday with Elizabeth Twist, then went back to add on to scene 20 this morning. Sometimes the going seems slow, but that’s probably just because I had the crazy notion that this was something I could plow through in a week just because Holly Lisle put it in one lesson. It’ll take as long as it takes, and I’m getting lots of great work done.
When I’m not at Williams cafe, though, I’ve been noticing that my way of approaching Block Revision has become very formal and ritualized, and that probably helps me get into the right mindset for it. It starts with the setup – making sure that the big tall lamp in the living room is plugged in. I hook my iphone up to a traveldock speaker, set the timer for 45 minutes or however long I think I have to edit in this session, and start playing the ‘Monastery’ playlist, which is almost all instrumental tunes. If I feel any need, I’ll make sure I have sugar-free koolaid in something with a screw-on lid, and some peanuts in a bowl.
Then I go to the Focus Outline cards that I had printed up from my notes, find my place, and get down to work. After comparing the sentence on the card with the pages indicated, I figure out if I can start by marking up a passage in my printed first draft, or if I need to start with fresh stuff on the Alphasmart Dana. Quite often I start and finish the scene on the Dana, without using anything from the page, just marking ‘Block Scene 22′ or whatever somewhere in the margins in blue pen, updating the page number, and doodling a little red box with an X through it, to indicate that the entire page is to be cut as-is.
I haven’t done anything with cutting and taping so far, or really used the post-it notes, and I only occasionally refer to my consistency laundry list or my worksheet printouts. Maybe I should be leaning on these more, but I’ve got a system that works and that keeps me paying attention to enough things at once already. If I’m making a mistake at this point, I probably won’t figure it out until I’m done the course.
July 20, 2012
Well, I’ve got fourteen scenes done now, out of fifty-seven, and I’m excited about making more progress over the weekend. A lot of scenes were nearly-complete rewrites on the Alphasmart, which does take longer, and I was starting to get depressed about it. And then I hit three scenes this evening that I could mark up off the first draft, (along with a few inserts on one of them,) and that made me feel better that I can make it through this before the end of the year.
And it still feels good to know that I’ve got this process for tackling the revision, and so many months of prep work that I’ve done to picture the book that I want to have when I’m finished. Exciting stuff, even when I feel a bit bogged down.
July 14, 2012
It’s been an interesting warm-up week leading to my first revision cuts on “Won’t somebody think of the children” this afternoon. As well as the preparation I told you about before, I spent several hours yesterday evening cutting up the printout of my Focus Outline and taping each scene sentence to a 3*5″ index card… which was kinda fun, especially since I could catch up on some Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice while I worked. And just this morning, it occurred to me that I couldn’t use the spiral-bound copy of my manuscript that I got at Staples last December for Holly’s cut-and-paste technique – because it was double-sided, and so there was no way I could cut two passages that happened to be on opposite sides of the same page into different scenes. So I printed out a new copy of my draft document on the laser printer. (Now I’m wondering if I was possibly a bit hasty, but what’s done is done.)
I’ve done revision on two scenes and part of a third so far – out of 57 in my outline. This is probably not a process that I’m going to finish in a week. I might be lucky if I finish lesson 17, which is the first pass of Block Revision, by the end of July, but I’ll see how it goes. I did scene 1 entirely with pen markup on the original draft pages, and scene 2 was entirely typed into the Alphasmart, because I didn’t see any passages from the original version of the scene that seemed good enough to include with changes. It looks like scene 3 might go the Dana-only route as well; it’s certainly starting off that way.
But I’m having fun, and I think this approach is working fairly well.
That’s a photo of my table laid out for revision – you can see a binder open to one of my worksheet printouts, the pens, post-its, scissors, tape, my pile of to-revise pages, the Focus Outline colored cards, my laundry list of continuity notes, and the Alphasmart sitting on top of the pile of blank typing paper to cut and paste onto. The pile of edited pages is mostly cut off the right edge of the picture. The empty space in the bottom center is where the scene that I’m editing at the time would go. Snacks would be off to the left, beyond the binder.
I never really thought of my living room table as small until I started to lay Holly’s Block Revision process out onto it.