I sold somebody on How To Think Sideways – and bought into it myself

March 15, 2013

You just earned an HTTS-Affiliate commission!

Great news, you have just earned a commission!

Please log into your affiliate account to view the details.

Cheerfully,
Holly

That’s the email that came through around 4 pm this afternoon. If you bought something from my links to the Holly Lisle sale from a few days ago… thanks so much! I hope you get a lot of benefit out of the course. And I’d love to hear from you in the comments (or privately at chriskelworth at gmail dot com if you’d prefer.)

Myself, I’d been wavering up until this morning, but I finally signed up to the How to Think Sideways ‘Bring your own lessons’ plan: This means that it doesn’t include the original 29 lessons, which you can buy a la carte on Holly’s side, or through Amazon or Nook stores through her HTTS Direct program. My sister and her family got me the first 8 HTTS Direct lessons for Christmas. But the ‘Ultra Bring your own lessons’ package includes all the extra stuff beyond the basic lesson handouts – permanent passes to the HTTS student forums, examples of the process from Holly’s own books, audio and video materials, and bonus lessons.

I hadn’t been sure if I needed that, but decided to dive on in. I also scored a bunch of HTTS Direct courses – from nine through twenty-four, which seemed like a good place to stop for today because lesson twenty-five was quick revision stuff, and as you know, I’ve already been through Holly’s big revision course. 😀

So I’ve got lots of course stuff to go through, when I find the time of course. What else? Oh, I’ve officially starting my victory lap for ‘How to Revise Your Novel’ – while “Children” is out with critiquers, I’ve begun going through lesson 1 with “The Angel’s Charlie”, a very different kind of book, but one that I have high hopes for revising.

Lots of cool Holly Lisle-ish stuff goin’ on.

Advertisements

Starting a revision post-mortem

March 2, 2013

My day began with a certain amount of rejoicing. Finally, after some 15 months, the revision of ‘Won’t somebody think of the Children’ was finished! It’s been a long, kinda strange road with Holly Lisle, but I’ve learned an awful lot about editing and good writing from her.

After sending the manuscript off to two intrepid critters, updating my next chapter in the critters.org queue, sending a critique request in to the Nanowrimo ‘December and Beyond’ forums, and scanning through the bonus lesson about query letters and one-page synopses, I turned to lesson 22, to see what Holly had to say about making revision go quicker next time…

And boggled a little!

The worksheet for lesson 22 is a huge post-mortem on the revision process; now that I’m finished, I have to record my thoughts on every step of the process; how much work I had to do from my first draft, how well I did, and if there’s anything I need to keep in mind for my next revision. I like the idea, and it’s a great example of something to dive into during Nanoedmo, where I can get full credit for the time I spend filling out the post-mortem–

But it’s still a bit daunting, especially as I need to start with the lessons that I completed more than a year ago. I’ve come up with some good stuff so far, but I’m haven’t finished the postmortem on lesson 2 yet.

Hopefully it won’t take me all of March. 😉


My month of editing draws nigh

February 26, 2013

It isn’t as if I haven’t been working hard on editing for months now – rewriting The Storm Mirror, getting stories and gnome sample chapters ready to submit to workshops, and powering through the last few lessons in ‘How to Revise your Novel.’ But as you may know if you’ve been following this blog for longer than 11 months, March is a different beast.

I’ve been doing ‘National Novel Editing Month’ in March since 2007, I think. It’s not the most popular of Nanowrimo spinoffs, and the online community tends to be terse at best. Maybe this says something about the level of challenge involved. If you’re pushing yourself to spend 50 hours on revision and editing in 31 days, (and especially if you’ve also got a job, family, or classes to keep up with,) you don’t have that much time to chatter about it on a message board.

But I still find that my March editing is worthwhile for me, and even if you’re not crazy enough to commit to 50 hours, I’d like to make the following three-part challenge to all writers out there:

  • Do some editing in March.
  • Talk to other writers about it.
  • Make a list of what you’ve accomplished with editing. Not a to-do list you cross things off from. A done list.

That third element is something that I may have come up with myself. I’m a big fan of to-do lists in general, but somehow when I’m really challenging myself in editing, they don’t seem to fit the bill, at least not in the traditional sense. Maybe that’s because my ‘to-do list’ for editing is always so long that trying to cross everything off would be disheartening instead of encouraging.

The way I do my lists in March the past few years is, I do sort of have a to-do list, but it’s an ideas/possibilities list, and nothing gets crossed off. I finish something, and I write it on the Done list. And it’s really encouraging to see that Done list grow over the month.

So, is anybody else with me?


A quick trip to the Short Story Shrine

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.


Short story revision process is underway!

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.

Onward!


How do I revise a short story

December 6, 2012

Yes, I’m still in ‘glide mode’ today, but I’m trying to get a bit more elevation above crash territory. I spent some time on the bus ride home critiquing a new critters.org story, and I’ve been thinking about the short stories I want to work with this month.

One is a ‘Not-really-rewrite’ of “Project Fast Track” – I’m not really using the same characters, the same plotline, or the same theme as that little contest tale I wrote nearly a year ago, but I’m going to go back to that vision of the future, specifically to TimeBubble Inc. I’ve got a new plot in mind and an idea for a main character and what his story’s about. Hope to talk it over with somebody before starting the first draft – maybe this weekend.

I also want to do a new revision – this going to be the fourth draft I guess, of “The Storm Mirror.” Some of what I want to do with it has been in my head ever since I left Kansas this summer, and some of it began to come clear while I was writing “The Witches of Arion” in August. (Which takes place earlier in the same universe.)

I like the idea of trying to apply some of the processes from the Holly Lisle “How to Revise your Novel” course to this short story, but I haven’t actually started with that yet. I should probably just dive in – work the worksheets, print out a copy of the third draft and start marking it up with colored pens. Onward! I can do this! (Those are the Holly Lisle taglines that she finishes every lesson with.)


Goals and Resolutions update, September 2012

September 21, 2012

Well, now that I’ve finished my Block Revision, I’ve got a bit more time to look at some of the other goals that I set myself for this month. I don’t think I’m in too bad shape, but I’ve got enough to keep me busy until October. 😉

  1. Start lesson 18 of ‘How to Revise your Novel.’ I’ve sortuv done this already, in that I’ve read the lesson. It’s all about fairly low-level editing; voice and style and grace and elegance (that’s actually a bad one!) and how to place commas correctly so your reader doesn’t want to kill himself or you. I’ll need to organize what I had left from Block Revision before I start in earnest, but that’s cool.
  2. Read 3 short stories – I’m already at 2, both courtesy of the F&SF free magazine subscription on my Kindle; one was an issue that I thought I missed when June switched to July, before I figured out the way to access back issues.
  3. Submit two critiques for critters. Done! One was sample chapters for a longer book that you could critique for extra credits, and I liked the opening, so I’ve requested the full manuscript. Hopefully I can critique that before November.
  4. Exercise every day (at least 30 minutes) and stick to my 2500 calorie diet. Doing pretty well so far…
  5. Cleaning and tidying the apartment. I’m on track here too, over 5 hours tracked out of eight. If I stick to 20 minutes cleaning a day, I’ll be great, can even take one day off. And at least a lot of the cluttered receipts are dealt with.
    I just realized as I was writing that that when I was going through backlog mail and flyers this evening, I didn’t remember throwing old receipts out of my wallet, which is something that I want to do before tomorrow, so that I have room to bring extra cash to the Toronto Doctor Horrible screening and auction! I’ll have to remember to do it before I go tomorrow morning
  6. Organizing files on the netbook computer. Also doing very well, an hour and a half spent out of my target two hours.
  7. Posting a new, edited story up on fanfiction.net – well, I’ve gone through my files, found a story that’s already partly edited. Need to get my butt in a higher gear on this one.
  8. Critique homework stories from the other CSSF workshop writers. Sent in one critique, started on another, out of six. Again, I need to work harder here.

Do you have goals that you’re working on this month? How are they coming along?


Block revision: Picking up where I left off

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:

  • Alphasmart
  • Focus cards
  • Completed pages
  • Pages yet to work on
  • Pens
  • 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.


Preparing for Block Revision with Holly Lisle

July 10, 2012

I’ve taken over five weeks off from my Holly Lisle ‘How to Revise your novel’ course – heading into June, I decided that I couldn’t manage my Summer of Shorts Camp Nanowrimo project and revising at the same time, which was probably a good choice for my sanity. But Summer of Shorts is over, I’m back from Kansas, and it’s time to dive into Lesson 17 – Block Revision.

Or at least time to dive into preparation, because Block Revision is apparently not something you should dive into without all the right gear. 😉

I’ve got a to-get list set up in my ‘Holly Lisle’ folder, and some of the items are X-ed off:

  • Pages to rewrite, from the spiral-bound revision draft copy I had made at Staples in early December.
  • A break timer – I figure I’ll be using the iPhone for that.
  • Spill-proof cup (Nanowrimo!)
  • Printout of the surgical marks to make on the pages.
  • Laundry list of consistency details to remember.
  • My Alphasmart Dana. (Not from Holly’s Block Revision instructions – more on that later.)
  • Scissors
  • Typing paper, mostly for cut-and-pasting.
  • Pens
  • Sticky notes.

Read the rest of this entry »


NaNoEdMo wrap-up.

March 31, 2012

Well, I got to the fifty hour mark of editing in March about an hour ago, which is cutting it close. I’m tired of editing, pleased with what I accomplished, and a little disappointed at just how much more there is to do – sigh. I guess that’s the way it always goes.

I got approximately six lessons on the ‘How to Revise your Novel’ course finished – I was in the middle of lesson 8 at the start of the month, and now I’m in progress on fourteen. I learned a lot and did some great work with my book in those lessons, too.

I got some great revision done on ‘The Storm Mirror,’ polishing a charming first draft into what could, I think, be a really great finished story!

I also got some good revision done on ‘The Scroll’, especially the first sample chapter. Unfortunately, I found out yesterday that there was no space for me in the CSSF Novel workshop, as the class is being kept very small this summer. Oh, well. I still think I want to revisit ‘The Scroll’ for Camp Nano in August.

Aside from these three, a lot of my editing hours were spent on old fanfic projects, some of which I’ve already tackled in NaNoEdMo of previous years, but I’ve learned a lot more about what makes good writing since then, and polishing these stories up to post them on fanfiction.net is good practice in editing for other stories, if nothing else. Also, when I just had to get some editing in on a crazy day, (and trying to do 50 hours of editing in a month makes most days crazy,) sometimes I wanted to be able to work on something I wasn’t too emotionally invested in anymore, and just fire up the MS word grammar checker on the bus home and see what it thought about my sentence style. 🙂

Next stop – the Frenzy! It’s always a little crazy to switch from marathon editing to wildly passionate script writing on April the first.


%d bloggers like this: