Wednesday, December 18, 2013

What is your Winter Read?

Going into the silent season, I am thinking a lot about how much I love to read certain books again and again when there's snow on the ground. I'm listening to the audio book of JANE EYRE - a book that I try to re-read each winter. I am loving every moment of it. Some books just seem perfect for colder weather, the kind of book you want to sink into - mental protection against the waning sun and the dropping mercury. Why doesn't someone make a list of Winter Snow Reads, when we're always hit with Summer Beach Read lists come July?

Let's make a list. In comments, let me know:
1) What new books are you looking forward to reading this winter?
2) What books are you looking forward to get re-acquainted with this winter? (You+hot beverage+book+blanket=ReaderBliss)
3) What is your favorite winter themed book?

I'm signing off for the holidays today. I hope you all have an amazing holiday - and wish you a shed load of prosperity and peace for the new year.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The End Is The Start

You may have heard that I'm breaking up with Pants(ing). As part of my new path to a less painful writing process (and less revision, hopefully) I'm reading all sorts of books (like, Structuring Your Novel by K.M. Weiland) and watching tutorials on Writer's Digest. (Two good ones: Secrets of Story Structure and Plot by Martha Alderson and First Draft Outline by Karen S. Wiesner )

So much is changing in my writing process. Right now, I'm not terrified, but I reserve the right to be terrified later. But I'm excited. I'm asking questions that I usually only ask when I get stuck (about 40K words in...) and I'm doing lots of research (see below) all before writing the first word.

My research featuring Danny Kaye, Karen Ann Quinlan and Persistent Vegetative States. 

The most interesting bit of advice I've gleaned from plotters is to start with the end. I've heard this advice before and frankly it's always sounded bogus to me. I mean, how can I know what the end is if I haven't dragged my MC through the ringer first to see what the end is? I was firmly in the camp that uses the analogy that you are unearthing an existing story - you are digging it out with your words.

This is a great analogy and I used to want to be an archeologist (I blame a very young and gorgeous, Frank Langella in the movie Sphinx for my interest in archeology.) But after I get over my own protests about writing the end first, (sputter, sputter!) it's sort of growing on me. I mean, if I write the end first, then I know. I'm not going along for the ride, hoping I figure it out. I know the end and I only have to get there.

If this doesn't seem like a significant difference, maybe you're doing this already. But for me, it's a seismic shift in attitude. And it means the hard work happens NOW. I have to do all the thinking and untangling and making sure the logic works all the way through no. No fun language, gorgeous scenery description, poetry or intense emotions (the FUN STUFF) until I figure out the bones.

This is an experiment. As one commenter mentioned on my last blog about this - she's a pantser who tried plotting and is now a hybrid - I may try it and decide to go back to the old way. But I don't think I'll ever go back completely to pantsing. Because knowing the end is giving me a window on the beginning.

So, is the end the beginning for you, or do you want NO SPOILERS, not even for you?

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

I'm Breaking Up with Pants

Or Pantsing. Or being a Pantser. Whatever. Me and Seat o' The Pants writing are going on a hiatus.

You know, if you're a writer (or friends with a writer- you have my sympathies) that writers generally fall into one of two categories in how they approach writing. They either plot out their story before writing the first word (PLOTTERS) or they plunge in head long into their first draft (PANTSERS).

When looking at my non writing life, I thought I was naturally a pantser. I cook without recipes (except baking, because that's science) and I never look at instructions unless I absolutely have to (as in the case of every piece of IKEA furniture I've ever assembled.) I like to figure things out as I go, manually build things because I often find I understand the pieces of the thing I'm putting together better when I've flailed around with them a bit.

I won't break out a cookbook or ever find the instructions for hooking up the blu ray. I refuse. BUT I'm starting my next WIP and I am PLOTTING dear friends. Here's why.

My last WIP (the rewrite of which is currently with Beta readers) was a beautiful, intriguing hot mess. There was so much good in there, dammit. But IT DIDN'T HAVE STRAIGHT BONES. I only realized that after the fact (oh, and when my agent told me it was close, but no cigar.) And it killed me that I'd spent six months building the faulty thing and then another six months doing an extensive rewrite. I mean, yes the resulting rewrite (in my opinion) is better than the first version (Betas will hopefully agree with me - does anyone else hate waiting on betas as much as I do...anyway) but it was painful. Wracking crying jags, ripping out clumps of hair, moaning into my pillow - that kind of painful.

In the past, I would have taken the view that the only way to GET to that good rewrite was to go through the pain. But now I'm not so sure.

So this new WIP is starting differently. I'm researching. I'm making lists on whiteboards. I've signed up for Writers' Digest tutorials and am watching First Draft Outline by Karen S. Wiesner. She's serious about plotting and though I'm not naturally inclined, I can learn plotting. I don't know if Plotting and I will stay together or if I'll eventually go back to Pantsing (If she'll even have me) but I do know that sometimes a style of writing feels right not because it IS right, but because it's what you're comfortable with. And comfort is the natural enemy of good writing. So I'm going to go get uncomfortable.

Are you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid? How do you make yourself uncomfortable in the service of good writing?

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