Friday, August 10, 2012

The Top 5 Things You Need to Know--Part 2

Continuing on with my notes from the workshop I taught to the girls at camp...remember, I simplified for time and age. I've added a few more comments here in Blue.

(If you missed Part 1, you can find it HERE.)

3. The Process
  • Research--This could be as simple as sitting at the park listening to people talk, or as complex as taking a class on physics to make sure you "get it". 
  • Write the book (pantsing/plotting/mix)--We had a great discussion on these terms and the various levels a person can be of each. I, myself, started out straight pantser, but have now learned to plot to a certain level. Plotting makes my writing happen faster, pantsing keeps the mystery alive for me so that I want to continue.
  • Let it sit--crucial step in the process, and perhaps a hard one to learn.
  • The BIG Picture--Read through looking for flow and plot holes, character consistency and believability.
  • Revise--Cut and add scenes as needed to make the story make sense and move smoothly from each plot point.
  • Let it sit
  • Zooming In--Look at each chapter and scene individually. Do they have a purpose? Do they move the story forward or increase the tension? (conflict vs. action)
  • Revise Again--This is a good time to find critique partners and beta readers, see below.
  • Let it sit, send to a reader for comments.
  • Revise as needed for the following: passive voice, believable dialogue, excessive adj/adv usage, show vs tell. In the beginning I did each of these in a separate revising session, but now I'm automatically checking for these things from the beginning. Doesn't mean I catch all of them, but I'm more aware now that I have a few years under my belt.
  • Write a Query and send it out, catch and agent/publisher and start selling books!
By the way, if you are ready for this last step, make sure you come to Unicorn Bell for all the details on our School's In Query Contest Sunday night. All the fun starts on Monday.

4. Critique Partners/Beta Readers (What are they and why do I need them?)
In the most basic terms, I told the girls these were people not in their family and not their BEST friend. We actually joked around and decided you should have someone who doesn't like you much read it because they will be brutally honest. Then we talked about how you learn to accept criticism and sift through it in order to find what you need to work on. 

The first time I received a REAL critique of my novel was hard. I sat there and felt like crying because is wasn't this perfect masterpiece I dreamed it was. However, I also learned that having someone show me the realistic position I was in would make me a better writer. After that I craved critiques. It became a disease really. The problem arose when I tried to make everyone happy. I wasted a lot of time (see number 1) and drained my story of all life by trying to "fix" everything people mentioned.

YOU WILL NEVER MAKE EVERYONE HAPPY.

That is reality. I had to learn to notice the things that multiple readers mentioned. Those were the things I needed to consider changing. In the end, I had to realize that this was MY story. I could accept or reject suggestions as I saw fit. Even now that I'm working with an editor.

My editor is wonderful. She's made some suggestions on how to make Talia more endearing to the reader earlier. She's sort of a loner and it's hard to get to know her. I didn't like the suggestion she made for one section, but it sparked my own idea for something that felt more like my character. What a wonderful process!

5. Platform (Putting on Your Social Face)
Blogs, twitter, facebook, google+, etc…

There wasn't a lot I needed to tell teenagers about this. :) My only suggestion to them was to remember that everything they put on the internet is there for the whole world to see. I also suggested that while they tried to think/act/speak more professionally, they needed to be themselves. You can only be something you're not for a short time. And no one likes a fake.

That's my Top 5 Things I wish I had known before becoming a writer.
What are Your top 5 things?