Monday, February 22, 2010

Monday Meeting

First, I want to say thanks to Paul for such a wonderful Friday Feature. For any of you who don't know, Friday Features are interviews with a writer somewhere along their journey toward publication and beyond. If you happened to miss one, check out the list above my blogroll. And, you are all cordially invited back on this Friday, for an interview with the knowledgeable American Idol junkie, Laura Pauling.

Monday Meeting:

Last week I got sucked into the whole children-home-from-school-vacation void. I played lots of games, but didn't advance the writing all that much. And, my head cold fogged up my brain. But now, my kids are back on a regular schedule, my head is clear, and I'm ready to get back into it. I'm hoping to finish (finish??!!) revising the beginning of my MG, and move on to the next section. I'm also going to play with the snowflake method over at Jon's.

At this point, finishing a revision seems a bit like a myth. Don't get me wrong, I'm excited about where my WIP is, and where it's going. But there always seems to be a way to improve. I hope that I'll know when I get there, that sweet spot, that "done". Because I don't want to revise this work to death, and know that it is possible. So, several question for you this morning. What are your goals for this week, and how do you know that a part of your WIP is done? How do you prevent your overzealous editor within from killing your manuscript?


  1. 1. My goals: begin plot mapping STEPBROTHERS and create three character profiles.
    2. You just know because 'done' is so subjective.
    3. I do not have an internal overzealous editor, so I don't have any advice on that...
    4. Thanks for vehemently participating at my blog, I am excited to see the reverse use of the Snowflake Method!

  2. Goals for the next three weeks: write 15-20 K on current MS to have first draft finish by spring break.

    I'm always tweaking my MS, but you have to eventually get it out there, so after you have a couple of beta's read it for pacing, characterization, dialogue, etc and you tweak that, then edit one more time for sentence structure, readablility, strengthening verbs, tightening, blah, blah, blah, THEN you query it.
    Good luck!

  3. Great question. I think I've done some of that killing. Paying attention to the voice helped me to perform CPR on one of my manuscripts. I wrote about Riff Writing (from a workshop I took with Elizabeth Lyon), a while back on my blog. That technique can help keep a manuscript alive in the latter stages of revision.

    Goals for the week. Yesterday I finished a rewrite of my WIP so I'm letting that sit for while before I do my next rewrite. Yes, I know I'm not done with it. Hopefully after the next rewrite I'll be ready to give it to a few readers.

    This week I'm catching up on critiques: I have one synopsis, one partial manuscript, and two full manuscripts from fellow writers. It's good timing for me b/c I need to let my WIP sit. When I finish those I'll probably try to finish some notes for a new novel I started a while back.

  4. My biggest goal this week - which I have absolutely no control over - is getting a response, any response, from the agents I've got queries out to. I'm at that stage that I think most writers go through where you've sent out queries (maybe with a history on the book you're querying, maybe not) and you're waiting for a respones, and waiting and waiting and you'd even take a rejection, just say SOMETHING for love of dirt!

    My other goal is to ROLL with this WIP I just started (yeah, another one, I know) as well as work some on the others I have in various states.

    For me, I know a WIP is 'done' is when I read through it and I feel like it's a friend. Not a cool person who might make a good friend, but a real friend. You know, the kind you stay up late with watching bad Zombie movies, spilling popcorn everywhere and snorting soda through your nose. That's how I know the WIP is 'done'.

    As for the editing, I'm all for second, third, and fourth opinions. If everyone, or almost everyone, remarks on the same thing, then I'll work on changing it. The way I avoid letting the ms get killed is by listening to it. It IS my friend by now, remember. If it refuses to be changed a certain way, or if the change warps it from 'who it is' then I either find a different way to alter whatever's not working, or I choose to make a stand.

    Example: The first sentence of my YA Evernow is something that 99.9% of people who have read it LOVED. But a respected agent said he thought it felt forced. I really admire the agent. But the sentence is staying. Even if he told me he could publish it tomorrow if I just changed that sentence, I don't think I would. Everything feels wrong without that sentence. It IS the voice of the mc.

  5. Heather, it can be so tricky to know when a WIP is done! I tend to work on it until I can't stand to look at it anymore. Then I put it aside and come back a couple of weeks later. If nothing jumps out at me as needing fixing, then that usually means it's ready to be sent out (to beta readers, agents, etc.)

    My goal for the week is to revise my fairy tale retelling based on my agent's feedback. I have a strong sense of what I want the story to look like - now I just have to figure out how to get there!

  6. A thoughtful post. I know it's coming close when my critique partners send it back with only line edits and nitpicks. Or when fresh eyes don't have much to say. Or when I'm going through placing commas where I had taken them out. That's when I know to stop and could possibly just make it worse. Then I either need to send it out or let it sit for a while so I can come back with fresh eyes.

  7. So nice to read through how these writers know, because I'm with you. I have no idea. Although it is safe to say I know it is not ready yet.

    I had a busy weekend away from all writing and I hope to return this week and get stuff done both on the drafting side of my new wip and revising side of the old and much fussed with one. But I have a lot to catch up with first.

  8. I count on my crit. buddies to help me know when I'm nearly there or there. :-)

  9. Jon--I know you said something like it took you a week to write a sentence, but you are rockin' the snowflake method. And the character profiles are an awesome way to dig in. Even in reverse!

  10. magolla--Good luck on tha large word count.
    And, your answer to the question of when do you know, is very straightforward. I wish that my revision process looked like that! Mine looks more like this: "finish" draft. Have alpha read it and tell you where (in multiple places) it jumps the shark. Redo parts. Give to alpha. Again, with the shark jumping. Cut it into pieces, rearrange, change character arcs, revise. Send first chapters to betas. Remove passive tenses, and tighten. Send back to Alpha. Get feedback. Revise... Make whole draft pretty for next set of betas. So, pretty soon now, I should be on your trajectory, right? :)

    Thanks for the insight into your progression, I'm glad that you Know when you're ready!

  11. Paul--I loved that post about Riff writing--that was pure gold. And, paying attention to voice is great advice. I don't want to choke the voice out of the writing! Your comment about CPR had me laughing.

    It sounds like you're in a good place with your writing right now, and knowing when to let it simmer. I hope the crit mss are good reads.

  12. A. Grey--I'm crossing my fingers for you, and hoping you hear a positive something from those agents.

    I love your advice about the ms being a friend--and staying true to voice. Great advice.

    I'm glad you stick to your guns about your manuscript. About the one true thing. If I think about a suggested change long enough, I can figure out whether it's in line with the story and character. It's good to take the time, and to listen to yourself, and all your critters.

  13. My writing goal is the same as last week, because I didn't accomplish much writing wise...I'm playing with some poetry subs for magazines this week again. (or hope to!)

  14. My writing goal is to get my column done and brainstorm my new MG that I'm hoping to start in March. Just typing those goals makes me feel better.

  15. Anna--I like that writing it until you're sick of it, then putting it away. Fresh eyes are so helpful! Good luck on the revisions--sounds like you've got a good handle on them.

    Laura--you had me laughing at the comma thing. A crit partner's silence means a lot, I bet.

    Tina--it is wonderful to hear all these ideas on when something is finished. You'll get there, before you know it. I believe it!

    Shannon--it sounds like you've got some good crit partners!

  16. Kelly--good luck with the poetry. It must feel good to work on something more immediate than a novel. Although, poetry is hard!

    Anita--I feel better, too, after I do my monday meeting. Feels good to see the goals in "print". Good luck with the fresh start!

  17. My goal is to actually get back into working on re-writing my WIP. I'm changing it to first person and so far it seems to be much better, but I find I don't have that overzealous, can't put it down, feeling I had the first time around. Too many pots? Don't know.

    I think when you've revised enough that you aren't sure anymore what it needs or IF it needs anything, then you take it to the critique group and see what a fresh pair of eyes can tell you.

  18. I killed my first book. Took me several years. But I also learned an incredible amount during that time. The next book is sort of dead in a different way. Rewriting it would take - well rewriting the whole thing, as if I'd never typed the first word.

    The third book got some interest and requests for partials and fulls, but it wasn't right and I know it. Had to sit on it for about 6 months before I could see that though.

    The fourth book is in much better shape and has gotten some partial requests, but not beyond that. Not sure if it's timing (dying trend) or there's something that still needs fixing.

    The fifth book harks back to number three but in a different fashion. And the other book I'm planning as a companion to this one will basically be a rewrite of book three that matches this one.

    Um. I don't think I answered your questions.

  19. I'm finally (FINALLY) revising my MS. My goal is to revise around 20 pages a day, if possible. Certain parts need more rewriting than others, so I don't know how feasible it will be. As for knowing when it's done, I'm going to trust my critique partners to tell me when it's ready. I happen to have a couple fabulous ones. But I'm also going to trust my gut. If it's really screaming no, no, NO! I'm going to keep working on it no matter what they say. Ha!

  20. Heather, one more thing. Thank you for Friday's Interview. Definitely the highlight of my experience in the blogging world:-)

  21. Tuesday is the new Monday. At least where I'm concerned. *blush*

    Better late than never? Does that work?

    My goals for the week:

    1. Get to the halfway point on critiquing a friend's fabulous novel and send the girl some feedback because she's the most patient person alive

    2. Get to 10,000 words on my WIP

    3. Show up to Heather's Monday Meeting on MONDAY next week.

  22. Nice goals, Sarah. Would you like to create goals for me???

  23. Goals? Oh, dear. Getting out of bed was a major one this rainy morning, but after reading all of the other ones here, I think I should get busy and create some more challenging ones for myself.

  24. Perfect post for me. I've got the head cold and the book that's feeling like it's been revised to death. My goal this week is to get well and work on something new.

  25. Heather, I could have sworn I'd already commented, but of course I hadn't. After talking Monday, I slipped down to Seattle & am now catching up on bloglife.

    How not to edit to death? Is that why we put our WIP's aside? I'm a huge fan of leaving them alone (not to die, but rise) and then come back when the time is right. The space is good for my head & the WIP.

    I have too many goals for the week & have decided to put YA novel #2 on hold until the film stuff is finished.

  26. Lisa, it's so hard to work on a manuscript that you're not feeling. I hope you get over the hump.

    Fresh eyes are awesome. Sometimes when new people read my work, I see it with fresh eyes too!

    Good luck with your writing this week!

  27. Sarah L.--regardless of whether you answered my question, you made me laugh. I'm not sure that you meant it this way, but I read the first two sentences as it took you two years to kill your first book.

    Thanks for sharing your books' journeys. It's inspirational.

    Good luck this week!

  28. Casey--wow. Twenty pages a day--admirable goal.

    Trusting your gut is so key. Thanks for that tip!

    Good luck with the revision, this week!

  29. Sarah D.--Anytime you happen to hop over to the blog is awesome. I love to see your cat hat. No pressures to show up on time. Great goals-good luck with them.

  30. Paul--It was definitely my pleasure. Everyone loved finding out more about you! I'm excited to do a follow-up as soon as you've got good news to share!

  31. Jon--Hello. *waving*

    Sliding on the Edge-- Welcome! We have rain too. Sometimes getting out of bed is just enough of a goal. And, it feels so good when goals are attainable!

    Lori--I know, about the head cold. I had one last week, and just couldn't think straight enought to revise much. Feel better! And good luck with the writing.

  32. Robert--Space is good. And, I think you'd tell me if I was killing my ms.

    And, knowing when to scale back on goals is so awesomely important. It's a horrible week when I get a ton done, but still feel bad that I didn't reach goals. Good luck!

  33. You have received a blog award from me, a devoted cyber stalker (and friend of Jonathon's)...

  34. Dena--thanks so much for the award! I love your blog. I'm putting it in my blogroll now so everyone can check it out!

  35. Yep. You read it right - almost. Took me 1 week to write the first draft and years (way more than 2) to rewrite and edit it to death.

  36. Sarah L.--Thanks for sharing that story. I'm always so impressed with how you put your journey out there for other writers to learn from. I'm sure it was pretty painful to realize, after spending 2 years revising, that it would have to be put away. (or put "down".) But, I don't think that one word of that experience was wasted. I think that you are much closer to your goal because of that struggle.