Blog Archives

forget sprockets: keep revising

Are we all revising like bunnies?

Yeah, I have no clue what that simile means, either. But aren’t they cute?

To recap:

  • First, I printed out all my chapters.

That concludes my recap.


Yes, yes, I know I am a sworn pantser. But there comes a time in everyone’s life when only an outline will do. My time is AFTER the first draft.

Bob is in pretty good shape, but there are threads in the beginning of the manuscript I’d forgotten about by the time I got to the end. Miraculously, many of them tie in nicely with later plot points.

I think that’s because I let my subconscious play.

Some ideas didn’t turn out well and were abandoned. When I’m first-drafting I don’t go back and rewrite unless I’m really stuck.  I try to keep moving forward in the story, as I tend to ruminate on perfect turns of  phrase. Which is ridiculous at a stage when I’m writing whole chunks of manuscript that might be thrown out.

After I write the outline of my first draft AS IS, I can go through and make the choices of threads to keep, threads to drop, threads to connect.

I make sure the plot is logical.

That the subplots ENHANCE the main plot.

Then I write  another outline AS IT WILL BE. This is what I’ll work off of for my second draft.

But. There’s one other thing I have to settle on before I start the second draft….



Hang on.


chasing the right monsters

I don’t want to waste time writing down the wrong path, but here’s what happened to me the other day…

I’m in the last quarter of my WIP, with lots and lots of subplots going. That’s fine, it’s a first draft when all possibilities must fly. But I hate the feeling you get when you have to carve out ten chapters and put them in the Dead File. I measure all those misbegotten words in terms of Time I Could Have Used Revising.

So I spent the day tippity-tapping up a storm, chasing a monster of my own making. Unfortunately, at the end of the day I decided the monster did not belong in this story.


After a few minutes of lamentation,

I picked myself back up and turned to another plot thread I’d been working on for weeks. And then a curious thing happened.

My WIP careened somewhere that SHOCKED ME.

I literally had to stop and recover.

How did this happen?


First, while I was chasing the monster with my characters, I got to know them much, much better. That never hurts.

Then, when I went back to the other thread, a sufficient amount of percolation space and time had passed to allow A Breakthrough.

That. Is why I love pantsing. *

Yeah, not like that.

* Writing, flying by the seat of your pants, rather than outlining beforehand.

falling in love…with my characters

Any of you who know me in actual-factual walk-around life or twitter fun-life are aware of the fact that I am REVISING THE HECK-FIRE OUT OF my current manuscript.

Well, ladies and gentlemen. Two more chapters to go.

Yahoo, and all that stuff, but I’m already a little sad. Because I love my characters so much I’m going to miss working with them every day.

Writers are the only ones who understand this. If you tell you neighbor you’re going to miss your characters, their response is, “They aren’t real, you know. Shall I call Shady Haven for you? I hear they have full satellite t.v.”

Um, you don’t get it sister.


They’re just made-up.

I ought to know–I’m the one that made them up. From people I have known, people I know now, and parts of me. Those emotions I poured out on those pages had to come from somewhere. If I haven’t felt them, I’ve observed and empathized with them. The “good” emotions and the “bad” ones too.

But it’s time to wrap up this WIP, start querying and release my characters into the wild.

I hope they’re real enough to make it out there.

Anybody else in love with their characters like I am?

oh yeah. i swore a solemn oath…

…that I would blog every Tuesday and Friday. Dang my unrelenting Spring Resolutions.

Okay, I’ll take a break to let you know what I’m doing today.

I’m sure you are fully aware that I have FINISHED MY WIP AND I AM INTO REVISION TIME. No, this is nothing like Hammer Time.

Because I definitely can touch this, baby.

I spent this week going through past critique comments and consolidating them all on one hard copy of each chapter.  THAT was interesting. Sometimes, one person might hate a certain sentence, while another person would love that same sentence. But there are plenty of places where I have a POV slip, tense change, unnecessary attribution or leave my characters floating in space.  All in all, I have lots of fabulous advice to ponder from my critique buddies.

Today I am plotting Story Arc. Yes, most of you made an outline BEFORE you wrote your story. I think I may have told you previously…


I am taking index cards and briefly writing down each scene. After I have done this for every chapter, I will go back and ask myself, “Self, does this scene further the story or tell the reader something vital about the character that he didn’t know before?” If not…

the end, my friend

I finished my WIP!

Let me reconstruct that fateful day for you…

So I get to the coffee shop where I meet my Tuesday-Thursday  Peeps.  These are my Kansas SCBWI writing buddies: in the red jacket–our new RA, Kim Peek.  On the far left, talking contracts–our former RA, Sue Ford.  In the middle–Social Media Expert, Jenn Bailey.  Entering–assistant RA, Colleen Cook.  Here you will find…

A. I need to work on my camera skillz.

B. The many distractions that enabled  me to take as long as possible to write my first draft.

C. We are spiffy folks in Kansas, and you cannot resist our Conferences.

Okay, now we’re getting down to it. Earplugs in, and…ACTUAL WRITING HAPPENS.

Yeah, it was as painful as it looked.

And then…then…


Well, I did type “THE END”, whether I ran out of batteries to record it or not.

But wait!  It’s not really officially finished until I’ve run it past Wednesday Morning Critique Group of the Heartland Writers for Kids and Teens!  Today, with cookies:

This group is made of awesome.  Award-winning authors to rank beginners, we meet weekly in this group and others.  I can’t tell you how much I’ve learned.  And I hope I’m paying it forward.  Introductions are made in this clip, and we have everyone from Elizabeth C. Bunce, author of  A Curse Dark as Gold and winner of the first ALA William Morris Award, to Barbara Stuber, whose first novel, Crossing the Tracks will come out this July, to writers who have published articles and stories, poems and rebuses, to writers on the brink of being published and writers who have just started.


(oh come on, you didn’t think you’d actually HEAR the chapter, did you?)

The giddy wrap-up:

Look, I know this is ridiculous and self-indulgent. But I want you guys to get to know the wonderful people writing for kids in the Kansas City area.

Also, I want to write this Flip thing off on my taxes. (oops. did I say that out loud?)

dashing to the finish

I am in the throes of the pulse-racing climax and thrilling conclusion of my WIP.  While I’ve enjoyed the hades out of writing this one, I can’t wait to finish the first draft. Why? Well, Scooby Doo, I thought you’d never ask:


1.  I can’t wait to see how everything turns out.

  • That’s right.  I do not outline.  I have only the vaguest idea of where my plot is going.  I will find out how my manuscript ends when I have ended it.  I dance on the head of a pin, bruddah!

2.   I’ve got a fever, and the only cure is more cowbell revision.

  • So many ideas for improving what I’ve already got, but I don’t want to start on them until I have the story worked out.  Framework before the molding.

3.    The line starts to the left.

  • Of my Id.  I’ve got several other projects I’m ready to put my figurative mitts on, but not until I’ve seen this one through to the bittersweet end.

4.    There’s more to life.

  • Than my writing.  I’ve discovered that I can’t read other writers’ fiction while I’m writing my own, at least in the first major stage of the process.  I get their voice in my head, and it becomes difficult switching back and forth.  Kate Barsotti told me that’s because I’m a “deep reader”.  Isn’t she nice?  I think it’s because I’m a “chuckle head”.

5.    Duh, or Me! Me! Publish Me!

  • Well, of course I want to be a prolific, published writer.  What’s that you say?  My telescopic ear is stretching over the intrawebs, and I hear some of you saying, “I don’t really care if I ever get published.”


Well, I do.

I’ll blog about that next time.

And it won’t be any dang month, I can tell ya that.

writing in the dark

So I’m toolin’ along on my lil’ ol’ WIP:

and things get darker and darker.  Until I feel like this:

(That’s right.  I’m thinking in Spanish.  See how upset I am?)

I’m working on a YA novel that will probably certainly appeal more to the male side of teenland.  It forces me to dig deep into the squishy groady violent mean ugly nasty evil vicious unrepentant seamy unsanitary side of myself.  Uh-huh.  I said, “unsanitary”.  Put THAT in your pipe and smoke it.

Not that boys are any more squishy, groady, violent, mean, ugly, nasty, evil, vicious, unrepentant, seamy, or unsanitary than girls.  They’re just more willing to look at that part of themselves.

The truth is this stuff is pouring out of me like maple syrup on pancakes.  Like oil and vinegar on a salad.  Like queso sauce over a burrito.

Wait.  I think I missed lunch.

Anyway.  I am beginning to wonder a.) Where in tarnation this stuff is coming from. 2.) What the heck kind of person will want to read this and III.) Who the devil will be brave enough to publish it?

Starting with III.):  Doing It by Melvin Burgess.  The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky.     Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden.   Forever by Judy Blume.   godless by Pete Hautman.  Things that need to be published will get published.

2.):  The WIP is pretty riveting, if I do say so myself.  (Insert appropriate blushing here.)  When your critique group reads your first chapter and looks at you as if they’ve never seen you before, you know you’ve got something.  When you write your first chapter and read it over, and YOU, YOURSELF wish there was more to read, you’ve got something.  And it’s just the first draft, ladies and germs.  I’m going to polish this puppy until it bays like a champion hunting dog.

a.):   This would be the scary part.  I’m mining so deep I think I’ve struck reptilian brain.  It’s not a comfortable place.  Full of strange things.

Like the ugly, misshapen creatures at the bottom of the sea.


gotowardtheliiiiiiiiightFull of fears, rational and irrational.  The gray, rubbery things that nibble at your ears at night.  Chisel away at your confidence in justice and happy endings.  Make you realize that yes, we must have climbed out of primordial ooze, because we still carry that primeval instinct within us.

Hold my hand, Peeps.  I’ve got a flashlight.  We’re goin’ in.

%d bloggers like this: