Hello everyone! I only have time for a quick post today, but I definitely wanted to share a link to a guest blog I wrote about music and my current manuscript (Walter and Kevin’s story).
My friend and lovely critique partner, Constance Phillips, who has her first release coming out with Crescent Moon Press later this year (Congrats, Constance!! So proud of you!!), was kind enough to give me a spot on her Character Playlist feature.
Stop by my post, Music of a Manuscript, to get a mini preview of Walter and Kevin’s story via some of the songs on the book’s playlist.
Also, keep an eye on my website for more about this story. I’ll be adding these and other videos for the rest of the playlist to my Behind the Story page, as well as more news and other behind-the-scenes details.
I learn something new with each story I write. Both about me and the craft of writing fiction. As I’ve shared before, my current novel has been through a rocky schedule in terms of the actual writing, but it has had some of the biggest lessons for me when it comes to the “how” of writing.
Here’s what I’ve learned or had reinforced into my writer’s brain this past week:
It’s amazing how many bits of dialogue or even entire scenes I thought were important that never make it in the final manuscript. They are the moments that seemed to be at the core of the story and its meaning when I was writing the outline, yet once I’m into the story on a deeper level, those “darlings” just seem to lose their punch. But they were important for the journey. They helped me get to where I wanted the story to go. Writing is a process.
I can’t be afraid of moving a scene to a completely new setting. Sometimes I’m telling the right interactions and dialogue in the wrong place. The scene can take on a new intensity in the “right” location. Setting can influence the entire tone of a story. If two characters fall in love while moving from public place to public place, that story will have a very different feel than a story about two characters falling in love while staying at one of their homes, just the two of them for days on end.
When I’m stuck on a character’s emotional reactions, I should always go back to the basics. What are the character’s goals, wants, needs? And how are those driving his actions and his responses? I can’t be afraid to make the story primal. Humans are complex creatures, but we are also driven by simple, personal motivations.
I have to be “feeling” a scene to revise it. Sure, the writing hasn’t been polished yet, some of the sensory details are missing, and I have yet to write parts of the emotional responses and dialogue, but if I’m not interested in the core of what is going on in the scene, who the hell else will be? I give the scene two chances to pull me in. Maybe I was in a bad mood the first read through or maybe my mind was on something else. If I’m still not feeling it on the second read through, it’s back to the drawing board. Every scene, every interaction doesn’t just need a purpose, it doesn’t just need to move the story forward, it needs to grab the reader and hold on. The least it needs to do is get me excited to revise it.
And yet again, I think I’ve proven how crazy my writing process is, but I’m more than okay with that. It works for me.
Another thing I’ve learned in the past couple of years is to appreciate every moment I’m writing and to embrace the story I’m working on. Each of my novels has been quite different from the others. Over thinking the process and the act of writing, or doing any sort of comparison between works, is counterproductive. Enjoying the journey of storytelling and the characters I’m creating is a big part of what makes writing such a joy.
I try to start every writing session with that in mind.
When I can’t stop laughing at something I just wrote.
When the dialogue actually flows and sounds realistic on the first attempt.
When my critique partner sends me a chat message to share some awesome plot ideas she’s working on and we both get even more jazzed about the story (the hard part is waiting to read it).
When I hit that moment where I’m so far in the zone with this story and the characters’ lives that any past criticisms or reviews (especially the overly “positive” and “negative”) are gone from my head and all that’s left is the current journey and where I’m taking these men.
When I re-read a part I hadn’t read in a few weeks and I’m so blown away by the intensity of the emotions and what’s going on that I can’t stop reading even though I know what’s going to happen next.
When I re-read a part I hadn’t read in a few weeks and I’m surprised by the writing. “I wrote that? When? Was I half asleep?”
When I re-read a scene I think is pretty solid plot-wise and I come up with an addition or twist I hadn’t even considered that takes the story to a whole new level.
When I add in a new element of a character’s personality or backstory, then go back to layer in notes about the addition and find that this new element works perfectly with several scenes I’d already written and makes them even better.
When my cats all come to see me in my office at the same time and sit at my feet and on my lap while I write. Sure, two-thirds of them are trying to tell me their hungry, but it’s nice to have the company.
When it doesn’t matter there are dirty dishes in the sink, a to-do list a mile long, or a hundred emails to read. Kevin and Walter are having the most intense moment, and I’m not leaving the page for anything. Well, certainly not for anything related to washing dishes or taking out the trash.
Some days, writing is hard, but days like today are why I love this gig. Thank you to all the readers who make it possible for me to do this for more than just myself.
I’m on my third pass working on Walter and Kevin’s story, and I had a series of great writing sessions this week. Today I worked on a chapter and a half that needed a few changes, including adding some dialogue and reactions. I ended up rewriting almost all of it. I was in some sort of zone where the dialogue and character interactions just flowed and worked better within the overall story arc. The more I rewrote, the more I knew what I had previously written wasn’t working. When I was done, it felt good to know it was the right call to rewrite those scenes.
Even though decisions like these affect the overall amount of time it takes to complete a project, this type of revising just seems to work for me. The more time I spend with the characters and their story, the clearer the overall picture becomes. Sometimes I can’t see the forest with all those damn trees in the way.
It took about five hours to get that chapter and a half rewritten. I sat in my comfy chair in my office while I wrote. These two little guys came in to keep me company.
(c) Sloan Parker 2012
(c) Sloan Parker 2012
Hope you all have a great weekend. I’m hoping to get in another 5 hours or more of writing on Sunday.
Sorry I haven’t been posting much lately. I took an unplanned/unexpected sabbatical from blogging. I’ve been slammed recently with non-writing work and family obligations, but when I did get to work on my writing, I rocked it on Walter’s story. I figured an update on my progress was long overdue.
And progress is exactly what I’m making with Walter and Kevin’s book. I’m writing every day again and finding a groove with this story that feels really good.
Which is nice because this book has been through such a long journey already. Here’s the path of its life so far:
Brainstormed story ideas (started in 2010).
Created character sketches/story outline.
Took a break to work on synopses and outlines for Richard’s and Matthew’s books (from More)
Submitted all 3 synopses to my publisher.
Worked on another project while I waited for feedback on which book they’d prefer to see next.
Revised story outline & character sketches based on publisher’s suggestion to remove one story element.
Worked on rough draft.
Had inspiration for a new story, so I put Walter and Kevin’s aside to create proposal since Christmas stories were being considered at my publisher. After receiving approval, I wrote and revised Take Me Home.
Back to Walter and Kevin’s story. Worked on completing rough draft.
Had to take a break to work on edits from my editor for Take Me Home.
Back to Walter and Kevin’s story. Completed revisions of first seven chapters.
Decided to make several major changes to the story (scenes deleted and new scenes added). Reviewed entire manuscript and worked in changes.
Completed revisions of first ten chapters (as of today).
This story is nothing like it started out as, and yet, it’s becoming more of what I had envisioned in the first place. I cannot tell you how much I love the conversations and interactions between Walter and the much younger Kevin.
This book may not have had the quickest path to publication, but I am really happy with what I’ve got on the page now.
I’ve also worked on revisions to part four of Mark and Scott’s story, the serial novel More Than Just a Good Book. I need to review a few more times, and then send to my critique partner. I’ll announce when it’s ready for you to read on the blog and in my newsletter.
So that’s where I’m at this week. Thanks for listening!