Sunday, November 27, 2011

Waiter, may I have two Chapter 24s, please?

It's been awhile since I've shared a "here's what I've learned" post about my adventures in writing. I'm inspired to write this post after having just done a Future Past editing marathon which has lasted from 8pm to 11:30pm; well past this boring mom's bedtime.

First of all, I was a little horrified to learn that I'd sent a full manuscript out with not one, but TWO Chapter 24s. If the editor noticed, she certainly didn't tell me. I can hear a huge Homer Simpson "DOH!" ringing in my head. It is late, so initially I thought that I was getting a little too tired and had screwed up the numbering in my outline. But when I went back to double check, I have Chapters 23, 24, 24, and 25. So I guess the lesson here is to run through the manuscript for a solo check on the chronological order of your chapters before you decide it's ready to send out. Better yet, if you run with outlines in much the same way Jacob runs with wolves, then include those chapter numbers in your outline. This is the first time I've actually used chapter numbers in my outline. You can bet that now I will always use them.

The second lesson I've learned thus far with these edits is that the process of coming up with a final draft is much longer than any new writer can really understand. It's not as simple as just writing it and moving on. I wrote the rough draft, then combed through it, making few changes here and there, focusing mostly on grammar and structure. It was then that I thought it was good enough to send out. As it turned out, I was far from it and I'm so lucky that Ms. DeFino liked my concept enough to throw criticism my way.

When she first suggested that I might not finish edits in time for the next submission period, I thought, really? How hard can this be? All I had to do was just go through it again and be on the lookout for the key problems she explained. And I did. But this left me with another problem. I'd cut out so much extra wording that I was barely left with enough words to make up a novel, much less an epic fantasy. So when I started examining other areas of the story, I realized that there were key parts of the story that I hadn't addressed. I do hope to do more novels starring the characters of Future Past, but for now, I needed to focus on one story and fully satisfy the threads of this novel before trying to see what elements I could pluck for the next one.

I feel like I'm making real progress and the story is even more exciting to me the more I dig into it. My main character, Dayel, is more a representation of myself than I've realized before now. She's been through things in her life that has left her feeling like less than a person. She feels too tainted for any kind of better life than what she's been handed. I used to feel like my dreams were out of reach, too, and that I would never be good enough for anyone to ever consider publishing one of my novels. But I know I'm making it with careful hard work and determination. I guess you could say that the real hard work of writing is something I'm learning more about as this process continues, too.

Peace, love, and persistence,


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