Wednesday, January 22, 2014

My Writing Process - Making Sense out of Chaos

Just lately, I've realized there is some method to my madness, although it may not seem like it. I'm a pantser and I don't write linearly. This means that I may start the story in the middle or even at the end, and/or throw a bunch of unconnected scenes into a document. Usually I do have the opening scene, but not always. These are the bones of my story, on which I build.

The next step it to flesh them out and fill the gaps. Often this means I need to research stuff if I've included things or settings I'm not actually familiar with. In my current WIP, that meant Cajun expressions, Louisiana, voodoo, Catholicism, zombie parades, luxury cars, and the average price for a burger and fries. :P
Once that's done, I consider it a complete first draft. Note draft. It still isn't a proper story. Next comes what I lovingly refer to as the rip and repair edit. This usually involves deleting or rewriting chunks or, because I don't write linearly, moving large sections around. I basically gut the story and discard or reattach. Sounds messy and often is. I guess that's a consequence of the disorganized way I write. But it's very cathartic. *insert mad scientist laugh here*

After that, it may take several smaller edits/revisions to give me a finished draft. At this stage I often use Editminion.com. It's a handy little tool, but an automated editing system is NEVER going to replace a real live human editor (well, not with current technology anyway, and if that ever happens perhaps robots will be writing the stories in the first place. Hmm...). Every little helps though. Editminion catches passive voice, weak words, cliches, repeated words etc.

Lastly I'll go back and read through several times, checking my timeline and making sure I'm not leaping from night to day, or changing the colour of clothing or whatever, or adding additional limbs and the like. I sketch in any extra details. I check for repetitive words and phrases.

When I feel I'm just re-tweaking tiny details, I consider myself done. By this stage I've normally played around with cover art and calculated my editing costs if I plan to self publish, or at least sketched out my cover letter and synopsis if I plan to submit instead.

I'll confess not everything gets beta readers or seen by crit partners (bad author!). My current WIP is such a freak that it went to a couple of fellow authors very early on because I was fretting over the location, language and religion. Part of it went into a critique event during NaNoWriMo. So it has been seen and assessed. Right now I'm close to the final adjustments and submission. It has a request on it! *bounces*

So how do you write? Does my method horrify you? :P


Pippa's Journal

I've been struggling with things the last few weeks, both writing and real life, with both effecting the other. My phone, which I'd come to rely on for pretty much everything, died totally just before Christmas. This severely restricted my internet and social interaction over the holiday, and even impacted my writing since I do much of it on my phone when my computer time is limited. Then my boiler started misbehaving. Then my washing machine died on New Year's Day. None of it serious, but together they made life difficult.
On the publishing side, Lyrical Press Inc., who released my debut novel Keir, announced they had been bought by Kensington. While potentially great news, it means Keir is currently unavailable to buy just now, and it could be a couple of months before it's back up even once the new contracts have been signed. I'm still waiting to get mine. :/

Add to that the closure of my latest publisher - Definition House - meaning Keir's sequel and my SFR novella Tethered are now homeless, meant 2014 got off to a dismal start for me. However, I have tried to see this as an opportunity for new things rather than a disaster. All the repairs are done, I have a new and upgraded phone, hubs came home with a spare computer from work which is now up and running and connected to the WiFi (we've been without a main computer since July!) and whatever happens, Keir AND Keir's Fall will be back sometime this year. Never give up - never surrender!

On the positive side, my cyberpunk short has been submitted to the Women Destroy SF Lightspeed magazine special edition. I'm still waiting for news on my decopunk superhero romance out on submission. Hopefully this week or next my freaky YA supernatural romance will also go out.

Happenings
With Keir unavailable and as a special treat, there are two fabulous giveaways on Goodreads right now! One with three now rare print editions of Keir, and one for an ultra-rare, cannot-be-bought-anywhere print edition of Tales from the SFR Brigade! Go HERE!

Have you submitted to Women Destroy SF yet?! You have until the 14th February. Go to http://submissions.johnjosephadams.com/women-destroy-sf/submit

Ping Pong
Donna, I too would like to see Samantha's follow on story. What a shame they kind of skimped on the potential. And sorry about the cold! We've had one of our mildest winters on record here in the UK. The downswing is it's been dismally damp, though we're lucky to have avoided the terrible floods in some areas, and we've taken a battering with the winds, especially on the coasts. I still think we should have evolved to hibernate.

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