Noveling in January - Mothering Forums

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Old 01-02-2009, 01:55 AM - Thread Starter
 
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This is a thread for anyone who's working on a novel -- from the first words to the final revision, from category romance to literary mainstream, from elves to hard-boiled detectives -- if you're writing it, we invite you to join us. This is a group where we can discuss our projects and goals, share tips and tricks, ask questions, and encourage and commiserate with our peers.

New to the thread? Please jump right in! We'd love to hear what you're writing and how it's going!

Erin, mom to DD (1/06) and DS (10/09)
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Old 01-02-2009, 02:17 AM - Thread Starter
 
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How about an end of 2008/start of a new month checkin? I'll throw out some questions (and answer them myself)... but feel free to add to the list!

How is your project going?
As of the end of 2008, I've finished the first editing pass of the first 2/3 of my novel. It's still nameless but oh, well! I have 64,772 words at the moment and I'm thinking I might have around 75,000 at the end of this editing pass. Since my genre (fantasy) calls for 80k+, I'll be aiming to add 10k-15k words before I'm finished with it.

What surprised/amazed/impressed you most about what you've achieved so far?
- That I've actually managed to plot out a story that will hit the word length I had in mind. How did THAT happen?
- That I've had such a good time writing this novel and that I still LOVE it. I've written stories I really believe in before, but usually I go through a lot of "this suuuucks!" before I get to the end.
- That I've kept at it so steadily. I am never this good about writing steadily on anything! Seriously, I have churned out an average of 1 finished short story per year for the last 5 years.

What hasn't gone so well/disappointed you/been an unpleasant surprise?
- What's disappointed me most is that I didn't get to writing this seriously and steadily years ago! Oh, the time wasted!

Any lessons you've learned about yourself, about writing a novel, or about life in general as you work?
Some years ago I went to a professional SF/F writers' workshop and I find that I'm still learning some of the lessons that they attempted to impart to us. The two that have "clicked" with me in a new way (and which I was highly skeptical about before) are:
- Creativity can be a learned skill. As in, you can learn to be more creative, you don't just have to wait for inspiration to strike before you write something. :
- Writing every day (or nearly so) is one of the best ways you can improve your writing. Set a word goal or amount of time for every day, and fulfill it, and you will feel the difference. :

Do you have any writing-related resolutions or goals for this year?
This is my entire resolution for 2009 (I like to keep 'em simple). At the workshop I went to, at the end, we half-seriously swore an oath related to what they'd tried to teach us. I've kept all of the oath except the first two lines, which are: "I will write every day. I will finish what I write." So since writing every day since October has been so inspiring to me, I am going to do my best to write every day in 2009. I'd like to do 1000 words if I'm working on something new, and some equivalent amount of time/effort if I'm revising.

Erin, mom to DD (1/06) and DS (10/09)
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Old 01-02-2009, 12:57 PM
 
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Hi, i'm new!

I'm about 5K into my literary novel with a mystery element. i have the rest of the novel loosely outlined, but very losely, as i don't like outlines. I have no idea how i'm going to tie it all together, i'm not even sure wheather the missing girl will be found alive or dead, and who kidnapped her (it is a subplot). But i do know the ending (except the missing girl part)!

Happy New Year, everyone!

ania

My kids are 8, 5 and 2!
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Old 01-02-2009, 12:59 PM
 
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by the time i replied the entire OP got really complicated

i'll be back later with more details!

ania

My kids are 8, 5 and 2!
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Old 01-03-2009, 06:11 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Ooooh, I've always thought a true mystery would be tough to write. I'm sure I'd either foreshadow WAY too much or else everyone would get to the end and go "huh?".

Chugging along so far. My writing group is going through my chapters 10 & 11 this week, and then there's a 2-week break because we decided to hold our winter party in January instead of right before Christmas. Meanwhile I'm editing chapter 22 out of 30. I think it might be good that I'll have finished my first pass when they're only halfway through because I can set it aside and just take comments and not work on it for awhile. Then it will be more fresh when I get back to it... I hope.

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Old 01-03-2009, 06:20 PM
 
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I spent way too much time figuring out what to blog about

reread my my first chapters and made some changes.

it is not a true mystery--i'd get lost. but they say there are formula for those, where they'd tell you stuff like: you first clue would be here etc.

mine has a mystery element --no one, including me, knows the details about the murder

i like your resolution to write a little bit every day. it helps SO MUCH! but lately i've been giving myself a bit of a break...no sure why...

My kids are 8, 5 and 2!
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Old 01-03-2009, 08:35 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aufilia View Post
As of the end of 2008, I've finished the first editing pass of the first 2/3 of my novel. It's still nameless but oh, well! I have 64,772 words at the moment and I'm thinking I might have around 75,000 at the end of this editing pass.
wonderful!

- That I've actually managed to plot out a story that will hit the word length I had in mind. How did THAT happen?
Yeah, this I'm not so sure about for my story. I am writing scenes out of order, because that's the only way I could make myself start writing. I have written the scenes I was interested in or thought would be easiest.

- That I've kept at it so steadily. I am never this good about writing steadily on anything! Seriously, I have churned out an average of 1 finished short story per year for the last 5 years.

- What's disappointed me most is that I didn't get to writing this seriously and steadily years ago! Oh, the time wasted!
This is what I want to begin. I need to do it steadily, everyday. I'm supposed to be doing it now, yikes

- Creativity can be a learned skill. As in, you can learn to be more creative, you don't just have to wait for inspiration to strike before you write something. :
I did hear this before, but have never done it much. I heard an author say that she couldn't tell the difference between what she wrote while inspired and what she sloughed through
- Writing every day (or nearly so) is one of the best ways you can improve your writing. Set a word goal or amount of time for every day, and fulfill it, and you will feel the difference. :
I'm trying to do this

I'd like to do 1000 words if I'm working on something new, and some equivalent amount of time/effort if I'm revising.
Me too
I bolded my answers in the quoted section. I have yet to figure out how to do the quote thing properly.
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Old 01-04-2009, 02:51 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aufilia View Post
How about an end of 2008/start of a new month checkin? I'll throw out some questions (and answer them myself)... but feel free to add to the list!
I did post a couple of times in December, but life got in the way (the weakest of excuses, lol)

How is your project going?
I'm close to finishing my first draft. This novel was my 2007 NaNo project, and a story that first started begging to be written about nine or ten years ago. I'm making myself write every day to finish it.

What surprised/amazed/impressed you most about what you've achieved so far?
I never finish anything, so actually finishing this will surprise me, assuming I do finish.

What hasn't gone so well/disappointed you/been an unpleasant surprise?
After reading the Twilight series , I read that the author didn't write chronologically and decided that was how I'd attempt NaNo. Um. Yeah, won't be writing that way again. Too hard to go back and write the scenes that while necessary, are either difficult to write or don't interest me as much.

Any lessons you've learned about yourself, about writing a novel, or about life in general as you work?
Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize! Create time to write, because otherwise I will never do it. Making myself write, even stream of consciousness, to build the habit, even if I don't feel like it. And the obvious, take a notebook everywhere. Inspiration can strike any time. Oh, and that I can think the best if I lock myself in the bathroom or soak in the tub.

Do you have any writing-related resolutions or goals for this year?
To do morning pages every day (Julia Cameron); to finish my first draft by January 15 & have it ready to query by September; win NaNo 09; and complete a first draft of the next novel I am planning.

write@home mama to big boy (04-06) and little boy (10-08)
and someone new in november stork-suprise.gif

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Old 01-04-2009, 03:57 AM
 
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I'm hoping to *start* writing my first novel this month. I'm doing the research portion right now... my goal is to start writing in the next 2 weeks.

How is your project going?

Its at the beginning - I'm doing the research right now. I'm reading a book called "Hooked" at the moment that discusses new ways to successfully begin a novel, what catches the eye, keeps the reader there, and what publishers look for. Its VERY interesting and I feel like I've learned a lot, and will be able to side step a lot of problems that I'm sure I would have made otherwise.

What surprised/amazed/impressed you most about what you've achieved so far?

I'm doing it. I'm actually going down this road and not just saying "someday." Today is that day. I'm really happy about that.

What hasn't gone so well/disappointed you/been an unpleasant surprise?

When I ran the plot idea past my family they all seemed to placate me with "nice" and "good" type comments. Its a good indication that they can't see the details and the characters in my head the way I can... it will have to be my writing that describes it the way it should be... and I'm not going to show anyone until I'm ready to have it critiqued. I have to keep my confidence up about it to stay strong with writing.

Any lessons you've learned about yourself, about writing a novel, or about life in general as you work?

Aside from not expecting the level of excitement from your loved ones as you feel, I'd say I have learned that I do have a novel in me somewhere, and that its not just a dream... its a reality. Its happening, and I need to look at it in the present. Not a future goal, but a present action.

Do you have any writing-related resolutions or goals for this year?

Whether it winds up being a GREAT novel or not, I want to have a finished, edited, proofed, critiqued, COMPLETED manuscript sent off for publisher queries by the end of the year. If it gets published, great. If not, hey - I wrote a NOVEL.
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Old 01-04-2009, 04:17 AM
 
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Wow, January already! I was all set to crack open that "Noveling in December" thread.

How is your project going? I made time to write for the first time in a while, today. I wrote for slightly over an hour; not quite 61 minutes. I'm up to page 60 now, and getting the meatiest part of the plot started. I've intro'ed the hero to the werewolves, let the protagonist & hero get into a little argument, and now she's conducting an interview with one of the victims. (No dead bodies in this one; I hate the clichè that the magical folks are never called in 'til there's been a murder.) I had to quit when my eyes started crossing. (And yet, I somehow manage to be here on the internet!)

I'm happy with how well this is progressing. I have an outline, but the scene I am working on right now isn't in it. That's OK, though, because it's a necessary one. My outline is flexible like that (I've got it all on index cards, & I've rearranged the order a couple of times already).

What surprised/amazed/impressed you most about what you've achieved so far? Like someone else has said, just that I'm sticking with it. And that it's coming together so easily. This is a type of book I've wanted to write for a while now. It's deeply rooted in Texas, in our folklore & traditions, and it has my own view of a magical, modern Earth, and I've already fallen in love with the heroine, even though I did not have her come into my head first, as is typical for me. I created her for the story I wanted to tell, and that's worked out a lot better than I'd expected it to, to be honest.

What hasn't gone so well/disappointed you/been an unpleasant surprise? I am tripping myself up over political correctness. It is impossible to write a San Antonio-based story filled with nothing but white people. But I'm white. I did grow up in a minority community, so I can usually do a good job with minor characters. But I'm perhaps trying a little too hard. I just tonight changed what one character was eating because it could be perceived as a stereotype. It is not, in this case; it's something that makes perfect sense if you know folks around here, but I don't want to seem insensitive or racist. And now I'm somewhat angry with myself that I gave in to self-censoring there. (Which I guess also answers the question about what I've learned about myself!)

Do you have any writing-related resolutions or goals for this year? Just to finish! I want to get the whole thing written and then revised as necessary, and perhaps start to shop it around, but I'll settle for finishing it. I'm very bad at actually seeing long projects through to the end. But this one I am determined to complete.

Sabra: Mama to Bobbie (3/02), Linda (1/04), Esther (10/05), Marie (11/10), & Douglas (11/12)

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Old 01-05-2009, 05:29 PM
 
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How is your project going?

It's trucking along better than I thought I would! I am super-meticulous and over-revise as I write, so I'm trying to keep my process "loose," if that makes sense. I just joined a critique group that meets 2x a month, and that has been a godsend!

What surprised/amazed/impressed you most about what you've achieved so far?
That I've managed to put my own insecurities about publishing again aside, and emerge from the deadly consecutive combo of serious illness and new mamahood with enough brainpower/ability to articulate *anything* on a page!

What hasn't gone so well/disappointed you/been an unpleasant surprise?

How slowly I work. And how hard it is to find time and space as a parent in which to work without bankrupting myself on childcare.

Any lessons you've learned about yourself, about writing a novel, or about life in general as you work?

That I have to let go of my inner critic even more after having been previously published -- the pressure I put upon myself is merciless and counterproductive.

That writing hundreds of pages you don't use is absolutely *not* a waste if it helps you discover your story.

That newspaper articles are your best friend for story sparkers.

Do you have any writing-related resolutions or goals for this year?

Oh yes -- whether they're too ambitious or not remains to be seen.

-- Apply to low-res MFA program (and hopefully get in)
-- Finish a draft by May (pipedream, I know!)
-- Send some kind of creative nonfiction/essay to Brain, Child mag
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Old 01-08-2009, 03:49 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Whaaat, no one's posted in days? Don't make me come up with more long questionnaires!

I'm chugging along with my novel. I'm up to chapter 24 of 30, and I feel like I've reached the quagmire of my revisions. Up to this point my chapters have been averaging 2600 words. The entire last 6 chapters of my novel total 6500 words. I'm missing like 1/3 the plot and 2/3 of the words so I'm doing less revising and more new writing.

My writing group is reviewing my chapters 10 & 11 tonight. These chapters contain the first major crisis for my protagonist -- there's violence, threats of violence, a narrowly-avoided rape, and my protag has a big emotional crisis. I'm kind of afraid there's too much but we'll see how it goes.

Erin, mom to DD (1/06) and DS (10/09)
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Old 01-09-2009, 02:55 AM
 
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I'm having one of those "and what makes you think you can write a book?" weeks. Ugh. Stupid insecurities. I am soooo close to completing it, too. I am desperate to finish it, shelve it, and then come back to it in three months, with fresh eyes (I can hope).

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Old 01-09-2009, 03:11 AM
 
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I wrote a bit today, but not much. I'm trying to decide whether to throw in some violence or not. I did get a tiny bit of description of the heroine worked into it. She's apparently darker complected than I'd realized when I started. I'm kinda going off on a tangent with respect to my outlined plot, but it's still relevant stuff so I'm not sweating it.

I'm also strongly considering writing a short story or two featuring my heroine. I've got one already; I need to polish it up some & see if it's good enough to shop around. I wrote it for a 'zine, but I don't think it (the 'zine) ever came to fruition.

Sabra: Mama to Bobbie (3/02), Linda (1/04), Esther (10/05), Marie (11/10), & Douglas (11/12)

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Old 01-11-2009, 01:56 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Bella -- How much more do you have left? I hope you've gotten some writing in.

Sagesgirl -- When in doubt, throw in more violence! Well, ok, that's been MY motto but I don't know if it'll work for you.


My writing group critiqued chapters 10 & 11 this week and sadly, after 6 chapters not a single one of them had noticed the big thing I was trying to imply that happened in chapter 4. Apparently I need way less subtlety.

Erin, mom to DD (1/06) and DS (10/09)
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Old 01-11-2009, 11:10 AM
 
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Well, I haven't written much at all. I wrote a couple if fast synopses--just to see where I'm going. I brainstormed a bit with a friend. I feel I'm not able to focus this month at all.

My kids are 8, 5 and 2!
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Old 01-12-2009, 12:16 AM
 
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Can I join in?

My problem is that I have three projects going on right now and I'm not sure which one I should work on. From a practical perspective, I'd say the finished novel, but I'm thinking that MASSIVE rewrites are in store and I don't know if I'm up to that.

The fantasy is the one calling me, so I'm thinking I should tackle that one.

But then the Southern lit/magical realism one is the one I feel has the most commercial potential, so it feels like the responsible thing to jump on that one.

Sigh.

I think the muse is going to win tonight, but I wish things would simplify...
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Old 01-13-2009, 06:34 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi Heather! You have a lot on your plate. If it was me I'd go with whichever one was calling to me the most. I'm weak-willed that way.


I think my new least favorite part of writing a novel is the ending. Ugh, ugh, ugh!! I'm working on revising chapter 25 (out of 3) and my progress has slowed to a snail's pace. I finally sat down and started re-writing this chapter from scratch last night, because I just could NOT fix what I already had down.

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Old 01-14-2009, 01:57 AM
 
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Rewrites are so hard. I'm going through and scratching up my finished novel's first chapter right now. It feels more...organic, but it's going to cause problems in the rest of the story.
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Old 01-14-2009, 03:54 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Is your new first chapter a big style change?

I am feeling like I'm going to end up rewriting most of the last few chapters. 25 is working out much better, though, so at least I feel like I'm making big improvements. I think there might be 1 or 2 other scenes I might keep more or less whole.

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Old 01-14-2009, 07:37 PM
 
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Um. Sort of.

I actually got feedback from an agent a few years ago about how the action didn't start quickly enough and realized she was right, got depressed about the whole thing, and stuck it in a drawer.

Now that I've decided to focus on it, I'm just sort of speeding things along a bit, introducing a character earlier, and tightening up awkward stuff that I put in because it was the only way to get the story rolling. So the style isn't changing much, but the pace is. And, of course, introducing the other character earlier means that I'll have to go a few chapters up and rework a lot of that. But introducing him earlier makes the story more organic.
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Old 01-15-2009, 01:28 AM
 
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School has started back up for me, so I am getting more writing done! Funny how that happens. (Although, except for day 1 of English 1302, I haven't written in lieu of taking notes.)

I decided to go with threatened violence instead of actual violence, so I'm feeling good. I need to get my notecards together & into my book bag.

Sabra: Mama to Bobbie (3/02), Linda (1/04), Esther (10/05), Marie (11/10), & Douglas (11/12)

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Old 01-27-2009, 04:21 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm still alive... reeaaally... but real life has been sucking up my free time. DD turned 3 and work has been crazy (we're in the home stretch releasing version 1 of the software application I've been working on for 16 months).

So how's everybody doing?

I made it up to halfway through chapter 28 of the 30 in my outline and got totally sidetracked last week when someone in my writing group asked why I'd killed off some minor characters. Who needs misc characters hanging around for no good reason, right? Yeah, well, now I'm considering re-writing the entire 2nd half to add one of the minor characters. I just re-wrote chapter 13 to let him live. Sigh.

Erin, mom to DD (1/06) and DS (10/09)
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Old 01-29-2009, 02:11 AM
 
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I haven't killed off anyone yet. I'm way too early in the game. I'm only on page 70-something. I've added in a couple of scenes not in my outline; I think I may cut one or two that are there, since they're not especially titillating, but we'll see. The new scenes make the book a bit more interesting. I've come to a spot where the two main characters are in the protagonist's home, and I'm sort of winging it, but I think I'll have to go back & sketch out a floor-plan so I can keep things straight. I also really need to move my reference folder into my backpack; I need to find out whether her brother Mark is married or not. I know I've made that decision, but I don't remember what it is!

Sabra: Mama to Bobbie (3/02), Linda (1/04), Esther (10/05), Marie (11/10), & Douglas (11/12)

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Old 01-29-2009, 02:33 AM
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Hey, I'm jumping in, too!

DH is a supportive man who has a special place waiting for him in heaven for rearranging his work schedule so I have time to write once again (DD stopped napping at 20 months, it seems).

I've been continuing research and general planning but now I'm finally back into the daily work/writing routine. I'm working on a trilogy of YA fantasy novels. The first is written in very drafty form, and the second is just begun. I'm going back now and reworking the first book, and then I'll tackle the second as I find readers for the first. I'm really hoping to get the third written by this time next year (My process is writewritewrite and revise massively later. I know everyone says to do it this way, but I think maybe I take it to heart more than most people envision, because I seriously pound it out, and then later decide most is crap but without the crap I wouldn't have come up with a few neat bits.)

How is your project going?
I'm making progress, so that's good! I'm maybe a third of the way through big content rewrites of the first book.

What surprised/amazed/impressed you most about what you've achieved so far?
Going through all my notes and remembering all this stuff I've come up with and forgotten about. Yay, instant plot!

What hasn't gone so well/disappointed you/been an unpleasant surprise?
Reading through so much of my first draft and cringing at so much of the writing. I KNOW I was just learning as I went, but still. I put my faith in revision, revision, revision.

Any lessons you've learned about yourself, about writing a novel, or about life in general as you work?
Giving myself time to write (and to think about writing when I can have a thought to myself) makes me a much better person, and a much happier person. Also, going over my madly scribbled notes again and again reminds me of studying for exams in college, which gives me hope that I CAN get it all straightened out in my head, and juggle all the plot and character and themes and sort them out. Eventually.

Do you have any writing-related resolutions or goals for this year?
Finish Book 1. Spend time organizing plans for Books 2 and 3. Finish writing Book 2. If I can do that much, I'll be happy as happycakes. But if I can get into Book 3, all the better.

Now I need to go to bed so we can watch Lost
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Old 01-30-2009, 04:18 PM
 
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I was looking for this thread all month and just found it! ahhh!

I need help - I'm trying to finish and have a horrible writer's block - not from lack of something to write about - I have the entire last 2 chapters done in my head - I just can't get myself to do it, even when I have the time to write!...what is this? does this happen to everyone at the end? I just can't seem to 'finish' it - even though I KNOW there will be months of revisions ahead

anyway, I'm hoping to finish it up by the end of the month...this weekend! ha...I guess I'll finish it in February
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Old 01-30-2009, 06:17 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by MommyHawk View Post
I was looking for this thread all month and just found it! ahhh!

I need help - I'm trying to finish and have a horrible writer's block - not from lack of something to write about - I have the entire last 2 chapters done in my head - I just can't get myself to do it, even when I have the time to write!...what is this? does this happen to everyone at the end?
Oh, yes. I have so far failed to finish it twice, though I only have 1.5 chapters left to go (about 4k words). The first time I got there I realized what I'd outlined just wouldn't work. The second time (last week) I got halfway through chapter 28 and got sidetracked by my writing group. The first time through I actually did write down a smattering of conversation (3 or 4 lines at a time that I had in mind) and a couple partial scenes -- that's helpful because at least it's not totally blank.

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I haven't killed off anyone yet. I'm way too early in the game. I'm only on page 70-something. I've added in a couple of scenes not in my outline; I think I may cut one or two that are there, since they're not especially titillating, but we'll see. The new scenes make the book a bit more interesting.
What, page 70 and nobody's died? I'd killed at least half a dozen people by then. But then.... much different books and all. (Actually in mine, nobody dies between chapters 14 and 28, which is quite a long run.)

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Hey, I'm jumping in, too!

DH is a supportive man who has a special place waiting for him in heaven for rearranging his work schedule so I have time to write once again (DD stopped napping at 20 months, it seems).
Awwww what a sweetie! DH is actually really good to me, too. I get to go write with my writing buddies a couple times a month in addition to my weekly crit group meetings. I hear you on being a happier person.


My crit group had nice things to say about this week's chunk. After that I mentioned that I was thinking about keeping one of the minor characters I killed off last week, and everybody was against it! WTF. I re-wrote 3 chapters keeping him in and he was useful, kinda. But he's equal parts useful and annoying baggage. It's no wonder my protagonist is regretting letting him live.

Erin, mom to DD (1/06) and DS (10/09)
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Old 01-30-2009, 08:02 PM
 
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how does one go about finding a critique group...and is one necessary?
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Old 01-31-2009, 08:30 PM
 
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I finished my 1st draft!!! :

it's got some editing - ok, TONS of editing - ahead, but I did it and I had to share my news with someone, anyone!!

now, do I print it out and read it/edit? Or just do in on the computer? It ended up being 698 pages (133K words) so it'll take a bit of paper...but then, to print it all out and see exactly how big it is...I think that would hit it home more than typing the words "THE END"...I think I need to feel the weight of what I did in my hands if you know what I mean
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Old 02-01-2009, 02:08 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Congratulations on finishing!! ::::::::

Hmmm -- I think you could go either way, depending on your preferences. I printed and hand-edited the first 5 chapters, but I've been editing the rest on the screen.

My crit group actually found me rather than the other way around. They/we run a writers' workshop at a science fiction convention, and if we come across someone promising we might invite them to do a trial run.

If you have any local writing friends you might ask around. If you know some local writers in your area, you might email and ask them, even if you don't know them well. Also, local writers' associations might have leads. Or local conventions related to your genre.

I know there are writers who write and revise alone, but I find it really useful to have extra eyes poring through. My group can read it with fresh eyes, not knowing where the story is going, which gives them a different perspective. I've found it instructive to have to think critically about everyone else's work, too.

Erin, mom to DD (1/06) and DS (10/09)
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