I have fallen in love with a writers' resource called Query Tracker.
The primary function of Query Tracker is to help writers research literary agencies and find the agent that is best suited for their book. There is a forum on Query Tracker where writers can meet up and discuss projects and critique one another's work. One of the writers decided it would be fun to start a blog chain, and I joined in. Little did they know that I would BOG DOWN THE BLOG!
All the others posted right on time, and I appear to be three days late to the party. Sigh. This is a good segue into my writing method-which is the first topic in the blog chain.
The other writers' previous posts on this topic are in this order: QT blogger 1 QT blogger 2 QT blogger 3 QT blogger 4 QT blogger 5
My tardiness on this blog is an excellent segue because it is an anomaly for me. I have a get it done yesterday approach to my writing. I've always had a tendency, no matter the activity, to just make things happen. I try to instill this philosophy in my students and children too. You can do anything in this world if you want it bad enough and get it done.
I treat writing as a job. I write ten to twelve hours a day until the first draft is finished. A few times I've written in excess of eighteen hours because things were moving along so well.
I reduce the hours to four or five when I am revising because I get burned out faster. I edit in hour-long chunks so that I can stay focused. Additionally, I need to catch up on the things I neglected during the writing phase--like husband, kids, pets... all trivial, I know, when compared to the manuscript, but they tend to stick around if you pay attention to them, and I've gotten sort of attached.
This binge approach to writing doesn't work for most people. If you read the other posts in our blog chain, you will find descriptions of each writer's distinct method that works for her. Elena's approach of 1000 words a day is amazing to me. I wish I could be so consistent. I'm an all or nothing kind of person.
I take notes in a small journal I carry with me everywhere. I hear dialogue in my head in the most inopportune places. The journal has come in handy -- like a toddler's security blanket.
I do all my writing at the computer. The journal is only for notes. No handwritten composition, which is a good thing: I can't read my own handwriting! I do not usually outline. My most recent project is a sequel to my represented YA novel, so I had to outline in order to keep this second book in the series consistent with the first one and on track for the third book. In other words, I'm trying to keep the story under control to some degree to prevent plot inconsistencies.
The sequel is completely outlined. Each color represents a type of plot element. Entries in black ink mark the end of each day so that I don't mess up the time line. Red denotes battles, attacks, or acts of violence, green entries are actions taken to avoid or counteract the red ones, and purple entries are steps in the progression of the relationship of the protagonists. Ah, purple, the color of passion!
After the rough draft is finished, I revise it to the point it is no longer embarrassing, and I bounce it off of my beta-readers. Because I teach acting to teens, I have a large group of teen readers willing to read my projects. They are all in the readership age range for young adult fiction, which I believe is crucial. I think a writer should have people they don't know in their projected readership read their novel. Husbands, friends, and family will not tell the truth. Too much is at stake, like harmony at home! "Oh, yes, Dear. It is wonderful!" is not helpful.
The manuscript then goes through too many edits to fathom. I even have my teen beta-readers edit. Here is an example of the constructive comments made by a teen for a chapter entitled, "Sixteen."
Now, none of your friends, critique partners or agents have ever given you an edit like that, have they? I love teens!
Or even better, MY edits, which often look like the image below. I chose this one because it is G-rated. I often write reasons for the dreaded blue X, and they are typically for more mature audiences. This is a family blog.
I've had a blast reading my blog partners' entries. Everyone approaches the writing process from a completely different angle. The only common thread I find among successful writers is they never stop writing and they write because they enjoy writing.
I write because I love it.
Please check out the next in the blog chain series here: QT blogger 1
See ya next week!