Sunday, August 26, 2007

The process

My friend asked me how I go about writing/finishing a book (after the first draft is complete). I think the question was, do you do it all at once or a go through it a stage at a time and concentrate on dialog, and then prose, and then characters, etc. My first answer was no, I just go through it and do it all.

But now that I'm going through it and doing it all, I've changed my answer. The first draft is a dump of my ideas, arranged in the order I think they should happen--written toward a goal I hope to achieve. (ie, happily ever after, good triumphing evil, only the good die young)

The second draft (for me) is more "connect the dots" than anything. During the download of ideas I often (translate ALWAYS) stumble on other ideas that I'd never dreamed of in my original plan. Most of the time, I have to really adjust the beginning to match the end and foreshadow some of those ideas earlier in the story so it flows from one scene (dot) to the next.

The third draft I do in hard copy because it reads different. It always has, it always will. End of story. Something about the relationship between black words on white paper transforms the story. In this draft I'm looking for holes, weak areas and things that don't add up. I'm also flipping back and forth between scenes adding one sentence clues or thoughts to scenes either before or after. These are those little details that take it from ordinary to Ooh. I'm also looking at my prose, my settings and my characters and especially the continuity of my story. Is it Monday on one page and Saturday on the next? Raining and then sunny? Morning and then night?

By the end of the fourth draft, I'm ready to send it out to readers. I pick two or three, and ask them to read it for enjoyment--not for mistakes or typos. I don't want them to be editors because I've already done that work. I wanted them to be readers. I ask them to give feedback on a select number of things that are above and beyond the "is it good?" question.

I want to know if they were confused at any part of the story? Did they find themselves skimming anywhere? At any time while they were reading did they catch themselves "checking out" to think about what they needed at the grocery? Did anything make them mad? (we've all read books we want to launch across the room because the characters or premise is so inane.) Does it pass the "would she really" test? (You know this one, heroine in the dark house all alone because everyone else has disappeared or been found dead. She hears a sound. It's coming from the basement. She thinks, I should take this butter knife and go investigate.... And in the audience we are shouting, YOU IDIOT. Come on...would she really?)

The last, and one of the most important questions I ask is, did you want another outcome? Did you think I was leading you to one ending only to find yourself at another? This one always brings a jackpot. If the answer is no, the ending was satisfying and I loved how it wrapped up--ah, it's a wonderful thing. But if the answer is yes, I wanted it to end like... Well, sometimes you discover that you've laid the groundwork for something even better than you'd imagined. It's also a wonderful thing.

This is how I do it, anyway. It's a lot of drafts, but when I'm striving for the best book I can write, that's what I need to do. :-)

Sunday, August 19, 2007


I've been blogging over at Romantic Inks this week and it's been so much fun. They are so nice over there and I always feel as if I come away with way more than I put in.

One of my big "take-aways" was reconnecting to the blog. I was very diligent for awhile about posting but then the summer was so busy and I was so absorbed in my book that I slacked off. Now I'm realizing what a mistake that was. Writing these blogs helps me stay focused.

This morning I'm working on the first hard copy read of my new book. I have to get it out to my readers and I'm anxious to get through it. At the same time, I know my tendency is to rush the process and I don't want to do that. I want this book to be as perfect as my vision for it is.

Putting some of my thoughts out in the blogs I did this week helped me hone in on some of the issues I have with the book. I cut out a big chunk that was weighing it down and now I have to find a fast-paced bridge to put in its place. Rewriting is my favorite part of the process, so I'm up to the challenge.

I only have a couple more hours before my family begins to wake and my solitude is shattered, so I'm off to get at it. Hope you all are having a great day. :-)

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

This week...

I'm a guest blogger on Romantic Inks stop by and chat with me there. It's such a nice group of people and they ask great questions.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Romantic weekends and other stories from the zone...

My husband took me away for a romantic weekend. We've been married 19 years and just celebrated our anniversary on the 6th. Actually, celebrate is a strong word, since we both had to work late and then run kids around for their various commitments. We did manage to say Happy Anniversary in passing and we knew we'd have time to slow down when the weekend rolled around.

We had a wonderful time and it made me realize just why I've stayed with my husband for so many years. He's a good man and I love him very much. We still find things to laugh about. I think humor has been our most important success factor. It's never a bad thing to laugh with the one you love.

Hope you find the time to smile today. :-)

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The Gothic...

My good friend Lynn and I were talking about the gothic novel yesterday and what we love about them. If you've read my books, you know that I love that gothic feel. I love the dark, turbulent storms, the shadowed corners in the rooms, the gardens that flourish with violent blood red flowers. What I am for when I'm writing is to hit that chill down the spine level of suspense, while making you fall in love. Yes, I am twisted. :-)

I actually didn't know what gothic was until my books were reviewed and they called me a fresh gothic voice. In fact, I wasn't entirely certain I hadn't been insulted. I associated gothic with the 70s and 80s and not in a good way. But then a reader sent me a definition of the gothic and the light went on in my head. Yep, that's me. I love every element of it:

The Gothic novel flourished through the early nineteenth century. Authors of such novels set their stories in the medieval period, often in a gloomy castle replete with dungeons, subterranean passages, and sliding panels, and made plentiful use of ghosts, mysterious disappearances, and other sensational and supernatural occurrences; their principal aim was to evoke chilling terror by exploiting mystery, cruelty, and a variety of horrors. The term "gothic" has also been extended to denote a type of fiction which lacks the medieval setting but develops a brooding atmosphere of gloom or terror, represents events which are uncanny, or macabre, or melodramatically violent, and often deals with aberrant psychological states.

(adapted from A Glossary of Literary Terms)

What's not to love about that? Anyway, my new book is probably my most gothic. I am having such a great time writing it. Actually, it's finished now. I'm sending it out to my readers--with, I might add, the same anxiety I had when I sent my first book out to readers--and I hope to be submitting it for publication within the month.

Wish me luck. :-)