Character Arcs (Rewrites Part 8)

I have finished my world building and filling in a few gaps my manuscript had. The final page count is 1009 pages- but don’t worry, as I said, I have a whole month set aside for cuts!

I have moved onto tightening character arcs and dialogue. I missed most of yesterday and I will miss Monday as well, but not to worry, I’ve built in a bit of leeway with all of that in mind.

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I have gone back over all the major events for the most important characters, and broken down each plot point into basic character development notes so as I go back and start reworking them, making sure to highlight each one a little more throughly.

I will hopefully be posting my first travel piece next week, and I find out how I place in my contest tonight, so I will keep you updated on that as well!

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Hope everyone out there doing Nanowrimo is doing well. Just keep writing! Remember, whether you hit your goals or not, any writing is progress!

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An Update (Progress!)

Last week I took a few days to compile all the rewrites I’ve been working on for months, and to say my book has grown is an overwhelming understatement. There’s still a few places that need some bulking up, but it’s currently sitting at, drum roll please….

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In my defense, that’s 994 pages DOUBLE spaced.

Needless to say, I am quite glad I’ve put a month aside for toning up and trimming down this behemoth (but that might not be enough).

I am working on world building for the next couple of days still- I’ve gone back and identified the places where I introduced a new location, and I’m improving the descriptions, especially now that I am surrounded by pictures of places that look like the settings I’m describing (I printed them out and stuck them all around my office wall). I’m finding this really helpful, because when I’m just focusing on setting, I can see a few places where the descriptions were really just too vague. It’s really starting to feel like progress now that I’ve put it all back together and have a book again instead of just files filled with sections and chapters.

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I will also be posting some slightly different entries here as well over the next few months. I am taking a course on Travel Writing, and I will be taking a course on Magazine Writing in November, so I thought with this being my writing blog, it would be the perfect place to post some of my forays into different types of writing, alongside my regular blog content. I have a piece in mind already about a trip to the local museum to see their brewers’ exhibit, and a visit to the new artisan cheese shop, so keep a keen eye out for that one.

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Also, I am working on a new blog called Far Back Foods. It’s my culinary journey into the past. I will be launching that blog soon, with my first post on my experimental cooking of potage, a medieval thickened stew where anything the people had they threw in. Evidently you could see something as open ended as that, especially for someone as far from a cooking expert as myself, has the potential to go very wrong. Not going to lie, my mantra making that meal was “I have no idea what I’m doing”, but I will be posting that article on my new blog within the next week, so watch out for that thrilling conclusion.

I think that is all for now.

Thank you all for sticking with me, and here’s to growth and progress moving forward! Lots more updates and writing to come!

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Just keep writing (Rewrites Part 7)

I’ve been a little creatively stuck lately. Just feeling very overwhelmed with all the changes that need to be done to my manuscript. Writing started to feel like a bit of a chore at times.

I have an idea of what needs to be done. I’m rewriting a lot of transition scenes, the ones where the characters are travelling, and need to get to know each other between the action filled parts. The scenes need to feel natural for the characters and plot, but obviously it must still be interesting to read. Because some of these events are still a little muddled in my own mind, it’s hard to find the proper angle to take. To find something interesting to write about that helps us get inside the characters minds a little more. I’ve been taking time to plot and outline and tighten character profiles, but the actual writing has seemed daunting.

Then last night, amidst a lot of pacing, I decided I should get back into jogging because I’ve been feeling very lethargic lately. That’s when I came to a realization. Writing is a lot like working out. When you don’t do it for a while, you can get flabby and slow, and it seems harder to get back into the swing of things. You won’t start out as quick or focused after a bit of time away, but that will come back if you persevere. The most important thing is to keep writing, one scene at a time. You do sometimes need to know the rough outline of the book to get an idea of where that character is heading, but sometimes it’s ok to just focus on the section you’re writing. Maybe that scene will end up in the final book, maybe not, but you always learn something from it. You always get a better sense of that character you’re writing. Their voice. Their little ticks and idiosyncrasies. Their thought process.

Sometimes it seems like you’re stuck in the mud, spinning your wheels. And sometimes you are, and it is best to stop and make a plan. But sometimes, like all the writing blogs will tell you, sometimes it really can be as simple as putting your butt in a chair and writing. Even if its not the best. Even if its flawed and all over the place. It’s never a wasted effort, because you are building and maintaining those “writing muscles” and you are learning something about your book.

So now I have decided that nights will be for planning and thinking, but mornings will be for that quick jog, and getting those scenes written and that word count up.

Action scenes (Rewrites part 6)

Sorry for the delay in updating- I got sick right around the second book launch for the Blood is Thicker anthology. Of course I was fine for most of that day, then right when I walked into the symposium my cough started to act up again. I was told by my friend who was in the audience that my increasingly scratchy throat just added to the effect of my reading. But then with the microphone bent oddly and the way I was standing, I had to kind of hunch my shoulders and crane my neck to look up at the audience. I was told by that friend in the crowd that I looked ‘like a water creature surfacing’. But I did not trip or lose my place. So it all evens out I guess.

Anyways, the action scenes went a lot quicker than the character turning point rewrites. I found that the action scenes were already pretty solid, and really only needed a bit of tweaking more than any serious rewrites or overhauls. It was helped in large part by the fact that I had a really good teacher who taught me all about writing action; keep the sentences short, but still varied a bit in length. Don’t bog it down with unnecessary details and choosing the right action word, rather than relying on lot of adjectives and adverbs, is critical. For example, there is a huge difference between someone running/sprinting/pelting down the street. They are placed in order of speed and sense of urgency. Having learned all of these techniques a while ago though meant that the vast majority of those scenes were fairly well constructed. The longest part of the whole process was actually finding and picking those specific parts out of my full-length manuscript. Ctrl-F can be a huge help, unless the word you’re looking for is too common and peppered throughout. Then its a nightmare. Your word has been found… 343 times. 

So I officially finished round 2 of my rewrites today (YAY!!!!), and starting tomorrow will be beginning of phase 3…the Journey Moments. These are the times where there is a lot of travelling/passage of time in one area. These moments are crucial for character interactions with smaller moments for training/talking, that kind of thing. It’s important to put them in, but not to weigh down the story with too much, so I’m thinking this part will be one of the longer sections to rework. Anyways, I already have my list of scenes ready, so I can hit the ground running tomorrow.

And I will keep you updated as that progresses.

Update to Rewrites part 5

Tonight I finished the first round of rewriting!! I am actually a bit ahead of where I thought that  I would be, so I’m feeling very accomplished right now. I already have the action scenes all listed out so I will be starting that next round of rewrites on Monday.

And the Launch at the Canadian Author’s Association writer’s summit is tomorrow! I’ve been asked this week to read part of my short story at the event, so I’ve been practicing that all night and I think I’ve figured out a few good tricks to help me read even smoother. I’ve had experience reading in some of my classes, so I think tomorrow should be a fantastic evening. I’m so excited to get to meet some of my fellow authors and all the new writers, editors and publishers who should be attending as well- I’ve got a whole purse of business cards I plan on handing out! I will keep everyone updated on how this goes, but I am feeling pretty good for tomorrow (it’s now two minutes past midnight, so I guess I’m feeling pretty good for today!)


The last of the first (Rewrites part 5)

So today I’m on track to finish my first round of rewrites; the emotional turning points. 200+ pages of new prose, and editing some of the old stuff, although I must admit I have left the two toughest parts for the end so it might be a long night.

Next week I will start round 2 of editing, this time focusing on the action scenes- got some pretty exciting parts I’m eager to delve back into!

I have to say I’ve really enjoyed breaking up the editing into sections like this. For the longest time I had felt so overwhelmed trying to just fix everything at once. This method has been giving me a sense of purpose each day. Even on the days I feel I don’t have as much time or if I ever felt unfocused, I would always just force myself to pick whatever point appealed to me most that day and just go for it. Now that I’m about to go to the anthology launch tomorrow for my short story, I can go in and talk to people about how the editing is actually proceeding, rather than having to turn a stagnant standstill of feeling burnt out into something positive.

I’ve learned having a list that I can check off has been the best way for me to keep making progress. It’s not one giant task of editing the whole book, it’s just 25 key scenes for character arcs and change, and that is something i can work towards and feel accomplished on!

Book Launch

There will be a public book launch and writing symposium on short fiction this Wednesday, June 20 at 7pm at U of Toronto. There will be authors, editors and publishers giving keynote speeches on the writing industry and some of the anthology authors (including me!) giving short readings of their stories.

The link is below for all the details and the registration (Free unless you choose to give a donation to the Creative Writing Bursary or buy raffle tickets).

Now I have to go practice my reading for this event!

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