Progress Update

Progress Update: A Whisper of Death Rewrite

49,192

That’s how many words I’m into the rewrite now.

That’s 54.66% of the way, if I calculate on the basis the novel will be 90k words (its current length).

6 scenes to go until I get to the diary entry scenes, which is the point I was hoping to reach by the end of the year. So I’m not too far off track 🙂

Then I’ll only have 12 new scenes to write before I get to the finale.

THE best part of all.

Yeehaw!!!

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That moment you realise you’ve revised all wrong…

Last week I had an epiphany…

lol not quite like this :p

lol not quite like this 😛

For those of you unaware of my writing journey, I completed my first novel about a year ago – and by complete I mean I’d written a first draft, second draft, revised and polished to submission quality, with each process taking about 8 months (I’ve written other things before, but I’ve never taken them so far).

Anyways, the final product was a wieldy 105,000 words – way too much for a debut novel. Usually for Young Adult fiction, a new writer should aim for anywhere between 50,000 and 80,000 words – definitely no more than 90,000. So I knew I would be pushing it with agents and publishers submitting the novel as is.

In my gut, I knew the issue rested with the start of my novel.

A third of the way through, my story really took off and kept going great guns all the way to the end. It was the first third that was the problem – I had a lot of setting up squished into the first 100 pages – or, as Blake Snyder calls it in Save the Cat, lots of piping.

And I didn’t know how to fix it.

Then finally, I received some amazing feedback from an editor who acknowledged my issue and suggested a fix might be to bring one of the key incidents (that takes place about 150 pages in) forward.

So I thought about this and thought about this, discussed it with my beta readers, and finally came up with a new way of structuring my novel. It only took me about two months to rework everything, and when I was done I had a new and improved version – with the incident in question now taking place within the first 50 pages and my total word count standing at a svelte 88,500.

Phew!

Finally I was ready to take on the world of submissions…

cheerleader

or so I thought.

After getting my novel out there and receiving some more feedback, I realised – just last week – I’d revised my novel ALL WRONG!

Yes, the word count is right where it needs to be… but now I fear I have too many conflicts/motivations crammed into the beginning. In my first version, it is very clear what my main character wants – to run away with her childhood sweetheart (this is the entire premise of the first third of the novel). Then in the second third of the novel, the obstacles start piling up in her way, one after the other.

But by bringing one of the obstacles to the start of the novel, what I’ve done is muddy the waters. It’s no longer as clear what my main character wants or what her main conflict is – she’s effectively running around like a chicken with her head cut off. Well, maybe it’s not that bad… but still, it’s an issue.

I have more scotch

Now believe me, I was not too keen on realising this. But, as is typical Yani fashion, I just couldn’t let this lie. I love this story – I have to get it right (or at least as right as I can get it). So I thought, “Hey, let’s look at a few other stories of like genre and see how they lay the foundations in the first few scenes. Maybe I can learn a few things.”

And I did – as I said, I had an epiphany.

I started my novel TOO SOON!!!!

Yes, you read that right! I committed one of the simplest and most well-known errors a writer can make. You might not believe this, but I actually had contemplated it before – and ruled it out – as in my original version of Boudica’s story I started writing in 2009 (back before she had super powers and she was just a simple lass), I had included seven chapters about their childhood, which I omitted in my later drafts. “I have started just right, now,” I thought, as I typed the scene of Aiden’s return.

Pfft… I was soooo wrong.

No, instead of starting when Aiden returns, I need to start several months later, when they’ve already spent time together and fallen in love, and Aiden is asking her to run away with him. Then – BAM! – obstacle number one raises its ugly head, and then – BAM – obstacle number two soon after. And so on, and so on.

And you’ll never guess where in the 105K version of this novel this new starting point sits… right at the end of that pesky first third!

Blah!

Squint

I see it so clearly now – and it’s such an easy fix. All I need to do is lop of the first third of the novel, rework anything from that first third that is integral to the plot into the last two thirds, and then smooth the changes throughout the novel. Not only will my word count be within the right range, all my original and carefully worked out character motivations and conflicts will prevail exactly the way they were supposed to.

Woohoo!

Now I’ve just got to do it 🙂

Fortunately, I’ve almost finished writing the first draft of my second novel – my YA portal fantasy inspired by Norwegian folklore. As of last night, I officially have only five scenes left to draft. So once I sign off “The End”, I can throw myself back into my Whisperer novel and get the damn thing right, once and for all…

Yay!

Oh, and by the way – the Buffy/Angel rewatch is going great! Cole and I are halfway through Season 4 and loving every moment of it :p

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Absence makes the heart grow fonder…

It’s been a while since I last posted, but I assure you, it’s for very good reason… I’m deep in the throes of final revision – three chapters down, nineteen left to go! I know, three chapters doesn’t sound like much – it doesn’t even feel like much. In fact, it feels like an enormous mountain looms before me and I’ve only taken the first few steps to cross it. But believe me, it really is significant! It means I am three whole chapters closer to finishing my novel for good, querying agents, and getting published! Woohoo! And let me tell you, after all this time, it feels amazing 🙂

Gotta love Finn and Jake... And there's the worm king at the bottom of the mountain - just like me! :D

Gotta love Finn and Jake… And there’s the Giant Worm King at the bottom of the mountain – just like me! 😀

I won’t be posting much (if at all) in the next few weeks – or more likely, the next few months – as every tiny speck of time I manage free up for writing will be dedicated to editing. But I thought I’d share with you some exciting and immensely helpful tools I’ve come across so far during this final revision process…

1. Pdf-Notes

I’m staying at my parents house at the moment for the Christmas break, which is wonderful because I have an amazing writing area to retreat to as well as Daddy and Grandparents help with the kids (which gives me some extra time for writing). Unfortunately, my father’s printer is prehistoric (it takes about two minutes to print one page and then, between pages, it likes to make heavy breathing noises for another two minutes before it prints the second page. And so on. And so on. And so on.Aaurgh!!!

As I’m sure you can appreciate, this is not good news for someone who is doing multiple edits for each chapter and needs to read a clean version after every edit!

The solution? Pdf-Notes!

An app for my iPad, it enables me to read and edit my manuscript on my iPad just like I would on a hard copy print-out! Using a stylus I purchased from Dick Smith for $15, I can now edit over and over again on as many new versions of my chapter as I want (or need) without having to print out a single page 😀 Yay!

2. Pro Writing Aid

This beauty forms a part of my line-editing arsenal (fyi. line-editing is the very last thing I tackle in my editing process).

I have my own list of things I look for when line-editing, of course (like -ly words, passive writing, telling rather than showing, etc.) But there comes a time when my incredible skills reach their limit of effectiveness (hard to believe, I know… but unfortunately it is the truth).

That’s when Pro Writing Aid comes into play! It locates things my mere human eyes only dream of noticing, especially repeated words and phrases. And it double-checks all the things on my list too, which is an added bonus.

As some of you might know, there is another online editing program available that many writers recommend – Autocrit. I tried the test editor for this software too and found it to be just as helpful. But there were a two things that tipped me over the line towards Pro Writing Aid. Firstly, the cost (PWA is free). Secondly, word count is unlimited (The cheapest subscription on Autocrit is $47 for a maximum word count of 1000 words per submission. Even though you can submit as many times as you like, I find that it’s not very effective for finding repeated words and phrases in complete chapters when you are analysing only 1000 words at a time. Of course, you can always pay more for the higher word limits).

Both of these tools are amazing and I recommend them to anyone who is in the process of editing. I can definitely say they have made my life so much better! And how many things can you say that about?

Anyways, back to the grindstone I go…

Wish me luck!

Oh, and by the way – here is an updated photo of my writing retreat 🙂

My writing retreat in Tasmania...

My writing retreat in Tasmania…

If I don’t post again til I get there – see you on the other side!

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