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Thursday, December 29, 2016

There Is Good in This World and It's Worth Fighting For

My last post of 2016 was going to be about editing, but with how horrible 2016 has been that didn’t feel quite right. I had also considered writing an “In Memoriam” but that didn’t feel right either. What did feel right was listing the positive things that did happen this year (some are personal, some are positive things I read about on the internet.) I hope my list brings you some happiness and I hope you share your positive experiences of 2016 with me in the comments. (I will also be using the #RememberTheGood in my social media posts to share some positive vibes.)
  • I graduated college with a degree in English with an emphasis on Creative Writing
  • Thanks to the ice bucket challenge the gene responsible for ALS has been found, meaning we are closer to an effective treatment 
  • The Orlando Shakespeare Festival showed up with angel wings to block funeral-goers for the Orlando Pulse victims view from anti-gay protesters
  • Leonardo DiCaprio won an Oscar (finally!)
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them came out on my birthday and it felt like returning home
  • Chewbacca Mom
  • For the first time ever a woman was nominated for President of United States and even though she didn’t win, her concession speech moved me to my core:

"I know we have still not shattered that highest and hardest glass ceiling, but someday someone will, and hopefully sooner than we might think right now. And to all of the little girls who are watching this, never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams.” - Hillary Clinton. 
  • The manatee population is no longer endangered
  • Green sea turtles were taken off the endangered list as well
  • The number of tigers rose for the first time in 100 years
  • It was announced that Harriet Tubman would replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill
  • The Chicago Cubs won the World Series (one year after my Royals did!)
  • The big hole in the ozone is starting to heal
  • West Africa is now ebola-free
  • Bernie Sanders started a fire that can’t be put out
  • Standing Rock stood its ground and won
  • Joe Biden memes and all of their glory brought me laughter when I needed it most

I truly hope that everyone has a fantastic New Year’s eve and that the New Year brings everyone love, happiness, and most of all hope.

See you next year!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Big Picture Revision: Part 2

My Deepening Draft
The second part of my big picture revision process is what I call the “The Deepening Draft.” In this draft you still don’t look at the spelling errors, grammatical mistakes, or punctuation issues, this is the draft where you replace that 35% to 45%  that you took out during the cutting process.

A deepening draft is exactly what is sounds like, its the draft that you add more to your story; and by more, I don’t mean that you add fluff. This is where you add depth, to both your characters and your story. You fill in the plot holes. You move around scenes. You answer any questions that were left unanswered. The deepening draft is where you fill in the small details to make your story come to life. Those details help to make your story more organic and realistic, and to add a cohesion that might not have been there during the original draft.

When I do the deepening draft I try to print my story and write out everything I want to add by hand, but I know that isn’t practical. So, what I would suggest is to add your changes in your word document like normal, but underscore them. Why? So, when you go back and re-read it, you will know where you made changes.

After adding your changes, save it, and walk away from it for a few days or weeks. Again, distance will give you some clarity and will make it easier to see any issues than if you were to read over it an hour later.

So, at this point, you have two options: 1. You can repeat the cutting and deepening process again (in fact, I recommend repeating the process a few times.) And 2. You can look beyond the big picture and move on to editing.

Next week I will give some tips on editing. I really hope that everyone has a happy holiday and great night!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Big Picture Revision: Part One

My Cutting Draft for my Capstone.

So, it’s a been a little over two weeks since National Novel Writing Month came to an end and I haven’t looked at my story again once.


Well, if I am to edit it and revise it, I need some time away from it. Trying to edit anything immediately after writing it won’t do any good. The story is too fresh, you will miss mistakes and errors because you will see them for what you want them to be and not for the mistakes and errors that they are. Also, time heals all wounds, and if you hated your story or parts of it, you might just delete too much and lose an amazing novel. Time will let you see your story clearly.

Personally, I won’t be starting my editing process until after the new year. I like to put some distance in between the writing and editing, if I can. But, if an idea for my novel comes into my head, I write it down in my “handy-dandy” notebook that I keep with me at all times. (I would advise anyone who writes to do this. I have notebooks upon notebook filled with names and ideas and places and random plot lines, I go back them for inspiration.)

Editing is time consuming and has a lot of steps, so this is just part one of my editing process.

This is the big picture revision.

Anyway, the first step I take when revising my story is to read it all. Rereading the story allows me to get reacquainted with it. I will also read it aloud, because that allows me to hear the mistakes and hear when dialog doesn’t sound natural. When I do come across those moments I underline them, so I can revisit them later on. (I would suggest printing the story off if you can, editing on a computer is difficult, but printing so many pages isn't always feasible.) 

After that, I do what I call my “cutting draft.” I go through my story and strikeout everything I hate or deem unnecessary. My goal is to cut at least 30-45% of it. I know that sounds like a lot, but when you think of all of the fluff that you added to reach your 50k word count, you hopefully won’t be cutting the meat of your story and only the fat. Things I normally cut are adverbs, overly wordy dialog tags, and scenes that add nothing to the plot. I get rid of characters who add nothing to the story or only seem to show up as a plot device. I look for scenes that take too long and for distracting verbiage. 

I do not edit spelling mistakes or grammar errors during this process. This is just  about the story and not its readability. 

When you are done cutting your story to pieces you should save that draft with the unwanted material still there but struck out, and then open a new document. Copy and paste the whole thing into it and then delete the crossed out items. Why keep a copy with the things you want to get rid of? Well, you just may need those ideas for a different story or you might want to reuse those things in the story but somewhere else in it.

And that brings us to the next phase of my big picture revision, which I will blog about next week. I hope you come back to read about my “deepening draft.”

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Recommended Reading for the Holiday

With National Novel Writing Month over and the craziness of the holidays here I find that I long to get lost in a different world. This year, I am reading James Maxwell's Golden Age, it's the first novel in his The Shifting Tides series. Its a story with multiple arcs and it demands using your imagination. It takes place in a fictional region that feels based on the Mediterranean Sea area, Middle East, and Northern Egypt. James Maxwell is an exceptional writer who brings words to life. I cannot wait until I am finished with it and when I am, I will review it for you, but if you're curious now, I would go ahead and get it.

Here is the official description from Amazon:
The first book in an epic fantasy series by James Maxwell, author of the bestselling Evermen Saga.
The discovery of a strange and superior warship sends Dion, youngest son of the king of Xanthos, and Chloe, a Phalesian princess, on a journey across the sea, where they are confronted by a kingdom far more powerful than they could ever have imagined.
But they also find a place in turmoil, for the ruthless sun king, Solon, is dying. In order to gain entrance to heaven, Solon is building a tomb—a pyramid clad in gold—and has scoured his own empire for gold until there’s no more to be found.
Now Solon’s gaze turns to Chloe’s homeland, Phalesia, and its famous sacred ark, made of solid gold. The legends say it must never be opened, but Solon has no fear of foreigners’ legends or even their armies. And he isn’t afraid of the eldren, an ancient race of shape-shifters, long ago driven into the Wilds.
For when he gets the gold, Solon knows he will live forever.

You can purchase it here:

Share what you are reading this holiday season in the comments!

Sorry this post is so short, but I have work to do, but next week I will tackle some tips and tricks for editing your NaNoWriMo novel.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

And You Wrote, Now What?

Congratulations to all of the winners of this year's National Novel Writing Month! You did it! Please, pat yourself on the back, have a drink, and celebrate. Congratulations to the people who didn't meet their 50K but still wrote their hearts out, writing is hard, but even if you only wrote one sentence, at least you wrote!

So, the question everyone is asking is: I wrote this crazy rough draft, now what?

My answer: TAKE A BREAK!! And whatever you do, do not send your story to agents or publishers, at least not yet!

Your story is probably full of errors, spelling and grammatical ones, and that is perfectly fine. NaNoWriMo is all about writing with an insane recklessness that doesn't allow for that nonsense. So, before you try to sell your story, you are going to need to edit your story, and before you can edit your story, I suggest you take a break from it. Enjoy the holiday season, dive into whatever holiday festivities you participate in, spend some much needed time with friends and family, maybe even veg out and binge watch something on Netflix (I recommend Gilmore Girls.)

I will be taking a small break from my story. I definitely need some space from my characters otherwise they might not make it to the end of the story. BUT, I will be posting some ideas and inspiration throughout December and I will have tips for the revision process after the first of the year.

Good luck on all of your future writing endeavors and I hope you will check back here for more tips, ideas, and inspiration!