What Do You Mean I Have To Revise?!

writing-the-revision-processRevise. It feels like a four letter word. Especially when you’re riding the high of finishing a first draft. Now I know some authors love to revise, and some even look forward to it. Only for me it can be extremely difficult. I understand it’s all part of the writing process, and I adore how revisions can transform a story, but ugh. In order to fix a manuscript you have to break it first. That stings. A lot.

So how do you destroy your baby and the characters you’ve most likely fallen in love with? Where in the world do you start?

First, you need a plan. But not every plan works for every author, therefore I’ll share what works best for me.

  • After completing a first draft, I like to take a step back. Some authors only need a day, but I need much longer. Weeks, if not a couple of months of separation. It’s good to have that time away so I can come back with fresh eyes.
  • Next I do a read through. As I’m doing this, I’m taking notes on any discrepancies I find, scenes I’d like to change, pacing problems and details I plan to add. I’m also paying attention to the Three Act structure. Do events fall near where they should? Do I even want them to? I’ve been told it’s a good thing to learn the writing “rules” but it’s also okay to break them.
  • I’m on alert for info dumping. Am I including too much back story? Is it possible to weave it in any better? And most importantly – do I even need it at all? Do the details I’ve included pertain to the present story I’m telling? Remember: readers want a book to move forward, not backward. It’s best to cut when you can.
  • Are all of my subplots resolved? Does everything tie together the way it should? Are there holes that need filled? Often times, beta readers can help point out these issues. Authors, I think, tend to be too close to their stories to see things as clearly as someone who is reading it for the first time.
  • If I didn’t make an outline in the beginning now is a good time to create one. Just so I have a quick overview of the entire tale. It’s hard to keep 80,000 words straight in my head. Most days I feel lucky I can remember my own name!
  • Finally, it’s time to dive in chapter by chapter. Using my notes and outline, I fix what needs to be fixed. I work on sentence structure and replace boring words and generic descriptions to give them more oomph.

Revision can be a long and sometimes challenging road, but in the end, I’m always happy I did it. So this is my process, but what works best for you?

Welcome to Camp NaNoWriMo!

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April is right around the corner and you know what that means: it’s Camp NaNoWriMo time!

What is Camp NaNoWriMo?

Well if you’re familiar with NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), where you commit to writing 50,000 words during the month of November, you’ll find that Camp NaNoWriMo is somewhat similar, only a little more laid back. At camp, YOU get to set your own writing goal! Whether you want to write a novel, edit a first draft, tackle a script or maybe some short stories, Camp NaNoWriMo will be there to encourage and support you along the way.

How does it work?

During the month of April (and then again in July), you will challenge yourself to write every single day. That’s the first step to establishing a habit that will last throughout the entire year (and with any luck result in a completed manuscript).

Camp NaNoWriMo offers several online writing groups, which they cleverly call cabins (to give you that whole camping vibe). You’ll meet other “campers” by being sorted into a cabin based on your age, genre, or writing goals.

Already have a group of writers you’d like to bunk with?  You can create a private cabin for you and your friends to share! How cool is that?

According to the Camp NaNoWriMo website:

To join a public cabin, you must first make sure you’ve:

  1. Created a writing project for the current session of Camp
  2. Filled out your profile.
  3. Set your preferences on the Cabin Settings page:

If you want to be sorted into a cabin randomly, select the “Surprise me with random cabin mates!” option and click “Submit.”

If you’d prefer being in a cabin with writers that share similar interests, select “I’m looking for campers that match specific criteria.” Then, you’ll be able request cabin mates within your age group, writing in your genre, and/or with similar word-count goals in mind. Once you’ve selected all the preferences you’d like, click “Submit.”

Cabin assignments will begin shortly before the start of the event and will continue throughout the month on a rolling basis.

Joining a private cabin is a little different:

  1. If you’re acting as the cabin administrator, go to the Cabin Settings page and select “I want to create a private cabin.”
  2. Once in your cabin, you can invite your friends by typing their usernames into the invitation field. You can invite up to 11 Campers. A Camper must have created a profile, a novel, and deselected “I don’t want cabin invitations this session” to be eligible.
  3.  First, make sure you have defined a project for the upcoming event.
  4. On your Cabin Settings page, make sure you have: 
    • Selected “I don’t want to be included in a cabin” so you are not sorted into a random cabin. 
    • Deselected the “I don’t want cabin invitations this session” option.
  • When you’re invited to a private cabin, the invitation will pop up the next time you log in to the website or refresh the Camp NaNoWriMo page. “Join Now” will take you to your new cabin home and “No Thanks” will delete the invitation.

You’ll find all sorts of inspiration and conversation on the Camp NaNoWriMo website and there’s even a camp store where they sell a variety of merchandise, from t-shirts and hoodies to pencils and books.

Not enough? Visit Camp NaNoWriMo on Facebook and Twitter and start networking!

One of the great things about the NaNoWriMo community is that you’re never alone. Whether you’ve been writing for years or just getting started, you’ll have the opportunity to meet other authors and forge friendships with people who share the same interests as you.

So, what are you waiting for? Pack your bags, grab your bug spray and head on over to camp!

It’s That Time Again. NaNoWriMo!

The month of November means falling leaves, football, big cozy sweatshirts, pumpkin-spiced lattes and most importantly . . . NaNoWriMo!

What is NaNoWriMo you might be wondering? It stands for National Novel Writing Month and it begins every November 1st. The whole idea is to write a 50,000 word manuscript by 11:59 PM on November 30. Think that sounds impossible? Difficult, yes, but impossible? No. Broken down, it’s roughly 1667 words a day, 7 days a week for 30 days.

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Last year was the first time I had ever heard of NaNoWriMo and I wanted to give it a try. In the end, I failed miserably, but I did take something away from the experience. Throughout the month, NaNoWriMo sent several messages. Tips for staying on track, what to do when you hit that wall, basically they equip you with what you need to know to finish the challenge successfully. I took everything I learned and applied it to Wattpad’s first #JustWriteIt Challenge, which mimicked NaNoWriMo. I wrote 50,000 words during the month of February and I did so with help from the pep talks I received during the month of November. Wattpad was also kind enough to send words of encouragement throughout their challenge. When it was all said and done, I ended up with an 85,000 word manuscript called Fast Lane which is currently being featured on Wattpad.

So, think you might want to give it a try? Here are some things that helped me:

1.) Start preparing long before November 1st. Plot your draft, even if you’ve never plotted before. It will come in handy when you sit down to write. Life happens, and if you miss a day you’re going to find yourself behind. Knowing where your story needs to go will help push you along the way. It might even deter writer’s block – if you believe in that sort of thing. You can research the many different ways writer’s plot, or you can do what feels most comfortable to you. Just make sure you make that outline – you’ll be happy you did.

2.) Check out the NaNOWriMo forums. They contain a wealth of information. I’ve also stumbled across some helpful threads on Wattpad. It might seem a bit overwhelming with all that information being thrown at you, but take what you can from it and apply it to what you need to do.

3.) Don’t, let me repeat that, DO NOT compare yourself to others. It will kill your creativity. Just do what you do and stop worrying about the next guy. It will get you no where fast.

4.) DO encourage others. NaNoWriMo can be a very stressful time. Help relieve some of that stress by being supportive and encouraging. What comes around goes around. Wouldn’t you like to receive some love?

5.) Write. Every single day. Make an appointment with yourself and do not miss it. Once you fall behind it might be difficult to catch up.

6.) Have fun! This is a personal challenge, not a televised race. It’s based on the honor system. You are under no obligation to show your work to anyone, although you can enter in your daily word count on the website to help you keep track. And you’re free to write about whatever you want: any subject, any characters, and language.

Here is the official link to NaNoWriMo: http://nanowrimo.org/

Now go sign up and get started. And good luck, I hope to see you at the finish line!