Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Musings - How Do You Come Up With Ideas?

FREE your imagination, give it permission to wander.

Ideas come to me all the time. From small details of the plot, to the characters to the scenery. It's like a really rough dream sequence that has no regard for the time or place of its arrival. I've gotten ideas in the shower, at 3 AM, coming or going places, while running errands, watching a movie, reading a book, drinking, listening to someone talking... the brain never stops creating and imagining. You ask yourself "what if" a lot when you're a writer and you allow yourself to answer, to truly imagine whatever images, people, settings and phrases come to mind. These initial ideas become the building blocks of my stories.

I cannot force ideas and I don't need inspiration to write. What I mean is, I can't sit down and say I'm going to plot out a book...but I can free write in order to build on my original ideas. I also don't need to write at a particular time or feel a certain way to write. Because I plot beforehand I know initially where the scene and books are going, therefore don't need inspiration to write them. I don't allow pre-plotting/outlining to be a crutch to writing. I listen when additional plot points or new ideas come along, this to me is as organic as it gets. I am not good and just writing and not thinking. That's why in yoga I have a hard time bringing my brain to a calm and relaxing point, there is always something or someone shouting at me to do something.

A tool for plotting I've used is courtesy of Alicia Rasley called Outline Your Novel in 30 Minutes. I used this when I outlined my urban fantasy novel. I had an idea of a loose plot before I started so this helped greatly and I used her outlining tips to flesh out the story. Once I have a pretty good outline, I plot all the scenes (or the major scenes) on the Traditional Plot Storytelling Story Board, created by Carolyn E. Copper in 2008. The reason I use this as a tool is because it goes through the stages a story arc contains and becomes my check off list.

Happy plotting!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Musings - My Editing Process

Hard work makes things happen.

I have been focusing on editing and revising my books in 2014 since the years before I was focused on merely writing books. I now have 6 books plus a novella. I am happy to say I have given my third book to my editor and will soon give her the novella and the last book for this year. The remaining 2 books are sequels so I am holding off on putting any money into them until I secure publishing deals for the first book in that series.                                                                                      

I have trained myself this year to work as if I am publishing the books myself so I go through a whole process where I edit, revise, re-read (several times) and then hand off to the editor. Then once I get the edit back, I accept and discuss corrections I need clarification on and revise according to the corrections. I send it back again for another edit and again I accept, question and revise and send only changed parts to the editor. Then I re-read once or twice to see if I can clean up any sentences that stick out to me.                                          

Finally I print up to 15 copies to give to beta readers, family and friends and I keep 2 for myself. I started this because as a writer who is unpublished no one really gets to see your work so this is a way for people to get what I do. To know what I am up to when I am holed up in my room turning down events to write. To me printing out books that actually have covers and binding is also validation of my goals. Holding a real book in my hand, unpublished or not feels really good.      

This process has helped me drastically. It has helped me make and meet goals, write faster and it has also helped me improve. In addition, I have formed a great relationship with an editor who makes my writing better because she sees and points out my habits and ways to make writing better. I have improved tremendously under her care. It has also helped me see my books as malleable stories that can be improved constantly.                                                                                                               

Although I am writing this is August 2014 - the last third of the year, I see good things in the very near future. I just have to keep up my strenuous writing schedule because if I don't push myself at this point no one else will.

This is also a good editing resource for drafts: Layered Editing.