Outlining

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I love outlining! I know, I know, that’s nonsense, but it’s so true. A handful of years ago I would never have thought that I would enjoy outlining so I know why a lot of pantsers out there would be skeptical.

Just consider it. Originally, I just wrote the book with all of the ideas of where it was going in my head. BUT, when I was writing the first book of a series, I found myself overflowing with ideas for the books to come. Desperate not to forget these ideas or lines of dialog, I started jotting them down in doc files.

When it came time to sit down and start work on Book Two of the series, I opened up the file with all of my notes only to realize that it was more than ten pages long. I read through it and started moving scenes around to get them in the right order and then just continued to add to it until I had a scene by scene line up ready.

That book took me maybe a month to write, following the scenes and keeping to a “word-count a day” schedule. Now, some of the scenes were literally just “-stuff” or “-Vaun/Addom”. But they were markers because I knew that I needed something more at that point and when I got to those spots, I had plenty in mind to fill them with.

I’ve continued to use this method and looooove it! I get my world in mind, have my characters and large plot line ready, and just sit down and write out an outline. It takes a couple days sometimes (when the outline is from scratch rather than from pages upon pages of scene notes) but, at least for me, it has been so worth it.

If you’re in the market for a new writing system, give this a try. It’s pretty much speed writing your book in bullet point form, scene by scene, sloppy as can be, but knowing that no one but you will ever see it. You come up with all sorts of things you didn’t even know you were going to do but were so necessary to balance out the book. You can see the pacing right in front of you and add in another scene if you see things being wedged too close together. And you get to sit there, typing and awing at your own genius.

At least for me, outlining has really made things easier. I don’t get distracted or convince myself that I don’t know what to write next or need to think about it for a while (which we all know means checking twitter and tumblr and roaming the internet at large). I’ve used this method three times now and it works. The book gets done and it gets done fast.

Writers out there, give outlines a chance!

-cheryl

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Revising/Editing

I’ve been editing the second book of my series and, because I decided beforehand to make some changes and add a few things to it, I get to these exciting pockets where I get to write a new scene.

Let me explain how exciting that is by explaining that I’ve been editing books for a while now. After I finished the zombie book (The Immortal Dead) over the summer, I gave that one a couple read throughs and then after that I gave Vanity in Dust a read through on the computer and then a printed out read through followed by another round on the computer. So, to get to write a handful of scenes again, makes me pretty giddy.

The book I’m editing now is the second of the Vain series I’m working on. I absolutely love working on these books! I love the characters and the world and knowing where everything is going. I can’t wait to get the second book in order so that I can start work on editing the third one (also written already) and finally get it in shape to have Phong and Linn read it.

I sent Vanity in Dust to a publisher for consideration at the start of this month and am just about dying to hear back from them. I’ve also built a list of agents to send queries to as well as a few more small publishers. I really want to see Vanity in Dust given life. I think if will alone could get me published I would be by now but we all know that’s not enough! So query letters and agent lists will become my life!

Honestly, getting to write those few extra scenes was such a pick-me-up. I will make this happen!

Posts with pictures from our Piteå trip to come!

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Hopes High

The publisher I’m planning to send my book to only takes submissions three months out of the year. This has created an interesting issue in that I have been ready to send it off to them for the past two months. I gave Vain (said book) another read through on the computer, printed it and read it through once more in an attempt to catch any mistakes I missed and anything I no longer liked.

I wrote this book in 2011, I think. I have since written the two following books, an urban fantasy that needs some serious polishing and then, this last summer, a post-apocalyptic zombie story (in an attempt to try something different). So, to go back and reread Vain after all of those was actually really fun and there were definitely some things I caught that I don’t think I would have seen at all a few years ago.

Printing it out and reading it on paper was also incredibly useful. I realized that when I was editing the zombie book. I feel like I catch a lot more mistakes, or just words used to closely to one another, on paper that I somehow missed when reading on my computer.

Back to the pending query though, I am getting really anxious. I’ve sent Vanity in Dust (affectionately called Vain) to a handful of agents over the years and, obviously, had no luck. I came across World Weaver Press a while back when I was entertaining the idea of writing short stories (turns out that short is not my skill). They are absolutely everything I ever wanted. Personal, professional, socially available and competent. Plus, their covers are lovely. It’s petty but come on, who doesn’t care?

The problem? The time I have had to build up the hope of being a part of this publishing group. Hope is as dangerous as it is powerful. I want it. I would usually avoid even talking about it for fear of how I’ll feel when it passes me by, but that’s not very honest. The truth is that I want to be published. I want to be heard. And I want this publisher to be the publisher and this year to be the year.

So, there’s a bit of honesty and a glimpse at the inner wants of a writer not yet author.

Someday.

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Writing Update – The Dream

I spent the last few years writing a fantasy series. It’s a five book series and I finished the first drafts for three of the five and was trying to find an agent for the first book. I’ve never had anything published before and thus don’t have much to say about myself when it comes to query letters. Eventually I got discourage and an idea struck me to set aside the series and write something else. So, this summer I wrote a thriller/horror. After reading through it a few times and having Phong read through it, I finally put together a query and synopsis and sent it off to the first (of possibly many) publisher.

I always have this emotional dip once I’ve sent away a query because at that point it’s just completely out of my hands. All I can do is look for more potential publishers to query and hope for the best.

I’m rereading the first book of my fantasy series again to do some fine tuning and trimming. It’s really interesting to read it after so long, and so many other projects, and I’m relieved that I still like it. I’m really hoping to get it together in a way that will make it more desirable to publishers. Trying to get published has been an experience all its own. I know how to finish a story, how to plan one and get it done. I love writing and for the most part, I feel pretty confident in it. But having to look at your writing with the thought of publishing it, having to send out to agents and publishers and get prewritten rejection letters or nothing at all, makes you question everything. It makes you question your dream, your talent and your skill.

I think, before query letters and synopsis writing, it’s still just a dream. It’s a story you write and it’s a dream of being publish someday with no thought of how to get there. It’s just daydreams of writing and covers and maybe even getting to sign your own book. The dream feels safe until you actually start reaching for it. Once those query letters go out, the dream is exposed. It’s not safe. It’s real and when you don’t get the feedback you want the only thing you can do is turn a critical eye on your work and try to improve it.

I find some strength in that thought. The only choices left to me when I’m disappointed is to improve my own work or to give up the dream. I don’t want to let it go. I love sculpting stories and writing them and I’m so hungry to have those stories read by other people.

Here’s hoping things pick up!

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Writing Update

So, after much effort and time trying to get a series I was working on picked up, I decided to set it aside and try something else. The problem I was having was that I had written three books but still could only try to sell that first one. So, my new idea is to write a few single books in different genres and see if that doesn’t help my odds in getting started.

Instead of fantasy or urban fantasy, I wrote a horror this summer. It’s post apocalyptic/zombie mayhem and if nothing else, it was so much fun to work on! A bunch of it was in first person, which is incredibly new for me. When I read it through, I loved it. So, it’s either alright or I’ve gone mad. The whole thing might be a mess and I just can’t see it, but that’s what Phong’s for. I gave him the okay to tell me if it’s completely awful when he reads it through. I ended up with a few more ideas for horrors, completely different kinds, and I can’t wait to try them out. I have officially added them to the long list of stories Cheryl wants to write.

Next up, chosen from the before mentioned list by Phong (my advisor in all things), will be an incredibly vulgar crime novel with a twist not yet to be revealed!

Onward until my keyboard breaks or my fingers do!

-cheryl

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