Thursday, November 29, 2012

NaNoWriMo Pitfall #9

And we arrive at the last of my NaNo Pitfall posts... I hope you enjoyed them all.

:cue tightrope music:

With tomorrow fast approaching - a little too fast, if you ask me - we come to the ninth and final pitfall of the year...

NaNo Pitfall #9 - The Fine Line

Sure, you've written loads of words.  Hopefully they've worked together and made a somewhat cogent story with coherent characters.  All this time you've been creating, though, you've been walking a fine line between needing to get x-number of words on paper and making those words work as a logical story.

Maybe you plotted the story out ahead of time.  If you did, you probably don't need to read this post.  Your word count and your storyline are probably running parallel.  Congratulations. 

Me?  I rarely plot out anything.  Therefore, the fine line I walk sometimes isn't any thicker than frog's hair.  I'm sure when I look back over those scenes, I'll be asking myself "What the hell were you thinking here?"   Sometimes I'll be able to figure it out.  Other times I'll read a scene and never be able to discern what I was going for.  (Here's hoping this book has more of the former than the latter, eh?)

Why is this a pitfall?  Because as we reach the final words for NaNo and thus the final scenes for our books, we need to be able to remember all those threads we created over the past month and weave them to their natural conclusion. And that, my friends, can totally stop you in your tracks.

Hence, the Pitfall.  See?  I knew I'd wrap it together somehow...

As I was laying in bed last night, once again battling my subconsious for some snooze-time, my brain was racing through all the threads.  With only a few thousand words left, am I absolutely sure I wrapped up the thread about Nigel?  Am I bringing the whole thing with the dog to a logical conclusion?  Is the dastardly killer getting what he deserves or should I insert another twist that will carry through to the subsequent books in the series?  And what about that weirdo being who crept into the fight scene?  Did I really introduce a hint of romance, and what the hell am I going to do about THAT?

Needless to say, my brain was on overdrive and I woke up this morning not knowing what the hell to do with the next few scenes.  I could wrap it all up with a pretty bow for now and fix it later.  On the other hand, I could write a dozen more scenes to explain...  Bleh, I hate reading pages of things the writer should've already explained.  Or, I could stop what I'm doing and go back - rereading and editing until I can finish the end.

See?  This could conceivably stop me in my tracks inches from the finish line.  Will it?  Nah.  I'm just using myself as an example.  If this is happening to you, though, you might not be able to get past this Pitfall without a litte nudge.  Here's what I'm going to do.

Take the bit in my teeth and run like hell.

Probably not the advice you were expecting.  Definitely not the best advice for writing the end of your story any other time of the year.  This is NaNo, though.  Right now, thinking about loose ends is only going to stall your progress.

Am I advocating writing 5000 words of nonsense??  Certainly not.  I mean, it's still going to be part of your story.  What I'm saying is, get the words out and worry about tying it all up later.  That's what editing is for.  So what if I introduced some threads five chapters ago that I now realized I never fully finished?  I'll catch them all when I sit down to edit. 

Sorry if this wasn't the post you were expecting.  I didn't edit this any more than I'm editing my work right now.  Plus, my brain is the equivalent of pumpkin puree.  Maybe soon I'll write a post on the mush my brain turns into after writing so many words in one month. 

Have a great day, everyone.  Tune in tomorrow for what I hope will be a less meandering post.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Need a Little Inspiration?

My friend Janet has this weekly thing she does where she posts inspiring quotes.  I think this week's compilation is particularly poignant - especially considering the end of NaNo is fast approaching.

Head on over to soak up some inspirational words from some other amazing authors.  And while you're at it, leave an encouraging comment or two.  =o)

Are you participating in NaNo this year?  How're you doing? 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

This Just In

This just in from

Weronika Janczuk left agenting.  It seems like cold-turkey.

Without permission, I can't reprint the letter some writers received as a response to their submissions, so if you're interested in the exact verbiage, you need to go here*.  Suffice it to say, her former agency (Lynn C. Franklin Associates) basically told writers who were under submission that they were out of luck and to seek representation elsewhere.  Weronika's twitter page seems to reflect this news as she's changed her profile to 'Former Literary Agent'.

I don't have any more information.  My heart goes out to anyone who had a requested submission with her and to all of her clients.  Good luck in your search.

*You might not be able to see it without signing up for the site, but a basic membership is free, so why not join?  It's a great resource.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Leftovers of Writing

Post the Thanksgiving pig-out time, many of us have leftovers.  Yesterday at the Word Whores, Jeffe Kennedy helps decide what to do with our writing leftovers.

If you're not familiar with Jeffe Kennedy, she's an amazing author of several spicy, erotic novels (most recently Hunting the Siren) and a fantasy that was probably one of my favorite books in 2012: Rogue's Pawn

Personally, I've never used snippets from one project in another project.  What about you?  Have you ever utilized those little writing leftovers to make something new and delicious?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Even Published Writers Get the Squirms

If you're feeling like your muse has run away and you can't put words on paper to save yourself, understand that you aren't alone.  Even published authors get that way sometimes.  Even multiple-published authors...

like Paperback Writer.

If you're not familiar with Lynn Viehl (a.k.a. Paperback Writer, and S.L. Viehl), she's got 47 novels out on the shelves somewhere.  I've read about half of them and they're amazing.  If she can get the squirms and power through them, I don't feel so bad about my little niggles of uncertainty. 

How about you?  Does reading about a published author having the same problems we're having make you feel better or worse about your own situation?  Is it a case of 'misery loves company' or a case of 'shared misery is lessened misery'?

NaNoWriMo Pitfall #8

We're starting the home stretch toward December 1st.  (Where did the year go?)  Time for another installment of my 2009 NaNoWriMo Pitfalls posts. 

NaNo Pitfall #8 - The Physical Wear and Tear of Writing

Today's Pitfall is less mental and more physical...

NaNo Pitfall #8 or "Something so good shouldn't hurt so much"

Yesterday I banged out over 4K words.  Yay!  The only problem with that is this morning my hands are lumps of meat with ten tubes of overstuffed sausage attached.  Not that I'm complaining.  Hurting hands mean I got some real work done, but...

Unfortunately, my brain is still on a roll and my hands don't want to cooperate. Type two words... ouch ouch ouch...  If typing this post is killing me, what's my manuscript going to do?

Hang on a sec, I have to slather myself in Aspercreme™.

Okay, that's better.  I guess what I'm trying to say, especially since this week marks the home stretch of NaNo is: The more you write the higher the probability that something somewhere in your body is going to protest.  Maybe your ass becomes flat and numb.  Maybe your back becomes a tangle of tension. Perhaps you're like me and your fingers balloon up to Mickey Mouse proportions.

Take a pain reliever.  Rub on some creme.  Break out the heating pad or the ice pack.  Promise yourself a long, hot bath after your writing session is over.  Whatever you choose do, though, don't let the pain in your body stifle the story in your head.

And now that the Aspercreme is kicking in, I'm off to write.  Have a great day, everyone.  =o)

(Cross-posted from The Writing Spectacle.)

Friday, November 23, 2012

Abandon Fear All Ye Who Enter

Hi.  I'm B.E. and I've been an unpublished writer since January 2004 - when I began what would become my first novel.  (I don't count all my many failed attempts from 1984 until then.)  I've been blogging about my trials and tribulations since December of 2006.  If you're totally new to me and my crazy antics, Welcome.  If you've come over from my main blog - The Writing Spectacle - grab a cup of coffee and stay awhile.

This new endeavor chiseled its way out of my skull (yeah, blatant Athena/Zeus reference there) after several people told me I should package my 'NaNoWriMo Pitfalls' posts in some way.  This is my answer to that.

Anyway, the idea here is to give tips and hints on how to survive this process we live and love and hate and tear our hair out over - writing toward publication.  I'm hoping to have some published authors drop by with guest posts, to beg some of my unpublished friends to wander through with thoughts of their own, and to fill in the gaps with my own thoughts, previous posts from my other blogs, and witty repartee*.

I hope you take the time to add yourself to the Survivors list over there on the right.  Stop by early and often.  You never know who might be dropping by.

*Your mileage may vary.  Witty repartee not guaranteed.

Monday, November 19, 2012

NaNoWriMo Pitfall #7

Good morning, Everyone!  Today repost of old Pitfalls seems particularly poignant - even if you're not participating in the sprint to 50K.  Procrastination (aka lollygagging) can crop up anywhere.  Don't want to face the mound of dishes filling your sink?  Procrastinate.  Unsure of where your story is going?  Procrastinate.  I know I'm a master procrastinator from way back.  If it can be put off, I've put it off.  Hell, I'm probably doing it now...

And on that note, here's a link to the old 2009 post (if you want to read the comments) and here's the real thing:


As I may have said, Darling Daughter is also doing NaNo.  These posts are as much for her as for anyone.  Like any writer, she has her stumbling blocks, and like anyone new at anything, she thinks she's the only one.  After reading my Pitfall #6 post, we talked about the various things that can make a writer stumble during this race to finish a novel - or during any writing time - and she was dumbfounded to discover these Pitfalls aren't just things I thought might happen to someone else.  These Pitfalls have happened to me - this month even.  So, as you're reading this series of posts remember: You're not alone.

Now onward to NaNo Pitfall #7 - aka "Wow, I just remembered that I have to :insert procrastinatory item here:!"

We're writers.  We also have a million other things we have to do as human beings.  Laundry needs to get done.  We need to cook meals.  We have shopping and errands.  Some people have day jobs and others, like me, have internet businesses to maintain.  Add in homeschooling or kids' events or homework (either to do if you're still in school or to assist with if you're a parent), and the list of non-writing things requiring our attention can be staggering.

This month is no different.  Except when you're using those things to put off writing.

For instance, I had some stuff I legitimately had to do for my Amazon store.  True, it was stuff I'd put off and I should've done it sooner, especially since the deadline fell in November.  That was last weekend's blip in my writing schedule.  This weekend was another story.  You see, doing all that stuff made me realize that I had a bunch of other stuff I needed to do to make my store easier to work with - for me, not my customers.  Yesterday, I spent a good portion of my day screwing around with that.  It needed to be done...  Just not right this moment.  Certainly none of it was so crucial it couldn't wait until NaNo was over.

As I lay in bed last night lamenting my lack of words, it came to me.  This was yet another pitfall - not only in NaNo but for any writing we're trying to accomplish.  There's always something you can find to take the place of writing.  There are so many, in fact, I used to have a link to a site that listed all the things one can do instead of working on one's book.

Thinking about it now, I'm wondering if I should've made this a corollary to the other Pitfalls.  You see, the reason this push to do something else came up is because my brain is currently scrolling through the other Pitfalls.  Right now, I'm bouncing between "OMG, This Sucks!" and "Ack! I'm Lost!"

Enter "Wow!  I have something else I really should be doing!"

So, I've slapped myself around.  Today I will not being mucking around in the store, cleaning the house, doing yardwork, alphabetizing my socks, sorting my recipes, baking cookies, organizing my bookmarks...

Or sitting here thinking of other things to add to that growing list.

Today, I will write.  It may be several thousand crappy words and I may only succeed in getting myself more lost, but I will accomplish something writerly if it kills me.

Writerly?  Hmmm.... I never did sort through those last submissions and enter them into the database...

What's got you procrastinating today?  And what are you doing during this time of procrastination?

1 comment:

Silver James said...
I just wish I had the time to procrastinate! LOL You should package up all this advice, B.E. It's dead on!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

NaNoWriMo Pitfall #6

I don't know if reposting all these is helpful to you out there in blogland, but I started it, so I'm going to finish it.

Here's the next Pitfall for all you NaNo racers - reposted from 11/17/09:

NaNo Pitfall #6 - Writing Yourself Into a Corner

A thought occurred to me as I was about to write today's pitfall: Any new writer who stumbles across this series could be seriously freaked out by all the things to make a writer stumble through the process of NaNoWriMo.  This is not my intention.  I'm just trying to show you thinngs that may and can happen, and hopefully point the way out of these pitfalls.

Also, it should be noted that writing for NaNo is not necessarily the way one should write all the time.  This is a race, and while it does help build skills - like writing faster to meet a deadline - it might deepen some bad habits.  I'm going to try and have a series on editing NaNo mistakes after this month is over, so bear with me.

As for today's NaNo Pitfall, the picture pretty much says it all:  "I've written myself into a corner and there's no way out."  (Of course, the flames* are all in our heads, but you get the gist.)

So, here I am, writing along and I've reached a point in the story where I feel like I've written myself into a corner.  My MC is stuck and there doesn't really seem to be a way out.  Which is why my word count for yesterday was so low I didn't even bother to post it - I just wrapped it into today's count.

Yes, this is similar to the Pitfall "Ack! I'm Lost!", but I'm not lost.  I know where I need to go, but getting there might be a bit messy.  Other than stepping back across the fresh paint and not only messing up what I've already covered, I could fall and go splat.

This isn't the first time this has happened.  In fact, it's happened so many times now that I look at it as a challenge.  My subconscious painted me into a corner, and now I have to find a way to extract myself without ruining my work.  Or to put it another way, I have to find the window to climb out of.

No matter how tight your corner is, there's always a window.  Like the video game pictured above, there's always a way out.  (Although I'm not sure how one would get the guy across a flaming pit of doom, but there has to be a way, or the programmer wouldn't have put the challenge there.)  Of course, the only way may be something so off the wall, you might balk at writing it.  Write it anyway.  At the risk of boring you with repetition: Write it now, edit it later.

And then, there's always the chance that no matter how bizarre it might seem before you write it, it'll work once you finish it.  I've had that happen before.  Sometimes weird stuff happens - not often unless you're writing SF, F or P but hey, look around the world at the strange shit going on every day.

As always, for November, it's not whether every word in your story makes sense.  It's getting those words out so you have something to work with later.  So, open a window, crawl through a mousehole, open a rift in the time/space continuum if you have to, but get 'er done.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a ladder to fashion so I can crawl up through the ceiling.  The smell of all this paint is making me dizzy.  ;o)

*Picture deleted due to potential copyright infringement.  The image was from the old Pitfall video game and showed the main player character at the edge of a fiery pit he had to get across.

Friday, November 16, 2012

NaNoWriMo Pitfall #5

Just a reminder: These NaNoWRImo Pitfall posts are being re-posted from the series I ran back in November of 2009.  Any problems mentioned therein are not problems I'm currently having.  The Editing posts (seen on the left as E1, E2, etc.) are the problems I'm having now.

Anyway, without further ado, here's #5 or ACK! I'm Lost!

See the look on that guy's face*?  Heh.  If you could see me now, you'd see that same look.  (Okay, maybe I'm crying for my mommy on the inside.)

You see, today it's time for NaNo Pitfall #5 aka Ack!  I'm Lost! (Prewritten on Sunday, so maybe I'll have found my way by the time this hits the web.)

When you're running down the path of your story, trying to get 50K words onto paper before the alligator of December 1st catches up with you, you could conceivably take a wrong turn.  My wrong turn came a while back, but I didn't know I was lost until a couple days ago.  (Which explains the squirmy stuff I mentioned in yesterday's post.)

And boy am I ever lost.

Sure, I know where I'm supposed to be.  I took a wrong turn several chapters ago, though, so retracing my steps is not an option.  What I have to do know is hack a path to where this diversion would naturally meet up with the correct storyline at this point in the book. 

It's a jungle out there, people.

Anyway, I spent a good portion of the time I was supposed to be sleeping last night trying to mentally chart my course.  I have Jo in a sticky situation, and she's taking the bull by the horns.  Nigel's come clean about his part in the mess, and if he screws up again, he dies.  Tryg's on the fence at to whether he's trustworthy or not.  And Zeke is Zeke.  I'm not sure what to do with Mary, but she's ready to run someone through after all these years of powerlessness, so whatever happens, she's good to go.

Of course, I'm still dealing with NaNo Pitfall #2, but I'm pretty sure that the reason I've written crap is that I was lost.  Once I find my way again, I'll be right as rain.  And hey, I can always fix it in the edits.  =o)

Time to take my mental machete and forge ahead through the jungle.  I know that path is around here somewhere...

*photo had to be deleted due to potential copyright thingies.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...
Hard to see where you're going when you're writing at high speeds. Wear your seat belt! ;p

Thursday, November 15, 2012

NaNoWriMo Pitfall #4

And we're back to the installments of my old NaNo Pitfall Posts.  Today is #4 - also known as 'Why bother finishing when I'm already behind?'...

Welcome to November 15th, aka The Halfway Point.  At this point in your NaNo experience, you should be somewhere around 25,000 words - or at least near there by midnight tonight.  As you can see from the progress meter, I'm behind (by about 8K when I wrote this post).  This leads us to NaNo Pitfall #4 - I'm so far behind now, why bother?  (Sorry the two proposed topics got shunted aside, but I thought today was the best day for this.)

Okay, so I'm 8K behind.  Why?  Well, some of it was life stuff - like the out of town trip I took Thursday and the right-cross Amazon dealt me that I have to deal with by Monday.  Some of it was squirmy stuff that will be addressed in a later Pitfall post.  Of course, the reasons and/or the excuses don't really matter.  Whatever they are, they've occurred and now I'm behind.

At this point, I could sit back and figure this year's NaNo is a wash.  When am I going to make up 8 THOUSAND words?  PLUS do the 1667 every day I'm supposed to do to reach the goal of 50K, mind you.

That's where the pitfall lays.  Like the dude in the picture up there*, I have to find a way to swing across the gap.  (And he didn't even dig his own hole like I did.)  I could stand on this side, shaking my head at the depth of the hole, or I can find a way to get past the expanse.  2200 words a day will get me to my goal.  That's a load.  Or, I could bust out extra words on the weekends.

The point here is: Stopping isn't an option.

Sure, this is only a self-imposed deadline, but if I ever do get a book contract with actual deadlines, I'm sure as hell not going to be able to tell my publisher "Sorry, I had some things come up.  Maybe I'll hit that number next time."  I guessing there's a quick way to say buh-bye to your career.

So, there is nothing to do but forge ahead.  If I have to miss some sleep, or sit in this chair until my ass falls off, or type all day on Thanksgiving, I will do it.

And if I don't I will still count it as a win because I will have tried my damnest.

Whether you're doing NaNo or not, how are your word counts looking this month?  Has anything come up that's put you behind in whatever you're trying to accomplish?  Regardless of the answer...


*picture deleted because I didn't have the right to post it.  It was from the old Pitfall video game and showed the character swinging on a vine across a chasm.


Andrea Mack said...
Such great advice! My mini-Nano got stalled due to unavoidable life events, but I'm still working away, because I want to accomplish something.
Janet said...
Are you talking to me? Are you talking to me?

OK, I know you're talking to me - and I am listening! I'm behind, but will keep at it, slow and steady wins the race!

Great pep talk, B.E.
B.E. Sanderson said...
Thanks, Andrea! Keep at it. You can do it.
B.E. Sanderson said...
LOL, no, Janet, I wasn't talking to you. Not specifically anyway. Heck, I wrote that back in 2009, but every NaNo since then, this was about the point when I started to angst about being behind. Talk about sagging middles. November has a big saggy middle. ;o)
Natalie Murphy said...
Good advice =)
Lydia Kang said...
I hope you find a way to get those extra 8k without it wreaking any havoc in your life!
B.E. Sanderson said...
Thanks, Nat. =o)

No worries, Lydia. These posts were actually written three years ago. I got the 8K done and this is the book I entered into the Harper Voyager submission window this year. It's all good. =o)

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The All-Encompassing Writing Pitfall

a.k.a Who the Hell Do You Think You Are?

It goes like this...

"Who the hell do you think you are to try and write something like this?  You're not good enough.  You have no idea what you're talking about.  Everyone will laugh at you for this one.  Or at least every self-respecting agent who gets a glimpse of this will not only reject your book, they'll print off your submission materials just so they can set fire to the pages."

"And then there's the whole 'write what you know' thing.  Which you're totally not doing in this case.  What does a housewife from backwater, piss-ant, scrubby-ass Colorado know about the doings in Washington, D.C.  Who do you think you are, Vince Flynn?  ROFL  Right.  Go back to making shit up with your post-apocalyptic worlds or your genies and leave the reality to the boys and girls who know how to do it right."

"Sure, writing is all about making it up, but readers are going to see right through your smoke and mirrors crap. They're going to KNOW you're talking out the other side of your ass here.  What do you know about medical examiners and engineers and government agents?  Seriously.  You must've been pretty damn full of yourself to even start this project.  No wonder you can't edit it into something good."

"No wonder they rejected your other stuff."



Janet said...
Hey! I resemble those remarks!

Seriously? Tell that voice to shut the hell up and keep revising. That voice is probably the same one, when you started out, telling you you would never finish a story! I've learned that the voice just ups his game the more you push him!

Oh, and go read the pep-talk on NaNo today - it's about that voice - you're not alone!
Silver James said...
Stick your fingers in your ears and sing LALALALALALALALALALA at the top of your voice. Or play really annoying ear-worm songs. Then sit down and write a page just to prove The Voice wrong. Then write another page. And another after that. Go to Google maps, plug in an address/intersection near your setting. Go to street view. "Walk" around. Or drive. See? You've been to Washington now. And if you've watched the news, you see all the crap that goes on there. Now write some more.

That's an order. See you on the other side, soldier!
B.E. Sanderson said...
LOL, Janet. It does up its game, doesn't it?

I actually did that the night before last, Silver. After several days of letting the voice win, I sat down and rewrote a whole chapter to prove the voice wrong - and it just got louder. Perhaps it's actually right this time.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Editing Pitfall #2

So there I was happily editing along.  I was really cranking those pages out.  Change a word here, rephrase something there - no biggie. Except that's not what a rewrite is all about.  That, in fact, is a polish and should be done last.  But I was in my happy place and I totally missed the point where I knew there was something wrong - when in fact fixing the wrong is what this whole freaking process is all about.

Editing Pitfall #2 slapped me in the face this morning.

When you're so busy being busy that you ignore the problems you were supposed to fix - either intentionally or subconsciously.

Yep.  I did over 7000 words that are now only slightly different than the words I had there originally.  :headdesk:

I think part of this comes from not knowing exactly what the problem is.  I know there is a problem.  Finding it and fixing it?  Whole 'nother story.  Or maybe I'm just rationalizing.  Could be I skipped the whole damn thing because I'll need to do a boatload more work and the work I've already done will be wasted.  And in case you haven't noticed, I am profoundly lazy.

So, today, I'm going to start over.  Throw out the 7K... well, snip it and paste it into a new file anyway... and go back to square one.  And do so with my trusty notebook and red pen.  (:NOTE TO SELF: Buy more red pens. )

I'm not happy about it, but ya gotta do what ya gotta do if ya want a good story at the other end.  Know what I mean?  And personally-imposed deadlines be damned.  It'll get done when it gets done.  Dammit.

Your turn to fess up.  You ever get so wrapped up in your own story that you forget you were supposed to be editing it?  Or if not wrapped up, so scared of the work that you conveniently bypass the hard stuff to fix all the little details?


Silver James said...
*stares at "DEVIL"* *shudders* *nods* Yup. Been there. Done that. Will have to face the consequences sooner than later. At least you have a process that works, B.E. Use it. But before that, here's my advice. Put down the red pen. Start at the beginning. READ the damn thing. Read it like a reader. Start to finish, if you can. Were you drawn into the story? Did you finish it? If not, where did the story derail? THAT'S the point where you need to pull out your red pen and get to work.

That's my editing tip for today. ;) Now get to work. Me, too. I'm stalling, despite the 938 words written today. Still have many to go. *sigh*
Janet said...
This was my issue when I revised Lady Bells - Surface Revision, I call it! I wish I could offer some guidance, some pearl of wisdom, but I have nothing other than stick to it, B.E. - and go deep, go where you've never gone before :)

Casey L. Clark said...
Yeah... I just had that issue with my June WIP. By the time I was done with the draft and had a fat manuscript in my hand, I read it and realized that HUGE chunks of story (that I could've sworn I'd written) had not actually been place in the manuscript...yet. LOL Thus... massive edit... then re-edit... It's yet to see a polish. I love it, but I'm damn near sick to death of it! :)
alexia said...
I definitely have the same problem sometimes. It's easier to work on the minor stuff for sure. Good luck! I am working on edit #5 of Everdream, so I'm right there with ya.
B.E. Sanderson said...
Sorry 'Devil' is giving you fits, Silver. I don't know about my process. It only works if I get one of these damn things published. ;o)

Surface Revision is a great term, Janet! I will go deep and hope I don't drown. LOL

I hear ya on that, Casey. That's why I've been working on this on and off since '08.

Thanks, Alexia. Good luck on Everdream.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Editing Pitfall #1

I just looked at NaNoWriMo Pitfall #4 and realized this early in the month is too early for that.  It's more of a mid-month thing.  So the NaNo Pitfall posts will resume on 11/15.  Keep writing and if you need a reminder of the first three pitfalls, I threw them over on the left sidebar.

And since I'm not really writing right now anyway, I thought I'd start what I hinted at in the comments the other day: Editing Pitfalls.

Some of you may be participating in the alternate month of NaNoRevMo (or NaNoEdMo - whichever blows your skirt up).  I'm daring to be different and not technically participating in that.  But I am revising/editing/rewriting right now.

Of course, before November even started I ran into the first pitfall of editing: Overthinking.

About a week after I submitted Djinnocide to the HarperVoyager thing, I sat down to decide which of my older manuscripts was viable enough to submit after I gave it a good scrubbing.  There were quite a few candidates, but I decided to tackle Nano.  (Yeah, fitting choice for the month of November.)

As I've said before, this sucker is a hot mess.  It's huge and ungainly.  Not word-count wise.  More like huge in its ideas and plot points and scenes.  It's a jumble of crap - like a thin woman wearing XXL clothes stuffed with toys.  (Or my purse.)  I have to take stuff out, rearrange other stuff, organize it all and put some other stuff back in.

Anyway, that's neither here nor there.  What we're talking about today isn't the amount of work ahead (that may be for another day).  We're talking about overthinking.

I sat down with the first chapter (or the prologue - I'm not sure) and my trusty notebook/pen arrangement.  And I rewrote it by hand.  Tore it out, set it aside, and rewrote it by hand again.  Tore that out and... well, you get the picture.  The six pages I needed to fix turned into dozens of pages both handwritten and typed.

I wanted everything to be perfect.  I had a set of goals for this chapter and by god, I was going to meet those damn goals - in the most perfect way possible.

Frankly, I was driving myself nuts and November hadn't even started yet.  Halloween night, I was laying in bed thinking about trying to get this thing whipped into some kind of shape by the end of the year and thoroughly pissing myself off.  I almost gave up - again*.  And then it hit me.  I loved my original take on this chapter.  And I loved a couple of the new things I did.  So what I needed to do was just sit down and write the damn thing - using those bits I loved rather than trying to recreate the damn wheel.

And on November 1st, I got that scene rewritten.  Not sure if it's any good, but it's done.  I can move on to the next chapter and see if that's worth keeping.  And chapter by chapter I'll get the damn thing done.  Maybe along the way, I'll determine whether I really need that first bit after all.  Time will tell.  But at least now I'm not overthinking the damn thing so I can move forward.

What about you?  Ever get stuck in the overthinking trap?  You know, that can go just as well for writing new words - so don't overthink your NaNo manuscript either.

*Editing this book is so daunting that I've already given up numerous times.  I will not let this defeat me again.


Karyn Good said...
Constantly! I'm also reworking a story. One I poured 50,000 words into a couple of Novembers ago. It's also a hot, big mess and the story has moved in a different direction. I'm busy trying to decide what bits I can keep. And over thinking. Big time.
Silver James said...
OMG! Remind me of this after the first of the year, will you?!? This is DEVIL (I can't even decide on a frickin' title for the dang thing!) This is Caleb's story in the Penumbra Papers. I have to clear it's decks before I can work on books 3 and 4. I want at least 3 written, edited, and ready to release before I go live with SEASON OF THE WITCH.

DEVIL was written in the month after my mother died, the month after a best friend's father died, a trip to California to close out his estate, and at the end, I was so determined to have a "normal" November that the last bits of DEVIL are...hell, I can't even call them dreck. It's a hot mess of the first order. Thank god for Scrivener. I might actually be able to save parts of it and get it into order.

On scene at a time. I need to tattoo that on my forehead come January. Thanks, B.E.!
Janet said...
Not editing, as you know, but this smacks me upside the head when I think about all those novels languishing on the hard drive, Lady Bells patiently waiting for something, and the crap I'm writing right now for NaNo. Of course, I am a constant overthinker - it's my nature :(

Good luck with the revisions, B.E. :)
Ana said...
I am there now, over thinking revisions/rewrites the entire WIP. Over and Over and Over again. I completed the MS then as I began editing I decided to add a character only because I believed it would help the story along. Now, I dug a hole for myself to which I am unable to crawl out from. I am now totally revamping the entire WIP... And then I had this bright idea to enter NANOWRIMO. Yeah, its kinda going down hill from there.

I wish you well in your revisions :D

Saturday, November 3, 2012

NaNoWriMo Pitfall #3

And now for part 3 of my reprisal posts...

Adverbs and Dialogue Tags  :gasp:

In this series of Pitfalls, I'm trying to point out those little things that can hamper your ability to get those 50K words out before the end of the month.  Today, I'd like to talk about NaNo Pitfall #3, in which we talk about those dread devices: Adverbs and Dialogue Tags.

Yes, yes, we've all heard how horrible both adverbs and excessive dialogue tags can be.  We're not supposed to have them - or at least not be heavy-handed or weird with them.

"Forget all that!" she shouted peremptorily.


Which is to say, while you're pounding out your NaNo words, don't bother nitpicking these things.  If you want your character to shout and you feel the need to tack an adverb on there, too, don't waste time editing those words out.  Editing is for later.  Let your fingers do the typing, and you can chastise them later for the crap they spewed onto your pages.

I look at it this way.  I let my fingers do the talking (or rather my subconscious mind speaking through my fingers, but you get the gist), and more often than not those dialogue tags and adverbs are left as clues to how my brain wants the scene to be laid out later.  Without them, each scene would take me loads more time to write.  And as we all know, NaNo is not about taking your time.  It's about getting words on paper because...

You can't fix what ain't there.

If your story needs adverbs, type them happily.  And if you need a dialogue tag...  "Say it, shout it, ask it," she chanted.  ;o)   


Janet said...
Yep, more great advice exactly when I need it - thanks, B.E. I caught myself this morning 'fixing' dialogue tags AND inappropriate verb usage!!! I love the reminder that all of those things are my brain setting the scene, creating atmosphere and tension, and possibly laying down some hints as to where the story could go or how I can layer it up when I get to the actual revisions.

I'm off to get some more words on paper - and, damn it, I'm going to use adverbs galore :)
Casey L. Clark said...
I DO hate over discription and try my best not so write like a newbie, but it does seem like that is EXACTLY what NaNoWriMo brings out in me. LOL

Great post series!

Friday, November 2, 2012

NaNoWriMo Pitfall #2

Back again for the second installment of my reprise of the 2009 NaNo Pitfall posts.  So, without further ado...

NaNo Pitfall #2 or... OMG, this sucks!

So, other than the last couple days, I've been writing my little fingers into fat sausages.  I got past the first pitfall (or as someone else put it on another blog - the cardinal rule of NaNo) - don't go back and read what you've written - by slogging through.  The problem with slogging through is you may find yourself in the second NaNo pitfall...

OMG, this sucks!

As you write, you may find yourself thinking that the scenes you're slapping down are probably the worst pieces of dreck you've ever seen.  "It was a dark and stormy night..." looks like Pulitzer material by comparison.  And you know no one is ever going to want to read such crap.

Okay, here's the thing.  Most likely you're right.  It sucks, it's dreck, and no one is going to want to read it.

Now, before you get out the matches and bonfire your manuscript, I want you to understand something important.  What you're writing now is a FIRST DRAFT.  I'm willing to bet that most first drafts - even by the bestselling authors - are crap they wouldn't want anyone to read.  As awful as those first drafts might be, though, those authors kept writing them because they all knew another important fact:

You can't fix what isn't written.

So, no matter how horrible it may feel to you right now, you keep writing.  Hell, several chapters back, I wrote a scene I knew was awful.  Here's the thing about writing awful scenes, though: During editing, it'll either be cut or will end up as a completely different animal by the time I'm ready to query.  I needed the crap scene to get to the next scene, so I wrote it and I refuse to apologize for it. Even to myself. 

I wrote it.  I can fix it later. 

While you're writing, don't worry so much about how every word will sound.  Don't pick at yourself for writing crap.  Even if you're not doing NaNo, but you're having a tough time finishing a manuscript, just write and worry about fixing the problems later. 

Now it's your turn.  Ever hit this pitfall?  Did you get past it or trash your manuscript?  If you got past it, let us know how in the comments.

(Click on this linky-link to see the original post, with comments.)


Janet said...
Again, absolutely something I needed to see this morning as I was doing my bit of morning writing and wondered, "WTH"? There were thoughts of hitting the backspace key and taking it all out.

No! No, I will keep it in and I will keep going. Thanks for the reminder - you can't fix a blank page!
B.E. Sanderson said...
Step away from the 'backspace'. ;o)
Silver James said...
Janet, I'm going to pry the back space and delete key off your keyboard!

B.E., you are a wise, WISE NaNo blogger. ;)

Life intervened. I don't have my words done today. I'm a little ahead and with LG gone all day tomorrow, I can simply write from the time I get up until he gets home at dinner time. I'll catch back up. In the meantime, keep editing. I'm going to eek out a few hundred words now.
Janet said...
Alright, the two of you, get off my case. No backspace or delete - I promise :)

Thursday, November 1, 2012

NaNoWriMo Pitfall #1

Hi all.  I'm not participating in NaNo this year, but in honor of everything November means to all of us writers - and to those happy few who are racing toward 50K by 11:59pm on 11/30/12 - I've decided to re-post my NaNo Pitfall posts from 2009.

Here's the first (and please note this is the year when I first wrote Djinnocide, so you'll see a few references to those characters and whatnot - even though some of them have changed):

NaNo Pitfall #1 - do not go back and read what you've already written. 

Okay, so I opened the file this morning to get some words written, and for grins I decided to read some of the beginning of this book.  I found a few typos, which I fixed.  Not a problem.  Then I found a bit of worldbuilding that I have since differed from.  Umm.  Crap.

Now my brain is so busy worrying about how I'm going to fix this that I can't think about where I was supposed to take the story next.  Seriously.  And what's worse is, I knew better.  I know if I start finding flaws in the story, I'm going to want to go back and fix them all before I continue.  It's a thing about me.  It's also why I've learned to write the way I do - straight through, no stopping and no going back.

Yes, at the beginning of the book Nigel (a minor character whose name is going to be changed) doesn't know what the hell is going on any more than Jo (the MC) does.  But in the later chapters, he's part of the group that's known all along and has been keeping it a secret.  Sooo, I either need to fix the beginning or I need to fix this middle part.


Deep breaths.  In through the nose, out through the mouth.

What I really need to do is forget I ever saw that flaw and forge ahead.  The story is going great so far, and whatever Nigel does ultimately doesn't matter to the crux of the plot.  (Unless I make this into a series, and then Nigel's crucial to the plot that would carry over several books.)  Regardless, I need to tuck this flaw into its proper place and fix it later.

Remember folks, you can always go back and fix afterwards, but you can't fix what isn't written.  So just write.  Damn it.  (That last part was for me, btw.)

And thus ends our brief neurotic break.  We now return you to your regularly scheduled psychoses. ;o)

(Go here for the original post so you can see the comments people made there.)

PS.  Nigel became Basil and I did fix the flaw.


Janet said...
Excellent advice, B.E. - glad to see you're reposting these pitfalls because I'm going to need all the help I can get :)
B.E. Sanderson said...
Thanks, Janet. I hope they help. I need to intersperse them with editing pitfalls, too - especially since I've been ramming my head up against one lately. Editing Pitfall #1 - Overthinking (or maybe over-tweaking).
Silver James said...
Interesting, B.E. That's the reason I did my first NaNo--to write the damn first draft all the way through. I would read the previous chapter to get "a sense of things" before moving forward, and...never moved forward--or did so at a snail's pace.

NaNo taught me to draft fast and draft ugly. As Nora Robert's says, "You can't fix a blank page."

Happy editing! I'm getting off line now until my words are done. Then I have to go get my glasses fixed. They broke first thing this morning. Not an auspicious start to the month. :lol:
B.E. Sanderson said...
Exactly, Silver. That's why it took me 9 months to write the first draft of my first novel. I kept going back to fix things. Ugh. Now I write and maybe editing takes longer, but at least I have full pages to work with. =o)

And ACK about your glasses. That sucks. I'll keep my fingers crossed for your words and your broken specs.
Andrea Mack said...
I have to keep reminding myself not to go back and edit! That's one of my goals for the month - to keep writing without looking back (too much).
Karyn Good said...
Excellent advice for those in the NaNo trenches, B.E. It's an extremely hard thing for me to do, as I love editing. Writing the first draft for me is a necessary evil!
Natalie Murphy said...
I remember this post from last year, and it's still excellent advice this year! =)
B.E. Sanderson said...
You can do it, Andrea! Forge ahead now. Looking back is for after. =o)

I'm the opposite, Karyn. I love just writing and editing is my necessary evil.

Heh, it's older than you think, Nat. This is originally from 3 years ago. Time flies when you're having fun. And it's been awesome knowing you that long.
Natalie Murphy said...