The Devil Inside

Greetings to you all,

This has been a rather interesting week with some changes and a lot of reflection. Birthdays make us naturally introspective I think…

My first book, Circling started its journey to some where (we’ll hold off on that discussion). Book Two finally earned a name! Forever Falling has been resting comfortably at 36,000 words, while Circling got a last push out into the great unknown. This week Forever Falling will take center stage and be moved to the veritable front burner. I am very excited!

As I mentioned a few weeks ago in the post When Is The Forgivable, Unforgivable, my mind has been on villains a lot these last weeks.  In Forever Falling, the lines between doing what is right and what is wrong, but for the right reasons, becomes blurry. Forgiveness is the key here, but it has to be balanced with self-preservation. A few nights ago, with the encouragement of my Twitter writer companions Nate Philbrick (@Flashfloord14, flashfloodfiction.com) and Susan Kicklighter (@writing 4kix, writing4kix.tumblr.com), I signed up for a Pottermore account to let the sorting hat do its job. This is the part there non-Harry Potter fans hit the back arrow and move on – no offense taken – have a lovely day.

So – I signed up at Pottermore and followed the required sequence that allowed me into the Great Hall at Hogwarts to participate in the sorting ceremony. I took this seriously, my friends. I could have manipulated that test any way I wanted (a lesser talent of mine), but I was truthful and it was a hard test. I had concerns. I am fairly sure there aren’t many Leos in Hufflepuff or Ravenclaw. I figured I had a decent shot at Gryffindor. But I have a dark side that requires constant management.  Again – I had real concerns. The questions were not obvious. It wasn’t… Would you remain faithful to the Dark Lord after years of absence? Are you a Death Eater? Would you date Draco Malfoy? It was more about your thought process.

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I AM SLYTHERIN

After the horror passed and my family fell out of their chairs laughing at the obvious, I did a little research about Slytherin beyond Salazar, Tom Riddle, Malfoys, Lestranges, etc. Here is what I learned: Merlin was Slytherin. Traits = cunning, ambition, likelihood to look after their own (loyalty?), play to win mentality, powerful, oft misunderstood, keen instinct for self preservation.

“Slytherin will help you on the way to greatness.”

Bottom line, I have to own it, I am Slytherin. I am the sweet writer sitting next to you at Starbucks, but screw with my people, zombies take over the world, danger knocks at my door… I will handle it.

Which takes me back to the beginning. Villains. This unexpected Slytherin twist is giving me much more to think about. When I started asking questions about villains, I didn’t realize the villain was possibly me. Now I know more than ever, understanding villains is about understanding the capacity for dark works that lives within us all.

My birthday was this week, but it was inconvenient so I decided to move it to July 31st to share a birthday with J.K. Rowling and Harry Potter (on the beach). I feel less worthy of them than I did a few days ago, but I know that kindness does live in my heart. Just don’t fuck with me. 🙂

 

 

 

 

Finishing Your First Draft

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Welcome to my first attempt at ADVICE FROM A WRITER!

As of late, I have had many discussions with writers about the complexities of finishing a first draft of a novel.  While my credentials as a fiction writer are still developing, I have learned that comparatively speaking, I have an exceptional pace with first draft writing and a good understanding of the revision process.

Many writers (me included) start with a fantasy scenario that their first draft is their book.  Over time we all discover that -THE END- comes a bit later. Completing a first draft is an extraordinary accomplishment, but no one is publishing first drafts. I heard somewhere that an early draft for the screenplay of Good Will Hunting included aliens and a space ship or something. That award winning screenplay was somewhat of a different animal. In my first draft of Circling one of my characters was almost a murderer. Who she ended up being, was very different. In my writers workshop, we discussed an average of six full revisions for a completed novel. SIX! Circling is on it’s SEVENTH revision!

Why?

Finding a story is one thing. Creating complex, interesting characters within a cohesive, well developed story is quite another. I can’t sit down and start writing with a fully formed character in mind. Some writers begin with a very formal character study before developing a plot – physical description, likes and dislikes, quirks, habits, car make and model, favorite ice cream, sexual preferences, etc. This is not my way. I like to feel my way into the plot and see how the character acts and reacts to the circumstance as they develop. My Book 2 male lead is exhibiting some unusual character traits. After 25,000 words, it became clear that his mother was abusive. This developed out of words and scenes written, not out of a preconceived notion of a character that I want to fit into a box. This is my way. You can find your way.

That being said, for successful first draft writing – that means letting the words out – THERE MUST BE A WILLINGNESS TO SUCK! This is the most important part of first drafting. I’d love for every word I write to be considered perfection, but it is far from it. Perfection (always a dicey word) comes from editing and revising and examining and rethinking and reordering and editing and revising. Rinse and repeat.  I could mull a sentence for thirty minutes in my head to perfect the word choice and the flow to communicate an idea, before letting those words onto my pages. But that doesn’t get a work written. Let it out. Let it breath in the open air.

I visualize my first draft process as a spiral. Here the story starts to unfold and then I discover something about a character on page 26 that requires and adjustment on page 12. Then a scene on page 40 explains what motivated an action on page 17 so I have to go back and expound on that there. It is a fluid back and forth of ever forward motion.

Remember, if you write you are a writer.  Completing a first draft requires you to forgive your writing the imperfections required to, in fact, be a writer.  Relax. Open a bottle of wine, pour a cup of coffee or whatever your are into.  Turn your favorite playlist on repeat. Don’t move. Just type and type and type. Leave perfection for a rose on a rosebush or a cloudless blue sky.

Write your first draft, because you are a WRITER.

 

It’s Not All Good

In the interest of maintaining a somewhat honest blog, I need to just vent about this crap day. I intend to rant for about 250 words and then wrap it up with a tidy little bow of optimism at the end. Or maybe I’ll add a link to a song instead. Let’s see how it goes…

I’m sick. Nothing bad, just a nasty cold that includes strange symptoms of whininess and overeating. My preference is always wine to whine, but this is over taking me! Yesterday’s sick day cost me a box of Kleenex, but allowed me 14 hours of revisions on my current draft. I pulled a few “big reveals” out of dialog and wrote the scenes as flashback. This was very challenging. I think the pain was cloaked in dialog because writing snappy conversation around the action isn’t so gut wrenching. I did terrible things to my poor characters!  I bled all over the damn page. It felt horrible, but effective.

Needless to say I spent a sleepless night with violent nightmares, those really bad ones where I have to get up and walk the house to shake it off. If only I had walked to the basement.

I awoke feeling crappy, but the good girl in me got ready for at least a half day at work. Until – the discovery of a flooded basement. Insert curse words, dripping towels, wet vacs, probably ruined carpets, and all that mundane garbage that will never find its way onto my pages.

And then my cell phone died.
And I’m heading out of town for a wedding tomorrow.

Sooo – 90 minutes at the Verizon store (not too bad actually), where dueling sound systems playing different music from two sides of the store blared into my brain. It was good music too. As punishment for all of my life’s crimes, I sat in the middle, until I thought the sensory overload would be the death of me.

There is probably more, but I’m getting sick of me and my word count is high. I’m going to turn my whine into a glass of wine and set up my new cell phone. I’ll wallow just long enough to share this song with you. It reaches my most miserable core. Truly I am grateful for every minute of every day, but this day has been fucktastic.