Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A look back at 2013

Yes, it’s that time of year again, where I self-indulgently look back at the year that was 2013. The year ended with a whimper as I was sick for most of December with a variety of ailments that led me to believe I was someone’s science experiment.

In contrast, the year started off well as I attended the Borderlands Boot Camp in January. I learned a hell of a lot from F. Paul Wilson and Douglas Winters and met a great gang of writer folks. Unfortunately, I felt the experience overall was a bit of a downer and really tested by confidence as a writer, which is something that I constantly struggle with. The amount of time I spend second guessing myself and my talents is startling. But, I know I’m not the only one that feels that way.

I took me a considerable amount of time to recover and I think I’ve built myself up stronger than before. And this resurrection of sorts was great timing as I prepared a pitch for the San Diego Comic Con comic creator connection event in July. While I didn’t find a suitable artistic match to go forward with my comic book idea, it did teach me a lot about the art of the pitch.

And that experience paid off as I built up the courage to pitch to a Del-Rey editor at the San Diego Comic Con. A few months later, I received an email from the editor asking to see my novel. So that submission package has been my focus for the end of the 2013.

I worked on the plot for Spirit Quest and hammered out 50,000 words during November’s NaNoWriMo. It wasn’t the most beautiful prose, but it was a great exercise to work through the swirling story ideas I had.

And for the past month, I’ve been tightening up my synopsis for Spirit Quest and fleshing out characters. I’m really looking forward to 2014 and using it to make a leap in my writing career.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Next Steps After NaNoWriMo?

So, if you were fortunate enough to be among the few who "won" NaNoWriMo (41,940 of 300,000 participants), congratulations! Give yourself three big cheers.

But, if you're like me, you're wondering now what? This year's NaNoWriMo writing project was part of a 90,000 word novel I'm writing, so it might be a little different than you if you've actually written a novel from end-to-end over those 50,000 words.

The next larger step is to create our second draft and there are an infinite number of ways you can go about that. One suggestion is to let some time pass and allow yourself to put some perspective on your work. I tried to do that one year and I found that I had lost a lot of momentum and it took almost half a year for me to really get back into the project.

So, I'd recommend you continue working at it, building off the momentum and euphoria that you currently have. The approach I'm trying is to write a treatment of my story, a synposis, maybe 5-10 pages of everything that has happened in my story. In that compact form, I think I can work with the story structure and identify its weaknesses before jumping into any kind of editing or re-write.

Take time to make sure you have all the pieces in your story in the right place and that every chapter and scene builds towards the climax and drive the plot forward. It can be terribly difficult at times, especially if you're struggling with a scene or chapter that you like, but you also know just doesn't fit. Yank it and come up with a new scene or chapter. You'll be surprised that it'll probably be better than the one you first wrote and will also be a better chain link in the overall story.

Best of luck!