Friday, July 26, 2013

The Value in Being a Critiquer

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve run into a bit of a stone wall with regards to my new MG fantasy. So this week I dedicated myself to going back and working on my fan fiction story. Since it’s in the revision stage, I get to utilize a different part of my brain, which lets the creative side get some much needed rest.

One of the things I’ve noticed is that the quality of my chapters varies significantly. The first several chapters flow nicely (finally!), but later chapters aren’t as smooth as I remember them being. I suppose this should make me sad (and it does), but not as much as I would have expected. Though I’m disappointed these chapters need more work, I’m pleased my inner editor’s eye is getting better at spotting problems. Paragraphs that seemed fine six months ago now seem weak and flabby.

So why is my inner editor improving? I suspect it’s because of all the critiquing I’ve been doing lately. Searching for bloated paragraphs and inconsistent logic in someone else’s work makes it easier to spot the same problems in your own work. After I've dinged an author for using an awkward sentence structure several times in a chapter, I can't help but spot the same problem in my chapters.  So my advice is to never stop critiquing. And remember, no matter how great your inner editor becomes, you still need to let someone else critique your own work. You’re too close to your own story to see all the problems. Besides, by letting someone else critique your story, you’re helping their inner editor grow too. It’s a win-win situation.

Hmmmm… Will my inner editor ever stop getting better or am I doomed to forever return to my previous chapters and discover they need more work?  Scary thought.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Why Can't I Just Move On?

I’d planned on posting on another subject today, but the hell with it—I’m going to whine about my own writing woes. It’ll make me feel better. :)

As you may know, I’ve been concentrating on my own original story (not the fan fiction) for the last several months—a story I started writing for last year’s NaNoWriMo. I felt pretty good about it at the time and I managed to write over 25k words before deciding the plot needed some revamping. Unfortunately, although I’ve dedicated myself to this story for the last several months, the writing has gone absolutely nowhere.

What’s the problem? I’m stuck on the first chapter, and have been for the last two months. I’ve approached it from several different angles, but as of today I still haven’t come up with a beginning I’m comfortable with. And it’s driving me bonkers.

I’m sure many of you would argue there’s no point in spending all this time on the first chapter, since I’ll probably end up rewriting it after I finish the first draft anyway. And I would agree with you, except that I’m finding it impossible to move on without some sort of closure. I can’t explain why my mind works this way, but I have to know how the first chapter ends before I can concentrate on the second chapter. Believe me, I’ve tried. Argggh!

So everyday I try something new, waiting for that beginning I know is buried in there somewhere. I realize I’m going to solve this eventually. It’s just frustrating to watch the weeks go by with nothing to show for my time.


This month hasn’t been all bad news, however. My family and I just returned from a five day vacation in southern Ohio. It was a great time, and we took lots of pictures, although I’m embarrassed to say I didn’t write a single word during that time. I was just too busy. Or tired.

I also won a contest hosted by Jami Gold. If you aren’t reading her blog, you should. Her site is loaded with all sorts of great advice about writing.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Insecure Writer and a Lack of Ideas

Today is July's contribution to Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group.

Why am I an Insecure Writer this month?

Because of worries that good ideas aren’t coming as quickly as they once did.

Almost four years ago, back when I first began writing the fan fiction story that ultimately hooked me on writing, I had no lack of ideas. It seemed as if every time I daydreamed about my story—whether while driving to and from work, or during showers, or when falling asleep at night—another idea would pop into my head. So many ideas, in fact, that I have now have enough to write a trilogy. And it was this ability to generate ideas that convinced me I just might have what it takes to be an author.

But now that I’m working on my own story, with my own worlds, the ideas aren’t coming quite as quickly. It was easy for me to take the fully fleshed-out world described in the Harry Potter books and come up with new and entertaining twists. But now that I'm in the process of building the basic framework for my world, it’s a lot more work dreaming up all those fun ideas.

But I suppose that’s the way it is for all writers. Which is probably why so many writers write sequels. Once you have the basic framework down, it’s a lot easier to come up with new twists.

Question: Do you find writing a sequel to be easier or harder than the first book in a series?

BTW, I apologize for my lack of replies to your comments the last few posts.  Things have been pretty busy around here.  I promise to respond to all comments from now on.