Writing Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Writing Wednesday, July 15, 2020

1st draft manuscipt divided by scenes. Photo by Shelley Burbank

Good Writing Wednesday.

I am resisting the urge to put an exclamation point up there after the word “Wednesday.” My natural instinct compels me to do it, but I’m in editing mode these days and more aware than usual about things like punctuation. I’m also trying to get away from using the word “peeps” in an effort to sound more mature, i.e. my age. 

What’s next? I actually start using moisturizer on a regular basis? 

As you know if you’ve been following along, I’m in the process of rewriting a romance novel I wrote 15 years ago. I’d printed out all 500 pages years ago, so my process involved dividing the manuscript into individual scenes, analyzing each stack of five or six pages for inclusion in the next draft, and plotting the retained scenes on a spreadsheet. 

Finally, two days ago, I started the rewrite. 700 words the first day. 300 the next. 

Yup. Yesterday was a slog. I spent most of my time messing around with the work I’d done the first day. I’ve always been like this. I can’t proceed if the first few sentences/paragraphs/pages aren’t “right.” They set the tone for the entire book. I hope today I can get through the entire first chapter. Roughly 3000 words is my goal for chapter length.

So, how is this draft different from the first, you ask? Well, I have a much better grip on pacing, for one thing. I’m focusing on making sure each scene has a turning point AND moves the story forward. People talk about “moving the story forward” as if everyone understands this. We do, I suppose, but execution is very different from understanding. Of course, a compelling plot means lots of twists and turns, ups and downs. That is why making sure there is a turning point in every scene is so important. Your character starts out in one place…and ends up somewhere different. Otherwise, nothing has happened. 

Writing scenes where nothing really happens often bogs down my stories. It’s a major weakness of mine. I think that’s why writing mysteries, even though not my favorite genre, worked for me in the past few years. The built-in structure forced me to make sure things happened in every scene/chapter. Maybe I just need to think of a romance/relationship novel as a mystery. What would that look like? 

Will she figure out what makes him tick? Will he discover her hidden agenda and love her anyway? What clues can they discover along the way? What red herrings can I introduce? What rabbit holes can my characters go down and have to claw their way out of?  

Hey, I may have just had a breakthrough idea with this approach. I’ll have to explore it more later. For now, LOVE & EAST MERCY calls. 

Cheers!

Shelley

PS: I’ll be sending out the cover reveal email on Friday. If you haven’t signed up for the mailing list, do it now so you don’t miss out. I won’t be posting the cover here until I’m ready to publish.

As a reader, whose books keep you reading late into the night, turning those pages? What is it about their work that grabs you and won’t let go? 

I love comments. I comment back.

This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. I think you nailed it with your analysis above. The end of the chapter leaves you hanging just enough to turn to the next chapter to find out what happens. I always get hung up on that first paragraph- that enticement to pull my reader forward and into the story. It’s often hard to get rid of things that don’t move the story forward. I especially hate it when I’ve written this really great scene and realize it adds nothing. I often stubbornly hang on to those types of scenes far longer than I should. So glad to see you excited about a work!!!

    1. That is the worst, isn’t it? Writing this great scene that doesn’t do anything. It’s worth saving them in a separate file. You never know when you can use an image or turn of phrase. Or they can be jumping off spots for new stories.

  2. Those exclamation points are the bane of my (writing) life! (Hee hee) I use them frequently, thinking they emphasize my emotion and purpose in saying what I’m saying. But, yes, many need to come out in the editing stage (and I’m usually still left with too many – I’m restraining myself here …). I always feel as if I’m trying to add another dimension, a nuance, an indicator of where the emphasis should be, when I use exclamation points.

    I like hearing from you regularly on your blog (restraint, restraint …).

    1. Haha! I love the restraint, restraint. Yes, that’s it exactly. It’s wanting to put that energy into certain sentences the way it sounds in our heads. We can hold back. 🙂

  3. Romance/relationship as mystery? Yes, I think so. 💋

    1. Now to figure out what that will look like in the story…

  4. There is so much work that goes into working on a piece any piece!! Glad you are such a hard worker…….I am aspiring to be more like you….when I can…seems I am too busy writing other peoples stuff as of late. xoxoxo

    1. I aspire to be more like YOU! Let’s just all do our best with the time we have. It can be hard to know what to prioritize, but usually the gigs that actual PAY are probably top of the list.

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