Prepping for Submission – March Round Robin 2019

I know this goes against the age-old adage not to edit your book as you write, but to keep going until you’re finished and THEN edit but… I totally don’t do that.

Normally, I write the first 3/4 of the book and then go back, edit and take notes on what I’ve got so that I can see what subplots need tied up and what characters I lost in the narrative. Once I reach my stopping point, I have a clear view of what the ending needs to be and move on from there.

Then I have a third draft, which gives me the word count and helps me write the synopsis alongside it.

But I broke my own rules with The Melody of Bones and this newest approach seems to work even better. Before I explain, I should leave a disclaimer that I have a wonderful husband who works and allows me a great deal more time to write than some, so this might not work for you if you can’t block out large periods of time for writing.

He also spoiled me with a super-awesome laptop that has a pen-function so I can take notes directly on the screen instead of constantly printing things out. So keep that in mind too.

Currently I have 3 drafts going on the same novel, all at once.

I got to the 3/4 mark and started my major revision, using the ‘track changes’ portion of my word program so I could go through and review what was going on. At the beginning of my writing time, I track those changes, accepting them and permanently inserting it into the novel, for about three chapters.

This reminds me of what I’ve changed.

After I’ve done at least three chapters – sometimes more, depending on what other work needs doing that day – I start writing the new stuff. I aim for 1500 new words a day, inching my way through that last quarter of the novel.

This is normally where all the BIG action is, and it always takes me a long time to write, which tends to be depressing for a writer. We don’t like it when we feel like we’re slogging through the swamp of sadness.

Which is why, at the end of the day, I take that neat pen/tablet mode and start from the beginning of the novel, highlighting typos and sentences that feel off. These bits will be fixed when I do my 4th draft.

Another recent change I’ve made is that I am writing the synopsis at the same time as the novel. I work on it once a week (on Tuesdays) so that by the time the 4th draft is completed, I should have something palatable for agents/editors.

Maybe.

The synopsis is the great nemesis of the novelist, after all. I’m never quite sure if I’ve nailed it.

See what my fellow authors do to polish their work…

Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
Diane Bator http://dbator.blogspot.ca/
Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
Connie Vines http://mizging.blogspot.com/
Anne Stenhouse  http://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com/
A.J. Maguire  https://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/ (YOU ARE HERE)
Dr. Bob Rich https://wp.me/p3Xihq-1dm
Victoria Chatham http://www.victoriachatham.com
Helena Fairfax http://www.helenafairfax.com/blog
Judith Copek http://lynx-sis.blogspot.com/
Rhobin L Courtright http://www.rhobincourtright.com

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Owning Your Craft – Sedition Version

I began reading Sedition to my son recently. He’s seven now and the whole Fantasy world of Dyngannon seems to appeal to him.

Sedition-WEBThat or he just really likes the sword on the cover. I’m pretty sure much of the story is over his head but, he picked it and all. (Don’t worry, we read picture books before we settle in for a chapter of this one.)

In any case, it’s been nearly six years since that book was first published and Trenna Silvanus remains one of my most popular characters. I get loads of commentary from people wanting to know when the next segment of her story is coming out (soon, I promise) and … yes, this does make my little writer’s ego fluff up in pleasure.

That being said …

If Sedition weren’t already published I would be doing a major overhaul on it.

The dialogue is hard to get through in places. There are dozens and dozens of peripheral characters whose involvement in the story itself could be richer – sometimes shorter, but richer in content at least. The exposition is clunky. The narrator’s voice bounces (particularly in regards to Brenson and Nelek, which I’m going to blame on the fact that I wasn’t handling the male POV right).

The one bright, shining light in the book so far (and we’re only in Chapter Seven) is that Trenna really is likable. She’s spunky, tough, and has a sense of humor that exerts itself in some of the oddest places.

Why am I telling you all this?

This book is out for sale. What sane writer points out the flaws of their own work in a public forum? Who’s gonna go out and buy this thing now?

Honestly?

Because any sane, professional writer also owns their craft.

I own the fact that the book I wrote nearly ten years ago (NOTE: it did not get published as soon as it was finished, it took a long time to find a home) is not as strong as the books I’m writing now.

I own that my personal style has changed with every book I’ve written.

I own the mistakes that are in Sedition just as much as I own the things I did right.

What did I do right?

Trenna.

In fact, the main cast of characters were done right; Nelek, Brenson, Faolan, Marsali, Brock. They have individual voices, concerns, arguments, and motivations. And while I remember it was complicated to the max trying to get all those individuals out into the open without making a 300,000 word book, it worked out in the end.

So this is me owning my craft. Maybe I’ll start working on a 10 year anniversary edition of Sedition and clean up some of my mistakes.

Maaaaybe.

Probably not, though. Because after Usurper is done there’s at least one more book in this series. And the Tapped series has at least 4 main books with several novellas in the queue. And I have a Civil War/Western that has been simmering on the back burning for a while now. Annnnnd … my Dragon Noir.

You get it. There’s lots going on in my head. But hey, if there’s enough interest maybe I will.

Blurbs & The Hated Synopsis

As of today I have 38,643 words edited in the Tapped novel. According to my calendar I should be on Chapter 11, but I’m actually moving into Chapter 13 next week. I’m supremely pleased with the way it is turning out. Thanks to my developmental editor I’m having a blast fleshing out all those places that were too lean before and bringing more color to the characters/relationships on the page.

Author’s note : Developmental editors are editors who look at the story as a whole and tell you what works and what doesn’t work. They often note in the manuscript if there are serious grammatical errors because … well, because I think they probably twitch whenever they see you’ve abused every literary device known to man. 

I also managed to write a new working synopsis to help reflect the changes going into the book. It’s a horrible draft and it’s a mite too long, but at least it’s started so that when I begin the querying process I won’t have to start at square one.

I’ve decided that blurb and synopsis writing require a different sphere of my brain than my normal writing. And it’s a sphere of my brain that absolutely does not like to work. It’s like a koala when you wake it up in the middle of the day (they’re nocturnal and eucalyptus leaves do fun things to their chemistry so they’re kind of drunk) so what you get when you rouse my koala-like marketing sphere is a hung-over grouch that can barely function.

So!

I utilized a marketing professional to help me. She went through my website and suggested several changes that I’ve already implemented (Yay! I’m officially ajmaguire.com!) and helped me draft a blurb for Tapped that looks professional and manages to capture the core of the book.

The experience working with this professional was quite interesting. She was extremely helpful, kept the dialogue pointed in the right direction, and didn’t admit to cringing when she had to go through the working synopsis to get a feel for Tapped. (Though I’m sure she did cringe at least twice.) She was also reasonably priced and I will certainly be going back to her.

I highly recommend both developmental editors and marketing professionals to any aspiring authors/writers out there. Both have given me invaluable insight into the business side of novel-writing.

Tapped – Blurb

Jorry thought winning a galactic war would be enough to buy a peaceful life. She was wrong. Running from the government she fought so hard for, she carves a simple life out for herself and her family. When her family is dragged into a black market deal Jorry finds herself directly in the sights of those she’s been hiding from and must decide how far she’s willing to go to protect the people she loves.

Camp NaNoWriMo Week 4

Alright!  So I’m sitting at 28043 words.  After a small amount of calculation, I’m pretty sure I won’t be winning this year.  But, I did have finals for school and all of that earlier this month so I knew I probably wouldn’t be.  We’ll see what my end count is a week from today, but I can say that I love the story.  There are a lot of holes I know I need to fix, a lot more character building and world building I need to do for the setting, but I enjoy the story-line immensely.

For this particular story I decided to challenge myself and stick to only two Points of View.  The result has been a beautiful story about a mother and her son.  We get to see both of them in action, hear their thoughts and their misunderstandings, and watch the strife that comes about when a harsh truth imposes itself in their relationship.  I admit that it is strangely difficult to write only these two POV’s since my very Third Person Limited writing style keeps begging me to go into someone else’s brain for a minute, but I believe this story will be better for the limitation.

That said, at the end of this month I will be setting Tapped aside (regardless of where I am in the plot) in order to pick up and finish Dead Magic and Usurper.  (Dead Magic first.)  These two are on contract and do require my attention.

But it has been great fun writing something at break-neck speed, heedless of every caution my internal editor’s voice kept trying to shove in my way.  While I admit that this leaves me with a lot more editing to do later, there is something to say about being able to put the shell of the work down.

Seven days left.  Let’s see how many words I can slam onto paper before September.