Stepping Back For A Better View

I spent a fairly good chunk of today and some of yesterday working on the timeline for my revision. I found a few missing pieces–five of them, actually–that need to go into my outline.  This gives me a total of 14 chunks left to revise. And puts me behind by… well, based on my original math… a couple of months.

I’d like to think it won’t be that long, but the truth is the holidays may be busier than I think, and I never seem to give myself enough time for anything, anyway.

Someday, I would like to look down and realize I’m actually finished early.  But that’s a ways off.

I’m writing a romance that isn’t really a romance–it’s… something else. Science Fiction… Fantasy… a metaphor for something I don’t totally understand.

And when I lose track of where I am, I wind up writing nice circles, where my main characters are sitting around talking, and telling each other about their childhoods, and kissing. It’s really not supposed to be a romance on any real level.

And that’s my hint that something is going wrong. Too much smooshy stuff.

(I usually worry that there’s not enough. No. It doesn’t make sense.)

I’m ready to be done with the thing.

Index Cards and Coffee Might Save My Life

The wind is blowing in hard and cold, and you can hear it creeping around between the houses. This is the week it’s finally supposed to get really, truly, properly cold. I’m not that much of a winter person, and even less so, when it’s cold and cloudy.

I worked my way through a bunch of index cards representing the tail end of my novel.

They’re mostly chronological, which is always a plus, and they get from point A to point B.

The biggest hurdle is going to be completely ignoring the now random versions of what I’ve already written, and writing to match what needs to be there.

No, really.

I enjoy the thing where the scene is recognizably something… but has the wrong characters in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I have the wrong person being beaten up. The wrong funeral. The wrong entity moving from point A to point B. (And that’s no small feat, since the thing that should be moving is a temple, and the thing that should not be moving is a human being. I can’t tell you how long that took me to figure out.

Oh, yes. And I am no longer certain that the things my main characters tell each other are… uhm… strictly speaking… true.

Stepping Back, Big Picture…

One of the things I do a lot of while I’m revising is comparing timelines. Right now, it’s my MCs’ timelines vs my villain’s timeline. They have to match up, so I don’t have to work in a time machine to make everybody meet up in the thrilling conclusion.

Now, let’s be honest. More often than not, I wind up looking at timelines when I have no idea what’s supposed to come next, or what I’m supposed to be writing at any given moment. I really should probably do it before I wind up getting lost.

So, you remember Cornell notes from back in 7th grade, right? Those really annoying, and frequently required things where you fold the paper in half and write the question on one side and the answer on the other? Yup. Finally figured out a use for those. You fold the paper in half. And then, you put the antagonist on one side and the protagonist on the other side. And the only question is: What’s the other guy doing?

The answer, of course, is… Blowing up a planet. And thinking of becoming a comic book character. In sentence fragments. Just to see your seventh grade English teacher cry.

So, that’s what I did, this afternoon. Aside from the day job. And the exercise.

And somewhere along the line, something clicked, and the timelines started to fall into place.

I’m going to wind up rewriting another scene.

But I know what that scene should look like.

There’s enough time for MC the first and MC the second to get to know each other.

And the villain’s timeline collides with their timeline nearly at the right place.

The Festival of Queries: A Writerly Celebration of Death

I’m finishing up my revision, and that means it’s time to start the weeping an gnashing of teeth Uhm… working on a query letter. So, this is the process by which we take the novel–all 100 thousand words of it–and cram it into a post-it note, or better yet, a postage stamp.

That’s an exaggeration, of course. I actually get about three hundred and fifty words.

It’s not really supposed to be the whole story line. It’s more of a hook with a couple of jaw-dropping, earth-shaking plot points.

In other words, I get to leave almost everything out.

My current word count for the damn thing highly streamlined and professional piece of correspondence. is sixty-nine words. Yup. In other words, I’m pretty well good with the hook part, and now, I’m debating what I should use to flesh it out a little more.

And that’s where I get completely and totally lost. Sixty-nine words is plenty, thank you very much. Now, can I send you a picture of household pets, or possibly one of my grandmother’s cookie recipes?

Apparently not.

So, now I start trying to figure out what’s vitally important information, and what’s not.

Can’t NaNo. Moving Furniture.

Today was a busy little day. I got up early and actually did… some more work on my revision. It’s becoming fairly obvious what my priorities are. I want to finish my revision. I want to finish it on time, and then start querying the hell out of it.

Oh, yes… and I’d like a new project to help me escape the general tension of querying the hell out of anything.

I came up with a newer, shinier idea than the one I’m working on for NaNo. That’s always a good sign that NaNo may be over. For me, at least.

And I moved the furniture. Not all of the furniture, but a serious preponderance of the furniture. I rearranged the living room so that the furniture is now set at an angle to the walls. The general living room-y goodness is mostly intact. Well, let’s be honest. A change is always nice. Right now, it’s also a fabulous excuse for not having done much of anything today.

My new power supply arrived this afternoon, and I got it replaced in record time, so there will be no more dire warnings about the unstable old power supply. I think a moment of silence is in order, since that’s the last remaining part from the original build. I’m so attached to that machine, I’ll probably be swapping out parts when I’m a hundred and ten.

I finished up another scene from my revision–must type–, and wound up with a freebie or two. You know what I mean… pages that I don’t have to revise because the relevant information wound up being included in an earlier part of the manuscript. Not too bad, all said and done.

Chiseling Away and Building Up

My nano notebook gained an index, today. Nothing major, just a couple of index cards (one for each of the major projects I’m working on, right now) that have the name of the project at the top, and a list of dates and scenes that I was working on. They live in the pocket at the back of my notebook, and in theory, I should be able to track down scenes from that, after I’ve misplaced them.

I did some math, and one notebook = right around 50 k. (If I’m allowed to count notes, and plotting, and if I hit 250 words per page… well, that’s pretty close. I also realize that if I’m trying to stay on track, the idea of fill this notebook pulls all the goals from all the different projects together.

Today was a rewrite day. I’m pulling a scene from my revision apart and putting it back together, using entirely new parts. As it turns out, the wrong person got beat up in the first draft, and in the revision, I’m fixing that. I would rather not beat up the new person, but there you go.

More heart-stopping assault and battery.

The new words are going in the nano notebook. Hence, the index cards.

I’m hitting a little patch of backstory, and I’m debating how much of it to keep. Some of it may be the solution to my pacing problem. More than that, and it may become a whole ‘nother pacing problem.

The question is… whose backstory do I include? It’s all the same event as seen by multiple characters. I have it written in several different forms, and I’m not sure whose version is the most important or the most relevant.

I have two main options, and I think the choice is probably already made in the back of my mind somewhere. I’ll see if I’m thinking the same way in the morning.

Software Death Match: YWriter vs Scrivener

The first writing software I ever used was Simon Haynes’ Ywriter. By then, I’d finished a novel in Microsoft Word–one huge, unending  scroll of a document–and I was mired in revising. I knew I needed something different. YWriter is what I found. It’s free, and the guy who programmed it is a writer, himself, so he’s not just guessing about what features a writer needs. It’s easy to use, and streamlined, and I’ve used it ever since. It also happens to be free (with a tip-jar type option.)

I’ve always been happy with the software, and I should make that clear up front. I’m a huge fan of YWriter. It would probably take a force of nature to make me switch permanently.

However, I’m going to give Scrivener a shot.

Well, half a shot. I’m going to copy everything I do there into YWriter. So, I can quit any time I want.

The Scrivener program is something I’ve heard a lot about, and a lot of people are fanatical about it. There’s also a NaNoWriMo free-trial, so now’s a good time.

The big reason why I didn’t choose Scrivener in the first place is that back in the day, when I was making that decision, it only ran on Macs. So, there you go. Decision made for me. I played around with the Linux beta for a while. It was pretty bare-bones at the time, and I never got as far as finishing a project in it.

There’s a learning curve. And in my opinion, that just isn’t there with YWriter. YWriter is probably a little less flexible… just a limited number of folders you can nest things in… but if you’re familiar with novels and computers, you’re pretty much good to go as soon as it’s installed.

I’m giving Scrivener another shot this November. I won’t actually be writing my novel into it directly, but I will type it in and see how the organization structure works for me. (Since I already have software I know and like, I’ll also be copying the novel into the brand-new version of YWriter (Version 6! Where does the time go?)

And since I think a lot of the rave reviews come from people who are comparing it to Microsoft Word, or other office software, I’ll post my thoughts so you can have an apples to apples comparison from someone who’s actually used other dedicated novel-writing software.

Shout if there’s anything in particular you would like to know.

Excitement and Rising Early

I get up early so I can get a little writing in before work. And I work early, so, that means I’m up early. I rolled out of bed–no alarm needed–around 3 o’clock this morning. And that was after common sense and discipline informed me that waking up at 2 would just be overkill.

I’m working on revising the tail end of my novel. Two more months… I hope… and I’ll be done. Or done-ish. Or… at the very least, going back over the beginning to pull out a few loose ends that never went anywhere.

My creative mind does not feel like 2 in the morning is ridiculously early. I just think that if I get up at 2 one day, it’ll probably be 1:30 the next, and so on. Makes it difficult to maintain a normal schedule with normal human beings. (Don’t get me wrong. I like normal human beings. I’m just… not one.) On the other hand, my rational mind can’t wrap itself around the idea that sleeping in til 7 is like someone who usually gets up at 7 sleeping in until noon.

So, we have the general excitement of let’s get up and do something. Make something. Finish something.

So, I woke up.

And I’m writing a blog post.

Because I have now stared at a blank piece of paper long enough, and I’m not exactly sure how what I’ve written connects up with all of the rest of the story.

Right now, the chunks I’m revising… well, they’re all middles. I have to get to the middle, and then connect the middle to the beginning, and in some cases, add an ending.

But I’m making wake up at 2 in the morning progress.

And I’m more excited about the process than I have been in a long time.

So, back to staring at that blank piece of paper.

My Editorial Diversion

Later on today, I should finish the last of the scenes that were not on my original revision schedule.

I’ve been having a lot of fun with them, at least in part because I’ve been getting a lot of OH, so that’s where that goes! Some of the things that just seem to fit, now were things I had generally envisioned having to cut entirely.

I’ll be getting back to regularly scheduled revision, and more or less on time for the month.

This month, I’m also working on a short story for the Storytime Blog Hop. It should be something Halloween-y, which is always a fun theme.

Has anybody but me noticed that when you have an hour, you actually use it, but when you have a whole day, you watch YouTube videos until it’s all gone?

I’m so very guilty of believing that my regular wake-up time is absurdly early (because it is.) and that I deserve another fifteen minutes. And then, that fifteen minutes turns into the rough equivalent of sleeping til noon. (If, you know, I woke up at a decent hour in the first place.)

I cannot get it through my head that sleeping til 4 or 5 is actually sleeping in, now.

Oh, well. Somewhere, there’s a glass of water that’s destined to resurrect my Kreb’s Cycle. I just know there is.

Any tips for keeping a schedule, even when you work a weird schedule?

NaNoWrimo Prep Month

National Novel Writing Month is coming up in three weeks. Three weeks?!? Yup. Twenty-one days.

And while I’ve always been a little hit-or-miss in winning NaNo, I usually start the month with good intentions.

This time, I’m starting the month with two pristine notebooks (240 pages each) and a shiny set of brand-new ballpoints in multiple victory-oriented colors.

What are we doing tonight, Brain?

Same thing we do every night, Pinky… Try to take over the world. Try to write a cleaner first draft.

So, I have notebooks. Of a hard-bound, and pocketed variety, in the hopes that I’ll

  • Write neatly organized and linear scenes. (And the truth is, what I hand write really does tend to be less fragmented than what I type.)
  • Be able to look and see whether a given day was a good day or a bad day.
  • Not have little scraps of paper running around the bottom of my purse and the back of my hard drive.

I’m also working on finishing up the revision of my current novel. Which demands at least some time in November to finish on schedule.

I have a couple of ideas. I’m not really at the talking about them stage, yet, but I’m working on deciding between them.

I’m not that much of an outline person, but I do have a wide variety of index cards so I can make myself a plot deck as I go along.

If anybody wants to buddy up, my NaNo profile is at and I’d be glad to hear from you here, too.

Are you doing NaNo, this year? Why or why not? Tips for the terrified? Leave me a comment, and hit the share buttons, to pass on the insanity.