Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Out of Order Writing and Teenage Romance

Oh, my, Reader... my novel needs some serious editing!

I will note that I did, in fact, technically finish "editing" my novel; that is, I went through and marked things that needed to be changed. As I mentioned in my last entry, there are a good number of conventional errors, especially typos. But the biggest edits are yet to happen. Besides going through every page and making the small changes that need to be applied (which takes FOREVER), I also need to write some more to make my story a little more well-rounded.

See, I used to write in a very linear fashion, e.g. I would write the first scene first and then write in order. I have a weird "thing" about doing things the same way every time. But a few years ago, I sat writing (probably in math class... I do a crapload of writing during math class) and thinking, "I just want to write [scene] so badly!" and then I thought, "Why can't I?" And from that point on, if I wanted to write something, I wrote it. Sometimes it complicates things, as I develop my characters as I go along and things crop up here and there along the way. But it is much easier to go back and change a thought of two than it is to think, "What was that scene I wanted to write three months ago?"
There is one other complication that mars this otherwise agreeable method of writing: I sometimes forget to return to things I decide to skip. So as I waas reading through my novel on day one, I noticed that the dialogue jumped, quite abruptly. One minute, Ruthie and Annie were hearing these voices come out of nowhere and when I turned the page, they were on a first-name basis with the speaker.
After a moment of confusion, I realised that this was one part of the novel that I had been stuck on and decided to come back to. So this is one huge chunk that I need to write anew. I'm just thankful I found it before I got the inevitable "Is something missing here?" note from my outside editors.

Another huge problem I ran into was the relationship between Ruthie and another character, Walker. When I started the story, I never set out to put any romance in it, especially since it's pretty much a YA novel and it's not necessary to the storyline. But pretty close to the start of my novel, it became clear to me that Ruthie was going to develop a crush on Walker; I wrote their first kiss and it was just so cute that I had to put it in. And while I do hint at some forming of an attachment throughout the story (one spiteful character even says it straight out), I realised as soon as I reached the kiss moment that though it was still super cute, there wasn't enough to merit it. It shouldn't be too hard to add some little crush-y hints here and there; as I said, there are already a few, and there are some strong reasons why the two would form such a strong bond so quickly: Ruthie wakes up in an unfamiliar room and panics, only to be comforted by Walker. When she is tortured, she is taken care of by him, as well as her friend Nora, and he feels that her capture was his fault. They make an escape attempt together, which leads to another perilous situation from which they save each other. But unfortunately, I recognise the need to some other small moments that hint at a teenager-y romantic attachment on both sides.

This editing business is tough going... Anyone else going through this?

Friday, December 25, 2009

Talk of Nooks and Editing

Hello, everyone. I hope you had a wonderful Chrismahannukwanzika! I know my Christmas was lovely. Though I love all of my presents, my favorite is the one I have not yet recieved- a Nook! My mom and I had been discussing the possibility of my getting a Sony Reader/Kindle, and it was between those two for many, many months until I was shopping at B&N one day and saw that they had something, as well. My mom was still pretty gung-ho about the Sony Reader until she began to read reviews about the Nook, and by that point, they had already been sold out for awhile. So I will have it before I go back to school but not before I leave for the theatre festival (it arrives the day after I leave!) I am so excited to (eventually) have this because it will eliminate an entire suitcase when I study in England next year! Seriously, I was despairing over which books I would have to leave behind, because I am the type of person who brings fifteen books with me on a weekend trip to the beach in case I feel the overwhelming urge to read page 47 of this or that book.

But I digress. I am very excited about this and that is all. Because I had a point in writing this blog, and that point is this: I began editing my NaNo novel today.

It hasn't been quite a month since I locked my novel away in the bottom drawer of my desk at school, but I had time today and it's close enough. Additionally, I have people waiting to edit it that I am sure will do a far more thorough job than I am doing.

Editing is an interesting process, and actually, almost a brand-new experience for me. Though I have been writing forever, I rarely ever finish my stories, which is odd because I am a person who does not like loose ends. But, as a friend and fellow writer and I were discussing just today, sometimes reaching the end is what we are afraid of. A work in progress is safe because it's still in progress. But if you type that final word of your novel and think, "I'm done,"... well, that's a little frightening.

If course, as I am learning in this editing process, a novel is not nearly "done" once you finish the first draft. There is SO much work to be done on this story... so, so much. I am not a person who generally makes a ton of grammatical and/or conventional errors, but believe me, they are present in my first draft. I have marked so many things I want to change. For it being my biggest writing pet peeve, I repeat words an awful lot. And I discovered about an hour ago a huge chunk of a scene that I just never wrote. I kept flipping pages, looking for the missing part, and then realised that that was a section of the scene I had meant to get back to and just never did. I would have been so embarrassed if I had sent my novel off with that chunk missing.

As odd as it sounds, as I read, I am realising that plot is one of my weaknesses. I am very insecure in my writing and tend to have ideas given to me that I then work my characters around that story, and I feel safe because it's not MY story, it's just my words put together to form that story. But this novel is completely of my own imagining and I am scared that I have no plot. As I mentioned in my very first entry, I failed at NaNo last year because I didn't really had a plot. I had a few good scene ideas, but beyond that, nothing. And somehow, I feel that even though I have over 50,000 words of a plot of my own creation... I feel like I am in the same situation. Am I the only one that suffers from this insecurity?

However, I have been told on more than one occasion that character development is one of my strengths, and I am proud of that. I feel like my MC is a strong character. There are a number, however- Gloria, Mrs. Grady, Suzanne, Billy, Ethan, and Annie, just to name a few- that I feel can be developed further. Only about two and a half of them are main characters, but I come from the theatre world where there are no small parts!

Tomorrow, I shall finish my editing, including my chapter breakdown, and then I will apply those edits to my novel as best I can. I could rush this and do it in a day, but I am making myself draw it out for a few days. I have promised the novel to my editors after the new year, so I am thinking by the third or so, I will send it out. I am very nervous about their opinions, but I know they will be helpful- and I much prefer pages of notes to a passive "I liked it."

And now I must to bed, for it is late and I am tired. Bonne nuit!

P.S. Another one of my presents was a NaNoWriMo t-shirt! I love it!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Returning to Past Projects

Hello, everyone! I am back!

First of all, I wanted to apologise to those who left comments and didn't get any responses. I'm not quite sure how to make this blog notify me when someone comments, and I was quite surprised to see that I had a few comments for a couple of the days. So apologies and thank yous to those who commented! It's nice to know that people are reading.

I've decided to keep this blog going, however irregularly it might be updated. I began to look over the two projects I mentioned in my last entry and I was both pleased and disappointed by what I found.

The first thing was the period screenplay, which I tend to refer to in my mind as "the Caroline Project". I began to write this my senior year of high school and stopped around early 2008. I have a good memory, so this was a good amount of time to help me forget what I had written and return to it with fresh eyes.
One of my writing strengths is character development, and I think I've done a fair job in this one, as well. I really like all of the characters and enjoy hearing what they have to say.
I've edited a bunch of the lines because they sounded unnatural- repeated words, etc. I like to read things I write out loud, whether it be a screenplay or a story, to hear how it sounds when spoken. With this screenplay, lines will obviously sound a little different because it takes place in the early 1900s, but they still need to sound like they could be spoken.

Something that is irking me about this screenplay is the way I begin it. I started it originally by having a college student, a journalism major named Audrey, visiting the title character in a nursing home and asking her some questions about her childhood and what it was like to grow up in that time period. There are a few problems with my beginning that can only have come from my not ever having been in a college at that point: Audrey is nineteen and working on her thesis. Um... no. I'm nineteen right now and nowhere near that stage! Also, it would probably be more accurate if she were a sociology/psychology major; if I want to keep her as a journalism major, I need to figure out what on earth she's writing about that would constitute these interviews.
I'm also not so sure I want to begin it in more modern times (the '80s, in this case, because that was the most recent I could begin it without having Caroline be, like, 105 years old). While I like the dialogue I have between Audrey and Caroline, I just don't think Audrey has enough significance in the story. The only way I can think of making her part worthy enough to keep in the story is to draw some sort of parallel between her and Caroline's story. Caroline's story is all about lost love quiet young, so perhaps Audrey could be choosing some sort of relationship frivolously or carelessly? I don't know... I can write the story without Audrey, but I'm not sure how to begin it without her.

As for Q/Quarantined, I've only gotten a few chapters into my re-read; hopefully I can finish tonight or tomorrow. So far, though, I'm still very excited to continue the story. It's a really cool idea (which I got from the NaNo boards' "Adopt a Plot" section) and I am ready to work on it again. I would be working on it right now, while I'm backstage at my Dance Recital Night #1, but I want to hav completely read the first draft before I add anything on to it.

Storyboarding is definitely not for me. I went through my NaNo prep stuff while I was cleaning up my dorm last night and found my storyboard from both Q and Remembrance... sure, it's great to have it, but I never added anything to it because I knew what I wanted... and then it allchanged so rapidly that I didn't want to stop in the middle of an exciting scene to write what was happening on a Post-It. I wish I could storyboard, but I don't think it will ever happen.

I suppose I should stop writing and focus on what I need to do right now- tap dance to Kelly Clarkson and Michael Jackson mixes... I hate tap dancing, and I'm not sure why I continue to force myself to do it. But whether I hate it or not, I'm here, and the show must go on!