Revising 101

Hello, my dears!

Welcome to Revising 101, wherein I share the joys of revising with you and hopefully shed a little bit of light on this process.

Which basically means that I tell you how I revise and you can ponder whether or not I’m crazy.

So! Here we are. You have finished drafting your manuscript. You have a completed first draft. It is most likely riddled with typos and plot holes and weak motivations and unsatisfying characters.

This is TOTALLY NORMAL.

Writing a first draft is really freaking hard work. You have trudged through the messy process of drafting and now have a semblance of a book in front of you. But you are nowhere near finished.

Because now that you have written your draft, you can start getting it right.

Just like with writing, revising is a process that differs from writer to writer. So if the way that I go about things is just not going to work for you, that’s not a big deal—you know yourself and know how your brain works and that’s the most important part of all of this. Do you, dear writer.

So! My first step when I when a manuscript is to LEAVE IT ALONE for a little bit.

This is what YA author extraordinaire Rachel Hawkins often calls The Resting Time. This is the time where you let both your manuscript and your brain rest. So that when you pick it back up, you’re seeing it with fresh(ish) eyes and a clear mind. Use the resting time to read. Watch TV. Hang out with friends. Hell, write another book.

It’s hard to know how much resting time each book needs—and it’s completely up to you. But when the resting time is over, you will know it in yourself. Sometimes this is because you have a deadline and have no choice. If you don’t have a deadline, you’ll know because all of a sudden you’ll be thinking about your book and wondering about your characters.

It’s possible you’ll already have ideas to fill in some of those plot holes you introduced in the first draft or have figured out how to strengthen that weak motivation. And that’s wonderful.

When I know that the resting time is over, I pull up the document, copy/paste the entire thing into a new document and name it using the format Title.Revision 1.Date, turn on track changes*, and cold read my first draft. I do make changes as I read. I’ll fix typos and look up things I highlighted to fact check. I make note of things that are problematic using the comment feature and a complicated highlighting system that I like. But I try my best to read it without doing a lot of surgery quite yet.

After this cold read/light revision, I jump in and really start bloodying up the manuscript.

If I already know about certain weak parts that I need to work on, I’ll work on them as I get to them. And if there are sections where I just gave up and moved on while drafting, I’ll work on drafting the transitions or filling out a scene I left bare.

And this is how I work until I’ve finished my first revision.

It will look something like this when I’m finished:

A page from the first revision of Making Headlines.

Pretty bloody, right? This part two of the first revision is usually a doozy for me—I rewrite and move things around and remove entire portions and reconsider basically everything.

At some point, I have a bit of a breakdown and am convinced that this is the worst book ever written, which I tell to my sister, my boyfriend, and any friend who is willing to listen to me. But, even though I’m frustrated and annoyed and down on myself, I have to slog through the second revision, until I get to the end.

And then I start the process all over again. Because writing is a masochistic endeavor. (Normally this happens after a couple days off from revising.)

When I begin the second revision, I copy/paste the entire first revision into a new document, preserving the first revision as it is and beginning anew, following the same format as the first revision.

I read through, but typically revise as I go, instead of doing two separate passes. Normally, the second revision is less frustrating than the first. I can finally see the book taking shape. Sure, I’ll still have questions or concerns or sections that I’m not at all happy with—which I make a note of—but, overall, the second revision is a happy-making one.

Because when it’s finished, that means it’s time for other people to read it.

Next week: Critique partners and beta readers. Get excited.
*Yes, I work in Microsoft Word. If you don’t, I suggest you use whatever editing tools your software has. And if you’re working by hand, RED PEN TIME.

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friday things.

friday things

Outlander is Back on April 4th!

Yay yay yay yay more Outlander! In April. Bah.

“Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars

If you don’t like this song or are able to resist its infectious groove, you are clearly evil and not to be trusted.

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

This book came out about two years ago and somehow I didn’t pick it up immediately. Hopefully, most of you are smarter than me and have read it already. But if you haven’t GOOD LORD, BUY YOURSELF AN EARLY CHRSITMAS PRESENT AND READ IIIIIIIT.

It’s about a convent of assassins. Yeah. Get thee to the bookstore.

Taylor Swift Lip Syncing to “Blank Space.”

This is very charming.

Also, I want her coat. And her haircut.

The First Song from Into the Woods!

And it’s girl crush Anna Kendrick’s song. Yaaaaaaasssss.

So. Much. Excite. For this movie.

UPDATE! There’s now a teaser VIDEO of Miss Kendrick signing this, with bonus Chris Pine.

I hope you’ve all had a great first week of December!

Happy Friday!

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NaNoWriMo is Over! Now What?

Hello, Wrimos!

Good news! NaNoWriMo is OVER!

So. Now that November is done and we are fully into December, you might be sitting around basking in the glory of having started writing a book. Or you might be sitting around thinking, “Wait, okay, so I wrote 50,000 (Or 75,000 or 30,000 or whatever) words. That was a lot. How is it possible that my book isn’t finished?”

Or maybe you did this.

In any of these cases, here is a truth bomb for you. A novel is not 50,000 words long. At least, not typically.

I write young adult and new adult books, and typical word counts are somewhere between 75,000 and 90,000 words.

So my friends, what I’m saying is that you are probably not done drafting yet.

But that’s okay! Because now you know how to draft. The chief thing that NaNoWriMo does is get you in the habit of writing daily and letting you learn how you work best. So now that you are used to writing every day and know the time of day/place/environment that you write best, you can continue to do that!

And once you are done drafting, you will begin The Glorious Revision.

But more on that next week.

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TAKING FLIGHT & MAKING HEADLINES FLASH SALE!

Today, my alma mater and my characters’ alma mater play each other in that glorious sport that is football.

Also, it’s Black Friday.

To celebrate these time honored traditions, both TAKING FLIGHT and MAKING HEADLINES are on sale for just 99c, today only!

rivalry sale

Buy them, gift them, go team go!

Woo Pig Sooie!

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NaNoWriMo, Week Four

WRIMOS!

We are almost done!

FOUR MORE DAYS!

Soon we will all be doing this.

But. It’s not quite time for dancing yet. Because we still have four more days to go.

For some of us, this is TERRIFYING NEWS because we are way behind on our word counts and are feeling the heat of the deadline breathing down our necks.

For others, this is not a big deal. Maybe you’re already at 50,000 words and sailing past that word count goal. Maybe the goal is in sight—you know you’re going to hit 50,000 and are feeling pretty good about yourself.

If you have already hit 50k, SO MANY CONGRATS! Sit back, relax, and have a drink. Maybe a pastry. Because you are a writing rockstar and have written 50,000 words in less than 30 days and deserve a (short) break.

If you’re still writing, YOU CAN FREAKING DO IT.

You’ve got this.

Don’t think about the word count, just write. Write and write and write and write.

And if there’s absolutely no way at all that you’re going to hit 50k, here’s the deal: THAT’S TOTALLY FINE.

What you have spent the last month doing is figuring out how one writes a book. How you write best and how you work best and knowing what does and does not work for you.

Which, really, is more important than the actual book. Once you know the environment and time and way in which you are able to work best, you can go from there. When November is over, you can continue to work toward your goal of writing a book.

Because, and here’s the harsh light of day about NaNoWriMo, 50,000 words does not a book make.

But more on that next week.

This week, let’s focus on what you can get done. We are in the last sprint of this writing marathon. We can see the finish line. The light at the end of the tunnel. The pile of laundry we’ve been neglecting to do because it seems like a distraction from writing.

Instead of being petrified of the deadline, get excited by it.

You’re almost finished.

Don’t give up. Push through to the end. And on November 30th, look at everything that you’ve done, whether that’s 75,000 words or 10,000, and say, I STARTED WRITING A BOOK.

That’s huge and exciting and something a lot of people want to do, but don’t ever do because they think they don’t have the time or the patience or the know-how to do it.

But you have begun doing it. And if you’ve found it delightful and awesome or the worst, most frustrating thing you’ve ever tried, the fact of the matter is you started writing a book.

And that is something to be proud of.

So, Wrimos, best of luck with the last few days. Crush it.

And, American Wrimos, definitely use writing as an excuse to take a break from your family on Thanksgiving. Ain’t no shame in that.

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friday things.

friday things

-The hardest game of Would You Ralther ever.

-An artist in the Netherlands created this cool Van Gogh-inspired bike path.

-Dawson + Pacey IRL!

- Bob Dylan lyrics + Marcus Mumford + Other Musicians and Also Johnny Depp

-PITCH PERFECT 2 TRAILER!

Happy Friday everyone!

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NaNoWriMo, Week Three.

WRIMOS. IT’S WEEK THREE.

Oohhhhhhh you’re halfway there!

[You can—and should—watch the entire video of Swifty, John Bon Jovi, and PRINCE FREAKING WILLIAM singing “Livin’ on a Prayer” here.]

No, but really, at this point, you probably feel like you’re livin’ on a prayer.

I definitely do.

I’m at the point in my manuscript where I need to write a Big, Pivotal Scene.

And I have zero motivation to write it.

Every time I go to tackle it, I take a deep breathe and pump myself up and read over my paltry outline and think about what I’m going to write.

I know what the scene looks like. I know what goes down during the scene. I know how the characters react.

And yet, when it comes to sitting down and banging out the words, I just don’t want to.

And so I end up staring at the computer, taking lots of deep breaths, writing a couple sentences, and then getting on Pinterest.

This is not a good way to get anything done, in case you were wondering.

Weirdly, something that has worked to motivate me to write in the past is to read a book. It lets me focus on a different story, one that isn’t mine, for a while and then when I’ve read the book, I feel rejuvenated and refreshed and ready to write my story again.

That hasn’t worked this time around. And I’ve read two books.

So I just need to power through. Because there is no trick for lack of motivation. I can’t wait for inspiration because I’ll be waiting a damn long time. So I just have to, as Nora Roberts is fond of saying, put my ass in the chair and write.

If you’re feeling similarly unmotivated this week, know that you’re not alone. Writing is hard. It’s exhausting. It’s mentally and emotionally taxing.

But, you and I started NaNoWriMo because we wanted to write a 50,000 words in a month. And we can do this.

We can get past this lack of motivation.

We can write that scene that seems so daunting.

We can do this.

And if you’re having a hard time hitting your word counts this week, here’s my advice: don’t worry about the word count.

Because, really, who cares? Write as much as you can each day. If that’s 100 words, that’s great. It’s 100 more than you had yesterday. So don’t let yourself get wrapped up in word count numbers. Just focus on what you can get done today. And be proud of getting any words at all on the page.

But what if I don’t end up hitting the goal of 50,000 words?, you ask.

You have two more weeks to hit your goal of 50,000. So don’t worry about not hitting your goal yet.

Because the bright side is that we still have plenty of time.

friday things.

friday things

 

-Blank Space

Elizabeth Taylor Swift.

I love this song. The video is very tongue-in-cheek and gorgeous and well-shot. And I deeply enjoy this Guardian article that completely overanalyzes the video in the best way possible.

 -Serial Podcast

I realize I’m approximately eight weeks behind on this, but I live in Singapore. Give me a break. Also, it’s awesome.

-Spoiled and Messy by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

I have long been a fan of Heather & Jessica’s fashion blog Go Fug Yourself, but had never actually read their YA books! Until this week. The books are very funny and very readable and so, if you haven’t read these, you should do that. Especially if you are going on a beach vacay soon to escape all the winter weather that is starting to set in in the northern hemisphere.

Also: Heather & Jessica have a new book coming out next year called The Royal We, which is basically a fictional version of how Wills and Kate met. Thought you should know.

Happy Friday, everyone!

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NaNoWriMo, Week Two.

Wrimos assemble!

It’s week two, the week in which things sometimes start to get hard.

You’ve set the scene. You’ve built the world. You’ve introduced your characters. The love interests have met or the adversaries have had a stand off or the alien and the astronaut have become friends or the guy randomly turned into a dragon and doesn’t know why/how.

You laid the groundwork for your novel, probably in the first few days of NaNoWriMo, and then maybe you skipped to writing the fun scenes—the kissing and the flirting and the fighting and the magic.

And you thought, “That was so much fun! Writing is great!”

And now, in week two, you’re looking at your manuscript and thinking, “Writing is the worst. I have no more words. THERE ARE NO MORE WORDS.”

That’s where you’re wrong, my friend.

You need secondary characters who are three dimensional. Often, it’s the secondary characters who give the project its true heart and humor.


You need a B-plot because your awesome three dimensional secondary characters need something to do.

Like a side job. Or a community service project. Or playing bass in a dragon band. Or hanging out at a dive bar. Or actually diving. Something. Anything.

You need to write the transitional scenes that lead up to the flirting and the kissing and the fighting and the magic. They may seem boring, but they are important.

If it helps you to think of your manuscript as a mountain, you can do that. So, these transitional scenes would be the rising and falling action, according to writing mountain.

If you get super stuck, I find that describing things is helpful, both as a way to hit your word count and as a writing exercise. Describe the paint color on the walls and the wood grain on the floor and the smell in the air. Describe the clothes. Describe the sounds. Put yourself where your character is and once you’ve described it all, figure out how they’d react to their surroundings.

And if you think that’s stupid, do it anyway and then when you revise, you can delete all of that.

Another thing I’ve done is write the most awkward scene possible. It takes a surprising amount of words to make a scene awkward, and it’s actually kind of fun to put your characters through the ringer.

But, the main thing is that you need to keep writing.

Don’t give up.

Don’t throw in the towel.

Don’t stop. (Get it, get it.)

Because you’ve got this. Yes, it’s going to be hard. Yes, there are going to be days when you are driving the struggle bus. Yes, there will be times that you want to slam your head against your desk because you just wrote the worst scene ever ever ever. Yes, you will have moments when you think, “I’m the worst writer in the world,” and “This book is awful” and “No one will ever read this pile of shit.”

None of that is true. So forcefully tell your Inner Critic/Inner Editor/Inner Asshole exactly where they can go.

And then keep writing. Keep going. Keep on keepin’ on.

And remember that no one can write your book but you.

Happy Week 2!

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friday things + Making Headlines One Monthaversary!

friday things

-“Geronimo” by Sheppard

I enjoy this song. And the fact that the title references Eleven only enhances its appeal for me.

-The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy

So, this is the promo poster for A BOOK called The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy by Sam Maggs. It comes out next year. You better believe I pre-ordered already.

-Dirty Rowdy Thing by Christina Lauren

If you are into books that are funny and charming and, uh, more than a little sexy, you need to check out The Wild Seasons series by Christina Lauren. The first book, Sweet Filthy Boy is just so good, and the second book, Dirty Rowdy Thing came out on Tuesday and is a quick, hilarious, hot read. So if you’re into those types of books, check it out.

-Making Headlines Has Been Out for A Month!!!!

Cover design by Paige Doscher

Cover design by Paige Doscher

My second book, Making Headlines, has been out for a month, as of today.

That is BANANA-PANTS CRAZY.

And I just want to take this opportunity to say thank you thank you thank you THANK YOU to everyone who has purchased, read, and reviewed the book. It means everything to me that people are reading words I wrote and I appreciate your support so so much. It is my precious.

And because I’m obsessed with this interior design app, Neybers, I designed Sophie and Kate’s dorm room and Luke’s room at Delta Tau.

Because of course I did.

Sophie & Kate’s dorm room.

Luke.

Luke’s Room.

Voila! Fictional living spaces!

Totally not weird or anything.

ANYWAY. Thank you all so incredibly much for reading my books. I adore you. Have an extra cocktail tonight. You deserve it.

Happy Friday, everyone!

 

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