Monday, March 29, 2010

New Blog Launch - Check it Out!!

Just a quick note to announce the official launch of the Critique_This_WIP blog. Go check it out!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday Hodgepodge

First, I want to woohoo with joy that I finally wrote "the end" on the first draft of my screenplay. Yay! Of course now the hard work begins...editing (gulp). I want to get it in shipshape so I can submit it to the Academy Foundation by May 1 for consideration of the Nicholls Fellowship. Wish me luck!

Second, I'll be participating in ScriptFrenzy next month because I'm a sucker for punishment. Call me a writing masochist. This project requires that participants write a 100 page script in 30 days. Sure, no problem!

Third, I'm slowly editing my novel. It's sort of taken a back seat recently since I've been pushing to finish the screenplay. But my goal is to have an edited, revised, agent-ready version by the first of August because that's when my next MFA residency is and they usually invite agents to meet with students during the summer residency. So I want to be ready!

Lastly, my critique group, Critique This, is launching a group blog on Monday, March 29, and we're very excited about it! We're four writers strong and we'll be blogging about writing stuff as well as interviewing other writers, reviewing novels, hosting blogfests and probably contests. Additionally, we're going to have a weekly serialized story feature where each week one of us adds more scenes to an ongoing story. I'll be starting that feature up next Friday, April 2.

So be sure to stop by on Monday, March 29 and check out the Critique_This_WIP blog!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Character Profiling

I read a pretty cool blog post this morning by Suzette over at Blog where she gave a list of questions you can use to interview your characters and get to know them better.

I've done this sort of thing when writing stage plays, but I haven't done it for my screenplay or novels. I'm pretty confident in my screenplay characters, so I don't really feel the need to interview them.

My novel, characters, however, are a different story. Because I'm writing a trilogy, and there are multiple characters involved, it can get tricky keeping them all straight and making them behave in a way that's consistent with their personalities. Hence, a good reason to do a character profile.

Now that I'm starting the editing process, I'm making all kinds of notes to myself to follow my characters' threads all the way through and be sure they react appropriately to situations and each other. Then, of course, I have to make sure they change and grow in some way throughout the story, but in a way that's still consistent with their character.

It can be a challenge! But definitely a fun challenge.

How do you keep track of your characters and make sure they don't become caricatures? Or that they don't all just collapse into the same character and become indistinguishable from one another?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Style and Substance

I'm beginning to believe that writing the first draft of a novel is the easiest part of the whole process. That love/hate relationship with your characters as you meet them and move through the story, discovering all the shiny newness of it; struggling through plot problems but figuring you can "fix that in editing."

Well, now I'm in editing and it is decidedly less exciting than writing the fresh new story. I've never done this before so I have no idea if there's one way that's better than another to attack the task.

What I've started with is a basic read through, making notes in the body of the text with red font in places where I need to make fixes. Those notes also include comments from my critique group about things they noticed may be problems.

Next I'm going to do another read through for bigger issues in plot and character development.

After that I'll get down to brass tacks and attack each chapter individually adding and cutting, modifying language and structure, and fixing any plot or character issues.

I also need to add at least 10,000 words to the manuscript since it's only at about 60,000 right now.

Clearly I've got my work cut out for me, but I'm confident that if I keep my nose to the grindstone I can accomplish my goal. I just hope I don't fall out of love with my characters after so much nitpicking practicality, because I still have two more books to get through with them!

So what's your process? Do you have any suggestions to steamline this editing business?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Beginning the Editing Journey

Just a quick note today. I'm excited to report that I completed the first draft of book two of my trilogy, which makes me totally happy for a couple of reasons: one, I finished it; two, now I can start revisions and edits on book one, which gets me one step closer to the querying process!

So today I'll start the first read-through and begin making notes to myself. And because of the awesome critique group I'm in I've already got comments and notes from them on the first 9 chapters. I'm very glad to have their insight!

Wish me luck as I start the edit journey!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

There's Always a Silver Lining

I suppose it depends what day you ask me whether I'm optimistic enough to believe there's always a silver lining, but I think deep down I always do. Even if I'm having a bad day I can always feel a scrap of hope in my heart. I suppose that's what keeps me going. And given all the twists and turns I've been experiencing lately, it's a good thing.

However, when bloggie friends like Bethany over at Shooting Stars give me awards like the Silver Lining Award, it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside and suddenly I'm looking at the world as half full again instead of half empty.

Corny, I know. But sometimes that's all we need to perk ourselves up, right? Just a kind word from someone can give you a new perspective.

Bethany said, on her blog, that she was giving me this award because I "do everything." Well, I used to, but now that I don't have a job my load has eased somewhat. On the one hand I'm absolutely terrified because who can live off of unemployment? I guess we're going to find out. There will be much belt tightening and bill shuffling. But I'm game. We'll survive. It'll be fine.

On the other hand, the silver lining to this situation is that I finally have the time I've always wanted to devote to writing. I'm stoked!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Into The Great Unknown

My last post reported that my computer had crashed. I took it to the local dech dude who pronounced it DOA. He managed to retrieve all my documents and pix and everything else off the hard drive, thank goodness, so I didn't lose anything except the computer itself.

Now for computing purposes I have to share the family computer. This presents a multitude of problems, not the least of which is that now I can't work because I don't have access to a computer I can dedicate solely to my job.

As a medical transcriptionists we're required, for purposes of privacy and HIPAA compliance, to have a computer that is not accessed by anyone else and that is not used for anything other than work. In theory that makes sense, but I believe that it's rarely practiced. I think most MTs use their work computer for more than just work. However, I can't in good conscience share a computer with 4 other people when it would give them access to a bunch of private medical records.

So this leaves me in a pickle. I can't afford a new computer because the company I work for doesn't pay me well enough to I can afford a new computer, but without a computer I'm unable to work in order to earn the money I need to buy a computer. You see my dilemma.

Because I was in a major panic about not earning any money, imagining the water and power being shut off, my home foreclosed on, becoming one of those people who sits outside WalMart with a cardboard sign that says "anything helps" just so I can feed my kids, I called the employment office to see if I'd qualify for unemployment insurance.

To my great relief, I do. Here's the strangest part of this whole thing, though: I tried calling my boss but she didn't answer her phone, so I left a message that I don't have a computer, I can't work until further notice, please call me. Not a peep out of her. She has never called me back. I called a couple of supervisory people and told them. Their response? "Oh, okay." That's it. And I haven't heard from anyone else since then. So, since I didn't quit, and I haven't been informed that they're letting me go, where does that leave me? In some vague gray unknown, I guess.

In the meantime, I'm looking for a job that doesn't require me to have a separate computer, and I'm taking advantage of all my free time to get some writing done. I need to have completed a first draft of my screenplay by May. I'm currently about 12 pages into act II so I have a ways to go. I want to finish the first draft of book two of my trilogy, and I have about one, maybe two chapters to go so I'm very close. Then I want to start revisions on book one so I can start the query process.

Being unemployed is a terrifying prospect for me since I've worked all of my adult life. I haven't always liked my job, but I've always had one. We're seriously tightening our belts to try to live within the unemployment benefits, and it's a huge challenge, but more than anything if I'm not spending this time working I'm going to use it to be writing.

Maybe it's a blessing in disguise? I certainly hope so. Wish me luck!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Rescusitation and Resurrection - Digital Style

My computer crashed on Saturday, sending me in to a major panic. This is the computer I work on and where I do all of my school work.

But more importantly, my novels and screenplay are on that computer. GASP. Thankfully I had saved novel one to a flash drive and I had send the newest version of act I of the screenplay to my mentor so I could retrieve it from sent mail (it's now on the flash drive, too). However, even though I had saved novel two to the flashdrive, the last save was 14000 words ago. This made my heart drop, I nearly started weeping, and my breathing came in ragged wheezing gulps.

I've taken the computer to the local computer repair dude and hopefully he can resurrect it, at which point I will greedily save everything to my flash drive (Lesson learned? One would hope, but I have doubts). If he can't resurrect it I'm in deep doo-doo. Not only do I not want to have to face recreating 14000 words of my novel, but there are various and sundry other important documents on there not recently saved, as well as the fact that it's my work computer and therefore I would have no computer on which to earn a living. Actually, that's not entirely true - I'd have to download all my work software onto the family computer (on which I am writing right now) and use it for work. That will be a most unpopular move on my part. But I just can't afford another computer right now.

So everyone cross your fingers and offer up a prayer to the gods of digital equipment and the patron saint of computer repair guys that my computer can be saved. I can use all the help I can get right now.