Thursday, November 05, 2009

Winner of THE EX-GAMES and the rundown on rewrites

The winner of Jennifer Echols's The Ex-Games is...van_pham!

There are still three remaining open Blogtoberfest contests, to win signed copies of:

PC Cast and Tempted (for a few more hours!)
Jeri Smith-Ready and an ARC of Shade
Rachel Vincent and My Soul to Take or My Soul to Save (winner's choice)

* * * *

As I mentioned earlier this week, I've started rewriting the third book in the vampire series, Bring on the Night, due November 30.

Okay, it's technically due December 7, BUT if I don't begin writing Book 4 on December 1, the entire house of cards that is my upcoming deadline schedule starts to collapse. Don't believe me? Here it is:

  • December-January: write rough draft of WVMP #4 (tentatively titled Lust for Life)
  • February: finish rough draft of Shift (the sequel to Shade)
  • March: write second draft of Lust for Life, due April 1
  • April-May: write second draft of Shift, due June 1 (oh, and launch a brand new series with a whole new audience, which will involve a lot of travel and interviews and guest blogs and the usual utterly delicious craziness)

So. November 30 it is.

Which makes explaining my rewrite process very neat, because it involves four separate stages:

Week One - Analysis/Planning

Goal: Figure out what's wrong with the book and how to make it right

Tools:

-Hard copy of manuscript
-Pen (color irrelevant)
-Books on making novels kick ass, including Writing the Breakout Novel and Fire in Fiction by Donald Maass, and Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell
-Loads o' pondering time.

NOTE: pondering can often bear an eerie resemblance to one of the following:
1) walking the dog
2) showering
3) staring into space
4) napping

Week Two - The Rewrite
Goal: Fix big issues, like:

-subplot makes no sense
-other subplot makes no sense
-my editor, my beta readers, and I all hate one of the main characters with the venom of a 1,001 vipers

While all three applied to an early version of Bad to the Bone (buy me a drink one day and I'll tell you about Gwendolyn Huff the half-pookha *shakes head with disgust*), none of these is the case with Bring on the Night.

So I can relax next week, right? Wing off to Windycon for a long weekend of hobnobbing and poker-playing?

No, because as solid as the story is, it could still be better. It could be bigger. The villain could be much less mustache-twirly (not saying the villain has a mustache, regardless of gender) and actually feel deep conflict over his or her dastardly deeds.

Good enough is never good enough. I repeat, with bold italic fancy-fonted spectacle, GOOD ENOUGH IS NEVER GOOD ENOUGH. (OK, I don't actually have any fancy fonts for this blog.)

Tools:

- Marked-up manuscript
- Notebook full of unorganized blatherings, pages dog-eared until I've entered the scribbles into a file with some semblance of order
- Laptop disconnected from internet
- Coffee

Notice that showers are not mentioned here.


Week 3 - Revisions
Goal: Picking up the pieces

The previous week, many new scenes were written and many old scenes were cut. So Week 3 begins with a read-through to see if it all hangs together. Usually there are some rough transitions that need to be smoothed out, or I'll wake up in the middle of the night realizing that a really important question was raised in Chapter 24, and then the characters just sort of...forgot about it.

Tools:
-same as rewrite, but with more coffee

Also note lack of showers.

Week 4 - Final polish
Goal: make the prose shine, so that every sentence skewers the reader's eyeball and bursts inside their brain with the brilliance of a six-pack of supernovae

Tools:
-highlighters in the following colors: blue, yellow, green, pink
-red rollerball pen
-part of brain that if unleashed every day would have me medicated for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

What's with all the different colors? I once took an online workshop with author/trainer/psychologist Margie Lawson called Deep Editing. Part of the process is to break down the different elements of one's writing: dialogue, actions, description, interior thoughts, and visceral gut feelings. Each one gets its own color, so you can look at a page at a glance and figure out what's missing. (You can also work on each element separately--I do this especially with actions, which tend to be repetitive in early drafts.)

Margie thinks my class work paid off, because she used a few samples from Wicked Game to illustrate some Deep Edits principles. To me, there was no greater compliment.

So that's what I'll be doing the week of Thanksgiving. I'll probably have to shower at some point for the holiday.

Whew! There you have it. Of course, this is just how I work. Others I'm sure do it differently, and there's no right or wrong way. But I like to learn about other people's processes (unless they're really quick and easy, and then I just want to maim them), because I can often find new tips and tricks within.

I should also note that usually Stages One and Two take much longer than a week, but usually (as in every book since Voice of Crow in early 2006) the story is a complete mess.

Not this time. I have no idea why. Maybe it was because I've been thinking about this book, the central piece in the WVMP Radio series, since the first day I started writing what became Wicked Game. Maybe it was because I spent a full month outlining Bring on the Night and Lust for Life for the proposal to my publisher. I'll have to ponder the reasons why at some point.

But first, I must ponder the book itself! Off to stare into space, maybe eat some pistachios.

----------------
Now playing: Noah and the Whale - 2 Bodies 1 Heart

Labels: , ,

6 Comments:

Congratulations to the winner!
Thank you for sharing Jeri.
I enjoy your updates.
All the best,
RKCharron
xoxo

Posted by: Blogger RKCharron at 11/05/2009 7:07 PM

Congratulations van_pham!

As someone who has no writing talent whatsoever, it's very interesting to see how authors work. Thanks for sharing.

Posted by: Blogger Patti at 11/05/2009 10:04 PM

I like to play the games on my pc my console and on my cell phone..
this article was not related to games but it related to technology and i had also hobby to search gadget and latest gadgets and many more so this article was really great in my opinion.

Posted by: Anonymous r4 card at 11/06/2009 1:57 AM

Very interesting blog.

I'm thinking back to BTTB and I can't even fathom where a "half-pookha" would fit in :-)

Congrats to the winner of Ex-Games. I just finished reading it. It was a fun read.

Karen

Posted by: Blogger Karen at 11/07/2009 6:52 PM

Jeri you're Amazing... I can't even begin to imagine getting all that done in your schedule process.. you go girl!
Lust for Life in a month?? really?? *bowing to your greatness* ;)
well.. I hope all goes well with the rewrites and everything there after.. Thanks for the inside look into your writing/rewriting process.. that was very interesting and as usual with you, comical as well -- love that!

Best wishes...
Debbie in NY

Posted by: Blogger WriterWannaB_NY at 11/09/2009 8:02 AM

Karen: In the first two drafts, the half-pookha was stuck inside Dexter and turned out to be this annoying chick named Gwen who spelled David into falling in love with her. It was stupid. So Dexter was not originally a vampire dog at all, but a vessel for a fae creature.

Debbie: No, I'm not doing LFL in a month--more like four months, including a month of rest between drafts. I could never write a book in a month. It would kill me! :-)

Posted by: Blogger Jeri at 11/09/2009 9:55 AM

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