Tag Archives: editing

Starting Prep for NaNoWriMo: Learning from Past Mistakes

So, I’m starting my NaNoWriMo prep a bit differently than most.

Last year, I participated in National Novel Writing Month, the challenge for writers to write 50,000 words in one month. And last year, I failed that challenge. Don’t cry for me, Argentina. Despite not reaching my goal, I still learned a lot about myself as a writer. That experience lit a fire under me, and I’m happy I tried NaNoWriMo. With November right around the corner, I’m ready to try again.

I’m incredibly critical of myself. And an incurable perfectionist. In previous blog posts, I made notes for improvement on my writing during November. Today, I’m tackling the mistakes I made during my last NaNoWriMo run head on. Here are, what I consider to be, my weak points, and my plans for improvement. (Cue the demise of my self-esteem)

Stop Trying to be Perfect

Remember when I said I am an incurable perfectionist? I wasn’t kidding. Last NaNoWriMo, I feel like I did not let myself free write because one bad sentence was nagging at me. Or the ideal phrasing wasn’t immediately coming to mind. And then there’s that self-doubt that all writers have. “Everything you’re writing is trash. Everything you’re even thinking about writing is trash. You should just stop, stop forever and eat potato chips all day.” I mean, that’s what my voice of doubt sounds like. I just want my story to be perfect. But I know that no story is perfect, and I should get over that idea.

Solution: Accept that writing garbage is okay. That not every word out of my brain will be amazing. That at least half of those 50,000 words will probably be changed. Just to write without stopping myself because something doesn’t sound right. In the words of Hemingway “The first draft of anything is garbage”. Next month, I’ll fight the urge to edit and perfect until December.

Focus On One Scene At A Time

If you can’t tell already, my brain is easily distracted. I have a bad habit of jumping around from scene to scene, writing small bits here and there. Then, I find myself losing focus and becoming frazzled. When I try to write a bunch of bits for a bunch of different parts, I become overwhelmed and nothing gets done.

Plan of Attack: This one’s hard. I need to work on my focus. I need to push myself to concentrate on one scene at a time. I can’t write the whole novel all at once. My best bet is to tackle certain sections or scenes during November.

Write More Descriptions

Well, writing descriptions wasn’t, and maybe still isn’t, my strongest suit as a writer.  Actually, I recently wrote a post centered around tips for writing setting descriptions. I talked about how I struggle with writing about the setting. Usually, dialogue comes first to me when I’m writing. But a forest is just a forest right? Wrong.

Plan of Attack: Let’s just say, I’m working on it. I’m more mindful of how the people and the places in my stories look. My goal is to paint a vivid, realistic picture for the reader. Trying my best to tap into sensory details of settings and also the unique physical features of my characters.

Lost Connection

I’ll be honest, there were moments I didn’t feel connected to my characters nor to the time period. To quote myself from the previous year “It was like we were once roommates, living together and then, they became the neighbors down the street. An unexplained distance came between me and this story idea.” Think about it, I’m a modern-day lady writing in the perspective of a young man living in the roaring 20’s. How can I possible fit into those shoes?

Solution: Well, for starters, this year, the big bang happened. By completely changing the plot, I feel much more confident in my story idea. As for the characters, I’m gonna try a couple of things this October. Really flush some characters out and get to know them inside and out. I want to make sure that they’re 3-dimensional characters. As for the setting, research is important. I’ve already collected some resources to help me understand that time period. The goal is to be as accurate as possible.


What would you say was your weak point from last NaNoWriMo? And what are you doing to overcome it and improve for this year? Let me know in the comments, lovelies.

Write with Heart,

Lady Jabberwocky

 

Changing the Murder in a Murder Mystery: The Beauty of Starting Over

Okay.

We need to talk.

A real talk about being a writer.

Sometimes, you just need to start over.

Which is what I’ve decided to do. Well, for the most part.

I’m starting my story over.

Let Me Explain

For the past couple of months, I’ve been trying to write a novel. Trying being the key word. It’s a mystery story about a Detective and his assistant, set in the 1920s.

These characters and setting have been on my mind for years. Back in fiction writing class, I offered my short story, featuring the detective and the 20s, to be critiqued by my fellow classmates. Although my work was much different than my peers, I received many positive comments. I’m not bragging that my writing is genius, but that positivity gave me encouragement to keep at it.

When I graduated, I was on my own, to write what I please. To be the author I always dreamed I’d become. Frankly, I struggled. With this newfound freedom came fear, fear of the unknown. What kind of story do I write? What genre? Then, I remembered my mystery story from class. I enjoyed writing detective fiction. And I thought to myself, why not just expand the 10 page story I wrote into a novel? Seemed plausible, at the time.

Honestly, I was having a tough time. Every time I tried to write something, it was like walking through quicksand. This was different than ordinary writer’s block. I felt stuck. The more I tried to work on it, the more tangled I felt.

I’ll admit, I grew depressed. I was a writer not writing. I lost all motivation. Writing just lost it’s magic. For months, I had this gut feeling that huge parts of the plot needed to changed in order to create an even greater story. Even though I’m afraid of change, I have to rework the entire plot line, for it’s own good.

What Exactly is Changing

So, here’s what’s happening. Major construction and reconstruction.

I’m my opinion, I have great characters. I think, if I do them justice, they can be really special fictional characters. It’s not the characters that need changing, it’s the plot itself. The pieces were playing the wrong game. Does that make sense?

What I want to change, what I NEED to change, is the center of the plot itself. The murder in the murder mystery. The case connecting all these characters together, the case my detective would solve, had to be revamped. Kicked up a notch, I supposed you could say.

Originally, my detective story was centered around an actress who had been shot with a not so fake gun while on stage. Then, I recognized that the murder in my murder mystery was cliche. I didn’t realize how much of a trope my idea was. While having a trope or a cliches in a story is fine, I didn’t want to write something that’s been done a bunch of times. Fiction shouldn’t be predictable.

Why I’m Sharing My Setback

While writing is an art, it isn’t always roses. I want to share my ups and downs, as a writer, with full honesty. That’s what the Lady Jabberwocky blog is about. If my experience as a writer has an impact on another writer’s life, then maybe sharing my set back will be worth it.

I’m not starting from scratch completely. Some scenes from the original story line can be salvaged and used in the new story line. Characters, for the most part, will remain the same. Sometimes, you need to take a step back and rework elements of a story in order to become better.

I’m happy. And excited to create a story again. A new story. Hopefully, get those creative juices going again. Challenging stereotypes and cliches and tropes always made me write better. It’s what got me writing in the first place.

I’m erasing the drawing board and starting again, and that’s okay.

Never feel discouraged just because of a step backwards. Writing is a process. It’s also a journey and a real adventure. You will eventually arrive at your destination, even if you took a few detours along the way.

Write with Heart,

Lady Jabberwocky

Remembering Show, Don’t Tell

Had a pretty successful editing session today. I spent a good two or so hours at the library editing some short stories. Am I done? Probably not. Are writers ever really done editing? There’s always something. Something to add, something to tweak, something to just plain get rid of.

But I noticed I was making multiple corrections of a similar issue. At certain points in my stories, I was showing, not telling. If there is one golden rule of writing fiction that I’ve learned, it’s the rule of “Show, don’t tell”.

Let me explain real quick. “Show, don’t tell” simply means letting the reader experience the story through actions and senses instead of exposition. It’s a slight adjustment of word choice. For example, “I was nervous” compared to “My hands trembled”. See? By doing so, it makes for a stronger piece.

 So, I looked at my writing through a microscope and made some changes. I swapped out adverbs for more specific verbs. I crossed out parts that sounded like an explanation. There truly was, in my opinion, a noticeable improvement. I’m definitely keeping the “Show, don’t tell” rule in mind as I continue to write, and you guys should too.

Write with heart,
Lady Jabberwocky
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Rainy Day Editor’s Block

On this rainy and muggish day, I am plagued with Editor’s block. A similar ailment to Writer’s block. I’m working on these old stories of mine for some literary magazines I’ve been interested in submitting work to. I’m trying to make serious changes to them. Like the big kind of edits. For one story, I’m thinking of changing things like the central conflict as well as reworking characterization for most of the characters. The really integral nuts and bolts of the story. Ugh. This is where the Editor’s block comes in. It’s that slightly overwhelming and daunting feeling of “I don’t even know where to start”. It can be a stressful task.

 
So I took a break.
For both Editor’s and Writer’s block, taking a break can actually be very helpful. Just stopping for a while, walking away from the project, and collecting your thoughts is sometimes the best thing for the creative process. So that’s what I did. I took a break, had a Matzo Ball soup (courtesy of the local diner) and got comfortable (courtesy of cozy sweatpants). Pausing for a moment helped organized my ideas and really made be focus on the things that need to be focused on in my work.

 
Hopeful I write something good enough to get published this time.

 
Write with heart,
Lady Jabberwocky