[#reviseandrevive] An Introduction

This year is the year I’ve decided to get serious with my writing. And to do so means editing, revising and eventually publishing. Last month was editing – developmental on my side – so this month is putting those edits to work in my revision.

My novel is the same I was doing last month for #editnfriends.

The Final Rose is an epic fantasy novel that I hope feels like a Final Fantasy game has been written in prose. It’s currently long at 137,000 words and is only looking like it’ll get closer to 150k that I’d like.

The basic premise is:

Every seven years, droughts hit Adomar. To appease the Gods and bring rain, a tribute bearer is chosen by the divine to travel to the Floating Islands and barter for blessings. Never before had a tribute bearer returned.

This time, the chosen tribute bearer is the princess of Adomar, Ziove. In an effort to save her from the fate of the others, a traveling part is established. The strongest knight. A well-known mage. A summoner with knowledge beyond time. And a peasant to serve as bait and barter.

To choose the peasant, the king frames it as a challenge to be won, complete with prize purse. Task Tannes, a local con artist and thief, decides that the purse is worth the trouble it will take to flee his responsibilities.

But when he can’t escape and is forced on the journey, his life changes completely. It turns out that there are things more important than gold, and it is worth the sacrifice to save it.

The main character is Task Tannes. The other POV character is his rival, Sir Geir, the knight master of Adomar. In alternating (not symmetrical or in any given rhythm) POVs, I hope to show how each goes closer toward the middle (and beyond) to understand each other and help save the princess.

Right now, my romance is lacking. I need a lot more set up scenes. And there are parts I need to revise and expand (many). So that’s my focus for the month.

Your mission, if you choose to accept, is to watch me suffer through it by reading along. Bonus mission? Participate as well. Use the hashtag on social media. Bother others to do it as well.

Writing and editing may be solitary, but venting is communal.

[#editnfriends] Paths of Victory, We Shall Walk

Editing Update:
Chapters: 24/24
Pen Refills: 1
Scenes Sliced: 10 (including a whole quarter chapter)
Darlings Killed: 7
Tears: 3
Final Thoughts: A bit of concern with this being the first novel to query, though I think it has commercial appeal. It’s a lot of work to do, but I am finally prepared to do it.

I can safely say that for the first time in my writing soon-to-be career, I have edited the longest piece of fiction thus far. Roughly 140,000 epic fantasy words. Twenty-four chapters out of twenty-four chapters (though really, it should be over thirty. Those last chapters were a ridiculous amount of pages). Through the Hero’s Journey rife with romance, betrayal and plot twists.

There were parts I hated. There were parts I loved. There were parts that I forgot I wrote that didn’t take me fully by surprise but made me go, “Oh!” Hell, there were parts while I was making notations where in one chapter, I would write “remember to reference this again” and two chapters later, I had. Past-me knew what to do. Makes revising easier.

And that is my next step: revising. I don’t think I need to do a full overhaul of the story. The skeleton is solid, despite a few cricks in the bones. Some fat needs trimming and a lot more muscle needs to be put on to make it a fully functioning story. It needs to walk, talk and breathe on its own among agents, publishers and book reviewers (I hope).

So I have developed a revising plan (that I’ve already started because this is set to post on Sunday) which will give me a strategy for my Camp NaNoWriMo goals:

  • Character Cards – Color-coded index cards to track character development and progression. Along with this, tracking scenes about romance and developing interest because two relationships just appear out of nowhere.
  • Scene Cards – I have a number of scenes to add (and some which may still be cut). Plan is to write that all up (on white cards) with what chapter they go into, what character(s) they involve, and how it progresses the plot. I can then shift things around.
  • Hero’s Journey – Most of my novels follow the Hero’s Journey (sometimes more loosely than others). So I am going to take twelve index cards, label them with the steps of the journey, and make sure everything seems to be in order there.

With hope, I can get this finished by the time this is posted (and I’ll share pictures on an update post). Because I plan to start the revision – whether it is adding, cutting, or pasting scenes – on April 1st. It’ll be interesting to see how my Camp NaNo progress moves along, being revision instead of words. But at least something will continue holding my accountable besides myself!

[#reviseandrevive] A New Challenger Approaches!

So, last month was very successful for me when it comes to blogging, and I owe most of that to the #editnfriends challenge by Liz. Now that we’ve reached the end of the month, I offered to host a challenge for the month of April. With some help from Liz, I decided to call it: #reviseandrevive

As you readers may know, April is one of the Camp NaNoWriMo months. It’s not a month for 50,000 words but a month with various goals, one of which is revision. This ties into the WriYe challenge of Resurrection April where the goal is to rewrite, revise or finish a novel that you haven’t touched in awhile. For me, my editing and revising of The Final Rose counts.

I know many others may be doing something similar, so a blogging challenge might help keep people going. That’s where #reviseandrevive comes in. The basic weekly premise is this:

The Weekly Layout

So what does that mean? Every Monday, answer the question regarding some aspect of your story process. The writing, the revising, the editing, the crying… All is fair game.

Wednesday, there will be a themed excerpt to share. Wednesday on Twitter has #WIPWednesday which I think you can tie in on most weeks.

Friday is an optional prompt to write a piece of flash fiction (<1000 words) about and share on your blog. This doesn’t need to be related to your WIP at all. We’re all building platforms here and it would be good to let you readers know how I write. As terrible as it may be.

My plan is to have the weekly prompts for the following week posted the Sunday before. So, today I will post for week one AND week two to give you plenty of time. I’m a big fan of pre-writing blog posts so I understand for those of us who don’t have this elusive “free time” in abundance.

Without further ado, your first two weeks of #reviseandrevive:

Week One

April 1st – Introduce Yourself and Your Novel. What are your goals? Are you tying this into any other challenge?

April 3rd – #WIPWednesday: Share with us the first time you introduce your main character.

April 5th – Prompt: Lightning Bugs

Week Two

April 8th – Tell us a bit about your favorite character in the novel. What makes them so interesting to you? If they’re not the MC, why not?

April 10th – #WIPWednesday: Share with us the most dramatic scene you’ve written so far. Just a small bit of it so we’re all hooked for more.

April 12th – Prompt: Forgotten clothes

Wake Up… Run for Your Life with Me

Or just for your word count. (And sorry, the Foo Fighters are my favorite band so you’ll see them referenced often throughout the year.)

Back in 2015, I took up running. I had to lose weight and as much as I loved P90X3 and all of that, there was something freeing about lacing up the shoes and just leaving. One foot after the other, out the door, no one to bother me. What started with a run/walk 5K those years ago has lead to multiple marathons and triathlons. It’s rare when I’m not doing some sort of running every weekend, even if my weekday running schedule has been adjusted post-child.

But I digress. This isn’t about what I’ve done but how I use running to help me with my writing.

I will say, when I took up running, it was for mental health reasons as well. Times were dark. I wasn’t writing much. Work was overly stressful. I was planning on moving out to live with the spouse (unwed then but together ten-ish years). Everything had piled up and things except for running, spouse and dog were unimportant.

I really missed an opportunity to combine some of the things I loved together to try and help myself out.

Running, for me, is the perfect complement to writing. It’s me, the pavement, and my mind. Thirty minutes to four hours (depending on what my training run is for the day) of music and working through problems. And lately, these problems are all fictional.

That sort of solitude, even during public races, allows my brain to wander into realms it normally wouldn’t. With my left brain focus mostly on moving one foot in front of the other, breathing correctly, and why-are-my-hands-clenched-again, that right side of my brain can pick through the snarls in my plot and go, “Hey, stop thinking of how you’re dying. What about if we did XYZ?”

Most of the time, it’s some ingenious solution to problems I either didn’t know where there or didn’t know were causing bigger issues down the line. The Notes function on the phone has been a lifesaver for breakthrough moments like this, where I can jot down a few key words or phrases and continue my pavement pounding.

So I’ve started to take advantage. Frustrated with editing? Go run 5K and slam those words into submission. Not sure how to solve the weird plot hole that I hadn’t noticed developing? Hit the trails (I am an avid trail runner). Too sad to kill a darling? Speed workouts on the track because they’re painful and you’ll start to hate that darling by the end.

My suggestion? Find some sort of exercise you can safely do, whether it’s outside, inside or whathaveyou. When things get tough, put the physical body through some work and let the creative mind do its thing. The ideas that come out might surprise you.

[#editnfriends] Ain’t No Stopping [Me] Now!

As of this writing, I have two chapters left to edit in my March (Editing) Madness novel, The Final Rose. I have successfully made it through (nearly) 140,000 words without hating myself, throwing up, or throwing the novel in a fit. I think I deserve a reward.

The content edit has proven to be actually refreshing. I objectively looked at my novel, made notations about what was missing, and found it fun to brainstorm new scenes to fill in the gaps. And slicing scenes didn’t make me weep. It was more of a relief than a stress.

So, the #editnfriends topic for this last week is the most appropriate: winding down and next steps. There are a few things I have planned between now and March 31st (like finishing the last two chapters) but my goals for the rest of the year with The Final Rose are:

  • In April, I will revise and rewrite what I need to do. I actually joined Camp NaNoWriMo (you’ll see my November post on why I shy away from NaNoWriMo normally) as a sort of accountability. More than that, on WriYe, April is known as “Resurrection April” where you take an old story you need to revise, rewrite or finish and work on it. (I invented that challenge years ago because I obviously needed to finish something)
  • I hope to have all revision/rewriting done by June. That should be in time for #pitmad, where I will actually feel ready to go for it. Which means in May, I will start devising pitches and bothering people with them. (erin, Ana and Liz)
  • I’ll also be passing out the novel to my beta readers in June with hopes that I can get some feedback by the end of July. It’s a long novel so I don’t expect a really quick turn around.
  • Come August, I hope to be querying or participating in Pitch Wars. And it will be queries from there on out…

In the meantime, I am doing a few other things: looking for a critique partner, beta-ing my friends’ novels (because I have been remiss), reading, and writing. I think I’ll be switching gears and work on my thriller series for a little while to refill the fantasy battery. There are a few fantasy novels that I have in the planning/plotting stages that are just waiting for my attention.

Will these plans change? Maybe. You’ll have to keep reading to find out.

Editing Update:

Chapter: 22/24

Pen refills: 1

Scenes sliced: 7.5

Darlings killed: 8

Tears: 1 (very moving scene)

Current Concern: The romance between two characters seems too sudden. I remember getting the idea while writing and just sort of shoehorning it in. Obviously, I have issues with developing romance in this novel.

In My Next Thirty (-two) Years…

Yesterday was my birthday. For me, after the excitement of birthdays in the dorm at college (where us forensic science students could write whole lab reports on how to properly dilute everclear), these recent birthdays have been uneventful. Work, home, cheers with the spouse, sleep.

But I’ve been thinking lately about what I had meant to do, writing-wise, before I turned thirty.

Firstly, I wanted to be published, which I think is the goal of a lot of young writers. Secondly, I wanted to see my name on bookshelves, have a fanbase that wrote excellent (and not) fanfiction of their OTPs, and have people excited for my next novel. I wanted K. A. Wyles to be known (well, the pen name came later).

But time flies when you’re getting a “proper” education. So I’m going to do some reminiscing because I feel old. Come back (to the future) with me:

My friend and I wrote together throughout high school. We met in eighth grade, when I moved to the school district, and became close in French class because I happened to have lived near her cousin. From that day on, we would scribble down stories between (and during) classes, usually in a roleplaying style, in marble notebooks that I still have on my bookshelves. We would go home, get on our respective computers, and write until it was far too early in the morning. Writing was everything.

(Hell, we still have ongoing stories that are far more like co-writing than something to while away the time.)

For her undergraduate, she decided to get a BFA in Creative Writing. I got mine in Forensic Science, because I had always been more science-brained, despite my awards in English and Literature throughout high school. Her goal to be published as soon as she graduated started. And I think that’s when I joined in on the dream. I had been writing short stories on my own since I was seven so I was no stranger to writing in my spare time. If she could do it, I could too. I may not have had the degree, but I had the passion.

I figured short stories were are hard sell, so why not try for a novel? My first NaNoWriMo was in 2006, and I had won. Never finished the novel. Next one? Also unfinished. It wasn’t until 2008, and when I was 21, that I figured out that whole “Finish What You Start” thing. In between, I joined smaller writing months. I joined WriYe and eventually helped moderate it. I joined a very popular LiveJournal prompt community, and then disappeared.

That’s my MO. Love something so much that it becomes the only thing… Then drop it and seclude myself because my brain is my biggest enemy.

And that seclusion is why I think I am unpublished and it bothers me.

Thirty, for some reason, is that spooky number in age where I think we all believe we should be more successful than we are. Chances are, our parents had gone a little further at 30 than we have, but there are numerous reasons for that both societal and cultural. But rationally? Most of us can’t get over that, I think.

I am a victim of my own mind. I look at my age and go, “Wow, Paolini was published at half of my age!” Does that really matter? No. This isn’t a competition. But no one has told my brain that. So the spiral of “What Have I Done With My Life?(tm)” begins. And that is why I disappear. I am unworthy. Or unsuccessful. Or just something so self-defeating that I should probably talk to someone about it.

But this year, on my 32nd birthday, I found myself editing a novel. A novel I wrote that I love. And I have a plan to finally pursue my dream by being serious about it. Write, edit, revise, query. That’s the goal. And, as WriYe can tell you, I’m dragging people with me. That’s why #Pub2020 was born – to force myself to keep moving forward.

So maybe in my next thirty(-two) years, I’ll have a series of novels published. I will see my name on the spines of novels in bookstores. I might have a fanbase (or a group of haters, bring it) that want to write fanfiction. I may even become a bestseller.

But I can’t do that if I don’t start now.

(My best friend? She published one short story before getting her MLIS and now doesn’t write at all, despite wanting to all the time. Life is a beast.)

[#editnfriends] It’s Getting Larger!

I have this habit, whenever I write a novel, of glossing over some details. Sometimes it’s most details, most times it’s some details. Whether it’s because of my rush to finish or my jumping from scene to scene nature, it’s not the worst problem a novel could have.

As I mentioned before, what I write the most when I edit is expand. Because scenes need to be expanded to make things make sense. Why am I mentioning a scene in dialogue that never happened? Especially scenes that are interesting, probably more so than the simple line given by a character about said missing scene.

An example of this would be a meeting between the party – sans Ziove – which should have occurred right before they left for their adventure. It would have set up fantastic examples of interpersonal relationships and strife between the four, showing characteristics that I can build upon later.

But what did I do? Referenced it in narrative the next chapter.

That doesn’t mean that I haven’t cut some scenes. A few in beginning chapters are just a bit extraneous. It was me writing the characters, getting control of their voices without pushing forward plot. By the middle of the novel, I know their voices. I don’t need these scenes any longer.

Editing, for me, is to specifically pinpoint these scenes and axe them. So remove them, I will.

Editing Update:

Chapter: 14/24

Pen refills: 1

Scenes sliced: 5

Darlings killed: 3

Tears: 0

Current Concern: The pacing of the journey. How fast should they find the roses?


I Choose You!

I have, in my Google Docs right now, about one dozen finished first drafts. They’re not edited. Certainly not publishable. But they have a beginning, an illusion of a middle, and an end. Draft one done.

So every March, when that old edit bug comes a-bitin’, it’s time for me to look in that folder and choose a file. All the file names look up at me, sometimes with fancy title graphics, like flowers waiting to be plucked and made into a bouquet.

That is, at times, the hardest decision to make. Especially being an unpublished author with no deadlines or platform to my name yet. The page is blank and I have a 96 pack of Crayolas to color with, but which color goes down first?

This past year, with #Pub2020, I’ve been able to choose based on what novel I think is most sellable. The Final Rose is a stand-alone fantasy. It’s got compelling characters that go through some shit. It’s got a fun plot. Perfect for a debut.

But other years? It comes down to few things:

Reading the first chapter and going, “Can I handle this much right now?”

Are there more plot issues than I can remember? How was the technical part of the writing? Is the genre something I want to work in at the moment?

If any of those are a “no,” it’s onto the next.

Is this a series?

What book is it in the series? Beginning, middle, end? Do I remember what happened in the last book? Does this involve an extensive reread of the previous books? Where’s my damn series bible?

Is this something I plan to publish?

This is usually the very last question. I eventually want to edit and revise all of my novels. Even those than only friends will see.

But if I’m going to take this whole “published author” thing seriously, I really need to make sure I focus and perfect those things that agents and editors will buy.

How long ago did I write it?

Six months, at least, or bust! It is very rare of me to even look at something I wrote so soon after I write it. I’m trying to adjust and reduce time between but I have a backlog to work on.

If it’s a short story, it’s a different beast. I used to participate in a competition on WriYe that involved writing a short story a week. My goal was always to write the story Sunday – Tuesday, then ignore it until Friday for edits. It wasn’t my ideal amount of time apart, but it was enough.

So what about you, readers? What’s your criteria for the time you decide a story should be edited? Do you keep a schedule that you plan in advance or is it what feels good at that moment?

Editing Update:

Chapter: 13/24

Pen refills: 1

Scenes sliced: 5

Darlings killed: 3

Tears: 0

Current Concern: Task and Ziove need a lot more set up to fall in love. More scenes are needed in the first half with their relationship blossoming. Need to find a way to add them while adding to the plot.

[#editnfriends] Loves Long Past

On Monday, I metaphor-ed that the darlings I must murder are like a diseased appendix. And I have spent this week garbing up for surgery – scrubbing up, betadine, gloves – and preparing for the first incision.

Problem is, my novel really does need more added than taken away. Ninety-nine percent of what I’m jotting down is either:

  • Expand
  • Description?
  • Or How did you end it like this?

So there’s a lot to add. Which won’t help it’s already triple digit word count. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have some things to eliminate. And sometimes these are things that I really enjoy both reading and writing.

Here’s an example.

Task and Kyr, my MC and a supporting character, have a lovely banter back and forth during certain scenes. They look at the world, they comment, and they make it a game to see who is better at the snappy come backs. Who can annoy the knight the most? Let’s find out. It’s fun to read. They entertain me. I would think they’d entertain you.

But these scenes serve no purpose to the plot. Or to the story. It is just me flexing my authorial dialogue muscle. So out comes the red-inked scalpel which excises all of these words and moves them to the document labeled, “Nope.”

As for characters, my casts seem to be on the small side. Right now, I have:

Task – The protagonist (POV Character)

Geir – The Foil (POV Character)

Ziove – The love interest

Ikala and Kyr – Secondary but major characters

Haldor and the other (3) Mini Bosses – The antagonists

Sayine, Jules, Cidon, Adom and Kither – Minor secondary characters

King Kvets I – Very minor character

And that’s really about it. There might be a chance, when I get to later chapters, to meld a few things together. Some minor characters that I haven’t listed because they were maybe in one chapter might end up being axed. I can’t think of any off the top of my head, which might be a sign that they should be gone for being unmemorable.

I’ll keep you updated with my handy little section below to let you know if I murdered any characters by excising them from the novel. Every surgery gets a little bloody. Mine will be no different.

So, we’re nearly halfway through the month. Readers, how many darlings have you murdered so far? What are the words you’re writing in the margins the most?

Editing Update:

Chapter: 12/24 (50%)

Pen refills: 1

Scenes sliced: 3

Darlings killed: 3

Tears: 0

Current Concern: Pacing. The first plot twist is in chapter 14 of 24 and over halfway through the novel.

The pacing…


[#editnfriends] I Used to Love Her, But I Had to Kill Her…

“[K]ill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.” – Stephen King

It sucks. You reread your novel, that took you months/years to write. You get to this line/scene/chapter/character you love and you still love it. It’s something you couldn’t have written this well if you tried… Except it doesn’t fit. It’s not progressing the plot. It serves no purpose. The character is melding with another.

So you have to do it. You have to take your Red Inked Vorpal Sword and slice it through. (Or, since we have computers, cut and paste it to a Darlings Document that you can visit to pay sympathies to. Like a little row of writing gravestones.)

And it hurts. Because that was a part of you, for a short amount of time. Not forever, not eternal, but your thoughts and hopes that you spat out on paper. That you may have perfected through drafts. And now you’ve determined that piece of you is no longer important.

Removed. Trashed.

But maybe instead of thinking of it like garbage words, let’s think of it as a vestigial organ. These darlings are our appendix (or multiple parts of one giant appendix). They served a purpose once: they helped us get our first draft down and explore our world. They were characters that brought out parts of our main characters to help us develop them more. They were words and phrases that we can look back on later and perhaps repurpose into something new – like an awesome experiment discovering penicillin from mold.

Two things could happen if we leave this appendix in. We (our novel) could survive. There’s a chance it’ll just look a little strange but it’s not going to do any harm. One or two bacteria may be trapped there (one or two things that could be cut) but they’re not causing destruction. Some people (betas) might comment on it, and some doctors (editors) may suggest just removing it during your next surgery (draft), but it’s not dire.

However, the problem arises when this appendix swells with inflammation and becomes this festering organ housing thousands of bacteria. It runs the risk of bursting and infecting your whole blood supply (your novel). To save it requires some major surgery. Sometimes it’s too far gone, unable to be saved.

So, what’s better? Leave in a darling appendix that may burst? Or take these problematic things, cut them, and create a graveyard where you can visit and leave flowers in thanks to darlings past?

Editing Update:

Chapter: 8/24

Pen refills: 0 (but getting there)

Scenes sliced: 3

Darlings killed: 1

Tears: 0

Current Concern: Halden’s entrance is so boring. The fight is interesting but the way he just appears needs an overhaul.