[#reviseandrevive] A Change Would Do You Good

For my #reviseandrevive prompt today, I want to focus on what happened during my first draft that needed to change. And to do that, I have to take you on a trip down the many paths I take during my writing adventure. So keep all your arms and legs inside and buckle up…

I don’t think the plot was the problem the first time. The problem was how I came to that plot. I, as they would say over in the NaNoWriMo community, am a plotter and not a pantser. But sometimes, no matter how much of an outline I have, great ideas come to me midway through and I have to get them on the paper. It has to twist and turn my story to fit this new, great discovery! Even if the backstory and the lead-up is not there.

So I have two options: make it fit in what what I have, or shove it in and hope for the best during revision.

With The Final Rose, it seems like I did the former. During my first re-read, things mostly made sense. I was lacking a significant amount of build up for the romance, but overall things made logical sense. What I’m doing now is smoothing out the edges with a bit of sandpaper.

But while I smooth, I’m also still carving, so to speak. There are scenes I need to add, then re-read and quickly revise to fit with the rest of the novel. Characters need a little tweaking – a new wardrobe or a haircut, in a sense – but nothing overall horrific.

And that’s where I am. My changes are small at the moment, the biggest change right now being a chapter that I chopped off half from and added to another chapter. But I’m only about a third in… There’s still time…

[#reviseandrevive] Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered

Those are the three things that my favorite character, Ikala, makes the rest of the cast of The Final Rose feel. It’s part of what keeps her always at the forefront of my mind when I think about characters I’ve created in the past years. Her personality, talents and character arc are one of my favorites.

So who is Ikala?

She is a summoner. In my universe, those are magic-users who can tap into the hidden energies of living (or non-living, in some cases) things and use those powers for their own means. They figure out what power an object holds by seeing through it to the crystalline structure of its parts (think of the carbon structure in a diamond). By recognizing the specific patterns and junctions, a summoner can draw out certain aspects of light, darkness, fire, water, whathaveyou. Above all, they credit this to understanding the word of the Gods, all life having come from them at the start. These are the closest to loyal clergy that I come in the novel.

They are in direct competition with mages, who are magic-users who tap into their own energy to “level up” their magic. Summoners are without; mages are within. I have a mage – Kyr – who probably is my third favorite character, but his story arc is far less interesting to me than Ikala’s. They don’t think the Gods have much to do with anything and that magic is inherent in every living being.

Ikala is asked to join the party early on and from the first introduction, when she catches Task trying to escape, her gentle, no-nonsense attitude is revealed. She almost always has answers to questions (which actually is important to the plot) and has more to lose by going up against the Gods during the big battles. Her crises are more than physical; they’re spiritual and mental. A few times, her hesitations cause problems.

I won’t reveal the dramatic character arc involving her, since it is vital to the novel, but I will say – it was something I hadn’t expected to do.

Why isn’t Task, my main character, my favorite? Well, he’s close. He’s a very close number two. But when I think about characters I’ve made, my thoughts always go to Ikala first. The novel wouldn’t work from her POV, which is why I keep her as a secondary character. Seeing her, and what she does, from Task’s and Geir’s POV is vital to her mystique. And her mystique is vital to her.

Still in Peaceful Dreams, I See the Road Leads Back to You

(Today may be a two post day because I have the #reviseandrevive prompt about which I plan to write).

As I think I have harped on about enough, this year is dedicated to shaping up and querying my novel, The Final Rose. The very first draft was written in 2011. The second draft, after it had been through a bit of critiquing, was in 2013. And now, five years after that, I am finally prepared to write the third (and hopefully final) draft.

#reviseandrevive was created to tie into a few projects, one of which is Resurrection April on WriYe. The concept behind that is to look at your older work that remained unfinished or written at the wrong time, and try to restart or finish it.

When I created the challenge years ago, I was hesitant. Sometimes, stories remained unfinished for a reason. Some need to be abandoned for issues involving plot, characters or execution. Major injuries to these can be recovered from with stitches and time; fatal flaws mean the story needs to be put to rest permanently. I’ve had stories ending due to both. Only the former can be revived.

How do you know when a novel is salvageable? This is my little cheat sheet (which I present as salted as the Dead Sea):

  • Do you remember the characters? If you have to reread the novel to get the names of side characters, that doesn’t count as not remembering. What I am talking about here is whether or not you remember your main characters. What did they want? What did they do? Could you slip back into their voice easily?
  • Do you remember the general plot? Again, you don’t need to remember every scene. What was the plot you intended to do? Do you remember the inciting incident? The climax? Does it still excite you?
    • If the answer to this last one is no, can you find a way to fix it that would make it exciting?
    • If the answer is still no, is this the right plot for these characters? Pitch it to a few friends and see if they can help you.
  • Can you re-immerse yourself in that world? This may be for only some writers, but can you jump back in and feel the world? Do you remember the important parts of world-building? The unique qualities that will draw your reader in?
  • Are you looking to write this to avoid something else? Like editing?

That last one is a bit personal.

Those are the things I usually ask myself when I look at reviving a novel (or rewriting). Sometimes, the answer is yes, like the novel I am writing now. Everything was still fresh. I wrote my first added in scene for the revision last night and Task’s voice was as clear is it was the first day I wrote for him. The scenes played before my eyes with a fully constructed setting. And the plot was what I had worked on the whole previous month.

Sometimes, the answer is no. Like a novel that will remain unnamed, but those who have known me awhile have listened to me complain. I tried to write this novel four times. The characters are nebulous, changing between drafts, because I could not pin them down. The setting is strong, but the alchemical/magical system is something that needs improvement.

The plot? Oh the plot. The overarching plot is there. But the inciting incident, the ordinary vs. extraordinary, all if it has never solidified.

Do I think the novel has promise? Yes. I really do. But the problem is either I am not prepared to write this novel, or I am not the right author to write the novel. Every time I try, I come a tiny step closer to distilling the essence. But somewhere along the way, the train jumps the tracks and crashes into the words I’ve previously written.

Will I try again one day? I am going to say no here, but I know it’s a lie. I’ll always go back to trying to fix this bane of my existence.

Until I get it down, though, there are other plots to chase.

[#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.

Introduction to my #EditnFriends Project

So, over on a friend’s blog, is a new challenge. Liz has decided that since March is traditionally editing month for WriYe and the WriMo’ers around the world, she would put out a challenge to those of us (me) who need things to edit. Every week, we check in on social media with the #editnfriends (so mostly twitter). In my eyes, this is a quasi-check in to make sure I don’t get lazy.

Now to introduce my novel, which has a bit of information in my Novels tab:

Title: The Final Rose
Genre
: Epic High Fantasy
Word Count: 137,000
Summary: Found here
Series: No

So, throughout this past month, I’ve been rereading the novel as if I were a reader and not the author. It’s hard to do but I’ve tried to separate out my editor/inner critic. With any luck, I’ll have it done and can move onto part one:

Scene Blocking

In which I ask myself: is this scene moving the plot? Is it in the right place? Is it necessary or extraneous? Should it be expanded? Reduced?

To do this, I’m using color coded index cards based on which character arc the scene is for and/or who the POV character is in that particular scene. With luck, I will be able to then make sure every arc has nice progression and conclusion.

Plot Doctoring

Did I skip over parts in the middle? (Probably) Does everything make logical sense and flow? (I hope so) Do I need to add things? Does the plot need tweaking? Is it something that would happen in that setting or have I stretched too far and made it unrealistic? (And therefore unsuspend disbelief)

Revising or Rewriting?

The last part is to choose which parts to just revise and keep and which parts to rewrite. I’ll be marking those with every student’s best friend, the Post-It Flag. Some will be “Major Revision.” Some will be “Minor Revision.” Some will be “WTF?”

What is my end goal?

I want this novel to be set up for its third-ish draft in April. I know where I have problems – there are scenes in the middle that need to be retooled and rewritten. I know that the word count is going to grow (because high fantasy never stays contained) but I have to figure out just where I need to cut it.

And I have this habit of adding in awesome plot ideas midway through writing and telling myself I’ll fix them in the edit. You can take three guesses on whether or not I ever do, and two can be thrown away.

When that is all done? Onto the rest of #Pub2020 to try and achieve that published dream.

How will I report in?

I will report in here every Friday as a separate post with my main post. And then I’ll be complaining on Twitter, as one does. A lovely 280-characters of crying.





[WriYe Blog Circle] It’s All Romance

This months’ WriYe Blog Circle question is…

Is romance necessary in all fiction? Why or why not?

Bonus:
If you do have romance in your fiction, tell us about your favorite pairings. Why are they your favorite?


I don’t think romance is necessary, but I think some aspect of it does enrich the story. Romance, as a genre, has been around for a very, very long time. Most genre fiction could be considered a subgenre of “romance,” as the original definition was fictive prose in which marvelous and uncommon things occurred.

But I am going to go with this question a bit more commercially and literally. That two-people-in-love romance. That I-will-do-anything-for-you-while-the-world-stands-between-us romance. The connection between two people that most everyone can understand – whether it be romantic or platonic love – that motivates characters to go beyond their ordinary to fight the extraordinary in order to save/maintain that relationship.

As I said before, I don’t think it is “necessary.” But I also don’t think the story will be quite as touching if there’s not some form of relationship there. There are some fantastic novels that really are focused on more platonic or familial love (I’m thinking of To Kill a Mockingbird and Scout’s love for her father) but that love must still be there. That strong emotion.

Do I include romance in all of my novels? I can’t think of one that didn’t have some sort of aspect of it. Have I written short stories without a focus on romantic love? Sure. One of my novellas has romance as a backdrop (Midsummer’s Reflection) and the other it is a passing bit in the beginning and end (Midwinter’s Choice) because the characters are working on themselves. But still, that sort of romance lingers.

And I think that my readers enjoy having it in there.

Bonus: My favorite pairings are the main pairing in my novel, The Final Rose. Task and Ziove are that star-crossed lover pair that the entire novel revolves around. Task is thrown for a loop when he finds that love sneaks up on him… And his entire world changes for it.

Another is Ros and Kyith from Sub Rosa (my first finished NaNovel which will never see the light of day, if I get my way). I like the whole Tough-Girl-Falling-in-Love trope. I can’t help it.