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.

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] 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…


[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.

It Starts With…

The beginning. Just like with a story, though, it’s important to know where to begin.

I actually end up doing my best in the beginning of my stories. My characters are strong. My dialogue is snappy and my descriptions are floral, but not quite violet yet. I love the story. I love the characters. I want to write forever.

The the middle comes… But that’s a different blog post. This one is about my views on Beginnings ™.

As I said before, I think I love my beginnings because I spend a lot of time thinking of where they should start. Too far in the past, and the hero’s journey is delayed in the pre-quest, ordinary world that can bore people. Too far in the future, your reader might not know what’s happening or where the plot is. Some novels I’ve read have recovered from this, but sometimes it’s more of a chore for me to read than it should be.

So when I start writing my beginnings, I try to think of those scenes right before everything changes. Before the call to action happens, when I can show the normal life. I make sure that there’s something going on – it has to be exciting – and that my main character is front and center. Don’t have the first character your reader meets for an extended period be a secondary or side character. If that happens, maybe reassess whose story it is.

When editing, I think that most people end up changing the beginning in some way. Usually moving it forward to where the action starts, or when the main character starts to get himself or herself into trouble. I’ve had some novels like that.

My current novel, Depleted, starts right when Frankie (the main character) meets the man who is going to change her life by suggesting that her “lack” of alchemical talent isn’t a failing. She just learns differently. I have a fear right now (at 22k in) that the plot has taken far too long to start, but that’s what editing will be for when it’s all said and done.

Is this a problem with the beginning? Maybe. But sometimes, during my edits and revisions, the beginning ends up being the last thing I write.