Words: They’re Not Just for Writing Anymore

One of my chittie peeps found an awesome site where you can create Wordles.

What is a Wordle, you ask?

Well, I didn’t know either.  Turns out what a Wordle is– is HIGHLY COOL!

You can paste or type in passages of text or have Wordle grab it from a blog feed if that’s your thing.  I pasted in my synopsis for The Edge of Memory and made some ubercool word art:

Or maybe you prefer this option…

I also did one for my blog feed:

You can change fonts, color schemes, the number of words, etc.  The word size is dependent on how frequently you use the word in the sample text.

I seriously Photobucket them. I thought about doing Wordles for my next In Deep Smit entry, but I just plain couldn’t wait! Photobucket

So, my writer friends… I challenge you to stick YOUR synopses into the Wordle creator. Or other blog readers… go to town with whatever strikes your fancy! Let’s see what awesomeness we can generate. Put a link in the blog comments to your best creations!

Methods and Madness. Not Necessarily in that Order.

So, my lovely gang of QueryTracker peeps and I agreed to start a blog chain.

I will concede that I did, indeed, agree to join the chain and to post on the topics at hand.

I did NOT anticipate the lengths those cheeky, sneaky things would go to to outshine me… Photobucket

Not only did they post gorgeous, thoughtful posts on their own blogs (here, here, here, and here) on the topic of writing methods, but they stealthily rolled them out one after another while I was working a 26-hour shift. Leaving me now to catch up on reading them all and then try to hold my own in a hazy-headed post-call state. No fair, you stinkers! Photobucket

Aspiring novelists are so durned competitive!Photobucket

But I will show them all… I’ve headed straight for my beloved Caribou Coffee and with this large Hazelnut Latte at my side, I shall do my best to muddle through.

Despite my thread title, I am definitely much more method than madness when it comes to writing. I’m a big fan of thinking. When I sat down to write The Edge of Memory (which, by the way, came as much of a surprise to me as to anyone) I had already spent about a month of long commutes working out the plot and character details.

Before I wrote word one of my manuscript, I had already decided the major plot twists and story arc. I knew who all the characters were and what their motivations were for their behavior. And while these things did change both during the writing and editing processes, they didn’t change as much as you might have expected.

I researched the etymology of names for all my characters, and for the fictitious town (the other towns and cities I used are real cities). I researched details down to when major battles were fought in the Korean War, what the weather was like in 1951, and what major news events happened in the early eighties.

Here is the notes sheet I typed a couple of days before I started writing… my very first outline, I suppose.

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Once I started writing, it was quick and chronological. I wrote, on average, a chapter a day. My chapters for TEoM average about 2300 words. On the days I had to work a 24+hour shift, I couldn’t write at all, but I usually made up for it by writing two chapters on a day that I was home.

I started the draft on October 18th, 2007. I finished the draft at around 95,000 unedited words on December 6.

I don’t hear voices or anything interesting like that. I just see the story unfolding on the back of my eyelids. Very much like a DVD. And when I don’t like something, I rewind it and play it again slightly differently. I make a lot of faces when I write, copying my characters expressions so I can describe them properly.

Whenever I got stuck, I researched some detail I needed more information about. When I couldn’t think of anything that needed researching, I designed fake book covers and compiled imaginary soundtracks. I cast actors to star in the imaginary movie based on my imaginary book. I immersed myself completely in my story until the draft was complete.

Naturally, along the way I panicked. Often. What in heck did I think I was doing? For keeping me (relatively) sane during that time, I owe huge debts of gratitude to my BFF Clara, and my first secret test readers (Ariel, Erica, and Stacey) to whom I mailed 3-chapter chunks as I finished them. Yes, the raw unedited original draft versions. And they all told me to keep going. I Photobucket them more than I can ever say.

The bottom line is that writing is extremely personal. In every possible way. What works for me wouldn’t work for Elana. What works for Elana makes my head hurt when I think of trying that way. If you are driven to write, you will eventually find your way to what works for you.

My tips:

  • I find music both soothing and inspirational. I have a couple hundred songs that I listened to on random while I was writing The Edge of Memory; I chose them because they were appropriate for my story. I made a disk for my car, which put me right into story-planning mode.
  • Writing a novel is an overwhelming concept. So don’t do that. Write a chapter. Or a page. They will accumulate faster than you thought possible. Like laundry.
  • As much as it pains you, try not to edit until your story is down on the page. It is still easier to revise the roughest prose than it is to make yourself finish when you are wallowing over how much work your writing still needs.
  • Find a cheering section. Be they family, friends, internet buddies, or supportive strangers. Make yourself accountable to them and let them support you.
  • Once you’ve finished the draft, then look for the ruthless folks who will help you make your manuscript better.
  • And, finally, if you ever agree to join a blog chain, make sure you read the fine print, so you don’t end up babbling at Caribou Coffee. Photobucket

So, that’s my sleep-deprived addition to the discussion. Your next blog post will be brought to you by the letters M and L. As in, Mary Lindsey who is probably tapping her foot Photobucket waiting for me to get my blog-chaining Photobucket in gear.

Incidentally, if you’re a writer (or agent or editor or publishing peep of some sort) interested in joining a (very sneaky!) blog chain gang, we’d be delighted to have you. You can contact me, or any of the other bloggers to get started.

Helpful Mousekeeping Tip

An internet friend of mine recently shared the story of how her sister rescued a mouse from a glue trap.  The story is not really mine to tell, but I wanted to give you this important bit of information:

“It’s harder than you think to wash a mouse.”

Good to get that fact out to the general public, I think.  

Go,Go, GADGET!!

I found a cool gadget for Windows Vista. It links to a site called Bloglines where you can keep track of all your blog feeds.

So I have a sweet little box on my desktop that will instantly tell me if any of my favorite Agent Blogs have new postings, or if there’s any breaking news on the Chittie/Kitten blogs I follow.

Highly cool.

I Can Has Agent?

My test reader chitties will remember this…

Thought I’d just put my original query letter up for review.

I decided it was too formal, though.

I Can Has Ageny

Editing Makes Me Cry

Well, not directly.

But the results of editing make me cry.

I finished my most recent edits and sent the manuscript out to a fresh set of test readers. One reader, after finishing in 24-hours, sent me an email this morning that had me in tears.

DONE!!!

Bravo!!! BRAVO!!!! It’s beautifully written… I laughed, I cried. I was terrified and scared and at the same time desperate to read each word that came next. I bawled at the end. big fat elephant tears and everything.

Two wildly enthusiastic thumbs up!!!

What a great story! Honestly. Everyone should read it.

I can’t begin to explain how overwhelmed I am by her response (Thank you again, Kendra!), and by the tremendous support all my test readers have given me throughout this nutty process.

thanku.gifgrouphugg.gif

O Come All Ye Chitties…

So I’ve ‘fessed up to my online community at large. 🙂

As of this moment, the folks (outside of the novel writing site) who know I am writing are:

  1. My Husband
  2. My Best Friend
  3. Chitties

Thank you, thank you, to everyone who has offered encouragement and support. It is deeply appreciated.

Any opinions on the book cover options would be appreciated (the “Covers” tab above) 😉 Which one would you pick up to find out what it was about?

Okay, I’m behind from working yesterday. Less blogging, more writing. *teehee*