“One By One” Thriller Third Draft Completed!!!

Is there such a thing as editing burn-out? If so, I think I have it.

Last Saturday, I finished revising One By One, then I left it alone for three days. On Thursday, I decided it was time to read the entire novel out loud to hear any mistakes. At that point, I’ve looked over this thing for so long that I skimmed the pages. Things didn’t go so well; I found errors, changed them, read it again, found more errors, read it again, then went back to original wording. I was all over the place, stressing out. It’s pressure knowing that other people will read your work for critique.

I was honestly two seconds away from giving up, clicking out of Word, and ignoring the document for good. Good thing I talked myself out of it. I think it’s wise to get  other peoples’ opinions because I think I’m just being too hard on myself. Do most writers do this? While they’re taking a look to make suggestions for improvement and highlighting what works, I’ll be taking a much needed break from editing. I won’t touch One By One until I get everyone’s suggestions in front of my face.

I’m happy to say that my third draft is completed with 55,125 words, 12 point Calibri font, single spaced, 101 pages. Hallelujah! Finished August 16th at midnight–just in time to start my first rough draft of my 90 day novel challenge.

Needing a new pair of fresh and objective eyes, I’ve put on my big girl panties to ask for beta-readers. I found two in my hometown and one author. Just need one or two more. My goal was to get two readers and two authors–both have valuable information to share whether they realize it or not :).

I’ve always had a thick skin, so I like constructive criticism. I view it as a challenge to make my work better.  It’s best to work out the kinks in rough drafts, instead of publishing with many errors and getting blasted with negative reviews all over the place. I respect honesty. Besides suggestions of improvement, I think it’d be cool if my beta-readers wrote in the margins when they had a suspect in mind. This would help me know if I have the right balance of red herrings or if it’s too predictable. Actually any feedback would be much appreciated! The fact that people will be taking time out of their busy schedules to help me out means a lot…more than they’ll ever know.

However, I’m only human so I have fears. What if my story sucks but they’re too nice to tell me? What if I send it out and no one finishes it? That’s why I want 4 or 5 (I like to weigh different opinions). If someone fails to come through, then I’ll have back-up. I totally have a Chapter 4 curse–sometimes critique partners disappear after chapter 3, claiming they read and made suggestions on chapter 4, but end up never sending it to me. It’s happened to me twice already. Definitely not a good feeling.

So far, there’s been no massive rewrites. I had to add a lot of details about setting (what clothes characters’ wore, what they looked like, rooms they stayed in, outdoor scenery). I waited to do this last because it’s the most boring aspect for me in the writing process. I see everything vividly in my mind where sometimes it’s hard for me to express it on paper. Plus, my 12th grade creative writing teacher said I overwrite too much–maybe I took that to heart to the 10th degree? Maybe now I underwrite? My main goal is to keep action going with short, sometimes choppy sentences. Some say I have a fast paced writing style like a sportscaster. Definitely something I’m trying to work on.

Once again, I really want to thank my beta-readers! And I want to thank Melissa for being my critique partner, sticking with me to the end. Without her help, I wouldn’t have gotten this far. I hate reading documents on computer screens (it seems like the process is neverending), so I would never force the people in my hometown to give me their email address, so I could send it to them. Instead, I printed my story out, will bind it this weekend, then give them a hard copy the next time I see them. I’m nice like that 🙂

For all the writers out there, how long does the beta process usually last? How long of a break do I have before going back to work on One By One?

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

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My Very First Award (Lucky 7)

I’m proud to announce that a fellow blogger Kellie Larsen Murphy gave me the Lucky 7 award. This award allows writers to showcase a little piece of their work and pass it along to other aspiring novelists. The novel, short story, poem, or anything else can be complete or a work in progress.

When tapped, the writer does the following:

  • Go to page 77 of your manuscript
  • Go to line 7
  • Copy next 7 lines, sentences, or paragraphs into your post
  • Give the award to 7 more writers

Can’t wait to see what everyone shares (sorry if you already won, I didn’t know). Here are the writers I wish to give the Lucky 7 Award to:

Part of the story I’d like to share with you guys is the novel I’m working on to get published. Its a work in progress (needs beta-readers then I can call it a manuscript). I thought I’d name it Though I’m Missing You, but after doing my online poll and asking around, I’ve decided between When You’re Gone and Something’s Amiss. The novel is about two exes reconnecting after their close friend passes away. Here goes nothing:

Excerpt for When You’re Gone or Something’s Amiss

After Poe finished drawing her sailboat in the water on a sunny day, she traced it with a black felt pen. Sketching was Poe’s comfort zone. She was happy to be sharing this moment with the little girl because it reminded Poe of all the times Jenna had complimented her artwork.

“Can–can I have it?”

“Sure.” Poe tore the page out and handed it to her.

She held it like a first prize winner. “Thank you. It’s so pre-pretty.”

“You’re pretty too,” Poe said.

“No, you’re pretty. Ollie says–Ollie says you’re beautiful.”

“Really? What does he say about Kate?”

“Ollie says that Kate is pretty. She’s high maintenance and a drama queen. Ollie says she smells like strawberries. Poe, how can someone–someone smell like strawberries?”

Oliver really said all that to Raven directly? She must have overheard him talking to her parents. Either way, Poe appreciated the heads up. “It can be from their shampoo or body spray. What would you like to smell like?”

“Ummmmm…” Raven patted both index fingers to her lips, letting the picture fall on her lap. She hurriedly picked it back up and whispered to herself,” I can’t think.”

Poe grinned, assuming she treated her fingers as her thinking mechanisms. “Here, I’ll hold it for you.”

“Thank you.” Raven let the paper fall again and put her fingers back on her lips. Poe picked it up. Ouch. She got a paper cut; it felt like a knife slit through her hand.

“Ummmm…I know. I want to smell like–like–like…I want to smell like SAND!” Raven giggled at her own answer. “Why isn’t there sand here?”

“Because you find sand on the beach,” Poe explained between grunted teeth. Where was Oliver to kiss her boo-boo and make it feel better?

“Oh I see. Poe?”

“Yes Raven.” She knew something was in store for her. Hopefully, Poe could handle it.

“Please teach–teach me pronouns.”

Poe sighed and handed Raven her drawing back. Like a teacher, she told her young student everything she could think of on the English101 subject. Raven paid attention to every word. Just then, Poe received a text from her sister asking her to give her a call when not busy.

After one ring, Keisha picked up. “What’s up, sis?”

“You tell me. You’re the one who asked me to call.”

“I’m just checking up on ya. How you holding up?”

“I’m okay…How are you?”

“I’m sure you’re not okay, but I’ll let that answer slide for now.”

Poe rolled her eyes; her sister was the only one who called Poe out on her responses on how she felt. It’s not that Poe didn’t trust people–it was actually quite the opposite. She didn’t want to burden anyone with her troubles. She didn’t want to be the negative nancy of the group, so she’d rather keep her emotions to herself. “I swear I am. I even watched Raven last night, and I’ll keep her for a couple more nights as well.”

Like Leo’s response, Keisha was shocked. Just because Poe didn’t want children didn’t mean she couldn’t be around them. She was tired of people acting like she was heartless. Before she could defend herself, Oliver walked over to them and handed Poe a daisy, her favorite flower. Reasons like this was why she was falling back in love with him.

“Thank you. Oliver’s here now,” Poe said while putting a strand of hair behind her ear. Raven jumped on Oliver’s lap while he sat beside Poe. Their shoulders brushed, and Raven’s legs went over Poe’s lap. Usually Poe didn’t like people invading her personal space, but this time she didn’t mind.

“Seems like he can’t stay away from you.”

“Don’t read into it much. He just wants to make sure I don’t hurt his little cousin.” Poe laughed and looked at Oliver. She could get lost in those eyes any day. “Keisha says hi,” she lied.

Oliver waved. “Hi Keisha.”

“Can you be alone for a minute?” Keisha asked.

“Can you watch Raven for a minute or two, three, four, fifty, sixty?” Poe teased. She felt like a dork acting silly around him, but he made her nervous. It was the only way to make her not break into a sweat. Oliver nodded. She thanked him by kissing him on the cheek.

During her brief walk on the boardwalk, she accidentally bumped into an older guy, who gave her the middle finger. Poe smirked and kept moving. Oliver gave Poe her favorite flower, instead of roses to Kate. Unless he met Kate first? Maybe she shouldn’t try to push him away. Maybe she should give into her feelings like the night before. Instead of feeling guilty, she should try to win his heart again. If she had competition, may the best woman win.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Categories of Romance

While my rough draft is being critiqued, I figure it is best to go over the different subdivisions of romance.  Whatever genre a writer chooses, there’s subgenres (or categories) within it that they should explore to make sure when they query to agents, publishers, editors, or beta-readers, they are under the correct category.

Here’s a rundown of the information I found on Wikipedia at:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/category-romance#Category_romance .

The Romance Writers of America says to be considered a romance novel the main plot must be two people develop romantic love for each other and work to build a relationship together.  The ending must be optimistic and emotionally satisfying for the readers. 

  • Since the female character’s relationship with her family or friends are equally important as her relationship with her lover, women’s fiction and chick lit isn’t necessiarly a romance subgenre.
  • Maybe I don’t write romance–maybe I should call it women’s fiction because my female characters definitely value work, family, friends besidess just her significant other.

Here are the different categories:

1.  Category Romance

It is no more than 200 pages and has about 55,000 words.  The story is broken down to just the essentials with subplots and minor characters being eliminated or forced into the backstory.  “Nonetheless, category romance lines each have a distinct identity, which may involve similar settings, characters, time periods, levels of sensuality, or types of conflict.”

  • I figure my story is a romance drama  because of the plot, but I guess I’d have to read a publisher’s guideline to make sure.  Apparently, I’d need certain characteristics displayed in my story to make it a true drama.  I’ll need to research some more on this.

2.  Single-title Romance

It is usually between 350 to 400 pages and runs about 100,000 to 110,000 words.  It doesn’t have to be a standalone novel; it can be a series that covers the same characters and settings.

  • I’m struggling getting to 55,000 words, so I know I can’t double that hee hee.

3.  Contemporary Romance

The setting is after World War II.  The elements within the novel date it by it being set in the time when the book is written.  The elements really reflect that time period.  For instance, “heroines in [these novels] prior to 1970 usually quit working when they marry or have children–while heroines after 1970 usually have, and keep, a career”.

  • The story I’ve written now qualifies under this category.  In fact, most of what I create, probably can be under this.  I love giving pop culture references in my stories.

4.  Historical Romance

It is set before World War II.

  • Never say never, but I know I will never write in this category.  I hated the subject of History in school, and I don’t like going back to the olden days.

5.  Romantic Suspense

This involves the female character being the victim of a crime and falling for the guy (usually a cop, bodyguard, etc.) who helps her.  By the end of the story, the mystery is solved and the two main characters enter a relationship.  “Because the mystery is a crucial aspect of the plot, these novels are more plot-driven instead of character-driven”.

  • This would be interesting to write except I wouldn’t really care for the cop or bodyguard.  Maybe the police get involved but ultimately the guy who helps her is her best friend or friend of the family.  And, with suspense, I wouldn’t necessiarly want it to be all sunshine and rainbows at the end.  So, maybe this subgenre but under women’s fiction.

6.  Paranormal Romance

It includes an alternate version of our world where vampires, demons, and werewolves exist.  It also can have humans with psychic abilities, witches, ghosts, time travel, aliens, etc.  “Sometimes the larger culture is aware of the magical in its midst, sometimes it isn’t.”

  • This genre would be fun to write in.  In fact, my graphic novel was a story about a set of triplets, who were cursed witches.  I’d stay away from vampires and werewolves, but I’d definitely consider writing a love story about witches or ghosts.

7.  Science Fiction Romance

It takes place on another galaxy or set in the future.

  • I don’t know about this one.  Sci-Fi isn’t really my thing says the girl who’d consider writing about witches or ghosts.

8.  Fantasy Romance

It is basically a fantasy story that has many of the same elements as a romance story.

  • I guess it’s the same as sci-fi–maybe I’m wrong.  But, I wouldn’t be interested in writing for this subgenre either.

9.  Time-travel Romance

It deals with two characters living in two different time periods and they use a time machine to visit each other.  “A successful time-travel romance must have the characters react logically to their experience and should investigate some of the differences, both physical and mental, between the world the character normally inhabits and the one where they landed.”

  • Never say never, so I’ll give this a maybe.  Instead of using present day versus the past, I’d rather do it where maybe a character could use a machine to go from continent to continent within seconds or to go back in time–a year back tops.  I have no interest writing about the olden days or having my male or female sound like they’re from that era.

10.  Inspirational Romance

“These novels typically do not include gratuitous violence or swearing, and the central courtship is chaste.  Sex, if present at all, occurs after marriage and is not explicitly detailed.  Many novels in this genre also focus on the hero or heroine’s faith, turning the love story into a triangle:  the man and the woman and also their relationship with God”.

  • Since I don’t like to get preachy, I’d pass on this category.

11.  Multicultural Romance

The story has black, asian, hispanic, all miniorities main characters who fall in love.  Or can be in an interracial relationship.

  • Most of my stories fall under this.  The majority of my characters are black or American Indian–probably because I can relate.  But, I want my stories to be read by everyone, not just one group.

12.  Erotic Romance

It uses more frank language instead of using many euphemisms or mild content when describing sex scenes.  It has many of those, but these novels do include well-developed characters and a plot that can exist without the sex scenes.

  • I know I could never write in this subgenre.  I get uncomfortable writing only a couple love-making scenes in my stories, so I’m sure I couldn’t write a lot–especially giving specifics.  I’m blushing just thinking about it now hee hee.

Later on, I will research categories under women’s fiction and chick lit to see what I fall under.  I may not traditionally fall under romance because I like drama (which involves not always having a happy ending), I tend to focus more on my main female character, and her relationship with a significant other isn’t my top priority.  It is more about my characters finding themselves by the end of my book.  Not about them feeling complete because they have someone laying next to them in bed at night.

For all the writers out there, what genre do you write for?  Have you ever researched the different categories within that genre?  If so, what do you refuse to write?  And/or what do you like best?

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Book or Series? Novel or Short Story?

Depending on how much you invest in your characters, you could write one book or a series of books about them.  Back in the day, I brought every Babysitter’s Club book; each one brought me closer to the girls.  Don’t even get me started on  how excited I was when a movie came out.

There’s been a trend where authors write series based on the same characters.  For example, the Jack Reacher set, the Vampire Diaries set, the Pretty Little Liars set, the Harry Dresden set, so on and so on.

This is something you should think about.  With your story idea and group of characters–do you want one story or do you think you could write more than one?

It doesn’t have to be answered right away, but it’s something to consider as you write.  It’ll help you decide if the ending to your story will give closure to the reader or end in a cliffhanger.  Naturally, it’ll end with closure if you only have one book to tell.  It’d end in a cliffhanger if you want to write a series of books; you’d want to motivate your readers to buy the next novel or short story.

Another thing you should ask yourself is if you want your piece of fiction to be written as a novel or short story.  The decision can come to you when you begin writing the pages.

I’ll give you a tip on how I approach this question:

  • I’m a huge couch potato, so I always think in terms of would my characters fit in a movie or a TV show.  If the plot fits in a movie, I’ll write a short story; everything can be told quickly and straight to the point.
  • If the plot could fit in a TV show, then I write a novel.  There’s a backstory that needs explained, there’s events in the present, but I have to reveal the future or explain the past.  If divided in Parts (like Part One, Part Two, etc.), each part ends in a cliffhanger and has a different story to tell.  Each part is considered how a season would air on a TV show.
  • If this approach interests you, then use it.  If not, you’ll figure out the best way for you to handle it.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby