Got A Pleasant Surprise This Morning

It’s been a very long week, so I was happy to find a present waiting in my email inbox this morning. My second beta reader Beth sent me her suggestions. Being excited, I opened and read everything right away. I appreciate that she took the time to run down her suspect list chapter by chapter. I loved seeing how she perceived my subtle clues. Like Mike, she suggested point-of-view changes, improve pacing, and explain the killer(s) motivation more.

You guys have no idea how motivated I am to start tackling revisions now hee hee. But I’ll be good and patient by waiting on my last beta reader suggestions. In the meantime, I’ll jot down notes from Beth’s critique on how to change some of my scenes around.

Like I said before, any writer out there would benefit from hearing readers’ opinions before hiring an editor, sending out query letters, or hitting the publish button. It’s fascinating to send out the same rough draft to different people, then see how they each interpreted your story. Some will focus on story elements while others will comment on grammar and punctuation only. Some will give very detailed comments while others will write a summary. When combined altogether, you’ll get a full picture.

Once again, thanks Beth for taking the time out to help me. You’ll never know how much I appreciate it. I can’t wait to read your story; it’ll give me something to do for my very long week starting Tuesday. Long week means jury duty…

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Write Poorly, What A Concept

Alan Watt–author of 90 Day Novel–gives great advice. He suggests answering these questions, spending 5 minutes on each one:

  • I’m afraid to write this story because…
  • One thing I feel strongly about is…
  • The dilemma and the heart of my story is…

Once you acknowledge your fear, then you aren’t ruled by it. I say time and time again, first rough drafts aren’t perfection. If you think it has to be that way, then you’ll get stressed before you even begin to the point you’ll probably give up, make 10,000 excuses why you can’t finish your novel/short story, and never finish your first draft.

Please, please, please just worry about getting your idea–your story–on paper. Worry about grammar and sentence structure in the revision and editing process. Get out of your head so you can surprise yourself.

Most importantly, don’t be afraid to write poorly! You won’t be defined by that. Trust me. If you allow yourself to experiment and play with your writing, then creative energy can flow easily.

Drafts are meant to be polished to turn into a gem. Drafts aren’t meant to start out as gems already. What’s the fun in that?

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

“One By One” Second Draft Completed!!!

On July 1st, I completed my second draft of One By One with a total of 57,619 words (told you guys I’d cut a lot out), Calibri 12 point, single-spaced, 101 pages. Woo hoo!

It dawned on me that if I have the majority of my characters saying they didn’t murder anyone during their narration–or interior monologue–then it wouldn’t be hard for readers to figure out who the killer(s) is. Process of elimination.

  • So, I had to go back and delete those type of phrases. Now, of course, the characters can shout that to the rooftops, doesn’t mean they aren’t lying 🙂
  • Another thing I tackled was I knew who the killer(s) is since the very beginning, so I had to add motives, suspicions for the other characters as well, providing red herrings if you will. These were fun to plant throughout the story.

I’ve stuck to my word so far of not changing any characters’ names; I’m pretty satisfied on that end. Plus, there were no major changes to the plot. I’ll see what my writing buddies say to see if I should delete or add some scenes.

Melissa, Robin, and I have already started swapping chapters to critique; we do two at a time, preferably twice a week. Since I only have 12 chapters with an Epilogue, time should go by fast. Keeping my fingers crossed (I already have two beta-readers lined up).

  • Agatha Christie is my favorite author. It was a huge compliment when Robin said she noticed the author’s influence in my writing. I couldn’t stop smiling. Plus, she and Melissa both agreed that the nine characters have very distinct personalities and clear motives, that it’s not confusing. Each narration sounds different instead of a carbon copy. That’s cool because I was afraid they’d say they couldn’t keep up due to too much going on at one time.
  • Most importantly, Melissa has been trying to guess who the killer(s) is. She already has a suspect in mind 🙂 You have to know how hard it is not to blurt out if she’s right or wrong! But I can’t spoil the ending for her. We’ve already reached Chapter 4, so not much longer.

I’m so excited to share my story with my writing buddies. Ever since we began our NaNo challenge, I’ve wanted to describe the mystery, plot, characters, setting, etc. to them. Finally, I get to hear their opinions–made everything worthwhile.

Through email, we swap two chapters at a time, then send it back to the original owner with our comments, suggestions using track changes. I’m thrilled to be reading their stories. I hate mystery and surprises–says the girl who wrote a mystery thriller hee hee–I hate being in the dark; I have to know now, now, now. There were many days during NaNo when we met at Jumpin’ Java that I wanted to sneak a peek at their laptop screen. Good thing I have self-control.

It feels good to contribute to their novels as well as they contribute to mine. For writers who work alone, its a bonus to get more opinions about your story, especially an objective eye. The things a critique partner/writing buddy catches, you may not pick up on if you’re too close to your story.

Depending on what Melissa and Robin comment on, I may have a lot more editing to do, or only need to make minor changes. Either way, I can’t wait to have a final product in my hand.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Quill Wielder offers very informative links to help with revising, editing, polishing, etc. etc. 🙂 a novel or short story. Enjoy.

Laura Catherine

I’ve spent a lot of time researching editing over the last week and I’ve found some great tips for getting your manuscript from a mess to perfection.

Author Holly Lisle has a great little walk through of things to look out for when you edit: How To Revise A Novel. In fact her site has a lot of great tips for writers.

Here is a great article for a way of Adding 10,000 words without panicking.

Writing Tips with helpful tips for getting rid of things like Unnecessary words and Redundancy.

A nifty Checklist for Editing, lots of great tips here too.

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

I’m proud to say that I completed my first draft of One By One in 43 days! For everyone who’s been following my blog, you know that I documented my NaNoWriMo Experience with a day by day account. For those 30 days, I mostly discussed the writing process itself instead of my story. Can’t give too much away. I love spoilers; doesn’t mean everyone else does hee hee.

On May 24,2012, One By One finished with a 67,331 word count (which is pretty good, considering I only had to write 50,000), Calibri 12 font, single space at 128 pages.

I used to be surprised when authors could bang out novel after novel like it was nothing. I often thought there’s no way I could do that. However, after NaNo, I’ve realized if I discipline myself to write every day instead of when the mood strikes me, then I certainly can write novel after novel, short story after short story. No more writing as a hobby–have to focus as a business.

I celebrated and put my novel away for about 3 days. With an objective eye, I read word for word all the awkward phrases, passive wording, lengthy info dumps. All writers know first drafts are complete cramp. If not, then please tell me your secret. Overall, the story held my interest. I fleshed out my characters’ personalities, and fell in love with them (so much I was bummed that I had to kill them hee hee). The suspense was there. I bit my nails in some scenes, and I believe that I successfully managed to put subtle clues of who the killer(s) may be since the beginning.

Now, of course, I’ll enjoy my story. I wrote it 🙂 The word count let me know that I really liked this one. Usually I struggle to make it in the late 48,000 range, so this was a huge accomplishment for me. In reality, I could’ve kept going, but I needed to wrap it up. Robin, Melissa, and I are doing the NaNoEdMo challenge next, so our second draft is due June 26th. If I was still creating the story, then that would’ve given me less time for editing and revisions.

I can’t wait to make this story more reader-friendly. Good-bye to 67,331. I’ve already begun revisions and a lot–especially in the beginning chapters–were cut. I can’t wait for critiquing to start to see if Robin and Melissa get creeped out or if it’s too obvious who the killer(s) is. I can’t wait to get suggestions for improvements and to see what they enjoyed the most. To say I’m excited would be an understatement. I’ve even asked a horror author to beta-read for me later on, and he agreed!

  • I must admit that I went into self-doubt, self-sabotage mode for Something’s Amiss (my romance drama), but this mystery thriller has brought my passion out again for the other novel.  To think that a fun challenge put things in perspective for me is pretty cool beans.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

P.S. And I’m happy to announce that I stuck to my word of no one tripping and falling while being chased 🙂

Day 25 (Preparing for NaNoEdMo)

MAY 4TH – 1,818 WORDS

I missed Robin at Jumpin’ Java today, but Melissa and I had a blast. No writing, of course. We have a lot in common then what I thought:

  • Both like to cast our characters
  • Both are Delena fans!!!
  • Both like male celebrity pics
  • Both Leos–the best sign in the world

Also learned a valuable tip: Every scene should have conflict or tension whether between different characters or inner-struggle with one character. I beat Mike (high school guy) at the cafe, so I got my seat first ha ha ha ha. My writing buddies have a theory that he wants to talk to me, but I don’t think so. There’s been plenty of opportunities that he didn’t use, and when a guy wants attention, then he’ll get it.

It felt so good to finally be caught up with typing my first draft. You have no idea how time consuming it was, and I had to keep pushing my inner-editor away. At least, my pages are printed out for NaNoEdMo (there’s no way I’d revise and edit in my notebook–sloppy handwriting).

  • And since I’m caught up, I finally had time to post on my blog. How I’ve missed blogging! I felt so bad neglecting it for those few days. Never again. I promise.

At home, I took a nap then began writing at 7:15 PM. Reaching Chapter Seven, I’m at peace with my progress so far. I purposely left off at an interesting spot so that tomorrow there shouldn’t be any motivation issues. My characters are turning on each other–not a pretty sight.

Another writing tip I’m quite aware of is don’t have too many chapters for one story. Don’t go past 30. Keeping that in mind since the beginning of NaNo challenge, I’ve been trying to write longer chapters. So far I’ve kept up on my goal.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Checklist For Scenes

I tell my students every day that it’s very important to get your ideas on paper first. To get your thoughts and descriptions organized, and then revise to polish your writing. Revising is more than just proofreading–looking for grammatical errors, misspelled words–it also has to do with bringing your images to life. To be descriptive enough where your readers will get lost in your story.

Here’s a checklist of story elements that should be involved in every scene. Look over this list in your editing stage.

POINT OF VIEW

  • Do you stick with only one character’s viewpoint? If you have more than one in a scene, have you assigned a scene break, so it’s not confusing for readers (if you want to enter more than one head)?
  • With narration, does it sound the way your character would speak? Or does it sound like you, the author, writing what you think he/she sounds like?
  • Have you brought the character’s personality to life through his/her narration? Using certain verbs, adjectives, etc. can convey the mood your character is in without having to say “he is sad” or “she is troubled”, for example.
  • If you use first person POV, have you stuck with first person POV? If using third person POV, have you stuck with third person POV?

DIALOGUE

  • Have you displayed what characters are saying as well as their body language?
  • Does your beats or character’s narration describe what your character is feeling (as well as having the dialogue express the emotion as well)? If so, determine which one you’d like to eliminate.
  • Does the dialogue sound realistic for your characters?

CHARACTER

  • Did you bring out your characters’ personalities by the way they narrate the events going on around them?
  • Have you given personality to your supporting characters as well as your main ones? Readers don’t know what’s going on in their head–their thoughts–unless a scene break or new chapter, but readers can still get a sense of someone in your story by the way they dress, talk, or how the narrating character perceives them.
  • Have you highlighted the characters motives for why they do what they do?

SETTING

  • Have you described the character’s surroundings? Instead of writing all at once, have you spread out the details of interior design or exterior landscape?
  • Depending on the mood your character is in, is the setting described to reveal that certain emotion?

PLOT

  • Does the scene have a beginning, middle, and ending? Do the events that happen make sense to the character?
  • Have you shown the characters’ motives for their actions?

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Update #2 on Romance Drama

Finishing the critique stage with Anam, I’m on my own to polish my draft before sending it off to beta-readers. Is there such a thing as editor’s block? When I create my stories, I get lost in the moment and can write for hours upon hours (I’m talking still working through it even if my hands cramp). But with revisions, editing I find myself staring blankly at the computer screen. Or sighing heavily at the paper in front of me.

I don’t know what it is, but I have to snap out of it. After talking to a couple of authors, I realize that I need to combine a few chapters. I’m in the 30 plus range and want to bring that down to mid-20’s (for my chapter total). And, I really want to fine tune every single scene to make sure it is perfect. To make sure, I’ve described in enough detail, setting the mood so the readers experience what my characters are feeling. Plus, I want to make sure I R.U.E. (resist the urge to explain).

I’ve already decided that this weekend I will work on this rough draft–no excuses. I will get it done then I’ll look over Self-Editing for Fiction Writers. So within two weeks, I will finish. I’m a procrastinator, but I work best under pressure hee hee. In college, I had a ten page paper due for my Native American Literature class. We were to choose three short stories from a collection and describe, explain them in detail. We had known about the assignment for at least a month, yet I didn’t work on it until the night before it was due in the morning. Let’s just say, I pulled an all-nighter. But guess what. I got an ‘A’ on my paper.

I thought I had the name decided, but MR gave me an option that I enjoy too. If anyone is interested in helping me pick a name for my novel, please vote for the title you like best. I’ll really appreciate it. For those of you that have no idea what my story is about, I’ve written a couple of posts under Personal Writing Experience category.

Thanks again for your input.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Update #1 on Romance Drama

I figure it is time for a status update since I haven’t mentioned my story in quite awhile.  Trust me, I’ve been working pretty hard on it.  In fact, I’ve officially come up with the title Though I’m Missing You.  This ties into the fact that even though Poe and Oliver are around each other, they are still emotionally disconnected and missing each other.  Also ties into everyone missing Jenna.

I stated back on December 12th that my 2nd draft was complete.  I didn’t want to revise it until I got a critique by someone else.  I didn’t know that finding a critique partner would be such a long process.

CHASE

On December 29th, Chase approached me on Absolute Write to see if we’d be a good match.  He was writing a mystery with the two leads falling in love, so he wanted my opinion on the progress of his story.  Of course, I said “yes”.  I thought it’d be cool to get a guy’s perspective on my story.

I enjoyed working with Chase, my FIRST critique partner ever.  I always thought that in the critique stage, writers only share about two chapters and possibly a few scenes they feel they need help on, then call it a day.  From there, they revise their entire story from the crit partner’s overall suggestions.  So, I was very happy when he wanted to swap chapters until our rough drafts were complete.

He taught English, so Chase advised me on the correct usage of commas and told me to stop using short, simple sentences ALL  the time.  From him, I learned to use a variety of sentence structures, and I love my semi-colons (which my second crit partner dislikes, but that’s for later).

He let me know that Poe and Oliver came off as self-centered.  I wanted Poe that way; it helped me know that I was successful in showing rather than telling.  I wanted to express she was scared of children.  This is relevant because for the majority of the story she watches Raven, who’s only 4 years old.  Raven was Jenna’s daughter.  But, Chase said it was coming off as Poe being unsympathetic, disliking Raven.  From there, I wrote revisions because that wasn’t the expression I wanted to give off.

Overall, his feedback helped me.  He never said my story was boring (I was afraid that may be the case for him since he’s not used to reading romance AT ALL), so that was a plus.  We actually sent our chapter 4 critiques through email on January 9th, which I didn’t know that’d be the last I’d hear from him.  No goodbye, see ya later, peace out, thanks for helping me.  Not pressing the issue, I just moved on.

Chase, if you ever read this, thanks for being my crit partner.  From your advice and suggestions, it helped me better edit my rough draft for the next person, which is—-

ANAM

On January 7th, I approached Anam to become my critique partner because I wanted a female perspective (hello, female readers are who I want). I found her on LadiesWhoCritique; her story sounded interesting–a man and woman met 5 years ago, then meet again.  She strictly writes romance, so I knew I could learn a lot from her.  And, it’s a plus that we swap two chapters at a time until our stories are complete.  As of today, I only have fifteen chapters left; so close, yet so far away.

Anyway, she’s taught me a lot. Anam is like a beta-reader and critique partner wrapped in one, and it’s so amazing.  She’s going way beyond what I thought a crit partner does, so I’m very grateful.  She’s teaching me about the unwritten rules of romance.  Perhaps we’ve covered them all–who knows because I still have chapters left for her to make suggestions on.

Rule #1:  Female main character doesn’t have to be sunshine and rainbows, but she shouldn’t be selfish or self-centered.

Like Chase, Anam was good in picking up that Poe was a little self-centered.  From her suggestions, I decided to tweak Poe’s personality quite a bit.  Romance readers have to like the female character in the novel.

Rule #2:  Female main character shouldn’t think nasty thoughts about other people unless they’re horribly nasty first.

Poe is sarcastic; I refuse to change that.  In fact, Anam seemed to enjoy some of Oliver’s interior monologue where he was snarky too, so I changed his personality to be a little sarcastic as well.  I need my humor somewhere.  Anyway, there’s a tension filled scene in chapter 4 where Poe wishes she could be anywhere else besides in the car with her ex Oliver and his girlfriend Kate.  Kate’s made it pretty obvious that she hates Poe even though Poe hasn’t done anything to her.  Kate and Oliver argue in the car, and it’s through Poe’s point of view.  Of course, I made it as snarky as possible.  Poe is one of those people who hides her discomfort or nervousness through wit and sarcasm.  So, that’s the vibe I was going for with Poe’s interior monologue (or narration).

Anam advised me that this scene will make Poe unlikeable.  Instead of the readers rooting for Poe to get back together with Oliver, they’ll be siding with Kate.  I have to decide whether I want to keep the scene as is or change chapter 3 to make Kate do something nasty to Poe unprovoked.  In that chapter, they all meet at Dominic’s (Jenna’s husband) house.  Maybe I can add a scene where Kate is rude to Poe, so there’s a reason she has her guard up in chapter 4.  Or, I can just change Poe’s perspective in chapter 4 a bit, so it’s not “cruel”.  But, it’s so funny…

There’s a huge double standard in romance novels that I don’t agree with.  It seems like the woman has to be perfect all the time; she’s not allowed any leeway.  She’s judged so harshly while the man can do whatever he pleases.  So not fair.  Like, Poe seems bitchy for making fun of Kate in her thoughts, but Oliver gets a pass for throwing Kate out of the car.

I would think Poe could get a pass for some of the tension later on in the story since she is grieving the loss of her best friend.  Besides there are unresolved issues with Oliver that she’s still upset about.  I don’t see why Poe gets called bitchy for expressing some slight frustration with him.  I don’t know anyone who’s conflict/argument style is one of acting rationally, or thinking ‘oh boy, I better not say this because it’ll hurt the other person’s feelings’.

How can I have tension and conflict if Poe is expected to be a Mary Sue about everything?  I want something else besides sexual tension from the two exes.

Rule #3:  Males in romance novels have to be strong.

Oliver isn’t a Gary Stu by any means, but I wanted him to be shy, nice, and respectful.  The guy who wears his heart on his sleeve to counteract that Poe keeps a wall up.  Think of how Dr. Carter acted around Kem on E.R. with emotional side,but one of Jason Batemon’s characters in anything he’s ever played in.  You know, the responsible one, tends to his girlfriend’s or wife’s needs, the one guys make fun of.

But, I’ve been advised by Anam that he comes across wimpy.  Yikes, I don’t want that.  I’m editing to make him more assertive if you will.  Think Pacey Witter–reasonable, low self-esteem, challenged Joey but always respectful.

Is it true that guys can’t cry at all in a romance novel?  I mean, Oliver’s cousin did die after all.  Is he not allowed to cry in the privacy of his own apartment?  What about later during the funeral scene?  Is there any leeway?

Rule #4:  Relationships should take up a lot, if not much of the plot or it isn’t a romance.

In chapter 1, Oliver calls Poe to let her know that Jenna had passed away that night.  Then, chapter 2 they officially meet at the airport.  So far, Chase and Anam didn’t mind the opening, but I’m still debating if I should change it.  Maybe I should start with chapter 2 to open up with all the awkward tension they have towards each other, leaving readers to wonder who Jenna is and why the exes haven’t spoken in a year, etc.

From Anam’s useful suggestions, I’ve managed to show rather than tell how much Poe and Oliver mean to each other even though she’s afraid to admit it aloud.  Trust me, he has no problems shouting it from the rooftops.  She pointed out in some scenes where Poe may be thinking about Raven or Dominic, but Poe should be thinking about Oliver because of what happened in the previous scene.  I’m happy that she helped with that–the perks of having a critique partner in the same genre you write for.  I probably wouldn’t have received that keen advice from Chase if he hadn’t jump ship.

OVERALL PROCESS

I’m very excited how my story is turning out.  It’s way different than my 2nd draft.  It’s more improved with a higher word count.  I have to give thanks to Anam and Chase.  Hopefully, Anam and I can keep this steady pace going, so we can finish.  We usually swap about four to six chapters a week.

 I look forward to her suggestions and concerns because I see it as a challenge to fix.  Anything to improve my story is a plus–no more just writing for myself.  I have to consider what fans of the romance genre want to read.  Anam gives me experience on how it’ll be like to work with an editor.  To show that I can revise in a timely manner and am flexible.  As long as the story is still my own, I’m good.

Hopefully, within a month, I’ll be posting that I’ve finished my 3rd draft and am looking for beta-readers.  Right now as I receive my critiqued chapters, I begin editing straight away.  I don’t send my next batch until I’ve worked on some (not all) of her suggestions.  A lot of stuff I agree with, and some I have to stay true to myself.  Like, she dislikes my usage of semi-colons, but I can’t get rid of them.  Then, it would fall back to me having too many short, simple sentences all over the place again.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

P.S.  I didn’t expect this post to be so long; I guess I had a lot to say.