Day 90 Of 90 Day Novel

It dawned on me that I never wrote about my last day of the 90 day novel challenge. Oopsie…

I have two versions of my first draft: a novel divided in four parts and a novella with just the section that I liked the most. Once I start editing, I’ll finally make a decision. I’m still debating if I just want to make my point, then get out. To focus on the cheating and that’s it. Or if I want to show readers the characters’ entire journeys, what happened before the scandal, how it affected everyone afterwards.

No title. I’m thinking it should be a pop culture reference since my story deals with celebrities. Or it could be the main character’s name. See I’m all over the place…

When I write, I like to play certain playlists to keep me in the mindset of the people in my stories. For this one, I listened to:

  • Dru Hill–Someone’s Sleeping In My Bed
  • Destiny’s Child–Temptation
  • Dru Hill–We’re Not Making Love Anymore
  • Rihanna–Unfaithful
  • Brandy–Angel In Disguise

As you can probably tell, my story is about a love triangle. I want it to be women’s fiction instead of romance, so I focused on the main character trying to rebuild her career after the fallout of her infidelity. I shared her, her boyfriend, and her fling’s perspectives to show the emotional rollercoaster. I guess I shouldn’t tell who she ended up picking, if anyone at all, because I don’t want to give the ending away.

I haven’t touched either versions of the first draft in close to six weeks. I want an objective eye when I go back to edit; apparently I have a lot of work cut out for me.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

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

Day 60 of 90 Day Novel

I can’t believe it’s Day 60 already! Where did the time go? I’m still in the mindset of jotting down notes in the mornings then typing my scenes once I get home. The downside to that is I read part of my story before creating new scenes, which causes me to edit. A few days ago, I decided I didn’t like a scene in a particular character’s point of view, so I deleted it (YIKES!!!). I rewrote it in someone else’s perspective. Sure the story flows better now, but geeze louise, that set me back.

Right now, I finished with all the heavy-hitter scenes–basically the juicy plots. Now, I’m filling in the gaps with transitions and smaller plot points. I don’t know how far I’ll end up with word count at the end of 90 days, but I know I’ll have a completed first rough draft.

Even though writing is a passion of mine, I still believe in giving rewards/incentives to keep motivated. That’s why Melissa and I came up with the bright idea to have $1.99 margarita night at Las Trancas to celebrate reaching 40,000 words so far. The celebration happened to fall on Day 60 (only 30 more left. I wonder if the challenge will stay chill or get stressful like NaNo).

It was pretty fun. We laughed about how when we tell people our projects, they always think we’re in school because we talk about deadlines and word count. No, it isn’t homework. We joked a long time ago that we named our group The Procrastinators since if we didn’t give deadlines or projects, then we’d never start or finish anything hee hee. It’s just our way of keeping the momentum going.

More laugh out loud moments:

  • For some reason, Las Trancas has a kid’s menu for only children. No exceptions. Well, I’m a rebel at heart even though I’m not aggressive about it. I like to test my limits to see how much people will let me get away with. Not liking Mexican food, I wanted chicken tenders and fries off the kid’s menu. I stated this to Melissa, and she convinced the waiter to let me order it. He was hesitant at first, but no one can say no to a Leo’s charms hee hee. We joked that he risked his job for me, then gave me dirty looks throughout the meal.
  • This was my first time ever with a full drink. I guess I don’t only eat slow; I drink very slow as well. It was funny because the margarita glass would not empty. Maybe I took sips from the straw instead of gulps. I don’t know, but I honestly thought I’d never finish.

Who knows, maybe our conversation or events we witnessed weren’t really funny? Maybe it was the margaritas playing tricks on us? All I know is I giggled a lot, talked loudly even though I tried to whisper (an older gentleman with a mullet caught my attention), and had a good time.

I didn’t let the fact that I had jury duty the next morning ruin my night. Even though that was another thing to laugh about: my bad luck.

When I got home, I worked on my story. I’m still iffy on the characters’ names and a little disappointed that I don’t have any working titles yet. Hopefully, I’ll think of something soon.

For all the writers out there, do you give yourself rewards for finishing a project or deadline? What’s the most interesting one you gave yourself?

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Day 41 of 90 Day Novel Challenge

This morning I had writer’s block while trying to concentrate in Java. My mind was too distracted and I couldn’t calm it down. It’s my own fault for not going to bed at a decent hour last night. Oh well, that’s how the cookie crumbles sometimes. Hopefully, by the time I reach home, I’ll be ready to finish my scene.

Normally, I write in the mornings. I’m motivated, hardly looking up from my paper. Then I go home to type it, sometimes including something extra if I’m in the mood. I’ve decided not to print this novel bits at a time like I usually do. When I hold the paper in my hand, it keeps me motivated because I see my story’s progress, I see it growing. This time, I’ll just wait until I’m finished my first draft since I’m writing out of order.

For some reason, the middle section is speaking to me more than the beginning. This story is fun to write. The female main character is the total opposite of me; she’s flirtatious and seductive. She can get whatever she wants from men without even trying. To help with showing rather than telling, I researched flirty body language, ways to know men/women are attracted to each other, when to notice they lost interest, with Google.

  • It’s been interesting creating those scenes. In a nutshell, this novel is about a love triangle. I write from the woman and the two guys’ perspectives. The girl will end up deciding she doesn’t want any of them; she’d rather be alone. One guy will respect that while the other guy will become a clingy mess.
  • I noticed the majority of my stories (novels, writing prompts, short stories) involve the guy pursuing a relationship but the girl hesitates. I wonder what that says about me…

Since I’m not concerned with word count this time around, it’s been less stressful. I’m confident that I’ll have a finished product on Day 90. I don’t care how long it takes to copy and paste a new document. Even though I’m focused on this new novel, I still wonder about One By One. I still haven’t heard from my betas yet. I feel vulnerable and exposed, which is hard for a shy person. I can’t wait to get feedback, so I can feel normal again. I hate not knowing; the suspense is killing me.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

“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

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

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.