All posts filed under: Writing Process

If You Have Writer’s Block, Watch this TED Talk.

We’ve all been there. Your initial kernel of an idea is stuffed with endless possibilities, and you write for weeks or months with the focused intensity of a lion chasing down its prey. Your words flow faster than monkey diarrhea, and you’re riding the high like a fevered junkie. Feels fucking good, amirite? You start thinking that maybe you’ve got what it takes, that this writing thing is easy peasy, because you were blessed with the right idea at the right moment, and you must’ve done something good in your past life, because the words are clicking together inside your brain. Gaiman and Rowling and McCarthy ain’t got nutting on you, baby. Then one day, while you’re eating pancakes at two in the morning, it all goes to shit. Maybe your plot gets snarled up tighter than fishing line or maybe your characters refuse to cooperate or maybe you realize you’ve unintentionally copied the storyline of Marvel’s latest movie. Aaaand…cue writer’s block. I’m not talking about the ol’ I don’t really feel like writing today because …

#SFFPit and #NLpitchperfect: My Twitter Pitch Party Experience

I took Bree Ogden’s query class on LitReactor last year. Yes. I took a class. And yes, I know I am a total geek. But I’m glad I did, because that’s where I learned about Twitter pitch parties. I’d deleted my Twitter account a long time ago, but after that class, I decided to restart one. Bree also critiqued our Twitter queries which was a nice bonus. Fast forward a year later, my manuscript was ready-to-go. I started compiling a list of agents and discovered New Leaf Literary was holding a two-hour pitch event on Twitter the next day. And while I thought I knew what it would be like, it turned out that I DIDN’T KNOW AT ALL. Because right when the clock chimed 1pm, FOUR THOUSAND TWEETS appeared across my screen. Okay, maybe not four thousand, but I remember sitting in front of my laptop with my mouth open and fingers frozen. The event only lasted two hours, but daaamn…I think that was the first time I realized just how many of us there are. Didn’t get …

Progression of a Manuscript

A while ago, I wanted to see how a manuscript changed from its first draft to final version. Couldn’t find an example back then, so I’d like to show you what happened with mine. Here were the first forty words or so from my first draft: My stepfather taught me how to take a punch, but he taught me how to throw one too. I pushed Lee’s buttons because if he didn’t come after me, he’d go after mom. At this point, the story was set in present day. I spent several months writing the first draft, and somewhere between the second and third draft, I decided the story would work better in a futuristic setting. The opening changed to: The first time I met my biological father, I said the only thing that came to mind: “Seaweed?” “The smell’s not so bad,” he said, his eyes kind. “You’ll stop noticing it in time. The company I hired to facilitate your reassignment uses this shuttle to transport produce from Samsara to Empyrean.” Lee (the stepfather) isn’t gone, …

Developmental Editing Afterglow

I finished the 17,0357th draft of my science fiction manuscript last October. I’d changed the story so much through previous drafts that I needed another pair of eyes to tell me what was working and what wasn’t. I hired a developmental editor to begin work in December and got back a ton of notes in mid-January. And by “a ton” I mean a 5,000-word document PLUS detailed notes throughout my manuscript PLUS a one-hour phone consultation. He emailed me to see if two weeks would be enough time for me to turn in my next draft. I made some funny noises when I read that, then replied back, “HOW ABOUT MARCH?!” It took me no less than one week to find the courage to open his notes. I had to put on my big-girl panties, and even though I don’t drink, I really really REALLY wanted to drink, because damn it, I felt insecure and scared. Because what if the thing that I’d spent the last two years working on wasn’t good enough? And blah blah it takes time to be …

I’m Supposed to Write a Manuscript Synopsis Now (and I have no idea what I’m doing)

Manuscript to freelance editor. Check! Two to three sentence pitch. Check! Query letter. Check! I’m writing the synopsis now. Query letters and back cover copy I know I can do, but the synopsis is a weird hybrid of sexy and “just the facts, ma’am.” After scouring the internet for tips and examples, I’ve been trying to cobble something together. It’s a neat exercise. Stripping my entire manuscript down to its bare bones means I get to really see what the core of the story is all about. No subplots. No side characters. I’ll wait until I get my notes back from the editor before polishing up the final version. (WHO KNOWS. I MAY END UP CHANGING HALF THE STORY AFTER HE TEARS IT APART. OH MY GOD.) Anyhoo, I’ve consolidated several helpful “how the hell do I write a motherfucking synopsis” links below: Synopsis Examples Learn by studying those who came before you, grasshopper. Chuck Sambuchino writes sample synopses for a bunch of movies. Back to Basic: Writing a Novel Synopsis The writer of the piece, …

The Moka-Lattay-Cheeno-Presso Writer

There are two things I like to do at a new city: go for a run and write in a coffee shop. Bad knees ruined the first, so I rely on the second to ground me to unfamiliar places. This was inconceivable five years ago. If there’s a coffee noob equivalent to the 40-year-old virgin still living with her parents, that would’ve been me. We’re talking big geeky glasses (coffee can be served cold?!), socially awkward (there’s no coffee in coffee cake?!), and forever alone (coffee comes from beans?!). I walked into a Starbucks once and ordered water. My college coffee experience involved mixing ten sugar packets and ten itty-bitty plastic containers of cream into one small cup of coffee. I used (and totally abused) that concoction during finals like some students used adderall. When I graduated, I never wanted to drink coffee again. Fast forward to today. There are five coffee shops near my house. My favorite seat is the one with its back to the wall, a nicely padded cushion, and a view out …