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Friday, January 11, 2008

It's Q&A Day

It's Q&A day here at the Wet Noodle Posse.  Feel free to post your questions in the comment section and we'll get this discussion started.  

We can also talk about how you're doing with your writing goals and we can even talk about books we plan to read over the weekend.  Bonus if it's a Noodler book!

This whole month we're talking about getting your writing jump started.  There were a few questions about why we have research as one of our later topics especially since research can be a fundamental with any new project.  I reread Diane Gaston's earlier post about research, and was struck by one of her comments.  "...we often can use the need to do research... to keep us from moving forward."

I do EXACTLY that.  I'll be moving along at a fast-paced clip in my writing and then stop to do research.  Meanwhile, I've lost the thread in my mind or even the writing groove.  I have several books in my mind, the story is there, but the research isn't done, but I don't start them because I don't have all the necessary facts in my brain or in my notes.  But really, this is counter-productive in the whole writing process.

Once I had the chance to hear New York Times' bestselling author Laurell K. Hamilton speak on her own writing style.  She said when she hits a point in her manuscript that she needs to stop and do some research, she'll put in big bold letters and in a large font - INSERT RESEARCH MATERIAL HERE - then go about getting her manuscript written, adding what she needs later.  I thought it was great advice.  Many of us have children, jobs, volunteer work, life so our writing time is precious.  Research can often be fit into 10 minute gaps in my time.  BUT, I have difficulty being creative in 10 minute gaps in my time.

Hope this has been a good week for you.  



At 11:29 AM, Blogger Patricia W. said...

Not quite on track but not really off track either. Still read more than wrote this week in order to meet obligations to other writers. Resisting urge to sit down and jump in because I really don't have a solid story idea in my head. I know the initial premise but that's not enough or I'll get stuck after three chapters. So I'm forcing myself to try to do a bit more prework before I start to write. Different so it feels funny but I want to try this out.

At 11:48 AM, Blogger Gillian Layne said...

Hubby travels for work, and has been home for a while but left this a.m., so the girls and I will be on a quieter schedule now.

And I adore him, of course, but when I can push the kids off to bed by 8:30 and then I'm alone, I can get more done in the evening.

A question for everyone: Do you all step away from a manuscript before going over it again? How long do you stay away?

At 12:02 PM, Blogger Jill Monroe said...

Patricia - I'll be talking about this later in the year, but one thing I do when I don't quite have the solid idea yet in my head, but know the initial premise - I work in a notebook. That notebook goes everywhere with me - every child function, every trip to the bank, and I write. A snippet of dialogue here. A setting description there - really helps me from not losing my thoughts on a story.

At 12:06 PM, Blogger Jill Monroe said...

Stepping away - after I send my chapter off to my critique partner, I don't look at the chapter again. The few days it takes for me to receive feedback and implement is usually enough to really have fresh eyes.

Also, once a book is in production with a publisher, I'm so far away from the writing, I can see the weird things I missed.

Now, after I finish a book - I usually like to take at least a week off before I even think about a new story.

At 12:20 PM, Blogger Mo H said...

Stepping away from a manuscript?

For me, it depends on when it's due. I try to give myself at least a week with the short stories.

When it comes to a novel, I like to give myself two weeks to a month--a month is actually better. I start a new project while I'm letting the first ms sit.

At 12:22 PM, Blogger Mo H said...

Jill's notebook--I do that, too, when I get stuck. There's something about pen and paper that works for me. Maybe it's the whole free-writing aspect. You may want to try it Patricia to see if you can solidify your story.

At 12:48 PM, Blogger Jill Monroe said...

Trish - I've head somewhere that typing is left-brained and writing longhand is right-brained (the more creative side). So being able to write more in longhand makes a lot of sense.

Now writing and entire book that way...not sure I could do it.

At 12:50 PM, Blogger Colleen Gleason said...

Patricia, hang in there! It's difficult to balance critique partners needs with your own needs. I usually do my critique partner reads either in the bathtub (when I'm relaxing at night) or at lunch.

Then I work on my own stuff when I'm at the computer, in "work mode."

Gillian, as for stepping away from a manuscript...I don't step away too far from anything until I'm done with the book. Then I put it away for at least two weeks and either work on something else or just read to clear my mind.

When I'm in the process of writing, though, I am always revising/editing my current WIP, so it's pretty close to me most of the time.

At 3:13 PM, Blogger Terry McLaughlin said...

Hi there, gillian :-)--

I've stepped away from a first chapter (and synopsis) for over a year before coming back to finish the book (A Small-Town Temptation). I've revisited completed manuscripts after a year or more and reworked them in completely new versions (Make-Believe Cowboy, A Perfect Stranger).

Before I sold, I'd finish a rough first draft and then let the manuscript age--like a wine in a cellar--for several months before starting the revision process. Now that I've sold, I no longer have the luxury of letting manuscripts rest for a spell before I give them another read with the fresh perspective I've gained with time--I have to send them to my editor ;-)! For me, that prospect was one of the scariest aspects of selling.

I find I can't make that subjective break with a manuscript until I've been separated from it for at least two weeks. A month or two would be better ;-).

However, my work schedule now is layered with so many overlapping projects my breaks are filled with other stories. Within any three-month period I may be working on a first draft of story A, dealing with my editor's revision suggestions for story B, and doing a final read-through of story C. Constant interruptions force me to take several temporary breaks from my current projects, and I'm learning to cope with an accelerated process--including speeding up my objectivity about any version/stage of my work.

At 4:43 PM, Blogger Gillian Layne said...


Patricia, I hope you keep all of us updated because I'd like to know if the "bit more prework" works out for you :)

Thanks, everyone for your replies. I wondered if it would vary, and obviously it does.

Terry, your juggling act made me grin. I guess the opportunity to be working on so much at one time is what we're all striving for! Tells me I need to get a tad more organized, so I'm not digging between one notebook that holds notes on three stories (yup, I do that.) Different colored covers, maybe?

At 4:49 PM, Blogger MaryF said...

Gillian, I like to step away from my story (usually because I'm SICK of it by the time it's done.) Ideally, I write a rough draft, then set it aside for a month while I work on revisions on another story, then I go back to the first story. Sometimes a month isn't enough, sometimes, it's too long and I forget about that story in the desire to write something ELSE new.

LOL on the notebooks! I collect those pretty ones...the one I'm working in now came from the Target dollar store, with Captain Jack Sparrow and Will Turner on it. I try to have new notebooks for new stories...

At 5:27 PM, Blogger Terry McLaughlin said...

Gillian and Mary--what do you put in your notebooks? I've never kept a notebook for a manuscript/book before, and I'm curious :-).

At 8:02 PM, Blogger Gillian Layne said...

Terry, I have to keep a notebook with me. I'm gone all the time between the day job and the kiddos. And when I'm first starting, it's bits of scenes and "what-ifs" and dialogue floating around in my head--always while I'm driving!--that I need to write down asap. I'm keeping running lists of names, places, who's eyes are what color, etc.

At 8:37 PM, Blogger Patricia W. said...

Thanks all for the advice, Ladies. In fact, one of the things I discovered last year while finishing my first complete first draft was that I liked writing by hand. I hate the transcribing part of it but there really is something about putting pen to paper.

In fact, I began getting to know my hero this evening. All handwritten. I've a couple of different profiles of him going, each of which will take the story in a different direction. After I'm done, I'll choose one and then go back to my heroine and the story premise.

Terry, somehow your posts and comments always hit the mark. Last year's first draft is in the cooler but I know I'm not done with that story yet.

Don't worry, Gillian. I kinda like it here so I'll be hanging around. I'll be sure to keep you posted.

At 9:14 PM, Blogger doglady said...

Which is better - to just plow ahead and get it all on paper and then go back or to edit some as you go? I too keep different notebooks on each story and write scenes or snatches of dialogue down as they come to me.

At 9:54 PM, Blogger MaryF said...

Terry, I'm having trouble with stopping my beloved WIP to do editorial revisions. It's hard to adjust!

I brainstorm in my notebooks, make lists of 20 when I'm stuck, write scenes. I forgot to mention I have these GREAT gel pens my mom bought me. Patricia, I love writing by hand, too. Some stories will only come that way for me.

Doglady (Pam, right?), I have to get it all down first, even when I'm tempted to go back and revise. BUT I am a pantser writer, and I'm always afraid something will come up later in the story that I'll need to bring up in the beginning, and I don't want to do all the work twice, you know?

At 10:02 PM, Blogger Diane Gaston said...

I don't write anything in a notebook. Everything is on the computer. I can do this because I don't have a day job and my kids are grown, but I'm glad because I don't want to write in notebooks! I keep notes in the computer. I make a "Names" page so that I remember the characters and what they look like. I even can almost do a collage on the computer, collecting character photos and photos of setting details.

Patricia, I do several drafts of my synopsis before I "find" my story. LOTS of drafts. Lots and lots of them. It particularly helped with the last book I turned in. I knew when I finally "found" the story. I needed my critique partners to help, though. And my editor who said, "Diane, do you realize you've ended four of your books with an abduction?"

At 10:07 PM, Blogger MaryF said...

Diane, I had a run where I ended all my books with a hospital scene ;)

At 10:29 PM, Blogger Terry McLaughlin said...

Ahh, I understand the notebook concept now--thank you, ladies :-)! I do jot notes occasionally (I keep a notepad on my nightstand--why is it I get my best ideas as I'm drifting off to sleep?) and then set them near the keyboard or toss them in a folder. But now that I spend so much time chained to my desk, I do nearly everything on the computer, like Diane :-).

For those of you who find you most enjoy writing with a pen & paper: you're aware that composing longhand employs an entirely different cognitive process, right? Our brains work differently when we type than when we write longhand. I know several authors who write their books in longhand and then do the first round of editing as they transpose their pages to the computer. I find it difficult to compose longhand, but I do my best editing on paper.

Doglady--you can do whatever works best for you ;-). Some writers swear it's better to plow ahead without looking back, because you can't easily move forward if you're always looking back over your shoulder. Others can't step ahead until they make sure things aren't crumbling behind them ;-).

At 10:30 PM, Blogger doglady said...

Thanks, Mary. Yes, I am Pam. At work I am Pam in the Bakery. I feel like "in the Bakery" is my last name. I too am a pantser and have had at last count three things come up in my book that I had to go back and write in at the beginning. Two large hairy dogs appeared out of nowhere so the hero could have a long talk with them about the contents of a mysterious letter the heroine received. SO, I had to go back and put Romulus and Remus in at the beginning! I hate it when people / pets just pop in out of nowhere!

At 10:40 PM, Blogger MaryF said...

:::smacks head:::

Dang it, I forgot the dog again! I gave my hero a dog and I keep forgetting about the stupid thing!

LOL on the dogs showing up, Pam! I had a scene where the heroine had gone to her ex's house and suddenly "she" was there (another woman) only I had no idea who the other woman was. Then, boom, it came to me. NOT good news for my heroine, BTW.

At 10:45 PM, Blogger doglady said...

Ouch! Given the choice between a dog showing up and another woman showing up, I'll take the dog. Much easier to deal with!

At 12:52 PM, Blogger Patricia W. said...

Terry, I'd never heard that about the brain working differently when writing longhand vs. typing. I'd like to know more about that.


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