Having never completed a work of fiction, I’ve had a lot to learn about the writing process over the last six years. Neither writing nor white screen has been the problem. I’ve written and tossed thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of words. over the period of time I’ve been writing Girls on Fire. But I’ve run into plenty of other snags. Maybe you’ve had some of these problems as well.
- Telling rather than showing.
- Showing (scenes that don’t blend) rather than narrating.
- Digging into the character’s mind and motivation.
- Balancing all the main character’s parts in the book.
- Using tools for telling – diaries, texts, phone conversations.
- Using tools for showing – minor characters, conversations about the character, actions, dreams
The Ripple Effect
Every time I learn a new tool, get deeper inside a character, or read a book that inspires me, I make changes that ripple throughout the entire book. Between July 1 and November, when my developmental editor, Andrea Robinson, had a break in her schedule, I decreased several chapters she suggested. Good for me. I still added over 20,000 words to the project I turned into her.
After a while, I obsessed over this story. I’d go to bed, and a minor character would suddenly appear and turn in to someone more important. I’d see clues I could drop into the beginning chapters. I can’t tell you how many times I wrote the first three chapters. Sadly, I didn’t finish the
second or third (14-15th -let’s be honest here) round of edits and additions I had started. When I told her what I was doing, she graciously pulled the plug on me and took my draft away from me before I went entirely insane.
Since I’ve been reading and writing nearly all my life, and the last twenty years or so professionally, it surprised me that writing a romance could be such a big undertaking. But for me it was.
Glad I Tried It
At each stage of writing, I turned in the best work I could do until I ran into a wall. Editors Debbie Simorte and Andrea Robinson as well as beta readers, Norah Colvin, Tonia Hurst, and my husband, Vince, have been especially helpful with their comments, questions, and encouragement. You brought clarity and inspired me to keep going when I wanted to quit.
Andrea will return the edited copy to me at the end of this month, and I’ll start in on the next round of edits. Today – before I see all the condemning red marks – I’m hopeful that, with the help of my village, I’ll have something that is well worth reading as a published work sometime next year.
I hope this story of my progress in my writing journey has been helpful. If so, leave me a comment. I haven’t seen many live comments pop up in my notifications box for so long, I’ve forgotten how it feels. 🙂