Today is the last day to get in those 50k words.  As you can see by my word count meter (on the left) I’m not going to make it.  It’s not that I haven’t worked every day; it’s that 1700 words a day doesn’t work in my process.  I have to take notes, then write.  Sometimes I need to brainstorm.  Sometimes it’s a trickle, sometimes it’s a torrential downpour.

This blog post by Maggie Stiefvater is a Dear John letter to NaNo.  This is exactly how I feel:

You are not a bad concept. You’re a bad concept for me, NaNo. This is why: you make me write crap, NaNo. You make me make bad novel decisions. You take away my ability to brainstorm between chapters. You make me rush through characterization. You make me pack filler in that will only get ripped out later, having taught me nothing about my novel. You make me into a bad writer.

However, to everyone who completed NaNo, to everyone who participated–I applaud you.  You wrote and that’s damn fine.

Listen to me. No, seriously.  Stop what you are doing, stop twittering or IMing or going through your email and listen to me.  I think I’ve got the long synopsis thing kicked.  Or, a first draft of the long synopsis kicked.  Or maybe the outline of a long synopsis which I can use to create a nice long synopsis.

Whatever.

Listen to me when I tell you this: do not ever, for any reason, no matter what, put off writing your synopsis/query letter for an embarrassingly long time because those things are scary.  The whole thing is scary.  You’re going to wimp out now?

You will so regret that.  Take. It. From. Me.


The best synopsis help I’ve found so far: Lisa Gardner – Tricks of the Trade – Conquering the Dreaded Synopsis Workshop.  You can find that on her Writer’s Toolbox page–just scroll down to the lecture series.

 

I know, it’s Wednesday, and I totally had every intention of writing this awesome blog, because I am in the midst of my creative process, and I’ve got good stuff to share. But it’s the first day of school, and yesterday was the day before the first day of school and freshman orientation, and the day before that was middle school orientation, plus I work (somehow), so I just didn’t get to it. Not that you’d trust me, anyway, given the run-on of the previous sentence. So, I’m linking you to an article I’ve been meaning to read for two weeks. Seriously. It’s been open that long.

Article: Writing A Synopsis by Vicki M. Taylor.

I’m off to the doctor.

As I spent seven hours a few days ago, reading weird websites and finding ways to waste my time, I realized that I was avoiding writing out of fear.  Fear of what?  That I’m just not good enough.  I’m not good enough to pull it off, my writing isn’t good enough to be published, I’ll ruin this awesome story just begging to get out.  I actually had to walk away from a WIP I had 1/4 of finished because I psyched myself out that bad.  I’ll go back to it later, but for now, we–the manuscript and I–need some distance.

But, I’m not the only writer to be afraid to write.  In fact, it’s so common, it’s nearly cliche.  Except that it’s a real problem, and cliche or not, we’ve all got to find a way to quiet those personal demons or, at least, tell them to shut up so we can move on.

Angela Booth suggests:

Get a writing buddy, or join a writing class, where the emphasis is on writing, rather than critiquing. When you’re writing in a group, there’s a group energy which makes it easier to write.

Join a group which doesn’t critique. Very few people know how to critique writing, and for a new writer, critiques aren’t helpful. In fact a critique may stop you writing for months or years when you’re suffering writing anxiety.

This actually happened to me, recently.  The critiques were great, and they did help.  But it got to a point, I guess, where I felt I *had* to make changes and then the changes became so huge and overwhelming that I just… became paralyzed.

Brian Clark wrote an excellent article about what it is we fear when we’re to afraid to write.  We’re all afraid of basically the same things–the trick is pushing past it.  I think I quoted here once something someone wrote on a forum:

Fear makes us life’s whiny little bitches.

That always gets me moving because, honestly?  I don’t want to be anyone’s bitch.  And I definitely don’t want to be a whiny bitch.

I’ll leave you with a link to the wonderful Cherry Forums.  An entire thread (8 pages) of some awesome writers talking about just this: What are you afraid of?

And, with that, I’ve procrastinated enough.  Time to go write.  Bite me, fear.

Update:  The writing is going very well.  I love that once you push past the scary, it’s so much freaking fun.  So, 18 pages of backstory–so far– good times.  I’m trying to ignore what I still don’t know about these characters.  Process is scary, as a matter of fact.

Today I’m linking to an article by Julie Leto about Layering When You Write.

This article was a lifesaver for me when I first started writing.  This is how I write.  And I thought I was doing it wrong.

See, I can whip out the dialogue.  And dialogue is crucial.  It keeps the pace, it raises tension, it adds emotion, it… well, dialogue can do anything.  It’s like the superhero of writing.  Then it starts getting harder.  I usually write in the action, trying to see the scene like watching a movie.  This works, but it leaves me with a bunch of dialogue, a bit of telling vs. showing, and a lot of sentences that start with ‘He _____’ and ‘She _____’.  Then I try to layer in the deeper POV, the description, and tying up those loose ends.

Read the article.  See if it helps you.

I suddenly hate that word, “telling,” like I hate running out of coffee. Apparently, telling instead of showing is an easy mistake, especially for beginning writers. Here’s a wonderful post from Flogging the Quill.

How to Show, When to Tell

Which I am suffering.  But fear not, the wise Jennifer Crusie has listed some random thoughts on rewriting, which are awesome.

My faves:

After you’ve read something forty-two times, it all sounds like blahblahblah.

If you don’t feel like writing a scene with sex in it, you don’t write a scene with sex it in. Kind of like real life.

Playing computer Scrabble does not help you think your way through a plot knot. Crocheting does.

Comic used with permission from Debbie Ridpath Ohi at Inkygirl.com.

Libba Bray, who has the coolest writing name ever, this amusing, and too true for comfort comparison to writing and falling in love.

Thanks for meeting me here. Look, I’m just gonna come out with it. This–you, me–it’s not working. I’m sorry. It’s not you, it’s…actually it’s you. You’re stupid. And I sort of hate you. But, you know, thanks for the great line on p. 400.

This?  This is me.  Right now.

So, I’m attempting to write my first synopsis. And it’s bringing back all these horrible memories of being paralyzed with fear–literally, can’t write a word, paralyzed–when I first started writing and I read all of these how-to books and web sites. Here’s what I’ve gathered, so far:

  1. It’s the opposite of show-not-tell.  Tell, tell, tell!  Okay, so do what I spent ages learning how not to do?)
  2. Tell your whole story, don’t leave unanswered questions.  But leave out the parts, like secondary characters and subplots, that aren’t important to the developing relationship.  (Well, if they’re not important, why are they in the book at all?)
  3. Focus on the developing relationship, not the external plot.  (Are they supposed to be that easily separable? )
  4. A page for every 10k words is acceptable, but an agent may only want 3…or 5… or anything that’s not what you’ve already done.  (So I have to condense it further?  Should I write the long one and then try to make it smaller or should I just do one for everyone?)
  5. Make sure your voice, the voice that should be strongly present in your story, is also in your synopsis.  (All that and I have to write it well?  And why is it harder to write naturally… because of the flipping rules, that’s why!)

I think you can see where I’m going here.  I can’t find anything good, solid, “Here’s how you do it,” or even an example of a book I’ve read.  That would be awesome.

And after this, I’m going to be crafting a query letter.  Which will be nifty since I have no writing credits to my name.  I did find this, which may help, I’ll let you know.  The Complete Nobody’s Guide to Query Letters

Oh, and if I ever do figure out how to write a synopsis, I’ll share the wealth.

EDIT: This looks promising: Writing the Tight Synopsis. I’m going to try this, starting with the one page and building up. Will update on my progress.