Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Yep, I finished the sequel today! I've been so excited the last week or two, knowing how close I was, but I kept getting subbing jobs every day. I knew if I could just get a couple days to myself, I could do it. I couldn't write the last little bit in the evenings because I needed a quiet empty house to concentrate and "hear" what my characters were saying and thinking.

I've been thinking lately how funny it is that even though I know the plot and how my story will end, I don't know the details until I write them. And I don't write them until I put my characters in a situation, then watch them and listen to them--then I write it down. First you create believable characters, then you get to know them, then you put them in situations and see what happens. Sometimes they come up with the darned-est things. And sometimes I have to egg them on a little to get them going.

As I read my Bible, I see parallels to how God works. As a writer, I'm kind of playing "God." He's got a Big Plan (the plot) and various themes and sub-themes, which will work out the way He has planned, but within that plan, He gives us free will. And everything we choose ends up fitting into His Big Plan! (Unlike me, God doesn't have to wait to find out what His characters will choose to do--He already knows that, as well as the ending.)

Another thing I've been thinking about that relates to writing is working puzzles. I recently got some new bigger puzzles for my grandkids, and worked a few with them. I have always loved jigsaw puzzles, as well as crossword puzzles. I think perhaps working puzzles trains the brain to think in ways that help a writer: to look for and find seemingly unrelated things that might fit together, to foreshadow, to patiently work a little here and a little there on various themes and plot lines that will eventually converge.

So what do you think I'll do, now that I got to the end today? Do you think I'll kick back and take a break from writing? Give myself a party? Send it right off to a publisher? Start a new story? Guess again...every school kid should know the answer:

Rewrite! Edit! Polish! I'll go back to the beginning and read through (preferably out loud), looking for ways I can change passive voice to active voice. Looking for dull, overworked words that can be replaced with more interesting, active, descriptive words. Looking for awkward, wordy sentences that can be reworded or pared down. I do a little of this while writing, and while doing what rereading I've done. But if I see something I'm not satisfied with and can't think of a quick improvement, I don't let myself get bogged down there when I'd rather spend my limited time getting the whole story finished. I often just "bold" a word or sentence I want to rework so I can easily spot it later.

A writer needs to be able to separate her roles as creator and critic. Both roles are necessary, but should operate separately. First you create, then you critique your work. I do have a few people who are interested in reading and critiquing this story, providing some outside feedback. In the past I've been in critique groups, so I relied on others to point out what could be improved. I don't have one now, but hopefully I have learned enough from past groups, and from my experience working with the editor and publisher of The Orange Slipknot, that I can see my own work more objectively now and make improvements.