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Michelle's Musings

New Beginnings

It seems appropriate to talk about new beginnings given that we've not only started a new year, we've just entered a new decade. It's also timely since I'm reworking the opening chapters of my novel, Hide and Seek.

 

It's my understanding that one should avoid detailed revisions when developing the storyline and subplots. I find that's easier said than done. This go around, instead of plowing through the entire novel again, during which time I tend to lose focus, I'm limiting my revisions to the first story arc (approx. first 80 pages) before moving on. (I blogged about the four arc system in my Nov 15 post.)

 

I'm refocusing my rewrite this way, because I keep changing the novel's ending, which means I have to revise earlier chapters to make them fit that new ending. It's a laborious process, and I'm kind of tired of doing it this way.

 

By revising the first arc before progressing through the rest of the novel, I think it'll be an easier and more rewarding process to then structure the remaining sequences (last three arcs) on the first one. This process may be a rule-bender, but I like Pablo Picasso's advice: "Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist."

 

That's my new writing goal for the New Year--to improve my focus by implementing a building block method. I'm not only looking forward to new beginnings, I'm also looking forward to a more satisfying ending to my novel.

 

Happy Writing, and Happy New Decade! 

 

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No Quitters Here

I'd hoped to finish the current rewrite of my novel by the end of the year, but that didn't happen. It wasn't for a lack of trying, however. I attended a course or two on novel revision and mechanics that I found quite inspirational. I even took time off to enter a couple of writing contests. That inspiration kept me energized enough to continue plowing through my novel, which I've been working on for several years.

 

The writing courses revealed major flaws, but I've been excited to implement new tools to correct those flaws. When I look back on the length of this project, however, I find myself a bit disheartened, leading me to ponder whether a novel-size project is too big for someone like me--someone who learned not that long ago that those pesky issues with lack of focus, words jumping off and around the page, difficulty with reading comprehension, etc. are likely symptoms of dyslexia. Several online tests indicated at least moderate dyslexia.

 

I write nearly every day despite the fact that I transpose letters of the alphabet with reglular frequency, a phenonmenon that accelerates with fatigue. Sometimes I get so frustrated, I literally shout at myself (I'll leave the epithets to your imagination). To improve my writing, I've started reading more, even though it's been a difficult endeavor for as long as I can remember. If I stay with a novel, or even a sample chapter on my e-reader, I learn a lot about the craft, which pays homage to the adage I've heard time and again from other writers: read, write, read, write, and then read and write some more.

 

One thing I've never been is a quitter. I truly enjoy writing, and I look forward to reading more and writing more in the coming days and months. So here's a toast to all those non quitters who also plan to make the best of 2020: Happy New Year to all, and may the Muse be with you!

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Breaking Away from the Critique Group

As a writer, I find the process of critiquing one's work similar to that of an artist who steps away from his canvas and revisits it later with "fresh eyes." Only, in the case of writing, the fresh eyes often belong to someone other than the artist. That's not to say that the author shouldn't critique her own work. I just find it difficult to do so without setting it aside for at least a week or two. Even then, I don't trust myself to recognize all the deficiencies. Having a total stranger (in the form of a fellow writer) review my work can provide invaluable feedback about problems I didn't even know existed.

 

What I've wrestled with, though, is sorting through which critical feedback is useful and which is not. For example, I follwed a suggestion to change my novel's point of view and found that doing so helped me resolve an issue I'd been struggling with. I was also told that my prologue did not fit, so I removed it. Later, in a different critique group, the suggestion was made to add a prologue.

 

I'm more of a "do as you're told" person, but I've come to understand that there's a delicate dance to be performed in creating a piece of fiction. Studying the craft of novel writing is invaluable. On the other hand, the creative process must be my own.

 

Recently, I've had other authors tell me that I may want to break away from critique groups as they can stifle the writing process. I'm interested in learning how others grapple with incorporating critical feedback into their writing.

 

How much does one "play by the rules," and when does one "throw caution to the wind?" Read More 

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