Thursday, May 28, 2009

Author Angst

THE SEVENTH WITCH is in the pipeline and heading toward publication. This past weekend, I finished going over the copyeditor's changes and the manuscript is back at Avon. It will have one more pass through by the proof readers before it hits the book stores at the end of December. For me, that means it's basically done, no more tweaking...no more rewrites. Now it's onto the next project...a stand alone with a paranormal twist. My editor has already read what I've written so far (five chapters) and has given me her comments. My job is to rewrite those chapters and do a (yuck) outline. 9) When those are finished and she reads them, we'll see if we have a deal.

Okay, here's the thing...as I've said before, I've always been a pantser. Get the basic idea for the story in my head and just start writing. Well, I've decided to change my process...kind of a necessary decision since I need to have the above mentioned outline to go along with the chapters. As a result, my desk is littered with books by Donald Maass, Sol Stein, Karen S. Wiesner, etc.. Each one contains ideas on how to construct a novel. Character interviews and bio sheets, inner conflict, outer conflict, downtime, subplots, black moments...the list goes on and on. I even bought a notebook and now have copious notes about who the characters are and where this story is headed. Has it been helpful? Yes, their advice has made me rethink a lot of my original ideas, which is good, and it's made weak areas in the plot stand out.

However, right now, I feel like I've got a mish-mash of "stuff" and I don't quite know how it's going to all fit together in the end. Thank God for Joanna Campbell Slan, who has some of these same books, and our brainstorming sessions via the telephone. ("I don't get it, Joanna...what does he mean by "public stakes"? "Well, Shirley, I think he means..." That conversation lasted about an hour!! 8) ) Our talks have really helped clarify some of the points these authors make.

Another thing about this change...all this reading, note taking, and discussions have made me realize something. All these authors have different ideas, different approaches, on how to construct a novel, and they all have merit, but in the end, it's up to me to decide what works best for me as a writer. Am I going to do a scene by scene, 60 page outline, like one book recommends? Doubt it! Will I complete around 34 worksheets? Don't think so. What I am going to do is take a little of this and a little of that from each one of these books and try to write the best story I can. It's a challenge to change the way I do things, but really, isn't every new book a challenge? To take an idea, bend it, twist it, and try to make it into something that, hopefully, the readers will enjoy??? Does it matter how an author gets from point A to point B? Isn't it, as they say, the journey that counts?

So as I start this new journey, wish me luck!! I've a feeling that I'm going to need it!! 8)

That's it for now-got to get back to my note taking!! Hope you all have a good one and I'll catch you next week!!

Best,
Shirley

4 comments:

Blodeuedd said...

Good luck! You'll do great :D

Roxanne Rhoads said...

Good luck. That sounds so complicated. Like you I just sit down and write. I hate preplanning and outlining. Characters tend to decide to do their own thing and go where they please. Planning is over-rated.

When the next witch book scheduled to be released? I just love Abby and Ophelia.

Erica Hayes said...

Good luck, Shirley! Yay! one more pantser converts :D I love outlining. My books are so much better for it -- in fact, they'd be non-existent without it.

I find that planning in advance doesn't stop characters from doing their own thing. It just helps me understand why they're doing it.

Shirley Damsgaard said...

Thanks for the good wishes everyone!! And Erica, I don't know if this pantser has totally converted! Lol! But all these notes really have helped give me a clearer vision of where this story is headed...we'll see where it all ends up. I'll keep everyone posted.

And Roxanne, as far as I know now, THE SEVENTH WITCH will be out at the end of December, first of January, but no firm date as of yet. However, things are moving along. Yesterday, I received the final graphics for the cover, so we're getting closer to having a finished product. (They've done a terrific job, btw, and I'll post it as soon it's finished.)

Everyone have a great weekend and thanks again for the comments!!