This Blog Is No Longer Active.

I’ve officially decided to end this blog now. I am no longer using it and haven’t really for a while. Life happened, and I got back to paper journals instead. Which just feels much more natural to me.

I’m still working on my novels and I always will, until I make it in the publishing world.

I hope everyone out there is happy and using the gifts and talents they have in the best way possible. Good luck with everything, folks.

So long, and thanks for all the fish.

 

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Seven Things I Learned From My Second Draft

Remember the moment you finished your First Draft and thought “this is it, I just wrote a book, it’s done, I’m awesome!”, then you went out to buy yourself a nice ice cream because the worst was over and it was all going to be downhill from there?

1. Your First Draft sucks. This is not an opinion, a hypothesis, a probability. It’s a universal truth. You wait some time, then you open the “First Draft – I’m so badass” document on your desktop, you start reading it, and all the blood drains from your face as you quickly realize at least half of it is pure crap. Plotholes, entire scenes that don’t make sense, boring and/or cheesy dialogues, characters that are absolutely not necessary to the plot. Lol, what plot? Exactly.

2. How bad do you really want this? That’s the question you ask yourself, at this point. Half of those 50.000 words you had already struggled to write down are going to be destroyed, and for a very good reason. This means that you’ll have to write between 40k and 70k words (depending on the genre of your story: if you’re writing sci-fi like me, Godspeed) to reach your final word count goal. So, how bad do you want to be a published author? How much do you love writing? How strong is your need to tell this story and share it with the world? If the answer is “not nearly enough to go through other 4 months of existential crisis again”, it’s okay. Go buy yourself another ice cream, you did well and you deserve it. But if the answer is “I want it really bad, and I’ll do anything I can to see this dream come true”, then buckle up. The journey has just began and it’s not going to be a fun one, not at first anyway.

3. You need to see the whole picture and the small one as well. If you haven’t already outlined the thing, this would be a good time to do so. After having re-read your FD, take some weeks to think about it and take notes. Then sit down and write an outline, a structure of some sort. You need to know where your MC is going, when, how, with whom and why. The more detailed your plan is, the more you’ll save time and thank yourself later (personally, I like to make a list of the characters, their motivations, personalities and relationships, and then to divide the story into chapters and the chapters into scenes, briefly explaining what happens in each of them. Even if I change many things when I actually write the scene later, it helps A LOT). It’s easy to get lost if you have no idea where you’re supposed to go. Also, that way you see plotholes and unnecessary characters immediately, and you can fix the problem. Without writing 50k words before you realize there is one.

4. Keep your cakehole shut. For the love of god, this is not the right time to talk about your novel in detail with your family, your friends, your doctor, the butcher and the postman and ask for their advice. The FD was you getting all the clay you needed and throwing it in one place. The SD is you starting to mold it. You can’t ask people “so, do you like my statue?” when the statue only exists in your head and the clay still looks like a mess instead. You’ll get depressed and you’ll want to quit. Just shut up and work.

5. Time is relative and so are the rules. You know a lot of things need fixing. Start from the beginning, follow your outline and re-write the first act (please tell me you read about the Three Act Structure before deciding to write a book, it will save your life) as good as you can. Then stop and take a break for a few days. When you sit back in front of your computer, start from the last act. Write the last few chapters as good as you can. Don’t worry if you’ll end up changing something. You’re still following your outline, so you’ll  probably keep most of what you’re doing this time. When you’re done, your brain will be tricked into thinking you have finished a book and will relax. You wrote the last scene, you made it to the end, who cares if you cheated. It’s happening.

Now take some time off again, then sit back to write. Start from the second act this time, and jump as high and land as far as you want. You’re an anarchist kangaroo. The middle is usually the hardest part to write, because after the 1st act you’re very tired. But hey, you cheated, you little bastard! You have a 1st and a 3rd act already. Now the only thing in the world you have to focus on is the second act. Write all the fun scenes first, the interesting dialogues, the important interactions. Write whatever the fuck you want, following only the descriptions of each scene and forgetting for a moment the big picture (the descriptions already respect the big picture because you studied and established your structure before you started writing, so trust yourself). Have fun.

6. Music is a great ally. Make a playlist of songs that talk about your characters, the world they live in, the situations they find themselves in, their fears, their dreams, their struggles, the things they love and the things they hate and the things that make them cry. Immerse yourself in those songs often. This will help you get to know your characters better, and it will spark new ideas for their personal journey and even for scenes you hadn’t thought about before.

7. Forget perfection. This is not going to be your final draft. I repeat, THIS IS NOT GOING TO BE YOUR FINAL DRAFT. Don’t worry if you skip some scenes and make mistakes, you’ll fix everything later. For now, just write as much as you can following your structure at the best of your possibilities. You’re molding the legs of your statue. The next draft, you’ll mold the torso and the arms. The next, the head. Then, finally, you’ll focus on painting your statue and enriching it with beautiful details. That will likely be your final draft. Until then, you’re just a crazy man working with clay.

*******

I just finished my second draft and it’s about 80k words. I do not have the strength right now to start working on a third one. My brain needs to rest and recharge. I’ll probably open the document again next month, finally ready to work on those abs.

What about you?

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What Went Wrong with Season 2 of “True Detective”? Cautionary Lessons for Writers

Kristen Lamb's Blog

Screen Shot 2015-08-13 at 11.00.05 AM

Most of the time, I try to use great writing as examples of what TO DO. But, some writing fails so epically, the best use of it is as a cautionary tale for other writers. We can use it to study what NOT to do.

True Detective Season Two does just that. I hate writing this because Season One was a masterpiece, and all I can think of is that maybe Nic Pizzolatto was a victim of his own success. It would be very daunting to top Season One. Scratch that. It would probably put most writers in a padded cell from nerves.

So what the heck went wrong?

This entire blog is nothing but a spoiler alert, but trust me. I am saving you ten hours of your life you can never get back. Before we talk about some of the basic writing issues that derailed the series…

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All work and no play makes Charlie a productive girl, apparently

I haven’t posted anything here in a while because the last month was a a bit of a rollercoaster. I’m not sure I have gotten off it yet.

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Generating Page-Turning Momentum—Characters & The Wound

Kristen Lamb's Blog

Screen Shot 2012-12-20 at 10.17.54 AM Hmmm, what’s the story behind THIS?

Can we answer the question, “What is your book about?” in one sentence. Is our answer clear and concise? Does it paint a vivid picture of something others would want to part with time and money to read? Plot is important, but a major component of a knockout log-line is casting the right characters.

Due to popular demand I am running my Your Story in a Sentenceclass in about two weeks and participants have their log lines shredded and rebuilt and made agent-ready. Log-lines are crucial because if we don’t know what our book is about? How are we going to finish it? Revise it? Pitch it? Sell it?

Once we have an idea of what our story is about and have set the stage for the dramatic events that will unfold, we must remember that fiction is about PROBLEMS. Plain and simple…

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CHARACTERS I WOULD CHOKE TO DEATH – Show vs Tell pt.I

I picked up the book I’m currently reading because I wanted to immerse myself in an interesting fantasy world, the premise sounded great and I was sure I’d love it.

Instead here I am, fuming and tempted to DNF at 54%, because

I FUCKING HATE THE MAIN CHARACTER. 

She’s supposed to be this kick-ass, highly trained and super smart girl, who steals and lies and kills and fools everyone.

But I’m halfway through the story and what I got so far is

I’M NOT EVEN KIDDING

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The Winner’s Curse, the Reader’s Feast

This is my first book review (and a long, enthusiastic one).

I know I’m late to the party, but I finished The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski yesterday and holy blonde cheerleader batman, was that good!

Yes, the cover is supposed to be like this. Don’t twist your neck.

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