Writing Time, Part 84. Revising That Beloved Older Manuscript, Practical Tips, Part 1

If you’re revising an older novel in the midst of present-day writing projects, the process of chunking it down can be a lifeline to a busy writer. Here’s one way to begin it.

Chunk 1. Mull it Over. This is the easiest bit, and also the hardest, because I want to read my old ms… but, don’t read it yet:

  • Do not read the book yet, but take a day, a week, or a month, to think for a few moments now and then of the shape of the story as you remember it, how the protagonist grows, makes errors, hard choices and sacrifices, and how the supporting cast members force the protagonist into making those errors, hard choices and sacrifices. Remember how much you love those characters.

That’s all, just roll it around on the mind’s tongue. (Ew.) And, find –but don’t read– an early, pleasing file of the book. I found the version of my old novel that I wrote just before I started revising for agents, who then turned me down. For which down-turnings I am now, of course, grateful.

Note on the big picture during revisions: See Writing Time Part 82 .  It’s wise to keep the picture of our grandest writing careers in mind, for just a few moments, each crazy-busy day. The work is challenging enough as it is, and we can use a moment of beauty to think of some aspect of our greater success, whether it’s applause at readings, laughter at signings, or writing alone on a Tuscan veranda beneath the roses.

I hope you’ll have another brilliant week in your writing career. Cheers Mel

 


If you enjoy Mel Anastasiou’s writing tips, you might try her pocket-sized writing guide The Writer’s Boon Companion: Thirty Days Towards an Extraordinary Volume. Motivates, organizes, encourages, inspires.

From Pulp Literature Press

 

Writing Time, Part 83. Time Management for Writers, a Fractal Approach

I like to think of outlining as fractal, like a rocky coastline. The jagged water’s edge looks similar—not identical, just very like—if seen from space, an airplane, a tower, a rooftop, or from a crouching position at the water’s edge. Story sections also look rather the same at different planning elevations.

Whether it’s the 7-volume arc, the single novel, the act, or the scene, great stories have a rhythm that includes the set-up, hard choices and sacrifices, learning and transforming, transfers of power, darkest moments, great rewards, and, as best-selling author Kathy Tyers puts it, moments of beauty, where we enjoy just being alive in a narrative, or in a character’s skin, and where we can look back in awe at the transformations.

Because of these structural similarities, if we like we can save ourselves a lot of drafting time by carrying outline templates. These might be graphic organizers we’ve developed ourselves, or various outline styles we’ve learned from experts, or a combination of the two. In our busy weeks, as we attempt to fit a full-time writing career into our full-time lives, and maintain our good health and relationships, outlining a bit or the whole of a story becomes a satisfying 5-minute reward.

I hope you’ll have another brilliant week in your writing career. Cheers Mel

Note: map detail from Allaigna: Overture, by JM Landels. Get this marvellous fantasy read from Pulp Literature Press, here. 

The original map was created by world-builder Scott Fitzgerald Gray.


If you enjoy Mel Anastasiou’s writing tips, you might try her pocket-sized writing guide The Writer’s Boon Companion: Thirty Days Towards an Extraordinary Volume. Motivates, organizes, encourages, inspires.

From Pulp Literature Press

Writing Time, Part 82. Designing Plans for a Writing Life

If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much. –Jim Rohn

In every profession, success experts agree: set your course. If not, not only do we writers not get done what we dream of doing, we end up doing a lot of peripheral activities we don’t enjoy, and that get us nowhere.

That means writing out goals. Authors do. But how many of us write our goals every day? Long term and short term. We’re all different, but for me, a powerful daily practice is

  1. visualizing my highest, grandest dream in my writing career for a moment
  2. identifying with painstaking accuracy the very next 20-minute step in that direction

It’s a shiny bit of knowledge to carry about, that one small but vital next thing. And, of course, our great dreams are completely portable.

I hope you’ll have another brilliant week in your writing career. Cheers Mel


If you enjoy Mel Anastasiou’s writing tips, you might try her pocket-sized writing guide The Writer’s Boon Companion: Thirty Days Towards an Extraordinary Volume. Motivates, organizes, encourages, inspires.

From Pulp Literature Press

Writing Time, Part 81. In the Mood for Writing

Self-discipline rarely goes amiss, but what if a writer examines a great writing mood and figures out how to encourage it? For example, planning not just a time for writing but planning the mood for it as well. Everybody is different, of course, and I’ve heard good writing moods encouraged by:

  1. Spending time alone in a cafe with a huge hot drink, with instrumentals playing
  2. Drafting an individual project in good company, (with writing friends, my personal favourite), using the Dale Segal’s The Hour Stories
  3. Leading into writing time by writing out a favourite poem or paragraph
  4. Going for a walk to the library, taking just the next step, and finishing the walk after that bit is written
  5. Phoning a writing friend to encourage and be encouraged, having set a date to do so
  6. Placing stickers on a calendar
  7. Setting a timer for 30 minutes, and pressing the start button at the moment we begin typing
  8. Chunking down the next step in a work-in-progress to its next step, so that it appears perfectly easy and pleasant

Each of these have in common the feeling that we are in complete control of our days and our moods. Not a bad way to live our writing lives.

I hope you’ll have another great week in your writing career. Cheers Mel


If you enjoy Mel Anastasiou’s writing tips, you might try her pocket-sized writing guide The Writer’s Boon Companion: Thirty Days Towards an Extraordinary Volume. Motivates, organizes, encourages, inspires.

From Pulp Literature Press

Writing Time, Part 80. 10 Minutes and 1 Strategy for Moving Along a Manuscript

For those of us attempting to fit our full-time writing careers into our full-time lives, one great two-step strategy may help.

  1. Ask What one action comes next?
  2. Chunk the next stage of work down, to the smallest possible size.

Of course, we keep the big picture—the whole book, series, career— in mind, but when there are only 10 minutes to spare in a working day, it’s worth asking “What’s the one thing that comes next?” If the answer is “Chapter Three”, we’re not about to write Chapter Three in ten minutes on a Thursday afternoon. But, what really comes next may not be Chapter Three itself, but a design:

  • on outline of the general action
  • or an arc for the POV character
  • or a design for exchange of power
  • or a sketch of the central image,

and any one of these may be done towards Chapter Three in 10 minutes. Whether we think it through, draw a snowflake, or write a quick outline, we’ve gone a long way towards writing that chapter. It’s a mighty satisfying way to finish busy Thursdays, too. Or crazy Mondays. Or fly-by Wednesdays…

I hope you’ll have another great week in your writing career. Cheers Mel


If you enjoy Mel Anastasiou’s writing tips, you might try her pocket-sized writing guide The Writer’s Boon Companion: Thirty Days Towards an Extraordinary Volume. Motivates, organizes, encourages, inspires.

From Pulp Literature Press

Writing Time, Part 79. Setting Goals, Dreaming Lifestyles

Here’s a question for a writer: What does the ideal day, week, year in a writing career look like?

 A friend of mine, a wise and lovely woman, filled to the gills with integrity, and inspiring to all, says Think about it on a big scale. Say you’re making a huge income through your writing every year, what would you do?

  • Three thousand words a week to a cogent outline = one long or two shorter novels a year. Would that be enough for a busy, successful career?
  • What if one wrote double that, would it be too much to deal with, for revising, editing, proofing, promoting?
  • How much of the day should go to writing in an ideal career?
  • How much of the week? Seven days writing sounds like a recipe for burnout to me.
  • There will be lots of proofs to look at, and signings. How many signings a month would be reasonable? How many readings or workshops?

Imagine the ideal day in your future writing career. I’ll bet it doesn’t sound as frenetic as all those questions do. Still, they’re fun to think about. And it’s nice to know that already we do, now and then, have that perfect day in our present writing career as well.

I hope you’ll have another great week in your writing career. Cheers Mel


If you enjoy Mel Anastasiou’s writing tips, you might try her pocket-sized writing guide The Writer’s Boon Companion: Thirty Days Towards an Extraordinary Volume. Motivates, organizes, encourages, inspires.

From Pulp Literature Press

 

Writing Time, Part 78. Taking a Stab at It

I’m always amazed when writing websites offer “How do I get started?” as a first question for beginning writers and novelists. I’m not even sure whether I believe in “beginning writers”. We’re emerging writers, certainly, but many of us began when we were about eight. If we want to write a novel, we’ve probably been thinking about it for quite some time, and have made at the very least a stab or two at it.

Perhaps a better question might be, How do I get organized to write a novel? But that’s as individual as our kitchen and garage organizations. There’s no one right way. I remember reading that Danielle Steele’s writing room was walled with bulletin boards. Apparently she would write several books at once (which sounds daunting, except that she also had nine kids, which puts the whole thing into perspective) and had index cards pinned up everywhere with eye colours and details from each of her heroine’s arcs.

Or it might be, How do I embolden and motivate myself to get words down on a blank page? By which we mean, is it going to be good enough? To answer that worry, let me say that I listened to best-selling author Bernard Cornwell talk about starting out writing his historical novels, inspired by the classic Hornblower stories, starring his own Captain Sharpe. Cornwell thought his own work was terrible, so he copied out Hornblower, replacing Hornblower’s name with Sharpe’s, and said it still looked terrible. But Cornwell’s work is superb. So there you go. And since we’re here with Cornwell, pen in hand, in a blog beginning with How do I get started? it may be worth mentioning that copying out well-loved and admired stories or poems, as he did, is a great way to warm up with the major players.

I hope you’ll have another great week in your writing career. Cheers Mel


If you’re a fan of Mel Anastasiou’s writing tips, you might try her pocket-sized writing guide The Writer’s Boon Companion: Thirty Days Towards an Extraordinary Volume. Motivates, organizes, encourages, inspires.

From Pulp Literature Press

 

 

Writing Time, Part 77. Creating Something New

One of the great things about being a writer, and living an author’s life, is that we can be confident that we’re making a difference in the world. Each turning point, thrill, laugh, satisfying ending we write, is an act of creation, leaving the sphere of readership a little richer.

Jean Rhys wrote, “All of writing is a huge lake. There are great rivers that feed the lake, like Tolstoy or Dostoyevsky. And then there are mere trickles, like Jean Rhys. All that matters if feeding the lake. I don’t matter. The lake matters. You must keep feeding the lake.”

Thinking of the big picture is one of the great methods for getting down to work, feeling the energy that accompanies the understanding that what we do, matters.

I hope you’ll have another brilliant writing week. Cheers Mel

For more Jean Rhys quotes,https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/25022.Jean_Rhys


If you’re a fan of Mel Anastasiou’s writing tips, you might try her pocket-sized writing guide The Writer’s Boon Companion: Thirty Days Towards an Extraordinary Volume. Motivates, organizes, encourages, inspires.

From Pulp Literature Press

Writing Time, Part 76. An Editor Dishes

We’re reading manuscripts at Pulp Literature Press, and what strikes me first is the talent that comes through our e-portals. But, like most small publishers, we accept very few manuscripts in the end. It’s hard, turning down good writers. Often it’s because we’ve no more room for superheroes and wish we had detectives, or vice versa.

Other than fit, what do I look for in stories for our quarterly, and in novels for our press? Here are three great reasons I don’t stop reading to say No thanks, but read on. These are pretty basic, but worth identifying as a time-saving effort.

  1. The author nails time, place, tone, promise of genre, and a hint at the central conflict on page one, often paragraph one, and continues to do so with the start of each new scene.
  2. It’s clear that the writer has dug deep for ideas for turning points, that are possibly archetypical, but not clichéd, within the particular genre. (I don’t read pure romance, but I have a deep and sincere respect for romance writers, who can make woman meets, loses, regains man seem fresh to their loyal readership every time.)
  3. I can tell a fellow editor what this story is about in a sentence and we’ll both still want to know what happens. It’s about a guy who’s ambushed and sent into 30 years of cryogenic sleep, and has to return to his own past to get even and create a better future, second time around. (The Door Into Summer, Robert Heinlein.)

When it comes down to it, as an acquisitions editor, I’m also an avid reader and ideally a big fan of your work.

I hope you’ll have another brilliant writing week. Cheers Mel


If you’re a fan of Mel Anastasiou’s writing tips, you might enjoy her pocket-sized writing guide The Writer’s Boon Companion: Thirty Days Towards an Extraordinary Volume. Motivates, organizes, encourages, inspires.

From Pulp Literature Press

 

This week, from your Writing Muse:You’re a master at uplift, giving us the shining moments that make the darkness scarier. Your Writing Muse @pulpliterature #amwriting

 

Writing Time, Part 75. Towards Confidence in Narrative Structure

On a panel at the Creative Ink Festival, three of us are talking about our planning processes.

The first describes himself as a “pantser”. He writes what comes next, and doesn’t worry about outlines. He knows thinks hard about his story and its turnings; he doesn’t write it all down.

The second is a “move sections around” writer, who, like Truman Capote, believes in the scissors over the pen. She writes great scenes, trusting her inner writer that they’ll fit into the plot and move it forward. Her inner writer doesn’t let her down.

I’m the third writer on the panel. I’ve tried pantsing and moving scenes around. These approaches brought me no success, because I needed to strengthen my understanding of storytelling. I read, digested, applied and analyzed everything available on narrative structure. Now, I outline everything. Story, scenes, character arcs for everybody. I do this partly because I want to go to my drafting desk ready to write, partly because I love outlining like the first Greeks loved Prometheus’s gift of fire, but mostly because the criticism that I used to get from editors was, I can’t tell what this story is about.

I gaze at the two gifted writers beside me and reflect that each of our approaches to story planning involves a confident understanding of narrative structure. What a pleasure to know that some aspects of writing come naturally to each of us, and that the rest may be learned.

I hope you’ll have another brilliant week in your writing career. Cheers Mel
From Pulp Literature Press:


If you’re a fan of Mel Anastasiou’s writing tips, you might enjoy her pocket-sized writing guide The Writer’s Boon Companion: Thirty Days Towards an Extraordinary Volume. Motivates, organizes, encourages, inspires.

From Pulp Literature Press

 

 

This week, from your Writing Muse: Your protagonist deals with setbacks in surprising, believable ways. Great character development. Your Writing Muse. @pulpliterature #amwriting

 

 

http://a.co/5wFHuLk

 

This week from @yourwritingmuse: Your protagonist deals with setbacks in surprising, believable ways. Great character development. Your Writing Muse. @pulpliterature #amwriting