Writing: cleansing my palate

I’ve enjoyed reading a variety of twitter and blog posts about writers gearing up for NaNoWriMo this month. There’s been advice for plotting ahead (which I always do), doing character sketches (ditto), and different methods for pacing yourself. A lot of writers have done their homework, and they’re ready to go. Since this is the second day of November, I’m guessing some of them already have one or two thousand words on the pages. If you’ve signed up to write a novel and intend to stamp The End on it by the last day of November, I wish you good luck. May the Muses smile on you. I, on the other hand, am gearing up to do rewrites of the romance my agent approved.

No small feat. Sometimes, I get lucky and I only need to change a few scenes or add a scene at the end of the book–a common occurrence for me. I tend to rush endings. A mistake. Readers, experts say, buy books because the opening paragraphs or pages hook them, but they buy a writer’s second book because the end of the book they read satisfies them, and they’re willing to give the writer another try. As usual, I need to add another scene at the end of the romance. More than that, though, I need to tweak or eliminate an entire subplot. If I eliminate it, I need something new to take its place. AND I need to beef up a minor character who plays a major part in the plot. I’m not discouraged. For my first romance, I think I got off pretty easy. I expected the whole thing to be a bust. But I’m going to have to spend some serious time to make the book work, because I want the thing to be as good as I can possibly make it. I ended up really enjoying everything about the book–my characters, the plot, and the actual writing itself. I even have ideas for two more spin-off romances.

The thing is, though, I just finished doing rewrites for one of the urban fantasy novels I was working on. And I’ve learned that my brain needs time to doodle–to play with short, obscure thoughts–between books. I used to ignore those inner rhythms when I was in a rush to get books done, but somewhere along the daily grind of pumping out words and scenes, my writing went flat. No matter how many active verbs I smacked into sentences, my characters yawned and said, “Give us a break, will you?” And now, I do. When I finish a book, I play with a few short stories before I start the next book. I’ve read that Stephen King used to do the same thing. I’m not comparing myself to him, but I understand the need. Short stories are a time for me to find something close to writer’s instant gratification because I can finish short-shorts in a day or two and “lunch hour reads” in a week or two. Short, by novel standards. Oops, forgot. Not if you’re racing through NaNoWriMo. Then I’d have a book finished in a month:) But short stories between novels works for me, regardless. They cleanse my palate before I settle in for another long haul.

Whatever you’re working on this month, happy writing!


6 thoughts on “Writing: cleansing my palate

  1. I enjoy learning your process. I don’t think you can overstate the importance of giving yourself distance from a work before launching into the editing mode. I am finding this to be so helpful.
    Miss you on Nano – maybe next year????


  2. As you know, I’m really excited about that romance. And did a 40K book challenge once a LONG time ago. All I got from it was the fact that I could do it. Just don’t want to be that pushed. It’s too hard to enjoy the process and that’s the best thing about writing.


  3. You get more writing done than you think, Sue:) But I do write every weekday. And I work on my blog on Sundays. John says I’m easier to live with when I get in my writing time, so he’s all for it! I don’t pester him as much that way, too.


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