George And Me

In yesterday’s post, I discussed how every author puts a little bit of themselves (or something from their life) into their novels. For me, there are numerous things I throw into my novels that are inspired by true things in life. I won’t spill all my secrets, so for now I’ll just explain my good friend George Florence.

20150115_170826George, my protagonist, is a 30-year-old laid-off detective trying to make a place for himself in the world while doing what he loves: helping people and fighting crime.

Being a police officer was something I wanted to do when I was very young. Even when I knew I wanted to be a teacher and writer, I still had a spot in my mind that wanted to be a cop. I wanted to be a teacher since I was six-years-old because of my first grade teacher. I wanted to be a writer since I was ten-years-old because of Kris. Where did this cop thing come from? I have no idea.

When I was little I was always fascinated with that sort of thing. I remember I had a spy kit with handcuffs, a decoder, a notepad, and–the best part–rear-view sunglasses. I was always trying to solve “mysteries” around the house. One time, Kris and I eavesdropped on my mom’s phone call because we were looking for “evidence” in our case, “Mom’s Cooking: Real or Take-Out?” I can’t remember how old we were, but I wish I did.

However despite my fascination, I never pursued it for a plethora of reasons. I’m tiny and have no upper body strength, I can’t stand loud noises, I’m squeamish, and I’m not good under pressure. I just don’t think it wouldn’t have worked out. Of course you never know until you try, but I think when I discovered teaching/writing, my heart changed its mind.

I have written a few novels. Most of them are fantasy-ish with the main characters having super powers. A couple of them are cliche high school drama stories. Each one of those manuscripts (five of them total) are still on the first draft. I congratulate myself for completing a novel, but editing them is just not something I have the motivation to do.

20150115_170900Then I created George. He was a silly character started in a yellow notebook a few years ago at Barnes and Noble when I didn’t know what else to write.

I say he was a “silly” character because that’s entirely what he was. He was originally a detective who did well at his job, but had no common sense whatsoever. He was comical. I didn’t expect to go anywhere with it, but I liked the story. I wrote 32 notebook pages before I stopped and moved onto something else.

Who knew that years later George would rise to the surface and be who he is today?

Unlike my other novels, I completed a first draft easily and then had the urge to edit it right away. I want to continue his story. I want to write more books about him. I want to publish them all. Needless to say, I think I have found my genre for writing.

Funny how it turned out to be a secret passion of mine.

It’s also funny because George was inspired by Phoenix Wright, a character from the Ace Attorney video game series. I played those games and wanted to write my own mysteries and decided to revive George as my main man.

Of course… now that I write this post I realize that George wasn’t originally based off of Phoenix Wright. He was based off of me.

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The Second Draft

First is the worst, second is the… best?

As many of you know, I am currently working on the second draft of a Detective Florence novel. I hand-edited the first draft and now I’m re-typing it as the second draft.

What is a second draft?

Well, the second draft can mean many things to different people. It could be…

  • The first official edit of the first draft
  • The first official re-write of the first draft
  • The first realization that your novel is not in fact the next “greatest American” one

Second drafts exist (more or less) so that editors, agents, and publishers do not go insane. If writers were able to send out their first drafts then everyone in the world would be a published author. Also, the world would be filled with many terrible books.

Editing Second Drafts

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Some people see their second drafts as editing opportunities. By editing, I mean looking through the first draft with a magnifying glass searching for misplaced commas, spelling errors, and the occasional silly typo.

Not all people do this, but I have seen some work through their second drafts like this. I don’t completely agree with that because there are so many aspects about the novel that are going to change in later drafts. In other words, there will also be spelling and grammatical errors to search for. Why not look for them all at once on your final draft whether it’s the seventh draft or the 20th?

I mean, let’s be honest: you can find all the technical errors you want and polish the draft to make it absolutely perfect. However, when you read that fifth chapter you’ll most likely say to yourself, “Oops… plot hole!” or “Why does this character have blue eyes when he had brown eyes back in the first chapter?”

Rewriting Second Drafts

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In my opinion, rewriting second drafts get you farther than just simple editing. Rewriting means you look more in depth at the plot of the story:

–What questions need to be answered by the end of the novel?
–Do all the plot points connect well with one another?
–Overall, does the plot make sense? Is it realistic (as realistic as fiction goes)?

It means you look closer at the characters you’ve created:

–Does each personality stand out from the rest?
–Will my readers be able to picture each character uniquely?
–Does each character develop throughout the course of the novel?

Rewriting also means you look into the world you’ve created whether it’s made up…

–Will my readers feel as though they’ve visited such a unique, fictional world?
–Will they have the urge to visit this land?
–Is the world well thought-out and planned?

…Or whether it’s a true place:

–Have I done my research on this state/country?
–Will readers be impressed with my interpretation if they live/have visited this real life place?

A second draft should be your first attempt at perfecting the story as a whole. It should–to be blunt–drive you crazy.

The Honeymoon Phase is Over

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So, you’ve completed your first draft of your novel… yay! Go you! You’re one step closer to being a published author. That is, until you realize what exactly you’ve written.

As you write the first draft, you think to yourself, “This is fantastic! It’s my best work yet! Publishers are going to be all over this manuscript!”

It’s great to be positive and to string yourself along and all, but once you start working on that second draft that bubble pops. You feel incompetent, you feel as though you’ll never make it as a writer, you may even feel a bit depressed. You’ll say to yourself, “How in the world did I believe this novel was the absolute best?”

It’s normal to feel that way. In fact, it’s good to feel that way. By getting yourself out of the honeymoon phase, you become a real writer. You realize where you need to go from there. You realize what you have to do in order to make that “great first draft” become a better final draft.

The second draft of a novel is, in my opinion, the most crucial part of writing. Sure, writing a first draft is essential to getting started, but the second draft is truly where the work begins. Once you make it through the second draft, the rest of the drafts–whether there’s five or 50–seem easier than the one before it.

Once you make it through the second draft, your novel is finally on its way.

Related Articles:

What You Need To Know About Your Second Draft
How To Write A Second Draft
The Crash: Braving Your Second Draft

Passed A Deadline

So, I made a schedule for myself for my Detective Florence series up until the end of May of next year. My first deadline was yesterday and guess what? I missed it.

School has officially ended so I don’t have that commitment anymore (yay!) and work is winding down with the holidays approaching. I have the rest of this week and Monday and Tuesday of next week and then it’s winter break. However, they’re still full days so it’s still six hours I’m missing from each day.

Speaking of the holidays, Christmas is right around the corner. I finished all my shopping and wrapping, but there’s still so much to do; clean the house, help with baking, prepare for upcoming Christmas parties, etc.

This past weekend alone I was barely home. I had work Friday morning and then a Christmas party that night. Kris and I went out Saturday morning to Barnes & Noble (so I got a little writing done then) and then we went shopping. Then we had company over the house that night. Sunday we had church in the morning and then went to my uncle’s house to celebrate his birthday. It was a busy weekend that flew by and before I knew it I had to wake up early for work again.

Yesterday I was supposed to have the second draft of Detective Florence typed up and ready to be printed for another hand-edit. I haven’t been writing the ten pages a day like I was supposed to. I have 30 pages left to go.

I plan on finishing it today. However, I won’t be able to start hand-editing the first draft of Detective Florence 2 today. So that will put me a day behind, but I’m hoping I can catch up with that tomorrow after work since I don’t have anything else going on.

In other news, I’ve been continually planning and preparing things for my blog for the new year. I’ve been writing certain posts that will be weekly or monthly. There are a few posts that will be written in advance, but most posts will be written as my day got on and I start rambling to you guys as usual. However, I need the planned posts in order to keep up a good pace with my blog and also because I have no idea what next year is going to bring. Between school, work, babysitting, and everything else under the sun, writing the posts in advance is a good choice at the moment.

So, after work I need to type up those last 30 pages of Detective Florence. Then tomorrow I’ll start on my next deadline. More on that tomorrow as well as an update of the second draft of Detective Florence and how well/not well it’s been going.

Cutting Out Extra Words… Or Pages

I typed up about 12 pages of the second draft of Detective Florence today. That puts me in a small lead since I’m supposed to do ten pages a day. I keeping thinking it would be nice to do extra pages and I probably will every once in a while, but… today is not that day.

I ended up doing two extra pages because three of the pages had the note written on them: “Simplify or take it out!”

Would you like to know what the three pages were about? Well, it was George laying out all his notes about the current case he’s working on. In other words, he summarized the entire novel from start up until that point. Um… why do we need a summary when we just read it all? There is no good answer to that question.

I wrote the first draft for NaNoWriMo 2013 so it’s obvious that I was stuck and just needed the extra words. That certainly worked at the time, but now I need to think about quality over quantity.

I ended up “simplifying” instead of taking it out completely. My mind may change in later drafts, but as of right now I think it’s a good move.

George was writing notes in am attempt to organize the events of the current cases (yes, there’s two mysteries going on). He added in a lot of extra stuff that no one needs to be reminded of, not even him. So I reworded it all so that he made a list of questions. You know, the standard who, what, where, when, why, how. He answered the ones he could and left questions blank that he didn’t know.

This definitely helped me keep everything in check. It was kind of like writing a list of plot questions that I need to remember to answer by the end of the book. I’m sure it will help keep the reader focused and organized as well. Plus, I’m sure real detectives sit at their desks and organize their thoughts like that all the time. Mysteries are a big headache.

Rewriting that bit took me from three pages to about four paragraphs which is just shy of a full page. So… yeah, I was clearly trying to boost my word count for NaNo.

I’m on page 156 in the second draft which is about 20 pages shorter than the first draft. It doesn’t seem like I cut out much, but I’m sure there will still be more cutting left; especially in later drafts. I’m sure there will even be some scenes that get cut, then brought back, then cut again.

Like I said, I reworded that scene because I think it’s a good idea now. However, when I’m on my Nth draft I may think it was a stupid idea and end up cutting it completely.

One just never knows.

That Time Of Year Again

Another year of NaNoWriMo has come and gone. Did you all win? I hope so. If not, that’s okay. Writing is writing no matter how many words you managed to get down on the page.

Now that the NaNo hype is all done and everyone can finally relax again, we are now into December.

December is probably one of the busiest months of the year. It probably goes by the quickest as well because everyone is always so busy. December is also the last month of the year so people start thinking of New Year’s Resolutions and such.

I have been thinking about 2015 for the past couple of months. Call me strange, but I didn’t want to start anything “new” until the new year because then that would kind of sort of in a weird way make it “official.” Am I the only one who thinks that way?

Anyway, starting in 2015 there’s going to be a few new changes to my blog… posts and layout alike. I’ve been thinking about this for a few months now so I just need to put it all into action. Hopefully you guys will like the new changes. There will be more on that later… as in, the end of the month. All will be revealed/explained New Year’s Eve/New Year’s Day. Look forward to it… please.

I will say this, though: part of what I’m going to start doing regularly is working on my Detective Florence series.

I started typing up the second draft of Detective Florence back in October and stopped because NaNo started. I had only 140 pages left so now I’m going to continue that. Here’s my plans:

–Type up the last 140 pages of the second draft of Detective Florence by December 15 (10 pages a day)
–Hand edit the first draft of Detective Florence 2 (December 15-31)
–Type up the second draft of Detective Florence 2
Outline Detective Florence 3
Write Detective Florence 3

The first deadline will definitely hold up. I don’t know if I’ll be able to hand edit in 16 days with the holidays and work, but I’ll certainly give it a try. I would like to start writing the third novel by February at the very latest, though. We’ll see how it goes.

Those are my plans so far. 2015 is going to be the year that the first Detective Florence novel is going to be ready for publication… hopefully. I want it to be completed edited and polished by the end of December 2015.

I typed up ten pages this afternoon, so I’m on par for the first day of my plan. Yay! Now I just need to keep this up.

Growing As A Writer

Kris quit her job a couple weeks ago. She was constantly working and hasn’t really had a vacation in a long time, so she decided to take a month or two off before finding something new. In the meantime, she’s going to focus on her future writing career.

Due to this wonderful decision, she and I are able to have our writing dates at Barnes and Noble again. Starting this past Saturday, she and I are going to spend every Saturday morning at B&N for a few hours to write or edit or whatever we need to get done. This is great because I’m always so busy with homework and such that I can never guarantee myself that I will get writing done every day. Saturday will be like a catch-up day for me.

So, as we all know, I decided to outline Far Away this month so I could finish writing it for NaNoWriMo in November. Well, my laptop was dead because I forgot to charge it the night before, so I brought my hard copy of Take Over to B&N with me this past Saturday. Kris and I were there for at least three hours and I only got six pages done. Part of that was my getting distracted at nothing, but also because the first draft is a little bit… well, terrible.

On the first page, I rewrote two paragraphs and cut out the rest of the page.

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The second page looked a little bit better, but again… it didn’t make much sense.

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Needless to say, it took me a while to get through the first couple of pages.

Kris was proud because she said, “Look! You’re growing as a writer.”

You know that feeling you get when you finish writing something whether it be a full length novel, a short story, or even a poem? You get a great sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. You feel successful. It doesn’t matter whether it came out good or not, you completed something. Well, that’s how I felt when I finished writing this manuscript.

I wrote Take Over for Camp NaNoWriMo way back in April 2013. When I finished writing this novel (this was before I started writing Detective Florence), I thought to myself: This has got to be the best first draft I’ve ever written!

A year and a half later and I’m realizing just how wrong I was. I read the first sentence of the novel, turned to Kris with a look of disgust on my face and said, “I already don’t like this.”

I even considered re-writing Take Over for NaNo this year and let Far Away wait a little bit longer. However, it’s going to take me a while to re-read and edit through the first draft of Take Over, so I think I’m going to just stick with editing it for now. I’m most likely going to be re-writing it as I edit anyway. When NaNo is all said and done, I’ll worry about re-writing Take Over.

Out of all the pieces I’ve written between April 2013 and now… who knew I was actually learning along the way? It doesn’t feel like I’ve been learning, but I must be doing something right.

 

Writing Schedule

I am happy to announce that I have finally come up with a plan for myself for my writing! Well… at least until the end of 2014.

For the past couple of days I’ve been trying to figure out Detective Florence. There are a lot of things I need to work on for both the first novel and the second, plus I need to write the third. Of course, I think the third novel is going to end up being the ending of the second novel, but for the sake of being more confused than I all ready am, I’m going to write it as though the story is it’s own novel.

As much as I don’t like editing, I figured I need to spend between now and November to edit. November will be used to write the third novel. In other words, I gave myself a deadline of November first.

I all ready edited Detective Florence during the month of June so I could write the sequel for Camp NaNo in July. With that being said, for the rest of August I’m going to type up the edited first draft of Detective Florence. I’m giving myself a whole month to do this because it’s all ready the ninth and in a week I’m going on vacation for a week (I’ll explain more about that on a later date).

For September, I’m going to edit the first draft of Detective Florence 2. Both school and work will start up again so this will be interesting to see.

In October, I’m going to type up the edited first draft of Detective Florence 2 and outline Detective Florence 3. I’m hoping to have the entire outline done as well as have all the questions answered. I also hope the novel (and the whole trilogy) will make enough sense so editing won’t be that bad.

November, of course will be spent writing Detective Florence 3 for NaNoWriMo. I think it’s funny that it’s been almost a year since I started the series.

I came up with the idea for Detective Florence a long time ago and started writing it in a notebook. All the characters were different except for Detective Florence himself, but he had a completely different personality. I can’t remember when I wrote it because I didn’t date it (I’m kicking myself for that one), but there’s about 31 pages written before I stopped. Maybe someday I’ll post a bit of it on here so we can all get a good laugh.

Of course, I may use that case and characters in another Detective Florence novel. Who knows? I have way too many ideas for these characters all ready.

I finally got it in my head again and I wrote it for November 2013’s NaNoWriMo. I’m pretty sure I hit 50k words on day 17, but I didn’t finish the whole novel until the end of December (or early January). Now a year later I’m going to be writing the third book.

Anyway, for this upcoming December, I’m not sure yet, but I might be editing the first Detective Florence again to give myself a break from writing the third one. Then I’ll either rotate editing through the series or I’ll edit one book at a time. It depends on if the outlines for all three novels makes sense and are in order with each other. So, December is up in the air for now, but I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.

For now, I have plenty to do before November first.

Camp NaNoWriMo April 2014

Camp NaNo

 

I have been anticipating this day since the first day of March. I told myself I was going to edit a novel during the month of March and I did! Hunter is in the process of being re-typed as a second draft. So, that’s that.

I wanted to have plenty of time to plan for Camp NaNoWriMo. I knew what novel I wanted to write, but I didn’t have it planned out. I literally finished editing Hunter on March 30. Then I spent all day yesterday (March 31) doing homework. I worked until 2:30 then got the majority of this week’s homework done because I wanted the first week of Camp to be a productive one.

Would you like to know something sad, though? I went into work yesterday and they asked me, “Are you available every day this week and next week?” I said yes because I need the money, but of course it would happen during NaNo…not to mention this month I have my cousin’s birthday, my father’s birthday, Easter, planning for my sister’s upcoming wedding, homework, and now work on top of it. But, it’ll be good to practice my time-managing skills.

Anyway, I’m writing Diary of a Killer for Camp. I’m sure most of you know I have a completed novel called Diary of a Lover. No, this is not a sequel. It’s a complete different set of characters in a different setting. The only similarity is the title because they are both written in “diary” format. Each chapter is a new diary entry. Oh, they have psychology in common, as well. Of course, I know nothing of psychology so a lot of research will be required, so…this will be fun.

I didn’t get a chance to plan it so when I started writing after work today all I had was the title and that was it. I didn’t even have the protagonist’s name…I didn’t even know the gender. In case you’re all wondering, it’s a boy! Yay, congratulations! As I wrote the first chapter, I started coming up with ideas for the novel, so I’m hoping everything will work out. I’m also summarizing each chapter as I write them to help keep the plot in line as well as for when I finally edit it. Hopefully that will do some good when I research things, too.

I will post a summary soon…ish. I have to actually write one first. 😉

For all of you doing NaNo, good luck! And I hope you reached above and beyond the word goal (I got 2,002 words today). If you guys are participating, feel free to add me as a buddy on NaNo (Fiery_Sapphire) and also let me know your word count and what you’re writing. I’m very interested! 🙂

Inspiration Station

“You may not want to be a writer and that’s fine. But by the end of this class, you are going to know exactly what a writer does and all the blood, sweat, and tears that get mixed in with the ink.” –Athena Beech

 

Today was a rough day. Kris was home all day because she’s doing the over-night at her work tonight. I also had to go to work because the other teacher and I have been stripping the classrooms. We finished today, thank God. I can’t stand seeing the classrooms so bare. Anyway, because of those two factors I was not able to start writing early in the morning like I have been and with Kris there all I want to do is play video games with her. She got Sonic: Lost World for the Wii U for Christmas and we just started playing it the other day. It’s a great game and I bother her to play it at any moment I get.

So, I came home from work and said, “Wanna play Sonic?!” Kris said something to me that I regret mentioning to her…you see, the other day I wanted to do absolutely nothing. I had a cup of coffee in hand and all I wanted to do was put my feet up and watch Psych. I have been watching that a lot lately, I don’t know why. But season eight starts tomorrow night!

Even though I wanted to do everything humanly possible that did not involve me writing my 5,000 word count, I repeated to myself: Work first, play later. I told Kris this. So, what do you think she said when I asked her to play Sonic? Yes, “Work first, play later.” Thus, we wrote.

Kris wrote a little and then decided to edit her novel (yay!) while I continued to write in order to hit my 5,000 daily word goal. Since I finished Detective Florence I had to write something else. I looked at my To Do List and looked at all the novels from there. I couldn’t choose which one to write, so Kris put them in a randomizer thing on the internet and it told me to write Hunter & Comet.

Well, I wrote an even 2,000 words for that. However, I wasn’t in the mood to write it so I decided to stop because it was turning out kind of crappy…even for the first draft.

I decided to write Inspiration Station instead. This was a story idea I came up with on a whim one night (pretty recently) when I wasn’t sure what to write. At the time I still wasn’t in the mood to finish Detective Florence, I had no idea what to write so I decided to write about writing. I’m pretty sure I’ve explained this novel before, but I’m going to explain it again…

Inspiration Station is about a writer, Athena Beech, who is not yet published because she’s stuck on her writing. As her day job she starts her first semester teaching a creative writing course at a local community college. She has a class full of interesting students. Some are taking the class because they want to write for a living and others are taking it because they believe it to be an “easy A.” Athena takes this as a challenge and comes up with the “Inspiration Station” which is basically a bunch of writing prompts. She hopes to give inspiration to all her students as well as herself.

So, as you probably figured out, the quote up top is from the main character, the teacher, in the story. She said to her class right as they were being dismissed because most of them aren’t too into the class at the moment.

I’m having fun with it. As a teacher, I think it’s fun to write lesson plans and since I’m not a teacher anymore I don’t write lesson plans anymore. So, yes, I am writing actual lesson plans for Athena’s classes. They’re not fully thought-out, mostly just an outline to help me plan the novel, but it’s a lot of fun. I think some of that stuff would be cool to do in a real classroom.

I wrote 3,358 words for the story. Adding that to the 2,000 I wrote for Hunter & Comet, I have 5,358 for today. This also leaves me at 6,500-something total for Inspiration Station so far. I already had about 3,300-something words already written for the story.

I think Inspiration Station is going to be the next novel I complete. I think it’s going to be a good one. I have high hopes for it, anyway.

Complete

Today l wrote 5,030 words. So l hit my word count and was extra proud of myself because l finished the first draft of Detective Florence.

292 pages and 91,501 words. After l finished the first draft l printed it out and put it away. I’ll edit it later.

Just thought l would share this little accomplishment. I hope everyone else has been doing great–writing or otherwise.