So I’ve just hit 201 pages on Ghosts of WarCry, and a big twist has been revealed. That in and of itself is exciting, but there’s something else even more exciting and scary going on tonight: our son is graduating the eighth grade, and going to the dance with a girl. Wowza. As I said, pretty exciting stuff.
And nerve-wracking. How did our son get to be fourteen and graduating into high school? When did this happen? I don’t think my husband and I have aged that much (don’t look too close at our hair, though). I’m not sure I’m ready for this next step. Our daughter is moving into sixth grade next year, middle school, and that doesn’t seem at all possible either. Why is it our kids have to age? I’m not saying I want the baby stage back, but maybe somewhere in-between?
Our son is happy, of course. He’s really happy that the girl said yes. And he’s fourteen now, only two years away from that coveted driver’s license. He’s been looking through truck ads for a few years now, dreaming about that perfect ride (aka a Dodge truck with a Cummins diesel in it). But our family is into vehicles. We own a Chevy Silverado, a Jeep Wrangler (YJ), and a Jeep Cherokee Sport (XJ). So his desire to start driving is quite natural. Still, though, I’m not sure good old Mom is ready for watching her son drive out of the driveway with his buddies for a night on the town (or two tracks, in our family’s case).
You learn as your kids get older that while you still have a say over them, especially when they’re living in your house, they are their own people. They have their own ideas about things, and while they might take your opinion for what it is, they have their own. And sometimes they don’t line up with yours. My husband is not a Dodge fan. His father isn’t a Dodge man, either. But our son loves those trucks with a real passion. As you can imagine, this makes for some spirited conversation sometimes. And one of my sisters and her husband are diehard Ford truck people. And that can lead to very spirited conversations that lead to harassing and teasing.
And thinking about how you can’t make your kids into people they aren’t leads me to thinking about my characters. I can’t make them do much, either. Oh, they still live inside my books, of course, and as of yet, they haven’t moved out into the big wide world we live in. But they have minds of their own, and I’m finding out new things about them every day. That comes with age, too – writing age. I’ve been writing fan fiction for years, since around 2002. I’ve written lots of stories that are hosted on a large fan fiction database. And since starting out writing those stories, I’ve learned a lot. Maybe more than I sometimes wanted to in a given period. Because fan fiction reviewers are not kind people. They know the characters, and if you don’t get them just exactly right, they’ll tell you what you can do with your story. So I’ve learned how to write. I’m not saying I write well yet, but I write as well as I’ve learned how to at this point.
And with each line I write, each paragraph and chapter, I learn more. I grow more as a writer. Sometimes it’s painful. Sometimes I don’t want to mature as a writer. I like how I write, thank you very much. But it’s necessary, just as letting my kids grow up is necessary. And let’s be honest – it happens anyway, doesn’t it? Time marches on, leaving no one untouched.
It’s all part of getting older, I guess.
So I’m on page 113 of Ghosts of WarCry, and already the plot I’d imagined for it has taken a big turn. I’m okay with it, but I have to admit, when it first happened, I wondered just what in the world was going on. And how was I going to roll with it? But the character that turned my plot on its head assured me everything was fine, and that he knew it would all work out.
As it turns out, he was right. I’m loving the new direction. It’s really freed up movement between some characters, and brought new characters in that would’ve only been seen in the last few chapters. And my gut tells me this is the right path.
Anything like this happen to you? When it does, are you able to roll with it, or does your stomach get all tied up in knots? Do you trust your characters? If not, why not? Sometimes trusting them can be difficult. You might think they’re leading you down a really wrong path. And, you might be right. But sometimes you just need to trust that they do know what’s going on, and they know how to handle it.
And if they don’t? Well, that’s what the revisions are for, right?
So I finished editing Peril at Stormsurge for the third time today. It feels good to have another go at it done. But is it really done? How do you know for certain when you’re done editing? Is there any good way to tell?
I’m feeling good about this last run-through. I know, only three times, you’re saying? Three? Some writers edit ten or more times. Is that even enough? What would be the magical number? Well, don’t get too worked up. My next step is to send this version to my Kindle and reread it for any more flaws, any more words that just don’t quite fit or ring true. I love reading my stuff on my Kindle. Why? It feels like you’re really reading a book, not just some story you’ve been pouring your heart into and over for the last (insert time length).
I’ve printed out the submission guidelines to the next publisher I’m aiming for. I don’t plan to hurry. They have some requirements that are going to take me a while to work out. But that’s okay, because in the meantime, I’ll be reading Peril on my Kindle, and going, “Now how the heck did I miss that the first three times?!”
I don’t know about you, but sometimes as I’m writing, or looking on Pinterest for models for my stories, my characters whisper to me. They tell me what kind of castle they should live in, or how blue/brown/green their eyes should be. I used to tell them to shut up, but now, I listen. They always seem to know best, and they almost always get their way.
When I start thinking of a new story idea, I jot the ideas down in my Moleskines, if I have any handy. Cheaper versions of this popular notebook work, too. I prefer ones without lines, but hey, I’ll use whatever I can reach. And I need a good pen. It doesn’t have to be expensive – in fact, some of my favorites are just plain old Bics (fine or medium point). Anyway, after I get my notebook and pen (no pencils, people), I write down what’s careening around inside my head.
This usually includes character descriptions, snippets of dialogue (it’s fun if it’s between two people arguing, like Dec and Bannan), and some plot points. When I first started working on what would become Peril at Stormsurge, I had a huge blue three-ring binder that I packed full of notes. I cut pictures of character models from magazines – this was back in the day before Pinterest, when one actually had to go through magazines to find character inspiration. Yes, this story has taken me that long. But the problem with all that plotting and outlining was that my characters were taking shape, becoming real and whole, and well, they had different ideas about what they looked like, and where they were going to live.
I tried to shut them up. Really, I did. I wouldn’t work on the story, which just gave them time to rally together. Their whispers got a lot louder, until I finally gave up. I gave in. And they went back to whispering behind my back, plotting out their own courses through the story. Whenever I did something they didn’t like, they got louder. So now, I just listen to the whispers. And I think my writing, their story, is really much better for it.
I browse Pinterest and other sites with one ear tuned into them. They let me know when they see a picture of themselves, or of a place they want to visit, or a place they want to live. It’s much more of a partnership now than it used to be. And it only took me, oh ten years or so to find out that truth.
You’re probably thinking by this point that I’m mad as the hatter. Well, that just might be. I’m definitely unique. But then, aren’t we all? What works for you probably wouldn’t work for me, and vice versa. I’m just letting you know that this is how it works best for me. You have to find out how it works best for you and your characters.
But you know, it wouldn’t hurt to at least listen in a little to the whispers.
So I don’t know about anyone else’s characters, but when I’m editing, mine like to try and tell me how to do it.
“Oh, you don’t need to take that part out.”
“Yeah, take his line out. I don’t like listening to him.”
Of course, it doesn’t help that my two MC boys in Peril at Stormsurge don’t like each other very much. That makes them fun to write for, but maybe not so much fun to edit. Editing is not that enjoyable. I’d rather be writing, but wouldn’t we all.
I’m currently in the midst of Peril at Stormsurge, and am looking forward to the end result.
Hopefully you are, too.
Hello, and welcome. Here you will find information on my works in progress and posts about the daily grinds of writing. I love to write. It’s satisfying. I love watching characters come to life on the page, and even though sometimes their whispers annoy me when I’m doing other things, I have learned to listen, and to trust.
I hope you enjoy what you read and see here. I will have pictures of my characters for my different books so you can get to know them. The first fantasy novel in my series, Peril at Stormsurge, is in final edits. The synopsis for it is at Her Universe at the moment, and if they decide to pass, I have the second publisher lined up for a look.
Thank you for stopping by. I hope to have Peril at Stormsurge on your bookshelf soon.