Tag Archives: Writing process

From Seed to Final First Draft- in 14 Days

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I decided at the end of August to start a new novel with Venice as the setting. I’m totally a pantser when I write which is defined as not writing from a plot outline but from the seat of the pants. I usually start with protagonists’ names and not much else. Here are the notes I started with for this Venice story with no title yet. Fourteen days after I started writing, I had the first draft done. Ready now to polish and make it pretty enough to send out.

New story.

Vincente Canaletto

Charlotte Bolling

Venice. He’s a water taxi driver – they meet when he drives her from train station. She thinks he’s a lowly driver but he actually owns a fleet of them.

She’s an architect? Artist? She’s there to do research for something or paint?

He calls her Carlotta.

Yep, That’s all I had. I amaze myself sometimes when I think that from such a small seed, that a whole story can grow. This was a record first draft for me and I’m super excited about how it turned out- maybe I won’t be once I read it again! LOL!

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Why do we let rejections bother us?

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That’s the question of the day for me. I am a writer. Part of that process is rejection. Duh. I know that. But each one I get makes me think I’m a hack. Why is that? The funny thing is, I know I’m competent and capable. But send me a rejection and I think I’m horrid and worthless.  I’ve sold numerous short stories and two novels and just started a quest for an agent about a month ago. I got two agent rejections yesterday.  And on Monday, I got two short story rejections.  It was like a quadruple whammy.

And no, I wasn’t arrogant enough to think that the first agent I queried would fall in love with me but I did at least think I’d get a request for more pages. One of the agents said my writing was very strong but she wasn’t captivated by the first 5 pages, which was all she had.  The other one blew me off completely. Short, terse, nothing.

So, determined not to give up, I sent out two more agent letters and I sent the short stories out again. This morning I woke up to a contract in my email for one of the short stories- It was accepted by a children’s magazine (for ages 14 and up).  So, what a difference 14 hours makes.   I went from Gloomy Gus who thinks she can’t write to Delighted Debbie, the master story teller!  Until the next rejection, that is.

What a crazy industry this is. And me, too. Crazy, that is. 

The Best Advice I Ever Received

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Trying to change is sometimes not worth it

books in a stack (a stack of books)

The best advice I ever received was to stay true to myself, especially as relates to my writing process. I’ve tried two different times to change the way I work based on advice from friends that are also writers. Friends who think the way I write is crazy- I usually write 4-5 chapters in order, then the ending comes to me and I write the last chapter, then the second to last chapter. AND, I might even write a scene that comes to me and insert it somewhere in the middle. I do not do an outline. I let the story lead me. New characters pop up and cause some havoc with the protagonist. If I planned ahead, I’d never have the fluidity to have the story “happen.” 

The first time I tried to change, the joy was completely sucked out of my writing. I took an online class from a member of my RWA chapter. All the rules and instructions tied my brain in knots, so I had to let go of the teacher’s lessons and go back to my way. The other time I tried to change was very recently on the advice of another RWA chapter mate. She edits each chapter as she goes and then moves on. Tried that. Got bogged down at Chapter Two. Couldn’t move on. Edited the hell out of Chapter One.

That’s when I finally took that advice. Be true to your own process. So, I’m back to my wonky, wild, weird, writing style (How was that for alliteration?) and I am humming along again on my newest manuscript. Next time I’m tempted to change, someone please remind me that it probably isn’t worth it.