Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Revising the Revision Process

As every writer knows, writing is rewriting – except for those who insist writing is editing. Either way you slice it, you can’t get away with writing “the end” and saying “I’m done!”

One piece of advice I got early in my journey to publication was to write a “vomit draft” – just get everything down on the page, as quickly as possible, while silencing your internal editor. Don’t look back; just keep going and going until you hit “the end.” The danger in “editing as you go,” this direction warned, was that you’d stifle your creativity and spend so much time just trying to get certain words right that you end up never finishing the book at all. I’ve always followed this advice, mainly because I’ve been terrified about not finishing projects. While every writer has a computer or trash can filled with unfinished stories, no one makes their dreams come true if none of those stories has an ending.

The Writers in Paradise conference I just attended (and when I named this blog I had no idea there was such a conference) had two separate speakers talk on the art of revision. Neither of them recommended that a writer complete a first draft before starting the revision process.

Author Ann Hood (An Italian Wife, The Red Thread, The Knitting Circle, etc.) believes every writer needs to develop his or her own editing system. Hood personally starts her writing day by reading the previous day’s pages out loud. Other systems she mentioned:

The writer prints out and reads to revise in 50 page increments.

Saving every Friday for “editing day.

Editing at the end of every writing day.

Beginning each writing day by reading and revising everything that’s been written so far. (I imagine days would get pretty long near the end of the novel!)

Personally, I like the “save Friday for editing day” edict, as my Fridays tend to be too busy for writing but there are pockets of time where I can make notes. For me, editing can be done in spurts no matter where I am, while writing requires a long stretch of time and a quiet place. I also plan to work on the book outline at the same time – I continually strive to be more of a planner than I actually am.

Although these steps seem glib, the revision process is anything but easy. It’s one thing to realize your protagonist comes across as shallow; it’s another to take the steps in the writing that show her in all her layers. Writing is hard. Rewriting is harder. But for most of us, it’s not a choice.

What’s your editing system? Let me know in the comments …

Monday, January 12, 2015

Welcome 2015!

This is the third January that I’ve been writing this blog, and I was certain that I must have written a post on New Year’s resolutions for writers, and I had planned to crib off that one. But no dice. So without further ado, here’s a list of a few things writers should resolve to do this year:

WRITE. I know this sounds obvious – writers write; non-writers don’t write – but it’s surprising how many people call themselves writers and then fail to write anything. Professional writers write every day. Professional writers usually have three projects going on – one in the planning stage, one in the writing stage, and one in the editing stage – and that doesn’t even count the ones that have been published and are in the marketing stage. Write something. If you can’t write every day, write once a week. But for goodness’ sake, write!

READ. Again with the obvious. But let’s face it, there’s a lot of good TV and movies out there. But writers need to read books. A lot of books. Mostly in their genre. They need to keep track of what’s hot and what isn’t. And just for chuckles, they also need to read books outside their genre. I generally read two-three books a week, although most of these are either manuscripts for the agency I read for, or books I’m reviewing for Chick Lit Central. I read on the treadmill, so I knock out exercise and reading at the same time. GO ME.

HELP ANOTHER WRITER. This isn’t just to be noble and helpful, although those are good things too. Reading other people’s raw manuscripts will help you become a better writer. It’s easier to see mistakes in others’ writing than in your own, and once you do, you’ll keep an eye out for them in your own projects.

GO SOMEWHERE. Go to a writer’s conference, join a writer’s group, go on a writer’s retreat, just GO. These events force you to take yourself seriously as a writer. (Unless your writers’ group is filled with people who don’t take themselves seriously, in which case find another group.) They stress deadlines, editing, networking, education. GO YOU.

SET SMALL GOALS. This may seem counterintuitive, especially for a New Year’s resolution post, but the main reason people fail at achieving the goals they set is they set them too big, don’t accomplish them, and then feel like failures and quit the project entirely. Don’t do that! If your goal is to write 10 pages a day, that’s huge. Write one page a day. Or write one page every other day. Just set something small, achieve it, and then set a bigger goal. It’s like weightlifting. You don’t bench press 500 pounds your first day at the gym. You bench press the bar and it’s hard! But eventually, if you go to the gym three times a week, you’ll get to that goal.

I’m going to be scarce for the next two weeks as I’ll be attending Eckert College’s writer’s conference, Writers In Paradise. I’m very excited and will report on what I learn!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Get Piqued! Congratulations, Tracie Banister, on Your New Release!

This week, a spotlight on a new chick lit release: Tracie Banister's Twin Piques!

Forensic accountant Sloane Tobin and kooky pet psychic Willa may have the same face, but that’s the only thing these identical twins have in common.

How she can read the hearts and minds of animals has always been a mystery to Willa, and her rotten luck with men is equally baffling. Although she’s been looking for “The One” for what feels like forever (A teenage marriage to a French mime and dating a guy named Spider seemed like good ideas at the time!), optimistic Willa refuses to give up on love. When she meets Brody, the handsome rose expert hired to save her grandmother’s garden, she’s instantly smitten, but why does he keep sending her mixed signals? Does he return her feelings, or is their attraction all in her fanciful head?

Unlike her twin, Sloane has zero interest in romance. Her passion is her job, where she uses her gift for numbers to take down slimy embezzlers and asset-hiding spouses. When she’s assigned two high profile cases, Sloane feels confident the promotion she’s been angling for is within her grasp. But will her plan to climb the corporate ladder be thwarted by difficult clients, her co-worker-with-benefits, or – most surprisingly of all – her own sister? And how’s she supposed to stay focused on the drama at work when her childhood friend, Gav, moves in next door and the spark between them becomes impossible to ignore?

To get what they both want, can Willa and Sloane band together and rely on each other’s strengths? Or will their differences drive them apart once and for all?

Author Bio

An avid reader and writer, Tracie Banister has been scribbling stories since she was a child, most of them featuring feisty heroines with complicated love lives like her favorite fictional protagonist Scarlett O'Hara. Her work was first seen on the stage of her elementary school, where her 4th grade class performed an original holiday play that she penned. (Like all good divas-in-the-making, she also starred in and tried to direct the production.)

Tracie’s dreams of authorial success were put on the backburner when she reached adulthood and discovered that she needed a "real" job in order to pay her bills. Her career as personal assistant to a local entrepreneur lasted for 12 years. When it ended, she decided to follow her bliss and dedicate herself to writing full-time. Twin Piques is her third Chick Lit release. The pet psychic character in this novel was inspired by Tracie’s rascally rescue dogs. She’d love to know what goes on in their heads!

Buy Twin Piques:
Amazon US:
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Twin Piques on Goodreads:

Keep in touch with Tracie!