Monday, July 20, 2015

The Writing Process: First Drafts, Revisions, Synopsis Creation

Summertime glads
54,911. That's the number of words in my latest mystery manuscript, according to MS Word. And may I also add, the manuscript is finished? Woot woot...What a wonderful feeling, for the moment.

I sent the story out to two trusted beta readers, so I know there will be changes to be made when they return their comments.

First Drafts
The first draft is only the beginning.
First Draft
Sometimes the final scene isn't even in my first draft. Things change during the writing. Those characters seem to have minds of their own, so how I planned the novel to end is not always the way it ends!

I've learned not to share the first draft scenes with my critique group as I'm writing the story because these ladies are so brilliant when brainstorming. They give me too many great ideas and I cannot implement them all when I want to, so I get frustrated. Then I get confused and lose my way in the story. It's better to just scratch it out, straight through to the end before sharing. Don't stop to re-write it. Perhaps you have the same problem as author Laini Taylor. 

The one thing I have learned about writing a novel is--it is never done. After the first draft, I set the story aside for a week or more. (I began my manuscript for this story in June 2012 and didn't even look at it again until 2015!) With this novel I have four manuscripts, each one progressively edited not only for line edits, but for fleshing out the story and filling in the holes.

Just as arranging flowers, a floral designer has to fill the vase with the blossoms, perhaps add a little babies breath, step back, add some purple statice. Her eye has to decide if the floral arrangement is complete. A writer too needs to step back and decide when the story is complete. Knowing that important step takes practice, just like it takes practice to develop the eye for floral design.

Ask for Help
After tackling three mysteries, short stories, and non-fiction books, I have learned to ask for help with the writing. It takes a village for a writer to actually get the story idea to a published book. 

My "baby" has been sent out to fresh eyes for feedback. Don't you feel like your manuscript is your baby and you want to hold on to it and protect it from any harm? Don't be afraid to share what you have written. The insights you gain from getting feedback is worth having a queasy stomach before you send it off online or share it in your critique group. In fact, reading your story could make someone's day.

The Dreaded Synopsis Creation 

I won't touch the manuscript for another week. So now what do I do? I face the most daunting task for a writer, creating a synopsis to send to publishers. How do you condense 55000 words into a two page synopsis? (Be sure to check guidelines for the publisher you have in mind to submit your work. Some like shorter, some prefer longer synopses.)

If you need some advice on writing a synopsis, (and don't we all?) Joanne Broadwell shared her Perfecting the Pitch Synopsis Toolkit on the J.Q. Rose blog on the J.Q. Rose blog. Please click on over to read her tips on creating one for your book.

I'd better get to writing that synopsis. I'm so excited to share this book, Deadly Undertaking, three years in the making. The synopsis will introduce you to the characters (Lauren is the protagonist), setting (a small town and her family's funeral home), and situations (she's dealing with her mother's illness, a murder in the funeral home, a nosy shadow man, and falling in love.)
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Thanks for stopping in today. Please leave a comment on your writing process, rewriting, synopsis creation.

You're invited to the Summer Travelogue this Thursday, July 23. If you follow this blog by email, you'll be notified about new blog posts. I promise, NO spamming!

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Anonymous said...

What a great post, JQ. Congratulations on finishing your first draft. And I love the title. It's perfect! I enjoyed your quotes from other writers very much. They all resonate with me.
I can't wait to read your story!

emaginette said...

Congrats on getting the hard part done. The synopsis for me is easy. As I revise the first draft, I write one or two sentence down about the chapter I'm working on. It seems to work for me anyway. :-)

Anna from Elements of Writing

J.Q. Rose said...

Helena, Thank you. When I came up with the title, I actually snickered to myself. I hope folks get the play on words. Quotes are can be "right on" and inspiring. I'm glad you enjoyed them.

J.Q. Rose said...

Anna, Writing a couple lines about each chapter would be helpful. Thanks for the tip.

Marsha said...

Hey, JQ. I love the title for this next book. Congrats on getting that first draft completed. The author quotes were super. One of my favorite quotes is from John Michener. "I'm not a very good writer, but I'm an excellent rewriter." I struggle with wanting everything to be perfect right off the bat, and it just isn't. LOL Now when I'm doing the creative part to stifle my too critical editor, I plop a small stuffed dog near my computer. His name is Scruffy. He reminds me to just have fun and let it go. Again congrats on getting to this step in the process. :)

J.Q. Rose said...

Thank you, Marsha. I like Michener's quote. Yeah, I thought I gave up being a perfectionist at 12 years old, but it keeps sneaking in on me even at this age, and I'm waaaay past 12!

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