Posted in better writing, finding the right words, good writing, how to write, learning about writing, learning your writing style, The Writer's Toolbox, the writing process, thinking on writing, writing, writing advice, writing better

Common Phrases Used by Authors

commo phrasesNow this is an interesting little chart I stumbled upon as I browsed Facebook. This post from the Writer’s Circle. I often enjoy the posts this page puts up, but this one made me stop and think. And the question that popped in my brain was… What would be the most common phrases in my writing?

An argument could be made for the listed words and phrases as being too simplistic and possibly boring. But considering the intended audience (young adult), is that really a bad thing? And it opens the question… is simplistic writing possibly a better way to go? After all, these series are best sellers.

Continue reading “Common Phrases Used by Authors”

Posted in A Writer's Life, editing, finding the right words, finishing stories, first draft, how to write, learning about writing, novel, novel writing, The Writer's Toolbox, writing, writing advice

How Many Drafts Does it Take to Finish a Novel?

Now that’s a good question. I hear the “it takes three drafts” a lot, but really it depends on the writer and the writer’s experience. Though the more experience you have in writing, the less mistakes you tend to make the first time around and typically add more “correct” information in the first couple of rounds (because you have a stronger idea of what makes a good story).

Even still, there are many well-published authors who do a lot more than three drafts (check out Lisa Gail’s interview with authors as she asks How Many Drafts Does it Take to Get to the Query Stage?). It really boils down to writing style and an individual’s organizational mode. Every writer is different. Check out this interview with Earnest Hemingway…

Interviewer: How much rewriting do you do?
Hemingway: It depends. I rewrote the ending of Farewell to Arms, the last page of it, 39 times before I was satisfied.
Interviewer: Was there some technical problem there? What was it that had stumped you?
Hemingway: Getting the words right.
— Ernest Hemingway, The Paris Review Interview, 1956

Gah! 39. Now that’s a lot! But he’s right, it’s about getting the words right even if it take 39 drafts or 390 drafts.

And then there are the super star writers who can do up a novel without much rewriting at all.

“It takes me six months to do a story. I think it out and write it sentence by sentence — no first draft.”— Dorothy Parker, The Paris Review Interview, 1956

And some people write drafts with certain issues they want to address in that particular draft.

Leslie Rose (from How Many Drafts Does it Take to Get to the Query Stage?) wrote:

Here are my drafts:
1 – vomit draft – let it fly baby
2- Story arc pass – main story subplots – overall structure
3- MC & supporting character arcs – including character development & embellishment
4- grammar/punctuation pass & bad habit pass (adverbs/tense/sentence variety/word choice)
7 – Hard copy read – make corrections
8 – Kindle read – make corrections
OUT TO BETAS
9 – Including Beta notes pass
10 – Holistic read – wearing my audience hat
11 – Corrections from Holistic read
QUERY TIME

Writing a novel doesn’t even really start until draft two and on (well, for most of us anyways). It’s the rewriting that shapes the story into what you actually want it to be. The first draft is just mental vomit.

“Writing and rewriting are a constant search for what it is one is saying.” — John Updike

In my case, I found I didn’t even know what I wanted to say until my third draft (my novel will take a total of five drafts to be completed by the way). I have whole chapters from draft one and two that will never see the light of day (thank god!).

“Reread, rewrite, reread, rewrite. If it still doesn’t work, throw it away. It’s a nice feeling, and you don’t want to be cluttered with the corpses of poems and stories which have everything in them except the life they need.” — Helen Dunmore

And then there is the multiple rewrites that happen within a draft. You know, the tiny rewrites that happen over and over until you feel like you can bleed the words (though these rewrites and edits should happen in draft two and beyond).

“By the time I am nearing the end of a story, the first part will have been reread and altered and corrected at least one hundred and fifty times. I am suspicious of both facility and speed. Good writing is essentially rewriting. I am positive of this.” — Roald Dahl

Basically it’s up to you how many drafts you write (and don’t let anyone tell you different!). What matters is that the story progresses in a way that you want and gets the point across.

Here are some other posts on how many drafts it takes…

Karen Woodward’s How Many Drafts Does it Take to Write a Novel?

Joanna Penn’s Writing a Book: What Happens After the First Draft?

And check out this article on How Many Rewrites is too Much?

Sooooooo, how many drafts does it take (or will take) you to finish a novel?

 

Posted in A Writer's Life, creative writing, finishing stories, first draft, good writing, how to write, learning about writing, learning to write, The Writer's Toolbox, the writing journey, the writing process, thinking on writing, writing, writing advice, writing and thinking, writing better

To Be a Good Writer Means to Be a Good Thinker

Writing is 99% thinking, and the rest is typing. — Ray Bradbury

When I first started writing, I did it the hard way. I just wrote the first thing that came to mind. I got an idea, character, setting, or ect. in my head and I wrote it down immediately.

It was fun. I produced a story, or maybe a part of a story, or maybe really just words on a page. But damn if I didn’t feel proud of my accomplishment. A proud Momma with her precious baby.

And then I got some experience under my belt and that happy bubble popped when I realized I was doing it all wrong.

Continue reading “To Be a Good Writer Means to Be a Good Thinker”

Posted in better writing, character development, good writing, great writing, how to write, Johnathan Maberry, learning about writing, learning to write, The Writer's Toolbox, workshop, writing, writing advice, writing fight scenes, writing workshop

Fight Scenes Part 5: Psychological Warfare

Whew! We made it to number five! If you missed the other four parts of this fight scene series you can catch up Fight Scenes Part 1: An Introduction, Fight Scenes Part 2: Physical Differences, Fight Scenes Part 3: Hand to Hand Combat, and Fight Scenes Part 4: Weapons. Here is the last, but certainly not the least installment of the series. Check out how to get the upper hand with messing with people’s heads, or how a fight can mess with a your (main/other) characters head.

Something to remember... When you fail to do something in a fight, it can be a serious psychological blow.

The arrogance of power assumes they will always be successful and can’t be stopped. They also feel entitled to seize anything they can take.

Some psychological elements are…

  • Experience
  • Temperament
  • Desire/ intent
  • Mental state
  • Emotional state

Continue reading “Fight Scenes Part 5: Psychological Warfare”

Posted in better writing, character development, good writing, great writing, how to write, Johnathan Maberry, learning about writing, learning to write, The Writer's Toolbox, workshop, writing, writing advice, writing believable fiction, writing fight scenes, writing workshop

Fight Scenes Part 4: Weapons

Missed the fist three parts? Check out Fight Scenes Part 1: An Introduction, Fight Scenes Part 2: Physical Difference, and Fight Scenes Part 3: Hand to Hand Combat. Now let’s talk a little about weapons. These notes focus mostly on unconventional weapons or what Jonathan Maberry called natural weapons.

Weapons

The more a character knows how to use natural weapons the better he’ll be.

Types of Weapons…

  • Core Body Techniques
  • Surrogate Weapons
  • Actual Weapons

Continue reading “Fight Scenes Part 4: Weapons”