Sunday, December 30, 2012

Artsy Resolutions

My favorite time of the year has rolled around again. This year I'm not just making lists... I'm "creating" lists. 

2013 is going to be my year to let my creative spirit soar. Doesn't it always, you ask? Well, yes and no. I waste A LOT of time. My poor creativity is often languishing in the corner. So this year I'm going to try to let it flourish. And to start things off right, I decided to draw a list of my top ten resolutions. Mind you, this is the short list. I have plenty of others that go on for pages. I've got my writing goals and my health goals, my household goals and my art goals. 

What are your goals for the new year?

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Best Present EVER

I got very spoiled this year. My husband bought me the cutest vintage turquoise typewriter and my son spent hours building me a birdhouse, but my favorite present was the original song my daughter wrote me. Not only did I get my very own song, but an animated music video to go with it. Needless to say, I sobbed when she gave it to me.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

My Top Ten Books of 2012

Before I get to my list I have to give a quick disclaimer: even though this list does include books that were published in 2012, the list is based off of ALL the books that I read this year. 

1. The Fault in Our Stars

2. Okay For Now

3. Before I Die

4. Gone Girl

5. The Perks of Being a Wallflower

6. Geek Love

7. Outliers

8. Beautiful Ruins

9. The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents

10. Liesl and Po 

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Books I Read (2012 Edition)

There were some wonderful books that I read this year. Looking back through them now, it's clear to see which books have stuck with me, while there are some that I hardly remember anything about. 

I'll be posting my top ten list soon, but until then, I'll put a star next to some of my favorites.

Why We Broke Up
Be More Chill
Hate List*
The Fault In Our Stars*
The Eleventh Plague
Pen On Fire
The Musician's Elephant*
Fahrenheit 451
Leaving Paradise
Earth Abides*
Once Was Lost
The Screenwriting Formula
American Gods*
One Second After
The Catastrophic History of You and Me
Okay for Now*
Wednesday Wars
Dead to You
The Way We Fall
Seeing Cinderella
Before I Die*
You Against Me*
Moonwalking With Einstein*
Under the Dome
White Horse
How to Save a Life
The Predicteds
Sophie's Choice*
The Perks of Being a Wallflower*
The Luxe
Gone Girl*
Monument 14
The Downside of Being Charlie*
Something Wicked This Way Comes
Bad Girl's Don't Die
Geek Love*
Weetzie Bat
Witch Baby
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
Something Like Normal
Liesl and Po*
The Underneath
Beautiful Ruins*
The Plot Whisperer
The Tale of Despereaux
The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rats*
Secrets at Sea
Wolf Hall (currently reading)

Did you read any amazing books this year?

Monday, December 10, 2012

A Recipe for Revision

Last month was NaNoWriMo and thousands of people all over the world cranked out a first draft of their novels in thirty days ( a "novel" feat indeed). Many smart people have probably set their manuscripts aside to let them marinate for a while, but a few crazies (like myself) have already jumped into revisions. So I thought it would be a good time to talk about how I go about tackling revisions.

1. The Read Through
Although it's far more helpful to let your manuscript sit for a while to give yourself some distance from it, I often jump right back in. (This is because I'm a very impatient person and I know this fact will never change about myself. EVER.) During this first read through it's important to try to look at the piece as a whole. It's not the time to start nitpicking about sentences and word choice. It's a time to digest the story and see how it's working as a whole. Do I like the characters? Does the pacing flow? Are there any major flaws in logic or plot? 
I usually do this first read through on my Kindle so I'm not tempted to go in and start making changes. This forces me to look at the big picture.
While I'm reading I like to have a notebook handy to jot down thoughts in about these big problems.
2. The Big Ones
Now's the time to make a list of the big problems that I want to address in my second draft. Again, it's important not to get sucked into the little things yet. Now's not the time to be searching for weak words and sentence fragments. Now is the time to think about developing characters and strengthening plot. I like to make a list of a few things that I'd like to tackle during this first revision, this way I can check them off as I go (and we all know how much I love checking things off my lists). 
3. A Little Feedback
By this time, my manuscript is starting to feel a little more cohesive, although I must remember that it's still a hot mess. This is the point when I like having my most trusted readers (the ones I know won't judge me for writing crap) read through my draft and give me their critique and suggestions. This is important for me because, although I've tried to be critical during my first read through, it's still impossible to completely distance myself from the book. I know what I'm trying to say so I can't totally see it with fresh eyes. These reader will truly be able to see it for what it is. After they write up their feedback, I'll have a chance to go back and fix the major flaws they spotted that I was blind to.
4. Tightening it Up
Hopefully by this point the major issues and revisions have taken place. Even though this is only number four in the revisions process, the manuscript might have seen ten or twenty mini revisions already. Now's the time to finally start thinking about things on a smaller level: sentences, word choice, flow. Now I can take out the scissors and go through that manuscript chopping out all the fat. Unless a sentence is doing something important for the story, it doesn't get to stay. Chop. Chop. And chop some more. This is a great time to post your manuscript into one of those word cloud websites so that you can see what words you've overused. I always have a fairly similar list of my overused weak words: just, something, looked, thing. Now I can go through and do a search for those words and rewrite using stronger words.
5. One More Critique
Hopefully those readers aren't totally sick of me, because I need their help again. Just one more read through from them to see if I've fixed the problems that they saw the first time. 
Most likely my manuscript still won't be perfect and I'll have to go through these last steps a few more times, but I'll be getting closer and closer. One day soon this book will be good enough. No, it will never be perfect, but I know myself and I'll be ready to move on to a new project. Maybe this book will find a home, or maybe it will snuggle up with the other books in my filing cabinet. I'll keep my fingers crossed.

How do you revise? Do you have any great tips that I need to add to my list?