November 20, 2014

Watch Out For Vampires

That's what my four year-old son tells me every morning when my family drops me off at my day job.

He learned the concept of vampires from a Halloween special of Magic School Bus, but what he doesn't realize is how close to the mark he hits. Not that my co-workers are blood-thirsty creatures of the night - or are they? (Insert doom music here!) My current WIP is actually about vampires. So when he says "watch out" - I agree. For nearly three months now, I have been nurturing and caring for my own special vampires. I have watched them grow and evolve during the development of the story. I have been watching out for them every step of the way.

Now their story is coming to a close. I have reached my 50k mark. I am ready to start some self-editing before I enlist the help of my writing group for feedback. Thanks in advance, you guys!!!

What a journey writing this story has been. I completely changed my strategy from process-focused to creativity-focused. It may mean a ton more editing is required, but I captured the essence of my story in less than three months.

It probably took me a year to write my 22k novella. I got caught up in the details, in the structuring of the end product while I was still developing the story. I wanted every chapter to be approximately the same length. I documented all the chronological events and planned out the next sequence before I wrote it. Talk about stifling the creativity! I needed to just spit it out, get it down on paper (screen). I've heard it described as "word vomit" and I agree. Let the words flow while the ideas are hot. Any errors can be ferreted out during the editing process.

I also omitted the use of chapters to define sections of the story, my WIP takes place over the course of a week so I used the days as placeholders and plan to add chapters during my self-edit. Without chapters I didn't need to worry about chapter length or ending each section on a cliffhanger. Do you know how hard it is not to end a chapter with your character going sleep? Especially if you know you shouldn't. If your characters go to sleep, your readers will too. The objective of a chapter is to spur the reader on to reading more. I'm sure you've read a book you just couldn't put down. Yup, that's the idea.

I also wrote the entire book using my iPad. I did periodic backup saves to my laptop after the one time I lost my story on the iPad and had to re-create 6k words. A mistake you only make once. I found the iPad was a more assessible tool and I could write more - sometimes in as short as five-minute intervals.

So I wrote like crazy and I didn't use chapters or an outline. I did correct spelling and grammar along the way because that would have drove me completely batty. And I wrote a book. An interesting book about vampires.

Every weekday morning at my house we have the same hectic schedule. We all scramble to get ready for work or school no matter how early (or late) we get up. When the kids are safely buckled into their booster seats and we are taking the five-minute drive to my office, my husband and I can finally breathe. When we reach our destination, after all the "eat your lunch" and "have a great day" comments are exchanged, my young son yells out his window as I'm walking to the front door, "Watch out for vampires!"

And now maybe you will.

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