Posts tagged ‘writing’

January 31st, 2011

What if you stumble in their shoes?

by Madeleine Rex

I had this blissful, surreal experience the other day. I was in that odd dream-state between awareness and sleep, and my mind was buzzing non-stop with ideas for my next book. The seed I’d planted months ago was starting to crack open. After jotting down the dozens of ideas I had, I was eager to write.

The only problem?

I don’t know the main character well enough.

I’d already written a few pages for fun (pages I may or may not scrap entirely, but that’s not the point), and a friend of mine read them. She told me that Tate’s (the main character) voice was “organic.”

So, great, right? I can do that again!

WRONG. I don’t know what sort of spirit was inhabiting my body as I wrote those first pages, but it is frustratingly absent now.

I don’t want to start writing while I’m still uncomfortable in Tate’s shoes. What if I stumble, trip, and knock over a large, heaping vat of this-is-not-good-at-all and it soaks my entire idea? I don’t feel at home in her voice yet. It doesn’t come to me at a moment’s notice.

Pepto’s voice did a very similar thing, but I didn’t address the issue. Instead, I wrote the first chapter bunches of times before I even began my edits. I’d like to skip right over that lost, bamboozled feeling and begin my next book confident and prepared to let Tate’s voice tell the story – not twelve voices that could be Tate’s but probably aren’t.

How do you break in your protagonist’s shoes? Are there certain exercises you’ve heard about? I could use some tips!

January 28th, 2011

Wordbird Says (1): Revisions

by Madeleine Rex

Thanks to Yahong Chi, who took the time to send me a much beloved email to put me out of my misery!

Yahong asked:

Hey Madeleine,

I’d love to see revision tips. In the midst of trying to rewrite a few scenes, and it’s killing me because I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO!
So, yeah, that’d be helpful. 😀


As most of you know, I’ve just begun edits on The Lemonites. A few weeks ago, when I was still daunted by and whimpering at the thought of diving in, I posted a tragic and pathetic post. A woman named Susan Dennard commented and offered her help – and she’s one of my favorite people now.

Susan has a fantastic take on edits, one that makes the horrific experience much, much easier. I have finished part one of her six step process and will begin part two today.

Susan’s plan is deliberate and methodical, which may or may not work for you. In essence, my views on editing efficiently and writing efficiently are similar. There are a few things that are crucial to writing anything:

  • Try on different options. Approach outlining/free-writing/whatever in a myriad of ways before designating one as your personal process. There are so many ways to write a novel, and only one (or a few if you’re lucky) that works for you. I wrote my first novel after completing an outline so detailed that it amounted to a novel (though terrible) in and of itself. The magic of writing and the fun of it was diminished. Similarly, there are plenty of ways to edit, but only a few that are yours.
  • Set a goal. I wasn’t writing productively until I set myself a strict word count or time period to write. The daily goals (could be a week or a month, depending on what you prefer) motivated me and allowed me to feel spurts of success that encouraged me to keep moving. When working through part one of edits, I told myself I’d be done by the end of a particular week, and I was.
  • Diligence is key. Without pushing yourself to work even when it sounds unexciting, you lose the self-discipline that you need to drive you. As unemployed/unagented/etc. writers, we don’t have someone whipping us into shape and keeping us in line. There’s only me, myself, and I to keep me from slacking.
  • I know you were probably looking for something more specific. I can’t divulge Susan’s process here – it’s hers entirely – but it’s likely you could come up with something on your own. Sit down in front of a word document and type a ten-step process. Read through it. Could you handle those goals? Is the process too analytical, methodical, or laid-back? What do your personality and your tendencies warrant?

    If you’d still like to see others’ plans, I’d check out Susan’s blog. She goes into her editing process, though she only skims through it. If you like what you see, I’m sure she’d be willing to lend a hand.

    I hope I helped! If anybody else would like to ask a question/leave a comment/say something seemingly random, click the “Contact Me” to the left (please, please do)!

    January 24th, 2011

    I Have a Problem

    by Madeleine Rex

    I’ve been wanting to post something writing-related lately and have found myself in a predicament. I have no idea what you’d like to hear.

    I’m primarily looking for questions/comments/anything I could possible have an opinion about (e.g. anything) related to writing, but if there’s anything in particular that you’d like to ask that would appear totally random to me, that’s all right, too. I want to talk to you, but I’m sick of having to come up with every topic of discussion. My creativity has its limits (notice the plural form).

    If you’d like to put me out of my misery, click the “Contact Me” button to the left and send me an email!

    Please… Please… Please… Please… I’ll go check my email now…

    Kidding. I can’t leave you with nothing interesting. Here’s the out-of-this-world, amazing book trailer for A.S. King’s Please Ignore Vera Dietz