Monday, August 4, 2014

What I Learned This Week: Going Old School

As many of you know, I finally finished and published Holly's Wishes last week. (Shameless plug >> AVAILABLE HERE<<)

And while I thought writing Ava's Wishes was a learning experience, I honestly had NO idea what I was in for with Holly's Wishes. Admittedly, I wrote Holly's Wishes very quickly. Too quickly. I couldn't help myself. The ideas were flowing, and I couldn't get the words down fast enough. Within a couple of weeks, I had achieved my own private NaNoWriMo.

At the same time, however, I was incredibly distracted. I had a million and one things going on in my personal life and wasn't really paying attention to what I was writing. As it turned out, I had written 50,000+ words of a story full of holes with a hero who really wasn't much of a hero at all. In fact, none of my beta readers wanted my leading lady to wind up with him in the end - - um, that's not good for a romance novel, is it? Yeah, trust me - it's not.

So I tore it apart... several times, in fact. Okay - six times, if you must know. It took going "old school" until I finally (hopefully) got it right. Here's what I learned:

1. I'm a visual person. While I love my laptop and typing,  physically writing out the story using a pen and paper helped me to see everything in a completely different light. I have no explanation for this - it just worked. Unfortunately, it took me until try number six to figure this out.

2. Having arthritis sucks more than I originally thought. Okay, this isn't really news to me, but can I tell you how PAINFUL it was to write out 50 or so scenes by hand? Yeah - not fun! My heating pad got a workout for several hours after that exercise.

3. My teachers were on to something. Back in the day (and no, I'm not going to tell you what day that was), when we did research papers, we had to write out each fact on an index card before putting them together into the final paper. I thought it was a complete waste of time. Why not just list them out on one sheet? Of course, I was only writing five or ten page papers, so it wasn't a big deal. However, when trying to construct a full novel made up of fifty plus scenes, having each scene on an index card is a BRILLIANT way to organize everything. Now, I know there are programs and apps that will do this for you. I have both an ipad app and Scrivener on my computer. But, like I said - I needed the old school visual. So I took my scenes from number 2 above and cut them up (Yes, my poor hands!) - - I am not kidding when I say it was THE BEST MOVE for this book. Like a puzzle, everything suddenly fit perfectly into place. While many scenes wound up getting tossed, the others finally found their home. Surprisingly, other than the opening scenes, very few chronologically stayed in the same place.

What amazed me the most about this experience was how differently I perceived the story going from my computer screen to pen and paper. Really, that was the only thing that changed. Like I said before, I have no explanation.

Do I plan on doing this for every book? HELL, NO! But I'm relieved (so relieved) to know the option exists should I ever get stuck again (and this time I won't wait until I'm on the sixth try.)


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  1. Karen, what an accomplishment! Many writers may have given up. And to get through this with a physical condition too! CONGRATS!

  2. It's amazing how using a new method (in this case an old one no longer used) frees up the creative process. I'm glad you found something that worked. Congrats!


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