Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Too Many Characters

Now that a little time has gone by since the revision retreat, I've started working on the revisions suggested by my group. One of the comments was that it was initially difficult to keep all the characters straight because so many are introduced at once, so I counted. In my first chapter (which is very short, about one page) I introduced two characters. In the second chapter, I mention nine new names and one character who at this point is known only as the main character's sister's boyfriend. Whoa - ten new characters in one chapter. No wonder they had a hard time keeping everyone straight!

After I took a serious look at the chapter, I saw that five of the names are mentioned in conversation but those characters never come into the story at all. It was pretty easy to eliminate most of those and cut down on some of the confusion. A few others, like the main character's best friend, is called by name in the second chapter but doesn't actually show up until the third chapter. By holding off mentioning her until she actually appears, I was able to cut out one more new name.

Hopefully those first two chapters are a lot less confusing now. Even though I know I have a tendency to throw too many characters at the reader all at once, I still have to really work to cut down on the number. How about you? Are there any mistakes that you fall into repeatedly? Do you have a hard time limiting the number of characters you introduce at one time?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Novel Revision Retreat

Wow - what a weekend! I attended a local Novel Revision Retreat with author Darcy Pattison, and my head is bursting with everything I learned and all the ideas I have to strengthen my current wip.

The work for the retreat started a while ago. We read two books, The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman and Self Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King - both of which are fabulous and I highly recommend. We also read and analyzed the manuscripts of the other people in our groups. This was a real selling point for me: four other novelists who had read my entire 85,000 word manuscript and were prepared to discuss it - what a gift! And it really was. My groupmates gave me some incredible feedback that will be invaluable as I revise my novel.

But the group discussions were just one small part of the retreat. We all bought Darcy's workbook, Novel Metamorphosis: Uncommon Ways to Revise, beforehand. Darcy gave talks (I would say lectures, but that sounds boring and Darcy's talks were anything but boring!) over the subjects in the workbook. Then we had time to work individually - evaluating our own manuscripts based on what we'd just learned, and then we met with our groups and discussed each other's manuscripts. At the end of each lesson, we listed our priorities for revision. On the last day, we created an overall plan of revision incorporating the areas we'd previously identified as needing work.

There is so much more I could say, but I'll have to save some of it for later. For now, I'll just say that if you ever get the opportunity to go to a retreat with Darcy - grab it! If not, I recommend at least buying her Novel Metamorphosis workbook (available from Amazon or other online booksellers), possibly even putting together a group of fellow writers to read each other's manuscripts and go through the exercises together.  And definitely check out Darcy's website.

How about you? Have you attended any workshops or retreats lately? Have you read Novel Metamorphosis, The First Five Pages, or Self Editing for Fiction Writers?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Bigger-Than-A-Shopping Mall Giveaway

Today is that special post I told you about to help a friend celebrate some wonderful news. So I'll get right to it and turn you over to the talented (and newly agented!) Sheri Larsen:

Today, I invite you to celebrate with me!! I've signed with Literary Agent Paula Munier of Talcott Notch Literary! And because our literary community is so freaking fabulous and generous, I'm having a Bigger-Than-A-Shopping-Mall GIVEAWAY!!

The giveaway consists of: two separate Rafflecopters with multiple giveaways and one grand prize Rafflecopter giveaway - to enter for the grand prize, you must enter either giveaway #1, #2, or both. There's only one mandatory entry. Everything else is up to you!! I know Rafflecopters can be a pain, but it was the only way to organize such a huge giveaway. The giveaway is open until September 27th. WINNERS will be announced on September 28th. (Entrants may win more than one prize!) Thank you so much for entering, spreading the word, and celebrating with me!!

List of Rocking Participants: Lenny Lee, Colene Murphy, LM Preston, Darby Karchut, Joanne Brothwell, Patti Larsen, Christine Fonseca, Catherine Stine, Jessica Bell, Kelly Hashway, Leigh Moore, Christine Danek, Alex Cavanaugh, Katie Mills, Matthew MacNish, Beverly McClure, Marcy Hatch, Jennifer Million, Nicole Zoltack, Christina Lee, Kris Yankee, JL Spelbring, Sharon Mayhew, Candice Granger, Dianne Salerni, Lisa & Laura Roecker, Elana Johnson, Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi, Susan Kaye Quinn, Lydia Kang, Julie Musil, Natalie Agurrie, Talli Roland, Medeia Sharif, Kelly Polark, Angela Brown, Sarah Fine, Stina Lindenblatt, Lynda Young, Susan Fields, PK Hrezo, Shannon O'Donnell, Shelli Johannes-Wells, Theresa Brown Milstein.

Giveaway #1
Giveaway #2
Grand Prize Giveaway

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

I'm Back! For Real This Time...

Wow, now that was a long break! I've missed everyone and I'm so happy to be back!

In my previous post, I told you I was hoping to get the rough draft of my new manuscript done over the summer. Well, I was actually a lot more productive than I ever dreamed I could be. My goal was to have a draft done by Sept. 1 so I could sign up for a local Revision Retreat Weekend led by author Darcy Pattison the weekend of Sept. 14-16. Not only did I get the rough draft done, but I got through two revisions (just enough so I could let the others in the workshop read my manuscript and not feel like I had to go hide in a hole after). :)

So, in a couple of weeks I'll be taking part in the Revision Retreat Weekend, and I can't wait! I'll be sure to let you know how it goes. But next week, I'll have a special post to help a friend celebrate some awesome news!

How was your summer? Was it productive? Or did you enjoy some time off?

Have a great week, everyone!