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Saturday, June 12, 2010

Work in progress

Besides publicity for my Simon Pulse book, ENDLESS SUMMER, which came out in May, and my MTV Books novel, FORGET YOU, which will be published on July 20, I am hard at work on my July 2011 MTV Books release, entitled THIS BOOK HAS SUCH A COOL TITLE IT WILL BLOW YOU AWAY or MY EDITOR HAS NOT DECIDED WHAT THE TITLE IS YET. The deadline for this book is August 1, but I'm trying to finish the first draft by June 25 and the second by June 30 so I'll have plenty of time to send it to my critique partners and think about it and stop myself from making some horrible glaring error before I turn it in to my editor.

Even so, I was thrown for a loop last week when my editor asked for the first two chapters to show to the sales force. I had the first two chapters, but they were nowhere near polished, and one of them needed a lot of research that I hadn't planned to do until later.

I did complete the research, polish the chapters, and turn them in last Monday. And part of me feels a lot better about this book now that the beginning is set in stone, sort of. But I really would have preferred not to let anyone see my work, even the very beginning of it, until I was finished writing the entire novel. Normally I would go back and make huge changes to chapter 1 after writing chapter 20, because I'm not absolutely sure what goes on in chapter 1 until then.

I don't write in order. I write some of the beginning, some of the end, some of the middle, a conversation three-fourths of the way through, back to the beginning, a hilarious scene three chapters in... In other words, I write the whole book at once, not a chapter at a time. I realize most people don't do this, and I have tried writing a book in order, with disastrous results. This makes it really hard for me to sell on proposal--writing the first three chapters and a synopsis of a book, selling it, and then finishing it. In fact, the only book I've ever sold that way was ENDLESS SUMMER, but that's because it was a sequel, so I already had those characters' voices in my head.

I feel like this is a real handicap for me. But hey, writing a novel is difficult work, and if I have a quirk while doing it, well, I'm afraid I'm going to have to live with it.

What about you? Does this writing process mess sound familiar or completely insane?


Barbara Caridad Ferrer said...

You know what I'm going to say. :)

I'm twitching, just reading your process. (And yes, it is a process, albeit one that reads in a foreign language to me...)

I just finished a scene in the WIP that I've had plotted in my head for over a year. No, I didn't have it written down, not that it would have mattered, because this story has taken so many left turns to Albuquerque, that I would have had to rewrite it anyway, even though the emotional core of the scene has remained constant.

So that's what I do, actually-- I hand write notes about the scene, what I want it to accomplish, even some notes about how I see it unfolding (although those are the most changeable, obviously) and then go back to my linear writing while the lizard brain marinates the info I've just fed it.

Of course, the problem with finally getting to a scene you've been anticipating for so long is that you then through yourself into a tizzy, worried that you're not doing it justice.

Ain't this a FUN process?

Jan Blazanin said...

You gotta do what you gotta do.

I'm so linear it's freaky, but if a great scene or dialogue pops into my head I have to write it before it evaporates. By the time I get to that point in the story, though, sometimes what I thought was so wonderful doesn't look that great after all.

Jenny O'Connell said...

I have never written in "order" either! And it's worked for me. But for some reason I'm writing my latest book in order and it's freaking painful. And slow. And I hate it, but I have trouble thinking about this story in any other way than chronological, which may be why I'm having such a dreadful time of it!

Danielle Joseph said...

I start out in order for the first fifty pages or so and once I have a good hang of the story, I skip all over the place. This time I went right to the ending and was really happy that I did. So I agree, whatever works for you is the right way!