Beautiful People #012017

I said it in my previous post, but it bares repeating: writing is hard, you guys. For the past month or so, it's been difficult to jump back into revisions with any sort of enthusiasm. Every time I look at the pages all I can think about is how much there is to fix and so instead I do nothing. I recently found Cait @ Paper Fury's blog (which is completely absurd since I follow her on twitter and should have found her site ages ago), and not only is her blog a book haven, but she hosts a writerly link-up that is exactly what I need right now.

Beautiful People is a monthly link-up designed for writers by Paper Fury and Further Up & Further In! It connects writers to each other (and to potential readers!) through a series of questions aimed at showcasing their work and is a tool for writers to get to know their characters and books better.   

What were your writing achievements last year?

Definitely finishing the first draft of my fantasy novel Facing Demons. I'd been working on it since NaNoWriMo 2015 and finally completed it in July 2016 at 113,000 words. 

What's on your writerly "to-do list" for 2017?

The plan is to revise and edit Facing Demons, send it off to critique partners and betas and then beginning querying by the last quarter of the year. It's a plausible goal but I'll have to work hard for it. I'm a very thorough drafter so the story is there (the plot, the characters, the general world), but in revisions, I'm really focusing on breaking open the characters and diving deep into the world. I want the experience of reading my novel to be immersive, and I've got quite a bit of hard work to do in that respect. 

I'd also like to draft this love story, tentatively called Not Otherwise Specified, that's been floating around in my head for the past 4 months or so. I have bits and pieces scratched onto scraps of paper, but nothing concrete is written yet. At the very least, I'd like to have an outline for it in 2017.  

Tell us about your top priority writing projects for this year!

As I said, revising my fantasy novel is top priority for the year. I'm so ready for someone besides me to have read this story! 

Facing Demons is the story of Niles and Cassia, sibling hires who contract for unsavory work in the kingdom of Ciceria, a African-folklore inspired fantasy world that originated from four god-like deities many centuries ago. Niles' goal has only ever been to protect his family, but the biggest threat to that might be his traitorous mind. And Cassia is embarrassed to want so much more from a life that already feels like it's been borrowed. Encrypted letters force them to defend against a secret enemy, but can they do that while keeping secrets of their own?  

How do you hope to improve as a writer? Where do you see yourself at the end of 2017?

I'd like to improve in all aspects of writing craft, but most importantly, I'd like to get a better handle on world-building. World building and setting have always been tough for me because my flowery, detailed style of writing can weigh things down so I usually end up with none or too much. Most of my revisions for Facing Demons are world-building issues and even though Not Otherwise Specified is a contemporary set in NYC, I still want the setting to pop off the page. 

Describe your general editing process.

I found author Susan Dennard's website a while back and discovered that her site is an absolute gem for writing advice. Seriously, go check her out now. I've been following her revision plan and it has made the revision/editing process 400x smoother.

On a scale of 1-10, how do you think this draft turned out?

I've been talking quite a bit of shit on this draft of mine, but honestly, it's probably a 7 or 8 as far as drafts go. From what other people have said, their drafts are usually very incomplete, with entire chapters missing or fight scenes being nothing but "add fighting here" or characters needing to be written in/out. My draft is complete in that sense. It's readable, I just don't think it's very good.   

What aspects of your draft need the most work?

I kind of answered this in the improvement question above, but I'll broaden it to say my draft needs to be deeper. I need to get deeper into my characters, my storyline, the world I've created. It all still feels very surface-level to me and I want reading my novel to feel like diving to the sea bottom.

What do you like most about your draft?

Ehhh...that it exists, maybe? As I was writing, it was getting bigger and bigger and doing it's very best to convince me that would never be done. 

I also really like the spirit of my draft and the spirit of the characters. Sometimes in the midst of editing mediocre writing, I'll find a phrase that astounds me because I don't remember writing it and it's so perfect for the character or the moment. And I'll hold on to those words like a life-raft or lighthouse in the middle of dark waters. Moments like that give me hope.

What are your plans for this novel once you finish editing? More edits? Finding beta readers? Querying? Self-publishing? Hiding it in a dark hole forever?

Dark hole sounds about right :)

I'm working from a plan that has me doing one big, in-depth revision/edit as opposed to a bunch of little ones. Hence why I've been editing this round since September 2016 and I'm only about half of the way through. So after editing (which will probably be around late-March), I'll be searching for a few more beta readers.

What's your top piece of advice for those just finished writing a first draft?

I've got 2. 

#1. Don't be afraid to walk away for a little. Take a break from your MS. I know. Once you've finally typed that final word, it's like you're high on accomplishment and can't wait to jump back in to see what you've got. But I say give it a 2 weeks to a month at least before you do. I know you're itching to read it, but those few weeks of not messing with it will really provide clarity.

#2. Do whatever the hell you want. Yeah, I know I said take a break for a few weeks, but really...no one knows you like you. Do you.

Have you got any writing advice? I can use all the help I can get :)