Deadlines Are Great! So Are Parties!

You know that little rewriting deadline I set for myself a couple weeks ago? The one in which I promised myself some tights and sushi if I completed it? Well…I did! Right on time too.

I think I get bonus points for finishing this rewrite in a tornado of insanity. My 13-year-old and 11-year-old had their annual Halloween party last night. The one that they plan and send out invites for before getting permission! It always ends up being a total blast, but exhausting. A record number showed up last night: at least 30 6th- to 8th-grade kids, and about 15 stayed for the sleepover. (Next year the sleepover part will be omitted or I’ll lose the rest of my sanity!)

These girls really know how to throw a party. I was impressed with the treats they made, and the decorations they came up with on a tight budget. (Didn’t get pictures of the porch outside yet, will when it’s a little darker and gloomier.)

This doesn’t even show…kids were everywhere! Everywhere!

Werewolf cupcakes
This cake was probably the best cake I’ve ever had!
It was seriously amazing. Emily’s my cake baker from now on.
They made these string cheese zombie fingers.
I didn’t get a picture of ours before they all got eaten.

So anyway, last night I sat on the couch in a living room full of screaming girls and crazy dance party music, somehow tuned out all the noise, and fixed all those pesky red notes. Then I deleted them while laughing like a villain! After that, I played Apples to Apples with the girls.

Daisy the bunny got some major spoiling!
Brian’s crashed on the couch. LOL

So, what now? I’m going to scrounge up the money for some crazy tights and all-you-can-eat sushi at my favorite place, Sushi Time, send out some more query letters, get back to work on Cobalt, and then party like this dude:

Except not today, my lower back is really out…

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Last Time–I Promise!

This is the version I’m going to use for now, because it’s 1:30 am and I’m freakin’ exhausted, and the deadline for the hook contest is today. (If you’ve already figured out I’m annoying, be glad I’m not a family member!) I’ll give it a week or so before I re-read, edit out mistakes, decide to re-write it entirely again, query it, or whatever.

However, I’m still iffy about the first two sentences as a hook. The first two paragraphs, even.

The 250 words for the contest are highlighted. 🙂

*

Maybe it was weird for a sixteen-year-old girl to still be afraid of the dark, but everyone has their phobias. Actually, I was fine with normal darkness–but when you mixed in wind and trees, I’d start to freak out. I blamed my grandma for that.
There was this ghost story she would tell my brother Drew and me when we were kids. Of course, a few years ago I’d stopped believing in ghosts. Or in the story that, to this day, she swore was true. But when the wind came howling up out of the trees, I found my skepticism wavering…
The door of the coffee shop rattled. I looked out the window, then jumped up, slamming my book shut. The clouds were already darkening to lead-gray, streaked with purple and pink at the edges.
The cashier shot me a perky smile from behind the counter. “Leaving already, Nissa?”
I barely heard her as I stuffed the book into my backpack and tossed out the remainder of my hot chocolate. Waving goodbye over my shoulder, I pushed the door open and hurried out into the gusty evening.
The air smelled like pine and chimney smoke. I stuffed my hands into my jacket pockets and quickened my pace, dashing across the street to the empty field in front of the woods. The tall yellow grass lashed against my knees. I already knew I wasn’t setting foot inside the trees with the wind whipping up the branches like this.
I got to the dusty trail that circled the small forest and started left, keeping a nervous eye on the black spaces under the boughs. But only a few steps along, the wind died, cut off as abruptly as if someone had placed a giant glass over the field, stilling the air. I stopped dead too, and stared into the pines, debating.
Walking around added another half hour–twenty minutes if I ran. Either way, night would be complete by the time I got home. I hated the thought of how I’d react if the wind picked up again in full darkness. And I was already cutting it close. If I took too much longer, Ben would have an accident on the carpet and Mom would kill me.
It would take five minutes to cut through the trees at a jog. The full moon shone through a break in the clouds enough to illuminate the narrow path between the trunks. I’d taken this route countless times before, so why hesitate now?
Something felt different tonight, like the motionless air was heavier. Expectant. I paused just inside and wasted another minute peering into the gloom, seeing nothing but pine needles and scattered bushes. The only thing different, I realized, was that I’d been obsessing over Grandma’s tale ever since the wind knocked on the door of the coffee shop. Of course I felt jittery. I rolled my eyes, then went in at a casual walk to spite my fearful mind.
Shadows carpeted the trail. Despite my attempts to push it out of my head, the ghost story replayed itself in Grandma’s voice.
I had just turned eighteen, barely out of high school. Back then there were a lot more trees around town. The little stretch of woods at the bottom of the hill was part of a bigger forest–before the shopping center and the new school took its place. Your neighborhood hadn’t been built yet, but the walking path I used to take was close enough to where you live now.
I found myself jumping at sounds, and sang an annoying song under my breath as a distraction. Still, I imagined Grandma talking.
You could say it was a dark and stormy night. She’d always laughed at this. The wind sounded like a pack of hyenas coming straight from the heart of the trees. It made me nervous, even though I wasn’t a girl anymore. I swore I could hear voices in those gusts, like evil things coming closer, looking for me. I walked faster, trying to control my steps so I didn’t twist an ankle, and also to convince myself it was all in my imagination. Only then, the wind died to a gentle breeze. The voices stopped, and I saw a silvery glow bobbing toward me from a few yards away.
The slightest breath of air whispered through the pine needles, kissing my cheek with icy lips. I came to a halt, suddenly aware of how dim it was under the canopy, the clouds concealing the moon’s light. A burst of panic bloomed in my chest as I realized I’d wandered from the trail. Every tree trunk, rock, and shrub looked exactly the same as I whirled around, trying to find the dirt track.
Grandma’s voice continued unbidden in my mind. I waited a moment to see if it was someone approaching with a lantern, but instead it was only a light: a disembodied, glowing ball floating between the branches. Thin, bright streams, like arms, were growing out of it and reaching for me. My head felt slow and fuzzy, almost a happy feeling, but I held on to enough of my senses to turn tail and race out of there. I didn’t look back, and I never went into the woods again. She would shake a finger at Drew’s laughing face here. And I never will go into any forest, and that’s how you know I tell the truth.
Mom often told us of how Grandma would hide beneath blankets, trembling and whimpering on windy nights, and how Grandpa would have to calm her down. That was the part of the story that always made me wonder whether I shouldn’t have stopped believing.

Whoops. I Need to Sharpen My Hook

Big, snuggly thanks to everyone who gave their opinions on the two hooks I posted yesterday! I’d been working on similar versions for so long that it never occurred to me until today to try something completely different. I thought about everyone’s advice, and how they liked the 2nd clip better than the first. I agree, actually. I prefer a little character development too, rather than jumping straight into the action.

I’m pretty excited about what I wrote tonight. I tried to capture a sense of Nissa’s personality, introduce a bit of her family life, create a sense of tension and conflict, give her a difficult choice, and reveal why she’s afraid of going into the woods without that internal narrative info dump. Let me know if this sounds better than the other two.

I’m pasting the entire new scene, and highlighting the first 250 words that I’d use for the contest.

*

The wind picked up, sending a shivery howl through the branches, and I skipped a few steps away. Like it was laughing, the forest flung a handful of dry needles after me. The air smelled like pine and chimney smoke. I stuffed my hands into my jacket pockets and quickened my pace.

Eva rolled her eyes, hurrying to keep up. “Seriously, Nissa? You just turned sixteen. Don’t tell me you still won’t take the shortcut home.”

“I’m not going in there.” I spared one glance at the dark spaces between the tree trunks before marching off along the field.

“But going around the woods takes another twenty minutes! My mom’s picking me up in an hour. We’ll never get our project done in time.”

“Let’s jog, then.”

My best friend yanked my arm, forcing me to stop and face the trees again. “Nope. You’re getting over this right now. I’ve walked down that trail a million times to get to your house and nothing’s happened. And your brother practically grew up in there.

It was my turn to roll my eyes. “Go ahead and laugh, but I believe what my grandma saw–”

Eva did laugh. “Yeah, about some guy swinging a lantern around in the forest a hundred years ago. She was just messing with you.”

“No! I know she was serious. She always stuck to her story, no matter how many times she told it.” I pulled my arm out of Eva’s hands, and the well-rehearsed words spilled out in a rush. “When she was like eighteen or so, she was walking down the path and thought she heard voices in the wind. Then she saw a light moving straight toward her. And it wasn’t a lantern, it was this disembodied glowing ball. Something like arms were growing out of it and reaching for her. She said it made her head feel slow and fuzzy, but she turned and ran. She never went back in after that.”

Eva made an impatient sound. “No matter how many times you tell me what your grandma said, it always sounds like a campfire ghost story.”

“Well, if she was making it up to scare us, then why did she freak out when Drew tried to get her to go with him one time? Why was she always afraid of the wind? She never went back in!”

“It doesn’t mean you have to be stupid.”

“Your mom’s stupid.”

A slow, wicked grin crept across Eva’s face. “Okay, I dare you.”

“Grow up,” I sniffed.

“No, you grow up, Nissa! Haven’t they cut down half the woods since your grandma was young? This can hardly be called a forest anymore. Listen, I’ll make you a bet: If you can get all the way through by yourself, I’ll buy you a smoothie twice a week after school for the rest of the year.”

I snorted and took another step on the dusty path that circled the trees. Eva cut in front of me.

“Okay, and…you can pick out any pair of awesome shoes you want and I’ll get them for you too. As long as they’re not a hundred dollars or anything.”

“Why would I want you to buy me shoes when I can borrow yours anytime?”

She came up close to my face, lowering her voice. “But if you don’t do this, you have to convince your dad to give us movie passes every weekend until New Year’s.”

“He lets us watch movies for free all the time anyway.”

“Yeah, but you’ll have to bug your brother at the concession counter every time for snacks and drinks, no charge. Drew hates that.”

“You’re not convincing me, and you’re not threatening me. Come on, we could’ve been halfway to my house by now!”

Eva tossed her wild blonde hair out of her eyes. “I’m curing you! All right, if you’re not going to take a bribe, then…I’m telling Ethan you’re in love with him.”

I froze, forgetting how to talk for a second. “You wouldn’t…”

“You know I would!”

“Oh, come on, Eva, really!” Smirking, she folded her arms, knowing she had me. I fixed her with my angriest glare. “Fine. Forget the shoes, though. You’re going to be my personal slave every day until after winter break, and buy me the smoothies, and get me a Barnes & Noble gift card that doesn’t count as my Christmas present.”

“Done.” Eva waved toward the trees. “Go on, get it over with.”

The purple-streaked sky contrasted with the shadowy, waving branches above the path. I hesitated just under the first pine. “Why alone, though? It’d still be bad enough even if you went in with me.”

“No, it wouldn’t. You’re not really facing your fears if I’m there holding your hand. I’ll give you a two-minute head start. Run through if you have to, and just wait for me on the other side.” Eva gave me a reassuring pat, then a firm push, on the shoulder. “Better make it fast. It’s starting to get dark.”

The vivid image of a ghostly light creeping through the trees flashed through my mind. Before I could decide otherwise, I charged up the path between the trunks.

Where’s My Fishing Pole?

Can I hook a teen? Sure, I have two teens of my own, so I have years of experience. All you need is a really good, sturdy hook, like the one below, and then you gotta bait it with some pizza or an iPhone–

Okay, I’m going to stop now before I get in trouble! This particular contest is about an entirely different kind of hook: The beginning of your story. For me, crafting the perfect First Page Hook is scarier and more painful than a big, sharp fishhook right in the butt (which happened to my sister when she was a kid).

I have a great time writing once the story gets going, but that first page is a killer. I think I’ve revised it 10 times, and last week my wonderful writers’ group told me it’s still not hooky enough. (What would I do without them? Working on a MS which is nowhere near as polished, is the answer!)

Back to that in a minute. Brenda Drake is hosting a super-fun and challenging contest to show off our amazing, shiny, perfect 250-word hooks. Not just any old 250 words, but the book’s very beginning – the exact part which is likely to hook and draw in the readers you’re trying to attract. Kate and Taryn of Teen Eyes Editorial Services will be the judges, and boy am I as nervous as a worm hanging onto the end of a fishing line!

I’ll definitely be tweaking and polishing my entry some more before the deadline on September 23. I haven’t changed anything since writers’ group last week, thinking I’d let it stew, but nothing has really come to mind yet. They think the 2nd paragraph is a bit of an info dump that can be written into the action instead. I’m also going to post the original beginning, in the hopes that maybe some of you can help me sort the problem out.

So this is what I’m using now:

The wind flung debris into my eyes over the pages of the book, jarring me back to reality. A faint glow from the full moon was just starting to show over the tops of the trees. Nighttime had sneaked up on me again. Great. I stopped walking long enough to stuff the paperback I’d been reading into my backpack before I fell on my face, then quickened my steps.

The little pockets of evergreen woods dotting my town are supposed to be haunted. It’s said when the wind moans through the branches on moonless nights, it’s really the sound of otherworldly creatures roaming the trees in search of something they lost centuries ago. Whether or not anyone believed it, they couldn’t deny the trees here seemed older and wilder than in the big mountain forests above town. Especially the narrow strip of pines below the hill near my house: It was always too dark and cold in there, even in the middle of the day. And the sound of the gusts blowing through the branches: Unearthly is the only word to describe it. More like the howling of animals than air rushing through leaves.

So it really sucked that the trail through the woods was the quickest way home. I hated my brother for telling me the old ghost story too many times as a kid, with that embellished, sadistic way only older brothers can do.

And the original beginning:

The wind rattled the door next to me like it was trying to get in, making me jump. My cup of hot chocolate fell off the table, spilling all over my backpack. I grabbed napkins from the dispenser and mopped the chocolate up, then wadded them into a sopping ball, which I tossed at the garbage bin. It hit the side with a juicy splat and slid to the floor.

The cashier shot me a perky smile from behind the counter. “You aren’t leaving already, are you, Nissa? The only book you’ve cracked all afternoon’s been that corny romance.”

“It’s getting dark.” I stuffed the book into my backpack and aimed my cup at the bin, where it bounced off the rim to join the dripping napkins on the floor.

“See you tomorrow?”

I scooped my garbage up into the bin, then cast a nervous glance at the purple sky, where the faintest glow from the full moon was just starting to show over the tops of the trees. “Maybe. It seems like night is starting to come earlier now.” I waved goodbye, then headed across the parking lot. If I hurried, I could probably still make the shortcut through the woods. The wind blew harder as I reached the crosswalk, biting my cheeks with a chill that felt like early winter and smelled like log fires.

Darkness and wind. Not a good combination. There’s an old legend about the little pockets of woods dotting my town.

Maybe it’s just me, but I didn’t think the cafe scene was really necessary. Just after that part, she gets to the woods, and then there’s the description about why they’re so creepy. It was this original beginning that hooked Sarah LaPolla of Curtis Brown and got her to request a full – but then she broke my heart anyway! 😉

I’d love to know what parts of either version you find to be the most hooky. When you start a book, what is it about the first page that sucks you in? An intro to the main characters before adding the conflict? Starting right in the middle of the action? Dialogue, internal narrative, or a combination? What books have you read recently whose beginnings you just loved?

I can’t wait to read the other entrants’ first 250 words and find out all the creative and amazing ways they’re beginning their books!

On Deleting Your Scenes (including a deleted scene)

“Kill your darlings.” The link applied to that phrase leads to a great blog post by someone else describing what the phrase is all about. I had a chapter in The Moongate, Halloween, that I loved so much I refused to delete it when I was going through the hack-and-trim stage of my rewrites. I thought the chapter was funny. “It’s character development!” I’d cry in defense of the chapter when my subconscious, who knew better, kept telling me it was useless.

Finally, I listened to the quiet part of my brain that knows better. Halloween was 2800 words of worthless character development that was holding the story back. Absolutely nothing happened in that chapter to drive the plot forward, except for my main character getting her crush’s attention. I easily found a way to do that somewhere else using fewer than 200 words. I closed my eyes, apologized to my beloved chapter, hit the cut button–and then pasted the words in a “deleted scenes” document. Sometimes I go through those scenes and scavenge phrases or dialogue that I can use somewhere else. Other times I re-read them, laughing at the terrible writing and first-draftiness of it all.

I just re-read Halloween last night, and wondered what exactly it was about that chapter I loved so much anyway. It was kind of corny, and dragged on. But there is one small scene that sticks out in my mind. It remains a favorite, even if it will never have a place in The Moongate.

* * *

Eva grabbed my arm so we wouldn’t get separated. “Let’s get some soda–oh, no. You’re kidding me. What is that?” She pointed toward the snack counter.

Behind the counter, a bloody abomination took orders, tossing packets of candy to the clamoring crowd. “Drew!” I yelled as we approached. “What are you supposed to be?”

Drew’s grin wrinkled the heavy makeup covering his face. He pressed a dangling eyeball back onto his eyelid, where the adhesive was coming loose. “Can’t you tell, little sis? I’m the quintessential horror movie victim: every cliché you can think of on how they kill, maim, dismember, knock off, and fatally injure those poor fools, all in one body.” He struck a few poses so we could admire his genius.

I pointed at the large, stuffed bra strapped to the outside of his football jersey, with a bloody knife sticking out of it. “Um, what’s with the . . .”

He shook his head. “Nissa, Nissa. Haven’t been watching enough scary movies lately, have you? Don’t you know the first one who gets it is always the dumb chick with the big–”

“You know what?” Eva interrupted. “This is a good reason why you haven’t been able to get any dates.”

“Really funny!” Drew glowered around his hanging eye. “Are you gonna get some snacks, or what? Unless you want to help behind the counter. There’s only three of us to that horde of zombies you call your classmates there.” He gestured at his co-workers scurrying to keep up with the candy orders.

“We’ll get some drinks and some Reese’s,” Eva said.

Drew handed over our snacks. “Go brush up on your horror now. There are the classics on screens one and two, zombie movies on three, vampires on four, slasher films on five and six–”

“Yes, I know, thanks!” I took my soda from Drew, then jumped about a foot as he screamed; his hand came off with the cup and blood squirted on the counter. I grabbed the rubber prop and threw it into the popcorn machine. Eva and I ducked into the crowd before he could start yelling at us.

* * *

After you’ve let your first draft cook awhile, and you’re facing the daunting task of cutting unnecessary scenes, don’t let a sappy love affair with your own words stand in the way of your good judgement. Look at each scene with the critical eye of an agent or editor who couldn’t care less how brilliant or funny that dialogue is if it’s not pertinent to the story, and use your delete key like a knife and cut it out. Or save it in a deleted scenes file if you simply cannot bear to part with it forever.

I have 25 pages of deleted scenes for The Moongate alone. And, ultimately, I cut over 10,000 words from the first draft. I recently found out I can probably cut a little more. Muhahaha! I’m off to sharpen my knife.

Off-topic: Does the font look really small to you guys? I have it set to normal, which is between 12 and 14-point, but it looks tiny to me. It doesn’t usually do that, so I’m not sure what’s going on… Never mind, fixed it!

Personalized Rejections Rock

I must be nuts for saying any kind of rejection rocks, but when you’re used to the cookie-cutter ones that don’t offer any insight into why the agent isn’t interested in your manuscript, it can almost make you downright giddy to receive a personalized rejection–even better if the agent tells you exactly what turned her off to your submission.

Sarah Lapolla of Curtis Brown, Ltd. was the first agent to request my full manuscript. I waited on pins and needles for just shy of two months (not far off of her estimated response time, and well ahead of many agents’ wait of three months or much longer). By the time her response came, I had talked myself through the inevitable rejection. Chocolate was consumed, but for once tears were not shed. Exactly the opposite of what I’d expected of myself from something so awesome as a full submission. I spent the rest of the day slightly bummed, but optimistic for future queries. Her very kind and insightful rejection gave me the feeling I might be one or two rewrites away from another agent’s yes:

I was able to read it last night and thought Nissa was a really wonderful character. You did a really great job with her voice and making her someone readers will want to follow. As you know, I also am a huge fan of this premise; however, I felt that as I kept reading, I was less taken with the writing than I was with your opening. To me, it seemed that the narrative voice changed to a more descriptive voice, rather than one of action, after Nissa entered Aronaur and lost some of its initial intrigue.
With that said, I am going to pass on this project. I hope you continue to search for an agent who will have a better connection to your work, and I wish you success in your writing career. Thank you again for the chance to read this novel.
Yeah, it was a little discouraging at first, and overwhelming when I realized I was facing the daunting prospect of another rewrite. I brought her letter to my writers’ group last night, and received some helpful feedback from my awesome writing friends. Matt Bayan, a bestselling author and excellent editor, had already slogged through my first draft a couple of years ago, and last month re-read The Moongate‘s latest version, so I was anxious to hear his opinion. I hoped he didn’t think I really needed to change the narrative voice, because in my mind that’s a huge undertaking. To my dismay, he more or less agreed with Sarah, but gave me some helpful tips on how to improve the narrative without slamming my head repeatedly into my desk.
So it’s back to rewrite city. But it’s okay, I know I can do it, yet again. To Sarah, thank you for the chance to send my first full. I’m closer to publication than ever before!

My ANWA Lesson on Rewrite Heck

Earlier tonight I gave the lesson at my ANWA chapter’s internet meeting. I went a bit nuts and wrote a lot–so it was kind of information overload to copy and paste it all the chat room. I said I’d post the lesson here if anyone wants to have another look. 🙂

While this isn’t a masterpiece in writing style, I hope it was at least a helpful lesson. I wrote the whole thing really fast to make the deadline. I didn’t edit it very much, and don’t really feel like it now. We’ve had some drama tonight, and Momma just wants to finish posting this, then eat some comfort food and take a hot bath!

***

Okay, I’ll be quoting advice from How to Write a Damn Good Novel, by James N. Frey.

Since a lot of us are at various stages of rewriting, I thought rewrites would be a good topic. I’ve been in rewrite heck for about 3 years now! Mainly because I didn’t know what I was doing when I did my first rewrites, and I got stuck.

I loved this book, because it was a fast, interesting read, instead of a dry writing manual, like a textbook. I still use it as a reference book often. “When you read someone else’s work, you see the faults, errors, and dead spots; poor characterizations, flawed metaphors, and so on…Read someone else’s first draft; its faults will fly off the page at you.”

Frey says it’s very hard to see the faults in your own work, but to rewrite effectively you need to find the parts that need to be changed or deleted. Writers’ groups are great resources for this. I’ve belonged to a local group for almost 4 years, and haven’t stopped going because all of the long-time members are talented, honest, and not afraid to be brutally so when needed. We meet every week at Barnes & Noble. It’s a good meeting if the members don’t laugh so loudly we’re in danger of getting kicked out! (Actually, sometimes that makes for an even better meeting.) I learned things about my book from the members of this group that I never would have seen on my own.

It’s important to find a good writers’ group that has at least a few members who aren’t afraid to be honest, bonus points if they’re well-read in your chosen genre. You often find either fluffy critiquers who are afraid of hurting your feelings by offering even the slightest bit of advice (I fall under that category a lot), or literary types who look down their noses at anything that even remotely resembles genre fiction. The fluffy ones aren’t helpful for obvious reasons, and the snobby types won’t understand what you’ve written, and will have negative things to say about bestsellers. And I think most of US would love to be bestselling authors! We’ve had both these types come and go in my local group.

I’m also glad I joined ANWA in part because you can get some extremely helpful critiques from our members! Since we’re all LDS, I’m more comfortable sharing work on a more spiritual nature with ANWA than with the members of my local group–who know I’m Mormon, but they love to tease me good-naturedly about it. (Which is fine, because it’s friendly teasing!)

When you get into analyzing your story on your own, you should set it aside for at least a month, take a break, or work on something else, so you have a fresh eye when you go back to rewrite. This is when I find the really bad parts. (I don’t give my stuff to a beta reader until I’ve gone through it at least once, it’s less embarrassing that way.)

This is when you need to look at your scenes and characters under a magnifying glass. Frey has a huge checklist here, but I’ve narrowed it down to a scene-by-scene analysis. For each and every SCENE, not chapter, you have to look at the characters’ motivation, feelings, dialogue, and whether they learned anything, achieved a goal, or grew in some way. Ramp up the conflict, or add conflict if there isn’t any at all. (That doesn’t mean your story should be nonstop action, though, or it’s exhausting to read.) If nothing happens in a scene that advances the story, DELETE IT. I deleted 10,000 words out of The Moongate that way! They were good chapters too, I loved them, but in the end they didn’t advance the story. Like a novel, most scenes need conflict, climax, and resolution–unless you’re replacing resolution with a cliff-hanger at the end of a scene or chapter, which is even better.

What makes a rewrite easier to tackle is breaking it up into scenes and taking them one at a time, so you’re not overwhelming yourself with the whole picture. Also, we all know the rule about reading each scene aloud, because you can catch awkward writing better when you hear it.

I’m at the end of Frey’s chapter on rewriting, so I’ll add what I learned from Stephen King’s book On Writing. He says rewriting is taking your first draft and deleting 10%. I didn’t think it was possible, but with The Moongate I ended up deleting just over 10%, a huge accomplishment for me! 10% isn’t going to work for everyone, but his point is that you NEED to find the scenes that don’t advance the story and cut them. I also ended up deleting 250 adverbs–I did a search for anything ending in “ly,” then decided with each and every one of them whether I should keep them or not. I’d say about 90% were deleted. It was a huge pain in the butt, which taught me an important lesson for writing Blood Moon: Decide while writing the first draft whether an adverb is necessary!

A lot of people rewrite out of sequence, so they don’t get caught up in their own familiar writing and miss things that other people would catch. I did that with The Moongate and found both advantages and disadvantages to that method. It was true that it didn’t catch me up, but I also missed some important plot problems that would have been revealed if I’d gone through it in order. Luckily, I had my daughter read through it and she caught them for me (Lia turned out to be an excellent editor; she should consider it as a career, seriously). This taught me that if I’m going to rewrite out of sequence, I should go through the book in sequence at least once.

***

And so, that was my lesson on rewriting, which was probably quite long enough for a chat room discussion! I’d love to read any comments on what works for you in rewriting. After querying, it’s my least favorite part of the writing process.