Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Switchn' it up

Tip of the Day—over at the 5 randoms this week they are talking about the five biggest mistakes they made that kept them unpublished. Yes, isn’t that the best topic ever?! I highly suggest you go visit.

I could just leave you with the tip of the day about the 5 randoms, but I’m not going to. Instead, I’m going to elaborate on one of Susan Colebank’s biggest mistakes she mentioned yesterday. And that was I kept doing the same thing over and over again, hoping for different results.” She meant it in reference to where or how she went about trying to actually get published, but I hope she won’t mind me borrowing her words and using them in reference to writing the book itself.

Because I’ve been feeling like this a lot lately, and I’m so glad she mentioned it as a mistake. (Thanks, Susan!) I’m just now starting my fourth book, and while I’m grateful for the tremendous amount of information I’ve learned in writing the first three books, I’ve decided to switch things up and try some new things for this book. All in the hope that pushing myself outside my box will not only make me a better writer, but that much closer to my publishing dream.

Sure, switching things up could leave me with an even worse book, since essentially it’s like I’m starting from scratch. But I’m willing to take the risk to explore my writing more.

So what am I doing that’s so radical?

Switching to adults (um…no, that’s, like, so not happening soon)? Switching genres? Writing by hand, in calligraphy, while balancing on a unicycle?

Actually nothing that substantial. Just merely switching my THOUGHTS behind the book-writing process.

  • First, I’m switching from a plot-driven book to a character driven book. Which to me this interprets to simplifying the book plot-wise. Even just one chapter in, I’m amazed at how different I’m writing merely by viewing the book as a character-driven book. I should have been viewing all my books like this. I’ve always known characters were the most important aspect of the book, but now that I’ve given myself permission to think of the plot second, it’s amazing what a difference it makes.

  • Second, I’m writing down every writing rule I’ve ever learned on kickballs, and then methodically kicking them to the curb. Maybe not literally (even though that sounds like a lot of fun!). But I tend to be an overthinker when it comes to my writing. You know the type, the ones that worry about every little aspect, like what font should I be using? Stupid stuff that doesn’t even impact the story in the end. Let alone in a first draft. And now that I’ve learned a bunch of stuff about writing, I think it’s time for me to tune it out and just let the story guide me, instead of worrying about every small writing tool I’ve learned. Especially in the first draft. Because trying to remember them all tends to make me want to kick myself. And now, giving myself permission to forget them, makes me more excited about the story!

It’s amazing how different things turn out when you just switch your thought process. Now, here’s to hoping changing these isn’t going to make me end up with a mess of a first draft. But even if it does, I’ll be thankful for switching it up and trying something different!

P.S. If you haven’t told Lindsey Leavitt congrats yet, the party is still going on over at her LJ blog. She just sold three books! Whoo hooo. Go, Author Lindsey!

--Emily, Miss Awaiting an Agent


Kate Fall said...

I want kickballs! Seriously, what rule would you write on a kickball and kick away first? How about: "Only use said as a speech tag is getting kicked to the curb!" she screamed to the heavens. I can't wait to hear how your new book goes. It sounds like you're having fun with it.

Tabitha said...

Thanks for the link to the 5 Randoms. Loved those five biggest mistakes. :)

From one overthinker to another, great post! :)

Emily Marshall said...

Kate, I think we need to invest in kickballs for real! The first one on my kickball would be "show don't tell." Not because I don't think it's a good rule, because it is. But merely because I think about it ALL THE TIME, and as a result I forget about my story. Second on the list is a certain sub-genre people say isn't selling right now. I would like to kick that one far away, because I really don't want to hear it anymore.

Tabitha--aren't the mistakes great? Glad, I'm not the only overthinker. Let's hope we both can learn to think less (I really never thought I'd say those words).

DeenaML said...

I think I need to ignore the rules, and focus more on crafting a novel -- making sure very piece fits and it's in the right place.

Lisa Schroeder said...

Good for you for switching things up. And for continuing to write new things.

And yeah, I want kickballs too!

Ghost Girl (aka, Mary Ann) said...

Emily, another great post! This is such a tough issue. You want to establish your voice, but what do you do when you're not sure you found that ONE voice yet?

Like you, I am going more specifically for character this time around. Building the story around these two characters first. I'm not even sure where the plot is going, yet!

And I LOVE the kickball idea. I think I just may have to take that one literally! (I'll have a kickball covered in writing!)