Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Light at the End of This Writing Tunnel

When A Bad Guy Forever won the mystery/suspense/thriller category of the 2011-2012 Phoenix Rattler contest last week, believe me, it was a badly needed shot of encouragement. Sort of like those B-12 shots my mother used to give my old granny. Those shots kept her kicking for a good number of years. I’m hoping and praying to stay kicking long enough to get this manuscript revised and circulating.

For the past three days, I’ve been working nonstop. The first thirty-six hours, I read with pen in hand making notes where things didn’t make sense or where I needed more dialogue or internal thought. I haven’t read my manuscript in its entirety since I “finished” it the first time. Won’t tell you how long that’s been! My score sheets from the contest are invaluable. Much of what the two finalist judges said helped identify problem areas. It's amazing how different "professional eyes" (should I say an editor's eyes?) are from our own.
I’ve lived in fear that the rewrites I’ve been involved in during the past year were creating an unfixable mess. I’m tickled silly to say that’s not the case at all. I feel more positive and encouraged than ever! The thing didn’t read half bad. Oh, there are glitches and holes and a few problems, but they're all fixable. FIXABLE! Hooraaaay!
Now I’m taking the notes I’ve written on the hard copy and I'm rewriting. The only thing that’s truly scaring me is how much I’m doing away with. Entire scenes are being discarded but they don’t work so they have to be dumped. I’m almost half-way through the book. Once I’m finished, I’ll pass it on to mystery writer Barbara Colley and let her mark it up. She’s excellent at spotting holes and asking questions that have to be answered. After fixing what she says is broken, hopefully, I’ll have a marketable manuscript. Do you think I should have more than one reader? Seriously now, cut me some slack. But do you?

I’m still having a few problems adding description and a sense of setting. Why is that giving me fits? I have to make a conscious effort to do it when it seems, at least to me, a lot of that should just appear naturally, then be tweaked. It dawned on me today that maybe in the future, I should plan my setting in detail before I ever start writing. What do you think?

Teach me something about setting and description and revision. My book is set in Louisiana. Am I just making sense of place difficult because I’m not really from Louisiana? Now that's a thought.

13 comments:

Kelly said...

Congratulations for getting this far! I say give it to your friend and let her ink it up. Revise it and if you still feel uneasy, let someone else read it.

Charles Gramlich said...

That's good. Glad to hear it's not as rough as you imagined. It often isn't once you're into it. I know Barbara!

Jess said...

Kelly - great advice. I get so overwhelmed if I have several critiques at one time and they all say different things!

Charles - I know you know BC. I believe she told me you made a road trip together. She's my BFF. :)

Rachel said...

Congrats! Was always afraid to even start with the intent to finish! Kudos!

Jess said...

Rachel - your blog is hilarious. You really SHOULD be writing a book. Thanks for visiting me.

James R Tate said...

Let's see... My friend has a book I haven't read and is looking for feedback. Hmmm. Would love to read it just because. I don't have to say a word if you're worried about input overload. Just saying. Too much feedback can be a problem. Keep at it.

Jess said...

Awwww, James. Thanks! I call myself saving you men from reading something that is clearly for women... But if you want to suffer through it! :) It'll be interesting to get a man's POV.

Debra Harris-Johnson said...

Go Jess GO!!!! For scenery of La. I would tune into that show where the guys are catching alligators or rent a movie that was shot in La. If you need me (now thats funny) I will help.dreamweaver

Jess said...

Thanks Debra - I'll have to pass on Swamp People. :) As for Louisiana flavor, I've learned that people not from Louisiana expect more Cajun flavor than necessary in our books. I've lived in Louisiana for almost 30 years and never tasted a crawfish. And that's sort of the way I write. :/ Thanks for the offer!

Linda Todd said...

Hi Jess
BIG congrats on your win. I agree with Kelly about letting someone else looking at it after revisions. As far as setting goes, I have three of Elton Louviere's coffee table books of his paintings. He's all over Louisiana, not just Cajun country. I find a picture and start describing it. Worked for my river camp scene in Wild Justice.
Again, congratulations!
Linda

Jess said...

Linda - wonderful idea! From now on I'm going to start with setting -- work it out like I do the backstory. Coffee table books would be a wonderful resource. I honestly hadn't thought of that. :)

Sherry Perkins said...

Way to go Jess. We all knew you had it in you. After 30 years of living here you ARE from Louisiana and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. You've been here long enough to see us, hear us, feel us, and know us (and by us I mean native Louisianians - is that a word?) Go with your gut. You're a professional TOO! I'm so proud of you.

Jan Rider Newman said...

I've never heard you sound so hopeful and excited about your writing. It sounds good, Jess.