Thursday, March 28, 2013

The End of the Race

We’re coming to the end of March and the end of the Speedbo race. Some of us have almost reached our goal, some of us are lagging far behind, often due to circumstances beyond our control. Life interfered with our plans. But that’s often the case. Distractions are something we have to deal with as best we can.

As soon as you’ve finished with your manuscript you can let it rest for a while. Take a two or three week break from your thousands of words per day. You’ve earned it! It’s hard to get perspective on what needs to be fixed if your brain is still in a creative mode. Before you start your second draft you’ll need to see the whole picture, not just pieces of it. Time away from the manuscript will help with the process. Take a walk, read a book. Better yet, take a vacation!

I’ve noticed a lot of writers fall into one of two distinctive categories – those who love everything they write and those who hate everything they write. Neither group sees their work objectively. Of course it’s probably impossible to view our story as others see it. But to make our novel the best it can be we have to try to be as objective as possible.

Just don’t let your brilliant words blind you to poor story structure. On the other hand, don’t allow a great story to blind you to sloppy or amateurish writing. Everything can be fixed by revising. According to James Scott Bell, “Good writing is rewriting with know-how.”

Don’t be discouraged if you find lots of plot holes, shallow characters, and terrible writing after reading your first draft. First drafts are supposed to be messy. Remember that.

Are you ready to start reviewing your SpeedBo creation?

Print out your manuscript instead of reading it on the computer. You’ll want to feel like a reader reading it for the first time. Read it with ‘fresh eyes.’ At this point you need to get the overall impression of the book without getting down in the weeds. Jot down a few notes if you want, but don’t make changes in the manuscript yet.

Some writers use outside readers to read their drafts
. You can ask what they think about the overall plot, what they like or dislike about the characters, if and when they got bored, if they have any suggestions. Personally, I don’t let my friends look at my story until it’s in half way decent shape, but that’s up to you.

Analyze. Start to take notes after the first read-through. Bell suggests we ask these questions:

Does the story make sense?

Is the plot compelling?

Does the story flow or is it disjointed?

Are the lead characters memorable?

Are the stakes high enough?

Will the reader ‘worry enough’ over the plot and characters to want to keep reading?

When you finish answering the questions you can start to fix the problems. But first I do something else. I start a start with a chapter-by-chapter outline. Do I hear a few groans? This is to help you, not to submit to an editor. Pat yourself on the back if you’ve already scribbled some sort of outline as you were writing your SpeedBo manuscript. In the long run it’s less work if you jot down a few lines as you go along.

If you want you can use a spreadsheet to keep track of the plot. It’s fine to keep it simple. Include the chapter number, setting, characters, summary and outcome. Another way would be to list the goal, motivation, and conflict. I also take more notes about what I think needs fixing.

If an outline seems too tedious then try writing a 2,000 to 3,000 word summary. Dare I say write it like a synopsis? But it’s only for you so don’t worry about including all the parts an editor would like to see. This should help you find dropped plot threads and unnecessary sub-plots or characters etc.

From here you might find you’re ready to start on your revisions. Have fun and remember to enjoy the process!

What did you learn about your writing during SpeedBo? Did anything surprise you?

I’ll be giving away an assortment of Love Inspired romances so if you’d like to win please leave your e-mail address with your comments.

Happy Easter!


Helen Gray said...

Thanks for the words of wisdon, Cara.

I still plan a reading binge when I finish this manuscript, so I'm greedy for books, books, books.

I'm one of those who doesn't mind editing. I like the clean-up/tweak process. Guess it's the accounting mentality.

The coffee pot is set.


Christina Rich said...

I have learned I've misplaced the ability to vomit on the page. :/ I obsess over every line, every word. I have written a little over 500 words in a few days. Actually I've probably written more but I keep fussing over the words.

I keep hoping the gag reflex will start working. :)

christinainspirationals at gmail dot com

Terri said...

Thanks for the post, great advice. I'm going to have to print this one out and keep it.

Melissa Jagears said...

Well, I am definitely in the "everything I write is crud" camp. The book I sold was "not worth anyone's time." Good thing I have crit partners who don't believe me. :)

What I learned this time through speedbo? Writing a rough draft in sleepy first trimester mode is more of a challenge than any other writing I've done....and the baby won--I got more sleeping than writing done.

Carol Garvin said...

I haven't finished digesting Glynna's suggestions yet, but they tie in very well with yours, Cara. They're all great ideas!

We're busy talking about the end of Speedbo (or in my case, the end of March Madness since I've been busy elsewhere and have only been a spectator here this year) but there are still a few days left. I'm planning to work my way into the weekend and then get right into the halleluias on Sunday when the month is truly over.

After that I'm going to follow Helen's example and catch up on all my abandoned reading. I'd love something new, too. :)

caroljgarvin [at] gmail [dot] com

Edwina said...

Thanks for the advice, Cara! And congrats to everyone who participated in Speedbo.

Jenny Blake said...

One problem with asking a reader to read your book is if they are like me they dont want to say anything bad to the author! I guess I know what I like and don't and can see issues but I would hate to say something that may upset the author, I may say I like the premise and if I see an issue where I was confused I would mention it in a nice way. If I was asked what I thought of some things I could be honest.
Going to have an early night. seems Im having a reaction to the tablets I am on for my wrist. been feeling sick the past week a little starts after lunch for awhile but been getting a little worse and today I worked out it may be the tablets and today I feel the worst I have and I actually have felt really sick all afternoon. Talked to the pharmacist who suggested stopping them for a couple of days then trying them at night but if the same thing happens stop. So am doing that. I hate feeling sick and today has been the pits.

Jenny Blake said...

ps my email is ausjenny at gmail dot com
would love to win the books (and if I did they could be sent to an US addy as I will be there in 5 weeks) Not that im counting or anything!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

I love this advice, Cara... Finishing, letting it rest, moving on.

I usually clear my head with a house project. Painting, trimming, re-doing a room (trust me, this isn't an act of grandeur, it's born of total NEED... My before and after pics on facebook are testimony to that!)

Working with Melissa Endlich has taught me how to go into a project with a more "linear" view, seeing the road or arc of the book more clearly from the beginning. What a huge help that is, it saves me time, re-writes, extra drafts, etc. And readers are not afraid to tell me what they love... and don't love, LOL!

Vince's Rewards per page come into play for me at this point. As I study or scrutinize, I think of the effect of the page on the reader... and tweak accordingly. What an eye-opener that concept has been for me.

Great post, Cara-mia! Holy Thursday... Maundy Thursday... Pope Francis is traveling to a juvenile detention center today to wash the feet of 12 young prisoners...

His amazing example makes me smile and stretch to do more.


Cara Lynn James said...

Thanks for the coffee, Helen. I can't function without it.

I like to edit, too. It's time consuming, but somehow it's often easier for me to do than to just write and not edit as I go.

Cara Lynn James said...

LOL, Christina! Editing as you go is very hard for me to overcome, too. I like having the words just right before I continue on. It's an addiction! Promise yourself a piece of chocolate or something you like as soon as you finish a page without having fixed it. Give yourself an incentive.

Sally said...

I enjoyed reading this post and would love to be in the drawing for the books! The editing process is so much fun for me. Finding plot holes, characters that have changed the color of their eyes or some other aspect, questions left unanswered at the end of a book, etc. Thanks for the wonderful posts this month! Happy Easter!

tscmshupe [at] pemtel [dot] net

Debra E. Marvin said...

For obsessive list makers, the chapter by chapter summary is a great way to keep track of things. I like to list 'questions' --things that came up that the reader should want answered, and not foreshadowing similarly. Also any details about characters or setting that I want to make sure I keep consistent.

Most importantly for me I make a note of where each character is emotionally at the beginning and end. What did they struggle with.
And any character interaction - this makes it easy to find if I need to look back to see what a last conversation went like.

Cara -- I'm taking a vacation--literally--though I expect I'll be working on a different story.

I hope everyone can put the Speedbo aside and rest your creative brain or do something else not so brain-cell intense!

Thank you Cara!

Jackie said...

Hi Cara,

Guess what I learned to do this month during Speedbo?

For the first time ever I outlined my chapters.

I've always had a rough outline to go by as I write, but this time I'm actually outlining my chapters.

Of course I've moved things around, but still--

Thanks for your post today!


Cara Lynn James said...

Good morning, Terri!

Melissa, it's a good thing your editor thought your writing isn't crud! We're in the same camp.

I agree that it's definitely harder for some of us to just write!

Cara Lynn James said...

Hi, Carol and Edwina!

I can't give up reading every night. I'm addicted.

Cara Lynn James said...

Jenny, I hope you feel better soon. Immediately.

It's hard to criticize a friend's work. But even a few observations would help the writer. (I can think of a few friends/relatives who would be glad to give me the unvarnished truth!)

Cara Lynn James said...

Ruthy,, good advice about seeing things clearly right from the beginning.

Projects after finishing a first draft are great as long as they don't involve cleaning. That's off limits.

Glynna Kaye said...

CARA--good question: what did you learn? Everytime I write a book, I learn something NEW. Either about using one of the dynamics of Craf or about what works for me--or doesn't. I have only 6 published books under my belt, so I'm still a newbie constantly trying to find ways that will better serve me to come up with ideas, write proposals, map out the story arc, write more quickly, etc. It's a constant trial and error, but gradually I'm finding a "sweet spot" in the process. It just takes time and that's what I've learned to remind myself of.

Glynna Kaye said...

JENNY -- sorry you're not feeling well and are reacting to the meds. Prayers for your full recovery.

Rose said...

Editing is much more fun for me than writing the first draft.

Great advice about printing out your work and letting sit for a week or two.

I plan to do both!

kaybee said...

This is good advice. I always edit from a print-out, with a fine point red Sharpie. I started my career on a manual typewriter, so I'm used to doing a lot of things off-line. I've also learned to wait before I show it to anyone. I have one great critique partner, and I don't show her anything until I've fixed it to the best of my ability.
Would love to win BOOKS!
Kathy Bailey
Pre-pubbed in New Hampshire

kaybee said...

This is good advice. I always edit from a print-out, with a fine point red Sharpie. I started my career on a manual typewriter, so I'm used to doing a lot of things off-line. I've also learned to wait before I show it to anyone. I have one great critique partner, and I don't show her anything until I've fixed it to the best of my ability.
Would love to win BOOKS!
Kathy Bailey
Pre-pubbed in New Hampshire

Sandra Leesmith said...

Morning CARA, Great advice. Of course you know me, it doesn't take much to say yes to a vacation. LOL

What a wonderful thing to look at what you've learned. Its a great way to stay positive. I've learned that the sky isn't falling if I don't reach my goal. Something I never allowed myself to believe before.

Janet Dean said...

Cara, your post is helpful and encouraging! I love the revision process! Sadly I'm not there yet. I still have a lot of words to write to complete a 70-75,000 word manuscript. But I've got a great start. Once I've got that rough draft, I'll follow your suggestion and take a break before reading the hard copy. That should help me see what's missing or needs to be cut or embellished. One thing I've learned--I can fix a tea scene when I remember GMC.


Julie Lessman said...

Hey, Cara, you said, "I’ve noticed a lot of writers fall into one of two distinctive categories – those who love everything they write and those who hate everything they write."

Mmmm ... I seem to fit in both categories, so that either means I'm improving or losing confidence ... :|

When I first started out with the Daughters of Boston, I absolutely LOVED everything I wrote because I was spilling my heart and emotions, angst and drama out on the paper, so to speak, and it felt so good that it made me feel what I'd written was good.

BUT ... I notice that the more I write, the more I hate what I write, and as I said above, I'm not sure if that's because now that I'm more experienced I can see more of the flaws or if my confidence has taken a hit ... :|

The one upside to this is that once I've edited and redited over and over, by the time I get my galleys, I end up thinking ... hey, this isn't as bad as I thought!! :)

Apparently I'm a roller-coaster writer, who, I regret to say, is riding in the seat right next to my confidence!!


Audra Harders said...

Great ideas to wrap up our Speedbo creations. When you suggested having someone read the first draft, I almost keeled over.

No way!! Messy? My first drafts are so beyond messy, I doubt an elementary school teacher could make heads or tails of it. LOL!

Great advice, Cara! The end is in sight!

Carol Moncado said...

Wonderful post, Cara!

I know I mentioned this yesterday but... On Tuesday, I texted this to one of my critters:

I'm despairing of ever being able to make them any good. It has moments of brilliance. Moments of acceptability. Many moments of mediocrity. And some moments of sheer suckage.

I've read about 150 of 198 pages of that MS now and, the moments of brilliance are increasing [not by much but some]. The moments of acceptability are increasing [even more]. And the moments of sheer suckage are decreasing [mostly ;)].

Putting it away sometimes helps. Sometimes I come back and it's worse than I remembered :D.

My GOAL is to get the rest of this MS read and the edits transferred to the computer by tonight, but realistically, that may not happen - too much else to do. Like grade papers. I should be doing that now.

So I'm off to do it ;).

I'd love books :D.

Cindy W. said...

Very good advice Cara. I have a problem of going back and editing as I go and therefore never really get to far. I'm working on that. :)

I would love to be entered for your giveaway. Thank you so very much.

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.

countrybear52 AT yahoo DOT com

Carol Moncado said...

Audra - my first drafts are a hot mess.

The talking heads.

The floating body parts.

The adverbs.

The "thats."

When I use Melissa's macros to highlight the weasel words, it lights up like a Christmas tree [seriously - my BFF was over last night and scanned through a bit of my printed copy so I showed her it on the computer - she thought it was "pretty" :p].

But that's what edits are for...

Cindy Regnier said...

I love everything I write - just before I hate it. It kind of washes in the end. Thanks for the suggestions. I especially like the idea of letting it sit for awhile.

CatMom said...

Great post, Cara--thank you! As I go into the home stretch of SpeedBo (anticipating that I WILL make my goal, Lord willing) I realize I definitely DO work better when I have a deadline or time-limit.

Even though I've set many self-imposed deadlines for myself in the past, personally I am more motivated if I know I'm accountable to someone else--which is another reason I LOVE SpeedBo (thank you Seekers!!).

~ Enjoy the Georgia Peach muffins I baked early this morning--they go great with Helen's coffee. Hugs, Patti Jo

Connie Queen said...

I tend to love my stories, hate my writing. Always thought if I could have someone else write my ideas as I see them in my head, it would be pure brilliance.

But since I don't have the $$$ for a ghost writer, and I doubt anyone could get the characters right anyway, I just have to learn to write better.

You can throw my name in the hat too please.

Melanie Pike said...

Great advice! Wise words that I will take to heart when Speedbo is done and I return to rewrite and agonize over my ms!

I set a goal of writing 5 out of 7 days. Considering I didn't write for 7 out of the first 27 days, I'd say I missed that goal. But the important thing for me is that I rediscovered the love of writing--and that's what counts right now. I also have just under 48,800 words, so all in all, not too shabby. ;-)

Would love to win books! Always! LOL


Jeanne T said...

CARA--I loved this post. I confess, I've discovered that i love the creating and throwing words on the page more than the editing. I thought I would be the opposite as a writer, but once the story is crafted, I'm like a kid spattering paint on the page--for the sheer joy of it. Cleaning up afterwards is always more labor for me. :)

I've heard about letting the ms simmer for a bit in the back of my mind once the first draft is written. I really love your idea of outlining by chapter before seriously tackling revisions. Thanks for sharing this today--it's so helpful!

Oh, I've shared it this month, but what I learned through Speedbo is that I was not created to be a pantster. :) I'm a plotter to the extreme. And I'm good with that. :)

Happy Easter!

Cara Lynn James said...

Sally, I'm surprised so many writers enjoy editing. Me, too. I'm wondering if different personality types like certain aspects of writing. Some enjoy breezing through the first draft while others like to probe the problem areas and polish.

Cara Lynn James said...

Debra, enjoy your vacation!

I'm thinking your method of keeping track of your story must be really helpful. It's important to take the time to do this.

Cara Lynn James said...

Jackie, do you think outlining is helpful? If I don't do it right from the beginning, I find I have to when the manuscript is finished. It's harder then.

Cara Lynn James said...

Glynna, I also learn something new from every book I write. It's good we never stop learning.

Rose, I like going back to a story I've put on the back burner for a while. Sometimes it's better than I thought it was. Other times, I see it really needs work. But my perspective is so much clearer.

Cara Lynn James said...

Sandra, I agree. I've learned not to expect more of myself than I should!

Your vacations always sound like so much fun. I'd like to stow away in your motor home.

Jan Drexler said...

Good morning, Cara!

I tend to hate what I write while I'm writing, but I keep plowing through the story by scenes and chapters because I figure I can always go back and fix it.

But then when I let it sit for awhile, like you suggest, and go back and read it, I can usually find something worth saving - and sometimes I even find I like the story.

And then there's that moment when I read a scene I don't remember writing, and it's pretty good.

No wonder I like rewriting so much :)

Carol Moncado said...

Jeanne T -

I knew there was a reason I liked you!!! [and not just because we were neighbors in Dallas ;)]

My favorite part is [to quote Christina up there in comment 2] is the ability to vomit on the page :D.

Tina Pinson said...

I find the more I write the more grace I give myself in writing again

When I first started I loved my words, and I could write like the wind. Then I joined a few groups and rules hit and I became my biggest critique, second guessing til I sucked the beauty and imagination out of the words I used to love so much.

Now I'm coming back around. I think looking with a keener eye, but a more honest eye and I certainly have found the grace to be a more balanced writer.

Marianne Barkman said...

Another great post! I love to learn what goes on behind the scenes with the novels! I'm with Jenny on telling authors what's wrong with their book, and I often think maybe it's just my preferences. So I try to stick with the publishers that I know do well with their edits. Sometimes, though I feel like telling the author (mostly self pub) that they need to connect with Seekerville authors. Looking forward to seeing/reading what comes out of Speedbo! And thanks, Helen for ever needed coffee, and to those who bring treats.


Katie N. said...

Hi Cara,I enjoyed reading your post.I wouldn't consider myself a writer,but sometimes I write poems.

Thank you for the chance to win books!

Happy Easter!


Myra Johnson said...

Super tips, Cara! There really is something to printing out the manuscript and sitting down to read the whole thing through as if it were a published novel. I'll even save a version in a single-spaced two-column format so it looks more like book pages. (This is usually after at least 2-3 revision passes, though.) My husband will also read it for me at that state and jot notes in the margins of anything he catches.

I also like your idea of creating a chapter-by-chapter outline as you read through the draft. I actually do this in Scrivener as I write each scene. There's a little scene card thingy along the side of the screen (warning: highly technical terminology), so as I finish writing a scene, I hop over and jot a brief summary. Each summary also begins with the date this scene occurred in the story, so I'm also developing a timeline.

Anna R. Weaver said...

Great post, Cara. I go back and forth between hating and loving my writing. Sometimes I am amazed at my story-telling abilities, other times I am amazed that I dare call myself a writer. Lol

My earlier Speedbo goal was to write 1K every day, but since life has a way of interrupting, I've reached only 21,000. After the first week, I decided to shoot for 5 out of 7, which puts me almost on track. :)

Sherida Stewart said...

Thanks, Cara! I'm looking forward to doing my rewrites and will use your suggestions.

I learned from Speedbo that 1K per weekday is a perfect speed for me, if I have a basic outline and plan ahead which scene to work on. I do skip around...and that seems okay. I also found I appreciate the encouragement when writing with others--the Speedbo group and the #1k1hr group on Facebook. Really helps! Thanks EVERYONE!

Please include my name in the book giveaway--- sheridastewart at gmail dot com !

Wishing all best wishes on finishing up Speedbo--either as a complete book or as a few sentences. Any and all progress is great!

DebH said...

i always like to set something aside and let it percolate after i've written (or is it my brain percolating..?)

anyway, a few days separation tends to give me a better viewpoint/objectivity on my creations. i appreciate the reminder and, well, it makes me feel better knowing i'm doing one little thing right.

i'm always game for books.
nm8r67 at hotmail dot com

Myra Johnson said...

JAN said: "And then there's that moment when I read a scene I don't remember writing, and it's pretty good."

Oh yeah. Amazing feeling! Makes all the sweat and tears worthwhile!

Kim Kendall said...

I'm afraid I'm going to have 10+ rewrites!
1) Look for plot revisions
2) Flesh out characters more
3) Work on more witty and distinctive dialogue
4) Delete unnecessary words and weasel words
5) Improve setting descriptions
6) Research for accuracy and interest
7)POV and deep POV

OK that's not ten, but I've probably missed some things.

Thank you, Cara, for the end of the race words. What I've learned? That I can do more than I thought I could. That consistency makes for great progress. And that I can leave a scene unfinished and write others and then come back and it will help with the one that stymied me. And I've learned what some of my personal weaknesses are in writing.

Walt Mussell said...

I know I have to print out the 300+ page monstrosity that I finished early on in SpeedBo, but I don't know if I'm ready for it. (I had an outline that I didn't quite follow.) Still, the review will happen in April as I have to pitch it in May to LIH for Happily Editor After. (However, my TBR pile continues to grow. I confess I've been sneaking in chapters of a Mary C. book and have Tina's latest is the on-deck circle and then something from a writer known as Julie L.)


Kim Kendall said...

Oh and here is my email for books!
kimkendall1 at gmail dot com

jeannetakenaka said...

CAROL--right back at ya. Besides your amazing GF cookies, you're a kindred spirit in the writing process (if not in the amount of production--you're way more productive than I am. :) )

Carol Moncado said...

I have you on my "GF cookie" list, Jeanne! Find me in Indy!!!

[Yes. I have lists. Those who get cookies. Those who don't. Ruthy's on one of them. I won't say which ;).]

Actually, I have list of those who specifically get thank you baggies [like Robin and Casey Miller, etc] as thank yous.

Then I have a big tub for pretty much anyone.

Ruthy gets some of those.


Cara Lynn James said...

Janet, the only problem with giving a mss a time to cool is that if you're on a deadline you might not have the time to wait before starting revisions. So, write faster! LOL. Wish I could.

Cara Lynn James said...

Kathy, I used to use a manual typewriter too or sometimes I'd write long hand. I never got very far. How's the weather in New Hampshire? I miss Vermont summers and fall, but winter and spring -- not so much. I remember mud season!

Cara Lynn James said...

Julie, if I wrote your mss I'd love them, even the first draft.

Audra, I don't show my first draft to anyone either. I have to make some badly needed corrections first. But I don't wait until it's polished to show it to crit partners who are always kind to me. They're very helpful, not also tactful.

Cara Lynn James said...

Carol, it's strange how our perception of a manuscript can change from one reading to the next. I can't trust my own eyes. I really can't tell if something is really awful or really not. But I always go with awful unless someone tells me differently.

Cara Lynn James said...

Cindy, I used to edit as I go (sometimes I still do too much) but then often I'd have to throw away the scene or the chapter. After I got to the end of the story I'd realize my polished scene didn't fit anymore. So editing too soon can be a real waste of time.

Cara Lynn James said...

Cindy R. LOL! I love this --
I love everything I write - just before I hate it.

Patti Jo -- great Georgia peach muffins! Congratulations on always reaching your goal.

Jamie Adams said...

I do like to edit my work. Unfortunately I find myself editing each time I sit down to write. I have a goal of one time writing a first draft and not touching (editing as I go) it till it's done.

Lyndee H said...

HI Cara,
Thanks for the tips. It seems like a long time ago since I wrote those first words on March 1, lol. My characters have been through a lot during Speedbo and so have I! But it's such an interesting journey.

I also like to print out and read my draft. And I try to read it once with no corrections except a red pen slash on a spelling error that I will fix later. Otherwise, I get into serious edits before I have an over all view of the script.

Happy Easter to you and everyone at Seekerville!

Natalie Monk said...

Wonderful post! Answered several questions I had about "What to do after The End."

Thanks, Cara!

Mary Connealy said...

I like to step away from a manuscript for at least a couple of weeks. I prefer a month of two.
It gives me time to forget what I think I said and read what i really said.

Myra Johnson said...

I love this line, Mary--so true!

"It gives me time to forget what I think I said and read what I really said."

Jenny Blake said...

up early still not feeling good. I dont think I will even try this tablet at night after a couple days break. I hate this feeling and am sure its the med as Its been happening for a week now with this one the worst day.

I wonder if authors like editing others to help them with there own writing. When I read for a friend I didn't want to be brutally honest but at the same time didn't want them slammed when they submitted it for a contest. I found when I did make a couple of observations they didn't see what I was saying or think it was an issue.
I have learnt a lot about writing thanks to blogs like this but also have the reader edge in knowing what I like and dont and when something doesn't read smooth I know that. like when sentences don't flow well I can say I dont like the way it flows. (hope this flows ok its early although not for someone like Ruthy)

Amber S. said...

I don't think I've said this here yet (?), but I finished the first draft of my WIP last week!! :) Thank you all so much for the encouragement and the motivation! Love Speedbo!!

My manuscript is only about 50K, but that's OK. ;) At least I added about 20K to what I already had!

I'm hoping a couple of early readers might let me know their thoughts on it, and I'm gearing up to have an author/editor work with it next month. :) It is hard to be objective about the work of your heart!

Anyway, Cara, thank you for the post and giveaway!



P.S. I wanted to add that our very own Sandra Leesmith is my guest today for my blogoversary party! :) Would love to see you there:

Julie Hilton Steele said...

Thanks, Cara. I keep telling my friends that my manuscript's first half is okay, the last half is a hot mess.

I am actually revising and adding scenes right now. Should be done with it by the weekend.

What did I learn?

I can write through screened porch construction.

I prefer to write emotional, gut-wrenching scenes first because I fear not being able to write them well. But that means adding happy later!

When in doubt, ask a critter friend for help. And pray for inspiration!

Peace, Julie

Cara Lynn James said...

Connie, you just made me realize I hate my writing in the first draft, but I like the story. I think it's because I'd rather have a more lyrical writing style. Style isn't something you can pick. Sort of like you can't pick you talent. If you could I'd be a singer or a pianist. I have no musical talent at all.

Cara Lynn James said...

Congratulations on a great SpeedBo, Melanie!

Jeanne, I think it's amazing how much an activity such as SpeedBo can show us something important about ourselves and our writing.

Connie Queen said...

Cara Lynn,

Sometimes, when I read a REALLY good book where the scenes flow w/great descriptions and action, my stomach will twist into knots. I KNOW I will never be able to write like that. I could never be patient enough to make each sentence and paragraph count so much.

I think, "Who has time to write like that?" Then I have to calm myself down. I'm not lyrical either, but I can offer a good story. And who knows, maybe one of these days w/lots of practice and learning, it might not seem so far fetching to be one of those kind of writers.

Mary Connealy said...

Do you ever read one of your books...anyone...and hit some sentence and just have NO IDEA what you mean by that?

I do a lot of tweaking and twisting of words to get a comic set up and deliver a joke and sometimes I'll just stare and re-read and I'll KNOW I was trying to be funny, or do some play on words, but it just makes NO SENSE.

And, chances are, if I don't get my jokes, no reader is going to get them.

That's why I try and step away, get some distance. FORGET! Then revise it one more time.

Mary Connealy said...

GOOD FOR YOU, GIRL!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sherida Stewart said...

Mary said: "It gives me time to forget what I think I said and read what i really said." EXACTLY! I'm just hoping I don't read my ms and find I don't understand anything I said...I got a little bleary-eyed at times during Speedbo.

Congrats, Amber!

Jenny, I'm praying you feel MUCH better soon.

Back to writing--I'm only 1500 words from my goal! Yay!

Piper Huguley said...


Great post. I have had to do a chapter by chapter thing in this latest overhaul of Ruby and my previous strategy of being a panster shows--I think that is why I've had to revise this one so much as opposed to other books that I plotted and structured more carefully.

When Speedbo is over, I look forward to working with you in the 5-page critique with a 5-page critique of Ruby.


Tina Radcliffe said...

Happy Thursday, Speedbo Soldiers!!

Great post, Cara. Don't forget...if you want to win a FRESH READ from Seekerville, tell us. Winners announced in the WE ED.

And when you take a break, head over to the Yankee Belle to make Chocolate Nests.

Who Doesn't Like Chocolate??

Cara Lynn James said...

I just finished reading all the posts. I'm really sick with a cold, cough, sneezing, sore throat etc. so I'm apologizing for signing off for now. Hopefully I'll be feeling better later today and I'll be back.

Linnette R Mullin said...

All in all, I've written about 30K this month - about 8K on my wip (other writing obligations made up the rest). As sick as I am, I'm just very thankful to have that much done. Disappointed that it wasn't a better outcome, yes, but right now I just want to get well again.

Debby Giusti said...

Excellent advice, Cara! And new ideas I'm taking to the bank...the bank of writing treasures. :)

Loved your mention of going back over the first draft and writing a brief chapter-by-chapter outline. I'm going to do that. In the last book, I was always hunting for where I had tucked certain plot points. An outline will speed the search process. Thank you!

Also Bell's mention of memorable characters hit me. Memorable, eh? Something to keep front and center as I work on my hero and heroine.

Debby Giusti said...

What did I learn? Take each day as it comes.

Yesterday I couldn't seem to put two words together. Today the words flowed.

Go figure!

The sun is shining in Georgia and it's warm again so that's improved my outlook. Perhaps my writing as well.

Sending Holy Thursday hugs to all. Easter is almost here! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Debby Giusti said...

Laughing at Christina's gag reflex!

Jenny, get well! Your trip to the USA will be here before you know it!

Elaine Manders said...

Good advice, Cara. I hope you and Jenny get to feeling better. It's especially bad to be sick during a holiday.

Congratulations to all who participated in SPEEDBO. Whether you met your goal or not, I know you're further along than you were. I am. I'm at Chapter 15 with about 10 more to go, but that's a piece of cake.

Mary, I didn't know you set up your jokes. I thought they just rolled off the keyboard.

Put me in for the Fresh Read, or any read. It's time to push my little birdies out of the nest.

Have a Blessed Easter everyone.

Amber S. said...

Mary: Thank you!!! I so appreciate the encouraging atmosphere here - you guys rock!! :D

Sherida: Thank you so much! And congratulations to you, too!! You're almost there!!


Sally said...

Cara, I'm thinking it's a particular personality that enjoys editing!!

Chill N said...

>>What did you learn about your writing during SpeedBo? Did anything surprise you?<<

I had a surprise when I returned to my Speedbo-ella today. I read it and liked it. I'm not sure I can convey what a pleasure that discovery was. When I had set the novella aside because of what I couldn't be delayed in real life, I wasn't sure where the plot was going and wasn't even sure if the story was worth more words. Now I'm convinced it is going somewhere (toward 'The End') and I added 2240 words to it this afternoon. Yes!

Yet again a lesson in stepping out of my own way :-)

Thanks for the tips, Cara. Very helpful.

Nancy C

Chill N said...

>>Tina Pinson said...
When I first started I loved my words, and I could write like the wind. Then I joined a few groups and rules hit and I became my biggest critique, second guessing til I sucked the beauty and imagination out of the words I used to love so much.
Now I'm coming back around. I think looking with a keener eye, but a more honest eye and I certainly have found the grace to be a more balanced writer.<<

Beautifully expressed, Tina!

Cara and Jenny, hope you feel better soon.

Nancy C

Christina Rich said...

Cara, I like the idea of rewarding myself. Maybe a pedi or something. *g*

You'll all be glad to know that last night I was able to get 1k written. I'm still on track to reach my goal!!!

Jackie Smith said...

I am not a writer, but have enjoyed this month...hearing about you great writers' progress! I love to read and appreciate each one of you.

Cara, Jenny, Linnette, please get well soon!

Cara, I would love to be "in the Stetson or cat dish" for the books!
Happy Easter everyone.

DebH said...

i forgot to mention what i learned.

i learned that my toddler will allow me perhaps a paragraph of writing before he insists on mommy's full attention.

also, i'm still more on the wanna be side of writing than true writer side of the fence.

most importantly - forward progress, no matter how miniscule, is still progress and better than no progress.

Love Mary's: "It gives me time to forget what I think I said and read what i really said."

and i can so relate to the "well, I thought it was funny when I wrote it."

some things sound better inside my head than when said things hit the printed page. *sigh*

Playground Monitor said...

Great words! I can never read my stuff on a computer screen. I must have a printed copy.

And I sent my first draft to a friend, explaining it was just a very sloppy first draft, but to give me her thoughts.

I feel like Sally Field at the Oscars. She liked it! She really, really liked it! She recognized the mistakes for what they were -- first draft garbage. She focused on the characters and the story and said it kept her attention and she felt a connection to the characters.


I'm going to take her marvelous notes and let the novella sit while I enjoy the Easter weekend and maybe start on a new short story. I have one brewing in my brain.

I learned I can still write! During and after my divorce I wondered if I'd ever be able to put words on paper again. Somedays I could hardly write a grocery list.

But I finished this novella. I did it. I DID IT! Thank you to the Seekerville gang and all the other Speedbo-ers for the encouragement.

And I haven't forgotten about the zucchini nut bread recipe. Let me know when you want it for the Yankee Belle Cafe and it's yours.


Playground Monitor said...

Oh... and I've also put up a website and started learning to use Twitter during March. The publisher I'm sending the novella too wants your marketing plan, so... now I got one!

My website is If/When I sell, it will be converted to a pseudonym since my last name is hard to pronounce and spell. I'm using my great-grandmother's maiden name. I'm not telling yet though. You'll have to wait til I sell. ;-)


Mary Preston said...

I'm a reader, but I did enjoy the posts & the comments immensely.


Sarah said...

I would love to win,Enter me!!!
Thanks for the giveaway and God Bless!!!
Sarah Richmond