March 18, 2011

A Journey in Wordcounts

I was blown away by Liz over at Liz Writes Books after she posted her writing statistics. 22,200,391 words since 1995?! *bows down to the Wordcount of DOOM*

These are my statistics since 2005 (prior to this, I was juggling a part-time job, full-time University classes/work, and being a new mom).

2005 - 120,000 words
This was my senior year in college when I had a serious case of senioritis lol. But I managed to write what I thought was a pretty decent story for my Senior Capstone. Aside from that, I also started writing a crap ton of fanfiction. This was the year of the chapter stories.

2006 - 72,000 words
This was the year of the drabbles. I barely wrote anything over 1,000 words. Now, looking back, how the heck did I manage that?! LOL I am the most long-winded person in the world.

2007 - 30,000 words
This was the year I started playing World of Warcraft. EVERYTHING WAS HEWN ASIDE IN MY QUEST TO EXPLORE THE WORLD OF AZEROTH AND RAISE PET DRAGONHAWKS. Yeah, I'm kind of obsessive.

2008 - 53,000 words
I got my writing groove back, but I was still into WoW. My afternoons usually went like this:
-Sits at computer with FULL INTENTION of writing.
-Opens Word doc.
-Decides to check email.
-Decides to check friends list on Livejournal.
-Chats on IM.
-Remembers there's an open Word doc.
-Totally going to write now.
-Lori: OKAY! 8D
-Word doc: *sadface*

2009 - 138,000 words (started my YA manuscript)
I cracked my knuckles. I slapped myself around a few times. I ran up and down a flight of stairs channeling Rocky. Okay, that part was totally in my head, but I think that counts. I wrote a bunch of long AND short stories this year, but more importantly, I started my YA novel.

2010 - 84,000 words (finished YA manuscript)
I finished my YA novel in early June and spent the entire rest of the year editing it. And editing it. And editing it OMG WHEN WILL THIS ENDDDDDD. I also quit WoW. YAY! Who says I have no willpower? *sees chocolate* ... *eats it*

Total: 489,000 words since 2005
*Not counting blogs I've written, which would easily double that wordcount.

Nowhere near as impressive as Liz's, but what she says on her blog (which you should totally read) is true.

All those words have formed the bricks in my path as a writer. At first, they're sort of jumbled and the path is rocky with no discernible pattern to the bricks that seem crudely put together. But as you continue, they become neater, laid down with more skill, lined up in neat--and surprising--patterns that come together in sometimes beautiful ways.

And the best part is that the path doesn't end until you say it does.

Sometimes, it's okay to sit down and rest though. Don't burn yourself out!

How about you guys? What does your journey look like?

March 14, 2011

What Editing and the Man in the Iron Mask Have in Common

Yes, I'm talking about the 1998 film b/c I haven't read the book (I know, I'm such a pleb). No, it's not Leonardo DiCaprio.

"Wear it until you love it."
~Said by Louis to his brother Phillipe. He followed that up with 'And die in it.' But I think that might be taking the metaphor too far. AND I DON'T ENCOURAGE EDITING UNTIL YOU DIE OF IT, JUST SAYING.

When I began editing, it drove me nuts. The overwriting! The horrid dialogue! The minutiae! Of course, six months and a far better manuscript later, I began to realize I really liked this editing thing. Good thing because it took another four months of editing to reach where I'm at now. I wielded my mental red pen (b/c I edit on the computer and marking up the screen with red ink is only fun in theory) like an ice sculptor's chainsaw and hacked away the large, unusable bits. Then I picked up the chisel and worked on the finer details. Editing, I discovered, is fun!

"I wear the mask. It does not wear me."
~Said by Phillippe when he's rescued, yay!

Editing is something you can't avoid. Kind of like writing stories. Stuff you just have to do if you want to be an author. Unless you're Snooki. And yeah, sometimes it begins to feel like editing has transformed into this suffocating mask that hides you away from things like sunlight and your family and the shower.

Seriously though, editing is one of your greatest tools as a writer, but when you want to stop and put it down? Go ahead and put it down. Trust me, it's detachable (unlike Phillippe's mask).

Hope you guys had a great weekend. ♥ Stay safe!

March 11, 2011

On the Value of Crit Partners (and where to find them!)

You've probably heard this before, but critique partners are invaluable to aspiring writers. I'm personally a fan of critiquers who tell me like it is. No need to sugarcoat it. I can't possibly improve if I'm not told what I'm doing wrong. I've always been a very frank critiquer myself--I try to gentle my words, but I'm always honest. Back in fandom, I once beta'd for a writer, and I must have been too honest because I never heard back from her. Oops?

After that incident, I was careful to never offer to beta for anyone ever again lol, because what I learned about fandom, which ties in to what I wrote about here (on the dangers of complacency), is that 95% of fanfiction writers don't want to be critiqued no matter what they say to the contrary. And that's okay! Fanfiction is for fun!

In Which The Writing Community is AMAZING

Then I joined, and I was blown away by how awesome the people there were. I joined First Pages (Crit Group), and started critiquing pages by members. Every critique was received with grace and enthusiasm. I was so impressed. It was such a different experience from what I'd witnessed in fandom. I received great critiques from the members there as well, and I've loved every experience I've had there so far.

I delved deeper into the writing community. I started out with one CP, a long-time friend from the Naruto fandom. We were both aspiring writers, and we both shared a love of YA, so becoming CPs seemed natural. But after 14 months, I was nearing the end of my editing, and she was still buried neck-deep writing the second draft of her YA, so I found myself at an impasse. Everywhere I read, agents and published writers alike suggested getting as many eyes as possible on your manuscript, so that's what I did.

Just within the last month and a half, I've been extremely lucky to find (and been found by) critique partners who are not only great writers, but who can pinpoint problems in my writing and have ready advice for how to improve it.

So What Makes a Good Crit Partner?

Well, that answer depends on what you want =D

Better bloggers have said this before, but I think it bears repeating. When looking for a crit partner, keep in mind the following:

1. Goals - What do you want from a CP? Frank, brutally honest feedback? Line editing? A friend and cheerleader? Your goals should match up, at least mostly.

2. Understanding - Even if your goals match up, it doesn't help if you don't click as people. No one wants to take critique from someone they don't respect or like (no matter how accurate the critique might be).

3. Skill - Ideally, you want a CP who is either a better writer than you are or who is at the same level as you. I say this because I've improved by reading those better writers, and if I could get their feedback on my writing? Score! But with a CP at the same level, you get to learn together, and that can oftentimes be even more rewarding. Of course, I believe that every writer has something unique to offer so as long as you can find that CP who makes you look at your manuscript in a new and better way, I'd say you're fine =)

Personally, the best thing about having more than one crit partner is that each one tends to have their own strengths and weaknesses, and there's a really neat balance that forms. I have something to learn from all of my CPs, and that's what I love every time I pick up one of their chapters to read.

Great places to find crit partners:
Adventures in Children's Publishing: Alpha & Beta Reader Exchange
Natalie Whipple's Crit Partner Classifieds
Nathan Bransford Forums
Let the Words Flow Crit Partner sign ups's Crit Seekers Group
Maggie Stiefvater's 2011 Critique Partner Love Connection

CPs: Friends and Comrades in Arms. Or like a squad of vampire hunters--you can always rely on them to stake you if you f#@! up and get bitten ♥

Good luck finding yours! ♥

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