INTERVIEWING MY FIRST NOVEL

Saturday, February 17, 2018
If you've been around my blog for a couple of years, you'll remember the time when my novel guest posted and how his strong personality stole the spotlight. Although TAN won't be joining us today, I've invited my first novel, Faith, to give us a look into what it's like being an author's first novel.

She is a first novel, so she lacks in a lot of things, including a captivating presence like TAN (as well as an interesting title. yay for being soooo creative, young Katie). But I was able to pull some answers from her. (not like she had much of a choice -- I am her author ;) Enjoy her visit!


[setting: plain room, simple desk, lukewarm pizza in the corner]

Me: Hi, Faith! Thanks for being willing to come to the blog. Not many people are aware of what it's like to be an author's first novel. We'll get right into the questions if that's okay with you!

Faith: [takes a seat across from me] [nods once]

Where are first novels like yourself kept?

Faith: [sighs] Most authors shove us into the depths of their computer documents and assume that's where we'll stay until they decide to open us again. That's only true to an extent. We're really kept in a dusty basement -- The Cellar Of The First Novels (TCotFN for short). The ceilings are low and the bookshelves are dark. There are hundreds of packed shelves where we first novels are crammed side to side. Cobwebs and dust cover our pages; we can barely breathe. It's not a comfortable place.

...I'm sorry. Do the authors ever visit?

Faith: [looks away] Most never come to TCotFN -- simply because they don't know how. Instead they scroll through our computer documents like you did with me last week. 

I remember one author stumbling upon TCotFN last month. She... she immediately started to scream upon opening her first novel.

She screamed?

Faith: [nods solemnly] I won't forget the echoes of her cries anytime soon. She flipped through her first story, and could barely read a few sentences before the shock got to her. Some authors are able to take their first novels humorously or as a growing experience... some don't know how deal with it. Even though the reactions hurt, it's better suffer through them than to become forgotten.

*didn't mean for this post to get so depressing and is now thinking twice about this the idea of whole interview* What do you mean by "becoming forgotten?"

Faith: [appears uncomfortable and fidgety] It's what happens when the author refuses to acknowledge our existence. They're too horrified and ashamed over what they created, so the novel is burned from the collection in the basement. It's then erased from the author's memory, becoming a forgotten piece of art, never to be remembered or recognized again.

*ooookay now things are getting even more dismal* Well... what's something hopeful about being a first novel?

Faith: [thinks for a long time] There are rumors of mutant first novels -- first novels that end up becoming published. A lot enter TCotFN clinging to that possible outcome. I've never hoped for it; you've made it more than clear that you won't try to publish me.

*blushes* Yeah, that's not going to happen. Sorry. Let's try to find a positive thing, here. Is there anything you enjoy about being a first novel?

Faith: No.

... There's nothing you enjoy?

Faith: [frowns] After hearing me describe TCotFN, would you enjoy being trapped there all day?

No.

Faith: Ha, exactly. I don't enjoy being a first novel, but yet I'm proud to be one. You wouldn't be where you are today without me. I took the hit so that other novels of yours can get the glory. There's nothing enjoyable about being a first novel, but I'm honored to be in this position.

Well worded. Does it get lonely down there?

Faith: There are hundreds of thousands of novels in TCotFN, but yet I'm extremely lonely. It works like it does with humans -- there are millions of you in the world, yet sometimes people still feel like they're alone. We're not that much different.

Wow, that was deep.

Faith: [perks up, voice hopeful] Pretty good, right? Maybe... maybe want to reconsider your decision to never publish me?

Yeah, right. Nice try. Do you know of any other novel communities other than TCotFN?

Faith: There are hundreds. Some examples:

Dead Characters Society
The Novels That Were Started But Never Finished
Homeless Rabbits: Plot Bunnies Never Written
Rejected: A Community of Unsuccessful Queried Novels
Stuck In The Endless Editing Loophole
Dead Character's Parents Society

Eesh, sounds like some of those places could use some cheering up. Anything else you'd like to say, Faith?

Faith: To the writers that might be reading this, keep writing. Don't let the efforts of your first novel go to waste. That is our wish.

Thank you, Faith. I'll send you back to The Cellar of the First Novels, but I'll make sure to visit soon.

<3,
katie grace (+ faith)

when did you write your first novel? what was the title?

SHARING (+ cringing) ABOUT FIRST NOVELS

Saturday, February 10, 2018
Hello, everyone!

Just last month, on January 18th, was my four year writing anniversary! (unfortunately I completely forgot about it at the time so there was no celebrating. boo-hoo) But now that I remembered, I've been thinking a lot about how I've grown throughout my writing journey. I like nostalgic things, so I opened up the document of my first novel I ever wrote.

Um. I DIDN'T BRACE MYSELF FOR THE HORRORS I WOULD SET MY EYES ON. It... it was bad. Laughably bad. After I got over the shock that I wrote this, it was quite enjoyable shaking my head at the naivety of my younger self. (I mean, really, Katie? It took your characters days to enter The Extremely Evil Castle, but were able to prance home without trouble once they defeated The Evil Dude Who Was Coincidentally Their Uncle???)

Yeah, very thought out and well-planned. Ha, go me.

Anyway, I wanted to showcase some of the cringy aspects of my first novel, and some wonderful writing friends of mine volunteered to to show theirs as well! (I appreciate your brave souls)

Just to be clear: the purpose of this post is to show that every writer starts somewhere. Even though most of us don't know what we're doing for our first novel, it's an extremely important part of the writer's journey! I've read stories from almost all of these writers below, and can assure you how amazing and awesome they were.

I've kept the author of each first novel anonymous, though I'm linking back to all of their blogs at the end of the post, so be sure to check them out. :)

FIRST NOVEL #1
started in 2011

  •  main characters were twins separated at birth 
  • of course they attend a magical school that totally wasn't a hogwarts ripoff 
  • very inexplicable magical abilities
  • one long lost twin was a werewolf
    • author sent that twin to live with an evil aunt
  • the villain was a guy who taught "magical defense" which wasn't anything like defense against the dark arts, mind you
  • virtually no action tags ever

FIRST NOVEL #2
started in 2011

  • the nefarious villain (in the first confrontation with the heroine) replied to the MC's question with, "it's kind of complicated. I'll explain later."
  • the MC is The Only One who had the power to find the magical charms the villain was after and save the world
  • characters bursting into tears at every climatic turn of events
  • child characters spending a week at a camp and suddenly gaining the ability to defeat full grown soldiers with their bare hands
  • facing the wind as tears stream, whispering something to the distance like, "I'll find you" or "just hold on"
  • getting out of dire circumstances by summoning certain aspects of magic the character didn't know they had... then having that magic never show up again and the character never give it another thought 

FIRST NOVEL #3
started in 2011

  • one of the characters was an amputee at the beginning of the novel... halfway through the author gave him his leg back
  • there were not one, but TWO sets of long lost brothers wandering around, but they had amnesia so they didn't know they were chillin' with their bros the whole time
  • every. single. person. had a love interest or triangle
  • there was a potato fight 

FIRST NOVEL #4
started in 2014

  • daughters and parents couldn't possibly get alone
  • oh! look! The Chosen One from the Prophecy!
  • no descriptions... at all 
  • the Strong Female Character who is way better than everyone else
  • nooo, you'd never guess it but now the mentor character is gone 

FIRST NOVEL #5
started in 2014

  • magical objects were inserted into the story because the author considered it "cool"
  • never used a simple "said" dialogue tag, opting instead to use "he chortled ridiculously" and the like
  • a character was created solely for the purpose of a heart-wrenching death
  • there was no conclusion -- the story ended immediately after the climax
  • so many dramatic, capitalized words
    • example: "But how will we SURVIVE?" You are CRAZY!"
  • adverbs listed in just one page: naturally, simultaneously, surprisingly, politely, quizzically(x2), confusedly, inwardly, boringly, breathlessly, excitedly

FIRST NOVEL #6
started in 2014

  • Hunger Games rip-off 
  • character created only to be the love interest
  • Chosen One Trope
  • made of two parts that didn't have anything to do with each other
  • surprise, you're adopted!
  • surprise, you're the missing princess and there's a prophecy about you! 


FIRST NOVEL #7
started in 2011

  • talking horses everywhere 
    • even the villain was a horse
  • wildly overusing the Chosen One trope
  • SO MUCH convenience
    • literally a flying sword saved the characters once
  • much walking, not much action
  • such choppy dialogue
  • almost no action tags
  • stole names of characters from books + games + movies that the author liked

FIRST NOVEL #8
started in 2008

  • cookie cutter characters that couldn't think for themselves 
    • (i.e. - there was never conflict between characters on the same "side" because they all thought and believed the same things)
  • the main character's motivation was BECAUSE THEY WERE ANGRY ABOUT STUFF, OKAY?!?
  • everybody in this medieval setting talking like kids from 2008
  • wait, why are the characters going to this place? BECAUSE THEY'RE ANGRY ABOUT STUFF, OKAY?!?
  • completely, ridiculously, piteously, unrealistic fight scenes where one character would kill like ten men by himself without suffering any wounds whatsoever
  • also people killing willy-nilly with no mental side effects/trauma
  • ...and they were killing because THEY WERE ANGRY ABOUT STUFF, OKAY?!
  • also characters suffering many mortal wounds, and instead of dying like normal people, they just. kept, going. because they were awesome people who could just rip the arrow right out of their stomach and keep fighting for the next three days


Many thanks to Jeneca, Jane, Savannah, Alea, Rosalie, Hannah, and Caroline for sharing your... creative... first novels. :P I look up to all of you, and it's cool to see how you've grown from the beginning.

Well, there you have it. Hopefully you're able to gather some encouragement this! Even those amazing bloggers listed above had their first novel woes. (*cringes every time I scroll past my first novel description*)

Such is the journey of a writer. xD

<3,
katie grace
alright, now it's your turn. what were some of the cringy aspects of your first novel?

MY THIRD DRAFT EDITING PROCESS

Saturday, February 3, 2018
Happy Saturday, everyone! (it feels weird saying that, because I am writing the beginning of this post on a Monday. It's a crazy, crazy busy week where I'm gone for the majority of it, so I'm trying to blog while there's time. :P) 

Like the title of the post says, I'm going to be taking you guys on the journey of my third draft editing process. So welcome to the chaos! xD


Before we dive in, I should note that not all of my third drafts look this way. I edit according to what works best for each book. Sometimes that means rewriting every. single. word. (been there done that. would not recommend if you want to keep your sanity) Sometimes that means chipping away on a computer document.

This isn't a "how-to" process, and this definitely isn't the only way to go about a third draft. But hopefully through reading what I do can help you gather ideas for your own editing process!

step one: print out the thing!

I printed my copy of Where Shadows Lie from Lulu! I've ordered from them in the past and am always extremely satisfied with the quality of their books. This was my first time buying a spiral-bound copy, and IT HAS CHANGED THE WORLD OF EDITING FOREVER. (shout out to Sarah for giving me the idea of ordering one!)That sounded a bit dramatic, but seriously. Having a paper copy to take notes in is so helpful! Because:

1. no distractions
2. I can edit in a cozy chair without having to balance a computer on my lap
3. fun editing pens!
4. it's easier for me to edit for long periods of time on paper rather than a computer

I decided to keep the cover super plain. Somewhat because I like the simplicity/minimalist look of it, but mostly because I was too lazy to whip up something fancy. (creating covers is SO hard and usually ends up leaving me frustrated. :P)

The words are double spaced so there's lots of room to make editing changes and notes (I need lots of room for this draft. -.-). I accidentally made the inside of the pages cream instead of white, but I don't mind the look.

(if you end up ordering your own copy from Lulu, wait until there's a sale! They have sales almost weekly, so I've never had to pay full price.)

two: gather my battle weapons

Editing on paper is great because it's also an excuse for a bunch of office supplies. Sticky notes, pens, highlighters, journals, notepads... the list just keeps going on. xD

The notebook pictured above is actually an art journal! I love the freedom of the blank pages so I can write sideways and create my own little system with columns.

Other editing essentials: chapstick, lotion, music, lots and lots of caffeine, fuzzy blankets...


step three: make a plan of attack

Before I dive into the edits I like to gather a basic idea on how I'll go about the edits. Sometimes I'll start the process by reading through the novel in one sitting, making some notes here and there, but I felt comfortable skipping that step since I had a giant outline of the plot.

I'm going through this book line by line. It's slow and painstakingly tedious, but I can already tell that it's helping the story and the quality of the words. I have a color-coded key to help guide me through all the marking up I have to do:

red = CUT THIS AWFUL SENTENCE
blue = rewrites I need to add in
yellow = hey! something I actually like! (the color yellow appears very rarely xD)
orange = it depends

I'll use the color orange for whatever I need it to mean: foreshadowing, bigger changes that will involve more thought, things I need to insert, plot questions I need to consider... It's a multi-purpose color. :P

step four: ATTACK!

This step is where I put on the headphones, shuffle my book's playlist, and edit like a madwoman. Not only has editing on paper helped me to focus better, but it's been so cool to realize how much I actually change. I'm probably deleting/changing/rewriting over 50% of the words in this book. There's rarely a page without half of it covered in red and blue lines. xD

step five: pizza + coffee break
 
step six: write down alllllll the changes

This picture isn't the greatest quality, but it's a good overview of my overall editing process. I markup the papercopy of Where Shadows Lie with all of the nitpicky line edits that I'm able to fit onto the page. I'm analyzing every sentence, trying to see if I can make it better.

While I'm reading through a chapter, sometimes I'll run across larger scene changes that I can't fix by cutting or adding in a couple words. I'll jot these down in my editing notebook under the "to-do" sticky note, and I'll work on those when I'm transferring the edits to my computer document.

(In the picture you can see that I have a "love" sticky note column to keep myself from becoming unbearably negative about my story. xD But the to-do section is always 10000000x longer than the good stuff (which makes sense because I am in the early stages of the novel).

seven: repeat until book is finished!
When I say "book," I mean "draft." Because once I finish this round of edits, another round is inevitable. And another. And another. And probably a couple more even after that. :P

I'm not pushing myself too hard with this draft. I've been doing about three chapters a week, which means I should be able to complete this draft by the second week of March! Craziness!


I hope the rest of your Saturday is awesome! I'll be editing in the afternoon and working in the evening... what does the day look like for you? May it be awesome whatever you end up doing. :)

<3, 
katie grace

are you currently in the middle of writing or editing?