Revisions, Revisions, Revisions

I am swimming in revisions right now.

I received the latest draft of Knight of Valor back, and it looked like a field of poppies with the amount of red comments on it.

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Amount right.

Sad, really, for an eighteenth draft, though most of the comments revolve around letting the hero’s personality shine through and maybe showing a bit more of the broken side of his character.

He, of course, wants no part of that. He wants to be the strong silent type that you can rely on. Which he is, but he’s also been through hell and back and survived. He’s not the naïve and idealistic youth he once was. And that’s okay. Both he and I need to be more comfortable letting some of those broken pieces show through, at least for the reader.

So, yeah, this has been an exhausting rewrite.

But, I will say, the story is better for it. I feel like the changes I am making help better convey Sir Marcus’s character and explain why he is my favorite of all the heroes I have written to date.

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Or the eighteenth

It will probably take me at least the rest of the month, maybe longer, to finish the rewrite. Then, I need to walk away for at least two weeks.

Four would be better so that I can look at the manuscript with fresh eyes.

Okay, all right, sort of fresh eyes. After nineteen revisions, I’m not sure I’ll ever have truly fresh eyes for this piece again.

I have updated my goals in Wunderlist to track the extra revisions I need to put in.

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Not exactly what I wanted to show you, but it’s real.

Yeah.

It’s basically two more months’ worth of work.

And yes, my OCD would really like to call February finished, except it isn’t. There were things in that month to accomplish to launch Knight of Valor in April. Just as there are things in March I was supposed to do to get ready for a book launch as well.

But, you can see if you add the progress of February, March and April together, I am a little father ahead than where I had planned to be this time in mid-March.

I am not sure I can do the extra things needed for Knight of Valor and stay on track with my other writing goals this year. Plus, I still don’t know what else will throw me off schedule.

And that’s okay.

I am making progress. I can see that.

There may be unforeseen things along the journey, but I am still traveling it.

Goal Update: A Bit of a Delay

My beta reader was taking a bit longer than normal on this particular piece of work, and while I was a bit worried about it, they have a very busy life.

Yeah, that wasn’t it (though they do). Nice try on my part.

She gave me some high level feedback explaining why it was taking a bit longer.

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The look she gave me was very similar.

There will be a bit of a delay in releasing Knight of Valor.

She noted I needed to tighten my beginning. Doable within my original release date timeline.

More than that, I needed to flesh out my hero in the beginning. She thought he felt flat. I cringed a little, knowing why she was saying it and where it came from.

I wrote this book over four years ago. It was one of three books I completed when I first got back into writing, and the only one I loved the characters enough to try to salvage. The other two are now buried on my hard drive and are not fit for human eyes.

But I loved Sir Marcus. I wanted to do him justice. And through him and his story, and I pushed myself to do better as a writer. His story helped me learn a lot about finding my voice, plot and character development, and even trusting myself as a writer.

So, I’d set Knight of Valor aside for a while and work on other things, become a better writer, and tackle this story again.

During the process, I read a whole bunch of craft books. And you can see their influence on the story. One of them was how to write a romance hero…and I did Sir Marcus a lot of disservice. Granted, he overcomes the bad writing advice towards the middle on the book, but it takes him a while.

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I may be shabby from time to time, but his faith in me in strong.

At the time, they were telling romance authors that romance readers wanted alpha heroes. Don’t even bother writing anything else as it won’t sell and an agent won’t want it. So I changed him.

And he was no longer Sir Marcus.

Don’t misunderstand me. He is neither meek nor mild. He was not the “chosen one” and forced to do anything. He saw evil, and if there was a chance he could destroy that evil, he had to try. He dedicated most of his life training to do just that.

But he’s still a genuinely nice guy. The kind of person who’d come over and help you fix your roof because he heard you were having trouble without being asked. You’d share an ale afterwards, and that would be all the thanks he’d need or want.

Punch a kid or kick or dog? You don’t want him to see you do that.

Kill a village to fuel a evil spell?

Time to run. Fast.

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So, I need to let his true personality shine through the first half of the book as well as the second. No easy task, that.

Oh, and I need to fix a plot hole, tighten up my pacing, and remove a few loose ends from earlier drafts I missed. And this is before I get back the full list of revisions.

*deep breath*

I see why this is taking a bit of time to get back the beta read. I also know I sent this out for just this reason.

I am literally on my eighteenth revision of this story. Yeah. Eighteenth. That I’ve counted. The first draft and several subsequent ones (no idea how how many four, maybe five?), I didn’t number and track. I am really close to this story, and I’ve put a lot of work into it. I can sometimes lose the forest through the trees. So I need more help on this than most.

It means a lot to me. I really want to get it right.

So, this is going to be a large revision, not a small tighten-things-up late game revision.

And that’s okay. Sir Marcus deserves the best story I can give him.

Yes, it means my entire plan for the year needs to change.

Yes, it means I will not make that April publishing deadline.

Both are okay.

I want to give you the best story I can.

Delaying the release date until June or July gives me the time to make it the best that I can right now.

You deserve that, and so does Sir Marcus.

Goal Update: Month One

As I review my New Years Resolutions, I thought I would give a quick update of my goals to show I am holding myself accountable.

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Writing Goals

Release Two Romance Novels / Write Three First Drafts

I am still on track!! I finished my January goals, and while I waited for feedback from beta readers that I need to start my February goals, I did get to work on March goals. Not a lot, but with everything else going on, I am really proud of myself for completing January at all.

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Not Wasting Food

That has been more of a work in process. There were *so* many leftovers after the holidays that we didn’t make this goal in the early part of the month. We got better as the month went on, but we were far from perfect. That’s okay. February is a new month, and I have started it by cleaning out the fridge. We’ll try again.

Moving At Least Three Days a Week

Okay, I wasn’t perfect on this. And the bar isn’t all that high.

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Logging when I exercise has helped me learn a bit. With the new gym at work, I do manage to get at least two to three days of movement in. But they are all on workdays. I am terrible about exercising at home, even though we own a treadmill and elliptical machine. Time to do some thinking on how to get myself and my family into our finished basement so the opportunity to move more is at least there.

Logging Food

I have been pretty terrible about this. I am okay through lunch on workdays, but once I get home, I don’t remember. And, I have learned, I may have an after dinner sugar addiction. Hard to really see, though, as I have so little data. While I have identified the issue, I have yet to come up with a plan around it. Maybe I can set reminders or something in the app to ping me to log. Not sure. But I clearly am not remembering on my own.

 

How are you doing on your resolutions?

Achieving My 2019 Writing Goals

This time of year, a lot of people talk about goals. It’s almost two weeks after the new year, and if my company’s gym is any indication, many have already faced the stark reality of how difficult those goals really are.

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My post here outlined my five resolutions.

To help me achieve the first two goals, I have enlisted the help of Wunderlist and a coffee partner.

No, Wunderlist doesn’t pay me for saying any of this. I use them, and I thought I would share as I had never heard of them until my sister introduced to me to the site.

Wunderlist allows me to create a checklist of goals, and as I reach them, I mark them complete.

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Part of my January list

A little bar slides across the screen, showing me how far along I am to completing my goals.

You know my OCD loves to see that little bar move…

It also allows me to set a due date (as you can see in blue above), and it will send me a reminder a few days before the due date.

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Here is where I am so far in January.

This allows me to break apart all of the tasks I need to do this year into smaller chunks. It’s not write a book. More, write 1,000 works per day, each day, for 30 days. As I achieve the goal, I mark it as done.

I then mapped out everything I need to accomplish in 2019 to publish two new books and write three first drafts, along with the pain of starting to edit 2018 first drafts. I then set up these tasks by month.

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Sample for the first part of the year.

What does the coffee buddy have to do with all of this?

Well, she meets with me once a month to discuss how we are each doing with meeting each of our goals. It’s a little accountability.

No, she isn’t going to yell and scream if I don’t meet my goals, but I do have to look at someone across the table and confess that I didn’t reach them. That something was more important than my writing.

She’s going to understand when the day job that pays my bills trumps my writing, but she’s going to be a whole lot less understanding about binge watching Netflix.

I have been using Wunderlist to track monthly goals for almost two years, but this is the first year I have mapped out all of my goals for the whole year.

 

I mapped out the year this time for three reasons.

  1. To mark the path I need to follow to reach my goals.
  2. To see how close I am to being on track at a glance.
  3. To stop beating myself up when work, family, or life in general interferes with my writing. This schedule lets me work ahead when I have time in preparation for long days at work. It gives me an objective view of how well I am doing year-to-date, rather than just the month. And, it doesn’t let me get too aggressive, then be disappointed later.

We’ll see how it works for me this year. Two published books and three fresh first drafts are aggressive goals, but I have a path to reach them.

 

Anyone else have a method they are using to reach their New Year’s resolutions? What is it? Have you used it before, and if so, did it help you?