Stop Talking to Yourself, Mom

By Allison Brennan

“He was up and down like a restless puppy, alternately snapping out directives and singing lyrics. She didn’t know how anyone could get any work done that way. But she also knew he not only could, he had to.”
— CREATION IN DEATH by JD Robb

If we were all the same, we’d all be very boring. We don’t all like the same movies, television shows, books, or people. We don’t agree about politics, religion, or who should win the World Series. If we did, life would be dull and we’d walk around like robots.

Writers don’t write the same way. Some of us don’t like outlines or plots or any sort of real organization. Some of us need to plan down to which characters will be in every scene. Most of us are somewhere in between.

Some writers love the words themselves, how words become phrases and phrases complete thoughts. The cadence of the words that make up the story is as important as the story itself. For others, the words mean nothing without the story behind them.

Some writers take a year-or more-to craft their novel. Others, a few weeks. In his book ON WRITING, Stephen King says, “I believe the first draft of a book-even a long one-should take no more than three months, the length of a season.” He goes on to say he writes every day, and likes to write ten pages (about 2,000 words) which is 180,000 words at the end of three months.

The point is, some brilliant writers write one book a year . . . or every five years. Some writers write one book a season. It doesn’t make the former too slow or the latter too fast. It means that is how the stories come out.

I write fast. Once I get going and the characters take over and I stop trying to play God, I write as fast as I can to get the story out there.

It’s not pretty.

My first draft can be a bit of a mess. I edit as I go, so it’s pretty clean, but I don’t labor over the details. My transitions are rough, my setting is minimal, and half the time I forget to describe my characters. (I know what they look like, I rarely think to put it on paper until my editor mentions it.) If I need to research something that isn’t plot critical, I’ll put in XXX and keep writing. I can’t be slowed down to look up the name of a military base in Texas when it’s a minor backstory detail because I know that the minute I google the information, I’ll be online for an hour. That’s what revisions are for-at least for me. My first draft may come fast, but revisions take me just as long.

I don’t plot. No outlines, no plans, and I rarely know how everything is going to come together. It’s not unusual for me to be on page 450 of my projected 500 page manuscript, panicked, because I don’t know how my hero is going to stay alive. Yet, I’m constantly thinking about the book 24/7. Even in my sleep. Especially in my sleep. When I have a plot problem, if I’m thinking about it when I go to bed, nine times out of ten I have the solution when I wake up. If I don’t, it means that I went in the wrong direction, so I backtrack and try to figure out where I screwed up in the story.

I didn’t realize I was talking to myself, though. Thank God for hands-free cell phones-now I hope people assume I’m talking to someone over Bluetooth, not that I’m talking to my characters (or arguing with them.)

My son was five when he first said, “Mommy, why are you talking to yourself?”

Of course I denied it. I wasn’t talking to myself. Don’t be silly. So I turned up the music and started whispering. He still caught me.

“Mommy, I can see your lips moving in the rearview mirror.”

Damn smart kid.

I may not plot, but I do think a book to death. My characters walk on the stage fully formed, or I have to drag them out kicking and screaming. I picture a dozen opening scenes, discarding some, keeping others. I go back and forth until it hits me the best starting place. Sometimes it’s easier than others-with PLAYING DEAD I knew the first chapter was Claire’s father, a fugitive, confronting her and asking for her help. Sometimes it’s harder-with TEMPTING EVIL I wrote a half-dozen opening chapters before I settled on the beginning . . . and THEN that ended up being Chapter Three after revisions . . . after the teaser was printed in the back of KILLING FEAR . . .

As I’ve said before on Alex’s brilliant blog posts, I always get stuck at the beginning of Act Two . . . I cross the threshold and then WHAM! Can’t seem to find the Road of Trials . . .

For example, in SUDDEN DEATH (my April 09 book), I wrote crap for two months. 150 pages over and over because I couldn’t get past this one point. I was really worried because I actually had a lot of time to write this book, but now I was down to the wire . . . then I went off the Thrillerfest. I wrote on the plane, but it still wasn’t working. I tried to write during the conference, but was having too much fun (when I’m loving the story and it’s working, I can write anywhere, anytime-I wrote 60 pages at RT a couple years ago and they became the opening of SEE NO EVIL.) Then I got on the plane to go home and WHAM! It hit me. I knew what the problem was. I had a preconceived notion of backstory between Jack and Megan. I thought they’d known each other in the past. But every time I put them on the same page, it wasn’t working.

So I deleted everything but the first two chapters and wrote straight through for three weeks and finished the book before I left of RWA at the end of July.

Sure, there were some rough spots. And really, it wasn’t three weeks, because I was thinking about this dang story for three months before I even started writing. I also have a very kind, forgiving editor who just circles my XXX that I didn’t have time to research. And most important, I always expect a round of revisions. I want revisions. Why? Because no matter how good the story is-and the first two-thirds of SUDDEN DEATH was very tight when I sent it in-a good editor can help make a book better.

For example, in SUDDEN DEATH I have a killer who is truly mentally ill. He’s not right in the head. Therefore, I didn’t get into his head-I picked, instead, his partner who was sane. Much easier. My editor pointed out an obvious flaw-because the sane killer had her own covert plan, it wasn’t realistic that when I was in her head she wouldn’t be thinking about it.

Duh.

But I was scared to go into the head of someone who was insane. I’d never done that before. I’m talking about someone who really sees things, who really is not all there. His memory is not reliable . . . but my editor pushed me to do it because she said (rightfully) that it would really take the story to the next level. So I did it. It wasn’t easy, but it worked (I hope.) It was a challenge, and I pushed myself. And no matter what happens with the book, I’m proud of how that character evolved from a two-dimensional stereotype to a real person.

I’m not afraid to revise. In fact, I thrive on it. I’m also not afraid to delete. I tell people I deleted nearly 150 pages and they look at me like I’m crazy, or they start to hyperventilate because they can’t imagine deleting so much work. It’s not fun, but I don’t sweat over it. I’ve deleted twice as much . . . before I sold, I was thinking about my next project after I wrote a science-fiction romantic suspense (that didn’t sell.) I read some of the beginnings I had stashed away and came across a story I had called THE COPYCAT KILLER. The opening chapter was good, and the second chapter wasn’t bad, then the book completely deteriorated . . . 300 pages of total crap. Yep, you read that right . . . it’s not a typo. Three Hundred Pages. I deleted them all. Started with the foundation of those two chapters and wrote a completely different story.

That book became THE PREY, my debut novel.

Every writer has a different process. We have to work at our own pace. If I was given a year to write a book, I’d think about it a lot, but I wouldn’t actually start writing it until about eight weeks before it was due. I know me. I’m the person who waits until April 12th to start inputting my receipts into Quickbooks, then stays up until 2 a.m. three nights in a row because I have far more receipts that I thought . . .

My supernatural thriller series that launches in 2010 . . . I had the idea in August of 2003. In fact, I wrote the first couple chapters then, and have been thinking about the story for more than five years. I wasn’t ready to write it then; now I’m itching to get to it because it’s all clicked in my head. Would you say the book took five years to write . . . or three months?

I may be able to write and revise a book in eight weeks, but I couldn’t write six books a year. Why? Because I need that thinking time. I need to talk to myself, I need to sleep on plot problems. I need to get into the heads of my characters and see what makes them tick. I need to write and delete, write and revise, then think some more. That takes time. Writing time? Not so much. Thinking time? Absolutely. And if with the thinking comes some solo verbal communication, so be it.

And if my kids think that I’m a bit strange because I talk to myself, that’s not my problem. I’m writing.

30 thoughts on “Stop Talking to Yourself, Mom

  1. Catherine

    Hi Allison,

    This is one of the main reasons I keep checking into Murderati…you never know what insight you will gain from someone’s honest blogging.(apart from general entertainment value)

    While I’m not attempting fictional writing, I have knocked over a lot of mostly meaningful words, with assignments for my business degree.

    Throught my degree I’ve grown used to the fact that I need to start thinking about what I’m going to write from the earliest point, as I’ll mull over ideas, reasons why I should care, how I can get the reader (marker) to care, how I can arrange it to make the most possible sense. Sometimes whether there is an extended use for what I’ve come up with.

    At the core of it though is being able to immerse myself in whatever needs to be written, and then strange people come out of nowhere to add information I’d not anticipated.

    I’ve then culled words, with reckless regard and then thought and thought some more and then bang…it just fits.It’s almost done my head in that after a car accident I can’t sit and hammer away long into the night anymore. I’ve since talked myself into how it’s not really a bad thing if I translate that process into sitting in the sun, drinking coffee and scribbling ideas with lots of arrows. Then when I hit the computer it usually flows as a great deal of my thinking, my connecting is done.

    Around my friends I’ve really felt my way of getting there was strange…very strange. So even though I know it’s a productive way of working for me I thought I was a little outside of the norm.It helped when an often stereotypically vague Professor of Business and Innovation, said that I needed to recognise that I was a thinker, and not necessarily a doer…and that wasn’t a bad thing. He did qualify it as being a thinker did not exclude the doing of communicating the idea, but did excuse me from the actual ‘doing’ of whatever idea/scheme I’d cooked up.

    I try to remind myself that there is no, one way to do anything, but it still did me good to recognise in your words a certain similarity to the twisty way I often get things done. So thanks again for sharing.

    As an aside, in a parental sense, I’ve promised my daughters that the upside of having a parent with quirks, is that they need never feel threatened with perfection.

    Reply
  2. Alexandra Sokoloff

    “I had the idea in August of 2003. In fact, I wrote the first couple chapters then, and have been thinking about the story for more than five years. I wasn’t ready to write it then; now I’m itching to get to it because it’s all clicked in my head. Would you say the book took five years to write . . . or three months?”

    God, that is so true and FINALLY gives me a decent response to that question that everyone always asks “How long did it take you to write it?”

    The answer is ALWAYS – years. One way or another, you work on books for years.

    Reply
  3. billie

    All of this sounds very familiar… ๐Ÿ™‚

    And so timely. Just last night I wrote an entirely new opening for the book in progress. I think it’s maybe the sixth or so? And I keep going further and further back in the story. It occurred to me right before bed that none of these might be the actual openings, but me peeling back some layers for myself that need peeling.

    I went to bed thinking “it’s okay not to know where the book starts, just follow what’s coming out and you’ll get there.”

    I was the English major student who waited until the last minute to write the paper, then hit on something so good the professors gave me extensions to finish. I honestly tried doing them ahead of time, but it never worked.

    It’s an intense process, but it’s the one that works for me.

    Reply
  4. Catherine

    Billie I have pushed the extension concept to the point that now my degree finish date has been extended.Legit reasons, but still.

    Reply
  5. R.J. Mangahas

    Again a great post Allison.

    “My characters walk on the stage fully formed, or I have to drag them out kicking and screaming.”

    Unfortunately, a lot of my characters have stage fright and I often find I have to struggle with them. But I think that once they’re on stage, that’s when they really start to develop.

    “Some of us don’t like outlines or plots or any sort of real organization. Some of us need to plan down to which characters will be in every scene. Most of us are somewhere in between.”

    I’m definitely in between, however, the edit as I go method is not the kindest in the world to me.

    Reply
  6. R.J. Mangahas

    Billie — I was pretty much the same way in college too. I REALLY tried to write my papers ahead of time, but never could do it. The one time I did, my grade was…let’s just say less than stellar.

    Reply
  7. billie

    LOL – I’m relieved to hear that I was not the only deviant college student pushing back deadlines!

    I finally had one of the bigwig professors in the dept. tell me to stop fighting my process and just go with it.

    In an independent study course I did before grad school, I was in the psych professor’s office the night before the deadline in tears b/c the research project proposal we were supposed to hand in was in fragments. He convinced me to turn it in anyway, and not only did I get an A, he wrote my most stellar letter of recommendation for grad school. He too sat me down and told me to make friends with my process. Looking back, I think I was lucky to have such great professors!

    And alas, now Allison! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Reply
  8. Kait Nolan

    Great post Allison. Nice to know others are out there talking to themselves too. The advent of Bluetooth was a real boon to those of us who do in terms of protecting our appearance of sanity to others ๐Ÿ˜€

    I have to keep a tangent notebook for all that thinking time because inevitably I have things working themselves out in my head for other stories while I’m working on the current one. Looking forward to your supernatural series! I read some post you wrote about it over at MSW a while back and have been intrigued ever since.

    Reply
  9. Allison Brennan

    Catherine, you mean I’m not perfect? Sheesh. Don’t tell my kids, please! I have them convinced that THEY are the strange ones because they DON’T have conversations with fictional people . . .

    Hey Alex! You’re right . . . years. I’m writing FATAL SECRETS now and the premise is something that I’ve wanted to write for a long time, but it’s something (human trafficking) that a lot of people have written about over the last few years . . . but it was sitting there in the back of my mind and then I thought of something just a little different, a twist, when my heroine popped into my head. Finally felt I could write the story.

    Billie, I’m a college drop-out, but throughout high school and college I ALWAYS waited until the last minute. It’s sad, I know, that 20 years later I’m still a huge procrastinator. I have excuses up the wazoo, but I procrastinate. Part of the problem was that elementary school was easy for me. I never did homework (finished it in class); I aced tests without studying; I read fast so anytime I had a test on a book I’d read it the night or morning before and it was fresh in my mind, so I’d ace the test and/or essay. That doesn’t bode well when you go to a college prep high school and there is no classroom time to do anything . . .

    R.J., I never use to edit as I go. I’ve always believed that the best way to write was one fast, sloppy copy, then go back and do a deep edit, which is what I did on the four books I never sold and my first three published books. (And, ironically, one of those books had more editor revisions than anything since!) Then I realized I didn’t have the time to do this. I listened to Jim Rollins speak about how he edited as he went — he wrote 8-10 pages every day, printed them out and edited them on hard copy that night, and the next day went back, made the changes, and that got him back into the story so he could write the next 8-10 pages. I adopted a version of that method, and it’s what’s enabled me to write a very clean first draft. Otherwise, I’d have a mess. The trick is to be consistent and know WHEN to take off the editor hat.

    Billie, EXACTLY!!!! Don’t fight your process!!! Too many writers hear that you have to write this way or that way or plot or don’t plot, and the truth is . . . what works for ME isn’t going to work for YOU, etc. Finding your own “right” process sometimes takes time.

    Hi Kait! Yep, love hands free . . . I talk MORE in my car now!! I don’t keep a notebook (because I would lose it or forget it when I needed it.) I tried . . . just like I tried to keep notes WHILE writing (i.e. what my characters look like, etc.) and that falls apart after about two chapters.

    I’m excited about getting to my supernatural series. It’s different, and I’m going to be pushing myself. But it’s scary, because I see what it can be and I don’t know if I can get it there. But like writing from my insane killer’s POV, I won’t know if I can do it until I try.

    Reply
  10. toni mcgee causey

    billie, I think you’ve found your people here… I did the same thing. 7:30 a.m. project due, got started on it at 3:30 (if I was lucky). [A graphic design class with competitive grading–I think that was one of my best, most challenging classes and I loved it. But never managed to start more than a day ahead of the deadline.]

    Allison, I love this post. It’s a kick to watch your process. I, too, love the revision part of writing, and I haven’t had a problem starting over, “page one rewrite.” Sometimes I have to write what the story isn’t to see what it is. To see what needs to be cut from the sculpture.

    Reply
  11. Louise Ure

    Allison, I am in awe. Not just of the process you go through, but the energy and focus you bring to it. I think that’s the key. Total immersion, whether it’s for eight weeks or eight months.

    Reply
  12. Tom

    Allison, terrifying subject. I’ve been stuck for months because my process no longer fits my life.

    Catherine – your ‘notes with arrows’ reminds me of a process called mind mapping. A fellow in Oz named Gideon King has done a lot to codify it, and has created a nifty application called NovaMind to support the process on Mac and pc.

    I use it with my inarticulate business clients. We get to the core of their documentation much faster. A lot of people use it for plot development in film and fiction.

    Toni – you LIKE rewriting? That’s . . . that’s . . .

    Reply
  13. JT Ellison

    I was always a “do it well in advance” kind of person, and this last book was the first time I’d really flirted with a deadline. I don’t like feeling rushed. I know my process better now, and it’s getting to be a bit of both pantsing and plotting. I’m doing the print out the pages as you go to edit in the morning as well. November should be a good month for writing, because I’m imbuing it with structure. I like structure.

    I also realized long ago that my original opening is rarely where I end up starting the book. I’ve had openings end up as chapter 25, chapter 5 and everywhere in between. So I don’t fret about that.

    But deleting??? Now that gives me hives. I never do it. I always keep what I write. If it’s not right for one story, it usually finds its way into another.

    Reply
  14. Zoรซ Sharp

    What a wonderful post, Allison.

    There are as many ways of writing, as there are writers out there.

    Somehow, though, I always look at the people writing faster than me, and feel disappointed in myself, rather than at the people writing slower and feeling satisfied!

    I am in awe of your focus.

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  15. Jake Nantz

    JT – I agree about deleting. I have to save something three different ways, an be CERTAIN I’ve got it how I like it, before I can delete the original material. And even then, I get that sick-to-my-stomach feeling. I’m such a pack-rat it’s pathetic.

    And Ms. Brennan…talking to myself? Oh yeah. I think that may be one of the worst problems I have, because I act out conversations that I expect to happen in real life when I’m worried about something coming up. I want to make sure I have some kind of answer for any comment that comes my way in an argument. I think it comes from practicing/acting out my lesson plans for effectiveness and time.

    It also gives me a lot of great dialogue sequences when I’m writing.

    Of course my wife thinks I’m nuts. I’m pretty sure she also thinks I’m planning out lies in advance so I don’t show the numerous tells of someone who’s caught and trying to think fast.

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  16. Jake Nantz

    Zoe – I’ll second that! Eight weeks total writing & revising time? Gaahhh, no way I could ever find the minutes to do that, even with the idea fully formed. I mean EV-ARR. I too am in awe, and bow to those who can.

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  17. Catherine

    Allison my house has many notebooks.Many many notebooks. For some reason when I write it down,swirl some connections and arrows about it fixes it more firmly in my mind.However I do have lots of notebooks.

    Also re:perfection, I wouldn’t want to subvert whatever works for you. I’m still amazed at how much you juggle and yet produce multiple books a year. Maybe your kids will accept muttering as an aspirational goal.

    Along the lines of ‘When you grow up if you’re lucky you can mutter like your Mom, and just think of what you can achieve.’

    Tom as part of the university process over here(Australia) we often use mindmapping. My version has been ever more corrupted by being exposed to soft systems analysis and design.

    ‘LOL – I’m relieved to hear that I was not the only deviant college student pushing back deadlines!’

    Billie that was my reaction when I read your post. It’s not that I don’t admire structure, after this degree I’m doing a Master in Information Systems (Library Systems) it’s just I live by developing things with all my senses, and use verbal skills, imagery and whatever part of my brain helps create text.

    Toni and yet your adult writing life would be pretty much bound by deadlines? Is it that you want this more ?

    Reply
  18. Catherine

    I’m still waking up…the above ramble to Billie was more in appreciation that even though I’m sort of accepting of my methods, reading this post and other comments helps me not feel quite so strange about it all.

    For which I am truly thankful.

    Reply
  19. Allison Brennan

    Toni, when I wrote THE HUNT I had a full year to write it. In that year, I was working full-time in the legislature, had a baby in the middle of it, and couldn’t “binge” write like I do now. When I got my revisions letter, my editor essentially told me that I wrote the scenes that I didn’t need to write and all the good stuff happened off page. She was so right, but I couldn’t see it. The scary thing is that if I wrote THE HUNT before THE PREY, I may have not sold . . . or sold when I did . . . I ended up rewriting over 300 pages and while the structure of the story and the characters were exactly the same, it was completely different.

    I never thought about it like immersion, Louise, but you’re exactly right. I eat, sleep, breathe a book for months . . . until something clicks and I write it. Of course, sometimes that clicking is the tick-tock of the deadline clock . . .

    If dogs and cats could talk, Dusty, I would have been committed long ago . . .

    Reply
  20. Allison Brennan

    Tom, I sympathize with you, and I’ve had to adjust my process to fit my life. Not ideal, but we do what we have to do to get the story done. Sometimes, we use the our life commitments or responsibilities (family, job) as an excuse to NOT write. But the truth is, it might not be EASY to do it the way that fits your life, but we can still do it.

    I’m a binge writer. Once I get going, I don’t want to stop. But I HAVE to stop . . . to pick up the kids from school, for example. My best writing time is probably 1-7 during the day . . . that seems to be my peak production time right now, but I have to get the kids at 3 from school. Sometimes, my mom can get the, but not always. So I’ve had to adjust. I USED to write in the early morning. I also used to write at Starbucks and it took me months to re-train myself to write in my new office. And sometimes, when I’m close to deadline, I end up at Starbucks anyway . . . .

    We do what we have to do to get the book done. No excuses. This is why I write at night. I’m not my most productive then, but it’s better to have those extra 10 pages to edit than nothing at all.

    And like Toni, I love revisions. Sometimes, it’s the minor fixes that take the book to the next level.

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  21. Allison Brennan

    JT, I never truly delete anything. I cut and paste it into a file I call CUT SCENES for whatever book I’m writing. I probably have, oh, a thousand pages (or more) total. (And that’s not counting the cuts I don’t save, which I usually cut during revision time and know I’m not using.) Only once have I ever gone back to save a scene (it became a prologue.) Every scene I write is crafted that that book and that story and those characters, and I doubt I could use them again, though they might spur a new idea . . . I’ve concluded that I have to write 2-3 pages for every page that stays in the book. Not ideal, but something I deal with.

    Thanks, Zoe, but I don’t think anyone should look at anyone who is faster or slower and feel like they are better/worse. I get as much criticism for writing fast (i.e. “it can’t possibly be good if you wrote it that fast”) as I get admiration. And I can’t help but wonder if I took five years to write a book ala SILENCE OF THE LAMBS if I could craft something that has staying power through the ages. Then I think, well, Stephen King wrote my all-time favorite book THE STAND, draft, revisions and all, in 9-10 months (I believe–I’d have to check–but it was less than a year) and that is still his most powerful, best book out there (though I’m sure others will disagree . . . my second favorite was NEEDFUL THINGS.)

    ROFLOL, Jake! I have conversations not only with my characters (or between my characters) but I also talk out conversations before they happen. I often do this so I DON’T say what I want to really say, because I’d get in trouble or get fired ๐Ÿ™‚ . . . so I say it all to myself, get it off my chest, and then I can seem calm, cool, and collected when I go to the meeting or whatever (this saved my butt often when I worked in the legislature!)

    Mumbling is a high aspiration ๐Ÿ™‚

    BTW, I’ll let everyone know by the end of the month how the book is doing. I already know that it two weeks I’ll be banging my head against the wall thinking I’ll never get it done, then somehow, my muse saves me at the last minute . . . at least I hope she doesn’t desert me this time . . .

    Reply
  22. Tammy Cravit

    Wow, does this sound familiar. I’ve written and discarded probably at least twice as many words as I’ve actually kept, both in my fiction and in my freelance non-fiction writing. I think I’ve commented here before that sometimes you can’t see the right road until you’ve already taken the left turn and are standing in the middle of the wrong one.

    Fortunately for us all, words don’t have egos, and their feelings don’t usually get hurt when you throw them away.

    Thank you, though, Allison, for writing this and reminding me yet again why I keep coming back to Murderati. When my daughter comes into my office and asks me what I’m doing, I’ll tell her something like “figuring out how the bad guy killed the lady”. She’ll just shake her head in that totally dismissive way only 13-year-olds seem to be able to manage. “Strange,” she’ll say. And then she’ll go back to her Gameboy or her music.

    Thank you, to all of my friends here on the ‘Rati, for not saying “strange” and shaking your heads at me. And thank you, Allison, for reminding me that I’m not the only one who lives this way.

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  23. Allison Brennan

    Tammy: My oldest is nearly 15 and I’ve rubbed off on her in many ways. She predicts movies to the annoyance of her friends; she’s usually right. She wants to go into criminal psychology or law enforcement. And when we were driving down the country road that leads to our house and saw a large, heavy-duty dark green garbage bag, we both said, “It looks like a body” at the same time.

    You’re not alone, Tammy! I remember reading some of Tess’s old posts on her blog and feeling relieved that I wasn’t the only writer out there stressed and worried about my books, the list, reviews and everything else that is part of the business.

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  24. Tammy Cravit

    Allison, sounds like we need to get our kids together sometime — mine wants to go into law enforcement, too, and she’d probably have thought the garbage bag looked like a body as well. Hmm…maybe I need to talk to my dear spouse about a trip up your way one of these times soon, especially since she has friends up there anyhow.

    And this post just became very timely for me, because I was writing my way through chapter 13 of my novel-in-progress tonight when I realized that I had written 33,000 words with totally the wrong guy cast in the role of criminal mastermind. Fortunately, I simultaneously realized who had to be the *right* guy and how to rework what I’ve done and go forward in a way that makes the plot make a whole lot more sense.

    I’m sure, by the way, that I’ll be equally as likely to fret about the business aspects of this crazy line of work, just as soon as I get a novel published. In that regard, having freelanced in the non-fiction world can only help — I’m used to treating writing as a business, and a crusty but kind newspaper editor some years ago has thoroughly ingrained within me significant tolerance for the revision and editing process. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  25. Tammy Cravit

    Oh, and Stephen King’s guideline for time spent on a first draft is right on, I think — at my present rate of progress, I’ll hit my target word count for this first draft (80,000 words) ten weeks or so after I began it. I’m in week five now, and just shy of halfway there.

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  26. pari

    Allison,Wow.

    I can sooooooo relate.

    I have thousands and thousands of words I’ll probably never use again.

    Did I ever tell you the time I threw away an entire manuscript?

    Reply
  27. Allison Brennan

    Definitely keep in touch, Tammy!

    An entire manuscript Pari? I’ll bet you learned a lot writing it, huh? I remember when I wrote my first book (never sold) my husband told me that he would have kept writing and rewriting and rewriting it until he sold it or he was dead. Me? I learned so much from that book, including it would be much harder to salvage it than to write something completely new and different. Some day I’ll blog about that first book . . . . I still have a soft spot for it . . . my debut novel was my fifth completed manuscript. For someone who had over 100 beginnings and no endings before I got serious, I still get giddy every time I type THE END.

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