Selective Editing

I thought I would give everyone an update on my novel-writing progress.

Just a recap, here is my (work-in-progress) synopses for Not By Blood:

Brian Colt is seventeen years old and alone. After losing his family in an automobile accident he is forced to leave Alaska and is sent to live with his uncle in Washington State. What’s super awkward is that Brian has never met this side of his family because there was a major fallout that no one ever talks about it. What’s even more awkward is when Brian meets his cousin Rebecca Colt (step-cousin, thank God) he is reluctantly attracted to her. Brian plans to go back to Alaska and take over his family’s logging operation as soon as he turns eighteen, but first he must survive senior year and live with an unforeseen, violent opponent.

Rebecca Colt dreams of becoming a marine biologist. She knows that the odds are stacked against her and nobody believes she will amount to anything. Her nickname at school is “Hot Garbage” because her family is trash. The trailer she lives in is less sanitary than some of the dumpsters in town. Her step-father tells her exactly what he thinks of her with his fists, and her mother is lost in her pill addiction. Rebecca’s one-saving-grace is her best friend.. That is until her cousin… (eh hem) …step cousin comes to town…

I’ve almost completed my first edit, and to tell you the truth, it was overwhelming. There are so many things that I want to change. I realized that I needed to break the editing down into toddler-sized chunks. This first edit I simply looked at the story aspect of my manuscript. I asked myself: Do you like the story? Does the timeline work? Is it believable? Do you want to keep reading?

I’m happy to report that I do indeed still love the story. I’m going to go in and cut some scenes and add a few more for clarity, but overall I’m happy with it.

This is the plan-of-focus for future edits:

Second Edit-Character development.

Third Edit-Scene building.

Fourth Edit-Add more poetic language/descriptive detail.

Fifth Edit-Remove clichés.

Sixth Edit-Grammar.

Seventh Edit-Formatting.

I’d love to hear other writer’s editing process. If you would like to share, please comment below.

-Rachel McKee

Don’t Trash That Novel

If you are struggling with your manuscript and you need someone to ask you questions that challenge and stretch your novel to the max, then you should read “The Breakout Novelist: How To Craft Novels That Stand Out And Sell” by Donald Maass.

Here is my experience:

A lot was missing in my novel when I wrote the first draft. I expected the first, second, and third drafts to be rough, but I was getting frustrated because I didn’t know how to shape my story. I needed help, but I didn’t want to hand off a first draft for review. I felt like a protective mama bear guarding her little newborn cub.

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I also felt helpless and that I failed as a writer. I was ready to trash my novel.

Another writer suggested that I read “The Breakout Novelist” (TBN). He said, “Maass’ book is THE writing book to read if you are writing a novel.”

I took his advice and read TBN. It really is the best tool I have used to develop my story.

The Breakout Novelist

The problem with my first draft was that it was shallow. TBN asked probing questions about premise, stakes, characters, plot, theme, and so much more. I’ve been able to add depth to every aspect of my novel. My second draft has substance and a clear understanding as to what my novel is about. Every character has substance and aren’t just “filler” characters.

TBN has taken me a very long time to read, but purely by choice. I applied every point Maass made to my story. I didn’t ignore a single suggestion because I could clearly see how each one stretched and shaped my novel into something better. Maass also provided exercises to help the writer apply these concepts to their manuscript.

I’m glad I wrote the first draft blindly. There was something very holistic in writing from my heart with no other voice chiming in, but then I was stuck. My mental wall was growing taller every day and I’m so grateful that I found TBN when I did. It truly saved my sanity and my novel. I had to share this helpful tool in case someone else needed guidance.

Happy writing,

Rachel McKee

 

100 Followers & Something New

Illuminated Literation has reached 100 followers! I’m so excited and so grateful for each and every one of you. I’ve been having a lot of fun writing, reading, and interacting with you all.

To celebrate, I thought it would be fun to do something new. I have to admit I’m a little apprehensive to share with you a video that I made. I can’t stand to hear my own voice recorded, let alone see myself on video, but I forced myself to do it anyway. I really wanted to do something different and to share the status of my YA novel.

 

To sum up what I stumble through in the video, here is a short synapses of where my YA story is at so far.

Brian Colt is seventeen years old and alone. After losing his family in an automobile accident he is forced to leave Alaska and is sent to live with his uncle Bo Colt in Washington State. What’s super awkward is that Brian has never met his uncle Bo. He knows that there was a  major fallout between Bo and his father when they were teenagers, but no one ever talks about it. What’s even more awkward is when Brian meets his cousin Rebecca Colt (step-cousin, thank God) who he is reluctantly attracted to. Brian plans to go back to Alaska and take over his family’s logging operation as soon as he turns eighteen, but first he must survive senior year and live with an unforeseen, violent opponent.

Rebecca Colt has big dreams to become a marine biologist. She knows that the odds are stacked against her and nobody believes she will amount to anything. Her nickname at school is “Hot Garbage” because everyone knows her family is trash. The trailer she lives in is less sanitary than some of the dumpsters in town. Her step father Bo tells her exactly what he thinks of her with his fists, and her mother Tammy is lost in her pills. Rebecca’s one saving grace is her best friend Kali, the one person who believes in her, that is until her cousin.. (eh hem)…step cousin comes to town…

That is my story thus far. Thank you for following and for reading. I hope you guys have an awesome week.

♥R♥

COVER IMAGE FOUND HERE.

 

How Writing a Book Is Algebra

Math was my nemesis all throughout school. From Kindergarten through college, I loathed math. I especially hated algebra. I still don’t get it and honestly I fear the day when my son asks me for help with his math homework. *Insert Dad*

Today when I was thinking about my YA book and the various plot points I’m trying to sort out, I realized how writing a book is a lot like algebra .

Breaking the story into the most basic of equations:

A+B=C or Begging, Middle, and End

I know C. The end has always been entirely clear to me, but there are undefined plot variables that are A&B that I have yet to solve.

Because I know C (End), My equation actually looks like this:

C=A+B

And like with most math tests you have to “SHOW YOUR WORK”. Your reasoning is just as important as getting the answer correct.

So far writing my book has been the “SHOW YOUR WORK” portion. How did I get to the end? What makes sense?  This is where the problem solving comes in, gulp!

And now that I have taken my least favorite subject (math) and married it to my favorite (English), I’m going to keep trying to solve my plot equation.