ROW80 Progress and a Meme – Cause That’s Just The Way I Roll

I just finished the first full edit on Utopians and what better way to celebrate than with a writing meme. LS Engler posted this one over on her blog yesterday with an open invitation for others to also participate, so why the hell not 🙂 The meme invites participants to share the first sentence (okay let’s be honest from the outset- I’m probably going to include several sentences because I’m just a rule-breaking kinda gal) from each of the first three chapters of their current work. This genuinely appeals for Utopians as the story is written from 3 different perspectives and giving samples from the first 3 chapters gives a tid bit from each of them.

Chapter 1
Panic jolted the last remnants of sleep from Mila’s body.
She was suffocating.
She opened her mouth and tried to suck in a huge gasping breath.
It didn’t work. The air was stale, and there wasn’t enough oxygen, not near enough.

Chapter 2
Jett woke to the familiar sway of his yacht as it bobbed over the waves. He’d anchored for the night just outside Auckland harbour. He probably could have completed the journey yesterday, heading back to dock and allowing his feet to touch dry land for the first time in three weeks, but he’d been unable to pass up the idea of just one extra night out on the water.

Chapter 3
Beep… It can’t possibly be morning already.
Beep… Ignore it, it’ll go away.
Beep… Damn it!
Austin rolled over, lashing his arm out violently at the alarm clock on the side table.

Yes I am aware that all 3 chapters begin with the characters waking up and yes it was deliberate 🙂 And now on with my progress toward my ROW80 goals…

Goal 1: Complete my detailed edits on The Utopians
Allocated time: 2 weeks
Progress: Turns out there were 10 chapters left as of the beginning of this round and I am very pleased to say that despite an earth-shattering illness that has seen me virtually bed-ridden for the past few days I managed to get through all 10 of those chapters. The first full edit is complete (and on time too) 🙂 Yay! Now I can start on the Character edits.

Goal 2: Character edits on The Utopians
Allocated time: 2 weeks
Progress: Will be starting on these ASAP!

Goal 3: Final read through and compilation of The Utopians for Alpha readers
Allocated time: 1 week
Progress: I need to finish the above goals before I can think about this one.

Goal 4: Read (at least) 12 books to keep up with my goal of 50 for the year
Allocated time: whole round
Progress: Oops, no. I’ve started reading Beautiful Chaos by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. The fact that I didn’t read the whole book is evidence of how sick I was – I had the curl up under the doona bit down but I wasn’t well enough to pick up the book to go with it. I’m still 1/12.

All in all progress so far this round has been great. I think that Utopians is really starting to take shape and I can’t wait to finish up the next few weeks of character and line-edits so I can get it off to some readers.

What about you? Have you hit the ground running this round? Or are you struggling to find your feet? What did you think of the (very small) sample from Utopians? As always, I love hearing from you.

Jody Moller

Timeline Troubles

So for the past two weeks I’ve kind of fallen of the ROW80 railway tracks and have been tramping through the forest instead. Almost two weeks ago now I decided to finally get off my backside and write up a thorough time-line for Utopians (which might have been a task I’d been putting off since I first wrote the outline for the novel about two years ago now…oops). Having an accurate timeline doesn’t always matter in the novel, but for Utopians, where I am rotating through 3 different POVs, I really needed to confirm that all the events lined up in the correct order.

I was less than 5 chapters in when the alarms started sounding in my brain. Something was wrong, possibly massively wrong, with the start of my novel. Having committed the classic beginners mistake of starting a story in the wrong place before, I now take great care to ensure the first chapter is provides the perfect opening to the story (and I still love the opening of Utopians that finds my MC Mila waking up in a body bag). The problem was that Chapters 2 & 3, rather than providing similar openings for my two other MCs Jett and Austin, not only failed to introduce them the way I would like but also didn’t fit in at all with the timeline I’d managed to construct.

I bit of serious brain storming (and maybe a few glasses of wine) later and I managed to come up with a fix – the novel needs 3 extra chapters! Which leads my to my new goals.

Goal 2: once goal #1 is achieved switch to editing mode on The Utopians, aiming to edit half a chapter a day
Scrap that 🙂 Editing has been temporarily abandoned in favour of drafting those 3 extra chapters. I completed one chapter this week, plus some reworking of the surrounding existing chapters. 2 to go!

Goal 3: keep up with my aim to read 50 books this year.
Not a good week on the reading front once again. But the next (new goal) goes someway to explaining that.

Goal 4: complete beta-reading of LS Engler’s novel – Soulless.
I wanted to put this in as an official goal so I stay on track. I’m just over half-way through the story and (good news here LS) well on track to get it back to writer on time 🙂

Do you write timelines for your novels? Do you sometimes have difficulty trying to decide on the perfect place to start your story?As always I love hearing from you.

Jody Moller

The Editing Process

Slowly but surely I’m switching off the writing brain cells and switching on the editing ones, which means that slowly but surely the editing process is becoming easier. I’ve had a few people ask about my editing process, so, if you’re interested, I’m going to run through it step-by-step. 

1. The complete read through

At this stage I’ve had at least a few months breathing space after finishing the first draft and I do a complete read through. Usually I do this on my Kindle but now that I’m on a Windows 8 computer I can’t work out how to do my Kindle conversions anymore (if you know how to do this please let me know), so for my latest novel, The Utopians, this was on my computer. While I read I make notes on anything that stands out to me – consistency, plot, anything that doesn’t make sense, repetition etc..

2. The sentence-by-sentence edit

This is the tough one (and the one I’m in the middle of now with The Utopians), where I read through every sentence at least 2-3 times to make sure it sounds right. I remove redundant words (‘that’ seems to be the most common one getting culled), I improve the cadence of my sentences, I also correct anything I noticed in the first read-through.

3. The character edit

For this one in the past I have rearranged the chapters of my novel based upon POV character, and will probably repeat this again with The Utopians. The character edit is all about getting the voice of each of my characters to be distinct, they each have particular phrases and words that they use. Despite the fact that my novel is 3rd person I want each character to be identifiable by the language and tone they use.

4. The out-loud read

In the past I have relied on doing this myself, but it doesn’t work all that well as I tend to read over my mistakes. This time round I’m planning on using my Kindle (ahh!!! see above) to read-it aloud to me, which allows me to do basic line editing.

After that it will be off to my delightful alpha readers (read – loving family members) who will tell me which bits don’t work so I can fix them up and get it ready for the beta-reading process.

Now onto my ROW80 goals:

Goal 2: once goal #1 is achieved switch to editing mode on the apocalyptic YA novel, The Utopians, aiming to edit ~5 pages half a chapter a day.

I hit a bit of a lull this week only managing to get through 3 chapters. I had mountains of marking for the other (read – paid) job. But the Autumn session at the University is almost over so in another week and a bit I am unemployed again until Spring session begins and will be concentrating on getting this novel finished. But some good news, I did break through the half-way point of the novel this week, the 50% plot-point line has been crossed and I am climbing to the 75% mark.

Goal 3: keep up with my aim to read 50 books this year.

Nought, zero, zilch. Busy. Week.

Do you have a regimented editing process like I do (the scientist in me fights her way to the surface every once in a while) or are you more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-editing-pants kind of editor? Do you know of any programs to convert to Kindle format that are compatible with Windows 8 (please, please, please)?

 As always I love hearing from you.

Jody Moller

Climbing back onto the ROW80 wagon

Half a chapter. That’s how long it took me to fall off the editing wagon. Half a chapter. A week and a half ago, I finished the first read-through of my novel and prepared myself for an intense edit that would probably take upwards of 30 days (and that was provided I could manage a chapter a day) and I lasted, yes that’s right, half a chapter before the wheels fell off and I was brutally reminded that I hate (and I mean Hate with a capital H), I hate, hate, hate editing.

Deep breath. Okay. Now that my little rant is over, I can happily tell you that despite the fact my little wagon has no wheels and can now only plod along at a rather slow pace, in the past few days I have climbed back on and started working my way through the novel. I am currently sitting partway through Chapter 3 and am aiming to finish a chapter every other day till I reach the end.

As for my ROW80 goals:

Goal 2: once goal #1 is achieved switch to editing mode on the apocalyptic YA novel, aiming to edit ~5 pages a day.

So the revised goal is to try and complete a chapter every 2 days (we’ll see how we go). Also I now no longer have to call it my ‘apocalyptic YA novel’ as I have come up with an (at least temporary) title ‘The Utopians’.

Goal 3: keep up with my aim to read 50 books this year.

Big fat fail on this one. I am currently reading Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia, but it’s taking me forever and in the mean time I have fallen at least 2 books behind schedule.

Do any of you have any advice for a failing editor? Do any of you prefer the editing process to writing? As always I love hearing from you.

Jody Moller