Sometimes writing presents more of a challenge than at other times. I’ve not found writer’s block an issue, but at times a project tires me. I don’t want to think any more about it or write another word.
A few weeks ago I wrote the last chapter in my fourth book in my upcoming series, Sheltering Trees. It thrilled me to write those two little words—the end. But I celebrated prematurely. Going back over it in a final edit as a whole, I realized the word count needed to increase. My other books in the series are between 165,000 and 100,000 words. By Broken Birch Bay tallied at around 153,000—too short.
Insert a frowny face here. I moaned and tried to justify it being shorter, but in the end I gritted my teeth and “put my big girl panties on”—as my friend, Kris, would say—and sat down to start the hard work of seeing where I could add to the story.
Now, I’m going through the book, chapter by chapter. What I plan to work on:
- Fill in the details: Think of first drafts as a skeleton. The connecting tissue gets added more fully in second and third pass-throughs.
- Expand scenes: I look for scenes that may need a little more happening. Maybe I have a hole or forgot to say something needed in the storyline.
- Define characters and settings: Each character should be introduced with a good character sketch of outward traits. I look for any gaps or unfulfilled descriptions. I reveal the inward traits as the story progresses.
- Engage the five scenes: Sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch need to be an integral part of each scene. I ask myself as I write: what are the characters experiencing? I write these much needed engaging descriptions into the story.
- Ramp up the drama: A good story is all about the drama and the conflict and how that gets resolved. I look for places I can add a little more strife between characters. I play the devil’s advocate, so to speak. But don’t worry; most of these things get ironed out in the end.
- Hone the characters actions: I recheck the actions of characters and make sure they match what’s going on in the scene and tag the dialogue with actions, when possible.
For me, this is the hard part of writing, the tough, trench war of words, in crafting and molding a novel into what it needs to be. The unfolding draft of a novel comes easy for me. I simply have to listen, but the revisions, additions, and editing make up the grueling work. Although, in this too I can find enjoyment when everything is drawn in a more cohesive circle. Besides the beast of marketing, this is where I roll up my sleeves and have to psych myself up for the job ahead.
So here I sit, at my dining room table, which serves as my desk, adding the finishing touches to my latest novel. Writing on the computer is difficult for me. My fingers don’t work correctly, and I often press the wrong keys, which means I spend a lot of time hitting the backspace button and retyping. When my hands get more numb and tired, I resort to typing with one or two fingers. This is why I write on my iPad and only edit on my computer. It’s much easier for me. Also, I switch between typing and voice to text.
But sadly, sitting in a desk chair for any length of time gives me back spasms, and in general I get stiff and sore. Many reasons exist for me to dread this current phase of being an author, but I don’t want to engage in the task ahead of me with a grumpy attitude. I plan to give what I can, pray for grace and patience, and believe the book will get to where it needs to be, if I put in the effort.
All that to say—writing is hard, lonely work, but I do it because I believe I have inspiring, entertaining, and well-crafted stories to share with my readers.
Thank you for reading my thoughts here and being a part of my writing journey.
The opening segment from my current project, By Broken Birch Bay, a historical mystery of family, romance, and hidden deception:
May 15th, 1925
I pen my story here of how it happened—who killed who and why.
Let me tell you something from one who has been there: you’re capable of killing. Everyone is. I can hear your thoughts— “I would never. No! Not me.” But you’re wrong. You don’t know what lengths you’ll go to until you must. Never think yourself too good, too righteous for such a sin. Wasn’t it Jesus who said that if you so much as hate a person, you commit murder in your heart?
Then I’ve done it—murdered someone. More than once. In my heart. But did I in reality? I recall nothing but the stillness of the air and the ringing in my ears—buzzing as if my head were a live hive of bees. Then those two pale faces, witnesses to my crime and that unmoving form, just lying there, splayed out like a bird who’s crashed into the window.
I saw a little sparrow, the day before, die that way. One second he flitted and dove. The next he lay on his side, on the concrete step, wings extended slightly, feet curled under, and his beady eye closed. And when do birds ever have their eyes closed?
But those eyes, surprised, spent, drained of that unexplainable light that’s present when the spirit still dwells in the body. Only emptiness stared back at me. That image will haunt me till my dying day.
Blog Tour and Giveaway March 29th-April 2nd:
I’m excited to feature my first multi-author Facebook event on April 10th and 11th. I have 12 other authors as presenters and an artist/writer friend who will be sharing about their work, and we’ll all be giving away two prizes. That’s more than 25 giveaways!
If you’d like to join the fun and win some free books and prizes, join my Facebook group, Journeying With Jenny. We’d love to have you for the party, but I’m hoping that guests will want to stick around and enjoy the daily posts featuring a schedule of:
- Monday Memes
- To Inspire Tuesday
- What Are You Reading? Wednesday
- Thankful Thursday
- Friday Fun
- Saturday Share
- Sunday ‘Son’rise
I hope to see you there! J