Friday, June 18, 2010

Some Tips On Finishing That Manuscript

LB Gregg here. I'm back. I know you're pleased. This is not a top ten list, although now that I've spent all night putting it together, it sure as hell looks like one. This post is actually the first in a two part series I like to call~

The Dos and Don'ts of Writing (and finishing) Your First Draft
... in Three Part Harmony...
with a Rainbow of Colors
...and Personalities.

( In other words--Christ what a hot mess, which, incidentally, looks exactly like another LB Top 10 List, Little Miss.)

I've invited my pal Josh Lanyon and his pal (now my pal and soon to be your pal, too) Harper Fox to discuss everyone's favorite topic--writing. More specifically, finishing the dreaded first draft. All those empty pages. All those ideas drying up faster than the ink they're written with. All the distractions, internal and external, that keep us from our end goal--creating a full manuscript.

Tomorrow, after part II, we'll dismount with a guessing game. The lucky winners will each receive one book from one of the three of us. Does that make any kind of sense? Yes.


LB Gregg's RED ink reinforces the unwavering passion she has about this gripping subject matter.
Josh Lanyon commands the scene in BLUE.
Harper is sleek and somehow even more delectably British in GREEN.

#1 Do finish & Don't whine.

LB: This is particularly important if you are behind schedule and your mentor has been, er, encouraging you for five months to finish without whining. Not that I, LB Gregg, have any experience here.

Josh: It's okay to whine to the select few, but you have to keep moving even as you whine.

Harper: If I finish, can I whine afterwards? There's got to be an outlet, a proper time and place, a... the word I'm looking for is whin(e)dow.

#2 Do save everything.
And at the very least email yourself a copy of the day's work.

Don't come home late and drunk from a party
and start working on your rough draft.

LB: RE: Drinking. This is also good advice for blogging, posting, commenting, and speaking with your SO about that recent visit to Nordstrom. Those shoes were on sale.

Josh: Yes, I should add here that friends don't let friends drink and write. Especially blog posts. Thank God the three of us only drink tea.

Harper: Indeed it is a blessing, though lapsang souchong works well with a splash of rum, oddly enough. Very cleansing. Clears the cerebellum in no time.

LB: She's onto something there.

# 3 Do fall in love with your leads, even the b*stards, as soon as you possibly can. Passion lubricates graft.

Yes. I've used it before. Still funny!

LB: **12 year old boy snicker** She said lubricate.**snicker snicker snicker**

Josh: Also, make sure you sufficiently disguise the fictional bastards from the real life bastards they're based on. Assuming you lift from real life. Well, I mean there is that write-what-you-know thing.

Harper: Hah. I did say "lubricate". I'm not afraid to use naughty words now, even long ones. And yes, Miz Bea, I know what you're up to up there. Wow, Josh - did somebody recognise himself? :-D

Josh: Everyone seems to recognize himself! It's very disconcerting.

LB: I totally don't have this problem. Unless it's regarding Adrien. He was obviously created solely for me to love.

Harper: I did have someone who wanted to recognise himself, and I didn't have the heart to disillusion him! I'm flattered, really. Should have added a "very loosely based on some aspects of the life of" acknowledgement.

#3 (b) Don't throw discarded ideas anywhere you wouldn't want to reach into and get them back. The bin is okay before discarded Chinese food. Not after.

Josh: **Snicker** I hate it when the sweet and sour gets all over my finest work. By the way, it helps if you name files something that you can remember a few months from now. Initials can be troubling. KWIM?

Harper: (snicker) (OMG, you've made me do it now. I'll be writing multi-billion-selling vampire quadrilogies any second now) You said kwim!!!

LB: I'm not in on this joke, but if that kwim is quivering, I'm outie.

#4 When you're stuck, DO skip to the part where you know what happens next.

Don't fool around on the Internet with your friends.
Or at least--know when to stop.

Josh: I like this one a lot -- sometimes I skip to the next project where I know what's going on.

Harper: I would just like to know what's going on. Generally.

LB: I usually don't know what's going on. Who are you people?

Josh: Shh, shh. Have a Life Saver, Sweetbea.

Harper: Yes, everything's fine. We're just the monsters you created.

/pt one

Stay tuned for the stunning conclusion--and keep note! You'll have to decide who came up with which set of rules--Harper, LB or Josh.



Tam said...

"Also, make sure you sufficiently disguise the fictional bastards from the real life bastards they're based on."

Really? You have to do that? Shit. What if you give them credit in the "dedication" section. Would that soften the blow? I accidentally named a quasi-villain the same as the guy down the hall. Totally subconsciously I swear. I don't even know if he's evil enough to merit a quasi-villain named after him. I did change it because I feared someday 20 years from now it would get out and my career would be in ruins, just days before I am set to retire.

And I can't skip ahead. Uh uh. In a line people, C follows B follows A. You can't go K, A, L, C, D. No no. Can't happen. Not in my little linear world. Start at the beginning finish at the end.

lbgregg said...

Tam--I'm non-linear. I...deviate and go back and forth. It's the only way I can write. This self-knowledge has taken me a long time to figure out. Lots of--UR DOIN IT RONG thinking.

I read a great article in the RWA mag a few months ago about how pantser/plotter combination types feel shame--and how we all have to embrace our own creative process or we lose something. I don't want to lose my voice to the 'right way'. There are a lot of us who read the 'you must follow this strict outline' and we freeze solid.

And a lot of people see "skip" and they freeze. Heh.

I like that there is no right or wrong way to reach the end of a manuscript. You just get there.

I bet you can guess who came up with that skip DO. *g*

Tam said...

I tried to do something with a plot outline. Then on page 10 .... wheeeee, outline? What outline? But I still go from A to Z in a line but don't ask me what F will be, because I won't know until I finish E.

Definitely no one method for everyone.

harperfox777 said...

Hi, Tam and LB. Eeeenteresting! Made me think about how my methods have changed since I stopped writing for fun and started doing it for profit. (Actually it's still fun and any profits are as yet theoretical, but you get my drift.) I used to just *do* it. No outline, just organic growth from a start point. There's a whole jungle of bushy, glorious, half-manifested, utterly unsaleable Triffids on my hard drive. I do go in there still to scrump apples and nick flowers. But I've definitely changed my approach. Knowing I have to be at an end point on a certain date with a wrapped-up story really has imposed on me the "topiary" approach; gone are the straggly unfinished symphony-bushes of yesteryear. It's a sad and a good thing. I want, need, to make a living from this, and I've been privileged to work with Josh, who's taught me I can still be green, mad, inspired and basically a big old hippie whilst channelling some of that into saleable work. I flourish on his pergola. (!!!)

Re bastards: it's tough for me because I live in a world which is absurdly free of them. Damn, why is everybody so unhelpfully nice? I use this as a flimsy excuse for the unconvincing nature of my villains. But I'm kind of happy with the way things are :-D

Josh Lanyon said...

WHERE THE HECK DO YOU FIND THESE PICTURES? As usual I'm laffing too hard at the pictures to even concentrate. Did we sound smart? Even a little? Maybe?

Josh Lanyon said...

Really? You have to do that? Shit. What if you give them credit in the "dedication" section.

This. Right here. This is why I love this woman.


Josh Lanyon said...

Definitely no one method for everyone.

There is one rule and one rule only.

Get the ***(*&^%$#@ing rough draft DOWN. It doesn't matter how. Just get it down on paper. On the cyber facsimile.

Josh Lanyon said...

Lots of--UR DOIN IT RONG thinking.

Here's the part U R Doin Rong.


That's the only thing you've done wrong that I know of. And it was SO wrong. It makes me fear for your sanity.

harperfox777 said...

Hummus is wrong?!

Josh Lanyon said...

Hummus is wrong?!

When you're in bed sick with what you fear may be stomach flu? Yes, I fear hummus is not the wise choice. :-D

Our Sweetbea is nothing if not brave.

Chris said...

LB: Now I know why I luff you - I'm really, really non-linear, too. :)

Jason said...

you guys should have a sitcom. :)


Tracy said...

Funny. Just,really funny. You all are great together. You're like Abbott and Costello only there are 3 of you. heh.

I hate it when the sweet and sour gets all over my finest work.
Me too. Although it works well if you want to rid of a lovely yet painful pair of shoes that you just don't want to wear any longer. I know - non sequitur alert- so sue me. :)

harperfox777 said...

Ohhhhhhh. In that context, hummus is *very* wrong. But, as you say, a bold venture.

harperfox777 said...

Hi, Jase, Tracy - glad we amused. I might write the sitcom - *Abbot & Costello (Josh and Lisabea) Meet The (Cyber) Dummy (me - I hardly knew what a blog was until I fell into their tender hands)*. Though I will try to think up a snappier title for it than that.

lbgregg said...

@Harper--No one would ever call you a dummy. You're new. You'll figure this all out in no time and everyone here will help.

**stern looks to everyone**

Everyone. Will. Help.

@former BF aka Josh Lanyon. Tra la. Thanks for sharing my shame. Man. That was sweet.

@Chris It explains a lot. I just want to know if you wear pig-tails too?

@Jase~Danke. :)

@Tracy I was thinking we were dashing! Like the Three Musketeers! No?

@Tam My outline is...not useful today. Unless I fold it into a paper airplane ... because I'm all about blazing new trails... and then wandering lost in the woods...without a compass.

Chris said...

LB: Not since I was about 6 years old...

Joanna Terrero said...

OMG! You guys are so funny!
Seriously, those are great rules, thanks.
I got a couple of people telling me I could use their experiences on my books, I explained that it wouldn't fit what I write. Funny case ever, my evil ex, when he heard I was writing again, he was sure it was about him/us. I simply said, oh, no, the book would never sell if I do that, it would be too boring...If only he knew.

Jessica Freely said...

"Sometimes I switch to the next project where I know what's going on."

LOL Josh! That just about sums up my process. Thanks for boiling that down for me.

harperfox777 said...

Hi, Joanna! I like your very tactful "it wouldn't fit what I write" approach. But I *love* your response to Evil Ex. I might store that one up for someone really special! It's kind of... reassuring and utterly crushing at the same time :-D

Joanna Terrero said...

Harper, feel free to use it.

Josh Lanyon said...

"Sometimes I switch to the next project where I know what's going on."

LOL Josh! That just about sums up my process. Thanks for boiling that down for me.

Hey there, Jessica.

On the plus side, maybe it contributes to finishing so many projects quickly. *g*

Josh Lanyon said...

Joanna, if I had a dollar for how many times someone has said to me, "you should write me life," I wouldn't need to write anything! I'd be rich off those dollars.

Ideas are the easy part.

Josh Lanyon said...

Okay, well I think a very good clue/hint/reveal would be if someone is saying what a great rule something is, it's safe to assume that person didn't write the rule.

Coz although all writers are ego-maniacs, we have GOOD MANNERS mostly. *g*

Joanna Terrero said...

Josh, I agree, ideas come easy the challenge is the execution.

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