Dramaquill's All Things Writing

April 6, 2009

What I learned from writing my first Suspense Novel

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It’s taken a while to get what I believe is a solid, polished suspense novel.  I’ve revised, rewritten and reviewed.  I’ve read and re-read.  I’ve had a professional critique done by a published author in my genre.  And I’ve sent my final revision through my long time, online critique group. 

I’ve even decided to try publishers first, instead of agents.  Why?  Well, that’s another post.

So what did I learn?

As I continue writing my second suspense novel, I cannot believe how much more critically I’m analyzing my writing.  My characters are stronger and I’m really enjoying finding new ways to make my readers want to turn the pages.  I’m seeing the big picture from the book and not just one chapter at a time. 

I don’t believe that my revision process on this second book will need to be as extensive as it was on my first book.  I’ve learned so much.  In fact, although I enjoyed writing the first book, I have to admit, it was a lot of work.  Now, I’m not saying the second book won’t be work, but my first draft of this book is already far ahead of my first book.  I’ve already eliminated much of the revising I had to do on the first book just by knowing more as I write this second manuscript.

What is the most important thing I’ve learned from this experience so far?

Never give up!

I’ve found my niche.  I love suspense.  I want to make my readers jump.  I want to hit my characters with obstacles and situations that cause them to really have to think.  And I have to admit, I love writing the villains. 

No writing you ever do, whether it’s published or not, is ever a waste.  Just keep writing and honing your craft and enjoying the journey along the way.

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June 3, 2008

Keeping yourself motivated on your revisions

Writing a first draft is an exciting adventure for me.  As I develop my characters and start to get to know them, I enjoy sending them into different situations and seeing how they react and respond.  I wait eagerly for them to push my plot into new areas and take me down new paths.  In fact, I even enjoy the research required to make my manuscript credible.

But we all know that the first draft is simply that.  It isn’t a polished manuscript, reading to submit to agents or editors.  (At least I hope we all know that!)

So, we send it through a critique group or writing partner and await feedback.  Again, an exciting time for me as I read comments and criticisms of my work, hoping to make the writing stronger and the book more saleable with each new batch of feedback.

Now comes the part of the process, and yes, I can hear some of you groaning, that I feel really takes the work:  Revisions.

When I first got my adult suspense novel back from Marilyn Henderson, with the 12 pages of single-spaced, typed critique, I cringed.  Could she seriously have this much to say about my masterpiece?  But as I read through her comments, one thing became clear.  Revising is necessary if I want a chance to get represented by an agent or publisher.

But with revision comes change – sometimes huge change. 

I took Marilyn’s advice to remove a character from my original draft.  This one revision sent a domino wave of changes through my entire manuscript, resulting in deleting complete chapters and totally rewriting others.  Sometimes it feels like I’m writing a whole new book.

Now, I’m submitting all my chapters to my online critique group, hoping to get enough feedback to make this final revision my best work possible.

But this project has dominated my writing life over the past two years.  There are times when I wonder if it’ll ever be polished enough to send out there.  And then, when it’s making the rounds, how long will it take before it gets noticed?  Or will it ever even get noticed?  When I think like this, it can become easy to just chalk the whole experience up to a exercise in the discipline of writing an entire novel and then move on to the new projects I’m anxious to begin.

So how do I stay motivated on continuing and finishing this final set of revisions?

* Knowing I have to submit to my critique group keeps me working on the
        revisions.

* When I get tired of revising, I research publishers and agents in my genre,
   which gets me excited to finish my manuscript.

* To help motivate me to workon the revisions, I keep a post-it on my
   computer that says, “How badly do you want it?”
 

* I re-read my book from the beginning and get excited about the story again.

* I read my favorite author, Mary Higgins Clark and picture one day being able
   to read a published copy of my own book.

* I talk about my project to friends who enjoy listening to the thoughts of a
   budding novelist, which gets me jazzed about my book all over again.
     

We’ve all heard it enough times:  Make sure you submit only your best writing.  Well, that’s what I intend to do.

Oh, and I forgot the most important way to get myself motivated to get back to my reivisions:  I blog about it!

Thanks for listening.  I’m off to re-write the next chapter.

 

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