I've been writing for twenty-five years. I started when an English-teacher friend suggested I write down the story that I thought about every night before I fell asleep. As a math teacher, I had no intention of writing a book, but I'd finished my first one, a medieval kind-of-fantasy-for-sure romance in only nine months, while working two jobs.
After that I started taking classes, joined writers' groups, reading writing craft books, attending conferences, found a couple of good critique groups…you know the drill.
As I (finally) finish the edits on my second book, I've been thinking a lot about my writing in the new decade—how it will change, what I can do to make it better. Here are my thoughts.
1. Learn more about and practice until I've got Deep POV in my Tool Box.
Lisa Hall-Wilson is a great resource for all things Deep POV. So is Margie Lawson. Here's what Deep POV is: The writer is in the head of the character, but is not writing in first person. Deep POV is for writers who prefer third person, but want to expose more of their characters' thoughts and emotions without distancing the reader.
Example from PRISM 2: Rebellion:
Before Deep POV revision: "Jericho lifted the cover off his plate. A portrait-perfect salad with artfully cut and placed vegetables. Too bad eating across from Gatfield ruined his appetite."
After revision: "Jericho skewered the salad with his fork. What he wanted to do with that fork would have landed him in jail for homicide."
Many people think Deep POV is about specific details. It can be, but remember that writing in Deep POV gives the reader information she can't otherwise see.
2. Pay more attention to what I've written immediately after I write it.
Laura Drake uses an Excel Worksheet for writing scene details after-the-fact. We're both pantsers. Outlining my book would take all the fun out of writing it, but I've spent way too long editing, and I see the value of being able to find at a glance where things happen, when characters are introduced, and look for the balance between plots and subplots and character time on the page.
I've spent hours searching for the name of a not-even-secondary character that ended up being more important and I couldn't remember his name seventy pages after his introduction.
3. Give myself enough time to edit...
Without cramping my time and potentially comprising the quality of my work.
As an eternal optimist, I always think I can finish whatever the task in less tie that it ultimately tasks me. Positive thinking only works so far. I have to put in the chair time, which I think I've finally figured out with this last revision.
4. Learn more about "layering in"...
Emotions, Deep POV, "inner life," backstory, character insights through multi-passes. (I'll need a class or a good book for this.)
5. Take at least one class a year...
That will challenge my ability and "level up" my writing.
In 2020 I'm planning on attending the Kauai Writers' 4-Day Masters Intensive. I'm sure there will be at least on new writing trend taught there.
6. Set small daily, or at least weekly, goals...
To keep my writing on track and my WIP progressing.
I'm not a goal-setter; I don't make New Year's Resolutions. But I have found that when I do strive for a reasonable word- or page-count, I'm more productive.
I know some writers have large wall poster with production calendars. I'm not to that point, but I need to hold myself accountable for showing up and writing on a schedule that works with my week's activities.
7. Write "tighter" in my first draft.
So far, my track record with word counts and finishing books, then revising them is, well, a failure. After three or four rounds of edits per book, I end up with a file of cut words which equals the size of the finished book. Yipes! How much more productive can I be if I don't spend that writing and cutting time?
That means sticking tightly to my characters' goals motivation, and conflict. No adding scenes that" enrich" what we know about the character, their backstory, their life. Only scenes that move the plot of the book forward belong on the page.
8. Figure out the hidden, sometimes from themselves, things that make my characters tick before I finish the book...
And have to edit in those very important details and cut the unimportant, though perhaps "quaint" beliefs that make them unique in their world.
(It happened again in this book. I was sure I knew what fired my female protagonist. Turns out, I discovered a deeply-held belief I hadn't known about before I got halfway through the final edit. Really? How could I not have known?)
9. Enjoy writing.
My process, sitting in the chair, listening to critique feedback and re-working—all of it, as I work. I do this because I love writing my stories and hope they will mean something to my readers. Why can't I enjoy myself?
How do you plan on growing your writing skill into the next decade?
Fae Rowen discovered the romance genre after years as a science fiction freak. Writing futuristics and medieval paranormals, she jokes that she can live anywhere but the present. As a mathematician, she knows life’s a lot more fun when you get to define your world and its rules.
P.R.I.S.M., Fae's debut book, a young adult science fiction romance story of survival, betrayal, resolve, deceit, and love is now available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Fae's second book in the series will be available for pre-order on Christmas, 2019.