Re-Vision Not Redraft

Lowry’s Books and More in Three Rivers Michigan is my favorite bookstore in the entire world. This is not because it is in my hometown, though that was convenient growing up, but because you can get lost in it. Imagine the wand shop in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets but with endless scores of books.Bookshelf 2

While there last weekend, I picked up a book by Isaac and Janet Asimov – How to Enjoy Writing: A Book of Aid and Comfort. The cover is atrociously outdated but the content rich and filling.

One porting discusses the thrill of the revision process. Isaac explained that while writing a letter on his word processor the word ‘revision’ (alteration, correction) was hyphened to the next line and became re-vision meaning, to see anew.

This part of the book has been cemented in my mind while I consider revising one of novels. Not simply to redraft and revise which sounds arduous and monotonous but to see it anew. I write for the thrill of the thing not to bore myself out of my mind.

I plan to use this approach on my next draft. Ask what ifs of each scene and each chapter. Take a different road for a bit and see where that takes my characters.

This stirs excitement. I suppose writing is all how you look at it, just like anything in life. On my next draft, I am going to look at my book anew and have fun playing with it and, in other words, take joy in the process.

How about you? How do you see your books anew during your editing process?



Become An Everydayer

I love hockey. Not just watching it on TV, but reading about it on obscure blogs, watching Youtube clips in the offseason, listening to sports talk radio, and rehashing stories with friends at work. It’s a passion and I’m an evangelist.

I don’t love it for the fighting, but the grit. When a player battles through a second degree separated shoulder, a broken foot, and a broken finger simultaneously, all for the logo on their sweater and the city they represent, I wonder, how do they do that? Of course they are paid millions of dollars for this, but wouldn’t you throw in the towel at that point? They’ll make their money whether they play or not.

This grit can be explained in a million ways but for those unfamiliar with this glorious game, one of the best and grammatically incorrect is “An Everydayer”. This is a term I hear all the time from the coach of the Detroit Red Wings, Mike Babcock.

What does it mean? That you show up every day and work hard. Whether you’re a professional banker or a professional toilet cleaner, you work hard in everything you do. Period. It’s a cemented mindset that does not change, but this is not from hard headedness, it’s fueled by passion.

I am a firm believer that everything in your life builds upon everything else. If you display patience at home with a troubled teen, chances are that will strengthen your patience for a work situation. If you work hard at work, you’ll have a better chance at working hard as a parent and so forth.

If you are stuck today in anything – your novel, your job, your website – know that those who succeed show up everyday.

They are Everydayers.

What are you?



Blog Battles Book

If you’re a writer and a blogger, this post is for you. If you’re a person and burned out all the time, keep reading too.

Last week, I wrote a blog post Monday through Thursday. Nothing to set the world on fire, but this was and was not a good thing.

The good thing? I was writing.

The not so good thing? I was not writing what I wanted to write – novels.

If you’ve been to a writers conference or talked to a publishing professional before you’ve heard that four letter word ‘platform’. Okay, not a four letter word but it should be. You may have had a conversation that went like this:

Professional – You must have a platform to be a successful writer.

You – Won’t that take all of my writing time? What about the book?

Professional – You need to do both.

You – Uh, I don’t have time.

Professional – Find time.

Not super practical, but true. Of course this is not easy. Half the time I walk around feeling like I am failing at two things simultaneously. You’ve got a family, and a job, and a life, right?

The imperative element to this is balance.

I felt better when I was able to write another chapter of my book. I dropped the post on Friday because I wanted to work on my book. I was burned out on my blog.

The best advice I can give to the blogging writer is to do what you can do. Do one blog post a week or do them Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Find a rhythm and do what works.

But keep writing your book.



5 Tips to Help You Write Killer Chapters During NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo is just around the corner. Are you ready? Are you prepared? If not, you’ve got some work to do. I’m here to help.

Last week I wrote a blog titled 5 Ways to Succeed at NaNoWriMo. Today I am going to lay out 5 things to help you writer killer chapters.

  1. Keep a list of everything included in each chapter close by. POV, characters, setting, weather, and plot points. I am sure there are other things to jot down, but do your best to remember everything so you don’t forget something really important down the line.
  1. Write a brief description of each chapter to help you understand why it is essential to your story. Before you begin writing, reread it. If you find some chapters that do not belong, eliminate them. Or, at least highlight these darlings so you know if they are worth the effort when you get to them.
  1. Intermingle subtle tension and in your face tension. Subtle tension is when your Navy Seal character winds up at the rendezvous and no one is there. What do they do next? In your face tension is the bullets that fly from enemy guns when your character is ambushed. Remember the subtle tension, this keeps your readers turning the page.
  1. Consider framing your chapters by word count. Why? It gives you a smaller goal to shoot for and helps you know when to close things down. Also, you can take a break halfway through and it will keep you healthy and sane.
  1. Make sure some of your chapters have an arc. There are certain sub-plots in novels that last a few chapters, but still encapsulate things important to the overarching plot. There are also episodes that are small one chapter arcs that give the reader a brief feeling of satisfaction or completion (usually right before you crush the character they love). Take a look at some of your favorite books. You’ll see what I mean.

In the end – good luck. I hope you are prepared. Eat well, sleep well, and have time negotiated with your schedule and/or significant other. Also, an army of friends ready to cheer you on would hurt either.





Planes, Neil Gaiman, and the Inca

I take immense pleasure in listening to author interviews and hearing about what inspires them. Occasionally, I take something significant from one of these creative soirees.

In an interview, Neil Gaiman suggested that Tolkien was able to write The Lord of the Rings because he read about Finnish philology. This might not make any sense at all, but it also might make sense absolutely. His writing was born out of what he loved to read and his reading lead him a lot of places. Of course he would invent languages, he studied them. He loved Nothernness and out of that love came Aragon and Elves and Rohan. He didn’t just read fantasy and rehash another fantasy story (I know I know he basically invented modern fantasy, but there was plenty out there).

Mr. Gaimans’ suggestion to would be authors is to read books about all sorts of things. Take a winding path through your local independent bookstore and visit genres and sections you haven’t before. You might be surprised by what you find.

While on a plane last week I read a book titled 1491 by Charles Mann, which Incahypothesizes what the Americas might have been like before Columbus bumped into them. Suddenly, without intention, all sorts of inspiration came to me.

What would it be like it one of the Inca people saw a plane? This might be a common thought, (traveling back in time to meet cavemen for example) but it might not have been as profound if I was not on an actual jetliner reading that particular book.

I’m not sure where this venture into other books and topics might take me, but it’s inspiring. I hope you don’t inbreed your writing or try to imitate an author you like but chase after what interests you. I am sure that out of this pursuit will come a book that is you. Not some cheap imitation.

Read something new today.






Do Things Differently

As a novelist I waver between the thrill of a new project and the arduous work of finishing the novel – blog – article – short story – etc. An idea strikes, I love it, test it, and it’s time to write it. But, soon, this new project becomes work and once that transition occurs, it can be very easy to give up.

If you find yourself in the blah mode about your current project there really is only one thing you can do (No, not quit, because you learn by finishing). You must change things up.

Write from 10pm to 4am.

Take a day off of work to write.

Go to a bookstore or library

Get up at 3 am and write

This could probably work for anything.

Feeling distant from your spouse? Send the kids to school, then both take the day off and spend some time together. Novels and stories are like this. They require time and dedication but also fun and spontaneity.

If you are struggling with your novel (or relationship), do something different. Write in a new place, get up at 6 am, write daily, and look for a new rhythm.













Another Week Another Chance

Ruts are life suckers. I like to avoid them. As much as you or I might try, inevitably, we wind up static, gears locked, in the mud.

For writers and entrepreneurs, even if we love whatever it is that we long to do, that extra gumption we need to perform can simply leave one day and be near impossible to get back. Have you ever wondered how you wound up so far off the track you intended to traverse?

But, this, my friends, this is what I love about a new week. Nothing has happened yet.

This week, we can choose to do anything.

We can choose to chase the things we love.

I hope you do that. Don’t waste this fertile ground.