Images and Artwork, Research

The Charms of Cartography

I love maps. I don’t know why, but cartography fascinates me. I find maps so beautiful. I particularly love historical maps — either maps that are, themselves, old, or just maps of earlier versions of our world. I’ve got a delightful book of maps of the Middle Ages, which shows changes to all of the inhabited continents from the 7th through 15th centuries. This year, I’ve even got a calendar of historical maps (June’s feature is a 1647 map of Iceland). The Game of Thrones opening credits utterly delight me. My favorite part of playing Civilization is typically exploring the map, figuring out where all the other civs are, locating the resources, and figuring out the best trade routes. In the fifth grade, when we were instructed to invent a state and make a map of it, I got marked down a few points for going utterly overboard and filling in damn near every available space on the poor little salt-dough construction with some item of interest.

I mention all of this because, when you’re writing a fantasy historical epic, having maps is rather crucial to keeping one’s head in place and places in one’s head.

I was bemoaning to my gentleman the difficulty in finding a decent map of late Republic Rome that I could mark up for my own purposes. Pretty well everything available is from much later on — Hadrian-era, sometimes, but often even later, 4th century. It makes sense — the archaeology is more reliable from that period, since things got knocked down and built on top of each other. But, though my story is an AU, it’s an AU based on the mid-first-century BCE, so using a map from so many centuries later would be an awful lot for me to have to un-see and work around, to recover what the city would’ve been like before all those baths and basilicas and palaces that the emperors built.

So, my gentleman asked me if there were any maps close to what I did like, and yes — my favorites have always been those in Colleen McCullough’s Masters of Rome series. Those books are meticulously researched, and even though the maps have some question marks on them (This was the… Temple of Feronia? Or Juno Curitis? Pompey’s house was… probably here?), when it comes to the overall shape of the city, they’re wonderfully detailed. The books also include a map of the *whole* city, not just the famous bit around the Forum.

They’re also, y’know, only the size of a trade paperback page, so while a good reference, it’s not something I can really scribble on to add in the things I need. I want to keep track of who’s on which hill, how far between them, who can oversee the river from their house and who’s got a view of the aqueduct. I added or moved some temples, but — damn, where did I put them? I’d made my own map of the entire Mediterranean with the provinces , but the minutiae of the city itself was just too overwhelming a project to consider starting from scratch.

So, hearing this lament, what did my beau do? Scanned those pages in and had them printed up as full-size posters!


I’m so thoroughly delighted and grateful that he went to the time and effort! Now I’ve got a Wall of Rome to draw my Aven all over! (It’s underneath the map of Roman Spain given to me by my BFF last Christmas). Twelve square feet of fun.

I won’t start marking it up properly til I’ve finished this round of revisions, but I’ve begun by plotting out the epicenter of the story:



Attention to Detail, or, Cass is an obsessive freak

So I’m almost done with this round of revisions. I’m at the point where I’m doing the penultimate read-through, which will hopefully make sure I catch any continuity errors created by my changes thus far and that I fill in any major omissions from the points raised by the editorial letter. Then the final read-through before sending things back to Sarah will be on hard copy, which is the best way for me to catch the tiny typo-like things. (Or places where I “pull a Cass” — leaving a sentence unfinished because I got distracted partway through writing it).

This round has involved a lot of filling in the edges of my worldbuilding. Sarah had a lot of questions about the world of Aven, about the political and religious systems, the economy, social classes, etc. The social history, really, the demographics and dynamics at play. These are things that I have swirling about in my head when I’m writing, but I hadn’t really pinned them down in specifics yet — because I hadn’t had to in the same way I’d had to be specific about, say, geography. It’s the sort of stuff I love — and the sort of stuff I actually sort of fear writing down, because too much of it can turn an otherwise sensible chapter into an encyclopedia entry. (I say this as someone who read the encyclopedia for fun as a child, so it doesn’t always occur to me that other people might not find that sort of chapter interesting. It’s something I have to check myself on — or be checked on by others).

But sometimes I just plain need that encyclopedia entry, at least for my own head. In order to find the places where I can drop a casual reference, hint at a larger world, I need to take it out of the blurry background noise of my brain and shape it into something concrete. And frequently, I find I need to do that sort of brainstorming by hand.

Thing is, once I get started, it’s a little hard to stop. Sometimes, that means I end up with notebooks stuffed with lists and diagrams. Sometimes, it means I end up with a 13X300 spreadsheet detailing every single magically-gifted citizen of a fictional incarnation of the city of Rome.

Just, y’know. Hypothetically.

So, as a quick update and a teaser, I thought I’d share what a few of those world-building documents have looked like over the past couple of weeks. Plus, a chance for y’all to see just how bad my handwriting is.


#AmEditing – Some more!

I am thoroughly delighted to have a second editorial letter in my hot little hands, chock-full of things for me to attack in the manuscript.

No, I really mean that. This letter is fantastic. The first one was great, but much more open-ended. Sarah and I were still getting to know each other, and she didn’t yet know what my style of taking notes is. This time, a lot of the notes are a lot more specific – but without being directorial. I have a lot of suggestions, a lot of either-ors, a lot of open possibilities. As soon as I read the letter through, I was excited to dive back into the manuscript.

See, the last time, I had to spend about a month just re-familiarizing myself with the story. I’d not looked at it while we were on sub, and things got fuzzy. Yes, even with something I’d spent so much time with — in some ways, that was the problem. This thing’s been through a lot of drafts and revisions, so some of the trouble was remembering, “Huh. Did that scene stay or did it go?” Or even just, “When does that happen? Before or after that other thing?”

This time, though, it’s only been a couple of weeks since I finished the edits. And I didn’t put it fully away in that time — I’ve been brainstorming titles, starting to adjust my outline for Book 2, continuing to mull over characters and plotlines, all of which means that I’ve still had my head in the story. So when I have specific notes — bring X out in this character, address Y in the worldbuilding — I have a much stronger and immediate sense of where to go to attack them.

How do I keep track of all of that? Well, here’s a screenshot — with pertinent narrative blurred out — of what Scrivener looks like for me right now.

2016-01-31 (1)

This is another big hurrah for Scrivener — it makes keeping all of this straight so easy. So what you’ve got on the right hand side are the editorial notes. The bits I’ve highlighted in green are the specific points of attack — more the nitty-gritty than the big picture of Sarah’s thoughts. The orange highlighted bits, also in all caps, are my notes to myself. A lot of them say things like, “Yes, I should definitely find a place for that.” Others are more specific ideas triggered by Sarah’s suggestions — how to implement the spark she’s set.

So then I can move over to the left, to the binder and the corkboard, and I can start tagging different chapters and scenes with the different kinds of attention they need. I tend to attack one chunk of notes at a time — so, in this case, based on my notes, I’ll resolve as much related to my main protagonist, the lovely Vitellia Latona, as I can first, then I’ll move on to the secondary characters — her sisters, her father, the antagonists, and so forth. A lot of the world-building stuff can get folded in to that (because it should all be character- and story-based, not info-dumping), so I’ll be able to check some things off the list as I go, but then at the end, I’ll make more passes to see what I haven’t worked in yet.

I’ll also be taking some time to revisit my research and to consult my thaumaturgical adviser. Sarah’s brought up some considerations regarding law and society, and I need to re-immerse myself in some of the Roman reality before I can decide exactly how I’m twisting it for the Aventan AU. Then, my dearest friend has a nigh-unparalleled brain for magical matters, so when I hit a sticky point in defining the rules of my own system, I tend to bounce ideas back and forth with him until I can get it sorted out. Nothing in writing happens in isolation, and whether I get the assist from a book, a website, or a treasured friend’s voice, it all helps me to think about my world more critically and creatively.

I’ve set myself the goal of getting this set of revisions done by the start of March — not least because March and April get stupid-busy for me at the day job, and also because February, as a month, tends to depress me, so I’m looking forward to having this to energize me through grey and dreary days. It’s so exciting to have the opportunity to make this story stronger under thoughtful guidance!


From Moodling to Manuscript: The Revision Process

I’m starting 2016 off strong! I’ve just completed and sent off the first round of revisions under official DAW Editorial guidance (as opposed to Connor’s editorial-agent guidance). Those edits are the reason I haven’t been blogging here much through the fall — I could never quite justify to myself writing a blog post when I knew I needed to be working on the novel!

If you follow a lot of writers on social media, you’ve probably seen them discussing revisions, most of which tend to boil down to the following sentiment:


Personally, I actually enjoy revising, as I’ve discussed before. It’s like a puzzle. But it can be frustrating, in part because it’s sometimes harder to track progress. It’s often charted in hours, as word count alone doesn’t really matter. You can think of it in terms of pages or chapters revised, but then you get to a point where something you change at one point means a change to four other chapters, so now those go from “done” to “undone”… and that can make progress feel a bit murky.

So! I thought I might share a little light on the process. Of course every writer’s revision experience is going to be different, but this is what mine looked like:

  1. Phone call with The Editor: A giddy thing! Much like my first phone call with my agent Connor, much of this conversation was just about the book in general — what the things were that had appealed to her about it (like me and Connor, she has a background in classics!), the characters and the world, things she had questions about, things she’d like to see expanded or explicated a bit better. One of the big things we discussed was about narrowing down the focus a bit.
  2. Editorial letter: I’m convinced at least part of the purpose of the letter is that editors know debut authors are too giddy upon that first call to retain many details later on. Sarah’s letter to me touched on all the major topics we’d covered in the call (at least to the best of my dizzied recollection), but went into a lot more detail, particularly when it came to the character notes she wanted me to try and emphasize. Some things were smaller aspects of my major characters — fleshing out threats and desires, finding places where a single line or paragraph might add valuable information — and some were about larger things for smaller characters — giving motivation enough to make villains and supporting cast alike fully-realized humans in their own right. There were also notes on pacing, which actually spurred my largest edits.
  3. Re-read the manuscript: I actually hadn’t touched Aven in quite some time, since we were out on sub for ten months before it sold. I did the first read-through in PDF, so that I wouldn’t be tempted to start changing things as I went. I just needed to re-familiarize myself with the story as it stood! I’m so glad I took this time, because it reminded me just how much I love these characters — and how excited I am for other people to get to meet them.
  4. Re-read again, making margin notes: I moved back to Scrivener for this. The Inspector feature is brilliant for things like this. I used the notecard to summarize what was already there, and then the notes section to jot down ideas on what could be moved, added, deleted, or changed in order to get the editorial notes working for me.
  5. Moodle: “So you see, imagination needs moodling, – long, inefficient, happy idling, dawdling and puttering.” – Brenda Ueland. I subscribe to the profitability of moodling, bu it’s also a thing to be careful of, because I also subscribe to another quote: ““Planning to write is not writing. Thinking about writing is not writing. Talking about writing is not writing. Researching to write, outlining to write….none of this is writing. Writing is writing.” – Robert Jolles. I find car rides an ideal time for moodling. It’s not time I could spend doing much else besides being in my brain. I’ve found many plot points and turns of phrase while winding my way around Afton Mountain.
  6. Major changes: The front quarter of the book needed more reconstruction than the rest of it — rather like knocking down a wall to create an open-concept in one part of a house, but only needing to spruce up the paint and add a little new furniture in the rest. I tackled the biggest challenges first. This sometimes meant having to keep more than one editorial note in my head at a time, but it also meant that I wasn’t wasting time writing things that I would just end up undoing later on.
  7. More moodling: This was the stage, honestly, that took the most time. After I finished the main restructuring, I needed time to sort out a solid plan on how to attack the rest. I did a lot of opening up the Scrivener document, looking at scenes and the editorial letter side-by-side, and just thinking. Sometimes I would take a single note and scroll through, looking for ideal points to address it. Other times I’d wallow in a single chapter. I was, slowly, formulating a plan of attack.
  8. Going in deep: And once I’ve got that plan, I can work swiftly. I dove back in, armed both with my Inspector commentary and some handwritten notes, and worked through start-to-finish. Well, nearly start-to-finish. There’s still often a lot of back and forth as I need to work through consistency errors, avoid repetitions, etc.
  9. Final read-through in hard copy: I always do this before sending a full manuscript off for anyone else to read, to reduce potential embarrassments. It also helps me make sure I haven’t missed any opportunities to take a note — I had the print-out of the notes with me as I did this read-through. Mostly, though, these were down to line edits. There were only a few places where I wanted to add a line or a paragraph; the rest was adjusting typos and finding small inserts and deletions. My habit is to mark the corner of each page that I alter, to make it easier to go through during the next step…
  10. Assimilate changes into manuscript: Back to the Scrivener doc! Merging all of my handwritten line edits back into the main manuscript doesn’t actually take all that long, I found. This is also where I do a search-and-replace of some of my most pernicious filler words. (Everyone has them; mine are “rather” and “somewhat”).
  11. Send it off!: Export, create a separate document with the tracked changes (a bit of a trick in of itself when you’re coming out of Scrivener into a .docx, but I’ve figured out how to do it in Word 2013!), glancce to make sure no formatting’s gone wonky, and then — off it went, to Sarah and Connor!

So! That’s been my process since mid-September. And now… I wait! There’ll be much more to do, I’m sure, once Sarah’s had at the fresh meat. 😉


One yes at a time: in which our heroine becomes, officially, a novelist

And now, some words that I have been waiting to say since I was eleven years old:

I am going to be a published novelist.

I have a book deal.

the Deal

Actually, I have a three-book deal. Aven has been sold to DAW Books and will be appearing on shelves in 2017.

I cannot give enough thanks and praise to my agent Connor, who took a chance on this project two years ago, shepherded me through several rounds of edits, and spent pretty much all of 2015 pushing it on sub. It’s been wonderful working with him on every stage so far, and I can’t wait for the next phase. ❤

I’m also thrilled to be working now with Sarah Guan, my editor at DAW. My spare moments have already been filled with tackling the first round of notes she’s given me so that I can polish Aven up into a tighter, leaner, brighter-burning book.

It’s been a few weeks since I found out, and honestly, I’m still having trouble believing it sometimes — but seeing that notice from Publishers Marketplace sure helps! When I got the call from Connor, he had to repeat himself three times before my fuzzed brain was able to comprehend what he was saying. It’s true what they say about that call — for someone who’s dreamed of this and worked for this for so long, it’s a life-changing moment, but something so big and so hoped-for turns out to actually be a little hard to wrap your head around.

I also want to say this by way of encouragement to other writers: Aven started life in 2011 as a Nano project. It was a way of rededicating myself to fiction writing after grad school and the first year of my day job had taken me utterly away from it in favor of academic writing. But I pinned myself down and committed to the project. I wrote, I revised, I did that some more. When I thought I had something good, I took a chance and pitched to a couple of agents at a con in 2012 — and then realised I still had a lot of work to do. I revised for another five months. I spent 10 months querying before Connor took me on in October of 2013. And then I revised some more. And then we went on sub. And then we decided to revise some more. And then it went on sub again. We had some disappointments along the road, and I’d been — as readers of this blog will know — working on some other projects so that I’d have something else ready if Aven had to go on the shelf. I’d been preparing myself for that; I had resigned myself to the probability, so I can quite honestly say that this success came when I absolutely least expected it.

My point in this is: Yeah, it’s easy to get discouraged when you see how easy success seems for other writers. Of course, it never is, for anyone, but it can certainly look like that on social media — the writer who gets an offer from the first agent they query, the project that gets snapped up by a major publisher after being on sub for a week. When you’re in whatever trenches you’re in — drafting, revising, querying, subbing — it can seem impossible that you’ll ever get to share in that joy that others are celebrating.

But all it takes is one “yes”. Well. One yes at a time. A series of one yeses. One agent to say yes. One editor to say yes to the agent. One publisher to say yes to their editor.

The most important one, though? Is the very first yes — when you decide you’ve got a story to tell and dedicate yourself to telling it.

Bits of Fun

Personality Theory and Character Development

I unabashedly love personality quizzes. Always have. From my earliest interactions with the internet, back on AOL, to flooding my LiveJournal with results from Quizilla, to newer iterations on Facebook, I just plain delight in them. It doesn’t much matter how ridiculous they are. I will cheerfully find out what flavor of ice cream I am, what city I should live in, or, as tonight, what character from Practical Magic I am (Maria Owens, as it turns out).

I’ve always had a particular soft spot for the somewhat more scientifically- and psychologically-sound tests, though (though with the admission that they’re not necessarily any more potent than one’s horoscope). Personality theory fascinates me — which is a good thing for a writer. My awareness of the patterns that people tend to fall into helps me to create a variety of characters and informs how they engage with each other. Whether Myers-Briggs or the Big Five, Enneagram or the humours of Hippocrates, I eat it all up and enjoy applying it to my work. Even the classical zodiac can be a way of examining twelve basic personality types and how they interact with each other. These are great tools to keep in mind as I’m writing. That isn’t to say that I sit down and build characters to fit the templates that personality theory provides — which, I suspect, would result in wooden and unnatural characters — but I’ll step back and analyze them later, and sometimes that opens up new avenues. I won’t specifically create a character to be a Capricorn, for instance, but figuring out that he is can give me something to fall back on when I’m deciding how to have him react to a given situation — or when he’s interacting with another character I’ve realized is, say, an Aries.

This week, my brain’s been on Myers-Briggs, as a flurry of test results started popping up all over Facebook and, in lovely synchronicity, I saw a blog post on INTJs as the type most often mishandled by writers. It got me thinking about that particular personality theory as it applies to my current cast of characters.

The two leading characters of Aven, Vitellia Latona and Sempronius Tarren, are an ENFP and ENTJ, respectively. I hadn’t really thought of them in those terms until this week, but it does give me a new angle on how they interact with each other: they are both comfortable in public, but in different ways. They both have strong intuition, particularly when it comes to other people — but what they do with that information differs. As an NT, Sempronius finds ways to work it to his political advantage, while NF Latona wants to use it to bolster people in themselves. Latona’s emotions can sometimes overwhelm her, while Sempronius isn’t always as willing to indulge his. Latona can coax what she wants out of others; Sempronius is more likely to drive them — to his goal or off a cliff, whichever proves easier.

The quiz on this site isn’t terribly in-depth, but I quite like how they phrase some of their results. For ENTJ:

If there’s anything ENTJs love, it’s a good challenge, big or small, and they firmly believe that given enough time and resources, they can achieve any goal. … This determination is often a self-fulfilling prophecy, as ENTJs push their goals through with sheer willpower where others might give up and move on, and their Extroverted (E) nature means they are likely to push everyone else right along with them, achieving spectacular results in the process.

Sempronius to a T (for Thinking!), really. As for ENFPs…

More than just sociable people-pleasers, ENFPs are shaped by their Intuitive (N) quality, allowing them to read between the lines with curiosity and energy. They tend to see life as a big, complex puzzle where everything is connected. If they’ve found a cause that sparks their imagination, ENFPs will bring an energy that oftentimes thrusts them into the spotlight… ENFPs will spend a lot of time exploring social relationships, feelings and ideas before they find something that really rings true. But when they finally do find their place in the world, their imagination, empathy and courage are likely to produce incredible results.

Not just Latona’s personality, but a lot of her personal challenge.

I haven’t given as much thought to some of the other characters, but it’s easy enough to suss it out. Latona’s sister Aula is probably an ESFP — a lot like Latona, warm and outgoing, but more practical than dreamy, keenly observant but easily bored. Aula worries less than Latona, living more in the moment and taking joy wherever she can find it. She isn’t always as tactful as she might be, though, and can be overly self-indulgent.

Sempronius’s sister Vibia, meanwhile, is an ISTJ — principled, sharp-witted, and responsible, but a bit reserved, less gregarious, and often perceived by our dear FP types as prickly and stiff. It also makes her the precise inverse of Latona. I was pretty giddy when I realized that. Knowing that Vibia and Latona are stark opposites in the way they process information and interact in the world will help me to further develop their dynamic moving forward. There’s a lot of potential for friction, since they’re so different — but also a lot of opportunity for them to balance each other out in beneficial ways. I already knew what I’m going to need them to do, but this insight gives me a little more how.

So — What’s your Myers-Briggs type? This site has a fairly standard test, if you don’t already know. (I’m an ENFP, like my dear Latona, though occasionally a test will put me on the J side of things instead). Do you use MBTI or other personality theory when writing?

Bits of Fun, Images and Artwork

Word Cloud for the Current Draft



The Things You Must Not Do (Or: You Can’t Please Everyone, So You Got to Please Yourself)

I generally don’t mind editing. In fact I often quite like the challenge of it, but there are times when revisions can make me a little panicky. And it gets worse if, in the process of scrolling through Tumblr and Twitter, it suddenly feels like I’m seeing an inundation of posts and articles titled things like, “10 Things a Writer Should Never Ever Do” or “How to Write a Marketable Book” or “Common Mistakes That Will Torpedo Your Chances”. They seem to crop up so much more when I’m revising than the rest of the time, as though the gods of the dashboard know when I’m most vulnerable to their whisperings.SomersetMaugham

It’s the don’ts, more than the musts, that tend to burrow into my head and make themselves parasitic little nests there — perhaps because it seems so hard to guarantee success, yet tremendously simple to guarantee failure. So when I read these things, I can find myself in a horrible, self-loathing twist.

Because I did the thing. I used an adverb. Or a thought-verb. Or I used said too many times. Or I used an emotive synonym instead of said. I glossed over some point of backstory rather than showing a character feeling it viscerally. I used too many words. I didn’t use enough words. (Just kidding, that last one is almost never my problem). And if I did the thing, doesn’t it mean I’m not good enough? That I still have too much left to learn, and not enough time in which to learn it? That my manuscript is too deeply flawed for any publisher to consider?

And then I remember:

Every good writer, every writer I admire, has Done The Thing at some point in time. Whatever the Thing is that they Must Not Do, they’ve done it. Maybe it got caught and expunged in editing. Maybe it didn’t. Certainly there are plenty of books in print, bestsellers, even, that contain at least a few instances of Things You Must Not Do. Sometimes done well and to a pointed purpose, but sometimes just… there.

All writers have tics, too. Everyone’s got something they ought to CTRL+F for — favorite vocabulary words, an over-reliance on prepositional phrases or helping verbs, descriptive habits. Some of my worst ones are harder to catch because they tend to be rhetorical, not vocabulary-based. But if you’re aware of it, you can hunt it down, and hopefully you’ve also got a good support team to help you when you’ve missed them. Whatever the flaws my writing might have, they are neither unique nor unforgivable, and I have an agent who believes in my manuscript and that I have the skills it’ll take for success.

And — writers get better throughout their careers. I can look at all of my favorite authors and know that that’s true. Pratchett, Gaiman, Rowling, Quinn, Carriger, Lackey, Valente, P&C — I can compare early work to late and see how they change. Hell, there are ways in which Stone of Your Choice and Deathly Hallows barely feel like they were written by the same author, Rowling grew so much over those years. I think there’s a scary mindset these days that, if you’re not perfect out of the gate, you’re absolutely screwed. The industry sort of encourages that sort of thinking, because, while publishing has long been a commercial and thus competitive enterprise, it seems to have intensified in that regard in the past decade or so. Be 100% captivating, amazing, and flawless, or you will never get a second chance.

It isn’t about following every rule — not least because a number of them contradict. Like the Pirate Code, they’re more like guidelines. Be aware of them. Follow them when you can. Break them when you must. My job isn’t to please everyone on the internet, nor to adhere to every arbitrary rule they set down. My job is to tell the best story I can in the best way I can.

That is what I have to remember.


Once more unto the revisions…

Time to re-attack the manuscript, armed with a shiny new outline and a compressed timeframe. The goal this go-around is to heighten the danger and sense of threat that the characters are in and to give the plot more driving energy. To that end, I’m changing the end goal a bit to something more… obvious? I’m not sure that’s the right way to put it, but it’s a simpler mark to hit. Less esoteric. Less ambiguous. And doing that is allowing me to streamline the challenges the characters will face along the way.

The first thing I’ve done is just to hack out the chapters that are quite clearly not going to survive into the next incarnation of the manuscript. Most of these are things rendered irrelevant or redundant by the changes I’ve made to the outline, or because I’ve compressed the timeframe from about 16 months into about 6.

books089 (wyns_icons)Starting Word Count: 139,808 (admittedly on the chunky side, though not truly egregious considering the genre)

Word Count after the Cut: 110,065

Nearly 30k gone in a mere half an hour’s work! There will be more to cut out, of course — this was just the blunt amputation of entire chapters. Next I’ll be going in with a scalpel to trim out partial chapters and smaller moments that won’t work now and to adjust all the continuity issues. But, there will also be quite a bit of new material to add in. So we’ll see where the new draft ends up, numbers-wise. If it’s a bit more slender than the last draft, that certainly wouldn’t be the worst thing.

I am going to have to have a few of what Connor and I are calling “Come to Proserpina” moments about some bits of the plot and some scenes that I really love. During the amputation process, I definitely saw smaller things that’re going to have to go. I just have to remember — taking it out of this draft doesn’t mean it’s gone forever. If I have to get rid of a conversation I really love, I can still find a way to put in something elsewhere that gets at the same emotions and the same connections between characters. If I have to kill off a set piece that’s fun but not really plot-advancing, maybe I can bring it back in another books. I’ve never liked the phrase “kill your darlings” — that’s always seemed rather melodramatic and self-important, and though I know we writers, as a breed, are prone to such things (myself not least among them — I’m an actress, too, after all), it’s never just seemed accurate. It’s not killing them. It’s more like putting toys back on the shelf that I don’t need right now — but they’ll be there, waiting for me, later, to be used or re-shaped or re-imagined.

Images and Artwork

New Draft, New Word Cloud