I write stuff for kids...and muse on writing, children's books, and the publishing industry in general

Monday, June 27, 2011

Finding your writing niche

Finding my writing niche has been an important step in my writing journey, and it’s taken me a number of years and “drawered” manuscripts to do so. Important, because I’ve found I need a niche of my own to focus on and learn all its intricacies, in order for me to become a better writer.

It may change in the future, of course, but for the moment I can’t imagine writing anything other than Young Adult fiction. It feels funny to reason out and explain something I just know instinctively to be the case. But I thought I would give it a go.

I love writing in the teen voice, which is a very different way of viewing the world. I have more success creating 3D characters who are teens rather than adults. In addition, my writing voice (see here for my post on writing voice vs character voice) comes naturally in first person – for me, third person comes out wrong when I write it, too stilted and with no feeling. Nathan Bransford has just written a post on first vs third person if you want to check it out here. And (except when my verbosity gets the better of me) I have a “short and sharp” sentence style, according to my CPs. Both of which lend themselves to YA.

In terms of genre, Horror works best for me. I love to delve into the inner workings of the mind and of human nature, and because of that my stories tend to come out “darker” than usual. I also love writing paranormal elements, the scarier the better. Light and fluffy my fiction ain’t.

Thus, YA Horror.

How about you: Do you think it’s important to have a writing niche? Have you found yours or are you still experimenting? Do you cross over into different genres, and between adult/children’s fiction? Do you think your writing niche will change in the future, and if so, what might make it change?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Are you a tortoise or a hare in your writing (or a strange hybrid of both)?

I've realized lately that I may be a hybrid of a tortoise and a hare when it comes to my writing. I'm not sure what it should be called though: a hortoise? a tortare? (though they both have a certain ring to them, *grins*).

Anyway, before I get distracted with names, and thoughts of what a tortare would look like...

I wrote my current WIP, FROM THE OTHER SIDE, in less than 3 months, and probably closer to 2. I pantsed the whole thing, I must admit, something I doubt I'll ever do again. But the words flew off my fingers onto the computer, the characters came to life before my eyes, and my plotline sprang into shape with remarkable ease (even if it did require some heavy shears/clippers/cutting implements/dynamite to prune it afterward).

I was a hare, and proud of it, and I didn't stop once until I'd crossed the finish line. I didn't even stop to rest under that nice shady tree along the way.

Then came revisions!

And I became a tortoise.


I've been plodding along in revision hell joy for 9 months now (and I won't draw any comparison to the pregnancy thing *grins*). Not a particularly long time in the scheme of things, but it feels long to me after such a quick first draft turnaround. Especially when I see others (including certain awesome CPs who shall remain nameless) who seem to whiz through writing AND revisions, with a speed and efficiency that leaves me amazed.

I've been thinking through the reasons why my revisions are taking me so long:
  • as mentioned above, I pantsed rather than plotted with FTOS, so I've spent a lot of time fixing things, getting the structure of the manuscript right, tweaking the plotline, getting to know the characters, and making sure I'm happy with the way the story reads
  • I have a limited number of hours during the day to write/revise, and those hours are eaten into by things like critiquing for my CPs, my Crusades, blogging, reading, and all the "daily life" stuff
  • I'm a perfectionist, and I want my manuscript to be the best it can be before I query (there are different schools of thought on this, and I may well do a separate post on this soon)
  • I want to give myself my best shot at getting an agent by learning as much about writing as I can before I query
  • my health has been very bad the last few months, and unfortunately this has impacted on my revision time (and my time for anything else, for that matter)
  • simply, I don't want to rush
I'm not quite chafing at the bit--not yet--and I'm taking comfort from posts such as this one from Mary Kole, which gives great advice about being patient. And I am enjoying my revisions, believe it or not. With querying in sight for me, it's all good in the end. It does make me wonder about the tortare though, and how it is for all of you.

How about you: Are you a tortoise, a hare, or a tortare (or do you prefer hortoise)? What's your experience with revising your manuscript versus writing it. Do you like writing or revising best? What things impact on the time you spend writing/revising?

Friday, June 17, 2011

My one year blogiversary!!!

It's my one year blogiversary today, woot!!! I just wanted to say a huge thanks to everyone who's come with me on this awesome journey - you guys rock!

I can't wait to see what the next year will bring.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Do you take breaks when you're revising?

It's a long weekend where I live, and I've decided to take some time off my revisions. A huge step for me, as I've been working on the same document most days for what feels like forever now! And it's hardly taken that much arm-twisting from my critique partner either *grins*.

I guess that's made me wonder, how do you do it? Do you sit down for a solid chunk of time and finish all your revisions in one go? Do you have breaks between each revision-draft of your manuscript (and if so, for how long)? Does the whole revising process work better if you come back to a document fresh from some time at the beach/snow/wherever? Or does taking some time off actually break your train of thought, making it hard to get back into the manuscript when you start?

The same questions apply to drafting too, so drafters feel free to weigh-in :) I'm a huge fan of letting a first draft "rest" before you dive into revisions, but do you take breaks at other times as well?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Beta Match - Are you looking for a critique partner or a beta reader?

It can be hard (and I mean H.A.R.D) to find a critique partner or beta reader (and even harder to find a great one!). Some of you have found critique partners and beta readers through those you know in person, while others have found them in bloggers you met online, through online conferences such as WriteOnCon, through forums such as Verla Kay's Blueboards, Absolute Write, and in other ways. But time and again recently I’ve seen people commenting that they don’t know where to look. So I thought I’d help out (*grins*).

Today I'm running a Beta Match (and don't let the name fool you, it's for critique partners too!). If you’re interested, there are two options:
OPTION ONE: Put your details and what you’re looking for in the comments below, using the following template:
Name: (your name, pen name, or blogging handle)
Email: (your email address OR write "address with Rach" - this option is only if you don't share your email address online. If you want me to pass your email address on to anyone who is interested in becoming your CP or beta reader, you'll also need to send me an email to let me know)
My current WIP: (give a few details)
I'm looking for: (a critique partner or beta reader or both. Plus give info about the critiquing style/focus/etc that you want from a CP/beta reader, and whether you have work ready to be looked at now or are looking for a long-term partnership)
Some info about me: (anything you think a potential CP or beta reader will need to know)
OPTION TWO: Read through other comments in the post to see if someone who’ll suit your needs has commented. Then contact them directly. (If their comment says "address with Rach", email me to ask for their details - please include their original comment in your email so I can work out who you're talking about. If you've left a comment as well, please include that too)
Depending on interest, I might make Beta Match a regular feature of Rach Writes…, so let me know if it has been helpful for you.

Please note: Beta Match isn't only for those who have a piece of work ready to be critiqued right now. It's intended to be a way for people to find critique partners who can help them with their writing/revisions/etc over the long-term. Even if you're after a beta reader, you can still connect with someone now and swap work at a later date :)

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