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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Word Count - Zero

If you've been following my blog for a while, you know I've spent the last several months trying to pare down a 150,000 word masterpiece to a more acceptable/marketable 90,000-100,000 words, while re-writing the POV to remove all instances of the dreaded "omni" (which was pretty much every scene).  Well, there's editing and there's hacking and somewhere along the way I crossed the line.  So after a very good (if painful) critique and a lot of soul searching, I've decided to start over. 

In many ways, this is a good thing.  I've made some structural changes I think will improve the story.  I've stripped out a couple story lines and characters (saved for another time and place) which will make keeping the word count in line much easier.  And I think the POV will be a lot cleaner if I'm not trying to force the changes into already written scenes. Plus, I have the advantage of all the great tips and advice I've been picking up from everyone's blogs for the past six months.

Of course, it hurts a bit, too.  To go from working on your query letter to having nothing to query about is hard. It's discouraging.  It stinks.

But it's not the hardest part.  It's that Word Count.  Starting at zero.  I've got all my ideas in place.  I know my characters.  I know where they're going and where they'll be at the end (if not exactly how they're going to get there).  I've made bunches of notes. And I've opened up that brand new document - word count zero. 

And I've closed it again.

I guess I've been working on this puppy for so long I can't get past that blank screen.  It's just not happening.

Can you help me out here?  I think I need a nice blogger friends kick in the butt to get me started.  Brother (Sister), can you spare a boot?

My current word count: 0

I'm currently enjoying: Lion in the Valley by Elizabeth Peters

Groaner of the Day: It seems that an elephant got too close to all the baby ducks the circus had brought in for Easter, and accidentally inhaled a bunch of them. The poor elephant was choking on them and no one could help. (Ever tried doing the Heimlich on a pachyderm?) Finally the trainer goosed him -- and the elephant blew out a whole trunk full of downy feathers.

Yep! That's what he gets for snorting quack.


Stacy McKitrick said...

Here's a kick from me!

If I can get over 6000 words written in a week working FULL TIME, you can get at least 250 words a day being RETIRED.

250 words should be easy for you. I mean, you used to have 150,000 of them!

Now, get to work!

Mason Canyon said...

I'm not a writer so I'm not much help. But it sounds like you just need to step back for a day or two and then go again. A part of you is still thinking about what you've lost and not what wonderful new adventure you're able to embark on. With a little time, you'll be typing like crazy. Good luck.

Thoughts in Progress

Robert Guthrie said...

I know you asked for a kick... But here's what works for me. Go get a coffee or tea, sit, breathe, don't think about your WIP (which, have faith, will soon be in process).

Clean breaks do wonders for me. You know yourself. A day, a week, a month? What works best for you? How will you get back to writing refreshed rather than frustrated.

You'll get there. Many of us writers need to remember to be good to ourselves.

Dru said...

When I'm at a standstill, I put the work away and think of something to do to clear my mind. The next thing you'll know is your story is knocking in your brain to get out. Go for it!

Love the groaner.

Liz Fichera said...

Linda, if it makes you feel any better, I rewrote my book that's being published in July 3 times before it sold. Third time's the charm?!

I agree with Dru. When you're at a standstill, work on something else. Sometimes it's good to work on two books at once.

Anonymous said...

Just get that pot o' coffee brewing. That's all I need to get kick started in the morning. Or you can change pace and do something crazy you've never done before (just don't get caught). This helps me too.

Maria Zannini said...

You know that book you read, True Believers? Other than the original characters, the plot has nothing to do with the first story.

I started from nuttin, and rebuilt it.

Like you, the first few days were daunting. What changed for me is when I wrote an entirely new hook. It kick started me in the direction I would eventually follow. About the only thing I saved from the original was the love scene at his bath.

I also used an outline. As soon as I knew what each chapter was going to be about, I dove in.

Without realizing it, you already listed the positives. You KNOW your characters and your direction.

Even if you don't outline, humor me, and write 3 sentences describing what happens in each of the first 3 chapters. Now, write those chapters and only those chapters.

I'm willing to bet it will get your restarted.

MengleOh67 said...

Well my response is probably going to be a lot different than everyone else's because I am what is widely known as a pantser. I don't plan, plot, outline, or storyboard.

So what I am going to tell you to do is take a cup of tea or coffee or whatever you drink and go sit somehwere where you're relaxed and not distracted by what needs to be done. Take a notebook with you and have a conversation with you main character. How have they been? What's been going on? What are they working on at the moment.

A nice long chat like you'd have with an old friend. Talk about what happened in the manuscript you ditched and ask your characters where to begin. I can almost guarantee that once you fill your mind with those characters and their story you will find the words you've been searching for.

Linda Leszczuk said...

Stacy - I think that's my problem. I'm still in mourning for the loss of my 150,000 old friends.

Linda Leszczuk said...

Mason - Yeah, it's a mind set issue. Thanks for the good wish.

Linda Leszczuk said...

Robert - Breaks are good but I sure don't want this one to run on too long.

Linda Leszczuk said...

Dru - Okay, I can almost hear it knocking.

And I can always count on you to appreciate the groaner. This one tickled me. (Oh no - another pun!)

Linda Leszczuk said...

Liz - Well, this one is on it's third life so maybe third time's the charm.

Linda Leszczuk said...

Stephen - Coffee? Blech. I'm a tea drinker. But doing something crazy...hmmm. Possibilities there.

Linda Leszczuk said...

Maria - I have a timeline but without chapters. Okay, I'll attack it from a chapter side. (Always want to humor a woman with big dogs.)

Linda Leszczuk said...

MB - Never been a pantser but I'll try that conversation.

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

Like a few others have said here, I put the manuscript away. Out of sight isn’t necessarily out of mind, because when I least expect it an idea will jump into my head and give me something to run with. Good luck.

Linda Leszczuk said...

Jane - Well, it appears I've gone the opposite direction. I just signed up for a challenge through the Guppies Chapter of Sisters in Crime. 30,000 words in the month of February. Time to see how well I write under pressure. Wish me luck.

Kristen Torres-Toro said...

Sometimes, when I'm making a list, I write "make this list" at the top so I can scratch it off as soon as I finish. Sometimes I have to type goobledygook just to give me a few words up on the count. :0)

VR Barkowski said...

I've been stalled myself, so I've no right to wield the boot. A warning: the Chocolate Challenge may not sound all that brutal, but it can be daunting. Prepare yourself.

PS: I love Amalia Peabody. Isn't she's great?

MaryC said...

Do you think this is the pressure of having retired and so now this is serious?

I know I get far less written when I have no responsibilities and seeming endless stretches of time. If I know I'm fighting for half an hour to write, I'm much more disciplined.

Good luck to you.

N. R. Williams said...

Hi Linda,
Love the groaner as always.

I recommend you put your ms aside for awhile and work on something new. I know that is frustrating, but a new project, either a short story, novella or novel will keep you writing and we all need that. I once had to take a 3 book story and turn it into one book...ugh.

You are the winner of one of my e-books, "The Treasures of Carmelidrium." I will be emailing you soon.
N. R. Williams, fantasy author

Linda Leszczuk said...

Kristen - I've done that with lists, too. Or I'll add something I've already done so I can check off immediately. I know I'm only kidding myself but sometimes it works.

Linda Leszczuk said...

MaryC - I think it was more blank page syndrome than too much time, although I'm sure that plays into it. But I think I'm okay now.

Linda Leszczuk said...

VR - Ah, you know the chocolate challenge. I know it will be tough but I had to do something to kickstart myself.

Yes, Amelia Peabody is a hoot. I love those books.

Linda Leszczuk said...

Nancy - That's funny - you have to take a 3 book story nad turn it into one book and I'm getting ready to take one book and turn it into two.

Got your e-mail on winning "The Treasures of Carmelidrium." Delighted!