Natasha Raulerson

Back To The Future – On Writer’s Block & Editing

Sometimes finding that next word or that next sentence isn’t so easy. This can happen 10k or 50k words into that work-in-progress. If you’re lucky, it never happens, but for the majority, there is always that moment that catches us. That makes it hard for fingers to brush over the keyboard in fluid movements. Instead, it’s jagged tap-a-taps before hitting the backspace key–and somewhere in between is usually the overwhelming urge to throw said keyboard out the window. Not that the sudden block is the keyboards fault, but let’s face it, keyboards probably get more abuse from writers than anyone else. Mine has so much wear and tear that the letters have worn off the keys, and honestly, I’m surprised I haven’t cracked the damn thing. The keyboard is the medium from which we transport our thoughts to the screen–and sometimes, we’re very, very mean to it when we can’t make the correlation.

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So, what can we do to not only keep the words flowing, but to maybe not beat up the poor, innocent, and too-often abused keyboard?

Well there are some tactics. Maybe pushing forward works for you. Writing crap upon crap until finally it gives way to the diamonds in the rough that make the story flow again. Most times those original craptastic words are deleted and rewritten later, but if that’s the method that works, then that’s the method that works.

I tend to be the person who stares and stares and stares and wonders why my fingers aren’t moving. Then I note twenty-minutes have passed and the most I’ve achieved is three words and being mesmerized by the cursor blinking on the page.

Realizing that this method is not helping me get any work done, I’ve opted to try something new.

GOING BACK TO THE FUTURE!

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So what does that mean in writer terms exactly? Well, I was listening to K.M. Weiland’s podcast and she mentioned that about every third of her manuscript she goes back and edits. She also mentioned that some authors get caught in a sort of loophole where they forever edit what they already have and never continue on. I used to be that writer, so going back to edit while writing makes me reluctant. I don’t want to fall in that loophole again.

However, when I can’t push forward, it makes me wonder if something has gone wrong in what I already wrote, or rather, in the past of my manuscript. How have I wound up struggling so hard to write that next line? Well, the only way to figure that out is to go to the past–or what I’ve already written in the world I’m working on. To read over what I already have and see if I need to change something, or, what’s more likely, I may have forgotten a detail that’s meant to push the plot forward. Weaving together a plot is pretty damn hard. So by going back and rereading what’s already there, details that are forgotten in the whirlwind of the rough draft pop back out, and things are remembered, thus I can change the future of my manuscript. Making notes in the sidebar (I have Scrivener) can definitely help the process of not over editing–something that may keep you stuck in the past.

Instead of adding the actual detail that may be needed to enhance a scene, jot a note down so when you’re going through your first round of revisions, you remember what you need to do. Sure, fix a misspelled word, or maybe add a bit of dialogue if it comes to you, but don’t DO all the actual editing–at least if you’re like me and will get caught in that forever-editing-loop instead of finishing the manuscript.

By reading through the past, new ideas pop to mind. New avenues to take, paths to carves, 10_21_15_alison_greatscottcharacters to enhance or create. You may get through one chapter or four before that “GREAT SCOTT!” moment hits and you’re jumping back to the future of your manuscript to work on that scene with renewed vigor–and a safely intact keyboard.

I’ve learned this method keeps my mind in the manuscript, makes the gears spin in regards to the what has happened as well as what needs to happen, and helps me come up with ideas of where to take it based on where I’ve already been–and just like Marty and Doc, sometimes I wind up finding a nugget that with a little tweaking, lets me change the future into something much better than I originally imagined.

At the very least, I’ve got some notes jotted for when I actually start the full editing process.

Give it a shot. If nothing else, your keyboard will thank you.

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Natasha Raulerson

New Twitter Chat! #DarkLitChat — Join us on June, 21st at 8pm EST!


What is #DarkLitChat?

#DarkLitChat is a monthly Twitter chat for writers, authors, or readers who appreciate dark fiction. Writers and authors at all stages are welcome, and encouraged to join in. Whether you’re plotting, procrastinating, or published, you’re welcome to join us!

When is #DarkLitChat?

Tuesday, June 21st at 8pm EST, on Twitter. (You can find us for subsequent chats every 3rd Tuesday of the month, at 8pm EST)

Why #DarkLitChat?

Writing dark fiction can be hard — and it can be lonely. Many times it’s difficult to find other writers who appreciate a good blood bath in a world filled with happily ever after. Network with other writers of Dark Fiction while we discuss the ups and downs of writing dark fiction.

Who’s hosting #DarkLitChat?

D.H. Poirier, (@PoirierPages) Young Adult Author of dark historical fantasy, and horror. And Elesha Teskey, (@e_teskey) Urban Fantasy Author, and Publicist for Pen And Kink Publishing.

What is Dark Lit?

Any genre or market covering darker topics. Thrillers, horror, suspense, urban fantasy, mysteries, etc. Dark Lit would include murder, crime, abuse, drugs — things of that nature. Dark Lit is subjective, if you think you write Dark Lit, chances are — you do.

How can I help?

Help us get the word out on your blog, and on twitter.

#DarkLitChat Future Chats

We’re looking for published authors open to doing Q&As for future chats. If you’re interested, tweet at @PoirierPages on Twitter, or DM.

Need a reminder for #DarkLitChat? You can sign up for an email reminder for the chat here.

Natasha Raulerson

It’s An Author Thing: Mood Swings

Writing a novel is not easy. It comes with many parts, layers, plot, characterization, pacing, and more. It can come naturally, or it can be frustrating as hell. The layers may fall into

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Sometimes we might get the urge to print part or all of the story just so we can destroy it. 

place, or they might decide that they don’t fit into this particular jigsaw puzzle and opt to be a pain in the ass. Authors not only have to deal with problems in real life, but with the problems in the world they’re creating. So, yes, from time to time we might lose our shit.

 

It’s an author thing.

There may be days where we’re smiling, whistling, giddy even, because we’ve managed to write 2,000 plus words to finish a scene. A scene that we absolutely love. We celebrate with coffee or wine, maybe add some chocolate in there. It could be on Friday, so we break out the booze early, because it’s five o’clock somewhere. We celebrate, because it’s an accomplishment.

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Cheers to the days when writing comes easy and the characters do exactly what they’re supposed to do. 

It’s an author thing.

Saturday rolls around and when you wake up, the first thing you notice is your possible hangover. Try not to celebrate too hard next time.

There’s another problem though. As your brain was relaxing from the copious amounts of alcohol, you realize that the scene you wrote, may not actually be what the book needs. A thought dribbles in that there’s a better way to do it, or if you do it all the crazy consequences that could shift the entire plot of the book taking it in a direction you don’t want it to go.

Damn it!

That’s never fun. The two choices are to scrap the scene then and there or continue writing to see where it goes. Neither of which you want to do because it was time tumblr_lsx4ddf9ar1qafrh6consuming and yesterday it was perfect, but today–the problems have shown themselves.

It’s frustrating, and you’ve gone from happy-go-lucky to “disturb me while I’m trying to
fix this and I will end you.”

Staring, chin holding, hair pulling, eye rolling, and so many more things happen as you analyze the text, desperately trying to figure out what to do next. Your emotions are fluctuating up and down. When you think you’ve got an idea, victory is in sight, but then, you realize crying-gif-2the five different reasons it won’t work.

So, essentially, in less than 24 hours you’ve gone from happy, to hungover, to annoyed, to angry, to flabbergasted, to sad. All your confidence as a writer is gone. You wonder if you can make it in this business. It’s a roller coaster of tumultuous emotions from being overwhelmed, just because one scene is ruining the whole book.

Oh no, I’m not exaggerating. This happens. To multiple authors. Readers don’t get emotions from novels because we’re cold, uncaring robots. They get it because it took all those emotions just to write the book.

Just as all hope seems to be lost, and you’re hiding under your desk rocking back and forth, hair wild–and maybe just a little drool dribbling down your chin–epiphany strikes. You know just want to do to make the ()#&%#(*$&#( scene work. To make the story work.

You get up, clean up, and sit at your keyboard, fingers going to work. All the previous confidence you lost has now returned. You got this.

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It’s an author thing.

Natasha Raulerson

It’s An Author Thing: Ideas Of The Night

The best ideas, at least for me, come when I’m just about to drift off to sleep. My brain is finally relaxed enough to let the creative juices fire through the synapses and wake those neurons up–and suddenly sleep is nothing more than a dream.

It's An Author ThingI’m awake. I have to get up and either jot down notes, create a character, or write a sample first chapter. There is no going to sleep when this happens. Not until the idea is solidified somewhere that I can review it in the morning–and not have forgotten it like the vague recesses of a fuzzy dream.

There’s nothing more annoying than thinking you’ll remember an awesome idea and wake up to find it’s faded into the nothing.

Nope. Gotta write it down before the sandman comes to visit.

It’s an author thing.

This can be annoying of course. Especially on nights I’m tangled in my husbands arms, head on his chest, his heartbeat lulling me to sleep. I jump up, roll out of bed, and he’s wondering what the hell just happened. Till he see’s the notebook.

He rolls his eyes as he turns on his side and starts to doze, cause we’ve been there before.

Then he starts to snore–and I’m the one annoyed. It's An Author Thing

No, that’s not an author thing.

The compulsion to write down an idea, because we know what fickle bitches they can be, how easy it is for them to slip through our fingers, and how sometimes they are pure nuggets of gold we may never get back if we don’t have pen scribbling over paper ASAP.

Nope. Can’t let that go. Too risky.

It’s an author thing.

 

 

Natasha Raulerson

It’s An Author Thing: Don’t Judge My Browser History

Part Four

We’re not neurotic–all the time. Okay, maybe some of the time.

Stop pressuring me!

Admittedly, it’s a lot of the time. That’s besides the point. If you had worlds forming in your head and characters whispering in your ear, you might be a little coocoo bananas too.

No, we’re not actually crazy….at least not clinically. 

It’s an author thing.

However, if you find one of us watching Forensic Files, a documentary on serial killers, using the internet to look up poisons, strange ways to dispose of a body, or rituals that require human sacrifice, do not fear. We’re not going to kill you or anyone else–at least not in the real world.

Our characters though, well they may have something to worry about.

We research morbid and terrible things to make our stories more compelling. A story can be any genre, but it still has to be believable in that, the reader must be able to aknowledge that the events could happen. Event taking a realistic situation and putting into a novel can be hard. As they say, sometimes, truth is stranger than fiction. Strange things happen, but as authors we have to make sure that our story is, on some level, believable. Otherwise, readers will not be happy.

So when we’re at an impass, we pull out our laptops, research how long it takes for rigor mortis to set in, check unsolved murder cases, look for ideas on how to get away with murder (no, not the TV show, actual ways to get away with murder), unique ways to kill people, and well, generally worse things than that.  It’s necessary.

Don’t judge my browser history.

It’s an author thing.

 

 

 

 

Natasha Raulerson

It’s An Author Thing: Part Three

The undercover writer.

When you’re visiting family, but you have words to write. They generally just don’t get it. They think you’re being a recluse and hiding away in your room. Which is rude. Okay, that’s true, probably rude, but there’s a story that needs telling, and sitting on the back porch listening to the obnoxious jerk two yards over toot the train horn on his truck is not exactly productive.

That did happen.

So, when you’re in the living room to watch a movie, totally sneak on your laptop, and keep popping your head up from time to time to talk about what’s happening on the screen. Yup. Undercover writing. Holding half hearted conversationd while knowing the words need to pour onto the page because you’re determined to get this scene written because you’re actually just that sick of it being a pain in the ass and what it to be over.

It’s an author thing.

We don’t mean to be rude, or mean, or reclusive. We just have to get it done. If we don’t find the crazy, weird, odd moments to write, well then nothing would get written. Life would perpetually get in the way of creating new worlds. Finding time to write, even in the most odd moments when people give us sidelong glances or think we should be doing something else.

It’s an author thing.

Natasha Raulerson

It’s An Author Thing: Part Two

Remember that dreading of the manuscript thing we talked about in the last post? Yeah. That It's An Author Thinghappens. We all know it.

It’s an author thing.

I opened Scrivener, with the full intent of not touching my current WIP today and instead plotting something new that’s been bouncing around in my head for a while. Those little plot bunnies are devious sometimes and will not stop hippity hopping until you flesh them out. Doesn’t mean I’d write it quick, fast, and in a hurry, but it would give me a break from my current MS and let my brain decompress.

When you open Scrivener, your most recent project opens with it. In my case, my current WIP. I noticed, not only did I leave off in the middle of a paragraph, but in the middle of a sentence. I don’t usually do that.

It's An Author ThingMy eye twitched. A compulsion hit. I just wanted to finish the sentence.

Then the paragraph.

Then the next thing I know I’ve written 600 words in this scene.

When you don’t want to write, but the compulsion forces you to write, and then you’re happy because not only do you want to write more, but the words are actually flowing really, really well.

It’s an author thing.