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I have a better understanding of how to write books than how to revise them

I’ve written first drafts of lots of books, but I’ve only ever brought two books from first draft to submittable form. And in both cases, it was a bit of a haphazard process. With This Beautiful Fever, I did real editing. In fact, I deleted the whole first third of the book and rewrote it. But […]

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Up to my 49th draft of chapter one of this children’s book

I thought that the 48th was going to be it (I got all the way to Chapter Four!) but then it turned out not to be it. All of this rewriting seems crazy now, but, in my opinion (and in my experience), a book’s not gonna work unless the first chapter works. For me, the […]

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Sometimes it feels like real life is something that only happens behind a keyboard

Still coming down off the process of writing the first draft of Mommy Has Empty Eyes. Writing that draft has to stand out as the most intense four weeks of my life. Even thinking about it makes me shiver. I’m always pretty fast with my first drafts, but that’s the first that I’ve subsumed everything to the writing […]

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You would think that _knowing_ you’re going to feel bad would somehow inoculate you against feeling bad

When I was in the final stages of writing the first draft of the novel, I was feeling so good that I knew the feeling couldn’t last. When you’re in a good mood, it’s impossible to fathom a bad mood coming. But I knew it was on its way! I had no idea what I […]

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Wrote a crime novel!

Let’s not closely examine why I began another novel so soon after completing the last one. I just wanted to, okay! The prospect of working to revise the last one (which was a YA novel) wasn’t very exciting, since it could be aeons before it’s ready to go on submission. But I also didn’t want […]

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“Writing is something you do alone in a room”

This novel has finally reached the point where it’s flowing really well. I’m about 73,000 words in and can state with a fair bit of confidence that I am going to finish. Even if the semester ends and swamps me with work, I will finish. Even if I get super depressed (which sometimes happens around mid-winter), […]

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An age-old novel-writing question: How can I sustain a plausible love story using the minimal number of actual scenes between the two principles?

I am awful at love stories. A friend of mine was telling me the other day that all her stories are about the guys she’ve dated. I can’t even imagine doing that. It’s not that I dislike love plots. I like them alot. I find them very warm and wonderful. But I just don’t have […]

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How writing a novel is like being that one (semi-useless) superhero who can see the future

Novel-writing continues apace. It’s pretty much all I can think about, so I am going to blog about it as well. This is definitely one of the knottiest ones I’ve ever wrestled with. I got to exactly the same place (30,000 words in) where the novel failed last time. And I was about to write […]

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Novels are insanely complicated

Got thirty thousand words into the novel before realizing that I had failed to rigorously imagine one key thing (how the mother felt about something that her daughter was doing). And when I belatedly started trying to do some of that imagination work, the entire novel fell apart. Like, just completely unravelled. I realized that […]

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When to listen to your fear and when to ignore it

Something about writing novels brings out fear in the way that no other writing task seems to. They’re so big and there are so many variables and so many decisions. And the price of failure is so high. When you walk away from the wreck of a novel, you lose something–a sense of your own […]

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