Teresa Trent visits my blog today! I’m thrilled to have her here and to tell you a little about her new novel–Burnout. Check out her guest post:
The Fickle First Draft
by Teresa Trent
I revise constantly, as I go along and then again after I’ve finished a first draft. Few of my novels contain a single sentence that closely resembles the sentence I first set down. I just find that I have to keep zapping and zapping the English language until it starts to behave in some way that vaguely matches my intentions.
I’m so happy to be here visiting Michele! Thank you for letting me come and talk about writing and my fifth mystery, Burnout. One of the sites I participate as a writer on is Wattpad. One of the things that amazes me is that people write entire coherent novels on that site week by week. I could never do this because my first drafts are incredibly different from my final manuscript. If you had the opportunity to be with me from the beginning of my writing process to the final product, you wouldn’t believe it was the same book. I kind of think that’s the way writing should be. Your first idea is almost never your best idea.
Writing a book is like creating a sculpture out of clay. You may decide that you want to make a sculpture of your dog and it starts out looking roughly like a rectangle with four posts. You look over at your dog and back at your sculpture and realize there is absolutely no resemblance to your canine pal. So, you go back and you start to zero in on certain features that make your dog special. Slowly day by day that lump of clay starts to resemble Fido. When you finally get it to a point of perfection you might think to yourself what if I had stuck to the rectangle with the four posts? Writing is very similar in process.
Usually in the first draft of any book I write there is some idea that I think is terrific at the time, but then when I try to work it in there is a problem with it. It might be that the subplot or the plot angle that I thought was so fascinating really isn’t so hot. It might be that it is not a workable situation. I find in the process of writing that this is probably one of the most painful times for me. I have often invested time and brainpower into this part of my story and I find I have to throw part or all of it away.
When I finally get to the point where I realize I must edit out something important it can be difficult. Hours, day, maybe months worth of work … Delete, delete, delete. Many times I find when I have to make a painful cut, and I know I have to make it and don’t want to, I walk away. I get away from the book for the rest of the day. I take walk or fold laundry or work in my garden and just let it stew in the back of my mind. In the beginning the task almost seems overwhelming to me. Usually by the next day or the day after, I can do what needs to be done. Once I have taken out what is not working in the book, I find moving on is easier and even fun.
I have many ways of checking my books to make sure that things are working. Probably the most useful thing that I have done is to convert my books to Kindle and then listen to them start to finish with my manuscript in front of me. With the story flowing in my ears, I can easily pick out where there might be a problem. That seems to be the secret for me. If I write something in October, and then don’t go back and look at it again until December I will have no idea what needs fixing. I have to constantly keep going through the story and making sure that one scene links to the next one.
In my latest mystery, Burnout, I found my process was just about the same. I know that my first draft of this book was pretty close to the final product, but still I found myself going back, deleting, and moving scenes around. In the process of writing a story being able to make changes is essential. Just because you wrote it and spent time on it doesn’t mean that it’s going to work. You have to be flexible enough to write your story and then step back from it and make sure that all of your plot elements and characters and settings are in sync. When you can do that, you will find a much better story to tell at the end of it all.
Burnout (Pecan Bayou Series)
E-Book File Size: 895 KB
Print Length: 202 pages
It’s November in Pecan Bayou, Texas and while the town is getting ready for the Thanksgiving holiday a deadly fire breaks out at the newspaper office. When Rocky, the editor is nowhere to be found, Betsy refuses to believe he has perished in the fire. The entire town is coming down with the stomach flu and Betsy must deal with her husband’s new found celebrity as an on-air weatherman filling in for and under-the-weather Hurricane Hal . Leo loves all the attention he’s getting, especially from the sexy administrative assistant who works at the station. Is their new marriage in trouble already? Find out in the fifth book of the Pecan Bayou Mystery Series. All the characters you’ve come to know and love are back and you’ll find plenty of the Happy Hinter’s recipes and tips included at the end of the book.
Teresa Trent writes her Pecan Bayou Mystery Series from Houston, Texas. With a father in the army, her family moved often finally settling in Colorado. Living in Texas for the last 18 years she loves the people and even the weather. Teresa includes Danny, a character with Down Syndrome in her Pecan Bayou family and in real life is the mother of an adult son with Down Syndrome/PDD. Creating the character of Danny and all of the other inhabitants of Pecan Bayou has been a joy for her. Even though she lives in the big city, her writing is influenced by all of the interesting people she finds in small towns and the sense of family that seems to be woven through them all.
Purchase Link – Get the Kindle Version for FREE on April 29th!
An hour later, Tyler and I walked into the Harvest Dance with our arms full of every baked item we could get our hands on from the grocery store. The tables were already covered in sparkling autumn colored table cloths with tasteful pumpkin and scarecrow centerpieces. It was stunning, and I hated to plop a box of Tasteeo Cupcakes on top of it all.
Phyllis, dressed in a mustard turtleneck with a maroon silk scarf tied around her neck approached. “What is this?” Her face turned white, and then was replaced with a complimentary fall color of scarlet red.
“Uh…” I stammered. “I had a little difficulty with the pumpkin squares, but you know kids. They’ll eat anything sweet, right?”
I waited for her to reassure me, but she seemed to be at a loss for words.
“You want me to open up these boxes, Betsy?” Tyler asked.
“Yes, if you would. I’m sure Mrs. Hamlin has lovely plates for us to put these on.”
Phyllis gritted her teeth and turned toward Tyler. “There are some paper plates over there.”
She turned back to me and took hold of my arm squeezing tightly on my bicep with her tastefully manicured nails.
“I specifically told you to make the pumpkin squares. If I wanted a hodge podge of junk food I would have simply stopped down at the Circle K Convenience store.”
Another mother stepped by with her freshly groomed son in tow. “Lovely tables Phyllis,” she said with a little wave.
“Thank you Shelley. We work very hard to make it a wonderful experience for our children.” Somehow I knew she wasn’t including me in that statement.
“I tried to make the pumpkin squares, but we’ve had flu at our house, and … I lost track of time, and they burnt.”
“Then why didn’t you just make another batch?”
“There’s not a can of pumpkin left in the entire town.”
“Yes, there is. I have four cans of pumpkin in my pantry. All you had to do was call me.”
The principal walked by. “Beautiful job, Mrs. Hamlin. Don’t know what we’d do without you.”
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April 14 – Traci Andrighetti’s Blog – Review
April 15 – Shelley’s Book Case – Review
April 16 – Kelly P’s Blog – Interview
April 17 – Mochas, Mysteries and Meows – Guest Post
April 18 – Books Are Life – Vita Libri – Review
April 19 – Books-n-Kisses – Review, Guest Post
April 20 – EASTER
April 21 – Michele Lynn Seigfried’s Blog – Guest Post
April 22 – Community Bookstop – Review
April 23 – readalot blog – Review
April 24 – Back Porchervations – Interview – Review
April 25 – rantin’ ravin’ and reading – Review, Guest Post
April 27 – Cozy Up With Kathy – Guest Post
April 28 – My Recent Favorite Books – Review
April 29 – Deal Sharing Aunt – Interview
April 30 – A Chick Who Reads – Review
May 1 – Brooke Blogs – Guest Post
May 2 – Little Whimsy Books – Guest Post