December 22, 2011

Welcome Guest Blogger Jennifer Ann Coffeen

All I want for Christmas is… a final, completed, fully edited draft with no typos, plot holes, or one dimensional characters. Oh! And a great love scene.

I know, I know, Santa can’t work miracles. But I can always ask, can’t I? I’ve been wrestling with the third draft of my latest WIP since it was still warm enough to wear open toed shoes (and I live in Chicago so that means something). My deadline for the final final draft was Labor Day, which stretched into Halloween, and now Christmas is fast approaching and I am still stuck. This draft refuses to end! Are my characters not working? The plot confusing? Or it is a curse from that barista I forgot to tip back in June?

I decided the only way to find out is to go back to basics.

1. Ask your characters what they want. Sounds simple right? I’m always surprised by how quickly my character’s wants can become muddled on the page. Sure my heroine wants the hero, everyone knows that! Except for my heroine. What she really wants is to marry the dashing Viscount who dresses divinely, writes her poetry, and has only recently become engaged to another woman.

2. Outline your plot. I am the last person to take this advice. I like to keep the writing process as messy and creative as possible until the very end. It’s a strong signal that I’m nearing the end though when I just can’t seem to move forward because my plot (or lack of) is slowing me down. At some point in the process you have to make sure A leads to B, C, and D. For some writers that means creating a beautiful outline complete with color coding and charts. For others it means jotting your storyline down on a napkin. Do whatever works for you, but if you find yourself stuck in a draft, try outlining the plot.

3. It’s time for a reader! And I’m not talking about your mom. 9 times out of 10 when I can’t move forward with a draft it’s because I’ve become too close to it. I need a fresh pair of eyes, someone I trust to understand my vision for the story but not mince words when it comes to critique. If you belong to a writing group try asking for readers, or even find a trusted friend. Sometimes entering your first chapter in a contest is a great way to get some feedback.

“The French Blue diamond must be destroyed.” Haunted by the words of her dying father, Lady Madeline Sinclair arrives for the London Season with more than parties and the latest fashion on her mind. She has sworn a vow, and the beautifully headstrong and fearless Madeline will allow nothing to distract her…until she meets the infamous Lord Colin, Duke of Douglas, a man known for his scandalous past engagement. With a dark grin and stormy eyes, he threatens to make her forget her duty, along with her manners.

Bound together by the mysterious diamond, Madeline and Colin soon succumb to the passion raging between them, even as the diamond eludes their grasp. But the true threat lies in the hands of an enemy whose dangerous obsession with the past has the power to destroy them both.

Available at The Wild Rose Press.


Jennifer Ann Coffeen said...

Thanks so much for hosting me Sarah! I would love to hear how other writers deal with a never ending draft.

Kellie Kamryn said...

Great post and advice Jennifer! I'm more of a pantser but I agree with doing a bit of plotting and/or character building to make sure all your ducks are in row!

Debra St. John said...

Hi Sarah and Jennifer,

I sometimes have problems with never-ending drafts, but in a slightly different way.

I tend to be a 'short' writer, so when I need to get to a certain word count on a piece (for whatever the reason), it seems to take be forever to do the stretching. That's when a draft seems to last forever for me.

Good lucks with yours! I'm sure the end is in sight...


Stephanie Burkhart said...

Jennifer, it's great to find you on Sarah's blog. I just finished "Priceless Deception" and LOVED it. The dialogue was witty and fun and the plot never slowed down - and Madeline and Colin were hot. LOL!! Thumbs up.

I think the big one for me is to always keep focused on what the character wants. Stay focused on that and you'll never go too far from your plot.

Happy Holidays ladies.

Jennifer Ann Coffeen said...

These comments are great! I love hearing from other writer's and their process. I'm a pantser too Kellie!

Debra- facinatng stuff about being a short writer. I tend to write super long and end up with the opposite problem.

Steph B- I'm so glad you like "Priceless Deception"! Thank you for the lovely comments.I am working away at second book featurig Helena and Edward.

Susan Macatee said...

I went through this with my first romance novel, a time travel. Went through several revisions and almost gave up on it, thinking I'd never get it right, although it was finally published in 2009. But after that book, I became a plotter. It didn't help me, though, with my latest novel being released next month. Took a ton of revision to get it in shape. Thank God for great editors! lol

Jennifer Ann Coffeen said...

I agree Susan! Editors are a necessity no mattr what kind of writer you are.

P.L. Parker said...

My husband reads everything I write as I write it. When I get stuck, we talk about it and he gives suggestions and he really has great input. Sometimes just talking about it gets the creative juices flowing

IdentitySeeker said...

Great writing tips1 Thank you:) I wish you luck with completing your draft!