Hey guys! It's about that time again. Feel free to ask whatever you'd like—I will answer as soon as I can, which is usually within 15-30 mins if not sooner. And since I'm starting so late in the day, I'll answer questions asked tomorrow as well. Lucky you! Or something.
Will you start dressing me so I can look cute sometimes, too?ReplyDelete
WAIT. NO. What I really wanted to ask is: How did you find your critique partners?ReplyDelete
First Q: Yes, I will dress you, even though you look cute a lot more than I do these days. (I *might* have just gotten out of bed 40 mins ago...)
Second Q: I found them through ouija board. You should try it sometime.
I tried the Ouija board in 8th grade. It was not pleasant.ReplyDelete
Question: I need to find an editor. Should I go the pro. route, or send out word to bloggers?
What process do you follow when editing? - Do you edit as you go? Do you finish then do passes for certain categories?ReplyDelete
Susan, it really depends on a lot of things. Are you just starting out? If so, bloggers can be really helpful. Are you intending to self-pub? A professional may be a better idea in that situation. Do you have the money to spend on a professional? If so, that can be helpful, but if not there are so many free options that can really improve your writing (I personally never paid for one and managed okay.)ReplyDelete
Hi Natalie!! So, my question for you is THIS: How much do you typically write per day? Do you have a set word count that you try to reach? Do you have specific times of day/night that you dedicate to writing?ReplyDelete
And now a follow-up question: HOW do you battle procrastination? It plagues me deeply and I need help! :)
Natalie, what should I make for dinner tonight? I need something easy, tasty, and with ingredients that I already have in my fridge. Oh, and preferably sans meat.ReplyDelete
Charlee, I do a little bit of everything? I don't hardcore edit while drafting, but I do read through chapters and clean them up. Or if I think of something that needs to be added I will.ReplyDelete
In edits, I suppose I focus most on getting the plot right first, and then rounding out characters, setting, descriptions, etc.
I always save intense line edits for the end, because so much can change that sentence tinkering earlier on can be a waste of time for me.
This is all personal process though. There are about a million ways to edits, and every writer gets there in their own way.
If I am ever in Utah, can we hang out? :PReplyDelete
Amanda, when I'm drafting in earnest, I'd guess I average about 1-1.5k a day. I tend to write in chapters, and I like to finish off a chapter in a day if I can. So I guess that's how I measure a word count I'd like to reach.ReplyDelete
The time I write varies. I prefer fitting it in during the day because I get really tired and brain dead at night, but if I haven't written I may write at night here and there.
As for procrastination, I am a fan of delayed gratification/prizes. I reward myself when I finish my work, and MORE importantly I don't indulge before I work. For example, maybe I want to watch an episode of American Pickers. I'll say, "After I finish this much, I can watch that."
It takes practice, but start small and keep at it. Eventually your brain figures out that it's far more relaxing to do fun things after work, because then nothing is hanging over your head.
Emily, I have no idea what's in your fridge/pantry, but my go-to vegetarian meals are these:ReplyDelete
1. Black Bean Nachos: Tortilla chips, 1 can black beans, salsa, cheddar cheese (cilantro, cotija, and sour cream optional). Spread out a layer of chips on a cookie sheet. Cook black beans (add salt, pepper, garlic powder, and cumin to taste) until tender, sprinkle over chips, add salsa (and cilantro), top with grated cheese(s), broil in oven until melted (like a minute).
2. Spaghetti. Because my kids love it, just plain ol' spaghetti with meatless sauce, and we like cheddar or parmesan on ours.
3. Three-Bean Chili (or how to use up all those cans in the pantry): 1 can Kidney, Black, and Pinto beans. Two 12-oz cans tomato sauce. 1 can vegetable broth. 1 can corn (drained). 1 onion, chopped. 1 green pepper, chopped. 2 tbs chili powder, 1 tsp cayenne, 1 tsp garlic salt (or to taste, 1 tsp pepper, 1 tbs paprika (I am ball parking spices because I don't measure, fyi). Throw all that in a crock pot and let simmer on high for a couple hours. Longer it cooks, better it is.
Amanda J, if you DON'T hang out with me when you visit, I will be very upset with you;PReplyDelete
So, are ninja-girl and dino-boy living up to their names for Halloween?ReplyDelete
Josin, actually, we're switching it up a little this year! Dino Boy is going as a ninja, and Ninja Girl is going to be a "Bat Princess." They are pretty stoked.ReplyDelete
I have a lot of questions, but I'll just ask a few.ReplyDelete
For someone started out (currently reigniting desire and drive to write after being stifled with wrong careers and "shoulds" for years):
1) Top 5 blogs to read in order to sit down and "figure it out" without being overwhelmed and panicking.
2) Outline...you have said before you don't follow that route. But I think that is why I fail to complete things.
3) Have you always known your voice? Like you seem to like both contemporary YA and the YA fantasy routes. They must be so different to write, no? Same age range targets for all?
I feel at odds because I'm a newbie and its strange to just "get up and write" you know? Like I have this fear that its all for nothing - that I should be working on a career that will guarantee me secure income (versus the shakiness I have now). Without an outline (gosh, their hard) and with maybe 2-3 big ideas in my head.
And just a comment. Congrats on your successes with your book!
1. Blogs I used to read religiously in the beginning: Nathan Bransford (still do), Pub Rants, Evil Editor, Bookends, and the like. (Basically, all the ones on my sidebar are blogs I enjoy and find helpful.)
2. I'm not sure what you're asking. Outline if you want to try it. I know it works for tons of writers, writers I know personally. It's up to you to figure out your process.
3. I haven't always known my voice, but genre doesn't have much to do with voice. Yes, I write YA contemp and magic realism, but I'd say my voice is fairly similar in both, despite the differing genres. They are different to write, but I enjoy the challenge of pushing myself.
As for your general fears—all I can really say is what Yoda did "Do or do not." Either write or don't. Fear is ever present when there is change. You can push through it and hope it'll work out, or just keep at something "normal." But don't hover in indecision, otherwise you'll never get anywhere.
I have another question! If that's okay? :)ReplyDelete
I noticed you started your blog when you were just starting out before you had an agent and such, and now you have all these awesome writer-ly friends. I'm currently revising my first novel and also just started a blog, but I have NO idea how I'm supposed to "meet" writer-ly friends! How did you do it? Did you meet them in person at conferences and such, or on the internet and through blogging?
How do you stop your brain from exploding during edits?ReplyDelete
Amanda O, it's sounds pretty simple but I just talked to people. I talked to people online and at signings and at the few conferences I've been to. I left comments on blogs and participated in conversations and contests. Over time, I found friends:)ReplyDelete
Jade, that's an excellent question. I don't know if I have an answer, since I always get to that point in editing where I feel like I can't possibly think about the book any longer.ReplyDelete
I do take it fairly slow. I schedule 3 chapters a day, usually, and don't push myself to do more. I also always take weekends off writing and editing. It's good to have a breather.
But other than that, I don't really have any advice but to plug your ears and try to keep those brains inside:)
*plugs ears* THANKS THIS WORKS A TREAT!ReplyDelete
I'm afraid I have this habit of when it comes time to revise, I end up doing more rewriting than revising, is that a bad thing?ReplyDelete
Anita, sorry for the delay, but no, I don't think that's a bad thing! Everyone revises differently, and if it's easier for you to visualize changes in rewriting, then go for it!ReplyDelete
Any advice for getting over a boy whom you have a huge crush on, but who is kind of a jerk?ReplyDelete
Thanks, Natalie. Makes me feel much better =)ReplyDelete
Oh, and Mercy...I know this is Natalie's Q&A. But my philosophy with boys in situations like this is to tell yourself that you deserve better. He's not good enough for you.
Mercy, I think the fact that you realize he's a jerk means you're half way there. Crushes are funny things. I had crushes on all kinds of guys—nice ones, stupid ones, mean ones, and of course cute ones;P It's totally part of the girl experience, our way of admitting attraction to someone, even if the attraction is fairly illogical, hehe.ReplyDelete
But having a crush doesn't mean you have to WANT a relationship with that person. Does that make sense? I mean, I had TONS of crushes on boys long before I was ready to seriously date them for reals. And I think it's important to recognize that difference: Crush does not equal Lifelong Soul Mate. That's okay. I still crush on people! (Okay, I crush on CARTOONS [Zuko! *swoon*].)
I guess if you want to get over a crush, I would highly recommend seeking out new ones:) That...sounds kind of terrible. But crushing should not be an exclusive venture! It's too fun to leave to one silly boy:P
And honestly, this advice probably sucks, because I had several long-standing crushes growing up that took years to get over though I knew I had NO CHANCE with the boy and maybe didn't even want one. But I suppose it was just, well, fun to imagine, pretend, what my life might be like if I had that certain boy as a boyfriend. Perhaps it was my brain's way of experimenting with story? Who knows.
Just, good luck:)
Could you and Kiersten dress me? Right now I look like a slob.ReplyDelete
what do you do when you really want to write about something you have absolutley no idea about? like, im in high school but really want to write about thieves or the mafia or some action/thriller kind of thing...but as i said...im only 16!ReplyDelete
oh, and i cant wait to read your book. sounds awesome! do you think you'll want to make a graphic one seeings as you love to draw?ReplyDelete
Not sure if you're still answering questions, but here goes...ReplyDelete
You've talked a lot about the importance of critique partners, and I totally agree with you. But ... what do you do when all your awesome, trusted critique partners are giving you conflicting advice. My critique partners are split in the middle over a couple of things in my manuscript and it's making my head explode. My husband is accusing me of "editing by committee" and he's probably right but I've been with this manuscript so long it's hard to silence those voices and figure out what I even want anymore. Has this ever happened to you? What do you do?
Hi Natalie! I just started reading a few months ago and am really enjoying your blog.ReplyDelete
Anyways, my questions is typically how long are your novels before you start querying/submission? I've heard YA is somewhere in the 70-80k range for new authors but right now mine is at ~60k. I still have a lot to do to fix it up but I wanted to know if that was too short before I start querying.
Hi Natalie! Just wondering: What is a reasonable turn-around time for revisions for an agent/editor? I've been working on my first set of revisions for a month now, and I'm maybe halfway through. I don't want to rush these, but I also don't want to be too slow. How long have your rounds of revisions taken you? Do you usually get deadlines, or just get to them as quickly (yet thoroughly) as you can? Thanks!ReplyDelete
Whirl, we could probably make that happen. I'd recommend a scarf and a fedora. No matter how slob-ish you are, people always think you're fancy if you wear a scarf and a fedora.ReplyDelete
maiaov, it's easy—research! There are many things I didn't really know about before writing, and I've had to research them. I did do research for TRANSPARENT. Not a TON because it wasn't historical, but I watched movies and read books and found TV shows that had stuff about mobs and gangs in them. I also did some research on superhuman abilities and mutation. And because my novel has alternate history, I had to research about the Cold War.ReplyDelete
If you want to write about mobs and crime and such, I highly recommend reading Holly Black's WHITE CAT (Curseworkers series) and Ally Carter's HIEST SOCIETY series. Heck, even Ally's spy girls (Gallagher Girls series) is a good place to see how to do a proper crime/mob/spy-based novel. Check out movies like Ocean's 11, The Italian Job, etc. I watched Deadliest Warrior episodes about different mobs, like Yakuza vs. Mafia. And then of course there's the straight reference/info books or online media sources.
Hope that helps:)
maiaov, writing a graphic novel is HARD. I love to draw, but I'm a hobbyist at heart and I intend to stay that way. I've already made one of my creative pursuits a job, and I need to keep the other one "for fun."ReplyDelete
I would LOVE to see it turned into a manga or anime though. Some people dream of their novels on the big screen—I would die happy if I ever got to see an adaptation of my novel in anime:)
I have had this happen, and what I try to do is focus on what the root problem is, and not necessarily on what my crit partners suggest. For example, maybe they are suggesting opposite things for a certain passage, but the fact that they are both saying SOMETHING about that passage is a red flag. There is probably an issue, and it's up to you to figure out how to go about changing it, and chances are you'll change it in a completely different way from what they suggest.
Think about why your readers might be saying that, and then think about all the different ways you could change it or make it clearer, etc. The most important thing is making changes YOU want. I rarely ever follow someone's advice exactly, but I take what they say, think about it, and make the changes how I want to.
I know it can be hard to see after many revisions, but have faith in your judgment. It's your story, and it'll come together for you.
Stessa, length shouldn't be a worry. Not all YA novels are 70-80k, trust me. Some are much longer and some much shorter. Lisa McMann, for example, writes very short novels (50-60k), and she's a bestseller. So there you go:)ReplyDelete
My novels vary from 60k-80k, but my policy is to write as much as the story requires. Padding a story to make it longer won't make it stronger—it'll only drag it down. And cutting up a more intricate story to make it shorter might not be the best over all, either. I write was is necessary, cut what is necessary, and whatever the word count is at the end is fine by me.
No one will bat an eye at a 60k YA novel. You are much better off than those trying to convince agents to read a 120k tome!
Caryn, I always take as long as I need to take. That's usually about 4-6 weeks, but I have taken 2+ months on an agent revision as well. Like you said, it's important to do a good and thorough job. If that takes a little longer, then so be it. Don't worry about your agent thinking you're slow—they are used to the pace of this business and you are right on track.ReplyDelete
About how long does it take you to draft a novel?ReplyDelete
Thanks for doing this, great info!
Blackeyedsue21, I average around 3 months for a first draft, and about 6 months or more editing. So while I do appear to write faster, I have to spend a lot more time editing.ReplyDelete
Thanks! That's really good to know. I'll just keep plugging away on revisions and not stress to much about my timeline. Happy writing!ReplyDelete
If you have time, I just thought of another question. I'm pretty new to writing novels,(about halfway through my first ever draft) and I was wondering when you think you should go about getting crit partners? Like, first draft stages or when you think it would be like query ready or inbetween? Thanks again.