By Dame Toni
I’m a huge Twitter geek, and on most Sundays I participate in a hashtag discussion called #writechat. Participants range from multi-published authors and industry professionals to publishing virgins, with questions so basic that I am reminded of my own astounding ignorance back when I had my toilet epiphany (see my website for more info). I try to give these questions thoughtful answers because others did the same for me.
I’m writing in my room at the Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, D.C. where I’m attending the Romance Writers of America national convention (along with Dames Jenna, Jackie and Rachel) and, because RWA has members from Nora Roberts to that guy who’s just finishing the first chapter of his first novel, I’m again hearing those delightfully naïve questions.
Okay, and I totally forgot today was my day to post so have no topic.
So I reached out to my Twitter followers and said “ask me anything.” I’m about to start reviewing the questions. Checking the Twitter feed…
I’m putting in the Twitter handles so you can follow these people!
From @thebookmaven: Tell us what you’re up to at RWA ’09!
I registered very late (I was waiting for my advance, which was held up by contract changes) so I was too late to participate in a lot of semi-required published author events, like the literacy book signing. Other than missing the early registration discount, this has turned out to be a great thing—I have no responsibilities and might actually manage to attend some workshops this year. At the book signing I just wandered around saying hello to my writer buddies, who were conveniently arranged in alphabetical order. I may be signing at the Harlequin/Silhouette event (they own Mira) because my spam filter was eating emails—but I don’t think so. This is the most fun I’ve had since my very first conference.
From @RKCharron Is it easier to write a sequel than a stand-alone novel?
It’s easier to plot a sequel – you already have the characters and the setting and the “mythology.” But writing it’s a delicate balance. Each episode must stand alone, so the writer has to include enough backstory so that new readers can meet the characters, etc., but not get bogged down. As each episode inevitably introduces some new characters (I try to keep this at a minimum, but it still happens) you can eventually develop an enormous, confusing cast. Any Laurel K. Hamilton fans out there? Can you imagine jumping in for the first time at about book 10 and trying to sort out the various vampires and were-creatures?
Also, if you have a protagonist with “powers” you have to be careful not to keep making him or her stronger with each episode. Eventually he or she will be invincible, and you lose your external conflict.
From @reverielarke Fiction, Family & Friction.
I’ve never been married and have no children and live only with my cat. My family thinks it’s amazing that I’m a writer, buy everything, tell everyone and are my biggest fans. Those writers who insist on marrying and producing offspring (I shudder at the mere thought) have my kudos for managing to get ANYTHING done, never mind a novel.
From @drcdiva Do you find it hard to reread your own writing.
Nope. I must be a narcissist, because if I pick up one of my old novels, I am immediately engrossed and loving my characters and plot twists as much as I did when I first wrote them.
@QQwill Tell your most memorable “ah ha” moment when writing.
I have to be cryptic, because otherwise it would be a spoiler. The plot twist at the end of Chapter 3 (or was it 2? Don’t have a copy with me) of Cry Mercy, when Mercy goes to confront the parents that requested the dissolution of their adoption 18 years earlier was a total surprise to me. I was just typing along and it happened. I sat back and said Whoa! I knew it was something special.
@joechummer What is your revision/editing process? How long does it take you to edit a ms, on average?
I do a primary draft which is always in first person, even if the book is a third person narrative. I generally write a draft of a chapter, then go back and do a second run through before moving on to the next chapter. I then go over that chapter with my critique partners, then rewrite it a second time, taking their suggestions into account. Unless something happens to make me feel that I must change a plot point, I probably don’t touch it again until I finish the whole book, at which point I do one big run through before sending it off to my edit. This is generally pretty fast—my critique partners are much tougher than any editor. I have worked with three editors and they all say I turn in the cleanest copy they have ever seen.
I have been known to write a first draft in six weeks, but I don’t give my critique partners more than 25 -30 pages at a time, and sometimes as little as 12-15, so that slows the pace.
@Heidi2524 How close do you get to a deadline before deciding (if you ever have) to turn in what you’ve got vs. asking for an extension?
I’ve mostly dodged the bullet on this. On the few occasion that I had firm deadlines, I met them easily. For the Mercy books, there were deadlines in the contract, but my editor said that, since she wouldn’t be ready to take her turn, not to worry about hitting them. On the other hand, I don’t get my final payment until I turn in the manuscript, so I often have self-imposed deadlines!
Okay, folks, gotta go…I’m meeting Dame Agent for breakfast and I’m gonna be late.
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