Wouldn’t It Be Awesome If I Was A Developer Who Could Program My Own Freaking Ideas??

I’ve been extremely occupied with edits for my second novel, “Nothing Ventured,” this week.  And I thought there was no creativity left in my overworked brain to pour into the old entrepreneurial arsenal.  Thoughts of Mia and Chris incessantly swarm my mind and my sole focus is to finesse their love story to the satisfaction of my editor.  In fact, I think I’ve dreamed in italicized subtitles for the past few nights.

I didn’t think I had anything left.

But then I came up with..ta-da!!!!  An idea.

In my past life, like a waaaaay long time ago, I was responsible for putting together business requirements for system development projects.  Of course there were endless Microsoft Word doc templates available for this exercise, with tables of contents so long they’d rival the length of the actual document.

I’m exaggerating. Kind of.  =)

But then software packages were developed to simplify the process and analysts could input their requirements into a program and answer a whole slew of questions that would translate into a section of the overall deliverable.  The software package would tie all the components together and take the work out of building the narrative.  Analysts input the pertinent information, the software does the rest.

Not that I’m suggesting authors write books with this type of software but think about applying this concept to the editing process.  Developmental edits are a huge pain.  If an author needs to move chunks of a manuscript around, it becomes very tedious to track all the downstream changes.  Plus, sometimes an author may want to “test” a scene out in a different location but wants to see how it might impact the overall story WITHOUT messing everything up.

A software package that could help with this process would be super useful.  Instead, authors (read: ME) end up saving multiple versions of the manuscript, trying to test out various scenarios and often forgetting which one is the gold copy.  To mitigate the risk of THAT, my titles are normally something like this…

NothingVentured v1.12.3.4 ChrisGetsDrunkMiaGoesOverboard.docx

Not confusing at all, right?

 

Scoring The Holy Grail…Must Channel Your Inner Indiana Jones!!

I read a lot of interviews in Entrepreneur magazine.  A LOT.  If you haven’t already picked up on this, I am obsessed with all things start-up, Silicon Valley and innovative.  Unfortunately, my own endeavors led to one pile of handbags and a second, larger pile of debt.  But I’m still an entrepreneur…and as such, I need to keep learning.

Successful start-up CEOs all share unique war stories about the roads they traveled to attain their good fortune, ways to thwart the most ominous pitfalls, and creative ways of bringing an idea to market and creating perceived value and demand for a product or service.

But there are certain sound bytes that stay consistent across the board.

1.  You’ve gotta be willing to take the risk.  It’s going to cost a boatload of money and time, and knock downs are going to HURT but the only way for you to be really hungry is to put yourself in a place where you HAVE to succeed.  Desperation makes us do crazy things, things we’re advised NOT to do in business school.   Be like Indiana Jones.  Keep your eye on the prize and go after it, no matter what.  Go rogue.  You may crash and burn, but if you take the beatings it could turn out to be very lucrative for you in the end.

Courtesy of www.empireonline.com

Courtesy of www.empireonline.com

Nasty Gal CEO Sophia Amoruso: ‘Wisdom is Earned Through Experience, Particularly Mistakes.’

2.  Keep moving, thinking, creating.  Don’t stick to one idea…as you learn, you have to evolve.  You may end up with a better result than you initially anticipated.  Keep thinking out of the box.  Continue to learn and absorb.  Always strive to become BETTER.

3.  Be smart with your funds!  Make a financial plan and stick to it!  Ohhh, this one is sure to aggravate my Hubby and I’m going to hear an earful later since he still hasn’t forgiven me for my reckless spending on Krina, but hey, we live and we learn.

I keep telling him not to worry about the debt.  One day, I’ll be on a bestseller list and then I’ll be able to pay it all back and take a nice long vacay to celebrate!

In Search Of The Elusive Green Easter Egg

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Some of the scenes I’ve been dabbling in lately have a lot of emotion weaved into them.  I’m trying to figure out exactly how the characters are going to react in traumatic situations and then incorporate that feeling into the story.  Not so easy, especially since I’ve never actually experienced the same type of circumstances.  The objective is to make the characters’ perceptions realistic, so that you feel what they feel and suffer the same woes.

Creativity only takes you so far, though.

Sometimes the best writing comes from personal experience.  If I can convince you what I am dealing with and you feel my angst, it makes you better able to relate to the story, right?

Well, I’m not convinced I’ve succeeded in that goal with my current writing.  But let me indulge you with a real-life experience…

Today, at our annual Easter Bunny breakfast, George and Cooper were outside at the egg hunt, searching for brightly-colored plastic eggs.  George wanted a green one so Cooper set off to find one for him.  Which should have made me beam with pride, the fact that he wanted to please his brother when most times, they are at each others’ throats.

But in the blink of an eye, Cooper disappeared.  Literally.  He went missing.  Like to the point where the dads were going to start a search.  And to the point where time stood still and my heart was ready to break at the perceived loss.  Hubby yelled at me, I yelled at him.  Those were truly the most horrific minutes of my life.  The thought of my little baby, gone from our lives forever.  I was being overly and prematurely dramatic, I know.  But raw emotion took over.  You know the kind of thoughts that permeated my mind…and Hubby advising me to keep calm only resulted in more distress.

Fortunately, my friend Jenn ran into the school and found Cooper wandering around by himself in the cafeteria, clutching a green egg for George.  He was looking for his brother so he could give him the egg.  Cooper just wanted to make his brother happy.  He didn’t know he’d done anything wrong by leaving the hunt grounds.

in the interim, Hubby and I aged ten years and miraculously lived to tell about it.

The kind of emotion we experienced in that short amount of time is so difficult to spin into words.   The heart palpitations, the panic, the gut-wrenching feeling that your momentary lapse of attention opened the door to a potentially traumatic sequence of events…how can you write that stuff without knowing how it feels?  To be honest, I’m not quite sure.  And furthermore, if having experienced such things would make me a better writer…well, I’d sooner tackle some other craft.

Stop Trying To Bypass The Process! It’s There For A Reason!

I’m a very process-oriented gal.  It’s a big part of my day job and I’m good at designing them.  There are very good reasons why processes are developed, implemented and executed.  They guide an initiative to completion.  They lay out a set of logical steps that individuals can follow in order to achieve a specific end.  They account for deviations and exceptions along the way and they include alternate steps to avoid pitfalls and challenges that may crop up.

Generally speaking.

As a newbie author, I didn’t realize that I could apply a process to the development of a novel.  I thought that creativity trumped organization.  I was SOOOOO wrong.  

My wonderful editor Cindy showed me the error of my ways and because of her, I used PROCESS to learn about my subjects.  One of the key steps in the process of developing a compelling novel?  Develop your characters!  Learn everything about them!  Create a robust backstory for each character in your story, so that you know where they came from, what past experiences shape their views, and how they interact with others.  After I followed the process and learned about my characters, I was able to rewrite my story with depth and purpose.  I didn’t realize how shallow my first versions were until I spun out the third.

But yet again, I find myself resisting the process.  What the hell is wrong with me?

I got halfway there.  I know Chris like the back of my hand, but I’m still not sure about Mia.

Cindy gave me a few different scenarios to build out as I developed my character sketches.

1.  Most Embarrassing Moment

2.  Angriest Moment

3.  The Character’s Reaction to a Dog’s Incessant Barking

You’d be surprised how well you get to know someone as you create the events leading up to these scenarios.  My immediate problem is that I’m only halfway through Mia’s character sketch.  I haven’t fully developed her backstory.  Sixty pages into Nothing Ventured, and I’m still at a loss.  I don’t know where I’m going because I don’t know HER.

This madness has to STOP!  I need to embrace the process or the whole story will unravel like a cheap rug.

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