Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Monday, December 29, 2008

First draft of Trimming the Fat is DONE!

This morning, something happened that made me happy and took a huge weight off my shoulders. I've been wrestling over writing the scriptwriting section of my new book. I've struggled with it because I have NO experience with scriptwriting (aside from writing one crappy script), have no expertise on this topic and nothing whatsoever to qualify ME as a person to write about revising your scripts! I considered removing the section altogether but part of me knew it would be a glaring oversight not to include scriptwriting in a book about making revisions!

So I didn't know what to do. That was, until I asked a question at the Absolute Write Water Cooler. Something I needed to know about writing this section. We got a little off-topic there (something that's bound to happen over there, ya know!) and started talking about that same problem I've been struggling with. After some discussion and thought, I've decided to go with what I thought I could do with the chapters on scriptwriting.

Actually, here's the link to that discussion:


So I was really happy to get that figured out. YAY!! :) It was such a relief. And the extra suggestions on what to include were helpful, too. I added them to my manuscript.

I'm glad I went with keeping the scriptwriting section. I learned quite a bit, in addition to coming across some movie trivia stuff I included.

And something else happened that also made me happy, also took a huge weight off my shoulders. I finished the first draft of the manuscript! WOO-HOO!! So all 52 chapters are written.
TRIMMING THE FAT: A Writer's Guide to Making Revisions is 191 pages long and about 60,000 words at first draft. It'll be longer after I add the quotes, interviews, book excerpts, article reprints and blog posts I need to still get for it. That's what I'll be doing for Draft 2, along with some minor tweaking. Then Draft 3 will be a full-blown edit.

YAY! I'm so glad the first draft is done. Took a lot of time, research and focus but it's finally all written up. Interestingly enough, the last chapter I wrote had the title "That's a Wrap." Sweet!


Saturday, December 27, 2008

You'll write it and like it!

I thought I was going to take a break from the WIP. Do some research, talk with some screenwriters, maybe take my own crappy script through a critique session.

But I CAN'T stop writing this book. I CAN'T!! The words are pouring out and there's no holding them back. I don't know how, but in some way or another, I am writing these chapters for the screenwriting section of the book! My muse pretty much whacked me with a 2x4 and sneered, "Oh, you missed something in your last chapter. Boo-hoo. Get it in there and keep going!"

So that's what I'm doing! I'm just...going to keep going. I'm doing the research like crazy. Reading EVERYTHING I can find that has to do with scriptwriting and the topics covered in my book. I am constantly on the hunt for more screenwriter blogs to read, just so I can learn from them. All this while writing the chapters that I need to write.

And even if I'm not happy with the chapters, I KNOW I can fix them later. I have given myself until the end of February to finalize the manuscript. I'm sure I can get enough done in time to feel confident about the screenwriting section. I'm still set on getting my own script critiqued, though. Maybe doing THOSE revisions will help me identify with my chapters better. Since it IS a book about making revisions!

Well, anyway. No more whining. No more doubting. No more complaining. Onward and upward!

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Friday, December 26, 2008

Roadblock in the WIP

So I was getting the research in for the next chapter of my book. For the SCRIPTWRITING SECTION. *cue scary music* I got the bright idea to go through with it even though I have practically zippo experience with writing scripts. And I THOUGHT some research on the topics would be enough. I THOUGHT I did a good job with the first chapter in this section.

But, you know what? I didn't. I did an insufficient job, because I realized in my research today that I left out some stuff in the chapter I just wrote. In other words, I didn't cover everything. And I probably sound like some hack because of it!


I don't know what the h*** I'm doing.

I have to figure out how to get these chapters written. I don't know what to do! I know I DON'T want to have a co-author on this. I've come too far for that. And I'm already set on it. I have thought of getting consultation from a scriptwriter, but it won't look professional because I have to put all of those pointers into my own words. And my own words just won't hold enough water.

Maybe I can make a SUPER-SHORT commentary on the topic and let the pros take over with their quotes, their interviews and book excerpts. Maybe that will work.

Seriously, I debated taking this whole section out. Not because it's hard to write, but because I haven't exactly "been there, done that" with scriptwriting. AT ALL. Everything else discussed in this book, YES. Writing novels? Got it. Articles? Yup. Poems, songs, nonfiction books? Check, check, check. But....not scriptwriting.


Maybe that will change someday. But right now, I have this section of the book to write. I have this dilemma to solve.

And, hopefully, I will solve it.

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Monday, December 22, 2008

Now that wasn't so hard, was it?

I did it. I FINALLY did it! Finally, after all this putting-it-off, researching and grumbling, I FINALLY DID IT!!

I wrote the first chapter for the scriptwriting section of my WIP. Woo-hoo!!

The reason why I had such a hard time with it is because I'm not a scriptwriter. Oh, sure, I've written ONE lousy script. Which has never been critiqued, I might add. I have read articles and the blogs maintained by scriptwriters. And I'll occasionally wander into the scriptwriting forum on the Absolute Write Water Cooler. But I don't have any REAL experience with the genre. Zip. The closest I ever came to that sorta stuff was being offered a chance to be in a movie (which ended up never happening). That's. It.

I honestly thought of asking a scriptwriter to offer some pointers for this part of the book. Sort of be an "expert consultant" type of person. But I always worried that, upon learning I have no experience in scriptwriting, they'd get all ballistic and say something like, "YOU have no business writing ANYTHING about scriptwriting until you have lived it!!" So, I...never asked anyone. For some advice.

I pretty much struggled with this on my own. I considered whether or not I HAD to put this into my book, and I kept remembering how a friend of mine who IS a scriptwriter said that it should be in the book. So I HAD to write it. And write it now. It is the very last section of the book to write. Just....six more chapters to go.

Six chapters on SCRIPTWRITING!!!!

I researched like heck, partly to see if the topics I'm covering are valid ones (they are) and partly to get a feel for all those professional scriptwriters out there and what kinds of things they are saying about these topics. I also read through my TWO books on scriptwriting. Finally, I tried to approach this topic in a way that is familiar to me. Nonfiction I can do. Fiction? No trouble at all. But, scriptwriting? Hmmmmm. I tried to see it differently. I told myself "well, scriptwriting is like writing stories." But a strong voice of authority told me it WASN'T. So I thought, maybe I can just interview a bunch of scriptwriters and make the chapters like an article. Nahhh. Then I thought, well, I can just write about what those pros out there are saying, but in my own words.

So I figured that is what I would do. Just echo what the others are saying, but go into it in more detail.

With this idea, I sat down to write the first chapter, taking a deep breath before I began. 'Here goes nothing,' I thought, and started typing.

Soon it was like something took over me. It was like one of those pros came to life in me and took over the writing of the chapter. I was amazed at how fast my hand flew over the keys. Words just poured out and the ideas came.

When I was finished, I had to admit I was proud of what I had put together. I have to admit, it was pretty good. Even one part made me laugh.

Even so, I wanted to get input on it. A comment from someone who is a professional scriptwriter, just to make sure I got it all right.

Meanwhile, I'm just glad I got over my fears and started to work on this section. Now I'm anxious to get those other five remaining chapters written up, too.

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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Are you with me?

The thing about me and stories: I don't just write them, I live them. Before I did the Nano novel, pieces of my character were filtering into my imagination. I didn't know it at the time, but bits and pieces of her and her story were there with me. I had ideas for scenes which I didn't realize would appear in the next book that I wrote. I had my character "speaking" to me in some way, even if I couldn't actually "hear" her. My character was very slowly coming to life within me and, by the time I started to write her story, she was right there ready to reveal everything about herself and her world.

Stories are like that sometimes. They'll be with us in some way or another. The seeds will be planted and the stories will grow and grow until we just can't contain them within ourselves anymore. Until we simply have no choice to allow them to grow even more on paper.

On one hand, I worry over this process taking so long. There's so much importance placed on getting things done RIGHT NOW. Getting things written RIGHT AWAY. There's all this rush, rush, rush with the creating and writing process.

I don't like being rushed with my work, particularly with fiction. I prefer to nurture my story ideas, take the time to intimately know my characters and feel for them. I just want to let them all have the time and the room to grow before I start writing them. They are really just better stories for it and I'm able to write my characters better, too.

This is why, on the other hand, I know it's better to allow my stories to come into being this way. I allow the time to pass to know my stories and characters better. I allow them room to grow and interact. I spend time in their world and see how their lives are like.

With my MG series, I had the idea for it years ago. I didn't start writing it, though, because there was a piece missing from the puzzle. But while I was searching for that piece, I got to know my characters better. I allowed them time to grow and form in my mind. I understood how they were and what kind of town they live in. The people they know. And after I got that missing piece, I was able to sit down and start writing their stories, because I knew them better now.

I really think it's more important to get to know our stories as best as we can before we start writing them. We all like to hurry up with everything. Do things RIGHT THIS MINUTE. But when it comes to storytelling, trying to rush everything will only hurt the story.

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

My brain is fried

What does it look like when a brain is waving a white flag?

That's what I started to wonder as I said "my brain is waving a white flag" today. Seriously, my brain is fried from all the writing I have done today. I have written up 3 chapters so far and I'm debating if I have the strength to do one more. (Heck, when I was doing NaNoWriMo, the most I ever wrote was 5 chapters in a day.) I have also had to deal with a couple of episodes of bad headaches. My editor thinks it's because of a change of weather. I think it's from working on this computer so gosh darn much to finish my book!

I am not under a deadline to finish it, but I am trying to put together a query. And the publisher I'm querying wants a word count. So, I need to type up chapters previously left in my notebook, write up some extra chapters just so that I can be on the LAST SECTION of the book when I fire off my query, and basically do some touching up here and there. (That has pretty much been limited to changing chapter titles.)

Despite that, though, I made a deadline for myself to meet as far as wrapping up the first draft goes. I'd LIKE to get it done by the end of the month. With 13 chapters still to go, that may yet happen if I keep up with writing multiple chapters in one day. I am hopeful it will happen.

Still, I'm being reminded of that time I had to go on an editing spree with a 500+ page manuscript for my publisher. Got the headaches, the stiffness, the lack of sleep and the neverending sit-in at the computer going, just like that time. Wonder how long it'll be before my eyes start to glaze over.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I never crossed any finish lines

I have just realized something about all the writing work I have been doing for 5+ years now: I don't keep going with one kind of writing until I cross the finish line. What I mean by this is that I will do something like freelance writing, go at it for a while, then decide to throw in the towel before I ever really achieve the pinnacle of that kind of writing. I didn't keep at the freelancing until I got to the top, which would be getting articles into the major magazines. I only got them into lower-level magazines. I am still proud of those articles and accomplishments, but I didn't go all the way with freelance writing. I moved from freelancing to newspaper-writing. And from newspaper-writing, I went to writing books. That's it. I never reached my full potential with any of those ventures. I didn't keep at it until I reached my goal.

I just got distracted with something else. Moved on to something else.

This is why I want to get back into freelance writing. Sort of pick up where I left off and finish that race. I did try getting back into it earlier this year, but I was having email problems and STOPPED sending queries out. Now that I've got that email problem resolved, I think I should continue with trying to get that goal accomplished.

What helped me realize this fact? This morning, I was doing research on scriptwriting. This research is for my WIP. I am having trouble writing the section about scriptwriting, and I know that part of that trouble stems from my lack of experience with scriptwriting. Between trying to figure out how to effectively write that part of my book in a way that I am able to write it and playing with the idea of getting more involved in scriptwriting, I had to ask myself why I would want to shift gears from writing books to writing scripts when I haven't yet made a name for myself in the book world.

That's when it dawned on me. (And, yes, I DO use my own name as a word. Ha!) I haven't made a name for myself with freelance writing. Ditto with newspaper-writing. Why on earth would I shift gears before reaching the pinnacle of what I am doing now?

Then the realization hit. This is something I have, unfortunately, had the habit of doing all this time. I shifted gears without even crossing the finish line. I never kept going until I got as high as I could get.

Knowing this has made me feel a little disheartened. Why did I do that? How could I have a habit like that if I want a successful writing career and garner respect among my peers? That certainly is not one way to do it. I realize that this habit made me look bad as a writer. Maybe even unprofessional. But at least now I know that I have done this. Now I can retrace my steps, pick up where I left off with everything, and continue. I will continue on those paths until I get to the very end. Until I reach that pinnacle and achieve the goals I originally set out to achieve.

This doesn't mean I'll stop writing books, of course. I'll ALWAYS be writing books! :) But it just means there will be extra things thrown into that mix, because writing books is not the only thing I want my writing to be known for.


Friday, December 05, 2008

9 in '09

So I just went over my inventory of manuscripts. Out of that list of 14 books, there are 9 which need to be edited/revised. Two of them are children's books which I am shopping around, one is a novel I am working with an acquisitions editor for revisions, another was accepted for publication but the publisher disappeared, and the other is the haunted houses book that was accepted for publication. (Watch for it in July!)

Gosh, I knew I was going to be hunkering down and editing books next year. But, wow, that's a lot. I don't even know if I'll be able to edit ALL of them by the end of next year. (A girl can dream, right??? LOL) At the same time, though, I'm going to keep up with finding a lit agent. I will also continue sending out short stories and poetry. (Erm, I will admit I've been slacking on that lately. Gah!)

PLEASE NOTE: The writing book is a priority and I will be editing that manuscript and finding a home for it ASAP. I still need to put together the proposal. Don't worry, I haven't forgotten about you writer friends who are in this book!

Does this mean I won't be writing any new books next year? Well, not exactly. I am being hired to ghostwrite a book, and I'll be starting that soonish. Also, 5 of the 9 manuscripts I will be editing are short (three are children's books, two are middle-grade), so I might finish those up early and have the extra time to write something new. (Maybe the third book in my series???)

I also want to focus on getting these manuscripts finalized and finding a home for them. I want to see more published books than unpublished books. So I will really need to put the brakes on writing new books next year and try to get these books whipped into shape and under contract with a publisher.

That's my plan, anyway. :D

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Thursday, December 04, 2008

Boomers-Write First Annual Short Story Contest!

Check out the Boomers-Write First Annual Short Story Contest!

Start off the New Year with a little extra cash in your pocket!
Enter the Boomers-Write short story contest today by going to

Deadline for entries is Dec. 31, 2008 and winners will be announced January 30, 2009.

Looking forward to reading your stories soon.

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Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Right scene, wrong time

Yesterday was a pretty productive writing day. I wrote two chapters for another nonfiction book I am doing, as well as a new chapter for the NaNo book.

Well, should I say, HALF of a new chapter.

First, some background:

My plan was to put the NaNo manuscript away for a while before attacking it with a red pen. Usually, when I finish a first draft of a book, I put it away to let it "breathe" and so that I can go back to it with fresh eyes. But, in this case, with the NaNo manuscript, I wanted to add a few things first. I was troubled over whether or not I should do that NOW or later. So I just made a note of what I wanted to add to the story then thought on that for a while. Then I remembered something I read at the Absolute Write forums. A writer asked if she should go ahead and add stuff to the manuscript she just wrote, or wait until she lets it rest for a while. The consensus among the writers responding to this post was that if you want to add something now, go for it. So, with this in mind, I went back to the manuscript, all set to add the new stuff.

But there was one problem. I realized that a scene I wanted to add to it was WRONG for the story. Sure it showed my antagonist's "evil" side, but it might send the wrong message to readers. I guess readers can interpret a scene a hundred of different ways, so I needed to make sure the scene said EXACTLY what I wanted it to say without there being a chance of confusion.

For this reason, I was only able to write half of the chapter (the one scene) and had to do some thinking for the right scene to add after it. I spent the rest of the day thinking on that, tossing around possibilities in my head.
Finally, when I stumbled into my bed at night, exhausted and ready to go to sleep, the scene finally came to me. Right when I was way too tired to write it!


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