December 13, 2010

Moment of Panic


Yes, that is what a moment of panic looks like on paper. Much akin to what going down a very long drop on a roller coaster looks like. Except I'm telling you that this is not a roller coaster. This is a moment of panic. And I had one of those over the last two days.

Why? Well, I listened to half of an interview with the deplorably AWESOME Neil Gaiman. I am convinced that there is no one quite as AWESOME as Neil Gaiman, nor can there be. And the sheer AWESOMENESS and brilliance of Neil Gaiman really just makes me want to throw the towel in right now, because come on. With Neil Gaiman, who needs me-writer in the world? (This is not usually me -- I'm usually very confident that the world needs me-writer in the world. But Neil Gaiman is Neil Gaiman. AWESOME, but intimidating.)

The other thing that had me going was the prospect of revision. And the fact that I have never really revised a novel. Not really. Not if you don't count that one from middle school that I outlined neatly with my co-writer before going on to NOT revise it. Yes, it's been sitting, unfinished, for about eight years now. Anyway, I'm now facing the bottomless pit of revisions, and I'm really hanging on by a thread here.

I can identify problems. Identifying problems is not the problem here. The problem (which, of course, is really an over-simplification of a LOT of problems) is that I don't even know where to start. Plotting? Characters? Setting? Whaaaaa...?

Which is why I would love it if you all could suggest books to me. Books on crafting a story, and character arcs, and creating settings. Or -- they don't have to be books, by any means. But help? Guidance? Divine intervention? I take all the above, and more.


  1. My advice? Ignore Neil Gaiman. Goodness knows if I didn't ignore Diane Duane every so often, I'd never write anything. :)

    And as far as revisions go, I'm about to embark upon the revision of last year's NaNo-novel, so I feel you!

  2. Neil Gaiman, Diane Duane, Terry Pratchett... the list goes on.

    I've never revised a whole novel either so I'm not going to be much help. My game plan when I'm well enough to revise my latest Nanomuddle is to start with the plot - because that's what's sadly lacking in that story but also because if that's not sorted then none of the rest of it matters.

    You may have a stellar plot, in which case I guess you need to start with whatever is your weakest point. But as I say, I'm not really the best person to ask!

    Good luck with your revisions, however you do them.

  3. The best book I have ever read on writing is "Writing the Breakout Novel" by Don Maas. I actually found the workbook more helpful than the actual book. There are loads of books on plotting and you may find a lot online too. I find it helpful to put together a table in Word and do a summary chapter by chapter so that I can see how the plot is taking shape. Hope some of this helps. Congrats on the NaNo entry. It's a great program. My last book Storms and Secrets started as a NaNo entry.

  4. Thanks for all the support and advice! At this point just about everything in my book is a mess, so it's really a question of figuring out WHERE to start that killing me.

    And yes, I will try to ignore Neil Gaiman. 'Try' being the operative word.