Project 2012: When Bob becomes Judith

One of the benefits of doing the initial read-through is that you can see the contrast between your characters at the beginning and your characters at the end.  When you finish a draft, you remember the characters as they are at the end.  But reading through the first part of the novel can be a surprise.  Wow, was my character really that whiny?  When did they change goals like that?  Oh my gosh, what happened to her new pizza store?  Why is she running an auto repair shop?

The characters we have in our head before we write are static, but as soon as they touch the story, they become dynamic beings, acting on goals, reacting to events, learning and growing until, at the end of the story, they are changed for better or for worse.  That’s part of what story is; change in your character.

What you need to identify in revision are those parts of the character that changed not because of the story, but because you found a greater truth in your character.  Somewhere along the way you decided that Bob should be a florist, not an air-force pilot, because it’s more truthful to who he is.

And it’s quite easy to forget, when you write “The End”, that your character started the novel with the goal to work her way out of debt with a slightly dodgy mail-order business.  But reading back, you realised (usually around 25-30k words in, I find) that it is more true to the character for her to find her missing sister and address the cause of her destitution, which is her unrelenting punishment of all friends and family, but ultimately herself.

So what do you do with a character who started as A, but really should have started as B?  Usually it means a serious rewrite of the beginning of the book.  You need to bring your knowledge of the character back and revisit his/her actions before the remodel.  Look at her goals, her self, her reactions.  Do they match the character you have written at the end of the book?  Keep that person in mind as you revisit the events of the story.

Characters suddenly getting “interesting” after the first third of the novel is a fairly common comment in reviews, and it comes down to authors not aligning the person at the end of the book with the person at the beginning.  Don’t make that mistake.  Just as plots need to be tightened and trimmed, so do characters need to be fully realised from beginning to end.

Project 2012: Scheduling Quarter 1

I’ve been happily pottering along in my revision, and realised today while talking to Cassie that it’s already halfway through January and I haven’t posted a timeline for those who are looking for guidance.

Quarter one, as you may recall, is all about the big picture of our story.  In the first 3 months, we’re aiming to gain a better understanding of the story journey, the character arcs and the flow of events.

We’re also writing the first draft of a second novel, so by the end of March we should be at least 10,000 words into the draft.

If you’re currently panicking, relax.  This is a very modest proposal.  The first quarter is all about thinking and exploring, both in the revision and in the first draft (unless you are continuing a half-finished draft, in which case, just keep going).  There’s not a lot of actual writing time, just lots of notes, jotting down ideas, and spending time in your own head.

The important part is to spend some time with your story each day.  It could be in the shower, or driving to work, or a dedicated time in the morning/evening.  Just remember to keep a notebook handy to jot down those lightning bolts of inspiration.  But keep it all ticking over in your head and your subconscious will come out to play with all sorts of ideas and solutions to make your story stronger.

This stage is very important.  We’re trying to get deeper into the story and the characters, to move beyond a simple edit of sentences and structure, to actually identify the weak points of our stories and characters, and make them stronger.  And that is a fully creative exercise.  The more technical part comes later.  For now, we want to be creating, as if we were writing the draft from scratch.

And that’s why it’s easy at this stage to start your second draft.  The brain is in creative mode.  We are already brainstorming one story, so it’s easy to brainstorm another.  So we develop the two stories in tandem.  By the time we get to the technical part of the revision, we will have enough momentum on the new story to keep writing through our editing process.

You might think that you can’t brainstorm two stories at once.  You might be concerned that the stories will meld together in your head into one single story.  It is a valid concern, but one that we can work around, using the following strategies.

1. Make sure the stories are significantly different.

Don’t try to write two high-fantasy stories at the same time.  If you are revising a sword-and-sorcery extravaganza, think about writing an urban fantasy.  Or if you are writing in the same genre, make sure that the stories and protagonists are different enough that you won’t get confused.  I’m revising a science fiction story with a male protagonist and writing a science fiction story with a female protagonist.  One is a political thriller, one is space opera.  They have nothing in common, other than being set in space.

2. Keep your notes separate

Get a different notebook for each story.  Stick pictures on the outside to represent the story, something visual that will cue you in when you pick it up.  This helps your brain click over to the right story before you even begin writing.  If you use spreadsheets, colour the backgrounds.  Use any visual trick you can to get you into the right story at the right time.

3. Spend time in blocks

If you find it hard to have 2 stories running at once, or you struggle to switch between stories, consider working on them in blocks.  Spend 3 weeks on one story, then switch.  As a bonus, when you come back to the first story, you will often find that working on the second story has allowed your subconscious to come up with all sorts of interesting ideas on the first story.

4. Go with the inspiration

If you really, really can’t focus on two stories, then let your inspiration lead you.  Work on one until you get tired of it or stuck, and then switch to the other.  If inspiration hits, go with it.  This isn’t the most practical way to do things, but who said being creative ever followed the rules?  In the end, the process has to work for you.

So now, some dates and times.  These are a very, very loose guideline to make sure you progress towards the next stage.  Work out the timing that suits you, but no matter what, keep moving.  Keep thinking and writing.  If you’re 2 weeks in and you’ve not made any significant progress, then you might need to set yourself more stringent daily goals.  Work with what you need.

January 31:

Revision: Read-through of manuscript completed.  Plot and character spreadsheets completed.  Should have significant notes on what needs to be changed, and might also have some ideas from brainstorming.  By now you will know everything about your first draft, and where the weak points are.

First draft: Main characters should be solid.  General outline of story, type, location, outcome.  Plotting may have started.  By now you will know what story you are going to write, and how.

February 29:

Revision: New plot outline, connecting hook and climax should be complete and solid.  All character arcs showing growth and characters de-cliched.

First draft: Plotter: Outline should be ready to go.  Pantsers: Why aren’t you writing?

March 31:

Revision: Getting into the nitty gritty of theme, message, tension mapping and beats.  Scenes rearranged for maximum impact.  All these should be firmed up ready for Quarter 2.

First draft: Plotter: You should be 10,000 words in at least.  Pantser: Why aren’t you writing?

Like I said, it’s loose.  But you will find that you can’t just work on one thing at a time.  All parts of the revision are interconnected.  So look for general progress, rather than “I’ve finished that bit”.

Good luck!  Questions and panicking in the comments.

Project 2012: Dealing with problems. Big problems.

If you’re even a couple of chapters into your revision, it’s likely that you’ve run into some major issues.  And the further in you get, the worse it is.  The issues pile up and pile up and you think “how am I going to fix this?”

If your revision is looking just a little bit overwhelming (or maybe a great big lump overwhelming), then here are some tips, suggestions, advice and encouragements to keep you going.

1. My manuscript is crap

You’re reading through your manuscript.  So far you’ve found a couple of okay scenes, but mostly you’re just cringing.  The story is all over the place.  The characters are cliche.  The plot is like something out of Days of our Lives crossed with Star Trek (the original series) crossed with Two and a Half Men.  You can’t read this any longer.  Your dreams are in tatters.  What made you think you could write?  You are on the verge of an artistic hissy fit, or perhaps the biggest and most awful case of fear-induced writer’s block ever.  This could last you for years.

If this is your first revision, then you might not have come across these feelings before.  Relax.  They are valid feelings.  And your manuscript probably is crap.  Most first drafts are.

Take heart.  A bad first draft is not the end of the world.  And if it makes you feel any better, the thing I am reading at the moment is truly, utterly horrible.  I wrote it 2 years ago, and it is bad.  Bottom-of-the-slush-pile bad.

So what do you do when you think your story is unrecoverable?

1. Read it through with open eyes

Force yourself to read it anyway.  The good thing is, in a critical state of mind, you are more likely to spot the problems.  Spot them all.  Write them down in your spreadsheet.  Make copious notes about what is bad about the story.  Keep reading.

2. Stay positive

First drafts are just that – your first try at the story.  Don’t be down on yourself.  Be brutal with the story, but separate the story from the writer. If you start getting low, remind yourself of all your writing achievements.  If you’re light on for those, look at nice critiques you have received.  If all else fails, call your writing buddy and weep pathetically down the phone.  Then go back and keep reading.

3. Find the original spark

Think back to what made you want to write the story in the first place.  What was the scene or the moment or the idea or the concept that so excited you that you launched into an entire novel?  Find that, write it down, stick it on your monitor.

Then go back and keep reading.

4. Remember your goals

Why are you doing this again?  Oh right.  Whether it’s to finally revise a manuscript, or whether it’s to embark on the long haul of submitting your work, or whether it’s just shaping up a manuscript to self-publish, remind yourself why you decided to do this in the first place.

Then go back and keep reading.

5. Toughen up, princess.

If all else fails, grit your teeth and stick to it.  No-one said this was going to be easy.

6. Actual practical advice

In the end, once you have read through the horror, you will have to make the final decision on whether or not the work is actually worth revising.  And it comes down to this.

Do you love the story/concept/character enough that you are willing to rewrite it?  Even if you need to rewrite ALL of it?

Some people will be lucky enough to get away with rewriting half of it.  Most of us will end up rewriting up to 75% of the original draft, if you do it properly.  And some unlucky few will have to rewrite the entire thing.

That’s me at the moment.  I’m looking at about a 90% cull rate so far.  It’s not looking good.

But I love it enough to keep going.  Do you?

2. My writing is pug-ugly

Is it the grammar?  Have you written EVERY SINGLE SENTENCE with a dangling modifier?  Does your entire manuscript consist of words of 4 letters or less?  Do you have scenes that are pages long but only contain exposition?

I just read a 2000 word scene that looks like I have never heard of the maxim “show, don’t tell”.  Seriously.  Even I was falling asleep reading it, and I wrote it.

But in the sphere of revision, writing problems are EASY. If the worst you are facing is having to rewrite a scene in a different tense, or reformatting all your sentences, or changing from passive to active voice, you have nothing to worry about.  Sure, it might be hard work, but nowhere near as hard as having to rewrite an entire scene from scratch.

So if your manuscript is full of bad writing, don’t stress.  By the time you get around to it (quarter 3, ages away if you are following the 2012 plan) your plot will be so tight, your characters so well-motivated that you’ll just be filling in the holes, putting on a coat of paint and putting up some soft furnishings.

3. Nobody is doing what they’re told

Characters.  The lifeblood of your story, and the most troublesome, annoying, unmanageable entities you will ever encounter.  Which says a lot about writers, when you realise that we’re the ones who dreamed them up in the first place.

1. Cliche

Does your villain have an eye-patch?  Does he actually say “I’ll get you my pretty!”  Does he have a limp, body odour and a tendency towards spandex?

Cliche characters are the death of a story, but they can be fixed. Make a note every time you encounter a character acting like an archetype instead of a person.  Then when you are sorting out your characters, give them depth and heart and motivation and watch the cliches disappear.

If you’re not sure how to do that, we’ll be holding a workshop on Characters in a month or so.  Stay tuned!

2. Overpopulation

Very bad, and easy to do when you write on the fly.  I’m 10 chapters in and I have 27 characters.  Seriously.  Most of them are only cameos, but it’s still too many.

This is where your character list is invaluable.  Make a note of what each character does.  You will find at the end that you can have one character do several “jobs” within the story.  So go through and see where you can turn 3 characters into one.  Also check to see that you really need a name for that character.  If it’s a single encounter, then replace the name with a description.  If your character is buying bread, “the baker” will do instead of “Bob Jones”.  If the reader doesn’t need to know them, don’t give them a name.

3. Goals and motivations

Is your main character floundering about?  It may not be a plot problem, it may be a character problem.  What does the character want?  If he’s trying to rescue his kidnapped sister, but you’ve got him shopping for a new kitchen, it’s going to feel false.  Check that the actions reflect the characters needs, wants and goals.  Once you’ve mapped them all out, it should be easy to pick up where things aren’t right.

4. I don’t have a plot

Sure you do.  It just might not be very good.

Here, again, the spreadsheet is your saviour.  Once you have written down the events in each chapter, you can get a clear overview of the pathway from beginning to end and identify where you need work.  Where the events take a sudden right turn.  Where you lack tension.  Where you don’t have a cause for your effect.  Where you don’t have an effect for your cause.

Plot is also one of the easier things to fix.  Just think cause and effect.  If your antagonist blows up a bridge, it’s going to have flow-on effects.  If the protagonist’s partner was on the bridge at the time, then you have a plot event that impacts on character motivation.  And the next event will flow on neatly from there, depending on who the character is and what they want.

Feeling better?

Manuscript problems aren’t the end of the world, so don’t let them get to you.  They are problems to be faced and corrected.  Nothing you find in your read-through is unfixable.  Some things are just harder to fix than others.

So how are you going?  Have you run into any big problems yet?  Let me know how you have dealt with them, or if you haven’t, now is a good time to cry for help.

Project 2012: First check-in

So have you started yet?  Have you pulled out the old manuscript, blown off the dust and opened the first page?  Have you developed your spreadsheet and started to read Chapter 1?  (If you want more information in your spreadsheet, have a look at the one developed by Kerryn.)

Or have you looked at this daunting task and wandered off to re-organise the bathroom cupboard contents by colour?

Or maybe you are caught up in plotting your new novel?  How’s that going?

This is a check-in post!  If you are participating, write a comment on your progress. This is also an opportunity to ask for help from myself and the other writers who are participating, or talk about some aspect of revision or writing that you would like more information on.

Talk about your fears and aspirations.  Get excited!  And if you haven’t already, pull out those manuscripts and get started.

 

Project 2012: Starting your revision, Step 1: The read-through

I’ll start with a caveat, because this post is composed of writing advice.  What you read here is my method, and it works for me.  I’m fully behind it, because it’s tried and tested and (my favourite word) efficient.  Nothing drives me nuts more than wasting time, so this method is designed to reduce time wasting and repetition as much as possible.

You don’t have to use it.  That’s not what I’m saying.  But if you don’t know where to start, or you don’t have your own solid method, then you are welcome to give this one a try.

I break all my revising into 3 parts:

  • big picture – the story, hook, climax
  • parts – chapters, scenes
  • language – word use, grammar, voice and style

I revise this way because there is nothing more frustrating than spending a week working on a scene, only to realise that it needs to be cut.  Ugh.  Waste of time!  It also means that I don’t get bogged down in the nitty-gritty of sentences when I’m still surrounded by hulking great plot holes.  It’s fast, efficient and means you shouldn’t need to revisit something once it has been fixed.  Of course there are always exceptions, but let’s reduce the back and fill as much as possible.

Step 1: the read through

I try not to sit down and read the story through in one sitting.  Because then I get into reading mode, and it’s easy to get a picture of your story that is not truthful.  It’s about seeing what’s there, not what you think is there.

So when I read through, I do it chapter by chapter, and I have a spreadsheet open beside me.  the spreadsheet has the following columns:

Chapter name/number Location Synopsis Major plot events Character arc Notes
           
           

As I read, I fill in the table.  If I have nothing to put in a cell, I leave it blank.  I use the notes column to remind myself of things that jump out at me, for example, when I can see a character is weak, where I need to increase the tension.  I don’t fix them, I just note them.  If timing is important to your story, you might also put a time column in.

This spreadsheet, once completed, is a powerful document.  Your entire story, distilled down into events.  Not only can you use it for revision, you can use an updated version to help you write your query and synopsis.  Spend some time on it – it will make your revision much easier.

Also, as I read I make a list of characters as soon as they turn up, with a brief note on relations.  Sometimes I already have a character list, but as you write characters sometimes just turn up.  This makes sure that you know ALL of the characters in your story.

One thing that is vitally important is not to get caught up in words.  Not now.  Clunky sentences?  Ignore them.  Grammar, spelling, voice, language, the lot.  Ignore them.  Because if you start fiddling with it now, there’s a good chance that (a) you will get caught up in the minutae and miss the big picture, and (b) you’ll have to scrap your changes anyway.  So resist the urge.  Even if you get a blinding flash of inspiration.  It will come back.  Jot it down and move on.

Once I’ve read the whole story through, I do 2 more things.  I write down the story question (also known as the inciting incident) and the climax.  So for example, in Lord of the Rings, the story question would be “can Frodo destroy the ring before Sauron takes over the world?”  the climax, of course, is Frodo destroying the ring.

Have a look at your story question and your climax.  Do they match?  If your story starts with “Can Frodo destroy the ring?” but ends with “Frodo and Sam get married and live happily ever after”, well, you may have lost your way somewhat.

If your question and climax line up, great.  If not, have a good look at your story.  What do you need to change to bring them together?  Do you need to change the climax, or do you need to adjust the beginning of the story to match the end?  Which is better?  Which feels more real?  Don’t start writing, think.  Do all the work in your head.

Check the pathways for your plot and subplots.  Do they run smoothly?  Do they intertwine?  Are there any plots left dangling that need tidying up?  Do your characters grow and change?  Do they react to events in the story? (Very important!)  Does every event have an impact on characters and the world, and lead to future events?

Keep the writing to a minimum, but identify on your spreadsheet where you need to change things, and what needs to change.  Use colours to highlight plots, character arcs, weak points, good points.  Spend a lot of time thinking about your story and what you need to change. 

Next post, I’ll talk about mapping tension in the story and a little bit about plot arcs and character development.

Project 2012: … and a Plan (with a capital P)

Wait, you say.  Didn’t you outline the plan a couple of posts ago?

I did, but that was the plan of attack.  Now I’m talking about a different sort of plan.  You might call it a defensive plan, a rescue plan, an emergency plan, or a contingency plan.

It’s a plan for when things go wrong.

A year is a long time to sustain effort and energy on one thing. And no matter how much we love writing, there will be times when you just can’t face another night in front of the screen.  So the purpose of your contingency plan is twofold: to keep you on track, and to get you back on track when life derails your efforts.

Staying on track

Motivational tricks

If you’ve written your way through a novel or two, you should understand a bit about what motivates you to write.  So the first part of the plan is simply identifying what keeps your butt in the chair.  Make a list of the things you have done in the past to keep you moving forward.  It might be rewards, writing dates, creative outings, marathons, your local or internet writing group or just lots and lots of coffee.

Make a list of all the things that you have used in the past to keep you going.  Set up a reward system if that works for you.  Make a progress spreadsheet.  Book in your writing dates.  Find all the nice things anyone has ever said about your writing, print them out and stick them on your computer.  Write out your goal, in big letters.  “I will revise and submit this manuscript by December, 2012.  I will complete the first draft of manuscript name, ready to revise in 2013.”

Journaling

I definitely recommend journaling the process as you go.  This doesn’t mean writing pages of thoughts about your progress.  What I do when I’m writing is have a journal file open next to my novel file.  When I sit down to write, I put in the date, and some notes about how I feel.  It might be just “ready to go!”  Some days I jot down a quick summary of what I want to achieve.  “23.02.12: Asia confronts her boss about the debacle.”  Some days it’s a pep-talk: “okay, you’re tired, you feel like crud and your manuscript is shite.  Well tough nellies.  Write that damn scene!”

Then when you finish writing for the day, you jot down a little end note.  “Scene complete.  Tomorrow work on the scene with X.”  “Sorted out conflict, but where now?  Work out what’s going on with Nate.” “Wrote nothing.  Crappy day.  Booze now.”

The purpose of the journal is to enable you to look back and see progress being made, to keep notes on where you are going and to motivate you.  It’s not meant to be a public journal.  This is all the dross that you carry around with you when you write.  It’s also an insight into your writing process. Jot it down, then use it to help you write.

Schedules

If you’re horribly organised and busy like me, you can be easily derailed when you miss a day of writing due to other commitments.  Nothing breaks my stride quite so much as being interrupted by life.  So what I do is set a time of day, come hell or high water, where I have to write.  And my family knows that is “my time” and that I’m not to be disturbed.

If you’re living in the delightful chaos that is a family, making your time to write is essential.  If you’re studying, or working, you need to work out the best time for you to write each day, and make sure you do it.

And of course the next step is not beating yourself up if you miss a day.  It’s recognising the interruption as temporary and moving on.  And if the interrruption is permanent?  Well, we’ll talk about that further down, in the section “when things go wrong”.

Oh wait, here it is.

When things go wrong

Lets talk about the events that can derail you.  Family, work, stress induced from either, illness, money…not to mention our capricious writer brains. So lets look at some possibilities.

External

  • Work
  • Family
  • Health
  • Social activities

How will you adapt your life to ensure you keep going?  Do you already have a dedicated writing time?  Does your family know what you are doing? Are you exercising? Are you prepared to skip some social occasions that you don’t really need to go to?

Internal

  • Fear
  • Disillusion
  • Negativity
  • Writer’s block

What strategies do you have for when the fear hits?  Do you have a writing buddy to talk to when you become disillusioned with the whole process?  What techniques do you have to tackle writer’s block? How are you going to cope with negative thoughts from your subconscious?

Each strategy will depend on you as a writer.  Use what you know and draft options that you can take to address each option, and any others you know can get in your way.

For example:

If I’m struggling to write at home I will:

  • ask for an hour of private time from the family
  • make my own space to write, away from distractions
  • have a writer’s date at a cafe where I can write in peace.

Drafting the plan

Now you need to write it all out.  At the top of the page, write down your goals.

Write down how much time you plan to spend on it each day.

Write down any rewards, and encouraging words you need.

Then write down a couple of options for each problem you can foresee.

Try to keep it simple, no more than one page for the whole thing.

Put inspirational pictures on there, if you find that encouraging.  This is your

Visibility

Now either print it out or write it on some nice paper.  Then stick it up somewhere you will see it every day.  Because it’s important to remind yourself why you are doing this.  If you hide it away on your hard drive, it gets easily forgotten, and so can your writing.  You could put it near your computer, if you sit down at the computer every day.  But if your computer is tucked away in another room and you don’t sit down at it every day, then you need to think of a more visible place to put it.  On the fridge, on your mirror, in your diary.  Wherever it is, you want it to be where your eyes will fall on it, as a reminder.

Now what?

The final steps before you are ready to start are:

  1. Choose what you are working on, both the revision and the new project (if you haven’t already done so!)
  2. Set up folders, files, plotting cards, notebooks, whatever you need when you are writing and revising.
  3. Start thinking and planning, but don’t go crazy – you need slow, sustained progress.  Don’t burn out before you’ve even started.

Enjoy the new year celebration.  See you in 2012!

Project 2012: Supplies…

So what do you need to embark on a year-long edit and revision project?

You might need this.

Archie Grand

Or this.

Oranges and Lemons Boutique

Or this.

Cafepress

You might need some of these.

Or these.

These might be useful.

And these.

And these.

And maybe one of these (sentiment included).

You could get this.

Or this.

Liquid Story Binder - Black Obelisk Software

Or this.

SpaceJock Software

But whatever you get, you will definitely need this.

Graphics Fairy

And this.

Stabbed! blog

And this.

 Good Luck!

Project 2012: Program outline

Before 2012:

  • Supplies and a plan

2012: Q1

The first quarter is all about the big picture.  You’ll be looking at your story as a whole.  This is the phase where you chop entire sections, revisit soggy plot devices and give those wimpy characters some backbone.

  • Hook versus climax
  • Plot arc
  • Character arcs
  • Mapping tension
  • Voice, tone and language

Worksheets: chapter list, timeline, character journey

2012: Q2

Second quarter is all about the chapters, zooming in to make sure that each section of your book develops the story, advances the plot and illustrates character development.   You’ll be looking at flow and movement and making sure each chapter strengthens the work and moves the story forward. For each chapter you’ll be looking at:

  • Hook to climax – chapter
  • Rising tension
  • Character development

Worksheets: scene list, locations and events, character journey

2012: Q3

Third quarter is getting into the nitty-gritty of scenes.

  • Scene structure
  • Words and phrases
  • Tension in every word

No worksheets for this phase.  This is where you make choices about words, about how you tell the story, about dialogue, about description and language and colour.  This is where your rough words become poetry.

2012: Q4

The fourth quarter is about getting ready to submit.  It’s about finishing up any polishing.  It’s about writing a synopsis that captures your novel.  It’s about drafting a query that makes people want to read your novel.  It’s about researching agents and publishers, ready to submit on January 1, 2013.

The new first draft

And in between all this, you will be aiming to write at least 2,000 words a week on your new novel.  Which is achievable for any one of us.

Project 2012: From first draft to submission

CC M Wright

Do you have a first draft (or many) languishing on your hard drive?  Want to get it ready to submit, but have no idea where to start?  Or maybe you’ve been picking at it for months, changing this and that and getting nowhere.

In 2012 I will be running a year-long project on the blog, stepping through the process of turning that first, rough draft into a submission-ready novel, complete with synopsis and query letter.

I don’t profess to be an expert on writing query letters or on what makes an amazing novel.  There’s plenty of information out there already on that.  What I am an expert at is planning a project, working through steps and goals to achieve outcomes.  I’m also pretty damn good at revising.

What I will be providing is a road map to take you through the revision process for your novel, including what areas to focus on, which bits to do first (so you don’t end up revising the same paragraph a hundred times), achievable milestones for each quarter and a pair of shoulders to cry on when things get tough.

Which they will.

Included in the project will be milestones for writing another first draft as you go.  So by the end of the year, you will have a polished manuscript, query letter, synopsis and completed first draft.

If you have trouble with discipline and sustained progress, or you have a completed first draft and don’t know where to go next, or you have been procrastinating out of fear, then this might be the project for you.

Or maybe you just like working in a group, and enjoy the camaraderie and encouragement you get from working with a bunch of people.

This won’t be quite the same as the Creativity Workshop; it will be a much looser, more open style.  You won’t need a blog or twitter, and you won’t need to update (though you can if you want to!).  There will be monthly “help me!” sessions, where you can ask for assistance on tricky revision problems.  There will also be some fun stuff in there, to help you keep smiling when you really never want to see your damn manuscript again.

It will also be paced to suit people who might be working, or have kids at home, or many other demands on their time.  Hence why it’s taking a year.

So, if you’d like to participate, throw your name in the comments.  I’ll be doing it myself anyway, but if I get enough interest I will run the project publicly.  If you’ve never heard of me, have a look at the Creativity Workshop posts to see what you can expect from this project.

The hard work starts on January 1, 2012 (or whenever you emerge from the Silly Season).