Today, author Katie Clark visits to give some writing advice and tell us about her new novel, The Rejected Princess.
Katie: Writing—or writing well—usually takes time, just like growing a garden. As an early writer, I participated in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I pounded out a complete novel in 30 days! I thought it was perfect, but a few honest critique partners quickly let me know that is wasn’t. Frustration set in and I just didn’t understand why my story wasn’t any good.
After three years of learning, rewriting, and learning some more, I finally realized my issue was editing. There had been no plot revisions, no cutting or adding, no polishing my sentences or rearranging scenes to make everything flow more smoothly. I had cut out the editing stage completely.
Okay, so how does all of this relate to growing a garden? Let me tell you!
One of the first things you do when planting a garden is taking a seed and putting it into the ground. You find the right spot, prepare the dirt, lovingly place your seed inside, then cover it with soil. Writing your first draft is like planting a seed. You pick the right setting, do a little pre-plotting to figure out what your story is about, then put words to paper.
Now, this is where I made my mistake. I felt that once the seed went into the ground, I was finished! But we all know putting a seed into the ground isn’t the end of growing a garden. There is watering, weeding, and pruning to be done. This is when the real work begins! In the writing world, we call it editing.
It took several manuscripts before I got into my editing groove, but now I’ve streamlined my process to a place of comfort. Editing is my favorite part—the part where I can prune my plants into masterpieces (ahem, masterpieces might be a stretch, but we’ll go with that)!
I don’t edit as I draft, but I do often realize I’m on the wrong track with something, and so I make myself notes in the manuscript as I go.
Big Plot Problems
Once I’ve finished the entire draft, my next step is to go through these notes and make all the necessary changes. This might include plot holes I’ve noticed or places where I can tie certain subplots together. When this is complete, I read through the entire manuscript again to check for other big changes that need to be made, and I make them.
Pruning and Shaping
After I get the plot worked out, I do another complete read-through. This is usually the stage where I do a lot of pruning—cutting, shaping, and filling out. I check to make sure scenes or paragraphs are in the best possible order. Sometimes I realize that what makes sense to me won’t necessarily make sense to others, so I need to rearrange my descriptions and actions.
My last step is to read through the manuscript for voice. I want to make sure I’ve used the words my characters would use. In one manuscript, my main character was a baker. I went through the manuscript and changed a few expressions to reflect this. For instance, instead of saying Kayla was going to have a nervous breakdown, I wrote that Kayla was about to invade the baker’s chocolate. I love raking through my manuscript, looking for little changes like this that can bring the story to life!
Unlike a garden, unfortunately, there is no Miracle-Gro for your manuscript. Editing takes time and hard work, but in the end, you will have yummy fruits and veggies to share. And the best part? People will be glad you shared—unlike if you tried to saddle them with a first draft, because really, who wants to eat a seed?
KATIE CLARK started reading fantastical stories in grade school and her love for books never died. Today she reads in all genres; her only requirement is an awesome story! She writes inspirational romance for adults as well as young adult speculative fiction, including her YA supernatural novel, Shadowed Eden, and The Enslaved Series. You can connect with her at her website, on Facebook, or on Twitter.
When Princess Roanna Hamilton’s parents arrange a marriage with a prince of Dawson’s Edge—the mysterious and backward kingdom to the south—Roanna reluctantly agrees, accepting that peace must be put ahead of her lifelong relationship with Prince Benjamin of Lox.
But when Roanna is introduced to Dawson’s royal family, strange mind-bending anomalies are awakened within her, and she discovers the Dawsonian royal family holds secrets of their own.
Roanna becomes locked in a battle between kingdoms. Rebels wish to eliminate people who possess powerful anomalies. With threats growing daily, Roanna comes to realize the danger she is in—not to mention how her own family, and Benjamin’s, would react if her anomaly was revealed.
Tensions rise when Lox is attacked. If Roanna is to save herself and her future, she must stall her marriage and squelch the growing rebellion—all while discovering how deeply her power runs. But will Prince Benjamin and her family accept her when the truth of her heritage is finally revealed?
You can buy The Rejected Princess on Amazon