Monday, September 28, 2009

Guest Post: Aprilynne Pike

Surprise! Two author posts today. Now I have a great guest post from Aprilynne Pike, author of the NYT Bestseller Wings (it debuted on the list! Can you believe it?). So without further ado, here's the post:

My Torrid Affair!

With my manuscript, that is.

All authors have interesting relationships with their manuscripts. We fall in and out of love with them, stray to jot down ideas for new books, better books, and generally come back and beg forgiveness and dig in again.

A relationship with a new book really is so much like a romantic relationship. It starts, of course, with the idea. An idea flits into your brain—much like noticing that hottie across the room for the first time—and it gets lodged there, and begins to grow into a story. Eventually, you have to make a decision. Is this idea worthy of that first date? Is it just a passing fling? Do you have first words just itching to be put on the page?

If the idea is hot enough, you go ahead and stick your toe in the water and begin to write. Sadly, like many crushes, often you get a chapter, two chapters, fifty pages, into your idea, and discover that it has a pretty face, but nothing beneath the surface.

So you dump it until the next cutie . . . er . . . idea comes along.

Lather, rinse, repeat, until you get an idea that sticks.

This is where different authors do different things, but for me, I then burn through the first draft—I’m not one for long engagements in real or literary life; I married my husband five weeks after he proposed! I just hammer the thing out! Because, after all, if you don’t go back and read what you wrote, then it can all still be brilliant, brilliant, brilliant!!!

Then I finish the first draft and I look back at what I have done and wonder if it is all utter crap. Only one way to find out. Read it. So with great trepidation, I start at the beginning and read through the whole thing from beginning to end, making broad sweeping notes in the margins, but not stopping to actually fix anything.

This is my honeymoon period. The time when I look at the manuscript I just committed myself to and, despite the many notes I am making, I see it’s sexy kissing scenes, brilliant dialogue, and sparkling humor and think, “Well, I clearly am amazing.”
And perhaps the reason I can be so humorous about this whole thing is that I am in that spot now. I just finished reading through my newest draft today, and I have to say, it’s pretty darn good.

But wait till next week.

When I am neck deep into trying to actually carry out those deep, sweeping suggestions I left myself in the margins. I already know I have at least three completely new scenes to write, and huge conversation about mythos to clarify, a really important element of the ending that I need to make a decision on, and a whole friendship that developed in my head and somehow never made it onto the page.


I have my work cut out for me.

I do a lot of falling in and out of love with my manuscript. I love it, I hate it, I love it, I hate it. It’s a cyclic and rather unhealthy codependent relationship.

But in the end, my book is still my baby, and I love it for all of its good parts. But, like I believe a good mother should, I see its flaws too. In fact, the older it gets, the more flaws I see. And that’s okay. I can tuck it back onto my shelf and turn my head toward that new, pretty idea sparkling in the corner of my mind. This time it will be better. I will work harder, catch every flaw, fill every plot hole! Ladies will weep and critics will applaud! This will be my best book ever! My last book? Well it had a pretty good day in the sun, but I’ve turned my face toward something new.

It’s not you, baby, it’s me.

Thanks for coming by to celebrate! I hope you all enjoyed that as much as I did. If you'd like to learn more about Aprilynne Pike, make sure you visit her website for more information.


B Mari Landgrebe said...

I really love how you described the process of writing, from start to finish. In fact, I do basically the same you do. I write it all out, love it, read it, give myself broad notes to follow on the revision, then pet it for a few days.

Then the WIP's little habits start annoying me. I use the words quickly and silently too much. This scene is too awkward, why did they do that there? WHO IS THIS GUY?! Unfortunately, I'm a novice, and having just gone over my first ever full length novel in progress, a whole major rewrite is now in the works. Feeble excuses for my main character to do some things, and frankly a very large plot hole that was glaring at me.

*Sigh* At least next time I'll be better!

Ellz said...

Great post. I can imagine it is really a daunting process. Good analogy about it being a child. Mothers have to have extra patience

Holly said...

At least this baby won't grow up and expect you to pay for college!

Unknown said...

Thank you for the terrific post!
I loved your description of the writing process.
All the best,

Jenny N. said...

I'm not a writer but I can imagine how writers have all these ideas for stories and a lot of them just don't pan out. It was a great guest post and best of luck.