Ready to sprint

I have joined writing groups, found a beta reader and made progress on my family history novel. Whew! What a lot for the last couple of weeks. I’m very thankful for the writing groups and the online groups I’ve joined, because I am getting back to being able to write after losing John and three other dear friends in the last two months. Writing helps balance the stress of daily life and gives me a chance to breathe.

I joined the Idaho Writers League and our local chapter, PBIF, named for the cities from which we live. My beta reader is from our local chapter and she has reignited my writing excitment on Silent Thunder. With her help, I finally like my rewrite of the first chapter. I will try to post it on the Bookshelf or somewhere on the site. I would love to get all of your comments as well.

I am a short-term member of the Manuscript Academy and am seriously thinking about making it a longer engagement. I joined to take part in a three-day online workshop on revisions. I’ve also gained tons of knowledge listening to the free podcasts and heartily recommend the site for writers. The academy also offers the Manuscript Wish List (#MSWL) where agents post what type of works they would like to receive. It’s on Twitter and sometimes seems like a coffee shop conversation between agents, but it can be helpful.

This weekend I’m going to join DIY MFA for writing sprints. It helps focus attention on writing for a set period of time and it, also, will be done online. It is free for anyone to join and you can find out more information at #DIYMFASprint. Gabriela Pereira is the creator of DIY MFA and she has helpful advice for writers, certainly, and for anyone. The Facebook page is Word Nerds Unite. She recently re-released a three-part video series called “Stop Dreaming, Start Doing.” I watched the first video and was impressed by how much was applicable to my life in general, not just my writing.

One gem of advice that I heard was turning “I can’t …” into “How can I …” So instead of feeling the despair of trimming another 3,000 words out of my novel – I can’t cut 3,000 words! Now I’m thinking, how can I cut 3,000 words. The word trimming is important and it is the task I face now with Silent Thunder. I’ve added thousands of new words in revising the novel and taking out sections of the passive voice and putting in new active scenes. Getting rid of the passive voice is a good thing and the added passages provide depth to the story that was lacking. But there are industry standards for lengths of books that vary by genre. For adult fiction, it’s 70,000 to 120,000 according to Jericho Writers’ Harry Bingham and others who have spoken on the subject. It would seem I’m within the standard, but for commercial publishing, most novels are in the 70,000 to 90,000 range. Some agents won’t look at a work outside of 90,000. I’m not finished scrubbing the passive voice and already I’m at 103,354 words.

But it’s not just for publishing sake that I’m keeping a close eye on the word count. Thank goodness my writing software – Scrivner – counts the words for me! The more tightly written the story, the more interesting it is for readers. A writer may think 300 words on the history of Idaho’s Great Rift, a conglomerate of ancient lava flows that stretch from central Idaho to near the southern corner where Idaho, Utah and Wyoming meet in important to include in an action spy story, but readers may get bored and close the book. How many of you made it through that long discription?

So this is my next task: go through Silent Thunder line by line and decide if each is important to moving the story forward. Right after I spend the weekend sprint writing, of course!

I hope the best for all!

Enjoy the read,

TC Robinson

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