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UpvoteYA, episode 11: Dual & Multi-POV

Do you have a manuscript in dual or multi-POV, or thinking of writing one? The UpvoteYA team (including ME!) have Thoughts and Feelings on this. In our latest episode, we cover dos & don'ts, examples of both done well & advise YA authors to think long and hard before landing on dual or multi-POV for their novel.

AMM: Mentor Applications Open!

Author Mentor Match is currently seeking new mentors to join us for round two, including and especially Middle Grade authors. If you are an agented or pre-published/published YA or MG author or know someone fitting this description who might be interested, please refer them HERE to apply!

The hardest part is finishing

Hands down the hardest part of writing your first novel is simply finishing it. Most people start but never finish. So how do you push through and defy the odds?

  • Make sure your plot/character arc/hook, etc. has enough steam for a whole book. Really think about it--some ideas work as short stories or novellas but are too thin to be entire novels. I personally started/stopped on a few half-baked ideas because I had nothing beyond maybe 20K of build up.
  • You may not be a hard outliner, but even a pantser should have their book arc in mind before they start. What's your beginning, inciting incident, mid-point, ending? Give yourself permission to follow what might be your organic process (you don't know yet, most likely)... is the only way for you to write to meticulously outline everything? Do that. Do you think outlining heavily will kill all your creative juices/excitement for the story? Don't outline. (just do that "skeleton" of major points I suggested. The rest can be pantsing).
  • The first third is easy because it's all set-up. The middle is THE WORST. It's not called the "muddled middle" for nothing. The key here is to fight all urges to write "perfect" or amazing prose--just barrel on through. Write whatever you have to write in order to get past the middle. You can revise later.
  • Do. Not. Edit. As. You. Go. This is how writers end up with 10-20K that they are forever tinkering with but never write past.
  • The rush to the end is usually easy (at least for me) and write whatever comes to mind, but don't get too attached to your ending. They usually change.
  • That said, if you get really stuck on your ending--like, the last 2-3 chapters (not the last full third!)--one trick I've used on two books: I went back to the beginning and started editing (gasp!), pushing through all the way to the point where I left off. Reading/editing the whole book up to that point unlocked the ending for me and aided me in finishing. Plus, it helped me clean up draft zero so it felt more like a draft one.
  • When you are done with draft zero, DO NOT QUERY IT. Let it sit. At least a month. Gear up for a major revision. All draft zeros need real work. (I don't call it a first draft until I have revised, personally)

Now the trick with all this is you won't know your writing process until you actually write and develop a writing process! I advocate being kind to yourself, and looking for advice but not following anything too dogmatic. I wasn't successful until I learned to ignore "get up at the crack of dawn every morning, force your butt in chair and write 2,000 words, NO EXCEPTIONS." and allllllll the advice out there advocating that you cannot write without a crazy detailed outline. Discovering pantsing (and that I could write at 10 PM and 200 words was as much of an accomplishment as 2,000) changed my life.

Any day you write and get words on the page is an accomplishment. Fight perfectionism. Revision is a gift. Write as consistently as humanly possible (I do aim to write daily while drafting), but follow your natural instincts, re: when, where and how you write. When you're stuck, go for a walk/run/take a shower (I've broken through more writer's blocks in the shower than I can count haha).

My favorite resources

For pantsers/not-quite-outliners
This 2008 post by Jim Butcher gave me my "story curve" method, which I used to loosely plot multiple books
Susan Dennard's "Where the heck is everyone?" trick to unsticking your plot

For outliners
Jessica Brody's breakdown of The Hunger Games using the Save the Cat beat sheet
While I don't personally outline or follow story beats purposefully (pantser for life!), being aware of the typical beats of a three act structure can be enormously helpful--and many writers who *do* choose to outline swear by the Blake Snyder Beat Sheet. It's from Save the Cat, the industry standard "how to" screenplay book from whence the BS2 beat sheet became a phenomenon.  I read Save the Cat, and several of the story beats resonated, as in "aha, so that is what it's called!" Here is a pdf BS2 beat sheet that you can download as reference. While there are many of these out there (and you can Google to find a "plain" one), I added some notes, re: novels that will hopefully be helpful.
My long time critique partner and writer BFF Heather Kaczynski has A SHINY COVER guys!!!! DARE MIGHTY THINGS will be available as a Real Book on October 10, 2017, and I couldn't be more excited for it. I've read it many times in less book-shaped forms, but I'm so excited to hold it in my hands. Here is the blurb:
THE RULES ARE SIMPLE: You must be gifted. You must be younger than twenty-five. You must be willing to accept the dangers that you will face if you win.
Seventeen-year-old Cassandra Gupta’s entire life has been leading up to this—the opportunity to travel to space. But to secure a spot on this classified mission, she must first compete against the best and brightest people on the planet. People who are as determined as she to win a place on a journey to the farthest reaches of the universe.
Cassie is ready for the toll that the competition will take; the rigorous mental and physical tests designed to push her to the brink of her endurance. But nothing could have prepared her for the bonds she would form with the very people she hopes to beat. Or that with each passing day it would be more and more difficult to ignore the feeling that the true objective of the mission is being kept from her.
As the days until the launch tick down and the stakes rise higher than ever before, only one thing is clear to Cassie: she’ll never back down . . . even if it costs her everything.
Find Out More & Pre-Order!

Drafting Writer

Welcome to the best purchase decision you will ever make as a writer. That sounds like hyperbole, but seriously: this is how much I freaking LOVE Scrivener. It changed my life. Scrivener was developed by writers for writers, with a particular aim of making novel writing a more streamlined process. Every folder is a chapter. Every "notepad" is a scene. You can label everything, and view all your chapters/scenes in "bulletin board/note card" view, if that is how you like to visualize story. You can color-code, add images, drag & drop/move around scenes/chapters with ease, edit in split screen (MY FAVE), develop sub-folders (that don't compile into your novel document) where you can keep research, worldbuilding notes, character profiles, etc. It's everything you need for your novel in ONE document... and they make taking everything and exporting it into a manuscript formatted Word document (or pdf, etc.) very easy. And you can use it to track word count goals: daily and overall project. I cannot describe the satisfaction of seeing the Scrivener project word count bar turn from red, to yellow, to green. Bliss.

Now, a caveat: it's not a magic fix for all writers, but for many, like me, Scrivener is essential in unlocking the novel writing--and revising--process. It's only $40, but watch throughout the year for sales. There is usually a NaNoWriMo discount for participants. You can also download a free trial.
I am on a historical kick! King Ludwig II of Bavaria, also known as the Swan King and, by some, as Mad King Ludwig, is famous for constructing elaborate fairy tale castles & palaces throughout Southern Germany... and for his obsession with composer Richard Wagner. Ludwig became so focused on building his castles and supporting the arts that his ministers had him declared insane. You may recognize Neuschwanstein (on the book jacket cover), which is the model for Sleeping Beauty's castle at Disneyland. Ludwig famously (and mysteriously) drown in the lake at the foot of the castle, and it features multiple rooms (and a grotto!) dedicated to Wagner's various operas.

Ludwig has been on my radar since I visited his castles in 1999, but I'd never read a full biography--I love all the insights and historical analysis into his personality (this biographer concludes that Ludwig was not mad, just intense, brilliant and a bit emotionally unstable due to a shitty childhood). Some historical non-fiction/biographies are dry, but McIntosh has a narrative writing style. I definitely recommend The Swan King by Christopher McIntosh.
Copyright © 2017 Alexa Donne, All rights reserved.

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