Thursday, July 28, 2011

I Read the Movie Part 2: Options

Welcome back for Part 2! As I discussed in Part 1, before your book is turned into a movie, coverage is written on it. Now, if you do receive a coveted Recommend from the reader, your book could be optioned!

But don't pop the champagne just yet.

Some books get turned into movies, but most do not. Well, many books get optioned, but most do not make it to production. An option is where a producer will purchase the rights to your book or script for a set period of time, and if he/she cannot get it produced during that period, then the rights revert back to you. It's like a leasing a car. Most options last a year, sometimes longer. If in that time the producer pulls together the resources to make the movie, then he will full-on buy the rights to your book. Option payments vary, but I've heard of them being as low as a couple thousand. If your book is bought, though, that goes for a minimum of six figures. (for major studios)

From what I've seen, every book that gets acquired will get published. In the film industry, the vast majority of scripts that get bought never get made. I'd say 90%. Why would a studio purchase 10 scripts and only produce 1 of them? The film industry looks at this as Research and Development. The same way companies spend millions on R&D, creating prototypes that never make it to shelves, so do producers buy or option scripts.

Most producers have options on multiple books/scripts at a time, increasing their odds to get at least one of them produced. Why lease and not buy? These producers do not have the funds to purchase your book rights, let alone produce the movie. They have to wait for financing, either from a larger movie studio (Disney, Paramount, Sony, WB) or from independent sources. When a movie studio "greenlights" a film, they are giving the producer the money to put the script into production. It can take YEARS to get to this point, and most projects never make it this far. Thus, if a producer options your book, it is by no means a guarantee that a movie will get made. Now, there are big-time producers with a discretionary fund. Think Jerry Bruckheimer. They can buy your book's rights without a greenlight because they have millions of dollars at their disposal. But it's still not guaranteed to get produced.

It's easier for books to get optioned, but harder to get produced. Movie studios are risk-averse; they want pre-existing properties or projects with a built-in audience. Hence the flood of remakes, sequels, and comic book movies at your local multiplex. A producer will option your book in the hopes that it's a bestseller, but if doesn't make much noise, then it loses incentive to get produced. Paramount and 20th Century Fox both had options on Twilight but passed.

Producers may option your book, but if your MC can't be played by a star, then it probably won't get made. Mega-successful books like Harry Potter and The Help are the exception because they didn't need starpower to sell tickets. But a producer usually needs a star or director attached to the project in order to get greenlit. It's tough for YA because our current talent pool is so limited. If you can't imagine your MC being played by Selena Gomez or Taylor Lautner, then it will be hard to convince a studio to pump millions of dollars into the movie.

Note: These rules also apply for turning books into TV series for the most part. Alloy Entertainment, the book packaging firm behind Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars, has its own production wing. They deal directly with networks to bring their books to the air. So if you sell a book series to them, then your odds increase significantly to get your book made into a series.

And if you are super-duper lucky enough to have your book produced, understand that once the studio buys the rights, what happens next is out of your hands - unless your last name is Rowling. I doubt Tom Wolfe expected Hollywood to turn his beloved novel Bonfire of the Vanities into one of the most reviled films of all time. And I'll bet when Susan Orlean sold the film rights to The Orchard Thief, she was not expecting Adaptation.

I'm sorry if these 2 posts seem negative. The film/TV industry can be very confusing, and I'd rather have writers be educated so they know what to expect if they're ever in this position. Books do get optioned and produced into movies all the time, so there is hope. But now you'll understand if nothing comes of it. It's not you. It's not your book. The film industry is a different beast from the publishing industry. So while we all fantasize about watching the movie/TV adaptation of a book we wrote, just focus on the writing part. It's the only part you can control.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

I Read the Movie Part 1: Coverage

First off, I would like to apologize for my sporadic posting and sporadic comment responding. Work has gotten busy, and that has to take precedence. I will still continue to post weekly, though my output may only be 1-2 times/week for now. Thanks for reading!

Most of us (myself included) like to picture the film version of our book before we've finished the first draft. "Who would play your MC in the movie?" is a fun game. We've been raised on TV and movies. My instinct is to always visualize a scene before I write it. Yet like most things in the world of publishing, it's a fantasy followed by a harsh reality. Some books get turned into movies; most do not. It can be frustrating for authors who don't know the film development process. There are countless authors who have been wooed by Hollywood, who have received offers to bring their book to the screen, but nothing ever comes of it. It's frustrating. The world of books and movies are very different. Books get published, but movies get developed.

The first step in bringing your book to the screen is coverage. All books get covered, even the bestsellers. See, in Hollywood, nobody likes to read. So instead of reading the book, they'll read coverage. Coverage is a 2-3-page form that condenses all of the book's necessary elements into an easy-to-peruse format. Coverage varies from place to place, but they are comprised of key elements:
  • Book's title and auspices (author, publisher, date of publication, agent, # of pages)
  • Logline (one-sentence summary) of the book
  • 4-sentence summary of the entire book's plot
  • 1-2-page synopsis of the plot
  • 1/2-1 page of comments from the reader
  • A chart where plot, characters, and writing style are graded on a scale of Excellent-Poor or 1-5 (see example at the top)
  • Final recommendation from the reader: Pass, Consider, Consider with reservations, or Recommend
That is what your book is funneled down to in the end. Like I said, in Hollywood, nobody likes to read. Producers and studios will hire professional readers to read scripts and books and write coverage. But what's more common is the producer's assistant or intern will write the coverage. I interned for a production company while in college, and that's what they had me do every day. I was 19 and had taken one screenwriting class at that point, and I was the gatekeeper for scripts and books. Not all, though. There were several scripts and books that come into the company that went straight to the producer's assistant. But in all cases, coverage was written. If the coverage said recommend, then the producer would read the script. However, as you can imagine, it's rare for a book to get a "recommend." Readers hand those out sparingly because they reflect on their taste. If a reader recommends a script that the producer hates, then said reader's abilities will be brought into question, and he may lose his job. It's easier to say no than to say yes.

Don't be cry if your book's rights are not bought. Your book may be great, but it may not be marketable. And the film industry's version of marketable is much more stringent than publishing's. Many agents and producers say that they need to visualize the poster before they will produce the script. Cars 2 was made just for merchandising sales. The problem is your book may have some of those tricky "unmarketable" elements like depth, complex characters, or emotional ambiguity. I wouldn't take it personally.

Come back next time for Part 2, where I will discuss what happens if your book is lucky enough to get optioned.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Taking the First Draft Plunge

How do you know when you're ready to start your first draft? That's a question currently running through my mind.

Tonight, I am meeting with my writer's group to discuss my revised outline for my WIP. People in the group submit material once a month to be critiqued. Last month, I brought in the first draft of my outline. I received excellent feedback and realized that it needed work before I could begin the first draft. I believe this new draft is much stronger, and I'm hoping the group feels the same way. My goal is to begin writing the first draft of the manuscript beginning this weekend, fingers crossed that I get a thumbs up from the group.

I am a hardcore plotter. I like to get my outline as tight as possible before writing. It's easier to fix structural and character problems in a 10-page outline than a 300-page book. But I also want to start writing the first draft NOW. I'm excited about my book, excited to begin writing, and I don't want to lose this momentum. And no matter how strong my outline is, there will always be problems that need to be addressed. Right now, I'm not sure if it's better to keep preparing or to let this excitement carry me into the first draft. Thus, my question remains: how do you know when you're ready to begin your first draft?

Plotters and pantsers face this quandry. For the former group, we need to get to that point where we're secure with our outline before plunging into writing. For me, starting the first draft is the point of no return. I can't rush it. Two years ago, I tried participating in Nanowrimo, but I couldn't make it past the first page. I wasn't ready yet. Pantsers, you guys also deal with this issue. You have to reach a point where you're ready to put the idea swirling around in your head onto paper. How do you know when you're ready?

I need to feel that mixture of excitement, confidence, and impatience in order to start my first draft. And I'm feeling it! I've prepped all I can. I am confident in my outline. This story needs to come out of me now. Ultimately, I can only prep and outline so much. After that, I just have to take the plunge.

My insane goal: To have a first draft completed by Labor Day. I'm calling it Augowrimo.
My sensible goal: To have a first draft completed by Halloween. You know, in case that thing called life gets in the way.

I'm usually wary of talking publicly about my writing goals in case I can't live up to expectations. But I am taking a stand of solidarity with my blogging buddies who have been open about their progress. Maybe if I hold myself accountable to you, that *may* help motivate me.

So how do you know when you're ready to being your first draft?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Hey, what's that over there!

I am guest posting on Literary Rambles today! Check out my tip of the week. Casey and Natalie's blog is a great resource for writers, so definitely poke around there if you haven't been previously.

And welcome new followers!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Would I Ever Self-Publish?

(Like Chantele @ My Writing Bug, Warning: Personal Post)

If you had asked me that question a year ago, I would've said "B*tch, please." But now...the answer is yes. I would. That doesn't mean I will right now. But I'm no longer ruling it out.

Self-publishing always had a "kick me" sign taped to its back. It was linked to vanity publishing, which seemed to me like the publishing version of a ponzi scheme. People who self-published were thought of as those not good enough to get an agent and be traditionally published. However, over the past year, from what I've seen, the tide has turned. We've reached, or are about to reach, a Tipping Point. (a book everyone should read) The moment I realized that self-publishing was legitimate was when I read about Amanda Hocking. Her story is an anomaly, just like Stephanie Meyer is an anomaly in traditional publishing. But then I began reading about other authors who were making money from selling e-books. Not six-figure salaries, but a decent chunk of change. I'm not trying to get published to become rich and famous. I want to write books that people I'm not related to can read and enjoy, and earn some money while doing it. Not a fortune, more like what I made at my high school job as an usher.

 From what I've seen, genre works and series are most conducive to self-publishing. I can see myself writing a series. I did want to be a TV writer at one point because I love serialized storytelling. The stigma attached to self-publishing is fading away. Don't get me wrong: I do want to get an agent and be traditionally published. I still believe in traditional publishing. They provide an array of services to bring books to the market like publicists and typesetters, jobs I couldn't do while working a full-time job. Agents and editors do a great job as gatekeepers; they are better read than me, and they believe in great writing. But if I cannot find an agent, I think self-publishing would be a viable option for me. In my eyes, the taboo has been lifted. You may not feel the same way. This isn't a blanket statement about the industry. This is just my opinion as an aspiring writer.

With self-publishing, I now have a plan B if I cannot find representation. The world is no longer "Find Agent or Bust." It's nice knowing that if all else fails, I can use e-books as an outlet for my books and that real people could buy them. It sounds like you have to treat it like your own small business. Secondly, I don't have to worry about writing to fit a market. Many of us have ideas for novels that straddle multiple genres or don't fit in perfectly with any of them. The first book I tried to write took place in college, but then I was told that there isn't a market for college-set books. I tried to write the book in a prep school with lackluster results. If I ever chose to self-publish, I wouldn't have to worry about where it fits in the market. There may be an audience for genre-straddlers. Or nobody could buy the book, but at least I would find that out for myself.

I don't know if I just shot myself in the foot with this post. As I said before, I still believe in traditional publishing, and I will try to get my book published through that route. But if that plan doesn't work out, then I would consider self-publishing in the future. Of course, first I have to finish a book before I cross any of these bridges. How about you? Do you think you would ever consider self-publishing?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

3-Act Structure – More like 4-Act Structure

When I write, I adhere strictly to 3-act structure. I come from a screenwriting background where my professors and books like Syd Field’s Screenplay drilled structure into my brain. But I love it. I am huge proponent of 3-act structure. A plotter to the core. The only pantser part of me is that I wear them occasionally. However, I actually use 4-act structure. I split the middle act in half, which is what happens in 3-act structure anyway. The middle is very daunting. Once your characters enter a new world, they muddle through and stuff happens until the visit to death/end of the world/new plan for Act 3 comeback. That’s a lot of pages to fill in the meantime – 60 pages of script and untold pages of manuscript.

I always prefer breaking down a large task into a bunch of smaller steps, and that’s what I do here. The 2nd act was meant to be split in half at the midpoint. At the midpoint, your MC’s mission changes. They have more clarity and now they know what they must do. My professor would reference the midpoint of Gone with the Wind: Scarlet O’Hara raises her fist in the air and exclaims “As G-d is my witness, I will never be hungry again!” Your MC should have a moment like that (maybe not as histrionic).

At the midpoint, your MC should be used to his/her new world. If you’ve ever seen fish-out-of-water movies, the first half shows the MC adjusting making culture-clash mistakes. By the midpoint, those jokes stop and their mission shifts. Next time you watch a movie, pause it at the 1 hour mark. See if you notice a shift in the story.

Some examples:
-Hunger Games: When Katniss first gets to Panem, her mission is to survive and figure out her world. Halfway through, she becomes used to the games and life in the arena. Now, she begins plotting. Her goal is no longer to survive; it’s to win.
-Pride & Prejudice: [SPOILER ALERT] At the midpoint, Mr. Darcy confesses his love to Elizabeth Bennett, and she rejects him. She spent the first half of the book detesting him, and now she realizes that she likes him and made a horrible mistake. As G-d is her witness, she will get him back.
-King’s Speech – At first, Bertie is getting used to Logue’s unorthodox methods. He’s learning to speak properly. At the midpoint, his brother abdicates the throne, making Bertie king on the eve of WWII. Now, as G-d as his witness, he will learn to be a leader and give a reassuring speech to his citizens.
-Legally Blonde – When Elle Woods goes to Harvard, the first half of Act 2 focuses on her getting adjusted and fitting in. Total fish-out-of-water. But then she gets used to it. She has a cool montage where she types at a computer and raises her hand a lot. At the midpoint, she gets selected for Callahan’s internship. Now the mission is getting Brooke Wyndham acquitted of murdering her husband.
-Lost – It’s rare for a TV series to have a midpoint, but Lost had one at the end of the third season. I won’t ruin it for anyone, but if you’ve watched the series, then you know what moment I’m talking about. The moment the changed the show forever.

Can you think of any examples of the midpoint in books or movies?  Also, how do you keep the middle chunk of your story moving?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Path to Publication is Diamond-Shaped

There must be approximately 138,743 metaphors people use to describe the journey to publication. Well, allow me to add #138,744. I like to think of the journey to publication as a game of baseball, minus the chewing tobacco.

Whenever an idea pops into your head that you believe would make a great book, you’ve just stepped up to bat. Lots of people step up to bat. They think they’ve come up with the next Da Vinci Code.

First Base – Finishing a First Draft
All players get to bat, but most don’t make it to first base. It seems so easy to get on base, but only a small percent make it. Many aspiring writers think completing a novel will be a piece of cake. However, the vast majority don’t finish their first draft. They get stuck in idea-land, outline-purgatory, catch a case of Sexy New Idea syndrome, realize just how big an undertaking writing a book is, or get bored. So if you’ve spun your germ of an idea into a full-length manuscript, then you’re in a select group.  Congratulations, you’re in the game!

Second Base – Querying Agents
Sure, there are people who query after a first draft or even a first chapter. That’s like shooting past first base and racing to second even though the second baseman has the ball in his hands. Those people will never get past second base. They will be out and agentless. For the rest of us, getting to second base means you’ve revised your novel and query letter to the point where you are ready to submit to agents. Not all first drafts become query-ready. Lots of people, including myself, get stuck in revisions. They decide to put their manuscript in a drawer or the trash. They can’t see their first draft through to polished quality, or they realize that their story needs a major overhaul. Whatever the reason, pat yourself on the back if you write a queryable manuscript. But beware: second base is the only base you can’t overrun. You need to hit that base perfectly. Same with a query. One misstep and an agent will send you back to the dugout.

Third Base – Getting an Agent
If you make it to third base, then your quality manuscript and excellent query caught the attention of an agent. You have an agent! You can see home plate! [Let me know how it is :)] Your agent is like your third base coach, telling you when to run and when to wait. Unlike first and second, there is less pressure to run as soon as the ball is hit. You need to be careful. You probably won’t have a team member angling to get on your base right away. The waiting part is submission, and from what I’ve heard, patience is a virtue in publishing. Also, every opposing player will be watching your move and primed to throw to the catcher. Sadly, there are plenty of agented writers who never score a run despite being so close. We’ve all read stories about writers dropping agents who can’t sell their book or being on submission forever. It must be crushing to come so far and not sell your book. We don’t hear about that story as often, but it does happen. If we are serious about this business, then we have to prepare ourselves for the worst-case scenarios.

Home – Selling your book
You’ve scored a run! Your agent sold your book! Few people score. Be proud. But remember two things about scoring a writing run: 1) Even when you score, you still have to bat again. Only this time, your bases will be different – getting people to buy your book, getting a contract to write another book, writing another book. If you’re not running the bases, then you’re preparing to bat. 2) You can’t score without your fellow team members. Most runs are scored by a steady stream of hits moving you closer to home plate. It’s your fellow writers and agent who help guide you to your goal. They critique. They offer an ear for venting. They refer you to their agent. They prepare you for being on submission. You may run those bases alone, but never forget that you’re on a team.

What metaphor do you use when describing your journey to publication?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

What's in a Name?

Depending on who you ask, picking a title for your novel can be a highly enjoyable or utterly stressful part of writing. Sometimes titles just come to us, and sometimes we struggle to make a list of unspectacular options. Marc Cherry thought of the title for Desperate Housewives before he had any characters sketched out. Conversely, Cameron Crowe went through a laundry list of potential titles like Something Real and The Uncool before settling on Almost Famous.  A title is one of the most important parts of your book.  It's the first thing people see when browsing at a bookstore or online. It needs to stand out while also relating to your story and/or main character. Box office pundits blamed the failure of Reese Witherspoon comedy How Do You Know partially on the bland title, which they believed did not stand out on the marquee. How much power does a title hold?

Kevin Smith’s 2008 film had controversial title – Zack and Miri Make a Porno. The Zack and Miri part was fine, but it was the Porno part that made stations, advertisers, and the city of Philadelphia uncomfortable. In the end, the film opened to a so-so $10M, behind the second weekend of squeaky clean High School Musical 3. After an ill-timed Halloween release date, the movie petered out at $31.5M.

In 2006, New Line Cinema planned to release a modestly-budgeted horror comedy called Pacific Air 121. When they changed the name to Snakes on a Plane, their genre film generated a groundswell of internet hype, based primarily on its self-explanatory title. Parodies, references, and merchandise popped up everywhere before the film’s release; Snakes on a Plane went from title to catchphrase. Unfortunately, the movie was all hiss and no bite earning $15.2M in its first weekend and plummeting quickly to $34M. Last year, MGM’s Hot Tub Time Machine generated the same type of buzz over its title, though it also failed to live up to expectations.

Some Oscar pundits believe a film’s title can make or break its chances with the Academy. Slumdog Millionaire had a catchy title to help it coast through awards season, much catchier than its source novel Q &A. Million Dollar Baby’s original title was Rope Burns, and many believe it would have lost to The Aviator with the less spunky name. For the 2009 Oscars, buzz grew about Inglourious Basterds possibly taking home best picture due to its “irresistibly cheeky title,” while Tyler Perry and Oprah Winfrey present Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire proved to be too big a mouthful for voters.

Catchy titles may get people to pick your book off the shelf, but it's the plot description, first pages, and word of mouth that will lead them to make the purchase. Twilight and The Help are not exciting titles, but that didn't seem to stop people. How important is a title to you?

Would you have seen the following movies with their original titles vs. their actual titles? And which ones do you prefer?

I Know What Boys Like vs. The House Bunny
East Great Falls High vs. American Pie
Old Friends vs. As Good As It Gets
Three Thousand vs. Pretty Woman
Scary Movie vs. Scream
Diversion vs. Fatal Attraction

Monday, July 4, 2011

My Ode to Independence Day

Allow me to give you a completed biased movie review: Independence Day (ID4) is one of the best movies ever made.

I cannot speak objectively about this movie because I love it so much. It is a part of my childhood. Whenever I watch it, I feel like I'm 12 again. I can't see any of its supposed flaws. Let's take a trip back to the summer of 1996...

Independence Day was one of the first movies that rode into theaters on a wave of marketing hype. I remember watching the first commercial for it during the Super Bowl and being hooked. Alien invasion and stuff blows up? I'm there. In the months leading up to July 3rd, I would cross my fingers whenever I went to the movies, hoping they'd show an Independence Day trailer. I would stop and watch all ID4 commercials on TV. I would pore over my Entertainment Weekly to find any mention of the movie. The wait was extra agonizing because I would not be able to see this movie until mid-August.

That summer, my parents were shipping me off to sleepaway camp for 8 whole weeks.  I had zero access to TV, newspapers, and the internet barely existed at that point. We were completely cut off from civilization at camp, which in retrospect was pretty cool, but for a chubby couch potato kid was a nightmare. I was obsessed with ID4, and I hadn't even seen it. I wanted to know more. Everyone at camp was excited about seeing it. A friend from home wrote me a letter. He said a bunch of kids went to see the movie Tuesday night. He called it "good but scary." So it was scary, too? Hmmm. One of my bunkmates who came to camp 2 weeks later had seen it. I tried pumping him for information, threatening to throw his underwear into the lake if he didn't start singing. How did we beat the aliens? How did they find us? All he would tell me was "We gave them a cold."

We gave them a cold??!?! What the heck does that even mean?!?

A week or so later, my mom mailed up my Entertainment Weekly as usual. I almost crapped my pants when I saw the cover. I devoured that article, salivated over every word, and kept that issue tucked away in my cubby for the whole summer. I only had 5 weeks left stuck playing sports and getting fresh air. I could make it.

Walking on the lakefront after a rough hour of canoeing, I spotted a kid reading the tie-in novel for Independence Day. I cornered him, asked politely if I could read it when he was done. He said there was a waiting list. I was 3rd in line. So I waited for an eternity, and a few days later, the book was mine! I read it in a day, memorizing every character and plotpoint. I didn't want to give it back, but other kids were waiting to read it. I couldn't deprive them of this joy. Also, if I didn't return it to its rightful owner, I would gotten my butt kicked. (Sidenote: 8 years later, I was in a used bookstore in Edinburgh, and I found the book!)

Finally, FINALLY, after 8 loooong weeks, I went home to NJ on August 17th. I told my parents that I HAD to see this movie immediately. All my friends had seen it. I had to be next. This was over 6 months of waiting and buildup. So my parents took me to a Sunday morning show on August 18th. We were the only people in the theater. Even though I knew what was going to happen, it was exhilarating watching it go down on screen. I was spellbound.

Independence Day is summer to me. Today movies are given away before they hit theaters. We know every detail of filmmaking thanks to the internet. Directors and actors are more willing to give away once-secret aspects of the film in order to get it more publicity. I wonder if kids today are having a similar experience with summer movies.

Anyway, hope you enjoyed this non-writing post. Do you have any movies from your childhood that will forever remain on a pedastal? Happy 4th of July!

Friday, July 1, 2011

GAAAHHH!!! Rewriting!!!

That's how I feel when I have to rewrite. Plain and simple. I love writing, but rewriting requires the real elbow grease. Some background on me: the first two novels I ever wrote got stuck in revision purgatory. My first novel made it to draft 4, the second to draft 2. Both times, I never followed through on the next draft and moved onto something else. Like I said, I love writing. My favorite parts of the writing process are working out the plot and writing the first draft. I don't think I'm alone. Many writers dread revising. If we love writing, then why do we hate rewriting? I looked at my own experiences and came up with 4 reasons why I can never get through revisions.

1) It feels like starting over. It took me months to brainstorm, plot, outline, and write draft 1. Working out character arcs and plot points, getting the tone right. It was like an obstacle course -- a fun, rewarding one, but still an obstacle course. And obstacle courses are not as fun the second time around. Rewriting means going all the way back to the beginning. Pinpointing my weak areas, reworking those, then reworking those corresponding chapters. After I've come so far, I have to go back. It's like living in a five story walk-up. Trudging all the way downstairs to the street before realizing you forgot your wallet on your desk.

2) I have to overhaul something that is complete. No matter how flawed my first draft is, it tells a complete story. That story may have plot holes and unbelievable character moments, but it is coherent and not awful. Having to go back into my complete story and change parts is daunting. Because I can't just switch some things around and call it a day. There are usually structural problems and major character development issues that need to be fixed. And those affect large chunks of the story. Once I change those, I have to change the other parts that were affected by those changes. Meaning that my complete story is getting blown to bits, and I have to put it together again.

3) I must be analytical rather than creative. The first draft is the fun part because I get to be purely creative. I am setting the narrative tone, fleshing out characters for the first time and writing exciting sequences. I have a blank slate, and I can fill it however I want. All the fun stuff we writers love to do. But when rewriting, I have to take off my writer hat and put on my critical sombrero. I can't reread a chapter I wrote and say "Wow Phil, you're such a good writer!" I have to dig beneath the surface and find out why it isn't working. I have to decide if it belongs later or sooner in the story. I have to excise dialogue I love because it's dragging or out of character. They don't call it Killing Your Darlings for nothing.

4) Rewriting is the opposite of how I like to write first drafts. I write my first drafts fast and furiously. I have a detailed outline, and I try to tackle 1 chapter every 2 days. Momentum helps carry me along. My goal is to finish the draft as fast as possible, so I have a finished product I can begin revising. Problem is, I can't revise fast and furiously. I may tell myself I'll revise 1 chapter every 2 days, but that may not happen. I may get stuck, or the chapter I just rewrote may need more revising. Rewriting is a much slower process, which goes against how I prefer to do my writing.

The popular phrase is "Writing is rewriting." I believe that is true 100%; that is why I am not a published author yet. I do believe I have it in me to revise a novel and get it to agent-level. On my next novel that I write, I am going to work hard to make it through revising. I will put myself on a stricter schedule to ensure that I keep up with it, for one.

What are your thoughts on revising? A necessary evil or welcome pleasure? Any rewriting tips you care to share?