As of June 21, 2012 I completed my first draft of Sunrise, nine days short of my goal. As I reach another milestone in my writing career, I’d like to dedicate this post to everyone who suffers from PTSD and ADHD. The latter I see as a positive because the hyper-focus characteristic that comes with it enables me to finish large projects quickly. I can’t see anything that produces such positive results as being negative. However, the former can be crippling for me. I only recently discovered that these old feelings and emotions that crop up and get tangled up in present events are flashbacks. Through the years I’ve dealt with them successfully through mindfulness meditation, chanting and remaining steadfast on my spiritual journey. It keeps me grounded in the moment and allows me to maintain a focus I’ve never experienced before. I accept the events that led to my condition will forever be a part of me, and this acceptance helps with my healing and forgiveness of those who’ve imprinted themselves into my psyche. It’s only through forgiveness that I’ve been able to progress to a place where I love and appreciate the life I’m living.
As a side note, Harmony, a technology used in my novel, Unison, eliminates traumatic emotional memories from the past. The protagonist’s conclusion as to whether or not that’s a good thing is answered in the book and also mirrors my own conclusions.
Now…on to the writing stuff!
THOUGHTS UPON COMPLETION OF WRITING, SUNRISE
Discomfort leads to growth
I always remember that when I decide to take the road most traveled, which for me would’ve been to have an unnamed narrator in the omniscient voice. However, it’s my named narrator that strings the whole story together and brings it to a satisfactory resolution. I focus on that whenever I think about going into the book and taking out all the references that identify the narrator. All in all, Sunrise has grown on me because of a strong likable cast of characters that came alive because of the specific narrator and her personal views towards them. Another unexpected surprise for me was that I found that writing in this voice is not unlike first person—except for the fact the voice doing the narrating isn’t directly involved in the story. I like the level of mystique this adds to the story.
A question I asked myself at the start of this book was:
Could I write a fulfilling story with twelve characters and complete all their arcs in an emotionally satisfying way without writing thousands of pages?
Answer: Yes, and using omniscient narration helped me achieve this in under 80,000 words. After my next edit, which I scheduled in for September, I’m fairly certain the number count will go up a bit. With Unison, it moved up over 25,000 words! I’m fairly certain that won’t be the case with Sunrise as I’ve been editing as I go along, and I don’t forsee many holes that need plugging. As I’m free until July 1st, I’m going to continue to clean up the last remaining chapters. When I come back to this book, I’ll have an easier time because of the following techniques I’ve improved upon.
Editing as I go along – In July I’ll begin my edit on Jessie’s Song, and I dread all my visits to Autocrit to see how many times I overused it, that or was. Not to mention all those duplicate words that I failed to notice because I was more interested in getting the story down! It’s emotionally daunting—and draining just thinking about it. With Sunrise it will be a smoother—and faster edit.
Don’t start typing until I picture the complete scene – Before each chapter, I lie down and listen to music or go for a walk to visualize the scene. When I’m away from home, I carry a digital recorder, so I don’t lose an idea.
Channeling a character – This one is a first for me. I channel the characters and have discovered that it’s a great method to reveal character motivations. After I played it back, I was surprised how my voice changed to mimic the character! I’ve saved them as MP3s and will make them available on this site after Sunrise is released. All these techniques shortened my writing session which is important to someone like me as I have a short attention span.
Run through as many setting and scene alternatives until one screams out “Write me! Write me now!” As I run through the scene, I keep at it, coming up with as many scenarios as possible. When I get to the one that makes me jump up from where I’m sitting and run to my computer, I know I’ve found the right scene, setting or idea. I won’t write anything down until I get that aha feeling.
Add editing-type columns in my outline – This was another big one for me. I outline my chapters using outline software. I color code all the different threads, and this helps ensure I have an even balance between them. As I work out of order, I have to take notes to remind myself of what chapters I edited. Making things more complicated is I do different kinds of edits. I first use WhiteSmoke for grammar checks. I then run my chapters through Autocrit for redundancies and overused words. Although they help a lot, software can’t replace a personal understanding of grammar, but it does help speed up the editing process. After my first clean-up, I do a Kindle read through using speech to text for flow and tempo.
To keep track of the above, I made four check box columns in my chapter outline. Each time I complete an edit, I check the appropriate box. Kindle gets an extra column because the first read through is of the first draft only. I do another read through after I edit and will sometimes go through a third time if necessary. With Unison I had to do four because of the complex timeline involved. I highly recommend Omni Outliner, which I started using only just recently. Wish I got this one sooner.
Change the sex of the narrator – This works great for distance, especially for a first person narration. Unison is in first person male, so when I did the final read through, I switched it to female and that gave me some additional distance.
Writing has become a lot of fun for me because of the creative ways I find my stories. These methods work especially well for ADHD-type personalities. I hope some of these tips can be applied to your situation.
I’ll be releasing an Ebook on my writing, editing and producing Sunrise after it’s published. I’ll also include some additional spoilers along with concerns I had with several of the themes I used in this story
Love and light,