The Trick is to Learn From Them

A reminder: This post courtesy of Julie Jarnagin’s 101 Blog Post Ideas for Writers.

22. List the biggest mistakes you made in your first manuscript

For the purpose of this post, I am going to use Nowhere to Hide, my zombie apocalypse novel, because it is the only (non-fan-fiction) manuscript I’ve ever finished (minus the editing part, which is happening now). So, without further ado:

– I didn’t plan anything. While I’ve mentioned before that I’m not the planning type and that I tend to prefer just writing, I suspect that having a general layout (at the very least) would have significantly decreased the length of time it took me to finish this story.

– I wrote a prologue. I personally don’t see this as a ‘mistake’, exactly, but after having a number of people on Critique Circle tell me that the prologue was pointless and detracted from the story, I guess it was maybe a mistake. :\

– I started a “shout-out” naming convention, giving my characters last names of famous horror-guru authors/directors/etc, and then promptly forgot about following through with it once I hit the fourth character.

– Looking back at certain sections of the story, I see that I rushed through things that I didn’t find as interesting, but are actually fairly important parts of the overall narrative.

– I didn’t establish character stories. I’m sure this isn’t a necessity for everyone, but if there’s one aspect of the planning process that I, personally, should be doing, it’s creating character backgrounds ahead of time. I tend to just go with the flow, and more often than not I find myself writing my main character’s feelings or actions to reflect how I think I would feel or act, but that’s not really a smart way of doing things. Not all of my characters can have my exact personal thoughts and beliefs. That’s just foolish. What I really need to start doing is establishing my character’s lives and personalities before I presume to write about them.

I’m sure there’s more, but I don’t really have to bash myself all night long, do I? 🙂

Interesting Indeed…

A reminder: This post courtesy of Julie Jarnagin’s 101 Blog Post Ideas for Writers.

17. The most interesting piece of research you came across

As mentioned in my previous post, my “research” for “Nowhere to Hide” was nothing more than the fact that I watched a lot of zombie movies, read a lot of zombie books, and played a lot of zombie games before deciding to write my own zombie apocalypse novel. The result of this “research” method is that I’ve learned a lot about zombie culture, if you will, and gotten a lot of looks at how different people (directors, authors, game producers) see zombies.

The most interesting thing I came across during that period of zombie overload was a book that (evidently) many, many people have read: “The Zombie Survival Guide” by Max Brooks. I actually bought the book for my husband back a few years ago, before it became evident that I am actually the zombie nut in the family. The book is written like an actual survival guide, with the interwoven backstory that the zombie outbreak has already occurred. The author goes into great detail about the physiology and abilities of zombies, what kinds of weapons are best to use, how to find shelter, etc etc etc. It’s an interesting (if not disturbing) read. No one particular piece of information stands out to me as the “most interesting”, but the book in itself should hold that spot because of the extreme detail put into it. Max Brooks is a man who really, really things a lot about zombies. o.O