Wednesday, April 22, 2015

1 After Nine Years and 120,000 Words, All It Took Was a Book: by Amy McNulty

We welcome author Amy McNulty to the blog today. She's here to share with us an inspiring post about her writing journey and how the love of a very special book helped her finish writing her own...something I can very much relate to. Thank you, Amy!

After Nine Years and 120,000 Words, All It Took Was a Book: A WOW-Wednesday Post by Amy McNulty

In 2003, I told myself I was going to get serious about writing. I’d had a dream for as long as I could remember to write a YA book and have it published, but there was that tiny detail that I hadn’t actually written the book yet. Daydreaming about holding my book in my hands and going on book tours took up a lot more of my time.

For nine years, I’d write a few thousand words at some point throughout the year, but eventually, my attention would turn to other things. No matter how many changes I made as inspiration struck, it never felt right. Plus, I never researched what it took to become an author. I didn’t know things like expected word count for genres, particularly for debut authors. By early 2012, I hadn’t touched my manuscript in a while and it sat on my computer in half a dozen separate word documents, yet only “half finished” at 120,000 words. YA novels are only supposed to be 50,000-80,000 words, perhaps upwards of 100,000 for fantasies. Yet in my aimless writing, I had surpassed that word count without even approaching the climax.

But that was the year I finally crossed that threshold from aspiring author to serious writer. What made the big difference? Falling in love with a book. I read The Hunger Games trilogy, and I got that all-consuming feeling of excitement I feel for my all-time favorite books. I wanted more than anything to write something that was even a fraction as good. Still thinking about how the books made me feel days after finishing them, I came up with the “hook” that would save my manuscript. Foolishly thinking I could save 40,000 words from my original mess (and willingly chucking the rest), I set out to work. In nine days of all-consuming writing, I got a 55,000-word first draft done that told a complete story (and kept only about 5000 words from the original manuscript). That euphoria over first loving a book someone else wrote and channeling that love into my work is what finally led me to become a published author—not those daydreams.

A First Draft Is Just a Draft

Of course, even though I’d finally written “the end,” the manuscript would go through many revisions before it became the 85,000-word book available for sale. I did a major revision for one agent that landed me another agent, and then I did another major revision for an editor that didn’t work out. After that, I did yet another major revision with my agent’s help, and after the book sold, it went through a few smaller, but nonetheless still significant, revisions again. I think if I’d have known how much work was still ahead of me when I considered myself done, I might not have had the drive to finish.

Now that I’m familiar with it, I don’t find the number of revisions as daunting, although I’ve learned not to revise while still writing a draft, as that’s part of what held me back for nine years. I’ve also learned that I write best with an outline, even if I deviate from it, as even after the 120,000-word aimless mess I wrote another manuscript without an outline that crashed to a halt at the climax when I figured out I had no idea where I was going with it. So it’s taken some practice and some backsliding, but I’ve finally figured out that writing works best for me when I:

  • Write an opening chapter or two. This is usually because “shiny new ideas” that demand to be written appear in opening images to me.
  • Outline the rest of the manuscript before proceeding so I have a guide.
  • Draft according to the outline but let myself wander off of it if I’m inspired. Don’t revise at all at this point.
  • Let the manuscript sit for a month or two, only making small changes (like adding new scenes) in the meantime.
  • Read the manuscript from beginning to end on my Kindle, looking not just for typos but for issues with flow and clarity.
  • Have a beta reader or two read it and give me input.
  • Make changes accordingly.

From there, an agent or editor might offer input, depending on the circumstances. Finally finishing that first draft was such a hurdle for me, but it turned out to be a small part of the process. But even so, even across twelve years and countless drafts and discarded words, some of those words I wrote as an aspiring author will make it into my finished book, and that makes me so grateful I never fully gave up!

About the Book:

In a village of masked men, magic compels each man to love only one woman and to follow the commands of his “goddess” without question. A woman may reject the only man who will love her if she pleases, but she will be alone forever. And a man must stay masked until his goddess returns his love—and if she can’t or won’t, he remains masked forever.

Seventeen-year-old Noll isn't in the mood to celebrate. Her childhood friends have paired off and her closest companion, Jurij, found his goddess in Noll’s own sister. Desperate to find a way to break this ancient spell, Noll instead discovers why no man has ever chosen her.

Thus begins a dangerous game between the choice of woman versus the magic of man. And the stakes are no less than freedom and happiness, life and death—and neither is willing to lose.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

About the Author:

Amy McNulty is a freelance writer and editor from Wisconsin with an honors degree in English. She was first published in a national scholarly journal (The Concord Review) while in high school and currently spends her days alternatively writing about anime and business topics and crafting stories with dastardly villains and antiheroes set in fantastical medieval settings. Nobody’s Goddess, the first book in The Never Veil Series, is her debut YA romantic fantasy. You can find her on Twitter and Facebook.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads

-- posted by Susan Sipal, @HP4Writers

1 comment:

  1. What a beautiful cover, Amy! Congratulations on your accomplishment.


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