Monday, November 4, 2013

From Puddle Play to Stain Removal: Novel Writing from Mud to Clean

I'm thrilled to have Wendy Paine Miller here. She's just released a new novella that I can't wait to read! Isn't the cover gorgeous? Today she's been kind enough to join us and tell us a little about her writing process. Here's Wendy - 

I watch my six-year-old as we wait for her bus in the rain. We both have umbrellas protecting our heads, but I notice her noticing the rain-spattered puddle. Without any further hesitation, she leaps directly into the center. No doubt about it, kids are attracted to getting sloppy in puddles.
I get that feeling. I’m addicted to getting sloppy while writing novels.
Here’s my interpretation of how the novel writing process plays out.
Rough draft = Jump in puddle, Splash around, Get covered in mud
NaNo is well underway. Writers all over the world are giving it a go. One of the best pieces of advice I have offer at this stage is to do everything in your power not to censor yourself. Some of my best writing has come when I didn’t over think a plot or contemplate character attributes to death. Write free.
First read through = Assess the damage, Determine if clothes are salvageable
I know, I know, it’s at this point you’ll be really tempted to Shout (like that?). But try to resist. Read the work and as Stephen King suggests read as much of it in one sitting as possible. Now, I know everyone goes about this differently, but what I’m about to share might shock you. I’ve had to discard an entire novel. We’ll call it Number 5. I got through about fifty pages and it hit me it wasn’t going to work as a novel. Now some would have rewritten the whole thing. I realized the best move was to put it aside and write something new. For the time being Number 5 wasn’t salvageable. Trust your gut on this.
Time for edits = The work might need to be stripped down, Remove unnecessary and extra muddy parts, Squirt with stain remover & soak in cold water, Apply more stain remover, Toss in laundry, Bleach may or may not be necessary, Hang to air dry, Repeat
Getting down to business. It’s essential to learn which scenes need to be cut, which words. If it doesn’t help move the plot forward, strip it out. Apply techniques that will improve your writing. If needed, take time to let the changes steep. Continue to apply what you’ve learned in craft books and by read-throughs, Seek out advice from critique partners, beta readers and a professional editor, incorporate additional changes, give it time to come together, and if necessary, repeat.
The next time you spot a stain or your child bolts for a puddle you’ll recall this post. 
In the meantime, make a habit of dancing in puddles. There will always be time to launder. I’m a huge fan of novel ideas that invite the mind to wander.

Thanks for being here, Wendy! 
Writers - What's your favorite step in the writing process?

Blurb for The Disappearing Key:
Gabrielle Bivane never expected parenting a teenager would be this hard, but she never expected stillborn Oriana to live to see fourteen, either. The night of Oriana's birth, Gabrielle and her husband Roy fused their genetic and engineering geniuses to bring back all that was lost to them—at a cost. 
The secret must be kept. 
Oriana Bivane senses she’s not like the other girls her age, but the time has come for her to change all that. She’s tired of secrets, but does she confide in the wrong person?

The life-giving key, suddenly missing, must be found. 
Available on Amazon Kindle & in paperback
Bio: Wendy is a native New Englander who feels most alive when she's laughing, reading, writing or taking risks. She's authored nine novels and is currently writing what she hopes will be your future book club pick. Her work has been published in numerous anthologies and online sites. Wendy lives with her husband and their three girls in a home bursting with imagination and hilarity.

She's represented by Rachelle Gardner of Books & Such Literary Agency.


  1. Julie, It's so cool to be here today! I've been having a blast playing in the mud lately. And I'm excited for you to read it, too. Looking forward to your thoughts! Thanks for featuring me.
    ~ Wendy

  2. Hi Wendy and Julie! Sounds like an interesting story. Favorite part of writing? Hmmm--when I find my stride and balance in the first draft and dive deep into POV.

  3. Yeah, this can be the hard part of the process. But thanks for the great tips!!

    Sarah Allen
    (From Sarah, with Joy)