Tracy Banghart

Tracy Banghart's books on Goodreads

Rebel Wing Rebel Wing (Rebel Wing #1)
reviews: 118
ratings: 199 (avg rating 4.18)

By Blood By Blood (By Blood, #1)
reviews: 50
ratings: 88 (avg rating 3.97)

Moon Child Moon Child (Prequel to By Blood)
reviews: 27
ratings: 49 (avg rating 3.86)

Storm Fall Storm Fall (Rebel Wing, #2)
reviews: 27
ratings: 41 (avg rating 4.22)

What the Sea Wants What the Sea Wants
reviews: 5
ratings: 20 (avg rating 3.10)

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    Entries in revising (2)


    Welcome to Revisionland

    I've learned a lot about myself as a writer over the past year. Well, two years, really...ever since I started writing seriously. But the learning has gone all bat-shit crazy recently. Which has been, I think (I hope!) a good thing.

    When I wrote my first novel, the hardest part was just sitting down to write every day. Getting SOMETHING down on the page. I didn't think so much about WHAT.

    Now, with my third novel, EVERYTHING is hard. I'm pretty sure that means I'm getting better. (That's what I tell myself, anyway.) When I was starting out and was less aware of all the choices I was making as I wrote, it was easy to make arbitrary decisions and roll with them, whether they were the right ones or not. Now, with a little more experience, I'm increasingly aware of the impact of each and every decision I make in my writing.

    To be honest, it's terrifying.

    Because, I've discovered two things.

    1) I am NOT the kind of writer who will sit back and work everything out FIRST, before writing. I learn by doing...which translates into learning by making mistakes. LOTS of mistakes.

    2) I am blessed - and cursed - with a very decisive authorial voice. Whether I'm committed to them or not, my choices generally feel very INTENTIONAL in my writing. The curse part of this, of course, is that if I HAVEN'T thought something through, and it's the WRONG can really turn off a reader (see below re: rewriting my main character)

    It shouldn't have shocked me to discover that I'm a learn by doing writer - after all, I'm a learn by doing PERSON (just ask MAJOR HOTSAUCE. It took dating him THREE TIMES over 8 years for me to FINALLY figure out that he was the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. d'oh!). But it DID surprise me. I have critique partners and friends who write a novel, revise it once or twice, and it's sold! (YAY!! :-)) I kept thinking I was doing something wrong when it didn't work that way for me.

    But it's NOT about doing something wrong. It's about doing something DIFFERENTLY. Because no one writes a book - or lives her life - the same way. Over the past year, I have learned - by lots and LOTS of doing - the beauty of revisionland. I'm on draft #10 of my latest novel...and at least three of those versions were almost complete rewrites. With this story, I realized early on it was a big, complicated story, with many different possible ways to tell it. And I dove in, without considering the ramifications of many of my authorial decisions.

    As a result, in addressing one subplot, I went from a few chapters, to 17k, to three short vignettes, before I found the RIGHT way to tell that part of the story.

    And, as a result, I'm rewriting much of my main character, including her fundamental motivations. Yes, in draft 10.

    It's frustating, not getting it "right" the first time. Accepting that the revising part of writing this book has taken 8 times as long as the drafting part. I can't even think about all the words I've thrown onto the page just to cut a draft or two later.

    But it's also comforting, the revelation that THIS is the way I work. For better or worse, I'm a learn by doing writer. I can embrace this about myself, instead of fighting it by giving up on projects too soon. Yeah, I'm kinda hoping that as I get further into my career, I'll learn how to plan out some of my authorial choices a little better, but I also know what it feels like now, to have found a story WORTH this kind of work. And because I've done the work, I HAVE found the right way to tell the story. If, at draft 10, I can fall in love with my characters and my world all over again, surely an editor or two will. Surely these characters are worth loving.

    And when, someday, I DO get an editorial letter, I'll be ready. Cuz hey. Revising isn't scary. I know ALL ABOUT Revisionland. ;-)


    Are you the type of writer who works out all the kinks before you write? One or two drafts and you're done? Or are you a learn by doing...and doing...and doing kind of writer? What have YOU learned about yourself through the revision process?


    Absence Makes Me Crazy

    I realized something about myself last night. Of all the stages of writing a book….forming the idea, character sketching, plotting, outlining, writing an actual draft, revising, receiving feedback…there is one single step out of the whole process that is – by far – the most difficult for me.

    It’s the NOT working part.

    Most writers will tell you to let a manuscript breathe. Let it rest, put it away, forget about it, so you can return to it with a fresh eye. This is supposed to make “killing your darlings” easier. Stephen King, in his book On Writing, recommends giving it at least six weeks. I’m sure many writers wait even longer.

    This is a little embarrassing, but the longest I’ve held out is two.

    I HATE waiting. When I’m in the throws of writing, revising, I want to eat, sleep, breathe my manuscript. I want to think about it in the car, pick it up during commercial breaks while watching Chuck. Tweak a sentence here, add a line of dialogue there. The actual writing of the first draft feels the most like work – sometimes I find opportunities to procrastinate at that stage. But revising? Oh, I want to revise all day, all night.

    On Sunday, I finished the latest round of revisions on my manuscript. It’s off to the next round of betas, and I said I’d let it sit for a week, maybe two…try to wait until I get their feedback.

    It’s been one day and I’m desperate to open the document, reread a sentence or two, tweak that part near the end that I know isn’t quite right yet.

    Makes me feel a little crazy!

    I’ve put together a list of things I do - or should do - to distract myself during this “resting” time…feel free to add your own or just commiserate in the comments!

    1)   Start a new project – I find this works best if it’s a project that has NOTHING to do with novel writing. Like finishing that wedding scrapbook I started almost two years ago. Or finally finishing all the critiquing I’ve had piling up for my partners because I was in the throes of revisions. Other good options: pick up a new sport, learn to knit, take dancing lessons, bake cookies.

    2)   Cleanse your brain – When I'm working, I don't like to read so much...pulls me out of my own story. But I LOVE to read. So this is my opportunity! rRead some great books in your genre, read some great books outside of your genre. Get into a new TV show. Go to the movies. I’ve been obsessed with catching up on Vampire Diaries (hey! I write YA) and have a stack of books I’ve been dying to read that I’m about to dive into. (First on the list, City of Bones by Cassandra Clare)

    3)   Exercise – This is one I’m absolutely worst at. I HATE to exercise. But I’ve found watching Vampire Diaries episodes while on the treadmill (and doing CrossFit workouts MAJOR HOTSAUCE has prescribed) is super motivating. I’ve worked out for almost a month consistently because of that little trick!

    4)   Go on vacation – not an option for me, but if you go somewhere without your computer, you can’t touch your manuscript, right? Doesn’t have to be expensive or far away, or even more than a day…it's good to just get out of the house, away from the computer and the manuscript that’s burning a hole in it.

    5)   Last but not least…rejoin the world! Make a lunch date with an old friend, go to your nephew’s birthday party. Walk through the mall. See people, interact with them…talk to someone who isn’t furry and walks on four legs. Oh wait…maybe that’s just me. I tend to cut myself off from the world a little when I’m in the throes of a novel…this is my chance to remind my friends and family that I’m still breathing. With the added benefit of meals that don’t come from a microwave. Score!

    How long do you let a manuscript “rest” before tackling revisions? Between rounds? What tricks do YOU use to distract yourself? And do they work? ::slinks off to open manuscript file:: ;-)