Friday, August 11, 2017

Author Aden Polydoros shares his PROJECT PANDORA writing process + a chance to win an AMZN gift card and prize pack!

Today, author Aden Polydoros joins us to talk about his writing process for Project Pandora and how he went from the seed of an idea to a ready-to-be-published book. 

Please give Aden a warm Thinking to Inking welcome, and make sure to scroll to the bottom of the post for a chance to win a Project Pandora prize pack + an Amazon giftcard!

 When I began working on this novel, I did not know what it would be about. I had a vague idea that it would involve brainwashing. I had an image in my head of a boy waking up in a house that wasn’t his own, with a gun in his hand. That was about it. It wasn’t like this incredible revelation where I knew exactly what I was going to write, how the story was going to end, or even who the main characters were. I was just curious to find out where Tyler would end up, and as soon as I finished his chapter, I began working on one from the POV of another character.

Here’s the thing about my writing process. I don’t make outlines before I begin writing. I’ll outline the setting for a particular scene, but I don’t outline the plot. I’ll write down ideas I have at the top of the manuscript, or maybe jolt down a note about where this story might go, but that’s about it. I’m a total pantser because that’s what works for me. If I have to write off an outline, all of a sudden, the writing process begins feeling restrictive. On the upside, I end up surprising myself halfway through the story when the plot does a complete 180. On the downside, I usually have the delete some of my writing.

I don’t write in chronological order either. I may have a scene in my head that I have to get down, and that’s the one I’ll be working on, even if it’s at the end of the book and I’ve only completed the first five chapters. In the first draft, I’ll have up to seventy scenes anywhere from 100 to 3000 words long, which I’ll eventually rearrange into a cohesive story.

I decided to write 1,000 words a day. I had tried NaNoWriMo before and had failed to fulfill the 1,500 word-a-day goal, so 1,000 words seemed like a nice, doable number. Of course, there were some days when I wrote less. There were days when I wrote nothing at all and felt so frustrated with the book, I wanted to throw my laptop into a dumpster. As appealing as that thought was, I forced myself to keep writing.

After several months, I finished the first draft of my manuscript. It was 60,000 words long, and what I could best describe as a “hot mess.” I allowed it to sit for a couple weeks as I began work on a different story, then began revisions.

Before I even started revising the story, I printed it out and read through it. I made notes of things that needed to be changed, areas where the writing was weak or too telly, and scenes I didn’t like. I cut out 8,000 more words, then added another 13,000, bringing the total word count to 65,000.

That wasn’t the end of it. Once I signed a deal with Entangled Teen and began editor-advised edits, I became immersed in several more rounds of revisions. Having an editing letter makes the revision process easier because I know what I need to work on, but at the same time, it’s also more difficult because I have to make specific changes that I might not agree 100% with. I tend to approach the editing process the same way in either case; I sit down, I read through the manuscript and note places where I can make revisions, and then I work on them. I use the Track Changes and Add Comment features in Word to make notes to myself and compare different versions of the same sentence. I made a goal to revise one chapter a day and write 1,000 words, and over the course of a month, added another 40,000 to the novel’s word count. It’s just as difficult to stay motivated during the revision process as it is during the initial writing process, but what kept me going was imagining the fanart that people might eventually do of my characters. I know that sounds silly, but I love looking at fanart for my favorite shows and books, and the thought that someone might actually want to draw my characters makes me smile.

Thanks so much for joining us Aden!  Can't wait to get my hands on Project Pandora!

About Project Pandora:
Project Pandora (Assassin Fall #1)
by Aden Polydoros
Publication Date:  August 1, 2017
Publisher:  Entangled Teen

Tyler Bennett trusts no one. Just another foster kid bounced from home to home, he’s learned that lesson the hard way. Cue world’s tiniest violin. But when strange things start happening—waking up with bloody knuckles and no memory of the night before or the burner phone he can’t let out of his sight— Tyler starts to wonder if he can even trust himself.

Even stranger, the girl he’s falling for has a burner phone just like his. Finding out what’s really happening only leads to more questions…questions that could get them both killed. It’s not like someone’s kidnapping teens lost in the system and brainwashing them to be assassins or anything, right? And what happens to rogue assets who defy control?

In a race against the clock, they’ll have to uncover the truth behind Project Pandora and take it down—before they’re reactivated. Good thing the program spent millions training them to kick ass...

About Aden Polydoros

Aden Polydoros grew up in Long Grove, Illinois, the youngest of three children. Aden’s family
moved to Arizona when he was in second grade. As a kid, he spent much of his time exploring the desert near his home. When he wasn’t searching for snakes and lizards, he was raiding the bookshelves of the local library. As a teenager, Aden decided that he wanted to be a writer. He spent his free time writing short stories. He was encouraged by his English teacher to try his hand at writing a novel, which inspired him to begin PROJECT PANDORA. The YA thriller is set for publication with Entangled Publishing in Summer of 2017. He is represented by Mallory Brown of Triada US.

 Project Pandora Prize Pack (US) or a $10 Amazon Gift card (INT)

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Writer's Resource: Janet Reid's Blog

I may have posted about this before—after posting here for more than five years(!), it's hard to remember everything—but if I have, it's well worth repeating.

Agent Janet Reid's blog is one of top ten favorite writer's resources. She dishes out fabulous and free advice to writers at all stages of the publishing process. Recent topics include everything from general query advice, what to do when your agent quits and the other agents at the agency don't want to represent you, crowdfunding your novel, and ghostwriting. She is opinionated and funny, and her genuine care for writers shows through in every post.

The blog also hosts periodic short writing contests. These are a lot of fun and can be a great way to hone your short-form writing skills or just improve your ability to say a lot without using many words. (There are usually bookish prizes!)

Don't let Ms. Reid's alternate personality as the (also extremely helpful!) Query Shark scare you off. I had the opportunity to meet her in person last year at a writer's conference, and I can tell you that she's just as straightforward and utterly helpful in person as she is on her blog.

Oh, and if you're looking for a writing community, check out the comments on each post. There's a whole group of regulars who follow each others' efforts and add funny and interesting dialogue to the posts. Read along for a while and then jump in if you feel so inclined—they're a super-friendly group of people!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Editing Your Scenes

When it comes time to reviewing your scenes, answer the following questions to help tighten your writing.

1. Did you use your five senses? Or at least some?
2. How much showing and how much telling did you use?
3. What needs to happen in the scene?
4. How's the pacing?  Too fast?  Too slow?  Just right?
5. Is the scene necessary to the story?
6. What's the most surprising thing that could happen in this scene?

Since I am more of a panster writer, these questions keep me in check.  I also find them useful to give Beta Readers.

Happy Writing!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Writer's Resource: Idea Generators

I'm starting a new manuscript in the near future, which means I'm deep in the idea generation phase. I used to get seduced by a shiny new idea and jump in without thinking about it too much. This time, I'm making myself come up with twenty(!) story ideas before I pick one and dive in. It sounds daunting, but I'm enjoying the challenge.

Although many of my ideas are ones that have been rattling around for a while or are inspired by things in my environment, I'm also utilizing online resources to check a few more off my list. Here are some of the story generators I've found particularly useful.

1. One Stop for Writers Idea Generator (note: you will need to create a free account to view the text on this page)
This is one of my favorite new discoveries. The page is divided into sections, like different character traits, emotional wounds, and plot complications. Each time you click, you'll get a few new choices—not enough to overwhelm you, but sometimes just enough to spark an idea.

2. Random Logline Generator
When you don't want to get too specific, this tool is great. It gives you a quick little logline (for example, the one I just got was "During the 1930s, hitwomen form a cult on the sidewalk"). Some are nonsensical, but it's easy enough to push the button and get another. And hey... 1930s hitwomen sound kind of intriguing, don't they?

3. YA Character Generator
This one is fun—you input a few details like age and gender, and it spits out a randomly generated character.

Do you have a favorite idea generator?

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Word Count

I'm still in school so capping writing is important.  I don't usually have a word count, but I usually have a page limit.  This summer as I write scholarship and college essays, I've encountered my worst limit of all - the word count.  Sure, as a writer, I've faced that but before, but some of these essays want no more than 250 words.  Ugh!  Good news it really has made me focus on my word choices.  Thus my tip this month if you tend to be wordy is to write essays with a 250 cap.  Once you get used to the pain, it is kind of fun!