How to Use Isolation with Revisions

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Once upon a time, back in 2015, I got editorial feedback from my critique partners and was—shall we say—a little overwhelmed with just how much work I had ahead of me. So I sat down and started my journey of revision refinement, in which I tweaked the way I revise my manuscripts, until now, three years later, it's become an expected part of my revision process. 

I've been thinking about that again while processing the editorial letter for The Rising Gold.

I still revise in passes. And while I do sometimes still draw up my categories the way I did three years ago whenever the occasion calls for it (by character, plot, world building, etc.) I now also go even more deeply than that and tackle things issue by issue.

That is, I look at whatever problem I need to fix, then go through the manuscript and only fix that problem, in however many scenes require altering, and I don't fix anything else until I've finished addressing whatever problem I'm isolating.

The issues I use this method on, of course, are larger-scale issues. Inconsistent characterization, or a large plot problem, or a gap in world building—something along those lines. And it works well with the way my brain works—I like to be able to focus on one thing at a time, and this forces me to do exactly that.

Then, when I'm done fixing one problem, I take a deep breath, smile, and move on to the next problem.

How do you tackle large-scale revisions?

Twitter-sized bite:
How do you tackle large-scale revisions? @Ava_Jae shares their isolation method to avoid overwhelm. (Click to tweet)

Vlog: 5 Great Books on my TBR

What books am I excited to read these days? Let's talk!


What books are you excited to read?

Twitter-sized bite:
Want more books to add to your TBR? Of course you do! Check out @Ava_Jae's vlog on 5 books they're psyched to read. (Click to tweet)

On Dealing with Writerly Disappointments

Photo credit: ImAges ImprObables on Flickr
Last week I got a bit of bad writing-related news. While the news had nothing to do with publishing (so don't worry!) it did mess up some of my plans which had been in the works for over a year.

So that sucked.

After I got over the initial shock and disappointment, however, it forced me to really reprioritize my projects and consider what the best next step was for my writing career.

The answer was honestly easy enough: finish revising the manuscript I've been working on forever so I can get it to my CPs and agent.

Having a productive response to bad news helped me feel better about it. I spent a day just a couple days after I got the news completely dedicated to revising that manuscript. I didn't finish, but I hit the halfway point, and I think I should be able to pound out the rest of the revisions with another dedicated day or two.

You can't always control the way various writing opportunities come and go, and there are a lot of external factors that are entirely out of our control. But you can control the way you respond, because ultimately, writing the next book is what matters.

How do you deal with writerly disappointments? 

Twitter-sized bite: 
How do you deal with writerly disappointments? Join the discussion on @Ava_Jae's blog. (Click to tweet)

Vlog: All About Binge Writing

What is binge writing? And how do I use it to fit book stuff into my overly-packed schedule? Today I'm talking about momentum, time, and figuring out what works best for you.


Are you a binge writer?

Twitter-sized bite:
What is binge writing? And how does @Ava_Jae use it to fit book stuff into their packed schedule? #vlog (Click to tweet)

Writing Taught Me About Myself

Photo credit: Kamil PorembiƄski on Flickr
I've been thinking, lately, about how much of myself I put into my characters.

It used to be more subtle. With Eros, I put a lot of my own struggles feeling between cultures as a pale Latinx person navigating Cuban and Mexican identities while benefitting from light-skin privilege, and frequently being assumed to be white. With Kora, I put my own experience of feeling overburdened with responsibilities as a young person, and what it's like to live with that kind of pressure.

With the projects I'm working on now, it's not so subtle. And I like it that way.

I'm currently juggling three projects that I'll be tackling in different stages after The Rising Gold is completely done. All three of them feature Latinx, trans masculine protagonists. Their stories, personalities, worlds and experiences are all different, but they have that in common and I'm delighted that they do.

But long before I'd come to terms with my trans masculinity, writing was quietly teaching me about myself.

Before I began actively questioning my gender identity, I gave myself "permission" to learn about trans masculine people by writing a manuscript about a trans guy. It was a terrible manuscript and will probably never come out of the trunk ever, but at the time I needed that excuse of "this is research for a book" to feel safe enough research and learn.

Around that time I also wrote a Mulan-esque "girl disguises herself as a boy" story, in which the protagonist realizes she's much more comfortable with a masculine presentation than she ever was with a feminine one. That's another WIP that will stay trunked for reasons, but I wrote that WIP—and most tellingly, a scene where she cuts her hair off, looks in the mirror and really sees herself for the first time—something like six months before I did that very same thing myself. Before I was even actively considering cutting my hair so short.

I look back at my writing and laugh because so much of what I was unconsciously keeping quiet was there in my work, completely unintentionally. Writing gave me permission to explore boundaries that felt off-limits in my everyday life, and for that, I'm incredibly grateful.

Writing taught me about myself long before I knew just how much there was left to learn.

Now my choice of characters and themes are absolutely purposeful. But it feels good—really good—to put the things that have been not-so-quietly living in my head on the page. And I hope, one day, others like me will get to read it and think look, it's me.

Has writing taught you anything about yourself? 

Twitter-sized bite:
Has writing taught you anything about yourself? @Ava_Jae opens up about how their writing helped them discover their trans masculinity. (Click to tweet)

Vlog: THE RISING GOLD Cover Reveal!

Surprise! BEYOND THE RED 3's cover is here! And it is glorious! 


Twitter-sized bite:
Have you seen the cover for @Ava_Jae's third novel, THE RISING GOLD? (Click to tweet)

How Many POVs Are Too Many?

Photo credit: Ram Balmur on Flickr
Judging by the various critiques I've done over the years, point of view, it seems, trips a lot of writers up. It's easy enough to understand why—when you come up with a great cast of characters, it can be tempting to think the more perspectives in the story, the more readers will connect with characters—and therefore, the story. Furthermore, exploring different character perspectives can be a great way to get to know the characters, which then makes it much easier to write them as fully realized people in your novel.

Only problem is too many POVs in a novel can make a story confusing, unfocused, and leave writers connecting with no one at all. But how many perspectives are too many?

The truth is, there isn't a magic number, because it's going to vary novel-to-novel. But the key to figuring it out is answering this question:

Whose story is this novel?

This requires paring down to the core of your story. It means thinking about what the story is really about and who the story is really about. Usually the answer will be one, maybe two characters, but sometimes the answer will be a little bigger than that. That's fine, the key is to just be honest with yourself when you answer the question.

Remember, when it comes to novel-writing, readers rarely need the perspectives of various periphery characters in order to understand the story. Sometimes—I'd wager many times—a minimal approach really works best.

How do you determine who your novel is really about?

Twitter-sized bite:
How many POVs are too many? And how can you tell? @Ava_Jae breaks down this common WIP problem. (Click to tweet)

Fixing the First Page Winner #42!

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I am ridiculously sick! With the flu! Which is why I am doing what I said I wouldn't and using a Friday post to announce the winner of the forty-second fixing the first page critique.

(Sorry, guise! There will be a real post next week.)

Anyway, congrats to


Yay! Congratulations, Yevhenii!

Thanks again to all you wonderful entrants! And for your patience! And things!
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