Archive for August, 2015

The Inside of the Writing Mind

Oh, Squiders. How do we writers ever get anything done? We cannot concentrate on any one thing. We certainly try, don’t we? We pick a project and say “I am going to work on this until it is done.” Meanwhile, we continue to work on other things outside of that. Sometimes more. Because we are all insane.

Let’s take me, today. It’s about 11 am my time. In theory, I am doing a final line edit of a YA paranormal novel so that I can produce submitting documents (query letter, synopsis, a list of agents, etc.) as my main project, after spending the last month working on short stories. I’ve been up since about eight. Here’s what I’ve done, writing wise, for the day:

  • Checked email for short story rejections. I have five stories out of the moment to various markets. Tuesday I received a very nice personal rejection from a pro market on a reprint story. Yesterday I received notification from another market that a story had made it to the final round of consideration. Today there is nothing, but something could show up at any moment! (One story has been out for almost a year. I should query that one, but I am afraid to because whenever I do, whatever story seems to be immediately rejected. I keep hoping if I wait one more week they’ll just accept it and I won’t have to bother. This is unhealthy and I am aware of it.)
  • Posted the newest sabotage on a writing game contest I’m running on one of my writing communities based off of Cutthroat Kitchen. The game is excellent and I’m a little jealous that I’m running it and not getting to play myself.
  • Wrote a long email to my co-writer on a high fantasy co-written novel that we’re working on. We’re making progress, but not terribly fast, mostly because, while we’re good on our individual characters and plots, we’re wobbly on the intersecting plot. This is the first time either of us have tried co-writing this type of story (the idea is to make a shared world that eventually other authors can also write stories in). Previous co-written stories I’ve done have been much closer on the individual parts, and myself and the other writer have alternated the writing, so we’re always in the same place. I think I prefer that, in retrospect. Won’t work with this story, alas.
  • Wrote out some plot notes for the edit of the first book of my high fantasy trilogy that I have been working on for literally half my life. The good news is that I think that I’ve got everything I need to fix all the problems with the story as is. The bad news is that I think I’m going to rewrite the book from scratch. I’ve already done that once, so I’m not ecstatic. However, seeing how the first draft was the first novel draft I’d ever finished, and that I’ve learned a lot more about editing since the rewrite (five years ago! Yikes!), it will, no doubt, be a million times better. And maybe–just maybe–finally done.

You’ll note that there’s nothing about my YA novel there. Yet. I’m a little concerned about the order of the first two chapters. Maybe I should send the first chapter to a few people and see if they would keep reading based on it. Yeeees. That is what I should do. Volunteers?

That’s just the writing stuff. I have marketing stuff flitting around in there too (like, I should set up my dang email list and figure out how to get it on my webpage) but I will spare you that madness.

Hopefully your brain is less chaotic and more focused than mine, Squiders. How’s your day been? Tips on focusing better? (Admittedly, I’m trying to just write down things for other stories as they occur to me so I don’t get too distracted with them, and sometimes that takes a little longer than planned.)

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The Power of Talking Through a Plot Problem

We all know that writing is a solitary process, one where a writer stereotypically locks themselves away somewhere and bangs on a typewriter (keyboard) until brilliance comes out. Your story usually is between you and your brain (and your muse, if you go in for such things).

That being said, I think a lot of us yearn from companionship. I think that’s one of the reasons NaNoWriMo has been so successful. We like other writers. We like to talk about our stories. We like to know that other people have had the same problems, and hear what they did to conquer them.

And that’s why, I think, when you have the right audience, talking through your problems can be hugely helpful. Sometimes you need to look at things another way and another point of view is the perfect solution.

I have a (largely defunct) LiveJournal that I have used over the years to post information about the high fantasy trilogy I have been working on forever. I think only 10 or so other people have had access to it. But even the act of writing information out like someone might read it has help me solve numerous worldbuilding problems, from my magic system, to languages, to number of sentient species. It’s also helped with plot problems, such as the relationship between the main characters and how things had to develop to reach the final showdown with the antagonists.

Of course, the best person to talk to is one that is relatively familiar with your story. These people are the best next to your own brain to understanding what you have and where you need to go, as well as what your end goals are.

So ideally you talk to someone who has read your story, or is at least somewhat familiar with it through small snippets and worldbuilding. Barring that, someone who is familiar with and regularly reads your genre can work as well, because it’s less conventions to have to explain.

Tonight, at my storycraft meeting, I’m running a plot problem clinic which should prove interesting. Everyone’s to bring a problem of some sort, which the rest of us will then try to help them through. However, I don’t believe anyone is familiar with anyone else’s story and don’t necessarily write the same subgenres (my writing group is specifically for scifi/fantasy/horror writers), so it will be interesting to see if this is any help.

But who knows? Maybe getting those other subgenres into the mix will help add unexpected depth to the answers.

Do you have a friend you go to when you have story problems? Is it the same person every time, or do you have a range based on the type of story/type of problem?