Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

Preparing to Lose

Well, squiders, how’s your November going? Mine’s a cluster, but it’s fine. I’m fine. Everything is fine.

There are five days left in November. In those five days (including today), in order to get to 50K, I need to write 19.4K words. That’s approximately 3.9K words a day. In theory doable, especially if one doesn’t have a lot of other obligations.

Alas, I have other obligations.

It feels weird to be so far behind (about 11K words as of this writing). I’ve written every day this month except the 3rd. Which is waaaaay more consistent than I generally am during Nano. I had hopes that I would be able to do some major catch-up this week while I and the small, mobile ones were on Thanksgiving Break, but apparently that was a strange fantasy I made up in my brain.

Thanksgiving is always stressful. We host my spouse’s family, and he gets all perfectionist about the state of the house and finishing projects that have otherwise been languishing. So Wednesday and yesterday were useless. I knew yesterday was going to be, but for some reason I forgot about Wednesday. I should know about Wednesday by now.

ANYWAY, despite excellent consistency, it is time to admit that unless I am willing to do nothing else but write until Wednesday, I am going to lose Nanowrimo.

And I do not have the luxury of doing nothing but writing until Wednesday.

I mean, I suppose I could do what I did a few years ago, and rent out a hotel room for one night (I got 9K in that night) and then I might be good to go! But unless a lot of people get really cool about a lot of things real fast, it’s unlikely.

It’s okay. I’m not even upset. Things happen, and I have 30K on a story that I wouldn’t have otherwise.

And it’s not the first time I’ve lost. Sure, yes, normally things go downhill considerably faster (I think the last time I lost, which was, oh, 2012, maybe? I only got 12 or 14K words for the month) but it’s not the end of the world. And I’d much rather have a story I can do something with instead of throwing together a mess.

Anyway, it’s not looking good, and that’s fine.

How are your months going, squiders?

This is Not Going Well

Oy vey, squiders.

It’s what, the 11th? So, for Nano, I’m probably supposed to be at, oh, 18,300 words or some such. I’m at 11,400-ish. Almost seven thousand words behind and slowly slipping, day by day.

It’s not from lack of trying. I’ve been writing almost every day, which is more than I normally do during Nano. I’m just…not getting enough words. And not because the story’s going poorly. I switched to third person, like I told you last week, and everything’s been going great since then. The story is flowing well, the plot points are being hit appropriately, I’m having fun.

I just don’t have enough writing time.

I mean, I haven’t written today (Thursday, though this will go live on Friday) because I had to paint my entire basement, which took about four hours, but in general I’m eking out about an hour, hour and a half a day. Which is enough to get somewhere between 1200 and 1700 words with how fast I write. Which is good words! But not enough to catch up.

Now, seven thousand words seems like a lot of missing words. I could, understandably, throw my hands up and throw in the towel.

But I don’t actually feel bad about it. It feels fixable. I mean, not if the slide continues, but I’m still optimistic. Not even cautiously optimistic, just optimistic.

And potentially insane, I guess.

There’s Thanksgiving break coming up in about a week. Now, this could be very hit or miss. No work for me that week, so if I can properly entertain the small, mobile ones, maybe I could do a couple days of 3-5K words, which would be a good way to catch up or potentially get ahead. Or, depending on life, the small, mobile ones will require lots of attention and nothing will get done.

Maybe if I take them somewhere and wear them out in the morning, then I could write in the afternoon? Things to ponder.

Anyway, tl;dr, wildly behind on Nano but having fun nevertheless.

In other news, I re-recorded the video that needed fixing for SkillShare (took forever to find time to do that, which is why I didn’t get all my words yesterday) so I just need to edit that and re-upload it, and hopefully we shall be back in business.

Tomorrow (today? Friday) isn’t looking good for doing anything though–meetings out the wazoo. Hooray.

Anyway, how are you doing, squider? How are your goals for the month going?

Wait, When Did November Get Here?

Just as housekeeping, squiders, I’m going to officially go down to blogging once a week through the end of the year. We’re dealing with some things around here, and I need to dedicate my time to those.

Anyway, hi, it’s November. I feel like it came on really fast. Well, like, it was October, and I was on top of things, and I had Nano all planned, and everything was going great and then BAM! November, and everything’s fallen apart.

It’s the third, I’m already a day and a half behind on Nano, and things outside writing just keep getting harder.

It’s frustrating, to say the least.

On top of Nano being behind, SkillShare pulled my outlining workshop because I didn’t follow the template for the intro class. Which, looking back, I always follow the template, so I don’t know why I didn’t this time. Spaced it, I guess? Got so excited about doing a workshop that I just threw convention out the window?

Anyway, I need to fix that. Shouldn’t be too hard, just need to write a script and re-record the video, but it’s been almost a week and I haven’t managed to find the time. It’s probably going to be Friday, at this rate, unless ongoing issues eat my Friday and everything continues in a downhill slide.

Nano’s feeling a bit shaky too. I’m writing first person, which I did last year for my murder mystery, but everything feels clunky and weird, and I can’t tell if it’s because first person was the Wrong Choice, I’m starting in the wrong spot (feels a bit slow), or if that’s just how Starting a Story Goes. If I could get some time here, I might try writing a section in third person to see if that feels better.

I’d hate to write the whole story in the wrong point of view and then have to change it later. That way lies madness.

But also, if things don’t hit their stride a bit here, I’m never going to catch back up.

Aside from Nano and SkillShare classes stuttering along, I haven’t even started my trip journal from our trip to Portland a few weeks ago. (I just realized I didn’t tell you guys we went to Portland. Hooray for pre-writing and scheduling posts, I guess.) At the beginning of 2020 I started a sketch travel journal, where I’ve dutifully drawn my way through every trip since, along with including commentary, which has been an interesting but unintended way of examining the pandemic. Normally I work on it during the trip, but I didn’t even touch it, and I continue to not touch it.

I realize, in the great scheme of things, it’s not that big of deal, but it’s that whole anxiety about not doing something you meant to do on top of everything else.

Anyway, tl;dr, November is off to a rough start, and I’ve got to figure something out or else I’m going to go mad. I hope things are going better for you!

Cover Reveal: May the Best Ghost Win by KD Sarge

Good afternoon and happy Thursday, squiders! Today I’m very very pleased to be able to share the cover of May the Best Ghost Win by KD Sarge, which is coming out this Sunday (on Halloween, of course)!

Isn’t it great? I love the hulking house.

Here’s the blurb:

Four Teams. Thirteen hours. One very haunted house.

Team Gargoyle

Anton Berg doesn’t believe in ghosts, so why is he in a ghosthunting contest? Because Lammie, that’s why. Anton’s best friend since the first grade, Lammie has a knack for getting himself in trouble, and even without ghosts, running around a two hundred year old house in the dark holds plenty of real dangers. Anton can’t let Lammie go alone.

Team Flower Power

Quonzhenay is a librarian. Penny has a big stick. They’re on a mission to win a bet.

Team Witch

Ravyn Wyng Starcrossed didn’t want to come, but her Tarot cards told her to.

The Four Horsemen

It started as a prank. Now four members of the Fulsom College football team’s starting lineup are spending Halloween in a haunted house, and Blake would prefer to be left behind, please.

Unfortunately for all of them, ghosts do exist, the haunted house is much more than an abandoned Gilded Age mansion, and a dark power has Lammie in its sights.

When the night of spooky fun turns terrifying, escape is cut off. The teams unite with one goal–survive until dawn.

The ghosts may be the least of their problems.

Look for May the Best Ghost Win at all your favorite book-supplying places!

In other news, my outlining workshop is finished and is in the process of being uploaded to SkillShare (and has been for, like, three hours. My videos are still “processing,” whatever that means.), just in time for Nano (assuming the videos ever finish “processing”).

Speaking of which, if you use my SkillShare trial link, you get a free month of SkillShare. Food for thought.

(Seriously. Still processing.)

Anyway, check out May the Best Ghost Win come Sunday, and my outlining workshop whenever computer algorithms decide they like me.

WriYe and Planning

The last month has been so off-kilter that I didn’t even do the WriYe blog prompt in September. So, uh, here it is. Actually, it kind of goes along with the outlining workshop I’ve been working on for SkillShare.

Convenient.

Explain your planning process. Do you write a detailed outline or are you more of a bare bones only writer?

I’ve talked about my outlining process before, but I’m somewhere in the middle. What I find works best for me is outlining my major plot points at the beginning (basically inciting incident, first plot point, midpoint, second plot point, climax, and what comes in between/before/after those). Pacing is something I have issues with when left to my own devices, so keeping track of my turning points and when in the story those should be happening has been hugely beneficial for me.

I also do quite a bit of brainstorming at the beginning for worldbuilding/characters/plot ideas, and I tend to phase outline in between plot points. But I don’t need a lot of detail in my plan before I start writing.

Are you happy with the way you plan currently?

Yes, actually. I first outlined this way for City of Hope and Ruin–it was the way Siri outlined–and it worked so well that I have used it for almost every longer story since. I’m talking 10K and up; for short stories I tend to just phase outline, though sometimes I’ll also do tentpoles depending on complexity.

For Nano, uh, 2019, I tried a different outlining technique that Nano recommended to me, and it did not work at all. So we’re continuing with this current method.

Are there things you would like to try that are different or new to you?

I’m always willing to try something new, but for now, this is working really well. The fact that it emphasizes when things should happen kind of makes it hard to beat, at least for me. And I have been writing long enough that I kind of knows what works and what doesn’t at this point.

If I do less planning, then I run into the pacing issues again, and more planning makes me want to tear my hair out. A lot of writing, especially at the first draft level, is so instinctive, and writing to this kind of plan fixes most of my major issues so that revision is way easier. But that’s me! I imagine if you have naturally good pacing but other issues that other outlining techniques might work better.

Hoping to get my outlining workshop out on SkillShare by the end of the month! I’m worried the editing is going to take even longer than normal since the videos are longer.

Why Do I Even Bother Making Plans?

Oh, squiders. My month is so off from where I planned it. And I thought I was being realistic! I only had to do two real things: come up with an editing plan for Book 1 and outline the novella for TDP.

Have I made any real progress on either? No, of course not.

We talked last week about the…no, sorry it was two weeks ago. Good lord. Two weeks ago we talked about the writing books I got from the library.

(I actually got an email this week about that hold I’ve been sitting on for over a year to let me know that the book was not on the shelf and they would not be sending it to me. But then I discovered my library now has a copy, so soon it shall be mine. Whenever the person who has it returns it.)

I am most of the way through The Story Grid. A lot of it is things that are already included in my normal revision process, so, uh, I guess I feel good about that?

One thing it does point out to track that I don’t however, is the change throughout a scene. Like, does the scene start on a negative and end on a positive, or vice versa? Basically, is there a change in the MC’s situation.

Not sure how I feel about the whole thing. I mean, if I do the process outlined in the book, it’s going to be a lot of work that’s going to take a long time. Probably put me into October easily. And while I want to make sure this book gets done right, as I said above, a lot of it I’ve already looked at. Maybe it just makes sense to go through with a focus on a couple specific things. But then part of me feels like I’m trying to cheat things.

Brains are whack, dude.

Aside from that, well, I had a repeat editing customer pop up with a job. Probably won’t take me more than a couple of weeks, but certainly eats into my work time.

And, well, I’ve been offered a part-time job, outside of the house. For the first time in 10 years. And I’m going to take it.

Which is scary! But I think it will be good for me. To be completely honest, I waste a lot of time right now, and perhaps having more structure to my schedule will help my focus. Or I shall completely self-destruct. Time will tell.

My general hope is to finish up The Story Grid today or tomorrow and make my editing plan, and then spend next week outlining. But at this point, who even knows.

You know, some months I’m so good at following my plans. Maybe I need to make this one more concrete. Set times and session goals. Yeah, I think I’ll do that.

Wish me luck, squiders!

Already Distracted

So, yesterday, my spouse woke up and was extremely upset about his lack of camping and specifically backpacking this summer. And I said, “Look, we’re super busy this month, so the only day we have to go is, well, today.”

So guess who had to go backpacking out of nowhere yesterday.

(Also just after we booked the campsite we got a freak hailstorm, which shredded all our plants and also flooded our basement, so we got out of here late to go backpacking. Yesterday was…something.)

So we talked Wednesday about World’s Edge being done finally, and how now I need to either revise Book One or outline/write the novella I owe Turtleduck Press or both.

And then I proceeded to do neither.

One because choices are hard, but, two, because I have two writing books out from the library. You see, a month or so ago I was going through some list of recommended writing books, and I thought I might actually read some of them.

But not now, no, that would be crazy.

So I put some on my To Read Later lists on my library card, or downloaded some samples to my Kindle, but there were two that my library did not have/were not available on the Kindle, so I decided to request these through my state’s Interlibrary Loan program, with the idea they would show up at some point but probably not soon.

(It’s been a year on my request for The Man Who Was Thursday. I know it’s still in the system because I check with the librarians periodically.)

So of course they came immediately.

They are The Story Grid, which is a revision technique, and a book called Plot Perfect, which is about plotting, as the name implies.

Now, the issue with Interlibrary Loans is that you get a single renewal. Six weeks and then they go back from whence they came, do not pass Go, do not collect $200. And from last year when I was attempting to read a writing book a month, I know that it is not fast to go through a writing book. You have to sit and absorb them, or sometimes do exercises. You have to try out the content, or what is the point?

Anyway, I’ve started working through The Story Grid. It proports itself to be a system that allows you to pinpoint what’s wrong with a story so it can be fixed in revision, which sounds like a lovely idea, and maybe will be helpful with my Book One revision.

I’ve mostly just made it through the set-up part of the book (because backpacking) but hopefully we’ll get into the process here soon. I admit to being a bit skeptical that this or any system is going to be able to pinpoint exactly what’s wrong, but here’s hoping!

My revision process works pretty well in general, but I’ve already run Book One through it once, so it probably wouldn’t hurt to try something new.

So, it’s kind of like I’m working on my revision? Very kind of.

But it does throw a wrench into things, because I do still need to get to my novella and if I’m going to try out a new revision technique, it may mean that it’ll be longer before I can switch projects. I mean, you don’t want to stop something new in the middle. That way lies madness.

Sigh. Dang it, occasionally efficient library system.

Have you tried the Story Grid technique, squiders? Thoughts on stuffing both projects into my schedule?

Also I just realized we’re less than a month from MileHiCon. Oh no.

No, no, I’ll worry about that next week.

Hope you’re having a lovely weekend!

Moving On (And a Finished Draft)

Apologies, squiders. I started this hours ago but then got distracted by Ghost Hunters. Man, I love ghost hunting shows even though I don’t actually believe in ghosts. Oh well.

So, as promised (or at least hoped for), I finished my draft of World’s Edge before this post! I finished it late last night. It’s so nice to actually have a finished draft, even though I’m not quite sure about the ending. Things to worry about later. It’s a little shorter than planned, only 95K, but close enough for now.

It’s nice to know I can still finish a draft too, after I spent all last year fighting with the Changeling story before abandoning it. (I’m pondering re-working it, maybe as a children’s book? Something for later, definitely.)

We’ll revisit Marit, Rae, Sol, Viri, and Ead in the future, of course, maybe once I finally get to revising things.

Also over is the critique marathon, which ended on Sunday. So now I’ve got six weeks of feedback, through chapter nine of Book One. It was very helpful. You guys know that the first seven chapters or so have been driving me crazy, because there’s something just off enough to bother me, but I’ve had the hardest time figuring out what it was. But I have a pretty good idea now (one character is lacking in internal conflict at the beginning, and I can condense some of the scenes without condensing the timeline), so maybe I’ll finally be able to fix it! Fingers crossed. Very excited.

Finishing a draft is always a bit weird, because you’ve been working on it for so long and whatnot, but I don’t actually feel too burnt out on this one. Which means I should be able to move on to the next project pretty quickly.

I’m thinking I’ll make a plan to move forward with Book One–figure out what needs changing and how I’m going to do it–and then, next week probably, switch to outlining the novella I owe Turtleduck Press. I’m going to film my outlining process and turn it into a workshop for SkillShare, to go along with the outlining class I put up earlier in the year.

(Reminder for self: It takes forever to edit the videos. Don’t forget that this time.)

And then…back to Book One? I’m not 100% sure. Since my soul searching in July, I know I’ve been avoiding working on Book One because I’m afraid of failure, even though my biggest goal is to have the trilogy published, and the last thing I need to do is lose the momentum I gained from the marathon.

But, on the other hand, the novella is due December 1, and it may make sense to push on through writing that to meet the deadline after outlining. It’s probably best to work on something consistently rather than switching back and forth.

But I’m at least going to make a plan for Book One. A path forward. So even if I don’t get back to it for a few months, I can remember what I wanted to do.

Hopefully.

Sigh.

I mean, I could always try to do both, I suppose. They’re in different stages, and I can normally manage an editing project and a writing project at the same time. We’ll just have to see.

Anyway, happy September, squiders. See you Friday!

The Climax Conundrum

Oh, squiders. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I always get all squirrelly when I reach the climax of a novel. It’s extremely frustrating, because I’m so close to being done, but sitting down and actually working, getting more than a few hundred words in a go, is nigh impossible.

You’d think it’d get easier over time.

So far, it does not.

Anyway, I’ve reached that point in World’s Edge. A couple of weeks late. I should build a few extra weeks into the ends of all my schedules to deal with climax focus issues but I never do.

This climax is a little trickier than usual, you see.

If you recall, every time I do Nanowrimo (at least recently), I try something new. The raw creative energy that accompanies Nano is a great time to try something that might not otherwise get done (and also, serious projects sometimes do not hold up well under the “quantity over quality” mentality). The new thing for 2019, when I did World’s Edge, was writing from a non-protagonist viewpoint.

You know, think the Sherlock Holmes books, where Watson is telling the story but Sherlock is (mostly) doing the work.

This hasn’t been too bad, in the long run, because it hasn’t been hard to give my viewpoint character (and it is single viewpoint, another thing I’ve never done in a work of this length) her own character arcs and conflicts to go alongside the protagonist’s arcs.

But now, in the climax, I’ve run into some issues. It feels disingenuous to just have my viewpoint character follow the protagonist around and narrate what she (the protagonist) is doing. At the same time, my viewpoint character absolutely cannot resolve the main plot because she’s not a main player in it.

So I’m struggling with keeping my viewpoint character active in the climax of a story that’s not fully her own.

No wonder I’m only getting a few hundred words at a time.

That said, I am almost done with this draft, and then I’ll do what I do with all my first drafts…let it sit for a bit and then recruit a couple of betas to see if it’s fixable. Most things are fixable–I find I can’t get anywhere near a climax if the story isn’t mostly working–so I’m not too worried.

This is probably the only post for this week, my dear squiders. I’ve got some intensive leadership training this weekend (and some questions I have not yet answered for said training), and I’ve got to prepare and pack and all that jazz.

But fingers crossed that by the time I’m back here next week, the draft is done and we can move on to new and exciting waters.

(It’s a joke because World’s Edge takes place on a boat.)

Pondering a Series Bible

I’ve heard about series bibles before, but I’ve never really considered making one. A series bible, for those unfamiliar with the terminology, is a document where you keep all your information relating to a series, such as character information, worldbuilding, plot summaries, etc.

If you’ve been here for a while, you know I don’t tend to write series. In fact, aside from my trilogy and the Fractured World universe, I’ve never written multiple stories in the same universe (aside from little scenes here and there for my own edification). So while series bibles have sounded interesting, they’ve never seemed like they would be much use to me.

However, today I was working on one of those little scenes I mentioned above. These are little vignettes related to the main story that aren’t meant for any specific except to help me flesh out character and worldbuilding. Most of them are backstory, though some of them are scenes from alternate points of view. But, anyway, I was working on one related to the trilogy, since I’m still running it through the critique marathon and will be working on it again shortly.

And I ran into some issues where I couldn’t remember some of my worldbuilding. Or if I’d done that particular worldbuilding.

And then I had to do said worldbuilding, which slowed down the process, and made more work of random little scenes than I wanted.

So maybe it wouldn’t hurt to consolidate all my notes in one place, where I can find everything when I need it. I mean, I do this for individual books, so it makes sense to move all the stuff from the whole trilogy into one place, right? Or copy it over, maybe, so the information is still in place for the individual book and I don’t have to dig through everything to find it.

Have you guys used a series bible? How many stories are necessary in a world before you start up a bible? What do you use?

(In the interest of full transparency, I do have a bible for the Fractured World stories. Because the Fractured World is designed to have multiple authors telling stories in it, I made a governing document so that everyone’s worldbuilding is consistent.)