Posts Tagged ‘Trilogy’

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!

Re-Evaluating Writing Goals

Well, guys, I’m back from camp, and, in theory, I can rev up my engines, or some metaphor that makes sense.

Last week we talked about my writing journal and also how it’s July and my word for the year, Polish, just has not been happening. The idea being that I would use said writing journal to look at my goals for the year and either figure out how to re-focus on Polish or change the focus for the year to be something that fit in better with what I’m actually working on.

However, it turns out it’s kind of hard to get going on re-evaluating your goals. So, eventually I decided to ask myself a pointed, direct question:

What do I want, more than anything else?

If I can only accomplish one thing, what do I want it to be?

And the answer was that I want to get my fantasy trilogy published.

Which led me to the revelation that maybe the reason that I have my fingers in so many pots is because I am avoiding working toward this particular goal.

Hold on, let me see if I can clarify.

I have been working on the Trilogy for SO LONG. It’s been 17 years since I wrote the first draft, 22 since I first came up with the idea. I have written the first book, in its entirety, three times. It holds a special place in my heart as the first book I ever finished, and at this point I know the characters like I know my family. It’s near and dear to my heart.

BUT when something is so important to you, it’s hard to put it out there, to be rejected. So I think I write other things, work on other projects, because if they fail, oh well. Or maybe I’m putting other things out there because if they work, then it shows that I’m good enough, my stories are good enough, and I can risk putting out the Trilogy.

But the fact of the matter is that I’m all over the place–other novels, trying out new genres, working on the nonfiction stuff–because I’m avoiding fully committing to the Trilogy and potentially getting hurt.

Oof. It was a realization, I tell you what.

It seems logical what I should do now. If the Trilogy is what really matters to me, I should switch over to it. “Get the Trilogy published” isn’t a good goal, because as we’ve talked about before, any goals that rely on other people are frustrating and leave you without control, but “Polish the Trilogy and get it ready for submission” is a perfectly good goal.

But I’ve got to tell you, dropping the defensive behavior is not easy. When I even thought the idea it made me wildly anxious. Landsquid knows how long I’ve been doing this. Years, at least.

So I’m going to compromise with myself. I’m going to take steps toward the main goal. There’s two weeks left of the summer critiquing marathon over in one of my writing groups, so I can at least get feedback on the first and maybe the second chapter. I have beta comments from previous critiques that I’ve already put into my document. So, in theory, I should have enough feedback to get going on the next step after the end of the marathon.

Meanwhile, I’m still going to work on finishing this draft of World’s Edge. It’s the same world as the Trilogy, so it’s arguably related. I’ve got a couple of commitments that need fulfilling as well–the next part of a serial for TDP, and a novella that needs to be written over the next few months. Those need to be done.

But I’ve got to finally commit to the Trilogy–really commit–or it’s never going to go anywhere.

Blah. Scary. Stupid journal, revealing all my deepest secrets to myself.

Anyway, how are you?

Getting Things Done, Kit?

You know, having a website is entirely too much work. Is it too much to ask that it just exists and doesn’t break?

Apparently.

March has been a month, and not a good one. Nothing terrible, just a lot of little things (okay, and one big thing) that are making it hard to concentrate. I would like to say I’m making mounds of progress, making up for a lousy February.

I’m certainly making MORE progress. Is it a reasonable amount?

No, probably not.

It’s frustrating, but I’m trying not to beat myself up about it too much. But part of me wonders when the heck I’m going to get my act together. It’s not like I’m lacking the time in which to work, but I’m not using my time well.

For example, I had two hours this morning to myself, in which I intended to write some on World’s Edge. Instead I made the mistake of checking Discord and got sucked into a trivia competition (which I did end up winning, so there’s that at least).

No writing has occurred.

I have read back through World’s Edge and done some plot work, including overall themes and what needs to happen next. I’m ready to write whenever I actually do it, I guess.

I’m making better progress on my SkillShare class. Admittedly, this one follows one of the Writers’ Motivation series pretty closely, so I’m not reinventing the wheel.

Hm. Snowing again.

Even so, making the class is going slower than I would like. And I haven’t gotten my beta feedback on Book One yet, so I’m still waiting on that.

I’m frustrated at myself. I know I can do better–and more consistent–work than this.

Tips, squiders? Random, vague encouragement?

Moving Forward

Hi, squiders! Sorry about missing Tuesday. It’s been kind of a rough week, but I don’t really have an excuse.

But anyway, we’re in to March! Crazy, right? I know everyone’s focused on how it’s been a year since the world essentially turned upset down, but isn’t that insane? I can remember the last time I did a number of things–we went to the movies on March 8, to the theater on March 12, out to dinner on March 14. No one thought we would still be here a year later, not then.

ANYWAY.

February was a loss, really–I did write some alternative openings for Book One, but with the waiting on feedback and my inability to focus, not much else got done.

Last thing I want is for March to go that way as well. And it could–I am still waiting on feedback. But I’ve come up with a solution.

Do you remember World’s Edge? I worked on it for Nanowrimo in 2019. (Lots of info there, if you’re interested–character pics and worldbuilding and the works.) As a refresher, it follows Marit, who’s taken passage on a ship to escape something back home–a ship that’s attempting an ocean passage no one has successfully made in centuries.

I finished up Nano with about 55K out of a planned 100K.

So, Kit, you might ask, how does this solve anything?

Well, World’s Edge takes place in the same world as the Trilogy and hence, Book One. About 700 years before hand, yes, but same world nonetheless. Which means I can work on completing this draft of World’s Edge without getting too far from the Trilogy, which means, when I have everything I need (and find a direction), it won’t be too hard to switch gears back to revision on Book One.

And I’ll be doing something instead of going insane.

Of course, now I have to figure out where I was and what I was doing. I’ve read back through the current draft. It cuts off rather abruptly, but really I should expect that by now. Hopefully by going through my outline and notes I’ll be able to pick everything back up and get going.

World’s Edge was on my list of things to do this year anyway.

So! Onward!

What are you working on this month, squider?

Frustration

Let me just say, this is the worst revision. I finally got my alternate beginnings done and sent them out to my betas, so now we’re in for more waiting.

(I just got an email from one beta that says she loves chapters 1-9 so she doesn’t even know if she wants to look at the alternatives. Which, I mean, fair, I guess? My other beta also said that they thought the beginning was mostly okay as is, but I haven’t heard back about the alternatives.)

So is the weird pacing at the beginning all in my head? Easily fixed by adding in some seasons underneath the chapter headings?

I am so very frustrated. I’m not sure what direction I need to be going in, here, and so I’m not sure how I should be working. Getting the alt beginnings done was something, but now that it is done, I don’t know what my next step is and I’m itching to be doing something. But I feel like I can’t finish tweaking the rest of the book until I know how it starts.

nnnnnnrrrgggghhh

I don’t really want to work on something else while I wait for feedback/ponder things, but I also feel quite useless at the moment.

I’m obviously too close to this whole thing, even though it’s been three years since I finished the last edit. I have written and rewritten and revised this book so many times, and I am ready for it to be done.

Have you ever felt like this, where you want to be working on something but can’t quite figure out how?

I suppose I could just make a judgement call on my own, but the whole point of asking betas to look at the beginning was for this exact reason.

Anyway, I need something to direct my energy into, but it’s got to be something that won’t take up too much mental energy.

Any ideas? Or any thoughts about what I can do while I try and figure out where the story should be starting?

A More Complete Plan (and Tournament Follow-up)

Okay, so first things first–I did end up playing in my Among Us tournament final. Two of the original top ten couldn’t play, so I got moved up. And I came in 8th overall, which is, like, a million times better than I thought I was going to do.

Now I can never play in another tournament again to maintain my streak. >_>

In writing land, I’ve finished my readthrough of Book One. And I, uh, also read through Book Two. Meaning I’ve read the whole trilogy over the past few weeks, except I remembered I didn’t start at the beginning of Book Three, so I may go and read the part I skipped, just because.

The beginning is definitely 90% of the problem on Book One. I’ve got it sent out to two betas now as well, with hopes that they’ll get back to me by the end of the week with their thoughts (and hopefully some suggestions).

The other 10% is filtering and crutch words and general clean-up. I’m considering looking at a service like ProWritingAid or other basic editor, where it will yell at me when I do lazy writing. Do you have one you use and like?

(Book Two is a whole ‘nother can of worms, but I finished the most recent draft in 2011, so it’s old writing style-wise and because it’s working off of plot points that no longer exist. But we’ll worry about it more when Book One is done.)

Anyway, I think all three of the options we talked about last time are still on the table, plus my spouse suggested starting with a later scene and then going back to the beginning. Which is a totally viable strategy, so I’ll give it a try. He suggested a scene near the end of Book Two (hence why I re-read Book Two) but I don’t think that will work (he may be remembering an earlier version of the scene), plus I don’t know about using a scene from a different book. That may be too far in the future.

Have you ever seen that? A multi-book series that starts with a scene that doesn’t show up until a later book?

Hmm, decisions, decisions.

My plan of attack going forward is to go through my beta comments and consolidate them (to see if I’ve missed any options or spots that other people think are problems), then to write a couple of alternative first scenes to see if they work any better. And then hopefully I’ll hear from my betas and we can discuss things.

And then, perhaps, the path forward will be clear.

How are you guys doing? Projects going well?

Thorny Beginnings

Well, squiders, I’m still working at reading back through the latest draft of Book One (we were out of town over the weekend, so I didn’t get much working time).

The beginning is worse than I remember. Or, well, not worse, but not as easily fixed as I was hoping.

For some context, the beginning part of the book takes place over several months. It’s actually less time than it originally took, because when I did the massive rewrite about three years ago I moved the beginning of the story and cut out a lot of stuff. But it still is difficult. My instinct is that the time frame is necessary, for the relationships and plot points to feel appropriate and not rushed, but that’s one of the things I’m evaluating as I read.

So, because each chapter takes places weeks or perhaps a month after the one before it, each of them feels more like a short story than interconnected with a larger narrative.

I’m only about halfway through–it’s either the first seven chapters that have this problem, or seven where it fixes itself–and some chapters are worse than others.

But here’s my going theories for how to fix things:

  • Leave things more or less where they are. Add in some overarching character motivations and more plot elements.
  • Move the beginning of the story and/or condense the plot elements/character arcs currently being represented by the beginning so not as much time has to pass
  • Or, counterintuitively, start a little earlier. Now, hear me out. The first chapter feels really crowded–too many things to introduce: the world, the characters, the plot, etc. It’s possible that giving each main character–it’s dual viewpoint–an earlier chapter may help smooth everything out.

There may be other options. Still mulling.

I’ve reached out to a couple of betas whose opinions I trust to see if they’ll read the beginning and make suggestions, so hopefully I’ll get some feedback from them as well in the near future, or will at least have people to bounce ideas off of. I know that really helped when I was organizing the rewrite initially.

Anyway, things are going! Fingers crossed that the solution comes to me soon!

Digging Back In

Have I told you guys about RaTs? It stands for Runaway Tales, and is a prompt system based on flavors. It’s a fairly big deal over at WriYe, so when I reconnected with the community at the beginning of 2019, I signed up as well.

(In case you’re wondering, the flavors I’m working on are Green Tea, Tangelo, and Rhubarb. There’s 20-30 prompts within each flavor, so I’m still working on my original three.)

People use RaTs for various projects, but I use mine mostly for little characterization snips, writing main characters when they were children or when they’re much older than in the actual novels, or digging through various backstory events that will never make it into the main story, or writing pieces from side characters that I don’t normally use for a point of view.

(I tend to do 1 or 2 RaTs a month, so it doesn’t take up a lot of my time. But I think it does help with story depth, so it’s fun and useful at the same time.)

(And it’s always nice to further explore worlds that are already built than having to always build new ones.)

Anyway, long story short (too late), Wednesday I went through and picked out my prompt for the month, with the thought that I’d write it from a side character’s point of view during the third book of my high fantasy trilogy.

Now, it’s been a while since I’ve touched Book 3 (I’ve rewritten Book 1 since then), so I thought it best to go into Book 3 and make sure what I was remembering happened actually happened, so my RaTs was as accurate as possible.

And…I ended up reading all of Book 3. This is a problem I have with the trilogy, at times. I’ve been working on it forever, so it’s never really all the way out of my mind, and Book 3, well, it’s pretty good. All my betas stayed up too late while they were working on it, which is a huge compliment. Of course, there’s some tweaking to be done, to update it off the Book 1 rewrite, but still, very solid.

None of that matters though, because Book 1 still needs work. And I’m going to start it today! The idea is to read back through it, leaving myself notes, then add in beta notes and make an editing plan. If I’m remembering correctly, most of the problems are right at the beginning of the book, so I’m hoping the revision will be fairly straightforward.

(I’m thinking that I’ve just got to end my first couple of chapters in different places, so they read more like the continuation of a longer story than a series of short vignettes. But that’s what re-reading is for.)

But the characters have been in my head for a couple of days now, and while I was lying in bed last night, I was actually super excited to get going on my re-read. I mean, like, full of happy anticipation. It’s different than the excitement you get before you start a new story–it’s more like getting to see friends you haven’t seen in long time and have been missing.

Here’s hoping this bodes well for working on the revision!

I hope you’re having a lovely January, squiders, and I’ll see you next week!

WriYe and the Love of Writing

Ugh, squiders, nothing is getting done around here. I mean, I suspected my productivity would drop off precipitously while I’m caregiving for my spouse, but when you add on that yesterday was a virtual day, it has meant that I have had everyone, the whole time, since last Thursday.

(I’ve complained about virtual days before, but essentially the larger, mobile one’s school, whenever the district declares a delayed start, throws in the towel and is essentially like IT’S YOUR TURN TO TEACH YOUR CHILD, SUCKER. The school closes, but sends home a ton of work for each child to do, and you’ve got to wrangle your child into doing six hours of work when there’s invariably snow on the ground.)

(I don’t know that the spouse has ever been home for one before, but I think he hates them even more than me, ha.)

(Seriously, screw whoever came up with this plan.)

Also, my plans for the month have been slightly thrown off anyway because I’d like to try and get a mentor through Author Mentor Match, which is happening on Feb 13. I need a variety of submission things (which I have for the most part), including a synopsis, which I do not. So I’m reading back through the manuscript to remind myself what happens when.

(The trick is to not get sucked back into books 2 and 3 after I finish book 1.)

I’m going to submit the first book of my high fantasy trilogy that I have been working on forever, because despite my re-writing three times, it continues to not quite be there. And I’m hoping a mentor might offer some good tips for getting it that last step.

(I’m leaving a couple of notes here, because re-reading it, I do see what the issue is. It’s that the first…seven chapters don’t feel terribly connected to each other. More like related vignettes than anything, with threads of main plot/relationships connecting them. I suspect this is because the first part of the book covers about five or six months of time. I’ve tried to compress the timeline previously, but have always run into issues because there does need to be time for certain plot and character elements to be believable. Once we get past that bit it’s fine.)

ANYWAY ON TO THE PROMPTS

Why do you love writing?

That’s a very interesting question, really. I love my stories. I love taking abstract thoughts and weaving them into something complex. I love creating characters and seeing what they do.

Do you always love writing?

I mean, yeah, I’d say so. For the most part. There have been periods where everything feels awful and I am depressed about my skills, but I’d never actually stop. I might say I will, but I won’t.

What do you do when you (gasp) don’t?

Oh, huh, this is kind of part of the last question. Sometimes I take a break, and work on something else creative, like drawing/sketching, or sewing, or costuming, or scrapbooking. Sometimes I switch projects, or spend some time working to determine why something isn’t working (which may require having someone else at something, or doing more research). Sometimes I take a week off and play copious amounts of video games. It kind of depends on what’s going on, both with writing and life in general.

I hope your February is off to a good start, squiders!

Poll Results, Project Switching, and Musical Aftermath

Okay, so judging from the poll last week, the next nonfiction topic we’ll focus on is writing consistently–why you should do it, strategies for doing it, and how not to beat yourself up about it if life has other plans. We’ll start that on Thursday. Woo!

So, in the continuing saga of breaking writer’s block by starting another novel, I have switched back to book one of the trilogy and…it actually felt pretty good. Not like pulling teeth at all. I think giving myself some distance really helped, and now hopefully everything will go smoother.

That said, distance has helped me realize that the new chapter one that took me a month to write is really, really terrible. I mean, okay, not terrible. It’s certainly not the worst thing I’ve ever written. But it is lacking in relevant plot points. It introduces characters, the world, the plot just fine, but the action in the chapter itself isn’t helping anything and isn’t terribly interesting on its own. The main characters go through training for much of this book, and so I introduced the training in chapter one. I also switched chapter one viewpoints (this story is dual viewpoint between a male and a female character), so I think I eliminated the training-related tension in doing so.

That being said, it’s not like there was a lot in the last version of the story, so I need to do some brainstorming on what to do about the first chapter in general. Maybe take the training sequence out, or add something to it to make it not just a standard day, or…

But, anyway, things for another time. When I was outlining this draft I’m working on now, I did consider taking the first chapter out and starting with the second chapter (where unexpected things definitely happen during training), but it felt too in medias res-y. I know there’s something to be said about starting in the middle of something, but when you’re setting up a high fantasy trilogy it felt like the reader would be too adrift without at least a smidgen of setting and worldbuilding and plot thrown in. (If you have examples otherwise, please let me know.)

I also considered writing chapter two both ways (from the female character’s viewpoint as the starting chapter and from the male character’s point of view as the second chapter) which I may still do.

But I’m leaning towards just leaving the beginning alone to percolate and plowing ahead with the rest of the draft, and then coming back to fix the beginning later. I’ve heard that it can sometimes help to write the beginning last anyway, since you’ll know your ending and how your theme plays out and can go full circle earlier.

So, that’s that.

Also, my musical is over (closed Sunday), so I can no longer use that as an excuse to not write. I’m hoping this means I can get a little more momentum going. I was, in theory, going to be pitching this draft at the end of April, but I’m not sure I can pull out a 100K word novel in a month and a half (or that I want to), so I may have to revisit that as well.

Musical went well! I’d do another one, if they’ll take me.

How was your weekend, Squiders?