Posts Tagged ‘Trilogy’

Distracted By My Own Work

How goes my revision?

Well, I’m glad you asked.

Yesterday I finished going through Book 1. At the very end, there’s a note that the story will be continued in Book 2.

I sat there, and I said to myself, “Don’t do it, Kit. Stop here. We have to get this book done, and you know what happens in Book 2.”

And then I opened Book 2 and read it anyway.

And, at that point, I figured I might as well read Book 3. And then I really enjoyed Book 3, so I went back and re-read the end again.

This is counterproductive, and yet, every time I work on any of the books it happens. That’s part of what is so infuriating about having to work on Book 1 yet again. Most of the story? Good. Great, even. My betas for Book 3 universally told me they stayed up too late reading. So I know if I can just get the beginning of Book 1 in shape, I should be able to reach my goals with the trilogy.

So why is getting the beginning of Book 1 in shape so damn hard?

Sigh.

Of course, Books 2 and 3 aren’t perfect. They both reference events that no longer happen in the most recent draft of Book 1 and don’t reference new events. Book 2 has structural problems and everyone’s just slightly out of character. But there’s also not a lot of use working on them if Book 1 doesn’t get done.

(In case people are wondering why they’re out of character in Book 2 but not Book 3, my writing of the trilogy has gone something like:

  • Write Book 1
  • Write Book 2
  • Rewrite Book 1
  • Rewrite Book 2
  • Write Book 3
  • Rewrite Book 1

So the current draft of Book 2 is actually the oldest existent draft and I did some plot work between it and when I wrote Book 3. This list also doesn’t include non-complete drafts. Yay. I’ve been working on this trilogy for SO LONG.)

Anyway, I’ve dragged myself out of the later books and am back to working on Book 1. I spent some time today writing out the main subplots as well as my antagonist motivations, which was less helpful than I was hoping but may have value in the future.

The last step before I get to actually revising is to go through Holly Lisle’s 7-Day Crash Revision course. I’ve told you guys before that I use a modified version of Holly’s How to Revise Your Novel process for my revisions, and the crash course came with that class, back whenever I bought it. I’ve never used it, though, but the idea is that it’s for a quick revision when you have a deadline, and she recommends only using it on a project that has already gone through a major revision.

Book 1 has been through my major revision process, so I thought I’d run through the crash course with it and see if there’s any value.

I am aware that this is me procrastinating the revision yet again, but I do want to make sure I have everything in place so that this is, finally, the last revision. So I don’t think it will hurt to use the resources at hand.

I also need to decide how much of the book to print out for the paper edit. First nine or ten chapters, I’m thinking. As I mentioned before, I think past there the book is more solid (aside from a side plot that kind of goes nowhere that I need to poke at) and needs only tweaks. My print shop left me (moved twenty minutes away) so I may just stick it on a flash drive and go to Fedex/Kinko’s for that.

(I am aware that Kinko’s is no longer in the name anywhere, but I am set in my ways and here we are.)

This is kind of ridiculous. I want to work on this, but I am also scared of working on this. It is very frustrating and I wish I would get on with it a bit faster. It’s just…I’ve been working on this project for so long, and it’s very important to me, and I just want to get it done right, and yet I’m also unsure if I’m going to get it done right.

auuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuugggghhhhh

Anyway, how are you? How are things going?

So, How’s the Big Project Going, Kit?

It’s the middle of April. So how am I doing on my major project for the year, which is to revise the first book of my high fantasy trilogy, so I can get it ready for submission?

I mean, it’s going okay. Am I as far as I wanted to be at this point? No, but a lot of that is because I needed to finish my novella draft and I didn’t get that done until February.

And then there was Pirates of Penzance, and the cruise…but really that’s just excuses.

Anyway.

I’m kind of a lightweight outliner when it comes to first drafts, but when it comes to revision, I strongly believe in knowing exactly what I’m changing, and to what, and where, and why.

(The idea is to minimize the amount of drafts, she says as she has lost track of the amount of drafts this book is on.)

(Though, to be fair, the most recent draft is the only one I went into where I’d outlined the revision before hand. Earlier versions I hadn’t come up with my revision process yet and hence were somewhat haphazard.)

So I decided, after my readthrough of the draft, that the best thing to do would be to make a chapter guide, with the thought that then I could go back in later and make notes about what changes should go into each chapter once I knew what was in each chapter.

I got about half a chapter doing that, then went–well, why shouldn’t I write down notes as I go? Save myself some time later.

So I did that for about nine chapters, but then I realized that there’s three main plot threads that need to run through the entire book in one way or another. If left to my own devices, I tend to do what I call subplot bunching, where I will focus on one subplot for a bit, then switch to another, and so on, and what happens is that plot threads get dropped for a while and the flow of the book is off.

As this is the first book of a trilogy, as you can imagine the plot threads are quite a bit more complicated than they are for a standalone novel.

ANYWAY, so I went back in and started making notes related to my three major plot threads and whether or not they were currently present, and what they looked like. And I think, after I finish my chapter summaries, I will need to map out how each plot thread needs to progress to make sure everything is moving and makes sense.

Because, of course, rearranging the plot points like we talked about will fix some problems, but it does create others. Chapter Six, for example. I thought I’d just be able to take it out, since I’d moved the main plot point in it before the story started, but it also includes a major reveal about one of my plot threads. So now I’ve either got to think of a new chapter six (potentially doable, though nothing is currently coming to mind) or I’ve got to figure out where else that reveal has to go (and it has to be chapter six or before), and I will need to know my progression to make that decision.

Yay.

Is this the most efficient way to work? Probably not.

And I am thinking that, despite the best laid plans of mice and men, I will need to print out at least the first third of the book and edit on paper. And…probably rewrite some of the chapters. The first one definitely. Maybe Chapter Six, depending on what it ends up being. Most of Lana’s point of view because she’s half the problem with everything.

Whee. Double yay.

The good news is that my revision deadline for the novella keeps moving back, so I’ve got more time to work on this now than originally planned. And my SkillShare class is going pretty well, so the hope is that I can get that done and then spend all my attentions on the revision.

How are your goals for the year going, squider? Making good progress? Run into issues?

I Think I’ve Got It

Well, squiders, I’d like to say I’ve been hard at work and have made great progress on my revision, and that everything is going fine and I am close to meeting my goals.

I would very much like to say that.

Unfortunately, the truth is that Life has really gotten in the way over the last few weeks and I haven’t had much time to work.

(Well, I take that back. Yes, my time has been limited, but I’m also running into the problem I had the last two years where I’m so stressed that when I do find a bit of time I can’t focus and instead play phone games or something useless.)

It’s all very frustrating, because I can see myself falling into the issues of the previous years and goddamnit I want to get things done!

Now, all that being said, I have made progress. I have spent a lot of time thinking about the revision, which, while not the most useful thing, isn’t too awful.

I’ve also spent some time writing some related scenes about the changes, to see if they fit with the themes and larger narrative, and so far so good, so I think we’re good to move forward.

The next step, I think, is to make a list of each chapter (and their summaries) and map out what changes need to go where.

I still haven’t figured out how to do the actual revision without rewriting from scratch (it’s easier for my brain to add the changes in if I’m writing everything out, but it takes longer and I would like to figure out how to just edit where I need to edit), but I think maybe I need to print out the chapters that need the most changes and map them on paper, and then I can just put them in.

Progress! Just not as much as I wanted.

I also bit off more than I can chew for the month, I think, which is adding to my stress. Hopefully I can just prioritize things, however, and that should help.

How’s your March going, squiders? Reaching your goals?

Fingers Crossed

Okay, squiders. I’m still going through the feedback from the marathon, but I think I’ve figured it out.

(Turns out there’s a lot of marathon feedback to go through, and some of it is just grammatical which is unhelpful in this particular instance.)

Part of the problem I’ve had with the beginning of the story for God knows how many iterations is how to properly pace the beginning to give the characters the time they need to build a relationship while still keeping up tension. It’s a balancing act, certainly, one that has gotten better with each iteration (I still recall the first draft, where they started in a different city and spent the first third of the book getting to the main city before the main plot even got going).

(Ah, to be young and unaware of structure.)

But I think I can solve both the pacing balancing AND the internal conflict bit by moving up a plot point to happen just before the story starts (right now, it’s in chapter…six, I want to say, which isn’t really doing anything and can probably be taken out after I move this).

So right now, the plot goes something like: FMC moves to capital > hints of prophecy > war is declared (and so on, to be vague about everything).

So I think I move it so the war being declared is the catalyst for the FMC to move. Then war is already looming throughout the beginning of the story, plus it gives Lana some internal conflict because the war will have already affected her life, versus everyone around her, who are operating under the “it’s awful, but it’s not affecting me” state of things. PLUS it adds in some tension to her relationship with the MMC, because she can feel conflicted about building relationships in a place she doesn’t intend to stay.

With the exception of chapter six (or whatever it is) which can just quietly go into the night, most of the other chapters don’t have to change that much, either–just change internal monologue and dialogue, tweak motivations, etc.

This…this might be the answer.

Keep your fingers crossed for me, squiders.

Also, I’m going to take next week off of the blog. Hopefully when I come back the week after, I will have successful news to share with you all.

Revision Uncertainty

Okay, squiders. I have finally started my revision on Book 1. Well, a week or so ago. I read through the current draft (put it in the mode that makes it like a book and occasionally clicked on a comment to see what it said) and took some notes. I still need to look over the feedback I got from the critique marathon last summer, but hopefully I shall get to that here today or tomorrow.

But I find myself in a bit of a pickle.

So, I’ve revised books before. I use a modified version of the process Holly Lisle teaches in her How to Revise Your Novel class, which I’ve found to be very useful over the years. Heck, Book 1 has been revised this way itself, to get it into its current state, which is a million times better than the previous draft was and is, in general, pretty solid.

The problem is the beginning. My critique people last summer rightly pointed out that one of my two viewpoint characters is lacking internal conflict at the beginning of the story. She’s fine later, once the main plot is rolling along, but at the beginning, she’s lacking.

I suspect what happened is that I’ve got two viewpoint characters (chapters alternate, for the most part), and the other one has given me issues for years. Back when these two characters were characters I role-played (many years and a couple universes ago), he was essentially the villain. So every iteration of the story I’ve had to tame him down a bit to fit the plot. He got a major overhaul between the last and the current draft, and I’m really happy with him now–he’s sympathetic and believable, even if he still does questionable things from time to time. But I think, since he was so difficult compared to the other viewpoint character, that I mostly focused on him and saw her as being essentially fine (probably just by comparison). And now she’s lacking, and I’m having a hard time figuring out what to do with her.

And how to approach the revision as a whole. As I mentioned, once the main plot gets rolling, the story mainly needs tweaks (a couple of subplots get a little lost in the middle, but it should be relatively easy to weave them back in). But I’ve never just revised part of a story. Normally I do the whole thing, and it takes forever, but that what I’m used to. I’ve never had a draft before that’s mostly working but having issues in a few places.

Plus, because I did such a massive overhaul of everything last time, it feels weird to change things. Like, this is a story I have written on and off for eighteen years (holy crap), and almost nothing is the same as that first 2004/5 draft. Almost everyone has a different personality than they started with, half the character have different names, the plot has changed and subplots have been added or taken out. So I haven’t had any issues making changes, til now. But now, it feels weird. Sigh. Brains are weird.

Anyway, I spent some time talking to a friend on Tuesday about Lana (my female MC) and her lack of internal conflict, and we came up with something at the time, but in retrospect it was more of a character arc than internal conflict, so I may be back where I started. Hopefully going through the marathon feedback will help, but if I recall, the internal conflict issue didn’t come out until a discussion after the fact.

So, wish me luck. Hopefully this gets sorted quickly and I can get to the actual revision, once I have ideas and a process in place.

Happy Saturday, squiders!

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?