Posts Tagged ‘writing’

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.

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.)

Being Limber

I’ve been so excited for this week, squiders. The small, mobile ones are back in school (cross your fingers) and I have hours to myself every day to Do Things. And I thought I was going to be so productive! Writing, drawing, editing, you name it, it was getting done.

But here it is Thursday, and I haven’t written at all, I’ve drawn and inked (and half colored) a single picture, and I’m not really sure what I’ve done with the rest of my time.

(I am on top of the critiquing marathon, so that’s something, at least.)

Like today! Today got off to such a great start. I got up and started this blog post, then took both small, mobile ones to their respective schools. And then I picked something up from one of the schools, and ran errands at Target…

…at which point I realized I was 15 minutes late for my blood donation appointment.

I think a lot of it might be because my spouse has been like, oh, great, now you can fertilize the lawn and call the concrete company and clean the kitchen and figure out the doctor and so on and so forth. And I feel like I need to do his stuff, since he asked, but I also resent his taking up all my time with awful chores that were his in the first place because he’s the one with the skills that match those (talking on the phone makes me anxious), so I just mess around and nothing’s getting done.

I realize, of course, that if I would just do things and not stress out about them, things would get done.

ANYWAY

As you might imagine, I’ve been a bit high strung this week due to the difference in preconceived ideas of how the week was going to go versus how it has gone. But it is what it is, and instead of stressing about it, I’ve got to adapt.

Improvise. Adapt. Overcome. As the meme goes.

Unfortunately, it’s just a fact of life that things don’t go according to plan most of the time, and you’ve just got to deal with it.

Be limber. Be flexible.

Normally over the summer I wake up early to write before everyone else gets up, but I can’t do that now unless I get up REALLY early. Which might still be a possibility. My first thought was to write as soon as the small, mobile ones were out, but that’s a really convenient errand time since I’m already out.

I might pick a time and try stopping what I’m doing and going then. Or just whenever I get home.

Anyway, it’ll get sorted, at least until the next schedule change, and then we’ll have to start all over again.

Oh well!

How’s your week going, squiders?

Thoughts On the Writing Journal

Well, it’s been about two months since I started my writing journal, and, as I know this is a recommended writing habit among writers, I thought it might help to hear how it’s going.

I’ve talked about it quite a bit lately, but in case you’ve missed it somehow, a writing journal is kind of like a normal journal, except you focus on writing-related things. A lot of people write a couple of pages in them first thing in the morning.

You can plot out bits of story, draw maps, keep track of bits and pieces that were interesting but don’t fit in what you’re currently writing, do backstory, etc.

I will admit to some trepidation about the idea, mostly because it’s on paper.

Story time!

A million years ago, I had a spiral-bound steno notebook that I used to take with me everywhere. I’d plot in it, write segments of stories in it, do worldbuilding, etc. Kind of like a writing journal, except I just kind of worked wherever and it wasn’t a consistent practice.

(Actually I had two. I still have one of them–I think–which is falling apart at this point and is covered with many, many years of Nano stickers.)

I used to keep it by my bed so I could write down dream ideas in it. One night, I had a dream that would eventually be turned into Shards. I woke up, and wrote down everything.

And the notebook went AWOL. I mean, I never saw it again. To this day, I have no idea where it could have gone. I thought we’d find it when we moved, that it would emerge from wherever it’d fallen or whatever, but nope.

It’s been over ten years since that notebook disappeared. I did go ahead and write Shards, obviously, but I’ve always felt that I missed something from the initial idea that would have been really neat.

(Not that I dislike Shards or its world at all! Just that I am aware that what I ended up with from the vague memory of the dream is not what I would have ended up with had I had access to my original notes.)

So the idea of having a notebook where important ideas are stored and which is not backed up elsewhere makes me a little anxious. But, on the other hand, I think much better on paper, and I have almost always plotted and worldbuilt on paper. There is something about drawing and writing things out by hand that gets my creativity flowing.

I will admit I am not using it consistently. I’ll go for a few days at a time then take a few days off, normally to catch up to where I’ve gotten idea-wise. But when I do use it…it’s amazing. Aside from the realization that I have been actively avoiding my main goal for the last five year, it’s just been great for figuring out the next bits on World’s Edge and working through other things.

So I guess I do recommend the practice, with the caveat that any really important things might be worth copying over to a back-up somewhere.

What do you think, squiders? Do you use a writing/creativity journal? What practices do you find work for you?

WriYe and Getting Started

Oof, squiders, sorry I’m flaky this week. My basement has flooded TWICE in THREE DAYS. At least we’ve figured out the problem this time, as opposed to two days ago when we thought we’d figured the problem out and were obviously wrong.

(God, we’d better be right this time.)

Did you know if you have a wet/dry vacuum you can just vacuum up water? For some reason this is very strange to me.

ANYWAY.

Normally I like to leave the WriYe prompts til a little later in the month, but man, this has been a week, and I’m too tired to figure things out otherwise.

Describe your writing beginnings. How did you get started?

I started writing when I was about eight, and mostly because my mother was a writer. Emulating her and all that. This is back in the olden days, when we had CorelWrites and WordPerfect and you had to know the key shortcuts to do things. Or sometimes I wrote on an electric typewriter.

I started, like many people, using my favorite things as a base, changing a character here, a premise there. I had some picture and puzzle books I made my own versions of, plus I made up roleplaying situations for me and my cousins to do based on my favorite shows and video games, and I made a fashion book based on the Wizard of Oz, and other bizarre creative things only children ever think of.

I mainly focused on roleplaying throughout my teens, aside from writing a few short stories and starting a dozen novels that never went anywhere. In college Nanowrimo started, and that’s when I switched more to writing from roleplaying.

What was your “a-ha” moment that made you realize this was something you wanted to pursue?

So I started doing Nanowrimo in 2003, which was fun! I really enjoyed it, and I enjoyed the friends I met through the event. But I mostly only wrote during November. I would finish my drafts slowly throughout the rest of the year (my last year I snuck off to a tea shop called The Tea Spot at least once a week, where I wrote and ate scones and also fancy chocolates) but it was just a hobby.

In 2006 we moved to California, where I knew no one. I didn’t have a job for the first few months and I was super, super depressed and isolated. I think I’ve told you guys this story before.

Anyway, I recognized that things were going poorly and decided that I needed to do something to keep me occupied, and I decided that I wanted to write full-time and maybe try to do something more formal with everything, so I joined a bunch of writing groups (some of which I still belong to today, including WriYe, actually) which gave me some much needed social interaction and got me going on something until I got a job and started to find my place in my new home.

And here we still are, I guess. Nothing big. Just a decision, once upon a time.

Anyway, pray for my basement, squiders. If nothing else, then for my state of mind.

See you next week!

The Depths of Summer

Hey hey, squiders! Look I’m remembering to post twice this week. It’s a miracle! Or something.

I’m actually feeling pretty good. Yes, this summer has been a bit of a mess in terms of, you know, productivity or consistency, but the last week has actually been really good. It’s like examining my goals actually helped me focus or something.

Funny how that works.

We’re into my second week in the critiquing marathon and, unfortunately, the last week. That’s my own fault for not being on top of things, though being super busy/out of town for all June would not have made it so I could participate anyway. So far the feedback I’m getting seems positive, so that’s good! Encouraging even.

Last week I also wrote the second part of a serial story I’m writing for Turtleduck Press, about a scientist in an underwater station after the surface of the Earth has become unlivable. That’ll go live on Sunday, and my editors on that were very complimentary, so maybe I’m not a hack after all.

This week I’ve been focusing on World’s Edge so I can hit my camp goal of 10K. I’m at 9K on it, so just need to do another thousand tomorrow, which is doable. I’m at about 87K on the draft out of a planned 100K, so we’re almost done!

I’ve got the whole thing detail outlined to the end, so it should be fairly easy going, unless I get into that weird mood where I’m almost done with a draft and hence cannot focus at all. Which is a distinct possibility, but maybe we can just push past it for once.

I will need to plan out what I’m going to do after the draft is done. I need to plot out and write a novella for Turtleduck Press, but I should also focus on editing Book One so I can, you know, stop hiding from it.

I might be able to do both at once, if I compartmentalize, but it might be worth it to just focus on one thing. But do I outline the novella first, or focus on the edit first? I know from experience if I bounce back and forth I’m not going to get anywhere.

Maybe I could do a really intensive edit through August and then do the novella in September. Maybe I’ll plan on that until I have reason to do otherwise.

How are you guys doing? Hopefully it’s not too hot where you are. It has been very hot here and I do not like it. But I maintain hope that we shall see the end of summer soon, and that it’s not one of those years where it’s hot into November.

WriYe and Writing Tips

How’s it going, squiders? I did put my first chapter of my trilogy up for the summer marathon and hence have fallen behind on my other writing stuff, since part of the deal is critiquing other people’s stuff.

Of course, this is week 7 out of 8 of the marathon, so everyone else is several chapters into their stories and thus far I am mostly confused. Oh well.

I hope to finish a serial story bit for TDP either tonight or in the morning, and then it’s back to World’s Edge full speed ahead and whatnot.

Anyway, let’s do the July blog prompt over at WriYe.

Quick! Name your top 7 writing tips of all time.

Seven feels like a weird number to me, but, uh, okay.

  1. Make time for writing. If you don’t plan your writing in (and I find the earlier in the day the better) it’s hard to get to it.
  2. Don’t focus on perfection in a first draft. Worry about getting the story done before you worry about whether it’s any good.
  3. Don’t compare yourself to others. That way lies madness.
  4. Also, don’t make your goals dependent on other people. Madness lies that way too. Plus it just makes you frustrated. I guess that’s more of a life tip than writing specifically.
  5. All progress is good progress. Sure, 100 words a day doesn’t feel like much, but it’s still better than nothing, and even planning gets you closer to a finished story even if it feels like you’re not getting anywhere right now.
  6. Don’t get weird with speech tags. Make sure it’s something you can actually do with your mouth.
  7. When revising, do big picture fixes before easier polishes. Nothing sucks more than spending a bunch of time on a scene that gets cut out.

Why those 7?

Uh, cuz those are the ones I thought of? I’ve actually been avoiding this prompt, because it has felt very intimidating. Are these my best writing tips? Probably not. But these are kind of general tips that are useful in most situations.

And a lot of them are good outside writing too! So, yay me or something.

How are you guys doing? Thoughts on my tips? Tips of your own?