Posts Tagged ‘writing’

April, Week 3

Hey ho, squiders! Sorry for the radio silence last week. I don’t really have a good excuse except that I was (as always) trying to do too much at the same time.

I know we’re a little late for Week 3, but let’s talk about it anyway.

I finished up the novella that was half of my goals for Camp Nano today. It’s about 15.3K, so a little over, but more or less what I was going for. I’m going to give it a few days to sit, and then I’ll read back over it, make any necessary changes, and send it over to the TDP people.

Wednesday and Thursday last week were a little rough. I always get a little sloggy at the dark moment because sometimes it’s depressing to write about people at their lowest point, so I didn’t make my words for those days. But I persevered, and now the draft is done! And I think it’s pretty good, just from my initial feelings, so I’ll have to see if that holds up when I read back over it.

Now that that madness is done(-ish), it’s back to the revision. I had grand plans that I was going to work on both throughout the month, but I just haven’t had time. Mondays and Fridays I have off, so those are, in theory, the days where I would have time to do multiple projects, but I’ve been so busy on those days it hasn’t happened. Yesterday I didn’t get to write at all.

Dunno if we’re going to make much progress revision-wise–in theory, I’ve got to do 2K a day to make my camp goal, which is pushing it on a good day. I left off in the middle of the paper edit for Chapter 2, so I’ve got to finish that before I can start the writing portion. I might read back over Chapter 1 as well, which will let me check and see if it’s as awful as it felt, and let me remember what I was doing.

In theory, I’m up for the next critique with the new group I joined, so Chapter 1 needs to be ready (and maybe chapter two, got to figure out how long the pieces are supposed to be). But the initial time we agreed upon isn’t going to work, so I need to figure that out too.

Man, it just never stops, does it?

Anyway, I hope your April is going well. It’s been downpouring for the last ten hours or so, which is weird but nice, except I have to keep going out in it.

See you Thursday, fingers crossed!


April, Week 2

Good afternoon, squiders! It’s snowing here after being in the 80s all week. As it does.

We’re about halfway done with the month! I think, to be on track for my 25K goal, I should be at…oh, like 11.7K.

I’ve only written a few hundred words thus far today, so I’m at, like, 7.6K.

Not amazing. Not great. More than I’ve written in a hot minute, though, certainly.

Most of the words have been on the novella for TDP. I’ve got it outlined to be about 15K, so while I’m not quite as far as I had hoped, I am at least halfway-ish.

I ran into some issues the last few days with my outline.

It turns out I outlined this story in June of 2018. Good Lord! That’s almost five years ago. Anyway, I outlined it then and broke the outline back out last month to plan for this month. And I wasn’t wild about the outline. I think I told you guys this. Some of the later plot points were just…not good.

My choices were: 1) start writing and see if I could fix the story on the go, or 2) fix the outline before I started.

I chose 1, because I am eternally an optimist even though I know how I work.

So, lo and behold, to no one’s surprise, I had a rough time writing yesterday and realized I’d hit the point where the outline was no longer working.

But, also, that the outline method wasn’t quite working.

I have levels of outlining I do, based on estimated word count. Anything under 5K, I use a phase outlining method.

Past 5K, I switch to a 6-act outline.

For longer works, 30K+, I also use the 6-act outline, but I do arc work and tentpoles as well to help with pacing. Different stories and genres may require additional work past that.

So, based on several 7.5K-10K-ish stories I’ve written for, say, anthologies, I outlined this 15K story the same way.

This was apparently a mistake.

So I spent about an hour last night doing my arcs and tentpoles, and now I feel better about the whole thing. I didn’t actually touch the 6-act part even though I maybe should have because it’s still bad, but I’m hoping the tentpoles will let me ignore them.

Or, you know, in three days, we’re going to be back to outlining fixing.

Now, I don’t mind outline fixing. An outline, after all, is an active document whose sole purpose is to help you write your story, and it needs to change as necessary to help you succeed. I just probably should have done the work at the beginning.

Or maybe not! Maybe I needed to get into the story, expand the world and the characters, before I understood enough to make the outline work properly.

I’ve been invited to join a critique group that’s meeting this Sunday. I’d better figure out if I’m going or not, and look at the materials if so. It’s Sunday mornings, which is inconvenient, so I’m going to have to think long and hard about it.

See you guys next week, when I’ve hopefully caught up!

First Week of April Down!

Howdy, squiders! How’s April treating you? I’m actually feel pretty good about things!

As I talked about last week, I’m focusing on two projects this month with a goal of doing 25000 words between a novella that will be released serially and my ongoing Book 1 revision.

I’m not off to an amazing start–at 3K as of yesterday, and I’ve not written today (and it’s not looking like I’ll get there) so I am a bit behind for the month, but definitely catch-up-able, and seeing how I’ve only written three days total, I’m averaging about 1K a day, which is, well, more than I’ve done in a while.

It’s nice to just be writing again.

Thus far I’m focusing on the novella. Getting it done means I can get it edited, which means it can start to go live sooner. Plus it’s the smaller project, which means it’ll get done faster anyway.

I’m having a super good time with it, actually. It’s got horror elements, because that’s what I like these days, but it also has fantasy and romance elements which are just fun.

Do I feel a little bad about pushing Book 1 to the backburners for the beginning of the month? Well, yes, but it probably will be helpful to work on something else for a minute, to remind myself that I don’t suck and writing is not all frustration, and so I can come back to the edit more refreshed.

As for Taig, I haven’t really been using him, because I’m having so much fun with the story. I mean, I’m still putting him out, but I would be fine without him. Sometimes I just put him next to me where I can’t really see him.

I’m trying setting his different sides to projects. So the novella is on his angry side, and, in theory, when I work on Book 1 (hoping to do the novella in the morning, and the revision in the afternoon, starting tomorrow) I’ll flip him to happy.

Anyway, progress is happening and thus far it is good! Happy April, everyone!

Chapter One Complete (and Plans for Camp)

Well, squiders, I thought it couldn’t be done. Well, no, I didn’t, but it was starting to feel that way.

I finally got done with the re-write on Chapter 1. It’s a little over 3000 words (which is about average for me for chapter length, but is, I suspect, considerably shorter than it was before) and probably terrible.

At least, it felt terrible. It may not be. I’m going to go through and see if I can tweak it emotionally, because I feel (again, haven’t re-read it yet, so who knows) like maybe I’ve gone too far and made Lana unlikeable again. Blagh. It’s enough to make me feel like I’m an idiot who doesn’t know how to write.

(That being said, I was showing Hallowed Hill to someone yesterday, and I scrolled down to see the reviews, and there was a new 5-star one from someone I don’t know at all that was super complimentary, so everything is subjective and creative endeavors do stupid things to your head.)

(Also I may leave it for now and come back to it after a few more chapters, with the hopes that I will establish Lana’s new character better over time and will be able to do more justice in a bit.)

Anyway. I started doing the paper edit of Chapter 2 on Wednesday, and then yesterday I had no free time and today I got an injection into my back to hopefully get rid of the last of my back pain, so I haven’t gotten back to it. (Maybe after this.)

I have been working on training with Taig, which is going okay thus far but is getting a little confused because the smaller, mobile one thinks he’s adorable and keeps getting him out when I’m NOT writing. Also, someone got chocolate on him. I’m not saying it was her but I have my suspicions.

But here we’ve come to the end of March, and April is upon us. April should be smooth sailing, as far as regular writing time goes, so I went ahead and put a rather ambitious goal of 25,000 words for April as my Camp Nanowrimo goal.

This is for a combo of two things:

  • The continuing revision of Book 1
  • A serial novella that I owe Turtleduck Press

I am aware that I should stop taking on novellas, but here we are.

Serial novellas for TDP get posted in increments up on the website, and then, in theory, get consolidated into a single story and released as ebooks. At least, that’s the new plan. This novella is the trial run of the idea, so, you know, no pressure or anything.

Generally I write serials as I go, but I’m thinking it may be easiest and best to just sit down and write the whole thing all at once this time through. This will allow me to make sure the whole story makes sense before I start to post segments of it (something I always worry about) and if necessary I can go back and make edits as well.

The story is outlined (has been for a while) and will be about 15K when complete. I’m hoping it can be done (first draft wise) in two weeks or less, based on how long it typically takes me to write a 10K story. I re-read the outline while I was on the cruise a few weeks back, though, and there’s a couple of later plot points that I don’t like, so I do need to either poke those before I get going or hope I will figure out something better as I actually write the thing.

Now, Kit, you might be saying, how is 25,000 words ambitious when you can and have routinely done a full Nano at 50,000 words?

Well, couple of reasons. 1) It is easier to do 50K during Nano because of several reasons, such as the fact that almost always (but not always) I’m working on a new project, and so there is New Project Momentum, and because there is creative momentum from a ton of other people working toward the same goal. 2) Uh….no, I guess mostly one. NO WAIT. I have done Camp Nano for years and years and years (and, before that, April Fools, which functioned the same way, where you set your own word count goal. One year, several people set 300K words as their goal AND MANAGED TO HIT IT, which to this day is madness) and the most I have ever done in April is 35K. I usually manage somewhere more in the 10 to 15K range.

Actually, one year where I hit 25K, I made a weekly goal chart because I was working on multiple projects, and that worked really well. I’m going to hunt that down and re-do it for this year right after this too.

Anyway, I hope everything is going well for you, squiders, and wish me luck!


Hello hello, squiders! I hope you’re doing well! I’m doing a month’s worth of work on a project in a week, so that’s good times.

(I did, however, sign up for Camp Nano, and, fingers crossed, I shouldn’t have anything major happening in April that will keep me from regularly writing and making progress on my revision.)

So a few weeks ago, I introduced you to my new writing friend/trigger object, and asked for names.

(Here he is again, in case you forgot:

After looking over all my options, I’m pleased to introduce you to Taig the Turtle!

Now, Taig is the American English phonetic spelling of the Irish/Scots Gaelic name Tadhg, which means poet, philosopher, or storyteller. Seems like a good fit for a writing friend!

(“dh” makes an “i” or “ee” sound in Gaelic.)

(I did several months worth of Scots Gaelic on duolingo last year, leading up to and following our trip to Scotland. I have never been great with languages in general–I took SO MANY years of Spanish and am barely rudimentarily fluent–but Gaelic was especially hard for me. No combination of letters ever made the sound I expected it to.)

With Gaelic names I’m normally pretty good about equating what the name actually sounds like to the spelling (Saoirse to Sear-sha, Eilidh to Ay-lee, Siobhan to Sha-van, etc.) but since my little friend here is supposed to be helping and not causing extra stress, I’m going to change the spelling for my own sanity. I will remember that Tadhg is pronounced Taig, but I will have to think about it for a minute each time, and meh.

Taig should be getting his first run on Tuesday or so (my project ends on Monday afternoon) so I’m hoping I can spend next week training myself to use him as a writing trigger and then it should be smooth sailing from there.

How are you doing, squiders? Anything fun happening?

Help Me Name My New Writing Friend

Hi squiders! I have some sort of especially annoying respiratory sickness (not COVID, I tested) that is making it hard to sleep (and also apparently making me snore), so that’s been fun.


The revision is going–well, not great, but not terribly either. I’m getting 400 to 800 words a session, when I’m getting writing time, which is still much less than I’d like. (And not likely to change in the near future, but maybe by April.)

(Though it does somewhat feel like things are conspiring to keep me from it. Today the larger, mobile one somehow accidentally embedded a pencil in his hand during school and I had to take him to the hospital.)

And while I am working on it, I am still spending an exorbitant amount of time working up to writing, which often includes checking all my Discord servers to see if someone is saying something interesting, checking phone games in case something has happened since I last looked at them, and reading back over what I’ve already written, which takes longer each time.

So, since this is an Issue, I decided it was time to look for a solution.

Something that can be helpful when you find your brain will not settle down and focus on what you need to do is to designate a trigger object. The idea is that this object becomes associated with whatever it is you want to be doing, and over time your brain will move easier into the right frame of mind when it sees said object.

This is something I’ve used rather successfully for many years by putting on hand warmers and/or writing gloves when it was writing time. However, I’ve fallen out of the habit because I outgrew it, and I’m finding it’s not necessarily working as well as I would like at the moment.

So I bought a new trigger object.

He’s a reversible plush turtle, with one angry side and one happy side. The dual expressions appeal to me, because somehow–not sure yet–I feel like I can use them to enhance my writing sessions, whether that’s reflecting the mood of the story, my writing mood, or signaling whether I can or cannot be disturbed.

He’s smaller than expected, but that’s probably actually a good thing, because he’s more portable this way.

So the plan is to start to use him in my writing sessions here and hopefully we can get everything moving a little easier than it is at the moment.

However, he needs a name. So many options, but I thought I’d see if you guys had any thoughts. So give me your best writing turtle names, and we’ll see which one sticks.

See you Thursday!

WriYe and Restarts

Hey ho, squiders, I was reminded that WriYe has monthly blog prompts and that I should probably get on the January one, since we’re fast running out of time here.

Here’s the prompt:

(Re)Starting fresh, for a new year, new story or after a writing break.

Got to admit this one threw me a bit for a loop. Not, like, from a concept standpoint but I did find it a little hard to puzzle out what it was asking.

I think it’s asking how I feel about starting fresh (…). That’s what I’m going with, anyway.

I don’t tend to start fresh for anything, really. I write or at least think about writing pretty much nonstop–don’t think I’ve taken a real writing break in over a decade. I wonder if that’s a good or a bad thing. Maybe I should, once I’ve finished the revision on Book 1. Just take a few weeks where I’m not even thinking about writing.

I stopped taking breaks because I found it hard to get back into the swing of things after I did so. Like any habit, if you break it, it can be hard to start back up.

Of course, I was taking pretty substantial breaks. I would do Nano, try to continue through December (continuously and always a problem from me), and then write through the beginning of the year until I finished my draft. And then I would stop til it was time to get ready for Nano again, so it could be six months or so in there.

Anyway, I stopped doing that when I started writing more seriously.

We’ve talked about how I feel about new years and resolutions and all that jazz many times here (I think the blog is 12 years old now) so I won’t repeat myself too much, but I’ve never really seen a reason to start a new project with the new year. I’m normally in the middle of something anyway, and the new year is an arbitrary division of time.

So I suppose the only time I start (or re-start) anew is when I’m starting a new project, or going back to one that I haven’t worked on for a while.

And it is exciting! There is definitely something exciting about starting a new project or picking something back up, and you can coast on that feeling for a good while, especially if things are going well. Maybe I should switch projects at the new year. Over at WriYe, there’s definitely a lot of excitement floating around that I don’t typically participate in. Maybe I would find it beneficial to ride that energy out like it feels everyone else is.

Ah, well. I really need to get this revision done. Next year, maybe.

Thoughts, squiders? How do you feel about a fresh start, or picking something back up?

Good Job, Past!Kit

Good news, squiders. It turns out that earlier in the year, before I switched the revision/marketing for Hallowed Hill, I went through and outlined the current state of Book 1, including notes on what the chapter was versus what it needed to be, and where the three major plotlines were, and so forth.

So, yay! I don’t need to do that again. Though it does underscore how far I’d gotten into revision planning before I had to reverse course. Sigh.

(Though I did have someone this week tell me that Hallowed Hill was really good, and that they had to stop reading it at night, because it was too creepy. Bwhahahahahaha!)

So I went back through the notes past!me made, and I read through and expanded some freewriting and plot thoughts, and poked at the wonky subplots that I mentioned on Tuesday. So all I need to do now is to line up my three major plotlines (in the current draft they’re a bit bunchy) and make sure they’re progressing properly and without bunching, and then I can outline my revision and get going.

I tried to do this earlier today (actually that’s why this is so late, I was hoping to have it done before I blogged) but I tried to do it using the tracker I use for my subplots, and that wasn’t working because I couldn’t see the plotline versus the other plotline.

So I’ve made a visual tracker.

A mostly empty notebook sheet

As you can see, I haven’t populated it yet, but I’m hoping I can lay the major plot points out versus each other here, so I can see where they’re interplaying and make sure they’re not bunching, and also that all three are progressing throughout the entire book. I’ve got my chapters across the top for reference.

I’ve not tried a visual method like this before, so fingers crossed that it’s going to work and make sense.

Who knows, by the time I blog next week, I might actually be getting somewhere. Fingers crossed!

Also having medication for my back is helping so much. Like, it still hurts, and I’m still getting nerve pain, but it’s all dulled and I can mostly operate normally. SUCH a huge difference.

Right! See you guys next week!

An Update, Thanksgiving, and a Landsquid (Walk Into a Bar…)

Sorry, it started to feel like a joke setup.

How goes the revision, you ask? Well, I have made it further in the character book/exercises, which continue to be a mix of helpful and not helpful, but not as much as I would have hoped. Having the small, mobile ones around has been even less productive than hoped for. We managed half an hour at the coffee shop on Monday and have not managed ANY sewing, so that’s about that.

Also I slipped a disc in my back. Did I tell you guys this? I don’t think so, because it happened midday on Thursday and I think I blogged beforehand. It hurts SO MUCH. And what hurts the most is, inconveniently, sitting.

I can’t sit anywhere to save my life. What do I need to be able to do to write, sew, read, etc.? Sit. Sigh.

And, of course, the rest of the week is essentially useless for work purposes. We host Thanksgiving every year, which I think I’ve told you guys before, plus my mom is coming down this afternoon and staying through probably midday on Friday. And then, this weekend, it’s full speed ahead on Christmas, oh no.

Oh well. It is what it is. My chiropractor is having me come in a few times a week to go on the decompression table, which, as far as I can tell, is a modern version of the rack. In theory, this will create a vacuum that will suck the disc back where it’s supposed to go, but I’ve done it twice so far and continue to be in pain. My spouse would like me to go to an orthopedic surgeon, but back surgery seems like a very major step.

Sigh. Anyway.

I drew you guys a landsquid! Been awhile, so I figured I should.

I hope everyone in the US has a survivable Thanksgiving, and I will see you next week for inevitable holiday panic and whatever else is happening.

(Also, any thoughts on decompression tables vs orthopedic surgeons?)

WriYe and Writing Courses

Hey, guess what I forgot to do in September?

Here’s the prompt from WriYe: Share your favorite books, courses, or websites you like to visit to grow your writing!

I’m firmly of the belief that there’s always more to learn about just about anything, and so I do periodically take classes, go to webinars, and read books about writing. Sometimes these books are specific to a genre or an area of writing, and sometimes they’re not.

I have found, though, that a lot of the stuff goes over the same ground, most of which is not helpful at this point (because I already know it). So something does need to be a little more unique these days.

ANYWAY though.

One of my very favorite writing books is Story Engineering by Larry Brooks. Pacing was long an issue for me, with many very badly jacked up first drafts (and some second drafts) in my past. This is the book that fixed all that for me.

Do you know how many pacing issues I had in my first draft of Hallowed Hill? NONE. This is hugely different than when I had to completely reconstruct the pacing on Shards to make the story make any sort of logical sense. I am cured, and this book is the cause.

(Seriously, this is the only note I got from the editor about my pacing for HH: “The pacing is good throughout, with a nice balance of Martie in problem-solving mode, moments of terror and despair, and enough support from expected and unexpected sources to keep her going.”)

The other thing that was very influential on me was Holly Lisle’s How to Revise Your Novel class. This taught me how to effectively revise, and it’s done in such a way that the steps are fairly easy to copy and use yourself, and I have used this on every book since I went through the class. (Including Hallowed Hill!) I have modified the procedure a bit, but this is a wonderful class if you’re having issues figuring out how to edit your own stuff.

(Holly also has a free class, How to Write Flash Fiction, which is also quite useful and has actually gotten me a number of sales on my flash fiction.)

There are a ton of other resources out there–so many great ones, really. It’s overwhelming, and you can (and I have) spent a ton of time (perhaps too much time) looking at stuff. You have to remember to balance your learning with your doing.

Oh, all right, one more. My favorite writing website is Fiction University. Janice Hardy runs this site (and also has a number of How To writing books and workbooks) and it’s been a go-to of mine for years. I don’t read every post, but there’s a lot of good stuff in there.

All right, well, those are my favorites! Any thoughts? What has worked best for you?