Posts Tagged ‘WriYe’

WriYe and Gift Lists

Good evening, squiders! How is your week going? I’ve been fighting with my book description for my Gothic Horror, which is going worse than expected. I feel like book descriptions are not generally that hard, but maybe it’s just been awhile and I’ve forgotten that they suck.

I think the hook is good; it’s just everything else that sucks.

We also finished Amphibia tonight, which is an animated fantasy cartoon on Disney+. I thought it was going to be silly, but it ended up being really good, with a nice emotional payoff at the end. So if you’re into such things, it would be worth checking out.

Anyway, let’s get on to this month’s WriYe prompt.

What is on your writerly gift wish list?

I’m going to interpret this to mean gifts I would like to receive that are related to writing.

I suppose it could also mean “writerly gifts” like talents, but that feels harder to answer and so I’m going to go with the other interpretation.

I don’t necessarily want anything specific. I’m not sitting around going, “Man, I wish I had so and so, that would really help me reach my writing goals.”

That being said, there are things that I always like. Notebooks. Pens. I’m rather partial to fingerless gloves and arm warmers of various types, though I don’t use them as much as I used to. Arguably none of these things are actually helpful for writing.

I have so, so many notebooks.

I guess, if I were going to pick one thing I’d really like, it’d be a writing cave of some sort. A friend of mine has a shed out in his backyard where he goes to write. I have my office, but it’s not mine alone–my spouse and my children also use it, and I do other work other than writing there as well, so it’s not ideal. There’s something very appealing about perhaps having a shed or something out in the yard that would be explicitly for writing. Unfortunately it’s against our covenants, and there’s not really anywhere to put it.

But it would be nice. Maybe someday.

Until then, I shall hoard notebooks, I suppose.

What would you pick, squiders?

WriYe and Cliffhangers

How’s it going, squiders? I spent an hour or so earlier going over the timing of my novella that’s due back for copyediting at the end of the month. I had some notes from the last phase of editing where the editor was confused about how much time had passed, so I’m figuring things out in detail so I can clarify it. (And I figured out that I need to move a chapter out a day, because my MC goes to a class she doesn’t have that day, whoops.) It’s pretty time consuming, but I do have to do it every book so it’s not unexpected. Not because my timelines tend to get messed up, but just because I find it so useful as an editing tool.

Anyway, let’s do this month’s WriYe prompt.

For July: Feelings on cliffhangers? Best cliffhanger you’ve written.

I don’t know that I have any strong feelings about cliffhangers. I think they’re a tool, like any other, and that there are different ways to go about using them. I do think you can overdo them. You ever read a book that just makes you anxious continuously? A lot of times, that’s because the characters never get any moment to rest, and sometimes that can be because there’s too many cliffhangers.

I also think that, if your plot is tight enough, you don’t need that many cliffhangers. The questions you’ve built into the story, and the characters you’ve created, can pull the reader along without having to resort to cheap tricks. But they do have their place, and they can be effective.

I don’t know that I use them that often in my own writing. Or perhaps I tend to use a more subtle version, where I end a chapter with a question. But, again, you can’t do that all the time. Variety is the spice of life. And I don’t tend to write a lot of multi-book or multi-section stories, so really big cliffhangers, ones that would pull people to the next book or the next installment, are less useful for me.

That being said, I do think the cliffhanger at the end of the second part of my four-part serial Deep and Blue (the last part went up in April) is pretty dang good.

What do you think, squiders? Any thoughts on cliffhangers? Favorites?

WriYe and Strategies

Might as well get this over with early this month, instead of waiting until the last minute.

So, June’s blog prompt over at WriYe is:

Some of your strategies to avoid burn out.

All right, just to make sure we’re all on the same page, burn out is where you physically and/or mentally cannot work on something (writing, in this case, as it is a writing community) despite wanting to.

Burn out can be caused by a number of things–working too hard on something, pushing yourself too hard, trying to do writing on top of everything else in your life, especially if you’re going through a hard time, are sick, have too many other responsibilities, etc.

Burn out is a real issue, because if you’ve reached the burnt out stage, there’s really nothing to do except let yourself recover, which may take weeks or even months, depending on things.

So, I guess my number one strategy is to allow yourself breaks. Personally, I set time limits for how long I can work on one thing in a day, and I make sure I’m building in breaks throughout the day and allowing myself some decompression.

Of course, sometimes you might have to do more work than you’re comfortable with (due to deadlines or whatever), but I still think you’ve got to allow yourself a chance to decompress periodically. Watch some YouTube during lunch, or take a nice bath before bed.

My second main strategy is to have smaller things that I can break up a big project with. Things like doing RaTs prompts or, heck, writing a blog post. Drawing a picture or knitting, if one can do so (I have never been able to figure out how to knit, which is irritiating). Just something that’ll take you less than an hour and give your brain a chance to focus on something else.

And I guess my last strategy would be to pay attention to yourself so you can identify the signs that you’re starting to burn out, and take steps to make your progress more sustainable before it gets really bad.

Thoughts, squiders? Things you find work for you?

WriYe and Themes

Waiting til the end of the month, like normal. Whoops.

May’s WriYe blog post prompt is:

What are some of your “go to” themes you like to write about?

Themes are weird. I suspect they’re one of the areas of writing I don’t understand as well as I would like to. Because, like, themes are the heart of your story, and the thing that your plots and subplots connect back to, the thing that gives your story meaning and lets it resonate with your reader.

But they’re also weirdly subjective. Like, I could have my theme be one thing, and depending on how people read the story, they could see the theme as being something completely different.

Anyway.

I write a lot about friendship in my stories, and by extension, found family. This is one of my favorite tropes and I use it a lot. Not sure that it counts as a theme.

Hm. This is harder than expected.

I don’t like depressing fiction, and I almost always end with a happy ending, so my themes also tend to be positive, stuff like “you can do anything if you work together” or “it’s worth it to fight for what you want.” I don’t know if I re-use a lot of themes necessarily. I probably do, but I also don’t really work in themes. Like, I’ll poke at them from time to time, maybe come up with a vague one for a first draft and then poke it a little more when doing my revision, but as I said above I’m not sure I really understand them all that well. A lot of what I do with theme is instinctual, and possibly not very good. I don’t know.

Elements, now, I do reuse a lot. Found family, like I mentioned. Forests. A lot of horror elements lately, like settings that are falling apart or ghosts. Magic, because I write a lot of fantasy. Dinosaurs. I really should stop putting dinosaurs into things but I just find the concept really funny.

But, yeah, I guess I reuse themes. People working together, from a variety of backgrounds, to get what needs to be done done. I think almost all of my longer works can be summed up that way.

Is that theme, though, or plot?

Auuuuugh I don’t know.

Anyway.

Thoughts about theme, squiders? Do you have a better way to tell what is theme versus other story elements?

Back to our normal twice a week schedule next week. My edit will be turned in, no matter its state. Wish me luck!

WriYe and Memories

Hello, hello, squiders! How are you? Home ownership continues to be one step forward, two steps back, which is, well, what it is, I guess. I’d like to say I’m not stress eating, but I am absolutely stress eating.

Anyway, onto this month’s WriYe prompt.

Best writing memory.

Hmm. Memory how? Of actually writing? Of doing something with said writing?

I have a lot of good memories of writing. And I have some awful ones. (There may or may not have been a writers’ conference where I spent some time lying on the floor crying.) But in general, more good ones.

A lot of them involve other people. My first local Nano group up in Boulder, and how half the time we’d talk about Star Trek or tell jokes instead of writing. Sitting with my best friend in my favorite tea shop, drinking tea and eating scones and fancy chocolates. Weekly write-ins with friends out in California. Getting to go to the first ever Night of Writing Dangerously (and drinking my first and only Red Bull). Going to the Stanley Hotel for a write-in, and then absolutely not participating in the ghost hunt afterwards.

I probably miss that the most, right now. The in-person writing. Since we’ve moved back to Colorado I’ve had a hard time finding a writing group that can meet on a regular basis at a time I can also meet. I’ve had a few groups, but none that have lasted long, or provided what I wanted out of it. So, uh, side note, if anyone knows how to put together a writing group, give me tips, I guess.

But there’s good memories of the writing too. There’s been some stories, especially earlier on, when I didn’t understand structure or pacing or plot but also did not care, that were such a joy to write. My first sale felt pretty dang good (I think I got $5 for that story), and I still get a thrill when a story is accepted somewhere. And whenever a reader or a beta comes back and tells me how they couldn’t put a book down, or how they’re still thinking about the characters or the story after they’ve finished it.

But a “best” memory? One that outweighs all the other ones?

I don’t know that I have one. Maybe I will someday.

What about you, squiders? Do you have a best memory related to something creative?

WriYe and Pantsing

It’s that time of month. March’s prompt from WriYe reads as such:

Planner, pantser or plantser? Why?

Okay, quick runthrough for the new people (because we’ve definitely talked about pantsers and planners before)–planners outline before they start writing, pantsers start writing without planning and make it up as they go, and plantsers are somewhere in the middle.

(Arguably almost everyone is a plantser of some shade.)

So! I definitely started as a pantser. I remember my first Nano way back in 2003. It was a murder mystery, and I was 10000 words in before I knew who the killer was. The next several novels went the same way, where I just made it up as I went. This led to Issues, most specifically pacing and the fact that some stories (my YA horror that I poke at occasionally, and Shards‘ first draft) would change tone/genre in the middle.

(My YA horror went from fun high school romp to horror, and Shards went from romance to adventure. You can’t really do that and get away with it, in most cases.)

(There are, of course, exceptions to everything. I’m sure there are novels out there that undergo tone/genre changes at the halfway point and are brilliant.)

I think it was…probably the second draft of Book 1 (2009/2010 time frame) where I sat down and planned out the story before I started writing. Of course, it was also a second draft, so I knew generally where the story was going (makes outlining WAY easier), but I did plan it out to some extent, because I needed to make changes and changes are always easier if you know what you’re doing and why.

I want to say I also outlined Book 2 (written 2010/11), though with a much simpler outline than what I currently use.

And then I spent a few years revising, and in 2014 started the space dinosaur story with a different but still simpler outline. The space dinosaur outline is significant because it fixed pacing, which had been my major issue up to that point.

After that we get into the City of Hope and Ruin timeframe, which I co-wrote and, consequently, adapted to Siri’s outlining process. Siri’s outlining process was WAY BETTER than what I had been doing up to that point. I combined it with the space dinosaur outlining and occasionally the phase outlining that I used for Books 1/2 (and still use for short stories) and that is my current outlining process.

It is lovely, and I find it works really well for my novella and novel projects.

But would I consider myself a planner? No. At most I’m going to have like, 10 pages of outlining and notes before I start a story. When I think planner, I think someone who has the exact events of each chapter planned out, and knows how long each chapter is going to be, and has already figured out all of their character quirks and worldbuilding, and has mapped out the whole series if, indeed, it’s going to be a series, and knows the rise/fall of their scenes and so forth and so on.

I would love to be a planner. But I can’t do it. My brain gets bored of the whole project and I never write the thing. Oh well. From what I understand from acquaintances who are planners, the actual writing goes really easily because they’ve figured everything out in the planning stage.

So I am a plantser, and I suspect I will stay that way. As I said above, my process is working really well, and it’s dynamic enough that I can change it to fit each individual project. (For example, when I wrote my cozy it required way more pre-planning of where everyone was at what times, and I also use a timeline for longer duration stories that take place over several months.)

Anyway, that’s me. How are you doing, squiders? I need major non-writing projects to stop popping up, thank you very much.

WriYe and Romance (Again)

Hello hello, squiders.

I almost don’t want to do this one. I feel like every February, the WriYe blog post revolves around romance.

(No, I’ve gone and checked, and one was about motivation, and another about inspiration. 2019, however, was definitely about romance. Ah well. Maybe I’m projecting.)

(Although there is some repetition in the monthly prompts in general. I suppose that, too, is to be expected. Maybe this is the last year we do the WriYe prompts.)

Again, like I noted last month, they’ve changed the prompts this year so they’re just a statement instead of a series of questions. February’s is The role of romance in your novels.

Hm.

I feel like as time has gone on, I’ve moved away from romance in my novels. Like, my earlier novels almost always have a romance of some sort, though it is not generally part of the main plot. The trilogy that I’ve been working on forever (and should be editing Book 1 of) has a romance in it, though I do like that one–slow building and natural feeling. My fantasy that’s alternately YA or MG based on the way I’m feeling about it (originally written Nano 2006, I think) has the start of a romance between one of the main characters and a minor antagonist (for her). My YA horror (Nano 2007) has one of the main characters pining after a friend, who returns the feelings, but they’re both too shy to act on it. And Nano 2008, which eventually turned into Shards, has romance at the very core of the story.

But more recently…I haven’t included it, unless I was working on a story for Turtleduck Press which, until recently, required a primary or secondary romance in all its works. So there is a love story in City of Hope and Ruin, and in anthology stories I wrote for To Rule the Stars and Love Shines Through.

But let’s look outside of that. From 2009 to 2019 I wrote a scifi serial about a sleepy town that’s not what it’s seems. No romance in that, though the main characters pretend to be in a relationship to avoid suspicion. In 2014 I started Excalibur-1 (which I finished in 2018), and, again, there’s no romance in there, though I believe I do set up a potential one in the future.

I did a lot of revision in the 2015-2018 time frame, so that’s all older stuff.

In 2019 I started World’s Edge (which I finished last year), which is single viewpoint, a rarity for me. There is romance in there, but not the main character’s, though the romance does drive the main plot. (If you recall, I was playing with my viewpoint character not being the protagonist.) 2020 I wrote my cozy mystery and, yeah, I guess I did set up a romance in that. A potential one, for the future, since cozies do seem to include romance. (Though they rarely actually get together. Interesting, that.) 2021 I did my now-finished Gothic Horror. No romance though. Too busy trying not to die, I guess.

Hm.

Oh, there was my scifi horror novella in there too. No romance. Again, trying not to die. Death is bad for romance.

Looking at everything, I guess I do include it, but not necessarily as a main component. At least, not anymore. I’m not even sure I’ve included it as a major subplot in a while.

That probably says something. But, I think, that I kind of feel like I did a lot of romance, and now I’d like to look at other relationships, or see how a character fares when they’ve got to step up all on their own.

(Plus I do seem to be writing a lot of horror lately, and a lack of support can help the feelings of isolation in a horror story. So.)

(Hm. Maybe that’s why. A minor shift from straight speculative fiction to speculative fiction with a horror bent. I probably should think about that too, why everything revolves around horror lately.)

Anyway, huh, that ended up being longer than I expected.

How do you feel about romance in novels, squiders? A necessary component? A distraction? Sometimes good, sometimes bad?

WriYe and the Year’s End

It’s that time of month again. And that time of year. Madness.

Also, I talked about this over at Turtleduck Press earlier this week, but does anyone else feel like 2021 is a liminal year? Like, that it doesn’t really exist. It’s just a continuation of 2020, and it’s near impossible to remember what happened this year vs. last year.

Anyway.

I haven’t been terribly active over at WriYe this year, and I don’t think I’ll hit my word count goal, which I think was 120K. I’m hovering around 90K for the year, but I also stopped tracking some months ago, so. I actually have no idea. Oh well.

That being said, let’s get on to the prompts for this year.

2021 is almost over. Sum up your year of writing. Did you meet your goals?

What even were my goals? One second.

Oh, right. I picked the word Polish for my word for the year, and then, aside from poking at Book 1 for a few months, did nothing with it. Bad show, Kit.

Story-wise, I dragged my Changeling story out to about 70K words and then decided it was awful and stuck it in a drawer. I DID manage to finish my draft of World’s Edge. And I’ve got 31K on my Nano story which–having read over it earlier this week–has definite issues but is salvageable.

I revised nothing, alas.

I sent out a handful of picture book queries and then did nothing to follow up on that, such as sending more queries out to other agents.

I did create two SkillShare classes, though the second one continues to be in audio-editing limbo. Fingers crossed that gets done tomorrow.

So, did I meet my goals? I give me a C.

Give us your biggest triumph and what you are most proud of!

In the great scheme of Accomplishing, I didn’t accomplish much. I mean, there was the writing, which has been, well. I think I’ve talked about how I feel like what I’m coming up with recently is just…not interesting. Or maybe I just talked to the TDP folks about that. (I’ve got to remember that so much of the good stuff comes out in revision, and all a first draft has to do is exist.)

I did put out a short story collection in…May? That’s kind of a big deal, I guess.

And this last SkillShare class, the one that I’m having issues with the audio one–I was so proud of it! It’s a workshop and I think it has a lot of good information in it, but everything’s gotten kind of bogged down with trying to get it fixed, and my enthusiasm has dulled.

I think…I think for 2022 I’ve really got to sit down, look at what I want to accomplish, make realistic goals, and figure out ways to actually focus instead of the weird procrastination stuff I’ve been doing for the last two years.

That’s for a few weeks from now, though. Or next week.

Hope your December is going well, squiders!

WriYe and Social Media

Catching up, catching up, lalalalala, where is the month going?

Do you use social media for your writing life?

No.

I mean, I do vaguely. When I blog, it copies the link to my Twitter and my Tumblr. But that’s literally about it. I don’t Facebook, I don’t Instagram, I don’t actually interact with anyone. Social media is one of those things that the marketing books say you should be doing, but I find it really unnatural.

I did try to do it more, back in the day–schedule posts, keep up with mentions, etc. Used HootSuite, which is a nice program. But there’s only so many hours in the day, and I don’t have enough or enough brain power to care most of the time.

Are you happy with the way you’re using social media in regards to your writing?

Hm. Part of me wants to say no–that I know I’m not utilizing social media like I’m supposed to, that perhaps all that’s standing in the way of me and breakout success is the number of times I post on Twitter.

But I really don’t care. Did using social media more (and correctly, as per the marketing gurus) help? I mean, yeah, a bit, in terms of followers and networking. But did it ever really connect to book sales? I wouldn’t say so.

A lot of the networking opportunities I have gotten have come through the blog, actually–people seeing my writing here and reaching out for one thing or another. Maybe they saw my post initially on social media, but maybe not. I don’t know.

So, while I guess I’m not “happy” about the way I’m using social media, I’m also not upset about it.

Why or why not?

Oh. Reading the whole post is important, people.

Here’s the deal. For two or three years, I did social media as I was supposed to. I reposted things I thought would be of interest to my ideal reader. I posted several times a day, and I responded quickly when someone mentioned me or responded to something I had posted. I discussed news items in the SFF world, talked about movies and books I liked, reached out to similar authors and collaborated where I could.

Did I get some success from it? Sure. Some. Not a lot. Not enough to justify the amount of time I was spending on it.

Cuz, at the end of the day, while your social media presence can help (or hurt, if you’re a jerk), if you don’t have the books to back up what you’re doing, you’re not going to get anywhere. I don’t put out multiple books a year, and thus far I have no series. It’s hard for me to attract and keep readers. And the way to fix that is to focus more on writing, and worry more about marketing when I have things to market.

Anyway, squiders, hopefully that doesn’t come off as too bitter! Bottom line is that the social media stuff didn’t work for me because I didn’t have anything to link it to–but it might work better in the future when I have other things out.

Any thoughts on social media, squiders?

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.