Posts Tagged ‘WriYe’

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?

WriYe and Organization

Oof, why is May going so fast? Seriously. Ahhhhhhhh

Anyway. It’s time for the monthly prompt from WriYe, which is about writing organization, something I am alternately very good at and also sometimes terrible at.

How do you keep your writing organized and backed up?

I mostly use Google Drive. I keep all my outlines and other background information there–conlangs, worldbuilding, feedback, etc. I also try to keep the most recent version of each draft on there as well, though sometimes this leads to issues (such as a local version syncing incorrectly and the cloud version eating the most recent update), so sometimes I will also NOT back up the most recent version for my own sanity.

I realize this is risky, but when Drive makes me waste an hour finding the proper version or makes me create 15 copies of the same document because it can’t just save over the pre-existing version, sometimes it’s worth it.

(I do back up other ways as well. I lost 4K on a story once and it was not fun.)

I also keep things like word count trackers and agent/submission lists there, so I can access them from anywhere. And my random idea file, so things can be added at a moment notice.

That being said, I do also do planning in notebooks, because sometimes that just works better, and sometimes it is too much work to type all that into a document (especially if there’s artwork involved, and often there is, for maps or uniforms or what have you). I have a set shelf on my desk that’s for writing notebooks, which I’ve put into place after one rather important one wandered off (RIP).

Do you have any tips or tricks to share that have helped you?

More backing up is better. I have an external hard drive that I back everything up to periodically, and I keep a version of each completed draft on Google Drive and in my email (in case Drive does something weird). I also sometimes back things up onto a flash drive.

That way, if anything happens, it’s still somewhere.

Organization within storage areas is also good–I keep the novels separate from the short stories, and keep all information for each specific novel or series separate from the others.

(So, like, Novels>Series>Book 1, etc.)

This allows me to easily find the stuff related to a specific project as opposed to having to scroll through a long list of things (though search functions do exist, but if you’ve named a document something not obvious you’re screwed).

So, uh, that’s me, I guess. I do think there’s a thin line between organization and obsessive organizing that can take away from working time on other things, so I try not to stress about it too much.

How are you, squider? Thoughts on organization?

WriYe and Success

Eking this end at the end of the month, haha. Interesting topic this month, considering how the last year has gone. More and more recently I’ve felt like I no longer have any idea about the writing industry or how to be successful, and I think a lot of that has to do with my own productivity issues due to medical issues and the pandemic, combined with increasing knowledge about writing in general and a feeling of incompetence.

Actually, one of the writing blogs I follow had a post about that in the last week, how over the past year they’ve felt disconnected from writing, and I really identified with that.

But, anyway, on to the questions.

What has been your biggest writing success? How did you get there?

Hm, that’s a good question. I guess the first story I sold, maybe? It feels pretty great each time I sell a story, which has never been a terribly consistent thing. I hope, as I become more experienced, it’ll be more often.

As to how I got there, uh, practice, I guess? I try to write short stories, both for fun and purpose, fairly regularly, and I also read short story collections to see what other people are doing and how it’s working. Sometimes I’ll look at anthology calls to try my hand at writing a particular type of story. It’s really just experimentation at this point, which may be why it’s not more consistent.

What has been your biggest writing disappointment? How did you bounce back from it?

I have been trying, for years, to get a mentor through contests like #RevPit or #PitMad. I’ve tried different stories, different submission materials, you name it. I’ve tried contests specific to my genres and more general ones. I’m lucky if I get a response from one of the people I’ve submitted to at all, let alone one that gives any sort of feedback. And, of course, I’ve never been selected.

Now, you might say, Kit, you are published author, so why do you want a mentor?

I mean, I don’t know. I think it’s, as I try out more ambitious projects, or as I run into issues with ones that are dear to my heart, that I’d like someone to point me in the right direction. Hold my hand, as it were, and tell me what sorts of things might help me out.

It is frustrating, to never hear anything back from these contests, and it certainly doesn’t help my self-esteem or my confidence in my stories. But it helps to take a step back and realize that each of these people get a ton of submissions and can only select one per contest, and that it doesn’t necessarily mean anything about my writing or my story. And there’s new contests and/or mentors every few months.

This is an interesting question right now, because I have been feeling so out of sorts, and I’ve been feeling like my stories are uninspired and predictable, and like I haven’t been able to write anything truly good in a while. It probably wouldn’t hurt to sit down and do some soul searching, and see if I can get some of my mojo/confidence back.

Or it may be that I just need to take a break for a bit and let it come back naturally.

How are you doing, squider? How are you feeling?

WriYe and Revision (Again)

Well, it’s March, and March continues to be connected to NaNoEdMo, even though it’s dead. (And every March, I’m not revising. Well, I might get there later in the month. Or not.)

I feel like we do some variation of this prompt every March, and since this is my third year of doing the WriYe blog prompts, well, I guess if you want more info, check previous Marchs.

Explain your revision process. Do you go through multiple stages of editing?

I’ve talked about it before, but basically I spend a bunch of time looking at the story as it is, then solidifying my arcs and plot lines, and making notes about what needs to be fixed. Then I RE-outline everything and essentially re-write the entire story, even re-typing scenes that are not changing.

I realize this is an inefficient way to work, but I find the story sits better in my head if I work through the whole thing from start to finish. Also, it allows me to take note of issues on a line level, such as repetitive wording or filtering, which gives me less work in the end.

After I finish my major edit, I tend to read the whole thing out loud, which helps me find any weird flow things, fix dialogue, find typoes that I’ve previously missed, etc.

I don’t typically edit again after that, aside from smaller fixes.

Or just one and then leave the rest to the professionals? Do you/will you use professional editors?

As a freelance editor, I recognize the value that having someone else–especially someone else who knows what they’re talking about–look at your work. That being said, I don’t tend to use professional editors myself, mostly because I can’t afford to and partially because I can self-edit fairly decently.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with using beta readers and critique partners in place of professional editors. You will need to gauge if you’re getting value out out it, of course–not all feedback is created equal–but if you can’t afford an editor, it’s not the end of the world.

Of course, on the other hand, sometimes it’s easier to use a professional editor than beta readers/critique partners. Oftentimes, betas/CPs are part of an exchange thing–you look at mine, I’ll look at yours–which means you need to have the time to look at someone else’s work too, and betas/CPs aren’t always the most reliable people, so you may find yourself waiting a while, or forever, for feedback. A good professional editor will get feedback to you when they say they will.

So, really, using them or not is up to your personal circumstances. My advice is to edit yourself before you hire an editor. You don’t want to distract an editor with things you could have fixed yourself. And make sure you’ve done your research, and that the editor you’re working with understands what sort of feedback you’re looking for.

That turned into more of a lecture than personal experience, so, uh, sorry!

Anyway, see you guys on Friday!

WriYe and Inspiration

It’s that time of month! But before we get into the questions from WriYe, I wanted to let you guys know that I have the first past of a serial up over at Turtleduck Press. It’s called Deep and Blue and follows Kaeri, a scientist in an underwater city who finds herself having to deal with a mystery.

Now, onward!

What inspires you?

I mean, anything really. A picture, a song. A weird dream. A line of dialogue on a television show. I find that inspiration can be anywhere, if you’re looking for it, and even sometimes when you’re not.

I would say that finding inspiration isn’t necessarily the problem when it comes to writing.

How do you hold onto that inspiration through less-than-inspiring times?

This is getting ahead of the questions, I suspect, but, for me, inspiration is the spark that starts you thinking about a story. And I do think you can force inspiration, to some extent. That’s part of why I keep several Pinterest boards full of story, character, and setting ideas. Sometimes you’ve got to get a story going, because you’ve promised one to an anthology, or you’ve got a challenge you’re part of, or whatever, so it can be good to have a stash of things to get you started.

When writing is tough, because of emotional or mental states, I find working on shorter pieces is helpful. A novel can be overwhelming, especially if you’re not feeling it, and there’s nothing like getting 15,000 words into something and finding out you hate it. Something short keeps you in practice, can spark something bigger, and isn’t overwhelming.

Is inspiration different than motivation for you?

Yes. Absolutely. Inspiration is the spark of a story, as I mentioned above, and motivation is the drive to actually do something with that inspiration. I think a lot of us have had the experience of thinking up a story or a scene or what have you, and then not being able to actually get it out. How many times have you laid in bed, writing dialogue in your head?

Motivation can be harder to drum up, even if you have a story in place. I think maybe that’s what the above question was really asking. How do you write when it doesn’t feel like you can?

I find baby steps can help if things feel really awful. Okay, so maybe I don’t feel up to writing a whole chapter, but I could outline that chapter. I can write a paragraph, or a scene. Sure, I’m not getting things done as fast as I wanted to, but I am still getting something done.

(This is also why I like stepping it up challenges, where you add a little bit more each day. You either reach a point where you know what you’re currently capable of, or you find out you’re capable of more than expected.)

On to revision talk!

My betas are already starting to send me feedback, which is so so helpful. I do think I’m going to stick to writing the alt. first chapters, so I have them on hand no matter what, but my betas do seem to kind of feel like the disconnect isn’t as bad as I’ve made it out to be. So I guess that’s good!

I also made a master document with all my beta comments from previous beta rounds, which is actually less than I thought. I think maybe I’ve lost some. This is why you should keep track of things, a lesson I may some day learn.

Have a good weekend, squiders! I’ll see you next week.

WriYe and 2021

This kind of goes over stuff we’ve already talked about, but here we are anyway!

What’s your WriYe Word Count goal for 2021? Why did you chose it?

I picked a goal of 120,000 words for this year. Last year I wrote 150K, and that’s on top of wasting a LOT of time, so I could conceivably write more if so inclined, but since most of my time this year is going to be spent on revision, I didn’t want to go that high again.

I’m still waffling about counting revision words. I do tend to retype everything during a revision, especially if it needs a lot of work, because it allows me to tweak word choice, and I haven’t decided if I should count that or not. Things to worry about later!

What are your writing/editing plans for the year?

I’m not going to do this in great detail, since we did talk about it last week, but essentially I intend to focus on revising several (six) longer projects with the hopes that they’ll be ready for publication of some sort. They need various amounts of work so I’m going to start with the easiest ones first.

Bonus:

What are you most looking forward to in 2021?

Uh…hopefully being able to go places again? I know that’s not writing related, but I am so stir crazy I can’t stand it. I’d even love just to be able to go work at the coffee shop instead of my house.

(Speaking of which, I got a new laptop! It’s one of those 2-in-1s that turns into a tablet, though I haven’t thought of a need for tablet mode yet.)

Writing wise, I’d like to be able to focus better and get more done with my time. And actually finish some projects.

What are your goals for 2021, squiders?

WriYe and December

Oh, hey! Sorry this is late. I joined an Among Us discord channel that is only for grown-ups, and they’re a very fun group of people. Also, it’s hard to work over virtual school.

The WriYe blog prompts fell by the wayside this year, like many things, but we did get one for December, and maybe there’ll be more next year as hopefully we all recover from 2020.

2020 is almost over (yay!). In a very unpredictable and unstable year, sum up your year of writing.

I mean, it wasn’t great, but it wasn’t bad. I did nine months of prompt responses, both universe-expanding drabbles (working on making it ten) and random prompts. I wrote 55K on the perhaps doomed Changeling story and another 50K and a complete draft of my mystery in November. (I have read back through it now, and it’s not terrible, though it could definitely use more meat in the second half.) Oh, and I got my scifi horror novella done and beta’d.

I’d better check my goals for the year to see if I’m forgetting anything.

Oh, yeah, I started my Drifting sequel for the luddite challenge, and I poked a few older stories to see if they were viable.

It’s not everything I wanted to do, but it’s not bad.

Did you meet your goals? Did you survive? Barely hung on?

I met…some of my goals, but I don’t think I’ve ever met all of them, so that’s not that weird. I haven’t touched World’s Edge since last Nano, and the sequel to City of Hope and Ruin continues to be stuck in the mire. I did have two stories published (here and here) which is down from previous years.

I upped my word count goal from the year from 100,000 to 150,000, which is good but, at the same time, I don’t really feel like I have a lot to show for my year.

And there was so much of this year when I could have been writing, and I didn’t. I understand that this year has been rough on a number of levels, between medical issues and the pandemic and virtual school and all that jazz. But I still wasted a lot of time where I could have been doing something else.

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

Hmmmm. Hmmmmmm. My scifi horror novella went over pretty well during the summer marathon. I’ve done a couple of previous marathons, and normally I get ripped to shreds, but everyone seemed to really like the story, so that felt pretty good. And it was nice to come out of Nano with a complete draft, especially now that I’ve read it and it’s not terrible.

I’ll do a more formal year-end review when we actually get to the end of the year. And, fingers crossed, next year I’ll be able to get more done.

But right now, I’m bogged down by the holidays. There’s so much to do aaaauuuugggghhhh why do I do this to myself every year? My sister texted me for Christmas present ideas back on Halloween.

How are you doing, squiders? Feeling okay? What are you most proud of this year?

WriYe and Editing

Hey-ho, squiders. It’s that time of month again. March, in the spirit of NaNoEdMo (does that still exist? If not, it’s certainly left its mark), has an editing theme over at WriYe.

(NaNoEdMo still has a website, but it doesn’t look like it’s been updated for this year. That’s too bad. It’s been around forever, though I’ve never actually done it, because invariably I am not editing in March, or I’ve forgotten that NaNoEdMo is a thing.)

The idea is that by the time March rolls around, you’ve had time to complete your NaNoWriMo novel and give it a bit of a break, so you can approach everything with fresh eyes.

Right, on to the prompts.

What is your main struggle with editing?  Is it getting started? Rereading your own work?

Let me just say that for the most part I really enjoy editing/revision. I like to come up with fixes to problems, and I like to mold the story I ended up with into the story I wanted.

The biggest issue for me is that it’s a looooooong process. The way I do it, I do a lot of prep work first–looking at character/plot arcs, worldbuilding, conflict, story flow, etc.–and that tends to take me several months. Doing it that way makes the actual revision pretty easy, because I’ve got everything figured out beforehand, and makes it so I don’t have to do a million and a half drafts. But uuuuggghhh it takes forever. If I’m the depths of a major edit, that may be the only thing I get done in a year, aside from smaller projects.

How do you handle it?

Hm. Just deal with it, I guess? 😛 I mean, it is what it is. Perhaps over time the process will streamline itself and take less time. And, I mean, I can do it shorter. I only had, like, two months for the edit on City of Hope and Ruin and it got done. But there was more panic.

Bonus: Give your top five editing tips and/or tricks that you wish you learned earlier.

Hm. Okay!

  1. Don’t edit an unfinished manuscript. If you’re constantly going back and changing things, you’re never going to get done, and you’re going to end up with a bunch of things left over from previous versions that don’t make sense. Make note of things that need to change and move forward.
  2. Take a break between finishing the draft and starting your edit. This lets your brain reset and allows you to look at the story more emotionally removed.
  3. Do big picture things first! Fixing your sentence flow and dialogue is great, but if you spend a bunch of time doing that (because it’s easy) and then discover you’ve got to throw out that section of the story because of a plot problem, you’ve wasted time and energy. Whole story things first (plot arc, character arc) and move down from there. Line editing is last.
  4. Make sure each scene is advancing either the plot or the character arc. You can break each one down into a sentence, which also helps you check your flow overall.
  5. Edit on paper, and read your work out loud. You get used to your story, and you can skip the same typo fifty times because that’s just How It Is. Change how you’re looking at the story, and you’re more likely to catch things.

Thoughts on editing/revision, squiders? Should I write a book about editing? Hm. Things to ponder.

See you next week!

WriYe and the Love of Writing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ANYWAY ON TO THE PROMPTS

Why do you love writing?

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

Do you always love writing?

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

What do you do when you (gasp) don’t?

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

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

WriYe and 2020

Morning, squiders! (Now evening cuz our Internet crapped out all day.) If you were around last year, you’ll know I kept pretty active in an online community known as WriYe (Writing Year, formally NaNoWriYe when I joined waaaaay back in 2006). Each year, you pick a word count goal for the entire year, and the community provides companionship, challenges, and a host of other motivators to help you get there.

It worked so well last year (I wrote 110K with a goal of 75K) that I’m doing it again this year. So you’ll continue to see a blog post a month dedicated to whatever the topic of the month is.

What’s your WriYe Word Count goal for 2020? Why did you chose it?

I chose 100K for this year, for a couple of different reasons. One, I breezed through 75K last year (though, admittedly, that included Nano, and I don’t know if I’ll be participating this year yet). Two, I have four unfinished drafts that need finishing, and I hate having unfinished drafts sitting around. We’re probably looking at close to 200K to finish said drafts, so I hope I’m actually aiming a little low.

Three, part of my education-themed year is writing to try out new stuff and new techniques (as well as just practicing), so I wanted to have room for that as well.

What are your plans for the year? What do you want to accomplish with your writing?

We’ve talked about this already this month, but I would like to take time this year to learn and grow, and focus more on craft than publishing and marketing (though no doubt some of that will still leak in).

Bonus:

What are you most looking forward to in 2020?

Uhhhh? Hm. Writing-wise? Hard to say. I’m, in general, looking forward to my projects for the year (except that Changeling story needs a major overhaul of some sort so I’m more interested in it. Dragons, maybe.) and am tentatively optimistic about everything.

Non-writing wise, we’ve got a couple of cool trips planned out (well, one is unplanned, but I’m working on it. It is approximately the same amount of time to drive from my house to Oregon, Minnesota, or Tennessee, which has helped the decision-making part of this not at all). The small, mobile ones will both be in school full-time come the fall, as well. That is both exciting and terrifying.

But who knows what’s to come? It could literally be anything. But fingers crossed for good things.

How about you, squider? What are your plans/things you’re looking forward to in 2020?