Feeds:
Posts

Archive for the ‘Work In Progress’ Category

I have always been a pantser. When I get an idea it generally has an opening scene and one or more great characters. The story flows naturally from there. At most I would jot down the major points and a few scenes ahead but I figured the story might shift drastically so I thought that loose was better. It worked for me and the drafts that resulted seemed pretty solid.

Back in June I finished a first draft that I considered worthy of editing. It was wonderful, it was awesome and it was also an unholy mess that would need pain and blood and tears to turn into a “real book”. In other words it was a first draft and much as I loved it I needed a break. I backed it up in triplicate, closed the file and put it from my mind.

What to do in the meantime? All through writing that other draft I’d had a few stories try to tempt me away. I had been good, giving them no more than a few pages each just to make sure I recorded the idea completely. Now I was free to do more.

I decided to experiment with an outline. I figured, this isn’t my REAL book so I’m free to use it to learn new things. The outline took ages longer than the time I allotted it. Then just as I was ready to begin writing I realized I had pages of character outlining to do as well. It took as long to get to the writing as I had allotted for the entire project!

Once I began writing the going was slower than I anticipated. Slower than my last project in fact. And yet it was steady progress. Most importantly I was producing a cleaner draft than I ever thought possible. There might even be passages that could make into a final draft with little or no revision. Whoa.

What I have learned from this is the value of an outline in ensuring that my first draft is a clean and concise vision of what my eventual novel should look like and I guarantee that the amount of editing that will be necessary on this book is far less than that REAL novel I wrote (and still plan to return to). I have a new tool that saves me time and is making me a better writer. Shiny! I won’t be going back. I’m just too lazy not to put in that extra work in the beginning.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

It’s currently 29 degrees celsius (about 84.2 F) in my apartment and worse in the computer room. Those puppies do crank out the heat! I’ve told myself I won’t turn on the air conditioning until it hits 30 to conserve hydro.  Since the heat has both myself and the cat doing nothing except lounging uncomfortably I thought I might use my indolence to bust out a blog post. I have several more planned for the near future once I can stand to be in the office again. (AC is confined to the bedroom unfortunately)

It’s been pretty solid since my last post. I finished my Nano Novel first draft (WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!) at the end of June and took a week off… mostly. I then started what I’m calling the July Novel. The plan is to write a full novel while I let the Nano Novel simmer in the back brain. Ideally I will finish a first draft by the end of July. Realistically… I won’t beat myself up if it takes me through August, especially now that I’m bogged down in character sketches.

The July Novel is a YA adventure fantasy with steampunk and sci-fi elements. It’s also something of a murder mystery. Honestly the more I delve into the plot the more I realize that my “relaxing break novel” is going to be just as complex and difficult as everything else I write. It’s not helping that I have ten characters to develop not all of whom will make it to the last page. I thought this would make it easier because they’re expendable. What I have learned is that expendable characters can be the most demanding. They only get a short time and they want that time to matter to the reader. For the death to be moving the reader has to care and that means I need to know as much  about the characters I kill as the ones who survive.

Characters are the backbone of this book. Aside from the initial set up there is little in the way of outside forces moving events; so only through characters making decisions and taking action is the story, well, a story. Otherwise it would be ten people on an airship having a nice leisurely flight. Boring!

So that’s what I’m up to.

Coming soon:

  • A book review of Remedy by Heidi C. Vlach.
  • A few thoughts on plot and other writing related ruminations.
  • More personal stories!

Read Full Post »

I’ve set very lofty goals in writers group the last two weeks and so far it has been excellent. Ok, so I didn’t actually meet the first goal and I may not meet this week’s goal but what I have done is write consistently and long. It’s paying off too. The end of my novel is in sight soon I will have a shiny first draft and it will be glorious.

I’ve had this grace period between school and summer job where I’ve been able to just write. My plan is to use what’s left of this little window to finish up the first draft and then put it aside for a little while, though not too long. I’ll spend a week or so fleshing out the next two installments and then go back and start The Great Rewrite.

And it will be great, also long and probably arduous. The draft I have now is not so much a first draft as a long and exceptionally detailed outline in severe need of revision. I will likely rewrite the first 20 – 30K altogether. That’s okay, they were done in two weeks worth of Nanowrimo frenzy and they laid the foundation for what came after.

What is most exciting during this last stretch of writing is that at no time during the writing of this novel have I gotten tired of either the story or the characters. They evolved in wonderful ways that I didn’t always predict.  It’s been so much fun to play in this world and enjoy what it shapes into. Soon I will finish my first draft and then my job will be turning into a real story, one that is good enough to show everyone else the awesome world I’ve played in all along.

Read Full Post »

April has been an interesting month. I began it with the best intentions of completing Scriptfrenzy but in the end I didn’t, or won’t by tomorrow night anyway. On three occasions I sat down to begin writing one of my short film scripts and three times I ended up writing a completely unrelated short story. After that I got 4 pages of script completed then began working on my novel again.

Don’t misunderstand me, the scripts will get written. Now is just not the time. My head is in my novel and I can’t really complain about that. I like my novel. I like where it is going and I like how I’m getting there. It feels good to be living full-time with the characters in my head again. So I gladly relinquish a win in my first attempt at Scriptfrenzy and continue on with my labour of love. I know I’ll come back to the scripts but I’ve got a few things to finish up first.

Not to say I don’t have other distractions nipping at my heels. A novel idea and an idea I think would be suited to novella length have been brewing. The novel will have to wait but I think developing the novella is worth a little time. It’s a story based around political intrigue and I think even if the novella never goes anywhere the exercise of trying to write it will be valuable for my current WIP which is loaded with intrigue.

The writing is going well. I’m setting a minimum goal of 5,000 words per week but until I manage to find a job I think I could do significantly better than that. If I am diligent I am confident I can do 25,000 per week, maybe more. At that rate I will finish the novel by the end of May. What a delicious thought.

Time to get started.

Read Full Post »

Infidelity

I am being tempted.

It has come. Curse of the writer mired by the tribulations of a difficult Work in Progress. I struggle and sweat to get through so many difficult little scenes and it is hard to keep going. I’ve done this twice before, I know I’ll get through. Probably.

Then tonight I was diligently slogging away, knowing intellectually that soon I would break past the wall and the story would flow for me again. I have my outline and I know soon I will love my novel effortlessly, like a mother at her child’s birth instead of the mother of a teenager who is argumentative, sullen and prone to shrieking profanities while slamming doors. You still love them but… you have to work at it a little.

And then this little idea sauntered past with a come hither gaze and a saucy wink.

Just a little idea, nothing to be afraid of. So I wrote it down. Surely there’s no harm in keeping a good idea for when I have the time? A moment later I knew my hook. From that came the easiest elevator pitch I’ve ever written. Then I couldn’t stop, I wrote a perfect back cover blurb in one go. Then I outlined a little and I knew how it would begin and how it would end. (So touching! So poignant! So heart breaking!) The two main characters told me their names and they provided me all the information I would need to breathe life into them. They came alive like a single brush stroke on crisp linen paper. Simple. Elegant. Perfect.

Then their world started nudging its way on to the page. A detail here, a factoid there. Just a bit of world building, no harm in it. I tried to tell myself that it was just enough to keep all the details fresh for when I come back to it.

“Come back? How can you leave me when I am so new and shiny?” asked the idea.

And so begin the seeds of infidelity. I love the novel I have but it is hard, so HARD! I work and I toil and it only demands more of me. I know deep down that the new idea will grow and live on my attention and love until it is just as demanding as my current work in progress but it’s still new and full of easy promise. Its characters are smooth as polished glass, it’s plot threads yet to be tangled.

I’ve been tempted before, even done a little outlining. Temptation will come again, sure as I’ll wake up tomorrow to a hungry/angry cat pawing at my head. Infidelity is a risk of being a writer. I’ll resist. I’ll save the file and leave the idea for another day.

It’s just harder than usual today.

Read Full Post »

I am terrified of falling down stairs. I would say I was phobic but as my fear springs from a totally rational source I am clearly right to fear stairs. The problem is that I tend to fall down them. Sometimes I trip over some dangling thing I failed to notice. Sometimes I slip on icy cement or metal stairs outside. Canada presents many opportunities to slip and fall on all kinds of surfaces, and I do, but stairs are my true nemesis.

My last fall involved a gorgeous set of highly polished wooden stairs leading into a friends basement. The 2-3 glasses of wine I’d had probably didn’t help but I have it under good authority that those particular stairs are a menace to more than just myself. They are a lovely polished-to-a-high-sheen deathtrap with a plethora of victims.

I bring this up because I am currently working on a script for Scriptfrenzy and one of my characters has a similar problem but more so. At worst I’ve sprained wrists and earned some spectacular bruises. By contrast I’ve got this character breaking limbs, getting concussions and I’m toying with a short coma. She isn’t me but she’s going to be a lot like that aspect of me, multiplied.

I’m torn between using the experience and feeling like I’m cheating because it won’t be coming from my imagination. Though in a way I guess it is because my own fear is fueled by my imagining of worst case stair-falling scenarios.

I’ve read a lot of John Irving and I think he’s a brilliant author. Many of his books consider the issue of whether writers should make up their stories from whole cloth or whether it is okay to take elements or even fully formed characters from real life. His novels tend to fall on the side of using-real-life-is-cheating. I’m curious to know if Mr. Irving himself truly believes this and has projected it onto his characters (oh the irony!) or if it is merely an opinion of his fictional characters. My own paranoia even wonders if it’s a fake out aimed at budding authors but this paranoia is the kind that just makes me giggle because that would be sort of awesome.

The result is that I sometimes feel like I am cheating when I lift elements or out of context events from real life and include them in my fictional writing. Worse I often feel like those are the parts that read as most true compared to what I had come up with on my own. This worried me for a long time but lately I’m less concerned about it. I feel like some of my truly fictional elements are getting better. I still use pieces from real life but I think I’m learning to write even fictional parts that ring true. Maybe someday I’ll learn to write without stealing from my own life but honestly, I don’t know that I will and I think I’m okay with that.

But I still worry about it. That’s okay though, I’m just a paranoid sort of person.

Read Full Post »

A few weeks back during stressful moving time (love new apartment!) I woke from a very bizarre dream which I can no longer remember and a joke came to me fully formed.

Now to be fair it is a joke that relies on punning and I know puns are no longer as respected as they once were but I still love them.  Boyfriend is a Master Punner and it is one of the reasons I love him so. Anyway, I wake from this bizarre dream and my brain spontaneously creates this joke.

“Why did santa take a job as a butcher in the off season?”

“He had sleigh experience.”

Ba-dum-tuh.

I agonized over which spelling of sleigh/slay to use.

I am not sorry for my punning ways.

 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »