Because who doesn't like staring at the ceiling fan?

Latest

Outlining is Hard

It’s like pantsing a novel during NaNo, except without all the randomly fun scenes and none of the excitement. I get all the frustration of not knowing where I’m going without the benefit of being amused at what I wrote (especially if I know I’m not going to keep it because it’s that ridiculous).

I’ve played in the scene sandbox a few times and come up with a new character for book 2. She just kind of… appeared. Dumped on my protag like “here, she’s your responsibility. Have fun.” Except I’m mostly like o_O which is pretty much what my protag did too.

Ugh.

I also have no idea who my villain is this time around. In the first book it was so easy. OMG serial killing werewolf! Run for your lives! Now it’s like… oh no, I have to set up the guest bedroom for this random character. The horror!

Should my villain be another werewolf? Should they be a human? Should they be horribly sympathetic, as in the villain and my protag might be buddies under different circumstances? Should one of my protag’s friends flip and become an antagonist for some legitimate reason, where the resolution will not be a win for anyone?

Or should I just focus on the relationships of the characters this time around? I gotta tell you, I really need to get my characters between the sheets already. You could….

Osnap. Hold on. I just had an idea. Hmm.

Oh. Oh, that is evil.

No villain ideas yet, but damn if I didn’t just think of a way to turn my protag’s world upside down. This could be interesting. I’ll get back with you in a few days. In the mean time, if you have any tips for outlining without a clear villain and an undetermined ending, please leave them in the comments! I need your thinks!

PS – because I am evil, and you need giggles: Jurassic Park remix

NaNo is Coming

And I have a battle plan.

I sat down over the last couple of days to work out a schedule for myself. The schedule is to keep up with everything I’m currently doing, plus leave room for all the extra writing I’ll need to do in the next two months. That includes an hour of solid, uninterrupted writing time from 9-10pm every night, and some fail safes to make sure I don’t get obsessed, lose sleep, and sacrifice productivity (because it’ll happen if I’m not careful).

(Like right now, when I meant to write this almost 3 hours ago and be in bed already.)

(Shh.)

Here it is in a nutshell. In the next few days I want to take one more look at my query letter and synopsis, spend not more than 2 days on either of them, and find a few places to submit the werewuff novel to by Monday. Then I’m going to put those aside, and…

Begin outlining. I’ll probably tackle some character sheets and hammer out the first quarter to a third of the story line. Might try Snowflaking it, or Phasing it, or even using the cheat sheet I found for the Hollywood formula. Whatever will get me going. Since I’m currently planning to use my existing world with existing characters I won’t need to reinvent the wheel, though I will need to figure out those characters’ development for this particular story. Might take a couple of sandbox scenes to get a feel for where I’m going, but I should be able to get a good start. Then…

I’ll use the weekend to look over my outline notes so far, and attack some of my muses for some brainstorming. You know who you are. Consider this fair warning 😉

For week two I want to get through the next chunk of planning. Another quarter or third, which will get me to halfway or 2/3 through the outline. Really want to shoot for the 2/3 mark so I have time to rip it apart towards the end of the month and do some last minute research (if necessary). Again, I’ll use the weekend for review and muse abuse. Might take some time this second week to submit werewuffs again but that’ll depend on how busy I am and whether or not I’m feeling burnt out from outline madness. Which means…

In week three I want to get through most of the outline. If outlining is anything like writing the actual novel (and I wouldn’t know, because this is my first serious effort at outlining) the middle will be the most difficult to get through.  If by this point I’ve made it through the middle slog of “wtf am I doing?” I should be able to pick up speed this week and get pretty close to finished with a rough outline. This is good, because…

Week four is going to be full of last minute panics as I try to make sure the outline I have is suitable for November’s frenzied writings. I specialize in coming up with spontaneous inspiration, so either I’ll spit polish the outline, or I’ll just have to wing it during the actual writing. Which will probably happen anyway, because I have an unfortunate habit of not following the plan. I want to avoid that this time though. No abandoning the plans.

If it turns out the planning won’t take me all month I want to plot a second book. I want to pick up my albino story again soon. It’s unique enough that I should be able to write and sell it a lot easier than my werewuffs. Also, that character has been ignored for far too long. She’s done taking up head space. She needs to be out in the world. Be free, nameless character. Go forth and make bad guys shake in their boots.

Be back in a few days to let you all know how I plan to work NaNo into my schedule this year. As much as I’d like it, I don’t think I could write 1667 words in just the one hour a night I’m allowing for writing in October. I’ll need a good two hours per day. Three, if I’m feeling especially unproductive (but let’s hope it doesn’t come to that). Those of you with kids and full time jobs, what did you do to succeed at NaNo? I haven’t pulled off a legitimate 50k since having the little man.

Nope Nope Nope

Meant to do a post last week. Totally forgot. It’s not even that I don’t have things to write about, because I do. Many, many things (just ask my followers on G+. heh). I think what it comes down to is I need to make a schedule for myself and stick to it. The reasons why, beyond simple remembrance to blog every now and then, will become clear in a moment.

I recently participated in a Pitch Madness contest on Twitter. The idea is to pitch your novel in 140 characters, minus the number needed for the hashtags you use, and see if you can catch the attention of an agent. I caught the attention of two junior agents at the same agency with this simple sentence:

“One night stand with a werewolf… what could possibly go wrong?”

Cheeky, and implies a fun tone to the novel. The only problem is, my novel is pretty dark. Yes, the protagonist has some serious laugh out loud moments throughout, but overall it’s not as lighthearted as that sentence makes it sound. People die. Blood happens (a lot). There are some seriously tense adult scenes. Hell the alpha meeting alone would drive off the faint of heart, and that happens in chapter 5.

Ultimately, I was turned down after submitting partials, but what made me decide to take a second look at my query letter and synopsis was the encouragement from one of the agents to keep submitting. She specifically mentioned that she wasn’t very into my werewolf politics: it wasn’t what she was hoping for out of the story, but I should keep seeking representation. To me, that says that the pitch and query weren’t properly constructed to tell an agent what’s in the manuscript. I gave her the wrong idea, and it cost me an opportunity.

So there’s that to work on. I also participated in ePublish Unum’s most recent Books and Beer hangout, and made the outlandish claim that I could plot, write, and start revising the sequel to my werewolf novel by early spring. Heh. So I guess that means I’m now publicly accountable to actually get that done. Full writing schedule, engage! Weeeeeee.

Be back to update you guys in a few days. Yes, a few days, and not a few weeks as keeps happening. That’s because I’m going to sit down and do what I said I’d do at the beginning of this post: make a freaking writing schedule! No more procrastinating! 🙂

Unhappily Ever After

Remember that post I made a couple of weeks ago about writer’s block, and how one of the causes can be that something else has my attention?

Yeah. I’ve entertained goals of writing new prose, or revising a different story that badly needs it. Problem is, I never get very far. Why?

Because my werewolves won’t leave me alone. (Beware: spoilers ahead)

I don’t mean that literally, or even in the sense that these characters might have a life of their own inside my head. I know they don’t. But sometimes I get hyper focused, or obsessed, and when that happens with a story I have a really hard time letting those characters go until their story is exactly how I want it. (You all know what a pitfall that can be. Nothing is ever perfect.)

I thought the latest round of revisions meant I was done, at least until an editor could take a look at it and give me some pointers about where to take the story, or what to cut, etc etc. Except I think my subconscious already figured that out and I’m just not listening. I want to work on other things, not revise this one story into the ground. I don’t want to be a one hit wonder! Let me work on other things, already!

But I can’t let this go. I can’t. So I’m going to talk it out, because that’s the only thing I can do right now besides revise an already revised story.

So what’s bothering me about my latest round of revisions? The ending, for one. It’s off. There’s too much “just focus on the fact that you lived.” She doesn’t have a major breakdown, and she really should. I mean, she killed two people. Some others died. One of those personal kills was too high level for her. She wasn’t there yet, emotionally or mentally. Level 60 protagonist, meet the level 85 dungeon villain. I hate to break it to you, but you wouldn’t have killed him. That’s one of the things I need to revise. I just need to go with it. No happy endings here. It all needs to end in disaster… I just need to be brave enough to write it like that.

Second, my main villain is just all over the place. He needs more. Perhaps some conversations with the protagonist. Maybe one where she doesn’t know who he is, and then maybe a couple where she does. He’s not convincing to me, and if he’s not convincing to me, he’s not going to convince the readers.

Third, I think I have too much going on. The dragons just need to be pulled. It’s a minor sub plot insertion because I’m going somewhere major with it in book 2, but I don’t need to drop so much into the story line in book 1. References should be fine without adding a mystery plot that isn’t realized within the one story.

Speaking of unresolved plots (this is the part where you skip if you don’t like spoilers), my protagonist doesn’t ever go full wolf, and that’s never explained. I know when it’s resolved in the character’s timeline, but that timeline extends further than book 1. Which is fine, unless I never have a conversation about it, which I don’t. The question is asked, and no one answers, or even speculates (to be fair, no one has a lot of time to sit around thinking about these things). I’m thinking it really needs to be answered in one way or another, which might mean bumping the rest of the story to hit that part of the timeline.

All of these possibilities mean my story is going to bloat… by at least 10k words. I’m at 90k now. These revisions might take me into the 110k’s. A little bit big for a first novel. Means I’ll be paying more for editing services, and means will have more work to do myself before it gets to the point where I want to send it to an editor.

I think I’m okay with that, though. Never could do anything the easy way. So point for you, werewolves. I’ll get started this week.

Writer’s Block Party

Very recently, Ray Sanders (astronomer and blogger)  asked for advice on how to deal with writer’s block. I have some epic level experience with writers block, so I figured I’d pitch in. Then I figured this was something worthy of its own post here in blog land because who doesn’t need advice on writer’s block?  (That, and I can’t believe I neglected this thing for a whole month. I’m sorry wordpress! I love you! Don’t leave me!)

When I seize up creatively, it’s because of one of these reasons:

1) I’m stressed about something else, and usually need to get that something else taken care of before I can focus on the writing.

2) I don’t want to write the thing I set out to write. This one is trickier to overcome, as you have to figure out what about the writing is turning you off. Typically for me it’s trying to push a character in a direction they normally wouldn’t go, or not admitting where I want to go in a scene (I would say not knowing where I want to go, but that is a simple lie I tell myself. The real issue is that I know where I want to go but am trying to figure out how not to go in that direction because of <insert reason here>.)

3) Something else has caught my attention. As an example, I needed to make a deadline recently with writing, but I chose instead to spend an entire night sketching to get the itch out of my system. It cleared my head, and I still made the writing deadline.

It helps me sometimes to just walk away from the project for a short time. I don’t mean stop writing. You can go forever and a day without writing, but if you’re still thinking about that thing you’re not writing, you really haven’t taken a break from it. So stop it. Take a break.

Obviously I don’t offer solutions to these problems. The solutions are different for everyone. But if you can at least nail down the reason why you have the block in the first place, it will be easier to fix.

Also, it would probably help you to stay away from the internet. Just saying.

To Geek Or Not To Geek

Geek Girl hate has been floating around the internet for a few months. It’s honestly confused me, because before all this high profile outrage, I hadn’t ever encountered derision for being a girl who also happens to like geeky things. Then again, I don’t do things like attend Cons, or dress up in cosplay, or even pretend to be an expert in all things geeky. I simply enjoy my geeky interests to a seriously high degree.

Which makes me ask the question: What does it take to be considered a true geek? Gender issues aside (and that’s a huge issue to put aside), what qualifies someone as a geek? What would make them not fake?

Does the person need to be an expert on every aspect of a certain interest, for instance, knowing Batman comics right down to specific details about every comic issue ever released?

Or is it simply enough to have an interest in the first place? Is it enough to get excited whenever one hears about a movie in production, or see an episode of one’s favorite show on TV? Is it enough to play online, console, or PC games casually, or must one be a “hardcore” gamer in order to hit that magical geek status?

Is there an invisible line between being a fan and being a geek? Are fans and geeks two separate entities, and if so, where does one draw the line?

I played a lot of PC and console games growing up, but never enough to be considered hardcore. I don’t often play console games because they are too expensive to buy. I used to devote a ridiculous number of hours to playing EverQuest, but was not in a serious raiding guild. I played World of Warcraft casually for many years and have a gajillion alts. I’ve loved the Aliens and Predator movie franchises since I first discovered them in middle school (hush you), and I can talk to you for thirty minutes about how I was disappointed in the first AVP movie. When Watchmen was being made into a movie I went out and bought the comic so I could read it before the movie came out. I enjoyed the hell out of the comic, but I don’t actively seek out other comics to read. I’m fully addicted to the new Doctor Who, but have never seen any of the original episodes from decades past. I’ve also never played Magic the Gathering or Dungeons and Dragons.

All my interests are part time interests. I do not have the money or the time to devote to becoming “hardcore” in any of these. Does that mean I’m excluded from earning my geek cred? Bringing gender back into it, if I showed up at a Con in a tight Browncoats tshirt that showed off my eye-popping bust, would I be labelled a fake because of the outfit, or because I watched and enjoyed Serenity before seeing (and not being as impressed with) Firefly? Would I be labelled fake because I can’t participate in discussions about Assassin’s Creed, Bioshock, or Mass Effect, due to the fact that I’ve never played any of those games? Would I be labelled a fake because I adore Loki but have never read any of the Thor or Avengers comics?

Would I then become merely a fan (or possibly worse, a simple fan girl)? Or would I be a fake, attention-seeking wannabe because I dared show my casual interest face in the midst of rabid experts?

What does it take for us to be legit?

Or, perhaps a more appropriate question: What would it take for some of the haters to pull those sticks out of their asses? Should we treat them like trolls and ignore what they say, or should we smile and invade their space anyway in all our pink-clothed, casual-minded glory?

Either way, I can’t even believe this is a serious thing. I thought we moved past this in the 90s. I feel like I need to tell someone’s mom about how little Timmy isn’t sharing his toys and won’t play nice with the girls on the playground. Shame on you, Timmy. You’re old enough to know better.

Tentacles, You Say?

So this actually happened in a conversation yesterday (the piece here listed under “general notes”). After speaking with a few people in last night’s G+ hangout, I decided to plot this thing and see where my imagination took me.

It kidnapped me you guys. My imagination kidnapped me.

So the method I’m trying here is phase writing. Short paragraph describing what happens in a scene, continued on and on until the whole novel is plotted in short hand. When I’m ready to write the draft these small paragraphs will turn into scenes anywhere from 500 words to 5000 words long. It all depends on how much fun I have playing with the characters.

It looks like I might have a lot of fun. Here’s what I have so far. If you guys have any ridiculous suggestions please throw them at me. I’d love to hear your silly ideas for other secondary characters, potential sea battles, random plot points, and general shenanigans.

General Notes:

  • “I should write a story where the protag and antag fall in love and the protag joins the side of evil.”
  • “Hot guy with tentacles (he hides them in a sweatshirt) is part of the evil invading army of sea creatures who are about to re-take the earth for their own. Protag lady could be interested, find out he’s evil, fight him for a while, and then say eff it and they both run away together and the earth gets taken over by sea creatures.”

Phases:

1) Ellie meets Marius Kraken in the grocery store and sees one of his tentacles. He runs, afraid he’s been discovered. Later in the day Ellie bumps into him on the beach (still wearing his sweatshirt). He tries unsuccessfully to dodge her questions and agrees to a date.

2) Ellie notices strange news reports about sea creatures amassing in crucial water zones around the world. Kraken is distracted on their date, but perks up when Ellie talks about the weird ocean shenanigans. When she tries to walk him home he brushes her off.

3) Ellie takes crap from no one. She finds him again the next day to give him a piece of her mind and sees him murdering an “innocent” bystander. Kraken is forced to trust her and makes a deal for her silence: three more dates and he has to make sure she survives the invasion.

4) Shark attacks, jellyfish stings, and other sea injuries skyrocket in just a few days. Ellie pries Kraken’s plan from him, decides she should probably fight on behalf of humanity, and takes him hostage. Their next date is super awkward.

5) The leader of the squidman army tracks down Kraken and frees him, leaving Ellie with no leverage and no third date. They send an assassin after her and she kills him mostly by accident (she intended to keep him as another hostage).

6) Kraken comes back to keep his end of the deal and warn Ellie of the pending first attack. Ellie uses this information to sabotage their plans, and Kraken has a serious fight with Ellie over it. That stunt set them back several days in their master plan. Ellie tells him about the assassin, which he didn’t send.

7) Ellie and Kraken’s third date is charged with sexual tension. Ellie asks about his tentacles. She’s still interested in him in spite of his plans for world domination… or maybe because of those plans? She goes home very confused.

8) More news reports of whales and giant squids refusing to let large naval vessels leave their harbors (all nations). Injuries, deaths, and marine sabotage now also plague lakes, ponds, and rivers (all nations). Kraken disappears for a few days and Ellie gathers reinforcements.

%d bloggers like this: