Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Happy Writing, Oh Internet World

Well, it's been an interesting week, writing-wise. And by interesting, I mean challenging. And, by challenging . . . well, you get the idea.

My husband has been reading my MG fantasy, and he said that one part actually made him cry. He said the second third dragged (and nearly made him put down the book) but there was some really good stuff in there. Eventually.

And then a CP (critique partner) came back with my latest manuscript and her critique made me realize that maybe I was feeling so ambivalent towards it because it's not all that good. I'm setting it aside to think about later.

But I've just contacted another potential CP, and I need to have something to give her, so I've been spending the last three days doing a massive overhaul on my MG Fantasy because, well, it made my husband cry. And because I still love it. I'm chopping out sooooo much stuff. So much stuff, that I've got to say, I love. So it's a bit painful. Fortunately I've had enough of a break from this manuscript that I don't feel as attached to every last word. But I am definitely worried that I'm getting rid of some of the good stuff and leaving some of the boring stuff and that even after all this work it still won't be worth it.

In short, I'm un-retiring one manuscript and retiring another (at least for now).

And now let me tell you, Oh Random Internet Reader, why I'm telling you all these mundane details. In my most idealistic imagining, I think to myself that it'd be cool to tell the internet about all the random shite I went through while attempting to cobble together a good enough manuscript to get published. And I think to myself that maybe, years from now, when I am an enormously successful (or at least minorly successful) author, other people who want to write will read this blog and see just how many tries it really takes to get it right. To get to that one book that will get you through. And they will be encouraged by my discouragement. That, of course, is an ideal world. More probably I'm just journalling all sorts of mundane stuff that no one will ever read, but, hey, I have hope. I have dreams. And I'm going to keep on going.

Happy Writing, Oh Random Internet Reader!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

An Evolution: My Work In Progress

I got this hat my senior year of high school for a band trip to Disney World. (I am quite pale and need protection from the evil sun). I spent much of that trip playing cards in various Disney parks with the guy I (much later) married. This has been a random fact brought to you by Sarah Hipple.

My Latest Writing Process

The way I'm writing my current WIP is pretty unusual for me, but I really like how it's turning out, so I thought I'd go over the "process." (The term process makes it sound much more planned out than it actually is, but it's the best word I've got.)

  1. The idea - My husband had a dream. It's pretty much nothing like what I'm writing about, but it was about dragons and that was what started me with this idea of ancient dragons and ancient enemies. I'm not even sure how much ancient enemies is applicable anymore, but that was where it all started. Then I started thinking about a time in recent-ish history that had an underutilized villain that I could use in my fantasy world. I went with the 1950s and McCarthy. Interesting, no?
  2. Brainstorming - I wrote down all sorts of ideas. Some of which I used. Some I did not. Some just sort of evolved into different ideas.
  3. First Draft (sort of) - So then I started writing because that's how I do things. But the thing is, around 40,000 words in I just felt like this wasn't quite going in the right direction. There wasn't enough tension. I didn't have a big, bad, villain who was smack in your face. I just knew it could be better because the idea was pretty cool, but it wasn't materializing in my pages.
  4. Break - I decided to put it away and think about it for a while. In the meantime, I edited one or two of my other manuscripts. I just wasn't sure where I wanted to take my book, and I knew it could be better
  5. Outlining - I used what I had written to help write down some ideas for how I could make this book better. I know. It might have been helpful to outline before I started writing, but that honestly wouldn't have worked for me. I didn't know the characters yet. Some materialized as I was writing, and I am so glad I know them now, but I couldn't have known them until I'd written them into my original first draft. So many of my ideas flow from what I write out that I can't produce a very good outline before I write. So I used the ideas I had from my first draft and figured out where I needed more tension, where I needed to cut back, and what sort of things I'd like to add to make this book give me the sense of satisfaction I knew I could get from it. And there was my bullet point outline.
  6. Draft One Point Five (or whatever number you want it to be) - I took what I had from my old first draft and started hacking it to pieces, adding in all sorts of things, cutting out all sorts of things, and generally being much happier with the way this draft was going. That is what I'm in the middle of now, and I am so happy with the way things are turning out!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Main Characters

  I find it oddly amusing that my blurry hand looks long and weird. (Maybe claw-like?)

Now on to the writing stuff. This is another post I put together on how I write. It's for Kristie Britt's blog. One of her suggestions was to discuss where your main characters come from, and so that's what I did. The short answer: me. They come from me.


My Main Characters

In a recent post I talk about the different manuscripts I’ve written. I’ve had a wide variety of main characters, from adult women to a twelve-year-old boy. The most interesting part about all of these very different people is that in some ways, they are all me.

Or, more accurately, a small piece of me. Maybe a me that I could have been if I’d been born in a different body and a different place. If I’d had more confidence or worse parents or changed any other set of circumstances that made me who I am rather than making me somebody else.

In order for you to be able to write an entire book about a person, you have to really understand that person. You have to understand their actions and reactions. You have to know how they speak and why they say the things they do. You have to identify with that person.

Or at least, I do. Just for example, when I was writing Eric (the twelve-year-old boy) I thought back to middle school and tried to remember what it was really like. I created a set of circumstances that helped shape Eric, and I thought about how I’d feel if I had those unfortunate circumstances shaping my life. I thought about what it means to be accepted by your peers when you’re a twelve-year-old boy and how that would affect the way I let the world see me.

Obviously, I was never an impoverished twelve-year-old boy whose older sister helped raise him. But I can imagine how I might have felt if I were Eric, and by putting myself in his place, I thought about how “I” (a.k.a. Eric) would react and speak and deal with the world I, as a writer, had thrown him into.

Maybe other writers do not feel this way at all, but by putting myself in my main character’s place in order to figure out how he or she would react and what (s)he’d say, I feel like that main character is sort of me. After all, those are my reactions and my speech. Even if I’m not actually that person, somewhere, on some level, I think I could be that person, even if I’d never actually allow myself to get there.

I hope that makes sense. It’s a sort of philosophical take on a main character’s personality. Maybe I don’t actually work like most other writers. But, in my opinion, if you can’t put yourself in your main character’s place, I’m not sure your main character is going to be believable.

But, who knows, maybe I just have a personality disorder I’m working through with my writing. ;)

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Writing Update 3-6-13

It's 2013! Okay, yeah, so it's been 2013 for over two months now, but, you know, some of us are just behind the times. Or preoccupied. Or just haven't written a writing update in 2013, and feel inexplicably  compelled to mention the fact that it's 2013.

So, my poor laptop is in the shop for repairs. I have everything backed up, but it's on a hard drive rather that out there in the Cloud, so I don't have access to my stuff right at the moment. This means that:
A) I don't have my normal picture for the top of this post, so instead you get a master Paint composition. I actually have a lot of fun with good, old Paint.
B) I normally do a blog post for Kristie Britt on the first of the month, but I started it, it's on my computer, and I plead the "broken computer" excuse, so I ought to have that for you next week.

As for my writing, I've mentioned that my one book I was querying (MG Fantasy) is shelved, possibly permanently.

I am working through a good edit of my YA Sci-Fi, and working on the query letter at the same time, but I'm not yet at the stage where I feel comfortable querying it. Honestly, I'm not entirely feeling this manuscript. However, that might be due to the fact that I've been feeling a bit down on my writing, and I've been trying to cram a lot of editing into some rather limited free time, and sometimes you just get sick of things (and people) you love.
(This update brought to you a few days after I wrote the above: I re-read the first few pages, and really liked them, so either the middle lags or I was just being too hard on myself. I can be extremely hard on myself, so I'm hoping that's it.)

I also have a YA Fantasy that I am not currently working on but have written about 2/3 of a first draft, realized it wasn't going where I needed it to go, took a break, wrote an actual outline, and then re-wrote about a quarter of the book. Then I shelved it again to try to get my Sci-Fi ready to go out. I'm excited about this one, but I feel as though I ought to give my Sci-Fi a shot first. Plus, the Sci-Fi is much closer to being ready to be queried, and I like to feel like I'm actually giving myself a shot by putting query letters out there.

So, that's where I am. I'm busy editing. I feel a bit stalled b/c I'm not ready to put out query letters, but I'm chugging ahead anyways. And some weeks that's just how it goes. Onward!