Archive for the 'Writing Process' Category
Monday, February 13th, 2017
Plot is necessary for novels. This seems like a no-brainer. It’s the causal sequence of events in a book: This happened because this happened because this happened and so on. Events happen, problems, conflicts, and everything escalates until there’s a final conflict and resolution. Usually there is at least one secondary plotline, and often more. After all, most people have more than one thing going on in their lives.
Here’s the trouble, at least for me: I often have trouble developing the plot in advance. More often, my brain wants to see what happens as I go along. In some respects, I think this is because I’m out to entertain myself with my stories. I don’t want to know what happens in advance any more than my readers do. I want to discover as I go. I’ve a friend who calls the first draft the “discovery draft.”
The trouble with not knowing the plot is that you make a lot of wrong turns and go off to random spots, find hidden trails, and sometimes–even often–find treasures you never knew you were looking for. That makes writing exciting. It also makes it stressful. You always wonder where you might end up. Will the book make sense? Will it become a well-woven whole or will it be a mess of spaghetti dripping over the edge of the plate?
I would like to work with a plot outline. I’ve tried a lot of different methods. I used to be able to establish the major plot points that I wanted to hit on and then I could navigate toward those points, weaving in the secondary plot lines as I went. But my brain refuses to do that much anymore. I’ve been working on tricking myself and forcing out a plot outline. And of course, it always changes and is never correct. In fact I don’t really expect it to be, which ought to sound bizarre–I mean why do it at all? But having a sense of the path does help. It frees my mind to play a little bit. Knowing that, I don’t know why I can’t just write down a possible plot direction. I’m such a weird contradictory mess in that regard. A plot outline frees me, but writing it feels like I’m fixing it permanently in place and my brain rebels.
In order to make myself do it, I focus on projects that I’m not planning to write right away. That takes the pressure off getting it done to try to get it written. It lets me play with the story in my head for awhile, and lets me be goofy with the possibilities. That last often gets me to where I want to be–an original plot line. I get acquainted with my characters, developing who they are until they feel real to me and have a voice and I know what they would and wouldn’t do, which of course leads to more adventures.
I wish the process didn’t have to be so messy, but it is and I just have to suck it up. So this is me, sucking it up. *dives back into the mess*
(crossposted from the BVC blog)
Friday, February 3rd, 2017
Because it’s Friday and because I can!
From book 4 of DCM (which is yet title-less)
I pulled back my wandering mind to focus on the task at hand. The difficulty in this situation was me. Null magic in particular. It didn’t want to weave together with other magics. It wanted to kill them dead. Suck all the juice out of them and leave them dried husks of nothingness. That wouldn’t be all that bad, except that the result was a little bit like setting off a nuclear bomb. I don’t know why. It’s like the magics went to war, though it would have made more sense if the null power just sucked up the other one.
That’s the reason why you didn’t get a lot of null magic crossovers. I probably should have mentioned that to Price, but what he didn’t know couldn’t stop me from trying. The good news was that if things went wrong, the backlash would come at me, not him.
Wednesday, February 1st, 2017
I had this image pop into my head: A glass army. I thought about the fact that though the blood would run off them, it would still cling and dry and then I wondered how impervious they would be, if at all. Seems to me they would have magical qualities.
I want to write another traditional fantasy and this may be the first seed. Hard to say. But then I had another image so I started a poem out of nowhere and here it is, even though it’s awful, it does get at one really cool image:
The sun shone bright over the glass army
shed rainbows in a halo
flickered and dulled under the clouds
drifted and bunched across
the sun smothering it into the darkness
couldn’t be seen through
the clear glass in their hearts
And then just a little bit of Price and Riley:
“How the hell am I going to help you if you won’t even stay in the same room with me?”
I was yelling. I don’t know if it was more from fear, frustration, or fury. With incredible restraint, I did not pick up the chunk of petrified wood sitting on the shelf beside me, and I did not sling the hunk of rock at Price’s head. Though I stayed in reach to keep it an option.
“If I stay in the same room with you, I’m going to kill you. Is that what you want? What will you do then? Haunt me?”
Price’s voice emerged through clenched teeth. He faced me from the doorway thirty feet away. Running away as soon as I came in the room. Every muscle in his body looked to be clenched tight.
“You can kill me from a football field away,” I pointed out. “Probably a lot farther. Your logic is completely stupid.”
“God dammit, Riley. This isn’t a fucking joke,” he said, plowing shaking fingers through his shaggy black hair.
Sunday, January 15th, 2017
The past couple weeks have proven to be a whirlwind. Already. I’m almost done writing two different books. I plan to be done by the end of January. One is DCM 4, the other is this book that came out of nowhere and is huge fun. For me, anyhow. The writing has gone fast on the second book. Crazy fast. DCM 4 is complex and digs more into the the Tyet stuff and has some really cool twists. A couple are even shocking, I think. I can’t wait to see what my editor thinks.
Am in the mood to go digging rocks, which of course is not possible given that a) there’s snow everywhere, and b) the ground is frozen.
I have to confess I have yet to take down the Christmas tree. Part of that is sheer laziness. Part is the fact that we got it up late and I’m still enjoying it. But it has to come down, so I think since the kids have the day off tomorrow, I’ll make them help me do that.
We have a deep love of rocks, not that I know much about them. We sometimes go rockhounding to look for different things. We’re just getting started figuring out what we’re doing. We also go to estate sales and that sort of thing to look for rocks. This weekend, we went to an estate sale and had some great luck. Found a bunch of rocks and many were very cool. Some were already cut, some were rough. Hampton Butte petrified wood, tiger iron, lots of agate, lots of jasper, some other stuff I have no idea what it is. But very pretty.
Makes me want to go out and dig holes. We’re going to try to get to look for some limb cast as soon as the snows go. We figure the runoff this year will expose some good stuff. Or so we hope.
Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017
I’ve been doing a series of posts over at the Bookview Cafe Blog. I’m going to start mirroring them over here. They come under the heading of Writers Club. These are the Rules. Or Guidelines. Or something. Anyhow, here you go:
I’m not saying that self-editing is bad. It’s not. It’s just we often do it while writing and that’s when it’s evil. Sometimes we do it when we aren’t aware and that’s when it’s really awful.
When I first started out writing, I wrote for me and me alone. I was trying to entertain myself and so I didn’t worry about whether this would be offensive or that would be sappy or if readers would hate my characters. None of that entered my mind because it was all about the fun of telling myself the story and getting lost in it.
Then I published. This was a dream come true. But that’s when the evil self-editor started sneaking in to my creative zone. I’d write something and then delete it because it was too something: too off-color, too disgusting, too violent, and so on. That limited me in ways that I stopped noticing. I internalized those limits and made them an unacknowledged part of my writing process. It’s like a house. You don’t pay attention to where walls are or light switches because they just exist and are necessary and you’re glad they’re there doing their job.
Only really, the self-editor at this point in the process is really a saboteur. It’s a swarm of termites eating away your writing in secret and you have no idea it’s even happening.
Recently I accidentally started a . . . something. Since it’s well-over 45K by this writing, I guess it’s a novel. It started as just a fun thing I wanted to write down. My main character–Beck–is obnoxious and says things that are not polite and yet are very funny to me. I found myself writing on it constantly and racking up big word counts. I’d stay up late. I write through obligations. I’d forget time. At some point, however, I realized that I was losing her voice because I’d begun self-editing. I began to worry about what readers might think or how they might respond. So I slowed down. I started thinking more and being more careful about how I was telling the story, rather than focusing on actually telling the story and entertaining myself.
Not so coincidentally, I slowed down. I didn’t feel like writing on it as much. It took me a few days to figure out why and I wanted to smack myself for doing it. The thing is, the self-editor is important. Finding and questioning the issues of your story is very important, but not until you’ve written and know what it is and what it needs. I also don’t think your words and story should necessarily change because a reader my object or feel a little annoyed. You have to decide what’s good for the story. You don’t have to throw glitter on the ugly or soften all the rough edges. You have to tell a good story with powerful, compelling characters that engage your readers and carry them on a fun ride from beginning to end.
Writers Club rule: Revel in the creative, and chase the editor off with a pitchfork. Hunt it down, put it in a mayonnaise jar with holes in the lid until you’re ready to let it chew through your manuscript.
Saturday, December 3rd, 2016
I’ve got sidetracked onto working on something I shouldn’t be because of *fun*. Don’t know if it will ever see the light of day, but if you want a taste . . . here you are! Oh, but first, A HOLIDAY SPECIAL!!! If you’ve not read The Incubus Job, you can get it for just $2.99 at BVC in your preferred e-format. Check it out.
“Tell me about your mother.”
The detective gave me a studiously bland look. “I’m aware. Do you think this is funny?”
I pretended to consider. “Funny–no. Ironic? yes.”
“Do you care to explain yourself?”
“Because I get to plan her funeral.” I already was. It would have to be the tackiest, white trashiest, low-rent trailer park sort of affair for kicking off the dearly departed. I’d definitely serve beer. Oh, and champagne. With Funions and pork rinds and pigs in blankets and deep-fried twinkies. And confetti. Maybe fireworks. Oh! Should I go with a viewing? Dress her in a K-Mart special with blue eye shadow and crimson lipstick? Regret slid through me. No. She’d need to be cremated. I needed her cremated, just to be sure she couldn’t come back as a zombie or vampire. Maybe I’d be allowed to light the match on the fire.
“Miss Wyatt?” The detective said, tapping my knee and interrupting my happy daydream.
I focused on her. She could have used some under-eye concealer. Maybe a little lipstick. And some rouge. The woman looked like death. “What?”
“I asked how you would categorize your relationship with your mother?”
“She pretty much hated everything about me and I tried my damnedest to earn her malice.”
Her brows rose at my candor. “So you didn’t get along with her?”
Was she deaf? Or just stupid. “Didn’t I just say that?”
The detective needed her ass kicked. “Yes.”
“ . . . relationship contentious . . .” she muttered as she wrote in her notebook.
Such a mild word. Like my mother hadn’t been the wicked witch of the west. Like she hadn’t spent every minute of every day criticizing and castigating and moaning over my flaws and failures, which is all I was to her. I don’t even know why she’d had me. Or kept me.
“Did she have any other family? Do you have siblings?”
“Don’t know and no.” Because if there was one thing that was true about my mother is that she kept her life a secret from me.
“What about friends? Or enemies? Anyone you can think of who might want to hurt her?”
“Grab a phonebook and start with the A’s,” I suggested.
Thursday, November 17th, 2016
I’m working on a Horngate story for an anthology. It is a Giselle/Shoftiel story–no Max. I cut this today and figured you might like to see it:
Salt Lake City still looked like itself, though now the sulfurous stench of the lake was replaced by fumes of tar. Shoftiel rolled down his window, sucking in deep breaths as his deprived senses rejoiced.
The closer they came to the city, the more he realized that in fact, it had changed. One of the biggest changes came in the shape of jewel-colored drakes circling above, some carrying riders. Vines climbed up every building and dripped in curtains. Other plants clung to whatever surface they could find. Trees grew sideways with leaves from every color of the rainbow.
Many of the building had turned into giant trees or tall pillars of salt. Others look like melted candles, some of which had molded together. While he watched, a squat brick lump of a building got up on seven thick yellow elephant-like legs and walked off toward the shimmering rainbow mountains, settling down on top of a broad, flat-topped place covered in brilliant scarlet fur. Or perhaps it was some kind of fairy grass.
On the right, the tar bog spread out like a great, black quagmire. Heat waves rose from it, distorting the air. Hummocks and islands scattered thickly over its gleaming surface and boats poled through the tarways between.
They continued south, passing the former airport. This was now a field of bushes. They were heavy with long, fuzzy pink fruits. Or vegetables.
“What are those?” he asked, no expecting an answer.
“They call ‘em pinktails. Pretty good. Tart. Green on the inside like kiwis but with big red seeds running down the middle. The fuzz is used to make cloth. It’s a lot like cotton.”
Giselle continued to play tour guide. Shoftiel’s curiosity was insatiable and he peppered her with questions.
Monday, October 3rd, 2016
My Father In Law has been visiting, which makes getting work done a little bit tricky, but I’ve managed some. I’m hopefully all finished with a short story that I owed. I’ve made some progress on DCM4. It’s coming along.
I decided I want to make socks again. I need to work on learning some techniques. Youtube here I come. I just hope that my wrist cooperates.
I’m reading a good book by R.J. Blaine. It’s an ARC, so you can’t get it yet, but when Water Viper comes out, you’re going to want to read it if the first bit is anything to go by.
I’m being snuggled by corgis. This is good.
Watched the Saturday Night Live parody debate. It was so funny. Love it. Alec Baldwin did a fabulous Trump and Kate McKinnon killed me with her Hillary.
Thursday, September 29th, 2016
Finished revisions on a short story set in Faith Hunter’s Rogue Mage world. I’m pretty happy with it. At least until I find out if Faith likes it. Been doing more writing on Diamond City Magic 4. You know, it really needs a title. I should think of one of those. It progresses, but it will be much much much longer than the previous books. I’m also working on plotting a Horngate story for an upcoming anthology. It will star Giselle and Shoftiel.
Here’s an anthology I wish I’d written story for. I couldn’t come up with a good idea to submit. I’d still like to write a story though. I really like the idea.
I’m trying to come up with a good knitting project. I think I want to do socks, though I’d like to do another shawl. I also want to get some purple into my hair. I got my Orycon schedule today. It looks fun. I’ll also be doing the big Powell’s author signing that weekend.
Bought my husband a Keurig coffee maker, but he wanted one that could be programmed to brew into his travel cup. We don’t think we can with this one. It also may not take fill-your-own pods, even though one came with it. We’re still trying to figure it out.
Saturday, September 3rd, 2016
Today I found out that they use liquid nitrogen at my husband’s worksite. He’s a machinist and they use the liquid nitrogen to shrink the metal enough to slide it inside a hole and when it heats back up, it expands and is a press fit. I had no idea that it could be available at places like this. I don’t know what I might use that bit of information for in books, but I like it.