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Nov. 9th, 2011

fox, inspiration

Day 9

So, The Great Protagonist Swap that I was debating yesterday? Worked like a charm. The new guy, Ethan (name changed on account of discovering that Chase rhymes with goddamn everything), shares a few elements with Chase. Same powers, bit of history. His personality and motivations are different, and it was like finding the missing piece of a puzzle. This is the guy I should have been writing about from day one.

Pardon me while I offer a sacrifice to the pagan gods of writing in thanks. ;)

I also have a title now to go with my greatly improved opening scene. Bonewalk.

A few paragraphs of the new opening sceneCollapse )

13102 / 50000

Nov. 8th, 2011

NaNo 2011

Day 8

I've stumbled across a problem with my novel that I'm a little uncertain how to fix.

My protagonist is about as exciting as watching grass grow. If we're being honest, I should say that I knew this going in, but I wasn't sure what to do with him to spice things up. I just hoped I'd sort of fall into the right characterization as I went. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like this is going to happen, and I need to deal with this problem now unless I want to face a rewrite more dangerous, taxing and ultimately doomed to failure than scaling Everest in your skivvies.

I am also lazy, and don't like having to do more work than absolutely necessary, but I figure this goes without saying.

The problem with my poor protag is that, outside the events of the plot, he's terribly unremarkable. Which wouldn't be so terrible in itself -there are plenty of tales of normal people having fantastic adventures- but he's got about as much personality as a potato. He's ordinary. Lukewarm. There's no bang, no pizazz, nothing about him that might make a reader sit up straight and think, 'I've got to know what happens to this guy.' He's about as palatable as a soggy waffle.

The problem is pretty obvious. He's a passive guy. Doesn't like to make waves, wants to keep everyone happy. Not the kiss of death in itself, but he also has no solid drive. Nothing he'd go to hell and back to have or do or save. He doesn't know what he wants. He's spent the last 12,000 words just reacting to outside stimuli.

Oh yeah. Doesn't that sound like a guy you want to spend 350 pages with? No?

The way I figure it, there are two ways to deal with this problem.

1) Character triage. Do my best to stop the bleeding and get him stabilized. Brainstorm a personality quirk, a bit of history, something to give his character more spark. Find something that'll generate conflict. Try and figure out what he wants, even though I've been looking for the answer to that question since I started planning this bad boy.

2) Excise that bitch with a scalpel carved from the cold black stone of my withered, evil heart. Cut him out, leave him bleeding in an alley and don't look back. Hire a new protagonist to take his place. Someone with conflict built into his character, someone who isn't a passenger in his own story, but the driving force behind it.

I'm not sure what I'll do yet. The second option will take more work, but I'm not even sure if it's possible to fix what I've got at this point. He's a nice kid, my protagonist, but he just isn't pulling his weight.

12212 / 50000
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Nov. 6th, 2011

NaNo 2011

Day 6

Someday I will learn to update this thing on something approaching a regular basis.

I've fallen a bit behind the curve as of today. I didn't have time for a proper pre-NaNo outline since I was off gallivanting about the countryside, and it's starting to show. The story is flailing around, trying to find its footing with somewhat limited success.

Tomorrow I think I'll bunker down at Starbucks until they kick me out and pound out an outline for the next few chapters or so, and see if I can get the plot back on its feet and running.

8402 / 50000
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Nov. 1st, 2011

NaNo 2011

Day 1

Words Written: 3631
Words Total: 3631

Back from vacation and straight into NaNo! Off to a very respectable start; the prose isn't anything to write home about, but after a month of gallivanting about the countryside and neglecting my writing, that's not a surprise. It should pick up once I get back into the swing of things! I'm hoping for a dash of quality with my quantity this year, if only so that the revisions don't seem quite so daunting.

Day 1 ExcerptCollapse )

3631 / 50000 (7.26%)

Oct. 5th, 2011

fox, inspiration

A Round of Words in 80 Days

So, I recently discovered a writing challenge somewhat similar to NaNoWriMo called A Round of Words in 80 Days. The challenge is a year round affair that allows participants to set their own goals. The current round just started, so I think I'll jump in and see how I do. It overlaps with NaNo, so it'll be something of a twofer.

My goal? 75,000 words.

Not much higher than the total for NaNo, but October is going to be a busy month for me, and I don't want to set a goal too high to feasibly reach.

A lot of the goals suggested for ROW80 are daily. X words written per day, X pages edited per day. I considered this, but decided on an overall goal for one reason: When I write, it happens in bursts.

This is something I've struggled with for years. The adage that "Real writers write" is very, very true. But following closely is often something to the tune of "Real writers write every day."

I write, but I definitely don't do it daily. I might do the daily thing for a week here or there, but never longer than that. I've never even managed to do the daily thing for NaNo, not even the year I won. I'll sit down and churn out maybe 20k in a week, and then I won't work for anything from a few days to a month, and then I'll be back again with a burst of productivity. I've always been like this, and I've always considered it a fault. Felt like I could never be a real writer until I had the discipline to write every day.

I finally realized that it's time to stop trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Writing daily isn't my thing. It just isn't how I work, and I'll happier if I stop trying to force myself to. Trying to write every day is actually hindering my progress, because I get discouraged when I fail. Real writers write. Real writers finish things. Real writers edit and polish. Real writers (provided they have an eye towards publication) query agents. Published authors meet deadlines. How they achieve these things is up to the individual, be it in measured, daily doses or wild, manic bursts.

The journey is just as important as the destination, but I've come to realize that spending too much time agonizing over how you get there does more harm than good. You can walk, you can run, you can fly, you can ride a tubby triceratops with a bad attitude (should you be so inclined). The important thing is that you go.

I'm prone to a great deal of hand-wringing and dramatics and "WOE IS ME, FOR I AM DOOMED TO FAILURE!" nonsense. I have been tempted more than once to purchase a lovely fainting couch for the sole purpose of lounging upon it and having the vapors.

This is, as you may have noticed, very silly of me.

So I'm going to slap a saddle on a grouchy old triceratops named Remington and trundle off into the sunset.

If you need me, I'll be writing a book.

(It should be noted, in case anyone was wondering, that I have been writing, if not terribly quickly. I just haven't been updating this beast, because I am terrible and also easily distracted by all sorts of things, such as the internet, video games, shiny bits of colored glass, and laser pointers.)

May. 6th, 2011

fox, inspiration

What Points on My Sweet Spot Map Does My Current Project Hit?

More than a few, which is surprising since the story idea came together before I ever did my first sweet spot map. This was a fun exercise, and it got me thinking in some interesting directions. One of my biggest issues in a lot of cases is a lack of worldbuilding, and doing this gave me a few new interesting ideas along those lines.

It"s interesting to see the connections you make before you even realize they"re there.Collapse )

Apr. 30th, 2011

fox, inspiration

What's The Worst That Could Happen?

A fun little forum game meant to help address our irrational fears in the silliest way possible. I thought you guys might get a chuckle out of my results. :)

What is the worst thing that could happen if I finish my book?

...It might be terrible, even after revisions.
...My friends and family will want to read it.
...It might get published
...At which point I won't be able to stop my friends and family from reading it.
...They might hate it.
...The reading public might hate it.
...I could be crucified by reviewers.
...My book could gain notoriety and fame for the sheer BADNESS of it.
...It could be mocked by comedians, published writers, and Steven Colbert.
...My husband could leave me because he can't handle the stigma of being Spouse of Famously Bad Writer.
...I would stop leaving the house to avoid all the unwanted attention.
...And spend so much time in my computer chair that I'd fuse with it and put down roots through the house foundations to sustain myself.
...But someone would catch a glimpse of me through the windows and call the government.
...At which point my house would be quarantined and my mutated body studied by scientists in hazmat suits.
...During all of this, the aliens secretly orbiting our planet and deliberating on the fate of humanity will have acquired a copy of my book.
...After reading it, they'll decide that humans aren't the sort they'd like to keep around after all.
...And blow our planet to smithereens.

But probably not.

Apr. 29th, 2011

fox, inspiration

Finding Your Sweet Spot

While the first lesson centers around some serious self-examination, this one is all about cutting your right brain loose and letting it have some glorious, messy fun.

Disclaimer: Apparently if you're heavily left-brained, this is about as fun as pulling teeth. Luckily not an issue for me!

Lesson 2 is where you build your Sweet Spot Map. It's a way to dig up the things you're passionate about; the things that make you cringe, the things that make you laugh, the things that make you sit up straight and say, "YES! That." You're giving your subconscious permission to tell you everything that makes it sing.

The result? Is some pretty cool, strange, and occasionally unexpected stuff.

These are the things that are going to make your writing fly, because these are the things that matter to you.

I've already done a Sweet Spot Map, made when I started the course about a year and a half ago. I debated skipping out this time around since I already had one, but then decided it might be better to start from scratch and compare the two. See how much changed, and how much stayed the same.

A few of the things that cropped up on my map. There are quite a few repeat offenders.Collapse )

Oh! Almost forgot! I know a couple of people mentioned an interest in Holly's classes, so I wanted to mention that the price will be going up by $150 on May 1st, due to all the new content she's added over the three years since the course was released. So if you were considering signing up on the near future, might as well get in before the price hike.

Apr. 23rd, 2011

fox, inspiration

More Barriers

I really need to make myself a few decent icons.

/random

Anyhow, still working on the thinking barriers, and I thought I'd share the results of one of my worksheets. This one is all about identifying the specific barrier-related issues plaguing you now, and to find the opportunities hidden in those problems, because there are always opportunities if you're paying attention.

In retrospect, I was unusually free with the shift key.Collapse )

A lot of that was almost common sense, but putting it down in tangible form really helps me own up to it. Now the trick is to make sure these things don't slide by me when I'm not looking.

Apr. 21st, 2011

fox, inspiration

Breaking Barriers

The amount of activity this journal has seen is pretty much a direct corollary to the amount of writing I've been doing.

That is to say, not a whole lot.

This is where I'd make the usual excuses: Work, familial obligations, computer trouble, abduction by aliens. But true or not, excuses are excuses. (Except for the alien one. No matter how much I asked, they refused to provide me with any sort of writing implements. Jerks.)

Stalling out has been one of the biggest issues in my writing since my twelve year-old self started scribbling bad Mary-Sue ridden Dragonlance ripoffs. I've been writing seriously for about eleven years now, less-than-seriously for fifteen, and in that time I've completed precisely ONE long piece of fiction.

Yeowch.

I do, however, have more two chapter false starts under my belt than I can count. It's a clear-cut case of self-sabotage, and one I've been struggling with since the day I decided to try my hand at this book writing thing. Acknowledging the problem hasn't led to much success overcoming it, however, so maybe it's time to accept that there may be a little more to my writer's neurosis than I originally thought.

I think I've mentioned it here before, but I started taking Holly Lisle's How to Think Sideways writing course about a year and a half ago. It's good stuff, damned good stuff, but I never got all the way through it because despite all the good intentions in the world, I still stalled out. I started thinking that maybe I had to beat this paralysis of mine before I'd be able to put her course to good use.

Then she announced that she was doing a walkthrough of the course while writing her next novel, and taking her students through it step by step.

Hello, opportunity.

The Four Thinking Barriers I Should Have Paid More Attention To The First Time.Collapse )

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