Thursday, October 30, 2008

It's All Downhill From Here

I finished chapter 23 last night and it feels GREAT! The main conflict and fights scene are done, down on paper, and out of my worry closet. I’ve been looking forward to writing the resolution for a long time so I don’t imagine that will be hard. It is all downhill from here. Yeah!

The main fight scene will probably require a lot of revision, but I’m happy with it thusfar. As a rough, it’s not terrible. I’m thinking I have two chapters left to write and right now I’m at 92,500! That’s pretty darn close to where I should be at this point.

On another note, I am signed up to do the NaNoWriMo ( next month. It’s where writers across the world (read: a writer is anyone who puts words down on paper, or a computer screen, so you can do this too if you feel so inclined) spend the month of November writing a 50,000 word novel from scratch. Now, I know that sounds daunting, but I banged out the first 72,000 words of my current novel in the first month, so I know it’s do-able.

Now the real question in… What story should I tell?

(Join in if you think that sounds like fun! I’ll be your cheerleader and you can be mine.)

Edit: Hey I'm 92.5% done! Does that mean I get an A for effort? No? Darn!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Real and Tangible

Tonight I finished Chapter 22, am up to 86,800 words, and right up to the beginning of the climax. Excitement!

This is the first time that I’ve thought of my book and my world as believable for other people. It’s always seemed real to me, as in tangible, where what you see is only the tip of what’s all there, but I think I’ve finally gotten enough on paper to convey that realness. I feel like there is finally enough depth.

I hope it’s not bad that it didn’t fully happen until the 22nd chapter, but hey, maybe that’s normal. At least it happened before the end of the book, so that when a reader finishes it, the whole thing can feel real to them, like it does me. Okay, maybe it won’t be AS real to them as me because I still hold about a thousand cards in my paw. We’ll see how many I get to deal out over the course of a few books…

The next chapter is my big, glorious, action-packed battle / climax. And now that its here, I’m both excited to get the privilege to write it and terrified of screwing it up. I’ve never written a battle as large as this one, but then hey, I’ve never written a book before this one either, so that shouldn’t be a deterrent. It’s just the fact that so much has to happen in the scene for several characters, and they can’t all die, but it has to be tough, and believable, and scary. It is the culmination of everything my MC has learned up to this point and she somehow has to win. Yeah, daunting to me at least…

Perhaps I’m the one that has to win this battle instead of my MC. Hmm…

Friday, October 24, 2008

Can't Get Enough

One of the biggest reasons I love writing is that the characters and scenes I get to create intrigue me. The second biggest reason is that they frequently do things that I don't plan. I'll be writing along, following the story as it unfolds in my head and end up loving something I wrote even though I wrote it.

It's like I get to be the writer and the reader all in one!
Can't get any better than that.

I do follow an outline, but I think my outlines are general enough that I get to play. I could never be a panzer, nor do I think I'd like following a highly detailed outline. To give you an idea, the outline for Book 1 was three pages single spaced, size 10 TNR font. Starting out, it looked incredibly detailed, but when you get into the gritty of it, a 1,000 word outline gives you a lot of freedom in a 100,000 word story.

So last night I finished chapter 21 and loved where the ride took me. I'm fairly close to the biggest battle in the book and a wee bit nervous about writing it, but if the process is anything like it was for most of the rest of the book, then it should be a blast.

My concern is that after that conflict is over, I have quite a bit of resolution, with a surprise finish. I don't see a problem with it, but I wonder if agents/editors/publishers will.

Likewise, earlier in the novel I had eleven chapters of rising action, a chapter of climax, and then seven chapters of action (but not rising action) before we start the rise to the big finish. I did this, 1) because it fits my storyline, and 2) because in real life conflicts, its not always all constant building tension. It's a bit unorthodox (at least I think it is), so I'm hoping my chances of publishing it won't be hurt simply because I don't have 22 chapters of rising action followed by a climax followed by a resolution.

Anyone have an opinion to share on this? Is my rising / falling sequence likely to hurt me or do you find it refreshing to read a story that follows my pattern?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Falling Back In Love...

…with your own story. I’ve spent the last few weeks plagued with doubts about my story. It’s too unfocused, it has cardboard characters, it has weak development, its juvenile, etc… Of course it may be none of these, but that’s how my mind has been. The last worry is a little ironic considering I’m writing a YA novel. It’s supposed to be juvenile! Anyway, I went back through and read a bunch of scenes further back in the story and, to my great amazement, I found it to be interesting and intriguing. Almost like someone else had written my story for me and I got to see it through their words. I like it, I really do. It’s not probably my best potential, but it’s certainly not a bad start either.

I think most of my doubt came from making unfair comparisons with books I’m reading. I see this book and say “well I don’t do that” or “they do that so much better,” yet I never turn around and see what I do that isn’t in the books I’m comparing my work too. There’s only so much you can squeeze into a 100,000 word novel, so it’s really a matter of picking your priorities. I know that’s very generalized, but this would be a really long post if I went into it all.

I’m just hoping my entire writing career isn’t a neverending series of love it / hate it waves. Doubt is a big bad enemy to my writing mojo. I need to build my confidence out of bricks instead of sticks, I suppose.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Quick Update

Well it's been almost a week since my last post, so I'm throwing a quick one up here for an update.

After my nearly two weeks worth of no writing due to distractions I finally got back on the bandwagon. This week I finished a chapter and a half, only about 5,500 words. What's sad is that I used to write that much each night for the first two weeks when I started the book.

I'm taking this as a writing lesson. Don't take a big break or let yourself get distracted when you're in the middle of a project. Maybe it doesn't bother some writers but it really threw off my groove. But with the end of chapter twenty in sight and prolly six chapters to go after that, I really want to finish it.

Also, when I'm working on it I find I like the story and I think it's good, but during the two week break I found my doubts growing larger and larger. Not good.

Off to work again... woohoo!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Guilty of Distractions

Yep, I’ll admit it. I have spent the last week being completely unproductive when it comes to Book 1. Starting chapter 19 has been hard because the chapter encompasses two and a half weeks worth of time. Obviously not a lot happens in that time or it wouldn’t all fit in one chapter, but trying to tell how two and a half weeks passes without breaking the cardinal “show, don’t tell” rule is HARD. I wrote about 500 words of summary about a week ago and then closed the doc out in frustration.

Since then, I’ve made up about four excuses for why I havn’t opened it back up.
-I reviewed an old story idea and started chapter one (only about 500 words)
-I reviewed an old short story and completely revised it, readying it for potential publication
-I came up with about 6 new story ideas, and majorly filled out one of them. (hmm, majorly isn’t a word according to Word. Imagine that…)
-I had a biology test to study for (the only legitimate reason I’ve had to delay work on Book 1)

Thus I’ve been keeping myself busy, but I’ve been putting off the real project… shame on me! It’s not that I’ve gotten bored with it or anything, it’s that I got lazy and unmotivated :)

So today I finally got back on the figurative horse. Not sure how much I’ll get done, considering I have that test tomorrow, but something is better than nothing right? I revised part of chapter 11, and am getting back into 19… yea, go me…

Yeehaw! Giddy-up, horse! (Anyone know how to spell git-e-up? Is giddy up right?)

Edit: I’d forgotten how fun writing this story is! And easy. Once I made myself sit down, it just flowed. Up to 73,000 words now and off to bed (5AM)

Friday, October 3, 2008

Why Writers Can't Be Their Own Editors

It's simple, really...

After a certain point in editing, we writers cannot fix everything, because our noses are pressed up the to metaphorical painting we've created. We need someone objective to smooth out those last few edges and tell us where we sucked. :) And you know what? We love it! Because learning what's not perfect in your masterpeice gives you back the paintbrush to go fix it.

On that note, I have gotten about as far as I can on editing my own short story. It looks great to me, but I KNOW someone with a keen eye will find about a hundred flaws I can't see.

So, basically, what I'm saying is... Help?!

Anyone who'd like to help edit a 7,000 word short story, let me know please.

...and I'm back off to Book 1...

Pretty and Pretty Hard

Another night spent editing the old short story… And guess what? I actually like it now. Hooray!

I cut it down below 7,000 words (I’m thinking 6,000 just isn’t feasible for this one) and chopping those 3,000 words out is much like cleaning a dirty window so you can see the view. The sight was always beautiful, but you had to get rid of the gunk to really see it. That’s how I feel about this story.

It’s endearing to me. A story about familial love that doesn’t come from who you’re born to, but rather who loves you your whole life. It’s a great feeling when one of your favorite stories is one you actually got to tell.

So, anyway, I’m down to the fine tuning of it and I’m realizing from all the work that’s gone into this edit that editing a 100,000 word book is going to be long and exhausting. The only positive note is I don’t think my rough of the book is as rough as the short story was. It was a ROUGH rough! Wordy is probably the best description for how it used to look. .

But with that problem cleared up, I’m optimistic about it’s odds for publication. You just can’t hate this story unless you don’t have a heart :) My grandmother wanted me to continue the story and turn it into a book, which I just couldn’t foresee, given the ending it has, but I realized tonight that five or six years down the road in the MCs life, a real adventure would likely happen.

And it’s all set up in the short story…

I love it!

Edit: Here’s me and my number game again…

Scenes Words
Swim / Bus ............ 765
Home 1................. 948
Professor .............. 981
Crazy Bell 1 ......... 1,037
The Pier ............... 534
Cousins .............. 1,254
Crazy Bell 2 ........... 504
Home 2 ................ 913
Totals: 8 scenes / 6936 words

I can hardly believe that I got eight scenes to fit in under seven thousand words.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Hooray for Progress!

No, I didn’t get any further in Book 1, sorry if the title was misleading, but I did discover something great!

I spent today pouring through old files, things I’d written previously, and I decided to revise a short story from my creative writing class in hopes of getting it into a magazine and establishing some credibility.

Now, I love the story itself. It’s about a girl who discovers her true heritage, and let me tell ya, it’s not even human. But reading through it, I kinda went . . . Did I write that? Yikes! The style is horrible, the pacing ghastly, the sentence structure bland, the dialogue very amateur. I even had some spots where I disobeyed the cardinal rule of writing (show don’t tell). How newb can I get?

Anyway, it will take quite a bit of work to both revise the story and bring it down to under 6,000 words (it’s almost 10,000 now). But rereading it gave me hope, because it is tangible proof that my writing abilities have improved.

Now, I wonder if, in a few years, I’ll look at Book 1 and think the same thing…

Edit: Well, I switched the perspective from third to first and got the word count down to just over 7,500. Still a lot of work to go though… It’s coming along…