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So, its nearly Mother’s Day, which to me always signifies that Summer is on its way. I can hardly believe that 2013 is almost half-way over and I have not gotten anything (new) ready to publish this year.
That’s right, this P.P. is a SLACKER.
I’ve been writing, there’s no denying that. But I haven’t been finishing. What’s that line? ABC – Always Be Closing! And so I should be. I’ve got no fewer than a dozen projects brewing and I continually fail to finish them. I need to get my rear back in gear!
I need a kick in the pants!
I had friend lined up as accountability/cheerleader/whatever… but he dropped out after the first week and though I’ve been good about blogging (not here, *cough*) I haven’t been AS good as I ought.
That’s gotta change.
Taking suggestions… how do I get myself more motivated to FINISH all these things I’ve started?
Tee-hee. First thing first, a new office chair because my hiney hates this one.
Then: Complete Inferno. Get a cover done for Incandescence & Inferno. Plot & write “3″. Additional materials. Publish.
Then: Going Home.
Then: Rudabet. Light of Lun.
Then, in 2014: Madaya, at last. YESSSSS!
Love & Rainbows,
This post was originally featured at Dominique Goodall’s blog as part of the TTC/MK VBT 2012.
I do not believe in Writer’s Block. Not really.
Maybe I should say, its not that I do not believe in it, just that I refuse to let it grab hold of my pen and prevent me from doing what I love. Sometimes, I admit it, I get bogged down in details and feel like I might be “blocked”. When that gross, constipated-brain feeling gets me down, I close my WIP (or whatever I am working on) and take a little break.
If a short break does not get the juices flowing again (ew… I’m really regretting that constipation comparison above right now), I turn to Free Writing. One of my favorite things to do is to sort through my Portraits folder, choose an interesting face, and just let the ink fly. Sometimes, however, even that will not loosen the bowels of my brain and I have to dig deeper.
That is why I have about a hundred thousand (this is a slight exaggeration) text files in my possession with anywhere from a single line to a few pages of work that never really went anywhere. I love the random and chaotic. I love to shake things up and just plop out strange ideas.
It never fails to get me unclogged and writing again.
This exercise is the Maximum Strength Ex-Lax of the mind.
But seriously, I definitely recommend trying it the next time you are burned out on editing or feeling as if you have Writer’s Block. Try this:
Completely free of the obligation to continue beyond the starting sentence, just start writing out a bunch of ‘first lines’. Do as many as it takes for your mental wall to crumble and you feel like returning to your project.
Usually, when I have done it in the past, I was not concerned with it being just one sentence and I freely inserted dialogue as well. The version of this exercise I found on (this website) is great. His directions are:
Free of the obligation to complete a poem or story, simply write out a bunch of first lines that are catchy and non-sensical. Aim for ten to twenty[Philip Dacey]. See examples from past students. A million butterflies rose up from South America.
Anyway – whether you adhere to the 1 sentence limit or just go wild with micro-scenes, dialogue, whatever, I guarantee you will have tremendous fun (and likely, a hearty brainbowel movement!) with this exercise. To prove it, I’ve scribbled a bunch of my own sample starts below. Who knows? Maybe one day one of these will feature in one of my novels. Chaos for the win!
* * * * * * * * *
- Hoakes turned to me and belched; the malodorous cloud was so thick, so nasty, so vile, it was all but tangible.
- “Hello, my name is Jimmy Mac-Johnson from Mississip and I’m calling to get my horoscope read.”
- The ice-sheathed grass gleamed sharp and hard and crystalline, like a thousand shattered Rolling Rock bottles in the sunlight.
- “I never was much for offal,” she said loftily, “Though my Mee-maw made me eat rabbit eyes so that I could see better in the dark.”
- Bacon-flavored edible panties? I couldn’t decide to be flattered that he bought me something sexy, disgusted that he thought bacon-anything was sexy, or worried by the notion that somehow he associated me and my ladybits with fried pig parts.
- Sue me. Sue McDonald’s! Sue the bitch in Apartment 3A and her yappy little dog! Sue the President! Sue the world! Sue God!
- He was named by his mother after a week-long acid binge.
- Stealthily, Bandit stretched his neck as far as he could, took the cookie delicately in his teeth and then stole away into the night with his prize.
- Why do they call them foothills, Daddy?
- In Santiago, in the smallest basement cell of the largest, poorest orphanage in the city, a tiny spark changed the world.
- Autumn came late in Winter.
- Sundered shield, severed sword; ask ye not why they are broken, but why they must exist at all.
- She licked the spoon slowly, meeting his gaze with a startling directness. The seductive look was somehow all the sexier when she lifted a pink and orange, kitten-bedecked coffee mug to her lips.
- Sputtering to a stop, its inertia utterly gone, Earth hung impotently in space – its inhabitants long dead – until it was torn apart by the invisible pressures of the universe.
- I always liked to write death scenes for people who wronged me, annoyed me, or pissed me off.
- Naked, save for brightly lacquered nails and a tiny golden cross around her neck, she threw her thong at me; the other was held at the ready.
That was weird. But fun. Right? Right…?!
Now go forth, yon brilliant minds! Go forth into the unknown and write your own random starting lines. And who knows – maybe one of them will end up being tweaked and twisted into your next brilliant story!
Love & Rainbows,
P.S. Leave a random starting line in the comments, I totally want to read them!
I counted up all the hand-written bits and pieces I’d done, feeling super sad about bailing on Camp NaNo this session and found my mind BLOWN when it turned out that I squeaked by and got a win.
Somehow, some way, despite having a really terrible month as far as finding writing time and concentration went, I eked out 30,661 words. Yes, I lowered my goal to 30k early in the month because between the two blogs, regular correspondence, gaming RPs, and work – I knew 50k was going to be a rough goal.
Anyway – by some miracle I “won” but it doesn’t feel like much of a win. Most of this draft of “Going Home” is going to need serious re-working, I didn’t hit 50k (the real goal), I’m going back to “Incandescence” and “Inferno” and a little depressed by that, and its nearly MAY already. Eeek!
But, May will be a busy month. I’ve got lots of RPs and stuff to work on in addition to “Inferno”. I’m so excited to get that one finished.
Still, for all the April felt like a lost cause, I came away with a “win”.
Love & Rainbows,
Guess what time it is?
Time to abandon my Camp NaNo project at ±17k to get back to work on “Inferno”. Time for re-reading “Incandescence” and opening up Scrivener to re-work “Inferno” from scratch. Time to get that last edit on Book One, then edit Book Two. Time for moving toward publication.
I’m inspired by a colleague who is making her writing goals come true – who just commissioned two great covers (sincerely, like… I was a fan of the first one, but the second one really blew my skirt up!) for her novel and who is getting ready for the release of that one all the while, preparing a whole slew of other projects for publication. Have I ever mentioned how much I admire her work ethic? She’s a freakin’ MACHINE, man. In the best way, that is. Hardly misses a day of word count, punching out quality work and an excellent blog day after day. All of that while
I strive to be more like her.
Anyway – why am I giving up on “Going Home”? I’m not. Just… I can’t get “Inferno” out of my head. I keep thinking about how its going to end. And then wondering if it still ends the way I originally planned. My first draft is incomplete, so I have not yet “discovered” the ending.
Unfortunately, I’ve just started another read-through of “Incandescence” and I keep finding things that seem asinine and which I want to change.
I know, I know. A writer is really never satisfied and at some point, we just have to relinquish control and call it “done”. So, I shall finish this read-through (making notes as necessary as I go), then I shall re-work my first draft of “Inferno”. Then I shall probably give “Incandescence” one last edit before starting my final draft of “Inferno”. And in the end, I will (assuming I don’t find a publisher) commission two covers and release these babies out into the world!
That’s the goal. By the end of 2013, one way or another, Hannah, Mike & their 102-year-old great-great-grandmother will be published. Boo-yah.
Plus, I want to finish “Going Home” and get back to “Rudabet” and I’ve got several shorts.
Love & Rainbows,
Hello again folks!
So, I haven’t had a “new” post since January 1st. I’d like to say it is because I have completed six novels and am getting published with a big fat contract… but mostly its just that life has interfered with me for the first quarter of 2013. Which is not to say that I haven’t been writing – I have – but that I haven’t been as productive as I might wish.
That said, life as a newlywed is pretty sweet. Jack & I are the happy new “parents” of a fluffy, floppy, funny puppy and we’re just hanging out, living the life. You know. That’s how we roll *chuckle*
I’m participating in Camp NaNoWriMo this April, working on a new piece – notice “Going Home” on the sidebar? – but I haven’t made nearly as much progress as I’d like. Worse still, I keep wanting to go back to “Inferno”. Which is silly because I started on “Going Home” to take a break from “Inferno”. I was getting really uptight about getting it “right” instead of getting it out. I’m a firm believer in getting it on the page and worrying about “right” or “good” in the subsequent drafts.
I pressured myself SO hard and then got SO frustrated…
Anyway – as April Springs into life and the year really starts to warm up, I’m back on track with writing and blogging and all is well.
Now, if only I’d get one of those previously mentioned big, fat contracts ;D Tee-hee.
Oof! We’re getting some heavy thunder tonight and the puppy has never experienced that before. Time to pretend nothing strange is happening and hope she stays calm.
Love & Rainbows,
P.S. I promise it won’t be four months between new content!
This post was originally featured at Debra Jayne East’s blog as part of the TTC/MK VBT 2012.
When I first started writing stories I went to the library and checked out Baby Name Books. I was eleven or so and the librarians gave me strange looks when I came back for different ones and to renew the ones I liked best. Eventually, I found some at yard sales (and much later, bought them from Amazon) so I could have my own copies on the shelf next to my poison-guide, police procedural walk-throughs, and various other reference books.
At the time, I liked to give distinctly ‘appropriate’ names for characters. I named the clumsy friend of my main character, Claudia, which means lame. She was a clod and thus the name worked. The haunted beauty with the mysterically green eyes? I named her Jade. Also, I liked mythical and biblical or literary names. Someone meant to evoke thoughts of the ever-faithful wife might be named Penelope (Jack, take note!) or if I wanted to conjure up images of a guy who would face unsurmountable odds and win – David. Things like that. Those names have their uses and places. But really, when I was using them, they were totally…lacking in subtlty.
These days, whether its creating names in some fantasy realm – Sarios, Damaiar, Lourdan, and Safyr – or in my modern day fantasy novel, “Incandescence”, I really do not go looking for names. At least not for the main characters. They generally just organically appear on the page as I write. Hannah and Michael Brighton. Granmama Adina. Alexander. Summit. Shalisa. Evander. Jonas. Gideon.
Other names, I am not ashamed to admit, come to mind as homages to folks who exist in my real world. Hopefully they will be honored, not vexed, to find that characters such as Isaac, Professor McCormick, Jeremy, Zebulon, Rote, Nguyet, Emily and so on were named after them.
For important characters – names just seem to happen. For secondary, tertiary, one-offs, and other back ground types, I rely on… whatever is around. Phone books are great for surnames and placenames. Business cards, advertisements, tv, the interwebs… Anything goes. If it suits the situation and setting, it stays. If not – I just keep looking.
I guess what I am trying to say is that I do not have a real strong “process” for naming my characters, not anymore. If a character doesn’t name herself, or come pre-equipped with a name, I have to go in search of it. Which is why my first drafts are often littered with OLDGUYNAMEHERE and ANGRYKIDNAMEHERE… and when it comes time to fill-in the blanks, well… I’ll let you know. I’m still working on “Incandescence” and there several INSERTNAMEHEREs to fix.
How do you name your characters? Does inspiration flash while you’re making up outlines? Do the names come first and the characters come later?
And while we’re on the naming kick – how do you come up with your titles? Because WOW – I have trouble with titles. If you ever happen upon the WIP page of my website, you will notice that every single title is a Working Title. Because I have no idea how to name books, I simply refer to them all by a characters name (for example: Rudabet), a theme, a phrase that relates to the plot (ex: The Light of Lun), or even acronyms (ex: PASaRN).
So – I’m going to change my question. How do you come up with solid titles for your poems, novels, shorts, papers, series, et cetera?! Because that is what this writer needs to know. *grin*
Love & Rainbows,
This post was originally featured at Scott Seldon’s Blog as part of the TTC/MK VBT 2012.
People always ask a writer where he gets his ideas and inspiration from. Neil Gaiman says, “I make them up. Out of my head” *. Stephen King’s answer is longer, but boils down to the same thing, “I get my ideas from everywhere. But what all of my ideas boil down to is seeing maybe one thing, but in a lot of cases it’s seeing two things and having them come together in some new and interesting way, and then adding the question ‘What if?’ ‘What if’ is always the key question.” *. One of my favorite answers is from Lemony Snicket (whose NaNoWriMo PepTalk was one of the best ever). He said, “From eavesdropping and from reading other books. Writers are, pretty much thieves, stealing ideas from other people who didn’t have the foresight to write them down, and then from the people who did have the foresight to write them down.” *.
Were you to ask me, I would probably say something similar. Where do you get your ideas, Penelope Price? Where?! From the world, from what I see or watch or read, from thin air. I get flashes of inspiration from random sensory input all the time. Most of them won’t go anywhere, but they pop up all the time and its just a matter of capturing that ephemeral spark in a jar so I can mull it over at length. Well then how do you capture the spark, Penelope Price? How?!
Funny you should ask.
I text myself. When an idea pops into my head, even if I have a notebook and pen close to hand (which I always do – always), I usually reach for my cellphone and get my thumbs to typing as fast as they can… which is not very fast and is usually filled with typos. Still – that little 160 character SMS gets sent to my email account where I automatically file it away under a specific tag and without much work on my part, its recorded for posterity.
That’s how I recorded the spark that started “Incandescence” and “Inferno”.
It was October 3rd, 2011, a Monday, and I was at work. NaNoWriMo – one of my favorite yearly events – was looming and I did not yet have an idea. I remember being worried that I would not have a plot ready to go and would fail miserably… again. Out of nine years doing NaNo, I had only “won” three times. Well, thanks to those fateful text messages – I am now four for ten.
I had been talking to a co-worker, telling him that I wrote fantasy novels. The kind with magic and wars and intrigue and romance and armored warriors and- He interrupted me to ask if I wrote about elves and dwarves. “No, not usually”, I said pleasantly, though I was annoyed that yet another person seemed to think there were only two kinds of fantasy – Tolkien or Harry Potter.
“Well maybe you should,” he said. “Or wait, write about elves and dwarves walking around in the modern day.”
And I experienced one of those ephemeral sparks I mentioned earlier. I immediately tuned him out and started to texting myself. I think it took four or five texts to get the ‘idea’ out, but there it was – beautiful. Modern day mageborn siblings, the last of their kind so far as they know, struggling for survival against the end of the world.
To thank my co-worker, I named a character after him. And then murdered it. It was epic.
So yes, like Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Lemony Snicket and a whole host of other writers, I would say that my ideas and inspiration come from everywhere and nowhere, from the world at large. My job is just to snatch the good ones and develop them. To do that – I text myself. Its as simple as that.
If someone asked you, dear friend, where do you get your ideas? What would be your response? How do you capture them? Do you have a muse who feeds you delicious tidbits of plot and character, or do you sit down and think until something awesome comes out? Or something else entirely? Comment below and let us know!
Love & Rainbows,
This post was originally featured at BookBabe as part of the TTC/MK VBT 2012.
Its a question every writer (okay, maybe just those who have ever participated in NaNoWriMo) must face at some point.
Are you a pantser or a plotter?
Which is to say, do you write by the seat of your pants (a ‘pantser’) or do you write with meticulously constructed notes and plot points (a ‘plotter’)?
This would make a great poll – in fact, I’m posting one on my Facebook page today to coincide with this post? I wonder which is more common amongst my fellow writers and whether or not there are others like me.
Because I go both ways.
During the best, most organic moments of writing — I am a pantser. I fly by the seat of my bloomers! I clamp on my chunky magenta headphones, crank up the playlist, and let my fingers do the work. It has been that way since I started writing books twenty years ago. Perhaps that is why I enjoy sprinting/word wars so much during NaNo; sprints are a license to just let loose and allow whatever comes out to just be.
Yet I write a lot of fantasy, and with fantasy worlds comes world-building, history-writing, research-gathering. And I have been told that I do world-building to excess. I don’t believe that – you never know when some small nugget of information may end up being crucial to a plot! Plus, its fun. For me at least. I adore creating timelines, maps, intricate relationships between Ancestral Houses or religious institutions, webs of intrigue stretching across time and space. I have reams of pages filled with brief character sketches, key exports from certain regions, weather patterns, historical changes in geography/topography/political boundaries, lists, maps, details about the style of dress, notes from books or websites about various topics that may come up in the plot, real world mythology and legends… I could go on, but I think that gets the point across.
I am a meticulous planner. To the point that, yes, sometimes I bog myself down in detail. But I like to err on the side of caution and have too much information than to end up stuck on some niggling detail in the midst of a hot and heavy writing session.
But I have a shameful secret to share. Despite all my world-building, all the information I’ve put together for various projects — several of those, my dearest and most beloved projects, remain unfinished and incomplete. Probably because despite all the planning, I wrote them as a pantser and tripped myself up in the actual plot.
Which is why, when I began my current WIP, “Incandescence” and its sequel, “Inferno”, I made a conscious decision to go against my usual modus operandi and outline the plot BEFORE I started writing. I spent a couple days before last November scribbling out first a general ‘this happens, then this, and then this, then the end’ before fleshing it out into scenes and chapters. This process has been super stream-lined thanks to Scrivener, which I purchased after winning NaNo last November.
In the future, I am going to continue to work on my process. I think I work best with a good combination of both plotting and pantsing. Of course, the beta readers’ verdicts are still out, so…
Anyway, my answer to the question above is muddled. I guess I would have to say that I swing both ways, and I’m comfortable that way. What about you, friends? Are you pantsers, plotters, or both? Would you consider yourself something else entirely?
Comment below and then check out my poll on Facebook to vote and see how other people are answering!
Love & Rainbows,
This post was originally featured at Just Natalie as part of the TTC/MK VBT 2012.
In every book, some edits must occur. Some words must be struck from the page with prejudice. They must be smited righteously to tighten the prose and make that novel sing! *ahem* Sorry, I get carried away when I’m in the throes of editing — as I am today — and I just can’t help myself.
Anyway – its true. Snips happen. A word here, a paragraph there. Streamlining and refining.
In editing “Incandescence” I found that while sprinting during NaNoWriMo is excellent for word count and just getting the story out, sometimes it makes for redundancy. And redundancy is death to taut prose.
Mostly, fixing those repetitive bits just required little snips. Switching around so dialogue so characters don’t mention the same story twice or the like. I did not have to eighty-six anything major, and certainly nothing I loved.
But there was one large scene that had to be deleted and of course it was one I really enjoyed writing and wished I could have kept in. It was a very PG romance scene — not erotic, not exactly sexual — between one of the main characters (15 year-old Hannah) and a young man who has been pining for her since the moment they met (18-year-old Luke).
You see, Luke is a good guy with a bit of a possessive streak and a slight blind spot to how dire their circumstances are as survivors of ‘the end of the world’. He falls hard for the, admittedly, sort of weird, but spunky and funny (and magic!) redheaded teen. Patience is a virtue he possesses in great quantity, and even when he’s initially rebuffed romantically, Luke pursues her friendship.
And he wins it. They become close despite having grown-up in two very different environments and being a few years apart in age. But Luke is not alone in his affections for Hannah. The antagonist, Alexander, also wants Hannah, though his motivations are vastly different and somewhat nefarious.
The deleted scene, a tender first kiss and a little bit of background exposition, between Luke and Hannah just doesn’t belong. It did not make sense for the plucky magess who has been mentally tortmented for months and whose physical changes are making her withdraw from all the people around her, to suddenly being having a romantic exchange with her best friend.
So the kiss hit the cutting room floor and the hint of potential romance with it. By the end of “Incandescence”, it was obvious that there just wasn’t a place for that sort of scene in the book. Too many other things were happening in the race to the climactic scene and smooching just has to wait.
Ah! But there is hope for the burgeoning relationship in the sequel. If poor, traumatized Hannah can get herself together, there is a really great guy waiting to wrap her in his arms and love her through it. And if she can’t, well, time will tell if Luke’s the kind to pine away or move on. Options may be limited at the end of the world, but there are still other fish in the seas.
I hear great-great-granmama Torovaldi is single. *wink*
Love & Rainbows,