I Can See the Light

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I finally have the third act of my latest WIP (work in progress) outlined. It was painful, and it has taken me months to figure out what I’m doing with this book and where I’m going with all those vague notes I made in the beginning, but it is done now. All I have to do is write it.

First, dealing with character motivations. They didn’t change, thank goodness, but they did become a lot more defined by the time I was halfway through, and so the final act needed to reflect that. I can go back and add in the things I need to make it work, but for this all I needed to do was make sure I knew what I was targeting for sure.

Next, going through old notes and reconciling with how the story has gone, because it still works. It’s still what I was aiming for, I was just super vague. Which is probably why it still works. Filling in a few gaps, making sense of some confusing digital scribbles, turning my generalized sense of an ending into something I can actually write.

Then, connecting the dots between the character arcs and the underlying political tension and the actual surface goal of the character. That’s… going to need work. And lots of going back to act one to add more hints and clues as to where it’s all going. But at least now I know how it ties together, at least in a clumsy fashion.

And then going back and outlining the little details I’m going to need to add in order to make that tension clear. I probably shouldn’t have spent all that time on outlining the details for these things, when I’ll just change it first thing when I start draft two. It was helpful, though, in that now I know where I theoretically want readers to be coming from by the time we get to the end.

Finally, making a story out of it and finding an end point that’s not 100k words in the future. All I can do for that is write it. See if it actually meshes together the way it does in my head, or if I’m just being silly.

It feels like a triumph right now, getting all that figured out. Hopefully I can take the momentum and let it carry me to the actual end of the book. Anyone else have an epiphany moment lately?

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Some days I wish there were twenty-five instead of twenty-four hours in a day. I could…

Watch more TV / Get more writing done

Play Stardew Valley / Play around with my blog a bit more

Daydream / Shop my stories around to editors and agents by writing killer query letters

Procrastinate on my phone / Socialize with my peers

Listen to music / Make a super fancy dinner for my family

Or… I could accept that both options are valid uses of my time, whether I have twenty-four or twenty-five hours to do it in. To find a balance, and re-energize myself for doing the hard stuff. The work stuff. All that. In general, just make the best use of the time I have, rather than wish I had more of it.

A Few Lessons Learned from Ratatouille

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I watched Ratatouille, and learned/was-reminded-of a few things about writing within the first half hour or so. (Seriously, if you need lessons in storytelling, just watch a Pixar movie with a critical eye.) In this instance, I mostly noticed how well the characters were introduced, so I wanted to sit down and figure out what made it work. So here goes.

1. Show them in their natural habitat

We see the rats being rats, but more importantly we see Remy standing out from that. He’s clearly got his own habits and ideas set long before the point where the story begins, and so that first plot moment develops naturally. You get the sense that he’s going to end up in this place no matter what.

2. Use the way they see the world to tell us about them

Remy is also a narrator character, which is something I enjoy employing in my own work, to varying success. In this case, it really works because it tells us details about the world that we might otherwise miss, but especially because it tells a lot about how Remy sees the world. Since he’s the main character, that’s kind of important.

3. Turn something upside down and force them to react

All that normal stuff, all the history given, and then an old lady with a shotgun blasts it all to pieces. Show the characters, then let those characters react to something crazy. I mean, of course we want the plot to happen, but in terms of character development, this is the moment that makes or breaks. If you did your job right, everything the character does just flows out of the prior setup.

4. Don’t have to reveal too much too early.

Yes, the important things should be there, but some details can wait or merely be implied or hinted at. We don’t need to know that Remy’s telling the story from the safety of his little rat restaurant in the future. We don’t need to know anything about how Remy would treat a friend just yet. We’ll see that eventually.

Darn. Now I wish I had been able to finish that movie. (I mean, not that I haven’t seen it before, but I missed the big finish with the ratatouille. I miss that.)
Anyone else with a Pixar movie that inspired them?

6 Things I Love About Babysitting

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My life goal is to become a full-time writer, more specifically a novelist. Unfortunately, that’s not the most financially viable career at the entry-level stage, so like most of my kind I have a day job. The dream is someday there will be nothing but me and my words that adoring fans will linger on. In the meantime, though, babysitting is my day job, and here are 5 things I love about it. Continue reading

Lazy Day Quotes

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(For the record, it’s not a lazy day in general, just a lazy writing day.) My computer is on an upswing of crazy behavior, so I’m not inclined to make this a long post this week. (No, I don’t think it’s a virus, I think my computer is just broken at a fundamental level and as much as I want to throw it out the window and simply buy a new laptop, I cannot afford that so here we are.) But I have accomplished a few things, so here’s evidence. Continue reading

This Week’s Oops Moment

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I may have changed one of my character’s name and personality without realizing it. Oops.

He went from REDACTED to REDACTED, and his personality went from a slightly suspicious loner to a stressed bundle of nerves with no chill factor at all. It happened because I sort of stopped writing the book for a while, and when I got back into it last week I started with one of his POV scenes. And thus the change. He reacted to the situation I put him in as though he was a completely different character.

To be fair, this shift might have occurred regardless of gaps in writing. My outline shifted slightly since I wrote the first draft of it, and his personality changed to facilitate the plot better. If I hadn’t changed like that, it likely would have become stilted and strange. I hope. I really don’t know because he changed and that’s how it is.

The really embarrassing part is the name change. It’s not really a full change, exactly. More that I just changed the spelling without realizing it. And I don’t even have to say what the change was because before anyone sees it I can do a simple “search and replace” and fix it.

Of course, it wouldn’t have happened if I’d checked my notes before jumping back in and hoping for the best. Because, for some strange reason, I wasn’t able to perfectly recall every little tiny detail of the work I’d started a month prior, and oops, things went badly.

How to (possibly) recover from losing the thread of a novel

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Uh-oh, I’m losing the thread of my novel. (Not interest in writing it, but losing track of my ideas and the characters because thanks to circumstances out of my control I had to take a long hiatus.) I took too long over the holidays, and I’m starting to forget important details (like the name of the planet they’re supposed to be on). If I’m being honest, I’m not entirely sure how to get it back, so I went back through the mental files and tried to remember the ideas that are supposed to help. With a few additions and tweaks for my own personality because some things are just more distracting than others. Continue reading

I Had the Flu

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At about the time my last post went live, I was taking my temperature for the first time. It was Wednesday before I was finally done with that mess, if still exhausted and thoroughly sick of being sick. So this is not going to be a really long post.

Even so, it’s almost Christmas and there are a few presents I’m so thankful for from this past week.

First, the MVPs:

  • My mom (for doing all the things, even though she just got through this herself)
  • My dad (same! But he was still kind of sick so that much harder)
  • Understanding employers (also it being almost Christmas so work schedules were already lighter which was wonderful)
  • Brother (was not sick, the lucky bugger, but also put up with my random texts from boredom and all that)

Now the fun little things:

  • Sleeping through the night (best thing ever not waking up at midnight needing more Nyquil just to fall unconscious)
  • The weird orange juice finally tastes weird again (I was desperate for something with a little sugar in it, I guess)
  • Waking up with a story in my head instead of an observation about a dry mouth or sweating or one of the other symptoms I woke up with
  • I can make my bed and not just lie in it all day
  • Also, changing clothes is wonderful and not something to be taken for granted
  • And showers, those are great

These are just a few of the things I made note of right after I started getting better. I’m sure there are more wonderful gifts I’ve been given over the past week. Like finishing up my own Christmas prep just in time! (Except for one thing, but that got tanked by the flu week and that was just it)

Merry Christmas! Hope no one gets sick.