Saturday, October 22, 2016

Shoulder Eyes and Curious Aliens

Nine days left until NaNoWriMo 2016 and I'm feeling confident about my story this year. If you don't know about NaNoWriMo, check out their site at It is a great boost for your writing, especially if you need some sort of eye over your shoulder to make sure you are getting your work done.

So far I've been fine tuning my plot for the past two weeks. If you prefer not to plot and just wing it with a few stray scenes and a theme in mind, go for it. I think you're nuts and doomed to take much longer than necessary, but to each his own. I need to plot. I see it as a map, showing me where to go. But not just any map. My plot sceme is like a UFO arriving at Earth. From the furthest distance, you great the grand scheme of things. An ocean there, an ocean on the other side, mountains and rivers and lakes in between. Looks great so far. Any alien race would want to move in for a closer look to see if this planet has what it wants and needs.

Closer in, my plot scheme turns into scene cards, breaking up the plot into logical steps. For the UFO, the view turns into cities and towns filled with buildings, farms, and cellular phone stores. Now this is getting really interesting.

The last step is to turn those scene cards into actual scenes, complete with paragraphs, sentences, and outlandishly big capitol letters denoting the beginnings of chapters. For the aliens in the UFO, the cities turn into individuals filled with dreams, regrets, and schemes of robbing cellular phones stores. If they see what they like, they'll land and mingle, maybe buy a cronut or two for the trip home. They'll go home and tell others, who in turn will visit on their own. Or in the book equivalent, they will like the story and tell others who will also purchase it, option the movie rights, and allow me to retire to play video games where I kill aliens who try to take over the world. Such is life.

Now go write. You don't know how much time is left until the aliens arrive. Or should I say, return?

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Return of the Muse

I write a lot about the Muse. I never really put much thought into whether it was a real thing or not but apparently there is more to this ethereal minx than I had considered. I may need to set another chair at the writing desk so it won't feel so unwanted. Here's what happened...

For the past two days I've been at an impasse with my plot. There was one very important scene that I had not entirely fleshed out while doing my outline. I did not want to rush it, so I left it blank except for the title, '*character* dies'. I knew who was dying, I just left it out here so as not to spoil my bestseller for people when it comes out. I know, right? Anyway, now that I needed to fill in the specifics, I was drawing a blank. Every idea seemed too cliche or similar to previous scenes. If you are a plotter like me, you know I could not go any further. Leaving it blank would just haunt me if I started writing expecting the idea to appear once I got to it. So there I sat. Until today.

The idea came out of nowhere. Well, maybe not from nowhere. I had a setting but for some reason I kept leaving it to go somewhere else. I think because I had a split second vision of the scene already composed in my mind's eye and I was forcing my ideas to run through it. Then along came my Muse, finally. Where the Hell have you been? Wait, never mind. I don't want to know. You're back and that's all that matters. My Muse stopped me before I left my setting and told me to just wait. So I waited. After a few minutes, along came the two adversaries that I had imagined elsewhere. They could do their job here as well as there. With that impasse gone, the ideas came like a torrent of water from a burst dam. Now I may proceed and with new ideas brought to life from this other one. It was a gift within a gift.

To sum this up, if you find yourself struggling with a scene, I suggest you give it time instead of giving up. I kept coming back to this scene instead of skipping it. If I had skipped it, I might have forced it to conform to the upcoming scenes which would have squashed what I really needed: true inspiration. Now because of deadlines, that is not always an option, but deadlines also have a way of creating a different kind of inspiration, mostly weaved from the lining of empty pockets. 

Don't forget NaNoWriMo is fast approaching. Declare your novel and keep writing!

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Sense of Scene

Why did she do that? What was the point of that? Who was that supposed to hurt?

These are the types of questions I've got going through my head today and for the next few days.  I don't know what sort of writer you tend to be (because no one is so one dimensional), but I tend to be a plotter. Big time. I want to know that I've got a handle on the story before I spend months working on it. For my newest war of wordage I have all the scenes laid out and divided into chapters. Each scene is described very briefly so I get the gist of it. But that is only the start.

My next task is to delve into each of those scenes and flesh them out. Give all the minor characters names and that sort of jazz that would normally stop me in my creative tracks. More importantly, I make sure I know what the POV character's conflict and motivation is. This story is easy in that I only have one POV character. The conflict is important so I know what is at stake in each scene. If nothing is at stake, I either need to ditch it or make it short and to the point. Side-tracks should be no more than a quick peek through the door then moving on. The motivation is important so I know how and why the character is going to approach the problem.

This may seem excessive to all you pantsers out there but it has proven to be extremely helpful to me when writing the scene. Sure, I sometimes have to make changes as I go as my characters often have a way of saying things I did not intend them to say, but that's where the fun is. I may have everything plotted, scripted, and charted, but I know the story is going right when I have to stop now and then to pull a monkey wrench out of the well-oiled gears I built. No one ever admits to throwing it, but I have a good idea... I'm looking at you, Muse.

So get back to writing. Hopefully you've got your own monkey wrench wielding Muse waiting for you.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Back From the Depths

It seems my last post was in May. Wow, where has the time gone? Well, at least I can say I've been working on my novel so there's that. The other news is I'm putting the second draft through the transmographying wringer so it will be nearly an entirely new thing when it comes back out. With NaNoWriMo starting in a few weeks, I thought now would be a good time to get my poor blog out of the cobwebs and breathe some life back into it.

From here on I'll be detailing what I'm doing and hopefully what I'm learning about my writing. Sounds like fun to me. Unfortunately, that's all this blog will be about. My focus is completely on my story and I do not have the time, patience, or I'll admit it, interest in making this anything more than that. If I find a link to something or someone great I'll try to add it in future posts, but there will be no giveaways or anything like that. My goal here is to appeal to fellow struggling writers looking for help or commiseration or maybe just a few laughs. Trust me, there will be plenty to laugh at.

In the coming days I'll be detailing what further preparations I'm making with my novel to make sure I start NaNoWriMo on fire and not have to stop my creativity with repeated note searching. Today for instance I finished coming up with all the names for my characters, their pets, schools, hang-outs, and whatever else I thought would need a name. If I find time later, I'm going to make a final list of crystals and their reputed paranormal properties. Well, that is what my story hinges on after all. I've got several sources to go through so I'm going to narrow them down to the most common and/or obvious.

Back to work for me (at my real job, gah!), I hope you will keep following and keep writing.