Daily Writing Check-in: February 9, 2016

Words/Time:  1 hour working on “Pursuit of Power.” Most of that time was spent copying & pasting the entire story into Scrivener, one scene at a time. My next revision task has been trying to figure out how to get an important plot to start sooner. In the image below, the red is the main plot. The blue, though is an important plot line that will carry into the sequel to this novel. It’s also the catalyst that makes the red plot go where it needs to go. But there’s a lot of red at the beginning (which is mostly just my protagonist growing up and being positioned where he needs to be when the blue plot starts).Scrivener scenes PoP
I have two ideas for how to go about getting that blue to come in sooner, and I’ll probably have to incorporate both of them. I’ve already taken the first 3 or 4 blue scenes and spread them amongst the early red. And I may try to condense some of what happens in the red. It may not all be vital to the story, though so far, it seems vital enough that I can’t condense it much. But that’s always the problem with revising your own story.

Daily Writing Check-in: February 8, 2016

Words/Time:  638 words of free writing to try to develop a secondary character, and 37 minutes of revision, working up a possible prologue for “Pursuit of Power.”

Despite my beliefs that my little vacation from writing would still result in some free writing being done now and then, that didn’t happen after the first day. The truth is, once I step away for a day or two in favor of just being lazy and relaxing in the evening, it’s just too easy to not go back. That’s why I normally try to do at least a little writing work every day that I have any time for it. Without the habit, I’m lost.

In the end, the break turned out to be a really helpful thing. Not because I got any clarity in my writing, but because it was relaxing to just not worry about it for 10 days. I thought often about what I’d be doing when I got back to it, but I didn’t have any grand epiphanies or anything.

But the main reason it was helpful is because it kept me from stressing over whether I could get to my writing work or not this last weekend, when I had a huge change in my life. I started a new job. This is a pretty big deal, because I’m a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom. I already work for my dad, but I work an average of a day a week, and I take my kids with me. This will be the first job outside of my home/family that I’ve had since before my almost 14-year-old son was born. The job wasn’t sought out, but was offered to me, and it will be part-time out of necessity (because I do still have 2 kids to take care of and homeschool during the week).

I’ll be working as a game master at an escape room company, which means I’ll be behind the scenes running the room when groups come in to play. For as much fun as playing a room is, watching others play it is the next best thing. I honestly can’t believe I’m going to be paid to do something so much fun.

My first day was last Friday, which was right when I was ready to start back to writing. I was set to work until around 11:30-12 at night, though, which is pretty much the end of my normal writing time. So I just extended my writing break until the end of the weekend. From this point forward, I’ll be working most Friday and Saturday evenings, so my writing time on the weekend might be severely limited in the future. But I’ll still have time the rest of the week, and it’s worth it for a job that promises to be a blast.

A Monday Moment: Garend

Garend is a minor character in “Pursuit of Power” who needed a little fleshing out. He’d disappeared halfway through the story, so I came up with a reason why. Today’s Monday Moment is a brief look into his life, events happening before and during “Pursuit of Power.”


It was just me and my dad for a lot of my life. I never knew my mom. Dad and I had a really good life in Torreo, as good a life as anyone can have in that territory. We didn’t live in the principle city though. We lived south of the mountains, along the southern shore of Pithea. The beach. There’s a small town called Qulu. It’s so separated from the rest of Pithea, I think some of the folks there forget the rest of the country exists. Maybe the rest of the country forgets Qulu exists too.

My dad served as Controller for all of southern Torreo, which wasn’t much more than Qulu. There was a sort of prestige that came with that position and with being the son of someone in that position. It was a nice life. Until the Power death.

I was eleven when he was diagnosed. He found it himself—another perk of his job. He was able to get into isolation early, and they say that’s why he lived longer than others usually do. It wasn’t much of a life, though.

He had to quit his job, and I went to live with a neighbor. I visited Dad every day, but we couldn’t do more than talk. Some friends of my dad, I think they might have also been Controllers, came around a lot at first. They said they would find a way to help him. Maybe they didn’t know people have been working on that for years.

Dad died over a year after the Power death came. I was sent to live with a foster family in Jaffna Territory, near the principle city, after I’d finished school. Just before I turned thirteen and my common training started.

My dad’s friends, the ones who promised to help him, told me they would find my mom. When she knew what happened, that I was all alone, she’d come for me, they said.

My dad never explained why my mom wasn’t around—if she’d run off and left us, if she was missing at sea, or in a coma. I never knew. I imagined fun things when I was younger, like that she was a princess in a far-off land and couldn’t leave her people. But when my dad died, I decided I didn’t care. She wasn’t there, and that was all that mattered.

Then one of the men showed up again when I was fifteen. When he told me my mom wanted me to come live with her, I said I didn’t care. He could tell her I liked my home, my friends, my life, and who was she to try to make me leave all that?

It took her quite a while after that to come for me herself. She lived far away. When she explained to me where our family came from, who we were, it didn’t take long for me to change my mind. It was time to start a new life.

 

A Monday Moment: Chess

Today’s Monday Moment was written on Sept. 24 of last year. I know I said if I hadn’t written any for the week, I’d just have to force myself to write something on Sunday or Monday, but I’m making an exception (yes, already). Between the little break my husband insisted I take from writing, my sister’s wedding prep over the weekend, and doing extra end-of-year work for my job, I feel like it’s not just laziness that left me with nothing to post this week. And in fact, I did write something in the last 7 days that I could use, but it was handwritten, and I don’t have time to type it right now. So for today, enjoy this odd chess game:


I stare down at the board and determine my first move. Moving a piece forward, I look up at Amy.

She smiles sweetly at me. “Is it my turn?”

“It is.”

She looks down at the board and thinks for a moment. “I think you don’t want to make that opening move.”

“Why not?” I ask with amusement.

“It’s obvious. It’s the same move everyone makes. And it will start you off at a disadvantage.”

I muse over my only move so far, but only for a few seconds. “I took my finger off the piece. My move is over, but thanks for trying to help.”

She shrugs. “Okay then.” She moves her own piece, far away from mine. There is no danger here.

I think a little longer about my next move. What will she say if I move this one there? Or if I move this other one? Is it too early to take one of her pieces? I’m pretty sure she’s safe for now. I move a piece and gesture for her to take her turn.

She gives me a small smile, but says nothing this time. Instead, she moves another one of her pieces.

I wonder why she’s acting this way. The game is meant to be won, isn’t it? If she thinks I’m playing badly, why doesn’t she just let me continue so that she can win sooner?

I look down and see that she has moved her piece right in the path of one of mine. I could take her piece. I would be foolish not to, right? I think through the next possible moves, if I were to take her piece. Could she take mine right after? I don’t see how, so I take her piece.

“Well, that’s unfortunate,” she says. She seems genuine in her disappointment, but still cheerful.

After a while, the game has drawn on longer than I would have expected. It’s not that we’re taking an awful long time on our turns. But somehow, she’s no longer moving her pieces in my path very often. And she’s not taking advantage of most of the times when she could take my pieces.

I decide to take a break and stand up to stretch my legs. She’s oblivious to my action, as she is so deeply contemplating her next move. When I step over to sit back down, I notice something odd on the floor. It looks like sawdust.

I stoop over to see what it is, and suddenly she snaps her head up.

“What are you doing?”

“What’s that on the floor by your foot?” I ask her, moving closer.

“Don’t do that! Why would you come snooping around my personal space? Get back to your side.”

My eyes widen in shock over her sudden outburst, but I return to my seat.

“That should be against the rules,” she says in a huff. “In fact, maybe it is. I think you should really forfeit this game, because you’ve broken the rules.”

“I didn’t break any rules! Investigating an odd substance on the floor isn’t against any chess rules!”

“Not chess rules. Rules of life.” She crosses her arms over her chest. “You’re probably going to go to jail.”


Prompt used: You have a chess match that means much more with the antagonist of your story. (Name of antagonist changed to avoid spoilers.)

Daily Writing Check-in: January 29, 2016

Words/Time:  512 words of free writing. A minor character in “Pursuit of Power” actually just disappears about a third of the way through the novel. I never planned for him to even be there; he just showed up while I was writing. And then there was nothing for him when things started picking up (because he wasn’t meant to be in the book), and so he just slipped away. I’m going to allow that, but I wanted to give him a reason to slip away, which I’ll include in the story now. That’s what I wrote about today.

My updates for the next week will look different and may be sporadic. My husband suggested tonight that I take a week off from writing. He thinks that I’m beginning to stress too much over how long it takes for me to get to my writing time each night. He’s not exactly wrong, but I told him that taking a break from my writing isn’t necessarily going to alleviate stress, since it’s something I enjoy so much. So I’m meeting him halfway. I won’t plan to work on my revision work every night for the next week, so I’m not upset when normal family issues threaten my writing time. But if I do have some time after kids are in bed, I will still do a little free writing.

He thinks of it as a week-long vacation from my writing “work” that might help me de-stress, but I don’t see how it will change anything for after the week is over. However, since it’s only a week, I’m agreeing to it. Who knows what’ll happen.

Daily Writing Check-in: January 27, 2016

Words/Time:  1 hour, 15 minutes listing out the rest of the scenes in “Pursuit of Power” in Scrivener. While doing that, I realized my timeline wasn’t entirely accurate in some areas. I hadn’t referenced the timeline while writing, apparently, and I’d made the first part of the timeline many months before writing the first draft. I had to make some decisions about whether to change the dates in the timeline or to change it in the story. I could have saved that work for when I start reading soon, but it was bothering me.

Scrivener scenes PoP

This is my novel in a very boiled down, zoomed out, and color-coded sense. The different colors are different plot lines. The red is the main plot. The purple is the one I need to work on most. It may seem unimportant and worth deleting entirely, but it’s the personal life of the secondary main character. I always found it difficult to remember to include what was going on in her life throughout the story, and when I did, it seemed like a waste of time. So I need to spend some time figuring out what about her life is important enough to include, and the best way to slip that in here and there.

Daily Writing Check-in: January 26, 2016

Words/Time:  45 minutes revising “Pursuit of Power” during the writing group meeting at the library. To start the real revision, I’m writing out a list of scenes and color coding them by plot line. I’m also tagging them with the characters who are involved, and may add setting to it later. Hopefully this will help me to make sure my subplots are tight (and worth including) and that there aren’t random plot strands that shouldn’t be in the story.  It’s also giving me a chance to re-familiarize myself with the story as a whole before starting to read.

I was going to do this on paper with a pen, and then highlight different plot lines with different color highlighters (I got the idea for this here, but the rest of the process I do in a different order or a different way). But at the library, I didn’t have a pen, only a pencil (which wouldn’t work well with highlighter). So I figured I’d see how it worked in Scrivener. Once I figured out how to color code it and how to add characters to each scene that could be grouped later, it went pretty well. And I can see the whole story board at once, which is nice. I got through about half the story today, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to finish it tomorrow.

Daily Writing Check-in: January 25, 2016

Words/Time:  1 hour, 45 minutes starting revision for “Pursuit of Power.” I scanned through the whole story looking for notes I’d left myself while writing. Broad notes that came up during or after writing were written  down. But more detailed notes like reminding myself to explain something sooner or questioning whether to keep a paragraph were put right into the text with parentheses around them. And there were one or two notes that I literally wrote right into the text with no style difference or anything else to make them stand out. It’s possible I won’t find some of those until I actually read through the story.

Now I have a decently long list of big and small changes I know I need to make while I work on the second draft. I think I’ll keep those nearby while I start to read through the story the first time. This will be a broad revision, focusing on the plot and characters, making sure it all makes sense and flows as a whole. I’ll try not to pay attention to sentence structure and word choice now, though I know that’s easier said than done.

A Monday Moment: The Meeting

There are a lot of names, both people and locations, in this writing, and I realize it might get confusing. Sorry about that.


“I don’t understand why we’re having this meeting again.”

“We told you, Seth. We want to discuss—“

“There is no secret mercenary base in the middle of our desert!” Seth, the leader of Torreo Territory, insisted. “I told you that the last time we met.”

Looks were exchanged between the other leaders.

“Yes, you did tell us that,” Taellyn’s leader Rowena said diplomatically. “However, it is difficult to believe you now that we have eye witness testimony.

“What ‘eye witness’?” Seth asked with narrowed eyes. “That’s impossible.”

“Why is it so impossible?” the leader of the militia in Bhorpal Territory asked suspiciously.

Seth looked at him with even eyes. “Because there is no base there.”

Flynn, the leader of the national government, sighed. “This is getting us nowhere. We can argue the likelihood of this assertion all we want, but without proof, we can’t come to an end to this argument.”

“We have proof,” Taellyn’s militia leader stated. “We have the word of two people, one of whom is well respected.”

“She’s a Cleric,” Rowena said. “And her father is one of the leaders in the Academy. Tell us, Seth, why would she lie?”

“I don’t know,” Seth said with a firm shake of his head. “But maybe you should let me talk to her so I can find out.”

“No,” Flynn said. “It will be simple enough to prove. As she is a Cleric, she can Stormwalk back to the location she claims to have seen the base. She can show us what she’s found.”

“You can’t do that!” Seth shouted, standing to his feet.

“Actually,” Verica spoke up, “we already have.”

“What?” Seth spun to address the leader of his territory’s northern neighbor Jaffna. “You’ve done what?”

“We’ve asked the Cleric in question to take us out to the desert, my militia leader and myself.”

Seth turned back toward Flynn. “How could you let him move against us this way?”

“Honestly, Seth, I don’t understand why you’re acting like this was a personal affront to you or your territory,” Flynn said with narrowed eyes. “If Morano has been hiding out in a secret location in the desert, how are you involved?”

Seth sputtered. “I—I’m not. But to conduct a search in my territory without so much as informing me… That is not in the spirit of the friendship agreement between our territories.”

“I authorized the ‘search,’” Flynn said. “That is well within my rights as national leader, according to the agreement.”

“Well then,” Seth dropped back down into his chair. “What did you find?”

“We didn’t get close, because we were afraid of detection,” Verica reported. “But there is definitely something out there. Not far from the mountain range that divides the desert and the southern shore. There was a wall.”

“A wall,” Seth scoffed. “That’s all? You can’t be sure what it is then. Maybe it’s just a wall left over from a town that used to be there before the Pithean War. Or even before the Tech War. You don’t know it’s Morano.”

“I suppose we don’t,” Verica said. “Not yet.”

“But we will find a way to verify what is beyond the wall,” Rowena said. “And if it is Morano…”

“We’ll need to decide what to do about it,” Flynn concluded for her.

 

Daily Writing Check-in: January 24, 2016

Words/Time:  665 words of writing practice just to make sure I didn’t go two days in a row without posting. Just sitting down at 11:30 pm, I asked my husband for a quick prompt to get me going. He came up with, “Two men walk into a bar and one pulls out a gun.” Not exactly the most inspirational, but I made it work. Not one of my favorite pieces of writing, but they can’t all be.