Daily Writing Check-in: October 4, 2017

Words/Time:  1 hour setting up a broad outline in Scrivener for a story that needs rewriting. I’m working toward figuring out what I want to write for NaNoWriMo. I have 3 options, near as I can tell.

  1. Write the story that comes after the novel that I have so-far called “Pursuit of Power,” which itself is still in 1st draft form, and which I have realized is likely going to be book 1 in a sequence of 2 or 3, and the the entire sequence would be more aptly titled “Pursuit of Power.” I have sketchy ideas of what should happen in the next book, and I could spend the next 25 days fleshing that out.
    • Pro: I’ve started to have more ideas about what happens to Alexander after the first story ends, so I’m looking forward to delving into this completely uncharted territory.
    • Pro: It also will easily be 50k words, so no worries there.
    • Con: I’m afraid I may have to tear “Pursuit of Power” apart a bit, take out the scenes that relate more to the over-arcing storylines than they do the specific plot of the first book, and knowing that is ahead of me might make it really hard to plot the next story.
    • Con: We’re talking huge, world-altering things that happen after the first “Pursuit of Power” book, and I’m not sure I’m ready to write that yet.
  2. Rewrite “Outcast,” which still only exists in original fanfiction form. Up until recently I thought I could simply revise it into my original world, but I don’t think that’s going to work anymore. And even if it did, I think I would be foolish to do it that way, since I have grown so much as a write from when I wrote it. Because I still consider the story itself to be one of the best I’ve ever written, I have a hard time remembering that the writing could be better.
    • Pro: Because I love the story so much, and one of the main characters is my favorite of all my characters, that could make the writing easier.
    • Pro: The story is really well outlined, because I took the original story and wrote the basic idea of what happens as scene headers in Scrivener. (Same basic plot, but allows for details to change.)
    • Con: Because it’s a work I’ve written before, I may have a very difficult time writing it new, rather than trying to rewrite the scenes exactly as I remember them. I had the same problem at first when I rewrote “Pithea” from its original fanfiction form…and I once thought I could just revise that into my new world too…I don’t know why I keep thinking that. That could definitely slow me down during NaNo, which is not preferable. On the other hand, I rewrote “Pithea” during NaNo in 2013, and it turned out very well.
    • Con: The original version of the story is only 45,000 words, and I don’t have a lot I plan to add…if anything I may have some places that will be shortened. It’s possible that in the next few weeks (or in the course of the writing), I’ll discover some new plot points for the story, but I can’t say for sure.
  3. Spend the rest of October brainstorming ideas from scratch–throw out ideas I already have, maybe even throw out the world I normally write in, and just see where the next few weeks take me.
    • Pro: Starting fresh might be fun for a change, especially if I am starting with an idea that isn’t in the same world I’ve been entrenched in for years, with the same rules.
    • Con: That is exactly what I thought in 2015 when I decided to write a novel that I planned throughout October, and it was set in modern, normal times (my group of stories are set in a futuristic, somewhat dystopian world). I finished the novel halfway through the month, painfully and messily, and then proceeded to finish the month with a story set in my normal world, one that I had planned to write before setting it aside to try something “fresh” for a change.
    • Con: Though I’m getting back to my writing again, I do still work ~20 hours a week, and can’t even guess what the next 3 weeks will bring (my work tends to fluctuate greatly), so if I don’t end up with enough time to work out a new story, but also didn’t spend the time figuring out how to proceed with 1 or 2 above, I will have a terrible NaNo.

I do believe I have talked myself out of number 3. I’m leaning toward number 1. I may work on “Pursuit of Power” (identifying any scenes that may need to be surgically removed) while also brainstorming the answers to questions I have about “Outcast,” which are related to how to make it work in my world. Hopefully sooner, rather than later, I’ll have an official novel to enter on the site.


For anyone out there who is participating in NaNoWriMo, feel free to check out my series of tips and tricks for the month, and also to add me as a writing buddy! (Let me know you came from here, and I’ll add you back!)

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A Little Q&A

These questions come from a post on aliasfaithrivens’ blog. I like reading Q&As like this from people I know, and it’s kind of fun answering them too.

When did you first start writing? Was being a writer something you always aspired to?
I started writing stories in elementary school. I recently dug up one of my first stories, written when I was 10 years old. I don’t know if the hard copy exists somewhere (I suspect it doesn’t), but I’d typed it into my parents’ old Tandy 1000. This was around 1992.

When I was older—somewhere between twelve and fourteen—I wrote a good start on what I had planned to be the first in a series of books for teenagers. That story I still have in several notebooks tucked away.

But apparently in middle and high school, I left fiction writing behind and turned to poetry. I wrote some good, some bad, some uplifting, some angsty poems. And during a creative writing class in high school, I even went as far as to say (in a reflection paper at the end of the class) that though I’d enjoyed writing the short story required for the class, I didn’t think I’d have a reason to write fiction again in the future.

What genre do you write?
Lately, mostly speculative fiction. My main book series seems to have landed squarely on post-apocalyptic science fiction. I wouldn’t normally consider myself a sci-fi writer, though…just sort of happened that way. Outside of this one series, I write more contemporary fiction, sometimes with a Christian bent.

Can you tell us a little about your current work in progress? When did you start working on this project?
It’s actually a weird feeling to not say that my current WIP is “Pithea.” But since that one’s done, it’ll be time to move on soon. I’ll be turning my attention soon to “Pursuit of Power.” This novel is about a young man who becomes suspicious about his dad’s accidental death, starts to dig, and ends up drawing a lot of unwanted attention.

Technically I started working on this in 2009. I wrote most of the first draft during NaNoWriMo that year. Then I re-imagined the story world I’d tried to create and rewrote the story in 2014. The very basics of the original were the same—main characters, their main goals, and a general ending—but it’s a completely different story now.

What was your first piece that you can remember writing? What was it about?

The NickersonsAs I mentioned above, the first piece I remember writing was when I was 10. It was a story about a couple adopting a 10-year-old girl, along with that girl’s best friend, because the girl they were adopting insisted. It was 186 words long. I started writing a sequel that was supposed to be a bit of a mystery, and though I didn’t finish it, it was already longer than the first story. I still remember what was supposed to happen in that story. Maybe I should finish it.

What’s the best part about writing?
There are so many things about writing that I love. If I had to choose one thing, it would be the discovery. The sudden light bulb when a brand new idea strikes, when a blockage is broken through, or when things suddenly become fun again.

What’s the worst part about writing?
In contrast to the previous answer, I think the worst part of writing is when things just aren’t working out. New ideas aren’t flowing, you can’t break through the block, and you feel downright un-creative.

What’s the name of your favorite character and why?
Though Missy would be the logical choice, as the MC of my first novel and a character who will feature or at least appear in more of the rest of the series than any one character (I’m pretty sure, at least), she is still a second to my favorite. His name is Remiel Azrael, and he is one of the main characters in “Outcast.”  Of everything I have written, “Outcast” remains my favorite piece, which I’m sure is part of the reason he became my favorite. I wrote it as fanfiction 7 years ago, and for the moment, it still only exists as fanfiction. It will eventually take place in the same world as “Pithea,” and in fact Missy is a big character in it too. But I just really love Remiel.

How much time a day/week do you get to write? When is the best time for you to write (morning or night)?
Ideally, I have 2-3 hours per night after my youngest goes to bed. Sometimes bedtime is later, or I have other things I have to get to first. Weekends are sometimes a chance for extra time, and sometimes we’re so busy I can barely get any time in.

Did you go to college for writing?
No, I didn’t get re-interested in writing fiction until I started writing fanfiction after my oldest son was born.

What bothers you more: speeling errors; punctuation, errors, or errors for grammar?
I’m not sure one is more bothersome to me than another.

What is the best writing advice that anyone has given you?
Don’t worry about perfection. I’ve read so many articles and blog posts by writers who make it seem like a manuscript will never be ready. It will always need another draft. While it’s true it will never be perfect, just maybe it doesn’t have to be. If I hadn’t read this advice from two different sources, I’m not sure if I would be ready to submit my first novel, or if I’d still be reading through it, looking for things to fix. Or maybe I’d be proceeding like I am, but paranoid that it’s too soon.

What advice would you give to another writer?
Take any writing tips, rules, and advice with a grain of salt. Writing is an art, and what works for one person doesn’t always work for others. Reading blogs about writing is a good thing. It’s good to find out what works for others, especially when you’re new to writing, because most likely something will resound within you. But if it doesn’t feel right, and you’d have to force yourself to adhere to someone’s suggestions…just don’t do it. (Not referring to grammar rules and such.)

What are your favorite writing sites or blogs that you turn to for help, tips or encouragement?
I don’t have any sites in particular. I tend to do online searches when I have questions.

Besides writing, what else do you enjoy doing? What are your hobbies?
I don’t actually have a lot of time for hobbies these days. I enjoy reading, but haven’t finished a book in a while. I like to scrapbook, but that’s been on the backburner for a few years. I don’t even play computer games much anymore. I do like game nights with my family once a month and on holidays, playing board games for hours.

What’s the best book you’ve read this year?
As I mentioned, I haven’t finished a book in a while. I’ve started several, and hope to get back to some of them soon. (I’ve set up a challenge on Goodreads to finish 25 books this year…I should probably get started on that soon.)

What’s the best movie you’ve seen this year?
I actually don’t watch all that many movies. And of those I do watch, including ones I watched at home, I’m not sure I can think back and remember them all (using 2015 for the question, rather than the few days of 2016 so far). I’ll go with Jurassic World.

What is your favorite book or series of all time?
The Oath by Frank Peretti is my favorite book of all time, with Thr3e by Ted Dekker coming in a close second.

The Mandie Books series by Lois Gladys Leppard still holds a special place in my heart, as a series I loved as a kid.

Who is your favorite author?
Frank Peretti

What are your plans for the rest of the year in terms of your writing?
I’m currently working on submitting my first novel to publishers, and have spent the last week or so getting a novelette self-published. When these two things have settled down some, I play to turn my full attention to the beginning revision stages of “Pursuit of Power.”

Where else can we find you online?
Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads (though I created that account only a few days ago)
Amazon Author Page, Story Blog

I never do these tag posts like normal people though, so I’m not tagging anyone. But feel free to share your own answers to any of these questions.

Dream Every Day: Fanfiction That Isn’t

dream plan write

Full disclosure: I used to write fanfiction. A lot. All for one MMORPG called Ragnarok Online, which my husband and I played for around a year. It was where my love for writing fiction resparked, after having dimmed during high school. I’m never sure what’s going to happen when I say I write fanfiction. Plenty of people have no real opinion. Some say they have written or currently are writing fanfiction as well. And some scoff, laugh, roll eyes, or quietly assume the worst about what that means. There are many misconceptions about fanfiction, but that’s not what this post is about.

This post is also not about convincing you to write fanfiction—at least, not precisely.

One of the biggest benefits of fanfiction is that some of the work is already done for you. Characters are already in play, relationships built (or at least started), sometimes a plot is left dangling that you can pick up and run with. At the very least, in the case of a mostly story-less, character-less world like was in the game I wrote for, a setting has already been established—a whole world built, with mechanics in place that I didn’t have to create myself.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying fanfic writers are lazy, but let’s face it—it’s easier to start writing when some of the work has been done. And that’s where I’m going with this post.

As writers, we are often reflections of what we take in. My dad is a blacksmith, and so is my main character’s dad. I have a character that I created long ago who is jovial, always enthusiastic, outgoing, and sometimes annoying; in recent years I actually met someone in real life who reminds me of that character, so now when I write that character, I keep this other person in mind as a guide.

Errol

Now when I write Aeldrim’s dialog, I think to myself, “What would Errol say?”

The same can be said for books we read, movies or television we watch, or even music we listen to.

A major character in my story “Outcast” was partially inspired by Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, mostly in that I decided to give her a physical mark that reminded people of her mistake.

I have grand plans for a dramatic scene in a story that I never finished when I was writing fanfiction (but will likely pick back up someday and finish in my new story world) that was heavily inspired by a song called “Letters From War” by Mark Schultz.

And the entire premise of a short story I wrote years back was drawn upon the question, “What if the girl had to save the guy?” which I asked myself after watching a movie with my sisters. (For years now I’ve been certain it was the movie Last Holiday that led me to that, but after rewatching the climax to that movie, I don’t see how it could have been. So now I’m not sure what the movie was.)

As a whole, writers get ideas and inspiration from everyday life all the time, so none of this is special. Most writers that I talk to seem to always be neck-deep in ideas that they have to choose between when deciding what to work on next. This advice is more about what you can do if you’re looking for new material. A fresh idea, a different direction to take your plot, or a new character to introduce.

In the book Now Write! Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror, there is an article about taking an existing story and simply adding a different element to it. Examples were moving the story to space, adding dragons, setting it in an alternate dimension, or adding time travel. The idea is not to literally rewrite the same story with the same exact plot with that one added element, but to use that as a starting point. Once you start plotting and/or writing, you make it your own. By the time you’re done, it will most likely look very different from the original.

And that is really where I’m going with this post. Take a cue from fanfic writers and let other stories around you inspire you. What you liked or didn’t like about them, what you’d change or how you think it would have continued.

Dream for yourself: For the rest of this post, understand that “story” can refer to any work of fiction in any medium—print, big or small screen (even a single episode out of a series), or audio.

Think of a story you really liked, but just didn’t like the ending. Or wish a character had been given a different side-plot. How would you have done it differently? What would have been better?

Or think of a story you absolutely hated. Starting with the same premise and same characters (or different characters, if they were part of what made the story so horrible), rewrite it so it’s better.

What character do you really despise? I don’t mean the kind that are meant to be hated, but one that fell flat for you. The character who grated on your nerves. Who was meant to be a comic relief but was just stupid. Or maybe one who was indeed an antagonist, but the villain factor was taken too far. Even a protagonist who you just didn’t sympathize with and couldn’t care less if they lived or died. What would you have done differently? How would you have made that character better for the story?

Yes, this is what some fanfiction writers do. But it doesn’t have to turn into literal fanfiction. If you do not purposely hold yourself to the world the original story is set in, you can make it your own. Or simply use these questions to spark an entirely different idea.

So how about you? Are you now or have you ever been a fanfic writer? Have you noticed real life or fictional stories seeping their way into your writing?

Daily Challenge Check-in: July 7, 2015

Words/Time: 3769 words revising “Pithea” with two of my sisters over Skype. Also known as the 46th meeting of the Tri-County Sisterhood of the Traveling Book. We got through just under 13 pages of double-spaced text. That may not sound like much, but there are three of us going over every aspect of this story. It is the most intensive revision I will probably ever do on this book. It’s taken us longer than I’d ever hoped to do this, but we’re around halfway through part 3 of 4, so we’re definitely getting there. And along the way, we’re fixing issues in my story world and solidifying weak characters and plot points. Our average page count for one of these meetings is 5-6, so 13 was great.

The first week of Camp NaNo is over, so here’s a quick update on my progress–my goal for the month is to work for an average of an hour per day on my revision. So far, I’m right on par with that. It’s not nearly as exciting as having a word count to share, but I’m still happy that I haven’t skipped any days for the last week.

The unfortunate truth I have to face now, though, is that I can’t work on “Outcast” equally with “Pithea” this month as I’d hoped. Since my Skype editing group caught up with my own advance editing a month or so ago, I feel like I’m barely keeping ahead. And I need to keep ahead, because I’m making a lot of big changes to areas that I know weren’t good before we get there, so we don’t waste our time on those parts. So for a while, I need to focus only on revising “Pithea” so we don’t run out of material to work on some Tuesday night soon.

Daily Challenge Check-in: July 5, 2015

Words/Time: 3590 words, revising “Outcast.” I’ve run into one area that will take some rethinking to explain in the new story world. It’s not even something that was related to the game I had been writing fanfiction for. The fun of writing fanfiction (at least for the game I used to write it for) is that you can get away with a lot more than you can when you’re writing what’s meant to be set in more of a real-world setting. Basically, based on a friend’s description of a character he wanted me to include in my story, I wrote about a woman who could become invisible. That part’s not the problem, though, as that is actually a thing in my world. But when she used her trick, she sort of always brought a breeze with her. It was supposed to mask the sound she made moving around, but she was the only one who could do it. Now, I have no way to explain her doing this, and really just need to remove that part. However, it’s incorporated into the scene, and won’t be a simple removal. It’s just one paragraph, though, so for now, I’ve marked it to look at later. I was really flying with my work today and didn’t want to slow down to figure this out.

Daily Challenge Check-in: July 3, 2015

Words/Time: 2137 words, revising “Outcast.” So far there haven’t been a lot of changes that I’ve had to make, mostly wording differences. Still, I’m going over it with a fine-toothed comb, to make sure I don’t miss anything. I’ve already revised this story several times, so the change in story world is the biggest thing I’m doing. Later on, that change will require a lot more work than here at the beginning.

Daily Challenge Check-in: July 2, 2015

Words/Time: 1194 words revising “Pithea” with two of my sisters over Skype. Also known as the 45th meeting of the Tri-County Sisterhood of the Traveling Book. We got through just over 5 pages of double-spaced text. We had a much shorter than normal meeting today, going only for an hour than the normal 2-2 1/2 hours. But we moved it later in the week too, and I was glad we were still able to get a meeting in this week.

With Camp NaNo going on, I had planned to work on both “Pithea” and “Outcast” every day. Since I knew I’d get plenty of time in for the day’s goal during the Skype meeting, I decided not to push myself to work on “Outcast” today too. Maybe tomorrow I’ll do only “Outcast” to make up for it.

Daily Challenge Check-in: July 1, 2015

Words/Time: 1 hour & 22 minutes, revising “Pithea” for half and “Outcast” for the other half. “Outcast” is one I have been wanting to work on for a while, but it’s taken a backseat ever since I started work on “Pithea” in 2013. “Pithea” is technically the first book that would need to come out, but “Outcast” is one I wrote 7 years ago as fanfiction, but will need much less rewriting to adapt it to my new story world than anything else I’d written. I don’t have any kind of introduction for it worked up yet, but let me just say that it’s my favorite of anything I’ve ever written. My biggest issue with the adapting so far is how to bring the narrator’s voice into it. I’m not sure if I can do that without forcing it too much.

Camp NaNoWriMo started today, and my goal is to work for around an hour per day, average, throughout the month of July. Because I’ve been anxious to start redoing “Outcast,” I do plan to split that time between that story and “Pithea.” However, I’ll put “Outcast” on the back burner if I need to; we’ll see how it goes.