Free Thoughts on The Continental Congress

I’m entirely kidding, by the way. And now I’ve got Farmer Refuted going through my head…

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Hear ye!

Hi, reader-peeps.

It’s been quiet here for over a week, as I’m sure you’re aware.

Today, I’d like to talk about beginnings. And NaNoWriMo.

The story I wrote for NaNoWriMo 2011 was a lot of beginnings.

It was my first NaNoWriMo.

It was my first urban fantasy.

It was the first thing of mine that really got critiqued.

In a way, this story helped me become friends with two of my best friends.

It was one of the first things of mine that my mom read. Definitely the first “novel”.

This story was going to be a series of five books. It had my first “story playlist”. It eventually led to me writing LASER, a prequel about the MC’s mother.

The Curse Fulfilled was a lot of firsts and beginnings. And I am still very attached to that novel. I get sentimental about it every now and then and wonder if I should check on it and ask if it wants to get coffee and talk sometime and maybe talk about getting a rewrite.

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I’m not giving up on Drake, the main character of TCF.

But I don’t think I’m ready to go back. Not yet.

For one thing, I don’t actually know what Drake’s story is. Writing LASER, author fanfic it may be, changed things.

For another, I don’t think I’m quite ready to look at his story and acknowledge what didn’t work so I can figure out what will.

If we include LASER, I’ve been working on Drake for 5 years.

That is a long time. And like I said when I finished LASER and decided not to query with it, I need some distance from it. From Drake and his family and friends and problems.

I am not giving up on Drake. I don’t know when I’m going back, but I am not giving up on him.

On that note, the NaNoWriMo Young Writer’s Program site got a makeover! They’ve been talking about it for YEARS and the site looks awesome and if I weren’t 25 and well out of high school, I would totally make a new account. If you are still in high school or at least under the age of 20, you should go sign up.

Moving on to NaNoWriMo things, this year, I may revert back to high fantasy. At least in world-building terms. I have one idea I’m currently plotting but no promises, as this is the third potential next novel since I finished Magic Teacups a week and a half ago. (Ta-da! There’s the title! 😉 )

No matter what the novel is, I want to try to focus on characters– their emotions and their arcs and what they’re thinking and doing. This is an area that needs some work and I’m going to work on it.

I don’t know that I will aim for 50K. I know it’s possible for me to write 50K in a month, but I also know that it’s not very allowing of time to work through story problems. Plus, my other grandmother is coming (YAY I LOVE GRANDMA) in November (like two weeks) and I want to spend time with her.

One last thing. You know how last year, my NaNoWriMo theme on the blog was kind of Frozen/Elsa? I think I’ve decided on a the “theme” for this year’s NaNo posts…

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Kate out.

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The Writing Journals– The End of All Things

Welcome to my series, The Writing Journals.

A companion series to The Editing Diaries, The Writing Journals is me talking about writing and complaining about writing and mostly giving general updates on how it’s going as I write this first draft. I don’t plan to talk much about the actual story I’m writing, as I try not to share all my excitement now and here, but instead pouring it into the story. So, no spoilers, sweetie. Now run.

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Hi, reader-peeps.

Image result for lord of the rings gif it's over

Yeah. The first draft of my new novel is done.

 

 

That is all.

Kate out.

The Writing Journals– Trying To Write Like I’m Running Out of Time

Welcome to my series, The Writing Journals.

A companion series to The Editing Diaries, The Writing Journals is me talking about writing and complaining about writing and mostly giving general updates on how it’s going as I write this first draft. I don’t plan to talk much about the actual story I’m writing, as I try not to share all my excitement now and here, but instead pouring it into the story. So, no spoilers, sweetie. Now run.

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Hi, reader-peeps.

So. The writing is going really well. I’m just over 21K and while I’m not making fabulous progress, I am making progress.

Part of making progress is learning to just write and enjoy the process and don’t worry about how long it’s going to take.

I mean, I don’t want to spend a huge amount of time finishing up this first draft. I’ve been working on it since late July/early August. But three or four months isn’t that long of a time to write a first draft.

Yeah, you hear of writers all over the place writing a first draft in a month, a few weeks, a few days even. But last time I tried to write a novel in a month, I succeeded in writing 50k, but also writing something I have no desire to go back and edit.

I want to enjoy editing. I want to love a story so much that I can’t help but edit it so I can share it with other people.

It’s hard to love a story when I’m writing at 88 miles per hour.

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I love that I have so many friends that can write so fast. That’s more chances that I get to read the awesome stories you write. You’re always working on something, always turning out something new and I wonder how on earth you’re doing it.

I also have many friends who write large word counts.

I also have friends whose novels don’t seem to need that much editing…

Sometimes, all three of these things coincide. A quickly written novel that is huge and doesn’t seem to need a bunch of editing.

Yes, yes, I’m naive.

All this to say that it doesn’t matter how long it takes to finish any draft. You are not running out of time. You are still young, especially by publishing standard. Writing doesn’t have an age or a time limit. Does it feel like that sometimes? Absolutely. But you know what? Feeling something doesn’t make it true.

Take your time and do it right. Write this story so it’s something you love and something you know is good. Don’t compare your productivity to the productivity of others.

You do not have to be Alexander Hamilton, writing like you are running out of time.

You also don’t need to worry about word count.

I have written 21K of this story. I’ve written the Midpoint. So this book should end up around 40K-ish. Which is not the 50K I was shooting for. Better still, I have figured out the rest of the story (except post-Climax) and I’m not sure if I can stretch this for 20K more.

But you know what?

YOU DON’T NEED TO WORRY ABOUT WORD COUNT, KATIE.

This is a first draft. If you decide to edit it, you can add detail and whatnot to get a higher word count.

Just tell the story.

With that, I close. I have to finish this story. And I have to do it right. (You may not hear from me here for a couple weeks while I finish this, by the way.)

Kate out.

The Writing Journals– A Journey in the Dark

Welcome to my series, The Writing Journals.

A companion series to The Editing Diaries, The Writing Journals is me talking about writing and complaining about writing and mostly giving general updates on how it’s going as I write this first draft. I don’t plan to talk much about the actual story I’m writing, as I try not to share all my excitement now and here, but instead pouring it into the story. So, no spoilers, sweetie. Now run.

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(Today being one of my favorite holidays (it’s Hobbit Day!!!), I wanted to incorporate hobbits and LOTR into the post somehow. Second breakfast for those who get the references! There are 5, not including gifs or videos. See how many you can find!)

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Hi, reader-peeps!

Writing this novel has had it’s ups and downs, more ups though recently, which is nice.

I’ve dropped out of the Pacemaker regime. The thing about me and daily goals is that, as long as I’m on time or ahead, I can work just fine. But if I fall behind and falling behind was actually a necessary thing to do– I fall behind especially when I’m stuck– then the plan doesn’t do really anything except stress me out.

This is why NaNo tends to be too stressful. Not only can I not usually write 50K in such a short time, but NaNo also leaves no room to work through problems. And writing should not be stressful. It should be merry.

Perhaps the worst problems for writing happen in between  The Choice and the Midpoint. We know what the story is; the character has made the choice to carry the Ring to Mordor. The Midpoint is the middle of the story when we know the main character has to make another choice, moves from reaction to action, we start getting answers, and it’s almost like a miniature Low Point. Hey, we may even have brilliant ideas for what’s going to happen at the low point, when all the bad things we set up crash down and all seems lost.

But what about what happens after the character has decided to have a story but we aren’t to the midpoint yet?

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I have gotten stuck before at this point. I have put at least one novel aside because of this problem (anyone remember Short Circuited?). And with this novel, the challenge of getting through this spot was harder.

Sometimes, you can add another plot line and that will help. And I really didn’t have another plot line that I wanted to add. Anything would have to be added to the rest of the story and nothing really excited me enough.

So I had to fill the hole with ways my MC was carrying out her choice. I already had a few things figured out but I didn’t think I could stretch those things as far as I needed. Those things would be stretched too thin, like butter over too much bread. Also, I’m a bare bones writer.

This is when my critique partners are amazing. I sent a message to my Samwise, Lily J. She knows the most about this story at this point (besides me, obviously). I told her what I was planning and asked if she had any ideas for other things that needed to be done.

She had a great idea and all the sudden, ideas started flowing and I’m not stuck anymore. I’ve figured out the things I’m going to write before the Midpoint.

And that’s how the past couple weeks of writing have gone. I still plan to be done by sometime in mid-October, but I did find out that my Grandma is going to be here from the 6th to the 20th. So… we’ll see.

If you want more hobbit-y fun to celebrate Hobbit Day, watch this video:

Also, check out my post from a couple years ago about Sam Gamgee.

Happy Hobbit Day!!!

Kate out.

 

The Writing Journals– Let’s Start at the Very Beginning

Welcome to my series, The Writing Journals.

A companion series to The Editing Diaries, The Writing Journals is me talking about writing and complaining about writing and mostly giving general updates on how it’s going as I write this first draft. I don’t plan to talk much about the actual story I’m writing, as I try not to share all my excitement now and here, but instead pouring it into the story. So, no spoilers, sweetie. Now run.

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Okay, the title is a bit misleading. I am not going to start at the very beginning. That would involve telling you about the original plot bunny and how I got from that to the story I have now. Which would involve me telling you about the story and I just got done writing that disclaimer. So, no.

Let’s talk about plotting, instead.

Plotting? I thought you were a pantser, Katie?

That… is an interesting point.

It’s been a very long time since I was a complete pantser. Several years, at least. I’m not entirely sure I can pinpoint the story when I started making lists of things I wanted to happen. I do know that by the time I was writing TCF (LASER‘s predecessor) five years ago, I was making lists of what happened in order of when it happened.

I don’t think I can call myself a pantser. In fact, when I try to “pants”, my characters ramble and do stuff like make me their older sister. Looking at you, Nick Elliot.

But I can’t call myself a plotter, either. Plotter implies that I have everything planned out. I don’t. Plotting and outlining chokes me. I feel too constrained.

I am both plotter and panster. I do not outline the entire story before I start. Once I have enough to work with, it’s full steam ahead. Sometimes, it’s full steam ahead before that, but that usually results in backtracking and discouragement and evaluating if I actually want to write this story and reminding myself that it sometimes takes a few false starts.

But once I get started, magic happens. I start thinking of awesome scenes. I start filling in blanks. I start planning ways that my characters are going to get injured. *cough* Sorry, Ben.  I find the things I’m excited about writing. I find the plot twists that are going to knock people’s socks off. I find magic M&M cookies. (We’ll get to those in a minute.)
I’ve talked before on how I outline scenes. Sometimes, my mind will get a bit scrambled and I get overwhelmed, so I take a minute and write a mini-outline of the scene, including any bits I need to remember (Like include the foreshadowing or something). That usually knocks things loose for me and I’m able to write.

Sometimes, though, I still can’t get the scene out.

Sometimes, this is pure laziness. This is part of the reason I started using Pacemaker and Habitica to get it done. Pacemaker works kind of like the NaNoWriMo stats, where you get so much done and it tells you how much you need to write the next day. Only with Pacemaker, you can choose to not write certain days of the week and such and it still gets you through. You also don’t have to write a consistent number or an overwhelming amount in one month. (I’m not getting paid to advertise or anything– I just adore this program.)

When it’s laziness, another thing that helps most of the time is a word war. But with school starting back up, a lot of my word war peeps are… well, back at school.

Sometimes, you just have to bite the bullet, stop worrying about what your internal editor thinks (lock her in a closet), and write.

What do you do if you still can’t find the words?

Look for magic M&M cookies.

These look a bit messy… but it is a first draft, yes?

This is a mixing of two metaphors by Susan Dennard and Patricia C. Wrede.

Susan Dennard’s post talks about finding the magical cookies in a scene and really the whole story, magical cookies being the things you’re excited about in a scene. She also says that every scene should be a magical cookie scene or it needs to go.

Patricia Wrede’s post talks about how there’s no such thing as a perfect hook to get reader’s stuck through the end of the book and instead, you should be leaving a trail of M&M’s for them to follow.

Now, one of these is obviously about writing for yourself and the other is about writing for readers. BUT. Emotions of authors come through writing. And that includes boredom. Readers can tell that you were bored while writing a scene. SO. What do you do?

Make magic M&M cookies. Find the reason you are excited about this scene and find the reason readers will want to keep reading. If those are the same reasons, then great!

So. Let’s say you’ve done all this and you are, for whatever reason, still stuck. What do you do?

Jump ahead. Skip whatever it is you’re stuck on and move ahead.

Don’t look at me like that.

Seriously, write yourself a note. Like this:

skip ahead

There is nothing wrong with skipping ahead. I’ve already done it and I’m only on Chapter 4 and less than 6K in. And here’s the thing with skipping ahead. Most of the time, I fill in the gaps before it gets to alpha-readers. Most of the gaps. Did I fill in all the gaps in LASER, alphas? I know I did eventually…

So. That’s my post on plotting. I think I’ll call myself a discovery plotter– I plot a bit, write a bit, panic, plot, write, OH MY WORD PROCESSOR THAT IS A FABULOUS PLOT BUNNY, WHAT IF THIS HAPPENS, write, OH MY POOR CHARACTERS I’M SO NOT SORRY, write…  and the cycle just keeps going.

Kate out.

I’ve Been Thinking (so you might want to duck behind a barricade or something)

Hi, reader-peeps.

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I’ve noticed that the blogging schedule has been… erratic of late. Which is not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s not good when I can’t think of what to post.

I could go around the internet a steal tags…

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but I’ve had a better idea. At least for the time being.

I have a new story I’m working on (no details yet– I’m only 4K in). I’m still in the first drafting stage.

I have a goal of being done with this first draft by October 15th, which is 51 days of writing like I’m running out of time. I’m trying out Pacemaker, a writing goal program, and doing it with Habitica to help me get it done. If I get this draft done by then, I will have two weeks to plan something new before NaNoWriMo starts.

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And I think that The Editing Diaries needs a companion series, don’t you?

Announcing…

The Writing Journals.

I’m going to chronicle this journey through this first draft. You won’t find out much about the story, because I’m vague during first drafts, lest I lose my excitement. The story is going to be cryptically referred to as ECAET. The title is not actually an acronym, but that’s what you guys are getting for now. (I’m not even sure that’s the title, but it’s one of the two pet names I have for the story.)

So. Long story short: more blog posts, more writing, and October 15th is the goal.

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Kate out.