Thinking About Outlines

I used to be a discovery writer.

When I first started writing 10+ years ago, I was definitely a discovery writer. I have notebooks and notebooks of discovery written stories in a tote in my bedroom. For quite a while, these stories had no structure. These were my characters having adventures, being kidnapped, being tortured (by me– in all seriousness, pretty much all of my characters should’ve died with what I put them through), falling in love, having kids, dying, coming back from the dead, having arguments with family members who tried to kill them…

I’m not sure when I started to integrate some structure. It was instinctive, I think, because I don’t remember ever thinking “oh, something really bad needs to happen almost at the end, where it seems like there is no hope for the main character”. But as I think about this and my past stories, at some point, they did gain low points. They gained inciting incidents. They must have gained character choice at some point, though also subconsciously.

There are very few of those old stories I would go back to. I can think of one, off the top of my head, that I would like to rewrite someday. It was basically four kids find out that two of the village elders are plotting to take over the world and none of the adults believe that, so the kids take it upon themselves to stop the elders. It was a quest. I loved it. I wouldn’t mind revamping it.

These days, I’m having trouble writing. I’m not sure what it is, but I haven’t been able to write a novel since October, when I finished Magic Teacups. It’s not for lack of trying. I’ve started and scrapped several novels. Which I’d like to think is not a problem. Starting and scrapping has always been part of my process. If I’m not interested enough to write more than the number 1 at the top of the page, I shouldn’t write the story. (I have notebook pages that are completely blank except the number 1 at the top of the page.)

But lately, I’m a bit discouraged. There has been a lot of starting and scrapping.

But why? What happened? What do I need to actually get going with a story?

I’m trying to figure that out. Connect the dots between all these scrapped stories and figure out what is missing.

I need certain bits of story.

  1. I need more than just a plot bunny. I need to have more than “Oh that’s a cool idea!”. Because I have more plot bunnies than I do fleshed out stories. Not just novels, either. Short stories 100% apply here, too.
  2. I need to know what happens in between the Choice and the Midpoint. This is a part I keep finding myself struggling with. This is usually when the characters are just beginning their quest and things are just moving right along, but nothing horribly serious has happened yet, all the while working toward the Midpoint when things really do get serious and play time is over. I think too many times, I accidentally imagine a five-minute movie montage when I need to be imagining about 5-10 chapters for a book. I mean, lets face it, watching the Fellowship trek through snowy mountains on screen, doing nothing but trekking, is much more interesting on screen than it is on page. So, how do I fix this? I have goals (plots and subplots) for them to be working toward that can be broken down into steps. If our goal is to get to someplace, then we need chapters of them getting ready to go and then going through several places to get to the final destination.
  3. I need to know how the book starts. This used to not be such a problem. I need to be okay with false starts again.
  4. I need to be okay with discovery writing. I’ve lost my taste for discovery writing. I don’t like outlining every bit of a story, but I need to either go to that extreme and stick with it or I need to make myself not panic when I don’t know what’s going on. I think I may have locked myself into a perfectionist and comparison cycle, thinking this has to be perfect and all the while noting how much faster everyone is writing and how awesome their stories sound and thinking I need to be fast and perfect at the same time… this way lies madness. Don’t come any closer.
  5. I need to have emotional beats I’m looking forward to and can write toward. This is more than just the Choice, the Midpoint, the Low Point, though it certainly does include those things. These are my cookie scenes. The ones I spend the whole time I’m writing looking forward to. I think this is the most important thing. One of my favorite parts of storytelling is being excited about the things my characters are doing and the things I do to them. I love conflict. I love kissing scenes. I love injuring my characters. I love playful bickering between characters. I love emotions. I want my characters to be happy, sad, angry, in love, etc, etc, etc. The newest episode of Writing Excuses (12.22– Hybrid Outlining and Discovery Writing) helped me realize that I need these beats. (And this is a really good episode on outlining, so you should definitely listen to it.)

I don’t think I can use any one of these things as a complete fix-everything. A lot of this is finding my imagination and my willingness to chase it again. What is not that is learning how to plan effectively. Most of this is allowing myself to take time. Time to discover. Time to write. Time to figure out characters and plot.

Any thoughts, reader-peeps?

Kate out.

 

 

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How to Write Your Dragon Kid

Hello, reader-peeps!

Who knows what happens in April?

Camp NaNoWriMo!

And I am 100% insane for thinking I’m going to write a whole book in a month.

Oh well.

I’m really excited about this book. It’s actually an overhaul of a story very near and dear to me.

I’m not saying a thing about it, though. You know me. I keep my mouth shut about WIPs.

But if I actually get it written in a month, it won’t be long before you hear about it.

Now, as I’ve tried to make it a bit of a tradition for NaNo Events, I like to pick a movie character to channel during my writing (mostly just to use the gifs for posts). I’ve done Elsa and Jack Sparrow. This April, I’ve chosen…

Hiccup.

Not so coincidentally, How to Train Your Dragon is a very apt book/movie for me writing this particular book. Though maybe How to Write Your Dragon Kid would be more accurate.

Haha it shouldn't make me laugh but it's hilarious.

No, I didn’t say anything. 😉

Kate out.

Considering

Hi, reader-peeps.

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I have been thinking.

So you might want to duck behind a barricade or something.

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So, I have a story that I started. It’s a romance. I’m pitching it as “What if Aragorn and Arwen’s romance had been more like My Big Fat Greek Wedding?”

Basically, elf girl whose family is steeped in tradition meets a nice human guy when she joins a Dungeons and Dragons group at her local college. They fall in love and want to date and get married. But he’s a human and she’s an elf. Even though elves are no longer immortal, they’re still so different and their families are so different, how could this ever work?

I want this story to be really fun and cute. Elves and D&D (can you imagine an elf actually playing D&D?) and romance and fun dates and awkwardness everywhere.

And I am also thinking about putting this story on Wattpad.

This story is not my usual kind of story. I don’t plan for there to be any kind of adventures or quests or anything like that (well, outside the Dungeons and Dragons games they play). This is going to be straight up fantasy romance.

It’s also a story I’d be okay with never getting published. I usually write stories that I could see getting traditionally published. This is something like a short story I’d post here on the blog, but it’s going to be longer.

I want to write a bit more of it before I start posting. Make sure I actually want to see this through to the end and that I have a good grip on the plot. But after that and a bit of polishing… it may very well be posted to Wattpad and I will let you know when I do.

So! Short post today. Does anyone else post stuff to Wattpad? Any tips for a newbie? Let me know in the comments!

Kate out.

Updates on Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

Hello, reader-peeps.

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We’re off to see the wizard!

I’ve been doing a lot recently. And I thought that it might make a good blog post to tell you some of the things I am doing. (None of these are New Year’s Resolutions, even though they sound like it.)

I’m watching how many carbohydrates I consume a day.

I’m aiming to eat no more than 100 carbs a day. There are health reasons for this, but the main goal is to lose some weight which will help with the other things. Eating less carbs means eating less bread and sugar, mostly. Breakfast time is difficult. Cold cereal is almost completely out. Forget bagels, unless they are mini-bagels or only a half. So breakfast has been mostly eggs with something that doesn’t have many carbs. The only other problem I’ve had with this diet is that I’m hungry a lot. Hopefully that will subside over time. In the mean time, cheese and peanut butter are my friends.

I’m exercising.

This goes with the last point. We have an elliptical and I have been doing 15 minutes on it a day (except today, oops). It’s been… exerting? Which is the point. But since all I have to do is turn on music and start walking, it’s not that bad.

I’m blogging!

See? See I am blogging! 😛

I’m driving!

And I’m getting much better. Hopefully before too long, I will have a license and a job!

I’m reading!

I just finished Save the Cat by Blake Snyder and it is the best book on writing technique that I’ve read (and the only one I’ve read all the way through). I’m currently reading Stephen King’s On Writing, which is have writing book and half memoir. It’s been good so far. I’m also reading Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. I watched the movie in December when I spent a week in Bloomington with Lily J. I enjoyed it so I thought I might enjoy the book as well. Though, I have to wonder as I read it, was this book conceived because of a love for the original Pride and Prejudice or was it hatred for it? Was it a matter of “I can write better than this junk!” or “This is awesome! I wonder what it’d be like with zombies…”? Or was it a dare? A punishment?

If I ever meet the author, I’m asking him.

One thing I’m not doing is writing.

At least for today.

The story I was working on didn’t work out. I don’t have any other plot bunnies begging for my attention.

I seem to go through a lot of plot bunnies before finding the ones that work. Sometimes, this is okay with me because I have another plot bunny that seems better and I immediately go into that one. But this time, there are no plot bunnies.

I think I need to refill my creative bank. So I’m reading. And watching Netflix. And listening to music. I’m exposing myself to stories.

And I’m praying. I know I would not be an author if God had not given me the desire to be one. He has given me plot bunnies since I was little and didn’t even know what plot bunnies were. So, I’m going to pray and trust that God will give me inspiration when He sees fit and not a moment before. I can’t waste time and brain energy worrying that I will never have another good idea again.

Tell me what you’re up to. Have you read or watched P&P&Z? Know any good egg recipes? What do you do when your plot bunny farm becomes dangerously quiet? Let me know in the comments below!

Kate out.

Captain’s Log; Stardate: 1-1-2017

Happy New Year!

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I don’t like New Year’s Resolutions.

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It makes me a bit anxious to plan a whole year ahead. The future can be intimidating sometimes. I prefer taking life one day at a time.

That being said, I like to have things to look forward to and stuff I want to do. For example, I would like to go to Chapter One Con again and this time, all my bestest friends are planning to come to, two of which I’ve never met before outside of the internet because they live so far away.

So, here’s a list of things I would like to do this year. This is just a general list of stuff/goals I’m really looking forward to, no pressure on me and no scary “what ifs” in my head.

  1. I want to write. I want to finish this current novel (which is brand new and I have a really good feeling about this one). This goal is kind of a given. I’m not going to quit writing any time soon.
  2. I want to get my driver’s license. I want to learn how to drive safely and get all the hours I need and then drive me and other people places.
  3. I want a job. I want to put in applications at the various libraries within commuting distance and pray one of them hires me. If I can’t get a library job, I’ll do something else, but I would ultimately love to work at a library.
  4. I want to become more excited about God and the Bible and church. I used to be excited about all this. I want to go back to excitement like that and let that excitement grow.
  5. I want to pray more.
  6. I want to blog more. I realize that I let go of blogging a bit this past year and somehow I now have three blogs I contribute to, two of which I am admin? This blog is still my favorite and I need to be blogging more here. The one I am not admin of (YAvengers) only requires one or two posts a month from me and my Bible Blog could be the same. But I need to be blogging at least once or twice a week here. And I need to get back to replying to comments (I am so sorry, reader-peeps).
  7. I want to read 30 books. That is my official goodreads goal so thirty books I shall read. I “officially” read 32 in 2016.
  8. I want to query. I think I say this every year? As I said earlier, I have a really good feeling about the novel I’m working on now. Or I may edit and query Magic Teacups. Or I may write a short story and query that. Who knows?

This is not an exhaustive list, but it’s a start and I think it’s plenty to work with for now.

What are your want-to-dos for 2017? Happy 2017 to you all!

Kate out.

A Quick Look Back

I just looked at my writerly resolutions post from last year.

I had two goals to finish by the end of the year. Well, two and a half.

The first one and a half was to finish editing LASER and query it. 

Done. Except the querying part. But I realized that this book is not ready and it may never be. And I spent the second half of this year learning to be okay with that.

LASER is like fanfic to me. That is how I am choosing to look at it. It is fanfic of my own created world, but it is still fan fiction. I have no current plans to overhaul it. I’m not counting it as canon yet, either.

But I did finish editing it.

The other goal was to write a new story and possibly finish the first draft.

And I did do that. I wrote Magic Teacups.

Working title.

And I really like this story. It’s far from perfect but my writing is getting better. And those two things are what matter right now.

Kate out.

Yo-Ho, Yo-Ho, A Writer’s Life For Me

Hi, reader-peeps.

I think I have quit NaNo.

Which is the first time I’ve ever done that.

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There are quite a few reasons, actually.

It just sort of happened is a good reason. I didn’t mean to quit NaNo, but at some point, I got stuck and then kinda stopped caring about it.

I have been behind since Day 2.

My current word count is under 10K. Which… the word count never mattered.

Lack of sanity. Or maybe that’s lack of insanity.

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I choose no more tears, headaches, and overdose of caffeine this month. I am not going to make myself miserable.

I choose to step back and work through plot holes instead of forcing them to move with word vomit.

I choose quality over quantity.

I chose to spend time with my grandmother and aunt, both of whom I love dearly, who were here for only a few days.

I am lonely. In the years of NaNoWriMo leading up to this one, word wars and fun conversations and encouragement from friends were always there and this year, they aren’t. Now, I know people are busy and stuff, so they can’t do NaNo or whatever. I get that.

But for me, without friends, NaNoWriMo has lost it’s magic. And for me, NaNo has always been a tradition of positive peer pressure to write. Without the peers positively pressuring me, it’s kind of pointless.

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I know a lot of people are against saying they have “quit” something. I’m not going to sugarcoat this or anything and say that I am “resigning” or “withdrawing myself”.

I have quit.

And now, I plan to spend the rest of the month enjoying my baby sister’s birthday, Thanksgiving, however many times my oldest sister’s boyfriend shows up, watching Gilmore Girls on Netflix, getting ready for Christmas, and writing at my own pace with no pressure, learning to love this story.

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Image result for jack sparrow gifs bring me that horizon

Kate out.

NaNoWriMo Update: This… Isn’t Going to Work

Hi, reader-peeps.

NaNo is going pretty well. Except for one teeny, weeny little detail.

I am 10,000 words behind.

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Which… is this really a problem?

Yes, I could catch up. It will involve lots of writing (just over 2K a day). Last November, I fell behind on day 10, changed novels on day 13, finally got caught up on about day 27. So, yes, I am capable of catching up.

But the story is going well! Slow but well. Really well, in fact. Yeah, not perfect, but I like it.

So… is it worth trying to catch up and “finish” NaNo?

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I really feel like I could win. And if I decide not to shoot for 50K, I will still use NaNo as positive peer pressure (there has got to be a better way to put that, but what else would you call it? You have Thousands of People all writing together, encouraging each other to do the same.).

But is it worth the risk of possibly coming up with a story I don’t love (which happened last year) to try to “finish” NaNo?

And how do I write 2K a day?

Image result for jack sparrow gifsKate out.

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.