Plotting? Never! (And other stuff)

Hey there, folks! Time for a few thoughts on…stuff. (Wow, I is articulate.)

:: In the current WIP, I have reached what I think is roughly the halfway point. I hope so, anyway — I would really like to be able to finish this work in October and get right onto the next thing in November for NaNoWriMo.

At the halfway point of the WIP, I am outlining the rest. #amwriting

To that end, I am shifting from my “pantsing” approach to “plotting”. I have noticed, during the last several WIPs, that I’m slowly adopting a hybrid approach to the age-old question of whether I plot things out or write by the seat of my pants. It seems that I start off writing by the seat of my pants, merrily getting my characters into a bit of a pickle, and then I step back and start plotting as I figure out how they get out of said pickle. This seems to be paying the most dividends as I write.

When I get to the plotting stage, this is when I step away from the computer and whip out the pads and pens. Plotting on paper feels good, and the act of writing longhand a bit — even if it’s notes and rough-sketch stuff — lends a different feel to the proceedings. I’m a big fan of changing up the routine a bit, once in a while. It keeps the entire enterprise fresh.

And if anyone’s wondering, there’s a reason the word in caps in my notes above is DEATH. This particular story does not turn out well for most of the participants.

:: I’m starting to get notes back from Beta Readers and proofreaders for FORGOTTEN STARS III, so Huzzah!!! I don’t think I’m going to have the book out as early as I’ve had the last two out, but it will be out by mid-December at the latest. I’d like to be ready by November, but I’m not sure. We’ll see. So much time and so little to do — wait, scratch that. Reverse it.

:: Ksenia Anske on making sentences “turn”:

I was going to write you a whole whiny post on how I can’t sleep, and how writers and sleep are enemies, but my brain decided otherwise. I keep discovering new things every day, it seems, and this particular one helped me today in writing killer sentences. So of course I had to share it with you. Remember the post on having every sentence turn? Well, it’s even deeper than that. Turns out, a sentence can turn three ways, and it’s up to you which way you want to turn it, and according to the way you turn it, you can either rope your reader into suspense or have them relax. This is scary stuff. Scary powerful, I mean. It teaches you how to manipulate your reader, which of course is what we writers do. But I had no idea about this! And now that I know, I can’t write the way I used to anymore. I see it everywhere.

Very much worth reading! I confess that I do not understand all of it.

:: Sara Letorneau on doubt:

No writer (or anyone pursuing their dreams) is immune to the monsters of doubt. At any time during our process, we might lose faith in our story, our characters, even our own abilities. And when we do, the effects can cripple us, sometimes to the point of giving up.

I tend to…well, I can’t ignore doubt, but I note its presence and tell it to sit in the corner while I work. Mainly it’s because I genuinely don’t know how to do anything other than write.

:: Briana Mae Morgan on carving out time to write:

The thing about writing is that it’s almost never convenient. You never have time to write. Even when I worked from home, I found about a thousand other things to do besides writing. You do have to make time to write if you want to get serious about writing. Although the word “make” bothers me, because it’s more about finding the time. In today’s post, I’m sharing how I learned to use pockets of time to meet my daily writing goals.

I note that she references the new mobile version of Scrivener for iPhone and iPad devices. I gotta say…look, I’m a Scrivener fan and I use it faithfully now, but the fact that the Apple users get the really good stuff, despite being outnumbered by both Windows and Android users, kind of irritates me. Scrivener is not a huge project being developed by a company with deep pockets. I get it…but still. I want the good stuff, too!

:: John Scalzi on how we present ourselves in real life versus how we do so online:

Over on Facebook, a person who claims to have met and interacted with me (and he may have! I meet and interact with a lot of people) suggests that he wouldn’t want to associate with me because, among other things, there’s a difference between how I present myself online and how I present myself offline, which this fellow takes to mean that I say things here, that I wouldn’t say there. Which means, apparently, that I’m false/dissembling/a coward and so on.

Interesting. I wrote some months ago about my approach to social media, and I do find that I “present” differently in various spaces, owing more (I think) to the way the different communities function than out of any intent to mask aspects of my character or whatever. I mean, it’s pretty easy to follow some links and see other aspects of my character at play. I swear more on Twitter these days than I used to, and I’m unlikely to geek out in this space about Star Wars or my eternal fascination with bib overalls and/or pie throwing, but hey, that stuff is out there if you look around. Anyway….

:: Finally, I turned 45 the other day! Why not celebrate by buying a book?

If a writer can't push their books on their birthday, why have birthdays! #amwriting #indiebooksbeseen #indiebooks #sciencefiction #spaceopera

See you around the Galaxy!

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Taking Stock: August 2016

So August is done and September is here! So where am I, especially in light of the goals I’ve espoused for the next chunk of time?

Well, in August I wrote 32,474 words for an average output of 1047 words a day. That ain’t bad, especially considering that I had several days of very low output and one outright zero-words day (owing to an overnight trip we took to attend the Sterling Renaissance Festival and to go to the Erie County Fair). There were also some struggle-days as I wrestled with the climax of Through the Pale Door, but I eventually figured most of that out and got the thing finished. So I had set my deadline to finish that draft at August 31, and I just made it. Huzzah! I even had time to leave myself some editing notes, because this draft is, shall we say, lumpy. It’s going to need some heavy lifting at edit-time to get it seaworthy. But that’s OK.

With two-thirds of the year gone, and with my favorite time of year stepping up to the plate, where am I for 2016? Well, as of August 31 I have written over 241,000 words of fiction (not including blogging, tweeting, Facebook babbling, and stuff on Tumblr), and I have written the words “THE END” twice, which is nice. It’s good that I’ve found the one area of life where I can be considered a workaholic, I suppose.

So what’s next? Well, the next “big” thing I want to do is the first book in my new space opera series (which doesn’t have a title, or even a Not-the-actual-title, yet). I don’t have enough of the background work done on that book yet, though, to get into it, and in any event, I kind of want to save that project for this year’s NaNoWriMo, in which I will attempt to break past my .500 record for the last four years. (I opened my NaNo career with wins in 2012 and 2013, but I lost in 2014 and 2015.) However, I don’t want to draft nothing at all in the two-month meantime (and I’m still waiting for beta-reads and editing notes to come back on Amongst the Stars), so…I’m trying something different.

[ASIDE: Hey, as of RIGHT NOW AS I WRITE THIS, I’ve come up with the Not-the-Actual-Title for the new space opera book. It will be code-named Lightning Bug, for reasons that are totally NOT obvious in ANY way. Uh-uh.]

Or I’m returning to something old. Depends on which way you look at it.

My first NaNoWriMo project was a supernatural adventure story involving a doomed kayaking expedition to a legendarily impossible-to-run river in the northern Yukon. While I got about 70,000 words written of it, I had to set it aside after a while because I wasn’t sure where it was going and I was up against the need to edit Stardancer, which I was on the verge of releasing – or maybe I felt the need to get going on The Wisdomfold Path – hmmm, I’m not really sure, maybe it was both. Anyway, this story never got finished, so I’m taking another whack at it right now, with an eye to keeping it short. Or at least, short for me.

Between September and October, I have sixty-one days to work with, because on November 1 I will be starting Lightning Bug (not the actual title), and I’d like to not have another unfinished version of the same story sitting out there. So my goal is to bring this story in under 60,000 words. At my usual 1000 words/day quota, I should have just enough time to pull this off. I usually don’t worry so much about word-count goals, but this is a new challenge, and new challenges are pretty cool, aren’t they?

It helps that I have the previous draft to use as reference. I am reworking quite a bit of it, albeit typing it anew rather than trying to edit the old. Once this is done, well, who knows. But it’ll be another story of mine in the hopper, awaiting a future engagement.

And just think, someday you lucky folks will be able to read all this stuff! That’s why I’m doing all this.

So, if you’ll excuse me….

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