Friday, October 30, 2009

30 Days of Insanity

Here it comes.
NaNoWriMo!

I am all set to go.

This year looks good. I have a story I am excited about. It has been tempting to not do the contest and just start writing. But I held off.

My local group has their write ins planned. The same coffee shop as last year, so I know my creative juices will be flowing! Also added at least one breakfast write in, for us early risers. I will go to more this year. Because they were a great way to get motivated.

So what now?

Everything is ready. I have my dropbox account all linked up. For any unforeseen hard drive failures. I got my little coffee maker working. I have a partner this year too. My husband is also attempting to write. It should be nice to have someone else in the house that understands the insanity. Or all hell will break out. One of the two.

But this year I am doing more than just writing. I am also taking a writing class. I am editing an earlier story. And possibly still writing the start of the second series (although that one can be put on hold for a little while) So I am stretching my self thin.

I thought it would be too much. But in my little group we have the college students with full work loads. A few people with major health issues. And professional writers. When I compare what I am doing to the others in my group. My workload suddenly doesn't seem too bad.

So here's to another NaNoWriMo. I hope we all hit our 50,000. And my posts will make more sense in December.

Thanks for Stopping By.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Enough theory! What are you writing about?

So what the heck am I writing about?

It's a horror/sci-fi modern fantasy. Sounds so grand, doesn't it?

The main plot deal with a group of vampires in a particular city. They are loner vampires, not part of any coven, or any other type of group of vampires, but they come together after an artifact is discovered.

These vampires have to fight off others to protect themselves and the artifact. They discover something much larger than the normal vampire turf wars is in the works. Something that will affect all vampires and possibly humans as well.

This is a large story so I have planned it over at least eight books. But to be nice to myself and the readers, I am breaking it down into a couple of series. That way I won't be overwhelmed and the reader won't have to read all of them to get the idea what is going on.

The first series is done, at least rough draft form. The prequel will be started on November 1st.

The prequel will bring the sci-fi element to the story. It takes place 30 to 50 years before the first series. It is about two of the main characters being captured and kept in a government lab. But they are not the subjects of the experiments. They are wanted for an exploration of something found deep with in the Earth. I was influenced by the conspiracy theories of alien control, hollow earth, and new world order.

The first series deals with the four vampires that are brought together when one discovers an artifact. What the artifact is and why it suddenly becomes important for vampires survival is the over all plot of the first series.

The next series is just in idea form, but basically the vampires find out that they have to change, to protect not just themselves.

The side series is about the werewolf side of the story. In the over all large plot of the series, there is a reason why the werewolves and vampires have to come together and join sides.

So there is the rough sketch of what I am working on right now.

The ones that are in the works are:
First book of the first series: First edit stage.
Prequel: Planned out and ready to roll.
First book of the side series: Halfway through rough draft.

How do I keep all this straight?

Computer post it notes! My little linux machine had the program already installed and it has saved me from opening up another text file just to make notes. Those of you that use windows could try this program Simple Sticky Notes 1.1

That's it for now.
Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Writing and Editing My Way.

For the longest time I loved to write, but I had no direction. There are piles of notebooks sitting in my house, with little vignettes of stories inside. Folders on my computer filled with one to ten page pieces of stories, or notes. That was all I did. It was a hobby. Nothing more.

Then I wrote a 50,000 word novel in a month. I could do it! That one will probably never be read by anyone. That was not the point of writing it. The point was to prove to myself I could do it.

But now for the other hard part. Editing. A path I am just starting to take. I have tried other methods that have been suggested on the internet, but finally came up with my own.

Writing is like drawing.

Huh?

The first draft I make is a rough draft. I compare it to the sketch an artist uses when they first come up with the idea. That sketch could be nothing more than a circle with two lines drawn through it. Showing where the eyes and bridge of the face lie. That's how I look at my rough draft. A place holder for the ideas. At this point I am not worried about chapters, headings, or even if I have all the commas in the right place.

The second draft is to flesh things out, and to make the connections more clearer. Clean up the long passages of narratives, add more of the five senses to the scenes, not just what the characters see. Like the artist, who will take that circle and place the rest of the features of the face in. This time around I am looking to expand. Not necessarily doubling my work, but filling in the gaps. I also wait at least a month (up to a year) between the time I do the rough draft and the second draft. I want the story out of my head, before I read it again. That way it is fresh to me.

The third draft. The mechanical draft. This is where I pay attention to all the little details. The i's and t's and the periods. I may have caught some of it during the second draft. But this read through is not about substance, its about style. Does what happen on page 12 really relate to what happen on page 200? If not, I have to fix it. Back to the artist. This is where they are cleaning up the stray lines. They are starting their shading. The picture is almost complete.

Final draft. Wait another month. Read it like it's a new book. See if all flows together. Now we work on getting it ready to be published. If the previous steps have to be redone, then do it. The artist at this point will take another look at his work, and start adding more depth. But when he or she steps away this time, the work is done.

And now my novel is done.

That is how I look upon writing. It has really helped me get organized and complete my stories. I hope it helps someone else too.

Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Swtiching Gears

Interesting developments this week. It's not Monday, but I can't wait to share.

1. Finished off my planned 4th story of my 1st series and realized that the main focus the series was missing in that story. I put a note down about that, so when I go back to edit I can work that out better.

2. Started the second series. Moving slow, but making headway everyday.

3. Second week of my writer's class. Now, I am getting motivated to edit more.

4. Speaking of editing. I have also started to edit the rough draft of the 1st story of the 1st series. Right now working on getting rid of the narratives and putting more action in. Here is an example of what I did.

Originally:
She just kept walking. Vincent didn't say anything else. At the nightclub, Beka excused herself from the rest of the night and went upstairs to her apartment. She laid down on her couch.

Now it became"

Vincent didn't say anything else. They walked back in silence. At the door, Beka got a few strange glances from people waiting to get in, as she walked passed the bouncer cage, with just a nod from Swen. Vincent left her at the dance floor. Beka walked over to the bar.

Lorelei, John's long time girlfriend was tending the bar tonight. Her purple and pink hair was glowing in the black lights that they had behind the bar. As Beka walked behind the bar, to take the back way up to her apartment. Lorelei quickly put down a drink and followed Beka in the back.

"You okay?" Lorelei asked.

Beka just wanted to hide. She didn't want to talk right now. "I need to lay down." She told Lorelei.

Lorelei tilted her head. Her silver jewelry making small tinkling noises as she did. "Andi said you looked like you were very upset."

Beka turned her head away, so Lorelei couldn't see her face. She could feel her face turning hot out of embarrassment and anger. Why did they care? She thought.

"I just have a nasty headache." Beka lied.

"Alrighty," Lorelei said. She reached into her back pocket. "This is some tea Cassie brought over tonight. It's supposed to help with headaches."

She handed the small packet out to Beka. Beka took it without turning her head too much. Then she hurried to the back of the club to the stairs to the apartments above.

In her apartment, Beka smelt the tea bag. It smelt like everything in Cassie's store; patchouli and cinnamon. Beka laid the bag down on her table, strewn with computer books and a few hard drives. Beka walked to her living room and threw herself on the couch. The springs protested.
It's amazing what you can milk out of your rough drafts. But reading it again, I can see where I still need to work on it.

Thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Why I don't outline...

I don't outline.

I can already hear some other writers cringing. What do you mean you do not outline your stories? I don't. I have found, that I write better without an outline. I have tried outlining in the past, but then it felt like I was writing a term paper. It wasn't fun. Writing is hard work, but it should be fun too.

Does this mean you don't work out a plot?
No, but when I come up with the idea. I come up with the one to sentence idea first, then expand on it. This is how.

The idea I get one morning drinking tea is; Fluffy Bunny saves the Day, by taking out the Bad Hamsters. (Silly idea, but bare with me)

Immediately, I think, who is Fluffy Bunny? I let my imagination work overtime and come up with it's a woman who is the mascot for her college team. The mascot happens to be a large rabbit. I jot that down.

Who are the Bad Hamsters? For some reason a gang of bored teenagers comes to mind. They brag on the internet about their 'pranks' by using the name Bad Hamsters. That note goes down too.

Now I come up with 2 to 6 major plot points. Things i would like to make sure get into the story. In this case;
  1. Fluffy Bunny just happened to be at the right place at the right time, due to a daily annoyance.
  2. Her younger brother is a member of the Bad Hamsters.
  3. Fluffy Bunny's boyfriend is the target of a new prank.
  4. The leader of the Bad Hamsters is pushing the kids to become more criminal.
That's good enough for now.

Taking those notes I come up with the younger brother, her boyfriend, and the ring leader. Then the setting, which would have to be a college town. I try not to come up with too much information, unless I need it for the story.

That is the extent of my planning of the novel. I might have an ending, or I might not, but as long as I take the characters from point A to point B, and may a few side trips along the way. It works for me.

The only time I put more work into my stories, is if I am writing something I am unfamiliar with. Such as if Fluffy Bunny's boyfriend worked at an investment firm. I would have to read up on what he would be doing there, and get a good enough grasp on the workings to make it look like I know what I am writing about.

For me, a good story has to be organic. That is why the plot is so vague when I start to write. Some stories have come out of a scene that would pop in my head. I would write it down to use later, and suddenly it's expanded to a full story. If I would have stopped and tried to outline; I would have lost that spark that hit me in the first place.

BTW if you like this story idea, run with it, but send me a copy and credit me somewhere.

Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Losing weight and writing, both uphill battles.

While I have been writing like crazy. I have also been working on loosing my weight. Two of the hardest things a person could under take in their lives. I was 297 pounds when I began; a size 26, and walking was starting to become difficult. As I write this I am 220 pounds, a size 16, and just joined the Y. I am only halfway to my goal.

So what does this have to do with writing. The same goal and commitment mind set I have used to loose that weight; is what I needed to sit down and get these stories completed.

It all comes down to setting manageable goals, and sticking to them.

With my weight. I have a certain number of calories per day. I also try watch my fat percentage and fiber grams. That's it. Sounds easy. Not really. You have to reteach yourself to eat, again. Resizing portions, getting two servings of vegetables into every meal, making sure you budget for that glass of wine or that coffee and biscotti. Actually, it hasn't been too bad. I don't have any forbidden foods, just foods that I have to figure into my budget. The goals are easy to understand, without any weird rules to follow, such as no eating after 8 pm on a full moon.

With the writing. My first goal was to get a rough draft down. Thanks to NaNoWriMo, I proved to myself I could do it. I set the same goal for myself for every book that I used in NaNoWriMo. 50,000 words in 30 days. Except, I don't make myself hit the 50,000 words. If it's a little under, okay. If it's over, alright! I only chose that to get the daily goal of 1,667 words a day. When it come to adding the editing in, I will drop it in half. Because then, I will have to set and obtain the editing goals as well.

What about slip ups?
This used to kill me when I tried to loose weight. I would hate myself so much for having that piece of cake, that I would give up. Now, I don't do that. If it's a really bad slip up, start over the next day! If it's something you know you will slip up at, plan for it. A good example is the New York State Fair. We always go, the food is not the healthiest. But you do not go to the fair for healthy food! I didn't pay too much attention to my goals, but I didn't go around and eat all the fried oreos I could find. Besides when you can get a baked potato for a dollar, and milk for 25 cents, you can make some good choices too.

As for the writing. Same thing. I might be sick, or too busy that day to sit down and complete my goals. But the nice thing about writing is that you can get ahead. I wrote one of my 50,000 word rough drafts in 20 days! If I had slipped up, that would have giving me 10 days to catch up. But what if I don't make my goal. Use the next few days to catch up. Maybe one day I only write 500 words, 1100 short of my goal. For the next week I would write an extra 160 words a day to catch up.

Both of these projects in my life are tough, and a lot of effort has to go into them. But I am working on the big picture. A healthier me and finally getting my novels out of my head. I know I won't be a size 2, which is okay. And if I sell 20 copies, I will be happy.

Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Nanowrimo relaunch.

Not a real update. Just really excited.

It's a month away. Nanowrimo is going to start on November 1st! I did it last year and it proved to me I could finish a novel. Since then I have been writing like crazy. So I cannot wait to do it this year.

If you are curious what I am going to be writing; check out my page here.

Thanks for stopping by.