Resolutions and Stuff

First off, yes, I redid the theme and stuff for the blog.  We’ll call it preparing and freshening up for 2016.  There’re still kinks and stuff I have to sort through, so I apologize for that.

Anyhow!  Today is New Years Eve.

New Years Eve is special for me because today, five years ago, is when I decided to take writing seriously.  Kind of funny it happened on a day I’d easily remember.

So for my 5th writing anniversary and the last day of 2015, it seems kinda fitting to sit and look back over everything I’ve accomplished.

I edited and finished a second draft.  NaNoWriMo 2014 emded with a 100k of broken plot, non-existent world-building, and flat characters and I was so in love with it, I spent the majority of 2015 editing.  I finished draft two on Halloween, and it’s now 110k of semi-cohesive plot, non-existent world-building, and characters I adore (who seem more developed and less flat in the second half of the story).

I learned more about my writing style.  I am not a true discovery writer, as I once though, but a little of both.  I plan the stories and then discovery write the emotions.

I improved a lot.  I don’t know that I can recount all of this.  I improved at describing things.  I have a better grasp of suspense.  And lots of other things.  I am so much better than I was in 2014 (and I have so much more to learn).

I competed in NaNoWriMo 2015, and even though I lost at a total of 26k, I consider this an accomplishment because I also was doing so much else at the time, and I still wrote.

I started a new novel, full of things I’ve never tried.  My WIP, Sleeping in Cyberspace, is sci-fi, which I’ve never really written, it’s a heist, which I’ve never written, it’s faster-paced than any of my previous works, and I am dealing with the theme of sibling drama, which I’ve only dealt with in smaller amounts before.

Overall, I’d consider the year pretty productive.  But next year!  What are the plans for 2016?

I want to finish my WIP, Sleeping in Cyberspace.  At my current pace, I think I will have the first draft done by February or so.  I’ll be blogging about my progress, I think.

I want to start draft three of Oracular.  The first step for draft three is to do more world-building, so I plan to start that in February as well.  After that, I get to sort out my plot, add a little more to my characters, and a bunch of other stuff.  I’ll blog about all of that, as well.

I want to write some novellas.  I’m not the greatest at writing short stories, but I enjoy writing novellas.  I want to write a bunch more, to explore new concepts and ideas, and for practice, and also maybe for use as world-building.

I’m going to keep my “resolutions” to as simple as that because 2016 is promising to be busy and chaotic and I am a little unsure that adding more plans this early in the game is wise.

Anybody else have any resolutions to share? How was your 2015 as a whole?

A Few of My Favorite Things Tag

I got…some kind of blog thingy, I’m not really even sure what it is.  Tag?  I don’t know, but I’m doing it!  Thanks, Katie!

Rules:
Answer prompts with the wintery/Christmassy theme in mind.
Tag at least 5 of your blogger-buddies to take part.
Use the title picture.
Spread the love around!
Favorite “snuggle-weather” books

To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t sure that such things existed.  Um.  I don’t know?

Favorite wintery/Christmassy snacks

Hmm.  Fudge.  Although, it’s so rich, I’d probably only be able to eat like one bite.

Or the “chocolate crinkle” cookies my brother makes.  They taste kind of like brownies, only they’re cookies?  I don’t have the recipe, though, but maybe I’ll get it from him.

Favorite hot drinks

Hot cocoa, hands down.  I don’t care for coffee… and I have little exposure to tea, so if a flavor exists that I like, I haven’t found it yet.

Favorite Christmas movies

I…really have no idea.

Favorite holiday songs

God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman, specifically the Jars of Clay version.

And Christmas: Sarajevo 12/24 by Transiberian Orchestra.  (And most of the other songs on that same album.  Haven’t heard any of the other albums, though.)

Oh, and Winter Song by Sara Bereilles and Ingrid Michaelson.  I don’t know if it’s a holiday song, but…  It’s so pretty.  Especially the voices at the end—oh gosh I love that part so much.

Favorite “snow-day” crafts

PAPER SNOWFLAKES.

I made some pretty cool ones this year.  They killed my hand (figuratively, of course), but it was awesome.

image image image image

image
I like this one best, I think.

I might make some more.

Do you wanna build a snowman?

Snow?  What is this snow you speak of?

Yes.


 

And now, I have to nominate five people!  Um.  Lana who has a shiny new blog that everybody needs to go follow and Ace who has a less shiny and new blog but should also be followed.  As for the other three… um, anybody want a tag that has Christmas questions a few days after Christmas?

A Scribbled Draft: Character Creation

I started a new project, Sleeping in Cyberspace, and this is the only first draft I’ve attempted to really write in about a year.  I’ve learned so much about my writing style since then, this draft is both trying new things and exploring old things.  Since it’s guaranteed to be a whole new learning experience, I’m going to blog through every step of it.


My general rule with characters is that when they start talking back at me and taking things in their own direction, they’re developed pretty well.  Of course, getting them to that point is a different adventure for each individual character.

About a year or so ago, I wrote up what I thought was a pretty spiffy and cool character sheet.  Was it?  Eh.  Not really.  It had some things in there I liked, and some things I didn’t.

Most importantly, though?

I never once filled it out fully for a single character.  Not even once. Sometimes I got kind of close, but only when I was trying to find ways to procrastinate from doing actual productive writing.  What’s the point in having a character sheet specifically for me, if I never actually used it?

Kind of like with my writing, I think I’ve realized I like to know enough to know where I’m going and what I’m dealing with, and then I’ll discover the nitty gritty details as I’m writing it.  So eventually, I came up with this.

NAME:

NICKNAME:

APPEARANCE:

~ basics (gender, age, ethnicity, identifying features, color, approximate height, weight, and build)

~ lifestyle (and how it affects appearance)

~ faults

~ clothes

~ body language

PERSONALITY:

~ fear

~ secret

~ flaw

~ quirk

ARC:

~ trigger

~ false belief

BACKSTORY:

OTHER:

(The personality part references another post that I don’t have the link to at the moment, about how the four foundations of a character are fear(s), secret(s), flaw(s), and quirk(s).  I think it’s kind of self-explanatory.  Everybody’s afraid of something, everybody has a secret (even if it’s a minor one), everybody has a flaw (basic rule in creating cool characters?  Flaws.  Always.), and…quirks.  Well, I think everybody has quirks, too, considering I haven’t met anybody without one.  Quirks are usually just little odd things about a person that make them interesting.  It can be a physical thing, a perspective thing, a personality thing, whatever you want.
The ARC portion of this is in reference to the Character Evolution Files, which I linked to in this post, so I won’t link to it again.)

Name, appearance, basic personality traits.  This is far from in-depth.  It’s pretty simple, I’d think, actually.  But what it does is, it helps you find the “essence” of a character.

For me, the essence is the important part.  Not the details.   I can have all the details I want, but if I don’t have the essence figured out, the character falls so, so flat.  Not only that, but it’s hard to figure out the details without that.

It’s hard to explain what exactly the essence is, because it’s not specific details.  I find the essence of my characters in different ways.  In my current WIP, one of my protagonists, Ceveth, showed me his essence when I realized how his older siblings treated him and how he felt about it.  In another project, I found a character’s essence when she told me, very determinedly, that her name was Sidney and she didn’t care if I liked the name or not because that was very definitely her name.

I think what it is is the general feel of the character.  It’s not specifics, it’s not details, it’s not even necessarily vivid.  It’s vague, and I have to really search for it, and sometimes, I don’t even understand it.  A few times, I don’t even know that I have it.  But once I do, I hold on tightly to it, and then I start to learn the other things about them that I don’t know yet, and I cement it into place, until I have a character who fully comes to life.

Each character reveals his or her essence at different times for me.  So sometimes, it takes a while to find it, so I fill out the parts of the character sheet above, until I strike on something.  Sometimes, they give it to me instantly, and then I use it to fill in the information above.  (It sounds like this weird balance, doesn’t it?  I use the sheet to get to know them, but I know them to fill out the sheet.  And yet it works.)

It sort of becomes this equation.

essence of the character

+

basic details to begin to cement who they are

+

a little exploration of them through actual writing

+

that moment when they start taking the story a slightly different path than I wanted/expected and I realize that they’re in control

= a developed character

Thankfully, I’m not half-bad at math.

How about the rest of you?  How do you develop your characters?  How do you tell when you’ve done enough developing?

Embracing Change in Your Style

When I first started writing, I knew I was a discovery writer.  I listened to a Writing Excuses episode, and somebody, I don’t even remember who, made a comment about how writers should try both discovery writing and outlining/planning.  I don’t remember the exact reason he said, but I’m sure I could figure it out—they’re two different writing techniques, and sometimes, you can learn from both.  Or maybe that you’ll discover you’re not the one you think you are.  Or, really, it’s just a good thing to try new things, and trying the opposite of what you always do is definitely a new thing, right?  I scoffed, thinking that I wasn’t a planner, and I’d never ever be a planner, and I didn’t need to try being a planner.

Guess what?

I’m a planner.

Yeah, go ahead and laugh.  I’m already laughing.  But you wanna hear something even funnier?  When I was little, I wanted to be one of those artists who can draw something, and then people would go, “Wait, that isn’t a photograph?”  I wanted perfect realism.  I wanted to draw something that really would look like a photograph and people would have to take a second—and third and fourth—look before they realized it wasn’t.

Guess what I draw now?

I really have no idea, but it isn’t realism.

Here’s a lesson for you all, right from my own experience.

Don’t be afraid to explore.  Exploration makes you better at what you do.

Somewhere along the lines, I somehow started planning one of my novels.  I don’t really remember how or why I did it, but I did, and my writing turned out better.  It made me stop and think… Hmm.  Maybe I’m not a pantser after all.

I ended up writing more things that were pantsed and more things that were planned, before I finally realized that, yeah, I’m a planner.  I do discovery write somewhat, and I do enjoy it.  But I plan more often than not lately, because when I plan, I’m more likely to end with not only a slightly better written and less plot-hole-y first draft, but an actually finished first draft (which was a hard thing for me, for a while).

The truth is, if I hadn’t explored the idea of planning, and if I had just stuck with discovery writing, I probably would not be where I am right now.  I would have more half-finished projects where right now they are finished, and I’d probably be a lot more frustrated and discouraged simply because of that fact.  That sounds like fun, right?  Everybody wants to be discouraged.

Explore.

You can’t succeed at something if you don’t try it, right?  Well, try it, and then fail or succeed.  Learn what works.  Learn what doesn’t work.  Are you a planner or a pantser?  Or are you right smack dab in the middle? Do you use elements of both?  Do you outline extensively, or do you have a loose outline?  Do you write an outline, and then defenestrate the outline at the first change you have?

What seems to work best for me is to have a loose outline, just enough that it tells me the general events and plot, and I get to know my characters a little (but not even extensively), and then I discovery write all the rest.  I even discovery write the emotions, strange as that sounds.  I may know of an event that will greatly affect a character, but I don’t even know for sure how it’ll affect them, until I start writing it, and they take it in the direction that’s best for them, and I learn something new about them at the same time.

Even if, in the end, you discover that you’re writing style is exactly what you thought it was to begin with, you’ll still have learned new things and, more importantly, you should have had fun.  (Writing is all fun and games, right?  Riiiiight?)

Don’t resist the change when it finds you.

One of the hardest things I had to accept at first was that…I was wrong.  I had been so completely and totally wrong about myself.  Hard hit to the pride, for one.  I didn’t want to accept I had been wrong, and I didn’t want to give up what I’d been doing before, and I didn’t want to be a planner.  Planners are so boring.  They know their stories in advance and they don’t discover anything and that’s so boring.

(That’s a huge lie, by the way.  Even if you do outline the story to death, perhaps through the Snowflake Method, if it was that boring, nobody would do it.  [And considering the Snowflake Method exists in the first place, well… you see.])

I think in probably all aspects of life, accepting change is hard.  I had the same issues with realizing that I really didn’t want to draw realism (or at least exclusively realism), too.  But change is important.  Change is what allows growth and improvement.

I mean, think about it.  Improvement is change.  If you improve…you’re changing, aren’t you?  You’re changing from bad or mediocre or even good to better.  So if you don’t change, you don’t improve.  Simple as that.

Change wants to be your friend.

Sometimes.

Now go do what works best for you.

Well, that says it all, mostly.  Go do it.  And remember, finding change, seeing change, embracing change—it’s the key to improvement.

So go improve.

And because GIFs make everything better, here’s Ten basically summing up the essence of discovery writing.

Beautiful People: Sibling…sort of Rivalry

Since my WIP mostly involves two brothers and a sister, I thought I’d dig out the Beautiful People: Sibling Edition questions from a few months ago and do a character interview with the three of them.

Hopefully they’ll be more informative than the last time I tried to do the sibling questions.  I doubt they’ll be cooperative, though.

1. What is the first memory you have of each other?

Dazant: I remember Cev’s birth, more or less, although it’s hazy. Well, I mean, his infancy.  Ki, I think… I don’t know, something when we were really little.  Before the orphanage.

Kivessa: Daz and I stole some candies from one of the orphanage staff, but we got caught, and had to give the candies back.  I was so disappointed, Daz went back and got me a lollipop.

Dazant: You remember that?  You were like…four.

Ceveth: I kind of remember when we left the orphanage.  Ish.  Mostly I remember being confused and hurt that we had to leave.

Dazant: There was a reason we did that.

Ceveth: I know that, I just mean I didn’t then.  I was four?  Five?

2. Describe your relationship in 3 words.

Dazant: Um.

Ceveth: Complementary?

Kivessa: Um.

Ceveth: Nope, never mind.  Uh…

Kivessa: How about we don’t use words?  *presses her fist into her other palm threateningly and glares at the boys*

Ceveth: Hey!  What’s that for?

Kivessa: I’m just kidding.  I don’t think we can really express it in three words.  We each have our ridiculous, obnoxious quirks and flaws, but we are a team.  Although we could be better.  *glares at Dazant again*

Dazant: *ignores her*

3. What kind of things do you like to do together?

Kivessa: You mean what we already do together?  We broke into a bank once.

Dazant: You sound like it’s a fun and useless hobby, Ki.

Ceveth: *winces* It kind of is a hobby for Ki.

Dazant: *sigh*

Kivessa: So?

Dazant: You don’t even care about the morals that come with being thieves, do you?

Ceveth: *absently fiddles with his bionic ear, and the other two wince*

Dazant: Let’s go onto the next question, please?

4. What was your biggest fight?

Ceveth: You mean, what is their biggest fight?  They don’t stop fighting.

Dazant & Kivessa: *flat look*

Dazant: Actually, the fighting was really bad right after…

Kivessa: After…

Ceveth: You can just say the accident.  You two wince about it more than I do.

*silence*

5. How far would you go to save each other?

Dazant: As far as I have to.

Kivessa: *scoffs*  Like making our lives miserable and stuff.  Yeah, really trying your hardest to save us, Daz.  I appreciate it so much.

Dazant: Don’t you even—!

Ceveth: *interrupts loudly* We all have to work together to keep each other safe, and I think we’d all do whatever it takes to keep us a team.

6. What are you pet peeves about each other?

Kivessa: Everything.

Ceveth: *tries to not groan*

Dazant: *sighs*  Let’s not worry about this question so much.

7. What are your favorite things about each other?

Dazant: When Kivessa isn’t purposefully trying to get on my nerves—*glares more*—she can give some good advice, and she does know how to look after herself.  Sometimes.

Kivessa: Daz, you—*sighs*  The same, I guess.  I know he is looking out for Cev and me, even if sometimes he acts foolish.

Ceveth: Um.  *kind of hides in background*  I—I don’t really know?  I don’t think I know either of them well enough to really… *trails off*

8. What traits do you share? Mannerisms, clothing, quirks, looks, etc?

Kivessa: Clothes?  Eep, no, thank you.  Neither of them have any sense of style.  I mean, okay, they do at least wear jeans, but…they make it look sloppy.

Ceveth: *kind of speechless*

Dazant: *rolls his eyes*

Kivessa: *attempts to flip her hair stylishly but just looks kind of goofy*

Ceveth: *still speechless*

Dazant: Cev and I look a lot alike.  If I recall, we also both look a lot like our mother.

Kivessa: Your frowns are almost identical.  It’s actually kind of creepy.

Ceveth: *blinks*

9. Who has the strongest personality?

*a long silence*

Ceveth: Not me, that’s for sure.

Dazant: Ki, I guess?

10. How does your relationship change throughout your story?

Dazant: Supposedly, we’ll all grow closer and actually learn to truly complement one another.  But since we’re still in chapter two as of the writing of this post, nothing much has changed yet.


Yeah, that basically went how I expected it to.  Unfortunately, the problem with this is that all I really got was the tension between Kivessa and Dazant, and poor Ceveth is hardly even here.  I think I’ll have to get them by themselves in some more interviews.

A Scribbled Draft: The Pain-in-the-Fingers That is Chapter One

I started a new project, Sleeping in Cyberspace, and this is the only first draft I’ve attempted to really write in about a year.  I’ve learned so much about my writing style since then, this draft is both trying new things and exploring old things.  Since it’s guaranteed to be a whole new learning experience, I’m going to blog through every step of it.


The other day, I shared my first chapter, and if I’m totally honest, I’m pretty proud of that chapter, for a couple of different reasons.  Mostly, it feels like a stronger beginning than most of my beginnings do, although it probably needs work (it is a first draft after all).

I know from other things I’ve read and some Writing Excuses episodes that one of the biggest things first chapters need to do is, well, introduce the story.  Not just be a beginning (although obviously they do that, too), but let the reader know exactly what kind of story they’re reading.  What genre is the story?  What is the tone?  Is it dark?  Is it humorous?  Is it lighthearted and cheery?

It’s like a promise.  You’re promising the reader what kind of story it’ll be, based on what they read here.  If your first chapter is funny, you’re basically promising the entire story will be funny.

Another thing that first chapters should do is, well, interest the readers and make them read chapter two.

When I was writing the chapter, I knew I was writing sci-fi, and I knew the plot was a heist.  I knew that a big part of the story is the relationship between my three main characters.  I also knew that I was more or less following the three act structure, and like the first part of that is “ordinary world”.  In other words, I have to show the readers what “normal” is for them, because in the next few chapters, I’m going to totally wreck the mundane.  (Even if it’s a heist, I am following some of the Hero’s Journey structure, and so yeah, they do basically get their whole world wrecked.)

So from there, I had to figure out what I wanted to start the story with that would let the reader know all of this, right from the start.  I had the idea that the first chapter needed to be a mini-heist—hence promising more heist later on—and also starting the story off with action, thus fulfilling the “in late, out early” idea.  At the same time, it shows what’s “normal”—Ceveth knows exactly what he’s doing and never once is he uncertain about it—and yet he’s nervous about being caught by his older brother, even as his sister tries to pressure him into being faster, which introduces both the characters and the relationships they have with each other.

Keeping the right tone was fairly easily, although that’s mostly because pretty much every single piece of my writing has a similar tone.  I haven’t figured out how to explore with different tones yet.

There are a couple of things I didn’t introduce here. For example, I don’t know that anybody could guess this was a Sleeping Beauty retelling simply by the chapter alone.  And then, there are a few things, such as Izioth, that I mentioned, but didn’t describe—and other things I didn’t mention at all.  There’s another important character, but she won’t even be introduced until chapter three or four, I think.

Not everything needs to be introduced in chapter one.  Not even the inciting incident necessarily has to happen in chapter one.  (Mine happens probably in chapter four.)  Of course, ‘in late, out early’ might disagree with me, but how “late” a story is started I think depends on the individual story (and probably who’s writing it).  Although it’s certainly possible that maybe further along the lines, I’ll decide I started the story too early and I need to cut the first few chapters, right now, I don’t think I did.  I think this is where the story needed to start.  Because it introduces just enough for the reader to know what the story is about, without info dumping with too much.

I think that’s what a first chapter is all about.  Get me interested, and tell me just enough that I’m not lost and that I’ll keep reading and go to chapter two.  And be aware that chapter one sets up expectations—those are the promises—that have to be fulfilled, or else readers’ll be disappointed.

Project “Cyberspace”: Excerpt from Chapter One

As mentioned a few times in previous posts, I started a new story.  My current working title is Sleeping in Cyberspace, but I usually call it Cyberspace.  I wrote the first chapter not so long ago, and I thought I’d share it.  So ta-da!  (Critique is appreciated, but mostly I just want you to enjoy it.)

And then he was in.

Ceveth glanced up from his tablet screen, making sure that Dazant hadn’t glanced his way. To his relief, Dazant was still staring out the window, oblivious. Kivessa saw him, and waved her hand impatiently, mouthing, Get back to it before he looks over!

Forcing his attention back to the tablet screen, Ceveth swallowed down the guilt, the paranoia, and everything else that came with what he was doing. Mostly the guilt. He tried to tell himself that he’d had no choice, that Kivessa had forced him into it, but she really hadn’t. He’d been eager.

Eager to break into another person’s identity, and use their money to purchase something.

Oh, he felt so guilty. And yet, he didn’t stop.

“C’mon,” Kivessa whispered, keeping her voice just barely soft enough that Dazant wouldn’t hear it. She shot Ceveth another impatient glare.

He took another breath and ignored her. He had already broken in. That’d been the hard part–but then, this was the risky part. He reconnected his tablet to Izioth–glanced again at Dazant–received another glare from Kivessa–clicked the purchase. Instantly, the confirmation window appeared, requesting that he press his right thumb against the screen so it could scan his thumbprint and confirm his identity and his purchase. With another nervous swallow, Ceveth pulled up the program he’d written so that he could get around having to put the thumbprint in, or else it would recognize that not only was his thumbprint different than the identity he had broken into, but his thumbprint would also pull up all the records of his past. And then the purchase would be cancelled and police-droids would be surrounding the building any moment.

Dazant suddenly said, “I think we need to find a new safe-house.”

Ceveth startled, but Kivessa kept her cool. She shot one last narrow-eyed glance at Ceveth, then regarded Dazant as if nothing in the slightest bit suspicious was happening. “Why’s that?”

Ceveth fidgeted in his seat, pulling his knees up and resting his tablet against them, so if Dazant decided to glance over, he wouldn’t see the tablet. The program wasn’t as fast as Ceveth wished it was, and it would be another few moments before the purchase actually went through. Until then, he could still get caught by Dazant.

“I think we’ve pushed it too long,” Dazant said. “We need to relocate.” He did glance over then, and Ceveth had to force himself to not tense up. “You know Izioth has patrols every few months to make sure things are as it thinks they should be.”

Kivessa pursed her lips, thoughtful. She crossed her arms behind her back, where only Ceveth could see her hand making circular movements, indicating he needed to hurry up. “Where would we go, then? Somewhere further west?”

Dazant grabbed one of the chairs a little bit too close to Ceveth, but then pulled it back to the window and sat. Ceveth relaxed again.

75%, his tablet informed him.

“Actually, I was thinking we leave the city entirely.”

Ceveth and Kivessa froze simultaneously, staring at him. Then they traded glances.

“Why?” Ceveth asked, at the same time as Kivessa cried, “Daz, don’t be ridiculous! What are we going to do outside of New LA? You can’t find work out in the country!”

“And I clearly can’t find work here, either,” Dazant snapped, instantly on the defensive. Ceveth could tell he’d been thinking about the idea for a while, even if he’d only suggested it now.

83%

“But—” Kivessa started.

“No, hear me out before you start arguing!”

89%

Dazant took a deep breath, closing his eyes, gathering his words together.  Ceveth tried to pretend he wasn’t looking at his tablet anymore, and instead focusing on his older brother.  Just let it finish.  It’s eleven percent.  It’ll finish.  It’ll be fine.

Dazant still didn’t speak.  He ran his fingers through his light hair, looking back towards the window.  “Let’s face it, Ki,” he said, a little softly.  “I’m not going to find anything here in the city.  Anything legitimate will not be willing to pass over our identities or be willing to ignore using thumbprints—and even if they were, Izioth would find us anyway.”

“And you think it’ll be any different outside of the city?  Izioth can find us anywhere, Daz.”

“There’s less resources in the country.  Izioth won’t be able to find us as easily.”

“There’s less resources for us to survive!  You aren’t thinking this through very well!”

That hit a nerve, and Ceveth winced.  Dazant’s face clouded with anger, and then he was on his feet.  Kivessa glared at him, unwilling to backdown.

96%

“Don’t you dare accuse me of not thinking things through.  Everything I do—everything I do, Ki—is for you and Cev!  Of course I think things through!”

Kivessa huffed and crossed her arms.  “How much you do for us has nothing to do with how well you think it through!  Gosh, Daz, don’t go making arbitrary decisions when you haven’t thought it through!”

Ceveth watched his brother’s fingers start to curl in, and then Dazant forced himself to relax before he’d made an actual fist.  He started to turn away, then instead looked at Ceveth.

“What are you doing?”

“N—well, nothing.”

Dazant looked as if he didn’t necessarily believe him.   But instead of requesting to see Ceveth’s tablet, he sighed, raised his eyes to the ceiling, and turned back to the window. He didn’t sit.

Ceveth glanced at the tablet. 99%, it read. Almost a second later, it said, COMPLETED. Smiling a little, Ceveth returned his focus to the purchase, which now said, PURCHASE VALIDATED. ESTIMATED ARRIVAL: ~JUNE 7, 2137.

Ceveth glanced up and caught Kivessa’s gaze. She raised an eyebrow. He gave her a thumbs up, and mouthed, Happy early birthday, sis.

Kivessa smiled.

“Hey, Daz,” she said gently. “What do you say we go and get some lunch?”

New Project: The Prewriting

In June of 2014 (or maybe it was July, I don’t really remember), I had decided to start planning my novel for NaNoWriMo ’14, and so I gathered up a plot bunny I’d had a while back, combined it with a different idea, and started developing it.  When NaNo came around, I had semi-developed characters, the vaguest hint of a world, a bit of a beginning, and zero plot.  When November ended, I had 100k of flat characters, broken plot, and non-existent world building.

It was awesome.  Staring 2015, I started editing.  And world building.  And…more world building.  And…oh yeah, I did world building, did I mention that part yet?  Plus some world building.  And then when I thought maybe I’d done enough of world building, I edited some more.

I finished draft two on Halloween.  Then for NaNoWriMo ’15, I wrote assorted scenes for the sequels.  By the time this November ended, I decided I was sick of this world, this story, these characters.

Don’t get me wrong.  I adore them.  I love working with these ones, and even though draft three is going to be a huge, time-consuming process that will probably take almost as long as draft two did (which was ten months, roughly…maybe nine, because I don’t remember if I started in January or February), I am so looking forward to it.

But first, I really would like to explore a different story.  Something totally new, totally different, totally unrelated.

And that’s what I’m doing now!

I mentioned in a previous post that this story is basically sci-fi Sleeping Beauty meets a heist.  It’s going to be awesome.  (It had better be, anyway.)

I discovered recently that I’m actually more of an outliner than a discovery writer, so the first step was to, well, plan.

This is how I planned.

IMG_1171

That is my bedroom wall.

The bottom right corner is a timeline.  The story is set in America at 2137AD, so I wanted to figure out some of the important things that happened between now and then.  Like world war three.  It’s not very detailed, and I probably don’t have as much information as I could have, but it works for now.

The other white papers were originally a to-do list for what I needed for world building and stuff.  On the left is world building, and the purple sticky notes taped there are related to world building.  I assigned each sticky note to a particular part of it.  (I tried to write small, and I didn’t get very detailed, so yeah, only one sticky note for each thing.)  In the middle is character related stuffs.  Personality, backstories, and other stuff.  (Strangely enough, I never actually figured out what my characters look like.)  The right ones are just random things I wanted to make sure I figured out.

Below that is my outline.  At the bottom of the white pieces of paper, I noted parts of the Three Act Structure, and then way below that, the salmon-pink pieces of paper are character arc events relating to the three act structure that I recently learned about in this cool post.  In between those, the purple sticky notes are events relating to the plot, while the other colors are each associated with a character, and so the events written on those are related to that particular character.

I don’t know if any of that makes any sense to anybody besides myself, but that’s what I have.  I considered a few months ago trying to get Aeon Timeline because it sounds awesome and it syncs with Scrivener, but then there was just too much to put in when I messed with the trial.  I think I like this, though.  Sticky notes on my wall.

The only downfall is I think I’m going to run out of sticky notes.

That’s basically the extent of my prewriting.  I rambled a bunch at my other writing friends, especially about the worldbuilding, but then as soon as I figured it out, I wrote a condensed, focused version on a sticky note and taped it to the wall.

Also, fun fact: sticky notes don’t seem to stick to the wall very well.  So I had to use my masking tape.

So that’s what I’ve got.  How do the rest of you prefer to keep track of your prewriting and notes?