More Resolutions-y Stuff!

I’m too lazy to write a real blog post, so I’m going to do the latest Beautiful People post, which is about resolutions and stuff! Yay!  I did technically already do a resolutions post, but I like some of the questions in this.

These questions are from Beautiful People.

What were your writing achievements last year?

I made it through draft two of Oracular.  That was about it.  But that was a lot, so hey.

Tell us about your top priority writing project for this year?

Finish Sleeping in Cyberspace.  Make it through draft three of Oracular and hope that the story when I’m done with that pass-through will actually be coherent.  And…write some novellas.  Okay, that’s actually three, so if you want a one-project answer, then I’d say finish draft three of Oracular.

List 5 areas you’d like to work the hardest to improve this year.

  1. Less procrastination.  I think this basically explains itself.  I spend a lot of time doing things like “oooh, Pinterest” and stuff, but there are also countless hours I spend doing basically nothing because I just don’t want to write (or anything else).  If I just cut some of those down, I think it would be so much more.
  2. World-building.  I did already post about this a little, but I really want to work on my world-building and…really figure out how in the world people world-build all the way to the end without getting sick of the world.
  3. I want to write something funny for once in my life.  My writing style tends to be very serious, and while I normally don’t have a problem with it, for once I’d like to write something humorous.
  4. Read more…I don’t feel that I really read enough last year.  Eheh, guilty.  I’d like to change that this year—and keeping track of what I read would be great, too.
  5. Find more confidence in myself (and get better so that confidence is well-founded). Confidence is probably one of the biggest things holding me back, so I would like to change that.  But, of course, I would like to actually be good and be confident in it—not just think I’m good when in reality I’m terrible or something.

Are you participating in any writing challenges?

I don’t know yet?  I may or may not do NaNoWriMo this year.  It’s too early to tell, really.  It’s possible I will try again to write the sequel (all the way through, this time, instead of just pieces) for Oracular for NaNo this year, although maybe I’ll have another project  by that point.  (You can always count on the plot bunnies to find you, that’s for sure.)  Maybe Sleeping in Cyberspace will have a sequel.  (I think it has potential for a sequel because of the way I’m setting up the world.  I just don’t know if my characters will allow me to write a sequel.)

What’s your critique partner/beta reader situation like and do you have plans to expand this year?

As of about a week ago, I found two possible CPs for Oracular and we traded the beginnings of our novels.  We’re still in the “trial run” stage, so I don’t know if it’ll actually turn out, but I’m hoping!

Do you have plans to read any writer-related books this year? Or are there specific books you want to read for research?

Yup.  I got three writing-related books for Christmas, actually.  I can’t remember their titles off the top of my head, but I would like to read them.  (One is basically a “here’s info about guns for writers” (this is for my sci-fi WIP), and the other two are on character traits.)

Pick one character you want to get to know better, and how are you going to achieve this?

One?  Just one?  Um.

Um.  After going back and forth a little, I decided on Iaelie Crestal.  She was one of the first characters I “got to know” while planning Oracular, but while writing the second draft, I started to realize that I didn’t actually know her as well as I thought I did, and I think I might be misrepresenting her somewhat.  (Weird, I know.  I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen with a character.)  So before I start truly editing draft 3, I want to get to really get to know her, and do her character justice.

Do you plan to edit or query, and what’s your plan of attack?

That may or may not be how I’m approaching editing.

Actually, that’s not totally true.  I don’t have a fully-formed plan, but I have some vague ideas, and I’ll be fleshing it out better once I’m closer to editing.  Right now, I shan’t worry about it.  (I’ve always wanted to use the word “shan’t” in a sentence.  I think I just fulfilled something on my bucket list, teehee.)

 

As for querying?  No.  I don’t think I will be at a stage to even think about querying until next year at the earliest (and probably not even quite then, depending on how well draft three fixes up the plot).

Toni Morrison once said, “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”  What are the books that you want to see more of, and what “holes” do you think need filling in the literary world?

I’m actually writing about the relationships between teen/young adult siblings at the moment, and I can’t say I see a whole lot of that in fiction.  Or at least YA.  Not that there aren’t siblings, I just don’t see a lot of stories where the relationship between siblings is all that relevant to the story.  Seeing more of that would be nice.  Especially good relationships.  Of all of the sibling-relationships I can think of, most of them seem to be “my brother turned evil and now we’re mortal enemies” or something.

Good, strong, healthy relationships between siblings.  Or just familial relationships as a whole.  (Turns out, it’s hard to have a character have a good relationship with their parents when the parents are dead.  And…a lot of parents end up dead in YA fantasy.)

(I think it would be nice to see more ordinary, platonic friendships, as well, but I like the idea of familial relationships right now.)

What do you hope to have achieved by the end of 2016?

…a lot.  ‘Nuff said.

Mostly, I want Oracular to be readably coherent and have a world to stand on.  I also would like Cyberspace to have a finished first draft, and plans for edits, and I also would like to have some more short stories written (see bar on the right), but the main project is Oracular.

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World-building! Yay!

And so we start the world-building again!

This is blackboard tape on my bedroom wall.  It was a Christmas present and I love it so much.  I can’t decide which is better anymore—my whiteboard, my sticky-notes, or my blackboard!

After deciding that I won’t start any major plot changes/revisions until after I’ve had at least one beta-reader go through my novel and give me feedback, I figured starting the world building now would be acceptable.  I tried it last night, actually, and ended up instead extremely frustrated.

Today, though, proved to be much more fruitful!  That blackboard was actually mostly empty this morning, and the strip underneath wasn’t there at all.

I decided that I was going to start my world building with the history.  And the history, I’d start at the beginning.  Yay for figuring out creation!  I actually considered an idea for it, but then it developed into something else, and now I have a really, really awesome idea for my religion, and no clue how the world actually came into existence.  (I’ll probably say “science” and be done with it.  Because, really.)

Tomorrow I’m going to work more on fleshing out my timeline (that’s what that bottom strip is), and then next week, I’ll probably be working on research.  I suck at research and my first and second draft were both written with a “I’ll pretend I know what I’m talking about and hope nobody notices” kind of attitude.

I’m pretty sure that won’t actually slide.  (It actually already hasn’t, considering the culture and whatnot of my world feels very blank.)  And I would like to know what I’m talking about in a few cases.  So now begins the research!  Yay!

That’s basically how it’s going so far.

I also happen to be procrastinating from my WIP, but hopefully that won’t last long, because I would like to finish the first draft of that.

How goes the writing for everyone else?  Where do you usually start when you tackle the huge chaotic mess that is world-building?

Sketching: How Extensive Do I Outline?

One of my favorite things to draw are sketches.  They’re fun, and they can be as quick as you want them to be.  A sketch can be drawn as fast as thirty seconds—or it can take you up to five to ten minutes.

Untitled-1

 

There is only one rule about how to sketch properly.  Use your pencil lightly. You never want to draw a hard line while sketching—because what’s the goal of a sketch? To be erased.  And trust me when I tell you that hard lines do not erase.

Okay, Shim, you’re thinking.  What’s the point in drawing something only to erase it?

I counter that with another question.  What’s the point in writing a first draft if it’s basically a universal truth that all first drafts suck royally and it will have to be edited/rewritten to pieces?  By which I mean, you have to start somewhere.  Sketches aren’t really like first drafts, though.

Sketches are like outlines.

What do outlines do?

Generally, outlines give you an idea of where you’re going.  They also might give you an idea of what won’t work.  They might help you prevent some gaping plot holes, or show you that letting this character do that thing this early in the book might make it hard for that other character to be introduced.

What is the first rule of outlines?  They are not set in stone.

Hmm, does that remind you of anything? Oh yeah, sketches! Sketches aren’t set in stone, either.  In fact, sketches need to be drawn lightly so they can be erased later!

Both sketches and outlines are a guide.  They can be changed, tweaked, or completely thrown out the window.  In fact, they don’t even have to be used in the first place if you don’t want to use them. (I guess it’s possible to draw by the seat of your pants.  Heheh.)

Sketches should be simple.

How does one draw a sketch?  Is there a right way to sketch?

Nope.  A sketch is basically a series of lightly-draw lines that are placed to portray a vague image that can be expanded upon later.  You can sketch in different styles.  You can sketch really fast.  You can take a littler longer and add a few important details to your sketch.

Whoa, lets stop there a moment.  Details?  Details are dangerous.  Details are what should be in the final version, and not necessarily before that.  Why?  If you add too many details, you’ll bog it down.  You’ll clutter it.  You’ll take the simple, easy enjoyment out of it.

Simple.  Simple is the key here.  Remember about sketches and outlines not being set in stone? If you draw too many details, its going to start feeling like it is set in stone. And you don’t want that.

Okay, so, how much is too much? How simple/detailed do you do it?  Lets go back to what a sketch and outline are and what they do.  They’re guides.  Their goals are to show you a direction you can go and what might be the best way to get there.  Sort of like a roadmap, but with hopefully less potential of getting lost.

So how much do you do?

Only sketch/outline enough to figure out where you’re going.

Its a guide! Treat it like one.  Guidelines are not laws.  They can be dismissed or tweaked.  Guidelines are also not so vague you have no idea you’re being guided.

Only you know how much guiding you need before you can get started and succeed.  Maybe it’ll take some experimentation to figure out that perfect amount, but never go under or over that amount.

It’s a guide.

Planning for NaNo…

So…it’s been like a month and a half since I posted anything.  Part of it’s that I’ve had nothing to say, and part of it is that…well, I’ve been having a lot of self-esteem issues recently, so I’ve just been avoiding my blog. But, I think it’s time I at least say something.

So, it’s October.  NaNoWriMo starts in less than a month.  I’m as prepared as I’m going to be.  Characters are more or less developed (meaning, my MC’s are developed, but I have only backstory and motivation, but no personality, for my villain).  I figure that’s probably enough for the moment, and even if it wasn’t, it’ll have to do since I’m bored of developing characters at the moment.  Same with world-building.  I have random things figured out, and random holes in other places, but I think I have enough to write the first draft.  Afterwards, in December or January, I’ll go through and finish my world building and then I can edit things in and whatnot, but for now, I need a break from all of that.

I know I can’t just not do anything for the next month, though, so I decided to start working on an old story I had started a while ago, and so I’m working on that for now.  I’ve been consistently writing every day, averaging probably around one thousand to two thousand words a day, and I’m very happy about that.

NaNo is going to hard this year, though.  Last year, I wrote about 84k, and so, of course, I want to try to beat my own record and get more than that.  Currently, I think I’m going to try for 100k, but that’d mean I have to write four thousand words every single day.  That’s a stretch even for me (and people are always asking how I write as much in one day as I do…hmm), but I really want to try this.

Meanwhile, I’ve gotten one of my siblings to do NaNoWriMo with me.  Just one…maybe two.  The other one doesn’t want to touch NaNo with a ten foot pole.  Eh.  So I was trying to help the one brother with figuring out some things for his story, and he’s got this big thing of time travel and a colony on Mars and magical jewelry, and while it sounds awesome, I wonder if it’ll be too much for him to handle.  He did NaNo last year, but he only wrote about 2k, and so this is going to be a big project for him.  Still, I think it’ll be fun, if nothing else.

So, how’s planning for NaNo going for everyone else?  At least, those of you who are actually planning anything…

Darlings and November Planning

So, after months and months—almost a full year—of procrastination, I finally did what I think is right for my writing.  I killed two of my darlings.  Two that I have been trying to write for almost four years now, and that for the past year, almost, have done me nothing good.  They’re never going to go anywhere, so they’re a distraction, and not even a good one.

I finally came to terms with that and let them go.  I’m going to write the two poor characters a happily ever after on Monday, and then I’ll move on.

I hope.  These two are hard to leave behind.  But I’m pretty sure this is what I need to do.

Meanwhile, on cheerier notes, I’m still working on the planning for my November NaNoNovel.  World-building is going pretty well.  Slow and painful, but as well as I’d expect.  My characters are also coming along quite nicely, though also fairly slowly.  Two of the four protagonists have almost-fully-developed personalities and have joined the herd of other characters that feel like they might be alive in my head.  The other two are…coming much more slowly.  My villain, too, is still mostly flat and lacking any personality, but I’m not too worried.  I have time.

I’ve also been working on a short story, both to help flesh out the backstory of one of the characters, and to keep myself writing until November.  Somebody told me this story is one of my best works so far, but I don’t really believe that it doesn’t need quite a bit of work.  I do agree it’s better than a lot of my other writing, though.  I’m trying to remind myself to properly describe things, and the short story is way more exciting than anything I’ve written.

For some reason, I never seem to have much action.  Just dialogue.  It’s kind of boring.  So this novel I’m planning, I want to be far more exciting.  There’s going to be sword-fights and…other cool stuff.  (I did say I’m not writing an outline, didn’t I? I’m not planning everything!)

My novel is basically a twist off of your stereotypical, “Prophesied Chosen One has to save the world from the ultimate evil”.  I thought it would be interesting if the oracles and prophecies were more everyday things, and how they’d affect things, and it basically turned into this world where the prophecies basically rule everything.  It’s also very interesting to see how the setting affects my characters’ motives and goals.  It’s actually fascinating to build this world, and I’m definitely very excited to write it this November.