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.

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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?

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Untitled

Okay, I admit it.  I’ve been avoiding my blog.  Why?  Honestly, I’m not entirely sure.  I guess because I’ve felt I had nothing worth saying.  So…bear with me if all of rest of this post is rather uninteresting.

Anyway.  Most of my previous posts mentioned NaNoWriMo and how I was planning for it (and excited for it), so I guess I need to mention that.  Well.  I’m doing NaNoWriMo!

As of this very moment, my word-count is just over forty-nine thousand words—though I suppose you can see that in the little word-tracker bar in the corner.  I hope to have fifty thousand words before I go to bed tonight, but we’ll see how that goes.

Anyway, I’m rather enjoying the story.  It has problems—in fact, the first twenty thousand words or so are all a problem in and of itself—but I like most of the characters and the plot is…not going where I expected.  Then again, I was after all basically doing an experiment with this novel.  I developed my characters and I built my world, but I didn’t figure out my plot.  That way, I’d know about the story, but I’d still be free to discovery-write it as much as I wished.

So far, that’s going fairly okay.  I mean, there have been spots where not knowing what my plot was did kind of screw me up or slow me down, but I am having fun with it.  I know there’ll be a lot of editing when I’m finished, however.

And that is about all I have to say.  How’s the writing going for everyone else?

Review of Jack Blank and the Imagine Nation

I don’t normally review books, but this one needed to be reviewed.  So here it is.

I had two people recommend this book (and the rest of the series) to me, so I decided to try it.  After getting extremely annoyed at my library’s e-book selection, I figured out how to put the book on hold (it was a new library, with a different system…I’m not completely computer-illiterate, I swear), and when I got to the library, I picked it up.  I realized, then, that I had no clue what the book was even about.  Oops.  But, really, if someone who has good book tastes and whose opinion I respect and/or value recommends a book to me, there’s a good chance I’ll try it.  Especially if it’s two someones.  (Unless there’s a lot of said someones.  Then I have a bad habit of avoiding the book like the plague.  Hence why I haven’t read Divergent yet.  Oops.)

Anyway, for those people who actually like to know what they’re reading before they put it on hold, here’s a summary stolen—ahem, borrowed—from Amazon, with my actual review following it.

All Jack Blank knows is his bleak, dreary life at St. Barnaby’s Home for the Hopeless, Abandoned, Forgotten, and Lost—an orphanage in the swampland of New Jersey. Covertly reading old comic books is Jack’s only solace. But his life changes forever when he meets an emissary from a secret country called the Imagine Nation, an astonishing place where all the fantastic and unbelievable things in the world originate. Including Jack.

Jack soon discovers that he has an amazing ability—one that could make him the savior of Imagine Nation and the world beyond…or the biggest threat they’ve ever faced.

I went into the book with not much expectation, since I barely knew anything about it, but I had heard it was good.  Hopefully it really was good as I’d heard.  The first sentence caught my interest pretty quickly, which is always good.  I ended up getting stuck at a little church on Monday for twenty minutes while my brother was part of a “meeting” thing for a Boy-Scout-like-troop-thing that he’s in, but I didn’t mind, because I had my library book!  Yay!  My mom started teasing me about how I was being so “loud” while I was reading.  Ha-ha.

Anyway.  The more I read, I realized, the more I was enjoying it.  I liked Jack fairly well.  He seemed like an interesting protagonist, and his “ability” was also pretty interesting.  The other characters I liked, too.  Particularly Jazen, though I don’t really know why.

I think, though, the thing I liked the best about the book was the setting.  I’m not really sure why, but I thought it was awesome.  I enjoyed seeing the different parts of the Imagine Nation.  There wasn’t a whole lot of description, but I thought it was really cool anyhow.

The other thing I really enjoyed was the ending.  In my experience, an ending can make or break a book, sometimes.  If the ending is not very good, it kind of screws up my perspective of the entire book.  But I didn’t have this problem here, thankfully.

In fact, the only issue I had with the ending was that my mom decided sixty pages until the end was the perfect time to have me make tacos for dinner.  I also just so happened to have after-dinner dishes that day, so I spent about two hours trying to act civil with my siblings until I could go back to the book and finish the climax.  I think I did okay.  Maybe my siblings have finally learned that talking to someone who’s been interrupted from an exciting part of their book is not good for their health.  I get…kind of cranky and snappy.

Anyway, throughout reading the book, I kept thinking that this book would make a really cool video game.  If there isn’t one already, someone needs to write one.  Brain, why are you reminding me of those IOS programming books I have on the shelf? Oh yeah, right, I’m supposed to be reading them and learning it…

Overall, I think I’d give this book about four and a half out of five stars.  I can’t decide if I should round that up or down, so I’m just going to leave it at the half.  I’m definitely going to read the second book.

Day Twenty-One…and Here Comes the Distractions

So. Today, I made three weeks of writing every single day, for a minimum of 500 words (with the occasional 300….oopsie). And so, what does that mean?

Oh, nothing short of—surprise, surprise!—my concentration wavering. Again. It’s a pattern for me, I’ve noticed, and I’m not sure how to break it. Really all I’ve been able to do is just go with it and use the inspiration as it comes, even if it happens to be for the wrong story.

So, I made my 500 words today, and then ended up in my room, writing on my mirror/reflective-whiteboard/place-to-brainstorm-things. At which point, my dad asked where I was, which ended up in a slightly amusing conversation that went more or less as follows…

“[Shim], are you in the house?”
“Yes! I’m upstairs.”
“Why are you hiding up there?”
“I’m writing on my mirror!”
“Doing what?”
“Brainstorming!”
“Your brain is all over the mirror?”
“Yup!”
“Gross.”
“Don’t worry, I’ll clean it up.”

Well, I was amused by it, anyway.

So, as you can probably already tell, all of this “brainstorming” was not for my current WIP but actually for the novel that… well, it’s one I rant about a lot, and it’s also where I got my online nickname Shim from. Sort of.

Anyhow. I’m having, what I think is a problem with my plot and characters not working together (though I have no clue if I’m imagining that as well, though I hope not), so, the easiest thing to do is get a new plot. Or, well, dig up an old plot from an old draft. So what I’m doing now is basically trying to fit a story that I wrote two years ago with the characters that have evolved quite a bit since that draft. So far, it’s going okay, but who knows if it’ll work.

Anyway. Back to the main problem. If I work on this, then I’m not really going to finish that other story I’ve been writing for the past three weeks, will I? But I don’t want to just drop the inspiration for this other one, either… So what I’m going to try to do is write my five hundred words, just like before, and then after that, I’ll work on the other one. That way, I can do both.

Please tell me this will work, please tell me this will work, please tell me this will work… Please tell me this will work!

Little Sisters and a Little Bit of Stress

So.  Way back in November, I decided to write a novel.  Y’know, for NaNoWriMo.  I actually didn’t end up writing said novel, instead writing an outline for a different novel, but that’s not important.  The important part is, I decided to drag my younger siblings in with me on the wonderful craziness of NaNo.  One brother decided to write a Minecraft fan-fiction, while the other made up a story about a can and a ghost who ran away from their home and the cat’s cruel master.  Neither finished their story, but considering their age, I think they both wrote a decent amount and I was very proud of the fact that they at least tried.  (I’m also happy to hear that one of them plans to finish his novel this up and coming November.)

Then came my little sister.  She’s younger than the two boys, yet she’s always loved telling stories.  Never written them down, but certainly told them verbally enough to practically be an expert.  Or, well, as close to expert as an eight year old gets.  I convinced her into joining NaNoWriMo as well, and she wrote a story about a dragon who got lost and has to find her way home, with the help of a friendly cat.  (It amused me greatly that two of my siblings’ stories had cats in them as one of the protagonists…now I’m tempted to add a cat into one of my own stories, just for the fun of it.)

She completed her goal of a thousand words and finished the story, on about the 24th of November.  The story was awesome.

As you can probably guess, considering it’s like the opposite time of year as November, I just helped her finish editing it.  It’s even more awesome now.  I love it.  She had quite a few spelling and grammar errors (including switching back and forth between present and past tense, using comma splices, and so on), but she is only eight, so I helped her fix them up.

Now it’s pretty much finished and she’s even illustrating it with little sketches of some of the scenes.

I’m the proudest older sister there ever was.  And also…one who’s kind of discouraged in herself.

I haven’t finished a project since last May.  That’s nearly an entire year ago.  That was a story I believe I mentioned in an earlier post about my lack of motivation, which is now back in the outlining/figuring-out-what-in-the-world-is-going-on-here stage.  Or, er, the drawing board, I guess.  I’ve got so many plots holes…

But that’s for another rant.  Anyhow, there are a few excuses for my lack of finishing anything.  I lost both my uncle and my grandmother in June, and since then, there’s been enough family drama to, well, fill an entire soap opera.  Or three.  But right now?  After all, that was way back in June.

I’m…not really sure.  I just feel stressed.  I’d like to blame school, but we’ve actually figured all of that stuff out.  I know what I’m doing the next two years of highschool and maybe even a vague idea of what comes afterwards.  No need to be stressed.  Yet…I keep feeling stressed out.

It finally occurred me that it’s really the writing itself that’s the problem.  I can still do most of my creative process.  I can outline, I can brainstorm, I can even do some world-building and some sort of character development (I’m not very good with that part yet, unfortunately, without doing discovery-writing….which is weird, since I’m more or less an outliner at this point…hmm.).  But  whenever I sit down to write, that’s when I get stuck.

Turns out, I can’t seem to get into the story.  Any story.  I’ve got five of them, after all.  (Or was it six?)  I’ve found I can still, occasionally, write random scenes here and there, but nothing important and nothing that actually goes anywhere.  I tried writing a new short story, too, and that didn’t work either.  I tried just sitting and writing nothing, I tried switching to a notebook, and I even tried taking a break from writing altogether and coming back later.  No matter what I do, no matter how I try, no matter even which story I work on, I can’t seem to lose myself into my writing anymore.

So that’s what the problem is.  That’s why I’m completely stressed out about any of my writing and avoiding it.

I also…have no clue why this is the case and what in the world to do about it.

Gah, so this post turned out far more complain-y than I intended…I had really just wanted to talk about how proud I was of my sister. Heh.  So, yeah, there it is.  Anyone have any suggestions of what to try?   And anyone else have awesome little sisters?

Critique and Feedback

I realized I am missing one of the important things with my writing: critique and feedback.  In my last post, I mentioned that I’m starting to look into publishing.  It turns out, though, that I’m not quite ready for that stage.

As of yet, I haven’t had anyone read my novels (at least, all the way through) for the point of criticizing.  A few people have read it for fun and told me they liked it, but…whereas that makes me feel better, it’s not constructive.

I’ve known that I need some outside feedback for a while, but I only recently realized how much I needed it.  I’m at the point, right now, in my writing, where I’m trying to improve my skill by looking at the problems I make, and attempting to fix them.  The problem is, I’m finding problems everywhere.  Dialogue, structure, description, sentence-structure, everything.  Yet, I have no clue if these issues I’m finding are real, or if they’re all in my head.  I know most of them are probably imaginary, but I don’t know which ones and how much.

So, yesterday, I had a big three-hour-or-longer-discussion with my mother.  (You know how writers often say, don’t go to your mom for criticism because she’s going to love everything you write, even if it’s terrible?  Well, my mom’s cooler than that.  She loves it and helps me out.)  It turned out that I had some loopholes, plot holes, and other holes that I wasn’t even aware of.  It all made perfect sense in my head, but it didn’t actually make much sense at all.

Hmm.  I now have a decently sized list of things I have to think about and then fix in this draft.  It’s going to be more eventful than I realized.

I guess publishing might still be a ways off…

Resolution

So, I decided to break from NaNo and the forums so I can spend more time writing. Last night was my last day. I had a few conversations with a few of them, managed to evade being “kidnapped”, and joked about having a going-away party. I had fun, and I’ll miss those NaNoers. I’m already looking forward to July, when I come back.

However, there were reasons I had leave, and one of the biggest ones is so I can put more effort into my writing. My Camp NaNo novel got, in some ways, thrown out the window. I got to just above forty thousand words on it, right before the climax, when I just couldn’t go any further. The character that was originally supposed to be my protagonist has so little personality that I don’t like writing her. The other two protagonists who kinda bumped themselves up have personalities that are in some cases flat, and some cases inconsistent. My villains don’t have any more of a personality. My setting is urban fantasy, but I can’t even decide if it’s our world, or just one with technology like ours.

In other words? This is turning out really awful. I think it’s an interesting plot and I’m not ready to give up on it yet, but it’s going to need a real overhaul. So, I think I’ll be working on that one these next two months.

Or….not.

What I probably will be doing is editing my other novel. The same one that I rewrote and rewrote for two years straight, and didn’t actually finish a draft that I was happy with until December. Sometimes, I like to refer to that as The Story, because I can’t seem to stay away from it. After these two years, I know my characters inside and out. I know all of the twists of my plot and I know my setting. And I love every piece of it.

So here is my resolution for the next two months. I will, without a doubt, be editing and writing the second draft to that novel, and hopefully, I will get some character development done and possibly write an outline for when I re-write my camp novel.