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?

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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?

NaNoWriMo—Past the MidWay Point! & Extras!

I’ve found it’s strangely discouraging to see how much further ahead everybody else’s wordcounts are from mine, so I decided to stop looking.  After all, it doesn’t matter how much everyone else has written! NaNoWriMo isn’t a race against other people.  It’s a crazy motivational month in which we all try our bests to write a full novel.

Okay, at the end of the month, I won’t have a full novel.  I’ll have 30k of assorted, random scenes that I can then use to write a fairlyish good outline of the next two novels.  (Instead of just one.  Oops.)

So far, I’m right on track.  Today’s the nineteenth and I have almost 19k.  (Okay, fine, I’m a few hundred words behind.  There, you got me.)  I’m not worried, though.  I’m still pretty confident I’ll make my goal, and I’ll be pretty happy with it.

Meanwhile, I realized that come December, I won’t have anything to write.  I’m not finishing the novel I’m writing this month, for several reasons—the biggest of which simply is that I have written absolutely nothing this year that wasn’t set in this world and with these characters. (Well, okay, I tried a few other things for Camp NaNo, but I’m not sure those count because I didn’t do much.)

I want something new. Something really different. So while I write my 1k for NaNo each day, I’m also brainstorming for a new project that I had an idea for way back in…I don’t even remember when.

The premise?  Aaaaahh, you want spoilers?  Okay, fine, you convinced me.  I managed to figure out how to turn Sleeping Beauty into a heist.

I love this story.  Unfortunately, I have never written a piece of sci-fi longer than 3k (which means I’ve never done any sci-fi worldbuilding), and I have never ever written a heist.

Nothing like new experiences, right?  (If anybody has any world building advice they could share, I’d be eternally grateful.  I am so lost.)

I’m excited.  Since I probably won’t start the writing itself for another month or so, I think this project will either be a really good way to start 2016 off, or it’ll be a really bad way.  Or both.  Probably both, knowing me and my projects, hehe.

Monthly Progress

Sooooo…it is August!  And August means… Camp NaNo is ended!

I won, with a total of… I don’t even remember my word count.  But since I was editing and not freewriting, it really doesn’t matter.  The point is, I edited the amount I needed.

A few months ago, I decided that my goal was to be completely done with draft two by the end of October.  Basically, be all done with draft two in time to write something else (the sequel) for NaNoWriMo.

In order to do that, I have to edit roughly 20k each month.  So what’s my goal to do this month?

That’s right, edit 20k.  I have roughly 50k left to edit (which is slightly less than half the novel), but the second half has less plot issues and inconsistencies than the first half, so I’m hoping that it’ll be a lot quicker to edit than the first half. (I’ve been editing since March or so, so you can see how long the first half took to go through.  But it was mostly rewrites and rewrites are kind of hard and slow.)

So I basically plan to have six more chapters edited by the end of the month.  So by the beginning of September, if all goes well, I should be starting work on chapter thirty.

How did Camp go for everybody else, if you participated?

 

Editing and All of the Things Stopping Me from Doing It

First off.  Notice the red bar on the right side of the page.  It’s full.  It’s also not even at 30k.

That’s basically how my writing is going.  I had expected that project to be a novel, but it just wasn’t going to do that.  Not enough story or something, I’m not even sure, but it decided to be novella instead.  When I edit it later on this year, perhaps I’ll figure out how to make it novel-sized…but then again, maybe this story needs to be a smaller size.  I’m not sure yet, but it really doesn’t matter so much, actually.  I’m not disappointed.

Maybe that’s just because I’m excited that I finished another project.  After almost two years of not finishing a single thing, I’ve now finished two decent-sized projects in a little over three months.

Speaking of other finished projects.  I’ve gotten a little bit overwhelmed with all of my world building in my other novel, and I decided…that should probably be enough.  There is one thing I still need to figure out, since it’s somewhat relevant to the story, but I can work it out later.  So for now, I’m going to actually start editing.

Gosh.  At first, staring my 100k novel, I wasn’t even sure how to begin the editing process.  I mean, what should you do first?  I know from reading other writers’ experiences in editing—and from a little common sense—that I need to edit the big stuff before I worry about the little stuff.  How much sense would it make to start correcting my grammar in a scene that might not even stay in the novel?

Yeah.  So.  I figured, I’ll start with my characters.  I have five viewpoints in this novel, and I noticed they were very much out of balance.  One character was the narrator for…twenty-something chapters, while another character had only six chapters in her PoV.  That didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me, especially since six chapters, in this case anyway, really isn’t much room to work with for her character arc.

So, I decided to start with character arcs.  I started writing outlines for each character, but started struggling with how they weaved together.  The five characters don’t always spend the whole novel all group together, but group up and split apart several times throughout the book.  So each character’s individual story depends a lot on how the other four go, so trying to write an outline for each is…not exactly easy.

Here’s the best part, though.  I realized that I actually can’t really figure out what their character arcs are because not all of them even have goals in the first place.  Hmm.  That’s problematic.

So I guess, I get to work on character development a little bit.  Some day, I’ll actually start editing this thing.  Some day soon, I hope.

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?

Percolation

I am a horrible blogger.  I haven’t so much as looked at my blog in three weeks.  Part of that is because I unexpectedly went to summer camp for a week (and we kind of didn’t have wifi), but otherwise, I honestly have no clue why I’ve avoided it.

But I’m back now!

And still writing.  I won Camp NaNo with a total of 28,288 words.  (What a fun number.  It was entirely incidental, believe it or not.)  Unfortunately, I also got bored of the story in the process, and so even though the story clearly isn’t finished at that amount, I probably won’t be continuing it this August.  Or…the rest of July.

Boy.  I really have a pattern going for getting bored of stories during Camp NaNo.  However, I’m beginning to think it’s due to my lack of planning.

See, when I don’t plan, I don’t plan at all.  Then I get part way into the story, lose my momentum, and I’m more lost than…well, really, really lost.   And when I do plan, I try to write a fairly extensive, chapter-by-chapter outline.  But I’ve never tried anything in the middle.  You can plan and not have an outline, can’t you?  I mean, okay, maybe that doesn’t make so much sense.

So, I’ll say this.  I’m planning my November novel right now.  Yes.  It’s not even August yet.  I have four months.  But, hey, that means I’ll be better off than those people who like to save it until right before November, right?

I’m not actually going to write an outline.  I’m bored of outlining, and I really want to discovery write.  Like, really discovery write, and not this…whatever it is I’ve been doing lately.  So in the next four months, I’m developing my protagonists and my antagonists, and also secondary characters (hey, has anybody thought of having a huge list of pre-developed characters to throw in when you lose momentum during NaNo?), and doing as much world-building as possible.

I’m thinking, if I have a world that I know almost inside and out, and characters that actually have depth to them, then maybe I can do better with this.  I hope.  But boy, world-building is hard.  And characters take a while to develop.  I almost wonder if four months will be long enough.

Anyway, that’s what I’ve been doing.  How’s everybody else’s writing going?  Does anybody else know what they’re doing in November yet?

The Horrors of Non-Writers & Writing in Public (Plus a Resolution to the Last Post)

We went to the park earlier, so my siblings could play with a few other kids their age.  Nobody was there my age, so, of course, I brought my notebooks.  I unfortunately didn’t get to do really any writing (about 70 words all in total), since I ended up chasing the two year old all around (he had fun going down the shortest slide there and saying “Wheeee!” almost after he got to the bottom).  But anyway, we got there, and I sat down and pulled my notebook out, all ready to continue with the scene I’d started this morning.  One of my mom’s homeschool friends sees me, and she’s like, “What’re you writing?”

My response, of course is just the vague statement of, “A story.”

And so she goes, “Of what?”

For a moment, I panicked.  I almost thought she was asking me what my story was about.  And how am I supposed to answer that?  I mean, of course, I know what my story is about.  I’m nearly forty thousand words into it, so I should hope I have at least a general direction to go in.  But as some of you can probably relate to, I hate telling anybody about it.  Especially to people who I’m afraid might judge me for writing fantasy, but really, to anybody in general.  Even family.  Ugh, no, especially family.

After those first few seconds, I realized she wasn’t actually asking that.  I’m not sure exactly what she was asking, but I said, “It’s fiction.  For myself.”  That seemed to satisfy her, but then she goes and makes the next mistake by jokingly suggesting that I should “include” her into the story.

Um…okay.  I don’t even know what your name is.  I doubt you even remember who I am, really, aside from the daughter of a fellow homeschooler.  And you’re asking me to make a character out of you?  Fine.  I’ll make you into one of those characters you only see once, because they end up dead after that or something.  The lady with the sunglasses and the really sugary voice that was talking to you about how expensive ice-cream is and then wound up dead for being associated with you because there’s a really evil villain in this story.  Or something.

So then our other friend gets to the park, the one we were originally going to meet, and the first thing she says when she sees me is, “Homework, still?”

Gosh.  Does anybody write things anymore that aren’t for school?  I told this lady pretty much the same thing: “No, it’s fictional stuff for myself.  I finished school early, actually.”  Thankfully, she left it at that and didn’t say anything more.  That might have been because then she was saying hello to my mother, but still.

And that is one of the many reasons I don’t like writing where there are other human beings. Non-writers can be so ignorant sometimes… it’s not their fault, but it can be slightly annoying.  The other big reason is mostly that it’s hard to concentrate on writing something when my siblings are coming up to me and asking pointless questions like, “What should I eat for lunch?”

“Um…whatever you like to eat?  I don’t know, I’m writing, go away.”

So that was my day.  Anybody else have some, ahem, fun with writing lately?

On a slightly different note, I made up my mind about what I was talking about in my last post.  I’m going to keep writing on the current project, at least for a little longer.  Mostly, that decision was made by the inspiration for the other story coming to a total and abrupt halt (though I did get about a thousand words out of it beforehand), but also that I looked at my bar on the side for how many days I’d been writing in a row on that one story.  At the time, I think it was about 21 days (though you can see now that it’s 25, as of this very moment).  That’s awfully close to thirty.  So, what I’m going to do is make it to that bloody thirty.  Then, if I still want to switch, I’ll switch.   But I’m going to make a full month before I stop.

So…Erm…Ugh…

Okay.  Now I’m stuck and I don’t know what to do.  Today and yesterday, I’ve just been staring at my Scrivener window and doing nothing.  I can’t write.  I have things to write, sort of.  I just don’t really want to.  Yesterday, I only barely made my goal for the day by writing about one sentence to a paragraph or two in a dozen different scenes and chapters, until it all added up to 500 words.  Today, I really don’t have a way of doing even that, but I can’t seem to write.

I don’t want to take a break, though.  I want to write.  I even wrote a few hundred words in a separate story, but this one particular one, I can’t seem to go anywhere.  I want to take a break from it, and work on some of my other stories.  But at the same time, I want to finish this one.  I haven’t finished a project since last May (an entire year ago), and this is the closest I’ve gotten since then.  I’m, I think, about half way through the novel.

But I’m staring to get…bored, I guess.

So should I switch to another story or try to get past this and just keep writing until I reach the end?

The Importance of Writing Every Day

My dad made a point to me this morning: if you don’t practice a skill every day, or at least regularly, that skill begins to atrophy.  That works with almost everything. Last year, I did P.E. only on Wednesdays.  And I was terrible at jumprope.  I hoped that if I did it every Wednesday for the whole school year, maybe, I could get a little bit better.

Did I?  No.  It was every Wednesday and not every day.  I’m still absolutely terrible at jumprope.  In fact, since I haven’t touched a rope in over a year, I’m probably even worse at it than before.

How is this relevant?  Well, the same goes for writing.  What have I not been doing with my writing?  Doing it every day.  And what have I been finding when I actually do write?  It’s hard, it’s slow and mostly unproductive, and it doesn’t turn out very well.

Hmm.  I wonder if I see the issue here…

It’s actually rather frustrating.  I don’t want to have to sit down and re-learn all of this stuff, but I have to.  It’s kind of like my flute.  I haven’t seriously touched the instrument in five years, so when I sit down to try to play, my fingers remember which keys to push down, due to muscle memory, but I don’t really remember how to blow into the instrument properly.  So, I have to start over as a beginner.  Granted, I’ll admit, part of the problem with my flute is that it badly needs to be tuned, but that’s irrelevant.

I’m sure you can imagine the frustration I’m having.  I’ve been writing for nearly three and a half years, and yet, I feel like a total newbie all over again.  Except, I’m lacking the confidence I had back when I’d first started.  Then, I was amazed any time any words came out on the page.  When my first novel reached a word-count of 20k, I was absolutely ecstatic.

The other day, I went and reread my ’12 NaNo novel, just on a whim.  I was sure it was absolutely terrible, but it really…wasn’t.  Sure, there’s still my key signature of a lack-of-description, and some (most) of the dialogue is awkward, along with other random problems, but I’m actually rather impressed with the writing style itself.  It’s not terrific or anything—not even close—but it’s actually better than what I’m writing right now.

I wonder why.

I guess the point of this post is to say that I—and any of you reading this, ahem, looking at you, Kiwi—should try to write every day.  So, I’m going to give myself a goal.  Write five hundred words every day.  Just five hundred, no less.  I’m also going to try once again to limit myself to one project.  Not that I can’t write on any other project—I’d drive myself to insanity if I did that—but I have to write at least five hundred on one project, and then I can go write whatever I like wherever I like.

In order to really do this, though, I’m going to need someone to help me hold myself accountable.  Anyone willing?