Hurry up and take your time…

I swear, I could kick myself some days.

Plot holes remain abundant in my latest WIP despite me going back several times to “fix” them. It’s quite frustrating, as I haven’t had that bad of a problem with it before. I suspect I’m trying too hard to push the story forward, to the point where I’m making stupid, sloppy mistakes in the plot. Go back, fix Chapter X. Go back again, fix Chapter Z. Go back again, fix Chapter Infinity. Ugh.

Sometimes I have to kind of remind myself to take my time with the story and figure out where it’s going. The characters don’t always tell me exactly what’s happening, so I have to use my brain to sort things and make them fit. Tie this thing in here, streamline that there, etc. Characters don’t have time for that kind of thing. They’ve got important things to get through. Survival takes precedence for them over anything else. It’s up to me to take care of the rest of it.

It’s hard to slow down. Despite not even being done with book one, I for some reason feel a kind of pressure to finish the first draft on book two. It’s weird. I mean, why be so worried about this one when the other needs to be fine-tuned first?

Guess I’ve got to prioritize. Wait for the latest beta/critique/edit to come back on the first book, then tweak that one until it’s bright and shiny and new … and then tweak some more. Let book two simmer on the back burner for a while and wait out the creative process until it starts processing again. Letting my frustrations take over won’t do me any good, and neither will forcing the story out when it’s not solidified in my head yet.

I have no idea how some authors can churn out multiple books in just a short year. Even though I have a general idea of what’s going to happen in the future of this series, I would never be able to produce that much quality product in that brief span of time. Maybe one book a year–maybe.

Then again, I’m probably putting the cart before the horse or something. I mean, if book one’s not published, books two and three and however-many-they-end-up-being won’t be published either.

Maybe it’s time to give this book a nap before I put the first draft to bed.

Writing outside the lines

Ever since I discovered the daily Twitter writing events/games I’ve noticed something interesting about my writing strengths and weaknesses.

Basically, the writing events are, for the most part, centered around a weekly theme for each day. You search your WIP for a line (or sometimes a couple of lines, if they’re under the 140-character limit) and copy/paste into a tweet with the day’s hashtag. From the numbers of likes and retweets, I can kind of tell what lines are strong and what ones fall flat. The results are a little surprising some days. Sometimes the lines I absolutely love receive little to no response from hashtag readers, and sometimes the ones I think are only so-so get a tons of likes.

So how has this applied to my writing? Well, as of yet I haven’t quite figured out the pattern. I still post lines that to me are great, and I still get bupkis on many of those lines. I’ll give you some examples from today’s tweets:

-She pulled back to look into his eyes. “What’s on the agenda for today?”

“Every girl’s favorite thing: shopping.”

Now, I think those lines are funny, so I posted them for a hashtag that had the theme of “humor.” The readers of the accompanying hashtag? Not so much. No response whatsoever so far.

-“Right. And I’m just an innocent girl.”

“You are innocent. It’s actually kind of refreshing.”

This has gotten a bunch of likes and a couple of retweets just in the last 40 minutes. What the heck? It’s not super exciting or profound…to be honest, I just did a document search for “innocent” (today’s theme for that particular hashtag) and copy/pasted the first lines that popped up.

It’s not always like that, though. Sometimes the lines I personally like get a relatively decent amount of likes/retweets…which is a little confusing for me. How do I tell which lines are great and which fall flat? I mean, part of the writing process is self-editing, so theoretically I should be able to tell which lines to keep and which to rewrite or cut altogether.

Theory and practice are not always in sync, I guess.

One of these days I’ll be able to use this free mini-beta-testing service to gauge my lines and write stronger ones, but for now I’m still baffled.

Rollin’ with my homies

Now that my husband and I have re-entered the world of Having a Social Life (nerd version), we’ve gotten back into RPGs–roleplaying games–and it’s taking some reorienting on my part.

I used to be able to create a caster character practically with my eyes shut and my hands tied behind my back. Need a blaster caster? Yep, I’m your gal. Healer? Yeah, I can do that. Buffer/debuffer? No sweat. Now? Now I’m making stupid mistakes in my character creation that are more than a little embarrassing, at least for a geek. Miscalculating stats, forgetting to buy certain special items that are practically necessary, forgetting major bonuses…yeah, I’m out of shape in that category. Last night’s game wasn’t a total loss, though; I blew the majority of the bad guys away in one fight, so at least I remembered how to utilize the spells I chose.

There are other social activities that we’ve been engaging in with our friends, and it’s weird to be back in that kind of mindset. Even my husband, who works from home and thus is virtually dying to get out of the apartment when he’s off work, has complained a bit about being worn out from all the go-go-go-go-go that we’ve been doing. Mondays are one thing (well, three for him really, two or three for me depending on when work ends), every other Tuesday something else, Wednesday and Thursday evenings have something on the schedule, and Fridays, Saturdays, and even Sundays each have at least one social activity with friends planned out on a regular basis. To go from zero to chock-full in a very short amount of time like this can be pretty exhausting, as we’re discovering now.

It’s cool to have friends to hang out with again, though, and I’d rather be exhausted from having too much of a life outside of work than exhausted from having no life outside of work. So I guess I’m not really complaining…more like stating the obvious.

Our friends are pretty cool, too. They have a lot of the same interests that we do, they’re encouraging, and they’re all-around nice guys. I’ve already learned a bunch from them and I can tell they’re going to provide a wealth of information in the years to come. And who knows? Maybe I can impart a little of my limited wisdom on them as well.

That’s how Having a Social Life works: You hang out, you have fun, and you just roll with it.

No rest for the weary

I swear I’m going to lose my ever-loving mind…

After a night with only two hours of sleep, I was going to type up a post that was 95% bitching about the insomnia. I actually did type it up, but I deleted it all. Because fuck the insomnia. I’m not going to let it win. I’m going to drink my coffee, take my shower, and get ready for the busy work day ahead. I’m going to do my job until it’s time for me to go home and then work out, eat dinner, and hopefully crash into a peaceful night’s sleep.

And if I don’t? Well then, it’s just going to be another long night.

Can’t beat the heat

It’s mid-June. In Arizona. I’m about to head on a road trip in a sweltering car for three hours to a town that’s about ten to twenty degrees higher than our little mountain town.

WTF is my problem???

Guess I’m just a masochist or something. The conference/event/thing I’m going to is semi-mandatory for me (& not for pay), but I think it’ll be fun despite the weather. Meeting new people, learning new things, all that jazz. Plus I’ll have friends there, and my husband, so I won’t be all by myself. So that’s cool.

We’ll see how far I can take this peopling thing. I’ve been more socially active the past few months that in, like, the past decade. Not sure that’s really much of an exaggeration, either. Quite possibly literally a decade. And ​for a socially-awkward introvert, it should be interesting to see how I adapt. So far so good.
Right now we have friends in the car with us. I’m about to post this and then get social.

And melt… because the car temp gauge thing says 100 degrees.

Holey moley

*Sigh* I’ve gone and done it again…again.

It’s not a character death this time. No, it’s another one of those sneaky, tricksy plot holes. Damnit.

I hadn’t even noticed the gaping hole until one of my characters asked a perfectly innocent, perfectly logical question. Stupid characters that are smarter than I am. Ugh. I guess it’s a blessing in disguise, though; better for the character to tell me now, during the early stages, than to have a beta reader or editor point it out later on. That would be embarrassing.

Now I have to think out the reasoning behind said hole and a possible way around it (without having to rewrite too much of what I’ve already rewritten a couple of times). What’s preventing the characters from taking the most logical course of action?

Ooh! Could that be it? Hmm…it would still require rewrites, but maybe I can weave it in without too much effort. It wouldn’t be too far out of the realm of possibility, especially in a sci-fi type of story….This might work out after all….

Too bad, so sad

Well, I’ve done it again. I’ve gotten so invested in my WIP that the death of a minor character has me choked up.

It’s not really a spoiler to say that, because anyone who follows this blog (or has read my first book) knows I tend to be quite murderous in my writing. Like, mass destruction. Death by fiction. Hey, death happens in life, and in a dystopian sci-fi it’s definitely going to happen. So why do I care if a side character gets killed off?

I guess I could toot my own horn and say that it’s because I’m such a good writer, but let’s face it–I’m still a noob. No, I think the more likely scenario is that I have a soft spot for this person who’s got a whole life and background that’s not even written in. I know their personality, their quirks, their strengths and weaknesses. I know them more than any reader could…unless I really am that good of a writer, in which case the reader could infer these things from what I’ve written. Nah. We’ll go with the soft spot.

Most writers go through this, I guess–those that write death into their stories, at least. I’m generalizing based on solely my experience, but let’s just say for the sake of argument that this is common. The question then becomes: Who feels it more–the reader or the author?

As a reader, I know I’ve gotten upset at the deaths of minor characters before, those characters that draw you in for the few chapters they occupy and make you their friend. I certainly don’t know the backgrounds of these characters, don’t know their quirks and strengths and weaknesses. I don’t necessarily know what kind of childhood they had, or what their favorite color is, or any of that jazz. Still it affects me, and that’s saying something for the author of that story.

Maybe that’s the key; maybe you have to feel it yourself to know what the reader’s going to feel. Dig that knife into your own heart, make yourself cry, whatever. Feel the emotion, or the emotion won’t be felt.

Or maybe I’m just getting soft in my old age.