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.

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.

To find strength in weakness

For the past several months, I’ve been stuck on book 2 of my current writing project(s). I had made the main character too powerful, too unbelievable. Too boring. Who cares about an all-powerful character who has almost no weaknesses? Meh.

I was trying to think of how to strengthen the last several chapters I wrote when suddenly it hit me: take away that power and see how she deals with it. If the lack of weakness was causing the weak writing, then maybe I should add some weakness and let it take me where it does. So far it reads much better, and it gives the supporting characters a chance to show what they can do…and they’re surprising even me.

I’ve added more than a thousand words since I started early this morning, but I’m far from done. I’ve still got entire chapters that need partial to complete overhauls thanks to this change. I sometimes wish I hadn’t gotten as far as I did before I caught on to what the problem was, but when I think about it it’s kind of a blessing. Some parts can be salvaged, and I have a general idea of where I’m going. The direction hasn’t changed much–the train’s still on the same basic track–but the implications are far-sweeping. Like, into all the future books (however many that ends up being…). Still, since I’ve already written in the general direction the story’s going I hopefully won’t lose too much time in my reboot. Well, not too much more time. There is that whole months-of-not-writing thing that has slowed me down.

Will I make it to the end of book 2/draft 1 by the end of this year? Maybe, maybe not. I blew past my goal of finishing the first draft of book 1 by the end of the year, so I’m not too worried about whether or not book 2’s draft gets finished before January 1st. I made a goal, and I accomplished it with more than half a year left over.

I think I’m starting to get this writing thing down. 🙂

 

Mass Murder

Here goes nothing…I’m going to cut several chapters from book 2 because they are flatter than the screen they’re displayed on and it’s been bugging me since before the Phoenix Comicon crunch fell upon me. It won’t be the first time I’ve slaughtered thousands of words, and it surely won’t be the last. Still, I have to reread the whole mess first so I don’t kill whatever semblance of decent writing might exist amidst the rubble. I’m sure it’s not all as garbage-y as I think it is, but there’s still a burning need for a major overhaul.

One big question is: How do I tone it down without making it fall into a black hole of boring? At the moment I have a heroine who is nigh invulnerable, and that just doesn’t work. She’s got to have at least some weaknesses; if I make her beyond superhuman, that leaves no room for growth or advancement. That would be just as dull, if not more so, as having her weak and useless. There’s a balance I have to find, that line between godlike and fragile where she’s both strong and vulnerable.

I have my work cut out for me, but I’m confident that I can achieve that balance and make the action more interesting. I just have to mull it over, buckle down, and git ‘er done.

Diving back in?

Phoenix Comicon’s over. The Crunch has passed, and I have a lot more time to myself in the mornings. No rush to sew as fast as I can. I can finally get back to book 2.

Whatever happened to waiting to fix the chapters that have been bugging the hell out of me until editing on book 1 is finished? Well, I’ll tell you what happened: those damn chapters have been bugging the hell out of me.

I didn’t want to rewrite them until I finished whatever sweeping changes the latest critique may require; after all, what’s the point of going through the effort of rewriting several chapters if I might have to go back and tweak them again later? There may not really be a point, besides settling my mind and getting me back into writing mode.

Unfortunately, I haven’t yet worked out how to work out the chapters. I know that the action I wrote is subpar and just doesn’t fit, but I don’t know yet how to fix it. I need to reread the drivel and meditate on what will flow better. Right now it’s pretty bland (at least in my self-critical opinion), but I think if I just mull it over for a while I can get it to be somewhat presentable.

For now, the offending chapters will stay…but their death is looming on the horizon as I crack my knuckles and chug my caffeinated drink of choice.