Hijacked

Dear Gods, I wish I could sleep in some days. I’m not talking about just sleeping past the alarm going off–I just want to give the alarm an opportunity to go off.

On the plus side, these early mornings seem to be my most productive times of day. I get a lot of writing and cosplay work done during these times. If it hadn’t been for the early wakings, I wouldn’t have gotten book 1 finished, let alone halfway through book 2. Well, kind of halfway. There are a lot of revisions to do before I keep going, because if I stay the course it’s going to be really hard to fix after I’m done with the draft.

I don’t know how some authors can plow through a draft without making changes as they go. If I notice one thing that needs changing that will affect the rest of the story, I have to fix it before I can continue. I mean, if I don’t, that means more work for myself down the road. For instance, even though I’m technically halfway through book 2, I have to revise part of the story that just doesn’t make sense as is. If I don’t, the rest of the book won’t make sense. I’ll have half a manuscript that needs to be revised, as opposed to a few chapters.

I guess every author has their own style. Some people are planners; I plan to a degree, but for the most part I pants it. What’s going to happen next? I don’t know, and I won’t until I get to writing it. But hey, I get to see the story unfold as it’s written, so it’s almost as exciting as if I were reading it for the first time. I’ve had characters surprise me multiple times. I’ll just be writing along, minding my own business, when suddenly a character emerges that I’d almost forgotten about (or even a new character comes to light that I hadn’t planned on). That character does some crazy shit, and it gets to the point where I’m just trying to keep up.

Some of my best plot twists have come from this, so I guess I shouldn’t complain, but sometimes it requires quick thinking to stay on top of things. Okay, then, Minor Character #37, if you think you require more “screen time,” so to speak, then I’ll oblige. Just tell me what to do, and I’ll give it my all. What can I say? Sometimes the characters know better than I as far as where the story needs to go.

This latest background-character-turned-major-storyline-influence took my “plan” in a completely different direction. A surprise appearance by someone who I’d thought of as incidental ended up affecting things all the way down to bloodlines. Yeah, a major character’s genetics were changed by this one chick who decided it was her time in the limelight. All right. I’ll roll with it. It actually makes the next book(s) more interesting (and takes care of a minor-major issue of a power vacuum that I’d created for myself–once again, by a character surprising me).

I almost can’t wait to see what happens next!

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Alterations

Damnit. Damnit, damnit, damnit.

So here’s a little backstory: I like doing these themed writing events on Twitter where you tweet a line or two from your WIP (or a freestyled line) to match a theme, then hashtag the event you’re doing. It’s fun, and it’s a good way to pare down wordy sentences. When you have only 140 characters–minus the hashtag–it helps you pin down those overly long sentences or phrases that might bore a reader.

Instead of paring down a sentence today, I added a bit to it. Just a few words, but those few words added such flavor to the sentence–and potentially the chapter it leads–that now I have to rewrite most of the chapter to continue with that flavor.

This is on top of the already arduous task of fixing a major plot hole I wrote into both book 1 and book 2. Yeah, when I screw up I like to keep it consistent. I knew there was something fishy about what I had written, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it at first. Then it hit me: plot hole. Big ol’ stinkin’ sinkhole in the middle of the road.

Guess I’m taking the laptop with me to my parents’ house while I do laundry, so I can get to fixing my mistakes…and improving that chapter.

Cold blooded and calculating

Damn! I didn’t know how truly evil my new antagonist was until she started revealing more of her story to me this morning.

This plan of hers has apparently been in the works for over a year (in novel time). She is smooth and conniving, to the point where she even had me fooled. For you non-writers, you may think I’m batshit crazy, but I assure you that this is a real thing for many authors. Characters can surprise you even though they’re creations of your own mind. New details come to the surface that you hadn’t previously considered, and when they do it all fits together quite nicely.

The same thing happened with my first novel. A minor character decided to show up and save the day at the last minute, despite me having no plans for such a thing to happen. Fictional characters, it seems, will not be silenced.

Bonus: I have an antagonist that will last me through several books, not just this one and the next.

Yes, I’m planning at least one more book (heretofore referred to as “book 3”) and most likely two or three more. This story is going to span generations, which I am excited for. I get to explore growth and development in a way that, as a non-parent, I haven’t experienced. Fuck the whole “write what you know” b.s., right? 😉

Guess I’ll get back to my antag and see what she’s been up to.

A new evil rises

Creating a power vacuum in a novel is tricky, especially when you do so by killing off your main antagonist.

When you’re pantsing and haven’t thought ahead that far? It’s even more tricky.

Thankfully my characters came to my rescue and told me who’s going to be in charge next. This morning a minor, not-previously-intended-to-appear-in-person character jumped out and said “Yo! Me! I’m in the game and I’m in charge.”

So I said “okay” and ran with it. It screws up a couple other characters’ plans, but sorry folks, she’s speaking louder. A lot louder. She’s freaking yelling at me.

Slash and burn

After pumping out about 7k words on book 2 yesterday, I came to a terrible realization …

… Nearly 1k of those words were completely unnecessary. Totally extraneous. Useless to the plot. Fuck.

Yeah, I had to cut it all, and now I’m scrambling to find words to fit in the blank that will advance the plot and be of some use to the story.

It happens to even the best of writers. I think. I guess. I mean, I can only hope. I wonder if Patricia Briggs or Darynda Jones have this kind of problem. If they did, it would sure make me feel better about my own writing.

As it is I’m feeling kind of meh about what I’ve written so far on book 2, even though I’m nearly 20 chapters in. I’m definitely going to need to go back in revisions and pump it up. Add some flavor, some depth. Which I guess is also normal. I hope. Anyway, novels take work. They don’t just magically appear when keys are pressed by the writer. Hard work, frustration, blood-sweat-tears kind of stuff. Not to mention the emotional rollercoaster. You get caught up in your own story, you feel for your characters (even as you torture them), and you kick yourself every time you screw the story up.

Like when you write 1k unnecessary words.

It’s moving along, though, and I’m hoping to be done with the first draft by the end of the year. Still waiting on a few critiques from some people on book 1 as well as my first edit, then it’s back to work on that one. Can I get book 1 polished and submitted to publishers by the end of the year? We’ll see. Once again, I have hope. I just don’t know if I’ll be able to do it in the timetable I want. The year before last, when I was writing Whispers of Death I had an awesome critique group that read a few chapters at a time for me, providing valuable feedback in exchange for my own feedback on their works. It worked out great, but the group has fizzled and been inactive for quite some time. Sad, but life happens.

Guess I should get back to filling in that 1k-word gap. Tally-ho! (Or something)

Pacing myself

Here it comes again: the pacing problem with my WIP.

Book 2 is moving too quickly. Or too slowly. It seems nothing I do is just right. Kind of like Goldilocks, I’m trying to find the right temperature porridge to make this book edible. Wait is that, like, the right metaphor? Simile? Damn, I should’ve paid more attention in English lit.

Anywho, the story’s all jumbled and a mess right now. Revisions are going to be a bitch once I get around to them. Gotta finish first, and even though I’m zipping along with the plot I’m still far from the end.

I’ve also written myself into a corner as far as my main MC goes. She’s getting too powerful for her own good, and it’s going to be terribly boring if she just plows through the obstacles I’m setting up for her. I mean, who wants to read about a character who can just do whatever? There’s no suspense there, no interest. I’ve got to tone her down a bit. Take her down a few pegs. Give her some kind of weakness that makes the obstacles more…obstacle-ey.

Things are coming to a head of sorts, but if I can’t fix my all-powerful MC problem it’s going to pop off too soon. Premature resolution of conflict. I swear this has never happened to me before.

The other MCs are moving along quickly as well, but I think I can fix that issue with a few minor adjustments. Tweak the timeline, add some dialogue, make things more difficult for them as well. Torture them. Make them work for their reward, damnit.

And my promise to myself not to write over the weekend? Yeah, that didn’t happen. Oh, sure, I didn’t write much, but I was definitely at it. Oops.

Ooh! That gives me an idea. Back to it!

No Wall

I’ve hit the damn wall again. Freakin’ writer’s block. Or, as I like to call it, the Wall.

Yep, I’ve been staring at the same sentence for two days, trying to figure out which sentence comes next. You probably know as much as I do about what it’s supposed to be. 😦

I guess it was bound to happen again eventually. Even the most prolific of writers eventually deal with the demon that is writer’s block. I just wish I had it a little less often. Definitely frustrating to have such a great streak of new material to suddenly BAM! run smack into the Wall.

Part of my problem is trying to decide the pacing. How fast do I want things to develop? Do I want to be ahead of where I am? I kind of don’t want to drag things out, but I don’t want to rush them either. Definitely a delicate balance.

Book 2 is becoming more of a hassle than book 1 for sure. I’m making things more complex, with at least three major threads running at the same time. Why do I do this to myself? Oh yeah: because I want the book to be great. Lol

Maybe I’ll change the working title. If I use the current working title for book 3, then I can make things move at a better pace that will be neither too rushed nor too sluggish.

Ah, the life of a pantser.

Okay, so I’m not totally pantsing. I have a general idea of where I’m going. Not an “outline” per se, but a vague … something. If I can climb over this Wall–or bust straight through it.

It’s time to go Kool-Aid Man on this writer’s block!