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, Iย 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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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? ๐Ÿ˜‰

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

AMA w/Clare, Harper, and Eli

I’ve posted on this before, but figured I’d post again just for shits and giggles (and to get the word out) ๐Ÿ˜‰

Yes, I’m hosting an AMA (Ask Me Anything, for those not in the Twittertalk loop) with the main character of my new novel and her cohorts.

Clare, Harper, and Eli live in a dystopian future where the social elite have taken over the Old U.S. as the governing body. These richest of the rich are also blessed with evolutionary genetic Gifts, Gifts that are only allowed in the upper classes. Any low-class fetus found to have these Gifts are said to have genetic “abnormalities” and is terminated by government order…ostensibly for the safety of the mother and as a mercy to the child, which would have grown up deformed or mentally retarded. In reality, the ruling Council doesn’t want anyone in the lower classes to have the power to overthrow them.

Despite the Council’s efforts, Abnormals are still born. Their parents use a variety of methods to hide their Abnormal children from the Squads that patrol the streets of Heaven’s Light and the other remaining Old U.S. cities.

Clare and Eli meet under dangerous circumstances and end up on the run from the Squads to avoid capture and internment in one of the Abnormal concentration camps that dot the wastelands between cities.

Harper is one of Eli’s exes, and she inserts herself into Clare and Eli’s budding relationship when they run into her in one of the Dead Cities, abandoned cities run and occupied by Abnormals and their families.

Comment here (or tweet or comment on the shared posts on Twitter and Facebook) to ask a question to Clare, Eli, or Harper. I’ll answer “in character” in a post at the end of this month! ๐Ÿ™‚ If you want to know more about Clare, Harper, and Eli or the world they live in, ask away! They’ll be more than happy to answer your questions.

AMA-Clare

Here it is, my first character Ask Me Anything!

Here’s what you do: Comment/reply/tweet/whatever with questions for the character, & I answer “in character” ๐Ÿ™‚

First up is Clare, the heroine of our story. She lives in a dystopian future where the good ol’ US of A is fucked, and all that’s left are a few opulent city-states ruled by an oligarchy-type council.

Who wants to learn more? There’s aย lot more to the story, but to know more you’d have to ask Clare ๐Ÿ˜‰

Fire away!

When your imaginary friends surprise you

Some people make the false assumption that, as writers, we have total control over the worlds and characters we create. They’reย our creations, after all. I have not found this to be true.

Inย Whispers of Death, a character made a surprise appearance in the climactic battle scene that I was totally not expecting. As I wrote the scene, the character just showed up out of the blue. I hadn’t planned it, but there he was. The same sort of thing happened in my writing yesterday. One of my characters took me by surprise by showing me she had more to her than what was on the surface.

Maybe it’s just the pantser in me. I don’t plan a whole lot of my story. The big points, yes, but the path from Point A to Point B to Point C is up in the air when I get started. Sometimes the points change mid-story as well. New ideas pop up that make the story richer–ideas that were nowhere in sight when the story began.

Even some of the short stories I write have these surprise changes. The characters make decisions that alter the course of the story, and I have to go with it. Because let’s face it, the really interesting characters know how to improve a plot better than I do. I might as well learn from the experts. They’re the ones living it, after all.

As a relatively inexperienced writer (I’ve written loads of poetry and many short stories/flash fictions, but only the one novel-length work so far), I can’t speak for the rest of us I guess. I mean, maybe planners don’t have characters that go haywire on them. Maybe they have the secret to making unruly characters behave and follow the script.

But honestly? I kinda dig the surprises. It makes the story as interesting to write as (I hope) it is to read.

When Characters Won’t Behave

I was on aย great writing streak yesterday morning on my morning off work…

…until the characters stopped behaving and started going off-script.

It started innocently enough. One character (my main character) started doubting herself in her relationship with the other protagonist. Then things got complicated–on purpose, but still–and she turned into a whiny little brat. This proud, independent woman became a mouse, and I’m frustrated with her for that.

I’ve also realized that I need to introduce the main antagonists on a bigger scale a little sooner in the narrative. Right now, the protags are being pursued by a government task force, and though the “why” is there, the “who” is pretty vague. That bit can wait, though; adding in chapters between the MC POV is easier than what I have to do now, which is kick the MC in the proverbial ‘nads to get her to stop whining and be that strong woman again.