Yes, it’s true. I’m putting this blog on hiatus for a while. I’ve been getting so many blog post ideas for my main blog, along with struggling over an entry for my library’s March Break short story contest and trying to figure out where to go next with Project Remembrance, that there isn’t much time left over for this blog. I hope to be back in a month or two (at the very most) with some new updates. (Oh, and my history projects for school take up time too.) See you then!
For some reason, I’ve been thinking a lot about Betrayal today. Remember that story idea I posted about a loooong time ago? Well, it’s been on my mind lately, and I’m wondering if I should go back to writing it, after I’m done Project Remembrance (and I don’t just mean the first draft – I mean every draft until it’s as polished as I can possibly make it), because it’s the story + characters that tug the most on my heart, even after all this time. The whole thing is so very personal and special and real to me, maybe because my inspiration came from a long, complicated, intensely emotional dream. (Honestly, I was crying when I woke up.) Themes of loyalty and betrayal have always resonated with me, whether in books or movies or TV shows, and that’s mainly what Betrayal is about, so like I said, it’s special.
And that’s about it. I don’t even really know why I wrote this rather pointless post – I guess I just wanted to talk about some things to my self, and since I don’t have a diary, this is the next best thing. Anyway, my next post (if I stop procrastinating and just GET IT DONE) should be about PR and it’s different characters, settings, etc.
I snagged this questionnaire off one of my favorite blogs, because I didn’t have a post idea and I hadn’t posted for a while, and this thingy looked like fun. (Yes, I just said ‘thingy’. I’m tired right now.) If you want to sneak away with it too, be my guest. Right now, I’m feeling too meh to really care if you answer these questions or print out the list and eat it or whatever.
1. How many years have you been writing? When did you officially consider yourself a ‘writer’? Well, I’m not sure when exactly I started writing my little, plagiarized stories (I could look it up if I had enough energy to go down to my room and find the writing diary I kept in The Early Days) but it was probably sometime around my thirteenth birthday. Those were the days. I didn’t know anything about characterization or plot or dialogue, so I just scribbled down tales, blissfully happy in my supposed genius. Now writing is much more work (but I still enjoy it). I probably officially considered myself a writer when I won NaNoWriMo for the first time, in 2013. Or when I finished my first novel (which was either in 2012 or 2013). Either way, I definitely consider myself a writer now.
2. How/why did you start writing? Jane Austen. I started writing because I adored Jane Austen’s books and I wanted to replicate them. I’ve branched out now, and I don’t write Regency romances anymore, but Jane Austen’s novels were what got me started on the path in the first place, and I’ll always be immensely grateful to her for that. As for the ‘how’ of the question…I sharpened my pencil, got down a notebook that I’d bought from the dollar store, and wrote until my hand cramped up. I felt very satisfied when I stopped and saw how much I’d already written.
3. What’s your favourite part of writing? Hmmm. This is hard. I like getting ideas. I like the rush of thoughts and bits of inspiration that pour in whenever I get a brand-new idea. I whip out my little black moleskine notebook and write everything down just as fast as it comes to me, and even though I usually end up using less than half of whatever I write, it’s still a great feeling. Very writer-ish. I also enjoy being able to use the writing skills that I’ve honed somewhat for writing fan-fiction. A friend of mine recently said that the writing in a certain fan-fic of mine was ‘a cut above the average fan-fiction’, which made me very happy. (Not to be proud, or anything…)
4. What’s your biggest writing struggle? Dialogue. I recently realized that most dialogue (for original works and fan-fiction both) tends to be more than a little patchy, and it’s very frustrating at times. I want my characters to sound like real people, not book characters.
5. Do you write best at night or day? Most (if not all) of my writing is done in the morning, and I haven’t really tried much writing at night, so I’d have to say I write best during the day. I usually get an hour in the morning to write, and if it’s a good day, I can churn out as much as 2,000 words. (Usually less when I’m writing fan-fiction, because I like the quality to be excellent, even for a first draft. With my original work, I take a more relaxed view of things, mainly because I won’t have an angry fandom on me if I don’t get it perfect right away.)
6. What does your writing space look like? (Feel free to show us pictures!) Eh. I don’t really have a writing space, per se. I just write at the kitchen desk, which is usually very messy and doesn’t have any personal touches from me. If/when I get my own laptop, I’ll probably make my desk into a writing space, and if I do, I’ll share pictures on this blog. I have it all worked out in my head, actually. All that’s needed is a laptop.
7. How long does it typically take you to write a complete draft? Depends. I don’t really have a set writing goal, time-wise. I tend to mosey along, writing bursts of words every day and letting the draft be as long or as short as the story dictates. I’ve been working on Project Remembrance for five months and it’s nowhere near being finished. On the other hand, I wrote three complete first drafts (the Vengeance Is Mine trilogy) in just two or three months, I believe. I’m not pushing to get things done in a set amount of time.
8. How many projects do you work on at once? Again, it depends. Right now, I’m working on PR, a piece of Combat! fan-fiction, mulling through ideas for a potential To Kill A Mockingbird fan-fiction, and thinking about writing a bit of a story centered around this picture. Usually, I write one thing, while ideas for several others are going around in my head. Things are never dull up in my brain, that’s for sure.
9. Do you prefer writing happy endings, sad ones, or somewhere in between? Bittersweet, so I guess that’s somewhere in between.
10. List a few authors who’ve influenced your writing journey. Well, as I mentioned above, Jane Austen got me ‘into’ writing, but Jack Cavanaugh’s books sort of continued my writing. I was absolutely blown away by how he wove plot and characters and dialogue together into a (usually) historical tapestry, and I think that’s why my first book was set in medieval times (sort of). My favorite book of his is set in Medieval England, anyway. There’ve been a bunch of other authors who’ve wowed me, but listing them would take forever. Suzanne Collins, Markus Zusak, Charles Dickens, Shannon Hale, Laura Hillenbrand, Ted Bell…
11. Do you let people read your writing? Why or why not? I let people read my writing sometimes, mainly if it’s a short story or fan-fiction (and most of the people who end up reading my work are beta-readers), but my full length novels are languishing in a dusty file because they need huge revisions and I’d be embarrassed to show them to anyone. I’m quite proud of PR, though, and I generally let Jane and Ashley read whatever they want of my stuff.
12. What’s your ultimate writing goal or dream? Um…I haven’t really thought too much about it, actually. All of the usual things seem so cliched – getting a book published, becoming a best-selling author, making a living out of writing books, etc, etc. I guess my dream would be to publish Project Remembrance someday. And be able to send fan-fiction off to beta-readers without cringing and hoping they won’t find it too horrible.
13. If you didn’t write, what would you want to do? Read. That’s about the only thing I do these days, besides writing. (Oh, and eating. Can’t forget that.)
14. Do you have a book you’d like to write one day but don’t feel you’re ready to attempt it yet? Um…I’m not sure. I don’t thiiiink so.
15. Which story has your heart and won’t let go? I’m very partial to all my Combat! fan-fiction, of course, and as for ‘original’ stories, it would have to be Betrayal, which I haven’t visited in a long time, but is still very much in my thoughts. It’s very personal to me, for several reasons, and I AM going to return to it one of these days. Pinkie-promise.
Or, How I Lost My Irrational Fear Of Editing.
For the longest time, I hated, loathed, and dreading editing even though I’d hardly done a stitch of that very necessary part of the writerly craft. I’d write a novel (or two, or three, or…) and let it wallow in all its unedited glory because I was too apprehensive and/or too lazy to tackle the project and get it whipped into shape. I think one of the biggest reasons for this phobia was that I really had no idea where to start. Do I line edit first or do I chop up the plot? If I take out dialogue and plot and end up needing them later, what am I going to do? And how on earth do I improve characterization? (it seemed such an intangible thing to me) That’s how it went on for, oh, I’d say about two years.
Then, I discovered Combat! and everything changed.
Usually when I get really obsessed with a book or movie or TV show, I end up writing fan-fiction centered around said book/movie/TV show. I wrote the most horrid bits of Enjonine fan-fiction back in 2012, gave up all fan-fic writing in 2013, and then gave the thing another try with The Hunger Games and Rat Patrol in the middle of 2014. I think the fan-fiction I wrote for those two fandoms were relatively good (if you want to check them out, my fanfiction.net profile is right here) but I didn’t edit them a bit before posting them on-line, something that I very much regret now. Anyway, when I started getting the inevitable ideas for Combat! fan-fiction, I wanted to do things differently. My first story was about Doc and because he’s amazing and awesome and practically perfect in every way, I wanted the story to be the same. And the only way I knew of doing that was *gulp* Ye Dreaded Editing.
Thankfully, I had a friend who’d loved the show for years (and thus could help me with the dialogue and plot and characterization much better than an ordinary beta reader) and she willingly agreed to read over the fan-fic and give me her thoughts. So I finished writing it up and sent it off to her with no little trepidation. I had actually edited a couple of short stories, and the part I hated most about the process usually turned out to be the actual critique, because my stupid writer’s pride couldn’t bear to have its ‘genius’ critiqued. So White Queen (that’s her pen-name in the Combat! fandom – you can check out her blog here) read the story and sent it back to me with a lot of comments that Microsoft Word handily accommodates. Overall, she’d enjoyed the story, but there were definitely several things to work out.
I’ll admit that it was hard. The comments weren’t harsh, or anything like that, and there were positive ones sprinkled among the negative ones, but any kind of critique is hard for me to take. I wish I was thicker skinned, but I’m not – at least not yet. There may have been a few tears shed in frustration and some semi-sleepless nights, but I persevered, took almost all her suggestions…and you know what? The story turned out great. Really great, if I do say so myself. It took some ranting to my sister and deep breaths and gritted teeth and swallowing of pride, but I edited the thing and it’s infinitely better for the critique. (actually, there were two rounds of critiques, but that’s beside the point) Now, I wish I could say it was easier when I sent in my next bit of Combat! fan-fiction to WQ, but it wasn’t. Not really. I was still apprehensive. There was still the ranting and frustration and deep breaths. I’m still not thick skinned. But, again, I pushed through my stupid writer’s pride and got the job done. And that’s really all you can do.
How does all this talk of trials and tribulations while editing fan-fiction relate to my ‘real’ writing?
Well, I’ve been editing Project Remembrance for several days now (what I’ve got written of it, that is, so I can move on to more of the plot) and it’s actually been easy, if not fun. Fun. Imagine that. (I’m sure part of the fun is the fact that I’m doing it under my own critique, and not someone else’s, but still…) The story is improving before my eyes, and that’s always an amazing feeling. As I’ve said before, I really, REALLY think that PR could be The Novel That Gets Published. I’m still a long way away from that day, but it’s the goal. And it’s been made possible by the boost of confidence that editing [what are essentially] short stories gave me. If you don’t feel too sure about tackling the process of revisions, I’d recommend two things. (And they’re really the only two things I can think of as tips for editing)
- Find a good critique partner. Not just someone who knows a whole lot about writing – dialogue, plot, characterization, etc. – but someone who knows how to mix praise with pointers on what’s wrong. Let me tell you…it’s a huge morale booster when you’re wading through a bunch of comments to find a little gem saying something like “I love this bit of dialogue!” or “Great characterization here.” And, of course, your critique partner should be attuned to what you writer. Don’t saddle a lover of western romances with 100,000 words of grim, sci-fi dystopia. They’ll thank you.
- Practice on short stories. Fan-fiction is actually a good place to start if you want to practice editing techniques because the characters are ready-made, which means you just have to fiddle with thought/dialogue a little to get some really stellar characterization. Also, you tend to care enough about the topic to see revisions through to bitter (happy?) end. Although original short stories can work just as well.
So, there you have it. My (somewhat limited) editing tips – feel free to share some of yours in the comment section!
Project Remembrance is going swimmingly (I just love that word) right now and I couldn’t be happier. I’ve made some changes with the point of view (switching it to first person, Skye – but past tense, as first person, present is so overdone these days), general style, characters, etc., and it’s coming along well. You really can’t imagine how good it feels to write a thousand or so words every morning and have it actually feel like I’m accomplishing something. Fan-fiction is great and I love it dearly (and I have an entire list of fic I want to write eventually), but nothing beats working with your own stories and characters. These past few days have seen me the most content and satisfied I’ve been for a while (as a writer, that is).
At present, there are 3,877 words in PR’s document, which doesn’t seem like a lot, but I’m happy with it. I’ve made it a goal to write at least a thousand words every day (something I can do in an hour, and sometimes even less) and, so far, it’s going well. Although I think I’m going to have to work on pacing, since I’m not even out of the first scene. *cough* I will admit that I’ve been indulging my love of courtroom scenes/dramas, but I’ll be moving on when my next writing session rolls around. There’s still a lot of plot and characterization to work though and the story will most likely change again and again and again, but I’m having fun now and the whole thing’s going very well. So well, in fact, that I thought I’d share a snippet. (it’s been a while since I’ve done that, actually)
Rita Vern, the director of the Department, walked past without so much as a glance toward my table. Her jaw was set, her eyes directed straight ahead, and she looked like she was ready to do battle. As was I.
I didn’t recognize her lawyer, which was unusual given that I rubbed shoulders with those in the law business every single day of my life. The fact that I didn’t recognize the male lawyer meant that he was most likely near the top of the competitive chain, something that was only achieved by being one of the best of the best.
My mom might have been too hasty with setting me up in such an important case.
“When do we start?” Pette said in a whisper.
I turned away from my scrutiny of Rita Vern and her lawyer and back to Pette. “Soon,” I said. I removed my datapod from the table and started it up. Having all the details of the case in front of me wasn’t necessary, but it was better to be safe than sorry.
Though nothing was ever really, truly simple in our legal system, this case was relatively straightforward, at least on the screen. Pette Ricks was bringing a case against the Department of Records, with the charge that they slandered her daughter’s name while compiling her dead file. She wanted the dead file reclaimed, destroyed, a new one made, and – if I could manage it – certain limitations imposed against the Department to prevent that kind of thing ever happening again.
It was the last part that worried me. Since the Department was almost solely responsible for keeping the peace in our country, because of the dead files, they had the near full backing from what government we had. Taking measures against them was always tricky.
A headache was coming on, I could feel it, but I pushed it away. Not now. I couldn’t deal with it right now.
It seems like all my blog posts on here seem to be updates about my writing and nothing actually to show for all the writing I’m supposedly doing. Or, in this case, not doing. I’ve really been meaning to continue editing Project Remembrance – honest! – but there have been a bunch of different distractions over the past few days and, well, I haven’t really gotten anything accomplished. First, I was scrambling to finish up a wee bit of Combat! Christmas fan-fiction, and then my grandpa took the whole family out to brunch a couple days ago which meant that my schedule was interrupted (I write in the morning, or not at all…probably something I should work on), and I’ve also been re-reading a bunch of Jack Cavanaugh books. Which are so good that I spend more time reading than writing.
But my New Year’s resolution for 2015 is write more. Finish Project Remembrance – final draft, if I can. And I’ll chronicle it all on this blog.
Hallo, fellow writers!
How are the holidays coming along for you? Have you slacked off on your writing to spend time with friends and family? (if so, I applaud you – time spent with family/friends is never wasted, in my opinion) Have you incorporated a few sneaky pieces of Christmas-y goodness into your writing? (or written an entire piece of Christmas fan-fiction, like me?) Even if you haven’t stopped writing yet, I want you to pause for a second, sit back, and let all that holiday atmosphere soak right through you. (in case you’re interested, I wrote an entire post about that atmosphere over on my main blog) You’ll feel twice the energy and invigoration once you do so. I promise.
So, about that random stuff I promised you…
Project Remembrance is going well, for the most part, but I basically wrote 35,000 words of junk during NaNo, so I’ve decided that before I write anything more, I’m going to back away and edit what I’ve got so far. It mainly involves plot stuff and deleting scenes – whenever I got bored, I’d write a new scene from another character’s POV, and it got spoilery really quickly, so I’m dumping all those scenes in another file for later reference/use. At the moment, I’m planning to write PR from three different POVs (alá Lynn Austin) and once I actually figure out their characters, I’ll do a post about them. All I know about them right now is that it’s two girls and a guy and that could change too. But I don’t really mind all that much, for two reasons.
Firstly, I’ve had a little practice with editing lately. You know all those times I moaned about how much I hated editing? Well, the funny thing is that I hadn’t actually, really, truly (ugh, someone should edit out all those adverbs) edited anything. Oh, I had tweaked a word here and changed a sentence there, but I hadn’t done anything like re-write whole chunks and change plot points and improve characterization. I think it was partly ‘fear of the unknown’ that had me kicking and screaming about the whole editing/revising process. Enter Combat! fan-fiction. And this awesome beta-reader. See, I’d written a piece of C! fic about my favorite character and I knew it wasn’t perfect (by any stretch of the imagination) but I didn’t really know how to go about editing it. So I sent it off to Hamlette (or ‘White Queen’, as she’s known by fellow Combat! fans) and she gave me a really great critique. Of course, my writer’s ego took a little bruising here and there (as I’m sure every writer’s ego has during a thorough beta) but I rebounded and my story is all the better for it. AND it should me that editing was not A Beast To Be Feared, but an essential and not-so-scary part of writing.
The second reason is that I honestly think Project Remembrance could be The. Book. The one that *gasp* actually gets published. At first, I thought it would be the Vengeance Is Mine trilogy, but that’s going to need the biggest overhaul in the history of ever, so I really don’t think I’ll be getting to it any time soon. Betrayal could also potentially be The One, but for now, I’m focusing on PR. I have a really good feeling about where it could take me.