Category Archives: progress update

My Only Friend The End

I wrote The End yesterday.

I was plugging along, more or less on schedule. I had skipped writing on Thursday, as planned, because I was out all day. Still I was feeling bad about that and pressured about getting finished in time for my upcoming trip with most of my last act still to be written.

Then on Friday I managed to scam my parents arrange a playdate with Grandma and Grandpa for my daughter which lasted all day. I plowed through most of that last act. Much of that is going to need enhancing, but since I know that I’m not much for blocking out fight scenes, I more or less expected to have to rework the climax (as well as the midpoint) anyway. So I wasn’t worried about it. I powered through to the next to the last scene. I opened up a file for the last scene (I write each scene in a separate file to avoid re-reading and constant editing in the first draft) and looked at the clock. My husband would be coming home any time, so I decided not to rush through my end because, hey, it’s the end. It deserved more thought than that. I decided to sleep on it.

Yesterday DH and DD had a day at the lake planned, leaving me all alone for most of the day. I’m not one for outdoor activities. You need to go to 10 quilt shops in a day? I’m your girl. Sun and wind and stuff, not so much, no. So I sat down and wrote my last scene. The End. Then I turned around and read through so I could compile it all into one file to send to my crit partner.

And you know what? I really liked it and so far she seems to like it too!

I am hugely nervous about this. I mean, in a way that’s dumb because anything can be fixed. But I’m coming off about 2 years of having hardly written anything but a handful of scenes about different characters as they occurred to me, and this and that whenever Kait needed to get unstuck. She totally hung with me during my time away and kept trying to drag me back.

I think I learned a lot in the meantime. Obviously I did a lot of reading, and I got to stand back and look at my writing as a reader. While I kind of feel bad about the wasted time, etc., it wasn’t all bad at all. But now that I’m in it again, I’ve been doing things so much differently. I understand so much more about story structure (thanks to Larry Brooks, I have to say), that when I went to do an outline, I actually understood what kinds of scenes to put in it and why. It wasn’t so much what kind of plot can I come up with to tie in all the emo scenes I want to write this time.

Once I had an outline that was viable, that I could look at and see would make story from beginning to end, I could really work it–without having to wait for the what comes next? inspiration like I did before. I didn’t write every day, the end of the school year is not my best time, but I was writing several times a week and I was coming back to it even when I wasn’t in the mood. And of course, setting a goal of getting a rough before going to visit Kait next week was a huge help.

I hope I’m not boring you. The point was that I’ve been really afraid that not writing when inspired might mean I was just writing a bunch of dry, uninspired crap. And when I tore through the rough draft in a month and a day, it made me all the more nervous that I wasn’t doing the right thing. We all know from NaNoWriMo that it’s possible, but I’ve never done it before.

So I was pretty nervous at the outset of my read-through yesterday, but I really like my book. I mean, it’s not done, let’s not be crazy. But it’s a story, there was a goal, it got completed, characters grew and were funny… I’m happy!

Which is also something that’s pretty different for me and writing.

/Hush Money

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Filed under Hush Money, progress update, Talent Chronicles, writing

End of Days

Well, I suppose that once a month is better than nothing, and if I’ve been too busy to drop in here lately, at least I can actually add writing to my list of excuses.

Today is the last day of school for the year, and it started out as one of those days where everything goes wrong. I’ll spare you the details, but you can see the broken china for yourself. Bad, bad dog.

There’s Briar from an early morning photoshoot before Awards Day. It was a lovely, sunny, misty morning for pictures, and there she was all dressed up for graduation. I actually managed to get a few that weren’t blurred. Well, that one in the up right I had to crop out her blurred, flapping arms.

Also from that morning is the pic on the bottom right with my yard, allegedly in need of mowing, but given my non-standard nature, it pleases me to live in a field of clover. Honeysuckle is taking over the world as well, and all I can think is now nice everything smells when I venture outside.

Isn’t that pocket sandwich about the cutest thing ever? I got great bento stuff from J-Box. If you’re not used to paying for shipping things from Asia (like we crazed doll collectors are), it might be scary. But I was favorably impressed with my buying experience there and hope to order again soon. So much Hello Kitty, so few funds…

Speaking of why I’m poor, please don’t tell, but yesterday I put in my preorder application for a Unoa Sist kit. I know it was wrong, it just seems like they never come up for pre-order, and then you only find them already strung and sometimes with missing parts, and always for $100-$400 more than the original price. So really, it’s a savings. That’s what I’ll be telling myself when the invoice arrives. And I had nearly contented myself with no more doll orders this year. By the way, my Dollzone couple in the sidebar down there, they’ve arrived at Mint On Card, but my layaway runs through the end of July. I’m trying not to put it on my credit card early just to bring them home. I’ve bought from Lindsay before and have had nothing but good experiences with her.

Decimal, as you can see, is actually starting to look like a sweater. One I hope will be done by the time I leave to

GO VISIT MY CRIT PARTNER IN JUNE!!

I’m stupid excited about this. This will be my first away by myself since 2003.

Also exciting is that I’ve been writing kinda like crazy–for me, anyway–all the month of May and am about 24K words into my WIP with about 45% of my scenes completed and the rest outlined or at least sketched in. I’m hoping to finish my draft before I leave so that I can dump it on her for an in-person workshopping, in the hopes that she will feed me ice cream to make it easier to take. I’m optimistic. It’s a new life skill I’ve been working on. So I’m expecting it to come through without needing a complete tear down and hope to have Hush Money ready for consumption in the next 6-8 weeks. Obviously, I could be completely wrong in all areas and it could be 6-8 months but…I’ll let you know.

I always have a lot of things to talk about, I just keep forgetting to come here and talk about them. Note to self: put someone in charge of that. Poor Kettle. If I give her one more thing to remind me about, I don’t know what she’ll do. She’s been talking a lot about when she has kids…. Oh honey, you already do. Waah!

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Filed under bento, bjds, goals, knitting, progress update, word count, writing

Progress report: cards

When last I was here I talked about getting into the habit of using index cards– for quick notes, for organizing thoughts, and eventually for getting visual feel for a story.  Since I’ve got a lot of stuff in my head right now, I set a goal for 10 cards a day.

10 cards has been a good amount for me.  Not so many that I’m scribbling for hours, but enough so I feel like I’ve done something.  I now have 30 cards since Saturday.  A handful of them are from a different story that intrigues me, so it’s cool to be able to make some notes on that without jumping right into “sexy new book”.

Some of my cards are for scenes I can see and have a number of points jotted down.  Some are much more vague: need scene where X happens.  Some are plant cards that will probably be merged with another scene card later: need to plant idea Y that pays off later when…

I just started reading Characters, Emotion, and Viewpoint by Nancy Kress, so I will probably have some cards on character notes coming along this week.  I have a lot of character stuff written here and there and I don’t plan to copy that stuff to cards.  But I expect to have ideas about several characters in my world and it will be good to jot down notes someplace besides gmail to Kettle.

I’m really enjoying the craft books this year.  I just finished Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell (part of the same Write Great Fiction series).  Kettle bought that one for me for Christmas (I sent her GMC which I also ended up buying for myself), having heard good things about a few books in the series.  To me it was good enough and different enough from other craft books I’ve read or glanced through that I’m intrigued enough to continue in the series.  I should start a page of some reviews of these…

Anyway, a last quick note on the subjects of cards and P&S: At the end of the book, Bell likened building writing skills to building chess skills.  He suggested an exercise in which you read through a book for the pleasure of reading it.  Then you pick it apart, taking copious, scene-by-scene notes on index cards, noting down things that worked for you and didn’t, etc.  You’ll learn by doing the exercise, have the cards for later review, lay out the scene cards to see the structure of the novels, etc.  His exercise has 10 steps which I’m not going to wholesale copy for you (because that’s not nice) but that’s the gist of it.  He suggests doing this for 6 books over a 12-week period.  Time-consuming yes, but learning often is, and I’m intrigued.  I will try it for at least one and see how it goes.

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No Admittance Without Plot

It’ s been awhile.

I’m trying.  Maybe not very hard, maybe not in the most consistent way, but I am.  And the why of it is simply that my head is full of brain dolls, and more show up all the time.

A brain doll is sort of like a character.  But a character is someone whom I work, whom I form and mold and tweak.  A character fits into a story and the story fits around the character.  They are the ones who make it to the keyboard and are not generally allowed to run amock.  A brain doll works me.  Brain dolls are creatures that live in my head.  They’re made up of bits of backstory and internal conflict with a dash of physical characteristics, and they often show up in pairs.  They tend to come with very few accessories like, say, plot points, and most of them are lazy and don’t build on their own.  They just wait around for me to do it.

Some of my brain dolls, the ones that have been with me a long time, make their own spaces in the corners of my world.  They build sets and create stories, and they live lives within the borders of their regions.  Their stories tend to be soap-opera quality messes that I could never untangle enough to put to paper, even if I wanted to.  Some of them are former characters, retired with their abandoned plots to enact and embellish on their favorite scenes for, it would seem, all eternity. 

Matt and Alex still live in the WOTM region, waiting for that last 20K or so of grey area to get colored in.  They’re still characters, and thus far, they continue to wait silently for my return, should you wonder what became of them.

 But it’s the huge brain world playset of Supertown that’s out of control.  That’s the world where Mac and Colby live, though they, too, linger as characters trapped in the brain doll world.  Rand and Marissa want their story told, but not enough to give me enough hints on plot points to keep the action going.  Marissa brought in this ex-boyfriend named Joel, and next thing you know, Tina showed up with a criminal past and said she wanted to, after much angst and denial, be hooked up with Joel please.  Well ok, Tina, but what else ya got?  Give me more to work with or get in line.  One young woman showed up a month or so ago, and she felt promising.  She brought a hero, a father, a sister.  And then she turned around and informed me that no, she had 2 sisters, and they had beaus, but please excuse their complete fuzziness.  Great.  Thanks.  Take your trilogy and wait over there.  Patiently, Carolyn waits, reminding me that she’s important and she has a love interest, and please don’t forget to introduce him at some point.  But while she’s told me what she can about him, he has yet to show up and introduce himself properly.  Which might be why we refer to him as Stasis Guy.    Today, as I stare at the last line I wrote for Rand and Marissa, wondering about their motivations, I realize that someone needs to die.  Not right now, just, you know, sometime.  And the man she leaves behind waves to me from a dark corner.  I didn’t even know he was there, but he’ll be ready to play the Grieving Widower type who finds true love a second time later on down the road.  He introduces me to his Best Friend, who pulls him away from the body of his lover.  Best Friend says hey, how’s it goin’?  Just wanted to let you know that that experience will make me realize what a jerk I’ve been to my COMPLETELY FUZZY love interest here, and I’ll be having one of those Don’t Know What You’ve Got Till It’s Gone moments (yeah, coincidentally Cinderella is playing right now, neat).  Oh, how will that come about?  Well I don’t know, that’s your job, isn’t it?

Hey, I love hangin’ out in Supertown.  I love you guys.  Really.  But I’m constantly distracted by all these new arrivals.  You guys are never going to reach your character potential if I don’t get some work done.  Help me.  Help me help you.  Give me some stories to go along with these setups, or your world is never going to be anything but a some assembly required brain doll playset. 

Rand, you’ve got that anti-gravity thing going for you.  Get up there and pull down the Welcome to Supertown sign with the everchanging digital population indicator.  Bryan, get off your not coming up with my YA subplot butt and help him out, because I suspect you’ve got a bit of telekinesis going, don’t you?  The new sign is right over there.  It reads:

No Admittance Without Plot.

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Filed under characters, COD, ideas, progress update, rant, romance, wotm, writing

No News Not Necessarily Good

I haven’t written anything since my last post.  I haven’t even tried.  Every time I think about it, I feel vaguely uneasy.  I’ve made up a bunch of dresses for my Etsy shop which I’ll be listing over the next few days, so I haven’t been wholly unproductive, and I was behind on that too.

I hope my Nano and Sweat buddies are doing well.  I’ll try to get around to see you soon.

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Nano/COD Update: Day 10

No new stats to report.  Someday, maybe I’ll learn how to handle writing and my brain chemistry, but after beating myself up pretty good the other day, I’ve just taken a break. 

I figured out that if I wrote 2K per day from now on I would still make it.  That sort of made me feel better.

Right now, though, my mind’s just blank.  And that’s an improvement.

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Nano/COD Update: Day 8

I did another little bit this afternoon.  Officially I’m at 11580, although I’ve got another 500 or so words written in the scene I’m currently (not) working.

I got an email from a municiple liason today in which she talked about Week Two and how it’s said to be the hardest week of Nano.  She said, amongst other things, that Week Two is the week in which you may come to feel that you are writing the worst novel ever.

And I thought, nah.  For one thing, I’m pretty sure I’ve already written the worst novel ever, so this probably isn’t it, and besides that, I’ve read an awful lot of crap in my life which often serves to make me feel better.

Then, just now, BAM.  It hit me.  I was sitting here, pondering something other than Nano for a while, and next thing I know

Damn!  My story totally sucks. 

So I don’t know, either I need to figure out how to fix it up, or I just need to get over it and move on.

Anyone else have this happen this week?

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Nano/COD Update: Day 7

So my update for yesterday.  Hard hit by the plague, and even though I had to spend most of the day being still so I could keep breathing, I didn’t get much writing done.  It should have been a good time to get ahead, but I just couldn’t think straight. 

 By the end of the day, I was only able to come up with 755 words.  Which is far better than nothing.  It means I only have to write 2572 today to catch up instead of 3334. 

Ok, that was my attempt at positive thinking.  How’d I do?

So the thing that didn’t make sense?  I skipped it.  I know a reasonable answer is there and I just refuse to see it right now.  The thing about the traitor, as well as coming up briefly later in the story, is really a background thread for the series.  So it’s not critical that it be here for me to move on.  Skip!  Then I checked my outline and was supposed to write about my heroine going about town talking to people and finding out stuff about Mac.  Oh, I forgot about that.  The fact that I forgot it makes me wonder if it’s important, or if it’s just fill.  Since I couldn’t think of a way to make it important (like I wanted to write the dinner scene from my snippet yesterday, so I forced new reader info into it, which was easy and worked) I decided to just skip that too, for now.  Maybe I’ll come back and fill it in with things about Mac and thoughts from Colby that I fail to illustrate any other way.  And maybe I just won’t write it at all. 

So what the heck did I do?  Not much, like I said.  Mac came home from work and had some words with Colby.  I established that it’s his regular poker night and it’s his turn to host, and he can’t get out of it because everyone wants to come gawk at the fake girlfriend and he’s pissed off an worried. 

I did have him pull his shirt off as he stalked down the hall to the shower.  It was gratitous because we were in his head and there was no one there to see it but me.  But a girl needs to get her kicks somewhere.

Speaking of which, romance stuff is on the horizon, action too, and, beyond that, immersion into the superhero world.  Trying to remember to be excited about that.

I’m at 10764.  How’re you Sweaters and Nanoers doing (and those of you who don’t need a challenge to get stuff done too)?

 P.s. If you didn’t visit Joely Sue Burkhart’s blog yesterday, she had an interesting post that included her storyboard and a collage of inspirational stuff for her story.   Which, of course, made me want to show you whom Mac and Colby resemble.

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Nano/COD Update: Day 6

You know, I like to write in scenes.  I write from beginning to end and then I’m wiped.

So it seems to be a bit of an issue that scenes for me are rarely more than 1600 words.

Anyway, 1632 today to total 10009.  That makes me happy.  My heroine told the hero why she was there, which, of course, he didn’t take so well.  But neither she nor I expected him to.  She because she read his file, and I because I’m just all about the conflict and I know it.

So I sat down to write out some notes to get me throught the next scene.  I wrote some general impressions of the head of the bad guy agency and then WHAM!

Um, if the bad guy agency has someone inside the good guy’s secret mountain compound (such that they have the information they’re about to discuss in this scene), why don’t they just get its location from the aforementioned traitor and wipe them out?

Yeah, so my outline has a bit of a flaw, huh?  I think I’m too stunned by my own stupidity to think my way around this right now.  Right now it feels important to me that they actually don’t discover the location, as opposed to being able to get that information but feeling like other goals are more important right now.  So I don’t know what to do and I think a simple solution is right there and I’m too sick and miserable and pissed off right now to see it.

And aside from how lousy that last paragraph was, I’m not really in that bad a mood.  Not really.  I am, however, out of it to the point of senseless babble.

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Nano/COD Update: Day 5

I just wrote that scene I wanted to write last night.  I put in a bunch of political stuff that should hopefully be interesting to the reader, sort of explains what’s going on, shows off more of who the characters are, both to the reader and to each other. 

I’m really happy about that, and that I’ve just passed the minimum goal for today.  Hoping to get a bit ahead later on.

Did 1618 and am now sitting at 8377.

 Of course, I was supposed to be making this week’s menu and grocery list and getting ready to go out on errand day.  Gotta run!

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