A Sign of Progress — July 12, 2012

A Sign of Progress

If you ask an author at their signing how many books they wrote before the one that got them published for the first time, most will answer with any varying number from none to 13. (I believe that was what one author who spoke at a conference I attended said he wrote. Then book 6 was what got him published.)

So far, I’ve written 5.

Of those, two are complete rubbish and will never see the light of day. (Except maybe as an example at a conference presentation, if I’m ever cool enough to present.) One has been shelved forever (and is pretty rubbish as well). One is worth rewriting because I love the story and the characters, it’s just the prose that’s rubbish. And one is off with betas right now where it is being subjected to a sword fight, burning at the stake, possibly a cleverly-conceived torture or two, and an overall mauling.

These are all good things.

But these are not the sign of progress of which I am speaking in the title of this post. No, that sign of progress concerns my current project, Jason McDaniels and the Hammer of the Gods.

I think it’s the sign of a good, or at least improving, writer when they can recognize the flaws in the manuscript mid-draft and come up with a way of fixing or addressing those flaws while drafting so as to reduce the amount of headaches and hair-pulling later on.

This book is absolute rubbish. Yes, it’s just a practice novel. But it’s rubbish and I’m not afraid to admit that.

I think the biggest problem is the POV and the tense that I chose for this story. I’m nearly 17K into the book and, well, I’m losing my motivation to finish it. I think it’s partly the POV and tense issue and partly the ridiculous pace I’ve set for myself.

I’m feeling tapped out mentally by ten in the morning. That’s not good.

So I’m scaling back my efforts at pushing out the word count and tackling the POV and tense issue head on before I go one word further in the draft.

Maybe it’s bad. But maybe it’s a sign of progress. A sign that I am improving at my craft even if I can’t see it.

Editing to add: This project is likely going to be shelved. Switching it to third person past tense isn’t working and I’m not sure if past tense in first person will work either. I’m also not in love with the story and why spend my time and creative energy on something that doesn’t sing to me?

Update Tuesday 7/1-7/7 — July 10, 2012

Update Tuesday 7/1-7/7

Another week gone. Before we know it we’ll be on the downward slide toward winter.

Oh wait, we already are. Stupid summer solstice. (I kid, I kid.)

Anyways. While we’re dying of heat here in Utah (seriously, it’s going to be 100+ the next three days), I am camped out in the basement where I still need socks on my feet.

What have I been doing while camping out in the basement?

Writing of course. (And Twittering, and Pinterest, and a lot of solitaire.)

I’ve been working like a madwoman on HotG. My goal is to have this book first drafted by the end of July. And not to brag but if I can maintain the mad pace I’ve set for myself, I’ll totally be there.

This book is a departure for me in so many ways. I started out writing it in third person past tense but about a paragraph into it I switched that over to first person past tense.

Then just over 5K into it, I switched that all over to first person present tense. And I’ve continued to write in that combination the entire week. I’m not sold on it. More times than not I set aside books that are written in first person present tense. The main reason I do so is that I’m not connecting to the character or story. But I do feel like the POV and tense combination is a contributing factor to that.

I digress.

In the date range in this post title I’ve written 12,152 words on HotG. I ended the week slightly behind. I should have ended at an even 12,500 minimum word count to be truly on track for completion at the end of the month. But Saturdays are nearly impossible when it comes to writing.

How are your WiPs going?

Doubting Myself — July 5, 2012

Doubting Myself

I have a feeling there will be a lot of angsty posts while I’m drafting this book. And I apologize for it in advance. But this blog is supposed to be a chronicle of my journey.

This latest road bump?

I’m doubting something hugely fundamental in the structure of this story.

I’m second-guessing myself on both point-of-view and tense.

I’ll give you time to pick your jaw up from the floor.

I’ve blogged about tense and point of view before.

With HotG (Hammer of the Gods, I changed the abbreviation slightly), I initially started it in third person past tense. One paragraph in I changed it to first person.

5K words in?

I’ve decided to change it all over to present tense.

Again, I’ll give you time for collecting whatever may have been flung in disbelief.

I really feel like there’s an immediacy in the present tense which is absent in past. An immediacy which this book may really need in order to be successful.

But then I find I’m doubting that. I am torn between continuing in present tense or reverting to the past tense. I will retain the first person narrative. In light of the doubts I’ve come to a decision.

For now I’m going to go ahead and forge on with writing it in present tense, if for no other reason than the challenge.

It’s good to challenge ourselves once in a while. If I can complete this book the way I’ve now set about writing it, I’ll have proved something to myself. I’ll have proved to myself I can write differently. I can write a male MC in first person present tense. I can write an action-adventure novel. I can write first person. I can write present tense.

If we don’t challenge ourselves we’ll never learn our bounds and figure out how to break them, right?

So here’s to experimentation!

Update Tuesday: 6/24-6/30 — July 3, 2012

Update Tuesday: 6/24-6/30

Wow. Where did the first half of the year go? I can’t believe it’s already July.

Let’s see. Woven is off to betas. Thank you so much to all those who offered. If I didn’t take you up on the offer, don’t despair. I may still need you a couple drafts from now.

While Woven is away for summer camp, I’ve been feverishly working on research for Jason McDaniels and the Hammer of the Gods. (That’s a mouthful so it will now be HOG for purposes of brevity.) I know I’ve been venting my research woes here on the blog. Thank you for putting up with that. I promise my blog posts will become more random instead of being stuck on Pete and Repeat.

I finished most of the research I needed to do. Enough that I could actually sit down on Saturday and plot out the entire book. This is going to be an adventure novel. I’m aiming for around 60-65K for word count. It’s YA, but a bit on the older end of the YA spectrum. I’m aiming to have it finished or mostly finished by the end of the month. It’s a tall order but I think I can fill it.

How are your WiPs going?

Mythology, History, and Research — June 28, 2012

Mythology, History, and Research

So, I’ve been reading up on the history of Scandinavia and Norse mythology for my research for this new book. I’m feeling totally overwhelmed. I’ve never paid much attention to history. Sure, I’ve gleaned a certain amount of knowledge over the years when it comes to Greece and Rome, and even Egypt to an extent. Those are the cultures which heavily influenced the regions from whence my ancestors came, Britain and so on, which in turn have a massive influence on America.

But when it comes to Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland (and apparently Germany but not Finland), their mythology and history, I’m at a loss. The mythology includes Germany but not Finland, while the history includes Finland but not Germany. The physical territory, the different peoples who fought and migrated, united and tore themselves apart, it’s all foreign to me.

It’s fascinatingly foreign, but I’m starting to feel overwhelmed again when it comes to the research for this book. The mythology is fascinating. I read “D’Aulaires’ Book of Norse Myths” as part of my research. It was a good introduction to the gods and stories this book is set to focus on. (It’s geared, I think, to younger children, but again a good introduction.)

But heaven help me if I try to research it further. The deeper I dig, the more names appear. I have another book of mythology that encompasses lots of different regions. The section on the myths of the Nordic lands goes much deeper, including Germany, Russia, and other Slavic regions.

I’m caught in a vicious cycle. The more research into the mythology I do, the more I realize I need to research the history. Then the more I research the history the more frustrated I become so I dive deeper into the mythology.

This book has been brewing in my head for 3 years now. It’s changed shape a few times and I’ve shelved it several times as well. But it’s still there, demanding to be written. If only I can get through the research.

The other thing that makes me freeze when it comes to research? Knowing that no matter how much research I do, there will always be people out there who will rip me up one side and down the other over my “lack of research.” Sigh. I want to do this story, the area of the world it’s focusing on, justice, but I’m terrified of the prospect.

Which means I should totally be writing this story, right? What we’re afraid of will make us stronger if we face it? Something like that?

Update Tuesday 6/17-6/23 — June 26, 2012

Update Tuesday 6/17-6/23

Oh, what a difference a week makes.

I finished my revision outline for Woven. Which means that as soon as I find betas and they’ve read and returned the manuscript I’ll be all set for revisions. These outlines are tedious to create but so helpful for my overly-analytical brain when working on revisions. I think I need to add a few thousand words to the manuscript still. I have a small idea for another sub-plot to weave into the story. Breaking down the story in the revision outline will totally help me weave that new sub-plot in seamlessly.

Speaking of betas, I’m still looking for two. This is the worst part of this process for me, begging for readers. So please put me out of my misery.  Pretty please. *puppy dog eyes* (If you beta for me I’ll gladly return the favor in the future.)

As for Jason McDaniels and the Hammer of the Gods (mouthful, I know), I’m still elbows-deep in research. And sadly the more I research, the less desire and motivation I have to plot and write the book. Yet it’s an idea (the idea for the book) which will not go away. I’ve set it aside several times in the years since it first came to me. And every time it inevitably knocks on the door of my imagination again.

How are your WiPs going?

Also, don’t forget to check last Friday’s post to see if you won a prize in my 500 posts giveaway. I’m still waiting to hear from two of the winners.

Update Tuesday 6/10-6/16 — June 19, 2012

Update Tuesday 6/10-6/16

I got a little research done this week for the adventure novel. (More on that on Thursday. Exciting!)

But that was it.

I am struggling right now to overcome the feelings of failure and inadequacy that stem from my lack of productivity the last couple of weeks. I’m in this cycle where I don’t work on writing so I feel guilty and then the guilt weighs on me until I go watch TV or Netflix to drown out the guilt.

Yeah. It makes no sense. But it is what it is.

Also, I’m in need of a couple of beta readers. Preferably ones who are at least semi-interested in YA, fantasy, fairy tales, or any combination of the three. I only need two readers at the moment as more voices than that on a single draft makes me sort of shut down when it comes to incorporating the feedback into the next draft. Let me know in the comments if you’re willing.

Also, none of the winners in my giveaway have yet to acknowledge they’ve seen that they are winners. I’ll re-draw at the end of the week (Friday morning) for whatever prizes have not been acknowledged. You can acknowledge via e-mail at novicewriteranonymous (at) gmail (dot) com or in the comments on either the announcement post (just before this one on the blog) or on this post.

How are your WiPs going?

WiP Wednesdays 9/1 — September 1, 2010

WiP Wednesdays 9/1

Not much progress to report for the week.  I’m in a little bit of a lull and it’s actually rather nice.  I may have to take a bit of a break from writing period as school starts up in earnest next week.  I’m looking forward to school, though I know it will be an insane amount of work.  I have orientation this weekend so I’m taking Friday off from blogging.

On to the updates!

Lodestar is resting nicely in my hard drive.  I think the time away from the manuscript will be good for both me and the story.  I’m looking forward to the day that I revise some more, but for now I know my focus needs to be elsewhere.

I added a little, very ambiguous, blurb to the “Writing” page here on the blog.  With some expansion it could totally turn into the query for this book.

Jason McDaniels… is still in world-building mode.  I’m starting to doubt whether this is the sort of book I should write.  It’s drastically different from anything else I’ve written.  (Much of which is drastically different project to project.)

But I think it’s too much of a departure.  There’s nowhere it would fit in.  The stuff that I’ve written that actually stands a chance of ever seeing the light of a bookstore shelf (read: Lodestar) is fantasy.  Jason’s book is about as not-fantasy as you can get, short of memoir or biography.

Clockworks and Cogs is still sitting there.  It’s being very patient, but definitely still wants to become a full-fledged novel.  And I will probably indulge it one day soon.  It’s less of a departure from Lodestar and would be more compatible in the grander scheme of what I hope is to come.

How are your WiPs going?

WiP Wednesdays 8/25 — August 25, 2010

WiP Wednesdays 8/25

Wow, what a week.

First, who switched my muse with that of a YA writer’s?  Seriously.  The adventure novel I’m world-building on is pestering me to become YA.  It wouldn’t take a ton of work because the MC is already 18.  I could probably make him younger with little effort.  And the short story that I wrote, well  I think the MC is around 16/17.  I never really thought about it.

Second, I’ve been really scooting along on my Lodestar outline.  It’s going so much faster and so much smoother than my last outline.

There are lots of places I can see to cut.  And that leaves me lots of wiggle room to incorporate the feedback I’ve been getting.  (And that I’m still waiting for from my brother.  This beta process is agonizingly slow.)

There are places where I might need to consider a serious plot restructure.  But I’ll leave that until after all the feedback is in.

Next up is my adventure novel.  Which I’m considering looking at ways to make it be YA.  I’ve been doing a lot of world-building work on it.  It’s set partly at a university.  In order to get the exact details I needed, I had to go ahead and create my own fictional one.  Which was a fun challenge in and of itself.

I even got to draw the map of campus.  That was interesting.  I do so much better drawing when I can do straight lines and sharp angles.  Give me anything else (like a circle) and I fail with great finesse.

There’s a certain building on campus that is central to the mythology and plot of all three books in the series.  I drew its front elevation.  (Not as bad a failure as I thought it would turn out.)  Then I mapped all its various levels.

I still have to write out the history that I need for this novel.  Then it’s on to character bios.

After that, massive amounts of research.  Mostly Bible research.  But lots of it.

And some research into Norse mythology, Japanese mythology, and their respective cultures so that I can outline/plot books 2 and 3.  I definitely see a trilogy, but only in the sense that they’re all connected by having the same MC.  There would be an overall character arc, but each book would be self-contained with its own plot and mini-arc.

Lastly is the short story that I wrote a while ago.  Clockworks and Cogs, as it’s loosely titled, is still pestering me to be turned into a novel.  I’ve partly indulged the story by giving it its own project binder.  (I’ll blog about project binders tomorrow.)

I enjoy the story thoroughly.  The MC has to make a very serious choice at the end and I think that a novel would be a great place to explore what leads to that choice.  And I think my characters deserve more than 30 pages to have their story told in its best capacity.

How are your WiPs going?

WiP Wednesdays 8/18 — August 18, 2010

WiP Wednesdays 8/18

What a week!

Project #1: The top secret project

Finished the outline!  At last!  (Now you won’t have to put up with my whinging on Twitter over it.)

Upon finishing the outline I sent it off to Fed Ex Office to be printed, bound and all that jazz.  It’s got a spiffy cover and is all colorful inside now.  (On the first 14 pages, anyway.)

I’ve started going through it and cutting scenes that mean nothing.  They’re needless fluff.  Why they were there in the first place is beyond me.  I’ve got 6 different colors of highlighter and I’m putting them to good use in the outline.  Thankfully I had the foresight to put together a key for which color is what sort of thing because I forget quite easily.

Project #2: The adventure novel

World-building.  This is my mot favorite part of writing a book.  At this point, just about anything goes.  I can follow my freewheeling thoughts along each path they take and find some way of making the randomness into a cohesive whole.

I love discovering the world my story will take place in.  I try to leave some bits fluid and changeable so that I can adapt as the story takes me to places I never imagined.  But this is definitely the scaffolding I build everything on.

Project #3: The short story

I love this short story.  It’s a lot longer than I set out to make it, but I’ll take it in exchange for my muse taking up permanent residence in my apartment for the remainder of my time here.  And it’s clamoring to become a novel.  But I’m putting that aside for now.  If in a few months the characters and their story are still with me, I’ll consider it.

How are your WiPs going?