Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Just a Little Writing Update

I did quite a bit of writing this last week. Especially since I was participating in one of Faith Blum's Words Wars. The idea is to write as much as you can over Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It went something like this:

Tuesday- The idea I thought of on Friday is no good.(what was it anyway) Brainstormed for new plot idea so that my story could actually go somewhere. Got some kind of idea.

Wednesday- Continued thinking and writing about aforesaid idea. Came up with another idea. It didn't really fit. Scrapped it. Came up with another good idea that goes in a different part of the book. Interesting, but not really helpful.

Thursday: This idea is good. Wrote about 800 words. Left it in the middle of a scene at bedtime.

Friday: Continued writing for half a page. I am completely lost again. What will I do? Wrote for half a page about what I do and do not want to happen. Stared at the page. Listened to The Very Serious Writing Show. Read for a bit. Realized there was a scene I had forgotten to write. Wrote it despite not being sure where it was heading. Then I decided to skip ahead to something I know happens in the middle of the climax. Wrote the words, "They were surrounded." Decided I don't actually know enough about what's going on. Didn't continue. Wrote a scene that goes somewhere after the scene I last wrote and also where I got lost in the morning. Realized another scene goes in between. Wrote it. Continued on writing from there. End of day, almost 2,000 words.

Saturday: Very busy. Wrote one page in the evening. Someone knows something bad is about to happen. I'm in the beginning of the climax.  But I still didn't know how it all fits together.
Sunday: Leisa, why aren't you warning them that it's a trap  and why instead of just telling them to go for some stupid reason. This is getting a bit boring. Someone should attack her. Wow, Leisa is actually fast enough and smart enough to deal with this guy. But I still didn't know what the urgent danger is. Last chance for them to escape. Leisa finally blurts it out. Wow, that's a great idea. I wrote,"Awesome description here. Lots of  foreshadowing back there." Most romantic scene in the book. Stuff happens. They run to the plain. No, that doesn't make sense it's a canyon. It's really late at night. Time to stop. I write the words, "They were surrounded." About 1,500 more words done.

Monday- Counted my words, started writing a new description for the book. Wrote most of this post.

And I'm in the middle of the climax, so it shouldn't be too long till I'm finished. Then I'll set it aside for a bit before I get to the rewriting, editing, and revising. And of course typing it into the computer.

Now in case you're thinking that some thing seems wrong with my maths, 3,327 is the final amount for the three days. However the amounts above are my estimates based on 200 words per page. It turns out I only write about 180 these days.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

On Character Creation

Hello everyone,
I found this morning that either something is wrong with Blogger's stats or over 100 people have looked at my blog today. I'm leaning towards the first option.

I've found coming up with the characters for my story quite interesting. It’s strange how they can become almost real in your head. Having characters just walk in as interesting people or having to figure them out a lot. I tend to like the ones that I haven’t had to put as much thought into more.

For example I decided I needed some female brigands for balance reasons. (Perhaps not the best reason, but it doesn't matter now.) I decided that the leader was a girl named Joane Artyn, that she was very bossy and not particularly friendly. Before I knew it she had a unique way of speaking and a unique view on life. She became the rival of the main character, and somewhat ruthless against her but also has a somewhat caring and honourable side. She is so different to myself, but I love her. I love the way she says ya instead of you, pronounces Adlayda in a mocking way (ad-LAAY-da) and makes everyone call her Lady Joane. I love the strangely forgiving side of her that occasionally shows when she pities someone.

On the other hand there is Nylf (I need to give a new last name too.). He is an essential character and I kept trying to make him act the way I wanted. He came out boring and dull half of the time. I didn't understand his motivations at all. I didn't know why Adel liked him. I didn't know how he ought to act always. I kept trying to figure it out, but got nowhere. Finally I changed his name. (The previous one was so bad I shall not even honour it by a mention.) It helped slightly. Then I realised that he needed a bit more natural wit and charm. I actually borrowed some ideas from a couple of other people’s characters. Now he springs to life and I mostly understand him. It has taken a long time though and isn't finished.

There is also the pain of having to abandon characters. Before I started my current story I had taken the same initial idea in a different direction. I had created a rather accident prone, somewhat slow tongued hero. His name was Symun. He was my MC’s cousin, and they had an interesting relationship. She didn't really like him particularly at first, while he saw it as his duty to protect her and kept failing dismally. It made him feel terrible. He was a delightful character to work with. I didn't really write much with him, but I enjoyed every bit. My MC, Princess Elnissa (Yes I was writing about a princess.) was well rounded too and her little sister Lekita was adorable.

I'm actually surprised how good my first characters were. Most of them had a good motive. My villain was just slightly too dark-lordish and had a moustache and wore black, but he had intelligent soldiers not stupid minions. My worse blunder would have been with a character named Rahazera (She was an odd character who came from a foreign country to make her exotic. Some time she was Arabian or Indian, other times she was an albino from the ice land. I thought that having her a normal person would be too boring. Other times I thought it would be better without her.) She did have some interesting traits though, some of which I realised she shares with Joane. I will miss Symun and Leki and Elnissa and I may work them into another story. I'm afraid the original one is really too similar to my current work to write, though sometimes I'm not sure. It may actually be the better of the two. (and the more I think about it the more I am convinced it is that way, so I try not to think about it.)

Enough rambling, I think that’s all the thoughts I have on characters at the moment. Anyone got anything interesting to add?

Friday, 15 January 2016

Space Kitties Review

At the beginning of last month, Sierra Blasko asked me if I'd like to review her story in the Space Kitties Anthology. And despite the fact that I'm not a huge cat person or a space person, I said yes. And since then I've been intending to put my review up. So finally here it is.

I quite liked Sierra story, Prankster. It felt realistic. Scamp is smart, but still very much a cat. The story has just the right amount of mystery to it and leaves a sense of things continuing, while still wrapping up. I don't remember noticing anything that annoyed me, no spelling mistakes or clunking wording. I'm certainly looking forward to reading a longer work by her some day.

I'm going to give a quick review of each of the other stories.

  • Catastrophic, Valerie Howard - Mystery, suspense, interesting but weird science, great take on animal intelligence.
  • Breakfast, Jesse Rice - Rather interesting take on the story concept, pulls off having a completely crazy, and unexplained story amazingly.
  • Serabi, Serena Bakke - Completely realistic cat, great character ideas, a little bit lacking in gradual change.
  • Oogie’s New Foolproof Plan, Steve Mathisen - Very amusing, intriguing to start because the main characters are dogs, and it didn't seem to be in space. And is a great example of telling a story through dialogue. And there is a cat.
  • The Glowing Sphere, E. Kaiser Writes - This one was a little weird and the cats were too anthropomorphic for my taste. The story could almost have been told with humans instead of cats, but not quite.
  • Cats in the Hatch, Cheyanne Marie - Bravery, sadness, humour, and an interesting look at cognitively-developed animals.
  • The Star of Nine Lives, A. J. Bakke - Good story, not quite my thing, evil robot dog overlord.
  • Raising Qain, Brittany L. Jennings - Would have been a good story if the characters weren't called cats. Except for the occasional mention of tails they were exactly like humans. I'm sure one of them is called a man at some point.
  • Operation Space Cats, Lesa Bayless McKee - Fun, great character interactions, great teamwork. Felt realistic, with one exception, cats don't have a relationship with God they same way as people. But that was only a little side element.
  • #CatZap, Cynthia PortStarted really fascinating and funny with the science and stayed interesting with great characters, but it had this weird, astral, kind of new-agey thing going on. Not too bad, but I didn't really like that bit of it.

Overall I enjoyed the book and I think a sci-fi, cat person would enjoy it even more.

I was provided a free copy of this book for review purposes by Sierra Blasko and was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my own.

And before anyone gets upset with me for not being a cat person, I really like reading true stories about cats. I find them highly amusing.

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Beautiful People - Writers edition

Well, after being away for over a week and basically spending the beginning of the year strangely, I feel a bit disoriented. Because conferences with full catering are nothing like normal life. It's like being in another world that operates under completely different rules. Except that rain still makes you wet and it's still hard to talk to strangers.

Because of that, I can't come up with anything wonderful and I'm just going to do the beautiful people linkup. I have already answered some of these questions partially, so I hope you won't mind me repeating myself.

What were your writing achievements last year?
I actually started writing.  I proved to myself that I can meet goals sometimes.

Tell us about your top priority writing project for this year?
Finishing my first book, which is going to involve a lot of work.

List 5 areas you’d like to work the hardest to improve this year.
Dialogue. I have a tendency to let my character ramble all over the subject. I need to work on being more concise.
Scene structure. I really don't know much about that at all.
Simplicity. My ideas always seem to become huge and complicated in order to support a whole plot. Writing faster. Everything is going really slowly at the moment. If I want to get three books drafted this years I need to speed up.
Being more organized with my writing time.

Are you participating in any writing challenges?
I intend to do both Camp Nanowrimos and maybe even full NaNoWriMo.

What’s your critique partner/beta reader situation like and do you have plans to expand this year?
I do have a writing partner. I haven't actually sent her anything though. Soon I hope to be at a stage where I will want to do that.

Do you have plans to read any writer-related books this year?
Yes. I have a stack of four on the floor near me and I actually am going to buy a couple.
Or are there specific books you want to read for research? 
The History of Venice is partly story research and I'm sure I'll pick up a few more things.

Pick one character you want to get to know better, and how are you going to achieve this? 
The unnamed protagonist of my second story. I know next to nothing about her. I'll have to start by fleshing the story idea out a bit more and figuring out what I need her to be like. Then I'll have to be creative.

Do you plan to edit or query, and what’s your plan of attack? 
I will be either editing or completely rewriting. I'll do the first edit when I type my hand written draft into the computer.

Toni Morrison once said, “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” What are the books that you want to see more of, and what “holes” do you think need filling in the literary world? 
More books that actually teach you the truth about reality. Subtly and in fun ways of course.

What do you hope to have achieved by the end of 2016?

One book ready for beta readers and a couple more roughly drafted.

What do you all think I should try to write this year? Even give me your crazy ideas.