Slow and steady

This last week hasn’t been too stellar on the writing front. For one, my days have been taken up by this jury selection process, which is ruining my schedule (and, if I’m chosen, will REALLY ruin it). On another note, however, we’ve been looking for a new home, and yesterday made our first (ever!) offer on a local property. Keeping our fingers crossed!!!

It’s no secret that I am a pantser not a plotter when it comes to my stories, but I do understand how a novel should be divided up. I’m reaching that dreaded middle section with AHW2 where subplots, new characters and drama steer the story, and I’m suddenly finding myself having to plan ahead. This is a Very Good Thing – it helps to keep me on track as I write – but the middle of a book is where an author can so easily go off track. Internal pressure to get it “right”, guilt that I’ve added only a handful of words over the weekend, and the external pressures of potential jury duty and home buying are making me a bit anxious.

Or maybe that’s just because I haven’t had breakfast this morning. 😉

The lawn guys are right outside my window as I lay in bed, reminding me why I’m looking forward to moving. I’m not in a “bad” area by any means but I’m looking forward to a mortgage instead of rent, for the money I put into a house to be an investment and not paying for someone else’s Caribbean vacation. To each their own indeed, but we’re pretty excited for what the future holds.

Last night, I mapped out the next section of story, introducing key (new) characters and subplots, so at least that pressure has receded a bit. Lots to do, and I’d hate to miss out on a Snippet Saturday because life didn’t let me write anything. 😀 Hope all is well on your end!!

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Everything and the kitchen sink

Writing can be such a balancing act.

I make no excuses: I’m a pantser not a plotter, the kind of writer who learns about the story as she goes. I may have some structure, such as knowing scenes or events that will come later in the story, but for the most part I don’t plan things out beyond the next scene. Not having an end game in mind right off the bat, of course, leaves me open to the possibility of meandering storytelling, or of putting too much in that would need to be taken out later.

One of the toughest parts (IMO) about writing is knowing what path you want your story to go down. For example, is it a revenge tale? A beach romance? A shoot-em-up action thriller? There are certainly stories out there that incorporate elements of all three of these things, but at some point something has to give. You can’t, for example, have werewolves and vampires attacking your heroine in a contemporary tale (unless it’s urban fantasy). Having space aliens show up in your sheikh desert romance might be…confusing to some readers unless you’ve set it up earlier that the story has scifi elements. Some surprise is good, keeps the conflict up, but there’s a tightrope to walk if you want to keep it believable.

For AHW, I kept my story tightly plotted, but because sequels up the ante I wanted to think outside the box. My resulting idea had the story including everything and the kitchen sink, so many ideas rolled into one book. That wouldn’t do – fun to plan, but when I looked at the logistics, it was a nightmare. So I backtracked, removing all the aliens and werewolves and vampires from my story plan (just kidding, but it may as well have been!) and tried to figure out a theme. What I want my heroine to learn. What I wanted my heroes (!!) to go through. Redemption? Revenge? I needed to figure out my motivations, or how their pasts affected their near-future (aka, the book’s plot line).

What did I come up with? Well, like I said, I’m not much of a plotter, but I do like having the bare bones sketched out so I don’t write myself into a corner. For years I couldn’t finish anything because I’d get to a certain point, then hit The Wall (other writers know what I’m talking about), and couldn’t bear to backtrack/delete words I’d written to go around it. By then anyway, another idea would beg to be written, so I’d leave the story promising to come back. Heh, yeah, that didn’t happen. *sigh*

The thing I’ve found, the more words I put down on paper, is that there’s never an end to learning. If it’s not learning your craft, then it’s learning how YOU craft. Every writer is different; I know folks who cringe when I tell them I don’t have a detailed outline for my entire series, down to hair/eye color and what shaving gel they used. Then again, the idea of writing from a detailed synopsis has my eyes crossing from boredom – I mean, the story is already written, why am I writing it again? Learn how you do things, and unabashedly DO THEM. Don’t let others dictate what works for you; listen, maybe try adopting new ideas into your pattern, but don’t be afraid to discard them if they’re not for you. Write your story as you see fit. FINISH your story. Then you can start thinking about how to incorporate all those fabulous ideas you came up with into your next book.

Oh, and leave the sink at home. 😉

Beat ’em til their bloody

I love to read. That probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise to most folks as they assume all writers like reading, but books have always been an important part of my life. Christmas and birthday gifts were almost always books I wanted or gift cards to bookstores, which were always used immediately to restock my TBR pile. My favorite place (and my parents’ – free books for a voracious reader!) was the library, both public and at school. I read any and everything I could get my hands on; my nose was constantly in a book. Adulthood has lessened that to a large extent, sadly enough, but I do have brief bouts of manic reading.

What does this have to do with my subject line? Well, I learned early on that I most enjoyed reading about suffering characters. The more dire the situation, the more I relished the read. Cliffhangers were awesome, provided the next book was immediately available, but I’d eagerly await the next part to see how it all turned out. I didn’t like stories with unhappy endings (still refuse to read or warch “The Road”) but I enjoyed watching characters grow even as they suffered.

Where am I going with this? Well, for the last week I’ve been on a reading frenzy (and yes, my writing has suffered to my dismay) of a scifi YA “Molly Fyde” series by Hugh Howey. It has everything a girl could want: action, adventure, kick-ass heroine, angst, love, betrayal, genocide, politicking…

*looks back at that list* Okay, so this girl doesn’t want everything on that list, but it makes a compelling read. I love smart series like this, the kind that give characters impossible situations and, when they choose, they have to live with the ramifications of their actions. When they make a mistake and it comes back to haunt them. Reading books like this make me realize how much I as a writer still have to learn – its HARD to beat up your characters, even if it’s for their own good or the good of the story.

But boy, does it make for one heck of a ride.

Beat 'em til their bloody

I love to read. That probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise to most folks as they assume all writers like reading, but books have always been an important part of my life. Christmas and birthday gifts were almost always books I wanted or gift cards to bookstores, which were always used immediately to restock my TBR pile. My favorite place (and my parents’ – free books for a voracious reader!) was the library, both public and at school. I read any and everything I could get my hands on; my nose was constantly in a book. Adulthood has lessened that to a large extent, sadly enough, but I do have brief bouts of manic reading.

What does this have to do with my subject line? Well, I learned early on that I most enjoyed reading about suffering characters. The more dire the situation, the more I relished the read. Cliffhangers were awesome, provided the next book was immediately available, but I’d eagerly await the next part to see how it all turned out. I didn’t like stories with unhappy endings (still refuse to read or warch “The Road”) but I enjoyed watching characters grow even as they suffered.

Where am I going with this? Well, for the last week I’ve been on a reading frenzy (and yes, my writing has suffered to my dismay) of a scifi YA “Molly Fyde” series by Hugh Howey. It has everything a girl could want: action, adventure, kick-ass heroine, angst, love, betrayal, genocide, politicking…

*looks back at that list* Okay, so this girl doesn’t want everything on that list, but it makes a compelling read. I love smart series like this, the kind that give characters impossible situations and, when they choose, they have to live with the ramifications of their actions. When they make a mistake and it comes back to haunt them. Reading books like this make me realize how much I as a writer still have to learn – its HARD to beat up your characters, even if it’s for their own good or the good of the story.

But boy, does it make for one heck of a ride.