Process in Progress #5 – I Need to Figure Out My Editing Process

Things That Happened While My Back Was Busted:

  1. I watched The Princess Bride, and in doing so discovered that . . . holy shit, Inigo Montoya is really the protagonist of that story. Like, the Han Solo factor of “Why am I not following this guy the whole time?” couples so strongly with his arc getting the most satisfying payoff that I came away from this last viewing like, “How is he not the protagonist?” Seriously, having read the book, it’s bizarre seeing how much the screenplay beefs up Westley (as if someone behind the scenes knew he paled in comparison). Potentially a post coming up about that. In the meantime, seriously, ask anyone to say a quote from The Princess Bride and consider how quickly they answer, “My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”
  2. I started playing Hades. Possibly a post about that coming up as well.
  3. I trimmed the tip of the tree branch that kept bashing at my window, which I only mention because just imagine walking down the street and looking up to see a Hispanic man with wild, Medusa-like hair, Danny DeVito-panting as he clumsily hacks at a thin branch with an old bread knife. That was me. It only took seconds, but just in case no one saw it, now you did.
  4. I barely got any editing done.

Being totally real; my back was bad enough that I just stopped caring about anything. Coupled with the holiday, I just totally stopped trying.

However, the last time I edited (Wednesday) I did realize something.

I have no idea if I’m over- or under-editing.

To explain, my editing process so far has been as follows:

  1. The Big Fix Pass. I consider big feedback I’ve gotten from my writer’s group and pair that with larger edits I wanted to make to a chapter.
  2. The Small Tweaks Pass. After a break, I read back over the chapter, focusing on tweaking everything so it reads well and makes sense. Especially descriptions, which I realize I go super ‘implied magic’ on in my first drafts. Shit like, “The wind swirled blue, stalks wayward swaying,” which is not actually something from my first draft of Memory, but does perfectly represent the kind of starry-eyed bullshit I write sometimes. Although I’m much more guilty of under-describing because I don’t want to flood the read with worldbuilding. It’s weird to have to reign that reflex in (from what feels like the wrong direction), but I’ve really enjoyed getting to go ham with additional descriptions so far.
  3. The Line Feedback Pass. I whip out whatever line edits I have from my writing group and go over the chapter one last time, which works really well when it comes to catching anything I missed.

And that’s it. It definitely feels like a healthy approach to editing.

However . . . the problem is the Small Tweaks.

It definitely feels great every time I find a paragraph that doesn’t make sense. When I catch a description like “he rode the elevator down and the wall fell away” (paraphrasing here), I’m always super pleased to catch that, “No, the wall isn’t ‘falling’—it’s literally going up past the character because the elevator is going down, so I really need to find a new phrasing here.” Moments like that always feel like small victories, where I’m teasing out the best ways to describe a scene.

But I also feel like that side of myself—that focuses on literal meaning, clarity, and flow—can keep going forever if I let it.

Maybe that’s not true. Maybe if I went back and looked over the first chapter again, I wouldn’t find anything new to edit. But I can’t help feeling like I’d find myself thinking, “Well, is ‘chartreuse’ 2% more accurate to the color of the scum in this run-off ditch?”

But then, at the same time, if I don’t go back, am I going to feel massively unsatisfied when I finish editing this book? I’m two chapters in and every time I think about moving forward, there’s this nagging sensation that something’s wrong. And, being fair to the editing-Terminator part of my brain, I’m usually right when I get this feeling.

I think that what I need to do is add one more pass over a chapter. And, just imagining it, I’m sure it’s going to come down to this:

  1. I look over the chapter and fully accept that I can move on. That might mean finding a balance: adding charming descriptions to make things less clinical and further smoothing out moments that don’t make enough sense. Either way, I need to walk away feeling . . . Okay. This is going to sound super intense, but at this phase in my writing career, I think I need to walk away from every chapter feeling like it would be okay if it got published immediately. Like, if no one else ever touched the Prologue, I’d still be okay with the public reading it.
    Or . . .
  2. I look at the Prologue again and my eyes glaze over, indicating that my brain can’t handle another pass right now, which I would totally accept. And which would definitely constitute some kind of Final Pass on a 3rd Draft after I finish this edit.

Obviously, I don’t know which of these things will happen. But I do know that either way, all that matters is that I walk away from those edits feeling certain I can walk away.

Especially because, around all of this, there’s a time constraint; I still don’t live in a world where I can casually take another year to edit this novel. At best, I have until June of 2022, but I seriously can’t take that long or I’ll feel like a failure. Just personally, as a human being, I need to be submitting Memory by February at the absolute latest.

That’s . . . a lot of pressure.

Regardless, I’m grateful I was able to write all of this out here. Because when I started writing this post, I genuinely didn’t know how I’d solve this editing problem.

But now I’m both excited and terrified to attempt that one last pass and hope that I come away from it feeling certain. Of anything.

~~~

Thank for reading. I feel like I have to follow up on this next week, so that’s what I’ll probably do. If you’d like to find out what happens—if I’m relieved or infinitely more stressed out come next Sunday—then you can give my blog a Follow via the button on the left side-bar (on PC), or the top-right hamburger menu (on mobile).

Until next time, take care, stay safe, and if you’ve ever enjoyed any rogue-like, you owe it to yourself to play Hades. As a fan of the genre, Hades is easily my favorite ever. I seriously haven’t felt this strongly about a game recommendation since Spiritfarer.

Anyway, have a good week, everyone!

Sorry–I Need Another Break Today

I never, ever like taking multiple week breaks these days.

But I’m working with a half-charge on my laptop and a thrown-out back. So, like, can I get to my laptop charger on the other side of the room? Sure. Am I going to do that? Hell no–even lying down right now is uncomfortable.

And, on top of that, I just don’t have anything to talk about.

I tried writing something (thus the half-charge), but I’ve seriously got nothing. Lesson learned–always write posts earlier in the week. Never leave them for Saturday night / Sunday morning, when my garbage-y body might betray me, crazy-old-scientist style.

By way of an update, I’ve been entirely focused on editing Memory, which has been an interesting, impostor syndrome-tastic experience. On one hand, I’m worried that it’s taking so long (I’m only a chapter in). On the other, I’m glad that I’m being extremely thorough (and that I had enough time away to be hyper-critical).

That said . . . I’m going back to sleep if I can.

I seriously despise the idea of full, 100%-do-nothing sick days at this point in my life.

But, holy shit, fuck it. It’s 1PM and I am done.

Last thing: if you missed it, only weeks after I talked about my Fantasy fiction Smash Clone, Arya Stark . . . is officially in a Smash Clone: Multiversus, Warner’s newly announced platform fighter.

Here she is with Bugs Bunny, Garnet, Jake the Dog, and Personality-Sold-Separately Superman

I mean, I knew my Fantasy platform fighter would never come out, but now it’s well and truly dead.

But at least we can have Arya versus Shaggy from Scooby Doo, Harley Quinn, and . . . Reindog?

Truly the epic battle we’ve all been waiting for.

Anyway, take care, stay hydrated, and if you’re in the states, have a good Thanksgiving!

A November 2021 Break – In Prep for Editing Memory

Apologies for this one being a little late; my sleep schedule is such that I accidentally missed the majority of Sunday.

I would have done a November “Read/Watch/Play” today, but A) I haven’t finished the novel I started reading last week and B) the only good thing I’ve watched so far this month was Shang-Chi, and telling anyone to watch that would feel like an incredible waste of time. Because, yeah, I liked it—it was good—but also everyone saw it months ago.

Still, I wanted to take a break because this week had some weird medical bullshit that threw me off track.

And, as a result, I fell back into “Emotional Prep Mode.” Initially just to prepare for the steadily approaching nightmare of getting those leg surgeries.

But I realized halfway through the week that what I was really preparing for was editing Memory.

It’s been almost two months since I finished it, and, this week in particular, the corrections that I need to make started burning a figurative hole in my imaginary pocket of corrections. More than anything, I’m dying to get back to the ending, which I know needs a ton of changes; I went full “this part of my life needs to end” mode and settled on a bunch of stuff for the epilogue that I know is terrible.

On top of that, I’m also at the point where I think I can honestly read and edit earlier chapters without just skimming over them. The all-important distancing period is finally over.

So, I’m just gonna end this post here, because I want to finish prepping for tomorrow by compiling all the comments and critiques I’ve ever gotten into a complete, like, Editing Dashboard (and yes, of course it’s a spreadsheet). Maybe I’ll write a post about it if it’s actually effective.

Anyway, with that said, thanks for passing by.

I finally feel like I’ve gathered enough info from Likes to know that my most popular posts are the ones that focus on my writing process and WIP’s.

And first–aww, thanks, everybody! But second, okay–I’ll start focusing more on those posts. However, I still appreciate Likes as a way of gauging how readers feel about the content I put out, so if you enjoyed this, you can give it a Like via the left sidebar (on PC) or the top-right hamburger menu (on mobile). I also appreciate Follows because they help me grow my platform.

That said, take care, stay hydrated, and is anyone else as obsessed with the Shishi from Shang-Chi as I am? Seriously, I see people talking about Morris a bunch, but not the Shishi, which surprised me because, as a Fantasy nerd and a cat lover, they blew my mind. Like, they made me 10 years old again; I seriously just went wide-eyed like, “Whooooooaaaa,” and paused the movie to stare because they were so cool looking . . . Anyway, just asking. And also, my next D&D character is going to have a Shi Shi as a companion for sure.

Let’s Talk About – How What If…? Was Not a Great Show But Is a Good Writing Exercise

Disclaimer: You don’t need to have watched Disney+’s What If…? to read this post. And, to be completely honest, it would be better for you if you didn’t watch What If…? anyway because it’s just honestly not worth your time. I’ve always been fairly critical of what Marvel Studios puts out and I have to honestly say that only one episode–“What If… Doctor Strange Lost His Heart?”–is legitimately good while the rest is probably the MCU’s most skippable content to date.

Regardless though, I will be spoiling parts of the show, because this post will briefly touch on its bad elements to highlight how not to do the writing exercise it accidentally presents. So if you don’t want any spoilers for What If…?, then this is your official warning to read no further.

~~~

I.

Am.

Still bedridden.

I realize I haven’t given updates on my leg in a while, but my kneecap is still loose. Months later.

I’ve seen three specialists now, and every visit yields a new prospective surgery I’ll need to correct what is now very clearly one of the shittiest legs ever. Long story short: the alignment of my knee is making it harder for my kneecap to heal. Or possibly my ligaments and tendons need to be repaired / replaced with surgery (one of the three–yes, three–operations I am going to need soon.

There are definite pluses to all of this, of course.

But also the side effect that I’m extremely bored.

I took over the world in Civ 6.

I’m close to the end of Metroid: Dread.

I already watched all of Star Wars: Visions.

And I watched . . . What If…?

And I know I took my time getting to it, but What If…? is what I want to talk about today.

Because holy shit was that show disappointing. I promise this isn’t going to be a hit-piece on that show, but I do need to talk about why that show is bad, so I can bring us around to the point of this post:

That, when done right, What If…? can be a great writing exercise.

But, first, let’s get to that realization the same way I did.

Starting with the confession that . . .

Man . . .
I Just Love Talking About Alternate Realities

If you haven’t been to this site before, I am a ridiculous fan of / believer in / supporter of the concept of alternate realities. I seriously think about them and talk about them all the time.

I’ve written a short story that focuses on them.

I often say things like, “In an alternate reality, there’s a version of me that’s a food scientist,” because, once upon a time, I did a way-too-elaborate presentation on cnidarians in college and my science professor offered me a job in his lab. A job which I didn’t take it for some stupid fucking reason.

I have often, when pressed for something to talk about with coworkers at my old job, resorted to throwing alternate reality hypotheticals at them. Questions like “If you went to an alternate reality and found out the version of you there was struggling financially, would you help them out?”

What I’m getting at here is that alternate realities are genuinely fascinating to me. They have incredible potential to make us question our own choices and the influence those choices have on who we are. For example, in the alternate reality where I wasn’t born with a fucked up leg, I’m probably in amazing shape. I definitely also wouldn’t know 99% of my current friends, because my life would’ve veered in a completely different direction when I was much, much younger (I honestly don’t know if I even would’ve had the same friends in grade school).

TL;DR: alternate realities are a cornucopia of possibilities.

And What If…? Totally Squanders That Potential

If you haven’t seen What If…?, it’s an animated series based on alternate realities within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It explores questions like, “What if all of the core Avengers were murdered before they became a team?” and, “What if Thor and Loki were never brothers?”

And then it’s like, “Thor would be a party boy.”

Me: “What? Wait . . . What?”

The Show: <throwing back a swig of beer so carelessly that it slops all over his shirt, and then wiping his mouth clean with the back of his hand> “If he din have his brother, Thor woulda been a big party man with a hammer.”

Me: “. . . Dude, what the fuck are you talking about?”

The Show: “He’d come down to earth and start a big party!

Me: “Okay. But, I mean, are there interesting consequences from that? Like, would Thor have become a shitty king? Would he have had more weird, space-centric adventures or just stood on Asgard forever?”

The Show: “Nah–it’d be like Ferris Thorler’s Day Off, I think. I dunno.”

Me: “. . . For fuck’s sake. Sure. Whatever. What about the other question?”

The Show: <grunts a> “Wha?” <as he eats spaghetti out of his hand>

Me: “The other theoretical: ‘What if all of the Avengers were murdered?'”

The Show: “Oh, right. They’d have to solve the mystery.”

Me: <blinks> “What?”

The Show: “They’d have to do it–have to figure out who done did it.”

Me: “Yeah, no shit. But how would that change the world???”

The Show: “Um . . . The Avengers would be dead?”

Me: “I know! But how would things be different!? What significant, unthinkable consequences would come out of that!?”

The Show: “Whoa . . . Dude . . . I can see you’re angry. Uh . . .” <lifts up his hand, offering> “Want some spaghetti?”

Yeah, I was . . . obviously a little disappointed.

But, if nothing else, this show did yield a really lively discussion with my writing group. About what the show did right (the animation was consistently beautiful) but mostly about what it did wrong. We tend to do that–critiquing pop culture content and brainstorming fixes for their missteps.

That discussion led me to create a question, on the fly, that I actually would’ve wanted answered: “What if Captain Marvel Never Left Earth at the End of Captain Marvel?” If I was part of the writing team for What If…?, that’s the first episode I would’ve suggested, because it’s the very first thing I wondered after seeing that movie for the first time.

But after the conversation, I wanted to make a joke to one of my friends that the episode I really wanted to see was “What if [the protagonist from their WIP] was evil?”

And then I immediately thought, Wait. What if one of the pivotal events in my novel never happened? What if someone else found the [spoiler]?

And, like a lightbulb flicking on, I realized . . .

What If…? Can Be a Really Fun Way
to Explore Your Own Stories

Obviously, this wouldn’t work for everyone; at its heart, writing fiction relies on the writer’s ability to make decisions and stick with them–to say, “Character A will be like this because that works with the theme I’ve decided on,” etc. So if you’re struggling to make decisions about your stories, maybe ignore this next part entirely.

For everyone else though . . . it’s weirdly fun to imagine how different your WIP would be if you changed one pivotal event or decision.

The one I stated above (the admittedly vague “What if someone else found [spoiler]?”) proposes a simple, extremely likely change to a single event in Memory that would completely change the story. Seriously, it would alter it in ways that I still haven’t grasped. The protagonists, Memory and Kole, would probably still come together, but they would’ve had a completely different quest that possibly would’ve been an elaborate heist? And the information yielded by that heist would not have had the same impact, so . . . would my villain have even been stopped?

It’s just wild to think about.

This is not me saying I’m going to rewrite Memory a third time. Hell no.

But wondering “What if . . . ?” does weirdly force me to explore character motivations in a way that I think is interesting.

It also naturally makes me see the world through a different lens that feels healthy for worldbuilding, if nothing else. The What If…? version of Memory explores a totally different portion of its world setting, and something about that feels especially rewarding to me.

Is it something I’d suggest for everyone? Not really. But it is a fun exercise in completely free plot-building.

And it can be a useful creative tool for the brainstorming phase of a new WIP. A way to test the parts of your plot that are absolutely pivotal and see the version of your story that you never would otherwise–a vehicle by which to explore an alternate version of the “Is this the most interesting time in your protagonist’s life?” question: “Is this the most interesting version of your protagonist’s life?” The goal of course isn’t to get lost considering alternate events for eternity, but to shake up your plot and force you to explore alternative events that might be better for the themes you’ve chosen.

For example, “What if Modis just stood in his cell?” . . . I know that means absolutely nothing to you–Modis is a character from the second item on my personal WIP queue), but holy shit, I just blew my own mind. Should Modis just stay in his cell and go to Primus? Would he get to Primus? Does that support the “Summer roadtrip” theme I have for that story more than him escaping?

Okay, sorry. I’m not even kidding–I have to go brainstorm a bit.

~~~

Thanks for reading. Especially if you got all the way to the end. This one wound up being way longer than I thought it would.

As always, I honestly appreciate Likes and Follows–Likes because they help me gauge what content to focus on and Follows because it helps me build my professional platform. The Like button is at the end of this post, but the Follow button is on the left sidebar on PC or the top-right drop-down menu on mobile.

That said, I appreciate you either way. Stay safe, take care, and seriously, fuck everybody else on your birthday. Like, go on vacation, but if you can’t, everything else that is not your favorite thing should fuck right off. Get that ice cream. Buy that booze. It is your day and anyone who’s like, “But I don’t want your favorite food for dinner,” needs to fuck off. Unless it’s also their birthday, in which case I have no answers–I have failed you. Goodnight!

Camp NaNoWriMo 2021: Week 12 (Bonus) – Memory, My Project for Camp NaNoWriMo 2021, Is Finally Complete

I . . . cannot even begin to express how I feel right now.

On one hand . . . so happy. Ffs, I finally finished it. Two full months late, but still, I finally finished Memory.

On the other hand . . . so tired.

Why? Because I’ve discovered that when I’m writing a finale, I do a thing where I get so into the writing that I don’t eat? And when I do, it’s seriously, like, bananas and bread? Sometimes with coffee? Seriously, today I woke up, wrote for four hours, got up, ate a grapefruit, had two slices of bread, and then sat back down to finish the epilogue with a cup of coffee I just realized is still right here, unfinished.

But it’s okay, because Memory is!

Final Stats:

Time to Complete: About three months.

Number of Words: 70,304

Number of Chapters: Prologue + 19 + Epilogue

Average Chapter Length: 20 pages.

Things I Learned:

  1. Always plot out fight scenes!
  2. When you’re writing your outline, never “leave it to future you” to decide how something happens. In fact, the more you plot out things, the better. Options for a Scene > A Defined Set of Events for a Scene >>>>>> “You make it up! Have fun!”
  3. The final draft will always be significantly different from the outline and that’s okay. As long as changes improve character arcs, wordbuilding, and all of the other good stuff, they are absolutely acceptable. In fact, being about to manage those changes, instead of strictly adhering to the outline or going totally AWOL with new ideas, is absolutely essential for my process (more on that in a future post).
  4. Additions, no matter how “free” they seem, will always require smoothing out. But if the addition is necessary, the smoothing out will be worth it.
  5. Rushing to complete a novel is bad. In an alternate reality, a variant of me wrapped up Memory two months ago and is probably now depressed because he realized he has to add an extra scene that’s going to require massive rewrites down the line. Seriously, I will never rush myself ever again.
  6. Although “rushing myself” means writing a novel in a month instead of a few months, so win-win.
  7. Likewise, the way I write my outlines, they basically are first drafts that I then nitpick to death when I write the actual first draft. The best way for me to think of my outlines is as actual “Alphas”–just the potential parts of a project, composed as a proof of concept to myself and a base to build off of–while the first draft would be a “Beta”–the functional but rough version of that project. Again, this is a good thing, because, as I’m just admitting to myself, I am a chronic “rewriter” (again, something I’ll talk about in a future post).
  8. It’s okay to take days off. In a perfect world, my process will always include full days off where I just do anything but think about my current WIP, and that’s not me being lazy–I get to have days off.
  9. I write dramatic scenes and dialogue to absolute silence or ambient sounds I find on YouTube. I write fight scenes to video game boss music that I am extremely picking about because I’m that much of a nerd.
  10. At the end of a writing project, I enter a weird state where I forget to eat. And when I do eat, I seriously eat whatever is the easiest possible thing for me to find and that’s it. Seriously, it has been days of either A) food ordered from outside, or, as I said earlier in the post, B) fruit. And, like, bread. Possibly a glass of milk. I keep thinking of it as “Blanka state,” because in Street Fighter Alpha 3, Blanka ate a lot of fruit for whatever reason, and, as previously stated, I’m a fucking nerd, so “Blanka state” is probably going to stick.

What Now?

I am taking exactly one week off.

To do whatever I want.

There won’t be a disruption in posting: after this, I’ll be posting next Sunday, the 3rd.

But between then and now? Probably Civ 6.

Definitely the rest of Star Wars: Visions.

Absolutely that bottle of wine I bought for this exact occasion.

Oh, and getting food. Seriously, I am so hungry right now that it’s insane.

~~~

Thank you for joining me on this long, perpetually bumpy road to finish this year’s work in progress. Of course, I have to edit Memory, and eventually put together a submission packet for it, but those are all a problem for Future Louis. Right now, I just want to say I appreciate everyone who’s been reading with me for the past three months, and I am excited to get back to weird content about my process. And hopefully, if my brain allows it, weird talk about stupid dreams I had.

My name is Louis Santiago, and if you want to join me and maybe hear about those stupid dreams, or want to keep track of what happens next with Memory, you can feel free to Follow me via the button on the left sidebar (on PC) or the top-right drop-down menu (on mobile).

Either way, take care, stay safe, and if you have sex in front of your parrots all the time, don’t fucking put them at your window. I mean, you would think that “don’t have sex in front of your parrots” would be common sense, or that–if it wasn’t–“don’t put them outside your window so they can mimic your sex noises to your entire goddamn neighborhood” would be a given. But apparently, my downstairs neighbors don’t get that, so, ya know, fyi.

Anyway, have a good weekend!

Camp NaNoWriMo 2021: Week 11 (Bonus) – I Am Right There

Seriously, Memory is in phase 1 of the final boss fight.

I am so goddamn close.

I probably only need a single extra day.

And that’s only because my week was pretty hellish.

Because I went to a specialist about my knee and discovered that although my knee will heal on it’s own, I really need to have a massive operation done to correct the bones in my right leg, which are so horribly crooked that I will not be able to walk in 15 years if I leave them as they are.

Just . . . Seriously, I have always had problems with my right leg; multiple surgeries over my lifetime have left it a total mess and I always knew that.

But I cannot express how completely and utterly I never wanted to have another massive procedure done to my leg. Seriously, there is no hell like having pins drilled into your leg and left there for months as you bones fuse back together. It is a nightmare.

But whatever. I don’t mean to complain about personal shit–I generally try to not do that on my site.

I’m just saying all of this to make it clear that I didn’t finish Memory today because I spent half of one day in a hospital, and the other half eating ice cream and tuning out the world.

My sleep schedule got messed up.

I reached out to a ton of friends for advice.

I stress drank some orange juice.

I’m a mess.

The Plus Side: I did just wrap up a meeting with my writing group that was abnormally positive for the novel. I left that meeting massively exciting to finish Memory. And I am generally excited for the idea that this procedure on my leg will correct other, existing health problems I have because of the way it is now.

So, overall, the future is bright. And that’s great.

I’m just . . . exhausted. Like, dark bags under the eyes, literally-nodding-off-while-writing-this-sentence tier exhausting. Seriously, holy shit–it just happened again. I keep leaning my head back and jumping awake minutes later.

So, okay. I apologize, but I’m just ending this post here. I will post again when I’ve finished Memory, and I do have plans for follow-up posts that I’m super excited about–I am ready to get extremely nerdy about my writing again with all of you.

But today, I am just going to go pass out in my bed.

Until next time, take care, stay safe, and Grimace is a taste bud. Goodnight!

Camp NaNoWriMo 2021: Week 8 (Bonus) – We’re in the Endgame Now

We . . .

. . . made it.

We . . . are out of act 2.

There was a moment when I realized that I need to change the monster from the Cave Scene, but I was immediately like, “No, I am not going back to change that chapter again this week!

“I just need this act to be done! I need this part of my life to be over!”

And . . . it is.

Surprisingly, the boss fight (the final fight scene I didn’t plot out) went amazingly well. I was able to work it out in one sitting despite thinking up massive curve balls to its setting and events. As with all things, I know I’ll have to heavily edit it when I get back to it, but that doesn’t matter.

What matters is that I’m past it. I have firmly planted a foot into the third act.

Despite losing a day because I went on WebMD to look up “dislocated kneecap,” because that’s what happened to me a few weeks ago. Naturally, I just found pure terror there, because if you didn’t know, that’s where pure terror lives–WebMD when you have absolutely anything wrong with you, including a dry cough. Anyway, I then absolutely destroyed my schedule to go to the doctors one day to confirm that my knee was healing alright. Of course, I need X-rays and to see a specialist, but the doctor did confirm that my kneecap is in the right place, so that’s something!

Overall, obviously, a good thing, but also, I was so weirdly exhausted that I lost an additional day not being able to sleep and just lying down and stressing out? I dunno. Dislocated kneecaps on a perennially messed up leg + zero sleep really fuck you up.

But whatever. I got through that, got through the fight scene, and I’m steadily approaching the end of the novel. I even managed to make minor adjustments along the way that are going to pare down the next chapters, which I’m really excited about.

The only challenge is going to be making adjustments to the ending itself, but I’m guessing I’ll only need a day or two to adjust the outline before I start writing it–famous last words, I know.

Still, overall, I’m ecstatic.

In fact, while writing the fight scene, listening to an extended version of the Waterblight Ganon Boss Theme, I remembered that A) what I was writing didn’t exist at all in the original version of Memory, B) it was the byproduct of pushing myself to do the openly transformative rewrite I could imagine, and C) I was finally writing it. All of that hit me with the music from Breath of the Wild, and it made me realize that I was writing something awesome.

Whether or not it’s awesome to anyone else isn’t the point; the point is, I planned a really intense, transformative rewrite of a novel with the intention of making it significantly better, and I was writing the perfect embodiment of that intention: a fight that didn’t exist with a character who died off-screen in the original version of the novel. I want to make it clear that I did not tear up, but I only clarify that because “I got emotional” feels like the most appropriate way to explain what happened to me. There was a moment while writing it when I realized, “Holy shit. I’m here! I’m in it! I get to write this!” and I had to breathe and calm down, because I didn’t want to lose track of the fight.

Which I guess is me saying goddamn–writing is a gift. My leg is fucked up and my life is garbage.

But at least I got to write this thing that, at the very least, was truly awesome for me.

~~~

That said, I’m calling it here. Sorry to write so late–this was just one of my vampire nights (days?).

If you’re new here, I post every Sunday night / Monday morning. I want to post more regularly on Sunday nights, but that, like everything, is a post-Memory goal.

If you want to find out how much longer it takes me to finish this WIP, feel free to give me a Follow via the button on the left sidebar (on PC) or top-right drop down menu (on mobile). If you liked this post, please consider giving it a Like because that’s how I evaluate what content to keep on this blog.

Until next time, stay safe, stay hydrated, and write because you want to. That’s really enough when it comes down to it.

Camp NaNoWriMo 2021: Week 7 (Bonus) – I Was So Close to the Endgame

Ugh. You guys, seriously, I am right there.

I was fully intending on being stubborn and writing all night, posting at 4am that, “We’re in the endgame now.”

But then I realized that what stands between me and that endgame . . . is the fight at the end of the second act. A fight which, mind you, I did not plot out.

And realizing that, I immediately switched gears to, “Oh. Right. There’s not a chance in hell I’m getting through that tonight.

However, I will get to the third act tomorrow. It’s not as perfectly timed, sure . . .

. . . but eh–this week was still awesome writing-wise.

Because it yielded some of the best changes I’ve ever made to any WIP.

And yielded some important lessons.

Lesson 1:
Additions Always Require Smoothing Out,
No Matter How Free They Seem

When I initially decided to add what I’m calling “the Cave Scene,” it wasn’t the first time I added a scene in the middle of a WIP. My first novel, Exiles, got slowly destroyed by those additions, and, conversely, the original version of Memory was greatly improved by a single addition to its second act. In both cases, however, the expansions were massive; the original version of Memory saw an entirely new area added–an area that is so iconic to the finished product that I can’t believe the very first draft of the story didn’t have it.

Anyway, the difference with my current WIP is that the Cave Scene was–and still is–a small addition; I didn’t invent a whole new area for the heroes to adventure through–I just expanded the events in an area they had already passed through.

For that reason, I thought the Cave Scene would be super free (“free” in this case being a gaming term for “so easy that it’s guaranteed”). I thought I’d add it and it would be no problem whatsoever.

This week, however, I realized that wasn’t the case.

Because although the addition was good, the tone it brought to the story really needed to be reinforced. In my notes, I wrote that the relationship the Cave Scene created needed “room to breathe.”

And I am . . . so grateful that I didn’t plow through to the end because giving it the room it needed (by editing everything after the cave scene) would have been so much worse if the entire novel was already finished.

As it was, I was able to edit the (effectively) three chapters after the Cave Scene to give my characters room in this week alone.

It required that I rebalance the emotions at the end of the second act . . .

. . . but I seriously cannot state enough how much better the end of act two is now. It is ridiculous how much better the story is now. I wish I could just spoil it, but I can’t, so just trust me: the end of the second act is so much more intense and meaningful that I get chills imagining the horrible alternate reality where I went with the version from last week.

Which sounds like an exaggeration, but it isn’t.

And on that note . . .

Lesson 2:
I Need to Take More Time with My Outlines

My process is going to need a little tweaking because, while I was laying out the changes that needed to be made this week, I realized . . .

I really should’ve figured this all out in the Outlining Phase of my process.

And the only reason I didn’t . . . is that I was hellbent on getting the outline finished in time for Camp NaNoWriMo.

This is maybe the umpteenth time I’ve realized I need to slow down my process, so I’m just going to respect it.

And admit that, yes, I need to slow down a bit with it.

In particular, I need to give myself another month or so after I finish writing an outline to evaluate it. My writing group helps a lot in this regard, but I need to instate a dedicated, chill Review Phase for myself, the goal of which really needs to be heavy, objective criticism.

I know I just said the Review Phase would be chill, but I guess that just means I’ll be sipping wine while I harshly judge my outlines?

Cause the harsh judging part needs to happen; I re-e-e-eally should’ve caught that the Cave Scene needed to be added before I wrote past it. I feel like I lucked into it (which I know is impostor syndrome bullshit because I spotted the need for the Cave Scene myself and literally took extra whole weeks to add it in a way that felt interesting and natural to the rest of the novel).

But I guess what I’m getting at here is that I really don’t want to be surprised by the need for this kind of addition ever again.

The Goal for Book 3 / 5: Make sure the outline is whole before I start writing. I know things will change in the final product, but I never want to add another Cave Scene.

With that said . . .

The Book 4 Lesson Tally So Far:

  1. It’s okay to take days off when you’re writing your novel. Speaking personally here, I am not a machine and my healthy pace naturally includes days off.
  2. Ffs, plot out your fight scenes.
  3. Giving yourself options for ways to complete scenes > stating the one way a scene can go >>>>> telling your future self to have fun deciding what a scene is like. That’s not my job, Past Louis! That’s your fuckin’ job, dude! Who writes, “Have fun making this up!” in an outline? Motherfucker, you make it up!
  4. There will inevitably be changes from the outline, no matter how methodically you plot it out.
  5. However, rushing an outline and accidentally leaving it incomplete is definitely not good. It creates a ton of work for you at best. In other words, it’s okay to chill, maybe actually celebrate finishing your outline, and return to it with as objective an eye as you possibly can.

To close out here, I’d like to add one final lesson. It’s small and I came to it by accident last night, after I finished writing at 2am.

To put it concisely, it’s okay to tell impostor syndrome to fuck off.

I’m not advocating for everyone to start talking to themselves, but last night, I saved my MS, closed it, and immediately thought, Oh man, I barely spent any time writing today though.

To which I said, aloud, “Dude . . . I just spent six hours writing. Six fucking hours. It wasn’t all day, sure, but my ass was in that chair for six hours. Fuck you.”

And I’m sharing this because, seriously, if there’s any concept it’s ever okay to curse out, it’s impostor syndrome when it tries to make you feel bad for only writing for six hours.

Seriously, give it a shot. Because no matter how little writing you did today, your ass was still in that chair, and if anyone or anything wants to downplay that achievement, you deserve to tell them to fuck off.

~~~

That said, I’ve decided I’m tuning out after this; no additional work on the MS–I’m just going to relax.

If you’re new here, I post every Sunday. However, I am a vampire who wakes up at 2pm and (sometimes) plays D&D for hours on Sundays, so posts may come out in the wee hours of Monday morning, like this one. And, yes, I played today and my warforged fighter got one-shot by a super powerful mage who crit with an ice spell; I don’t remember the exact numbers, but it was something like 37 damage after I succeeded at a Dex saving throw. Definitely one of those “Holy shit–am I about to skip death saving throws?” moments.

Anyway, if you enjoyed this post, please leave it a Like so I can decide if I should keep doing posts like this one or move on to other content.

And if you really want to find out how much further I get with my WIP by next Sunday, you can always give my blog a Follow via the button on the left sidebar (on PC) or the top right drop down menu (on mobile).

Either way, take care, stay hydrated, and remember that if you’re an aspiring writer, you’re seriously working a second job and you deserve all the respect in the world for that.

Camp NaNoWriMo 2021: Week 6 (Bonus) – We Are Not Yet in the Endgame

Yep, I was overconfident about how far I would get this week.

To give myself credit, I haven’t written yet today (although I started the day with my first D&D session in over a month, so I feel totally justified). My point is, technically, I will be further along by 2AM.

However, full disclosure–staying honest–I just finished adding the new chapter yesterday.

In part because, as per usual, a bit of writing that I thought would be easy turned out to be a struggle.

Specifically, the chapter I added was full of what I’m calling “micro-events” that needed to be smoothed out. This may sound weird, but the flow of dialogue and character actions is something I obsess over, so there were plenty of times this week where I sat back in my writing chair with a sigh, rubbing my eyes as I tried to decide things like, “Should Memory mention that she saw this plant before Kole sees them?”

“Does Kole realize what this structure is before Memory tells him?”

“Wouldn’t Memory stop Kole from firing his gun in this fight scene because they’re still trying to lie low?” And then, with a huge sigh as I remembered that Kole used his gun for the entire fight scene in the outline, I grumbled, “Yes, she would.”

Tiny logic problems that absolutely dictated how natural scenes felt.

They dominated this week’s sessions because I’m so hell bent on making sure my story beats feel organic (particularly important for a mid-novel addition, in my eyes).

Still, I’m not bummed; I did finish the addition, and I do like it.

I just decided that I’d post now instead of 4AM because today’s session probably isn’t going to add words; if anything, I’m going to lose words as I neurotically comb over the addition to make sure it works. In particular, there’s one line of dialogue that I have to adjust because it creates a moment of one-sided tension between the protagonists when they’re supposed to be getting along. If nothing else, I imagine tonight is going to be me editing through the addition and the chapters that follow while carrying that one line of dialogue in the back of my head, trying to find a place to put it (because it’s a juicy moment of conflict that adds to their arcs so well that I can’t just drop it).

That said, I’m keeping this one short today.

I will go out on a limb and say there’s no chance in hell I won’t be in the endgame by next Sunday.

Absolutely impossible.

No way.

Not happening.

Definitely not going to regret posting any of this.

Nope.

Really tempting fate here.

But seriously, I’m creating a public, social deadline for myself here. Because I re-e-e-e-eally need this novel to be over and the one way to make sure I stay focused is to give myself a genuinely over-the-top, public deadline.

So yeah, are you kidding? Pssh! No way I’m not getting to the endgame by Sunday! Please! Easy! Poppycock!

. . .

I’m gonna go write! Bye!

Camp NaNoWriMo 2021: Week 5 (Bonus) – Yep–I’m Basically Adding a New Chapter

Hey, everybody.

I am fresh off of a meeting with my writing group and feeling wildly optimistic about Memory.

Because it turns out I didn’t waste my week outlining an additional chapter for the novel!

Well, I say an additional chapter, but really I’m just extending an existing chapter and adding a fight scene to smooth out its pacing.

To back up and explain here, I nearly got to the end of the second act of the novel a week ago; I was all set up to do the last fight scene that I didn’t plot out (still looming over my head), thus closing out that leg of the novel and entering the endgame.

But . . . I realized there was an important moment missing from the novel. Something pivotal to a character’s arc, essential to them making an important decision later on (in the scene directly after the point where I stopped a week ago). And I knew that I couldn’t just weave that moment into existing scenes and wash my hands of it.

So I decided it’s super-in-depth, probably-more-work-than-it-needs-to-be-and-thus-totally-on-brand-for-me editing time, baby!

Basically, I’m doing an extensive reorganization of an existing chapter, which sounds daunting.

But, thankfully, it isn’t.

I’ve already spent the past week outlining the reworked chapter, taking a bit of extra time with it because I wanted to run the idea past my writing group to make sure I wasn’t being overly critical. Thankfully (?), they agreed that it sounded like a good idea and the concept I had for the fantasy monster the protagonists will encounter in that chapter got some ooh’s and ah’s. That means I’m all set to write the chapter itself (which will thankfully include copying-and-pasting specific dialogue from the original chapter because it still needs to be in the new version).

All of that should only take about two days. Especially because I outlined the new fight scene in advance.

“Ha ha! I learn!” Louis screamed, loud enough for his neighbors to hear through the wall. “I le-e-e-earn!”

All things considered, I should be past the second act and into the endgame by this time next week.

Wish me luck, everybody. Fingers crossed that nothing explodes.

~~~

Thanks for stopping by. If you want to find out if I actually make it to the third act of my novel by Sunday or if I’m out-of-my-mind-overconfident again, you can always give this blog a Follow. If you liked this post, please consider leaving a Like because it’s the only way I can gauge what posts all of you enjoy.

That said, take care, stay hydrated, and grapefruits are delicious. Bye!