Dream Diary – My Friend Published Novel Prime

It’s not often that a dream makes me jealous.

But man this one did. But also didn’t? I don’t know–it was weird.

This was another multi-phaser, but the other parts of it were extremely boring and mundane:

First, I was in a hospital visiting my old landlord’s husband for some reason? Particularly weird because he didn’t even have a life-threatening injury, but I went and sat with him anyway like we were family, even though I he was not and I would never do that.

Second, I had a car and lived in a small town in what I can only imagine was California? That part isn’t clear, but it was definitely a small, desert town where I lived with new roommates in an extremely large room? Again, weird, but mundane.

The only part that really matters was when . . .

An Old Friend Published Book Prime

Okay. This is weird to explain but during the dream, the “old friend” was just that–a static entity that I only knew as “an old friend.” I don’t know how often this happens to other people, but she was only an idea until I woke up and realized that the vague shape I saw in my dream-peripheral might have looked like an ex-coworker.

Whatever. That doesn’t matter.

What matters is, at some point, I drove my car through that desert town, got out, and went into a brick building (just imagine the most boring, two-story building made out of large bricks and concrete that you could possibly imagine in an a small, industrial town in an American desert and you’ve got it). And inside . . .

. . . an old friend was signing her newly published novel.

Somehow, this was a surprise. Like I was going to that building for something else.

I remember walking up and talking to her while she was signing for a line of fans. To be clear, there was no stage or signage; it was just her, sitting at one table that was weirdly placed next to machinery and piping.

Regardless, yes, I was being a weird, rude asshole in this dream–because who just walks up to an author while they’re signing and starts talking to them? Actually, on that thread, I remember her being visibly annoyed that I was doing it, but she was also amazingly patient about it (probably because it was my dream). She just gestured for me to check out a copy of her novel–one of the many on her table.

And . . . my God.

Okay, first, I remember seeing it while walking up and thinking, “Is she signing dictionaries?” because it was that thick.

Which is why, when I picked it up and saw that it was not a dictionary but a Fantasy novel, I remember saying, “Holy shit.” Part of that awe came from the dream-knowledge that this was her first novel, it was that long, and it got published, which immediately translated to, “It must be really fucking good.” On top of that, dream-me remembered talking with her about it when it was in the planning stages and now I was floored that it was here, I was holding it, and it weighed ten pounds.

But the real mind fuck was that the cover was gilded. Seriously, every copy was bound in actual leather with 14 karat gold accents. I opened it and not only were the edges of each page gold-leaf, but they were . . . wavy? Not in a water damage way–the edges of every page were intentionally cut so they swelled and dipped in a subtle, waving pattern. And that pattern shifted every twenty pages or so, so the edges of the text block looked like golden coins.

It blew my mind.

And, wildest of all, I opened up her novel . . . and discovered it was a graphic novel? Well, no–hold on. Not accurate. It was not a graphic novel in the way that term suggests.

It was a novel . . . that was fully illustrated. In color.

I don’t know how, but it was somehow both–full narration and panels at the same time.

I kid you not, even my dream brain was like, “No. This would never happen,” so the art in those panels was clearly not great.

But even with that, I just woke up. I didn’t jump awake like this was a nightmare–I just opened my eyes, blinked, and chuckled as I said, “Seriously?” to myself.

Because it was the kind of beautiful tome you’d see in the Cloisters or some other museum, published here in America, in bulk. There were so many copies on her table–of this book covered with actual gold.

It was cartoon-levels of ridiculous; seriously, I just started rewatching The Simpsons and I feel like it’s Homer-daydream levels of silly.

The moment I woke up, I was immediately disconnected from the jealousy in that dream, because I would never want one of my books published like that. The gold cover, the wavy text block, and then the horrible art inside is the exact opposite of what I’d want. I will admit that the idea of a bunch of high quality illustrations conveying all of the narration for an entire novel sounds amazing even though I don’t understand how that would work (wouldn’t it need to be, like, 14,000 pages?). But if there was any part of that dream that I’d actually want, it’s the signing–although not in a maintenance hangar in a desert town.

I dunno. This one was just all-the-way weird and I had to share it. If for no other reason than to just give everyone a peek into a weird, dream reality where publishers apparently don’t give a single fuck about publishing costs.

Seriously, in that world, every copy of Memory is a 13×11 tome with art by Yoshitaka Amano on every single page. And the cover has a silver mask that you can pull off and wear. Because why not?

~~~

That’s it for me. If you’re new here, I’m an aspiring Fantasy writer who posts here every Sunday / Monday. I tend to write about whatever I want, so posts range from talk about my writing progress to talk about the weird fucking dreams I have sometimes. If you’d like to join me on this journey, you can give me a Follow via the button on the left-side bar (on PC) or the top-right drop-down menu (on mobile). Likes are also always appreciated because they help me gauge what content people like on here.

No matter what you do though, thank you for reading. Take care, stay safe, and enjoy this last Halloween before literally everyone is Robert Pattinson Batman. Bye!

Drafts – The Abysswalker

It was the steed of a dead god.

Cel had always been told as much, but seeing the Abysswalker up close for the first time made it undeniable.

Even though it wasn’t a horse or any other beast of burden. Within seconds of seeing the large hump of it’s back, covered with metallic feathers that rippled over its body, it was obvious it wasn’t a larger version of any animal she knew. It’s head, vaguely shaped like a horse’s, only had calm, black eyes–at least from what she could see with the rest of its face covered by a golden helmet of gently swaying chain. On its side, what looked like a strange, vestigial arm–curled forward over the strap of its saddle–became a wing, at complete odds with its impossible legs.

They were the detail you always heard about when anyone spoke of the Abysswalker. The parts of its body responsible for its name. From her spot on the far side of the Walker’s boarding platform, she could only see the tops of them–long muscle corded in a way that made them look like tree trunks. But as she walked to the edge of the platform and looked down over the cliff’s edge, she saw them arching down an unknowable distance–a mile or more into misty nothing below them. One of the legs was straight, wooden muscles tight. The other curved, slack in a way that somehow didn’t demonstrate where its knees or ankles were.

Both legs stemmed from the Walker’s hind quarters.

“It really only has two legs?”

Its keeper chuckled. “Everyone always asks that. You pilgrims come here ready to let the Abysswalker carry you off into the unknown, but you’re all worried it’ll fall before you get there.”

Sacrificing your mundane life to ride the steed of a dead god into the Abyss, knowing that at some point, the Walker would return without you–that you’d be lost in another realm you couldn’t possibly imagine–was one thing. Having that steed stumble so you plummet to an early death in a mile-long pratfall was something else entirely.

“It’s surprisingly intimidating,” Cel said. “That’s all.”

A grunted chuckle as the keeper walked up and patted the Walker’s side. Cel heard it growl low before releasing a short cry. A trumpeted pop that echoed across the edge of the Abyss–the sound disappearing into its maelstrom of gentle, pearlescent clouds.

The Walker lifted its wings, exposing the rope ladder to its saddle.

“You sure you’re ready?” the keeper asked.

Cel looked at that ladder. Fidgeted with the straps of her travel pack, stuffed heavy and high over her back, but suddenly feeling too light.

Trying to keep her breathing steady, she looked back over Ashaiden–the immediate villages of Northwatch that she’d only just experienced, and the lands beyond, unseeable, where she’d grown up.

“Sure,” she said, because in that moment, no word could possibly be more decisive.

~~~

I woke up today with half of a post already written, but I decided I didn’t want to publish it. It was about my writing process and it felt a little too much like the last three months of my content, so I decided, “How about a Draft instead?”

With absolutely no idea what I’d write about, I looked at old, half-finished short stories from my discovery writing days and found a document titled “The Abysswalker,” which, when opened, turned out to actually be called “The Voidbeast” (because I’d been switching names for the story’s titular monster).

Seeing that “Abysswalker” was free though, I thought, “What would an Abysswalker actually be?” and that became the challenge for this Draft. Halfway through, I added on a secondary challenge of making this a “Megapremise” (a type of premise that I wrote a post about back in June) which worked out well enough that I kinda want to write more for this?

At any rate, thanks for reading. If you’re new here, I post every Sunday/Monday. If you liked this Draft, there’s a link to more of them on the left sidebar. But you can also find the Follow button there (on PC at least; on mobile, it’s in the top-right drop down menu) if you want to give my blog a follow. If you liked this post, please give it a Like so I can gauge how much all of you liked this content. It helps steer the ship when it comes to future posts.

All of that said, take care, stay safe, and Civ 6 is amazing. If you find it on sale or free on the Epic Game Store, it’s absolutely worth it. Unless you hate micromanaging the growth of a civilization for literally hundreds of turns. To each their own, I guess.

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 10 (Bonus) – One More Week

I think I only have this one, last week and then Memory is done.

Because the third act is going very smoothly. And that smoothness is really reminding me how much I can get done when I’m not constantly struggling with scene logistics.

The finale–specifically the part I just started writing earlier today–is one of the most highly planned and revised parts of the outline. To the point that–though I feel for Past Louis because I remember it being a pain in the ass–I’m taking it easy because he basically already wrote the chapters in the outline.

And I love it. Seriously, after everything I’ve gone through to get here, I absolutely love Past Louis for doing what he wasn’t supposed to and writing prose and dialogue in the outline. Sometimes it’s meh, but other times, it’s not and just . . . thank fuck.

I wish the entire rest of the outline was like that, but, unfortunately, no. The “Planning Chapter,” “Endgame 1,” and “Endgame 2” are all laid out and clean. I had a mini-heart attack earlier in the month when I thought I would have to drastically change the events in one of the protagonists’ finale, but changes to the end of Act 2 fixed the issue in a way that is infinitely cleaner.

But, the “Epilogue” does need to change. It will require a totally new scene. But . . . it’s a scene that I’ve already washed dishes with, so I have a pretty good idea what it’s going to be.

Long story short: by this time next week . . . Memory is actually going to be finished. I know, I know–disclaimer about me making bold predictions about my writing progress on here.

But I think it’s true. And . . . wow. I’m not trying to get ahead of myself, but goddamn what a journey. Not just with this draft, but with Memory in general. I wrote the first version back in 2014–nearly seven years ago. So long that I seriously keep getting confused about when I wrote it (I’ve said it was 2016 so many times on here). To finally be close to the end of that journey, with a fully functional writing process is just . . . it blows my mind to no end.

But it also makes me really excited. So what I’m going to do: publish this post now, go to bed (yeah, my schedule is fucked up the extent that 4pm is now my 12am), wake up at my normal time of 2am . . . and start the week right. By writing my protagonists plotting a heist.

~~~

Holy shit. I just wrote that and goosebumps. Okay! Thank you for reading.

If you’d like to finish this journey with me, you could always give my blog a Follow via the button on the left sidebar (on PC) or top-right drop down menu (on mobile). I also appreciate Likes because they help me gauge what content is popular on here. For example, fun fact: “Dream Diary – Willy of House Wonka, First of His Name” is popular enough that I really wish my brain would just give me another pure gold dream.

But regardless, thank you for passing by. Stay safe, take care, and remember that you can use gallium to break down a lock. We’re not talking melting here–gallium is a metal that, in its liquid form, weakens other metals. It takes hours, so it’s not an efficient way to pick a lock, but what I’m trying to say is, gallium is a really awesome metal. I mean, it’s liquid at room temperature, but it’s not toxic to humans. It’s just fucking rad.

Camp NaNoWriMo 2021: Week 9 (Bonus) – One of Those 0+1-1+1 = 1 Weeks

You ever have a great idea for an additional scene (we’re not talking about the Cave Scene here) for a novel? Something that is genuinely great, so you go ahead and take a day or two to add it and make sure it’s clean.

But then realize, “Wait a minute . . . That actually detracts from the rest of the chapter and makes it a slog”? So then you have to deliberate intensely with yourself about whether the addition is worth it.

Which then leads to you just deleting the addition because it isn’t, and going with a more straight forward version of events?

We-e-e-e-e-elp . . . that sure was my week.

0+1-1+1=1

I almost want to call it “the Santiago Equation.”

Just the perfect embodiment of a total slog for writers; the quintessential uphill battle of adding words, deleting those words, and adding new words (especially when the first batch of added words seemed like they’d be the best).

It’s like climbing up a slope, but you’re covered with Bic pen ink, and the slope is made out of crumpled balls of paper so you keep sliding back down.

And Ewan McGregor is at the top, dressed as your protagonist, screaming that you were the chosen one. And you’re like, “Dude, I’m fucking trying!”

Yeah, that’s 0+1-1+1=1 for sure.

The end result is always better–I’m definitely pleased with the end product I have and I’m glad that I’m approaching the final battle.

But man the ol’ write, delete, write is always exhausting.

Still, whatever; I’m past it and it’s exciting because the third act is pretty short, with all of its technically difficult bits firmly behind me.

So the end of the novel is surprisingly close.

Despite all of the back and forth, the finale is creeping up on me.

And that is exciting just because, in direct contrast to me from ten weeks ago, I am no longer excited to write prose. I could . . . really use a break. I am down to do anything else. Especially the life stuff I put on the back burner to try and power through this novel.

Actually, for that reason . . . I’m going to end this post here. Keeping it short because I used writing this as the equivalent of a Twitter break; I have a bit more writing to do before I get to my stopping point (right before a very intense scene I need to emotionally prep for).

~~~

Thank you for reading. Currently, I post every Sunday night / Monday morning.

If you’d like to find out how much further I have to go before finishing my current work in progress, you can always give me a Follow via the button on the left side bar (on PC) or top right drop down menu (on mobile). Likes are also always helpful when it comes to deciding which content everyone likes. For example, my posts on my writing process are apparently evergreen, so I’m excited to get back to that topic along with other, small things I’ve noticed about how I write prose, dialogue, etc.

But either way, thank you for reading. Take care, stay hydrated, and almond butter with coconut is seriously the next level of peanut butter. I am not exaggerating; it is delicious and so decadent that it enforces its own serving size on you. The Nutrition Facts will be like, “You can have two tablespoons,” but you will be like, “Dude . . . I actually can’t. Because it feels . . . disrespectful?” It genuinely blows my mind. Absolutely delicious. Anyway, see you next week!

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!