30 Days of NaNoWriMo 2 – Day 6: Well on My Wrong Way

 

Barely wrote today. Not the triumph I was hoping for.

On one hand, it’s because I met up with a good friend, saw a movie. Afterward, he found out he was potentially getting stood up for a date and I just . . . refused to shrug and say, “Whelp, I gotta go write! Sorry! Good luck being sad, bro!”

So, we had dinner, chatted. I didn’t look at the time.

When I finally did, it was while I was waited for a train. Intent on writing something, I grabbed a seat, pulled out my notebook.

And found myself in the kind of weird, transitional scene I often don’t plot.

And these . . . can be a problem for me. Sometimes, the transition is essential, but I take the most boring angle possible with it. Sometimes, the transition is essential and I find an awesome way to do it. Sometimes, the transition is totally non-essential, but I do it anyway.

Usually, I write a transition blind, stick with it for a few thousand words, then decide I hate it and scrap it.

So, the moment I started writing this one, I got wary. My reflex was to use it as a way to drop a bit of lore, and that feels right . . . but I’m immediately not sure.

So, tomorrow, before work, it’s a stop at the library with every scrap of outlining and worldbuilding I’ve ever done for this story. I have flash cards for nearly the entire plot on the wall in my room, and I thought that would be enough, but a quick check through a random notebook earlier today reminded me that I have a detailed outline somewhere (from the days when I rolled with those).

I figure it’ll at least help me decide if I actually want to go in the direction I took earlier. Before I drop another few hundred words going that way.

Words for the Day: 289

NaNoWriMo Total: 1837

30 Days of NaNoWriMo 2 – Day 3: A Good Intro

So, as I’ve continued growing as a writer, one of the things I realize I’m not perfect at is writing intros. Often, I get excited to start a story in one way, and then, no matter how little sense that one intro makes, I stick with it, trying to make elements of the story work with it. This actually turned out to be the major problem with my second novel, Memory; editing it boiled down to reworking the intro into something entertaining that also made sense.

So, this year, sitting down with H&T, already aware of how the plot would shake out and already knowing my tendency to write my intros with blinders, I was able to find a first few pages that . . . I at least hope work. They’re entertaining and they hit major emotional beats that I think the story needs to start with, so I’m satisfied. I know I’ll need to round out the first few pages–make sure the dialogue flows well and the world feels unique–but I’m glad to have found an intro that is engaging, casual, and natural. Instead of going for one that’s action-packed and super confusing.

That’s the thing with my style though; I always want to create interesting, unique worlds, but I also always want to jump right into the action. In my earlier days, that meant starting stories out of sequence–some grandiose moment first, then going into the past to talk about how a character got to that moment. And that’s a nightmare; that just never ended well.

It was also bad when I used to invent confrontations to start stories with–throwaway confrontations that, at best, introduced an aspect of a protagonists’ life . . . but still went on for twenty or thirty pages because, “Whoa, this monster he’s fighting is wicked sick.”

So, today, I wrote an intro that didn’t do that. And it feels like a victory, which is awesome. Especially because I still don’t dive into heavy worldbuilding immediately, which is something that I’ll still always be against (not worldbuilding itself, but the fantasy tendency to flood an intro with worldbuilding exposition first thing).

Now, with a few actual pages under my belt, I just have to keep it rolling. Today’s part of the intro was all about Modis. Tomorrow, it’ll be all about my second protagonist, Sydney Tempest. Hopefully, my ol’ NaNo tradition of spending-the-day-imagining-a-scene-until-it-basically-forces-itself-out-of-my-head-and-onto-paper holds up. Cause, at the moment, I have absolutely no idea how I’m actually going to introduce her. I love her–possibly more than Modis–but her actual first scene somehow escaped me (I was probably too busy fawning over her big emotional moments).

Whatever. My point is, wish me luck, and thanks for reading!

Words for the Day: 769

NaNoWriMo Total: 769

Very Comfortably Insane

2013-(white)WarofExilesUpdateC

Not to be a downer, but at the time of this posting, I still don’t feel it.

It’s been a week now. A week since I finished my rewrite of my first novel. And somehow, I still don’t really feel it. There were moments when I almost did–moments when I wrote to a friend about finishing the book and perked up, excited at the thought of moving on to the sequel and other, shorter projects. But every time, the near rush always cut short with a monotone, “Nope. That didn’t do it either–still not excited.”

I don’t want this to sound super dramatic; I’m not numb or in shock. I’m just… unfazed. It’s disappointing, really, because the first time I finished this book, I was out of my mind with joy; I’d finished a book and, oh man, I still had to edit it, but, oh geez–oh man–it was done!

This time, I typed the last sentence. Stared at it. Smirked… And then immediately admitted that I hated the last sentence. I changed it quickly to something I really liked and backed up the finished first (technically sixth) draft. And then I just sat at my computer for a while, aware that now, not only could I do something else with my day… but I had to do something else–even though, this time, I knew the story wasn’t actually done–because it was the next step in my writing plan. In the slow, determinedly celebratory and lazy way of humans, I wound up convincing myself to do all of the things I usually do when I achieve a solid milestone–I played some video games without caring about how much time I wasted that day (ultimately a few hours that felt like far, far too long without the banter of a friend over Xbox Live). I also had a decent lunch. I may have actually bought myself a cookie.

The thing is… I’m much, much different from the 20-something year old who blissfully typed, “The End,” and spent a month celebrating afterward (a month of down time that turned into months of carelessness). Past-Louis thought he was almost done–that the Content Edit and Line Edit would be easy. That he’d finished something great.

Present-Louis, however, has already moved on to another story because he kind of had to. Because Present-Louis knows now that it’s time for the Big Push. The Long Halloween. The Whatever You Want to Call It. This is the year where I keep going and move on to another story with my insane, custom-made, self-taught, monster outlines and try to refine them while learning more about writing; about establishing a flow of projects and trying out my approach for Growing Outlines.

Essentially, now is the time when I actually level up as a writer, again. And it’s terrifying! Maybe because I’ve already finished this same book once without knowing it was terrible.  Or maybe it’s because I have almost no outside opinions on my extremely personal techniques–no other writer to look in and say, “Do you really need to list the clothing your characters are wearing?” or “You should make an extra part in your outlines for [this]. [This] is super important and you’re missing it.”

Or maybe it’s because of that moment in front of my computer, staring at the monitor–at that last line–and realizing that I was nothing without the ability to tell stories. I’ve moved on to a new outline of a standalone idea, deeply revised from the super vague, over-excited concept I had in high school (forged from listening to the heartsick intro music from Chrono Cross), and I’m clinging to that outline for dear life. Because I’m not the kind of writer who can take breaks anymore. I’m the kind of writer that’s too far gone, who’s only real fear is the imagined point when I have no more stories to tell.

Well, that and the impending rejection letters. You hear that, slight inkling of victory? Reality’s a-comin’ for ye!

To put all drama and preemptive bitterness aside though, I am… content. Yes, everything is a challenge right now. But, for writers, toiling away, constructing worlds that may never, ever reach readers, everything is a challenge. I’m glad to have found new ones, but they’re still challenges and they’re still daunting.

Regardless, and because I want even this post to be somewhat constructive, the attack plan is as follows:

  1. Spend March away from War of Exiles before beginning my Content Edit. In that time, I’ll take the month to work on a sparse Chapter Outline for the new story I mentioned, The Hand and the Tempest (expect to see it temporarily replace War of Exiles in my Project Progress bar at the top of the page [although its bar will be stranger, as the goal is to progressively build on the outline until it goes from ‘Short Story’ to ‘Novella’ to (maybe) ‘Full Length, Stand-Alone Novel’–this being the purpose of my “Growing Outline”)]).
  2. When April hits, all outlining for The Hand and the Tempest stops as I return to WoE for the Content Edit and, after using The Hand and the Tempest for practice, begin writing a Chapter Outline for War of Masks, the sequel to War of Exiles.
  3. From there, it’s moving on to a Line Edit for WoE while Chapter Outlining the third book in the series (currently unnamed).
  4. After that, when my submission packet is finished, I’ll review the outline for The Hand and the Tempest, and write it as I submit WoE.
  5. And after that, it’s off to work on an outline for another standalone story–I have another in mind.
  6. And all while, I’ll be staring at the intimidating mountain of information that is my actual, main series–my magnum opus that terrifies me as much as it excites me.

This, it turns out, is what being a devoted, aspiring novelist is like; poor and terrified. Unrealistically devoted and absolutely proud of it (if you’re here with me on this obnoxiously lonely, writers’ path, hi there. Let’s revel in our wildly unstable, conflicting emotions together).

To put it simply, being an aspiring author means that you’re very comfortably insane.