Monday, August 29, 2011

The Dreaded Middle

So here I am, standing at the mouth of the endless tunnel that is:


I know that it does end, of course, and when it does I should have smoother sailing to the finish line. But it's getting through the tunnel, blindly groping about in the dark for direction, that has me hyperventilating.

Middles are the hardest for me to write. Beginnings are a piece of cake, and I usually have a vague idea of what the ending will be at the start. But when it comes to the middle, I find myself lacking. This is where the story's plot must unfold and expand, the antagonist must wreck his well-planned (on my part) havoc, and the MC must struggle through his journey to reach the inevitable end where he will change and grow.

Plot. Villain. Hero's Journey. i.e. Not my best subjects.

The middle is where I find being a Discovery Writer snags the fabric. I begin a story with only a few general story points, so when I reach the middle and find myself forced to expand the lacking plot, my discovering ways come up short. Suddenly I have to have a battle plan. I'm horrible at battle plans! What stupid General put stupid me in charge of mapping out a stupid battle plan?!?

For Nanowrimo, I simply charged ahead without a plan. But while I did finish all five times, I am left with five horrific first drafts that I refuse to touch with a ten-foot red pencil. They would need complete re-writes, and they just aren't worth the effort.

So what to do? Hold a major brainstorm session - to figure out a few more story points at the very least. Right now I'm just taking it one scene at a time, but I really need to sit down and think this through. I refuse to let Project V become another dead-end manuscript.

Concerning a villain deficiency, I must admit that Project V's villain is more well-formed than most I have tried (and failed) to create over the years. I know that all I need is a good sit-down session to flesh him - and his dastardly plans - out, and then I shouldn't have too many problems after that. (But we'll see.)

As for the Hero's Journey angle, this usually just unfolds on its own (bless it!). If I were to try and plan it out myself? Death to Project V.

So the [temporary] solution to my problems: scheduling a few brainstorming sessions. Unfortunately, trying to get an appointment with the villain is going to prove difficult - he is currently up to no good and quite busy doing so, thank you very much. And as for the plot, I believe it is currently training somewhere in the middle of the desert...

Monday, August 22, 2011

Sparkfest: Doom Goes the Writer

"What book made you realize you were doomed to be a writer?"

This is a question often put to writers. Most have a definitive answer - I do not.

I "officially" began writing in my early teens (although my mother claims I was creating pictorial stories even before I could write - and has very embarrassing proof). This was a time of ravenous reading and little notice where one book ended and another began, and since I can barely recall what I read last month, I cannot even fathom what title or author could've sparked my passion to write.

The vague memories I have of my first stories are those of slavery and Star Wars (not in the same story, mind you - although, actually, maybe a little...). I recall being quite fascinated by historical novels at one point, mostly in the form of Dear America journals. I began writing one of my own, about the unlikely friendship of a plantation owner's daughter and a young slave girl who worked the fields (original, I know). So I guess a Dear America book could've started me down the writerly road.

But around the same time I also created an entire family tree of force-strong, darkside-tempted smugglers in the Star Wars universe, spawned by Episode 1 and a subsequent obsession to chronologically read every Star Wars book ever written by man and alien. So one could say Star Wars brought out my passion for writing as well.

Which came first? I'm not entirely sure. Whenever I think back, I recall being crouched in front of an ancient Apple, handwritten notes beside the keyboard and a floppy grinding in the drive. Exactly which story I had been writing, I do not know. I was probably too busy trying to stay focused and not wander off to read my latest inspiration from the library.

This post is brought to you by Sparkfest.
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Saturday, August 20, 2011

Revelations & Deadlines

This week, I had two revelations.

Firstly, I make my stories too complicated. I get bogged down with a lot of cool little details, and when they are just too much to remember and research I am put off the story entirely. As I look back now, I can see the destruction my complications have wrought, strewn behind me like body parts behind a zombie hunter.

Complications have been bogging down Project V for me, and for the first time since I started this project I have begun to lose interest. And worse, I began to brainstorm a really interesting new book! This is a death sentence for any story with me. (Luckily the new story died due to complications. See? It's a disease with me.)

So my solution? Streamlining. I have determined that I do not, in fact, need most of the little details I had planned on. I am going to cut them back until I have only the bare minimum of what is needed, and then run with it from there. If I decide the little details are needed in later drafts, then I have permission to put them in. But for now, simplicity is to my ally.

But that wasn't my only revelation this week. I have been working on Project V for a month or two now, and I have come to the conclusion that time is also a factor against me. When I do NaNoWriMo, I always finish. I believe this is because I am forced get the story out in a month. Sure, I still lose interest halfway through, but then I just tell myself it's only a few weeks more and to suck it up. I haven't lost NaNo yet.

So a short timeframe seems a must. Unfortunately, writing deadlines scare the hell out of me. But I am determined to say "I must finish Project V by November 1st." And I say it here so I shall be kept to it, or suffer the shame of admitting I couldn't pull it off. Because I totally can - I just put off my writing until "I feel like it." We all know the death trap that is.

And just like NaNo, I need a "destination." So given my current word count and story position, I am going to set the bar at 100,000 words. If the story isn't finished at that point I'll deal with it when I get there.

So to recap, Project V: Streamline. Deadline--November 1st. Word Count--100,000 words.

Keep your fingers crossed - mine should be busy writing. Feel free to poke me on Twitter to make sure I'm on track. It is my current vice.

You know, if I keep having revelations like this, my story may get written yet!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Updates: Discipline, Uncharted Territory, & Oblivious Is Dead

I know it's been a while, but there isn't much to report. I'm plugging away at Project V when I get the chance - which isn't as often as I'd like, but it's better than nothing. Still working on the whole discipline thing - it will always be my worst vice.

I have reached uncharted territory in my story. I've finished the beginning that I had all planned out in my head and moved into the stuff where my only thought was "and then he learns stuff." Not the best way to dive in, but it's what I do.

I'm not going in blind, though. I'm actually buckling down and creating schedules and charts and whatnot. Unfortunately when I've done this before I choke and the story dies, so I'm being very careful not to chart out too much. As long as I don't make a daily calendar, I should be fine. That's what happened to Oblivious...*sniffle*

I'd still really like to finish Oblivious one day.

I wonder where I put that calendar...

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Win ARCS from Tahereh Mafi!

Tahereh Mafi (whose upcoming Shatter Me sounds awesome!), is giving away some ARCs of her own Shatter Me, Lola & the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins, and Crossed by Ally Condie.

All you have to do is Comment here:

Good luck!