Alternate Editing

Another round of NaNoWriMo bites the dust and this CampApril15 brought One Dead Prince to 75% completion. That’s pretty exciting me for me since this is such a huge project. I’m used to a first draft being around the 50k mark and then added to during editing. This one is probably going to hit 220k during the final part, which is quite different to what I’m familiar with.

The editing process is different for everyone and one of the big reasons for that is that everyone drafts differently as well. It turns out for me that drafting is wildly different for certain projects too.

Take Through the Black for example. The first draft of this was just breaking 54,000 words and was the very barest bones of a novel. There was absolutely no description of anything and very little internal thought from the main character – something very conspicuously missing in a first person novel. There was not enough challenges for the characters and things worked way too easily for them. The story was there though, and that was what I needed. The editing process saw me adding in forty thousand words, almost doubling the manuscript. I am certain that during round two of edits some of those will need to be shed but what I have now is leaps and bounds more fun and interesting than what I had before.

One Dead Prince is a completely different kettle of fish. There are some sections with long winded and dull descriptions (but still places where description is completely absent) as well some huge internal monologues where the characters ponder everything and anything and quite frankly put me to sleep. There is a lot of repeated information from different character views and a lot of things that are explicitly stated when they don’t need to be. When it comes to editing, I’m going to find it pretty easy to know where to cut a few thousand words.

So where did these differences come from?

These two stories, while both being of the fantasy genre, have very little in common. Through the Black is a fast paced action adventure type thing where as One Dead Prince is a epic spreading across a whole year and following several different groups of people with multiple different plot arcs.

The first draft of Through the Black was written very quickly and bare boned because it was important for this story to follow the flow of the action. With One Dead Prince there is a lot more of what I would call ‘padding.’ This isn’t because I really wanted to jack up my NaNo word count (though that always helps) but because with everything going on I found it necessary to explain in detail what a character was thinking as well as their motivations and reasoning for the sometimes strange things that they do. It is such a big story with enough complexities that I needed to leave information about why and how things were happening for future reference.

With one story, I needed to blast to the end just to know what happened and how it happened. With the other, there’s so much going on that the manuscript had to be littered with passages which really are nothing more than notes to myself. For the first I needed to go back and turn the framework of a novel into a novel. When I edit the latter, I will be using these little notes to myself to tweak things earlier and later in the MS before just cutting them out altogether. Two very different approaches to get the same result – a hopefully half-decent novel.

It’s funny the things you think about when you should be writing. Have you noticed differences in your writing styles for different projects? What sort of observations have you made?

Reasons To Write Often

You may recall me mentioning NaNoEdiMo, during which I set myself the goal of editing 1k a day. It’s the 1st of February today, and while I didn’t quite manage 1k every single day, I did manage well over the total 31k that I was aiming for. Success! As a result I am currently still on track to have this badboy ready by deadline day – the 28th. Eeep!

This novel has changed one hell of a lot. It was originally a NaNoWriMo project, my first one actually, though technically it was a camp project (camp of August, 2012! Wooo!). I finished it just in the nick of time at a measly 53k, with virtually no characterisation or description. It was all dialogue or action, and in the grand scheme of things there wasn’t even much action. It had characters who became besties at the drop of a hat and the ending of a popular action film that came out three days after I finished writing it. (No really, remember this post?)

Two years later and it has grown into 90k of misadventures and (hopefully) interesting characters who spend half the time fighting with each other. There’s now a tangible villain to distract from the fact that the big bad is off screen until books 2 and 3 (the curse of the first person novel). There’s still that ill fated ending, but I’m now on the last two chapters, so that’ll be gone soon too. A lot has changed, but that’s only made it more like the book it was supposed to be when I first wrote it.

Y’know, when I had been out of practice writing for a good five years. I’ve written approximately 456,000 words of fiction since then (not including the original 56,000 of the Deconstructor that was redone NaNo14). Damn. That feels like a lot for two and a bit years. It works out at approximately 14,250 a month. I’m happy with that. Really happy. But it’s time to slow down and start editing some of this. Currently, it’s 456,000 words that no one in the world is allowed to read. I should probably work on that.

Rereading my old August 2012 stuff, it’s a bit cringe worthy. That’s good though. It reminds myself that writing is about work. Not just “you’ve got to sit down and write this sucker” but “you’ve got to practice your ass off.” I wrote a lot before I went off to university. A lot. And I lost it. All the structure, the voice, the world building. I lost it. Writing is about hard work, and it’s a skill you need to keep up, to practice, to maintain. Some people might be lucky enough to just sit down and puke out perfect prose. I am not one of those people. I’ve gotta work, and I’ve gotta keep at it.

What I think I’m trying to say in my own and slightly verbose way, is that it gets better. I’m not saying that you’ll stop thinking you suck. I’m not sure that’ll ever happen. You might however, rather like myself, realise you’re sucking less. Read something recent you’ve done, then read something old. You’ll see it. Use it as inspiration to keep going. Write, write, write. You’ll never improve if you don’t and you can only get better if you do.

No Going Back.

So this month has been made an unofficial NaNo Edit month by the gorgeous and talented Melanie Francisco, which if you follow me on Twitter will explain all this #NaNoEdiMo malarkey. This is a great opportunity for me to kick myself in the behind. As I stated was my intention in my last post, this poor dusty blog has been getting a renovate in hopes for it to be frequented once again by me. And, while fixing the categories out so that “uncategorised” wasn’t my biggest one (urgh, go Past Me), I came upon a very excited post by me.

In this post, I was talking about how I was going to get through a draft of TE1 and send it out to betas super soon. Rather like one of the resolutions in my recent post. Only this last post was dated December 1st, 2013.

Yeah. Pretty epic fail, right? And it’s not the first, or the last. But this time I mean business, and NaNoEdiMo is giving me the boost I need. On top of that, I made a vow that I would not go backwards. Once a chapter is done, it is done. And once they are all done, it’s going straight in an email and flying off to betas. It’s so difficult to let go, and I’ve been going back and forth over this thing for two years and getting nowhere. I need new eyes.

So now I can’t go back, and I’m currently on Chapter 9 out of 15. That’s a lot of stuff I can’t touch.

It’s gonna be scary and it’s gonna hurt, but my book might finally get better as a result and that right there is the dream. It’s time to let go. And it’s time to edit like hell and get this thing OUTTA HERE!

The Shower

Harold awoke to a terrifying sound. It was both a hiss and a rumble, deep and brash, loud enough that the vibrations wracked his body. The peaceful sanctuary he had stopped to rest in was awash with chaos. Baleful orbs of water fell from the sky, larger than his own head. They pelted within inches of his body, their disturbance of the air palpable. Instinct kicked in immediately and he knew that he had to move. Only death awaited here.  Far below, the water pooled and swept away debris with a fierce current – one he knew he could never fight.  To either side, the verdant drape Harold clung to curled in toward that vicious rainfall. There was only one way. Up.

A stab of panic sliced through his thorax as he tried, unsuccessfully, to move his leg. The appendage was drenched in water, the strong membrane pinning him down. His heart convulsed in fear as he whipped his gangly body about in a frenzy, flailing from side to side. It held him fast. The weight was unbearable, stifling. Hope began to sweep away from him.

And then he saw her face.

A brief flash across his vision, her beautiful face.

Maria…

The quiver of her antennae, the multifaceted emeralds that were her eyes. In that moment, she was his strength. He reminded her of everything he had to live for. Of a wonderful wife who would be left alone. Of three hundred children raised without a father. Determination slammed into him with all the force of the drops from above. He commanded his leg to move and it did, eking slowly at first but it moved. Harold strained against the grip, refusing to relent, body quaking with exertion. The membrane gave and Harold lurched upwards.

He scrambled onward, ignoring the screams of his aching body and the trembling of his limbs, dragging himself up and up as fast as he could. Water sloshed toward him, dangerously close, and the air grew thicker and thicker, hot and dense with vapour. His breathing was laboured and unsatisfying, each lungful merely keeping him conscious and doing nothing to stave off the crushing feeling of suffocation.

And suddenly, time was standing still. Water hung suspended in the air. All the vapour in the world could not have made Harold have felt as breathless as the sudden sense of dread he now held. Very slowly, like the crawl of a glacier, it turned to look at him. The thing, the thing that basked in the fitful pelting of the water, turned and looked at him. Harold did not know what they were, nor did he want to know. He wanted as little to do with them as possible. The things were gargantuan creatures of bizarre proportions, their legs barely longer than their bodies and heads grotesquely large. Some said they were keepers of the earth. Others said they were gods. It didn’t matter. They only ever reacted one of two ways to Harold’s people. Hateful anger or cold indifference.

The thing eyed Harold, the protective layer gliding over its eyes and back. He was overcome with jealousy that the creature could hide its sight in such a way. All he could do was stare, betrayed by his own vision, forced to watch his fate with the torturous drag of time. Eventually, the creature chose its path. Choosing cold indifference, it turned its back on him and he was forgotten.

Reality came crashing back to Harold. He was alive. Struggling and suffocating, but he was alive and his resolve remained. This was clearly a sign, he thought. He was meant to live. He chose to live. He continued to climb, fighting his way every agonising step until finally he was mere inches from the top. Then the water stopped. Silence tumbled around him, the only sound to be heard was the persistent throbbing of his heart. It took a moment of confusion for him to realise what had happened but when he did he waved his antennae in elation. He’d made it.

The curtain was thrown back and folds of it came crashing against him. Enveloped in darkness and motion, he could barely hang on, a mere two of his feet left clinging desperately to the fabric, all that was keeping him from plummeting to the damp, soapy abyss. His four loose legs scrambled for purchase but in his panic and disorientation, he could find no hold. As suddenly as the turmoil had started though, it ended. The curtain was pulled taut again, giving Harold the space and light he needed to compose himself and cling safely. He wasted no time in hoisting himself up the last little bit, over the top of the drape and onto the rail.

He hunkered down, taking a moment to try and catch his breath in the thick air. The thing moved on the other side of the curtain now, ignorant or simply uncaring as to Harold’s presence. It moved over to the great screen of light and began to toy with it. Harold watched, forgetting his own near death and laboured breathing. The thing lifted something and then pushed. The screen of foggy light fell away and pure, unhindered light spilled through. At first Harold thought he was hallucinating but a blast of cold, pure oxygen filled air penetrated his lungs, the feeling of which was almost euphoric. He scrambled to his feet to get a better look. The trails of mist upon the air spun and danced as the fresh, untainted breeze from outside swept in, mingling with it.

Freedom.

Harold didn’t need another sign. There had been too many already. He was supposed to live. He would see Maria and all his little children again. He was supposed to live.

Giddy with joy, he leapt from the rail and into the air, wings spreading and hammering to keep him aloft. He whizzed toward the open portal to the outside world, to freedom, to victory. And as he passed the threshold from the watery prison and into the world, he pumped his antennae victoriously into the air.

When, really, he should have been keeping an eye out for that chaffinch.

Interviewed by Madison

My first blog post in ages and it’s a total cheat. A few weeks ago my writer friend from the twitter machine, Madison, asked if she could interview me for her own blog. This genius approach to keeping up with her blog while busy was inspired and it inspired me with the cheaty idea to link to it. Hahaha!

So please, feast your eyes on Me, interviewed by Madison! Also, you should check out the rest of her blog because she’s pretty darn cool and writing a story about a merman.

A quick update from me, since it has been so very long. I am currently fighting through another Camp NaNoWriMo session. This time I am working on the new Project 2 on the Other Projects tab, hoping to get part 1 of 4 completed, with plans to do part 2 in June. I’ll be out of action from April 30th to May 15th as I’m away on holiday but then I’ll spend the rest of May hardcore editing on Through the Black because I’ve got a bunch of betas lined up and they’re getting impatient. Eeep! I doubt I’ll have it finished before the next camp but I’ll be getting relatively close.

Hope you enjoy the interview and keep writing!

 

Post NaNoWriMo Plans

I return victorious! That crazy time most people call November has come to a close and with it a few thousand people are feeling their crazy slowly wash away. They are also going for that much coveted “good night’s sleep” that we’ve all heard so much about. I’d just like to take this opportunity to shout a huge CONGRATULATIONS at everyone who hit that wonderful 50k mark and also at anyone who wrote anything last month because really, every word takes you that little bit closer to a finished story or just being a better writer. Practice and commitment are what it takes to improve and stories don’t getting written unless someone’s actually writing them so, if you stuck down some words, congrats! You did good. Through the course of NaNoWriMo, I managed to write the majority of my serial killer horror story “The Deconstructor” and am now just three and a half chapters from completion. Huzzah! Now that NaNo is out of the way, it is time to plan for the future. Or, at least the next few months.

My current plan of action is as follows:

1.) Continue to write a bit every day until this WIP is completed to the first draft level (thank you, Write Chain Challenge).

2.) Do a quick read though and make a list of things I know I want to change and save that for later.

3.) Go through Twyned Earth Book 3 and add in those missing scenes that have been annoying me for a month and a half now.

4.) And this is the scary one… Start proper, brutal, crazy edits on Twyned Earth Book 1 in preparation for sending to the dreaded beta buddies. See what I mean? Scary. Letting actual human people read my work.

Guys. I’m scared. I still kind of hyperventilate at the thought but you know what? There gets to a certain point where you reading your story is going to do nothing to improve it. Fresh eyes are a vital ingredient when it comes to this stage in writing a novel. I haven’t even decided if I’m going to go for publishing yet but truth be told, even if I have this thing sitting on my hard drive for the rest of my life with only me to read it, I want it to be a good read when I do. So, congrats again to anyone else who NaNo-ed and enjoy whatever plans you’ve set out next for yourself.

Admitting Defeat

As I may have said in my last blog post, I had BIG plans for October. Doing a full rough edit on Book 3, working through proper plotting on my NaNo novel, making a fairly complex Halloween costume from scratch and becoming a Pokemon master (again). I had every intention of doing all of those things. However, real life has decided to be a bit of a git about it.

Currently at work there are extremely stressful levels of things to be done this month and that was before my two co-workers had to have long periods of time off. So, I’m on my own, running around like a headless chicken and just generally going doolally. And when I think of everything I need to do at home, I freak out even more.

The trick, as I realised this morning, is figuring out what I do actually NEED to do as opposed to just really, really wanting to. That list is pretty short. I’ve always tried to maintain that writing is not a chore for me – it is my hobby. So, in the interests of keeping that alive, I’m admitting to myself that I cannot do everything that I want to and that I should actually try and relax a little at some point between the end of work and bed time.

As such, I will be doing my Write Chain Challenge two pages a day of editing on Book 3 and then that’s it. It is time to plot, craft or chillax. Hopefully this means I will be less stressed out during the day and that I’m actually producing a better quality at everything I do.

So, I’d just like to take this moment to remind you that it’s okay to adjust your goals as your situation changes. Do what it takes to be happy and functional, even if that occasionally means doing nothing.

The Verdict is in!

So, you may remember my last post where I put forth a poll to decide which idea I should follow through with for this year’s NaNoWriMo and, after having to call in a friend to smash down the tie breaker, there is a verdict!

This year, my NaNoWriMo project shall be…

*drum roll*

The Deconstructor! The tale of a serial killer and the revelations a copy cat killer brings about.

Okay, so I have my story. Now comes the tough bit – time to start planning! Now, I already know the basic plot. I know how this story starts and I know where it ends up. I just need to straighten out that wibbly bit in the middle. I’m really looking forward to this – not only am I excited by the concept but for so long I’ve just been writing my Twyned Earth series and I think a break from that will give me fresh eyes to go back and look at it properly. I am very close to having finished the final book in the trilogy which means editing time! And I think we all know that editing and fresh eyes go together like me and marshmallows. Oh yes. That’s pretty darn well.

I have a pretty intense October coming up. I really want to have Book 3 finished before the start of NaNo so that I don’t lose my flow for the final scenes. I also have a fairly intricate Halloween costume to craft and a novel to plan before October 28th. Oh, and Pokemon X is coming out on the 12th. Yes, Pokemon is high on my list of priorities. Don’t look at me like that.

So, if you don’t hear from me in a while – you know why!

Is anyone else doing NaNo? Have you got your stories picked out yet or are you going to see what you dream up on October 31st?

A Zombie and a Serial Killer walk into a bar…

… and the bar tender gives them the old stink eye, saying “Sorry fellas, one of you’s got to get gone. This here be a one theme pub, y’hear?”

This year is running away from me faster than I can keep up with it and very soon it’s going to be November all over again. Now, I am hoping to have the third and final book of my Twyned Earth series finished by then so I need to think about what to write for NaNoWriMo. I’ve got a couple of ideas I’m really keen to write and I just can’t pick between them. So, on the advice of my Twitter writing buds, I’m putting it to a poll.

If you’ve read my Other Projects page, these two will look suspiciously familiar. The question (that is, the question I’m asking you – yes, you!) is which one should I vomit onto my laptop in November?

Option 1 – Desolate

Caitlyn has been living happily in the Cairngorms for the past five years. She has everything that she wants and that she needs. Everything she has is something that she has built or procured herself. She is the epitome of self sufficiency and logical reasoning. Life is good. She barely even notices the zombie apocalypse any more.

However, her odd sort of paradise cannot last forever. As the near extinction of the human race is proving – nothing ever does. When Jake (the first living person she has seen in half a decade) almost gets eaten on her front doorstep, her life of regulation and routine is thrown into chaos and looks like it’s about to get a hell of a lot shorter.

Option 2 – The Deconstructor

This morning Eric warned me that the killer no longer took only female victims. And strangely, I did appreciate his concern. Unfortunately, this news had greater implications for me than my own bodily safety. There was a bigger picture at hand here. The notorious killer, nicknamed ‘The Deconstructor’  by the media, had claimed their first male victim. The profile of the killing matched the others like a carbon copy, with the exception of this one detail. Yes this was worrying because, unlike the media, I knew that I had never killed a man.

The emergence of a copy cat killer leads to a serial murderer reconsidering his way of life. As he begins to ask dangerous questions about his urges and mysterious master, his whole world begins to unravel around him.

Thursday’s Children: My Fan Art

A weekly blog hop where writers come together to talk about whatever inspires them. Join us!

Hello all! I’m finally back for another go of Thursday’s Children, a weekly blog hop in which writers share the things that inspire them. After a long and stressful couple of weeks, today’s post is going to be short and sweet. The inspiration that I’m writing about today comes from a single item – my first and so far only piece of fan art (which, considering the number of people who have read my work, is pretty good). Needless to say, I was so excited by this that it became a source of massive inspiration for me.

On the NaNoWriMo forums, I found a thread where people were asking about each others ‘writing totems’, something that until last year I had not heard of before. From the Wikiwrimo entry, a writing totem is “an item (or several items) that helps inspire, get one in a writer-like state of mind, and help battle writer’s block” which can be anything that inspires you and your story.

At the time I couldn’t think of anything that fit the bill but I loved the idea of a writing totem. And then as a Christmas gift, my best friend and beta reader gave me a crochet doll of one of my characters. To say that I was absolutely delighted was an understatement. It made me so happy to think that one of my characters stuck with her enough that she knit him to life. Whenever I see it, I remember how I felt when I first saw it. Inspired.

So here is Tony – gangster, vicious, crocheted. Fear him in his adorable glory!

The Notorious Tony Cantsayhisname

The Notorious Tony Cantsayhisname – Cute Edition

Now here is the linky you’ve all been waiting for! Go forth and read some awesome posts!

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