Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Short Fiction: Aklin

Since this seems to work pretty well, here's another character study for a current project.  She's loosely based on a concept for a character I played in a tabletop RPG years ago, mostly so I could use the name again.  I was having trouble getting a hold of her in the new world I'm working with, and wasn't even sure how to write her character study, until I realized I needed to let her talk.  I feel a lot better about working with her now.

Here's the bit; hope y'all enjoy it.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Short Fiction: Sophie

Since I don't have anything worth writing about this week, here's a small character study from something I'm trying to work on.  It's not much of a story, just me trying to get into a character's head and life a little.  I've been having trouble with, well, everything, so I thought trying a different approach might help.  No idea if it will.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

IWSG: All the Things They Say

They tell me to write what I want to write.  That's all I've ever done.  I've never tried to follow a trend or anything like that.  But it's never worked out.

They tell me that if it doesn't work out with one book, write another.  Again, that's all I've ever done.  After fifteen books, I'm still wondering when it's going to work, when someone will actually want my stuff.

They tell me to just write.  Third in a row, that's all I've ever done.  I never think about whether something will be publishable or what-have-you when I'm still in the creating part of the process.  And that's never made a difference anyway.

They tell me I'm getting better.  Maybe I am.  But it doesn't matter how good something I write is if nobody ever reads it.  Writing that no one reads might as well not exist.

They tell me to try different approaches.  I do, and it makes no difference - query or contest, I maintain a perfect streak of absolutely nothing.  Hell, I haven't even received a rejection letter in months.  Just silence.

They tell me not to compare myself to others.  I do my best not to.  But it's hard, if not nigh-impossible, when there are so many amazing success stories out there, and I'm... here.  It feels like everyone I talk about writing stuff with has at least one book out, if not more.  (Do not bring up self-publishing in response to this; I've said my piece on that many times and I'm not having that conversation again.)

They tell me things to try to make me feel better.  I appreciate it, but I don't even hear the encouragement anymore.  It's always the same stuff, and words lose their meaning when you say them over and over again.

They tell me my efforts aren't futile.  I look at an unending streak of rejections and silence and wonder how we're defining "futile" differently.

They tell me to keep trying, that I'll make it someday.

I've seen no reason to believe this.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

We're Off to See the Dragon.

I'm only sort of being metaphorical.

No real entry this week; the continuation of mandatory overtime has me in a constant state of exhaustion, and over this past week I've not written a damn thing.  I swear, I try to think of ideas for anything and my brain just goes "SLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP."  So rather than angst about this, I'll link you to DragonCon, because that's where I'll be this weekend.  ^_^

Seriously, though, I feel completely worn out and whatever was driving me to get some good writing done has crumbled beneath the continuous onslaught of ten-hour work days, so I need this vacation.  I'm hoping to come back refreshed and ready to get back to it, or at least just feeling human again thanks to six days of freedom.

On the plus side, all this overtime has paid for my new desk chair, which should be waiting for me upon my return.  I like how my OT pay means I can be more comfortable doing more OT.  But seriously, as much time as I spend at this desk, I should be in as good a chair as possible, and this one came highly recommended.

Anyway!  I'm heading out Thursday morning, with costumes for the convention and books for the flight there and coffee for my friend Paul who is not a morning person.  He's a night person, which is why we're not flying in until nearly 11PM on Monday.  Either it'll be a good way to end the trip or it'll prove I'm way too old for this.  :P

Next week: IWSG.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

All the Little Pieces.

This entry might be a little disjointed, but I'm trying to capture what something feels like right after I felt it, so there you go.

As much as I swear by plotting, not pantsing, I've come to realize that they're not all that different.  The major difference is that we plotters pants our way through our plotting, instead of the story itself.  And when it works, there's a ridiculous amount of magic in this part of the process.

The project I'm working on now (abbreviated WP; guess what it stands for and I'll give you a cameo if I ever write the thing) is something I've sort of assembled and whittled down from a bunch of other ideas.  But once I got those ideas into a coherent story-like shape, not only did I see how they all actually fit together, but the thing truly started to blossom.

Yes, I'm going to be mixing metaphors like a dictionary-wielding chinchilla on espresso.  Deal with it.

What has me so excited about this is all the little details that come up as I work on it, and how things are all fitting themselves together, in a way that makes it feel like I'm not even doing it consciously, just watching it happen.  After so much trouble with plotting over the past year, I'm thrilled to see this working out.  And so much of it comes from so many different places yet fits together in one massive dysfunctional jigsaw.

Also, thanks to the positive comments on that short story I posted a while back, I've decided to embrace creating a completely evil antagonist and holy shit, this guy is ridiculously fun to write.  Immortal, undead, ruthless, and above all, bored and looking for something to make an eternal existence more interesting.  "I wanted to see what would happen" is possibly the best bad guy motivation ever.

Granted, some of this rapid story stuff could be the product of sleep deprivation brought on by the stress from working fifty hours a week thanks to mandatory overtime, but this book is crazy enough that I'll take it.  I'm not in favor of we writers putting ourselves through unnecessary stress to feed our art, but if someone else is doing it, we might as well take advantage of it.


There's still a lot to work out, of course; there always is.  There's also the eternal possibility that it could all crash and burn and I'll look back on this entry a year from now and depress myself with the memory.  But I'm doing my best not to worry about that.  Because it feels too damn good to have things working out again (and on more than just this plot!) and I want to keep it going as long as I can.

One last tangent: my other major plot-in-progress right now is abbreviated S7, so apparently I'm working with two-character nicknames these days.  No fair guessing what that stands for, since I've blogged about it before.  :P

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Choosing what to Write Next

Starting off with a question again this time, and it's a pretty simple one: how do you choose what to write next?

I think most writers don't have just one idea at a time.  There are some who write only one book, or one series, or what-have-you, but it seems like most of us have a bunch of different stories bouncing around in our heads.  I know I'm no exception; I've used the phrase "I keep universes in my head" more than once.  (Though I usually preface it with "I'm a writer" so I don't sound completely insane.)  But when I see writers talk about their processes, most only write one thing at a time.

For some people, what they write is partly determined by a contract.  They need to produce some number of books for some series by a certain time, so they do.  Or they miss their deadlines, but that's another entry, one I'll write if I ever have a deadline to miss.  I'd call these people fortunate, both because their books are selling and their publishers want more, though I don't know if they'd say the same.  It seems like it would be nice to know what you're writing next, but what happens when you get struck by that thing you just have to write?

Which brings me to the next possibility - writing something you just plain have to.  I've read about this one a lot.  There is something special about the writing compulsion being too strong to ignore or delay.  I think the closest I've hit for that was book eight on this list, which I plotted in about two weeks and started writing right away.  I thought I'd finally figured out how to write something I'd been wanting to write for years, a college story, but I crammed in everything else I wanted to write and it came out kind of a clusterfuck.  I haven't looked at that one since I finished it and I haven't felt like I absolutely had to write something since then.

(I'm not trying to be down on myself in every paragraph, I swear; it just comes naturally.)

Part of why I'm contemplating this is that my plotting is actually going well, and I have two stories I'd like to have ready to write by the year's end.  However, I'm not sure how things are going to go between now and then, so I don't know which one I'll want to write next.  Both have a lot of things in them I like, and I still want to write both of them, but I don't feel any great draw or need for either of them.  I think one has a much higher chance of selling based on the premise alone, but I try not to make decisions based on that.

To be fair, this has been a very difficult year for me on many levels, so I guess I can understand it being hard to drum up enthusiasm for anything.  I'm just hoping neither plot crashes and burns before I can get them into workable shape.

So.  What about the rest of you?  How do you choose what to write next?  Have you had the idea that drove you mad until you got it onto the page?  Those of you who've had contracts, how did that affect your desire to write the next book?  And is anyone putting odds on whether either of my plots will be ready by the year's end?

(Yes, I'm joking, because really, who'd bet on that?)

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

On Character Transfers.

To anyone who also plays WoW and reads this blog: no, I'm not talking about that kind of character transfer.

Now that I've started with a joke that will go over most of my readers' heads, what I'm actually talking about is: have you ever moved a character from one story into another?

A few days ago, I made the sort-of difficult decision to set aside a plot-in-progress.  This is nothing new, and since this was the second incarnation of this plot and I'd been struggling with it already, it was for the best.  But there was one character from the dozen or so I'd been working with who would not leave my head, and even if I wasn't going to write the story I created her for, I still wanted to write her.

Then, as I was trying to get to sleep on Saturday night, I realized I could drop her into another story I'm working on.

I'm not really surprised I thought of this; the character has an incredibly harsh background, and putting her into this world will make things worse.  (I might have finally learned to enjoy tormenting my characters, but that's another blog entry.)  And having a different set of characters to interact with brought out new sides of her.  She'd always been a little passive in her initial story, and putting her in a post-apocalyptic fantasy tale that's part the anime "Black Lagoon" and part "Mad Max: Fury Road" gave her more of a reason to find her strength and take things into her own hands.

Imagining her interacting with the story's cast also gave me a new opportunity to write a sort of relationship I've been wanting to try for a while, so there's that too.

There was a time when I would have thought this impossible.  I would have said that character background and personality are an intrinsic part of where they came from and where they are now, and that pulling a character from one story into another was really just writing someone new with the same name and a similar personality.  And that might be true for someone who's actually been written.

But when a character's three pages of notes and an absolute personality that still only exists somewhere in my head, things are a little more fluid.  While where she comes from has changed, being part of this harsher world has brought a defining moment of hers into greater light, and it'll make for a better character in the end.

Because there, near the book's end, she finally realizes that while others can hurt her, they cannot stop her.  And that's something that might have taken her an entire trilogy to learn in the original story.

Next week: probably more story babble, but things have largely been going well over the past few days, so at least it'll be positive story babble.  ^_^