Friday, May 26, 2017

The Sound of Years Past

You know where we haven't been in a while? Mad's Music Corner. I think it's time to go back, get cozy, and listen to some tunes.

I know you're all eagerly awaiting all the things I'm supposed to be working on, but we all need a break. And it's a holiday weekend (Monday is Memorial Day, in case you're outside the US). I mean, not for me. I'm still working the holiday, but whatever. I'm taking my three day weekend in one evening.

I didn't set out to have a theme for this, but as I build my list, it looks like we're leaning toward "nostalgia." So take a walk down my own personal memory lane with me.

Lots of videos ahead, ye of low bandwidth beware.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Inconvenience of Knowing Everything

And here we are again. I've had a few ideas for that crazy story that democracy has thrust upon me. But before I can get into that, I have to finish my previous project, which was rewriting "My Soul to Take," which some of you may remember as something I started last year. Then I shoved it in a box with its disappointing non-ending, and I left it there until it started to smell a little weird in the back of the closet. Then I took it out, made a valiant attempt at a plot outline/character arc, and waited for it to emerge, fully-formed.

Obvious that's not going to happen.

So I actually, finally, sat down the other day, and started writing. I'm about 800 words in. I have the first two points on my little plot mountain. It's going seemingly well.

But already, trouble lurks.

Not in the seemingly haunted mansion beside the railroad tracks. Although, yes, there also. But more importantly, in the very fiber of the story. The Fates may weave the tapestry, but are they using the right string?

Point of view. That's what I'm talking about, behind all the metaphors.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Worlds Collide

I randomly came up with the best analogy the other day. I was trying to explain what I was talking about last time, about needing the perfect words and the best sentences in a story that anyone's going to read.

It's like building a brick wall. You only want, good, high quality bricks. You don't want a brick made of Styrofoam, or Jell-O. That's going to make holes in your wall. You don't want a poorly constructed story with holes in it.

Granted, my original explanation had a lot more swearing in it. I try to behave myself on here, for some damn reason.

So I've had a poll running for the past couple of weeks, and I didn’t quite get the volume of responses I'd hoped. But that's okay. The votes are in, and it's a three way tie between Subterranean Fiction, Occult Detective, and Romance. Which means I have to combine all three.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Story That Never Starts

The other day, one of my readers commented about using a more fluid index card/storyboard way of outlining. So I thought I'd try something a little more freeform. Now, I do everything on the computer. Otherwise, I have all these pieces of paper floating around. So here’s what I did.

I wrote, each in their own text box so I could move them, all the events that needed to happen. And then I rearranged them into an order that made sense. Then I added some more text boxes that describe the characters state of mind. In this particular story, it's whether or not he cares about things.

Then, once I had them arranged the way I liked, I headed on over to PowerPoint to make a visual. In a perfect world, I'd use Publisher or maybe InDesign if I was feeling fancy. But PowerPoint is what I have on my tablet.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Redeemable, Like a Coupon

There's still about a week left to vote on the genre of my next project. As it stands, it's tied, which means I'll have to combine the winning genres. And honestly, I'm kind of excited about the prospect.

As for the current project, well…

I haven't finished outlining it yet. What have I been doing all this time, you ask? I don't know. Not outlining, I guess. Motivation is still something I'm working on. The whole getting up and writing every day thing.

So the point in the character arc outline thing where I left off is the point of the story where the character goes on the offensive. He should try to defeat the antagonist (in this case a soul-gobbling entity), and he should fail. Then some other stuff should happen, some more information is learned, and then the final battle, so to speak. Whatever is going to happen is going to happen here. In this case, perhaps the entity remains undefeated, but the character succeeds in saving the Girl.  And then the aftermath of that.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

A Puzzle Where the Pieces Don't Fit

I'm going to warn you up front. I just took some cold medicine. Like, the liquid kind that's 10% alcohol. I'm not sure when it going to kick in. Things could get… interesting.

There's still a poll over there on the right. Cast a vote! Influence my future! I guess if there's a tie, I'll have to combine the genres. I honestly didn't think of that possibility until now.

Anyway, that's not what we’re here for. We're here for…

Character arcs!

Friday, May 5, 2017

My Path Is In Fact Just a Fault Line

You may notice that's there's now a poll in the sidebar. If you haven't noticed, allow me to direct your attention to it. There it is.

"What a random selection of genres!" you might say, and that it is. I tried to pick a variety that I've never tried before. I pulled them all from this list. And this is just Round One. In the future I'll put up new lists to choose from.

This particular list is a few things I'd like to try, some I'm indifferent to, and one I really don’t want to do, but I think I should in order to be a well-rounded writer and person in general. I'll let you figure out which is which. But I'll try whatever gets the most votes, whether I like it or not. That's democracy.

In the meantime, I'm trying to learn to outline, using a story I wrote last year. There's a lot of things that go into a plot outline, but today I'm just going to talk about one.

Character arcs.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Rediscovering a Story

Well, Camp NaNo has come to an end. For April, anyway. We'll be back at it in July or whenever the next one is. So what's next?

Now, it might seem from my cavalier attitude that I just toss projects aside as I finish them. Oh, there's a rough draft down, let's bin it and move on. That's not exactly true. I do set them aside when they're "done." For distance. For space. We need some time apart, so I'll let it stew on the hard drive while I run around with other plots. But I'll come back. Eventually.

If you've been here since the beginning, or you've recently binged the old posts, you might remember a post series called Finding a Story. You can read Part One here or see all the posts in the series here. Basically, I took a story prompt and went bit by bit walked through the process of turning that into a story.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Taking a Page Out of Someone Else's Book

I don't know if I've said this before (I've really lost track of all the things I've said), but I've been much more influenced by movies and TV than other books. I imagine that's why my stories are always so dialogue heavy and description light. They're verging on script territory.

There are two possible solutions to this:

  • Give up on prose fiction and write scripts
  • Read more books

I used to read a lot. Like, a ton. Notably, that was during times in my life when I didn't have internet. That is, in my youth, and that one year when I had my own little studio apartment and couldn't be arsed to pay for internet. If I wanted internet, I had to walk the half a block up to the public library and stay within ten feet of their wireless router, where the idea of a chair and table to set my laptop on was a foreign concept. So I would get movies from the library, and books.

But now I have internet. And a chair. And a table. And so I don't do a lot of reading. I just finished Terry Pratchett's Making Money yesterday, and Goodreads informs me that I started reading it August 5, 2014. I can't fathom how it took me that long to read it. What have I been doing with my life this whole time? To compare, just before that, I read had read a previous Pratchett book, Going Postal in 16 days. And before that, I read Thud! in five. Now it takes me 997? I'm so disappointed in myself…

This illustrates how I don't read that much anymore. That needs to change. And I should probably branch out and read something besides Discworld. But I don't want to! (She said with a petulant whine.)

So let me ask you this: what books, or what authors, would you recommend I read? And why? Do they have vivid descriptions? Engaging characters? Wild plots? You know, give me a reason to want to read it. Don't just tell me "It's good." Tell me why it's good. Tell me why I should greedily turn page after page and not drag it out for three years.

I miss reading. Nowadays, I just watch Netflix and spend too much time on the internet. Living in the future is not all it's cracked up to be. I mean, look at me. I'm writing this on a tablet at 1am while listening to music on YouTube. What happened to staying up late reading just one more chapter and accidentally finishing the book at 3am? Now it's one more episode, one more Reddit thread. One more mile down the Facebook feed. So tied to all this modern technology. Soon all that will be left are machines. And where will we be? We'll be machines, too.

Sorry. Like I said, it's 1am. I get existential after midnight.

They say to write good books, you need to read good books. I've heard that. And I laughed. HaHA! But I scoffed inadvisably. I mean, I keep saying that I don't know what I'm doing. So why would I think for a moment that I did? Know what I'm doing, I mean. Why would I think I knew better than the proverbial "they"?

So yes, recommend books for me to read. Novels, short stories, whatever. Preferably something I can find at a library. I'm not made of money over here.

And if you're wondering if I'll ever finish my Camp NaNo story, the answer is yes, I will. This weekend. That's all the time I have, after all. I just don't know how it ends. With death and misery, probably. You know me.

I'll see you Tuesday.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Open It Up To Find the Tick, Tick, Tick of a Heart

So here we are again. I still haven't finished that Camp NaNo story. I only have about 400 words left to go. I've just been busy being an adult. (Don't do it, it's lame.) The story's just gotten so far off track that I'm not sure how to get it to go where it needs to go. I've tried to divert it back, and now it's at a point where I have to decide the fate of my protagonist. Does he get to survive? Maybe.

As usual, I've started thinking about my next project before I get finished with the current one. See, the great thing about the blog is that I have to keep writing and working on stories so I have something to talk about. The terrible thing about the blog is that I have to keep writing and working on stories so I have something to talk about. I don't have a lot of time to stop and think and outline something. I have to just dive in so I have something to show for myself twice a week. Ordinarily, my process relied heavily on "ruminating on things for months" but that's not very interesting.

So the question is, what's next? Do I try to chronicle the tedium of outlining a story? Share my exercises in world-building? Explain every decision in my character profiles. That's really up to you, I guess. This is all for you, I think. And maybe a little for me. It keeps me from slacking off to much.