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.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Flawed Execution

All right, the story isn't done yet. I know, I know. It will be. Don't worry. I'll admit, I wimped out a little bit and dropped the goal from 10,000 words down to 7,000 before they were locked in. But I still haven't even made it to that many words. I will. Eventually.

I just haven't been feeling motivated lately. That's a big part of writing. If you can't muster up the will to write, well, no writing is getting done. "But why?" you might ask. "Aren't you excited about this story?"

Well, that's an interesting question. With a maybe interesting answer.

As with all of my stories, I'm excited about the idea. That's why I choose to write the stories I do. I get an idea, I get excited about that idea, and I sit down to write it. And there's where it all goes awry.

Every plot idea in my head is a gem. It's the best story ever, and it's going to be great and everyone is going to want to read it. But then I start writing. And that all goes to hell. Suddenly my great idea doesn’t seem so great. Something is lost between the idea and the execution.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Chalk Outlines

All right kids. Today I'm going to talk to you about the importance of outlining. Not because I'm great at it and I can extoll its virtues. Oh no. Think of me more as a cautionary tale.

You see, if you outline your story, you can have an idea of the pace and the flow of the thing. You know what should be happening when. You don't find yourself, barely over halfway through your word count, already at the climax of the story.

That's where I'm at. I have about 4,000 words to go, and the story's just about over.

Don't be like me, kids.

Friday, April 14, 2017

A Tense Post

First order of business, I finally heard back from that local publication I submitted to back in the end of January. They didn't want the story. And that's fine. It's actually good. For one thing, I submitted it under the pseudonym I have since decided not to use. And for another, it means you get to read it here. Right now.

Without further ado, I present "Save Yourself."

This was, as far as I know, the only story I've ever written in the present tense. You might ask why. Well, for one thing, present tense creates a sort of sense of urgency, because it's happening right now, rather than being told in past tense from some  future perspective. But I didn't set out to do that. I didn’t have some grand plan about how this would work, and how the story was best told in present tense.

Rather, when I had the idea for the story, I scribbled down a brief moment, ending with "And… the safety's on," which is in present tense. That's just how I scribbled it. And it wouldn't sound right in past tense. So the whole story became present tense.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Leave Our Pieces On the Ground

Now, I've been feeling like a slacker lately, because I haven’t been writing every day. And not writing every day must mean I'm falling behind. Of course that's ridiculous, as you can see from my handy chart.

Whoo! Charts!

I am above the goal word count for each day, so I'm fine. That's the advantage to only have a goal of 10,000. 334 words per day is much easier that 1,667.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Second Guessing and Second Victims

I've been a bit of a slacker and didn't write anything yesterday. But the word count I was supposed to be at was only 2,333 and I stopped at 3,028 on Wednesday. So I think I'm all right for now. As long as I don't give in to the siren call of sleep and laziness too much more.

So where are we at? I'm sure that's what you're all wondering. What progress have I made in this story. It's funny you should ask, because I'm now at the point where I'm beginning to realize that I went astray somewhere in the past week. I've started to make notes along the lines of "Wait, it would make more sense if…" As though any of this makes sense.

When I started this, before I started this, really, I had in mind two particular moments in the life of one character. They existed devoid of any context, and for the most part, any other characters. But now that I've thrown a whole world in around those moments…  things get messy. Both these moments are of psychic visions revealing some piece of the puzzle. They were the first and last visions he had. Whether that's "last in the story" or "last in his life" is still to be determined. But the events that lead up to the latter kind of hinge on someone believing him. Otherwise he's just a guy, saying crazy things, and maybe he's the killer. But someone needs a reason to believe him. At this point, he barely believes himself.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The Oncoming Storm

So far so good. I'm already ahead of schedule, and hopefully I'll stay that way.

I did notice something now that I'm writing instead of plotting. See, I had a clear idea of personalities for all these characters. I knew how they should think and act. But once I put them in the story, that all changed. It's like they had one personality when they were alone and a different one when they were around other people. Hmm… almost like… real people. That might just be me who acts different when anyone is around.

Either way, I've just introduced all the characters. Now they can become whoever they want. I can always go back and fix these first impressions later.

Friday, March 31, 2017

On the Arrangement of Aquatic Birds

Story writing will commence tomorrow, when Camp NaNo kicks off.

Am I ready?

Well, that's an interesting question that depends entirely on your definition of "ready." Do I have all my characters figured out? Do I have a plot outline? Do I know who the killer is?

Nope.

But am I ready to sit down and throw everything I have at the page?

Absolutely.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Liquid Nonsense

Okay, guys… I'm writing this Monday night. It was my first day at a new job, which required me to get up at four AM. Also I've had some wine. Not a lot. Like one glass. And some I drank out of the bottle. For… research purposes. So I don't know what we're going to end up with here.

The story is… well, it's still a story-shaped void. Which I'm picturing as house shaped. That's wrong.

I'm still trying to name my characters. The main dude keeps trying to introduce himself as Sebastian and I keep trying to stop him. We'll see who backs down first. It'll probably be me. I'm a wimp. I have a feeling I'm going to have a bunch of placeholder names in this one. Or I'll just name them all Steve. Even the girls. Especially the girls.

I keep looking over at my mostly empty wine glass and thinking I should refill it. And then immediately thinking I should definitely not do that.

Anyway, where was I…

Friday, March 24, 2017

The Pieces Are Coming Together

I have characters! Most of them still don't have names, but I'm getting closer to that. I tried to go to bed at a reasonable hour last night and ended up staring at the ceiling for three hours. But I figured out some story stuff. Not only do I have characters by description, I can imagine what they're like. They're real people, living in my head now. It's getting a little crowded.

So, who do we have now?

  • The main character, a bartender with brain damage, who seems to have some strange abilities
  • Jo Castilla, kind and caring, is on a quest to help… someone
  • The honeymooning couple: he's an architect, she's an avid pinterester
  • The author, who writes romance novels under a female pseudonym, is here researching his next book
  • Mary Jane Sebring, flirty and impulsive, is not going to have a nice weekend
  • The proprietress, who runs the Something Something Inn

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

What's in a Name?

In the past year, I've gone from "Maybe I'll get something published someday" to "Let's try to get something published." It's a slightly more active approach. I'm starting to take into account whether a given story or a given scene would appear to a wider audience. I've looked up literary magazines that might suit my style. Basically, publishing has become a goal, rather than a distant possibility of something that might, somehow, happen.

And lately I've been thinking about how I want to be known, should I ever achieve that goal. Is publishing under a pseudonym the best idea?

On the "pro" side, it gives me some anonymity, not putting my real name out there in the world. Those of you who actually know me will know that I have a very common name, and a pseudonym would let me stand out more.

On the "con" side, if I use this name, I have to use this name. As in, that would be who I am. If I was ever known, by anyone, I'd have to be able to sign "Mad Cooper" (and I can't write a cursive "p"), people would call me Mrs. Cooper (some of you may know how I feel about that), and I'd have to adopt this whole other persona.

Friday, March 17, 2017

I Can Show You the World

I still don't have characters or a plot outline. My parsnips remain unbuttered.

The thing about writing fiction that you always hear is "show, don't tell." In other words, let the scene play out, don’t just summarize it. You want the reader to feel in the middle of the action, every sight, sound, and smell.

What about me? Do I follow that advice? I thought "yes" but let's actually have a look for ourselves, and see if I'm feeling a bit too highly of myself. I always thought I was great at showing, since basically everything is in scenes. But, looking back over some past stories, maybe I'm not as great as I thought.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Further Trials in Character Creation

I have managed to create a handful of random characters, none of which seem terribly suited for my current project. I don't really know what I'm looking for, or why this is so hard. There are millions of possible characters out there, and I've managed to make… six. I know that I need a couple more in the story, but I don't know what I want them to do yet. Die horribly maybe.

I'm lying. I did create one possibly useful character: The Armchair Detective. They've watched a lot of CSI and the like and they think they know anything about anything. Clearly they know how to solve a murder, they've seen plenty of episodes. We'll just look at some grainy footage and click the "enhance" button. That's how the pros do it, you know.

We really need a better source for characters. Making them up from whole cloth is terribly inefficient. Unfortunately for me, while I have accrued lists and lists of plots and dialogue and titles, I've never really collected characters. This calls for a trip to the NaNo forums, but I'll do that after I post this, because I know I'll be there all day. It's like TV Tropes. It's a trap.

Friday, March 10, 2017

You Were the Song Stuck In My Head

I picture my stories as movies in my head. I've said this before. It's not so weird. But I also picture them as little fan-made YouTube videos where someone took a bunch of clips and set them to music. And maybe that's a little weird. But it's because I'll assign certain music to certain things.

That's nothing new. It's called a leitmotif. A piece of music represents a person, place, concept, whatever. Darth Vader has "The Imperial March," the Shire has "Concerning Hobbits," Davy Jones has that music box/organ piece, Jaws has, you know, the thing. The idea is, they make you associated the music with the person, place, or whatever, and then when you hear it again, you think of the thing. Basic mind control.

Well, I like to have soundtracks for my stories. It helps me get into the right mindset. If I have a song that I associate with a certain scene, I'll listen to it on repeat while I write that scene. When I was finishing last year's NaNo novel, Cold Blooded, I was down to the last day, 4,000 words to go, just trying to wrap up some loose ends. And I think I listened to Secondhand Serenade's "Goodbye" on repeat for an hour while I dumped all the stuff I hadn't resolved onto the page. And it helped. I figured it out.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The Intricacies of Waking Up Psychic

I started thinking after/while writing my last post that I use a lot of examples from books that don't exist. And that's not fair. Because while they might be these entire worlds in my head, from your point of view I'm just saying a bunch of random words. I feel like I should really only talk about my past projects if they’re published. Which of course none of them are. So no one has any idea what I'm talking about.

Of course, it's kind of interesting in this case, with this blog, because for the most recent stories, you all were along for the ride. You were there when I created these worlds and named these characters. But once they're done and moved to the "Probably Never Published" pile, we're all expected to forget about them and never mention them again. That might be easy for you, having only snapshots of them in the first place. But they’re pretty firmly in my head.

That said, I will try not to bring up old stories anymore. We can’t look back now. The future is all we have.

If you couldn't tell from that very long intro, I haven't made a lot of progress in my murder mystery. The current question at hand involves the onset of psychic abilities. Namely, "Why" and also kind of "When."

Friday, March 3, 2017

Where Did All These People Come From?

I'm still hard at work (more or less) trying to plot out this murder mystery. I've decided to write the thing for Camp NaNo in April, so that gives me about a month to construct a skeleton. Plenty of time, right?

Right now I'm focused on characters (while toying with plot structure on the side) and they’re not quite behaving. My initial plan was to have an ensemble piece, with focus on all the characters present. All six or eight of them. But the more I try to develop the idea, the more a single main character takes over. And I guess that's okay. As I said last week, it’s not uncommon for my original plan to go out the window. It's a weakness of mine, and I'm working on it.

With the issue of characters comes the issue of backgrounds. As in, the characters' background. Things like race, religion, nationality, even their hometown. There's just a big question of "why" in the middle of all this.  By which I mean, why is a given character in possession of a given background. If your story is about racism, or the struggles of the Russian proletariat, then a character's background matters.

But what if it doesn't matter?

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

A Murder is Announced

I've finally made some progress on my characters for this murder mystery. I couldn't sleep the other night, so I did the obvious thing and started plotting a murder. As you do.

So far, there's:

  • The Proprietress - Regretfully, she informs guests as they arrive that the internet's a bit on the fritz.
  • The Psychic - He doesn't know what he can do yet, apparently. He'll find out soon enough.
  • The Nightingale - Due to past experience, she has a bit of a complex about helping people.
  • The Couple - Newlyweds, on their honeymoon. Or so they say.
  • The Killer - May be one of the above. May be someone else.
  • The Victim - Is dead. Poor them.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Mutating Plot Bunnies

I wrote most of a totally different post before deciding I didn't like it at all. That happens sometimes. And not just with blog posts.

Sometimes I'll have an idea for a story. That first initial seed that sprouts and grows leaves and subplots. It grows into a beautiful rose bush or maple tree or potato plant or whatever. Knowing me, probably the potato. But sometimes it's a strawberry plant, which sends out a runner, that grows its own roots and becomes a whole new plant, leaving the old one behind.

What the hell am I talking about? That's a great question.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Rebuilding the Tower

Sorry this post is up late. I got distracted looking at fancy bookcases, and then by various methods of execution (this is fairly normal for me). But here I am, at last.

I've been thinking more about The Tower, my 2011 NaNo novel with only five good chapters. I've been thinking about how to fix it. Should the jewel heist become the main plot, or should something else follow the theft? I'm leaning toward the latter, because I don't think I can stretch a simple museum robbery to fill an entire novel. There's a reason it only takes one chapter.

Now, when writing from scratch, I usually have an idea for a plot, or characters, and occasionally both. With this one, I have the beginning of the plot, and some decent characters. There's Leighton Edward Blackmore III, museum curator and generally creepy guy. There's CiarĂ¡n MacClellan, Irish thief and man with a plan. And of course, there's Zel Van Toren, six year resident of the Tower and a bit antisocial for it.

Friday, February 17, 2017

How Do We Fix You Now?

I watched a NaNoWriMo webcast about editing the other day, and they said that what you want to start with is an overall outline of the finished draft, so you can see the structure of it. Basically, you start with a big picture, get that the way you like it, then move in to fix individual scenes. Because there's no point in perfecting a scene if it's just going to get cut.

Well, it got me all excited about editing, so I decided to outline one of my old drafts, just to see what I had and what I could work with. I picked my 2011 NaNo novel, The Tower.


Yes, all my first draft novels have covers.

I made an outline, chapter by chapter. And boy, it is a mess. It's, for some reason, a mix of Rapunzel, H.P. Lovecraft, and Dante's Inferno. Only one of those things actually makes sense.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

An Overwhelming Lack of Exits

Let's talk about setting. The tale that's been rolling around in my head takes place in a bed and breakfast type deal on an island. They're cut off from the mainland. The last boat out has left. There will probably be a storm. (Hint: there will definitely be a storm.) The point is, it's a Closed Circle. Nobody comes in, and nobody gets out. That keeps characters from doing pesky little things like going for help.

"That is such an overused trope!" you might say.

And you might be right. If you look at the examples on the page I linked, there are a ton. Maybe that's because it's super convenient when you don't want your characters wandering off. Maybe it's because it's a lot of fun. You can decide for yourself. For me, it's a bit of both.

Because, see, if you have a way out, insisting you can't leave gives you a little thing called a false dilemma. Which is something I find irritating and try to avoid. Say my options were "try to find the killer and stop them" or "wait around until they kill us too" while there is a perfectly good way off the island. That's not going to work for me. In my case, the choice is more like "stay here" or "swim a few miles in the frigid Pacific."

Friday, February 10, 2017

From the Start It Was Shaky and the Characters Rash

For anyone just joining us, last week I talked about characters, their connections to each other, and using those connections in the course of character creation. And already, this has begun to pay off.

I had one character, a man with a British accent and a newly discovered psychic ability that he doesn't particularly want. I had two… and a half scenes in my head involving this fellow. And a girl, woman, whatever, of some sort. See, psychometric visions are not, in any way, pleasant. More like being electrocuted from inside your own skull. So I had this whole thing with a box and a vision and a nosebleed, and for some reason this girl who decided to play Florence Nightingale.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Making Connections

I was reading something the other day. It was an article on the best point to start watching certain shows, because sometimes they take a few episodes, or seasons, to really get going. Anyway, it said something about a group of characters working best when "everyone kind of has a piece of everyone else." I actually had to stop reading and write myself a note on my upcoming ensemble cast project:

It's not the differences. It's the similarities. Give them something to relate to in each other.

I think too often I try to make the cast too varied. If you have, say, six characters, you want them to be different from each other. Obviously. Because if two characters are filling the same role in the story, one of them is redundant and needs to die. But what happens, to me, anyway, is that each character becomes radically different from the rest.

So one character ends up being an upper crust Bostonian, and another is a poor hippy from San Francisco. They would have been from Portland, but that's too close in latitude to Boston. And then we throw in a Cajun from Baton Rouge (which my brain pronounces in a wacky pseudo-French accent every time) for good measure. Very different characters, from very different backgrounds. They're very different, you know.

Friday, February 3, 2017

How Far We've Come

It's been a year (367 days, technically) since I started this thing. So what do I have to show for it?

  • 1 50,000 word novel
  • 2 10,000 word novelettes
  • 6 short stories, varying lengths
  • 108 blog posts (including this one)

That may not seem like a lot, but that's about 77,000 words of just fiction, while first finishing my degree and then working full time. Nine distinct worlds, each with their own characters and rules and personality. And still thinking of something half-intelligent to say twice a week. That's a lot of writing.

But nothing published, you remind me.

That's true. I set out to be a "real" writer. That is, a writer who makes money writing, or at least is known beyond their group of friends. A writer who has their words printed in a book somewhere. And I haven't done that. Yet.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Pounding Words Into Submission

So, what's new? Well, I've hit 2,000 views, so that's pretty cool. And yes, that's over the course of basically an entire year, but it's still exciting to me. Let me have my moment!

The other thing is that I've finished a story to my liking and sent it off to be considered for publication. The deadline is today, and I excel at waiting until the last second. I finally managed to write a story that's not entirely dialogue. It's two and a bit pages long, and I think there are eight lines of dialogue. I actually set out to write something with no dialogue, and this is what I ended up with.

The story is also written in present tense, which is something I've never done before. Admittedly, that happened because I had one line that ended up around the middle that was in present tense, and it just wouldn't have been the same in past tense. Present tense has a sort of urgency, like all this is happening right now. And that's what this story needed.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Random Screaming

I appreciate everyone's feedback on my last post. The general consensus seems to be "more." And I agree completely. I know that I rushed the ending. I tend to do that. I realize the story's not going the way I want, so I just wrap it up as quickly as possible.

Pacing, that's the issue. Slow enough to build up tension but fast enough to not be boring. It's a careful balance that I have nowhere near mastered. If I think it's moving too slow, I just skip it forward to something exploding. And that's not always the best approach. It's hardly ever the best approach.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

What Lurks in the Darkness?

All right, I've "finished" "Losing Daylight." And I'm not feeling it. I'm not good at building tension, it seems. Not to mention, there was world building to be done that there just wasn't room for. So it doesn't really make any sense. I mean, yes, it could be longer. It's nowhere near the max word count. But there's nothing else to happen. He's just… waiting the whole time. I don't think I can fix it enough to appeal to a wider audience, so I'll just share the rough draft with you here, as promised.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Head in the Clouds

Sorry I'm late. I had a job interview earlier, so I didn't want to stay up all night writing the blog post I had forgotten about. So here we are.

I've started writing my story, finally. Nothing like waiting until the last minute. It's tentatively called "Losing Daylight" and it's taking a while to get started. I spent probably an hour yesterday trying to think of a name for the airship.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Bottled Inspiration

I got on here to write my blog post, but then I got distracted reminiscing over the 100+ year history of my old university. I'm not even sure how I got started on that in the first place. Oh, bomb shelters. That was it.

I haven't been doing much writing, sorry to say. Mostly just working and sleeping. And thinking about writing. A lot of good that's doing me.

When I'm at work, I just think about how I want to come home and write my story. But when I get home, I just… don't do that. What's that all about?

Friday, January 13, 2017

Burning Daylight

I have an idea about an airship. Technically, I have a writing prompt about an airship.

In the distant future, most of society lives in massive, powerful airships that fly perpetually westbound in order to stay in daylight permanently, because of something horrifying that comes out at night. The reactor of your ship has malfunctioned, and you have to land for repairs…

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

These Are the Wrong Sorts of Ideas

I have a story.

Well, more specifically, I have a scene. I have one character, and I can picture this scene so clearly, but it doesn't have any context. I don't know who the other characters are, or exactly where they are, or why they’re there. I think they're on an island, possibly in a hotel/bed and breakfast type place. I know they were brought there against their will by… someone. For… some reason.

See, no context.

Friday, January 6, 2017

A Little Pick-Me-Up

This is my 100th post (yay?) so I thought we should do something awesome. Much as I'd like to debut my brand new masterpiece, I'm not there yet. So how about a return to Mad's Music Corner? The one-year anniversary of my first post is coming up in about a month, and well, I talk a lot about how I'm not living up to the plan I set forth. But we tend to forget (and by "we" I mean me) that I've actually done a lot since then. And we don't need to be all doom and gloom about the whole thing.

So we're going to set our sights a little higher, on something a little brighter. I can be an optimist, too, if I have to be. We passed the winter solstice two weeks ago, so it can only get lighter from here.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

A Spark of Something

Inspiration is a peculiar feeling.

For me anyway. I don't know about other people.

I was looking up… something. Okay, technically I was looking up serial killers who think they're controlled by demons, but that's not the point. I found myself on the Wikipedia page for Automatic Writing. And then, a link there in the side bar. Psychometry. "That's when you see the history of an object by touching it, right?" I asked myself. So I clicked the link.