Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Open Doors

So it has come to this.

The Waffle House.

Now, I don't know a lot about Waffle House. We don't have them here. What I do know is they never close. Even in the face of natural disaster, if they can be open, they will be open.

I also know that the Waffle House is a nexus between dimensions.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Unexpectedly Jentacular

All right, this post is going up super late, but here it is. It's been crazy busy lately, with not a lot of exciting progress on the writing front.

I've moved beyond the timeline splitting part of the story, and our heroes have continued on, hoping to make it to that all important something in California. Whatever it is. They would have just kept driving if they could, not stopping for a second. But, well, the limitations of modern machinery. So they have to stop for gas.

And at first, everything seems okay, like all the weird shit is behind them.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Portals and Plot Holes

This story is getting weird. I mean, I know it was supposed to be weird, but then all of a sudden there was a cult, sacrificing our heroes to their gods. Okay. Why not. Then apparently they were cannibals, just because there happened to be a kitchen nearby. I did not plan for this.

And now I've written them into a bit of a pickle and I'm not sure how to get them out. It was all because I realized they were getting away too easily, and I had to make it more of a challenge. Now it's… too much of a challenge.

Honestly, you know what I'm going to do? I'm just going to skip to their daring escape and figure out the how later. To be honest, I think I messed up with my interdimensional portal placement, and that's going to need to be fixed later. But you know what we say about that?

It's December's problem.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Murder, Mayhem, and Small Towns

Taking my own advice from last time, I jumped right in to the meat of the story and immediately killed someone. You know how I like doing that.

But by finally getting my first taste of murder, I opened the floodgates to the rest of all that nonsense I had brewing. By killing one guy, I've introduced the Hitchhiker (even though we won't find out who she is until she returns later), the Sheriff (who, despite all initial appearances, is not here to help), and a small town that's going to be a confluence of weirdness and dimension hopping. And it has the best introduction to a town I've ever written (as though I've ever managed to describe a town before),

Check it:
It was the very definition of a farming town. Obscenely small, where everyone no doubt knew everyone else because they all showed up to the same family reunion. And no one knew who had invited them. Aunt Judy brought a Jell-O mold with vegetables in it, for some damn reason. Who the hell invited Aunt Judy?

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Rough Roads

For some reason the super fun, super random, super easy story is super hard to write. I'm way behind on word count, and the story is dragging like it's trying to pull lead weights through the Swamp of Sadness.

I have all these great ideas, about divergent timelines, but they have to happen later, or I'll run out of ideas later, instead of running out of ideas now. I mean, I have divergent timelines, and alternate realities, and time loops, and a potentially haunted cooler, and none of it's happening right now.

Why?

Friday, November 3, 2017

The Shape of Things to Come

Foreshadowing! Within the first 200 words! And I did it completely by accident.

I was just trying to get a little characterization in, while sending these people on their road trip. Already it's apparent that Tony is a bit of a dick. He tells this whole story about why he was running late for their early morning meet up and…

Here, just read it. And pay no mind to my use of "steerage." That's what I always call the cargo/back hatch area of a vehicle. I don't know what it's called.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Road Ahead

I had an idea, recently, about naming chapters or sections in my NaNo novel after road features. I picture, in a print version, at the beginning of each section is an image of a road sign, and then the applicable title.  Like this:


So the bit with the diverging timeline would be called Fork Ahead. And Roundabout, pictured above, has something to do with a time loop. Those are the only ones I'm sure of at the moment. As though I'm ever sure of anything.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Wondering About When

I have questions.

Boy, do I have questions.

What year is it? Who are these people? What's going on?

I'm, of course, talking about my NaNo novel. Of course. I'm certainly not asking that about real life…

Anyway, and I don't know why I'm using such short paragraphs, I've been thinking about the time and place in which this story is set. Now, there's this, I don't know, assumption, that unless something is explicitly a period piece, it must be happening right now. Like, you figure a movie made in '98 is set in '98 unless told otherwise. (I just watched The Faculty. It's from '98. I'm not just picking random years.)

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Forks in the Road

I haven't made a lot of progress lately, but ideas continue to swirl around in my brain. I've also just watched the first season of Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, which is just the amount of weird I need in my life right now. So I think it's helping.

A bit of advice. If ever you're stuck on a creative project, do some mindless, menial task. Your mind wanders, and you start getting ideas. Science says so. So these days, most of my ideas show up while I'm mopping floors. Which I do a lot. So things are going fairly well on the creative front. It's a good job to have during NaNo, it seems.

So what I was thinking about, while my shambling husk was cleaning something, was concerning the different worlds that our three heroes might encounter. Now, I already have this concept of diverging timelines. There's the little one that Tony creates by dying but also not dying. From what we'll see of it, there aren't a lot of differences from the prime timeline, since it only broke off a day or so ago.

Friday, October 20, 2017

A Cornucopia of Nonsense

I don't know if I have anything new to add today. I've been slacking lately.

I've been trying to put the random events I have in some kind of order. You know, so I can build a plot or something. So far I have:

  • The ominously buzzing gas station speaker
  • The weird mirror town that seems familiar but isn't
  • Tony wanders off, gets killed, wanders back

And other things can happen in between those. Additionally, I have the temporally homeless:

  • El Stevo - worshipped as a god
  • The hitchhiker -aka- One More Troubled Soul
  • The sheriff - a harbinger of probable doom

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

A Strange Moment of Inspiration

I spent the weekend preparing for NaNoWriMo, but not so much for my own story. As I've mentioned before, I'm a Municipal Liaison for my local region, and so I was making stuff for our Kick-Off Party. Like plot bunnies. I've been sharing that picture everywhere because it's adorable and I think I'm hilarious.

But, I did accomplish something story-wise. I have continued my trend of finding story inspiration everywhere. Even while performing the most mundane of tasks.

Let me set the scene. It's about 11:45pm, at a gas station that's long since closed up it's little kiosk. There's no one around. I turn off Bullet For My Valentine or whatever I was listening to, leaving me in relative silence. Until my ears perceive the mellow pop song that's playing over the gas station speakers, which at first sounds like the voice of some creepy little child singing in the dark. This momentarily scares the shit out of me, naturally.

This is where I was. This was the mindset I was in. So, when I got out to pump my gas, I noticed that the speaker right above me didn't work. It was just buzzing. And at this deserted gas station in the middle of the night, that was the most sinister god damn thing ever.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Picking Up Strays

I've been thinking about additional characters. What sort of interesting folks are our three heroes going to come across? Will any of them tag along for the ride?

My reason behind this idea? Well, I've been listening to a lot of Fall Out Boy lately, for some reason. And so all these bits and pieces of songs keep popping up in my head and giving me ideas. I'm sure I've mentioned it before, but music is a huge inspiration for me, for writing and otherwise. The inspiration for the current idea? This:
"I don't know where you're going but do you got room for one more troubled soul?
I don't know where I'm going but I don't think I'm coming home"

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Some New Information, Maybe?

I wrote a good deal of a post concerning what I did over the weekend, which was work on my fake language. But once I found myself explaining how various letters were pronounced, I needed to put a stop to that. Suffice it to say, I made up some verbs, but for some reason pronouns are really hard.

I'm not going to spend too much time talking about that, since I'm not even sure if it's going to be used right now. I have a vague idea about a post-apocalyptic dimension where the inhabitants speak this language, but I don't know at this point. They won't be able to say much at the moment anyway, since they don't have any nouns. It's all just, "I want. You go."

Friday, October 6, 2017

The Return of Steve (and Other Stories)

The weird things that are going to be encountered in this story just randomly appear in my head, with no rhyme or reason. I carry a little notebook around with me for that very reason. I literally stopped in the middle of what I was doing at work to write the following very important note:

El Stevo - worshipped as a god.

Every story needs a Steve, you know. And as I was wondering if Tony who gets himself killed was going to be the new Steve, I had the above thought. I'm not certain what it means. I'd like to think that there's some town somewhere, in a little pocket of oddness, where this is happening. There's just this guy, named Steve, who tastes the rainbow, who puts foil in the microwave, who doesn't read the warning labels. And for some reason, he's worshipped as a god. Does Steve know about his divinity? I don't know. I guess we'll find out.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Weirdness: Now Pocket-Sized

I think the real question about the journey story that we need to answer is just how many L's "traveller" has. Spell check tells me it should only have one, but I'm defiant to the end. It's my understanding that that's the British spelling. I think it looks better. I've spelled it that way since I read H.G. Wells' The Time Machine in 12th grade. Originally only in the context of time travelling, but now in all instances.

I guess I just want to warn you. If I write this story, and share any excerpts, I don't want you getting all upset that I'm spelling "traveller" wrong. I know what I'm doing.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Travelling Through Places Unknown

I want to write a journey story. We've been over this. And the more I think about it, the more I think it's going to be an Oz/Wonderland sort of deal. That is, where someone from our regular boring old world finds themselves in another, far more interesting world.

But will they stay there?

In those kinds of tales, typically the goal is to get back home, because they're stuck on the other side. But that needn't be the case.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

An Unexplained Journey

Journeys. Someone's going somewhere. But what really matters, the destination, or how they get there?

Back in high school, when I was in Drama, we had a group project to write a short script in which "Someone is going somewhere." That was the only guideline. Just think of all the possibilities! All the journeys that could be taken! Our "someone" was a malicious old lady named Edna. And well, she was going to Hell.

Not exactly high art, but journeys come in all shapes and sizes.

More familiar, and probably more impressive, is the Hero's Journey. Your hero starts in their normal world as a moisture farmboy, or Shire resident, or kid in a cupboard. Then they get drawn into some adventure, meet a mentor figure, go through some trials and tribulation, and then return a changed and possibly better person.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Making Up Words

So this post is up late. I didn't have time to write it before. But here it is now.

What I've been thinking about lately, and may have nothing to do with my NaNo project, are conlangs. Constructed languages. That's your Klingon, your Dothraki, your Trigedasleng.

I'd like to create a language sometime, for a story. I think it would be fun. And in a situation like that, you don’t really need a whole language. Just enough of one to say what you want to say and make it feel like there's a whole language hiding under there.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

This Is the Road to Ruin and We’re Starting at the End

Well, if you missed the last post, I've moved on from the space story for now because I didn't like where it was headed. I might come back to it later, when I figure out how to make it not suck.

So for the moment, I'm left with trying to figure out what to write for NaNo. I have a few random ideas floating around, but nothing I can expand into 50,000 words. I'd like to actually create an outline for this one, so know more or less how the story goes, and what needs to happen when.

Half the time, I start a story and then can’t figure out how it's supposed to end. So right now I'm toying with the idea of figuring out the ending first, and working my way backwards. That might be interesting. First figure out where the characters end up, then work out how they got there.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Moving On

I was going to write this post about another little thing I realized about my villain, but I'm not going to do that, because it's not terribly exciting. So here's where I'm at. I've created this very dramatic relationship between these two characters, which is going to make for a very dramatic story. And also a very boring story. They say you should write the kind of books you want to read. I wouldn't want to read this. It's a domestic drama set in space. It's not fun. I want to write something fun.

"So make it fun," you might say.

That would be the ideal, but sometimes stories go into a tailspin of mediocrity and it's hard for me to pull them out of it. They just get worse and worse until they crash in an explosion of disappointment and I shove them in a drawer. Sometimes my attempts at writing better just makes the result worse. Of course, it's also possible that I've just learned more, so now I can see how bad it is, but the writing itself remains the same.

I don't think I'll be writing the space story for NaNoWriMo. From what I have, my characters are kind of interesting and have some potential, but I can't slog through 50,000 words of the inevitably boring plot right now. I might come back to it later, maybe write a shorter story. Something where I don't need to add chapters of filler just to meet the word goal.

Now, you might say, "But I thought it sounded like a great plot." And maybe it is. If you're into family drama. I want an exciting, fun story with adventures and explosions. But the corner I've plotted myself into precludes that. Now everyone has to deal with their emotions and grief and try to find a way to move forward. It’s super dramatic, and super boring to me.

So now I have a month and a half to figure out something better, something more exciting. Stay tuned, I guess?

I'll see you Tuesday.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Conflicting Ideas

My villain character creation is by no means complete, but I think I have a good idea of what kind of a person she is. I understand her reasoning. The question that is now arising is what is she going to do about it? What actions is she going to take against the protagonist?

Now I know the relationship between the two of them. They were basically family once. Now everything's gone and broken. How far is she going to go? Does she want him miserable, or destroyed?

Friday, September 8, 2017

Where Do Space Babies Come From?

The quest for Elsbeth's backstory continues, and the other day, I asked myself, "Self, what did happen to the boy's father?" The boy of course being her son, who still doesn't have a name. I think I thought of something, but then forgot it immediately.

Anyway.

My initial thought, a month ago, was that family dynamics are just different in space. But then Tycho, the protagonist, had both parents and lost them both, collectively, together. Implying a typical family arrangement.

So the question returned. What happened to the boy's father? He can't be dead, because there's a limit on how much tragedy I'll dole out per person. Yes, even I have limits.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Staying on Task

Well, here we are again. And I'm woefully unprepared, as usual.

I keep coming up with all this other stuff for the space story. The protagonist has appeared, complete with a name for once, but I keep pushing all that aside. Because I have to finish Elsbeth. I have to make her a real person. This is what usually happens, and why I end up with shallow characters. I get distracted by shinier parts of the story, and abandon the boring details.

So here I am, wondering how Fomalhaut and Aldebaran1 figure into this story, with this ship endlessly coasting among the stars, but I have to stay here and decide on my antagonist's political views. And religion. And what word or phrase she uses a lot.

I had one goal. Make one good, solid character. And my god, is that hard.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Music of the Spheres

We're returning to Mad's Music Corner for something that's actually relevant to the project at hand. That's right: Space Music.

Now, if we wanted to go all futuristic, we'd probably go electronic. We're not going to do that. I'm not a fan of electronic music, and I can't make a soundtrack out of things I don't want to listen to.

It's a little tricky, because I still don’t know what the plot is, but I hope that this can help us get into the world and the characters a little better. And I'll be linking them instead of embedding them, which should help the post load better for anyone with a slower connection.

So without further mindless drivel…

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Family Comes First

So here I am, trying to complete Elsbeth as a character, trying to figure out all these stupid little details. But then I stepped away from all these questions and asked something that might actually matter: What kind of a mother was she?

I did a little backstory freewriting, and I learned some things. The most important of which was that the protagonist of this tale was orphaned at the age of 12, and since he was her son's best friend, Elsbeth took him in. He became like another son to her. And her boys always had each other's backs. Until they didn't.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Grinding Gears

The quest for character creation continues. Today we're going to talk about those little things that people hate: pet peeves. Now, I'm only going to say that phrase once, because I hate it, for some reason. I think that's one of those things that people call "ironic" but is actually something else.

Anyway, I think dislikes are just as interesting as likes. What drives a person to hate something? Why do those things bother them? Are they like me, in that they just dislike the thing and don't have or remember a reason behind it? Did someone once do or say the thing, it all went bad, and now that experience has ruined the thing for them forever?

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

In Space, No One Can Hear You Mispronounce Their Name

I'm going to talk about names. Weird names, specifically.

I have a lot of opinions on weird names. They tend to crop up in sci-fi and fantasy, and sometimes, they're terrible. If I'm considering reading a book, I will turn right around if the characters have stupid names. I get a newsletter or whatever for free or cheap e-books, and I have seen some awful names. As in, they took a perfectly normal name threw it in a blender and hit puree. They were trying to make something exotic, probably, but you can still tell what name they started with.

Also, names that are unpronounceable. I narrate everything in my head, so it's important that my brain can articulate a name. And if everyone in a story has weird, unpronounceable names, especially if any of them are similar to each other, I'm going to continually forget who is who. That's why I haven't read The Kalevala yet. It's Finnish mythology, which I'd like to know more about, but Lemminkäinen is the only name I can ever seem to remember.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Tiny Steps in the Right Direction

Well, here we are again. I haven’t made much (or any) progress on my character creation. What have I been doing instead of working on that? That's a great question. Real life has been happening a bit and that's taking a lot of my attention, but I feel like that's not a good enough excuse to be slacking off. I've always tried to make a point to not talk about real life here, because that's not what we're here for. We're here to see me turn myself into a real writer.

I'm not sure if I'm going to use this space story for November's NaNoWriMo, or if some other idea is going to come along in mid-October. I don't know if I'll have enough space-story-hijinks to fill 50,000 words. Maybe if I outlined…

I'm honestly not sure if I'm going to write the space story or if this is just going to be an exercise in character creation. I mean, it might be a waste of a perfectly good character if I don't write it, but… I don't know if that bothers me.

Truth be told, I haven't been feeling super creative lately. I'm hoping that's going to change soon, real life stuff and all. I even have a long weekend right now to get myself back to… me. It's pretty exciting. I'm hoping to actually take a day and get back to the character creation process. I've never been very good at villains or female characters, and I'm hoping I can kill two birds with one stone and create this well rounded female villain character.

Because if I can do that, I can do anything.

Except write this post, apparently. It's taken me over two hours to get this far. So I'm going to call it a day and hopefully have something more interesting on Tuesday.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The World is My Discarded Oyster

I'm going to continue getting distracted from my assigned task. It's just who I am as a person. I keep finding other things to talk about. And in a way, that's what today's post is about.

How I let myself down all the time.

It's not as pathetic as it sounds, not really. I just build up all these great ideas with such potential and then… meh. I focus on something else entirely.

I'm going to tell you a story. About a story. I wrote this last spring. You can see all the posts about it here. It was the adventures of a small town sheriff when faced with a larger and modernizing world. Okay, fine.

But the world, man, the world.

Friday, August 11, 2017

It Took Everything to Get Me Here

I keep finding myself getting distracted from my task of creating a complete character. "What about the world-building?" I ask myself. "What about the soundtrack?" I mean really, what kind of music does a future space faring society listen to? Probably something electronic and computer generated. Which is unfortunate for me, as I have a longstanding hatred of electronic music. Except this, for some reason.

Anyway, I have all these questions I'm supposed to be answering for this character. Here's a few as an example:

  • What are their biggest secrets?
  • What makes them laugh out loud?
  • What is their best childhood memory?
  • Do they have a natural talent for something?

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

No Hourglasses in Zero G

I've started fitting out an extensive character sheet for Elsbeth Zogg, sci-fi villain. I'm not going to share all the answers here, because frankly, I don't want to. Describing characters makes me uncomfortable. Extensively describing them, even more so.

Now, I thought that this was just going to be an exercise in character creation, and a plot and everything would come later. World building and all that tiresome nonsense. But I realized something right off the bat when I started the character questionnaire. Something I need to think about in this story. Something I need to figure out.

How do you tell time in space?

Friday, August 4, 2017

For the Evulz: A Reason For Villainy

Remember last time when I said the bad guys can't just do it "for the evulz"? I stand by that. I mean, sure, you can have your Jokers who just want to watch the world burn, but usually there is some underlying reason.

So I started making a list. I'm sure I'll add to it as I go, but I'm off to a decent start. I'm trying to list all the reasons a villain might do his villainous things. Some of them may overlap. Things are rarely cut-and-dried, 100% one thing, so that's to be expected.

The list of why people do bad things, as it stands:

  • Money/greed
  • Love/lust
  • Revenge
  • Hatred (be it racism, prejudice, etc.)
  • Loyalty (to a cause, leader, etc.)
  • Grief/Loss
  • Power

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Building Character

I finished my Camp NaNo story on Saturday. Well, technically Sunday at 1am, but whatever. It's done. I wouldn't call it "successful" but it also wasn't a total loss. If nothing else, I learned a lot about the things I still need to improve on.

So where do we go next?

The next thing I'll probably work on is the in-depth character creation I mentioned last time. Essentially, my characters tend to be flat and lacking a little thing called personality. I always see these questionnaires for character creation, and I never manage to fill the whole thing out. So I'm going to try. I'm going to figure out everything about a character, until they're damn near a real person.

Then the question becomes: What kind of character should I create?

The obvious first choice for a character is the hero. They're the main character. We're paying the most attention to them. But then I thought, maybe I should create a villain. I don't know that I've ever had a good, strong, well-developed villain. And I should. A hero is only as good as his villain. And a villain is, after all, the hero of their own story. They have their reasons for what they're doing, and it's probably not "for the evulz."

I need a vague sort of setting to put this character in, just because parts of their history and personality are going to be influenced by the world they live in. Is this a modern story? Or a high fantasy with elves and shit? Or some kind of galactic space thing?

The trick is going to be creating a good, solid character with motivations and whatnot that the reader won't be rooting for. Sure, there are some villains that you kind of want to win, but I don't know if I'm prepared for that.

The overall plan here is to create a villain, and a hero, and then a plot for them to live in. I don't know how long this is going to take. It seems like a big project that would take months, but if I actually sit down and get my shit together, it could take a lot less.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Cardboard Cutout Characters

So we're down to the final conflict against the Low Dwellers in this Camp NaNo story. It still doesn't have a name. I'm open to suggestions. At the moment, it's not super exciting, I guess. They've managed to take out two Low Dwellers, but Catherine is just sort of running through there, getting rescued.

Now, this is a romance story. She's supposed to be the main character. So at this point she needs to woman up and be the heroine of her own damn story. She needs to take a level in badass.

Upon realizing this last night, my first thought was "Kill Nick." See, then she'd have to step up. But we can't do that. Because, again, this is ostensibly a romance story, and it's supposed to have a happy ending. Meaning I can't kill off one half of the couple before they even get together.

As for her being the main character, well, you couldn't tell from the story. She's not even introduced first. It's like… imagine the story's focus to be your actual, physical field of view. The main character is the one you're looking directly at. The natural thing for me to do is focus on Nick, for whatever reason. He's more interesting. So I attempted to not do that, and instead of shifting my focus to Catherine, I ended up staring awkwardly at nothing, watching the whole thing unfold in my peripheral. Now nobody's the main character. This is a problem.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Nothing Left to Say

When I set out on this quest to combine three genres into a single frankensteined project, I thought that it would be equal parts of each. One third subterranean fiction, one third occult detective, and one third romance. All equally represented.

But what it's turning out to be is 70% subterranean (they are underground, after all), 25% occult detective, and 5% romance. Is that bad? I don't know. Probably.

I've reached the point where they're about to go up against the Low Dwellers (carnivorous beasties), and the romantic arc has progressed… barely. They're maybe starting to grow closer, but sparks aren't exactly flying here.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Interpersonal Relationships

I meant to spend the morning writing, but I got distracted by a genealogy search. All because I wanted to know how old the little desk in my living room is. Answer: about a hundred years old. Maybe a hundred and ten, depending on what age boys start carving their names in things.

I saw an episode of Pawn Stars yesterday, and now I'm on a history kick. Of course, if you know me, you'd know my whole life is a history kick.

Anyway, then I got distracted and traced my family back 1,000 years. What does that have to do with today's post? Not a damn thing, probably, but it's part of the reason it's up so late.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Once More With Feeling

The relationship between my two characters is still in the early stages. So what did I decide to do? Separate them. Now, I don't know if this was a Good Move™ because I don't read romance. I don't know the rules.

"Well then, you should learn the rules."

Why you… you're absolutely right. So I've done a little research, grown a little as a person, all since the last paragraph, and I've learned one thing I'm definitely failing at here.

The reader is supposed to identify with the heroine.

This is a chick-centric genre, after all. You should feel for the heroine, as she goes about her… adventuring and romancing and whatnot. So she has to have *shudder* emotions. At the moment Catherine's upset and kind of pissed because she's all alone and Nick may or may not have gotten himself stupidly killed. But, boy, do I not know how to describe that without making her into a puddle of emotional goo. Like, she's either emotionless or pathetic. There is no in between.

I literally googled "how to write emotions." It did not help.

Friday, July 14, 2017

A Different Kettle of Fish

I haven't worked on the story all week. That's my confession for today. It's my weekend, and so I'll write another chunk and catch right back up. It's fine.

I didn't know what today's post was going to be about until I started to try to outline what happens next. One of my upcoming plot points (the next one, actually) is "Discovery of the green herring." Now, that's a play on words, but it's also not.

See, they've just come across an underground river, inhabited by some bioluminescent creature. They think perhaps this vast animal is some kind of amphibian and the source of all their problems. Spoiler alert: it's not. It's not an it. It's a they. From where they are (rather, from where I unceremoniously left them), they are a good distance above the river. So they can't tell that "it" is in fact a whole school of bioluminescent fish, who move as one entity. The green herring. (Side note: worst superhero name ever.)

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Keeping Secrets

So I'm sure you're all wondering how the SubOccDeRom (Subterranean Occult Detective Romance) story is going.

And well… it's going.

They're wandering around underground, detecting things occultly, but… The romance is going to be harder than I thought. At this point, they don't seem to particularly like each other. I'm going to have to throw them into some peril that will force them to rely on each other and make them grow closer. Because at this point, Catherine is just on a mission to find her father, and Nick is kind of a jerk who doesn't like sharing anything about himself.

On that note, it's becoming a bit of a running joke that she'll ask about where his weird-ass clairvoyant powers come from, and he'll change the subject and say, "Hey, what’s that sound over there?" whether there actually is a sound or not. Is this because I haven’t figured out where it comes from? Partially. I know the basics, but I don't have the specifics. And he just doesn't seem like the kind of guy who would divulge that much information upon first meeting someone.

Friday, July 7, 2017

The Stories We Don't Talk About

I haven't been working too much on my Camp NaNo project. I will. I'll reach my goal before the end of the month. I always do.

But mostly, I've been catching up on Supernatural. Every time I get back into it, I wonder why I ever stopped watching it. I mean, it's been around my entire adult life. I have some… emotions… about it. But you know what it tends to make me think of, and what we're going to talk about today?

Fan fiction.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Lost in the Labyrinth

First off, happy Independence Day. Or, if you're not in the US, happy Tuesday.

Camp NaNo: July Edition has begun. I've thrown myself, half-assed, whole-heartedly into it. As per usual.

I kind of have a plot. I'm still working on an outline. I'd like it to be a little more sketched out before I get too far into the story, but we can't always get what we want. I'd have to actually know where it's going in order to draw out a road map.

Right now, my biggest concern is that my occult detective has some occult skills. Of some kind. I don't actually know what they are. He finds things, somehow. That's why Miss DeWitt hires him. She knows the Lower World, to a degree, but it's a labyrinth down there. She needs him to narrow down the search. But I don't know how he does it. That seems kind of important, doesn't it?

Friday, June 30, 2017

Last Minute Plotting

I'm continuing with my amazing skill at writing vague summaries that make the story sound way cooler that it probably will be. I was just doing a little scribbling, trying to get the backstory and setting worked out, and I came up with this:

The Lower World was uncovered some years ago at the bottom of a mine shaft. It's an endless labyrinth of tunnels, marked by ruins of some forgotten civilization. The inhabitants have long since vanished.

Or have they?

Have they just moved further down into the darkness? What still hides in the shadows?

Several expeditions were sent, led by Professor Harcourt "Harry" DeWitt, in an effort to map the Lower World and learn of its former inhabitants. On one such journey to the highest city, not far beyond the modern, human realm, DeWitt even brought his preteen daughter, the adventurous Catherine. She grew up among the ruins and the artifacts, learning the lost language of Subterranea.

And now, on a recently funded expedition to the lower reaches, the professor and his team vanished. A rescue team found nothing, and risked becoming lost themselves.

So Catherine, now grown and an explorer in her own right, must seek out a man with unusual skills, if she ever hopes to find her father.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

To Hell on a Handcar

After writing my last post, I did in fact play a lot of Minecraft. What I can tell you about spending most of your time underground is that you really lose track of time. There's no day, no night, only artificial light. Then you come above ground and you're surprised to find it's dark out, because it's always light where you've been. It's disorienting. I don't know if that's going to have any bearing on this next story, but it's certainly something to consider.

Now, in addition to digging all those tunnels, as I do, I've been laying rails. Minecarts. Transport. All that. So there's that railroad. Then I've just finished that story that starts on a train. And I'm nearly through Terry Pratchett's Raising Steam, which is about, you guessed it, trains. So I have trains on the brain. And I had a thought for the introduction of my main character, occult detective, who still doesn't have a name. And wouldn't you know it, it involves a train.

Imagine this: the story opens on some… something… happening, deep underground. A murder. A mysterious shadow in the dimly lit tunnels. I don't know. It's the teaser before the opening credits, if you will. We leave that unresolved a cut to our hero, on a train from somewhere. Maybe he's on his way back from his last job. He's about to be recruited by Miss DeWitt, on a mission of utmost importance.

Friday, June 23, 2017

For the Love of Clichés

Ah, romance.

I swing wildly between thinking the romantic aspect of my story is going to be the easiest or the hardest part. "Oh sure, I'll just throw these people together and they'll grow to like each other." "Wait, is this a horribly clichéd and contrived plot?"

Now, I've never read a romance novel. I've considered it, for research purposes. But they always sound so boring. It all "Sassy von Heroine spent her life doing X, but everything changed when she met Hero McStudPants." And I don't know if those are just the crappy ones, but that's what I keep seeing. So I just googled "best contemporary romance novels," clicked the first thing that wasn't Fifty Shades… and well, I'm not impressed with that either. I just don't see the appeal.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Will the Plot Ever Twist or Will I Still Resist?

I have so much to do for my next project, and only about two weeks to do it. It feels like such a big undertaking and I don't where to begin.

I need characters.

I need a setting

I need a plot.

You can see the problem. I mean, sure, I have some vague ideas. But it's a far cry from an actual outline.

But we're not going to talk about my shortcomings. Not those shortcomings, anyway. No, we're going to talk about a vital piece of plot that I've never really managed to use.

The Plot Twist.

Friday, June 16, 2017

A Review on Revisions

As promised, I read over Draft Two of "My Soul to Take," made a few revisions, and here it is.

So go ahead and read that, because we're going to talk about it.

First off, my whole determination to have a proper omniscience narrator didn't really work out. The whole point of that was to explain the soul thing, because most people don't really grasp the metaphysical junk going on around them. But then Evie just says, "…it ripped something out of them. Like it tore their souls out." And boom, there we are. Souls and things that eat them. So maybe I don't need an omniscient narrator. Or maybe I'm still just no good at writing one.

Second, I have some interesting descriptions. I was trying to think outside the box and not use the same tired old phrases. Because I fall back on the same tired old phrases all the time. So I tried to get creative.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Second Time Around

Draft Two of "My Soul to Take" is, for all intents and purposes, done. And I'm pretty pleased with it. Half the time when I finish something, I just want to put it in a box, in a drawer, in a locked basement, and forget about it for a while. But this one… I like it. I'm not angry and frustrated at it.

So, some highlights.

Just past the midpoint of the story, Jake was starting to not be a total selfish asshole. He'd found a possible way out, but then Evie was in trouble, and he decided to go back and he ran in for his Big Damn Heroes moment.

So in all that, I wrote a paragraph. It was just a paragraph, to get everyone where they needed to be for the next scene. But the more I read it over, the more I like it.

Friday, June 9, 2017

The Consequences of Vagueness

Outlining is great. We’ve learned this. We can put all our plot points onto a line and see the skeleton of our story.

But it's just that. A skeleton. It doesn't have any tissue or muscle or ligaments. No juicy bits to bring the skeleton to life. That's what actual, you know, story is for. The scenes and the action and the dialogue. And that all comes later.

The problem arises when later comes and you realize you don't know what's supposed to go on this part of the skeleton.  We know the general shape of it, from the bones, but is this supposed to be a hand or a flipper or a wing? The squishy parts are unclear.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Digging Deep

It's hard to finish one project when you have all these ideas for the next one. So I'm trying to figure out how Jake and Evie are going to escape the soul-eating entity, but then I'm thinking about subterranean worlds in 1912, government psy-ops programs, nerdy romance, and coal mines.

So I'm going to give you an idea of all the stuff I've been looking through.

Friday, June 2, 2017

The Antihero's Journey

There's another session of Camp NaNoWriMo in July, and oh my god, I'm so excited!

That right there, that's why I keep doing NaNo. If I ever stop looking forward to it, then I guess that's when I'll stop.

So as it stands, I'm planning on doing my Subterranean Detective Romance for July. That gives me a month to finish what I'm doing and get some kind of plan going. There's a lot of research I need to do for this. I have a whole list of things I need to look into. I think I'll get into that next time.

Today, we're still working on that silly train story. I wrote about 860 more words last night, so I've nearly doubled what I already had. If we're going by my little plot arc thing, I've covered the first four plot points, and am about to reach the fifth.

It's been interesting, this antihero business. I mean, usually your heroes are… heroic. Moral and noble, albeit with their flaws. Jake Barlow is… well, he's an asshole. Also a murderer, but I feel like that's beside the point. Well, I mean, he doesn't have much of a soul, on account of all the murdering, so that probably contributes to his attitude.

That was an issue I had in the first draft. He was supposed to be this indifferent sociopath, but he came off more as just a guy who happened to kill people. I've been trying to fix that this time around.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

What Day Is It? And What Year? Have I Gone Back In Time Again?

You ever stop to think about the time you're living in? How the era you grew up in shaped who you are? And how ridiculous it is that we're now living in the future and everyone has a computer in their pocket and they're using it to look at cat videos and send people pictures of their junk rather than curing cancer or developing a universal translator?

115 years ago, we couldn't get an aircraft off the ground. Less than 50 years ago, we put a guy on the moon and managed to not leave him there. Now we've got robots on Mars. That's impressive, people. Be god damn impressed.

I had a point to all this, though it's gotten away from me because I am constantly amazed that we're living in the god damn future. We take for granted the time that we're living in.

Oh. Right. Time.

That's where I was going.

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?