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?


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


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?