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So I lied…


I sincerely thought I was done with book one in this series. It was novella-length, and the others in the series were supposed to be as well. I had a plan, the first installment felt finished, the next four were outlined (kind of, my outlines are more like brain-storming notations), I had started book two….

And now I’m nearly doubling the word count for book one, and the others are shaping up to be between 40,000-50,000 words as well.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited about where the series is heading. I’m in love with the storyline (always a plus when you have to read it over and over again during revisions and editing). I like the new chapters and scenes being added; I feel they really add to the story, the character development, and aid in building relationships between the characters (both primary and secondary).

So this IS a good thing. It’s just also an exhausting thing. There’s that childish part of my brain screaming, “I ALREADY DID IT THOUGH!” I guess it’s lucky that part of me can be quieted with candy. Or maybe that’s a bad thing… haven’t decided yet.

Most writers I’ve heard of have to cut things out during revision. I’m doubling the word count. Go figure. I’m not sure whether or not to be jealous of those who wind up having to shave 5000 words off their work.

I can’t be the only one this kind of thing happens to though, can I? Surely there are other writers who end up turning a shorter story into an epic novel or series? I’m not entirely alone, right?

Either way – wish me luck! 🙂

 
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Posted by on May 16, 2013 in Writing

 

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On the Brighter Side of Life…


Not everything that’s happened in the last year has been disheartening. I did finish the rough draft for book one in the series I’m currently working on, and I’m about 5000 words into book two!  🙂

That’s pretty exciting stuff for me. I plan to write the first four novella-length (25,000 – 30,000 or so words per installment) books before publishing any of them. I know that’s not a common strategy, but I wanted to make sure I can keep the style and voice consistent throughout the series, tweaking all the books as necessary in order to accomplish what I’m hoping to do. And I want to publish every three books together, compiling them into volumes of 3 at a time as well as publishing them individually, each with a preview of the first 1-2 chapters of the next book. Hence the reason I want to finish four of these bad boys before moving forward with the indie publishing process.

I have no idea how many books will eventually be within the series, but I’m enjoying not seeing the end of it yet. This story is playing in my imagination like a T.V. series, rather than as a movie, with story arcs and character possibilities that span 1 book, many books, or even the entire lot. I can’t see the finale yet, but then I usually don’t until my writing is near the end of the story.

Of course now I’m running into the issue of how to categorize what I’m writing/revising. There are so many genres and subgenres that are so similar now. Gone are the days when horror was simply horror and romance was simply romance. This one has vampires, werecreatures, witches, etc. in it, but no romance (so far) though the possibility may organically grow between various characters. And some of the descriptions could be considered frightening, depending on what you personally find scary. So is it paranormal? Supernatural thriller/adventure/horror? Dark fantasy? Urban fantasy? Some combination of the above? How do I describe it in terms of genre? That’s the stage I’m currently at.

Genres and categories for so many books criss-cross some pretty blurred lines. I can’t be the only one who struggles with trying to figure out what genre/category to label my writing, can I?

 
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Posted by on May 12, 2013 in Writing

 

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Six Sentence Sunday


So, I’m on Twitter this morning and I keep seeing all these #sixsunday and “six sentence Sunday” tweets popping up on the screen.

I’ll never be able to keep up with all the trends and what-not.

BUT, assuming I understand the concept, it sounds like an interesting little thing to participate in (if only for this one Sunday).  With that in mind, I’ve decided to post six sentences from the rough draft I am currently working on.

It’s unrevised, unedited, quite raw — who knows what this little passage will look like in the final draft.  Still, whether it’s a good idea or a bad idea, here it goes…

“Leave now or die horribly,” said one of the vampires.

“Are you always this dramatic?” I rolled my eyes. “Back off and I won’t have to kill you.”

I was downwind. Their echoing laughter served as evidence they couldn’t tell yet what I was.The man who had been pinning the frightened girl against the brick wall let her go.

So, if you DO know what “six sentence Sunday” is, and you DO participate (semi) regularly… did I even do this right?

 
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Posted by on December 11, 2011 in All, Writing, Writing Samples - free

 

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Pen Names… For? Against? Don’t Care?


Yesterday, I stumbled across an interesting blog post/article, written by a thriller author, who chose to go with a pen name, at the behest of her publisher.

I can’t say I agree with all of her/their reasons, but hey – it was ultimately her choice, and she picked a name she felt she could live with.

The article itself wasn’t what inspired me to make a blog post of my own though.  It was the comments that got me thinking.  Some of them were really harsh.  Some berated her for not sticking it to her publisher and refusing to change her name.  Some mocked her pen name choice, or her reason.  At least one even flat-out refused to read anything by her, because she had “sold out” by choosing a pen name.

I had no idea it was such a big deal to some people, or that one could be viewed as potentially weak for choosing to write under a name they weren’t actually born with.

Writers have all different reasons for choosing a pen name: so they won’t be confused with other writers or popular characters, so they can fit their name to their audience, book shelf placement, because their birth name is ridiculously hard to pronounce, because they’re writing both romance and horror but don’t want the audience to be confused or turned off, etc.

In the case of the author who wrote the article I’m referencing here, they felt her name wasn’t suitable to the genre she was writing in.  Basically, the main concern was that no one would want to read a thriller with “Alison Potter” on the book cover.

Personally, I don’t care what an author’s name is.  I’ll admit that I, like most, may make a purchasing decision based on the cover (though, the blurb on the back or online description is what does or does not sell it for me).  But, the author’s name has honestly never made a difference to me.  I’ve never said to myself, “Well, no one named Wendy Harper is capable of writing a good horror novel, so there’s just no way I’m going to pick that book up!”  And, I’ve never known anyone else who cared about that either.  I don’t even care if it’s chick-lit written by Frederick Humperdink.  What’s the blurb say?  What impression does the cover give me?

As I’m sure you’ve guessed, A. W. Omyn isn’t the name on my birth certificate.  So, why did I choose it?  Well, honestly, because I’m a bit of a smartass.  I’d love to say there’s some better, more serious, ethical, career-deciding, etc. reason for it.  But, in the end, it just boils down to my being a smartass.

I know that there are female authors who choose to go with initials, rather than their full name (whether of their own accord, or due to the advice of an agent/publisher/marketing consultant), in order to essentially hide their gender from the audience (at least until after the reader has read the book, or the author has gained a certain level of notoriety).

So, I thought it was funny to make a name with initials that not only does not hide my gender, but blatantly tells you exactly what it is.

Why did I choose to go with a ‘y’ instead of an ‘a’?  Is it some grand-standing political statement against the word “man” being within the title of my gender association?  Am I trying to push for the word “woman” to be changed to “womyn”?  Nope.  I just have a thing for ‘y’s in female names.  I think they make the name a bit more feminine and unique, generally speaking.

Thoughts on pen names?  Is there a bad reason to choose a pen name?  Is there a good reason to choose one?  Are you upset by authors who choose to go with a pen name?  Would the name on a book cover influence your decision to purchase, or read, a particular book?

 
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Posted by on December 9, 2011 in All, Publishing, Writing

 

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From the Imagination to the Page: Character Creation


I recently read a blog post, on character lists, that got me thinking about how I (and other writers/aspiring writers) create and develop fictional characters.

If you’ve never seen a “character list”, it’s basically just a run-down of various traits, generally reserved for the main (and repeating secondary) characters in your story.  These sheets usually have everything from a particular character’s motivation, to the color of their underwear.

I’ve read the advice in favor of character lists.  So, I tried my hand at throwing a few together.  Epic failure on my part.  There was no way!  Maybe after I wrote the book and had a better understanding of the character, but no way before hand.

So, what happened?  I had the pleasure of feeling bad about my inability to determine what my protagonist most enjoys for breakfast, prior to beginning my rough draft.

But then I took a chill-pill (cotton candy flavored).  I reminded myself that no one method is the right method for every single writer on the planet.  And I realized that, for me personally, I don’t really know my characters until they pop out of my head and onto the page/screen.

Oh, I may think I know a particular character.  But, I’m usually wrong about that.  Everything I outline ahead of time, or am inspired to write about, or think about a particular character — all of it — is subject to change, as I pump out that first draft.

I suppose it’s a bit like being possessed or insane.  Yes, I hear voices (no, I don’t need medication thank you very much!).  The voices of my characters speak through me.  I actually hear them in my head as I tell a story from their perspective, or type out their dialogue.  I’ll get into a character, very much like an actor must have to, in order to play said character in a believable way.  Perhaps there is a certain level of insanity in any artist, of any medium.  But, it’s the kind of insanity that’s fun at parties, so I’m cool with it.

But, I can’t get into that character until I start writing him/her.  So, I never know, until after I’ve already started writing it all down (poorly or otherwise), exactly who a character is.  I need to hear them first, meet them, get to know them, be intimate with them (don’t make everything sound so dirty – that’s not what I meant)…. Until I start writing them, who knows if they even wear underwear, let alone what color it is!

Besides, people are complicated creatures.  There are so many different facets of our personalities, how do you summarize who someone is on a single sheet of paper?  Sure, I could tell you what my favorite color is… today. But, tomorrow, perhaps my mood will have shifted my favor in that department. My reactions, my motivation, my priorities could all change dramatically, based on my situation at the time.

If I want my characters to be believable, I have to assume they’re at least as complex as I am!  Maybe the antagonist starts with a particular motive in mind, and maybe that changes later on in the story.  What do you do with your character sheet now? Perhaps my protagonist will start off sunny, cheerful, and stuffed with grape-flavored bunny farts, then become pissed off enough to start cursing, hate everyone, and open a can of whoop-ass! What?  I’ve had those days.

So… character lists… are they worth the paper they’re printed on? Do they work for some writers?  I’m sure they do.  Like I said, no one method is the right method for every writer on the planet.

I can see the appeal of keeping an on-going, ever-changing sheet of character traits.  You know – something to keep track of what you’ve already written down about the character(s), just so you can remain consistent with certain things, for sequels and what-not.  Heck – I may even do that myself.  I haven’t yet, but I might.

But, do you really need to know every single detail about your character(s), before you’ve really met them?  I don’t know, to me that sounds a bit boring, honestly.  I don’t want to know everything about a person before I’ve met them.  And, I don’t want to know everything about a character before I start writing about them.  I rather enjoy the process of allowing them to speak through me.

What are your thoughts on the subject?  Have you tried character creation lists?  Did they work for you?  Did they maybe give you something to work with, even if everything on the list was subject to change as you wrote?  How do you handle creating your characters?

 
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Posted by on December 8, 2011 in All, Writing

 

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Pantser… Plotter… What am I and What are You?


Poking about online, I found a post by another writer who mentioned that she was a “plotter”, not a “pantser”.  My initial reaction was to laugh, because being a “pantser” just sounds funny.  But, then, I found myself compelled to google these terms because, in context, I understood that they had something to do with writing style and I was curious as to which category I fell into.  I understood the basic premise of each, but didn’t have a clear definition in mind for either term.

I found this article (clicky), for anyone who is also wondering what these terms mean in the writing world.

Upon reading the article, I discovered that I am mostly a pantser (which is great, because it sounds a lot more fun than being a “plotter”, which kind of sounds villainous… hey, that could be fun too, come to think of it).  And, let me tell ya – there are plenty of times where I would love to pants those pesky, uncooperative characters… then run away giggling diabolically.

Plotting does sound like the “smarter” way to go.  Revisions would be easier I think, for one thing.  And, most of the advice you’ll hear as a writer, in my experience, tends to revolve around the idea of doing more plotting.

Unfortunately, that’s just not going to work for me.  I’ve tried it!  I’ll try to outline a project, only to find that I keep changing the outline, keep changing the work as I’m doing it, and find myself hampered more than helped by the process.  Writing the book, at that point, does become less enjoyable and more restrictive to the flow of creativity, for me personally (as was pointed out in the article linked above, as one potential con to plotting).

I’ve found that I work best by grabbing my notebook and filling each “subject” divided section with messy, hastily blurted out brain-stormey type notes on the idea I have in mind.  I may do some basic, preliminary, always changing, outlining.  I usually write a number of possible opening paragraphs.  I’ll ask myself open-ended questions on those pages.  I’ll often write out a few quotes that come to mind and that I think would work well somewhere within the project.  And, I’ll throw down important character information, as it comes to me.

I suppose some of that would fall into the category of plotting.  But, I don’t do character interviews or fill out concrete, detailed outlines or the like.  It’s never worked for me – all the times I’ve given that method a shot.

For me, the story doesn’t come alive until I start writing it down; the characters don’t feel real until I start writing about them, or from their perspective, or start writing their dialogue; the subplots don’t even come to mind half the time until I let the story start flowing of it’s own accord.  For me, it’s as though I can’t write the story, if I already know all the details.  Most of the time, that makes the process a lot of fun.  Sometimes, it’s very frustrating not to know what I’m going to write until I start writing it.

All that said, I also can’t let a rough draft sit unedited until the end.  If, while pantsing out my story, I decide to change something, or some sub plot comes to mind that would need to have been set up prior – I can’t just keep writing without going all the way back to the beginning and revising all the way back down to where I was, in order to get the logic and flow at least somewhat “right”.  I can’t just let sleeping dogs lie and come back to revise the entire thing later.

I’m sure that slows down my writing process.  But, call it an OCD thing, I will stay up ALL night obsessing, if I don’t go back to the beginning and revise the entire thing, even though I’m almost done, if I’ve changed or added even one little detail.

Now, were I writing nonfiction, I don’t think pantsing would work at all.  I would have to do the plotting thing, or give up on writing nonfiction.  But, maybe it DOES work for some nonfiction writers.  I don’t really know.

So, which are you – the pranky pantser or the precision plotter or somewhere closer to the middle perhaps?  Is either method a “better” way to write, in your opinion?  Whichever one you are, what are the pros and cons you’ve noticed, if any, with your particular method?

 
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Posted by on September 19, 2011 in All, Writing

 

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Scheduling Creativity


Many will tell you to create a schedule for your writing.  It’s a solid plan.  You could well end up writing a chapter (or more) per day.  But, what if it just isn’t flowing?

How do you go with the flow of creativity – yet, confine it to a schedule?  This is the part I seem to struggle with most.

I’ve decided to set a word goal for each night.  It sounded like a good idea at the time.  Now, I keep getting stuck, though I appear to be doing better today actually.  I also keep looking at the word count, which is terrible of me.

Part of me says, “Yes, a schedule.  Something to keep me on track – this is good.”  Part of me says, “Just go with the flow man, don’t put restraints on your muse.”  Yes, apparently part of me is a hippie.

Setting a minimum word count goal really is a good idea.  If I could more effectively quiet my inner flower child – the idea would be gold.  And, not making it a point to at least write SOMETHING every single day (or, night in my case, most of the time), is just counter-productive to keeping the creativity flowing.  This one I know, from unfortunate personal experience, is certainly true for me.

Maybe that’s my solution(Seriously – it just came to me – I did not plan this little “Eureka!” moment.)  Maybe, instead of setting a specific word count each night, I should simply make it a point to write something – anything, regardless of how many words it may or may not be – every night.

Sure, some nights I would end up writing a grand total of 50 roughly thrown together words.  But, other nights I could wind up getting that muse to chatter at top speed, spitting out 5000 words in a few hours (I’ve done that before too).

Most importantly, I could very well stop checking the word count every couple hundred words.  I wish I could just make that particular feature invisible, until I was completely done with each draft.

I would love to know if other writers deal with this same quandary (if you don’t, I admire your discipline) and, as I’m sure I’m not the only one, how they schedule (or not) their writing.

 
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Posted by on September 16, 2011 in All, Writing

 

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