Posts from the ‘Blog Circle’ Category

A Month of Editing

Since March is when we edit at WriYe, the Blog Circle topic relates to that as well.

What’s your plan for editing? What’s the hardest thing for you in the editing process?

Generally, editing is the part of the writing process that I hate the most. I will put it off by doing everything else I can, other than edit. However, it’s also a very important part of the writing process. In recent years, I’ve tried to get better about following through on editing things. I’ve met with mixed success…

Generally, my plan for editing is to begin by reading through the entire piece, fixing the minor things – like typos and the like. I also will make an outline – showing what happened in each chapter, so that I know if there is anything missing or if things seem to occur out of order (which happens more than you’d think is possible).

After that, I read the whole piece again, to see what it reads like as a whole. Then, I send it off to either my sister or my mother, so that they can read through it as well. When they get back to me, I look through their suggestions for edits and follow through with that.

For me, the hardest part of the editing process is actually getting started. Once I begin editing a piece, I can do pretty well getting through it to the end. However, each time I have to start a new step… it’s a chance for me to put it off, in favor of doing something else.

Bonus:

What advice would you give follow writers?

My advice would be: If you are having trouble editing, give yourself a deadline. When I am working to a deadline – even an artificial one that I’ve given myself – I’m more likely to actually start the process. I would also tell other writers not to be too hard on yourself. We’re always our own worst critics. Your story – even the first draft – isn’t nearly as horrible as you think it is.

Where’s the Love?

Blog Circle Post…

Romance

How do you handle romance in your writing? Do you actively avoid it? Do you specialize in it? Is it something that happens but isn’t the focus of the story?

Romance is almost never the focus of any story I might write. However, I don’t actively avoid it either. Instead, it generally happens as a facet of the plot.

That said, I’ve written a few stories in the genre. I always see it as a real challenge to make two characters come together in a natural way. Sometimes, they seem to move far too quickly – going from virtual strangers to love interests within moments of meeting each other. It’s something I’ve struggled with for years and that I’m finally starting to get a handle on.

A big reason for my difficulty with pacing is, I think, simply my inexperience with such relationships in my own life. I’ve never been in a romantic relationship myself. I’ve always been the outsider, watching two people move from friends to something more or, as with many couples I know, well after the parties are established in their love.

Quite probably because of where my personal experience does lie, I find it much easier to write romance between the members of an established couple or to have it as something that occurs in the background, as a natural consequence of the interactions between the characters.

It was when I looked at romance in that manner that I began to be able to write stories in the genre. Now, I am able to write stories where the romance is the focus, but it seems to come about naturally, due to the circumstances in which I’ve placed the characters.

The Coming Year

A New Year, a new Blog Circle question:

What’s your WriYe Word Count goal for 2018? Why did you choose it?   What are your plans for the year? What do you want to accomplish with your writing?

I signed up to write only 225K words for the year. My actual goal is a little higher (227K) because I’m not writing the same amount each month. I chose this goal because, as I did last year, I’m trying to go for quality over quantity. I know that I can write huge amounts of words, but I’d like to split my time between writing and other creative endeavors (crocheting, knitting, drawing, color and world building). I’d also like to get some editing done and I’ve always had trouble counting words for stories that I’m editing.

My plans for this year…

I want to finish my stitch book. I have one more square to knit for it. Then, I want to embroider something small and simple on each square and combine them into a book.

I want to keep up my habit of writing every day.

I want to finish my Marauders Series. It’s definitely in the realm of an Alternate Universe and I’m fine with that. However, there were some things that didn’t fit together from one piece to another and I definitely lost momentum on it. I want to pull out the stories, read them over and edit them. Then, I can finish the last two.

I want edit my NaNo story from last November and get my World Bible all hammered out into something that makes sense and will work as a reference going forward in that world. It’s the result of combining three or four different story universes, so those details will trickle down into editing other pieces as well.

I also want to get Keenan’s story out to my sister and mother, so that they can read it. Of all my stories, that is one I would like to publish, but I know there are things that I’ll need to fix in order to get it ready.

What I hope to accomplish in my writing is progress. I want to finish things that I started last year. I want to build more on the world my sister and I are crafting. I want to edit all the things I’ve written, so that I can show them to people comfortably. I also want to explore my own personal writing voice more in the year to come, which may mean stepping outside the cozy box of spec fic where my stories typically fall.
Bonus:
What are you most looking forward to in 2018?

I think that, in 2018, I’m most looking forward to just really enjoying the craft of writing without the pressure to write huge amounts each day.

2017 In Review

The last Blog Circle question for 2017 (which I couldn’t get posted at the time):

The year is almost over. So, sum up your year of writing. Did you meet your goals? Are you satisfied with how your year went? Let us know!

So, I started last year with five “resolutions”. Some of them related to writing and others related to other things in my life. On my non-writing resolutions… I did reach my reading goal, at least with regards to quantity of books. I’m not sure whether or not I would consider them to be more complex or not. I also drew quite a bit more.

Now… my writing related goals:

I wanted to plan out my stories more. Although I didn’t manage to get my two Marauder WIPs plotted, I did spend a lot more time plotting my longer pieces. It was definitely a great help in getting those stories completed.

I wanted to stop second-guessing myself when it came to story ideas. I think I did great with that! I went out on a limb during November and wrote in a completely new genre. It was a challenge, but I had a lot of fun. I do still need to work on sharing my stories without fear, but I’m taking it one step at time.

The third writing goal was to blog more. I started off well! I was getting at least four posts on each blog most months. Then, I hit November – and NaNo sucked up a lot of time, so I didn’t blog at all. Starting in December I began having trouble getting to my blog to post anything, so I haven’t posted since the end of October. I’m hoping to figure out what is going on with my blogs and start posting to them again.

Overall, I’m fairly satisfied with how the year went. I made real progress on my goals – even if I didn’t complete them. I finished most of the stories I started. I was able to tie several story universes together into one big universe during July Camp NaNo. I’m looking forward to seeing what 2018 will bring.

Write a Novel in a Month?

Blog circle is here once again: This month’s topic: To NaNoWriMo or not to NaNoWriMo? Why or why not?  If you participate, what type of prep do you do before the start? Are you excited for this year?

NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month – is something that I first discovered about twelve years ago.  That first year, I didn’t participate.  However, the next year rolled around and I decided on October 31 that I would do it.  I signed up and never looked back.  I’ve been hooked ever since.

For me, it’s less of a challenge to write.  I’ve reached the point where I write every day (or nearly every day) even when NaNo isn’t going on.  However, the challenge is to focus on a single project for an entire month and finish that project during the month.  I’ve succeeded in that nearly every time (I’ve always reached the word goal, but there was one time when the story wasn’t finished by the end of the month).

Preparing for NaNo is one of those things where it’s very individual.  In my first year, I wrote out my outline on the last day before the event and… just started writing.  In other years, I’ve written detailed outlines, character outlines, world notes, and… just about everything you could imagine.  What I’ve found is that I need some kind of plan, but I can’t plan too much either.

This year, I have a few different short synopses, one pretty lengthy outline and character profiles for the six major characters (including pictures).  I’ve also got a short list of minor characters and settings, along with dares and dialogue prompts.  That’s all the preparation that I feel like I need.  As it is… I’ll probably deviate from my outline pretty soon after the month starts.

Excitement… comes and goes.  Sometimes, I wonder if my story will be worth reading when all is said and done.  However, whenever I start to tell someone about my story, I get excited all over again.  I’m just hoping that I’ll be able to make the story be half as much fun to read as it has been to dream up.

A Waste of Time

The blog circle topic for this month: Procrastination. What is your worst time waster? How long do you allow yourself to procrastinate?

Procrastination is something that I’ve always struggled with.  Sometimes it was my school work or my chores when I was growing up.  When I got older, it was more important things – usually revolving around cleaning, but sometimes my writing would take a backseat to something “more important”.  Sometimes writing was my “time waster”.

My biggest time waster has always been television – with computer games coming second.  I’m not the sort of person who watches “mindless” television either.  No, I get into documentary programs – educational shows where I’m learning things.  That’s part of the problem!  I can’t pull myself away by saying, “This show isn’t as important as that task.”  I’m actually learning something and… learning is just as important.  Isn’t it?  The games I play are just as “bad” – I’m working on my vocabulary or I’m getting better skill with some aspect of my tablet.  If I’m somehow learning, I can excuse the procrastination.

I’d like to say that I procrastinate less now that I’m older.  However, that would be a lie.  The truth is that if given a list of things that need to be done, I still will find something that I “need” to do first.  How long I’ll let myself procrastinate depends on how important the task I’ve been putting off actually is.  When I’m working to a deadline, I’m less likely to give in to a time waster.  That’s part of the reason why NaNoWriMo works so well for me (there’s a clear goal and finite amount of time to achieve it).

What has helped me – more than giving up a time waster – is learning to prioritize.  I started keeping a bullet journal last April.  Now, I start each day with a list of things I need to finish by the end of the day.  Some of those things involve housework, some of them involve creative endeavors (writing 500 words, working on some knitting project).  However, the thing they all have in common is that I’d like to finish them by the end of the day.

Sometimes… I’m not successful.  I’ll end up putting something off until the following day.  However, having the bullet journal makes me more accountable.  I can see the days when I didn’t finish my tasks.  I don’t feel guilty over them, but I work to do better the next day.

 

Bonus:
Try to forego one of your time wasters this month. Did it improve your word count?

I’ll revisit this when the month is out.  I’m working on not watching as much television (I can’t give it up entirely).

Keeping it Brief

It’s that time again: the WriYe Blog Circle!

This month’s topic: In keeping with the theme of August, short stories, what do you like about writing short stories? What don’t you like about writing short stories?  How do you think short stories differ from novels?

 

My favorite thing about short stories – real short stories, not those things that call themselves “short” and then go on for 40k words – is that I can read them in one or two sittings.  For the last several years, I’ve been involved in a reading challenge.  I find that the hardest part, for me, is reading novels – the longer they are, the worse I am.  I just can’t keep my attention on a story for that long.  No matter how much I love the characters, I get distracted and my mind goes elsewhere.  Then, when I finally come back to the book… it’s a struggle to get back into the story again.  I don’t have that probably with reading short stories.

The same is true with my writing.  It’s a struggle for me to keep my attention focused on a single plot for more than a week.  No matter how much I love the characters, I get partway through the task of writing the novel and… I get ideas for other stories that I want to write.  I have to choose: do I hold onto that idea for later or set this one aside to write that now?

What I dislike about writing short stories is… trying to squeeze all the things that I can take a good long time to write in a novel into that small space.  That’s particularly difficult when I’m writing a short story with characters I know, actually.  I tend to skip the introductions and just dive in with the plot. >_< ;;  Sometimes, that can work, particularly in a short story.  However… that’s not always true.  Sometimes, you need a little bit of groundwork.

I also don’t like having to do all the work that goes into writing (world building, character creation, plotting, etc.) and then feel like I’ve barely used any of it.  That results in me writing collections of short stories using the same universe – sometimes the same characters – over and over.

The obvious difference between the two types of stories is length and what you can do in that length.  Novels, because of their length, can let the writer go into more detail about the world and the characters.  There’s also room for subplots in a novel.  The length restrictions on short stories mean there is just one plot and… the writer can’t go off on little tangents.

Bonus:
What is your favorite short story anthology?

It’s really hard to choose a favorite, because… I really enjoy reading in general.  However, the ones that I seem to enjoy the most are anthologies where all the stories are set in the same universe – sometimes, even with the same characters.  To me, it’s the best of both world: I get to really know the characters, but the stories are short enough to read in a single sitting.

It’s a Tradition

It’s Blog Circle Time again!

This month’s topic: Zombies are a July tradition here at Wriye. Do you have a writing tradition of your own? How did it come about?

At first, I wasn’t really sure how to answer this question.  I mean, yeah… the only time I write about zombies is in July.  Just like the only time I think about trying to write a novel in a single month is November.  However, does that make them my own personal writing traditions?  I’m not sure.  Some people would probably say that doing something at the same time each year makes that thing a tradition.

Being the writer I am, I did a bit of research into writing traditions.  It was tougher than you’d think!  Most of the stuff I found was more related to writing about traditions than traditions I have in writing.  One article, though, was just what I needed to get me thinking.

Writing traditions have just as much about the process of writing as they do the topic or the timing of the writing.  One of my biggest writing traditions relates to my personal process.  I turn on music before I start writing.  Sometimes, the music relates to the story.  Other times, it’s just music that I like.  However, music and writing are linked in my mind.  I can’t have one without the other.  It started as a way to help me concentrate on my story.  I could shut out the distractions around me and focus on the music.  Now, often, a particular piece of music will become forever linked to a specific story.  I’ll hear a song and think, “Oh, that’s Illya’s theme!”

Another of my writing traditions is to find artwork to go with my story.  Sometimes, it’s character art.  Sometimes, it’s inspiration for a scene in the story or a location or even some object that appears in the story.  However, all of my stories have pictures associated with them – sometimes files and files of pictures.  It started as a way to help me describe things better.  Now, I can’t seem to write unless I’ve got at least one image handy to look at while I’m writing.

 

Bonus:

Tell us about your favorite non-writing traditions!

I have a lot of traditions that have nothing to do with writing.  Most of them relate, in one way or another to a holiday or special occasion (going out to dinner with my folks on Thanksgiving, getting to pick whatever I want for my birthday, eating munchies all day on Christmas, etc.)  However, one of my favorite traditions has nothing to do with a holiday or special occasion.

Each summer, with the start of barbecue season, my mother would stop cooking all the normal frozen veggies we lived on the rest of the year.  Suddenly, we went from corn, green beans, broccoli and carrots to… cucumbers and tomatoes.  Sometimes, she’d make zucchini and summer squash.  Other times we’d have some kind of salad (garden or cole slaw).  However, living in the Winter Belt, I loved to see the emergence of fresh vegetables that went along with summer.  That’s one tradition that I kept when I moved out on my own.  I’m not great about eating vegetables the rest of the year, but once summer rolls around, I have fresh veggies with each meal.

People… from my head

Blog Circle topic for this month… I wrote and re-wrote this one, trying to get an answer that I was pleased with.

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Characters: How do you come up with your characters? Do you pull from real life and people you know or someplace else? Do you have a hard time with characterization or find it a breeze?

Characters are one of the three things that needs to be present to tell a story (the other two are conflict and setting).  At least, that’s what I was always taught in school.  Any story I can think of has at least one character – even if the reader never learns that character’s name.

So, how do I come up with characters in my own stories?  I usually start with some vague idea of what I’d like to write about.  Then, I’ll look for an image – a face that will fit in with what I’m trying to write about.  That person might be a person I know in real life or it might be an actor.

Once I have an image of the character firmly fixed in my mind, I can begin writing about them.  Characterization seems to come as a natural extension of my writing style.  I don’t have too much trouble filling in the background and history that gives a character life and personality.  I try to make all of my characters only as rich as I need them to be for their role in the story.

A background character might get a name and a face and little else.  The main character will have all the little details filled in – at least for my own use.  However, I never get bogged down with tiny details that never come into the story.  If I think of a detail, it is to build the character or the story.

 

Bonus:

Names: How do you come up with names?

Names seem like the bane of a writer’s existence.  I’ve seen people agonize over finding the perfect name for a character.  I don’t tend to do that.  Names are things that I, generally, just pluck out of the air and attach to characters.  I’ve scanned the phonebook for good names.  I’ve stolen them from people I know in real life.  I’ve stolen them from the covers of books.

I’ve had a few characters that I had trouble naming over the years.  Sometimes, it’s the given name that gives me trouble; other times the surname does.  However, by and large, names are the least of my worries where characters are concerned.

Putting it Out There

This month’s topic: Publishing: Is it something you aim for? Why or why not?

 

Publishing seems to be the goal that most writers have.  They dream of becoming famous authors, of having people worldwide reading their stories.  For some people, that’s the whole point of writing.  If you’ve got no intention of ever publishing, why would you devote all that time and effort to the task?

I’ve thought about this topic a lot over the years.  I could try to get a story published, either through the traditional manner or through self-publishing.  People who have read my stories enjoy them and I’ve been told that some are at least as good as published pieces.

At the same time… that’s not why I write.  I don’t want fame or money.  I don’t have any dreams about having fans across the globe.  I write for my own pleasure, mostly.  I write because it’s something I can share with my sister.  Writing, like crocheting, is my hobby.  If I tried to make a living at it, I think it would suck the fun out of it.

If you publish in the traditional way, or so I’ve heard, you don’t get much control of the final product.  The publisher decides what the cover art will be – based on what will sell the most copies.  They can even decide on the title!  They determine the genre and, if you don’t follow the conventions of that genre, they can “ask” you to change things.

If I go the non-traditional route and self-publish… then, I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me.  I would have to do everything that a publishing house would do.  I would have to get my name out there.  I would have to push copies of my book on bookstores and libraries.  I’d have to try to get people reading it, so that it would be worth my time and effort.

Quite honestly, either route looks like it’s designed to suck all the fun out of one of my favorite hobbies.  So… yeah, I really don’t have big dreams of getting published.  I do wish all the luck to people who want that in life.  I just don’t feel like it’s for me.

 

Bonus:

Which route would you choose, self-publishing or traditional publishing?

 

I have a single book that I finished last year that… I’ve seriously considered publishing, if only so that I can have a print copy of it to share with my mother.  If I did that, I would self-publish it, so that I would keep it under my control.  Then, it would become a print on demand type of book.  I’d get one for myself and my mother and… if a friend asked me for a copy, I’d get one for them.