Tag Archives: WIP

Post-Planning

11 Jan

The whole point of planning is to do it before what it is you are undertaking. It’s so all you have to do is follow the path instead of wading through the wilderness. What if I told you, though, there’s also something like post-planning?

You might think I’m mad. And I am, but that’s neither here nor underwear. Personally, I have tried to plot and plan, but my biggest dream of actually plotting most of my novel and writing like the blazes because of it has only happened once. A small thought stepped forward while I was trying to train myself to plot and it occurred to me that writing a first draft IS the plotting. You write it and afterwards you make a lay-out of your scenes and character growth and all that. It makes it easier to check your work and then make any necessary changes. Basically it makes you an edit-plotter, though I’m sure there’s a cooler name for it. Hang on, I’ll think of one.

This means that really there are no wing-it writers, there are just different ways of plotting. What ever works for one writer, will not work for the other. I mean, think about it, our characters are so different from each other. Doesn’t it make sense that humans are are also very different from each other?

DEATH DRAGON WRITER. Yes, that’s the cooler the name. Spread the word. You’re writers, you’ll be good at that.

 

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Love Is In The Air

26 May

A good love story is not that hard to find. An original love story, well, that’s a whole other story. Pun intended but really not that funny, I’m sorry.

All my stories contain a love story even if they are not the centre of my character-driven novels. Usually the main plot contains some sort of mystery, preferably one involving the involuntary death of a character. Or, like in my current WIP, the finding of one’s place as an unusual person in a world that promotes The Normal.

I’m a romantic at heart and the characters that visit my mind are interesting and fun, so of course characters are going to fall in love. How could I stop them, even if I wanted to? So yes, love. And since I’m a romantic, it would have to be romantic, wouldn’t it? Preferably even beautiful. This seems a tall order since love is a theme that will never bleed out. The key, like with any topic, is to keep it fresh and original. Like all my novels, I want this part to also be special. Again, tall order, I know. It’s really hard to that, even if you’ve read a lot, watched a lot, KNOW a lot about what is out there.

My latest WIP for instance, has a couple that you root for. Two characters that you feel  should be together. That’s already a triumph. There’s also enough tension and cute moments, as well as enough obstacles that mess with their happiness. Also good. But the ending is the cherry on top. The moment where all the swirls of different colours create the rainbow. Of course they will get a happy ending, but what kind? A kiss in the rain? Done before. A kiss on a dragon while the world around them is on fire? Not done before, but my story is magical realism, not fantasy. (Although maybe that has also been done before…I haven’t read that much fantasy. If it hasn’t been done before and you write fantasy, DO IT.)

The ending is the part I struggle the most with and to be honest, it’s why I had trouble getting back to writing. I put too much pressure to have a perfect, original ending for them. I decided to do what one always does when wanting to finish a story. I WROTE. Characters usually know what to do, they know themselves better than I do sometimes and I have to trust them. I just watch them and write it down. If I’m not happy with it afterwards, I’ll edit that one scene, but at least I’ll have something to edit. Also, it doesn’t hurt that in the meantime I can brainstorm, which really is like a storm when I do it. Chairs flying around and everything. This is why I work with snacks.

There will always be snacks.

Resolutions

3 Jan

The end of every year is always the beginning of a new one. For many people that means they dust off those old resolutions, or produce new ones.

Personally I don’t really feel for resolutions. I promise myself things throughout the year depending on what happens. For instance, I still haven’t gotten around to finishing all my drafts. Some are more finished than others, but the wish still stands. Moving into my apartment kind of threw a wrench into it, so the first ‘resolution’ is to finish my office. I still need a desk, desk chair and desk lamp. Other than that, I’m all set.

Next is of course finishing all my drafts and starting a new WIP. I also plan on querying my magical realism novel. I’m also getting extra ninja readers to reread my earlier drafts to see if there is some major remodelling to be done. The longer it has been since you’ve last read it, the better to spot the improvements.

After not having written in what feels like forever, these will be fun. So, what will yours be?

 

Loose Ends

30 Jul

So many stories, so little time. There is just so much to write and most of the time I get so wrapped up in a new story that I dive straight into that one, sometimes ‘forgetting’ older ones. Mind you, these are novels that I never intended to query so I’m less time-pressured to finish those. However, it still bugs me that there are projects not neatly tied up with shiny ribbons. Still, you can’t fight inspiration. You may have a plan to finally finish that pesky WIP, but then the muse pulls you away and shoves you into another world, one that you can’t get out of until you write THE END. It happens.

After I finished a few WIPs that I was passionate about, my head was clear enough to revisit the first ever novel I started writing and in my head it was probably not that good because it was urban fantasy and I figured by now it really wasn’t that popular any more. I mean, everybody writes about witches and demons, right? So what was the point? But it was still a special story to me, because you always remember your first. I pretty much did what writers ‘simply’ do. I sat down and wrote. I pretty much forced myself to finish this. And I did. It felt difficult because I had to force myself and therefore I believed it to be rushed and crap, but after rereading this story about a year and a half later I was actually impressed. It flowed perfectly and even though I started writing it years ago my writing itself was good. Really, firsts are always special and that shows. Even if it didn’t feel like I poured my heart into it in the end, I had done so before and secretly I was still doing it even if my head thought it wasn’t the case.

So now I’ve tied up a loose end and it feels glorious. I’ve brought out the flying monkeys, cheesecake and fireworks to celebrate. My neighbours don’t appreciate that so much, but hey, writers are weird. There is still one more story left to truly finish, but I’m beginning to realise that loose ends aren’t so bad. Sometimes it’s a sign that something better is right there on your keyboard, lingering until you start typing. Sometimes it’s also a sign that you’re growing as a writer. And you know, some stories are simply fun to work on and never finish. They’re your stories. You decide what to do with them.

Hand check mark the list

The Dark Cloud

11 Apr

As you all know I’m a wing-it writer. Even if a completely plotted novel smacked me in the face, I’d still be a wing-it writer, probably. I’m happy with it most moments, but there are also times when I dislike it so much that it makes my left eyebrow move up ever so slightly. That’s right, that’s how bad it is.

You see, there comes a time when The Dark Cloud appears. He is very annoying and always hangs around for at least a few days. At most a few weeks. Why? Because you’ve almost reached the end. This is the part where you actually have to figure out the ending. I know, frustrating when you go with the flow, along with your characters. So this is the part where you get a bit stuck and each time you sit down, nothing comes out. You start to browse the internet and before you know it you’ve wasted an entire day. Worst of all, you feel bad about it. You want to write. You want to finish your first draft. And you refuse to accept that this is writer’s block. And it’s not. It’s pre-writer’s block. It’s The Dark Cloud.

The thing is, there are ways of getting your creative juices flowing. There are ways to just suck it up and write. And there are certainly ways to conquer this evil cloud. First of all, brainstorming. Don’t do it sitting down because apparently walking is really good when it comes to luring out the muse. And then of course, there is the simple Sit Down. This means you set a timer for a brief period of time. (It can even be six minutes!) And just write. Try not to stop. If it’s easier, try not to think too much. Just write. You don’t have to do this for your WIP, but you can do it for a short story or a writing prompt, anything like that. You don’t have to train your writing muscles by working on your manuscript, it can be anything. The important thing is that you keep training them. Who knows? It might spark ideas for your WIP, or it might make you want to work on it, regardless of ideas. Either way, it will get you writing.

And that’s the only thing strong enough to drive away The Dark Cloud: writing. Yeah, and maybe I should really try that whole plotting thing…

Moving On

7 Aug

Most people don’t like unfinished business. I don’t like unfinished business. Especially unfinished stories. *glares at pile of works in progress* Even though tenacity is something to be admired, there is most likely a reason why you are dragging your fingers over the keyboard.

In my case, I stopped writing this character-driven fantasy story (right around the climax) because I started my Creative Writing Master, so I was dipped into the world of other stories that I had to write. (We were taught/forced to write Literary Fiction, so I had to abandon my fantasy story. *insert grumbling*)

In any case, that break kind of sucked the passion out of the pages for me. There is such a thing as getting out of touch with your own story. Mix that with me not reading any fantasy stories as of late, and that probably launched me write out of the Writing Zone for this particular WIP.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, I mean, I wrote the story I’m currently seeking an agent for (and heard good things from agents so far even though I didn’t fit their client list) so YAY! Also, that story is much more ME and this one isn’t. Which is another reason for me to drag my sorry fingers over the keyboard when it comes to this unfinished WIP. Yes, I wrote it and it’s a fun read (what I have so far) but it doesn’t scream ME. Once you have a story that is uniquely you and has your essence seeping through every page, you’ll know what I mean. It makes you feel far more proud and makes other non-you stories seem bland.

It’s also possible, that some stories are simply not ready. This may sound weird (especially to non-writers) but it can happen. Some stories need to grow in the back of your imagination while your life goes on. They need to simmer until they are well-done and ready to be eaten…err, I mean, written down. Your subconscious knows a lot more than you’d think and it needs to connect the dots before your conscious is ready to take the pen to hand.

With some projects it also simply means that you, as a writer, aren’t ready yet. You know the potential of your story idea and realise that you need to sharpen your ninja writing skills so that they match the level of your story. And don’t worry, they will.

It’s okay to move on from a WIP if the wheels simply won’t turn anymore. It’s not shameful, nobody will come after you with a red F (which stands for FAILURE) to paste on your forehead. Sometimes better stories await you.  Just don’t wait too long to drag the words out of your fingers. It can be a waste of time. Remember, there are plenty of other characters knocking at your door. Don’t keep them waiting too long or they might find someone else to share their stories with.

Sometimes, like picking your battles, you have to pick your stories.

books

Unfinished Business

30 Jun

 

Nobody likes unfinished business. Not in stories, but also not with stories. By that I mean, projects that you’ve started on, but haven’t finished. It happens, you get distracted by a shiny new project, or maybe you just get stuck and give up, it doesn’t matter and there’s nothing bad about it, except that there is always this room in your imagination where the characters linger, waiting, stuck. Your characters deserve to have their (un)happy ending, you think, and every time you finish a project you promise you’ll get started on it, but then you kind of forget. Once again your characters gather dust as they look out of their window, envious of all the other characters who’ve had their ending and don’t have to stay in their room anymore.

I have written down all those unfinished projects, there weren’t that many, and am determined to finish them during the summer. Or this year. Since it will be a busy year, it’s quite possible that in reality, it will be next year, but hey, it’s the thought that counts. Tomorrow I’ll start one of those projects, even though there is another one that is so close to being finished, but I just can’t get myself in the same room with the characters no matter how hard I try. I’m not sure why, maybe it’s been too long since I put that story on hold, but either way, this other story has taken over my brain, so before I get out of touch with that one as well, I’m attacking the hell out of it in the next four weeks.

Do you have any such projects? How are you dealing with it?

I believe you can get out of touch with your story, but I also believe that by rereading it and then continuing, you can get back in touch with it. Stories never truly leave you, not even once they’re finished, so I believe you can finish any project that you want finished. It’s just a matter of putting war paint on your face and occasionally yelling in an aggressive manner. But hey, that makes it sound easy…ask me again in a year.

Or two.

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