Monthly Archives: November 2012

Nailed It! – finishing and feeling awesome about it

While I’m still not really “done” or “finished” (who came up with those concepts anyway?) I did write the ending last night, and I have to say, it felt pretty good. When you get to the end of something and you write that last little piece and final sentence, you get this rush of excitement. If you just want to burst out with the words: “Nailed it!” and then have a mini dance party, you know that you did a good job. I have finished things before and I didn’t get that feeling; that meant that it needed more work. But if you can tie it up and know that the ending wraps up everything that you wanted to accomplish, that it sets the mood you want to end with and makes you feel good about the whole project, you know that the time you spent writing it wasn’t a waste!

So, I’m feeling good!  Another thing that makes me feel good is the grand finale of this book. It’s at least as epic as the final battle in Forsaken Dreamscape, and that’s excellent because I think that was my favorite part of it. I think I also managed to make the ending of Nevermor not so much of a downer as I had thought it would have to be, but yet it leaves things up in the air to make way for the next one.

I’m still hoping to get more of it worked on tonight for the official last day of NaNo, even though I conquered that already. I was hoping to say it was finished by the end of the night, but it will at least be close!

Tomorrow starts a new month: editing month – I mean, December.  It’s also the day for the mug drawing! Most of you US residents have probably already filled out the form, but if not, you have one more day to do it.

Currently at 110.5 and closing in!

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Win NaNo – check!

I got my 50K for NaNo on Monday night. Yayyyyy! Somehow it didn’t feel quite as satisfying as I thought it might…but once I finish the book then I’ll be happy I think, even though I have a long road of edits and rewrites ahead of me. I’m still aiming to finish the book by the end of the week, even if there are a few holes and even if I totally half-ass parts of it, if I can just get that first draft down, I can breathe a sigh of relief.  After that, I may fill in a couple more holes that I left in there, and then I’m going to take a break and read Forsaken Dreamscape again, maybe tweak it a little, and make sure I didn’t contradict myself in any major way. (i don’t think I did, but it will be good to check the events and characters and make sure I didn’t mess anything up.)

During that time, I’m going to let a couple of friends of mine read it as it is – one has been with me on this and she totally supports my ideas for changing it, but at the same time I haven’t actually told her any details about the new book. She only knows what you know, so it should be new to her. The other says that Neverland is her favorite of my works and has been a complete skeptic about the whole name change thing from day one. She also knows nothing about the book. I feel that if I can win her over, I shouldn’t have a problem with anyone else.  I’m hoping to get approval from both of them and some good feedback (and maybe some testimonials for you). If I don’t, I may have more work on my hands than I thought…  I’m determined not to give you guys a pile of garbage.

After all that and spending some time away from Nevermor, it will be serious editing time! Hopefully I can go back to it with new eyes and fix what needs to be fixed.

In addition to all this good news, I’m already cooking up a few ideas for a third book!  I haven’t got much yet, but to know that there is a little bit of an idea there is reassuring.

Maybe I can also get some more writing advice put up.  Even when the writing of the book ends, this blog won’t be halted. I still plan to keep up with it and post on the editing and publishing process, and just whatever else I can pertaining to this project.  Thanks again to all my followers. It is good to have your support!

Now at 105K! Pressing on!

100K!

Milestone! I finally got to 100K! Are we finished? No. But it’s something to celebrate anyway. It’s also my intention to win NaNo today or tomorrow, so that will be another milestone. Then I’ll just have to focus on finishing the book! Even if I beat NaNo early, it’s still my ambition to try and finish the book by the end of the month. So I intend to make a mad dash for the finish if I haven’t already gotten there.

That’s the main thing I have to report. Oh, one more thing. I think I have finally settled on a name for Tiger Lily. I’m going to use it a bit and see how it works out. The name is actually one I was saving for another character in a different book, but one has to do what one has to do. For now, I’m calling her Calico.

Well, I did record a video excerpt, but then began to wonder if that was the section I wanted to present or not, and now I have come down with a cold and sore throat, and I can’t make another right now. >< So I may still release the one I have. Not sure yet.

Only five more days to go! And I have to work through some of them. Can I finish this in time? I’m going to try! It’s exciting to think it might be done soon. I feel like I’ve been working on it for a long time, but really not so long as far as writing a book goes. Though I’m not quite sure I remember anything else that happened during the time I was writing this, but then again that stuff probably doesn’t matter anyway. :p

Whoever says that being a writer is a lonely profession is probably not meant to be a writer. To me, being alone with my work is pretty much the best thing ever.

Your next excerpt might be…a video reading!

This might be kind of fun for me. I’ve been messing with it a little bit lately, and have made a few attempts. I’ve never been big on doing videos but the other day I ran across one on youtube from an author who was reading from a novel he wrote – and he sounded so boring that I couldn’t even tell if the book was interesting or not. It was terrible, and I thought to myself, I can do better than that!

I’ve been wanting to do another excerpt, and this will shake things up a little bit.  I can’t say when it will be ready…but I have already done a few trial runs and I’m splicing one together as we speak, so it could be sooner than I think.

I’m going to write as much as I can today so that I can cover some ground. I’m ready to be done and go ahead with the advanced tweaking! (Who am I kidding. I’ve been ready to be done the whole time I’ve been writing.)  I haven’t gained much but I’m at 97.5K, and maybe I’ll get beyond that today.

Still reaching for that 100!

Was stuck – now unstuck

I got hung up on one chapter for two days. I have been so distracted that I haven’t been able to stay on task long enough to actually write the scene I needed.  After I was finally able to do it, however, it came out to be the size of 2 chapters, so I think I’ll separate them.  It was a battle scene, so that added more to my trouble, but I’m glad to be past it now. Moving on.

I was distracted by playing with the movie maker program and trying to splice together a Nevermor movie to entertain myself. That stuff is addicting. I recommend not doing it, especially if you’re in the process of writing a book that you reallllly need to finish…

I sort of hoped to hit 100K this week…but there’s still time I guess. I think the book will be longer than that, but it’s a milestone anyway. =) I should be able to review a few more chapters before I run into another big hole, but I think the other holes will come nearer to the end, where I can just carry on with the story and FINISH!

Currently @ 96.8K, 44.5 of which are NaNo words. Yayyy! Maybe we’ll have another excerpt or something soon, and only another week til the drawing for the mug!

*Correction* I was wrong about not finding any more holes for a while. I have to write another action scene directly in the next chapter. Crap.

Chapter Trek

A while ago, I said I was going to divide the story up into chapters and work on it that way, but I never did actually do it…until this week.  And wouldn’t you know, it really is helping! It’s letting me concentrate on smaller sections at a time instead of looking at this huge jumbled mess, leaving me trying to find a place to pick up. I was just skipping over things going “I don’t want to write that part. No, no, no…” But now it’s like “Finish this chapter or you don’t get to move on!” It’s working well. Not only am I filling in holes, refreshing myself for the ending and editing a little, but I’m writing enough new words to go beyond my daily word count, so that is good enough for me.

I’ve gone back near the beginning to fill in some holes, and though it might be going just a little bit slower, I’m still getting new words down and seeing the story flow together.  Now, at least, I have an idea of the chapter count. The way it was before, I just had the word Chapter written in between some of the sections and I didn’t have any numbers put down there. Now I can see that I have over 30 chapters, maybe nearer to 40 by the end unless I combine some of them. That’s what we’re looking at right now.

I’m also pleased to announce an amazingly awesome total of 93K so far, and I got to 40K for NaNo. (Yeah, I’ve got this NaNo thing in the bag). But will I have the story finished by then? Forsaken Dreamscape rested at nearly 120K. This one should be nearly that big, I imagine.

Also, I’m giving thought to a book trailer project. It may not be the coolest thing there ever was, but I’m having fun with it so far. The only thing about that kind of stuff is that, since this is something I plan to sell, I have to be careful with the sorts of video and images I use – and that stuff is not cheap. There’s all sorts of rights and things I have to make sure I don’t violate, but because of that, I don’t have enough images to finish the trailer right now… Maybe soon.

But I really should be writing and not fooling with that right now. I can stand to put it off for a bit.  You know, I can’t believe it’s the 20th of November already.  Where has the time gone??

Character Building with Lani

I was asked a pretty good question recently.  How do I build characters? Well, unfortunately it is not an easy question to answer.  I wish I could give you information about this in a straight line, but it’s not as simple as telling you step by step how a character is formed. It’s like everything else about my story building: I couldn’t possibly stop to write down everything I decide as it happens, because sometimes the decisions come so fast into my head that I can’t put to words how it happened. One idea breeds another, I ask rapid questions to myself to narrow down choices and paths a character might take, and then there it is.  This is going to be an attempt at letting you know a few of those things.

I have a friend who often asks me to help her when she thinks up a story idea. She says to me “I have this idea” and then she gives me a very brief description of the plot, tells me she doesn’t have a beginning or an end, and then says “Well, my character is a girl and that’s all I know. Help me.” …she doesn’t get much from me.  I can’t work magic. If that’s all that you have, this post may not help you much. You have to have some kind of starting point.

Pointer 1: Starting

Well, if you have decided to write a story, then you were probably inspired by something, and if you have a story idea, then you probably have an idea of what your character is, even if your current story description is “a girl does (blank)”. So, it’s a girl. You might already know what she looks like. Maybe you have no clue. Both of these are alright. You have to start somewhere, but there is no rule about where the starting place is. Maybe you’ve been inspired by a character that already exists.That’s fine too.

Example: Let’s say I want to write a story that’s kind of like Peter Pan, and I choose for my main character to be like Wendy. I have a base in this case, but she can still be whatever I want, and I have to find her out. I like to think that characters are discovered instead of created.

Pointer 2: Ask yourself A LOT of questions

And I mean, a lot! That’s how I’m so thorough with everything.  If you know absolutely nothing about your character, start with basic questions. Write them down if you want. How old is your character? What sort of world do they live in? What class of society are they?  What might the character’s role in the plot be? Even if you only have a general idea of what the answers are, it will help you narrow down what you want.

Example: My character is Wren (which is a big leap to say that she has a name. I do not always name them first): Since I have been building backward, I already know who my characters are, mostly, but Wren is not Wendy, so I still have to do some building. Let’s make a decision about her.  Because of the plot, I know she is going to Nevermor eventually, but I don’t know what her life is like before that. My question is: what is her life like pre-Nevermor? Well, what best serves my purpose? I review my world rules for Nevermor, which state that going to Nevermor is born from a desire to escape one’s life. So, Wren can’t be happy with her life. So do I want to make her a spoiled, petted girl who is upset because she thinks she’s getting older when she looks at herself in the mirror and soon she won’t be able to find a husband because of her aging? No, let’s give her some real worries. She has no parents. Her life is bad – bad enough that she really wants out – and not just because some annoying suitor is trying to propose. What’s the time period? How might her life be if she is an orphan struggling to keep her family together in London in the 1800s? She lives in an orphanage. She works in a factory where child labor is the norm. She worries about her brothers growing up in this life. What effect will this sort of life have on her personality? She’s not quite so haughty now, is she? It goes on and on. Build build build!

Pointer Three: Become the Character

I believe that some degree of natural talent is important for writing. Not everyone can do it well.  I feel like I have a natural talent for this kind of thing. I have this ability (whether or not it’s healthy) to have these characters living in my head. I can feel what they feel.  I’m going to go out on a limb and say that this is something like actors have when they get into a role. I become my characters, and I think that’s very important for what I do.

I know that some people base their characters on people that they know. They take traits and life experiences from others. I don’t do that. It’s possible that I pick up a tidbit from someone that know, but mostly I draw from myself – but my characters are not me.  I’ve also talked to people who always write about themselves, like every main character they have is them.  I don’t do that either. I’m so boring that I want my characters to be as far from me as possible, but they still have to be close enough that I can understand their motives and feelings. It is okay, however, if you do those things I mentioned. Ever writer is different…but if your main character is always you, won’t all your main characters be the same?

Pointer 4: Do let the events in your story have an effect on your characters.

Let’s say that down the line in your plot, you want to have the character’s house burn down, and they are really upset at that point, but actually in the chapter before, you had the father yell at the daughter about not letting her go away to college, and somehow the house burning is more significant.  She’s free because of it. Maybe she’s happy now! Go with it! So, you changed the character and the story. That’s not a bad thing.  It is good to let characters change. The plot had an impact on them and they became different.

Pointer 5:

One thing I always try to do is give all of my important characters (especially my main character) a personal connection with the storyline, even if they don’t know it. So, the sky is falling, and this one character takes it on herself to warn everyone (as if they can’t tell that the sky is falling, sheesh) But why is this character important? Why should we care that this is the MAIN character? Maybe there is more to her than we see. Maybe we don’t even know that it was something she did that caused the sky to fall! Or maybe you just need a character with her sort of personality to view the story through. Maybe she’s seriously naive.

Example: One of the most useless characters I have read about recently has been Bella Swan (sorry fans). Nothing annoys me worse than a character that is only there to discover the real story. That’s probably why I hated my Wendy the first time, but even Bella is connected to the plot(eh). She has that thing where she can’t have her thoughts read and junk. She does have a connection to the overall story, at the end of the day – though maybe not the end of the first book…

Pointer 6: Know how the character feels about the other characters

This is part of building too. Past issues and baggage have a large bearing on what the character is. Ever tried to write something and you know that two characters are SUPPOSED to get together but you just can’t get them together? That’s because the relationship doesn’t seem believable to you. Or maybe these two characters hate each other but you can’t make them fight? (That stuff comes down to what I said about natural talent. You can’t force two characters to be in love if they aren’t, and a person like me can feel this. I’m not sure that everyone is able to do it this way.

Example: Wren’s feelings about her brothers have a large bearing on actions in the story, though it could be possible that one of them might annoy her so many times that she might give up on him…or maybe she would never do that. I have to go with what I feel because I KNOW her now.

Pointer 7: Know what the character looks like.

At least pick general stuff, like eye and hair color, skin color, body type… If your character has purple hair, then they have purple hair! Who knows, maybe later you can think up a very cool reason for why they do! I’ve said this before, but I find that it really works for me to pick an actor or celebrity to represent my character. Even if you really didn’t mean for them to be that person, it will give you a starting point. It helps you know what they look like and see the small details of their appearance. Just pick someone. You don’t have to know who they are or be a fan. If the first one you pick isn’t working for you, try another. I’ve changed up during stories before. Sometimes a character won’t be going well for me and then I put another face with them and suddenly they come alive! I think picking a character model really helps keep mine rooted so that the character isn’t floating all over the place. If you pick an actor, watch a movie they are in and see their facial expressions, their mannerisms. This helps describe them in the story as you talk about them.

Pointer 8: Name your character (obviously) but don’t fight with names for too long.

It doesn’t matter if you can’t find the perfect name with the absolutely perfect meaning from babynames.com or wherever you hunt. I rarely look there myself. Sometimes I do if I get stumped, but most of my character names come easily, because I just let them stick. Sometimes even a name like Billy Bob can work, even if it’s not the most beautiful, poetic name there ever was. If that is what your gut is telling you, don’t fight it. Maybe it’s an old family name. Maybe the character hates it and that’s part of the story. …in addition to this, I also want to add that spelling names strangely or giving your character a name that can’t be pronounced is just, well, kinda silly. I can’t say I haven’t done it, but if you don’t want to constantly be correcting your fans, stick with something they can read. There is a difference between unique and obnoxious.

Pointer 9: Give your character some quirks.

Sometimes this happens without you having to try. Maybe a character has a habit of pushing up on his glasses, or crossing his arms, or rolling his eyes. See them doing this and sometimes they’ll keep doing it as you think about them more.

Hmmm…I guess those are just a few things that I can think of… If you have any other specific questions, feel free to ask.

Along with some of the serious things I do, there are a few quirky things that help.

DO read your dialogue out loud! Pretend you’re reading to a kid at bedtime and DO use voices! Even if you don’t sound like the character, it’ll help you hear the tone of voice that the character is using and that can help you map out the conversation.

Take a break and listen to music! I have come up with some seriously good ideas for scenes by listening to music. Also, lyrics inspire me. There might be a small snippet of a song that doesn’t even mean how I interpret it, but it will send me off in an entirely new direction.

Here is a big writing secret that I’m sure others have said before, but it’s very true: Make rules for yourself, and then break them. You can’t approach writing like it has an instruction manual. The creative process is all over the place! It happens fast and then it’s there and you don’t know how it got there but then you add and build and then it’s bigger! …so don’t stress and don’t forget that it’s whatever you want it to be, and that you’re doing it because it’s FUN!

I hope you can forgive how jumbled this post was. If you think it’s all over the place, I can only hope you think I’m a super genius who just can’t put all their awesome thoughts in order. 😛