My Way or the Highway

In ballet, there’s only one way to do an arabesque.

Well, okay, that’s a little misleading. In fact, there are several variants of arabesque – first, second, fifth, etc. etc. And those variants will have different names depending on the school (Vaganova, Chechetti, etc. etc.). But the basic step is the same, and there’s only one way to do it: you lift your leg up behind you with your knee straight, your leg turned out, and your foot pointed. That’s an arabesque.

Writing is not like ballet. There are as many ways to write as there are people who write! Everyone has their method.

So let’s talk outlining. Continue reading

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To Begin at the Beginning

It’s sort of an odd thing, really, that I’m writing a novel. I mean when I’m in the thick of it, when I’m smithing sentences and dancing my fingers across a keyboard (or dragging my hand through the ink till it’s black – ain’t it great to be a lefty?) it seems like the most natural thing in the world…but it wasn’t. Not for me.

The Question

Somewhere in my daily round of procrastination, as I trolled through the blogosphere to avoid doing something more productive, I cam across a post that asked a very simple question.

“What is your first memory of writing?” Continue reading

Keep On Keepin’ On

Today I had a minor setback (also apparently I can’t spell anymore, as the first version of that sentence came out “toady I had a minor stepack”).

I realized that I had written a scene that did nothing to advance the plot forward.

In it, our intrepid Princess was very hungry, thought about food for a while, and then they came across a house and ate dinner and slept and kept travelling.

…I’m not kidding.

Doesn’t that sound boring? It was. There was no conflict! There was nothing important happening! It was not, to borrow a word from my friend Tami Moore, Plotcritical.

My reaction was to have a total panic attack and convince myself that I’d wasted a day of writing and I should delete everything. Continue reading

Because I am Made of Insanity

I am Ridiculously Busy. No, I mean it.

These are the things that I do:

  • Go to school. Take 7 classes.
  • Attempt to not fail those 7 classes.
  • Participate in extracurriculars. I am the chair of a club and an editor for a journal.
  • Nutcracker! That’s 5+ hours of rehearsal every week. Plus additional time dealing with planning the schedule/writing emails/other assorted tasks.
  • Volunteer at a hospital. Incredibly interesting, incredibly rewarding, incredibly time consuming.
  • Teach ballet to little ones. Also rewarding, also time consuming. Plus involves getting up quite early in the morning.
  • Sometimes do other fun things, like take ballet class. Or go to the zoo for my Natural History of the Mammals course (coming soon: a post on the animal that made me cry).

 So those are a lot of things.

Now, I’m not listing them out like this to complain, or even to boast. I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who do this much and more. And if I was really feeling overwhelmed I could drop a few of these things. My intention here is to give you an understanding of how nice and full my schedule is right now, so you can fully appreciate the insanity that is about to happen.

So Many Things! Let’s Add Another

The reaction of any sane person to the above would be to stop adding more things. Of course, I am not a sane person. So what did I go and do? Add bullet point number 8:

  • Write 50,000 words in a month.

Yes, I’m doing NaNo. Or rather, I’m pretending to do Nano.

My Insanity Has Its Limits

Yes, I am crazy. I think we’ve pretty well established that. But I’m not that crazy.

I fully recognize the fact that I am not going to be able to devote as much time and attention to each of these as they need. Unless I never sleep, there simply aren’t enough hours in the day! And unfortunately while I would like to write half a novel in a month, the 60+ pages of essays I have to produce must take priority. (As an aside, if anyone has a great interest in the Neandertal cranium or bone histology or reproductive strategies of Marsupials, let me know).

If you go peek at my NaNo profile, you’ll see that in half a month I’ve written one day’s worth of words (really it’s a little more, as I haven’t counted handwritten pages). I’m not going to get to 50,000. But if I write a little every day, even if it’s just a sentence scribbled in my notebook during the fifteen minutes between classes, I’ll call it a win.

Who’s With Me in the Nuthouse?

We’ve all got our own special brand of crazy. Mine is apparently trying to do EVERY SINGLE THING all at once. What’s yours?

In which I bribe myself with stickers

I’m a little late with this one, sorry.

I’ve been having trouble with Princess lately. That is, I haven’t been writing as much as I wanted to. (Also haven’t been updating, whoops).

The problem isn’t that I don’t enjoy the project, or don’t enjoy writing. I do. I’m thinking that maybe it’s not as good as the Princess I saw in my head, but that’s something I always think, so best just to ignore it and press on.

What is happening is that I’m coming up with lots of fantastic reasons why I don’t have time to write right now. Which is silly, because of course I could make time. Do I really need to reorganize my closet right now? Nope.

So what’s the solution? Bribe myself with stickers.

Every day I write, I get a sticker. When I have 10 stickers, I get a prize. When I have 25 stickers, bigger prize. Then 50, then 75, and so on and so forth. Mostly the prizes consist of allowing myself to buy things I’ve been wanting. At the moment those things are mostly items of clothing, because I really don’t have room to buy lots of books and my TBR pile is out of control anyway. And the other things I want cost far too much to use as prizes.

We’ll see how this goes. It’s a bit juvenile but I think I just need an extra push to get going. Once I’m in the habit of writing every day, it will go easier. I hope.

A Little Bit of Chaos

I am a planner. I like to have everything laid out, decided in advanced, researched to the extreme. Scheduled.  I double check everything. Then I triple check.

But I am also a pantser. Having created my Slow Loris Conservation presentation for class – having planned out what I was going to say for each slide – when it came time to present I ignored my plans completely. I mean, sure, I hit all the same points, in mostly the same order, but it was TOTALLY DIFFERENT from what I had practiced.

When I joined the Saucy Ink group, I dreamed up plots for my story. Once I had one I was happy with, I outlined. Down to almost the very last detail.

Then I started writing. And ignored my outline completely.

I don’t mean “sort-of” ignored, like I still hit the basic plot points but maybe in one place they did something a little different. I mean ignored almost entirely.

Things the original outline had in common with the first draft of the story: A female protagonist. A male protagonist. A plot that needed to be stopped (it was a different plot, though).

A.k.a. not a whole lot.

So what have I learned from these experiences? Well, I know I need to plan. I also know I need to make less detailed plans than my brain thinks I need. Because I know that if I get too detailed, I will deviate. Entirely. And while my novel will probably follow a bit closer to the outline than “The Water-Witch” did, mostly because I feel better about its nascent plot than I did about my story’s, there will be variation. There will be exploration. There will be a little bit of chaos.

And I’m telling you this because….it was a realization integral to my decision to start writing Princess. I have a decent foundation, which I will expand on as I go. Yes, worldbuilding-as-I-go… usually not a good strategy, but for me it works. I come up with my best ideas in the middle of sentences.

It will likely lead to a fair amount of rewriting. That’s okay. I’m fine with it, because that’s actually the way I work best. Get something down on paper, then go and fix it.

I’ve got a slightly-more-detailed-than-basic, scene-by-scene plot outline. I’ve nailed down the magic system. I have a good grasp on some relevant areas of backstory. Now it’s time to write.