A step into the past

Revealing character insights is a very complicated business.

I come to a “flashback”-style moment in my book, I don’t know if I want it. Is there a better way to integrate that information? Can I make it more seamless? Or is it fine to just have the main character narrate their reminiscing? I don’t know, because I’m too close to it, I don’t have an objective opinion when I’m so deep into editing. No one else will know the answer without reading the story, but I don’t want to give it to my betas yet. It’s not ready for that read-through.

I already know that a very clever author will provide insights like the one I am debating, in a way that doesn’t disrupt the momentum of the scene. Does this flashback take too long? Does it disrupt the flow? I can’t figure it out. It seems to sit well enough, and it’s not totally unique in its delivery.

The degree and speed of which I wish to divulge information is one of those tricky things. I don’t want to dump all the character’s knowledge and feelings at the beginning of the book; there are more natural, poignant moments to reveal certain elements. But I also don’t want to take too long to establish the early motives of these characters. I don’t want it to be one of those books that someone else reads, wondering, “Why would these people do this?”. I’ve experienced that with other people’s stories, and I know I want to avoid it in mine.

I can try re-writing, or I can carry on. This won’t be the only edit the story sees, so it isn’t completely essential to figure it out right now. But it gets me all tangled.

~A

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Crochet to the left!

Crochet to the right! I’ve been a busy little stitcher! And finally, a collection of projects has been completed, so now I can share photos of the crocheting that has kept me sane in between the madness of editing. Go ahead and click any of the images for a larger view!

First, is a really super snuggly knee rug or baby blanket. The green yarn is very soft, bulky and fuzzy. This was made with a v-stitch, then just single crochet for the border in a lovely variegated blue yarn.

The next knee rug or baby blanket is made from pale and dark blue bamboo/cotton blended yarn, with a segment of grey yarn for contrast. It is SO soft and has a really nice weight to it. This is just a standard granny square pattern, repeated until I was out of the bamboo yarn.

Carrot baby set! This baby beanie was requested by a friend, made with cute little curly carrot leaves. I whipped up the little carroty shaped bib to go with it, because the idea was just too cute!

And lastly, for now, is the most ridiculously adorable thing I’ve ever made: a flopsie-eared bunny beanie. The pink yarn is very soft, with little glittery bits through it. I really love the brown and cream yarn. Honestly, brown is such a great colour for baby things, especially as it goes really well with bright, rainbow colours.

With these four pieces finished, I still have a whole pile of other crocheting to get through. Good thing it’s a great activity to keep my hands busy while I’m trying to puzzle through my writing – any time I get a bit stuck at the moment, I just pick up the crochet and work on it until I’ve thought through my problem. Awesome!

~A

While everyone else is busy writing

It’s NaNoWriMo time, after all, and most of my writerly friends are charging ahead with their writing abandon. You’re all doing so great, too! I can’t wait to hear about your progress throughout the month.

I piked on NaNo this year; I’ve been way too caught up editing TDM, and since the original deadline I set myself was to have a solid second edit finished by late November, I decided it was time to get down to business.

Cue InSecDraMo! Barb Riley of Written Not With Ink blogged about her November plans, coining InSecDraMo, or Individual Second Draft Month.

I already had my blog post all written out for today, too, but Barb inspired me. It’s pretty exciting to see others hitting the second draft with me this month, so I figured I should spread the word. As I commented on her blog, I have been trying very hard to edit in proper order, start to finish, but it’s just not happening. Every day, I start reading from a chapter earlier, to make sure the edits flow on correctly. Every few scenes, I cross-reference something earlier in the story. This is a really intensive edit, but I am loving it.

Something interesting I noted: I’m also adding a huge amount of words. Normally, my edits cut, cut, cut. Sure, I’m doing plenty of that still, but I am writing a phenomenal amount on top of those cuts. I think it has a lot to do with how ridiculously fast I churned out the first draft of TDM. It just flew out of me in five short weeks, and now that I’m into a complicated edit, I’m adding in all the delicious, necessary details that fill in for the reader what my brain already knew during drafting. So far, I’ve bumped the word count by 1,000 words per chapter. Wow.

All this talk of editing is getting me super excited to get back into it! That has to be a good sign. Honestly, I love this story so much, I can’t even tell you.

Good luck to all NaNo-ers, and especially to my fellow InSecDraMo-ers, too!

~A

Happy Halloween and other things!

As it’s my annual two day super celebration, this is a short (and late) update! With the collective of Halloween, Beltaine, and my wedding anniversary falling on October 31st and November 1st for us, it’s a wonderful two days in our household!

I did want to share that my editing of TDM has been going AWESOMELY. I am so proud of where this story is going, and how much progress I’m making. It’s hard to measure; I cut words, I write more, I edit a whole chapter, then edit three preceding it. Whatever works – and it sure is working.

To tide you over until the next update, here’s a timely comic from xkcd:

xkcd: Alternative Literatue

May you all have a wonderful Halloween, and depending on your hemisphere, a blessed Beltaine or Samhain.

~A

Is this what we’re doing now?

You don’t have to say a thing. I already know.

I’ve skipped out on continuing one story in favour of hitting the eight-novella series again. The characters crept back into my head with some astounding clarity today. There were things that I hadn’t gotten right during draft one which I am confident I can fix and keep fixed through the series now.

I also got to have a very complicated discussion with the husband about magic theory. Scientific-based magic is a sneaky business. When the magic in my universe is just that much closer to known physics, I have to be even more aware of all the places I am intentionally stretching reality to fit in my brand of fiction. As I work through the theories, I bounce confirmations off the husband and get his input on the likelihood of one thing affecting another, or the limitations that must be in place.

One of the things that came up during this was the X-Men character, Magneto. The X-Men series is one of those things that has so much intense depth, I can’t even begin to do it justice by a few lines of explanation, but suffice to say, someone with the powers Magneto is given shouldn’t have any actual restrictions. He should pretty much be able to do anything, with no contest from the other mutants in that universe (besides the ones intentionally made even more undefeatable).

All magic requires limits, but certain powers need author-imposed restrictions that keep the character from being able to just do their thing and overcome the challenges with no effort, growth or progression. These are the most difficult scenarios for me, because they still need to live in that realm of believability that I am already applying to my magic theory. They also have to be hidden restrictions, things that don’t jump out at the reader as something I have used as a character-roadblock.

So with all this fresh and burning in my mind, I’ll be getting back to the first major edit of TDM. Then, should everything go well, I’ll charge straight on into finishing the first draft of SL. Yeah!

~A

Sagittarius

Whether or not you believe in the traits of the Zodiac, sometimes the descriptions are far too apt and entertaining. I’ve been a big fan of the Zodiac for as long as I’ve known about it. Be it the Western Zodiac, Chinese Zodiac, Native American Zodiac, or any other cultural Astrology belief, I think there’s some wisdom to be taken from all of them.

From a Zodiac page on Avia Venefica’s awesome symbology website, What’s Your Sign, we have this little description of the Sagittarius:

Sagittarius – The Centaur
November 22 – December 21
Here we have the philosopher among the zodiac signs and meanings. Like the Scorpio, they have great ability for focus, and can be very intense. However, they must channel their energy or they will waste time and wear themselves out going in too many directions at once. They are not very patient and expect quick results. However, when encountered with failure they make extreme comebacks often against incredible odds. They make loyal friends and lovers, but they do not handle commitment well as they refuse to be tied down while chasing philosophical pursuits.

Yeah. See the third and fourth sentences? I’ve been having a very Sagittarius week, doing everything at once, being impatient at the lack of results, and generally wasting a lot of time.

Now, that’s not too much of a bad thing. I’m also optimistic to a fault, and yes, I will bounce back from this week with more coffee-fuelled enthusiasm! I’m tempted to say, “I haven’t gotten anything done!”, but the reality is, I’ve gotten a lot of pieces of things done. Extra jewellery was produced for The Dragon’s Hoard, as well as writing out all the price tags I just received in the mail. I’ve been asked to participate as a sponsor for charity, and have to organise even more jewellery-related work for that. About four blog posts are half-written and saved for later.

I wrote, definitely, but I also edited as I went (bad mistake), and ended up cutting about 50% of the work, hence my progress bar hasn’t been touched for several days.

I’ve taken care of the cats, and the fish, and a whole lot of housework. I’ve done gardening, and grocery shopping, and maintained contact with my social groups. I cooked many delicious things, most of which I promptly ate. I’ve currently got two major crocheting projects half-finished that I can barely bring myself to look at, because I know how much longer it will take me to finish them, and don’t you know, I have other things to do!

Yeah… It’s about time to rein in the wild, galloping centaur at the core of my multi-project enthusiasm so I can just get things done. It’s hard coming to terms with priorities. Sometimes, for me, it seems like an insurmountable task.

~A

Series potential

My novella project is the first time I’ve put a lot of effort into planning a series. It’s alien and frightening, and every time I come up with some new perspective on the story, I’m afraid that half way through writing the whole set, I will understand something new and want to change something.

Usually an author will begin publishing a series before all the installments are complete. This is understandable, since a novel often takes a year or more to write, and no one wants to wait ten years to start publishing something they’ve completed. This means that the overall theme has to be well established before they send out book one, because once it’s printed, there isn’t any “fixing” the story.

I thought I had done most of the important planning aspects for TDM, laying out plots and important events, characters which won’t be involved until several books in, the list goes on. My notes are extensive and the outlines were poured over until a cohesive plot was made. I really believed I was in a good position to just write these and expect things to turn out the way I planned. But as I progress through the edit of book one, and drafting book two, I realise that little things can change, and indeed sometimes need to. I worry what this means to my series. Do I need to go back to the planning stage and make the outline even more detailed? Would that be so much different from just writing the drafts and working from there?

At the end of drafting book one, I realised some of the mistakes I’d already made. In some places, I had written the characters to behave in ways I had never intended, and some of the scenes were really unsuited to both the characters I was creating, and the story they needed to tell. Not only that, but it wasn’t until the full first draft had been completed that I understood some of the events I rushed to include too soon when I planned the stories. They shouldn’t happen in book one. They need time to get there organically. My enthusiasm for this series was driving me to cram too much in right away.

Maybe I deviated from my outline too much, even though I really didn’t change many events in the first draft. At the same time, one of the added ideas was so solid and brought together all these other elements, I start thinking I just need more time to get to know my characters and reassess how they will respond. Maybe I haven’t done nearly enough planning. This is an interesting learning curve. It’s hard not to worry about it.

~A