Unmotivation–the lack of motivation
It’s not that I have no ideas, though I have suffered from that before at the beginning of a semester. I have a zillion ideas actually.
I came up with one that involved a take-off of Cinderella, where although Cinderella does go to the ball, and she is the most beautiful woman, the prince is already in love with someone else. Stuck on whose POV to write it in.
I have a story that I wrote that I’m questioning now, because I can see people having a problem with a man giving up his allegiance to his country so easily. But I wrote it, so I probably should look at editing it. There has to be something good in there.
I have another story that I need to fix up, because I think I’m going to submit it to the writing contest at school. I had doubts, then a lot of the reviews came back positive, so I might.
Lastly, I want to proofread my mermaid story (Just Trust Me), because that one is being submitted to the writing contest for sure. I’m also basing my topic for my giant research paper this semester on that story, so why not?
Oh, and I am suppose to be working on a novel that will be cool but I have serious writer’s block on, because I have to skim. (I hate skimming)
On top of all that, I have to critique someone’s story because I said I would. I pretty much vanished for her off of the face of the planet because of sickness and school so she is probably wondering where I am. That I will do Saturday night.
And I should write some blog posts, so you don’t just get me rambling since I know you didn’t subscribe for that. :)
So I have things to do. And I have a three-day weekend waiting for me. But none of these options appeal to me. They are all just so… blah. Well, not that blah. I really do like the stories. It’s just that I don’t even know what I want to do exactly. Maybe there are just too many options.
On the plus side for me, one of the teachers at my school is saying we might finally have enough people interested in doing a writing group. So I’ll have some accountability soon and hopefully someone to bounce good ideas off of. Then I’ll know without submitting it to a bunch of people who see all the grammar mistakes I didn’t if it might be good.
And I started writing for the newspaper at school. My first article I copied from my post about bus travel that I wrote for this blog. I suppose I could get a lot of articles if I looked here actually, but I don’t think I will.
So I’m hoping my day off tomorrow will help, because I have been kinda looking forward to this three-day weekend and I don’t want to blow it. I’d rather it in February since I have more to do then, but January isn’t all that bad. And who knows? Maybe I’ll be so motivated I’ll tackle one of the rewrites I have planned to do “some day” after I work on my two stories for my writing contest.
What do you all do for motivation?
Details We Don’t Notice.
In January I submitted a “short” story to a writing contest at my school and got… nothing. This wouldn’t normally bother me terribly much except that I never got any feedback about it. It was just, “You failed. Too bad.”
So this past month, I submitted it to be critiqued on Critters and it was very interesting to find what kind of comments I got back.
I got some rather negative comments. Someone decided to point out that I could make the story, which is about 13,000 words, into perhaps a 7,000 word story. That’s fine. I admitted that my story I thought was too long and I wanted to cut some out. But he then went on to say that one way I could cut it down was by changing a sentence, gave me an example, and the example contained was. I avoid was. Like the plague.
He did, however, also give me the idea of making up my own form of intoxication, because then no one can complaining about me not being accurate.
Another complaint I got was the sweepers. Sweepers are a very difficult group of people to fully understand, since they are generally criminals who flee from society to avoid prison. In this world, prison is a very negative place to live, with many stigmas, so these are people, not completely dangerous people, who wish to maintain their liberties.
But sweeper code basically says that if someone comes, you take them now, ask questions later. Only the really dangerous criminals are turned over to the government when a sweeper ship is involved.
So a few complaints that I had consisted of mainly why did they take him on when he is obviously so green and rebellious? And also, a little bit more fleshing of the political situation with the sweepers. (Which now I’m wondering if I need that with Shad. With the whole story being from the sweepers POV, that might be very confusing for the readers.)
A few good ideas I got from it included things like making Kontyo stupidly smart. The idea is to make the reader not think that Kontyo is such a fool, keep him ahead of everyone else, and then have him fall flat on his face when he really isn’t ahead of everyone else. I like this idea. It sounds like fun. (It is totally not me, but hey, that’s the point of writing.)
So basically, I just need to get to the point of editing this story, which I haven’t. I got these reviews almost two weeks ago and nothing. I’m wondering I should write something small first.
why to write what I write
An interesting transformation has taken place in my writing over the last three months.
When I first began writing, I wrote for the story. The story line was the key. Hope was about the revolution against the aliens on Earth. Shad was about a guy’s race across the galaxy. (Plot actually ended up being a big surprise for me on that one.) Everything was about the story. What is the story about?
Now, it’s changed or maybe morphed. Yes, I care about the story because the story is the essence of anything worth reading. But I’ve suddenly discovered another side of writing: the side of a message.
I don’t want to be preachy in the least. But sometimes just writing the story doesn’t cut it. During December when I was trying to figure out what to write for the writing contest, I began thinking in terms of the message. What is the purpose for writing this story?
With that in mind, I planned my story, discarding several because there wasn’t a good enough message. I didn’t try to preach it, not in Kontyo at least. But I did become suddenly aware of it.
Then, I wrote Dragon Slayers. Dragon Slayers is a bit more obvious I think, since I wrote it with the sole goal of making fun of people who think that we need to protect endanger species, no matter the cost. (My goal, by the way, is to have that posted by March 20th, and since I’m prewriting this and I don’t know when it’s going to actually be posted, I guess you might know if I made that goal or not.) In my head at least, I was thinking back to when Atlanta had a serious drought but they had to send fresh water to save the oysters or something like that.
Now that I’m writing “Miles’ Love,” I more left the idea of themes for some reason, although I am sure one will show up. Miles has enough secrets to make that easy for me I think, and the girl does too. But I didn’t really think about it when I began writing.
I’m also thinking about what to write next and I’m finding that, once again, I’m looking for messages. It’s like if I don’t have a good enough plot, I need to fill that void with a message and then build the message around the plot. In a soon-to-be written piece, the message is the one about how everyone treats the same person differently, even if that person gives them the same view of themselves. (No name, although the girl’s name is Alisa. I know that much.)
I can’t imagine this change in writing to be negative. After all, it goes back to my rant a while back about my psychology teacher not wanting us to have a thesis statement for our paper, even if the paper is about our life. Everything needs a purpose to be written. Maybe telling a story is one purpose, which was mine for a long time, but the overshadowing theme is what separates today’s books from classics. (That and good writing, tension, characters, plots, and morality but we won’t go there yet.)
the “secret” to good characters
I recently read a blog post about how the secrets that a characters keep makes the story much better. I began thinking about it because my first reaction was that none of m characters have any good secrets. However, I found myself proven wrong.
I realized this when I began looking at my arranged marriage plot. In the first plot, the guy looked interesting to write for, because he has the secret of his deformity. The maid would be interesting to write for, because she has her secret love and the possibility of of a child from an earlier marriage. (i’ve been toying with that idea too.) But the girl who marries him at first doesn’t have anything fun because she doesn’t have anything she’s keeping from anyone else.
Which brought me to my second plot, which involved the guy keeping the secret from his family and the girl about his disability and the girl keeping it from him about her love of his brother. (I’m trying to work on a big bang ending for that one, by the way. I think it might be interesting.)
But it isn’t just this new story that I discovered the secret thing about. In Hope, I had the whole secret that the reader didn’t know about who Hope was and who Ka’yam was, which ends up being told in due time.
Giant’s Wife had them both keeping the language from each other, and Heddwyn keeping his past from her, more or less.
Dragon Slayers has an interesting one involve Justin which I shall not tell you yet. (I promise I will edit that soon and post it.)
Kontyo had the secret, although unknown to him, that he couldn’t go back home.
In fact, when I look at it, almost all good plots focus around a bunch of very well crafted secrets while having a bunch of very interesting characters.
However, that isn’t the whole entire part of how to do it properly. The secrets can’t be told all at once in the beginning. The secrets want to be stretched across a series of chapters, preferably the whole length of the book. I don’t think the end of Hope would have been as interesting as it was if I didn’t have the reader find out the Ka’yams real background nor do I think it would have worked if the reader didn’t find out about Hope where the reader did.
Part of it does take skill figuring out where to tell the plot and where not to. Part of I think just will flow out when it should. Sometimes, I find, if it is a really big secret, I’ll have it planned out long before I write the scene. It’s exciting, both to me as a writer and hopefully to the reader.
So, when it comes down to it, the secret of having awesome characters that you want to write for is that they have secrets themselves. Sometimes, you’ll find the characters keep the secrets even from you too.
The common characters that one thinks about when beginning to write are easy. We have friends and siblings and strangers and work partners. However, one character that I suspect to frequently be overlooked are parents. The question is why.
I doubt it’s based on how much your parents play a role in your life, because I have a really good relationship with my mom (not wonderful with my dad) and I hardly mention moms. In one story I was going to write, (changed my mind) it was actually the dad who she had just lost within the last six months, the mom having been dead for ten years or so.
I actually realized that none of my stories ever have major parent characters involved. in Hope (which I haven’t talked about a lot but that’s my first novel.) her mom died before the story began. In Shad, he was an orphan with unknown parents. (Father figure, yes, but no actual parents). In Kontyo, his father was never actually seen, only mentioned. In Dragon Slayers, parents are dead. In Giant’s Wife, his parents are dead and hers she has seen for three years.
So, apparently, I jut decide to kill characters parents just because.
I actually think it’s because they either aren’t an important part to the story or their death actually moves the story along. In the story that I mentioned earlier, her dad was suspected to be killed by a drunk driver but was actually assassinated. (Really important when she starts working for the guy who had him killed.) In Hope, her mom’s death was actually her fault, which she finds out later. In Giant’s Wife, his family being dead is what caused him the join the army. (Although I did give him a sister.)
Which brings me to the next point. WHy is it that siblings are okay but parents aren’t? With the exception of Shad who we really don’t know where he came from, every single one of my characters had a close relationship with a sibling. Hope always wanted to see her brother Dave again. Kontyo worked closely with Felix. Heddwyn is close with Eva and tells her some things. Dragon Slayers, Colton is practically raising Natlie.
Now this isn’t that surprising. I get along with most my siblings very well (when they aren’t being thickheaded and spockish). I think that brother/sister relationships can be some of the best in the world.
But why siblings and not parents? What makes parents so invisible? Is it just that I don’t know how to write forty and fifty year olds so I avoid it? But I do, because all I would need to do is write something like how my mom and I interact. Yes, people might not fully believe it, since we act like friends oftentimes, but that is still might be better than nothing.
I do not have an answer to this. I’m also thinking that I haven’t read too many books where the parents play a major role either, which makes me wonder about that as well. Anyone else notice such a problem?
DWU writing contest
It’s official. I am entered into the writing contest at my school. I actually entered in two stories, but in two different categories. I entered in one of them because my English teacher from last semester told me to enter it in essay and then I entered my story for the fiction section.
As it turned out, I was spelling the writing contest all wrong. It’s actually spelled Agnes Hyde. I will fix that soon.
Of course, things couldn’t go completely right for me. I was trying to print it last night and my printer was giving me a little gray line down the side of it. I’m not sure why. My dad, the ex-computer tech repair person doesn’t know why. He told me to shake the cartridge and so I did but that didn’t help, so I had to print it at school. Luckily, that was no big deal. (I also mailed a copy of my story to my grandma, because I figured she’d like it to get a nice big package from us.)
Problem now is, I don’t know when it’ll be over. I honestly don’t. They didn’t us a good idea. But maybe it won’t be too far down the road.
At least now I done with When Darkness Swallows and I can devote myself more to Dragon Slayers (which is probably going to be named Time of the Dragon Slayers but I’m too lazy to write that all out.) and hopefully tomorrow night after shabbat I’ll be able to edit another story called Samuel Brakborn and post it here too. I already did the paper edit.
Anyway, until tomorrow or Sunday. Enjoy your weekend.
So, I started a story called Dragon Slayers that I’ve mentioned earlier. If’s just a short little book. Technically, I could do a lot with it later on. There are so many spinoffs that one could do with it, but I doubt I will at this time.
Anyway, today, I finished the rough draft. I am so happy.
NOw, I’m not as excited about it as I was when I finished Darkness Swallows. But, I do think that it has potential. I’m not quite sure how to end it exactly, or where, because it ends up being a huge tear jerker with no hope if I end it where it should be ended. I’d like for there to be some hope in the ending. But I don’t want to have too much.
Anyway, it’s pretty cool. I need to do a lot more with characters and such and how the characters think and act. There isn’t a lot of emotion in the characters and I don’t like that. But it might not be as bad as I think.
Final count for now is 1,000 words and 19 pages. I’m rather pleased. But now i must go to bed before it gets too late here. I do have school (and a test) in the morning.
(Oh, side note: I finished the second paper edit of DArkness Swallows, just in time too. That is due this Friday.)
what is a short story?
This last semester I had a horrid time coming up with any type of plot. In all honesty, I was worried that the plot bunnies that infected and attacked me so long finally decided to move away now that I was older, which meant that writing, at best, would be a challenge and at worse, impossible.
Between that and the fact that I didn’t have much time to write stories, I figured that with the Anges Hyde writing contest at school, I would just wait until Christmas break, write a story then, and I would be fine. I did just that. I wrote Darkness Swallows in about a week, edited it and put it aside to wait.
This is the story that I referenced earlier in that it grew in length instead of shrunk. Originally, I wasn’t concerned that much, because this one contest that is for short stories say to have a story shorter than 17,000 words. So I figured as long as I was less than 17,000 words I’d be fine. (I have, however, been hit on the writing contest in Minnesota for mine being too long.) I’m about 12,000, so I should be fine.
Then, I started thinking about it. It is about 25 pages in length. When I print it. it will be close to 50 pages (I’m submitting it in MLA format because I don’t know how else to submit it. They don’t say.) I fear that I would scare away anyone who looks at a fifty page “short story.”
I started to look up what defines a short story, to get an idea, and I found this on wikipedia:
Other definitions place the maximum word length at anywhere from 7,000 to 9,000 words. As a point of reference for the science fiction genre writer, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America defines short story length in its Nebula Awards for science fiction submission guidelines as having a word count of less than 7,500. In contemporary usage, the term short story most often refers to a work of fiction no longer than 20,000 words and no shorter than 1,000.
This poses some problems to me in a way. if we even go with less than 9000 words, I am way over. I could possibly go with the contemporary usage, then I’m okay.
However. the problem is that I can’t change it now. The deadline is for it is January 31st. Even if I wrote something today, I would like to have it sit for a while and rest before I edit it. Moreover, I don’t have the time to write that kind of story.
So, instead of looking into this more, I think I’m just going to leave it. There is nothing I can do, beyond submitting one of my older (and poorer) stories. I think that this story is rather good. Hopefully, I’ll have two more years to enter into the contest and by then I’ll have a better clue at what to expect. I am also submitting into the essay contest per my teacher’s recommendation, so maybe I’ll win something. If not, like I said, I have two more years.
I recently updated a bunch of pages on the side bar to your right, but never mentioned anything about them. Giant’s Wife is all stored there, along with many of my other more recent short stories. I suppose most of this will just be a directory but it’ll also have summaries of the stories if you would care to read them.
We’ll start with the top. Obviously, about the writer is a little bit of background information about me, Abigail. Has a picture too if you’re curious. :)
Darkness Swallows was originally called Kontyo for those who have read back entries. As the eldest son of the minister of interplanetary affairs, Kontyo never saw much of a need to behave. He knew that he would inherit his father’s title and continue living in luxury all of his life. That changes when an accident happens and he decides to leave for the sweeper ships instead of facing at least a year in prison, only to discover that some mistakes can’t just be undone.
Flashes of Imagination: At fourteen years old, with only writing for six months, my brother brings me a poster for a writing contest at the library. Everyone urges me to enter, only, why would I want to show the part of myself to someone? This is a true story based off of, obviously, the first time I entered a writing contest in 2003 or so.
Pay the Writer: Not a story. I’m just asking for you to sign up to a place to help me earn amazon giftcards if you really like my writing.
The Giant’s Wife: I will just refer you to the front page. I have the summery posted there. That story is significantly longer than many of the other ones, which is why there is five parts to it. I’ve been posting one a day since December 17th and I’ll be done by Sunday I think. After that, I’ll be adding the index differently so the story will collapse.
Turning Crow Calls into Beauty: Lowri hates being the daughter of a rich merchant, she hates growing up and she hates having to learn to be a lady. But more than anything, she hates that stupid, ugly harp that her mother is convinced she can play and would rather do anything except practice.
What to Write: How does one find that magical inspiration that makes someone want to write? Who knows. Sometimes, it just happens.
That’s everything for now. Make sure you look in the side bar ever so often for more stories, because I will be adding them. I don’t think I’ll be adding Shad right now, if at all, although I like it a lot. (It’s also 85,000 words.)
how did that happen?
My logic is to writing is write fast, edit later. When I write like that, I usually get whole paragraphs where I just repeated what I wrote in the previous two paragraphs. Utterly boring and unnecessary. Thus, when I write something I can usually count on lose some pages (or words, depending on how you count it) from my original count.
So when Kontyo came out at around 20 pages and 11,000 words, I was rather happy. (I’m aiming for less than 17,000 because I’m hoping to enter Kontyo also into the writer’s of the future contest. I was also hoping to do that with Giant’s Wife, before it came out at 46,000 words.)
Since I finished it yesterday, I did the final touch ups today (well, probably not totally final, but it’s practically done.). Then, I did another word count and it comes out at not less than 11,000 words but at 12,000 words and 25 pages! This is suppose to be a short story.
Now, I’m not sure what is exactly short. For the library’s writing contest in MN, they wanted about ten pages in the beginning. When they actually put a limit on pages, they put it at about 7. But this contest at school doesn’t have a limit, a topic, or anything, and it is driving me crazy, because I don’t know if this is technically write, and their tougher on grammar here I would think as well.
My harder part comes from finding a title now. I have a clue about something with darkness swallowing up people or disappearing in darkness or something. Maybe I’ll just post it anyway, but I need a title sooner rather than later. Contest ends January 31st and I’d rather submit it no later than the 12th. Who knows what kind of homework I’m going to have by then.