Three stories, five books and not enough time
I realized today that I have actually started three separate books. I’m stunned. And worse, I don’t know what to write.
- Mermaids: This story revolves around a political turmoil in a mermaid world. Nessa is the youngest daughter of the king but wants to be queen. Under their government, she can be elected as queen. However, it is only through the Adamahs, humans who have been changed to mermaids, that she can do this. In this I have the election, and the result afterwards, and it’s really awesome. :)
- Intentional Accidents: This story revolves around two characters, a pirate and an assassin. They’re stories interweaves into smiliar threads and storylines but I only know about the pirate. She is feeling lonely, hurt and wants off the pirate ship but doesn’t see a way to get off. A police man unknowingly gets on the pirate ship and encourages her to find her own way. The assassin is also tired of her life, wants out, but doesn’t know how to leave. I haven’t dealt with the assassin much, focusing on developing the pirate story, then the assassin, then merging them at the end.
- Mindskill: In mindskill, a doctor develops telepathy as an implant. He implanted his daughter without her knowledge, understanding that soon it would be a necessary skill to survive. He dies though before he can tell her, in an “accident” and she must discover the truth for herself, along with a plot to take over the world and a plan to keep those with this skill safe. This was going to be my shot at writing a trilogy (Which is a huge task, let me tell you.)
I’ve written 36 words of Intentional Accidents (9,455 words), 93 pages of mindskill (25,000) and 61 pages (16,000 words) of mermaids.
Here’s the problem: I like them all. I stopped mindskill because I needed to develop it more. I stopped Intentional Accidents because I needed to skim and I didn’t know how to. (I’m playing around writing the ending scene to that.) And I’m currently writing mermaids (which may not end up being mermaids, which makes me sad, but that is fact.)
I have every intention of finishing all of these. All of them are probably good. But how? I’m mean, seriously, I probably have enough to write about for three years (at least), not to mention that I need to write synopses to send these books out, and I want to write Sagi’s tragedy (short story), and I’d really like to write one of the stories my friend and I write out (novel), and I’d like to edit Hope (or at least make a logical decision whether to toss it), and edit Giant’s Wife and–
*stops for breath*
I just have too many ideas I think. How do I choose?
What I consider before writing any story.
I’ll be presenting a workshop on creative writing at my school in about two weeks, so I came up with these things that I always look at before I start writing.
What is the goal of the character?
I don’t say plot because that implies that I know the plot. I’m finding that I typically cannot pinpoint a plot until I finish and I can look at the whole picture. But my character needs an initial goal and a plan.
How does goal and plot differ? In Shad, one of my stories, his goal was to win in the intragalatic race. As such, he worked towards that and kept struggling to make it through the race. However, the plot actually turned out to be Shad trying to break away being a sweeper and establish himself in the real world, something I didn’t even realize until I looked at the finish product and saw that, based on where the story ended, that had to be it.
What is the ending?
I will not start writing a story until I know the ending. Period. Because either a) I’ll never learn the ending or b) it’s not a good story. Either way, I need to have a clue on the ending.
Now, sometimes for me that ending is vague. Like, I know they are going to run the aliens off of earth, but I’m not quite sure how. Sometimes it’s quite concrete, like, the story will end with Kayla comes to the new home and Shad meets her.
Character’s Point of View (POV):
That seems strange. Well, of course I’m going to tell it in the character whose story I thought of. However, when I began to systematically think about the POVs, I realized that sometimes the obvious character isn’t the best.
For example, I’m going to post a story this week where a mermaid (Avi) has to convince her sister (Nessa) to join an underground liberation movement. Instead of writing it from Avi’s POV though, so Avi keeps having to tell Nessa everything that Avi already knows, I wrote it from Nessa’s POV, which ended up making a very interesting story.
This time also makes me realize whether I really need to tell it in one or two or five people’s POVs.
This goes slightly into the POV, but something I sometimes decide later and sometimes I don’t even decide until after I pick up the story. In general, I will write in third person. However, some stories call for first.
(Then you have the annoying stories that you write that you intend for it only to be a short story and so you write it in first person only to have the characters tell you its a novel, but you don’t want to write it in first person the whole way, so you need a new way of presenting the information without rewriting the whole short story/prelude.)
I think this aspect is a fundamental part of any story. However, I have discovered through a long and tumutious road that a personality doesn’t just come usually. If it does, it is usually perfect. As such, I automatically want to have a clue about how this character acts, is she/he shy, determined, stubborn, brave? And what is the character’s weakness?
Where is the story best told?
Generally, this is obvious. However, not always. And sometimes the setting doesn’t make a difference. But it is something to think about.
I should probably mention that I don’t look at tense. Typically, I’ll write in past tense. If I happen to start writing in present, it’s by mere accident but usually because I hear the voices so well that I just write as they tell me. (No, I am not schizophrenic.)
Not all written out.
I’m in my third semester of college. This week I made the comment that I am learning a lot. But not necessarily in the order of school (Well, I am, don’t worry. When I’m your nurse, I’ll take good care of you.) but more in the aspect of writing and school and studying.
See, the first semester I learned that stress sucks plots. I should have realized this earlier. I wrote my best work when I was unstressed and blissfully happy. But that whole first semester, except for one story that I probably shouldn’t even show you, I had nothing. Even though I had a giant poster staring at me every time i went upstairs in the library to study, nothing came. Within a week after finals–boom!–plots came.
The second semester I learned, kinda, how to write during school. Over Christmas break, I got several plots and so I kept writing them as the semester progressed. I actually wrote Time of the Dragon Slayers at that time, which I am still quite proud of, along with two other stories that really should never been shown to a single living soul at the moment.
This semester, I learned to plot. That sounds bad. After all, I’ve been writing for almost eight years now. But here’s the thing is that I never knew how to write while stressed. Now I can. Now, it’s not like I’m writing a novel here, but I’ve written now two short stories this semester, with plans for another that won’t probably be started until Christmas break, but who cares? I came up with, and developed properly, three separate plots almost.
Plot 1: Ethical Dilemmas: A mermaid find herself in a difficult situation when her rebel, half sister gives her the option of either turning her into the authorities or committing a crime.
Plot 2: Shay’s Tadpole: Hurt and abandoned in the woods, Shay has no hope of being rescued until one of the feared male creatures finds her after crashing on her planet.
Plot 3: Completely unnamed: A soldier rescues his twin sister from an abusive relationship and flees to the neighboring enemy country, only to find that he has a claim to one of the senate seats.
Now, those other two titles are currently working titles. Well, probably more secondary working titles, since the first working title for Plot 1 was “Mermaids” and the one for Plot 2 was either “Shay” or “Save the Males.” The latter was taken from something my teacher said, that I mentioned earlier in this month’s plots section. But I’m not sure if I like those titles or not. I will however, be posting Ethical Dilemmas very shortly, probably by the 15th or so.
None of those numbers, however, include the novel I’m trying to write, that involves pirates. I’m momentarily stuck on that, so nothing is happening however. But I did write another chapter this month.
On top of those fiction works, I am also attempting to write a nonfiction work. Now, this has to do with two factors. Factor one, and probably the motivation factor to begin with, is that there is the writing contest once again at my school, and it allows for essays. As such, I am planning on submitting something to that. The second factor is that my dog died last Monday, so I actually have something to write.
To summarize, and I haven’t told anyone but you now, earlier this Fall our dog (my dog, whatever you want to call her), Rosy, became paralyzed. The vet said that it could be a degenerative disk or it could be a spinal tumor. With the disk disease, she could live several more years. With the spinal tumor, she would continue getting worse. She could not x-ray to find out. So we’ve been taking care of her, and trying to help her, but suddenly she just took a bad turn and it was only right to put her to sleep. (I honestly didn’t expect her to live through the night, but she did.) Chances are that it turned out to be the spinal tumor.
Because this impacted me so hard, and because she was one of the best dogs that we’ve had for a while, I want to write about her. So that is more of the reason why Plot 3 isn’t going to be written until Christmas break.
All things considered, though, this writing thing in college is going well. I have hope that I’m not all written out.
Sometimes, we all need a chance to make something random in our life. This can be especially true with writing. Imagine all those birthdays, or door numbers, or floor numbers, or ID numbers… yeah, you get the idea.
Due to myself actually writing a chemistry worksheet, I found this randomizer. We have one for words (so say, you want to have a list of names, but you want them random.) and we have one for numbers (for all those pesky numbers in writing.)
Ten songs by which to plot
For many people, music and writing go together. I am not one of those, for reasons along the lines of I can’t listen to music with most headphones, so I never learned to write like that. However, some songs are very good for plotting, and these following songs are some of my favorites.
Note, I call these plotting songs, as they seem to have a story that just eludes the mind, and goes along with many characters and yet none of them. This is not my recommended writing playlist
Also, I’m trying to include songs without a video, so as not to influence your view of the song.
1) This is your life by Switchfoot
2) Boulevard of Broken Dreams by Greenday
3) Wake Me Up Inside by Evanescence
4) Sometimes by Skillet
5) Like a Lion by Reliant K (And no, I do not mean for this to be a Christmas song.)
6) Prodigal by Casting Crowns
7) My Last Breath by Evanescence
8) Dare you to Move by Switchfoot
9) Monster by Skillet
10) Let my Love Open the door by numerous people. I am familiar with the Audio Adrenaline version, but when trying to find a video, I found that Pete Townshend actually wrote it first. (Trust me, music is not my forte.) I can’t find any decent video for Audio Adrenaline so I’ll give both a Sondre Lerche version, which is pretty decent, and a Pete Townshend version. It’s your choice which to listen to.
Audio Adrenaline: which I apparently can’t put into the video either. :P
Bonus Song! For all us writers out there.
Bonus: Paperback Writer by the Beatles
This is not a plotting song. It’s just a awesome song about writing. I hadn’t listened much to the Beatles until my dad began playing the Rock Hero version of it. Then I just almost laughed when I heard this song.
So, what are your favorite plotting songs? I’m always in the market for a few good ones.
It’s always an uphill battle.
What is the hardest part for you in writing stories?
What to write when there’s nothing to write.
I had this problem a lot and I’ve talked about it a lot. Nothing is coming out. And the fact is, no matter what I say on here, it’s still not coming. Nothing I do is coming.
So here’s my plan. I’m just going to write whenever I can. I’m not going to try to plot out anything. I’m not going to find anything complex. I’m not going to do anything. I’m just going to write.
See, I think it’ll come out similar to Samuel Brackborn. With this story, I just started writing and I came out with what I came out.
My theory with this is that the more I write, and just keep writing, the more plots I’ll get and the more I’ll keep using that part of my brain that I need to use in order to continue writing.
I honestly don’t know if this’ll work, but that is my plan. I suppose as part of my plan, I also need to not watch as much TV. Even though I watch only an hour of TV a day, by the time I get home from studying, have dinner, do dishes and all, I don’t have much time left to myself. So we’ll see how this works out.
To be carried along downstream, or to fight against the rocks, branches, and everything else
I’ve been thinking a lot about reactive writing. See, I read that in general, a story can be made up of three basic crises, and each one with the possible exception of the first one caused by the character reacting to the previous crisis, and thus causing the next one.
Initially, I thought that was ridiculous. You don’t need a few good crises tossed in to make a story. You need complications.
But what is complication?
Allow a momentary side note on my part. I quoted someone who said that your life doesn’t make a good life story. This is true, and I’m going to explain the reason why this relates.
In writing, we can’t just let the problems and complications wash over the hero, and the hero does nothing. That’s why writing a story about my time n school doesn’t work. Yes–things happen. But I don’t react strongly enough to how they react. So I don’t have the money for tuition this semester, well, I’ll take out a loan. So now I get a chance at a special scholarship, well, I’ll submit the papers and see what happens. I don’t decide to cheat on the applications in hopes that no one else will notice, or sneak into the office and steal the other applications.
This is also why journeys don’t work well in writing. In general, a journey has things happen, but they don’t have things that the character can react to happening.
So my new name for this is reactive writing. A story can’t just be about how something happy happened. It has to be how something happened in which a character overreacted and caused even more of a problem.
Unfortunately, I’m not doing so well at this in something I’m writing now, but hopefully with much editing it will come out.
So, how reactive is your writing?
Snowflake, Step One
A long time ago, and I can’t remember if I posted this link or not, I found a website that gives an outline for how to outline a novel. It’s called the snowflake method. And although it’s written by an author that I disliked the one book of his I read, I found the method to be a good idea. I also am having a hard time planning my next book, so this made sense to use.
But this is not a Thursday and I am not posting this as a link. I’m actually going to show what I did. And yes, you are welcomed to comment.
Step 1) Take an hour and write a one-sentence summary of your novel. Something like this: “A rogue physicist travels back in time to kill the apostle Paul.” (This is the summary for my first novel, Transgression.) The sentence will serve you forever as a ten-second selling tool. This is the big picture, the analog of that big starting triangle in the snowflake picture.
When you later write your book proposal, this sentence should appear very early in the proposal. It’s the hook that will sell your book to your editor, to your committee, to the sales force, to bookstore owners, and ultimately to readers. So make the best one you can!
Some hints on what makes a good sentence:
- Shorter is better. Try for fewer than 15 words.
- No character names, please! Better to say “a handicapped trapeze artist” than “Jane Doe”.
- Tie together the big picture and the personal picture. Which character has the most to lose in this story? Now tell me what he or she wants to win.
- Read the one-line blurbs on the New York Times Bestseller list to learn how to do this. Writing a one-sentence description is an art form.
That is from the link I gave above.
Since I’m basically writing two stories and combining them as one, and since the second one can’t stand without the first one, but the first can without the second, I’m just going to focus on writing one part and then writing the second one later. Then I’ll merge them together. I think it will work, I think it’ll be awesome, and if not, well, I have a two-part series. :D
So, I stated with the little bit I know. After staring at it for little bit, I realized I didn’t like it. For one, I used the world everything.
A young pirate questions everything she knows when she meets a man desperate to save his sister. (WC 32.)
But I kept it because I needed to cut out a lot of words.
So, I got myself down to about 15 to 20 words, and other things started popping out as wrong. At one point in time I had:
After befriending a desperate man, a young pirate begins to question everything, including her abrupt promotion.
I didn’t think that sounded right. It balanced everything, but it didn’t show right. So I took his tip four and did just a search for “New York times bestsellers list“. (Earlier I included one-line blurbs and I could find nothing.) I found exactly what I wanted, one New York Times Bestsellers list, complete with blurbs.
After reading those, I realized that “After befriending a desperate man” had to be moved. The main character always went at the beginning of the sentence, unless setting a time period. So I moved that back to like it was at the end.
I also realized that “including her abrupt promotion,” although good at eluding to the plot, had to be deleted as well.
I then came up with this:
An young pirate begins to question everything about her life after befriending a desperate brother.
But I didn’t like the word young. It just sounded too light, too weak, and just… boring. Young pirate could mean she’s ten and she isn’t. (She’s nineteen.) So, I began playing around with the thesaurus and I found ingenuous.
When looking at the synaymyms, I found exactly the words I wanted to describe her.
naive, innocent, simple, childlike, trusting, unwary; unsuspicious, unworldly, wide-eyed, inexperienced, green, open, sincere, honest, frank, candid, forthright artless, guileless, genuine, upfront.
All of the bold words are words that I think will describe her. So although I think the words seems very unwieldily, I think it works. (I’ve also never heard of it before today.)
So I ended with:
An ingenuous pirate begins to question everything about her life after befriending a desperate brother.
I think this gives the right amount of balance between her questioning her life, and the suspicion there, and the friendship with the brother, and the desperation of the other guy. Maybe, later, if I figure things out, I’ll change it yet even more. So hopefully that’s the summery of my next book.
One note: IngenUous means innocent or unsuspecting. IngenIous means clever, original or inventive.