And thus here we are, staring down yet another December.
I actually like December. It's finally decently cold sometimes, Christmas!, vacations (I leave for America in less than two weeks! Wee!), and Nano is over so I can stop obsessing over making my daily goals. Which means I totally lose track of my daily goals. Whooooops.
I took the past couple of days off but went back into writing today. Finally finished another scene! As for the editing, it has to be put off another week anyway because this week is my monthly business trip and I can't do any adequate editing on my little laptop. Writing? Okay. Editing? Good luck. And to top it off I'm starting another (reading) book this week so there goes even more time.
Also doesn't "help" (and yet totally does) that I've started playing Sims 3 again. Like any game/computer game, it's something that comes in phases before going away again. And right now I'm in a Sims 3 phase. I'm not even a normal Sims 3 player, I guess. I don't make random Sims to play with, nope, I have to make all my novel sims. And take lots of screenshots. Some that don't even make sense, or some that are events that haven't happened yet that I use for inspiration and reference later on. It's basically a big, expensive storyboard.
And plus it's fun to see characters that will never hook up just kinda fall all over each other because the game mechanics think that's what supposed to happen.
But writing in general has been slow today. I got a scene that I was dragging with done at dinner tonight. As some of you may recall, I write all my scenes in order. And I'm really trying to finish this chapter so I can get on to the next one which is SUPER FUN and I am SOOOO looking forward to it, seriously. It's got a couple of scenes I've been hankering to write for years now. And it's coming. Oh god it's coming.
Over at Published In A Year, "The East Coaster" wrote an entry about how she gets to know her characters. I of course chimed in with a comment and, being me, attempted to write a freakin' dissertation because my process is as weird as my obsession with Pikachu. Soooooo I decided to move my rear over to my own dang blog and sort my thoughts out.
I have always been a character author. This means that I come up with characters and their relationships to each other first, plot second. (Usually the plot is fleshed out by the characters...not the other way around.) First and foremost I am writing about how my characters get through the plot, not what actually happens and how it affects everyone else. I often write about saving the world/universe, but I write it from a very personal level. The entire world/universe may hang in the balance~, but you don't care about Earth surviving as much as you care about so-and-so finally confessing their love to so-and-so...while Earth crumbles in the background. How romantic!
So my novels and stories come from the characters that come to me. Usually when a story starts out for me, all of the main characters arrive at the same time. This includes the way they look, sound, and probably even who they like and don't like amongst the other characters. Very rarely have I come up with a secondary character of my own effort later who ended up being just as important as the initial main characters, although this has definitely happened.
How do I "get to know them"? Well, as I wrote in the comment on the other side of Blogger, my brain is always going. I'm never just NOT thinking about something. But of course there's only so much worry I can allot in one day, so all the other time my brain is in "novel mode". It's really kinda scary and ridiculous, but it's how it's been my entire conscience life so I don't know anything else. When I'm not thinking about the "real" world I'm thinking my novels. And I'm not even always necessarily thinking about plot or logistics (although that's definitely popping up from time to time). Usually I'm thinking about my characters and how they would react in the most mundane of situations.
(warning: incoming "wow, you're sad".)
Tonight after work I went to a local cafe on the way home to get dinner. As I sat there playing my DS (um, Pokemon, of course) and waiting for my food and...being hyper aware of the Creeper Man in the corner staring at me while his girlfriend slept in the seat beside him...my brain, for the most fleeting moment, imagined that two of my characters were in that cafe booth instead and mumbling about Creeper Man. In the span of five seconds these two characters had a dialogue in my brain of what I was thinking: "Ugh, that guy is so creepy, isn't he." "Yes, he's kinda weird. Why is he staring at us?" "Ugh so gross. I wonder which one of us he's staring at?" "Both of us. He's imagining us having sex." "He probably wouldn't if I didn't look like such a dyke." "Hell he's probably wishing he could get his girlfriend there to have a threesome." "Hey, by the way, next time your lesbian friends want to have an orgy, give me more than a two hour warning." "Where the hell did that come from?" "I'm just sayin'." "You're actually not saying anything."
And then my food arrived and all I could think was om nom nom nom.
But in the span of those few seconds I learned a lot about my characters. (Well, I actually knew most of that already about them, but you get my point.) Probably the most valuable thing I learned is that one of them needs a bigger advanced warning for orgies. Duly noted.
I've written before about how I talk to myself all the time to work out dialogue but this is different. This is just flat out pretending. The dialogue thing is done on purpose as part of my writing job. The sitting in a cafe and pretending that my characters are sharing my experience while I omnisciently mess with their feelings just happens naturally. I can't say if this is "normal" at all. But as I said before, it's how my brain has worked since I was about ten, so there.
What about you all? Do you just have a bunch of people living vicariously through you or do you take the more ~normal~ routes of writing up characters sheets and writing out scenes to get to know your characters?
(I'ma go to bed now and go to sleep while thinking up nonsensically boring and mundane scenes with my characters in them. Odds are they'll be trying to sleep too. Man, my life.)
Writing wise, absolutely nothing was accomplished this week. I can blame my day job for that. It was an hour-packed week, with full days and a whole lotta commuting all over the prefecture. My one-day weekend was spent restocking on food, cleaning, and I think a shower is gonna be shoved in there somewhere. Of course, I did my appropriate amount of "OMFG I SHOULD WRITE" but I was so exhausted every damn day that I always crashed early and still felt like death even after 10 hours of sleep. But that week is over and now it's back to regular hour fun times! Great timing too, because Nano starts in a little over a week!
One of the things I did this week to unwind was read through a lot of blogs and forums, like I usually do, but this week that (and watching movies) was all my brain could handle. Something I came across was the recent development of Amazon signing up authors at a place that is definitely not writing-topic centered. As anticipated, most of the comments centered around how this will just mean more people will self-publish fan-fiction because we all know it's still super easy for "real" authors to get published by the big names.
I'm used to reading this sort of thing - most people, especially those who aren't involved in writing/the publishing world, are understandably ignorant to what's going on in today's market. But that doesn't mean it's still not a massive headdesk moment (and not to mention, gut stabbing) to always read "Authors who self-publish just suck and their stuff is obviously drivel. ALL THE TIME. If it was any good a real publisher would pick it up!" Not only is this just not true, it also erases all the self-published authors who have chosen to forgo even submitting to agents/publishers in the first place for whatever reason.
Of course, that doesn't mean that a lot of self-published stuff isn't still...well, obviously not ready for publication. Part of our jobs as authors is to recognize when our work is not ready, or when WE'RE not ready, for world release. It's easy for us to fall into the trap of excitement and lofty ambitions, especially when it's sometimes super hard for us authors to get any sort of material validation for our works. But that's how it goes. It still does not also mean that there's a LOT of good self-published stuff out there. I know I'm looking forward to getting an E-reader at the end of this year so I can start reading my To Read list
on the cheap
Bleh. Now excuse me. I seriously have to try and finish this chapter in time for Nano. If I'm super good this week I may even get more editing done! Like I said, folks, lofty ambitions!
This entry is just a snippet of a multi-part saga dealing with the technicalities behind writing. Posts and subsequent discussions focus on how we write.
First off, guess what, it'z mah birthday. Well, it is on this side of the world anyway. Still a few hours left back in Amuhrrika. General praises of admiration for having made it this far without Darwinizing myself are always welcome. And presents. Or both.
[VULCAN JEDI MINDTRICKMELD] Do both. [/VJMTMM]
Today's discussion is about in what order we write scenes. Simply put, do you write all of your scenes in order (whether from an outline or as naturally as it feels) or do you write whatever damn scene you feel like writing at the time?
I am a strict chronological writer. Everything I write must be written in order. I've always been this way, from my very early days of
playing around with fan-fiction. I mean, in my head, writing scenes out of order just is not done! *pearl clutch* On one hand I can
understand the argument of "well, if you're blocked on this scene, just work on one that you are inspired for!" but I can't
let you do that StarFox do that, man. I FEEL YUCKY AND DIRTY OKAY.
There is one scene that I've written completely out of order. Back in 2008 when I was working on the first half of Rebirth (I started
writing it around Nano 2007) I was outlining the series, and there was a scene I REALLY wanted to write for Regress, the then final book of a planned trilogy. So I wrote it. And damn was it a good scene.
That scene is still planned.. But I will have to rewrite it, because the characters' motives in that emotionally charged scene have
completely changed. Actually, one of the characters has completely changed, in direction and origin. So while the same things happen, the feeling and tone of the whole scene is different.
(Also, technically, I started writing Revenge before I even finished the first complete draft of Rebirth. But you know, Nano.)
This is why I don't write out of order. I'll end up having to rewrite later scenes anyway because of things always changing in the
scenes before them. Plus, finally getting to write those scenes I'm all geared up for is like a super awesome reward for trudging through those scenes I struggled to finish before.
I mostly made this the topic today because I'm really bitter about finishing the scene I'm on. Yeah, I don't wanna.
I was pretty flabbergasted a couple days ago when I realized that I had to like...write stuff. I mean, my brain is in editing and planning mode right now until Nano in a couple of weeks, so this whole notion of writing is like being told I'm actually expected to work when I go to work. I mean, what.
Since finishing Nano '10 I've barely touched my Revenge draft except to re-read and take notes for future plot plans. I did write like...a page somewhere over the past year, but it wasn't a very good page. After Nano '10 I still had to finished the first draft of Rebirth, start editing it, and there were some short story attempts in there too. OH and Camp, which was an entirely different story in the CROSS// series. So yes, this week I officially dusted off the chapter I left off on last year and realized...damnit, not only do I have to somehow finish this scene, but I also have to finish the chapter. How dare you ask me to write! Actually, I'm just annoyed because I have no idea what scene to write next yet. I barely know what I'm going to write during Nano as it is. Whine. Gripe. Moan
Also always a good time killer is lurking on the Nano forums which finally have been given some new life with the new season. Of course, like somebody with a real love for self-punishment, I always read the rule and rebel forums to see what we're whining about this year. Everybody has their major gripe about Nano and this is mine:
While everybody knows what the "core" rule is (you must start a totally new story in November) the staff have always "welcomed" the ~cheaters~ who are not either 1) writing a traditional fictional novel or 2) starting a new story, but with the caveat that we acknowledge that we're not a part of the ~real nano spirit~ or can consider ourselves winners when we pass 50k before the 30th.
Which is, you know, utter bullshit.
There is nothing more extraordinary about starting a new draft from scratch and writing 50k than doing a WIP and writing 50k. The "spirit" of nano has always been about writing 50k in 30 months to me, with a lovely dose of community and squeeing and nail biting going on the other 23hours of the day we're not buckling down to write.
I also don't see what the difference is between somebody doing a WIP and a person starting a new story who is already working from an extremely detailed outline, where pretty much all they have to do is flesh it out with prose and dialogue. And with all the "tips" we see every Nano (write out contractions, be as purple and wordy as possible, etc) it seems like such a silly line to draw. Today I saw a staff member say that doing a WIP is not conducive to the creative abandon of Nano. Excuse me? Just because I didn't come up with my plot and characters until October 31st (and even if you're doing a new story, I feel like very few people go into Nano doing this anyway) doesn't mean that my creative juices aren't being pushed to their limits and I'm in the corner going "OMG BUT I DON'T KNOW WHERE THEY'RE GOING OR WHY THEY'RE IN THE CAR UGH".
In short, I love Nano, I love the communities I've found through it, I love that it makes me set aside whatever else I'm doing and work on that rough draft I've been neglecting, and I love when December 1st comes around and I get to see that all my hard work has paid off and my writing career is on the right track. What I DON'T love is the head patting on rebels and saying "that's sweet, you're welcome here, but you don't really know about we're doing". It's especially distracting to us who don't live in a world where all novels are 50-90k. I write 300k epic novels. You expect me to write that much in a month? Maybe if I had Hermione Granger's time necklace thing. BUT I DON'T.
Anybody can start a novel. It takes a lot of dedication to actually finish one, which is what we WIPers are attempting.
/goes back to writing
This entry is just a snippet of a multi-part saga dealing with the technicalities behind writing. Posts and subsequent discussions focus on how we write.
YUP. Exactly what I think of.
It's the age-old question, especially during this time of year when Nano season is in full bloom.
"Are you an outliner, or are you a pantser?"
Now, if you're like me, you hear "pantser" and immediately think of that one snot in your middle school who would run around and rip people's pants down and go HAR HAR HAR UR UNDERWEAR LOL. (Oh, the years before that was considered sexual harassment. How I wish I was born later~) Of course "pantsing" refers to the saying of "flying by the seat of one's pants" but it still sounds stupid. So, for the sake of this post, we'll call pantsing "flying" to preserve this author's sanity.
Some people swear by outlining: they get the most satisfying work done by carefully constructing their entire novel via bullet point (including dates and times) that they will later flesh out in their word processor. Others find that when they "waste time" outlining they end up not using it at all and they fly through their story without knowing what's going to happen next. There are obvious advantages and disadvantages to both ways, and it all comes down to your own personal preferences and experiences - we authors know best that all our brains function differently and what works for one does not work for all. Thankfully, I've never seeing outlining wank before....but that would be interesting...and good way to spend a Sunday evening...quick somebody start some outlining wank!
I used to be a pretty hardcore flyer. I've always been the type that once I have an idea I just wanna sit my ass down at the keyboard and start typing, finding out about my characters as I go and letting them take me through the plot. As I got older and got more serious about making a career out of my writing - and, not to mention, focusing on extensive series where lots of crap happens - I started jotting down occasional notes that I wanted to remember for the future. And then I started outlining. But only a little.
I still am the type to just make stuff up as I go...but only little things, like dialogue banter, settings, sometimes who's in what scene and what order they fall in. The only thing I outline now are the Big Bad Plot Points, especially the climatic endings once I have them figured out because LOL I FORGOT. Sometimes for Nano I'll make a scene-by-scene outline just so I have something to continuously work on but I don't think I will this year.
My line of thinking is...if it was really a Brilliant Idea,then I'll remember it. And I still remember a lot of my OMG I MUST WRITE that ideas that I had a few years ago. I've never outlined the third novel of CROSS// but I know exactly how it will play out, all the way down to certain scenes. Of course, you could argue that I should still write down notes in cause I get like, thrown into a coma and get amnesia. But if I ever get amnesia that bad I think I'll have more things to worry about than my writing career.
So in short: outlines are for academic papers, yo. Writing fiction is about literary abandon and writing off the cuff, unless of course you're really afraid you'll forget that one thing. Well, you know, for me anyway.
What's it going to be, readers? Especially for this year's Nano?
Most of us writers make small to grand soundtracks for our novels and/or series. This post is not about any overall soundtrack that I have (that will come later!) but instead about the "perfect song" that best sums up one of my entire series.
In short, the theme song.
Now, I have a theme song picked out for every singular installment, but before a couple of months ago I didn't have one for the whole series. That's a very big role to fill and not just any song can capture the essence and emotion of an entire series of anything, book, show, or movie. I didn't think I would find the perfect one for a very long time. Until my queen favorite artist, Japanese pop empress Ayumi Hamasaki, released a a new mini-album this August.
The final track is called BRILLANTE, and I was in absolute love from first listen. It's been a long time since Ayu has put out a song that instantly grabbed my heart from the first few notes and managed to hold onto it for the full six damn minutes. And then one night as I walked home from work this song came on my MP3 player, and I realized why it felt so strong to me - it encapsulates the entire motivation felt through the course of my series CROSS// particularly the final scenes in the final book. The climatic scene of the entire series came to me while listening to this song. And it was perfect.
The best way I can describe the meaning of this song is to say "I must go on alone". The narrator (well, Ayu) is pained by the idea of separation from the person who always stood by her, but truly believes that going on "the narrowing road" by herself is the only way things can end up. This is exactly what is going through a character's mind at the end of my current series. The character does not want to abandon the person they love more than their own life itself, but for the good of the universe the character believes without a doubt that things can only be fixed by acting alone, even down to the detail of not telling their beloved why. In short, the road to saving the universe is narrowing, and one character believes that it can only be walked upon alone, with pain.
I have done my own translation of these lyrics. Now, if you're coming here from a google search looking for a translation of this song, here's some notes: I initially translate songs aiming to be as literal to the original meaning as possible (adjusting for symbolism, obviously). I then go back and reword some phrases so they sound more fluid in English and the meaning is easier to grasp. Finally, I adjust the syllables so they can be sung to the original composition if you so desire. And yeah, I test that last part. The feelings behind these lyrics are explained above.( Back hereCollapse )
I have a purple ASUS EEE PC 900 that I got three years ago this month to use when I studied abroad in Japan during college...see, my normal laptop at the time was a large 17in desktop replacement and that wasn't very good for hauling around. (That one has since died. The one I have now? A 19in gaming monster.) Obviously I wasn't going to use it for anything extravagant beyond web surfing and word processing with maybe a game or two of solitaire thrown in. LOL OOPS.
Well we got what we paid for in this POS and on a good day it'll take 10 minutes to load a web page and another five just to open Firefox to begin with. But that really doesn't mean much for this week's edition of Check-In. The fact that even Word crashes all the damn time does.
Every month I have a four night stay in a hotel for my job. I take this thing with me and usually it's "good enough" to give me my internet fix in my down time. But now that I'm in serious editing mode I take the chapters I'm working on that week on my USB and try to get shit done.
LOL OOPS AGAIN.
Between the serious eye strain (hello 9in monitor!) after a couple of hours and the ridiculously small keyboard (and I have small hands!) the only thing else standing between me and successful editing time is the fact that the memory is always dying and word loves crashing when there's no memory. After about Wednesday I finally gave up on getting editing done while on my trip and instead focused on handwritten notes for nano.
Thankfully I was able to finish my editing goals for the week tonight with some time to spare if I want to get a jump on next week's goal. I now have the first four chapters done! Nothing to sneeze at. I'm still averaging about 1k chop in every chapter which I find pretty silly.Anyway, here's more pictures of my Pikachu Puppet (lol Puppetchu) messing with my shitty laptop with two names. (The first and actual one is MEGU, the nickname is TK which stands for both Tiny Keyboard and Tetsuya Komuro. Yeah. Don't ask.)
One of the great things about being networked with other writers is that...well, you can use them. Shamelessly. And rip them off. Shamelessly.
I'm in a small, annoying pickle, readers. A pickle of my own creation but a pickle nonetheless. You see, I need to come up with about 99 last names. Well, exactly 99 last names. I've got...10?...so far?( Details!Collapse )
Hey guys, it's October.
October is a great month for three super solid reasons.
1) My birthday is in October. Actually this should be all you need to know about October to know that it's fabulous.
2) It's full-on fall now. Hot weather is LOL BAI and blessed coolness all day comes and makes life freakin' bearable outside again.
3) NaNoWriMo season is officially here.
GUESS WHAT. I'm going to do what I've done for every nanowrimo I've ever been in since I started in 2007 (except for last year technically) and work on a WIP. Another 50k here we come.
So this is what I've been doing this week~~
Finished editing chapter 2 and almost done with chapter 3. Hoping to have it completed tonight so I can start fresh on chapter 4 during my business trip. The first five chapters are the first hump to get through as they're the first set of chapters I wrote en mass, so they always require the most changes and the most analyzing on my part to make sure they match up with the rest of the novel. Thus far I'm averaging about a chop of 1k words per chapter - most of it is fluff, redundancy, etc, all that good (or not so good) stuff. Editing while on my trip should be...interesting, granted that I will be moving everything to my traveling EEE PC. Not the greatest computer to do any doc work of any kind on. At least I THINK it has Word 2007 (what I use on my main laptop here) on it so my flow should only be disrupted by a super tiny keyboard and it crashing every five minutes from memory loss.
Like I said above, Nano season is here, which means my preparations are in full swing. Luckily, that's not very much! I'm more or less ready for nano to come now. I've known what the following couple of chapters were going to be since the end of last nano. And I already outlined pretty much the entire next section that I may or may not get through this year. So all that really leaves me with is finalizing where things are going so I can just jump in and write write write without too much blockage. I think I mentioned last week that I fubbed on a plot point but that's since been sorted out (as you may see in the pic I've posted). Oh, about the pic. I needed to take a pic of something. But, you know, spoilers~ So check out at your own risk or just admire my super badass orange pencil I got yesterday. (Seriously? Japan is the best place to buy cheap and amazing office supplies. It's an addiction, really.)
That's all for this week. Proper Nano flail post to come if I ever find time this week~