Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Accidental Plotting

I've always been a pantser. I've always gone with the flow with my writing -- wherever it decides to take me is where I go. I struggle with plotting, not because I've never tried, but because I've never understood the techniques that so many writers use.

I've also never finished writing a book.

I'm not saying these two things will correlate for all pantsers (there are plenty of us out there that don't struggle to finish their books.). But for me, I think they do. I have some pretty amazing ideas that I can't seem to follow through on because I can never figure out how it all ties together.

I was talking this over with Jenn recently and she's letting me borrow her copy of Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell, a writing book put out by Writer's Digest. Even just the little bit she told me about the techniques she learned from it gave me some light bulbs over the top of my head.

So I picked up some index cards, and started brain-vomiting plot points on them, stuck them on my wall and now I have something of an actual plot. Trying new things does not always result in the Cone of Shame. 

One other thing that has really helped is Making a pinterest board dedicated to my WIP has been amazing.  I love looking for things -- headcasts are my favorite, honestly -- that fit and help guide my brain into that particular mood. 

Plotting has never been my thing, but's all I think about. Do my readers have any plotting suggestions that may help? How do you get your book rolling? 

Monday, February 10, 2014

The Acceptance of Reality

We all have this idea of what our writing is like -- funny, dark, sexy, etc, etc-- and sometimes, we read our work and wonder where the disconnect between our brains and the paper happened.

I had one of those days today. See, in my writing, my stories, are dark and fraught with monsters that reach out from the dark to snatch the light from your eyes. You know those songs that are slow and slinky, the melody you wouldn't want to listen to at night? That's what I always imagine my writing to be.

Reading the couple chapters I've written of my current story had me curled on the couch, gut-punched by reality. My writing isn't like that at all. It's not as if Edgar Allen Poe and Karen Marie Moning had a book baby in my head. All I could think was that it was terrible and why did I bother?

Reality is harsh and doesn't care about your self-expectations. Reality doesn't pull its punches or respect a desperately called for time out.

This is another reason why having someone else read your work is important. Every writer has those moments of this sucks, I need to give up, throw it out and find some other hobby. When you've got someone who has read your work and won't lie to you, they can take reality and show you how you fit into it.

Today, that person was my mom.

I've always let my mom read what I write. Because she's never lied to me, and sometimes she has really good suggestions -- she's the average reader, and she is who I would be marketing for if I got published. I'm not looking to impress literary professors -- I want the average person that picks up a book for an escape. So, when I need technical advice--plot progression, character arcs, etc--I go to my CPs. I go to my fellow writers. But when I need, does this jar you out of the story? How do you like this character? I go to my mom. Because she's the average reader.

Just so happened that my mom was here today when I had my little writer-freak out. I'd just reread my work and I curled up on my couch under a fluffy blanket (guys, my dog attacked my face like she knew I was upset. The entire scene was pathetic.) and moaned. And mom gave me possibly the biggest compliment I could've gotten at that point.

"You are never going to be Stephen King or E.A Poe. Your book is not Bram Stoker's Dracula or the Lost Boys. Your work is Buffy. You have the potential to be Joss Whedon with boobs. You are not emo or goth-- and your writing does not reflect that point of view. You are a happy person with a whole lot of snark. Just like your characters. Embrace that." 

Like, damn, mom.

But she's right. I'm never going to be E.A Poe, no matter how much I'd love it. I do need to embrace the fact that my writing is not as dark as I'd like to think. That doesn't make it bad. It's just not what my expectations were. So I'm going to make an effort to embrace what my writing is, rather than bemoaning what it is not.

Have any of y'all had that Reality Gut Punch? How did you deal with it? Did someone help you through it?

Til next time,

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Difference Between Appreciation And Desire

I'm a big fan of romance -- the genre in general, the subplots; the angst, the tension, the love scenes, etc. I've devoured the majority of that section in the library of my home town. Because I love it, I always add that element to my stories; generally with enough kink to make things interesting. But I'm having an issue with my current Work In Progress.

My MC is bisexual. (That's not the issue.) She is surrounded by pretty attractive people, 90% of whom are completely valid possibilities for a romantic relationship of some kind. She's aware of that and pretty happy about it.

I usually go into a story knowing who my character is into, who they would be happy to be with. In this case, it could be anyone. She has chemistry with several characters and I could easily write a love scene for them. She could conceivably end up with Character L, R, or B...maybe even S which would both delight and concern me.

I'm tired of love triangles. They're overdone, played out, and ultimately disappointing. I'm generally the first to yell out, Polyamorous Relationship!!! But in this particular story, it won't work.

And then I realized that she could...just not end up with anyone.

It's completely possible for her to admire someone's attractive qualities and not want to bone them.

It is, in fact, a legit option for her to say, "Yes, R is really really pretty. I appreciate his aesthetic but he's a total bro. I can't bone my bro. We're not Lannisters, here." 

I wish more authors--and readers, as well--would realize that a character can have a superficial attraction to someone and not want to have a sexual or even romantic relationship with them.

Alternatively, let's start bringing in canonical polyamorous relationships into the mainstream! Then no one has to choose!

What an odd concept...

Monday, February 3, 2014

The Delightful Drill Sergeants

The past six months have been...interesting. There's been a lot of personal drama, but at the same time, I've had so many changes happen, my head is still reeling.

Back in October, I moved out of my parents' home and into my own apartment. I moved away from my home state and into a new one. I quit my job and moved without a new one in place (not my brightest idea.). I'm still very much getting settled in my new home. 95% of my stuff is here, and I'm slowly making it mine. Most importantly, I'm writing again. 

I used to write every day--blog posts, tweets, short stories, poems, novels in progress...etc, etc. I wrote all the time. When I started working, everything fell apart. I didn't know how to get my gears to keep rotating after I punched off the clock. I'm still learning how to do it, and here we are 4 years into the workforce. 

I'm working on a new project. It's a new incarnation of old ideas, new characters and new viewpoints. It's a new voice, and I'm in love with it. Every scene is holding my attention, and, even though it's not coming as fast as I'd like it too, I feel like it's just gathering momentum. 

Jenn and I have been having writing parties--talking about characters and plot points, headcasts and playlists, agents and publishers, everything from A-to-Purple-- and it's been incredibly helpful. 

I feel that it's important to have writing buddies -- they keep your brain on track, constantly thinking about writing in one way or another. They make amazing sounding boards when you're stuck, and they rarely hesitate to tell you to get your butt back in the chair and get to work. But at the same time, they're the first to tell you to take a break and play a game, watch a movie, etc. Writing buddies are your cheerleaders and your drill sergeants. (And sometimes, your partner in crime...)

I'm so grateful to have the writer friends that I do -- talented and a little bit scary. Make some cookies for your writer friends today, they deserve them. 

(No, I'm not making you guys cookies. I suck at baking. I'll make you grilled cheese though.) 

~~back to work,