Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Holidays and Writing Goals

Well it's almost time for Christmas, and other holiday festivities. I had my last day of work for the year today and I'm looking at what else needs to be done for the holidays. I'm relaxing right now on the couch with cat and netbook in lap while I ponder over things.

With the year ending I'm looking forward into 2011 and what I want to put down for my writing goals. I would like to finish my nano draft and also do a revision pass of at least one other first draft novel. I would also like to be more active in the critique group I recently joined. That's about as far as I am with my goals right now, I'll post a more official list sometime over my break.

Anyone else working on their writing goals? Still figuring out what to do?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Post Nano and Into December

I won Nano (National Novel Writing Month), crossing the 50k finish line on the 29th of the month (yay!). I  had been behind most of the month using my Thanksgiving break to catch up. I wrote over 20k for said break. Well having Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday off from work helped.

That being said I decided at the start of this month to finish the draft by year end. As of yet I have not touched the actual draft. My plan was to finish a note card outline then jump into the writing. Last week I wrapped up most of the rest of the story on my note cards so I think I am just going to start writing tomorrow.

So how did Nano go for those who participated ? Or writing in general?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Character Diagram

Here is the character flowchart I mentioned in my previous post. I made it with MS Visio, then I screen captured the print preview so I could have a picture of it. It's hard to see much in this thumbnail in this post, but this is only the scaled down version of a larger image.

I started out by placing my main character Sabina in the center then I kept her her co-workers above and beside her. Her boyfriend and best friend are lower as I didn't have to worry about what they think about her co-workers.

After awhile it did get a bit confusing with the arrow shapes with the number of characters I have on here. So I used the connector tool for the last two arrows. They were black originally, but then I figured out how to change the colors. I used dark green for strong like, lighter green for liking someone, gray for more neutral, lighter red for dislike, and dark red for hate. Ya, Iris is one of those people that really doesn't like others. I still need to put arrows in between the best friend and boyfriend.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Nanowrimo in progress

Well it is now day 10 for Nano and I just crossed the 10k mark. I've been behind the whole month so far, but not to bad. I wrote 5k on Sunday which helped. While I try to get in a few words here and there I generally like to have large chunks of time to just write. Sunday was wonderful, even with the push to make up some of the ground.

I had been dragging for awhile with the writing and once I figured things out I've had an easier (and more fun) time of it. I spent some time Saturday and Sunday morning thinking about my novel. I came to the realization that I needed to think about my characters' motives better. My novel started with more of a plot idea than a character and until I moved more towards the characters it was a struggle to write. I switched out some characters that were there for the sake of plot and added some characters with some things they want. Some of the new characters are plot related, but more so in the way that what they want conflicts with other character's wants/goals.

I also spent some time Sunday morning creating a flow chart of my major characters. Each character has their own square, then I connected them with arrows. The arrows I color coded to show if one character liked, disliked, or was more neutral about the other character. Some arrows I made double ended to show that both characters felt the same about each other. Others have single arrows, one in each direction with different colors. It really made me think about the various characters as I took each character in turn and though about how they felt about the other characters. Plus to the pairs where the characters feel differently about each other can make for some good conflict points in the novel. Aside from just the mutual dislike.

So, to those also participating in Nano how are you doing? Catching up, right on goal, worked in a nice cushion?
And for those not doing Nano, how's the current work in progress going?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Muse Prompting Monday - Nano Go!

I've been wanting to upload this picture for a few weeks now. I took this picture back on October 9th while watching the sun set over Cayuga Lake. With National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo aka Nano) starting tomorrow I'm scheduling a post for the first time (it's Sunday morning as I type this).

I'm not sure how this will inspire the muses of others. It could be a nature story or perhaps something about being captured or life's struggles. It's hard to tell in the thumbnail, but if you click the picture to see the full size the bird has something in its beak. I think the bird is a kingfisher.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Pants Wisely

Yes, it's almost time for Nano (National Novel Writing Month) and as mentioned my novel this year isn't planned at all. That got me thinking that it might be fun to post about tips and tricks to keep a story moving forward without an outline/previous planning. Of course Nano is about sitting down and writing 50k words on a first draft, not creating a masterpiece. Some of this is advice I've picked up over the years, I'm not claiming to have come up with everything here.

Lists: Lists are your friends, and it's something quick to generate ideas. You can have lists ahead of time for fall back when stuck with the draft or use them to get ideas flowing while writing. These don't have to be to detailed or to long. I've read that around 10 is a good number. You can list character traits, pet peeves, best friends, worst enemies, favorite places, favorite foods, etc. Whatever will help to get the writing moving works.

Relationships: This is something I decided to try this year, probably in a flow chart. For each of my major characters I want to identify another character or two they get along well with and character(s) they don't. If I have time I may also make a quick note about why they do or don't like the other characters. When the plot is lagging I can always have a character bump into someone they don't like then let the words flow while they deal with each other. Because ya, writing scenes with lots of conflict go faster for me than happy ones.

Cast of Characters: This one is handy no matter what level of planning is done before writing the draft. Having a list of the characters with names, gender, "role", and anything else important at a top level is useful to refer back to while writing. I'm sticking with a line or two for each character, I don't want to much on the characters list.

List of Locations: A quick list of the locations where there will be action taking place in the story. Like the cast of characters this doesn't have to be in-depth. The key facts about the places should suffice. Any further level of detail can be worked out in notes. It's actually not a bad idea to write a paragraph or two about places featured frequently in the story. Or sketch out a map/diagram.

What ifs: Related to lists, only a bit more specific. Writing down a handful of "what if" types of scenarios to have on hand for when stuck can help keep the story moving. One could look this list over and choose one based on how the story has progressed already, or one could be picked at random.

So what might I have missed? What works for you when you are stuck?

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Halloween Haunting

I signed up to participate in the Halloween Haunting blog event this weekend. I was going to post about the event yesterday but didn't get a chance. Here I thought the netbook would be handy to get online more. It is useful and typing on it is pretty good. Though when my cat Trixie demands lap time I have to move the netbook out of her way then type one handed.

I'm also still getting ready for NaNoWriMo, well picking out character names. While I may jot down some notes this is still going to be a writing by the seat of my pants nano. I had fun with the random name generator earlier today.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


I feel bad for not updating my blog recently, especially with the monthly blog challenge going on. Though my last update is still this month so it's not to bad. This is the first night this week I haven't been involved in painting after dinner. So tonight I'm relaxing while watching an old episode of Doctor Who (Mind Robber). My new netbook just arrived today and it's great being able to be online and watching tv.

I am planning on doing a traditional Nano this year for national novel writing month. I had been planing on working on revisions then decided it would be fun to write a random first draft. I haven't done any planning at all, this year will be a "pants" nano. I need to install Office yet on the netbook, I figure it will help with writing. It'll be nice and easy to find a quiet place to write.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

CassaStar - Alex J. Cavanaugh

I volunteered to blog about Alex's book, CassaStar today for it's release. Here is the relevant information about the book as provided by Alex. I've already added it to my to-read list on Goodreads and am planning to purchase it sometime soon.

CassaStar by Alex J. Cavanaugh
October 19, 2010 Science fiction/adventure/space opera
ISBN 9780981621067 Dancing Lemur Press LLC

To pilot the fleet’s finest ship…

Few options remain for Byron. A talented but stubborn young man with a troubled past and rebellious attitude, his cockpit skills are his only hope. Slated to train as a Cosbolt fighter pilot, Byron is determined to prove his worth and begin a new life as he sets off for the moon base of Guaard.

Much to Byron’s chagrin, the toughest instructor in the fleet takes notice of the young pilot. Haunted by a past tragedy, Bassa eventually sees through Byron's tough exterior and insolence. When a secret talent is revealed during training, Bassa feels compelled to help Byron achieve his full potential.

As war brews on the edge of space, time is running short. Byron requires a navigator of exceptional quality to survive, and Bassa must make a decision that could well decide the fate of both men. Will their skills be enough as they embark on a mission that may stretch their abilities to the limit?

“…calls to mind the youthful focus of Robert Heinlein’s early military sf, as well as the excitement of space opera epitomized by the many Star Wars novels. Fast-paced military action and a youthful protagonist make this a good choice for both young adult and adult fans of space wars.” - Library Journal

Youtube Trailer

Purchase from:

Alex J. Cavanaugh has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and works in web design and graphics. He’s experienced in technical editing and worked with an adult literacy program for several years. A fan of all things science fiction, his interests range from books and movies to music and games. Currently he lives in the Carolinas with his wife.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Muse Prompting Monday

FairyTree The fairy tree waiting for a fairy to make a home within it. Or perhaps a character with a more fanciful imagination might dream about little fairies in a place like this. Or maybe a tree like this is on someone's property and they are annoyed with cleaning up after it. (Yes, the crab apple trees in my front yard already lost their leaves. Fall cleanup is on my mind.)

I can't believe I let a week go by without updating my blog. Aside from some e-mail I haven't been online much this past week. I did see the comments on my previous posts, which are much appreciated. I'm hoping this week will be better for blogging, at least I'm not as tired out as last week.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Muse Prompting Monday: 3D

I made this scene awhile back and it reminds me of part of the landscape in my fantasy work in progress. Of course it doesn't have to inspire fantasy scenarios to others as there is nothing in the image that says "oh look I'm in a fantasy world". Then again this image is more flexible and allows for more creativity.

I used Bryce to create this image. The program is fairly easy to use and not to expensive. Once I've created a scene it usually only takes a few minutes for the program to process the rendering (the final image).

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Favorites: Books on Writing

Something fun and short for today's post. Favorite books on writing.

For me there is one book that is my absolute favorite; Bird by Bird, some instructions on writing and life by Anne Lamott. In addition to touching on topics like plot and characterization she also speaks to the writing frame of mind in various ways. There is something about this book that resonates with me, plus her humor is enjoyable. I like to re-read various chapters as a pick me up when I'm having a tough time with writing. Actually I can't find my copy at the moment, which is distressing enough that I may by another one soon.

My favorite part of that book is the chapter on "Shitty First Drafts". I really agree with her how the first draft is there to get the story down, and the next drafts fine tune it. And while there are nice bits of humor peppered throughout the book I think this chapter is the funniest.

Now for something more text book like, I find Writing Fiction A guide to narrative craft by Janet Burroway useful. I actually own this book because it was the text for my fiction writing class in college. When I was finished with the course I decided not to sell it back. As opposed to reading this through like I do Lamott's book this I mostly use for reference. Whichever area I need a bit of help in I read through the relevant chapter(s) to find the helpful information I need. Right now the chapter on revision has quite a few note cards inserted.

What I also like about Burroway's book is the selection of example pieces of fiction. There are follow up questions after the stories, which while probably aimed more at a class can still be helpful to answer on one's own.

So what are your favorite books on writing? What makes them special/useful? I know there are plenty of other great books out there, some I'm thinking of reading at some point to.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Work in Progress Wednesday

Because alliteration is fun. Yes, I almost did TV Tuesday yesterday, though that would work for Thursday.

My current work in progress is a fantasy novel first draft heading into revision. I started the draft for National Novel Writing month. I had planned to complete at least one revision pass before this November so I could work on the sequel, but that didn't happen.

Where I am now I need to flesh out more details for the world and the characters, and then the plot. I'm pondering over what are the most important things to my characters, along with what risks would they take to obtain what they want. The characters feel flat in the draft.

As I define my character's core values a little more I'll use that background to make decision flow charts for them. I'll start with the first choice my main character (MC) has (stay home or leave), and figure out the positives and negatives associated with each options. Then those options would lead to other choices, which the character would have to navigate through. Then I could use that information to make an outline to guide the revision.

I am also thinking a bit more about the actual story. As I ponder the characters and the world set up I keep thinking that the novel has a young adult (YA) feel to it. The story theme is very coming of age and my MC is on the younger side. She's pretty much leaving home to figure out what she wants to get out of life/what sort of career she would want. And of course she's curious about other places she's never been before.

Here's to hoping I stick to getting some writing time in and have some progress to report sometime next week.

So what are your current WIPs?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Writing Time

Alright, I've procrastinated this post long enough. I didn't post first thing after work today and the evening seamed to slip by. Of course it doesn't help that I could have dozed on the sofa before 8 tonight. I didn't sleep to well for whatever reason last night.

Thinking about time gave me an idea for today's post. Scheduling writing time. This is something I need to be better with. Right now I'm trying to find a routine that works for me. Once I have that it is so much easier to write regularly.

A few years back I was working part time after college. On the days I was home I would get a fair amount of writing in. I would get up around 9am, check various websites until about 10, then I would write until noon. Sometimes when I would be working on a more exciting part of a draft I wouldn't realize it was lunch time until the younger cat would paw my leg and meow at me. My lunch hour was split with me eating under her watchful eye, then a rousing game of fetch the puffy. Once she would settle down I could get some more writing in over the afternoon. Sure sometimes it would be rough to stay focused but in general that schedule had worked for me. And I enjoyed the writing time.

Now with my full time job I need to figure out a new routine. I've tried getting up early, I've tried writing on campus in my extra hour, I've even tried writing in the evenings. Each has it's positives and negatives. The quiet time first thing in the morning is wonderful, but for me I need to go to sleep earlier so I can make it out of bed in time the next morning. When I've managed it, writing right after work is alright. Though after a tough day fighting with databases or whatever else I need to unwind before trying to focus on something else. Evening writing works out so long as I start right after dinner. Any TV time and I'm ready to veg out.

I think though that I am going to make another effort at morning writing. Maybe I'll ease into it by getting up ten minutes earlier this week, then another ten the next. Short free writing exercises would be good for the stage I'm at with my revision preparation anyways.

So how do you fit time in for writing? Are certain times of day more preferable? Are specific places helpful? Are times grabbed whenever they can be fit in? Do you want more writing time? Happy with the time already?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Muse Prompting Monday

PathFloor A walk down a pine needle peppered path. I thought this would be a fun photograph to use for my Muse Prompting series. I like some of the other photographs from this area better, but the roots in this shot look like they are waiting to trip an unsuspecting character. And without the sky seen the time of day is a little more ambiguous, leaving more to the imagination.

Imagine character(s) on this path. Is someone walking alone? Running away from someone else? Or perhaps a romantic stroll?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Shopping Sunday

Ya, it's alliterative. And technically I was shopping yesterday, but today I wanted to post about shopping. At least the writing/reading related parts. Well, maybe I'll mention that I found mix berry Pocky in the candy store. I was glad to see they had some Japanese snacks and I've never had the mix berry flavor before. I love stopping in the candy store. In addition to the sweets, the owner also has her cat in the store. How great is it that the candy store has a cat named Caramel. One of my fictional towns needs a bookstore with a store cat.

I missed posting yesterday with all the shopping with being out and about for 5 hours. In addition to the candy store we went to a local hardware store, Home Depot, J C Penny's, Best Buy, Barnes and Noble, and the grocery store. The writing/reading part I wanted to blog about is the laptop/netbook search and the ebook reader.

Laptop wise I want something for the internet and writing. I'm not looking to replace my desktop machine. I know various models of ebook readers have the internet, but I would like to be able to blog, tweet, and post to other web communities. I need something to handle a fair amount of typing. It would be nice to write outside on good weather days, or simply have a laptop for writing on vacation or in other areas of the house.

I've also been considering netbooks for awhile as a laptop alternative. A few months back I had decided that I wouldn't like typing on them. Then with some of the models I was looking at yesterday I found a few that have keyboards set up just right so that my fingers won't feel squished together while typing. One model in particular has island-style keys, which help differentiate one key from the next for touch typing. (Some laptops have them to).

With the ebook readers my husband and I have been looking at various models for a little while now. Yesterday we checked them out at Best Buy then we went to Barnes and Noble for a closer look at the nook. The display on the nook is nice, and it also can browse the web. The store model also had a few PDF files already on it so we could see how the nook displayed them. I was pretty impressed with that part of the nook. With wanting a laptop or a netbook I probably won't buy an ebook reader for awhile. I don't want to spend to much money on electronics.

So what tech gadgets do you have? Or want? And any likes/dislikes in a gadget? There are some sweet devices out there that do have a heavier price tag attached.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Happy October

It's October, which means two things to me currently:

NaBlogWriMo. I'm participating in this event for the first time the object being to write a post a day for the month of October. It looked like fun so I figured I would give it a try. I could use the motivation to update my blog more.

NaNoWriMo.  Short for National Novel Writing Month. It's a writing challenge to write 50,000 words for a novel (the novel draft doesn't have to be finished, only the actual 50k word count) first draft. Now I'm going to do something different this year and be a "rebel". Instead of writing something new I'm going to revise a completed novel draft. I'll be doing prep work this month and come November I'll set a goal for myself based on how October goes. If the NaNo site was online right now I'd link to my profile there.

Also a note, I enjoyed the Great Blogging Experiment. I'm still planning on responding to comments on my blog along with continuing to check out other posts.

So what plans do you all have for this month? Rest of the year? Writing or otherwise. :)

Friday, September 24, 2010

Creating Compelling Characters

I'm participating in the Great Blogging Experiment writing about creating compelling characters.

When it comes to making a character compelling I think the most important part is to have the character's stakes in their conflict be clear to the reader. A major character can be likable or not, but either way there needs to be a clear understanding of what the character has vested into the story's conflict and what they stand to loose. This applies to the protagonist and the antagonist. 

The character's stakes don't have to be life and death. What they can risk loosing through various choices is related to their main conflict. This does relate back to character driving plot. What a character doesn't have and is trying to attain becomes the conflict for the story. From this conflict comes the plot. Without compelling characters plot can fall flat. 

Another part of a character's stakes are the choices they make through the story. When writing these choices it helps to understand what the benefits and costs of each option are for the character. What will happen to the protagonist if she decides not to challenge what a former friend is saying about her? What about if she says something to this person? Or about this person?

In real life we all face choices and risk loosing or gaining things. As a reader seeing this in characters makes them more interesting and almost real in a way. Plus to feeling that risk that a character faces helps keep an interest in the story. We read on to find out what choices the character makes to work out their conflict and how it is all resolved. Does the character loose what's important to them? Do they solve what they need to?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Character Visualization: Their space

I use Excel for various writing organizational tasks and I also like to play around with the different options/tools. While playing with the insert-shapes I  discovered a frame shape. After putting frames around random pictures I thought this might be a good exercise to visualize what a character's space could look like. It's another dimension for getting to know characters better.

In addition to figuring out what your character might have in their space it is also fun to figure out where various things came from. It's almost like brainstorming in a way to tease out more details about a character and their relationships.

For example, with this bird picture maybe it belongs to a young woman and she has hung on her living room wall. Well most of the time. Maybe she really dislikes birds but the framed picture was a gift from her boyfriend the budding nature photographer so she doesn't want to hurt his feelings. She keeps it in a drawer most of the time then makes sure it's displayed when he's coming over. And maybe he notices the little amount of dust on it compared to her other nick-knacks. He could wonder if she's hiding it, or he could think that she's taking extra special care of it because it's from him.

The bird picture is one I took this spring, the texture on the frame is a default pattern in Excel, and the purple around the picture is supposed to be wall color. The frame shape isn't curved by default, I transformed it to a free-form shape then edited the points. I'm thinking of putting together a little walk through post on some of the Excel options I used here.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Story Taking Shape

This post idea has been knocking around for awhile and is one of those gardening pondering topics. Starting in the spring I've been pulling out a multitude of seedlings. We have a maple tree in our front yard along with two Roses of Sharon "shrubs". I use the term shrub loosely here the one "Sharon" is taller than our house.

With both the maple and Sharon seedlings I noticed that the first set of leaves are unique from the rest of the plant's leaves. At first I wasn't sure what the plants were until I saw more leaves grow. The picture in this post has Roses of Sharon seedlings, which I took back in May. Two of the plants in the picture only have their sprout leaves, which are wide and rounded. The plant in the front has it's first true leaf, which has a narrower shape and the little ridges. This true leaf is a small version of the leaves on the adult plant.

Yes, a little gardening mention to transition into the writing related thought I had while gardening. Seedlings are like stories. In that the first set of leaves are the start of a story idea and that the true leaf is the story all polished and found.

For me my first draft is the sprout leaves. I do some light outlines, but my novel drafts are still rather rough and exploratory. I'm currently working on notes in preparation for revision in which I want to get my novel closer to it's true form. I know where I want to take it, what its true leaf looks like. My process currently is working out the details and deciding various character and world traits that will make my story arrive there.

For other people who have more details figured out ahead of time, they could be closer to their true leaf in the first draft then I am. Or maybe the first draft is really exploratory.

Where would you say your sprout leaves are for your process? What helps you flesh out your idea enough so that the writing stands up to your true leaf idea? Or have I been spending to much time pulling weeds?

Monday, September 6, 2010

Time and days off

Why do days off meander away from relaxing to a multitude of things to do? Here I have this nice block of time but I keep switching from task to task to random amusement trying to fit things in. Though I haven't started the Wii up yet today, yesterday I spent some time on Mario Cart. I wanted to update my blog, the dishes can wait for later.

I want to be more regular with my blog. I do enjoy blogging and it's a nice way to keep up with other bloggers. Plus writing regularly is a good thing. I've been pondering the direction of my blog recently and I came to a realization this weekend. I like the general content I've been posting, and I'm still looking forward to the character conflict series I mentioned awhile back. I even have a post started saved as a draft. The tricky part is I have some really great thoughts while away from the computer for post wording that seam to evaporate once I'm at the keyboard. I'm tempted to buy a voice recorder to save said thoughts. That would be handy for things like cleaning and gardening.

I also decided that it would be fun to blog about books on occasion. I have a "to-read" list on Goodreads and it would be nice to share my reviews in my blog to. And it would be extra nice to read/review books by people I've met through blogging and online communities.

Then there are my cats. I'm thinking they might be mentioned on occasion in my blog, and mostly from the perspective of including pets into a work of fiction. I love animals, especially cats. If I'm not careful I could easily right too much about them.

Well, that's my post. I'm still participating in the Blog BBQ so I will be hanging around blogs today.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Blog BBQ party

Coming Down the Mountain: From Reclusive Writer to Published Author: Are You Ready to Find a Bunch of Awesome New Followers...: "It's time for the Blog Party BBQ to begin! I've jazzed up my blog with some new color, how about you? Are you ready for a bunch of new visi..."

This is my first time using the "Blog This" button from another blog, so hopefully the formatting looks alright.

I'm participating in Karen's Blog BBQ event and I wanted to mention it in my blog. I also figured it would be a good chance to have a more recent post here. If you don't already read her blog go over and check it out.

I've already received some comments from other BBQ people (yay) on an older post which unfortunately that post is old enough for comments to go to the moderation queue. Blogger e-mails me so I saw them shortly thereafter.

For anyone wandering over here from the party feel free to say hi on this post or my previous one. Either post works. I'd meant to have a more recent post, but with taking my one cat to the vet twice this week it's been a little hectic.

I am planning on visiting other BBQ blogs this weekend. I don't have any constraints on my time all weekend. Well, aside from making sure kitty gets lots of attention.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Conflict Breakthrough

As I've mentioned before I am currently in the process of working with my fantasy novel so I can start revising soon. Before I even look at my draft I want to flesh out both the world and the characters more, which can be a daunting process. But as I was reading one of Holly Lisle's more recent e-mails her answering a question on conflict really got me thinking.  I know how conflict works in novel writing, but my thoughts after reading the e-mail gave me my own epiphany. It was almost like a cartoon light bulb moment. I saw my main character's various conflicts and how they moved the plot forward.

This got me thinking further about character choices as relating to conflict. Whatever conflict big or small a character is currently facing they can choose how to try and solve that conflict. I thought it might be fun to draw up a conflict and choices flow chart. It would be good to flesh out what the various choices could cause for the character, which of course would introduce more conflicts which would then have their own options for a character to choose. The important part in all this is understanding why my character will choose what she does and what are the stakes.

Character drives plot. One can have an interesting idea for a novel or short story, but for the writing process the plot forms around the actions the characters take while trying to overcome the conflict. With my fantasy novel I have been struggling with the level of conflict for my character which in turn has been making planning/writing this novel difficult. Now thanks to the thought process after reading Holly's message I can better see the main conflict for my character along with how it will tie in with other conflicts.

Even though this post is about conflict my breakthrough will help with the worldbuilding as well. With analyzing the various conflicts it will give me a good way to break down different facets of the world and I will be able to figure out what exactly I need to flesh out more for the world.

I am still planning on starting my character challenge series soon, sometime this week. I figure this post is related to that in a ground work sort of way. Looking at various personality traits for a character can help understand why they react a certain way to a specific conflict.

(I hope this isn't to disjointed. This post has been ruminating in my mind since my breakthrough last weekend when I took 3 pages on handwritten notes on the subject. I wanted to get this posted before today gets away from me. I want to go through some boxes around the house in preparation for some work that's going to be done. I'm aiming to avoid the last minute shuffle of stuff that inevitably leads to misplacing items).

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Combining Creativity

Anyone who reads my twitter feed probably knows I also make jewerly in addition to working on my novels. While each of those creative endeavors is it's own thing there are times when they interact with each other. The fantasy novel I'm preparing to revise was started in part thanks to me pondering character ideas while working on a chainmaille bracelet. The magic part came later, though my character pondering provided my first glimpse into this fantasy world.

My main character works with metals, she does chainmaille along with other types of armor. It is her occupation in the start of the novel, which she leaves to discover what else is out there. In addition to this novel I have in mind one or two more to follow my character as she gets involved in more of the conflicts of the land. Where I am right now with the novel is fleshing out the world more, getting to know the different groups of people. Their customs, their histories, what the various groups think of the other groups, and so on.

Getting back to the jewerly aspect of this combined creativity, I was sorting through bits and pieces of things I'd made and found a spiral of wire from awhile back. As I was playing with the spiral I held it up to the back of my hand and thought it would be a neat focal for a bracelet. I looked at it longer and envisioned other spirals from the bracelet and had another thought. This type of bracelet would be something worn by the higher society ladies in the novel series. With clothing and adornments for the different people I'm keeping in mind their occupations. People doing more physical labor aren't going to be all decked out with various pieces of jewerly and their clothing would allow enough movement to do their jobs. They would have simple trinkets while my upper class could have more bangles, and more intricate layers of clothing.

The bracelet I made: (thumbnail linked to Flickr)
Spiral Bracelet

Friday, June 25, 2010

Blog series idea: Character Challenges

I've had a lot going on recently, and it's been causing me issues with blogging and online time in general. I figured I would try out something fun for awhile to get back into blogging. I may or may not stick to my previous Sunday schedule. My thought is it may be better to post when I have something to write about instead of trying to fight with the words on a specific day of the week. At least while I'm getting back into the swing of things.

So, one of the things I'd been thinking about offline is human behavior patterns and how they can be applied to fictional characters. After earning my BS in psychology I do tend to mull over behaviors more then other people do. Then I had an idea moment, that it would be fun to have blog posts about a particular behavior along with how it might play out with a fictional character. I'm also hoping that it might help other people reading my blog to ponder over different things, or at the very least be fun to think about how their characters might act in the various situations.

With writing I've never been one to get much out of those character trait lists. I know other people do, they just don't work well with my style of creating characters. I like being able to let my thoughts flow and interact with other character related ideas. It's hard for me to go down a list and figure out each one at a time. If anything I like Holly Lisle's flow chart she has in her create a character book.

That all being said would anyone be interested in playing along with me? Anyone is welcome to add their thoughts about the behavior/situation in the comments and/or how their characters might act. Either way it's something that will be fun for me to write about.

Friday, June 4, 2010

So I Joined Goodreads

Thanks to a blog post by Karen I've decided to sign up over at Goodreads. I've only poked around the site a little so far, but I like what I've seen. It's handy how they have different shelves to add books on, especially the "to read" one. I've been on Librarything for awhile now, which is useful to catalog owned books, so it feels weird adding things on Goodreads that I don't own. I only have so much real shelf space for books at home, and some of my books both loaners and owned are sitting around the house in various locations. (And yes, I do have plans to buy another book case or two sometime soon).

Anyways, I figure I'll spend some time this weekend adding books to various shelves on Goodreads. I'll probably start with the to read shelf so I make sure to have a handy list of books I want to buy or borrow. Though the ones my mom loaned me will probably be read first so I can return them to her. Then at some point I can use my Librarything list to add books to the 'read' shelf on Goodreads.

Further down the line I'm planning on integrating some of the Goodreads widgets onto my website. I have a page for reading, and haven't been sure how to organize it. With the widgets it will be easy enough to quickly display what I'm currently reading along with some of my favorite books. It will be interesting to build virtual book shelves as I enjoy reading many types of books.

So, anyone else on Goodreads? (Or Librarything?)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Location Location Location

So yes, a post with location in mind, as applied to writing. I'm going to attempt to not have this post sound to disjointed. Bits of what I want to say have been floating about today and yesterday. And it doesn't help that the longer my blog sits without an update, the harder it is to relax and write a new post.

Anyways, yesterday I spent my day out and about town. My mother and Aunt came up to attend the Lilac Festival. While the lilacs were mostly past peak after our early warm weather the crafts were wonderful as always. There are a variety of artisans for the arts and crafts show, with jewerly being heavily represented. With the bright sun we had yesterday, it was the perfect day for the jewelers to show off their wares. Everything sparkled in the brilliant sunlight. With the nice weather the festival was packed, and we had to make our way single file through the throngs of people. But I still enjoyed some shopping and walking along the flowers. Even with the lilac blooms past peak, their fragrance still hung in the air.

With the festival being as crowded as it was the three of us decided to eat elsewhere. Which is how I'm leading up to the writing related point that's been dancing in my mind these two days. There is a wonderful coffee shop turned cafe in the village of Fairport, nestled on the Erie canal. As we were strolling along from the parking lot to the cafe the bells of the bridge started clanging, signaling the lifting about to start.

Now I used to live within walking distance of this bridge, I've seen it lift and lower countless times, both as a pedestrian and while in the car. But yesterday there was a woman with her son there as well, both curious about the bridge. While we all waited for the bridge lift-lower cycle, the woman and her son were speaking to the bridge operator. It was neat to hear the operator talk about the history of the bridge. Some of the facts I knew, while others I didn't. I'd already know that the bridge 'corners' are all different elevations, but I hadn't realized that the bridge lacks right angles and that the counterweights weigh differently from each other. As I stood there and listened to the exchange, and watched the boy's curiosity, I could look at this location like it was new to me.

This got me thinking about how in any setting, be it modern or speculative, the difference between locals and someone newer to the area. In more subtle ways then having someone be totally lost. It also got me pondering about how different characters will react to the same setting, even a group of 'locals'. One person might be more interested in all the gears working to raise the bridge, while the next might be put off for the wait. (For the record there are steps so pedestrians can cross while the bridge is up, the only wait is when it is moving). Or maybe someone might feel a historical connection to something in the setting.

Here is a web page with a nice amount of pictures of the bridge. This is a lift bridge, not a draw bridge. The whole bridge lifts up, staying horizontal. It's not like in Blues Brothers where halves of the bridge raise independently.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

To Edit Mounds of Boxes

Well, I missed my Sunday blog posting time. I've had a death in the family last week and am working to get back into my normal routine (grandparent-in-law). To make a long story short I ended up working on something around the house which needed attention, thanks to one of my friends volunteering to help.

Unpacking boxes, yes boxes. My husband and I moved over the summer, and our back bedroom ended up being storage area central as we brought our belongings into the house. As I'd been going through some of the boxes they ended up in various stacks as well as being spread around the room. While the cats enjoyed climbing over and around them, the space wasn't fit for us to use. It was quite overwhelming glancing in that room, but my friend and I made short work of the mess. We went through various boxes, sorting things and condensing other things down into shared boxes. There is still plenty more for me to go through, but now most of the floor is visible and the remaining boxes are neatly stacked against two of the walls.

As I prepare for revising a first draft novel of mine I keep getting the feeling of looking at a messy room of boxes. Boxes with who knows what sitting in them, waiting to surprise me. And yes, possibly some good surprises in there as well. There is some of that nervous trepidation of looking at the room as there is to thinking ahead to my rough draft.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Update in Progress

Yes, I decided it was time to work on the layout of my blog to do something different than the default layouts. I started with the Minima template and edited the code from there, starting with adding a background. Said background is from an image I made awhile ago, which matches my website header image. I'm using the same color scheme as well to tie things together nicely.

I still have to play with the colors a bit more along with the header for the blog, but so far I like how this is turning out.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Goals for April

What is that saying, "April showers bring May flowers"? Seeing as how I didn't accomplish many of my March goals I almost feel like I should advance that saying a month. Though I've decided to simplify my goals for this month because I suspect I put to much on my plate for March.

Baby Sunflowers

What I really want to accomplish most of all is getting through a novel revision or two this year. My goals for this month are set with that in mind. April is going to be a preparation month for actual revision in May. Why May? Well one of the LiveJournal communities I belong to is doing a May writing challenge, and I chose revision for my goal for that. (The point of the challenge is a choose your own goal).

So my goals in specific:
~More world building for my mining mystery (2yn).

~Revision outline finished for mining mystery (so can revise in May).

~Be more regular about writing in my journal. Yes, I recently started an honest to goodness paper journal. I figure I can write whatever off the top of my head, along with things I observe through the course of the day.

~Work on establishing my writing schedule.

~Haiku a day

~I'd like to critique if I can fit some in with my other goals. (I'm trying not to overwhelm myself with things to do).

And slightly off topic, but I'm reading Harry Potter (again) and something Dumbledore said to Harry near the end of book 2 sticks in my mind as relating to character development: "It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities." I'll be keeping that in mind as I'm working on my characters more this month.

So, here's to April preparations bringing a productive May revision. I'm aiming to get through about 20k worth of my first draft, in the first of many revision passes.

Good luck to everyone else with their goals for this month.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Steampunk Fantasy Short Story

So I decided to write a fantasy short story, with some steampunk elements in it. With setting aside my science fiction short I wanted something else short to write for the end of this month. Over at Forward Motion for Writers, they are holding their March Madness challenge. I signed up for the 1k a day level, the challenge running the last seven days of the month. That makes 7,000 words I'm aiming to write, which is a bit long for one short story. For the challenge I figured I can write two short stories for the word count.

I'm a little over 1,000 words into the story so far and it's fun. There is a bit of a challenge with this being my first steampunk piece that I'm writing. I didn't really plan it out to much ahead of time, aside from the basic idea of my main character ending up in a magical world with air ships and other strange workings.

Yes, short blog post is short. I missed my usual Sunday post yesterday and am writing this on my lunch break.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Probably not a short story

But I'm okay with that, really.

Awhile back, I wrote about how I was working on a short story which would be history for a group of related novels I'm writing. Back in that post I had joked to myself that I didn't want it to turn into another novel. Yet now with the planning I've been doing for this short story it feels like there is enough going on so that it won't fit into the short story format.

Backing up a little bit, going forward at the same time. Last year I wrote the first draft of a science fiction mystery novel which takes place a few hundred years into the future. My main character is on a mining station in deep space somewhere. While that novel is set only on the mining station, the characters involved are part of a human race which has spread out to the stars. The time in which the novel takes place humans have been living on different planets for generations. Based on the colonization patterns and life on the planets, there are distinct cultures between them. People travel between the planets, and the planets are organized in some sort of interplanetary government. I also have other novels in mind that take place in this set up.

When I was doing some of the initial planning for the draft I had mapped out a vague time line of how humans had made it from Earth to the stars. I wasn't doing anything to detailed early on, only enough to get me to what I needed for the draft. With this time line I had decided that humans had a base on a planet just outside of our solar system from which they had a nice launching point to start exploring the planets which end up populated for the novels. With still settling on names for everything at the time, I called this the "Alpha site" since it's the first step to the stars. (Then I called the first planet settled Beta, as the next place humans moved onto from there).

Now that the first draft of the mystery is finished I've been looking at more world building to flesh things out better in preparation for revision. In the mean time I'd also been thinking it would be fun to write a short story. Inspiration hit and I thought, wouldn't the founding of the Alpha site make a great short story. So this month and last I've been writing down various scene and world ideas, figuring out the events which lead to the Alpha site being set up. Of course as I worked the more ideas generated other ideas. I've got a few different conflicts going on, and some thoughts for a decent cast of characters. People are involved with getting the mission ready to travel to Alpha, and then there is the crew of the shuttle.

Taking a step back and looking at what is involved I realized that at the current level of detail this is more than what would make for a decent short story. There are to many things happening and to many characters, if I confine it to a small space (pardon the pun) then it will feel to disjointed. This realization gave me a choice; I could take out part of the story to simplify it, or I could turn it into something longer.

While I'm not saying that this will be a novel, I have decided not to remove anything for the sake of length. The events that transpire here are all involved in a pivotal moment in history for the formation of civilization in my novel(s). My goal here is to best tell that story. If on further work it looks like it might stand as a short, fine. But if as I suspect it wont, then I'll work out the details and figure out what format will work best with the telling. I can always come up with something else if I really want to write a short story for the purposes of working in a short story format.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

First Blossoms of Spring

Yes, off topic post is off topic. Well mostly. I have been thinking a bit about the plant life in different areas in the world my fantasy novel takes place. I did mostly want to post this to share some signs of spring. Here in New York State our snow is melted and it's starting to get greener around here.

First - flowers of spring

Photo taken by me yesterday, in my front yard.

Zoomed trees budding

And one more, the trees in my back yard as seen from the front yard. The zoom on this camera rocks. I didn't realize how much the trees back there were budding until I was taking the pictures. (I was taking pictures of the nests).

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Magical Fantasy, revisiting

One of my March goals involves working on my Magical Fantasy novel. I finished the first draft over a year ago and haven't done much with it. Revision time is looming ahead. Instead of simply diving into the revision I'm in the process of taking time to step back and look at the novel.

Tonight was the first part of that process (officially at least) with the really high level work. I took some time to write out the major conflict points (again), and also what goals I have for the novel, and my promise to the reader. In promise I mean what am I setting up in the first few pages that will be out there for the reader to keep reading and will continue through the book. With a mystery novel you have the sleuth character discovering the crime, and the promise of the book is being able to read along with the sleuth's investigation. For my novel the promise is a work in progress, but I have more thinking to do on some of this work yet. I'm not going to worry about it.

I also spent some time writing about the main conflicts of the novel. The major one is for the main character (Trenkisa) to set out from home and find what she wants to do with her life. At the start of the novel she's at home with her family, and expected to follow in the family trade (metalworking). I'm still working out the details on her conflict some more. Like figuring out if she's traveling to look for magic users, or if she's traveling simply to find something new. Either way magic is involved in the plot, but the character's motivations will shape the novel.

I mentioned doing a practice query with this novel a short while ago. I'm still planning on that. After I finish with the conflicts and novel goals/promise I'll put a query together. I am also planning to read through the first draft and jot down what jumps out at me. Then I'll create a revision outline and dive in.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Oh Look, A Map

I was sorting through my novel files this afternoon to organize them a little better and I came across the maps I'd made. I had done a bunch of work on paper using my Copics markers to color in the various areas. This map here is the MC's home country, which is in the north of the continent. Looking at this I see things I may want to change as I'm working on worldbuilding.

The image of the map is only a thumbnail, click the image to see it larger. As I had only worked on the country for this one I left the paper around it unmarked. For purposes of sharing the progress here I quickly scribbled some blue and tan in MS Paint to show where the sea is and where land is. The legend and the various land use graphics are on the actual paper.

Under the country the yellow and orange lines are to represent the countries which border this one. My first map was political, and country color coded. Somewhere I have notes as to what color is what country (the official marker colors - yes Copic makes over 300 colors for their markers).

I still need to name all the countries. For writing the draft and making the maps I simply referred to this country as "Northen", the eastern most as "Easten", then "Westen" and so on.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

March Goals

I posted this over at Forward Motion, and am posting it here to.

Here's what I'm aiming to accomplish this month.

4 Critiques - Seeing as how these are shorter works I'm planning on doing one crit a week.

Back to school for busy writers - get started on this. Outline the class and have the first 2 lessons done. Bonus points for all of them done. (It's an FM thing).

Magical Fantasy - Do my practice query in prep for more world building and a revision outline. I'd like to get a good start on the outline and world building as well.

2yn - Do some of the lessons for that and get closer to being caught up. (Another FM thing - my Mining Mystery)

Alpha read for a friend - I can fit this in around the other writing.

Website clean up - My poor writing website is in rough shape. Some sections need to be put together, others need cleanup, and some just need updating.

Finish organizing my writing area. I've got a good start to this, so it's mostly finding homes for the last few things on my desk then putting the mini crates up. Oh, and watching out for the cat she likes to sit on top my tower and paw at stuff on my desk. Pens are her favorite so I've gotten good at keeping them in their spot. (I have something on my desk for pens, luckily she only bothers them if they are laying on a flat surface.)

SF short - start on first draft. This is related to the 2yn world wise, but it's a stand alone plot wise.

Fantasy Time

Following up on my post from yesterday, today I'm using the new icon for my Fantasy novel in progress. I really need a title for this novel, along with something to call the series. For now I'm calling it "Magical Fantasy" even though magic doesn't play much of a role in the first book.

Here is the rough blurb: "In a land where women are forbidden to use magic, one woman can't keep herself from wondering about the subject. What must it be like to cast spells? Stuck in a job chosen by her family can she find a way to pursue something that interests her?".

Yes, rough blurb is rough. What I'm working on right now is getting at the core of the novel, the main plot point that the main character deals with for the novel. The character isn't on some big quest to learn magic. She's not happy with having to work in the field of her family's business so she sets off on her own to see what else is out there. So there is a good bit of travel in the novel, just not the epic quest type. There is some sword fighting, as main character is pretty proficient with her sword.

This is the novel I'm planning on writing a practice query, to really get at the main point of the novel. I also am working on more world building for this, the world is lacking detail right now. Though after having written the first draft I have a better idea of my character's travels which helps with figuring out which parts of the world need more detail.

I do have a map already for the series, which may get tweaked as I do more world building. It's over on my Deviant Art account if anyone wants to see it. The next step on the map is to create a scale for it and I'll be plotting my character's travels as well.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Getting back in touch with...

The purpose of this blog.

After reading a bit of advice on blogging for writers via Twitter, I got to thinking about my target audience. Right now I'm not published, I don't even have a polished novel manuscript to send out query letters for. Given that fact I figure for the time being that my blog might be helpful to other writers in similar stages to me. What I've learned so far about the craft of writing, what I've found helpful along with not so much. And to it is a bit of accountability for how my novels are progressing.

But with keeping an eye towards the future I want to have some more details about my novels in progress. That way I can hopefully connect with some future readers as I'm writing and blogging. It also figures into my website. On my novel information page I currently have a link for each novel to the times I've tagged Live Journal entries with said novel. The idea being that if someone is looking at my website, they have a quick link to see related posts about the progress of said novel.

Then today I had a novel (pardon the pun) thought. What if I have a bit more detail here as I blog with various fun facts or extra images relating to the novels in progress. I do want to be better about using tags (or label's in blogger's case) then I was on Live Journal. I have enough tagged posts where I merely mention working on a novel without having much detail in the post. I'm not sure exactly what sorts of things to include, and they won't be in every single novel post. Just some randomly for fun. Though all posts tagged with the novel labels I do want to have a certain level of detail about the current stage I'm working on.

In addition to tags, I thought it would be fun to have little post icons when I'm writing about various novel projects. I chose 100 by 100 pixels because I'm used to Live Journal size icons, and because it's a nice size. Enough of a canvas to work on without taking up to much space. I'd been wanting to include a bit more images on my blog anyways so this works out. They are going to coordinate with the novel being blogged about. The icon for this post is for my Science Fiction group of related novels. I may tweak the planets a bit but I'm generally pretty happy with it. I'm also sketching out one for the mining mystery, one for the related short story, and ones for my fantasy trilogy.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Story Starters - Science Fiction

The story starters I wrote for today, the genre being science fiction.

"Welcome to 1965, Cindy," the mechanical voice said as the door slid open revealing a foreign panorama before her.

In the caves of planet Allelle evil lurked in the shadows of the city. She knew this, but the caves still called her.

In a system where nothing usually ever happened Jen threw the emergency reverse on the shuttle dodging the first attack wave.

Shuttle pilot for hire had sounded so much more interesting when he'd first signed up. Now here he was in this boring sector

So much for the stars like in the novels of old, Klinda thought. She glared at the deep water through her bedroom portal.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Story Starters

Short post tonight, I mainly wanted to highlight the fact that it's genre week for Story Starters over on Twitter this week. Today was fantasy, yesterday romance. Clicking the link will load a search for story starters on twitter.

I also figured I'd share some of mine for today here:
~Derick ignored those around him on the busy sidewalk. The light shifted and he found himself in a forest, he looked around.

~The sea of Irella glowed in the gathering dusk, casting the mage poised at her shores in a blue light.

The knight raised his sword challenging the dragon. In a blur of motion, the maiden sword in hand was blocking him.

Me on Twitter

Query Letters and Revision

Is it ever to early to start practicing the art of writing query letters? That's a question I've been mulling over for awhile and decided that no, it's not to early to practice them. With novel writing, a good query letter is your foot in the door with agents. No matter how good the novel a bad query letter won't get the manuscript read.

That being said I don't currently have any novels ready to start sending out queries for. I'm planning on my query letters serving a dual purpose. In addition to the practice I figure that taking the time to write a query letter now would be a perfect opportunity to look at my novel and highlight the important parts for myself. What are the selling points? What is the main conflict? Where do I see the direction of the novel? All those sorts of questions.

Yes, I'm working on revision. Once take that good look at where I want my novel to be I can look over my draft and work on getting my novel there. An outline will help, I already have one from writing the first draft. But the outline I'm talking about for this stage is a revision outline. I'll use the main points from my query to start the outline, and work in parts from my draft outline that fit in. I'll also see what scenes from the draft will work where for the revision outline. With writing first drafts, I always have more stuff in the draft then was planned ahead of time on the draft outline.

Of course I have to figure out which novel do to this with. I have two that I want to focus on with revisions this year. My mining mystery I'm working on as part of the 2yn class over at FM Writers. I'm planning on following Zette's lesson plan for that novel revision. Which leaves me with my magical fantasy novel draft. That might be a good one to work with as I need to figure out my audience. After writing the first draft part of me feels that novel could almost be young adult. Looking at the novel and writing the practice query letter should help me figure that out.

I'll post updates on the progress here on how well (or not)this works out for me.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Characters with mental illnesses

Have you ever wanted to or have included a character with a mental illness in your fiction? If so it's good to look at the character as a whole, to help avoid a walking group of symptoms in your story. Writing is stronger with well developed characters and a character primarily comprised of said symptom list will fall flat rather quickly. Plus to you wouldn't want to fall back on stereotypes either; i.e. the depressed character who is there only to be sad all the time.

Start with your character like you normally would. Who is he or she? What dreams, goals, aspirations do they have? What challenges do they have to overcome to achieve their goals and dreams? Who is their best friend, who is their worst enemy, and so on? You should have a good feel for these sorts of things before moving onto the mental illness portion of character building.

When it comes time to work on their illness, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) contains various illnesses and the symptoms associated with them. Again be careful of a symptom list. When making a diagnosis of a mental illness the therapist would look at how the symptoms are affecting the patient's functioning. For our depression example a person's normal behavior would be changed in some way for the diagnosis to be made.

With the illness figured out you can then go back to your character and see exactly how the illness affects him/her. If he's the type to normally go out with friends every Friday night would depression keep him home alone instead? And how would the changes in his behavior because of the depression make him feel?

I've only scratched the surface here, but I hope I have pointed people in the right direction. The Wikipedia article I linked describes various versions of the DSM along with the categorizations of disorders. Wikipedia isn't a very scholarly site, but it can be a handy place to start reading on a subject.

Disclaimer: I am not a clinical psychologist, which means I am not qualified to council anyone on their psychological illnesses. My bachelors degree in psychology merely gives me more knowledge about these types of topics which I am sharing here so they may be helpful for your fictional characters.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Write an hour a day

Sure, writing a draft is easy to measure the progress be it in terms of words or pages. Revising can be as well, depending on your process. But what about all those other writing steps that can't be as easily measured in words and pages?

I've been thinking about my writing progress recently with these in-between draft stages. I have more world building to do after a rough novel draft before I work on the pre-revision outline. I can count words in the notes, but it would be nice to have some daily goal to set for myself.

When word/page counts fail, enter time. I'll admit I am huge on the word count in terms of measuring my progress. It's great for writing drafts. But now with the planning the amount of material isn't as important as the ideas I'm working out. So I figure I can aim to spend about an hour a day working out various details of the novel's world and characters.

Who else does time goals for any/all writing stages? Do you all pick the same amount of time each day? Aim to write longer some days then others? Take days off during the week? I know at times with my word counts I'll like to write a bunch one day, then take the next off. Or write a shorter more intense scene the next day. It does depend on the story.

Everyone is different, there are probably many writers out there doing a time goal for drafts as well. And even different parts of the novel/story writing process can be approached differently.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Muse Prompting - an introduction

A while back I had a blog for posting images, which writers could use for inspiration if they wanted. Long story short I hadn't updated that blog much, or very recently. I still like the idea of posting images and other prompts, so I figured I could have some muse prompting in my writing blog.

I do tend to gravitate towards scenery, it's fun to imagine what sorts of characters might wander into the setting. I made this with Bryce, a 3D rendering program. I also have a program that works with figures (DAZ studio) which I'll use for more prompts sometime soon.

The old Muse Prompting blog.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Expanding Worlds

Well, part of the reason for this blog is to update my progress on my various writing projects. The lack of posting hasn't quite been lack of writing, more so I keep thinking of what to post and haven't had much time in which to do so.

Anyways today's post is about fictional worlds, specifically the one for my related group of science fiction novels. While I have the first draft done for my Mining Mystery (nano 09) I still need to do more world building before I work on revision. Part of that world building is history on how humans expanded from Earth out into the other planets they live on for the novel. I have some basic ideas on how the migration happens it is the details I'm working out now.

Enter a scene I wrote for a Forward Motion monthly challenge, about 2 years ago now. The scene is about 500 words long and follows a young woman ready to board a space shuttle to a distant planet. I had my novels in the back of my mind when I wrote the scene, as it's a link to the populated universe in the novel time line. The scene has the framework down for something larger, which I'd like to expand on. It has a short story waiting to be told.

Said short story is being "notecarded" currently. I have index cards in my purse, on my desk, in my other bag, ect, and I have been jotting down scene and character ideas. The scene I wrote is a smaller part of this larger story. I already have in mind some obstacles the crew on the shuttle will face on their trip, political intrigue which will threaten the trip, and other goings on.

Moving back to the world building link. Everything that takes place in the story will be historical events from the novel's point of view. In a way I'm making up future events so that they can be historical events. What do the characters of this era have to fight and overcome in order to lay the foundations of a society in the next era? It's a fun question to work out through the different characters I have in mind already.

Though I have to keep telling myself, "This is not a novel" and repeating that mental mantra.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Twitter and Writing

Some may wonder about the point of Twitter, why would people sign up for a service to post 140 character messages. Sure it can be useful for quick information, I've seen it used well in this way for a variety of topics.

What I use Twitter for is community, connecting with those similar to me. It may sound weird to look at Twitter that way. But there is more to the service than the posting of those 140 character messages aka "Tweets".

Hashtags are one way to connect with like minded people. Unlike tags in a blog which organize your own posts Twitter hashtags are hyperlinks to a search for any tweets on twitter using that tag. (As an aside for those unfamiliar with Twitter a hashtag is typed into a tweet by using the # key followed by the word(s) one wishes to use). As a writer, my two favorite hashtags are #amwriting and #storystarters. When I tweet about my writing I use the #amwriting tag in those tweets. #storystarters are for posting well story starters for other writers to use.

With the hashtags I've found other writers on twitter, and I've added followed them. Now their tweets show up in my home feed enabling me to reply to tweets, re-tweet helpful tweets, and simply to have a feel for how others are doing with their writing. I have also posted a few story starters with plans to post more.

Me on Twitter

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Goal Management

As can be seen by the previous post, I have picked some writing goals for 2010. While it's nice to know what I am aiming to accomplish over a year's worth of time there is more work to be done with my goals to make them manageable. I need to look over the year, figure out when to work on what, and how much time to give myself for each goal. Keeping in mind of course that some things can be worked on in the same general time period.

When it comes to breaking down my yearly goals into smaller blocks of time, the forum I'm a member of helps immensely: Forward Motion for Writers. On that forum they have two areas of the site designed for writing goals. Not only can members share their goals with other writers, but we can also encourage each other. Both of these areas of the main forum are only viewable to FM members, but signing up is free, and there is nice group of people there. Though I'm hoping this post might provide some ideas on goal setting weather or not anyone joins FM (though it's a great site - I'm hoshikaze over there).

Anyways, the first area is Goals Workshop & Updates (Year/Month). This is where members can post their yearly goals. I've already posted mine to a thread there. But it's more than only checking in once a year. Each person who uses that area posts in their own thread, one thread per year. Within our thread we usually set monthly goals, picking from our yearly goals what to focus on for the month. Then at the end of the month we usually update the thread to show how many of our goals we've reached for that time period. Goals not met for that month can be carried over, or set aside, whichever the writer setting their goals wants to do.

The other area is Daily Page & Word Count (Weekly/Daily). Each week threads are started for members to post their goals for that week. With the shorter time period we share threads, 5 people each. At the start of the week, members will decide what they want to accomplish for that week, posting it to one of the threads. Then each day we update our section of the thread with what we've done for the day on our writing goals.

When I participate in these areas of the site it helps me to relate the two together. I first establish my goals for the year. Once I have that then I can figure out what to work on for the current month. It's those monthly goals I keep in mind when posting my goals for the week in the Daily area. Right now my goals for this week are to finish figuring out what I want to accomplish in January, in addition to some critiques and working on my 2yn/mining mystery novel. By the end of this week I want to update my yearly goals thread with my January goals. With my January goals established, that will help me figure out my weekly goals for this month.

So in closing, with goals it's good to break them down. For me I like to take my yearly goals, then pick what works for me each month, keeping in mind what will be left to work on for other months. Posting them on FM has the added benefit of support from other writers, and in turn I'll be posting encouragement as well.