Saturday, August 21, 2010

Troubles with a Change of Cast

I've been working with Jacky, trying to get her first book the best it possibly can be, for six years. That's a long time, if you think about it. In that time, I've written seven other books. (All complete trash. I'm a slow learner.) Only three of those books were not Jacky related.

It's not that I intentionally made Jacky the only character making a major play for publication. Every time I try to work on something new, I'd get another idea to make AD better. Or for the next book, or a short story.

After finishing the second draft of AD (version 3), I made a very firm decision to take a break from Jacky. I need something new to clear my head. Hopefully when I return for round three of edits, I'll be going over it with a clear mind. It needs some work, I already have ideas on the things that need a bit of tweaking, but it's solid. No more rewrites, damnit.

To keep my mind off Jacky, I picked up a WIP I started a year or so ago, but never took anywhere because all I had was a title, some characters, and a bit of world building to go off of. I've been having struggles with it. The plot is coming together (more or less), but the character voices aren't the strong things that the cast of AD have. Add mystery (something I've never written before) and the weak character voices makes writing this book a damn challenge.

But challenge is good. Doing something so different is good. For one, I'm learning how to write a different kind of story. (Though, honestly, it freaks me out that FBL doesn't have much action in it. It's more character/mystery driven than AD.) For another, writing new things broadens the horizons, makes you look at things in a different light. Learning to come at a story from a different angle will be great for when I edit AD, because I'll probably (hopefully) see things in a different light, and be able to work a little more suspense and thrill into it all.

That being said, I need to get cracking on FBL, because I want to have the first draft finished before I start round three editing on AD.

Monday, August 16, 2010

A Writer's Guide to Abbreviations

As I've submerged myself deeper into the massive world of writers, I've come across a surprising number of abbreviations. A lot of these I hadn't heard of until I asked the wonderful peeps at the Absolute Write forums for some of their favorite abbreviations. (Thanks for the help everyone!)

The list is (attempting to be) in alphabetical order, and will be an ongoing project. If you have writerly abbreviations you'd like to see on the list, drop a comment!

EF - Epic Fantasy

FMC - Female Main Character

HEA - Happily Ever After

HFN - Happily For Now

LI - Love Interest

MC - Main Character

MMC - Male Main Character

MG - Middle Grade

POV - Point of View

RST - Resolved Sexual Tension

SNI - Shiny New Idea

UF - Urban Fantasy

UST - Unresolved Sexual Tension

WIP - Work in Progress

YA - Young Adult

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Falling Out of Love with a WIP

AD (also known as THE Project) has been on hold while I wait for beta readers to go over it and give me back their wonderful comments. To keep myself to diving straight into the next round of revisions before I get feedback, I've been working on FAERIE BAD LUCK.

I've been having issues. A lot of them. But I think they all are linked back to one central problem.

I'm really not in love with this story, or the characters, or anything.

A large part of the problem is that I'm probably too in love with Jacky and co. They've been with me the longest. We've worked together the hardest. We've grown up together, in a writer-character relationship that I don't have with any other characters. This is proving to be problematic because none of the other possible characters and SNIs floating around in my head are as appealing as Jacky and co.

Maybe the problem here isn't that I fell out of love with FBL, but that I was never in love with it to begin with.

And it shows.

My question for you (not that any of you ever seem inclined to answer them, tsk tsk): What makes you fall in love with a new WIP?

Saturday, August 14, 2010

To-Read List 2010 August Update

Man. Half way through August before it occurs to me to do an update of this thing. It's been a slow month for reading.

The impending doom of school has sapped me of all will. Need to shake it off and get on with life. Sitting around moping cannot be good for a girl's health.

The List (in no particular order)
Mistborn - Brandon Sanderson
The Well of Ascension - Brandon Sanderson
Hero of the Ages - Brandon Sanderson
Well of Eternity - Richard A. Knaak
Shakespeare's Landlord - Charlaine Harris
Shakespeare's Champion - Charlaine Harris
Shakespeare's Trollop - Charlaine Harris
From Dead to Worse - Charlaine Harris
Dead and Gone - Charlaine Harris
Dragonfly in Amber - Diana Gabaldon
Voyager - Diana Gabaldon
Magic in the Blood - Devon Monk
Magic in the Shadows - Devon Monk
Dragon Bones - Patricia Briggs
Dragon Blood - Patricia Briggs
Bone Crossed - Patricia Briggs
Silver Borne - Patricia Briggs
Small Gods - Terry Pratchett
Lords and Ladies - Terry Pratchett
Vampire Academy - Richelle Mead
Frostebite - Richelle Mead
Blood Promise - Richelle Mead
Shadow Kiss - Richelle Mead
City of Bones - Cassandra Clare
City of Ashses - Cassandra Clare
City of Glass - Cassandra Clare
The Historian - Elizabeth Kostova
Enders Game - Orson Scott Card (borrowed from brother, don't actually own)
American Gods - Neil Gaiman
Kushiel's Scion - Jacqueline Carey
Kushiel's Justice - Jacqueline Carey (Don't actually own this one. Don't know how that happened.)
Banewrecker - Jacqueline Carey
Gardens of the Moon - Steven Erikson
Glass Houses - Rachel Caine
The Dead Girls' Dance - Rachel Caine
Midnight Alley - Rachel Caine
Feast of Fools - Rachel Caine
Lord of Misrule - Rachel Caine
Carpe Corpus - Rachel Caine
Firestorm - Rachel Caine
Thin Air - Rachel Caine
A Game of Thrones - George R. R. Martin
The Gunslinger - Stephen King
Prince of Dogs - Kate Elliott
The Burning Stone - Kate Elliott
The Last Wish - Andrzej Sapkowski
Genesis of Shannara - Terry Brooks
Children of Chaos - Dave Duncan
In the Realm of the Wolf - David Gemmell
Hero in the Shadows - David Gemmel
The Becoming - Jeanne C. Stein
The Scent of Shadows - Vicki Pettersson
Dragonfly - Frederic S. Durbin
Personal Demon - Kelley Armstrong
No Humans Involved - Kelley Armstrong
Broken - Kelley Armstrong
The Summoning - Kelley Armstrong
The Awakening - Kelley Armstrong
His Majesty's Dragon - Naomi Novik
Thorne of Jade - Naomi Novik
Night World Vol. 3 - L.J. Smith
The Secret Circle - L.J. Smith
The Night of the Solstice - L.J. Smith
The Hunter - L.J. Smith
The Chase - L.J. Smith
The Kill - L.J. Smith
Changes - Jim Butcher
Beauty - Robin McKinley
Spindle's End - Robin McKinley
Tithe - Holly Black
Valiant - Holly Black
Ironside - Holly Black
White Cat - Holly Black
Vamped - Lucienne Diver
Speak of the Devil - Jenna Black
The Dust of 100 Dogs - A.S. King
Helpless - MJ Pearson
Bullet - Laurell K. Hamilton
Graceling - Kristin Cashore
Black Magic Sanction - Kim Harrison
Something from the Nightside - Simon R. Green
A Devil in the Details - K.A. Stewart
Red Hot Fury - Kasey MacKenzie
The Switch - Lynsay Sands
Silver Phoenix - Cindy Pon
Lament - Maggie Stiefvater
Ballad - Maggie Stiefvater
Shiver - Maggie Stiefvater
Dark Angels - Karleen Koen
Leviathan - Scott Westerfield
Soulless - Gail Carriger
Personal Demons - Stacia Kane
The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins
Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins
Mockingjay - Suzanne Collins
Boneshaker - Cherie Priest
Golden Compass - Philip Pullman
Subtle Knife - Philip Pullman
Amber Spyglass - Philip Pullman
Midnight Daughter - Karen Chance
Mob Rules - Cameron Haley
Devil in a Red Kilt - Elizabeth Williams
Rose Daughter - Robin McKinley

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Dealing With Doubt

I've probably blogged about this before. But it's something that writers have to deal with. All the time. No matter what.


There's so many different kings of doubt, too. While writing, after, writing, before writing. Same for revising and publication. That's right, you heard me. I said publication. I'm not there yet, but I know some awesome folks who are, and the doubt doesn't stop just because they've gotten a book out there. If anything else, publication ADDS to the pool that doubt pulls from to bring us down.

I wish there were some magical doubt-be-gone. If there is, someone send me the link cause I'd like to get me some.

In the mean time, here's some of the ways I cope when doubt is niggling at me.

1) Look at how far you've come. Writing is a long, often tedious road. But it's one that had landmarks along the way. I keep everything. Every. Thing. Notes jotted down on movie stubs, napkins, files with bits and scraps I wrote that one time when I couldn't see the screen I was crying so hard and I've no idea what I was trying to say but I wrote something.

Sometimes it helps to pull the old pieces out and laugh at them. Laugh at the horrible prose, the poor characterization, and lack of a coherent plot. And maybe be surprised by a tiny gem hiding in all the shit. Then go and look at something written last week, or this week, and there's such a marked difference. My God, the prose isn't all that bad, that character has quirks, and wonder of wonders, the plot actually works. Okay, so maybe it's not perfect, but I've come such a long way.

2) Commiserate with people that understand. There are dozens of social networks for writers out on the interwebs. Find a community that works for you, make friends, and share with them. Writers are spread everywhere, over every genre, and chances are there will be someone that's been in the same boat you're sinking in. Most of the writers I've met are more than glad to share their hard learned wisdom, and pull another writer out of the pits of doubt. We all want to succeed, and we want to see each other succeed too.

Just be sure to share in all the ups as well as the downs. No body like a constant Debby-Downer.

3) Take a step back. Get a hobby. Go outside (gasp! Yes! The horrible outside with the sunlight and bugs and PEOPLE.) Find something you enjoy doing that gets you out of the office, or away from the computer. Something other than reading. Writing and reading are intertwined, and while one can often feed the other, sometimes reading can cause the doubt bogging down the creative mind.

Spend a day shopping, or go to the movies. Take your best friend out for drinks, or go get your hair done. Get your mind off writing, and come back to it in a day or two when you're feeling refreshed. Chances are you'll see things in a new light (hopefully a better one) and the doubt won't be so loud.

I'm sure there are a lot of other ways to deal with doubt. What do you do when doubt starts prodding you in the back of the head?