Why it is not so hot to find out you’re a plotter 6,000 words from “The End”

Scrivener (software)

Scrivener (software) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Oh dear, TTWI has just gone and done it again. I was six thousand words give or take some dialogue away from writing those two little words  “the end”. When my inner editor thought it would be a great idea, no, the best idea ever to have a look at the structure. Maybe even do some cork-boarding on Scrivener.

 

This was not a good idea, in fact in the history of bright ideas I’ve had recently this is in the bottom two.

 

I’ve just cut my darling to shreds, so we’ve gone from 73,456 words to 32,245 words in my still unfinished novel. It gets worse. I have to do some research and some plotting as well. The story in its original form wasn’t working, happy coincidences abounded and I hate these in other work. Person A just happens to be in the right place at the right time to intersect with Person B y’know the sort of stuff. My geography was all over the place and even worse people’s names were changing? How did I manage that?

 

So the current state of play is that I have a still unfinished novel…..

 

The upside to this is that the novel is one I’m happy with and I guess being happy and content with the 32,000 words I’ve got is better than having a steaming pile of finished.

 

There’s some real work to do. As easy as it would be to throw the net-book in a drawer and cry myself to sleep, it’s not happening. I always knew this was gonna be hard. Probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done and that’s okay.

 

40,000 to go….

 

I’m doing it. I am not giving up!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The secret to writing and the reason why this is Awesome!

Writing

Writing (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do you want to know a little secret? Come closer and I’ll tell you. Now, are you sitting comfortably, got a drink? Go on, go get one, your favorite tipple or a hot chocolate, I’ll wait…

You all set? Great,

Ready, Set, Here it comes……..

“Writing isn’t easy.”

Phew, I said it. Did you think I was going to give you the secret sword of wordsmithing? Do you think that there is some sort of magic bean that instantly transforms you into a genius who wee’s excellence? Or perhaps one ring that rules them….. Sorry got carried away there.

We all wish there was and we’ve all seen the sales patter..

“Sign up for my webcast where I show how you can write a bestseller with next to no effort on your part…” and all for just 500 fat ones… Ohh PURLEASE

Ever thought that if you could just…… find the magic keyword that opens the door to blockbusterville closely accompanied by the six figure publishing contract (where we don’t have to market or speak to people), that everything will be okay? It won’t.

Success in life is about persistence and luck. You have to keep at it and be ready when luck comes knocking. But before luck can pull up at the welcome mat (you are not naked are you? Good Gracious, put something on… No not the jogging bottoms.) you are there prepped and ready for it. So here’s my reason/s why it’s great that writing is so hard.

1. If it was easy everyone would be doing it….

If writing a novel or writing in general was a cake walk then everybody would do it. I know that at times it may seem that everyone IS doing it but they’re not. It’s just the writers resources and blogs where you have hung out. Most people don’t do it or can’t do it and that’s just great for you and me. Less writers, less competition – mwah, ha, ha, ha….. I am stroking a cat, she is long haired but she definitely does not have a diamond collar.

2. If it was easy everyone would finish it…..

Most people never finish. There are hundreds and thousands of dusty manuscripts and half written poems or short stories lining drawers everywhere. If you’re gonna do this writering you have to finish. A half-written story is a broken promise. Now you are not the sort of person who breaks a promise are you? Good. I thought not. (Please in the name of all that walks and crawls do not let this be me…. 9,600 and a full stop to go.)

3. If it was easy everyone would do it well….

Yes, I know a lot of poorly written and unbelievably dire books are out there. If everyone did this well, how would you and I distinguish ourselves against the rest of them? It’s  our error free original wonderful creative voice that makes us special. We don’t just ship, see point 2, we ship rainbows and cream cakes and the smell of grass after summer rain.

So yes this writing is hard and it takes time, persistence, sweat, tears, anger, frustration and love to create.  But that is why the fact that we are writers and we write is AWESOME.

Comments, as always are welcome.

Are you a writing Screw-Up? Five things I learned the Hard Way.

English: Opening logo to the Star Wars films

English: Opening logo to the Star Wars films (Photo credit: Wikipedia) A story that should have flopped.

We all secretly wish to write award-winning, book/article/blog selling perfect prose, the minute we lay our fingers on the keyboard and we all are slightly disappointed with our first drafts, when it turns out they are less than perfect. We may all understand that “crappiness” is part of the process but that doesn’t mean we have to like it.

There are five distinct screw-ups I’ve made that have taught me how to get better at this writering and I’d love to hear from you about what you’ve sucked at and how it’s helped you improve. So, here’s my Top Five.

1. OBSESSION WITH W.I.P. TO THE EXCLUSION OF ALL ELSE

I have been guilty of putting my writing ahead of absolutely everything and become obsessive about it to the point of a detriment to my day job (the one that pays the bills) and my personal relationships. This sucks and has not made me a better writer. Nothing, not even this writing means you should stop interacting with life at least some of the time. Don’t look at me like that, writing appeals to the loner in all of us, but without life experiences our writing is in 2D, it’s thin and lacks authenticity.

2. NOT PUTTING THE EFFORT IN

Okay, this is where I go the other way and hang out on social media and try to loosely prove to myself that “building a platform” is more important than the W.I.P. What is a Platform anyway? I’m not an oil-rig worker, I’m a writer! I’m a complete idiot when it comes to building authentic relationships via social media and that’s the new BUZZ message? Communicate, make friends and be real. But in  150 characters or less.

Or then there’s Procrastination which sounds like a disease and has the same ravaging effects. Whilst cutting yourself some slack is a good idea, there are times when you just have to sit down, suck it up and string sentences together.

3. PANTSER OR PLOTTER?

I am a Plotter who Pantses. I am now only about 10,000 words away from the end of the first novel and I am going to have to go back and plot and cut and re-draft. The second book will be fully plotted out before I start. It’s easier in the long-term and I’ve noticed a butt-kicking awesome lift in my productivity when I have a clear idea of where the work is going. A structure allows me to take the work in a different direction. A plan doesn’t restrict, it frees my creativity. Currently I have a lot more work to do because I didn’t do this the first time.

Whether you are a Plotter or a Pantser, just accept it and move on. Plotters don’t understand Pantsers and Pantsers don’t understand Plotters. We are two seperate sides of the Force. Of course I now realise that Pantsing is the DARK SIDE…..

4. REPETITIVE WORDS

There are lots of turns of phrase and words that as a new writer you are going to find a lot of in your work. I’ve listed mine in an earlier post. We all struggle to move our writing on. I thoroughly recommend creating a list of those words you overuse and then searching them out in your prose. Don’t remove every instance where you use them, as there will be occasions where they are completely correct and fit. Again we are back to the word balance…

5. THINKING ABOUT MY AUDIENCE

There will always be room for great stories and I need to accept the fact that all the storylines have already been taken. I don’t think there will ever not be a place for writing about all the great archetypes in our world. Yes, things do go through a cycle and you may find for a decade darker style fiction where everyone dies and there are no happy endings are in vogue, the next decade happy endings, hope and redemption win out in the light. My best example of this is Star Wars, a tale of heroes that became a major success in the same decade that gave us Scarface and Taxi Driver. Some stories will always “just” work.

Write what you want to write and stay true to yourself. Although some more fiction for grown ups and not teenage girls would be nice. Just saying.

COMMENTS, AS ALWAYS WELCOME. May the force be with you…..

Badly Messed? or Freshly Pressed?

WordPress

WordPress (Photo credit: Adriano Gasparri)

When I started this Blog, I remember first reading the Freshly Pressed posts with a sense of awe and wonder. It was like someone had taken the very best writing on any given subject, all fresh, shiny, different, wonderful and so original and FUNNY and smashed it into a smorgasboard of loveliness.

Today, I read Freshly Pressed  (as I usually do when I log into WordPress) and found myself drifting….. Two paragraphs down, in four out of the top six posts, and I’ve  found my attention stuttering and my eyes wandering away like nomads. It’s been the same for the last week or so.

So is it the length?

The average length of a post on FP is a minimum of a 1000 words now. Most are 1500. Were they this long before, I don’t remember there being so many words, all blurring into each other?

Now before the hatemail starts arriving in the comments section below, I am not saying the posts are badly written. They’re not! They are extremely well-written, perfect grammar, spelling and punctuation in every one. They are also just a touch self-conscious. A little too worthy perhaps to fully hold my attention.

I hate to say it…. But they bore me. Whereas I used to read every single post up there and cry, laugh and wonder… Now it’s more MEH? than amazing.

So is it the format that’s not working for me? I notice there is poetry and fiction featured quite heavily now. Part of me, wants to say “Yes, finally some representation for all us creative types!” The other part is running screaming from the laptop. Why? Because “FP” used to represent the best writing from a bunch of plucky amateurs who were giving fresh thought and ideas on ordinary and not so ordinary daily life or writing about issues that they felt affected them. Now it’s all poetry, worthy literaryness or long university style essays on topics. I know literaryness is not a real word (which is probably why I’ll never be freshly pressed)….

And before I would have said that it bothered me, now, getting Freshly Pressed…. Meh!

So is it just me? What do you think about FP?

My Urban Myth. The Naked Truth.

Meh.

Meh. (Photo credit: Patrick Haney)

You’ve heard it all before. My brothers cousins friend, knows a man who knows a man, who swears – Insert particularly gruesome hilarious story here…. Are there ever occasions that in these myths or allegorical tales or lessons,  there is some small shred of truth, a nugget of reality?

Yes there are. – Here’s my urban not so myth!

I used to work for an international airline with a very famous owner and a red uniform. I did this for the early part of my twenties and like any type of job, there were always the stories. Ghost stories that kept you awake on long night flights, crash tales that were complete baloney, usually involving some element of fate and the pranks and naughty stories that get more and more exaggerated.

Recently I was on the tube in London and two young women with their suitcases are discussing an airline urban myth, the one about the woman who slept-walked naked in a New York Hotel on Lexington Avenue on the 12th floor and is caught on security camera’s.

“Oh, I’ve heard that story before” – Air Hostess one said

“I am sure half these stories are made up” – Air Hostess Two said.

They were completely oblivious to the middle-aged woman sat next to them with her kindle upside down and a bright red face and whilst the security camera bit and the tape being handed to the Captain is false, the sleepwalker and the naked bit are most definitely true.

I remember getting off the flight and feeling dog tired after landing in Newark. The coach dropped us off and in NYC, we only got a single night layover. I got into my room, had a shower, wrapped myself in a towel and sat on the bed to watch some cable. The next thing I knew I was on the twelfth floor wearing nothing but a confused expression and minus the towel. I ended up finding a security guard who lent me his jacket so I could go down to reception and  get a new key card. I told a friend of mine what had happened on the flight back to Heathrow the next day and the story has gone into legend, with multiple versions and some quite intriguing embellishments.

So next time you hear, one of those, y’know stories…. Don’t automatically write it off…..

GONE READING – BACK SOON

Writing

Writing (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

I love stories whether they be in hardback, softback, electronic or audio. It’s amazing how my little journey into writing started with a story and thinking I can do that better! This writing thing has been a lifelong dream that continues to knock at the doors of my head and when it’s going well, creates some of the greatest legal highs available.

 

Yet, I find myself reading at the moment. I’ve devoured books as I always do, having finished three novels in the last five evenings. One has been an old warmly remembered friend of a wordsmith. The others have been of the new breeds, thrillers for the most part which aren’t my usual thing. I love these little interludes and moments of escape. I will always be a reader and a writer.

 

Don’t misunderstand me, I love you all and yet the lure of this stack of books has caught my attention more keenly than writing in this blog. Work is crazy and the stories are escapism and surreal helping me to decompress and download.

 

I have also been asked by my Dad to send him the link to my blog after my husband casually dropped it into conversation that I was writing. This has left me a little nervous, hell who am I kidding…. Terrified.

 

I am not sure this is an area of myself that I want to share? Do I want him to read some of the things I have written? Personal things?

 

To Share or Not to Share?

 

That is my question.

 

 

 

THE NAMING OF THINGS.

Charming My Name!

Charming My Name! (Photo credit: jpellgen)

What do you call a forty-year old Gypsy who doesn’t exist, how about an abdicated queen with a sweet tooth or an assassin who never kills anyone?

Don’t know? – That makes two of us… (If you do know, suggestions welcome in the comments section. Full credit will be given in the book.)

The stories themselves are not an issue. Plots, themes and concepts tend to present themselves daily (I’m not gloating). It’s harder to keep track of them than to come up with them. There is always the part remembered good idea as you fall off to sleep. The plausible bridge in how a character has developed comes as your wrestling with early morning traffic both hands occupied and your notebook nowhere in sight.  I often find it difficult to reach for them again, as they fade into the other mental detritus of a work day or get overwritten by a new dream before waking.

But oh, for a name……. Why is it not so simple? My WIP now consists of a novel (nameless, half the characters called person a, b, etc.), two short stories (not so nameless but the characters don’t like their monikers: x. y and z). I thought I had found the perfect name for the book the other day only to discover that Ray Bradbury had got there first. Damn, those iconic fantasy authors with their striking and memorable titles!

Perhaps it’s because I have always associated characteristics with names. In my head, a “Jane” or a “John” acts like personal experiences made flesh. Any other traits or emotional effects/defects seem out of character somehow. Like there is a frozen vision of Jane, residing in my brain and now all beings bearing that appellation have to fit with my mental image.

I read a funny review the other day, where the reader had loved the book but couldn’t give it five stars because one of the characters is Kevin, and they didn’t think it was a proper name for a medieval swords and sorcery fantasy… I wonder what the Author was thinking when picking that name? – Crap, I’ve used all the unpronounceable ones, sod it, let’s just call him Kev? I’m surprised he wasn’t a “Dave”, after all, everyone knows someone called Dave or so the story goes.

So what is it about names and titles that resonates so strongly. More importantly how do you name?… Is it a flash of inspiration the name appearing in your mind’s eye? Do they look like a “Insert Name” in your head?

Comments as always, welcome.