Tag Archives: planning

Planning Problems

Some of you might be wondering if this blog is about running into problems while planning for my new book, or whether it is about planning the problems that my characters will be running into. Honestly, I’m not sure there is a difference.

First off, let me say that I am disappointed in all of you for not leaving a comment on last week’s post. I was looking for some feedback on my story outline because I am suffering from low self-esteem and kind of think that it might suck. I don’t want to write something that sucks. I want to write something special that people will appreciate and enjoy.

Don’t get me wrong, I think that the story idea I had is fairly tenable, but I also believe that it could be better. Possibly a lot better. But I’m having trouble figuring out how to fill in the holes and kick it up a notch. So if any of you have any ideas you would like to share with me, please do so ASAP. Thanks.

All right, now that I have that off my chest, let’s get on to where I am in my plans.

I actually haven’t gotten much more done since last week. I tried plotting out the individual scenes that I want to include in the different parts of my book, using a three act structure, but my inspiration ran into a wall as I neared the midpoint and I couldn’t work out what happened next. I’ve got an idea of what is supposed to happen at the midpoint, as well as the ending, but I’m starting to think that that is where my plot falls apart and starts to suck, so I’m having trouble working out the scenes for it.

So instead of planning scenes for the last half of the book, I started writing the first scene. I figured that doing some actual writing might give me some inspiration for filling in the holes in the outline. I’m not sure if it worked, but I did manage to get some words on the page, which led me to working out some of the character details for some of the other people in the story.

The first scene was supposed to be similar to the scene in the Lethal Weapon movie, where Martin Riggs takes out his pistol and considers eating a bullet. I wanted that pain to be one of the first things you see about my hero. But I also wanted there to be some background to it, so I thought I would start with a nightmare that triggered those suicidal thoughts. The nightmare turned into my first scene, and the gun was the second scene. I also decided to watch the movie again to get a better idea of how to write a scene like that, as well as for inspiration about how the loss of a loved one could trigger that kind of death wish. Seeing the film again really helped, and I have a bit of editing to do to tighten up that scene and make it hit even harder. It also made me wonder whether or not I should cut out the nightmare sequence, or at least move it to later in the book. Maybe less is more, and would help make the readers more likely to keep reading so they can find out why he is thinking of killing himself.

As I mentioned, another thing that came out of writing those scenes was the need to fill in some more character details. For instance, I had to come up with a name for Alexander’s dead wife. Once I had that, I filled in some of her history and personality, to help define why he was so in love with her that he can barely manage to function now that she is gone. Once that was done, I also worked out some of the details of the young mother that is going to come into his life now. I decided that one of the reasons that he decides he has to help her is because she reminds him of his dead wife. Not necessarily physically, but in her personality and the way she confronts him. She is the daughter he could have had “if only….”

I expect I’ll keep writing and planning together for a while, filling in the holes and working out the details. But I’m probably not going to be writing every day. I broke my 227 day writing streak on Friday, and I didn’t write anything yesterday either. But this year isn’t going to be focused on how many words I write every day(Sorry, Magic Spreadsheet!), just at writing the best book I possibly can.

We’ll see how it goes, and you can keep up with the word count of my manuscript by following my word count meter here. Otherwise, I’ll be back next week for another update. See you then!

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September 26 – Jumping the Gun

For the last week I have been working on my new series, and it hasn’t been going well. The problem I am having is that I started writing part of it, and I wasn’t ready.

I knew that this was going to be a major project, and I knew that I shouldn’t do anything before I had a good plan, but I couldn’t help it. I needed to write something, and I thought that I could at least work on part of it to see where it went. So I started writing an origin story for my main characters.

It wasn’t a total failure. I did get some writing done, and in the process of writing the 600 words that I managed to get done I managed to work out some character details and a few thoughts on the plot. But overall, the story itself is faltering and I find myself fighting to get the words on the page.

This is distressing. I am used to writing “by the seat of my pants”, without an outline. This has worked reasonably well for me in the past, but it isn’t working now. Part of it is the complexity of the idea, but I think that most of it is that I realize that the idea isn’t ready. My subconscious needs more time to work out the story to make sure that it is complete in my head before I start writing it down.

So now what do I do? On the one hand I really want to keep writing. I need to finish this origin story so I know where my characters came from. Having this down will help me as I plan the rest of the series. And I need to keep writing just to make sure I stay in the habit.

On the other hand, I don’t like the story that is coming out. The prose isn’t bad, but it isn’t great either. It may not matter in the long run. I may never use it in the actual books. It may just come out in small chunks of back story during the rest of the tale.

My other option is to just drop it for now and work on something else. I have a lot of ideas that I could be working on instead, and I need to figure out what I am going to start writing for NaNoWriMo in November. If I keep working on this series I may have enough planned to start writing the first book by then. Or I could dig out a smaller concept and start plotting that instead.

Decisions, decisions….

I’m not sure as I write this what I’m going to do. I’ll probably keep working on the origin story, at least for today. I really want to have something to bring to my critique group tomorrow, and this would be the easiest thing to polish up in time to share.

In other news, my diet isn’t going well, and I need to figure out what my ROW80 goals are going to be. The next round starts next week, on October 3. I know that one of my goals is going to be to finish NaNoWriMo. I’m not sure what else I can do for October and December.

I’ll be back on Thursday for another update. Hopefully some of my plans will be more defined by then. See ya!

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Filed under Fiction, NaNoWriMo, ROW80, The Writing Experience

ROW80 Update May 18

Goals:

  1. Spend at least half an hour every day on writing or editing, an hour on weekends
  2. Finish planning the rewrites of my three works in progress
  3. Post to my blog on the ROW80 update days (Sunday and Wednesday)
  4. Read at least one of my books on writing every week

I am still working out my plots, but I decided to start writing the beginning of my trilogy yesterday. The incentive was my critique group. I blew out 1200 words for Demons at Dusk yesterday primarily because I didn’t like not having anything to share. And it was a good thing I did, too, because I ended up being the only one with anything to read! To top it off, nobody liked it. Actually, they thought it was interesting, but they all thought that I needed more description for the demons and were concerned about my depiction of a couple of army officers in one section. Essentially, they thought that the stick up their ass wasn’t big enough. So I guess I still have a lot of work to do.

I’ve got a busy Saturday planned this weekend. I’ll be spending the morning at the monthly meeting of our local Romance Writers Association. The theme this month is writing sex scenes (no kids allowed). After lunch I’ll be attending a book discussion group at my library. We’re reading The Postmistress by Sarah Blake. It’s a book about a radio journalist in WWII Europe and the effect her broadcasts have on a small New England town. I am really enjoying it, and highly recommend it to everyone.

I’m still reading the Writer’s Guide to Character Traits by Linda N Edelstein, Ph.D. I have to admit I haven’t gotten very far into it, but I am looking forward to spending some more time with it in the near future. Right now, though, my reading time is pretty full finishing some library books that are due in the next week.

I’ll be back on Sunday for another update. See you then!

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ROW80 Update May 15

Goals:

  1. Spend at least half an hour every day on writing or editing, an hour on weekends
  2. Finish planning the rewrites of my three works in progress (this goal has changed)
  3. Post to my blog on the ROW80 update days (Sunday and Wednesday)
  4. Read at least one of my books on writing every week

First, let me explain about the goal change. I have been doing a lot of editing, but I haven’t been able to concentrate on the one story. Instead, I have been splitting my time between all three. Every day I decide which one of my books I want to focus on (usually my YA book on Sunday), and I work on that book on that day. With WisCon coming up I confess I have been spending a lot of time on Finding Valhalla instead of Dragons at Dawn. I think Finding Valhalla is turning out to be my favorite project. It certainly is getting the lion’s share of my attention. So since I have been splitting my time in this way I decided I should change my goal to reflect that. Instead of pledging to finish my rewrites on a book that has now become a trilogy, I am making it my goal to at least finish planning the rewrites of all three stories.

I am still plotting my revisions, but I think I am getting a lot done and should be ready to start writing again soon. I have just about finished working out the overall beats of all three of my stories (the trilogy that started out as Dragons at Dawn). I think the next step is to plan out the scenes of each story. That will give me a chance to review how each scene can be used to show the character growth and change during the course of the story. It will also help me make sure there is enough conflict in each scene to keep the reader interested. Hopefully, at the end I will have some stories that I can be proud of.

I finally finished reading Writing the Short Story, by Jack M Bickham. I wasn’t really impressed with it as a resource for writing short stories, although it did seem like it had good advice for writing in general. I have now started reading through Writer’s Guide to Character Traits by Linda N Edelstein, Ph.D. It looks like a useful tool that can help me with my character development.

See you back here on Wednesday for another update on my editing progress.

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Filed under ROW80, The Writing Experience