A Writing Journey

Posts tagged ‘writing’

Growing

About a month ago I posted about rewriting the entirety of my novel (and subsequent sequels). During this process, I have learned things I didn’t expect about my characters and about myself. Some of it is benign, and some of it is deep, telling to the story and the characters’ motives.

When  I first wrote QFS, my focus was only Lacey. Hers was the only story worth telling in my mind. I was writing from a place of sorrow, and she, too, bore her own sorrow. As I revised, her sorrow grew smaller and smaller. In this rewrite, it is an old sorrow, that informs her character but is rarely mentioned. She’s grown up, she isn’t a child holding onto her pain and loss. She has desires, motivations, dreams, and morals. And she isn’t alone.

There is a famous piece of advice that says we should write every character as if they believe they are the main character. In earlier revisions I’d begun doing this with my antagonists – after all they must have a believable backstory. Now my market vendors have rivalries and vendettas, my sailors have worries, my teachers have prejudices and faults. And my main characters have secrets. The story is about Lacey, yes, but it isn’t just about Lacey.

If there is one piece of advice I can give you when you write, don’t stop after the first or second or third draft. Let it sit. Read psychology and self-help books while it’s sitting. Get into your characters’ heads and out of your own. Believe that your book will be something, because it already is.

Advertisements

Evolution

Stories evolve. Fairytales are adapted and changed to suit a new audience. Urban legends grow into horror stories. This changing is a natural occurrence – not unlike aging. As writers we know that stories evolve drastically in their early lives as we fight to make them fit for another person to read. Even once we thought the story had reached it’s final stage, there may be a surprise evolution waiting in the wings.

I took QFS down to it’s bones over the summer and have been building it back up ever since. There have been many adjustments, largest of which is who the antagonist is. Other changes include relationships between characters, personalities, secrets and revelations, motives, and character names. I’ve also changed the title. The Cartographer’s Quest is more grown up and less black and white than it’s earlier versions.

In addition to these changes, I’ve been working on more maps for the story (after all, what cartographer wouldn’t include maps in their tale?).  Below are a couple examples of what I’ve been working on.

20171002_100335

20171001_135301

Writing, Reading, and the Future of my Blog

Happy Sunday, friends!

Well, I didn’t quite hit my goal of a page a day this week, but I did write more than I have in months! It feels good knowing that I can pick back up with just a little will-power.

Other than writing, I have been reading more again. I’m about 3/4 done with “Within the Sanctuary of Wings” by Marie Brennan. Just like her previous books in this serious, I have been totally captivated. I will have a  full review when I finish the book.

In the meantime, I’m trying to come up with some good blog posts for here. I was thinking about doing a full story, chapter by chapter, but I also want to get back to some of my early style posts, talking about elements of fantasy or inspiration and things like that. I would like to know what you think – are there specific things that you think would be beneficial or are there things you have questions about? Let me know and I will work on answering your questions!

Adventure well,

Emily

What have I been up to in the Writing World this week?

Okay, so I’m still getting back in the swing of writing after my very long slump. Part of that is blogging every week, even if I have little to nothing to say. At least right now it is little, rather than nothing.

This past week I have started thinking more in depth with where I am going when I finish writing book 3 of my Salvation trilogy. Not to say I’m anywhere close to being done with the trilogy (still have tons of edits and revisions on book two, and still polishing book one, let alone finishing book 3!). I’ve decided who the major players are, what perspectives I’m writing from, and what has transpired to lead to the events that take place in the next story. I’ve also decided that it begins with a daughter burying her mother. Maybe not the most creative in terms of cliches, but I hope to make it unique, all the same.

In the meantime, I’ve written about a page more of the third book in the Salvation trilogy – which is more than I’ve written for probably four or five months now. The title of the third book is Heart of the World, in case I haven’t mentioned that yet.

This week I have some time off from work, and my goal is to write at least a page a day. Not a lot, I know, but I think it’s important to keep goals attainable and right now I know  that a page a day is an attainable goal, but anything more than that would be overwhelming for me. That’s just how it goes when coming back from a slump.

How do you get yourself back into the swing of things after a slump?

Adventure well,

Emily

Coming Back to Life

There is a lovely blogger at fibijeeves who has inspired me. We had a brief conversation about getting out of writer’s block, and so I am trying to do more writing again. I’ve been busy working at my other blog, Simply Stitched, and of course busy with the big wide world and everything life throws at a person.

But I am coming back. I want to write here, I want to breathe the written word again, I want to live like I used to live: immersed in stories and language and adventure. So here I am, ready to get back out there, ready to reinvest in myself, ready to go questing once again.

Adventure Well,

Emily

Tips for getting unstuck

I’ve stalled again. My notebooks full of my third book sit lifelessly on my desk or, in the vague hope that I will spill some ink on the page, in my purse as I flit to and fro through my life. I wrote the first, minor climax and resolved one of the plot lines that has been constant from the first book. It was necessary for the story, as the final climax has a different beast – though to be honest I’m playing with the idea of completely changing the order of the climaxes. But I’m in the middle, and the middle is always the hardest part.

Why is the middle so tough? For me, it’s because I’m goal-oriented. I see what the beginning is, I know what the ending is, but I don’t know how to get there. (It is an unfortunate flaw that I am the same way in my daily life. Talk about frustrating.) Figuring out the important parts of the journey is my next step, but even when I have them (laid out in outline form, no less) I struggle to connect the dots. Considering the number of posts and articles about why it is hard to write the middle – I know I’m not alone.

Rather than rehash why it is so hard, I want to give some tips that help me get through it.

1.Read.

2.Do something else, anything else, for 10-20 minutes, then come back to writing and power through the sticky spots.

3.Get some sleep. I get cranky and cry a lot if I get frustrated/stuck and need sleep. I’ve learned this, and know that if I feel like I am about to cry from frustration, I need to take a nap (or just go to bed for the night).

4.Ask for help. Often talking to my writer friends helps me feel motivated to get through the tough spots. Even more, they may have insight on why your story is stuck – something may not be working and you might not be noticing it.

5.Take a bath. Seriously, it can be like a mini sensory-deprivation tank and helps get the mind spinning.

6.Spend time NOT thinking. watch a movie. Play a video game. Sometimes your brain needs a rest.

7.Do what is right for you. If these tips don’t help, do something that you find relaxing.

8.Most of all, don’t give up. Sometimes it’s hard. We all have writing cycles – I’ve blogged about that here before. If you know what your writing cycle is – don’t try to force it to be something else and know that yes, you’re still a writer even if you aren’t currently writing. You need that recharge time so give it to yourself.

Good luck with your middle! (And I’ll do my best to follow my own advice, too!)

Take care,

Emily

Serial Saturday – Onaemi 7

In my thoughts, I conjured that city, where there was a special place for me. I imagined a city of pink stone like the one’s Auntie had taken me too when she was trying to find my home. Pink stone and dirt streets that were wreathed in bright green summer garlands. There would be other Whisper children, playing and exploring and learning and so eager to welcome me into their home. My former guardians had said that I might go to the Citadel, but I wondered now if that was such a good idea. After all, they’d made it sound as if I had to pass tests to be allowed there, but Soliri was promising me a special place of my own. That he’d killed them and taken me I’d not forgotten, but perhaps they had been the evil ones.

We passed three nights in that small town. I pretended, all that time, that I was his daughter, and mute. It was easier for me to listen, and to daydream, if I did not have to speak to anyone. Not that I had much chance. Soliri rented out a private room and brought all my meals there. I missed Flier’s company, but I knew she was happy and well in the stables. I was true to my word and did not try to run away or tell anyone that Soliri had taken me away from someone else, not so much because of the threat of death hanging over me than because I’d been with him for weeks, and thought perhaps he might become something similar to what Auntie had been to me.

Even as I thought such thoughts I knew they would not be. He was taking me to a special place.

He was away much of the time we were in the town. He would leave and bring back sacks of provisions. From this I inferred that we would not stop in another town before we reached the coast. I was at once disappointed and relieved, for it meant we would travel more safely, but I enjoyed the luxury of the inn. I wondered, distantly, why I could hear the whispers of the dead wood that made up the place. I heard trees often, but wood was killed trees. Perhaps it was only that I was a Whisper, and the planks and panels were like ghosts that were not magicked into silence.

When at last we left, it was with laden saddlebags. Flier was not pleased to go back out into the snow, but she greeted me with affection nonetheless. Soliri was taciturn and Flier did not try to greet him as he saddled her. The three of us rode out onto the snowy road, but quickly turned from the worn path to break our own ground through frozen over snow. South and west we went. The little town disappeared over a rise. We were on our way.

Why Hire an Editor?

It seems these days that everyone is DIY-ing everything. And why not? It’s fun to make your own decorations, gifts, and cards. But one thing you should not DIY is editing.* That’s right, I said you shouldn’t edit all by yourself. This is a lesson it took me most of high school and the first year of college to learn. I was an avid self-editor. While self-editing is an important step in the editing process, it isn’t the only step.

So why shouldn’t you rely solely on yourself (or worse, spell-check) for all of your editing needs? For starters, you know your story. You know exactly what you mean when you write certain phrases – the same phrases that befuddle readers. If you only self-edit, you are going to miss an important opportunity to improve your writing ability. You might, even with your story bible, miss a detail that you changed in one place but not another (we’re humans, after all).

Another excellent reason is that spell-check doesn’t catch everything. I’m sure you’ve seen it yourself. You write see instead of seen and spell check doesn’t catch it. You’ve probably read and reread and rewritten your work so many times that you skim, and you miss it too. A second pair of eyes will help you beat typos like those.

Okay, okay, you say, but why hire someone when friends will edit for free, or some beta readers will, for free, read and give feedback about what passages don’t work? Simple: you get what you pay for. Friends will often be slow-going (especially when you are an adult writer and your friends are also adults) and, unless they are also writers/readers, they may not edit to the standard you need. Many friends and family readers will only tell you what you want to hear, for fear of hurting your feelings. This is unproductive if you are trying to improve your craft. In the blogging community or writers’ workshops** you may find people who are willing to give the feedback you need, but unless they have an incentive to get it done, they, too, will likely lag. It’s no fault of theirs – people simply have to take care of things happening in their own lives first. An editor, however, will be on a schedule. It is in their best interest to get the work done, and do it well so that their reputation prospers.

I get it, you may not have much money right now. Luckily there are a wide range of editors out there, with all sorts of different fees. There are both professional and freelance editors, some with specific skill sets or preferences for projects, and some who are open to taking on just about any project. If you are really strapped for cash but want to hire an editor, and if you have a computer, you can always earn some extra money with things like Smart Panel, MintVine, SwagBucks, and so many other similar sites. If you aspire to be a published author, you really should hire an editor. Your chances of being accepted by a publisher will increase because a better manuscript means less work for them. The same for story, article or poetry submissions to publishers and magazines. In some cases, even blog posts can benefit from hiring an editor.

So take a look around, find someone who meets your needs, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. That’s what the editors are there for. To help your writing become the best it can be.

Take care,

Emily

*Of course start with doing it yourself. Clean up your writing as much as you can, that’s your job as the writer.

**Sometimes the writers you find in workshops or other locations take their role too far, and are crueler to your writing than they need to be. I’ve seen it happen. Always choose someone you trust.

Serial Saturday – Onaemi 6

First of all, I apologize for the lapse in posts. I was on vacation and honestly thought I had scheduled posts to get me through until I came home. Guess not! But no worries, I am returned and will keep posting!

***

I thought I might freeze  to death that night. I had only my coat, my boots, and my clothes. No blanket did Soliri grant me. No comfort against the night. Whether or not he froze as I did, I could not have said. But as I lay huddled and shivering, he slept. He woke before morning came, and brusquely lifted me to my feet. There was no care in his movements or his eyes. He mounted his horse, me in his arms again, and we were off.

Clouds still hung heavy above us, the threat of more snow fully known to all three of us. The horse did not like the thought of more cold stuff piling around it, and I soothed as best I could. In return, the horse granted me her name – Flier. She broke a trail through the snow at the behest of Soliri, and we were cold together.

There was nothing for miles but snow and sky. I saw no other travelers, no cities, not even a lone cottage bolstered with a cookfire against the deep winter. I was utterly alone with Soliri. Flier, feeling my distress, refused to live up to her name. She was sluggish, obstinate, and uncooperative. Such a sweet girl, that horse. She was the one who told me that we traversed the Ghost Plain – the resting ground of spirits who could not continue their journey, but were banned by magic from completing their earthly tasks.

This knowledge sat heavy in my heart. I never understood the cruelty of humans against animals – and could less understand the cruelty of humans against humans. I could not even speak with the ghosts, though occasionally I felt their presence. The magic that bound them to our realm also blocked them from my companionship.

For days we plodded through the Ghost Plain. I knew by the sun as it broke the clouds that we were headed south. Not back to Auntie’s cottage, though. Even when we emerged from the Ghost Plains and I could once again hear the sleeping whispers of the earth and animals, I did not recognize the hills. I had known that already, of course. Auntie had never spoken of the Ghost Plains.

From a hilltop we spotted an inn. Flier filled my head with happy chattering about hay and warmth. Soliri had to reign her in before she charged headlong down the hill and to the road. She whined to me and I told her to be patient. Soliri frightened me with his temper. He did not dismount as he spoke to me. I felt for Flier, for as her patience waned and she tugged at the reigns again, Soliri was more forceful in making her heed him. As for what he said to me – he said that we were going to the town, and that while we were there I was to pretend to be his daughter. He ordered that I would not try to run away from him, nor try to tell anyone that he had taken me from my guardians without my will.

I asked him why I should listen, and instead of responding with threat he said that not all people were fond of Whispers. He said that we were in a country (which I did not know what that was) where Whispers could be killed for heresy against their god. I asked him, again, why. This time why they would think I was a Whisper. He said a startling thing to me: that he would have known I was a Whisper even without my guard, because golden fire burned in my eyes. But my eyes were blue. So I’d seen many times. After my own silence, I finally asked him why we should go into a country where they’d kill me. He said that in a city on the coast, there was a special place for me, where he would become very rich. Then he reminded me of his orders, and I agreed to heed him.

Advanced Worldbuilding

Here we are, deep into worldbuilding. If you’re like me, you are ready to take it to the next level. I’m excited to work on these steps for my next novel (after I finish book 3 of Lacey’s story). Before I get to far ahead of myself though, here are the previous steps to worldbuilding that I’ve discussed in Beginning Worldbuilding and Intermediate Worldbuilding: make maps, think about religion, decide how your people look, language, and politics. If you haven’t read my previous posts, take a gander.

1.History

Every world, every person, has a history. If you haven’t thought about the history of your cities, nations, or world, now is the perfect time to do so. Even if you’ve already written most of your novel, you can look and decide how your people got to where they are. Think of it as learning about their history (much like children learn history in school) rather than creating it. Some questions to ask when discerning the history of your world: who is in power and how did they come to be in power? Who are the minority groups and why are they minorities (are they immigrants or displaced people, or do they have a unique heritage)? Who are the disadvantaged groups of people and why are they disadvantaged?

2.Marriage Customs

That people have partnerships and get married is something we assume in books, for the most part. We read about mothers and fathers, husband and wives. But how did they get to be husbands and wives? Are there complex courting rituals? Do people have elaborate wedding ceremonies? For inspiration here, I suggest looking around at cultures in our world. Not things like “what do they do in Spain,” rather “what do they do in the depths of the Amazon or in the heart of the Sahara.” The more far-flung you get, the more interesting results you will find.

3. Water and food

Farmers are stock characters in fantasy and markets are stock settings. A step further: wagons are stock transportation (unless you are on horseback). We readers can assume that food is grown by farmers and bought by all manner of people – but if you want to get into the nitty gritty details, you should think about how it’s done. Does the government buy crops and resell them? Do people all have their own gardens/herds/flocks for basic needs and sell the excess to others? Do they have a bartering system or, perhaps, it is a communist-esque system where they all share everything equally out of the goodness of their hearts (hello, plot conflict)? And that’s just for food. What about water? Are there wells throughout the city? What happens if the well goes dry? Are there rivers your people can drink from or are the waters dirty? Who is in charge of fetching the water from its source? Who guards it from enemies? All of these things can be significant to the plot, if you let them be. Or they can add realism.

4.Hygiene

Do your people bathe regularly? Where and how? Bathhouses are going to make for different social norms than private baths in homes. (Think open vs. closed, respectful of privacy vs. potentially lecherous.) It also matters because if people bathe regularly, the water system is much more important. Perhaps they build aquaducts in order to supply bathhouses, or perhaps they leave it up to individuals to fetch their own water and therefore they either don’t bathe regularly or have private baths. Do the rich bathe more than the poor? Does this mean water is a commodity?

5.Superstitions

Don’t let a black cat cross your path. Break a mirror and have 7 years bad luck. Don’t walk under a ladder or open an umbrella inside. Silly superstitions. And yet we recite them whenever someone does one of those “unspeakable things.” Give your characters some superstitions – things that apply to either them or their society as a whole. Make them convinced all their bad luck is because of X, and either make it so or show their foolishness. Have fun with this one, but if you include it in the actual story, make sure it’s plot relevant.

He’s a black cat, but I don’t think anyone would complain about him crossing their path!

The following are even more things to think about (we can call it expert worldbuilding). Now, I’ll be the first to say I have not effectively gone this far into worldbuilding yet. It’s part of my learning process and part of my next novel, in which I will be writing about a characters in a nation that is recovering from war. Thus, the following worldbuilding considerations will be important.
1.Waste

2.Fires

3.Natural Disasters

4.Wars

5.How are things built? And how are large objects (trees, stone, etc) moved?

Take flight, enjoy, and share any other pieces of worldbuilding you find particularly helpful!

Take care,

Emily

Tag Cloud

Threadwinners

A Crochet Collaborative

Quiet Water Craft

Official crafty blog for my Quiet Water Craft Etsy shop

creativepixie.wordpress.com/

eat up some crafty goodness with a creative momma

My Crafty Musings

A Crochet Blog

Panda Gets Crafty

Crochet. Knit. Needle felt. Cross stitch.

my world of crocheting

"And presently I was driving through the drizzle of the dying day, with the windshield wipers in full action but unable to cope with my tears."

Masala Vegan

Plant based cruelty free recipes for cooking, baking and living from India and beyond!

Flourish & Knot

Handmade Living - Budget Decorating, DIY & Craft Tutorials, Sewing, Flower Arrangement Tutorials - Montreal, Canada DIY blog

Elephants Hankie Blog

Question everything, Explore Life, create wonder.

Crochet by Wendy

Handmade Crochet Items, Gifts and Accessories

Crochet539

Handmade, Festive Adornments

Amanda Crochets

Handmade with Love

Lime Green Lady

Crafting chatter with patterns, projects and photos.