Monthly Archives: December 2011

Steps One and Two are done!

Hello, everyone!

As an update, I’ve just finished Step Two of Rachel Aaron’s by now oft-mentioned Five Steps of Plotting a Novel. Step Two focus upon the three pillars of plot: Setting, Characters, and Plot.

The setting is a world I’ve already invested a lot of time building over several years, so it should be fairly well developed by now, I think. In the course of writing this novel, though, I’ll be focusing on adding details for the parts of the world that we’ll be visiting in this first novel, which should help to make the world even richer.

Characters are starting to be added. The central character, the primary villain, both are well fleshed-out by now. Several major characters are also getting some meat on their bones, so to speak. Just about everyone has a name that reflects who they are rather well. Most of the characters I’ve added are characters I’ve added because when I think of where plot needs to go, characters need to take it there, and since protagonists and antagonists don’t oppose each other in a vacuum, there are other characters who often move a plot is a certain direction just because of the personality they have and the decisions they make. So, when I need the plot to move forward it’s natural for me to think of the sort of characters who would move events in that direction, so every character I imagine comes to mind with certain aspects already filled in. They’ll get fleshed out more fully as the process goes along.

For plot, I have the basic plotting completely finished for the first novel. (It’s also about 95% finished for the second book and about 40% finished for the third.) Basic plotting is just the major events of the story, which is done. So, next it’s on to Step Three where I start to fill in the next level of detail. Now I’ll be taking the plot I’ve just written out and I’m going to start breaking it down, starting at the beginning with Chapter One, asking myself, “what happens?”. “How does the book start?” I need a hook, something to grab the attention of the reader right away, introducing the central character in a way that makes the reader say, “Whoa!” It won’t matter how great the rest of the novel is if the opening paragraphs don’t grab the reader by the hair and yank their face down onto the page. I don’t need to write that yet, but I need to help myself here by deciding right now what that situation will be at the very beginning of the story so that when I do write that first scene of the book I’ve got a great situation to work with.

I want to have this done through the first five chapters by Monday. Think I can do it? 🙂

…yielding a creative explosion

Hey, everyone!

It seems that shift in focus was exactly what I have been needing. Mortality, Interrupted is clearly the right book for me to be writing, and right now is clearly the wrong time for me to be writing it. Since switching to the Royal Redemption story and using Rachel Aaron’s Five Plotting Steps from the outset, the story is coming together unbelievably fast! I have come up with a story arc big enough for three books, I believe, and I have the full synopsis of the first book, most of the synopsis for the second and have started on the third (and I generally know how that one will go, also). Rachel Aaron, wherever you are, your methods are worth gold!

Over the next several days I should have all the synopses done and then I’m going to write an outline of the first five chapters of the first book, which I’m calling Royal Redemption. (FYI: “Royal Redemption” is just a working title. I don’t think the final product will be called that, but that’s probably a common thing.)

I tell you what; scaling down to a smaller project has really energized my writing. I haven’t been this excited about writing in maybe more than a year. I can’t wait to be finished with the synopses and outlines so I can start writing! Now that I’m figuring out what these characters do, I want to watch them in my mind’s eye, hear them talk, be in their world with them. I want to go to places like Locust Grove to hear leaves rustling under Kara’s feet as she dashes out of the sight of the village militia, head over to Millington to catch the gentle snort of Lord Andrew’s horse as he returns from checking on his tired men, then on down to Tilghman to hear the sizzle of a boar turning on a spit as the fat melts and drips into the fire during the sweltering afternoon of a Midsummer’s revel. By God, this place is alive!

I can’t wait to start exploring!

A shift in focus

Hello, everyone.

In the past I’ve considered the idea of shifting my focus toward my fantasy novel, Royal Redemption, so I can learn the craft of writing with a project less critical to my heart and mind than the mammoth and intricate project that starts with Mortality, Interrupted. I appreciate the fierce support many of you have provided me over the years more than words can say and there have been times when if it had not been for that support I would have given up writing altogether.

Now I’ve often read where writers have said such things but I couldn’t imagine them being actually true. How could a writer good enough to become published ever doubt themselves or their talent and skill? Now I know better.

Writing is ultimately a solitary endeavor. Yes, you can meet many colleagues and make a lot of friends along the way, from fans to fellow writers, but whenever you sit down to write, you’re alone. It’s just you, the writer, and the story. Until you get some confirmation from outside yourself, you can never be sure if what you write is really quality. You can guess, but you can’t really know for sure.

What I need to do is take smaller steps. The size and scope of the Mortality, Interrupted story arc is just immense, spanning all of human history from the first civilization in ancient Sumer to the modern world. I don’t know how many books that will be, but the amount of ‘story’ is just mind-boggling, and put simply, this is going to require a writer whose abilities are beyond what I currently possess.

So, I’m going to take another beloved story, a fantasy story I’ve revealed a bit of on this site, and I am going to pour my heart and soul into this very worthy project. The story is in its infancy, just about at the start of the creative process; and that’s where I would really like to begin anew. I recently read an amazing blog post from a published writer, Rachel Aaron, and her advice will transform my writing.

(Writing advice: Readers of my blog who are writers themselves will definitely want to check out her blog, particularly the entry that inspired me called “How I Went From Writing 2,000 Words a Day to 10,000 Words a Day”, and I also highly recommend some of her other writing advice, such as “How I Plot A Novel in 5 Steps“. GREAT STUFF!)

The thing is, I have been trying to eat this elephant for five years now and if I don’t find a better way to go about doing this then even despite your tremendous support I’m just going to end another failed writer that couldn’t make it happen, and that’s something I just can’t let happen. So I want to build my skills as a writer and bring a project to fruition, perhaps writing some sequels to Royal Redemption before tackling that massive Mortality, Interrupted project that is my most cherished. I want to do it justice, and I mean to.

So, for now, I want to introduce you all to Kara, a young half-elven woman, who wants more than anything to learn magic, but after becoming estranged from her mother is forced to become a thief to survive a world that is much more cruel than she ever expected.