Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Yearly Resolutions, It’s Starting to be a Tradition for Me By Now

2006 I finished my first novel, a fantasy set in a medieval styled world. I’d started it in high school with a friend. I completed it as my undergraduate honors thesis.

After graduating with my BA, I got real impatient real fast and began another novel, an urban fantasy centering around humans and the fae. By December I finished the first of that. The months following I edited it and brought, five pages a week for the most part, to my writer’s group. Some time over the summer of 2007 I brought them the last of it. I still feel like it needs more editing, but I did get through one big round.

Now I’ve finished my third semester of the Master’s program. MA in English with a concentration in creative writing. My thesis is another novel, urban fantasy, with werewolves and gods/goddesses. I’m about halfway through it, and I want to finish the first draft before January 14, 2009, the first day I go back to class for my last semester. By Mid-May (technically by March or April), I will have a full draft, revised a couple of times.

Between January 2007 and November 2008 I also worked at a part-time job that just began demanding too much time for me to focus on school and writing. I’m not working right now, but I may get a part-time job on campus. We’ll see.

Which leads me to resolutions. I don’t (read: I usually don’t) achieve all my resolutions, but I like having something there, in print, something to move towards. I may not have accomplished what I set out to this year, but I’ve made progressed. That’s good.

So for 2009:

January through May—focus on school and finishing the werewolf UF. Graduate.

May through August—I will wait on getting a job, at least until after the summer (if I can help it) an focus on polishing the two urban fantasy novels. Start querying them with agents. Maybe I’ll start with the faerie one, since I already have ideas for a second and third book.

August/September—if I haven’t yet, start looking for a full-time job. Write Book 2 of the Fae UF if I haven’t started that yet.

October through December—writing Books 2 and 3, querying, hopefully by this time I will have an agent and we’ll be working on getting something out to publishers. (Is it too much to hope by this time next year, I may have an agent and a publisher?)

The resolutions are very detailed, but I think that’s just more evidence that this is the time to get off my keister and start querying. There’s some editing that needs to happen first, but I can’t get bogged down in that and avoid the next step.

So on that note, I will try to take those next steps.

And to you writers out there, good luck in 2009. May you have inspiration and luck in your writing and publication.

Happy writing.

See you on the other side,

Monday, December 29, 2008

Reflection about Villains

I find myself playing with the idea of villains a lot in my stories.

In the books I read I love finding an antagonist that has a reason for being the villain. That they aren't just acting as a foil for the hero for the sake of the hero having someone to fight against. The better the reason, and the more complex the background (even if it's only hinted at in the story), the more I tend to enjoy that character. Simple example: Severus Snape as an antagonist. He isn't a villain, ultimately, but there are numerous times throughout the series where he's in opposition to Harry Potter. What I find compelling is that he basically loathes Harry throughout the series, but they're both "good" guys. The question of whether he's an ally or not is turned on its head quite a few times, and especialy at the end of the sixth book (being in fact, a huge part of the promotion for the seventh book).

Anyway, I was thinking about my own writing (-not- I assure in comparison to HP, just generally thinking about the two novels I've been working on), and I find it’s never enough to just have a person to label the bad guy, even if they have perfectly reasonable reasons to be the villain.

Instead, I have one novel where the “villain” is essentially a child that wants a mother, along with the servant who guards and cares for him. In the novel I’m currently working on (and providing the daily word counts), there are multiple villains, and some surprises thrown in. The two main characters are chasing one ‘bad guy,’ but it’s pretty clear that two other characters aren’t so nice, and can be considered villains although some of their goals overlap with the heroes’. Then there is Guy 1’s friends, neither of whom are what they seem and one of whom's motivation is in direct opposition to the heroes, but isn't a villain. And Guy 2’s friends, who seem friendly at first, and again, have the same goals at the heroes, but one has darker motives, i.e. villainous, than the other, though they work together.

Perhaps this tendency of mine has risen to the surface because of this latter bok--I have the added challenge at taking that complex interweaving of action, relationship and motivation (explained in a rather mangled "concise but vague" manner above) and making it seem natural. That the revelations of the two main characters occur at times that make sense and that the people who seemed to be allies but aren't have their motivations well explained--trying to avoid the sense of "what, why is he really a bad guy, I thought they were friends" or worse "that explanation makes no damn sense, what is this writer thinking?"

I like a complex antagonist. Can you tell? More than complex, I love throwing in that uncertainty. Is the villain as villainous as they seem, or are those friends really acting in the protagonist’s best intentions?

Thus were my thoughts earlier today and last night.

I took a break from the writing for the holidays, so here's the word counts:

To refresh your memories Day 5 was Monday, the 22nd of December and I finished that day at 31,342.

Day 6, Tuesday Dec 23: end of day--32, 232 words, so 890 words, least amount so far for a day when I did write.

Day 7, Wednesday Dec 24: 0 words, but allowed for the holliday

day 8, Thursday Dec 25: 0 words, but also allowed for the holiday, and I was in the kitchen for most of teh day helping with the dinner.

Day 9, Friday Dec 26: end of day--32,896, so 664 words for the day, new low (I didn't realize it was only that much, but it's better than nothing, this whole period was off because of the holiday)

Day 10, Saturday Dec 27: 0 words, it was a run-around day that wore me out.

Day 11, Sunday Dec 28: end of day--37,062, so 4,166 words for the day. Getting back in the groove.

Day 12, Monday Dec 29: I'm still writing and am currently at 38,483, which is 1,421 for the day. I am still working on it, though. It's been a slow day because I let myself get distracted by the TV and the internet. Hence my doing this now. I'm so close to 40,000 I'd love to get there before I go to bed, but if I keep the internet window open I won't reach that goal, so this is my update and I'll edit it tomorrow with today's final word count.

Until then, happy continued holidays and happy writing to all.

EDIT: Last word for yesterday, Day 12--40,132 words, for a total word count of 3,070. Not too shabby. Today is starting off a bit slower.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Day 5 is it?

So I did Day 1 and 2.

Day 3, Saturday 12/20: 26,611

Total word count for the day: 1067 words

Mitigating circumstances: No excuse really. There were people in and out of the house all day and it threw me off. I was just unmotivated and distracted.

On the other hand: It's better than nothing.

Day 4, Sunday 12/21: 0 words

Total word count for the day: 0

Mitigating circumstances: I had a date-ish hang out with a friend which took up the better of the morning and early afternoon, plus a little running around before I got home. By the time I could write, I was too tired.

On the other hand: I am trying to make up for it today.

Day 5, Monday 12/22: 29,403 words so far

Total word count for the day: 2,792 words

Mitigating circumstances: another day of distractions, with two people, basically on the other side of a thin door all day.

On the other hand: I'm not done yet today. At least I want to get past 30,000, if not 3,100. It just depends on whether I can focus a little better now in the evening (it's...goodness, I didn't notice, it's almost 8--I thought it was just after 7 pm).

I'm going to keep at it. In the meantime, people with a few spare minutes pop on over to Shrinking Violets. It's a blog for introverts and/or writers. Right now they're doing the Twelve Days of Christmas--Introvert Style.

EDIT: So far at 3,528 words total for today. Not too shabby, considering it was in fits and starts all day. I'll give you the final total tomorrow, but for now, just wanted to give it an update before closing the internet for the night (oh internet, how you distract when I could/should be writing).

EDIT 12/23: Last count for yesterday, Day 5 was 31,342, with a total word count for the day at 4731.

Pretty good, considering. It wasn't until nighttime that I really got on a roll. Now if only I could stay up all night without worrying about bothering others in the house.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Near the end of my first half-week of vacation

Here is me, hoping that by keeping track of my word counts, it will somehow fuel me to keep writing more and more. ~my stomach growls in protest~

Day 1--Thursday 12/18 (since wednesday was a run-around kind of day): started at about 16,000, ended the day on 20,292

Total word count for the day: 4,292 words

Mitigating circumstances: This was all essentially transcription of what I'd written longhand over the course of this semester. So none of it, possibly barring a few sentences at the end.

On the other hand: Good way to start this break, and I had no idea I'd written that much longhand.

Day 2--Friday 12/19: started at 20,292, ended on 25,544 (yes, I'm being a little redundant)

Total word count for the day: 5,252 words

Mitigating circumstances: I was distracted by a trip outside and a long lunch, and distracted myself with computer games.

On the other hand: I see this as a very good word count for one day. I'm hoping to maintain this for at least a while.

To reach between 80,000 and 100,000 before I start up with school again, I should be writing between 2,800 and 3,600 words a day. This doesn't include the two big holidays and their eves. But I know that there will be days when I just write that much, and there will be days where I will go and lose most of my writing time. So I will take as many of these 5,000-word days as I can get. Preemptive strike.

Happy writing, all.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

My winter break begins now

I did some more transcribing last night, so I'm over 16,000 in HS, what will be the master's thesis.

Today is basically my last day of running around sans holidays. All the other days I plan to write. Working out some very basic math, I can reach about 80,000 before the first day of class if I write about 2,300 words. I can get to around 100,000 words if I do closer to 3,500 words per day. That I believe, includes taking Christmas and possibly New Year's Eve off. If I write on those days, I have a slightly smaller daily word count.

I don't do the word counts and minimums as a hard and fast requirement, though. Some days are better than others, but it does give me an idea if i am consistently short, that I'll need to pick up the pace, or if I cna take it easy later, because perhaps I'm ahead.

I don't think the word counts include today, either. I have to go to university and run some errands. Then I'm going to finish up my Christmas shopping and hang out with a friend of mine. She lives in town and I live in what I guess are the suburbs (although it doesn't really feel like it), and I don't go into town often. I take the bus through it for class, but I usually stay on campus if I have free time. So yes, today I have time, and she has time, and we are hanging out.

Tomorrow I write. But today, with two long bus trips, I will try to plot out the rest the book. I know what I've done and what I need to do to fill in the gaps between the already-written scenes. But if I'm going to really focus almost every day, I need to know where I'm going. And I've introduced a number of characters that need to show up again, and I need to suggest the connections between them (playing with who's your friend and who isn't), red herrings and what not, and if I know where those hints will come in ahead of time, I (hopefully) won't be staring at my computer screen dumbly for hours at a time, only to start playing computer games (right now I am slightl obsessed with mahjong tiles) in an attempt to clear my mind.

I know that's bs, but if I have something to riff I can avoid it anyway.

Happy writing. Wish me luck.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

More updatey-ness

The 20-page paper was done on time, and turned in early Friday afternoon. The novella was officially due Friday by midnight, but she said people could post the final as late as Monday. I completed it last night, then did revisions this morning. I posted it around 2 this afternoon. Final page count= 74 double-spaced pages in Times New Roman.

All that's left is the Old English final on Tuesday.

In other news: It's raining like crazy in Hawai'i. And because of that (and also perhaps the fact that I didn't go to bed until 3/3:30 last night and the night before) the day has fled from me. I looked up and it was the afternoon.

It's dark outside.

Okay, more studying and then my weeks will be filled with novel-writing. (I can totally write another 64,000 words or more before January 12. No problem.)

(Why yes, Virginia, that is sarcasm.)

Truly, that's my goal. After the final, after a day or two to hang out with friends I haven't seen much lately, and excluding Christmas and New Year's days, that will be life fo the next three weeks.

Wish me luck.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Semester is Almost Over and Here's Where I Stand

Due by Friday: a 20-page paper and a novella. Next Tuesday: a final exam. Before the start of next semester, my goal is to have the first draft of HS done.

Here's where I currently stand:

No translations done for this Tuesday's class yet.

3,300 words (9 1/2 pages double-spaced) done on the paper--I find it really interesting--I'm looking at the twist endings on three fairly modern retellings of fairy tales. Makes me want to write about more than just the endings, so right now the hardest part is concentrating on a portion of the story and not the whole thing.

13,377 words done on the novella. I believe the range is between 20,000 and 60,000. I feel like I may be closer to the latter by the time I'm done, there's a whole middle chunk of the story which I still need to write.

15, 700 words on the novel, HS. That's 30 pages single-spaced. Not bad, but I think the trickiest part will come when this semester is over and I try to finish this draft by January 12, when school starts up again. I should figure out the last major scenes and calculate how many pages I "ought" to write each day. Even if I don't follow that at all, sometimes the page or word count just helps me focus.

So, in order to work on the novella and novel, the analytical paper comes first. Do it and get it out of the way. I'm off.

Happy writing.