I don't have anything writing related today because I've spent the week ranting at the television. We have a state election being decided today and the lead-up has been interesting, to say the least.
Some points I've noted:
As usual, the only party that has actually discussed policy has been the one party that has little power and no chance at all of getting into government. They still manage to stay focused on what governing the state is all about though.
So now I'm off to do my bit and put some pencil marks on pretty papers.
I've always been a pantser. I love discovering what a story is about, what everyone does to achieve their life's dreams, and how it all comes about. I've always said if I know the ending of the story, I lose interest.
That philosophy works beautifully while I'm writing short stories or stories with simple, single-line plots. I can keep it all in my head and I don't miss any threads when I finally get to the end and start tying everything up.
It also explains why I have four finished novels sitting in my drawer awaiting major edits - and they've all been waiting for years. The plots are still topical and, once they're tidied up, will be riveting, but that doesn't help the story now. I look at them and I sigh in exasperation. The project it too big, especially now that I have several new plots swimming in my head, clamoring to get out.
So, I've started to plot. I started two stories ago, with Just the Way You Are. I wrote 2/3 of the story and realised things were tangled up and I couldn't finish until I'd sorted it out. So I plotted out the story, worked out what needed to be fixed before I continued and decided where I was headed after that. It worked. Just the Way You Are is slated for publication with Dreamspinner Press March/April 2015.
With The Planet Whisperer (recently submitted, hope they want it) I mapped out the plot after 50,000 words. I got stuck and didn't know where to go from there so I wrote down all the sections of the story and filled in the gaps to show which scene fitted where. The story flows so much better than it was and everything dovetails nicely into the previous and next parts of the plot. I should have done this plotting thing years ago.
With the story I'm working on now, tentatively titled Shatternalia, I decided to plot it out from the beginning. I set up my notebook and wrote the headings on all the pages, then I sat and stared at the empty pages for a few days. Finally, I threw my hands up in the air and started writing a scene--any scene--just to be writing. Then I wrote another scene, and in my head I thought neither scene was the beginning and neither scene would end up sitting beside the other. There was more that had to be written to fit between them. I was running three different timelines with lots of named characters, all of which would converge in the last third of the book. At 12,000 words it was already getting complicated.
How do I fix it? How do I keep track of all the different scenes popping into my head at random times when I know I'm going to have to keep moving them around into different orders to make the story flow? How do I keep the three different timelines flowing along smoothly? Even if the reader never reads them chronologically, I have to know how they work chronologically.
I've done two things. The first thing I did was decide to use Scrivener to create this novel. I've played with Scrivener before but found it too bitsy for the stories I was writing: the last several have come to me chronologically and Scrivener destroyed that progression in my head. This story is different. I need something like Scrivener (there are other similar programs available) that allows me to keep all the scenes separate, easy to find and easy to move in relation to other scenes. So far it's working beautifully, although I'm not liking the results of the compilation. I'll work around that bit.
The second thing I did was buy a whole heap of index cards, string and bluetac, and remove the painting from the wall in my entry. I've now divided that wall into three for the three timelines (using the string and bluetac) and further divided those sections for the three parts of the story and all the different stages in between. I'm using the index cards to write down a summary of each scene that fits into each section and putting it in place. So far I've plotted two timelines 2/3 the way through. I'm a bit stuck on the third, but I'll write what I have planned first and trust that the third will come along in its own time.
I'm not plotting the end of any timeline yet. It's that old 'don't want to know' feeling. I'll need to know by the time I finish the first two-thirds, but not before then. The wall will wait.
Bottom line is I think I've found a system that's working for me with this story. It feels exciting and new and I can't wait to spend more time on it. Before that, though, I have edits to complete on Just the Way You Are, and I've just gone back to my day job after a holiday and the first month is always hectic. I'm expecting my writing production to drop to somewhere around the 1,000 words a week until I get on top of everything.
I deal with a lot of people every year in my day job. Every day I would come into contact with no less than 500 people every day. That's speak-to contact, not just walk by. I get to know those people reasonably well over the course of the year and over time form opinions about certain names. I try not to judge; I try to give everyone an opportunity to be who they are. But I do notice, year after year, the same names cropping up on my difficult-to-deal-with list.
Bear in mind these are my opinions based on my experiences only. Others will certainly have very different experiences and opinions.
Last week I shared some boys names. This week, it's the girls.
Girls are actually more difficult to pick because nearly all girls go through that year or so where they're total bitches, so every name is awful. Sometimes, though, the bitch stays.
These are names I see associated with 'permanent bitch' fairly often:
Beverly (a bully)
Helen (selfish, cunning) note: other forms of Helen seem to be fine: Eileen, Elaine, Elena, Eleanor
I was talking names with my crit group last night. You know the rules: can't have two names beginning with the same initial for major characters, can't have too many one or two or three syllable names for different people, have to make the last names match but rules one and two apply to them as well, can't match a single syllable first name with a single syllable last name too often, need to vary the rhythms of names.
I started thinking about all the names that bring up an immediate negative response in me. I'm exposed to different names all the time. I write, I read and I teach so there's a neverending supply of names. One thing I've always found interesting is that often, the same names crop up with similar personalities. For example: there are certain boys' names I would never use for a hero, because every boy I've known with those names has been irritating at best. Here are some examples with my own 'baby name meaning'. Some of these names I've only known one person of that name, but they've made a lasting impression. Others, like Joshua and Cory, I come across again and again.
Please remember these are my opinion only, based on my own experiences. I can't speak for others' opinions or experiences.
So that's my list of boys' names to avoid for heroes. What's yours?
Next week I'll do the same for girls' names, and after that--who knows--I might even pick some names I like.
I've never been one for new year's resolutions, but I am a goal-setter. Every year I repeat this little mantra to myself: Start as you mean to go on. Sometimes I go a few months with the routine I want working perfectly, other times I don't last the first day. Sometimes, I even last the whole year and accomplish nearly everything I had planned - those are rare times, though.
My problem is I need a routine to accomplish everything I want to do, but I'm REALLY not a routine kind of person. Still, I do have things I want to accomplish, so routines are regularly implemented.
First, I need to review my goals for 2014:
So, not completely successful, although there were gains made. I'll simplify this year's goals in an effort to make them more achievable--or less quantifiable and therefore easier to fudge? ;)
Things I want to accomplish this year:
So that's my goals in a nutshell. I'll tease them out a bit over the next few weeks and break them down into smaller, achievable chunks.
And just because I love all my covers and enjoyed writing all the stories that go with them, you get a slide show with links! Lucky you.
E E Montgomery
About writing, life, and random thoughts.
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