Friday, May 19, 2017

Pantsing The Story With Outlines

I’m excited to write my next novel. Excited because not only do I get to live vicariously through my characters again, but I’ll also get to experiment with a new writing process. I have learned much from writing the first novel, and I’ve been refining the process through short stories. With those, I’m ready to embark on the second novel.

Now it might sound like an oxymoron to say “pantsing with outlines,” but after you read this blog post, you’ll realize that it’s not.

So--

There are two processes I am experimenting with: beat list and scene teasers.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Novel Number Two

Here we go! Novel number two is in the first draft phase. As for the first novel, I'm still waiting on a response from the publisher. Fingers crossed.

I wrote about 2,300 words this weekend. I'm currently tweaking my process, and I think I'm enjoying how it's progressing.

When I wrote my first novel, I was literally a pantser, the whole novel only hinged on one idea alone, which is "twins transferring sensations to one another." With this second novel, I'm keeping track of the beats I wrote. So, let's say, I wrote 1,200 words and I'm done for the day, I will then make a beat list of what I wrote, and I'll use that as a quick reference on the next writing session.

Along with the beat list, I will also give myself one or two scene teasers. Since I follow the Scene/Sequel format, I will make notes for myself what the next two scenes are, but I won't tell myself what the outcomes are.

For example:

INCITING INCIDENT: Theo/Ezra is in a coma
GOAL: Aries needs to enter their consciousness so he can rescue Ezra from the false memories.
CONFLICT: But Ezra is comfortable with the false memories and doesn't want to leave.
OUTCOME: ???

So I tease myself on what will happen, but won't tell myself how it will end. This gives my creative mind something to play around with.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Follow Your Bliss; Find Your Process

Joseph Campbell said to follow your bliss. My bliss is making up stories and experiencing them as if I’m inside the character’s head. (Sometimes I hear their voices, but they shut up once I put them on paper.)

At one point, however, writing became as excruciating as pulling teeth and jamming them back in.

A little background:

I always believed that in order to write professionally you needed to outline. So I did an outline for a novel that I always wanted to write. I had everything completed. I had a scene list, a timeline and a character sheet.

I was prepared.

But when the time came to write, I choked.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

The schedule of a writer

I have no idea what a schedule of a writer is.

It should be simple, right? You devote a chunk of time for writing, and then you write. But the path I'm taking isn't that simple.

I'm leaning towards self-publishing now, and that would mean taking more tasks beyond my writing schedule. I will need to carve time for marketing. Having a day job cuts into that, and I'm torn between that and writing the next short story or novel.


I'm torn between traditional publishing and self-publishing. On one hand, you don't have to worry about sales channels and advertising, but you only get a portion of the profits--not all. On the other hand, you get all the cash, but you have to do everything. Everything!


With this novel, I don't know where I should shove it to. Right now, I'm testing the waters, experimenting. I had sent a query letter to an interested publisher. We'll see what happens.

At the moment, I should probably dabble with marketing. And to begin, I'm focusing on planning and getting a book cover. I have an idea of how it would look like, and I'm grateful that my husband can do photoshop.

I may need to schedule on working on the book cover.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Progress so far

Short stories are all done, and on top of that, I also wrote a new short for an anthology. If the anthology takes my short story, that will be my very first published short story (crossing fingers).

The "progress tracker" is working great. Not only does it keep track of my daily word count and words per hour, it's also keeping track of how many minutes I devote on each process. Since I'm good at fiddling around an excel spreadsheet (it's part of my day job), I've created a formula where it tells me how many hours I spend in writing, revising and line editing. I think this is helpful because it gives me an idea on what areas I need improving on.

Along with the "progress tracker," I've also created a "submission tracker." I had one previously, but I made the mistake of creating a sheet per story. Now, I'm putting it all on one sheet and using auto-filters to sort through the submissions and rejects and what-not. It looks like a mess at first glance, but with some finagling and spreadsheet wizardry, I can make it sing.

Finally, I've also created a "rejection rant free-writing" file for myself. It's my habit to free-write for five minutes before writing or editing my manuscript. I'm listening to a podcast called "Creative Penn Podcast," and on the episode where the host interviewed the author of DIY MFA, she mentioned something about an angst jar. This spawned an idea in my head and then took it for myself. Instead of an angst jar, I will have the rejection rant doc file.

Since creating the rejection rant file, I've submitted six of my short stories to publications. I've yet to fill my rejection rant file since I'm still waiting for a response (which are most likely rejections).

Anyway, those are my progress so far. Since I'm done with my short stories, I'm prepping for the final edit on my novel. With the rate of how I edit (thanks to the data from my progress tracker), I'll be finished with the line edits in two months. As always, my goalpost is my birthday. So long as I finish my novel before that, then I'm good.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Compass (A Rough Outline Method)

I have an idea for a rough outline that’s tailored for discovery writers. I’m no expert (and not a published author yet) so this is a system devised by a budding author.

I thought of this rough outline based on advice, how-tos, interviews and lectures from different authors. This also borrows concepts from “Story Grid” by Shawn Coyne and “Take off Your Pants” by Libbi Hawker.

A bit of background on myself. I am finishing the 3rd draft of my novel which began as a short story, which mutated into a novel. The 1st draft was written by the seat of my pants. I didn’t have an outline nor did I have any guides to where I was going. I just wrote and wrote until I reached the ending.

I liked my story, but 80% of it needed to be rewritten. Although time is never wasted when you’re having fun, I still feel I could have saved time for myself.

An outline was off the table. I had used outlines before, and I don’t like it. Pages upon pages of bullet points felt like a chore rather than a journey. So I looked for other solutions, a compromise between a pantser and a plotter.

“The Story Grid” had a concept called “Foolscap Method.” You can search it up and see for yourself. Basically, it is a one-sheet that delineates your three acts, and in each act, you list five essential scenes that ends with a bang. I grew interested with this concept, but the details it required was daunting and felt like outlining. What I liked about it, however, was its restriction of keeping it on one page.

The next one was Libbi Hawker’s quick outline. In there she asks you to list your main character their flaw, their goal, their ally, the antagonist, the ending and theme. Good points to keep in mind, but she then asks you to outline some essential scenes.

With those in mind, I borrowed some of their concepts and created my own system. I call it a compass because it’s only four items, and it will be limited to only one page.



Here are the items:
  • What If Statement
  • Inciting Incident
  • Protagonist’s Weaknesses/Flaws
  • Potential Climaxes/Endings
With these, you have enough to cook up a novel and enough room to play and discovery write.

WHAT IF STATEMENT

The What If statement captures the uniqueness of your story and the enthusiasm you have towards it. It is something akin to a mission statement. Almost all stories can be captured in a what if statement (What if we’re inside a pedophile’s mind? What if people are used as batteries for robots? What if you woke up one day as a cockroach?)

INCITING INCIDENT

This is the event that pushes the protagonist out of his comfort zone, the moment when their problem begins. The inciting incident is not necessarily the first scene of your story. It could be a scene or two until the fun begins.

Write down the inciting incident. You can be terse by writing one sentence that begins with When (example, When the power dies in Jurassic Park; when Humbert meets Lolita; when Neo meets Trinity).

PROTAGONIST’S WEAKNESSES/FLAWS

When you start with your discovery writing, you don’t want to have a cardboard cutout of your protagonist. You might already have a character sketched in your head, have a certain trait or quirk in mind, but writing down their weaknesses or flaws would help limiting them.

Here you will list possible weaknesses and flaws for your protagonist. You could put one or more, but don’t go crazy. Their weaknesses or flaws must be pertinent to the story. Positive traits can be a weakness or a flaw.

POTENTIAL CLIMAXES/ENDINGS

This is your target, your destination. I labeled it as “potential” because you might discover a better ending as you write your novel. Having a potential climax or ending gives you direction for your story, preventing you from snaking around or writing endlessly.


There you have it. Four points, just like a compass. Anything between, from inciting incident to the ending, will be discovery-written.
This is just a tool, a simple one at that. If you have any questions or feedback, please post below. It is a work in progress that I’m trying out myself.


EXAMPLE
What If...
  • What if humans had lost a war against robots? Then they were enslaved and then used as batteries to keep them alive?
Inciting Incident
  • When Neo meets Trinity
Weaknesses/Flaws
  • Inexperienced. Neo is new to everything and is still fresh from being awakened from the matrix.
  • Self-Doubt. Neo does not believe he is the chosen one despite people telling him otherwise
Potential Climaxes/Endings
  • Neo becomes the ONE and destroys Agent Smith
  • Neo doesn’t become the ONE, but still destroys Agent Smith
  • Neo dies, but returns to become the ONE, then destroys Agent Smith

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Color of all, Color of Heaven

By Jon Mayo

Colors of all
Colors of heaven

Violet passions keep the world turning
And our song remains on its axis
Entranced hearts surrendering to a universal beat
The desperate plugging their ears

Colors of all
Colors of heaven

Blue souls at the corner of the floor
Take our hand and take a dance
Gyrating souls in their god given grove
Garden of ethereal essence
In sync with the beat

Colors of all
Colors of heaven

Indigo lights flashing up above
The BPMs pulsing with the nation
We light fires that fuels the night
Here comes the flame warming the cold world

Colors of all
Colors of heaven

Green they are
Green with envy
Green for what we are
What we believe
What we stand
for, what we love
Who we love

Colors of all
Colors of heaven

Yellow belly beasts
Bitter pill they cannot consume
Assimilate hate instead
Nourished with nothing but fear

Colors of all
Colors of heaven

Orange afternoon our rage comes not
Not on the edge of midnight
For the restless breath in the morning
Ready to take pride and to fight for tomorrow

Colors of all
Colors of heaven

Red spilled red promises
Let the tears spill but keep our fists clenched
Our numbers fall but our love never will
Writ in stone our history is

Colors of all
Colors of heaven