July 23, 2012

update from brooketown

I just wanted to update you guys on what was going on both here on the blog and with my writing. First, the blog: I have two more posts to do as part of the Propp’s Fairy Tale Functions sub-series—an analysis of Stardust and The Princess Bride. After that, I plan to do a few random posts, which may or may not be related to writing, before starting the next sub-series on Blake Snyder’s Beat Sheet. First, I have to get Save the Cat! back from a friend of mine (Justin, I’m looking at you!). Somewhere in the middle of doing that series, I’ll take a break to do a few posts about preparing pitches/queries and polishing your first few pages in preparation of WriteOnCon, which is a free writing conference for those of you who don’t know. The conference is August 14th and 15th this year, and even though I don’t have a completed manuscript to use, I’ll be lurking in the forums, offering feedback on other writers’ work. Go sign up.

Now, as for my writing, those of you who follow me elsewhere in this internet thing know this already, but I’ve been making excellent progress on my work-in-progress, currently titled The Wizard’s Heart. I’ve been working for three weeks now, and I’m up to 23,500 words. I started a new sort of writing schedule. I write new material Tuesday through Friday, and on Monday, I edit what I wrote the previous week. This way, I’m still editing as I go, just in larger chunks. I like this method much better than how I wrote The Clockwork Giant. With it, I kind of did a one step forward, two steps back approach, sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph. I started doing the same with this project, but it was maddening. I’d sit and stare at a single sentence for over an hour without writing another word. Yeah, not cool.

So, I figured out a not-so-new way to keep the writing momentum going. I set a timer for ten minutes with the goal to write 100 words. It doesn’t seem like a lot, but it’s a good pace for me. Last week, whenever I got stuck on a sentence, I just started the timer and wrote. Ten words a minute forces me to get the words on the page, but it still allows me a little time to write properly, rather than just bang some words out and call it good. My inner editor takes a break, and I’m allowed to tell the story, which is, after all, the most important thing. This, however, requires more editing later on, which is why I set Monday aside to edit what I wrote the previous week. It usually doesn’t take long. I’ve found that the things I wrote in ten minute bursts require less major editing—pacing, sentence flow, cadence, etc.—compared to the sentences I agonized over, which require no sentence level editing, but do require all the aforementioned things, plus some. The writing flows better when I turn off the inner editor. Which is good. I get the story on the page, and that’s what matters. Editing is for second drafts (or 1.5 drafts as I like to call them, since I edit as I go. If I didn’t edit at all, I’m afraid I might cry when it came to second drafts).

That said, I know I have some issues to work out once I do get to the second draft. Characterization, as always, needs work. I’m not terribly worried about the plot, which worries me, but I won’t really know if anything is wrong with it until I get there. I’ve already navigated away from my outline, which is fine. It’s more of a guideline anyway. I’ll need to filter in more description, especially in character action. Right now, there’s a lot of lip biting and sighing and looking off into the distance—rather melodramatic. I need to internalize more. At the moment, characters pretty much say what they mean or what they’re thinking, except for one character who likes to stop dialogue in the middle of conversation by not responding. He’s kind of frustrating. I can’t quite pin him down yet, which is fine when the POV character can’t do it, but not so good when I, the author, can’t figure him out. Again, characterization needs work. Right now, the two main characters feel like the same person with the only differences being their histories and sexes. And maybe that’s okay, but I won’t know for sure until the book is finished and I see their character arcs.

All that said, I’m really enjoying the writing. I have a few bad days, where I feel like everything I write sucks majorly, but so far, most of my days have been really good. I enjoy the story. I’m happy to see this come alive the way I meant it to. Hopefully, this happy-feel-good stuff will roll over into revisions when I get there.

I hope to have the first draft finished sometime near the end of September, or early October. I don’t think it’s impossible, even though that’s a three-month draft. I’m aiming for 100,000 words. If the story ends before that number, it should take me less time, if it turns out needing to be longer (which is certainly a possibility at the rate the plot is unfolding now), obviously, it will take me longer to finish. Even still, I don’t think I’ll be working on the first draft past October.

Once I’m done with the first draft of The Wizard’s Heart, I plan to write a short novella, or a novelette or whatever, that takes place in Chroniker City. It follows a character you already know—Solomon Wade, Petra’s brother—on his own quest to achieve his dreams. I should be able to finish that by the end of November and publish it in January. So don’t think I’ve completely abandoned Chroniker City. I doubt I ever will, truthfully. I love it too much.

So, that’s what’s been going on with me. Work is good right now, and I have lots of plans for the months to come.

What are you working on? What are your goals for the second-half of the year?

1 comment:

  1. I love the time-limit method of getting your writing butt in gear--usually I'll set a longer time limit and a bigger goal, but it's a great little mental trick regardless: "I only have to write x amount, I only have to do it for x length of time..." so it doesn't matter how stuck you are, it feels doable! And of course once you get going, you're unstuck :)