Writing update, week of… January so far

I suppose I didn’t have an actual recorded New Year’s resolution to report about my writing to the webosphere, but I nevertheless thought that might be something I’d do for accountability purposes, now that I don’t have a reader waiting for new material as I did in my first draft. Somehow, though, the first two weeks of January passed before it occurred to me to do so. It is now mid-January. Mid-January! How did *that* happen?

Well, at least it feels like mid-January ought to feel. Brrr.

So, on the novel-writing front: there has been no writing. Which is not to say there has been no work on the novel. I have been doing plot-reinvisioning (work left over from PlotWriMo last month), and this past week, I have been doing research to feed the world-building muse I “played by ear” or something in the first draft. Short story long, I was not happy with the story-world rules I had going in that draft. They were not well thought out, and now they need to be before I spill another pixel on plotting.

I may, at some point, do some free writing just to stretch the writing muscles a bit, since I haven’t done much “writing” writing since the end of October.

Why is it I feel guilty–like I’m not “working on my novel” if I am not writing the text of the story?

The Plan

I am in the throes of NaNo-Envy, but I am still happy not to be doing NaNo. Yes, a contradiction, but I love the social energy this month brings in what is often such a solitary activity. OTOH, I am feeling under the weather, and I finished the first draft of my novel last Sunday, so… not great timing for me this year.

But I am in earnest planning mode on the second draft and the general outline for the trilogy of novels that is going to emerge from my first draft. I’ve actually been thinking of turning the novel into a series for a while now, because I see a lot of possibilities and stories in the world I am building (still building. I think my story-world was a bit thin in the first draft).

Back in July, I came across an online writing school, the bill-paying day-job of author Holly Lisle, http://novelwritingschool.com/. Other than a one-on-one writing coach and writer’s workshops, I have not taken any “writing classes” in the sense of instruction since I was a teenager/twenty-something. At that age, I was obsessed with learning “how to write fiction” and so never did any actual writing. Experience is the best teacher, IMO. I learned more from writing my first novel, Dis/inhibition, and The Destroyer series than I could have learned in a hundred writing classes. But I figured Lisle’s “How To Write A Series” course might have a few pointers.

I got through the first two of four lessons in July, then RL got in the way. The lesson videos and exercises guide you through the process of identifying what kind of series you will write, planning how it will unfold, etc (although I must say the video transcripts included are FULL of typos….)

So finishing that course is one goal I have set for my post-novel time. I also plan to work through The Plot Whisperer Workbook. Both of these are merely tools to help me focus on plotting and locating strong and weak story elements for the purpose of revision and expansion.

I reviewed the first two lessons of Lisle’s course this week, and realized quickly that a lot of the course exercises could benefit from me gathering together all the “future draft” notes I tucked away while working on the first draft–changes to plot points and characters I envisioned, ideas for expansion. So that is what I am working on now. I’ve got some good ideas brewing, and a LOT of research work ahead of me in physics, mythology, and random bits.

Once Upon a Time links

How/Why the Evil Queen became evil (no real spoilers, just the teasy promise that the question will be answered soon):

http://www.tvguide.com/News/Once-Upon-Time-Lana-Parrilla-1041311.aspx

One thing is clear, the Mayor isn’t going to be brought down anytime soon. The long-term arc of the show is about her defeat. But hopefully the background reveals will make her a bit more gray than black and white.

How the TV show Lost influenced OUAT’s fairytale world:

http://www.tvguide.com/News/Once-Upon-Time-Horowitz-Kitsis-1040425.aspx

“We never thought about Lost or Once really as mythology shows, even though mythology obviously is a part of [both]. They are character shows to us. “

Sounds like they’re developing a mythology for the show through both the actual text of fairy tales and their own development of the characters as both fairy tale characters and modern people. Storybrooke is the Island where they are trapped, and the people in it are gradually revealed through non-linear flashbacks.

So far, I trust what they’re doing, and where they might go. If it’s anything like Lost, it should be a twisty, turny ride.

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Original fiction project – week of 6/07/2009

More work on the morning pages this week. Not as many words as previous weeks, due to unscheduled brain-deadness. You know, there’s still a part of me that wonders sometimes what it is I am doing every morning, since I’m not, strictly speaking, “writing fiction.” I’m outlining, tossing around ideas, accepting or rejecting them, developing characters, thinking about how things will work, but not doing much that actually counts as “writing fictional prose.”

I have been a bit consternated lately since the story I’m developing is still thin on details of actual scenes and is sort of all broad strokes and general plot points. And those broad strokes and general plot points just keep getting more complicated and convoluted. And it’s consternating because I am struggling at the same time to figure out how to cut half, if not more, of the words out of my old ’93 novel, Dis/Inhibition, and here I am busily developing another story that’s going to be just as long.

The only difference is, I’m catching this fact before even a single word is written, and so I can plan ahead of time to make this not one, but a series of novels, with a natural division point, unlike my old novel.

Last weekend I was sitting in a dark theater watching the new Star Trek movie for the second time, enjoying one of the most complicated, convoluted SFF stories of all time, which is of course, also not one story but dozens, if not hundreds of stories. Star Trek is a story world.

And it occurred to me that that is what I’m doing right now. I’m not “writing my story,” I’m world-building. And that’s as important a step as writing fictional prose or plotting the novel. A good “story world” is a world we will want to visit over and over until all its stories are told.