Posts Tagged ‘novel’

Flashback

Posted: March 25, 2015 by writingsprint in Writing
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Part 2 of my new Nanowrimo challenge

400 words last night, 1600 words tonight, leaving me about 600 words behind. I started working on a scene with Risha as a child, from when she meets one of her best friends. I don’t even know if this scene will make it into the final story. It’s a decade too early. Still, I had to write it. I wanted to get to know the characters better.

Risha’s learning to be a con artist faster than I expected. Her parents’ integrity is showing in her generous heart, which is getting her into trouble. I’m not sure how long she can stay that generous in the life she’s living.

It is a weird feeling when you want the characters to go right and they insist on going left.

Here We Go Again…

Posted: March 24, 2015 by writingsprint in Writing
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Last April I reblogged a post called “Seven Reasons to Set Outrageous Goals.” We set outrageous goals to make the impossible possible.

Last April I gave myself a challenge to have the first draft of Dubrillion Burning finished by the end of April. Well, I have somewhere over 50,000 words of The Lost Princess down, and a lot of concepts and research added since then, along with bits and pieces that I’ve thrown at the wall to see if they stick. There’s a lot that’s still undefined, but you know what, I’m in the home stretch now. I’m going to dive in and do another 50,000 words by the April and see what happens.

Stubborn Authors

Posted: December 7, 2014 by writingsprint in Writing
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This week I learned that Joan of Arc‘s rise to prominence was greatly due to the time and place she was born into. Joan was born in 1412, 75 years into the Hundred Years’ War. France had been ravaged by decades of fighting between the French, English, and marauding bands of mercenaries. Conditions were ripe for a savior to rally the French. As the maid of Orleans, Joan invoked the mythology of the Virgin Mary and was the symbol of a pure, unified France.

How does this help me in the novel? I’m not sure yet. I have a feeling that Risha’s growing up in a galaxy at war. Her parents were certainly betrayed. Risha will be considered a pawn by the other houses vying for the throne.

I also learned that Che Guevara was a bit of a vagabond in his younger days. He and his friend Alberto simply up and decided to take a motorcycle ride to North America (or at least Chile if that was as far as their bike could take them) while he was on break from medical school.

This is similar to where I had Risha headed. I imagine her as a wild card starting out, living on her own terms.

Things were moving along. I started thinking ahead to actual writing, and that’s where I had to stop and figure a few things out.

Does Risha get her own ship or not?

In the Star Wars: The Old Republic story that inspired my character, Risha’s a passenger on a smuggler’s ship, and eventually becomes the ship’s first mate. I started out imagining her as a smuggler in her own right. The problem is that Raffa, her future love interest, is already a smuggler — he was my smuggler in SWTOR. I’m stubbornly refusing to let go of having him in that role. But if they’re both flying their own ships, doing separate jobs, one of them needs to get their ship shot down, impounded, or otherwise taken out of action to force the two of them to work together.

I may have an “out” in that I also imagined Risha as the brains of their operation, and Raffa as the talent. Instead of owning her own ship, she prefers to stay on the ground, and hires different pilots to work for her depending on the job — sort of like how Malcolm Reynolds hired Wash to fly Serenity. She winds up having to work with Raffa out of necessity.

The spectre of Stephen King is whispering in my ear that I should “kill my darlings” and let Risha have her own ship — that if nothing else, I should try it out and see if it works. If I need her and Raffa to work together, then it’s up to me to justify it in the story.

Sometimes it’s like driving without a road map and praying that your destination’s on the other side of that next hill.

Joan of Arc Meets Che Guevara

Posted: November 30, 2014 by writingsprint in Nanowrimo
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Having wrapped up Nanowrimo, my wife and I shared champagne and some chocolate cake after dinner tonight, which is becoming my traditional way of celebrating something involving writing.

So now what?

I’m not writing any new content today. I’ve earned a day off.

The novel needs a plan to fill in its gaps and take it to the end. Tomorrow I’ll start to sketch that out.

To begin, I need to get a better handle on:

  • The pirates who raised her after she went into exile.
  • The government of the galaxy where she lives and how her planet fits in.
  • Major species of aliens.
  • The technologies used for faster-than-light travel and its limitations.
  • What Risha wants. This is fundamental. I thought I knew it, but as I worked through Nanowrimo, I realized that what I thought she wanted wasn’t driving the story. That’s no good.

To get to know Risha better, I started reading The Motorcycle Diaries by Che Guevara and Joan of Arc: The Image of Female Heroism by Marina Warner, both of which I picked up in a used bookstore back in October. Risha will become a woman who changes the course of her world. Before that, she’s a human being. I want to find out what young people who have changed the world have been like.

I’ve also started reading Moon Called by Patricia Briggs. Mercy Thompson, the heroine, may be a good influence for me for Risha. She’s badass, knows who she is, and lives by her own rules. That’s Risha, along with the added twist of secretly being a princess. Han Solo and Malcolm Reynolds will certainly influence my thinking of what she’s like, too.

The question for me is, where would a woman like Risha — fifteen years exiled from her old life, armed with a rickety spaceship and a flair for the dramatic — take her life from there? I tinkered with this during Nano, and now it’s time to dive deeper.

The Monthly 50,000

Posted: November 30, 2014 by writingsprint in Nanowrimo
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Nanowrimo 2014

Raffa climbed over and lay in front of her, her bare breasts against his back, her legs wrapped around his. He rested his head back on her shoulder. Risha liked how the weight of his body felt, the musky scent of him. She kissed his hair and the side of his face. He looked back and they kissed each other, a taste of the heat they had shared earlier.

Nanowrimo wrapped up tonight with a love scene between Risha and Raffa and their pillow talk afterwards. The love scene taught me a few things as a writer. I’ve written love scenes before, mostly short erotica, but nothing I’ve put into a novel. After spending 48,000 words getting to know how resourceful and tough they are, this gave me a chance to see them relate to each other as lovers and just as human beings rather than heroes.

I learned a few things. I’ve gotten much better at this than my first Nano when I wrote a schlocky fun zombie story called Zombies at the Gates. I even had a better plan then. The quality of the prose was better this time and the overall story development was better, even when I didn’t know what was happening next. It’s because I knew the characters better. In the worst moments, when I had no clue what I would write that night, I was still able to think of the holes in my characters’ guts that I needed to fill. The characters from Zombies felt more like paper dolls in comparison. Risha and Raffa have been in my head for the better part of two years. Long before my first piece for the Nano, I’d written short scenes with them just for fun that helped me get to know who they are.

Confusion is nothing to be afraid of when you’re writing a novel. In fact, it can be one of the most powerful dramatic engines in a story. If you’re like me, you hate living in the in-betweens, when you can’t decide between “less filling” or “tastes great” in your light beer. Fictionally, though, all feelings are fair game, especially the awkward ones that we hate to deal with. Characters have doubts. Not knowing what to do can tear someone apart. Ever heard of a little movie called Casablanca? Ingrid Bergman made film history playing a character who couldn’t make up her mind between two men she loved.

Write in small chunks if you have to. If you don’t know the next scene, write a few paragraphs. If you don’t have a few paragraphs, write one sentence. If you don’t have a sentence, write a bad sentence. You can always make it better later, or if it doesn’t work at all, seeing why it doesn’t fit will give you insight into the direction you should take instead.

Music is powerful inspiration. Four times I wrote scenes where all that I had was the characters, a general idea like “this is where they fall in love” and a song that fit the moment. A good song can help you feel what your characters are feeling when your imagination doesn’t know where to begin. You may not know what the next step is in the plot. That’s okay. Just show the characters talking and interacting with each other in that moment. Plots are what happened, but characters are why we care about what happened. The characters’ actions drive the story. As you become more connected to the characters, you’ll have a better idea what happens next in the plot.

I have a lot of work to do on this story. I need to know these characters and their world much, much better. The final story will be far broader and deeper than it is now. At a minimum, I’ve only written half of the story. It feels more like a third, or even a fourth if some of the layers are deeper than I realized.

But that’s for later.

Tomorrow there will be a glass of champagne and chocolate cake. For now, I’m going to take in the applause!

Brad Pitt applause

Tina Fey high five

golf clap

Breakfast Club high five

applause Dwayne Johnson

applause Obama

HIMYM high five

Billy Dee Williams applause

Shepard shuffle

PS: weird research of the day:
Cigar flavors wheel
Violet promise tattoo

Image credit: 2014 Nanowrimo winner from Nanowrimo.org, used with permission. All the animated gifs in this post are used without permission.

Crashing in toward the Ending

Posted: November 28, 2014 by writingsprint in Nanowrimo
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Just over 2,000 words today, 47,570 words total. If it’s at all possible I want to wrap up Nanowrimo tomorrow. With so many questions and plot points that I need to work out, I scratched my head wondering what to write for the next two days.

I want to know how it ends. I also want a scene where Risha and Raffa just get to be human beings with each other, rather than running a gig, blowing something up, saving someone’s life, whatever. You know. Chillin’. Getting to know each other. Finding out what they don’t like about each other. Having sex. Stuff like that. I’ve done a few scenes like this in bits and pieces already, but nothing more than that. I may do that, or I may do similar scenes with minor characters that need more development. I’ll mix it up.

Without knowing more about the ending, I said “f**k it,” queued up “The End Run” from the Mass Effect 2 soundtrack, and leaped into the middle of a climactic battle at the end of the story. Our heroes have done what they came to do and are hauling ass out of the enemy fortress. Along the way, something goes wrong. All appears lost. And then…

The story will look different when it’s all done, but this is the spirit that it’ll have.

Improvising Blues

Posted: November 27, 2014 by writingsprint in Nanowrimo
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Risha and Raffa sat in Raffa’s cabin. Raffa plucked away at a blues riff on his guitar. Risha nodded in time with the beat. She blew a sweet stream of cigar smoke. She hummed to find a good key, then sang,

“I wrote about you… in my book, last night…”

Raffa smiled. He nodded, getting into the rhythm of the music. She kept going,

“Say I wrote about you… in my book… last night…
It takes a special kind of man…
Writing words
On my heart
All right…”

Make no mistake, I don’t play blues guitar and I am no songwriter. Raffa likes to play, and Risha’s a good singer, and I wanted to put in a scene of the two of them hanging out doing a sweet, sexy love jam, just the two of them. It was fun to play with.

We’re three days from the end of Nanowrimo. I had hoped to have a strong foundation to The Lost Princess by the time it was all done. Instead, I’m going to have 50,000 words and a lot of questions. This is a different kind of good thing.

Weird research of the day:

  • There’s a song generator out there if you need help writing one!
  • After five minutes of Google research, it looks like the average case of M16 ammunition holds 840 rounds.
  • A full suit of kevlar armor will run you somewhere around $1,000, more or less, based on the different pieces I saw on eBay.

The Quiet Jobs

Posted: November 27, 2014 by writingsprint in Nanowrimo
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He dropped off the crates, took the money, and got them the hell off the planet as soon as he could. He didn’t feel better until they jumped back into hyperspace. He spent a full hour on the heavy bag, until he was dripping with sweat and burning over every inch of his body.

Kal leaned into the cargo hold. “You okay, boss?”

Raffa rubbed his face in a towel. The poorly-washed cotton scratched his face. He felt better, but he still remembered that feeling like someone was watching him. “Sometimes I hate the quiet jobs more than the loud ones,” he said.

About 1,700 words tonight. Four days to go. If I can get some quality writing time in tomorrow — look at the time, it’s 12:30 — today, Friday and Saturday, I’m hoping to wrap it up then.

I was going to say more but OS Yosemite is doing strange things again. Now my window is three times bigger than it should be, like I’m seeing impaired, and I can’t see all the controls in the window. *roll eyes*

Relax, Man

Posted: November 23, 2014 by writingsprint in Nanowrimo
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Lady and her contact headed into the hotel behind them. Like the hotel where the king was staying, it was a colossus, an amazingly appointed work of art that reached half a kilometer for the sky. Lasers painted vapor holograms on fountains that graced Italian marble floors. Lady smiled and nodded at the hotel staff that obediently waited for her and her escort to pass by.

1,667 words on the nose today. Is it true that 80% of success is just showing up? Today I came to the keyboard with a lunch pail and a toolbox. Since I knew Risha a little better after the writing I did yesterday, I wrote a quick piece where she runs a scam to humiliate her worst enemy in the public eye. It went well. The story felt seedy, which I suppose was the point, but it wasn’t the kind of fun I have in mind for the overall feel of the book. Maybe I need to put a more comic spin on it.

Getting to Know You

Posted: November 22, 2014 by writingsprint in Nanowrimo
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Dreams take a long time to die, especially in the young.

A little over 2,000 words today, and almost 38,000 words done. It sounds like a lot but I still have 12,000 to go, which is a full third of what I’ve done already.

I think most of the words I’ve written today and probably those I’ll write tomorrow won’t make it into the finished book. I need to know Risha better. I know she’s a princess and a crook, but at the end of the day I need to know more about where she’s going. To do that I need to know what’s driving her. What she wants to make happen, not just as a series of actions she needs to do. It’s like the difference between dancing with someone you feel passionately about versus dancing and stepping on cardboard feet on the floor. I got to know her better as a ten-year-old, just after her exile, and a little better as an adult. We need more.

Complaint of the night: what the hell is up with Mac OS Yosemite? The file I was using five minutes ago doesn’t show up in the “Recents” list in Microsoft Word. Grrr.

Weird research of the day: missing items from the US National Archives.