What I’m Writing In 2017.

I had actually been planning to have an entirely different writing-related post go up tomorrow, but my heart wasn’t quite in it so I completely scrapped it and decided to try again once I’ve actually gotten some writing done. Today is that day!

This morning after a late breakfast, I sat down at the breakfast table with my MacBook Pro and a mug of coffee to look at all the docs I have on my story and decide what needs to be done first. Yesterday I had actually done a little bit of work on my story (miraculously too because I’ve been sick pretty much all 2017 with some sort of cold thus far). I plotted out some ideas that would get me from the beginning to the middle of my story.

Today I’ve written about 601 words so far in Scrivener of a new story beginning because I had an idea for something in the middle that would require something happen at the start of the story. More often than not it’s been a daunting process, but luckily I’ve been having fun to adjusting and problem solving here.

I would probably say that I’m about 1/4 of the way through a first draft at this point, because I’m still trying to salvage what I started in November 2016. So this year, specifically this semester, I’m going to be trying to finish this novel piece by piece, and I’ll try to document my journey and share any tips or ideas that I find helpful on my journey.

I want to go back to weekly Wednesday writing-related posts. The first half will be a diary of the trials and tribulations in my novel writing progress, and the second half will be a list of some things that might help spur your own writing, such as writing prompts or short brainstorming/motivation/plotting activities. I also may share other smaller writing projects I start up during the year, because I do want to experiment with writing formats this year in addition to my writing.

To summarize, here are my writing resolutions for 2017:

  1. Finish my first novel (and have a query-ready draft by the end of the year)
    1. Sub-goal: Write at least one scene per day
  2. Complete a separate short story each month in experimental and interactive formats (i.e. Twine, animations, short story, etc.)
  3. Publish at least one writing-related blog post each week (on What I’m Writing Wednesdays)

End Note

Let me know if you have any suggestions for next week’s post, including any questions about my own story that you may be curious about. I’ve talked about my story in past here on this blog so you may be able to do some easy searching to find out what it’s about. Because it might change soon, I’m holding off on providing a new summary here just yet. I will dedicate an entirely separate post (and perhaps a static blog page) dedicated to my novel once the first draft is closer to being complete.

I’m off to go clean my room and read! I also want to finally break out my Wacom drawing tablet tonight so you may see some stuff about that soon. On another note, I am seriously thinking of starting up my YouTube channel again once I get back to Dallas. I bought a $15 tripod at Best Buy, so I’m excited to set up a filming space in Dallas and film a New Year’s Resolutions video as soon as I can. I want my channel to be about reading, writing, and creative endeavors so I’m excited to start creating and documenting there! More on what this channel will be will come in a separate post probably some time next week.

Thank you for reading!
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New Beginnings | #AmWriting (05.25.16)

Well, this post has been a long time coming! I’ve tried to write this post a few times, as I have wanted to explain why I have been so absent. But in the end I think I had spared enough time thinking about it on my own that I never felt the desire to write some formal post explaining why I failed at Camp NaNo or why I no longer felt like writing. It was all still too fresh and I wasn’t all that happy about it.

But now that my summer has begun and I’m ready to return to writing I’d like to finally fill you all in on what’s been on my mind and hopefully start anew.

What Happened

So I had started off April pretty confident that I could win Camp NaNo. I had also been attempting Vlog Everyday in April (VEDA), having just starting vlogging again on my channel, but I ultimately ended up quitting that early on because it was taking up so much time away from reading and writing. By the end of the month, I had let enough days go by without writing that I realized I had lost all motivation to write.

I wasn’t excited about my story and I didn’t want to write just to write. From past experience, I knew the futility of writing without enjoyment. So I decided to just stop, and I haven’t written anything since.

A couple of weeks ago, after finally starting to read more, I began thinking about writing again. I became inspired again. And now that school’s finally out and I’ve completely moved out of my apartment and don’t have much to do yet, I’m ready to start thinking about how to bring my own stories to life.

Projects In Mind

What exactly I want to start writing first is a real question I’ve debated over the last week. If you read my Summer Goals, I talk about an idea I have for writing an interactive narrative story using Twine. And if you followed me here to Ink Keys & Other Things from my old blog Books o’ the Wisp, you might recall me talking about Twine and the stories I was writing for my interactive narrative class.

The story I would kind of like to return to is the story that was my final project. I think the idea I had for that story works really well within an interactive narrative format, which is why I’m thinking about revisiting it. In addition, it would give me more opportunities to reflect on interactive narrative.

Alternatively, I would also still like to work on is EMatST, my Camp NaNo novel. I feel like this is the novel I would want to be my first real novel because it literally feels like it is the novel I’ve always wanted to write. I’ve had the protagonist in my mind since high school and I’ve watched her and her world evolve as I’ve tried to figure out her story. So I would still like to see this novel materialize by the end of the year.

Moving Forward

I do not think it would be good for me to try and commit to regular writing posts the way I was doing earlier this year with my Novel Progress and then Camp NaNo update posts. Instead, I’m thinking I’ll write a new post every time I have a major story insight or a lot of progress to share.

At the very least, I might make them fortnightly like my pal Ely has done for her writing updates. Just to make sure I’m not procrastinating, so that there’s at least 2 posts promised per month. You can, however, probably expect a post next week confirming which project I’ve decided to take on and the progress I’ve made thus far.

That’s all I got for now! Expect a new writing post potentially as early as this weekend describing my interactive narrative project!

Thank you for reading!
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Exciting Developments! | Camp NaNoWriMo Week 2

Camp NaNoWriMo | Week 2 Summary

I did not write all that much this week, but I am really happy with what I’ve accomplished with my story in the 5,188 words I’ve managed to record. The bulk of my writing time has gone to outlining. I had not had a very clear idea at all of where my protagonist was going in this novel after scrapping my original idea on March 31st. In today’s post, I just wanted to record some of the things I’ve been working on that have made me excited to continue returning to my story document each day, even if only for 10–30 minutes at a time.

camp2A lot of my most productive time came from getting out of my apartment. The polaroid to the left shows the place I like to go: La Madeleine, a country French restaurant (not unlike how Olive Garden is considered a Italian restaurant). I like to get a quiche Lorraine and sometimes petite cesar, then I just drink water which I can refill myself from the drink machine. It has a great writing atmosphere. There’s loud French music that drowns out the chatter. But a lot of time the chatter is great background noise anyway. As long as no one brings their baby, then it really sucks.

One of the best things I ended up doing last week was moving from Scrivener to Word as I feel a lot more freedom to write and see everything on Word. I also set up a Table of Contents that allows me to quickly jump between all the chapters as I plot, which has been the best thing: to update the table and see new chapters pop up and get names. And, yes, I’ve been naming my chapters. It’s not super important, but it’s fun and helpful for remembering what happens there.

At the top of each chapter, I have also been writing short lists of what I anticipate writing in that chapter. It’s been a really great way to organize my thoughts and not worry I will forget anything. The hardest thing when I first started doing this was I realized I didn’t know how my beginning and end connected. Something was going to have to give. And it was just yesterday that I realized what felt the most right, and I really feel like I’m working on a novel now! I know what the protagonist needs to do and why she needs to do it.

Without any further ado, here are some of the exciting story developments I’ve made over the last week!

Exciting Developments

For my own personal record, I thought I would share some of my story developments that I’m most excited about having happened over the last week. That way when I begin to feel down about my story or overwhelmed by my undertaking, I can return to this list and remember my excitement and maybe even refocus if that’s becomes the problem (as it sometimes is).

As I mentioned above, I connected the beginning and end! It turned out to be a problem of knowing exactly who is the antagonists and who are the allies. I had a very fun idea for the antagonist of this story that I’ve realized doesn’t work for this novel, so setting them aside has helped tremendously. Also, I was unsure about the allies of my protagonist because my protagonist has trust issues and I’m still not 100% sure what she wants. I know what she needs, I just don’t know what she wants. I don’t think she does either, though, so I don’t feel too bad about that.

My protagonist now has friends! I’ve always struggled with populating my stories with more than just the important characters and I feel like with these new side characters there are so many more possibilities. I also think they will make my character more likeable. In my head, my protagonist has always been a tad surly and I’ve recently began to worry others might not be as amused with her as I have been. Her friends I think will help her loosen up.

My story has a new environmental theme! I don’t want to go into too much about the specifics, but I’m really happy with my current ideas because it works with the magic of the world that I’ve been developing and also I’m not sure I’ve come across any books that do what I would like to do, to the extent to which I want to do it. Could I be any more vague? Sorry! ^_^

My story will have a play on the “chosen one” trope. In fantasy, it is difficult to avoid this trope, and it’s not one I personally am too bothered by. It’s never felt unnecessary in anything I’ve ever read. It’s probably a sign of how integral it is to the genre. But I have some larger ideas now for how to play with the trope. All year, I’ve had prophecy in mind, but recently I’ve discovered how it would be turned on its head. So I’m excited to play with that as I continue through the series, as I’m not actually sure how it would apply in this first book.

My mentor character has become more complex! A month or two ago I created a mentor-like character for my protagonist. Over the last week, she’s become a much more dubious character, which was a little hard for me because I liked her before the change. But I think was ultimately the right decision. Before, she was a lot more straight-laced and now she’s a bit more savvy to things that are happening and…I don’t want to say unreliable, but I do think readers will not know what to make of her at first. Which I think can only make the story that much more interesting.

 End Note

As I now have a much better understanding of the story I’m writing, I really hope to be at 20,000 words by next Wednesday. That’s not anywhere near where I should be on the 20th, I don’t mind if I don’t fully get all the way caught up until the end of the month. Even if I don’t end up making it to 50,000 by the end of the month, but to 40,000 I’ll be really happy with myself. I plan to continue writing past April, so I’m not going to stress myself out about an arbitrary deadline.

If you’re participating in Camp NaNoWriMo this month, I hope you’re doing well and staying motivated. Motivation and staying excited about what you’re doing is so important for succeeding. If you’re no confident about what you’re writing find a way to become inspired again. For me, that’s by watching others talk about their writing on YouTube. And getting feedback on what I’ve written from my writing buddy. Let me know what inspires you in the comments below!

Thank you for reading!
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Camp NaNoWriMo| Week 1 Survey

CNW_Participant

Welcome back to my latest installment of Novel Progress, which I’ve re-labeled temporarily for the month of April in which I participate in Camp NaNoWriMo! Sorry if you saw an earlier version of this post; I forgot to reschedule it after deciding it would not go up at its normal time! Also, I did not end up writing what I wanted to write for my novel before I wrote this blog post so I needed extra time to decide what exactly I wanted to talk about.

I’ve decided to give these Camp NaNoWriMo progress updates this month in the form of a Q&A survey! I’m thinking I will try to answer all these same question each week, but I might add questions as they arise. I’ve also just realized if you have any suggestions I could also add those as well!

1. When are you making time to write?

I’m just going to admit here and now that I have not gotten off to the greatest start this week. I’ve only written one day and so I’ve been sitting at 1,917 words since April 2nd. I got super busy with class assignments (which you might know if you’ve been following my VEDA videos). Also, I’ve struggled with writing motivation, doubting myself and my story. But enough is enough and I finally know where I want to go from here.

On my class days, I’ve felt most inspired to write in the afternoon between 3–6 p.m. I just think it’s a great time between lunch and dinner to sit down during the day and be productive. The only problem has been that it’s also been my favorite time to do my assignments.

2. What scenes have you written thus far?

The very first thing I ended up writing on April 2nd was an introductory chapter in which my protagonist has a chance meeting with a character that is going to become very important in her life and the story further down the road. I really love this character and would love to write more about him so I’m trying to focus my attention on my protagonist and what she needs to do.

3. What are the next scenes you know you are going to write?

At midnight, I had a really cool idea for where the climax of the story will place in this draft of my novel!  I think it is a really cool idea that will allow a lot of fun things I’ve had in mind to be realized! I’m really excited to beginning crafting the image of this place and begin brainstorming about the scenes that will happen here and the events that will lead to this place.

I also have ideas for the encounters that my protagonist will experience with the villain(s) of the story that will lead up to the climax!

4. What are you most excited to revise after April?

I feel like my storytelling voice is very passive right now and I can’t wait to try and make the story more exciting simply by experimenting with my writing style. I feel like it’s important right now to just write everything that comes to mind about setting, description, etc. and so I can’t wait to convert my telling language into showing language.

5. What are you going to do differently over the next week?

I’ve realized (through writing this post actually) that I have a window of time in which I most would like to write that I need to prioritize for strictly writing. So I’ve decided to treat the hours between 3–5 p.m. as hours exclusively dedicated to writing and working on the story. So I will prepare for this block of time, ahead of time by making sure I’m able to sit down and think of nothing but what I’m writing.

Also, I’ve realized that I’ll write more if I go on a scene-by-scene basis. In my last Novel Progress update (Novel Progress #8 | Camp NaNoWriMo Game Plan) I had had this grand plan to write a chapter per day, but that’s become unrealistic given the unexpected change my story underwent on the last day of March! So I’m switching to a Word document in which I’ll be able to scroll up and down and writing wherever I feel most inspired to write.

 End Note

I am hoping to have a much better second week of writing now that these major assignments of the beginning of the month are out of the way. I anticipate the end of the month becoming very frantic again with final projects, so I really need to have a really strong writing game over the next two weeks. I know I can do this. I keep reminding myself I’ve done it before! If you are participating in Camp NaNoWriMo, let me know in the comments below! I hope you’ve been able to write more than I have. But if you haven’t, just know it’s not too late to get started.

Thank you for reading!
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Novel Progress #8 | Camp NaNoWriMo Game Plan

CNW_Participant

Welcome back to another week of Novel Progress here on Ink Keys & Other Things. I did not write anything this past week beyond a few short lines that came to me as I was brainstorming and plotting. But in this week’s post I actually have quite a bit to share and I hope this post is coherent! I developed a Camp NaNoWriMo game plan that I’ve not seen anywhere else that I think will suit my needs as a writer and help me achieve what I want out of Camp this April.

Plotting and Outlining

Plotting has been the most important thing I’ve needed to do to get ready for Camp NaNoWriMo. I made it an absolute priority this past week to work out the major plot points for the story by listing every fun idea I had for the characters down on an individual notecard. I didn’t need to know the order they would go in, or if every idea would make the final cut. But the important thing was that I was able to look at all my ideas and decide what the major plot points could be based on what I have.

For more information on this method, read “How to Create a Flexible Outline for Your Novel” by Faye from Writerology. It’s a short, quick read that inspired my work this weekend.

I am not all the way complete with everything I need to know about the story, but I’m far enough to where I hope that I find my way. I’ve had to make some hasty decisions already that I’m not sure about but which I’m just going to go with as I refuse to wait around any longer, waiting for divine intervention!

The Game Plan

I am going into Camp NaNoWriMo this April with a pretty detailed plan for how I want things to go! My idea is to write one chapter of my book per day, each chapter being at least 1,667 words long. I might cheat on my word count a little by not subtracting words that are notes or a to-do list of things I need to remember to include post-Camp. But writing everyday is not something that I think will come too easily to me, so I’m not going to be too strict on technicalities!

Each day before I start writing, I want to have some sort of mini-outline for what I want to happen in the chapter. I think it will help make sure that the story keeps moving each day, because I’ve learned over the last few months that I can write a lot of words that lead nowhere! Also, since a priority is to complete a new chapter everyday with at least 1,667 words, if I don’t end up having enough time to finish writing everything I want to write in one chapter, I want to be able to move on to the next chapter and not worry that I won’t remember what I need to go back and finish or fix. That’s another reason I’m counting notes toward my word count.

I’ll be treating each chapter as it’s own entity, not worrying about what needs to come after, or what came before. I think this will keep me from getting discouraged if I don’t like what I wrote the previous day. Every day will be a fresh start with a new beginning. The only technical difficulty I imagine I might have might be outlining the chapter before I write it. I’m hoping that it doesn’t take time away from writing (by becoming a means for procrastination) and that I’m never at a loss for ideas.

I will be writing in Scrivener because I think the page division will really work for how I intend to write my story in April. But I will be backing everything up every night on Google Drive, where I will be sharing my words with my writing buddy Sara! I’ve been helping her as she edits her novel this year, and I know she really wants to see my work so this works for her too! (I’ve pre-warned her that nothing is set in stone and that I won’t be writing in order, so it might not be a pleasant reading experience for her if she decides to read-a-long as I write!)

 End Note

If you are participating in Camp NaNoWriMo this April, let me know in the comments along with whether you know what you’ll be writing yet and how you’re feeling about it! I intend to keep up with my weekly Novel Progress installments each Wednesday, they’ll just be a lot more focused on writing progress than anything else. Of course, I’ll remember to share any tips I discover along the way.

And if you didn’t already know, I uploaded a new introduction video on my YouTube channel! It’s very rough, but I’m so happy I plucked up the courage to just do it! Ideally, I would like to do a video everyday in April, but realistically I can’t promise that. Instead expect a new video at least once a week concerning Camp NaNoWriMo progress! So follow me on there if you’d like to see something other than these written blog posts! ^_^

Thank you for reading!
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Novel Progress #6 (Reading Whilst Writing, etc.)

np6Hello, March! You snuck up on me this year. With the beginning of a new month, I have the excitement of a fresh start (even if it’s just psychological). So I’m feeling optimistic right now, even with no good reason why. This past week in writing started off really well, then I got stumped again. But I’m pretty sure I know why I got stumped (which I’ll go into in more detail in the section Reading Whilst Writing).

This week’s Novel Progress is not really a progress update, although I did make some progress (which I’ll probably share next week if when I’ve written more!). Rather in this post I want to talk about: 1) why I’ve been reading while I’ve been trying to write, 2) a new deadline, 3) some notes on my series trajectory, and 4) plans for Camp NaNoWriMo this April. So grab a mug of coffee, or tea, and get comfortable, because this post might be a bit of a doozy!

Reading Whilst Writing

If you follow me on Goodreads, you probably already know I’ve been reading The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud. This is a book I loved in middle school and has always been a major influence (in the back of my mind) on the type story I wanted to write. Having been rereading the novel for the first time in what is almost 10 years, I’ve realized how little I actually remembered of the book! So it’s been really refreshing to jump back into this story and be able to appreciate more than just what I had remembered.

The Bartimaeus Trilogy-The Amulet of SamarkandThe reason I originally wanted to reread this book was in the hopes it would help me develop my own magic system. Mine has not been set in stone, but I really like the idea of the magician’s apprentice and my own system is slightly modeled upon that. But in rereading this book, I’m happy/relieved to say that that’s about where the similarity ends. Nevertheless, I’ve really found other parts of this novel really helpful in bringing my own plot ideas to life. And this is why I think my own writing progress has been slowed down.

I’m reading this book slower than I’d ordinarily prefer, partially because I’ve been battling allergies (and school) but also because I am analyzing why I find elements of this novel particularly effective. I’ve been able to identify things I don’t like about this novel, like the slowness of the beginning and more action-packed scenes (because I personally don’t love long action-scenes). But things I really like are the world-building, the scene-setting, the complex character relationships, the humor (although I don’t see myself writing a character as fun as Bartimaeus!), and the balance between the personal and the greater world conflict.

So reading whilst I’ve been trying to write has slowed me down, but I choose to believe it’s for a good purpose. One of my favorite pieces of writing advice that I’ve come across is to read everything within the genre you want to write. This is not so that you can steal all your favorite ideas and paste them all together (as I gather Victoria Aveyard has done with Red Queen and which I find kind of despicable), but so that you know the nuances of what has been done before and hopefully innovate and contribute meaningfully to the genre in a way that only you can.

Deadline Update

I’m still aiming to have rough overview of my entire novel figured out by April 1st, but I’ve come to realization that given my writing pace (some days I only write 200 words, others I manage about 1,000) this draft will not be satisfactorily “complete” by April. By my calculation, I’m thinking I that to officially finish my first draft, I will need around 90,000 words, if not more. Which is why I’m now aiming for that word count goal for my first draft by June 1st. (April 1st is now more of a deadline by which I hope to finalize the plot.)

That’s almost exactly the half-way point of the year, which means I’ll have the rest of the year to edit and revise. By November, I hopefully could even start working on the second book which might even help while I edit the first book. At this point, I’m certain this will be a series. I’m also certain I would like to begin querying this novel next year, and I’ve always felt like I would want to have more than one book written before I do that. Especially given that this is a series. If I can find a publisher for this series, I’d want to make sure I could have a new book out every year (without it being a rushed job).

Series Trajectory

One thing I realize I haven’t really talked about is the series trajectory for my story. That’s partially because I’ve not been able to think much past this one novel, but also because I have no ideas that are set in stone and don’t even know for sure how many books there would need to be. All my plot ideas are very fluid and I have a whole page in my Scrivener document where I can see all the potential books + bullet-point lists of things to happen, and I’m always moving things around. Nevertheless, I thought I’d finally share some of the general ideas I’ve had for a while.

I like the idea of in each book seeing my female protagonist be another year older, very much as happens in Harry Potter. I’d like readers to be able to grow up with my protagonist and see her “face typical teenage problems” on top of “saving the world.” In the first novel you will see her at age 13, and I’m thinking I’d like to end the series with her at 18, so that will make the series either five or six books long. (I do want to note that I don’t see myself “dumbing down” the story, or catering to a specific age group, because of my protagonist’s age. I want all ages to be able to enjoy the books. All the major characters range in age anyway.)

You might be wondering if I have enough to drag out the story that long. (I’ve wondered that myself.) But I’ve decided I definitely think it’s possible. My world is vast, the conflict complex, and I have a lot of different characters with which I want to play. Also, I don’t see each novel’s focus being protagonist and antagonist in constant battle. I see my protagonist grappling with multiple issues (and roadblocks), only complicated by her destiny. Also, I really want to have time spend more time with the antagonist. So I’m thinking I’m not going to get bored!

I have not wanted to jump down into the rabbit hole that is The Mortal Instruments/The Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare, but I love the idea of writing multiple books belonging to the same world. Diana Wynne Jones did this to an extent. And Leigh Bardugo is doing a similar thing right now with her new Six of Crows series being set in the same world as her debut Grisha trilogy. I think if you create a really unique world, you don’t ever really have to leave it if you don’t want to.

Camp NaNoWriMo (April)

I am thinking of doing some iteration of Camp NaNoWriMo this April. If I stay committed, I might have between 25,000 & 30,000 words complete by April 1st, which might consist mostly of words in the beginning and end of my novel as I’m prioritizing those sections at the moment. But I should essentially know everything that needs to happen in the story and be able to have fun connecting storylines. So Camp NaNoWriMo might be great motivator to keep up my progress.

I don’t know yet if I will want to aim for 50,000 words or set something more manageable (like 30,000 words). I do think I’d like to start trying to vlog on YouTube around this time with weekly, or possibly even daily, progress reports and motivational videos. I think it could be really fun and hopefully help me connect with more even more writers than are able to find this blog.

End Note

I’m really hoping to write a lot more this month. I have a dry-erase calendar board with little green boxes on the days I hope to write at least 1,000 words this month (mostly Thursday–Sunday each week). I have spring break to look forward to in two weeks, but I think I’ll have enough going on that week that won’t allow me to write much more than usual (just being realistic). Nevertheless, I think I’m planning to write more than I have over January & February combined!

cal

I hoped you enjoyed this week’s installment of Novel Progress. Let me know in the comments what you might want to see me talk more of in the future or if you want me to elaborate on anything I mentioned here. I’m hoping to start posting more on Ink Keys and Other Things beyond Novel Progress posts, so whether that be more topic-based writing posts (i.e. the seven-point plot structure I use or the cut-up technique as relates to writing) or opinion pieces (sample topics being subscription boxes and feminist book clubs). Let me know if there’s anything specifically you might want to see.

Thank you for reading!
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Novel Progress #5 (Zero Progress + Philosophical Musings)

After nearly a month of success at making writing a priority, I’ve slipped up this week. I went to visit my parents a long weekend for my birthday and I did not manage to get any serious writing work done. Not even brainstorming. Well, I thought of some ideas while I was driving, but nothing has been recorded. But since I haven’t read or blogged for the past week either, I think we can just say that it was an overall unproductive week and not just me avoiding writing! I was just a little too busy with life and school.

I decided to do a Novel Progress this week, just to show that I’ve not completely fallen off the wagon. I’m pretty sure professional writers have their weeks off as well. It was good. I feel a little refreshed and don’t really regret taking an unofficial break. It made me miss writing. So in this week’s post, I wanted to just talk about where I hope to go from here and also some random philosophical writing-related musings.

➵ What I’m Working On

I’m still working on the beginning of my story. I’m currently at 673 words, which consists of an introduction to my protagonist and her guardian and a flashback to the scene where they learn about the celebration they will be attending in the guardian’s honor. So I like what I have so far. I guess I have been procrastinating about moving forward because I have a bullet-point list of things I would like to happen at this celebration but I’m nervous about how it will unfold. Because I don’t know!

I think my biggest fear in writing (other than self-doubt) is my fear of the unknown. If I don’t know what exactly is going to happen, I hesitate to try and write it even though I know from experience that if I pay attention to the details as I write I discover my way.

Trust in the details…

Today, I’m hoping to dedicate to writing. I say “hoping” because I have a lot of other things competing for my time. But I’m hoping that if I set up at least a couple of hours with no Internet and think of nothing but the story, I’ll work myself out of my writing slump and rediscover some excitement that will motivate me to write this story! With luck, I’ll have finished the beginning of my story and be able to move forward with other parts next week.

➵ What I’ve Been Thinking About

Even when I’m not sitting down with my MacBook Pro or my writing notebook, I’m often thinking about my story, specifically details about what I can include. As I was driving home last week, a song inspired a bit of imagery I’ll be including immediately once I finally sit down to write. And this past Sunday, after I got upset about something and went to my room to cry. In the moments that followed, I managed to write a short paragraph of my protagonist experiencing what I felt. I don’t know how or if it will be included in the story, but in hindsight I liked that my first instinct was to apply my own experience to my protagonist.  It’s moments like these that give me hope that I might have a future as a writer.

Another thing I’ve been thinking about is why I write. I read a book called Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud this weekend for my Digital Textuality class. One of the final chapters dealt with the question of why the artist is motivated to create.

Does the artist want to say something about life through his art or does he want to say something about art itself? – Understanding Comics, p. 178

Another related question is whether I have something to say at all. I don’t feel like it’s a secret, given my past Novel Progress installments, that I don’t know exactly what is going to happen in my novel. My novel was not born of a brilliant idea or need to communicate some moral lesson. I’m just trying to write something that my 11-year-old self would have loved to read. Something with vibrant characters and a world she would have wished she could visit. And at the same time, something that would have empowered her.

I’ve read a lot of YA fantasy at this point in my life, and I feel like the main thing I’m trying to do is avoid what I tropes I dislike and write a protagonist who is in some ways an extension of myself. A lot of my favorite fantasy series either have male protagonists (i.e. Harry Potter, Artemis Fowl, The Bartimaeus Trilogy) or inevitably has a strong romantic arc (i.e. Howl’s Moving Castle, His Dark Materials, Throne of Glass). Neither of these are necessarily bad, but I do feel like I’m trying to do something different with my story and protagonist, while inevitably drawing upon my favorite stories for inspiration.

By focusing on what I think is making me and my story unique, I like to think that it’s making my writing better that it otherwise would be. So that hopefully will result in my happiness with the end result and also help in finding the right publishers.

End Note

That’s all I have for this week’s Novel Progress. In case this is the first Novel Progress you’ve stumbled upon, I encourage you to read about my more productive weeks in Novel Progress #1, 2, 3, and 4. Hopefully, I will have a lot more to share next week. Next Wednesday will be March 2nd, which means I’ll only have a month left to meet my self-appointed deadline for completing this first draft of my novel!

One more thing I have been thinking about is trying to start YouTube again. I’ve done two BookTube videos (a TBR and a Wrap Up) in the past but since pulled them down because I didn’t like the quality or how nervously I talked. But I’m thinking of trying again, specifically to do book talks and talk about my writing. I love watching others talk about writing and I’d like to try and expand my platform in that direction. Especially as I’ve been rethinking the direction I want to take this blog…More on that later!

Thank you for reading!
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Novel Progress #4 (Lots of Changes)

So much happened over the course of the last week with regards to my story that I’ve struggled with what to share in this week’s Novel Progress. I feel like this has happened the past few weeks since making writing a priority. I think this is because I’m planning so much at the same time as I’m writing. I actually had to revisit last week’s Novel Progress #3 (Progress on the Hook) to see exactly what I last told you about the story so I’d know where to start this week.

Story Direction

This weekend I developed a more clear direction for the plot of this story that is nothing like what I described in last week’s post. Last week I had decided on a Hook that was ultimately discarded this week as I realized I just wasn’t able to bring it to life and it was stumping my writing progress. It’s kind of funny how I decided to scrap the idea and so I’ll share it with you.

I had been inspired for some reason to write an end scene between my protagonist and her guardian. In this scene, we were seeing the protagonist after running away on an adventure and coming back a changed person and how she and her guardian are able to make amends before the the guardian dies. In writing this scene, I was able to discover something interesting about the guardian which would set the two characters at odds in the beginning of the novel. So it helped me decide on a better event to kick off the story that would establish their complicated relationship.

I have currently written about 350 words of this new beginning and it’s going well. I’m liking the words I have and hope I can keep up the momentum. I’d like to see myself finished with the scenes I have in mind before next Wednesday, but realistically I’ll continue to jump around.

✃ Discarding Words

The most significant development in my writing this week was my decision to start discarding words. I’m not deleting scenes or info dumps that might become useful later, but I did feel like I needed a blank slate to start from after establishing a different story direction in which I only had words that were not distracting from the story I want to tell.

In my Scrivener project, I created a folder called Displaced Scenes where everything I write and might decide doesn’t ultimately fit into the most current story I’m writing can be placed for future reference. It includes most of the writing I did over the past few weeks. It was little sad to see these words taken out of the main manuscript, but I feel like it was necessary. Some of these scenes I still like and were important for me to write, but I just don’t see them fitting into this novel. There are two scenes I know would be good material for future books in the series.

✓ Revised Goal

A couple weeks ago I announced that I wanted to finish the first draft of this novel with at least 60,000 words by April 1st. After my latest plot revisions and further plot developments, I’ve decided to not think about a specific word count goal and revise my goal to be to specifically to just finish a coherent story. Meaning a story with the beginning, middle, and end. I want to have the most important scenes and story arcs in place so that my main task past April is including more detail as I edit.

End Note

I hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s installment of Novel Progress! I know it can be hard to keep up the motivation to write, and one of my favorite things to do to get pumped is to read or listen to others talk about their process. Just this morning I was marathoning Katytastic’s NaNoWriMo 2014 vlogs (here’s a link to her playlist). I feel like it’s always going to be a struggle to make myself write. But one thing I remembered this week that the story will come to life through the process of writing.

If you’re hesitating to write because you don’t know what needs to happen yet, but you can discover it as you write if you’re paying attention. I find that writing small details like clothing or setting can help me visualize the scene and often trigger characters’ memories and help me move the story along. So usually the hardest part of writing, and most things in life, is just getting started and not letting fear of failure stop you from trying.

Thank you for reading!
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Novel Progress #3 (Progress on the Hook)

I struggled with how to write this week’s Novel Progress and what I wanted to share. This post honestly could have been upwards of 2,000 words, but I didn’t know who would benefit from that. So I ended up trying to be concise here and share things unrelated to my novel in other posts scattered across this week which I hope you’ve seen and liked.

Unlike last week, when I didn’t have much progress to report on so I talked about deadlines (see: Novel Progress #3 (On Deadlines)), this week’s post is entirely to do with my story which I hope you enjoy and find motivating. This is definitely the direction I want to see these posts take as I get deeper into my writing!

Progress Made

I’ve made a lot of progress on my story over the last week. I’ve only written about 3,000 words of the actual story (consisting of two scenes and one setting “info dump”), but I’ve made a lot of progress in world-building, discovering the direction I want the story to take, and how I want to continue writing from here on out.

World-Building

Last weekend I decided I needed to make a map so that I could have a better sense of the world in which I have chosen to write. I wanted to know cities and geography and wanted these places to have names to which I could refer. So I did that and it opened up a world of possibilities for me. Nothing is quite set in stone and I don’t think many of the places with feature within the overall story, but it has been so helpful in helping me visualize the world with boundaries.

Story Direction

Last week I was really stuck, wondering how the story was going to beginning. I felt like I needed to know how the story was going to begin before I could do much else and I knew I wanted the story to start off with a big bang. What I had been imagining early on was something very simple and low-key, but then I thought about all the books that I’ve loved and realized they start off in a really exciting place. So I knew there was something missing from my story, until I realized it was what I’ve been calling a “Big Day.”

So I did some brainstorming and realized what my protagonist’s “big day” could be and realized that it could also actually provide an opportunity to introduce the villains and the world conflict at the time. So that’s what I’ve been working on for the past few days, trying to get a feel the setting and characters. As well as decide specifically is going to happen, because I want to carefully orchestrate these opening scenes to hint at what will happen at the end of the story and possibly even future sequels.

Shifting Points-of-View

I have not been happy with the way I’ve been writing, I’m writing from the third-person omniscient, but I feel like my narrative voice at the moment is kind of…removed…from the story. And I really want readers to be able to connect with the characters or at least become immediately invested in the story, so it needs to be stronger.

I realize I could change the point-of-view later on in future drafts, but I think I’ve decided to go back-and-forth as needed in this draft between first- and third-person. I’m also jumping between characters and writing a lot of things that I’m not sure I will want to end up in the final version of this first novel, but I need to write them to understand the characters better. So I think doing first-person writing will really help there.

Goals for the Week

I am actually going to be pretty busy this week with reading for Bookentine and completing my Twine-powered adaption of the myth of Persephone & Hades for my Multimedia Portfolio which is due next Monday. But I still have a goal I want to achieve before next Wednesday.

I would like to reach 10,000 words in my novel or finish writing the Hook of my story, whichever comes first. We are almost half-way through February and I’d like feel like I’m half-way through my novel by the 29th, so I really do need to start writing more. Now that I have a map and ideas for how I want the Hook to foreshadow the rest of the novel, I’m hoping the rest of this story will be easier to complete.

End Note

I hope you’ve enjoy this week’s installment of Novel Progress! I actually had two previous versions of this post, as I take notes throughout the week and try to write these posts throughout the week so I don’t forget anything. But I ultimately decided to scale back and stick to reporting on what I accomplished and my plans for future writing. I’m hoping to do the same next week and have even more to talk about.

If you want to hear more about my writing that’s not novel-related, earlier this week I shared my post about my new project Persephone & Hades | Multimedia Portfolio and shared my thoughts on Twine | Text Tool Review. I also have two more writing-related posts going up this week. Thursday I’m going to share some thoughts and ideas about fanfiction. And Friday I’ll be sharing some news about my potential use of Wattpad in the near future! I hope you enjoy!

Thank you for reading!
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Twine | Text Tool Review

A1

Last week I explained that for my Digital Textuality class I had to prepare two text tool reviews to help expose my classmates to available tools that could be used to create our first digital text assignment. I decided to share these (revised) reviews here, because I’m proud of my work and think a lot of my readers might also be writers and find the tools as exciting as I do.

If you’d like to see the first tool review about the community-based writing platform Wattpad, I encourage you to check it out. This week’s tool is Twine, which I talked about a lot on my old blog so if you followed me from there it might ring a bell! I hope this review helps you get a better picture of this tool and what it makes possible. I’ll definitely be mentioning it more in the future!

Description  

Twine is a free and open-source software you may download for Windows, OS, or Linux and/or use in an open browser. It is great for non-linear storytelling and interactive narratives such as Choose Your Own Adventure games. As result, Twine can result in products that give readers/players much more agency in the story being told. With Twine you can use HTML/CSS and JavaScript, and you can insert images, variables, and conditional logic with very little technical expertise required. When you are finished, Twine publishes directly to HTML format.

Access

Twine is free to use and may be downloaded at Twinery.org. You may also use it online where everything you create is automatically saved within your browser. You do not need to sign up for an account.

Sample Usage

The screenshots below reference a short Twine project that I created for my Digital Textuality class. These screenshots show you what Twine looks like from the back-end, and I’ve included some pink annotations which will help you get make sense of Twine 2.0’s interface.

The first screenshot directly below shows the blue grid view of Twine 2.0. The space is presumable infinite, you can scroll and scroll and scroll and not run out of space (in theory). Each square of text represents a passage which you can create with the green button at the bottom right of the screen or from within a preexisting passage (instructions in the second screenshot). In this grid view, you can click and drag each unit as you please, which helps make room and keep this view tidy as you add more passages.

The screenshot directly below shows what the interface looks like when you create/edit a passage. The default title is “Untitled Passage” and the default text in the body field is “Double-click this passage to edit it.” In the screenshot below, I have deleted that default body text to show this view of tips on how to achieve specific style effects, including bolding and italicizing. Note that it is not like HTML.

When you have finished your Twine project and want to publish it for sharing, click the ‘Publish to File’ selection shown at the bottom of the first screenshot. An HTML file should automatically download to your computer and you can send it to someone or upload it to a webpage.

What the Tool Does Well

Twine helps to see the skeleton, or outline, of a story. Because the passages can be arranged to lead to and from multiple locations, it allows the user to create and organize a story as if each piece is notecard on a cork board. Nothing is set in stone. The menu choices are not extensive, which makes the creation of the story uncomplicated. It’s a fun and easy tool to create an unconventional story with twists and turns. Stories created with Twine provide more interaction opportunities for readers/players to shape the story they experience.

Tips, Tricks, and Tutorials

Twine is not easy to the first-time user who may stumble upon the software with no prior instruction, but it is simple once you get the hang of it. Twine has changed a lot since it was first launched, but developers have made it easy to learn how to use Twine and make the most of it. For the official resources see: the Wiki and Forum. Below I have listed some tips things I think you might find helpful if you choose to work with Twine.

Sharing your project

To share your Twine project with others, you are either going to have to have a place (like a domain) where you can publish the file so you can link it to readers with an internet connection. OR you will need to explain to people how to download your file, direct them into Twine (which they will need to open the file), and explain how to upload the file so they can see it.

I have recently discovered that if you use WordPress, you can upload a Twine HTML file through the ‘Add Media’ button! It will link to text that will allow readers to directly start the interactive narrative experience! (This is how I will be linking to my Twine project on Persephone & Hades.)

Linking passages

Linking passages depends on you knowing the names of the passages to which you want another passage to lead. There’s no quick an easy way to indicate a link without identifying the passage directly in the text fields. So if you want to link a new passage to an existing one you also need to remember to spell it correctly or you will create a completely new, different passage. Twine does have a drop-down menu that will help you find the title, so that helps a little.

What it Does Poorly
  • Twine will struggle to cooperate quickly when a story gets very big.
  • Twine can handle multiple links to the outside world of the internet, but it is hard to link to from other places. You’ll have trouble sharing a Twine project via social media platforms like Twitter, for instance, unless you’ve uploaded the Twine project somewhere that will make the HTML file launch as it is meant to.
  • Also, you can’t really link to specific passages in a project. Readers generally have to start at the beginning and make their way properly through a project to get to the specific destination.

End Note

I hope you found this text tool review useful! I really like Twine and would like to use it more in the future. I see interactive narratives becoming more and more prevalent in the future of digital media so it’s great that such a user-friendly tool like Twine already exists to help writers experiment with new modes of storytelling.

In case you missed it, yesterday I published Persephone & Hades | Multimedia Portfolio about my latest creative writing project that I will be creating with Twine. And tomorrow expect the next Novel Progress #3 installment in which I share about all my writing progress over the past week!

Thank you for reading!
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