Adventures in Writing and Getting Published

My journey to write a series of books and get them published.

Reopening an old project.

A few years back a friend of mine and I started working on a story together. Unfortunately, she has the majority of the notes on it packed away and since real life got in the way, the project was just kind of forgotten. But fortunately, I have some old notes hanging around my e-mail on it. It’s very basic, and there’s only a character description for one of the characters, but it’s a start. It’s unfortunate, though. We had character descriptions for a lot of characters including a villain written out. But again, she has the majority of the notes packed away and I’m living hundreds of miles away now. I suppose we can attempt to rebuild the world from memory, but it’s probably going to be a lot different than before unless she can find those notes. And since she’s usually being harassed by her family when she’s not at work, coming across those notes will be more difficult than we think. I really would love to give this project another shot though, it was very promising.

Time for a Mini-Celebration!

I’m up to 23 Followers on my blog now, and that’s really cool to me! So this is going to be my sort of afternoon update. There’s really not a lot to say about the book. I just started working on Chapter 4. My goal for February is to get 6 chapters put together so I’m more than halfway there and it’s only been a day since I made the goal. I guess in a way it’s kind of cheating because I did split Chapter 1 up. But I don’t care. If I’m feeling competent enough and I’ve gotten my 6 chapters for the month written out, I’ll add a 7th chapter to the goal. But we’ll see. I don’t know if I’ll be capable of it. At this point I still don’t know how many chapters I’ll have going by the end of Draft 1. But anyways. It’s really exciting to me that 23 people actually care about what I’m writing on here!

So thanks to all of you! ❤

Evening Update

I’ve been so busy writing today. I love when I get in the groove and just can’t stop. I had to tear myself away from my chapter because if I had kept going it would have been way too long. I ended up splitting Chapter 1 into two Chapters. So the Chapter that I was working on that I was calling 2, became 3, and Chapter 1 became Chapters 1 and 2. I decided that since this is the first draft and it’s all tell no show, it’s going to end up doubling in length once I start Draft 2 because I’ll be fleshing it out and embellishing my writing. In fact, I might have to separate my chapters once more once I get to Draft 2, so I need to be careful. Note to self: do NOT reach your word count goal in Draft 1. Hopefully my chapters don’t double as well as my word count, other wise I might be in trouble. I’m thinking, though, if I can keep my word count in draft 1 to 57,500 and finish the story, then I can safely double my word count and my chapter count without having to worry about going too far over 115,000 words (considered in the “excellent” range of Fantasy novels: 100,000-115,000). But the most I can stretch it to is 124,000 before an agent won’t bother too look at it. I know I won’t get it finished in my second draft, but I’m trying to stick to reasonable guidelines as much as possible.

Things I’ve been learning by writing my first novel:

1. The first draft of a novel is the “all tell, no show” portion where you get down the bare bones of what you want for your story. You finish the entire story in this “all tell, no show” range, and in the second draft, you change it by embellishing the story and adding to it. It’s also the planning stage. Most of your time is taken up by planning. The writing is the easy part.
2. The second stage becomes the “mostly show, some tell” stage where the words are crafted and edited to make the writing sound like an actual story rather than, “this happens, it’s a story, and it’s done.” No one likes stories like that. In this stage, the novel usually ends up doubling in length and becomes at least somewhat decent. Usually you’ll fix spelling and grammatical errors that you didn’t catch in your first draft. But you usually don’t show it to people at this stage.
3. Draft 3 is the beta stage. You send your novel out to beta readers that you trust (I happen to have 3 that I feel safe sending my novel to) and get your critiques from those beta readers. But while you’re waiting, you read through your novel yourself. You take out unnecessary sentences, words, and anything that seems repetitive or otherwise useless to the overall plot of your story. You fill in the plot holes and in some cases, you add stuff that you forgot to add in earlier drafts.4. Draft 4 is usually (in most cases) the final draft before the manuscript. This is where you take your critiques that you got from your trusted betas, and the changes that you made, and combine them all into the story. By now your novel should be within the acceptable range of a novel from your genre (Fantasy, in my case), and you’re just rewriting it. You send the finished novel back to your trusted betas, they read through it again, and tell you whether or not they think it should go through another draft, or if it’s primped and polished enough to go into the manuscript. Any other drafts are just rinse and repeat of steps 3 and 4.
5. Manuscript. This is the stage where you start researching your agents and begin writing your query letters. Places like Absolute Write (linked in a previous post) or other forums or websites where you as the writer frequent usually have a forum dedicated to writing out your query letter to make your manuscript shine. By now you should have your 4th draft retyped into a manuscript format (if you haven’t already written the story out in manuscript format, or even if you have, retyping it will help you check for anymore last minute spelling or grammatical errors). You should know exactly what your story is about. Its genre, its word count, its plot, its characters, EVERYTHING. You take all of your knowledge and put it into that ultra important query letter that will probably have 4 or more drafts by itself as well before you have the perfect query letter to send out to agents.

And…that’s all I know for now. :p

Update from yesterday and FebNoWriMo.

Well, yesterday I didn’t get as much done as I had hoped. I managed to get a few scenes written out and then I took a nap. I was really short on sleep from staying up so late on Chapter 1 (I think it’s safe to call it a chapter now since it’s nearly 10,000 words long). When I woke up, I got a little more done and I got a basic description for a couple of new characters, but not nearly as in-depth as a full Character Profile; I don’t think it matters if they’re not in-depth. They’re minor characters anyway, but I have some apprehensions about leaving my characters undeveloped. It’s sort of becoming an inner war at the moment because I’m not even halfway done with my character chart. By far the character chart is my current speed bump in this story. But I guess I’ll have to figure it out eventually.

As for FebNoWriMo:

On a website I frequent, Absolute Write Water Cooler, we love NaNoWriMo so much that we do it every month, but we use it slightly differently. Some of us go ahead and try to write 50,000 words for the month, others use it as a chance to obtain other goals. As for me? Well, it took me 8 months to even manage 1chapter in my book. But now that I’m in the swing of things, my goal for FebNoWriMo is to write 3-5 more chapters in this month. I may or may not do those chapters in order (i.e. get chapters 2-6 written out). I may just bounce around the book. But at this point I’m not even sure how many chapters I need. If I keep writing chapters at the rate I’m going, I’ll only need 11-12 chapters for the entire book. If I do shorter chapter, I’ll probably need more. So I’m not really sure. I might just type scenes out and during the last week of this month (February 23-28), try to sew them together into chapters and hope I get as far as like, 3 chapters minimum. Honestly, I’ll be proud if I can get even 3 chapters pounded out. :/

Oh, and I want to get 5 more characters plotted out in my character chart!

Wish me luck, here I go!

Getting things settled in now.

Now that I’ve finally got my new writing-only blog up and running, it’s time to post today’s (current) update. I try to post at least once a day and if it’s not a book update, then it’ll be a writing prompt that I found online somewhere. I’ll always link you up to the website that I find the writing prompt on. Today isn’t a prompt, though, it’s a book update.

Yesterday I spent the day focusing on conflicts to add to my story. My current question is , “How much trauma can you put a child through before you ruin them for life?” This question has been nagging at me from the start and I’ve finally found some solutions for it that, yes, will traumatize my main character, but it won’t ruin her for the rest of her life. Another thing I managed to do yesterday, was look up basic manuscript formatting so I can get used to how the formatting looks. My Prologue/Chapter 1 file went from a 6 page chapter to 17 pages. Since I’ve added to it, I’ve gone from 17 pages to 42 pages in length for my first chapter because of this formatting. But if I change the formatting back to what it was before, it’ll only be about 28 pages long. Still, 28 pages is quite a lot for 1 chapter in a book. Since this is only my first draft, however, it’s mostly tell and no show. In my second draft I’ll be embellishing the writing and it might be longer. I might have to make it into 2 chapters instead of one, but as of now, this looks like a good enough place to stop for the end of this chapter. I’m really proud of how much work I did yesterday.

When I started out yesterday, my chapter was only 2,140 words long. By the end of the night (I didn’t get to bed until 2:30am, it was up to 5,469. It doesn’t seem like a big jump, but keep in mind, I had written this stuff out on paper and pen first which took me easily 3 hours. This morning when I woke up, I opened up the file again and it went from 5,469 to 6,543 words. This is where I had to stop, because my pen had run out and I had to type up the rest of it on my computer in a separate file. It brought my word count up to 9,764. I’m so proud of what I’ve accomplished in those short two days. I’m now sitting at a chapter that’s nearly 10,000 words long, and I’m very excited about that. I’ll be making more progress as the day moves on and I’ll make sure to post the progress either on a blog post for tonight, or on my check-in post in the morning.

More Progress!

Hurray! I got a lot of work done yesterday! I managed to type up two dreamscapes (one being over 2,500 words long), I managed to come up with a tentative list of agents (to save me time when my book is done) to query, which took a good chunk of my day, and I managed to figure out what my genres are for the book. I’m really happy about all of the progress I made yesterday. Actually, I even managed to add more to my Prologue/Chapter 1 (since I’m still deciding if I even need a Prologue). I ran into some more problems with the story that I’m trying to work through but I’m still very much into the planning stage of my work. I haven’t even finished my character creation or my character profiles yet. When I get the computer back from my boyfriend later on, I might shift my focus back to the characters.

Progress! I love progress!

After doing quite a bit of research trying to figure out what the hell kind of book I’m writing, I’ve come to the conclusion that this is a Mythic Fantasy with Romantic Fantasy elements.

What is Mythic Fantasy?

In a sense, all fantasy derives from the vast number of myths developed throughout human history. Nature’s force and fury, death, disease and prosperity, the fearsome dark and the blessed day were all given meaning through the gods and monsters of every culture’s mythology.

Mythic Fantasy (some people may call it Mythic Exploration) are stories that deal in the same universal themes as do myths, but the actual milieu, the names and powers of the  gods, and the mythical or supernatural creatures that inhabit the fantasy world vary in some way from their more traditional counterpart. Elements of legend and folklore may be included, although they are just as likely to be completely original as to hearken back to some familiar figure like Arthur or Robin Hood.

One common type of Mythic Fantasy is to bring disparate mythological traditions into conflict, with gods clashing while heroes struggle for dominance not only in their own sphere, but against their opposite numbers. At stake is the fate of the world.

The quintessential Mythic Fantasy example would be Neil Gaimen’s American Gods where ancient gods clash with modern gods, with the destiny of humankind at stake.

But whatever form the action of the story takes, its most important function is to explain why this particular world is the way it is—how it began, what the humans’ function is within it, and what they have to do to maintain it as a desirable place to live. Oftentimes this is the crux of the story—the world has become unfit in some way, and the characters struggle to find a solution with the help and ancient knowledge of their gods and otherworldly helpers.

Explanation found here: Mythic Fantasy

And (as if we don’t already know) here’s the explanation for Romantic Fantasy.

What is Romantic Fantasy?

These stories are more traditionally romantic than those in the Fantastic Romance category. Romantic Fantasy may also put more emphasis on the plot events than a Fantastic Romance. Quite a few other fantasy subgenres will incorporate elements of Romantic Fantasy in them, especially Epic Fantasy and Paranormal Fantasy.

There are several “typical” storylines, but they all share the common element that the heroine has lost her home or place in society in some way, and comes to find completion and acceptance in another group. Thus, various relationships are important parts of the story: social, political and—of course—romantic relationships.

While searching for these new relationships and discovering/developing her powers,  the heroine is likely to fall in love with a man who also possesses the gift of magic. The magic in these stories is usually of a gentler, more innate type than in other fantasy. Things like strong intuition and empathy, or mastery of one of the elements, are typical.

As the two lovers (or they may remain just friends or traveling companions for some time) travel the kingdom and perhaps beyond, they will gradually discover that their powers are necessary to right some huge wrong, or restore something important that has been lost.  They will need to learn about each other in intense ways so that together they can fulfill this responsibility.

Explanation found here: Romantic Fantasy

Unfortunately, as for word count, I need to come up with a happy medium, as there are no specific word counts for books classified as Mythic Fantasy. As a whole, Fantasy novels range from 100K-115K as an excellent word count. But can be stretched up to 124K and compressed down to 90K. So I might just run with those numbers to decide how long my book will actually be. Having a solid foundation is going to help me a lot in the long run when I’m sending my book out to agents. It’ll help me narrow down the list by a lot. During my procrastination with my book it’ll be a good way to pass the time. It’s such a relief to know what I’m actually writing about.

Research, research, research!

One thing I really hate about writing is, well, writing. It’s not such a big deal typing on the computer because you don’t stress your wrists so much. But with the research I’ve been doing lately, typing on the computer is, quite frankly, out of the question. I’ve gone through 2 ballpoint pens in a matter of three days and my hand is cramping sooooo badly! It’s painful, and makes me sad. So when I use the phrase blood, sweat, and tears, I actually might mean the tears part. Oh well, time to get to bed. I might have to be up at 7 am tomorrow. Or I might just sleep through Jon’s alarm. I don’t have to be up at 7, he does. I don’t have to be up until 9:30. I think I might need the extra rest, but we’ll see.

Update for 2/4/14

I am exhausted. It’s currently 11:56 pm on February 4, and I spent all day researching the characters for my book and I even got help with my mentor and fellow writer, V.J. Allison. She’s always been extremely supportive of me and helpful, even when it distracts her from her own work in progress. I really appreciate her for that. My hand is cramped and sore from all the writing I’ve done. Not all of my notes and research are typed and backed up on my computer. I’m having a hard time writing the personality for my male lead and I’ve spent the day researching other characters similar to him, and also ways to describe his overall look and facial structure. I’m hoping I did well to note his looks and I need to figure out how to describe him so how he looks in my head, isn’t overbearing to the reader. My description, however is far from perfect. I’m tired and it’s past my bedtime, but I’m still up late working on my story. I didn’t get too much progress made yesterday, or the past week or so in general, so I’m really trying to make up for it. I think I’m doing a good job overall. Well, wish me luck. My boyfriend should be coming down here any time to make me go to bed. But hopefully I can make some more progress on my research before that happens.