Off Like A Shot!

I managed to get one chapter done, on day one, despite having work and appointments, and needing to sew the snowpeas and stop the lime tree trying to crush the dwarf lemon.

One of the things I realised I hadn’t really thought about was what style I wanted to write in. Which, as fundamental as it sounds, really doesn’t surprise me. There was going to be something important I had forgotten. At least it wasn’t what the name of my characters were, or how to start, or something as important as what the antagonist wants. Those are my usual things to forget, so style is a nice change.

Because I am a terrible mimic, and by that I mean I tend to mimic without meaning to, there was a very real danger that I would end up mixing the modern science fiction style and the more classical style of Pride and Prejudice. Without realising it, most of the small scenes that had been playing out in my head before Camp NaNoWriMo were combining the two different styles until I sat down and the style came out. I am intrigued to see how it plays out over the longer chapters, especially when there are those lovely skimming sections that cover months of things happening. Jane Austen really is a master of that, and I’m listening to Mansfield Park, and the transition of time is handled even more cleverly there than in Pride and Prejudice.

The other thing I am going to ponder in the background while I do other things is what sort of heroine this Lizzy will be. She has to be clever, and witty, and capable. But I have to balance that out with needing Darcy to be able to resolve the disaster before it can truly taint the Bennet family. It’s not about him being the hero, it’s about him doing what he can to prevent her pain, believing he would never see her again. It’s not doing what’s right, or what you’re driven to do for love, it’s something else. I’m still working on what it actually is, why I like that particular ‘rescue’ but others make me a hissy-cat. That’s a Black Jewel reference, because so much of Anne Bishop’s phrasing creeps into my every day use…

But, I have chapters to write, horses to ride, and a garden to stop from crushing itself. At least this is useful procrastination.

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Kale, chives, snowpeas seeds, the big lime, and the little lemon in the blue pot. The start of a garden!

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The Night Before

And I am sure I’ve forgotten to pack pretty much everything I need for Camp NaNoWrimo… Like setting, and pertinent world details, and character sheets, and some idea how to get very specific social morality converted into sci-fi appropriate social dilemmas.

But, I shall not be afraid. I will venture into the stellar wilderness aboard one of the generational colony space ships in The Legacy Fleet, and I shall find out what Pride and Prejudice looks like in the far flung future. I’m hoping it turns out much the same as the original, because otherwise I will have done something very, very unexpected and contrary.

I still haven’t managed to work through the Science Fiction Writers of America World Building questions, because I somehow managed to procrastinate around it, so I will be making a lot of it up as I go. Not unusual, but certainly not optimal for me.

Still, onward to Seeking Space, and the quirky nature of people that doesn’t seem to change that much despite increases in technology. After all, it wouldn’t be the same if the characters didn’t laugh at their neighbours and be laughed at in their turn.

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The Backyard! It will be ours!

A Conflict of Theories

I am having a dilemma. And I think it’s one that not only writers who are pantsers or character driven can understand. It involves plot, and the most appropriate way of getting your story idea out into the world so it’s exciting and interesting.

For Seeking Space, my Camp NaNoWriMo project, I am doing a retelling of Pride and Prejudice. Ambitious? Not really, because I am under no illusions that it will be any good. It certainly isn’t going to magically come out as a perfectly publishable piece that will get me a farm and a pony and all the other nice things that come of winning the writerly luck lottery.

The problem is as follows. In Pride and Prejudice, the story is conveyed in a very different style to modern literature. No surprise, this is a part of the foundation of literature. It’s called a classic for a reason. Which is why the completely sensible and utterly marketable advice in The Fantasy Fiction Formula by Deborah Chester has me rattled.

How am I supposed to do a sci-fi retelling of a story that, when you get right down to it, has a main character we like because of her inner conflict and change rather than her impacts on the world at large? All the small things that escalate do so in part because someone doesn’t act, and then when things are at their worst, it’s not Lizzy who goes to the rescue. It’s Darcy. And yes, I like it because it’s an ‘actions are louder than words’ sort of moment, but it does mean that the main character isn’t the one who solves the issue. Which would not fly in a modern sci-fi. And rightly so. I love Anne McCaffrey‘s works precisely because things get done by the main character, and the small decisions have larger consequences.

Which leads to the point. How do you preserve the essence of a story, without becoming trapped in the nuance of the original? I’ve seen Mercedes Lackey do it time and time again in her Five Hundred Kingdoms series, but they’re all still medieval or fantasy, so similar rules to work within. My original is right out there…

So into the final few days of March I go, the original plot mapped out but my world building still a shambles, and no idea what the whole things is going to look like in my novel. Sounds about like a normal Camp NaNoWriMo, I guess. Lucky I have some practise.

And these cute monsters.

A Moment of Writerliness

Today, I made some time to do some stereotypical writerly things. In fact, because I am preparing for Camp NaNoWriMo I decided to really let myself be clichéd.

I went to a little coffee shop, had a cup of tea, and wrote notes about my project.

Granted, it was a coffee shop in a shopping centre, and the notes are mapping out my inspiration text, but it counts! And I was using it to procrastinate, because grocery shopping is daunting pre-tea, but I still did it!

My Camp NaNoWriMo project also has a title! Seeking SpaceFor which I have to thank a very good writing buddy, because I was terrible at coming up with anything so she helped me and I helped her. Thus goes the cycle of writing buddies, and if you haven’t got some I highly recommend finding a few. It has been the difference between me winning Camp and NaNoWriMo, and not making it through the dreaded Week Two.

But, since I still have to map out the original text so I have the plot in order, and then try and get my head around Deborah Chester’s The Fantasy Fiction Formula, I better get back to it.

If anyone else is doing Camp, I hope your preparation is going well!

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Proof I am doing writing preparation! And that I have terrible handwriting…

Camp NaNoWriMo Week 4: So, that definitely didn’t go as planned…

Week 4: So, that definitely happened.

There is no doubt in my mind that I will not reach my goal. Which is really to say that I underestimated the editing process entirely. I am actually very okay with that. In fact, I consider this one of the most successful Camp’s I’ve done. Sounds a bit paradoxical, but hear me out.

I set out to try and be further in the process of getting the next draft of my Novel, and I thought that would be a sensible word count goal. What I didn’t understand, probably due to a lack of research, is that editing your own work is incredibly different from helping someone else with their book/story. By the end of Camp, I will have a better understanding of not only the story but of what my editing process is going to look like. Lots, and lots of glitter pens, and probably more sticky notes than I have right now.

As a discovery writer, the variance between one draft and another is going to be rather impressive. My character surprise me all the way through the vomit copy, so it makes sense that when I have known them a bit longer I will need to adjust what they did before we knew each other. I like the idea of revising, of giving my characters the best representation I can, of tiding events so they all make sense, but I do get the feeling it’s going to be a lot of work and need new skills.

And this leads to the thing I am grateful for learning. The skill I need right now is planning. I need to be able to organise the story, so I can set up the small things, make the right promises to my theoretical audience. Because I like telling stories, ones that people will like.

Then I came across this Zen Pencils

Might go hug this horse, she's all fluffy in her winter woolies.

Might go hug this horse, she’s all fluffy in her winter woolies.

, and I realised why I was having so much trouble with the ‘better, not different’. I wasn’t focused on the story itself, on the gift, but on the people I wanted to give it to. I wanted to make it a story ‘worthy’ of being read. But I’m not a mind reader, so the only way I will know if the story is good is to finish it and let someone read it. What matter is the story.

What matters to the story is time and thoughtful crafting to ensure the events, characters, and scenes all make sense. My responsibility is to do what I can to get that to happen, to be true to the story and the characters and make sure that even if people don’t like it, they are disliking it because of their criteria and not mine.

Which means finding all the things that were ‘Too Hard’ in the Camp NaNoWriMo I wrote the vomit copy, and making sure I put them in this time.

Seems like I better go find some more useful tools for planning than glitter pens and a thesaurus.

Camp NaNoWriMo Week 3: Ah, so I’m not brave…

Camp NaNoWriMo Week 3: Ah, so that happened…

I managed to plan a little bit, but it wasn’t actually as helpful as I would like. In fact, I got so confused about what was going to make it better, and what was going to make it different, that I stared a lot at my glitter pens and tried to think of things I could do with them. Which meant I spent a lot of time trying to get lists to work without much success.

I also discovered that something Jim Butcher said really rings true. This is simple stuff to do, but it’s not easy. Sure, doing character traits and tags sounds like a great idea. It even sounds like it will make a whole lot of difference to the way the draft comes out, and make writing a lot easier. In fact, I think the concept itself is beautifully simple, streamlined, and an absolutely wonderful tool for a writer looking to make the process practical at an increased level. But it’s not easy. It sounds like it should be, but it’s not.

Think of it like this. Someone asks you to describe someone you’ve known for years in a few simple words. In fact, they want you to give them the words that are not only good for description, but that might give you an idea of who the person is. We’re looking for words with just the right tone, so that someone who has never met them will know what to expect with only a couple of sentences. And so they can’t mistake them for anyone else in your circle of acquaintances and friends. Simple, but not easy. Even when Jim Butcher explains it.

The other problem I faced was that I needed someone to tell me what they thought of it. And that meant getting the courage to show the reworked first and second chapter I’d found to someone to read. I am not a brave person. I much prefer to be thorough, cautious. But I was so lost, completely and utterly without a map because I couldn’t work out how to draw one, I needed to try and find 20 seconds of courage.

I gave the chapters to my trusted pre-beta reader. At the end of the week. It takes me a bit to build the courage to get this done.

Here’s hoping I can get something done next week. The 25k is looking unreachable, but I might be able to get to half, maybe, if I get a plan done. Until then, it’s back to the glitter pens and distracting myself with fluffy animals.

Look! Cute!

Dusty, being a cute outside bunny!

Dusty, being a cute outside bunny!

Camp NaNoWriMo Week 2: Because I forgot to post…

Week 2: Because I forgot to post…

I wrote! Not a lot, and I don’t know if I will end up keeping it, but I wrote just over a thousand words!

Given that I have set the goal as 25k, I can see how that may not seem to be much, nor worth more than an excuse to grit my teeth and try harder but it’s the first thousand words. It’s done. It’s gone. I don’t have to worry about it until I get back to it in the later rafts. Yay! And if that isn’t good news, I have no idea what is.

Oh, wait, yes I do! Cosplay pics! There may be a reason I have been so slack at writing, an it has everything to do with the fat I was getting ready for an epic group cosplay. This is what happens when you’re friends with a fabulous fashion designer who happens to cosplay and you are really like one of the characters in the show. So, I was Nora from RWBY, and I had a blast!

What it did show me was that I had a few things I needed to get my head around before I could really get into the story. I had no idea what I was doing with the edit, and that was the real problem. I was making it different, not better. I had nothing to compare it to, so how could I know what bits needed work?

Then I came across this Zen Pencils comic and it all made sense.

I have never been gladder to go to a convention than I was when I was flipping through my signed copy of the book and that came up.

So this week I am working out what I need to do so I can get to it next week and kick all the word goals. I know I can push myself with words for vomit copies, and I think I an get some good chapters happening if I just know where it’s going.

This week is about mapping. And I’m going to use the scenesequel from Jim Butcher to do it. Because let’s be honest, Brandon Sanderson’s technique is still a bit too far from what my brain does for it to make sense. I keep picturing him as a mad scientist, kind of like Dr Horrible. But that could be more to do with hearing it a lot lately.

Instead of cute pictures, you get stuck with these! Nora was so much fun!

This is me, as Nora. So much fun!

This is me, as Nora. So much fun!

And this is pretty much how the day went. So  much fun!

And this is pretty much how the day went. So much fun!

Nora's weapon is a hammer, but we didn't have time to make one. So I had a lovely stand in. I have the best friends.

Nora’s weapon is a hammer, but we didn’t have time to make one. So I had a lovely stand in. I have the best friends.