Things are fairly chaotic right now with the heat, then the massive rain, vacation coming up with all the organizing…
Busy but still writing is the name of the game.
Recently in the tumblr post for… day thirty-one (why is it July? who allowed that?) I asked about pet peeves that we hate and swear to do better in our own stuff.
This was kind of a personal question because my own writing journey started with a pet peeve. I had read way too many fics where people were either way too young to have accomplished all the things on their list or were older but still blushing virgins with no experience when it came to romance. So my enlightenment moment was to write the romance with two grown-ups, who had plenty of experience, sexual and otherwise, going into a relationship with all their baggage and dealing maturely with their shit.
Revolutionary? Probably not. But so, so satisfying.
People have sex, even when they’re over thirty. What can I say, that’s how it is. That reminds me, I should write an original romance like that…
I’m melting in the heat here. No thoughts in melted brain. But I’m still reading all your posts and I want to encourage you to go in the [tag] and read what your fellow writers are posting. Hit the little speechbubble on the post and talk to each other! We’re all here to talk about writing.
Do you have an expression that you probably use too much in your writing?
At first I thought my repeated expressions would be “vaguely” “kind of” “seems to be” but then someone on tumblr mentioned “characters looking, gazing, glancing” and oh shit, that’s mine.
I’ve put a longer fic into ProWritingAid and had the program check for overused words and, yes, no surprise here:
“Consider removing 80 from 88 occurrences.”!!!! OMG!
And at first I didn’t even think about “looking”. But of course, now it’s obvious, and to be honest, not all that surprising. When I write a scene, I watch it in my mind and how people look or not look at each other is really important to me, more than touching. Is that a thing I impose on the characters from myself? Cause I don’t touch people all that much but I pay attention to how and where people look, stare, glance.
Now, will I remove 80 of 88 occurrences? No fucking way. Let’s consider this “the author’s voice” and move forward.
Yes, I know, that was yesterday. Time is fleeting.
The question I asked for day 25, a quarter of the way in our journey, was:
What have you learned recently, about yourself, about your writing, about your story?
It’s a great question, if I do say so myself. And evidently, it took me a few days to come up with an answer. Here’s what I learned over the last few weeks:
I have to accept my process and I can help other people with that too. I will never be a planner, an outliner, and that’s alright. I’ve been fighting this conflict for years now, thinking that I should outline to be more efficient, and hating that process from my very core. At the beginning of the year, I swore to never ever outline again and then I still tried to learn how the Save The Cat Writes A Novel approach works.
And I hated it. It shouldn’t have surprised me at all. Every time I try to outline, to plan, to lay out a plot structure, it leaves me drained and the story never gets off the ground. I don’t hear the characters anymore, I don’t feel like the story is fresh and the project just dies.
And even though I knew that many writers have the same problems, it took me listening to Joanna Penn’s podcast interview with Patricia McLinn about discovery writing (https://www.thecreativepenn.com/2021/05/24/discovery-writing/) to finally accept that. Listening to these two women chat about their writing, about the joy of discovery and how much they both hate plotting, it was such a relief to hear.
Patricia McLinn has written a short book with writing advice, Survival Kit for Writers Who Don’t Write Right, which I devoured in one day. It’s basically the book I want to write one day, a collection of tools and tips for the chaotic and scatterbrained writers, who probably have some bit of ADHD. It’s a wonderful little toolset and I felt so seen!
So I guess what I learned is: I’m alright. The way I think and write is fine. I’m a chaotic writer, just as I’m not an organized person in anything else. Of course I won’t suddenly turn into the spreadsheet hero when I write, when my whole life is just a wild flow of things that I happily bop along.
Yes, I’m happy with this. It’s chaos, it’s unpredictable, it may take longer, it’s hard sometimes, but it’s fun!
Have you ever read a thing in a book or seen in a show/movie where you thought: “Oh, this is bad, I can do this so much better!” What was it?
Oh boy, do I ever! I mean, that’s basically the reason for my entire fanfiction ‘career’. My first fanfic basically started on the premise “no, that’s stupid, I can do this better and with more sex.”
But I want to talk about another thing. A friend gave me a book once, just because it was in english and she wanted to throw it away. I read like the first ten pages and HATED it. It was some sort of thriller, and the main characters was just this Dude McDudeson, manliest dude ever, oozing the too-tough-for-feelings juice out of every pore. Some sort of assassin who didn’t want to do that anymore, maybe? It’s a bit hazy, I didn’t give him much of a chance. I hated him after the third line of dialogue and wanted him to die on the spot.
But as I threw the book out, I thought about the general concept of a main character, basically trained in government sanctioned murder, deciding to give that up and use their knowledge to investigate crime and find missing people, stuff like that. So far so done before. But what if they were a woman?
Yes, I’m very tired of the Dude McDudesons but a woman like that? Sign me the fuck up. Flipping gender on an old concept, that really inspires me. This is a story I want to write.
Did I forget to make a post about yesterday‘s tumblr post? Yes. Oops.
In the post I asked: Tell us about a scene you’re most looking forward to writing in your current project.
I’m honestly a bit stumped on that question right now. Which is strange, shouldn’t I have a lot to ramble about with my many, many WIP?
But I’m strangely content with just writing onwards. Maybe this is the unique joy of the Discovery Writer, I don’t slog through the outline towards a specific plot point, I travel along with my characters, I see the story develop, gasping in wonder at all the cool things I see off the path.
Sometimes I have that one scene I’m really looking forward to, it’s usually the scene that sparked the whole story. But even then, I love discovering the story, the characters, the world, as I write it and that process is what I’m looking forward to the most.
In today’s post I asked: What’s a trope you haven’t used yet but want to use one day?
My first thought to this question was “Slow burn”. Because I seem to be incapable of writing that, I always write sex first and then they slowly develop them feelings. I love that setup but it’s clearly the opposite of a slow burn.
But my second thought is something like “arranged marriage”. I’ve written “fake dating” before but arranged marriage, maybe combined wit ha mystery plot? That should be interesting…
Lack of ideas is never the problem, right?
I do have a problem with ideas that never become more than a few snippets in an idea document. It’s definitely easier to write these ideas as fanfics, at least then it’s highly likely that someone will read it. But with original fiction? Good luck with that.
Original fiction is rather lonely.
As an aside, I looked at the amazon charts for science fiction romance, as I do sometimes cause I’m kind of eyeing that genre to write in, and it looks like Ruby Dixon owns that one. She sits on almost every rank in the charts, it’s unbelievable. She must make a shit ton of money every day with that.
I’m not envious! I haven’t read these books but people clearly love them and I’m sure there’s still room in that genre. I can’t deal with these covers though, ugh, do they have to look like that? I guess they do.
I’ve written alien romances before, hello Mass Effect! Why am I not writing this?
In today’s post, I gave everyone the homework to make a moodboard. So I did the one above and I made one for a current Dragon Age fanfic that I’m trying to finish.
I failed at sticking to a color scheme and probably other things too. I must say that the aesthetic of moodboards kind of eludes me. I can tell when I see a good one but I can not really make one myself. I’m pretty good with making covers, at least I think so. I like this one I made for the same fic:
Or this one:
I feel like I have a better grip on the mood in these images.
Are moodboards useful? That’s a question I didn’t ask but I do wonder about it. Is it helpful or just procrastination? Maybe I’ll ask that on anther day.
Look, I forgot yesterday again. What can I say, it was a very busy day. I got my second vaccine shot too, so I was honestly expecting to be down for the count while my immune system went into production mode, but I was fine. Hurray! Yesterday’s question was about daydreaming. The results were rather expected, as pretty much every writer loves to daydream and farms ideas like that. Funny, some people miss commuting for that! Who would have thought that we’d miss commuting to work one day.
Someone posted about how to focus on one WIP and that brought me to today’s question:
How do you decide which WIP to work on?
Well, how do you?
Fuck if I know.
I have a bit of an unhealthy habit of picking the WIP that feels most exciting, which often feels that way because someone else told me they’d like to read it, or I start a new one for the same reason. Inquisitor Carver came around just because some people were enthusiastic about the fic and now I’m stuck with another longfic that nobody wants to read anymore.
So this is definitely something I need to turn around somehow. I can’t put my focus on the applause, or I’ll never get any original fiction done. Because original fiction is basically writing into the void and fandom has spoiled me for the feeling of community it provides.
I can say with certainty that I pick one of the 15+ WIPs to work on just by my feelings about it but I think I need to change how I come to that kind of feeling, in the long run.
I’m a bit late again today because I had a busy day. But I had to sit around offices and wait for things to happen and thanks to modern technology, nowadays we always have a library with us. I was reading in a wonderful craft book today, “Survival Kit for Writers Who Don’t Write Right” by Patricia McLinn. A short book with tips and tricks for discovery writers and pantsers. Super useful!
Today’s question is inspired by a tool in that book:
Think about an interview question for your main character/s and then write down what they don’t say. What secrets do they keep? What do they lie about?
I’ve been thinking about my character types for this. I tend to have characters who don’t want to admit to their feelings or their doubts. My characters would answer every question with glowing confidence and never admit how they really feel. They would never admit to weakness in public, unless it serves a purpose.
This is another one of those things where my characters are frighteningly just myself, with a little step sideways.
Hoppla, skipped yesterday’s post. I asked about fairytales in WIPs and I just had nothing to say to that. None of my original fiction WIP is far enough to have developed that kind of lore inside the lore.
Today’s post is about prophecies and superstitions. Do you have prophecies and superstitions as part of the worldbuilding in your WIP? Could you add some?
Now I have the same problem I had with the fairytales, no WIP is far enough for that but here’s an idea I might tackle soon. I want to write a story about a prophecy and instead of the usual teenage character, it will be a mature woman, who’ll take up the job and gets it done. Friends and her children will help her because I’m living for the Heroine’s Journey. No lone Hero’s Journey in this house.
So, even if the story is not quite there yet, this is already a thing in the idea file. and it will come to life soon. (For various amounts and lengths of ‘soon’ 😀 )