Next Writing Project: A YA Fantasy Novel

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After focusing on writing and editing my shorter stories this past year, I am picking up on my unfinished YA fantasy story. Let me tell you, it was a treat to open up my Word document and see that it’s already at 52,000 words. That is quite the feat for someone who normally writes novellas and short stories! I knew that I had got quite far into the story, but I had almost forgotten just how much! :)

There are four main characters and they are based on the personalities of my grandparents. In fact, this story itself is inspired by life events lived out by my grandparents in their early to mid teens. Life was not easy for them at that point in their lives, and I hope very much to bring out their true characters in my book.

It’s complex with all four story lines being told throughout the book until they eventually intertwine. The story is also a parallel to a World War II type conflict set in a fantasy world. It would be impossible to make it into a novella even if I tried! ;)

And so, I am on to the next writing quest. I will keep you updated on how it goes. I am determined to finish the story, rough as it might be, before the holidays begin!

Happy writing!

When Your Characters Lead Your Story

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Character-driven stories are always the best kind of stories.

I don’t talk to my characters (I swear!), but they do control my story more than I might let on. Characters, though fictional, are fully fleshed out people living in your universe of fiction writing if writing is what you live and breathe every day. If you’re serious about your craft, I think that you should be strongly connected with all of your characters. I might take this a step further.

I confess that often, it really is my characters that decide the direction that they will go in a story. I have heard of a few writers admit to this as well. Some writers whose blogs I have read think that this level of thinking is weird/wrong and that they as writers are always fully in control of their stories. The latter type of thinking seems too mechanical for me. I prefer to think of writing as a way to tell the stories of the people who exist in one realm of my fantasy universe.

Of course I am the one writing my story, but as a writer, I am not living this life fully on my own. These characters exist in my rich inner world and they have influence over how I write them. Writing totally is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia. Maybe this weirds you out. Perhaps you disagree. That’s okay, too. There are many different types of writers. This is how I work.

My characters do have minds of their own and I have changed the direction of nearly every story I have written because they disagreed with the direction that I was taking them in. Sometimes, I stress out about this disagreement and I hesitate to write their fate in a way that I originally planned not to.

Writing is supposed to be fun. Write what makes you want wake up in the wee hours of the morning just to finish that next chapter. Write what causes you to lay in bed at night thinking about your characters. Write something you’re passionate about.

If that means that you talk to your characters or if that means that you let your characters choose certain paths for themselves, then let it be.

Writers, do you ever feel a character pulling you in the opposite direction of where you want them to go? Do you feel them have a mind of their own? Do you think all of this is simply weirdness? 

(Photo Source: http://www.everystockphoto.com by Shandi-lee)

Fluid Inspiration

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I’m thinking back to the times that I have been the most productive writer. I need some key factors to work in my favour if I hope to complete a novel within a matter of months.

Space

Truth be told, I must spend a lot of time alone in order to be able to stay in tune with my story, my characters, and my inspiration. When I wrote my first two novels years ago, I would walk on my lunch breaks by the river, listening to songs that fuelled my imagination. I sacrificed forming closer relationships with my coworkers as a result, but when you’re serious about writing, then the writing comes first. Always.

Rain

A good dosage of rain is necessary for my inspiration. Some writers may find this trivial, but rain and fog are catalysts for my creativity. Sunshine is good, but too much of it actually zaps my creativity. I think one reason for this is that I’m instinctively more social when it’s warm and sunny. it kicks me out of my creative cave.

Music

One reason why I rarely listen to popular music is because it does nothing for the type of books that I prefer to write. I need deeper, richer songs in order to thrive in my world of make believe. I think that most writers need music to spark and maintain their inspiration.

Film

Watching films or even TV shows in the genre that I hope to write in always gets me in the writing zone, especially because I would love the opportunity to write a film script (once my writing matures!).

Peace

I can write well when I’m feeling melancholic, but when I’m feeling anxious or depressed, the process is going to suffer. This may sound weak to some people, but, regardless, in order to stay in tune with my work, I can’t have anyone or anything nagging on me. I need a stable job, a good quiet home, supportive people within reach (but not too close), and enough exercise.

Setting

Setting crosses over into a few of the aforementioned factors, but living in an area that you can appreciate aesthetically is important. Living in the mountains for the past two years has certainly been like a dream for me. Here in Western Canada, there is a good balance of rain and sun. It seems to be the perfect climate and I think that for creative people, setting means the world.

So, there we have it. I imagine some sort of “How To Care For Your Creative Writer” meme being inspired by my choosy behavior. I’ve realized how much I really do live my life based on how I feel. Such are the whims of a writer.

So, writers, what helps you to maintain some semblance of “fluid inspiration”? Or, are you able to write regularly no matter how you’re feeling?

My Writing Progress After Working in the Wilderness

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In June, I took a long bus ride to northern British Columbia, which took another four hours by car to reach a wilderness lodge where I would work for the rest of the summer. The view was spectacular and I had my own room, so after my long days working with customers and guests, I was able to get a significant amount of writing done. It rained a lot, which fuels my creativity and inspiration.

I ended up revising one of my short stories, Eve and Adam. I was also able to edit and write several more pages of my novel, which is not yet titled. Speaking of which, I really need to work on that!

I found that I was able to focus much of my time on writing when I worked through the day, but on the weeks that I had to work a split shift, I mostly napped because I couldn’t sleep well. I do find that I tend to write better after working during the day. So wherever I end up moving to next, I will do my best to work a day shift so that my writing will not suffer.

How has your writing progressed over the summer?

Writing by Hand

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The feel of your hand sliding across the page as you pen the words birthed from your imagination. Seeing a story handwritten in a notebook is an art in its own way. Watching your ideas and characters form into sentences by your own hand is simply breathtaking.

Writing in a notebook allows you to travel anywhere and sit in the most interesting places that might be awkward if you carried a laptop. Of course, writing on a computer is certainly poetic as well, as writing is writing. But one cannot compare the magic that takes place as the writer pens her or his heart out onto the page as they lean against a tall oak tree or sit upon a rock at the top of a mountain.

Write What You Love

Write what you want to write about. Write about what inspires you. Write about what you think about when you’re walking under the stars or in the rain. Write the story that you have always wanted to tell. Write about the characters that won’t leave your mind.

Then, have the courage to write what you love. Then, re-write it until it works.

Do not worry about its marketability or who will like it. If you like your own work, it’s all that matters. Someone else will treasure it if you treasure it first.

Don’t just write about what you know, write what you love.

I Write Like…

Thanks to Miss Writerlicious for mentioning this most fun site called “I Write Like”. You cut and paste a portion of your writing (At least a few paragrahs from your WIP) to see which author’s writings yours most resemble.

You can give it a try here.

My results show that I write like H.P. Lovecraft.

According to Wikipedia, “Howard Phillips Lovecraft (August 20, 1890 – March 15, 1937) — known as H. P. Lovecraft — was an American author of horror, fantasy and science fiction, especially the subgenre known as weird fiction.”

I am flattered. :) I have no idea how accurate this is supposed to be, but it is interesting that, in my case, I tend to write darker stuff and have always preferred stories with fantasy or horror elements. Cool. And I like to describe myself as weird quite a bit. I will have to purchase some of his books now!

If you choose to try this site out, let me know what results you get. :)

First Person Narrative

For the first time since I have started writing novels, I have made the decision to write one of my books in the first person point of view. Normally, I love writing from multiple points of view – where the story is told from at least four different characters’ perspectives.

Sometimes, first person just works best. I was a little nervous to do this at first, but I think it will be great to try something new and challenging. I say challenging, because it’s going to be different for me to portray the other characters’ personalities and behaviour through just one person’s eyes. Though, I do enjoy reading first person sometimes, because it can give such an intimate portrayal of the protagonist as though you were reading her/his journal.

Interestingly, my current work in progress is a sort of survival tale, much like The Hunger Games, which was also narrated in the first person.

I’d also like to add that one of my favourite bloggers and writers, Lauren Waters, does a fabulous job of writing her books in the first person, because I can imagine everything that is going on around the main character with great detail – from plot events to the other characters. So, first person can certainly be very effective.

So, writers, how about you? Do you ever write in the first person? Do you write in both first and third narrative? Which do you find works the best?

Beta Readers

Before sending your work to a professional editor, I highly recommend having at least two people (fellow writers or avid readers) read over your book and let you know what they thought of it. Editors are amazing at fixing grammatical errors, sentence structure, and some will even comment on things like characters or the flow of the story, but you really need to have a few people give an honest opinion of your story to see if the concept works well.

I have had two beta readers go through my work and they have been absolute life savers. They pointed out some considerable flaws like continuity errors (i.e. forgetting one character dyed their hair and mentioning that they had their previous hue – oops!) and there were some significant historical inaccuracies I had missed, despite research. It would have been so embarassing to have my novel out on the market with such errors. Having two writers go over my work was the best decision.

Something to learn about self publishing: There is no rush.

Take the time to edit and tweak your story line until you are absolutely satsified. Then, edit it again. Have a few people do a peer edit after that and then, when everything makes sense and the details are in order, send it over to the editor.

Do you have a certain number of beta readers go over your story before sending it to an editor? Tell me your thoughts on beta readers. :)