Project Update: Chapter 8 already?!

Originally – I had started a writing project, intending to write about 1000 words per week on it, giving me a workable story line of about 52,000 words by the end of the year. It took me a month to get started, but then – when I got into it, the story flowed – as did the words.

Now, I’m standing on Chapter 8 with about 37,000 words under my belt. Needless to say – I’m pretty pleased with myself, especially if you take into consideration that I had to rewrite about half of it (okay, so I’m not so proud with the rewrite…). I’m well ahead of schedule and, I feel that I’m making progress. I’ve come to realize that I have a very specific style when it comes to writing my own stuff. I’ve also realized how important it is to do proper character development.

And, I have to start planning. I’m starting to wonder if my heroine already has everything at her disposal that she needs – without my dialogue becoming too narrative. I don’t like narrative dialogue.

It’s about finding balance, not just in my story – but in my life as well. I have steadily incorporated working on this with my job.

It feels good, even though it now feels a bit like work. Good work though – so I can’t complain. And, work for myself, so technically I’m my own boss in this… 😉 Which is what the network marketing people from the week before last wanted me to be.

So, I’m pleased with my progress and pleased with that of my heroine. I’m starting to learn a little bit more about her and of those people around her. J The most exciting knowledge?

There’s most probably more than 3x the amount of chapters till to come…

Return to the Rhythm

A recurring topic of mine is how it is very important for one to understand one’s rhythm in writing, that you should never compare your own writing pace and style to other people’s because it is all unique.

I’d like to explore this topic further today by saying that you must also understand that your own rhythm will vary depending on which story you write.

I’m working on three major stories at the moment, the first one is what I have called “The Project” which is my own piece of original writing that I’m working on in the blind hope that one day it might get published. The other two projects are fan-fiction series, one called The Darkest Hour which is a saga length look at one young woman’s life and the other is the epilogue to my “Touch” series which is a very popular Kim Possible fan fiction story which essentially takes a look at how one even can change a person’s life.

Each of these stories are very unique, the flow, feeling and tension is each is different and I’ve discovered that the pace on which I write with each is different as well. With The Darkest Hour for instance, I’m working with characters that I’ve known for years, so it’s easy to work out dialogue, pace and plot. I can easily write 2000 words in an hour and finish a chapter in a day or two. With my personal project, it’s a little bit different. I can write fairly quickly but I tend to return to my work a lot, looking at my actions, trying to guess how it will affect my Main Character’s lives. And, then of course – I have the Epilogue (A Touch of Drama). Here, every sentence that I write is so important, and every action so agonizing for the characters (I have not been nice to them) that I can easily spend two hours to write 200 words. At first, I had been devastated by this, and I couldn’t believe that I can take so long at writing something, when I’m essentially a very quick writer.

I then realized that it all comes down to rhythm and that each of these stories deserved their own time and their own pace. And, as the writer, it was my right to take as much time on them as I wished, as long as I continued to move forward rather than letting them stagnate (Epic Fail – See my fan fiction story Children of Darkness – that’s what happens if a story fails. Sigh).

The thing is also that if you try to force another story’s rhythm onto another one, you tend to force the story and force the plot and that’s the quickest way to loose track of where you want to go. And, if you loose track of where you were going, your readers will pick it up because they are smarter than you think. I learned this the hard way a couple of years ago and it was an excellent lesson.

So, if you are a writer out there – remember this. Not only is your rhythm of writing important, but also understanding the rhythm of each individual story. Like people and children, they are all unique and each of them deserves their own attention.


The Project: Word count

After an initial bad (or false, depending on how you look at it) my project – in which I’ve decided to try and write my own original story – is moving forward again. I’ve edited the first 4 chapters (all approximately 4000 words in length) and took out the scenes which had been bugging me. In doing so, I did lose a couple of dialogue pieces which I’m sorry about – but I’ve put them in my note book and hope to work them in again at one point or another. My total word count for the story now stands on just over 27,000 words. Considering that I had aimed to write 1000 a week (giving me a total of 52000 for the year) I’m pretty pleased with myself. Now, don’t think that I’m halfway – no. This baby is only getting started.

I use word count as a measure of how my story is flowing and where I am approximately. Couple of months ago, I spoke about using the Blake Snyder Beat Sheet. It’s mostly aimed at screen writing, but I’ve modified it for my own uses (after having a lot of success with it in Script Frenzy 2010). It helps me to establish whether I’m slow with my plot or whether I’m bombarding the reader with it too quickly. Also, you need a good framework on which to build your story and I feel that this beat sheet is it. I won’t be able to completely measure this until I’ve completed my story but it’s a good place to start.

While I was debating about word count, I thought to google some popular works and discovered this great web page. It gives the breakdown of a lot of famous works’ word count. Naturally (and to my pleasure), fantasy word count rules. I like to measure (and imagine) my own works against these – so that I can establish how thick a book I’ll write one day. 😉
For interest, I’ve archived over 680,000 words on my FanFiction.Net account. Which means that I’ve written more than Tolkien did on Lord of the Rings. 😛 I’m not saying my work is as impressive as his, but it’s something to think about when I look at the words on my book case. For your amusement, here are some of the well known numbers that I’ve found:

Lord of the Rings – J. R. R. Tolkien (revised to be in line with the rest)

The Fellowship of the Ring: 187k
The Two Towers: 155k
The Return of the King: 131k

Total: 473k

Wheel of Time – Robert Jordan

The Eye of the World: 305k
The Great Hunt: 267k
The Dragon Reborn: 251k
The Shadow Rising: 393k
The Fires of Heaven: 354k
Lord of Chaos: 389k
A Crown of Swords: 295k
The Path of Daggers: 226k
Winter’s Heart: 238k
Crossroads of Twilight: 271k
Knife of Dreams: 315k

Total: 3M 304k

A Song of Ice And Fire – George R. R. Martin

A Game of Thrones: 284k
A Clash of kings: 326k
A Storm of Swords: 404k
A Feast for Crows: 300k

Total: 1M 314k

Know Your Character

As I’ve said before, I’m working on my own personal project at the moment.

I’ve been thinking about this story for almost 4 years now, the characters, the milieu and the main plot. I’ve done well in writing, coming up to about 25,000 words in 3 weeks when quite suddenly, I hit a standstill. I reread some of my chapters and realized that the character had responded all wrong. Also, it had pushed an interaction with another character that I didn’t want, and cut out the importance of the character that I actually needed the main role to be.

This was all very well and exciting at first but then I realized the reason this had happened was because I didn’t have the character act in the situation as she rightfully should’ve. I went out of character and had her become something her set (and needed) personality wouldn’t allow. This was why I got stuck.

Couple of months ago (ee gad, more than a year), I spoke about how it is very important to make sure that your character isn’t a Mary-Sue and I’d like to expand on that idea by saying that you have to make sure who your character is. This week, I read a post from Kim Harrison which briefly mentioned the myers/briggs personality test and, on impulse, I went and googled it.

It’s opened up a whole new world of character development for me and, as I had submitted my characters to the Mary-Sue test, I’m now going to submit them all to this test I found on the web so that I can correctly judge their course of action and behavior. (I took it myself and the result was very interesting!)

The thing is that the best stories’ characters are believable and I think that my most disappointing moments in books happened when a character did something which I felt was completely (and I mean completely) out of character. It crushes the reader and makes it less believable.

And to me, writing a story that is believable – with real emotions and responses, is the most important focus.

So, I’d suggest that you take these tests and spend some time developing not only your main characters, but your side characters as well and try to understand how they would interact with each other.

So far, it’s working for me.


The Project and Procrastination

I feel a little as if I’ve been through a tumble drier of late. So far, January’s been a crazy month. I’ve had a lot to do at work, more so than usual and a lot more admin work which is my death and I’ve had my 5 month evaluation on which the decision will be made on whether I’ll be re-employed again or not. It wasn’t bad as evaluations went, but I still hate being weighed and measured.
My work is stressful, even though on a day to day basis I don’t work as hard as someone who spends all their time sitting in front of their computer. I only see about four to three clients a day but it’s draining and the distances that I have to cover to get to them is murderous, espesually with the amount of rain that we’ve been getting.
I’m not complaining naturally, I remember very well where I come from and ‘the waitress days’ are never far from my mind.
But, I’m tried and it’s taking its toll on my writing.
The Project has taken a stumble. I feel like someone who’s just let a whole bunch of fishing line fall down and roll away from them. I’ll have to go back about 9000 words to try and fix what I messed up. I’m not a happy camper, but it’s all about learning isn’t it?
Meanwhile, I’ve become totally addicted to Cyanide and Happiness comics. I’ve already read over 1000 of them.
This one in particular is one of my favorites.
Procrastination is great.