Writing Wednesday: Aesthetics

WW

Something that can be helpful and fun during any stage of writing (whether you’re dreaming up ideas, planning a specific story, doing the actual writing, or revising a draft) is creating an aesthetic for the story. Also called a mood board, this can be anything from a collage of images to a collection of words or quotes.

Creating an aesthetic forces you to think of the feelings, themes, or even settings in the story in a broad, boiled-down sense. It can give you the ability to see the story at a glance, and it might show you that you have a lack of focus, or that you’re going a direction you didn’t intend to go. Maybe you’ll realize that everything on your mood board is dark and depressing, but you didn’t intend the story to be so dark. Maybe you’ll realize that a subplot took over the board, and that maybe you’re focusing on it too much, or that it should actually be the main plot. An aesthetic can be shared with others before you even have a synopsis that you can share, if you’re still in earlier stages of writing a story.

There’s really no wrong way to create an aesthetic or mood board. If you’re not sure where to start, try searching for key words related to your book’s themes, feelings, etc. on a site like pexels.com, pixabay.com, or unsplash.com. Gather some images, and then use something like canva.com to put those pictures together in some way.

Remember that the aesthetic doesn’t even have to be all pictures (or any pictures), despite how it might seem to go against the meaning of the word “aesthetic.” Again, there’s no right or wrong here, just a tool to inspire, discover, or boost creativity.

Here are some examples of mood boards, including one that is a board on Pinterest:

Settings that get progressively darker
Steampunk theme
Astronomy theme
Ballet & royal settings
My aesthetic for “Protector”

Do you make aesthetics for your stories? Feel free to share yours, or your own tips for making a mood board!

The Pithea Series

Go here for an explanation for this post.

“Pithea”

This book introduces the island country of Pithea and its citizens’ dependency on Power, as well as their eternal struggle against the Madness. Our narrator, Drear, tells us about his friend Missy and his brother, Naolin, as they attempt to find their places in society, but are met with the harsh realities of life in a series of unlikely events, menacing villains, and both triumph and tragedy. (For a full synopsis, go here.)

Current status: Release date January 10!

Pithea cover, Kindle

“Outcast”

In this book, Drear introduces us to some people who are important to future events, and shows us how they are connected. Natos Morano has been a member of a band of mercenaries known as the Class of Morano since birth. He is faced with a personal crisis, as a woman he’s never met tells him that he is not meant for this life, and forces him to choose between the only family he’s ever known, and his true family that is long gone.

Remiel Azrael finds himself caught between family and his own morality as he attempts to help a woman who is in desperate need. But when her situation turns out to be more dangerous than he realized, he faces a crisis of his own, and is forced to face his demons.

Current status: New outline finished, second draft currently in progress

Outcast

“Pursuit of Power”

Drear introduces us to Alexander Surett, a driven man with a tendency toward obsession if given the right target. In this first book of the trilogy, Alexander’s drive to find out about questionable circumstances surrounding his dad’s death leads him to ignore some of the region’s highest laws, which regulate Power usage. In doing so, he attracts the attention of the leader of the Class of Morano, who wants to recruit him. When he refuses, she takes it personally, and he has to set aside his search for answers about his dad’s death to try to stop this madwoman. The result is all-out war.

Current status: Draft 3 completed, structural changes ahead

Pursuit of Power

“Unexpectedly” *

The small island nation of Pithea has been at peace with its neighbors for hundreds of years. However, when a destructive force rises up from within, the rest of the country has to decide whether to choose sides or remain neutral. What follows is a civil war with a high body count. In this book, Drear tells us about some of the men and women who fought in the battle, on both sides, and the effect the battle had on their lives afterward.

Current status: Outline finished, first draft pending

Unexpectedly

“The Seeger Book”

Jonathan has been given an amazing gift in the form of exclusive access to a highly desired instruction manual written by a master blade smith. When it comes to light that someone has been making copies of the priceless book, tensions rise between Jonathan and the friend who owns the book. The mystery deepens with the death of someone involves, and Jonathan becomes the prime suspect. Drear shares this tale of intrigue in which no one is who they seem to be, and years of trust will be shattered.

Current status: New outline completed for re-draft

The Seeger Book

“Vin”

There was a time when Missy was plagued by mysterious men who seemed to wish her harm. They spoke to her as if they knew her, and seemed to be connected in some way, but she had no idea how. In this culmination of smaller events from previous books, Drear tells us of the shocking events around the revelation of the mystery that these men created around themselves. He shares glimpses into the mind of a dark, twisted, lost soul, and the final outcome won’t be what anyone expected.

Current status: New outline completed for re-draft

Vin

“Protector” *

Drear takes us outside of Pithea and the union of nations it belongs to for the first time. Altmoor is a country that has never even heard of the Power, and certainly does not use it in any way. Altmoor and its king are entrenched in a centuries-long war with their northern neighbor, but suddenly learn that there is much more to fear than a mere border feud. When a single man wreaks havoc on the entire region with a sorcery that they cannot combat with swords and bows, it draws the attention of powerful people in Pithea who offer to help, but also open their eyes to a whole new world.

Current status: First draft done, at least first half will need rewritten (purpose of story changed by the end of the book)

Protector

“Ophaela”

The king of Altmoor has the daunting task of trying to bring peace to his region while rooting out the rogue faction that has kept the war going for hundreds of years. Even more difficult will be convincing his people–and himself–that their long-time enemy may not be the devils they always thought.

Current status: First draft finished

*All titles are subject to change up to publication, but this specifically a working title.

Daily Writing Check-in: February 3, 2019

Words/Time: 2 hours, 35 minutes working on various things in preparation of creating a new list of short term goals. I worked on a post that will go up tomorrow, details my 7 works in progress that all connect, and editing or creating mood boards for them. I also spent a decent amount of that time trying to decide the order in which 3 of those books should be released.

Several months ago I created a grid in Excel where I listed each story across the top, and along the side, and in the box where 2 stories met, I wrote out any ways that one story could spoil the other. Though I know not everyone reads books in order, I can at least make sure that, for those who do, the order avoids spoiling the things that are most important to each book.

However, 3 of these books are a bit too interconnected, and I’m not sure there’s going to be any way for them to completely avoid spoiling some things. So I have to decide what order would cause the least amount of spoilers for the biggest events or reveals. I’m settled on an order for now, though I’ll admit that the one of these 3 that comes first is a little strange, but I’m leaving it for now.

Daily Writing Check-in: October 21, 2017

Words/Time: 2 hours

As I try to work my way back to a daily writing habit while working a demanding job, I had to come to a decision to not push myself if I didn’t have time or mental energy to do much writing work. I read a blog post that talked about finding ways to keep the mind in the writing, even when you can’t spend much time on it. I realized that the best way to avoid dropping back off again, or experiencing frustration or guilt over not doing any work, was to allow myself to do anything that kept my mind in the stories as my writing work for the day, even if it wasn’t strictly writing (or planning, revising, etc).

Yesterday I felt a little odd about saying that the work I did for the day was creating aesthetics for stories that I’ve already written at least a partial draft of. But after a long week of a lot of working and a lot of leaving the house for work (I normally work from home as much as I can, and as a major introvert, leaving the house to go somewhere 5 days of the week, and knowing there’s a lot more of that coming next week, has worn me down), I just couldn’t get my mind back into the writing. So I worked on those aesthetics some more, and finished them. That’s what I did for 2 hours today.

Tomorrow I will hopefully be rested enough to get back to my outline, or at least more character discovery for the protagonist in my NaNoNovel.


For anyone out there who is participating in NaNoWriMo, feel free to check out my series of tips and tricks for the month, and also to add me as a writing buddy! (Let me know you came from here, and I’ll add you back!)

Daily Writing Check-in: October 20, 2017

Words/Time: undefinable amount of work done

So first, I did spend about 12 minutes talking through my issues with the outline for “Vin” (my NaNoNovel) that I started yesterday. It started with just expressing my frustrations to my husband, and then I think I worked out some of the problem. So it counts!

Last night, or rather early this morning, I stayed up way too late working on a project that came to me unexpectedly and sort of took over my attention for several hours.

I recently decided that at some point soon (maybe before NaNo…maybe after) I want to write up a post that attempts to explain the tangled mess of stories I’m working on. I have 6 storylines in mind that are all in the same story world, contain the same characters in varying roles, and largely all happen around the same time, and intertwine in various ways. There will probably be more than 6, but there are 6 that are developed enough to mention.

I don’t know how well I can explain this without giving spoilers, but I’m going to try. Last night/this morning, I got it in my mind to come up with an aesthetic for all of them, to add to that post. I made one last week for my NaNoNovel, and it’s the first time I’ve ever created something like that. I enjoyed it, and even enjoyed the way it made me think about the themes or visual aspects of my story. So I started looking for images for each of the other 5 storylines that I plan to post about. Here’s a sneak peek at one of them:

Pithea cropped

Yes, I’d rather be able to say I did some work on my outline, or even some more writing practice. But I didn’t get home from work until around 10:30 this evening, and I still had to eat supper. It’s been a rough week at work (lots of evening meetings), and I already told myself I wouldn’t push it if work was causing issues with getting to my writing. Making some visual representations of my stories is fun and still in the spirit of writing work, so I’m counting it.


For anyone out there who is participating in NaNoWriMo, feel free to check out my series of tips and tricks for the month, and also to add me as a writing buddy! (Let me know you came from here, and I’ll add you back!)

Beautiful Books 2017

bb-redone

If you don’t know what “Beautiful Books” is, click the above picture to find out! It’s a wonderful place, and if you’re a writer, it might just inspire you.

1. What inspired the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea?
It has been a long time coming. The inspiration (which feels more like necessity than inspiration) came from the adaptation of some old fanfiction of mine to a new, from-scratch story world. Some of the things that made sense in the fanfiction couldn’t be explained naturally and organically in the closer-to-real-life story world, and so the need for a very powerful, over-arching villain came to be.

I have a vast, intricate plan of up to (so far) 7 books that all take place in the same story world, in a smallish period of time, and with some of the same characters. This story, which encompasses most of the others, was always out there, but I figured it’d be one of the last story arcs in my list that I would get to writing. I think that was simply because I was scared of it. Until I committed to writing this story, and outlined it, gave Vin a real life, I didn’t have to think about what he was actually up to. But the truth is, I should have done this story years ago, because some of the other books hinge on this one, and if something in another story that involves Vin doesn’t actually work in his story, that affects the other book. And what if I’ve published it, and it’s out there now? I’m not really interested in doing the whole ret-con thing.

So that’s why it’s time to write this story this year.

2. Describe what your novel is about!

Vin cover

Novel title: Vin

I haven’t done nearly enough planning yet (just decided to write this 2 days ago), so all of this is subject to change.

First, you should know that this story takes place approximately 2000 years in the future. That part is not subject to change.

The story will show the inner workings of an obsessed man as he tries to become perfect—just like his father always wanted him to be. In his quest for perfection, he stumbles across a way to become incredibly, dangerously, illegally powerful—more powerful than anyone in his country, his region, and presumably, the world.

Then he learns about two men who have joined together to defeat a beast that was thought unbeatable, and he realizes that as he pursues perfection in the form of ultimate power, these self-righteous men might decide to oppose him. He decides that the first thing he must do is find a way to keep that from happening.

A subplot (how sub this plot will be, I don’t know yet) involves a man who had just begun to find happiness in a life tinged with tragedy and loneliness, who suddenly finds that everything he cared about has been stripped away.

3. What is your book’s aesthetic? Use words or photos or whatever you like!

Vin moodboard

4. Introduce us to each of your characters!
Vin – He’s not trying to take over the world; he only wants to find some peace. His father died before Vin could reach the level of perfection that the older man wanted from his son, but his continued striving quickly reaches the point of obsession.

Naolin – He never expected to find “normal” in his life, but since he did, he certainly hoped to keep it. Now that he’s lost it, the loneliness feels familiar…almost comfortable. But maybe…just maybe, it doesn’t have to last.

Missy – It turns out that being stalked by a madman, who she is just learning had his hand in more events in her life than she could have realized, was just the beginning of her problem. She’s still recovering from a recent upheaval in her life, and the last thing she needs is to have her first love show back up after five years and leave her feeling guilty about moving on with her life.

Drear – He is Naolin’s brother, and the narrator of the book. Though truthfully, he is not present for most of these events, he has compiled interviews, letters, journals, and anything else he can, to find the truth behind these events and to present them to the reader.

5. How do you prepare to write? (Outline, research, stocking up on chocolate, howling, etc.?)
Things like this, for one thing. Until 2 days ago, I still didn’t know what I was going to write. When I started thinking about doing this story, I wasn’t sold right away. I had some free time while waiting for a meeting to start at work, and decided to delve a little into the mind of one of the primary characters (Vin) to see if I could come up with motives for what he ultimately does, other than, “Because he has to.”

By the time I had finished that mere 500-word exercise, I had his main motivation (his dad driving him to be perfect). But it’s still a very shallow understanding of this man who, most likely, will drive the plot.

So I’ve filled out this questionnaire in the hopes of discovering more about this story. I’ll do free writing with Vin and the overall story in mind. I will possibly answer other question lists like this one, even if I do end up skipping some questions because they just don’t make sense for my character(s).

Even though we’re only 3 weeks away from November 1st, I’m still very much in the discovery period of this story, which is not where I need to be when NaNo starts. But I will do freewriting and brainstorming, fill out my timeline, and just…discover.

And then sometime during the last week of October, I’ll make an outline.

6. What are you most looking forward to about this novel?
I am most looking forward to being able to work with Naolin again. He’s far too important of a character in my mind to have been in only one book so far.

7. List 3 things about your novel’s setting.
Graveyards, underground lair, city streets

8. What’s your character’s goal and who (or what) stands in the way?
His goal is to reach perfection, and one single little girl stands in his way, albeit indirectly.

9. How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel?
It doesn’t take long before “perfection” morphs into “power.” He then has to do away with any threats to his power, a goal that he is still able to justify. But by the end of the story, his obsession has turned into a pure hatred for his nemesis, and then the only thing he cares about is destroying her life.

10. What are your book’s themes? How do you want readers to feel when the story is over?
There’s a major good vs. evil theme in my story. It is going to be a dark book in many ways. I want readers to feel shocked, amazed, maybe even confused?  (I’m really not good with themes, whether in my own writing or in others’.)


For anyone out there who is participating in NaNoWriMo, feel free to check out my series of tips and tricks for the month, and also to add me as a writing buddy! (Let me know you came from here, and I’ll add you back!)

Daily Writing Check-in: October 10, 2017

Words/Time: 104 words written and 1 hour, 27 minutes worked

I finished the little bit of writing about a possible primary character for a possible NaNoNovel, because I didn’t want to leave it hanging.

Then I decided to try my hand at making a mood board of sorts. I’ve never done anything like this before, outside of designing the icon for my story blog and, in a similar vein, the working cover for “Pithea.” I am not much for visual arts overall. But I thought it would help to solidify this story as what I wanted to write for NaNo, and it did. So I spent almost an hour and a half finding pictures, and then building this fancy layout. I also created a cover for the NaNo site, which I’ll post more about tomorrow. Again, I’m not much of a visual creator, so keep that in mind. It’s more about the themes, moods, and actions this board brings about:

Vin moodboard


For anyone out there who is participating in NaNoWriMo, feel free to check out my series of tips and tricks for the month, and also to add me as a writing buddy! (Let me know you came from here, and I’ll add you back!)