Daily Writing Check-in: May 12, 2019

Words/Time:  2 hours, 32 minutes doing preliminary work for the new outline of “Vin” and a good amount of free writing with prompts.

I continued the character interview with Naolin, which led me to once again question who was the actual protagonist in “Vin.” I went through this while I was planning the story in the first place, before I wrote the first draft for NaNoWriMo in 2017, and in the end, I don’t remember what I decided. Whatever I did decide, I apparently threw out the window when I wrote it, because there’s no clear protagonist or main character in the first draft. But the plot is also very thin, so really, I was just getting the word count.

When I started this character interview a few days ago, I had decided that I wanted Naolin to be the protagonist. After some insight I gained during the writing today, I think Naolin can be the main character, but that Vin is back to being the protagonist.

This decision led me to go back to do research that I also did back in October of 2017, in making sure I understood the difference between a main character and protagonist, so I had them straight in my mind. In the end…I think I do, but to be honest, people differ on which one is which. I think it’s just not that cut and dry overall, but I also think I have an idea of how to move forward.

However, this research led me to have a strong desire to go through all of the Pithea books and make sure that I could identify a “story goal” in each book, as well as the main character, protagonist, and antagonist. So I did just that. It turned out to be very difficult for at least 1 book that I have planned, but maybe that means I need to do a little more work on the structure of that book before I draft it.

I also used 3 different prompts for some writing practice, trying to drum up something for tomorrow’s Monday Moment. I’ve done a lot of writing practice over the last week, comparatively, but it had all been too spoiler-filled. The first two that I did also couldn’t be shared (though to be fair, one of them is because I don’t think it turned out very good, rather than because of spoilers). One last one tonight at 11:30 finally gave me something I can use.

Also, I have learned in the last few months or so that I am what is called an “external processor.” That’s probably the reason that I include so much detail in these posts sometimes.

Daily Writing Check-in: May 4, 2019

Words/Time:  41 minutes doing preliminary work for the new outline of “Vin” as well as some free writing with a prompt.

I’m pretty sure I spent all of this time reading. I did all of this after midnight last night, before I went to bed. And it’s good that I did, because I was gone most of the day today, until about 11:45 pm. And the time I was home, in between things, I had such a headache, I could barely move.

I got through the rest of the story proper, and started into the letters from Vin to a pastor that is probably the only person in the world that he respects. I don’t know if they’re any good, because I couldn’t seem to stop myself from having him be all deep, theological, and introspective, which just came out forced. Even when I stopped myself and started over, trying to have him speak more plainly…it still kept coming back to that. So I don’t know what I’m going to do with that later.

Daily Writing Check-in: May 3, 2019

Words/Time:  3 hours, 42 minutes doing preliminary work for the new outline of “Vin” as well as some free writing with a prompt.

3 hours were spent reading through the first draft of “Vin,” which was written in November of 2017 for NaNoWriMo. I’m now on page 109 out of 137, deep in the climax scene. This time was spent throughout the day, coming back to reading whenever I could, because I just enjoyed it that much.

When I got to my normal writing time in the evening, I decided that with so much time already on the clock for the day, it was a good day to get some writing practice in, so I pulled a prompt. It ended up leading me to a scene that involves a story I have barely even thought about yet–book 3 of the “Pursuit of Power” trilogy*. It actually led to some small ideas for a story that intimidates me, because it’s been in such darkness for so long. It’s invigorating to have some light shed onto it out of nowhere like this.

I also had a crazy, out-of-nowhere idea for the story I’m currently outlining, “Vin,” that solves one big issue I had, and also adds some serious drama and intrigue. After the free writing, I took some time to write that idea down so I didn’t forget it, and then decided that I had plenty of time in for today.

I don’t know if any of these ideas today will make it anywhere, but I’m really enjoying the organic discovery that’s been happening, after weeks of coaxing ideas for “The Seeger Book.” I know both ways of arriving at a story are valid, and it doesn’t make the plot & outline for “The Seeger Book” any less good or worth writing, just because it took more work to shape it to what it is. But the random, out-of-nowhere ideas are just so much more fun and exhilarating. And considering how light on plot “Vin” is, it’s going to take a lot of new ideas to shape it into a story anyway.

*I’m still guessing it’s going to be a trilogy. I haven’t figured out what the 3rd book will entail yet, or if it will be too much for just 1 more book after the 2 I have planned.

Daily Writing Check-in: May 2, 2019

Words/Time:  2 hours, 2 minutes doing preliminary work for the new outline of “Vin.”

I spent that time reading through the first draft of “Vin,” which was written in November of 2017 for NaNoWriMo. I’m now on page 50 out of 142.

I feel a little like I’m cheating, calling this writing work, because it’s super easy to spend a lot of time on it. In fact, after I post this, I may go back and read some more tonight. As I said a few days ago, I really enjoy this book. However, I’m also seeing some major weaknesses in it that I will do my best to write out of it. And I don’t just mean the parts of the story that I know I need to change, but things like one of the main characters being a little…overwhelmingly unhappy and…not exactly whiny, but I can’t think of another word for it.

I did also spend quite a bit of time making some tentative changes to my timeline for all of the Pithea Books. I had to add 2 years before this story, and make sure it worked out okay. It meant seriously extending the time between milestones in a relationship that so far won’t be seen developing in any actual books, but I still want to make sure is worked out. Interestingly enough, I once decided I needed to compress that development…and now I’ve de-compressed it, or at least some of it.

Daily Writing Check-in: May 1, 2019

Words/Time:  1 hour, 2 minutes doing preliminary work for the new outline of “Vin.”

I spent that time reading through the first draft of “Vin,” which was written in November of 2017 for NaNoWriMo. I didn’t get very far though, as I already had to make some notes of things that need to be different, or had to look at my timeline to find out how much time has passed since a certain event in the past. And I found out that it was a lot less time than I had originally been planning. So far, I don’t like that. It just doesn’t give me as much punch where I need it.

Tomorrow I will play with my timeline and see if I can add a few years in there without messing up the delicately balanced timeline for all of the Pithea Books. If only I didn’t have to make my stories intertwine so much…

Daily Writing Check-in: April 30, 2019

Words/Time:  1 hour, 27 minutes doing preliminary work for the new outline of “Vin.”

It’s kind of like deja vu, really. I figured I’d start this task by reading through the entire first draft of the book, which was written in November of 2017 for NaNoWriMo. But somehow, I managed to forget that I hadn’t touched this after the month ended, so it’s still in what I call “NaNo-form.”

Sometimes I’ll spend the first few weeks after November ends doing a quick clean-up of what I wrote–mostly removing things I marked as NaNo fodder and at least doing a quick spell check. This is usually better to do while the story is still fresh, and then it’s good to let it sit for some time. I didn’t do that after NaNo in 2017. Or apparently after NaNo in 2015, because this exact same thing happened when I started on #3 in my long-term writing goals list, when I wanted to start out by reading through the first draft of “The Seeger Book.”

So just like then, I started with a spell-check through the whole story today. That took almost the entire amount of time I worked. Tomorrow, I’ll start reading through the entire story, removing the NaNo fodder as I read.

Unlike with “The Seeger Book,” though, I’m really looking forward to reading through this draft. In the time since I’ve gotten back into my writing again, any time I needed to open up the draft of “Vin” to remind myself of something I wrote there, I ended up getting caught up in reading more than I needed to. Unfortunately, it’s not a solid story, just…fun scenes with some of my favorite characters. So it’s not good enough to stay like it is, but still fun for me to read, at least.

2019-Apr Camp Winner-Facebook-Cover
I am pleasantly surprised to be able to say that I did complete the goal I set for Camp NaNoWriMo this month. The goal was to average 30 minutes of writing work per day. It was dicey for a while, considering how many days I skipped, but I finished today, and even went 20 minutes past. It helps that the work was easy on the brain (spell-checking). It also probably helps to be starting with a fresh story, after spending so long on the last goal.

Daily Writing Check-in: April 29, 2019

Words/Time:  1 hour, 3 minutes finishing the new outline of “The Seeger Book.”

This was a hard-fought task, let me just say. Not only did I go through some intensely difficult times with work that led me to take massive amounts of days off while working on this outline, it was also a very difficult story to pin down.

I am really happy with the way the outline has shaped up, including a small-but-exciting idea that came out of nowhere while outlining the climax. I think it’s going to be a fairly complicated story to draft, but on the other hand…maybe I worked out the complications during outlining.

So that finishes #3 on my list of long-term writing goals. Tomorrow, I will start on #4.

1. Outline “Outcast” – Time spent: 12 days

2. Outline “Unexpectedly” – Time spent: 7 days

3. Re-outline “The Seeger Book” – Time spent: 26 days

4. Re-outline “Vin” – I wrote the first draft of this for NaNoWriMo in 2017. I spent the month before first realizing that this was the story to write that year, then figuring out what on earth this story was going to be about, exactly. I went back and forth on who the protagonist was, who the main character was, and most of all, learning the true motivations behind the title character. In the end, I wrote 69,878 words, but a good majority of it was just the characters telling each other stories about what happened in the past to get them to this place. It was fun and easy for word count, but not exactly a great plot. The plot was weak to start with though, so it needs some more work.

5. Re-outline “Protector”

After how sporadic my writing was this month, and how far behind par for Camp NaNoWriMo I was at one point, I am really surprised that I am only one solid hour (and a few minutes) away from winning. Unless something crazy happens tomorrow, I think I’ll just manage to pull it off.

Daily Writing Check-in: February 22, 2019

Words/Time: 35 minutes working on the outline for “Outcast.”

After working on lining up the 2 storylines of this book in Scrivener for 35 minutes, I realized that it may not be possible to match them up yet. When I wrote the original version of this story, I wrote the storylines separately, and then lined them up afterward, breaking them into chapters at that time.

I’ve seen over the years that other writers can estimate how long their planned scenes will be (by word count), can know in advance where chapter breaks will be, and other things like that. I’ve never been great at any of that. It’s easier to me to just write the full story as it comes and break it up later. I’m putting a hold on trying to line up the storylines now, because I do think it will be a waste of time.

This means that, unless tomorrow reveals something I am not thinking of now, I have completed #1 on my current list of writing goals, and frankly, much more quickly than I expected.

Daily Writing Check-in: February 21, 2019

Words/Time: 1 hour, 19 minutes working on the outline for “Outcast.”

It took some doing, but I finished the outline for the 2nd storyline. I had to hash out a few more questions, mostly about how to get the right people to the final location for the storyline. I also had to go back to previous conversations I’ve had with certain characters to make sure I remembered correctly how the final scene should go.

I also made the mistake of looking up something in “Vin,” which turned into just reading for several minutes. Maybe this sounds strange to be so surprised about, but even though I wrote it during NaNoWriMo, and it needs a lot of work, I have a difficult time pulling myself away from “Vin” if I start to read any part of it.

Tomorrow I plan to start putting the outline into Scrivener, broken into scenes as best as I can plan them, to see how the storylines will match up.

Daily Writing Check-in: February 4, 2019

Words/Time: 34 minutes working on my new list of long-term goals:

1. Outline “Outcast” – I have the very basic skeleton of a plot, but it needs to be outlined anew. This is going to be more than just sitting down and creating an outline, but doing some brainstorming and free writing along the way. Maybe even some character chats. It’s going to take letting go of a story that was my absolute favorite for many years. I’m not even sure when it slipped out of being my favorite, but it probably has something to do with the fact that the fanfiction it was originally written as is so far in the past, and the world I have created is so much more interesting to me now.  It’s going to be difficult and time-consuming, but it needs to be done.

2. Outline “Unexpectedly” – I have a lot less of a plot in mind for this story, but I think it will be easier to outline than Outcast, because there’s not as much there to start with—not as much that needs broken down and rebuilt. While considering where this book could go, I’ve already hit on some new ideas that I’m really excited about.

3. Re-outline “The Seeger Book” – I wrote the first draft of this for NaNoWriMo in 2015. It was the 2nd book I wrote that month, and came in at 43,672 words. It is a murder-mystery, and only the 2nd one I have ever attempted (the 1st murder-mystery I ever wrote was earlier that month, and it really fell flat). It needs some overhauling and almost an entire mid-section, because I jumped from somewhere in the middle to the climax when the end of the month neared and I realized I was out of time to figure out the rest of the plot. I also think I need to re-think the suspects, clues, etc. of the mystery aspect.

4. Re-outline “Vin” – I wrote the first draft of this for NaNoWriMo in 2017. I spent the month before first realizing that this was the story to write that year, then figuring out what on earth this story was going to be about, exactly. I went back and forth on who the protagonist was, who the main character was, and most of all, learning the true motivations behind the title character. In the end, I wrote 69,878 words, but a good majority of it was just the characters telling each other stories about what happened in the past to get them to this place. It was fun and easy for word count, but not exactly a great plot. The plot was weak to start with though, so it needs some more work.

5. Re-outline “Protector” – This is last on the list because I anticipate it needing the least work. It still needs plenty, but it’s got a good starting point. I wrote this for last year’s NaNoWriMo, and it started out as a pure romance, just something fluffy to get me back into writing, since I’d been absent from it (minus NaNoWriMo months) for a few years. But by the end, it had turned into something much more important. However, for it to take its place amongst the other Pithea books, it needs a focus change, because the first half is not driving it toward the 2nd half well enough. So I will re-outline the entire thing with this new plan in mind.

Last time I posted my writing goals, they were short-term goals just to get some necessary, but overall quick work done. This new list is going to take quite a bit longer. Where the last list took about 2 months, I anticipate this one driving my writing work for much of the year. I hope to have #1 done in time for the 1st Camp NaNo session, so I can at least consider writing the first draft of “Outcast” during that month. After that, we’ll see how things progress before I start thinking of what I might be ready to do for the 2nd Camp NaNo this year. Another possibility is that “Outcast” or “Unexpectedly” will be my main NaNoWriMo project this November.

Anyway, back to the list. All of these goals involve outlining. A lot has changed in my plans for my stories in the last few years, and I think no matter what order I write the rest of these stories in, I need to have a decent idea of what’s going to happen in the others to avoid major trouble down the road. I know that outlines aren’t set in stone. I often go far off my outline while writing. But at least if I have outlined these remaining stories, I will have a much better idea of what’s going to happen.

Besides, none of this involves just writing an outline. Even though #1 is the only one that specifically mentions this, outlining on this level is always going to involve first freewriting, brainstorming, talking to characters, asking myself questions to get past plot holes, etc. I should have a pretty good idea of where these stories are headed by the time I’m done.