Working towards the Goal

This week has been full of headaches and too much drama. Valentine’s Day was nice. I stayed home and played WoW (World of Warcraft) with my fiancé. Granted, running D&D campaigns has been a good hobby and a stress reliever. Playing Savage Worlds (ETU) has also been great too. Come to think of it, I have a lot of things to be thankful for. I just need to remember that there’s more good than bad.

Speaking of good, I learned something very useful. While it is a little embarrassing to say this, I will say it anyways. I finally learned how to make an em dash in Word while only using my keyboard (CTRL+ALT+ -). Somehow, I feel like I should have known this shortcut but didn’t. At least, now I know.

I have also been going through Sarah’s edits of the 8k words I sent her, and it’s been very helpful. One of my goals this year is to send Clan of Ash agents by the summer. While I have more agents to research, I’m looking forward to it.

The rewrite of Crimson Queen is going well. There’s a scene that can go in two different directions and I think I made my decision. I’m going with the easier approach as to why my main character is alive and nobody knows about this. Plus, this approach also adds to the conflict later on and the risk factor goes up. There’s always a present danger of my main character being found out.

While I still have a lot to do, I’m steadily working towards my goal even if it’s a little bit at a time.

 

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Making your Reader Care

“Why should I care about the main character?”

This is a comment I received a few weeks ago on one of my stories. It was for Clan of Ash to be precise. For a while, and even now, the comment still lingers in the back of my head. I’ve read plenty of articles and blogs, over the years, on tips/advice/questions on how to make your readers care. A few of these were:

-Don’t make your character perfect. He/she needs a flaw.

-Make them relatable.

-What does your character want?

-What are the obstacles?

-Is he/she an underdog?

Even then, I never thought that I would be asked that question (why should I care?) It took me by surprised and left me reeling. I’d thought it was clear. But if I really think about it, maybe, I wasn’t as clear as I thought. It was clear to me but not the reader. I set up my main character with an impossible task and he grits his teeth and does because otherwise, they’ll kill him.

One of the most important things I came to realize is, it’s a process. Sure, hooking your readers and making a likable/relatable character at eh beginning is important. However, you have to keep “working” on your character throughout the story. Make your readers worry about them. Make them root for them.

There’s no ‘one way’ to do this. I remember some articles talked about having tension and conflict, twist and turns, in your story helps develop your character. It does and that way, readers see your characters struggle against the odds/ obstacles in order to reach their goal.

The key word is struggle. Nothing in life is ever easy or simple. Characters in stories shouldn’t have it easy. Otherwise, what’s the point of having the story? There would be no story. In essence, that’s what I need to keep in mind. I need to present the problem to the readers and have them “watch” the character try to resolve this problem.

As mentioned above, there’s no clear way to do this. There’s no ‘how-to’ or step-by-step guide. Sometimes, you wing it and try to have it all made sense. Luckily, there are beta readers out there that can point all the stuff you missed.

 

Starting the New Year

2018 has started out to be very productive. I have finished my first book of the year called Vampire Hunter D, Vol. 1 by Hideyuki Kikuchi. Now, on to Vol. 2 which I have to find somewhere in my closet. It’s a series that I’ve been meaning on reading for a while now and I hadn’t been able to find any of the paperbacks for until only recently.

Each day has been filled with productivity and I won’t think about how my motivation might diminish in the future. Instead, I’ll focus on the now and worry about all that later. There are a few changes I wanted to implement in my writing routine. I don’t it’s anything drastic so to speak. This week, I’ll start off with including a scene I wrote for the prompt: “Do you remember the first time we met?” he asked.

“Do you remember the first time we met?” he asked.

“No,” she replied icily.

His face contorted in pain. “Casey,” he began.

Casey turned her body away from him. She focused on the breeze pulling at her braid and on the darkening clouds overhead. A few families were speckled throughout the park. The sings squeaked with every push and the children’s laughter reached Casey’s ears.

Of course, she remembered when they first met. It had been a day much like today. The only difference was that it was raining. She was practicing for a marathon and he was riding his bike without his glasses. Their meeting started with a trip to the emergency center. Casey took a deep breath distancing herself from those memories.

“What do you want?” she asked bluntly. “After all this time you call me and want to speak. What do you want?”

She twisted around, resting her back against the uncomfortable bench. Her arms were crossed. Jonathon reached toward her but stopped.

“Why do you think I want something?”

Casey clenched her jaw. Her gaze was focused on the dancing blades of grass in front of her. “Because you’re the type of person who uses people and discards them like trash.”

“You don’t know me.” Jonathon’s voice was low.

Casey smirked. “I date you for almost two years,” she said softly. “Trust me. I know you.”

“Why are you making this difficult?” Jonathan suddenly cried. “I just wanted to talk.”

His words reawakened a long-buried anger. Casey swirled around. “Oh, so now you want to talk,” she spat. She stood. “You didn’t want to speak when it actually mattered. When a simple explanation sufficed. You’re unbelievable.”

Jonathan jumped up. “What was I supposed to do? You didn’t want to tell me –”

“It was none of your business,” she interjected.

“You were my girlfriend!”

“Because that actually mattered back then,” Casey retorted. Her hands clenched. “I was only your girlfriend when it was convenient for you.”

“What was I supposed to think when you disappear for days with another guy? There were pictures Casey. Was I supposed to ignore that?”

Casey’s chin trembled. “You were supposed to trust me.”

That’s what I have so far. I might expand this a little more once I figure out enough details. Mostly, I was making things up as I went. In my humble opinion, I don’t think it’s a bad start.

2017 in Review

While the year hasn’t exactly ended, 2017 is coming to an end. Looking back at it, it’s been a crazy year both professionally and personally. A lot of good things have happened and a lot of bad things have also happened.

I completed two NaNoWriMos this year in July and November. There some personal issues that I had to take care of. There’s always some good with the bad. I think it was all balanced out. While my novel wasn’t picked up, I still haven’t lost hope. There are other projects that I can work on and it’s not like I can’t take a break. Options are available.

On top of it all, I’m going to start a new career in my day job. I still want to make a living from my writing but I’m very aware that, that won’t happen so soon. Because of this, I actually plan to get my teaching certification through an alternative certification program. This also means that I have to go back to school for a year or two but, in the long run, that doesn’t seem too bad. I already survived a four-year college experience. I’m sure I can get through two years of school.

As 2017 comes to an end, my goal of getting published wasn’t accomplished. I’m a bit sad about that but I believe there is a reason why stuff happens and this year, just wasn’t meant to be. There are others years as well. While, I might have to think about retiring the book, I can keep that train of thought in the back of my mind for now.

I won’t be posting anything else for the rest of the year. I’ll be picking up blogging again in January.

For now,

bye and Happy Holidays!

 

 

 

Writing the Muddle

We’ve reached the second week of November which also makes it the second week of NaNoWriMo. So far, I have met my daily writing goals every day. I must admit there were times when I was typing up words just to increase my word count when a few words sufficed. Needless to say, Clan of Blood (the current title) is going to have a lot of edits.

Currently, I have written past any scenes that I had planned out before hand. There are two events that I know I can write next. However, I’m not entirely sure what’s going to happen after those two scenes. A part of me feels like I’m dragging this story out because I’m more focused on the word count than the actual plot. Yet, another part reminds me that there’s still plenty of days and words left to finish writing Clan of Blood.

While writing the entire book is my goal for this NaNoWriMo, I’m not going to force myself on this path. I don’t want to restrict myself on adding anything or skipping over a scene because I’m only focusing on the end – that I need to reach the end of the novel by November 30th.

As I write this, I realize that I’m having trouble writing the middle. Or how I’ve heard it referred to ‘the muddle’.  I find the middle hard to write. Maybe it’s because the plot isn’t quite working or I haven’t planned it out correctly. Or maybe it’s got nothing to do with any of that. I’m having trouble mostly because the ending isn’t clear to me just yet. Granted, I haven’t really thought about it and that should be (and is) the next step for me.

However, I’ve written other novels, and with those, I’ve learned a few tricks. I tend to ask myself. ‘How can I make the characters struggle a bit more?’ I can’t make it too easy because otherwise there wouldn’t be interesting. Life is a struggle even on the page.

I also think about how to raise the tension which also comes hand in hand with conflict. With dynamic characters that have opposite goals and/or contradicting view points, having conflict isn’t that difficult. One person wants to use the amulet to seal a demon portal. The other person wants to use the amulet to remove a curse and the amulet only has one usage.

The middle could also be used to add subplots, include obstacles, etc. The one thing that I tend to keep in mind is how to get to the end. I want the scenes in the book to matter. They have to all lead to the end. Even though they may twist and turn, everything must count because what’s the use of adding something if it doesn’t play into the story? Every scene has to move the story forward. Otherwise, the story stops and it doesn’t go anywhere. I like to avoid that at all cost. If I’m not interested in writing and it gets boring for me then why would my readers want to read it? At least, that’s what I think.

And ultimately, it’s a rough draft. It can be a very rough first draft and that’s okay. Things can be changed later, they can be deleted, other things can be added, that’s the beauty (and horror) of editing. Just write. And worry about everything else later.