All posts by defenestratingtheworld

The Stories That Didn’t Make It | House Blog

Whenever a submission call crosses my path, I usually end up with multiple story ideas. This is a good thing, because while some of these ideas work out and get developed into fully-written short stories, others aren’t so lucky.

For Chillers From the Rock, I was about ¾ of the way through a story about a writer selling their soul to the devil, when I realized that I didn’t like it very much and abandoned it. Shortly after that, I had the ideas for The Taste of Copper, based on a story my grandmother told me about living in a remote town in Northern Newfoundland, and The Deal, which came about because I was trying to think of scary concepts and came up with ‘trees’ (so spoooooky!).

My first idea for Flights From the Rock fizzled out after 1.5 pages. I put a lot of work into those pages, but I just wasn’t getting the story I wanted. Even after spending months thinking about it, it wasn’t clear enough. So, I decided to give up and concentrate on a different story.

There are a lot of unfinished stories on my hard-drive. And I mean, A LOT. Continue reading The Stories That Didn’t Make It | House Blog

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Scary Stories for Writers | House Blog

Gather round, writers both young and old, for I am about to tell a tale that will chill you to your very bones…

 

Once upon a time there was a writer who had finished the first draft of her novel. She sent it off to her editor, who returned the novel with some notes. Upon reading these notes, the writer realized that there were three big problem areas that she needed to fix – one at the beginning, one near the middle, and one at the end.

The writer wracked her brain for ways to correct the problems. It required a lot of thought, but eventually she came up with fitting solutions and fixed everything that wasn’t working. After those three changes were made, she started going through the rest of the novel, working her way through other, smaller problems.

A few nights later she realized that she was nearing the end of her editing. Soon she would be finished and the novel could be sent off again. However, when she scrolled down to the bottom of her novel, she realized that something was terribly wrong. Continue reading Scary Stories for Writers | House Blog

4 Ways to Beat the Winter Writing Blahs | House Blog

I don’t know if it’s the darker days or the colder weather, but there’s something about winter that makes me want to crawl under a pile of warm blankets and not emerge until June.

I tend to put off a lot of things during the winter – getting groceries, cleaning, socializing, and sometimes even writing. So, if you’re like me, here are some tips on how to stay productive during those dark and dreary winter months!

Continue reading 4 Ways to Beat the Winter Writing Blahs | House Blog

NaNo Lessons 2018 (So Far) | House Blog

1. Writing every day is good. I’ve been doing a lot of editing lately, so I felt a bit rusty jumping back into novel writing. Pushing myself to write every day is helping get me back in the groove, and I’m finding that I’m more focused on the story as a whole and quicker at solving issues. Even if you can’t write every day, it’s helpful to try to write as often as you can. Just like swimming, if you don’t practice, your skills can get rusty (and you won’t be able to do those cool jump dives from the side of the pool like you used to).

2. It doesn’t matter what you write – WRITE. Some purists may consider it cheating to include writing that isn’t within your novel, but I think that as long as you’re getting words down, it can count. The novel I’m writing is about characters putting on a play, so not only am I writing the novel, but also the play within (I searched for a version online but couldn’t find one). Whenever I hit a brick wall on the novel, I’ll turn around and write the play, so I can stay productive instead of staring at my screen blankly. Sometimes, if I get stuck on both, I’ll do word-sprints to help outline the plot or work through a problem. While these things aren’t necessarily helping the novel’s word-count, it’s still writing and it’s still helpful.

3. Seriously – JUST WRITE. It was only day 2 in NaNo when I decided to pause and write a Kit Sora fiction. Sometimes I get stuck in a project and don’t know where to go next, so I need something else to think about, like an amuse-bouche for my brain. It keeps me writing, and there are so many other things out there to write (like Flying Stories). As a bonus, sometimes while I’m writing something else, my novel will notice that my attention’s elsewhere and get jealous. ‘Remember me? You should get back to me! Here are tons of ideas!

4. Don’t get discouraged if what you write isn’t perfect. This novel is already showing signs of being a good Zero Draft instead of a good First Draft. I’ve got some great scenes and character development, but it’ll need a lot of tightening up. However, instead of going back and trying to make it perfect, I’m writing notes to my future self of what’s needed, before moving on. I won’t finish this novel if I worry about every single word I’ve written, but I will if I keep going forward. As Socrates once said*, It’s better to have a draft that needs work than no draft at all.

5. It’s okay to hold back and wait for inspiration. I find it easier to write when I know what’s coming next or what I want to say. At one point I knew that I wanted to describe a show that was going on, but I didn’t want to write it from my main character’s point of view. So I held off and moved to the next chapter instead of forcing myself to write something I didn’t want to write. Then, that night, I was thinking about the story and I realized exactly who’s point of view I could use. The next day I started writing and SUCCESS! The words came easily and quickly, and the scene was finished in no time.

6. …Just don’t wait too long! Remember that you shouldn’t go too many days without writing. If your inspiration for the next scene isn’t coming along, think of a scene that you want to write and move on to that. If I’m struggling to write something, usually it’s because there’s something off about it. I’ll try to change it, mix it up, or think about it another way. Or cut it out altogether and write something else.

7. There’s still time. November ain’t over yet! Even if you don’t make it to 50,000 words, if you’ve been even the least bit productive, it’s been worth it. And when November ends, it doesn’t mean that you have to stop. Keep on writing! Words forever! Huzzah!

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*Socrates totally did not say that.

NaNoPrepWeek | House Blog

The stars have aligned, Mercury is in retrograde*, and I’m prepping for NaNoWriMo!

I say that because this will be the first year I’ve actually done prep work for a NaNo story – and not ‘I’ve got a character name and an idea’ prep work, I mean ‘names, backgrounds, world-building, and outline’ prep work.

My first NaNo was a ‘fly by the seat of my pants’ affair, and since I managed to hit my word count I figured that this was the way to go. However, that story was also a really rough draft, consisting of many odd ramblings (when I’m desperately trying to hit a certain word count it’s almost like the ghost of Charles Dickens possesses me and I can suddenly spend paragraphs describing a lamp – good for word count, but not for content). The subsequent NaNos either had similar ramblings or failed to meet the word count**.

 

Nano-meme

Continue reading NaNoPrepWeek | House Blog

Trusting Your Brain | House Blog

Sometimes it seems like my brain knows more than it lets on.

Even when I don’t notice, it’s back there – constantly churning out story ideas, thinking about writing projects, and generally working in the background. Not that I’m complaining, mind you.

The thing that amazes me is that I think my brain is smarter than I am.

When I wrote The Six Elemental I was writing about Kit’s journey of coming to terms with being a living mythical being. It was only after I’d gone through my third draft that I realized there was an underlying theme of how outside influences can effect* how a person grows up. There’s a big difference between the person Kit is (growing up on Briton with a Humanist step-father) and the person Kit could have been (with a more accepting influence).

When I wrote The Fifth Queen (still in it’s editing stages), I was writing about a different character’s journey (plus a few familiar ones). After I’d written the first draft I realized that I’d done another parallel theme – this time, about accepting responsibility. One character accepts that they have a duty to uphold, while another character rejects it.

But I’d never thought about that when I was writing the story. That parallel hadn’t crossed my mind once while I was writing. Instead it was something that just happened to appear when I was going through the first draft.

My brain put it there because it’s smart, y’all. Maybe too smart…

So if you’re writing something and you’re not sure where your story’s going or what it’s all about, don’t worry about it. Just keep writing and eventually you’ll figure something out. Sometimes you won’t know until the end of your first draft (or maybe even the fifth), but as long as you’re telling a compelling story with interesting characters, eventually it’ll all become clear.

Trust your brain.

It knows – even if you don’t.

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*It’s too late** for me to care whether effect/affect is right, so this is the word I’m using. I’ll figure out if it’s wrong/right sometime maybe never.

**It’s only 11:54pm AST, so I’m not late! It’s still Sept 18th over here!