Tag Archives: House Blog

NaNoWriMo Round 6!

Over the past 7+ years, I’ve NaNo’d 6 times. Some times I’ve been successful, some times I haven’t, and one time I failed so spectacularly that I’m almost proud.

Below are some observations I’ve made & lessons I’ve learned:

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Year 1 – 2010

Project Type: New Novel

Project Info: A werewolf-type story

Final Word Count: 52,000

For this one, I started a brand new story on November 1. I think I did a rough outline beforehand, but mostly just character sketches and a very loose plot. After 2 weeks I hit the wall hard, but a few days later I managed to push past it. I ended up reaching a conclusion around the 40,000 mark and thought I was going to fail this task, but then I thought of a way to make the story longer and managed to get over 50,000 words. I also wrote a really cool back-story scene that I’m super happy with.

This was my first year, and I consider it my most successful so far. I was working 2 jobs and rehearsing 2 plays, so I have no idea how I managed to do it. (Actually, that’s a lie – I’m editing that story now and there’s a lot of nonsensical rambling that needs to be cut down – but there’s also some great stuff that I got from the aforementioned rambling. Swings and roundabouts, my friends.)

Aside from being super determined to rock my first year, I learned how to push myself and that I could actually finish a story. It taught me that I could write a full-length novel in less than 3 years. As someone who had trouble focusing on one single project, it was a great confidence boost. Continue reading NaNoWriMo Round 6!

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FREE eBook – Unexpected Stories by Labonté & House!

Five amazing short stories from the talented minds of both Amanda Labonté and Ali House, featuring daring new YA fantasy fiction, links to The Segment Delta Archives, and the enchanting world of Call of the Sea!

 

Unexpected Stories
Amanda Labonté & Ali House

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Purchase (eBook):
ePub
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Mobi

 

Title Information:

Release Date: October 2017
Status: Available
Book Type: EBook
Cover Price: FREE with Mailing List Signup!
Page Count: 31

Related Titles

Call of the Sea, Amanda Labonte, cover The Six Elemental, cover, Ali House Fantasy from the Rock, cover

Reviews

How I “Outline”

(Spoiler Alert: not very well)

A writer I know recently shared the outline for her last book and I was amazed at how elegant and organized it was.  The whole format was really simple and clear – Chapter 1: this happens, Chapter 2: this happens, etc.  I wondered if this was something that could work for me.

Then I realized that I don’t actually do outlines.  When I’m writing a story, I generally have a bunch of vague ideas and scenes floating around in my head.  They usually don’t get put on paper until I’m actually writing the scene, or if I’m “thinking with my pen”*.  There are no charts, no graphs, not even a list**.  It’s kind-of a mess. Continue reading How I “Outline”

The End is Near! Sort-Of…

At one of the panels for Avalon Expo, someone asked “How do you know when to end a story?”

I can’t remember exactly what I said, but I’ve had time to think about it and I thought I’d share some of my current musings. This is especially relevant since the big project I’m working on has spun so far out of control that I have no idea how it’s going to end…  Or if

Honestly, this advice is for me as much as you.

*

So, how do I know when to end a story?

Short answer: Mostly intuition.

Long answer: There are a few ways…

  1. I’ve written the ending first.

Usually I know the end before I even start writing. Most of my short stories start out with that final moment, and then I just have to figure out what happens to bring me to that point.  It happened with The Gemini ProjectThe Invisible Boy; and the two horror stories I’m currently working on.

There were a few times where, when I got to the end of a longer story, I realized that the original idea no longer fit and it was going towards a new ending. But that’s not a bad thing – stories change, it happens. Sometimes you plan on killing all of your characters but a few of them end up surviving somehow. But then you write the final line (for the new ending) and you think to yourself “Yeah, that’s a fantastic ending line”. And all is right with the world again.

  1. I’ve written a really good end-line.

I love a good ending line as much as I love a good opening line. In fact, if I write a so-so ending line it bothers me to no end, because I know it can be better. It’s like looking at a row of pencils that aren’t quite perfectly in line….

Some examples are: Virginia Wolfe’s To the Lighthouse: “Yes, she thought, laying down her brush in extreme fatigue, I have had my vision.” And George Orwell’s 1984:He loved Big Brother.” There’s something about those lines that are so final and yet mean so much more.

  1. The story I wanted to tell is over.

Once I wanted a project to have 25 chapters (for symbolic purposes), but when I reached the end of chapter 22 I realized that I was done. My character’s journey had ended. I’d said all I wanted to say about this particular story, and to write any more would do a disservice to the fantastic ending scene I’d just written. Yes, I wanted to continue with these characters, but I knew that it would be best to start a new plot, with new themes and ideas, instead of dragging this one out.

The Hobbit ends when Bilbo returns home; The Fellowship of the Rings ends with the breaking of the fellowship; Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone ends when Harry’s school term ends.  Even though their stories continue, their current task has ended and it’s time to take a breather before the next adventure.

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Typically, when I plan my ending, I try to resolve matters – either for better or worse. I don’t like leaving huge plot holes or dangling plot threads. It’s fun to have hints and intrigue and something to look forward to, but I’m not happy when the ending to a book is more like the ending to a chapter (yes, there’s a difference – As Fierce As Steel left me wanting more, while Mindspeak made me regret the time I’d spent reading it).

When in doubt, I think of who’s journey this is. Then I try to find a way to bring them to the end point – to let the character finally achieve their goal, or fail horribly, or realize that they need to change their way of thinking.

Originally, I had no idea how to end The Six Elemental. I tried to resolve what I could, while leaving certain things unsaid, but the end just didn’t feel end-y enough.  Finally I thought about Kit’s journey and how she had changed over the course of the story.  I thought about what I was trying to say with this story and made that the ending, so when people close the book that’s the impression they’re left with.

*

And with that, I return once more into the void from which I came…

“We were on a break!”

I’ve been a bit neglectful.

See, I started to panic about the progress of a story I was writing. I was wondering if it was going to be long enough; if I had enough plot; if I was only writing things for the sake of filling up the word-count; if I’d taken the right direction or if I was way off course.

Doubts, man, they can really get in your head sometimes.

So I took a break. I stopped staring blankly at the screen, writing half a sentence and then deleting it. Instead, I worked on a couple short stories. Then a couple more. Then I was chatting with someone who’d read The Six Elemental and that gave me an idea for another short story. Then I got distracted by an old novel I’d written a few years ago and sunk WAY too much time on that (long story short: I decided to move from first person POV to third person, and now I’ve basically got to re-write the entire 50,000 words).

But last week I decided to go back to that first story, and you know what? I started to fall in love with it all over again. I was getting new ideas, fixing problems, making motivations clearer… It was like meeting up with an old friend.

When I’m in between edits, I’ll try to take a break from what I’m working on. It gives me a chance to come back to it anew and see things that I might have missed because my face was jammed so close to it. But there are times that I need to take a step back from a project because something isn’t working, and I need the space to realize what the problem is.

It can be tough to step away. It might feel like you failed your work or your characters, or that now you’ll never get it finished. But the best part is that you can always go back to it. And sometimes, when you come back, you might see that you were actually doing a pretty great job.

 

Learn Scriptwriting! | The Writer’s Block | Avalon Expo

One of our last lectures, from 2:30-3:30 on August 27 2017, involves script-writing at the art of turning your work into script-format! This is a popular discussion when we have qualified writers present to speak on it, and thankfully the Avalon Expo sponsored guest Ali House (The Six Elemental) is an playwright in her own right! 🙂

House is coming prepared to sprinkle in her knowledge with a geeky twist, with notes on science-fiction, dystopian future, superhero, and YA fantasy scriptwriting tips and tricks.


Continue reading Learn Scriptwriting! | The Writer’s Block | Avalon Expo

Writer’s Toolkit: Idea Generation | The Writer’s Block | Avalon Expo

the-six-elemental_fireworksThe next Writer’s Block course we’d like to announce as happening during Avalon Expo is ‘Writer’s Toolkit: Idea Generation,’ which is tentatively scheduled for Friday August 25th from 2-2:50PM.

This discussion will focus on the first step in becoming an author: idea generation. Namely: how to generate ideas, how to deal with some of the criticism you may come under (even from yourself) for those ideas, how to know when your idea is ready to start drafting, and (perhaps most importantly) how our culture’s general ideas about idea generation and the author might not be correct!

Leading the panel will be veteran author Matthew LeDrew (Black Womb, Infinity) and the amazingly talented Ali House (The Six Elemental, Bluenose Paradox).

Continue reading Writer’s Toolkit: Idea Generation | The Writer’s Block | Avalon Expo