Easing Back In the Hard Way

Here’s the only thing I will say about the last two months: my family and I, while safe and employed, have had a stressful spring for many of the same reasons as… well, the rest of the world. For me, during this time of uncertainty, self-care was spending my leisure time not writing.

But I feel almost ready to create again, as evidenced by the return of an epic fantasy idea I had put in the percolator over a year ago. I thought for sure that it wouldn’t be ready for development for at least a few more years, but it kept pestering me all these long weeks whilst I was doing my best to keep my brainspace engaged elsewhere. So, I figured since I wasn’t quite ready to dive back into my actual WIP (I still haven’t given up on Border Towns honestly), why not indulge my worst impulse:


dramatic music

Okay, I’m actually really bad at worldbuilding. I find the process to be kind of tedious and my best ideas tend to come when I’m mid-draft. But… unlike most of my other project ideas, this Epic Fantasy will not make it to draft without doing a lot of heavy lifting beforehand. I know this. That’s why I left it alone in the back of my mind as a seed, hoping the ideas would flower in my subconscious on their own.

But here we are.

So, how does someone who doesn’t know how to worldbuild worldbuild?

I started with Azgaar’s Fantasy Map Generator. I plugged in some few parameters I felt certain I wanted and clicked new map. Then I clicked it again. And again. And again. You get the idea. After about two hours of playing with the settings and saving a few images that I liked, I generated a map that immediately spoke to me. An island off to the west of the main continent was controlled by two major nations. The borders made it look like the larger was a monster that was eating the smaller.


It fit perfectly with a conflict that would serve as one of the POV character’s arcs. I knew this map would be the perfect springboard. I took a long hard look at the map as a whole and wrote down any idea that came to me. That day was the most I’d felt creative since my state shut down in March.

A few days later, I was sitting at my desk at my day job when I realized THIS CERTAIN THING would be the perfect theme or at least a cool bit of flavor to tie my story around. Again, I pulled out my notebook and furiously scribbled notes.

Not long after that I was looking at a wikipedia page of cryptids and read about one I’d never heard of. Then A BOLT OF LIGHTNING. The lore inspired me to create an entire humanoid race based on it. And then… why not do another based on this other one? And another? Once more I made sure I preserved my ideas for posterity in my trusty notebook.

Now here’s a cold hard truth: 90% of these ideas will never get used. Either they are blatant rip offs of other media, they don’t jive with each other or the story I’m trying to tell, or they just flat out suck. But that’s okay. For every bad idea that I write down I’m allowing myself to explore an avenue of thought I hadn’t before, and though it may eventually get rejected, it might open up new lines of thinking. In this way I can generate new ideas in the same way I do when I am drafting.

This epic fantasy, which I have code named Minor Arcana, still has a long ass way to go before I’m ready to outline. I mean… probably a year or more of worldbuilding and percolating. But for the first time I’m actually enjoying this process. Without the (admittedly, entirely internal) pressure of actually getting started on the writing to weigh on me, I can take my time to develop crap ideas and not feel like a total failure about them.

That’s all from me this week. As, I’m sure, we all are, I am still adjusting to the “new normal” around here, so while I can’t promise weekly blog posts I can say that I will try. 

Until next time, friends. May your writing be plenty and your struggles be few.

Kerry Share

Romancing the Muse

Manuscript News

I tried a fun little exercise this last week. I had just tapped out on my note card phase (simply put: I write every single scene I can possibly think of on a note card, even if it might never make it into the MS; I do it largely to generate new ideas) and was feeling pretty good about what I had come up with. I had about three times as many note cards as I produced for Border Towns and several plot threads I wanted to follow. But, with so many ideas, I worried about losing track of the important beats I wanted to hit. 

So I made a list for myself of all the plots and subplots that I had come up with. Most were character relationships, others could be condensed. When I was happy with my list I went back to my scene cards and on the backs I wrote down each plot it contributed to. This helped me figure out which scenes were doing work, and which ones were just fluff.

The next step was to organize the cards according to the plot(s) they were apart of (since most of them have the potential to forward along more than one, I repeated this step for each plot). Then I examined the story lines closely to see if they all had coherent beginnings, middles, and ends. In this way I was able to identify which plots should either be scrubbed entirely, or at least beefed up, and which ones were carrying the novel.

I have no idea if this exercise will help me write a better novel in November, but it really helped me figure some things out about my story that, until then, were kind of foggy before.

The Weekly Struggle

So, there I was at my day job, doing one of those mindless repetitive tasks, listening to Print Run, and thinking about my upcoming NaNo project, when–

plot twist

Here is the entire plot and all the characters for a contemporary romance novel, my brain whispered lovingly, as if it was handing me a great gift.

But me, I said to meI write fantasy. I don’t even read romance, I wouldn’t know the first thing about how to write it.

Tooooo damnnnnn badddddd, my brain replied, fading into the distance.

And here we are.

Truthfully, this didn’t really come out of nowhere. I had written about 30k of a romance story about six years ago and recently unearthed it to give myself a shot in the arm, desperate for anything to get myself back into a creative state of mind. Normally I shy away from anything I’ve written in the past, but this particular story I was quite proud of at the time. It (for the most part) held up after all these years. The hook, I feel, is solid and the characters have depth and nuance, and feel real. The premise might be a little cheesy, but not unrealistic. It needs some work, of course, but it wouldn’t take too much effort to whip it into a complete first draft.

Still, I have reservations. As I mentioned, I really don’t know much about the genre. Now and again I try to get into it, but I struggle to maintain interest. Further, and pursuant to last week’s post, what would be the point of writing a one-off romance novel? Romance is not a genre I feel compelled to pursue beyond this one idea, though, I admit, I didn’t feel compelled to pursue it before the idea either, and yet…

Well, what’s the harm, right?

So, I’m going to write it. It might be terrible, or it might be the best thing I ever write. It might be a distraction from my fantasy projects, or it might be a nice escape whenever I’m blocked or frustrated with them. It might just be a practice novel, or it might be what I pitch at next year’s DFWCon. I won’t know until I try.

Here’s to new adventures.

That’s all from me this week! Until next time, may your writing be plenty and your struggles be few!

Kerry Share

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How Do You Brainstorm?

Let’s get it out of the way: I DEFEATED NANOWRIMO 2018. I say defeated instead of won, because it really did feel like a battle at the end. Those last two days I had to put out 7000 words if I wanted to win. I got half on Thursday, and I felt good about it. Then Friday came and I remembered that… those 3500 on Thursday were hand written and would need to be transcribed.

So, after getting home from the day job, I had about five hours to transcribe and get 3500 additional words. I was sweating it, but I put on my favorite jammies, got in bed, and pounded the keyboard.

In the end, I hit 50,020 words at 11:20 PM Central Standard Time. It was an ass kicking, but I did it.

I celebrated by spending two glorious days not thinking about my manuscript. I finished the book I was reading, I played some video games with my partner, I DID THE DISHES.

I can’t tell you how relieved I am to be done with November. Though I only made it to what I’m guessing is about the 40% mark of the total novel, I still gave myself a really good push. I now know I can make the commitment to write every day, even if it is only 500-600 words. I’m fine with that. I’m better than fine with it.

Anyway, if I’m sick of talking about NaNo, y’all must be equally sick of reading about it, so! Back to your regularly scheduled blog posts!

One of my most annoying writing habits is the very particular way I brainstorm. My partner gets ideas in the shower (or after a minor head injury, like in the cartoons, but that’s a story for another day). Some people get them in the car. Others from really carefully poring over the work they’ve already done.

Me? When I’m feeling stuck for any reason, I’ve found that, for me, the best way to really visualize a scene is to get in bed and pretend to go to sleep.

I’ve been a night owl my whole life and have suffered insomnia when trying to fit into “normal”  sleeping schedule. In my early twenties I discovered the best way to put myself to sleep when I was struggling was to write scenes in my head, down to the very smallest details. It certainly helped get me to sleep faster, but I think I inadvertently formed a Pavlovian response for my creative process.

I’m certainly not the only one who frantically taps out notes on their phone or on a bedside notebook before sleep takes me and the ideas are lost. I know I’m hardly alone in that my creative synapses get firing right before I fall asleep, but sometimes I’m left feeling that they only get firing when my head is on the pillow.

The circumstances necessary to find my creative sweet spot are annoyingly specific, too. I can’t just be laying down. I can’t just have my eyes closed in a quiet space. I have to be laying down, in my bed, with no light and no noise, with my eyes closed, and I have to be telling myself that the reason I am doing this is because I am going to sleep now and I need to do the thing that makes me to go to sleep.

Problem with all that being… I often fall asleep. That and it’s hard to carve out time for a creative juice refilling nap. That’s true for pretty much every adult.

But still, it’s my process and I’m at least thankful I know how to tap into that creative well if I feel my conscious brain is running out of steam.

So, that’s me and that’s my weirdest writing habit. What’s yours?

What I’m Reading This Week: Nothing! I finished Outlander as a reward to myself for surviving NaNo. I thought about maybe continuing the series, but what I really need to be doing, I realized, is starting to do some reading that is closer to my own genre. I have some fantasy series on my kindle from the Unlimited library, but I’ve been a little hesitant to crack into them as I’ve had been fairly dissatisfied with some of my previous Unlimited forays.

So, I’m writing new adult fantasy with a little romance. Who’s got recs for me?