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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The Right Tool for the Job

Manuscript News

It’s been an interesting week.

First thing’s first: no, I did not go to that write-in on Friday. I really did have plans with my partner on that day. As early as Friday morning those plans still had a non-zero chance of falling through, so I was keeping my options open for the evening. However, our plans went ahead as scheduled, and thus the write-in was skipped. I’m still looking forward to getting out there sometime, maybe even this week.

Also: yesterday I hit a big milestone. I reached the last page of my pretty flower notebook. That baby helped me get through NaNo. She came with me, shoved unceremoniously into a purse really too small for it, to family functions, gymnastics practice, the day job, road trips and everything in between.

IMG_7318

At only 70 pages I know it doesn’t sound really impressive. But I average about 550 words per page, and if you add it all up, it comes out to about 38,500 words. That’s a HUGE chunk.

I’m really proud of myself, if I’m being honest, which also feels kind of silly. My manuscript isn’t done yet, so even though I filled up a whole notebook, there’s still so much more work to be done. But it does feel a little awesome and not a little satisfying. To be able to flip through the pages and watch the kaleidoscope of different colors from all the various gel pens I managed to burn out whiz past is just… a really cool feeling.


The Weekly Struggle

Which brings me to the main topic today, which isn’t really a struggle per se, more of a realization I came to when I finally closed that notebook for the last time.

Every writer is different. I know that, of course, but yet I somehow hadn’t really internalized it. I would rail at writing tips that offended my own writing style, and yet I still tried to adhere to them, subconsciously or otherwise. I binge listened to Rachael Herron’s excellent podcast How Do You Write, seeking out tips on how to improve my own writing process. Yet, even though each guest would have wildly different ways of getting their work done, I somehow held on to the thought that there is a right way to write.

Despite the fact that I extoled, what I consider to be, the virtues of longhand writing in a blog post dedicated to the subject, drafting this way was almost a secret shame. It is not as fast as typing, and it even creates extra work, as those words you write on the physical page will then have to be transcribed onto the digital one. It’s kind of hippy-ish, and certainly lacks the numerous tools programs like Scrivener offer.

But the truth is, I can get really locked up when I sit down in front of the word processor and see a blank, white screen with the insistently blinking cursor taunting me. For whatever reason, I really can’t pinpoint why, that doesn’t happen to me with a blank page. The tactile feel of the pen and paper, the indentations of writing on each page, the notes scribbled in the margins… taken together it creates something that my brain finds creatively stimulating.

So, what do I take away from all this? It’s simple really: stop trying to force myself into a process that just doesn’t work for me. Embrace the methods that do. Stop looking for things to act over and start enjoying the process a little more.

The feedback I got on Twitter after posting a little video of my completed notebook was honestly incredible. It helped me take pride in my choice of medium in a way I hadn’t before. So, honestly, thank you everyone for that.

I’ve just started my next notebook, another 70-pager. I’ve got my crappy middle-school gel pens all ready to burn out after only four pages. And I’ve got roughly 40,000 more words to write before I can call the first draft of this MS done.

Time to hit it.

notebook


What I’m Reading This Week

I’m still making my way (slowly) through Tree of Ages. My plans with my partner this weekend completely eliminated my reading time. But, I am takings recs for what I should tackle next!


That’s enough rambling for one week. Til next time!

Kerry Share

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