Following the Plan-ts

Writing is sometimes a breeze and others a struggle.  You authors in the crowd get what I mean.  What’s horrifying is when the story wants to flow, but the actual work is hard.  Five chapters into my Middle Build, I’m feeling just that.  The big storyline is now shaped up, the antagonists are well defined, they know their Macguffins, the twists are pre-planned, the betrayals ready to go, the thrills and spills all lined up for their qualifying heats.  I mean it’s just mmm-mmm-tasty!

But the work to lay it out?  Oh man… just shoot me.  I’m still trying to figure out my real methodology, but I’m coming closer to understanding it.  I write much like how I used to run RPGs.  Some light planning up front, decide what events were going to happen whether the PCs had a say in it or not, and then figuratively kick the anthill and see what scurries out.

I’ve kicked the anthill and fireants have come scurrying out making me question my life choices at times.

So I’m basically a “Plantser”  I plan some, start the ball rolling then react, react, react to what the characters tell me they’d do.  Several times, I’ve discovered the characters take an action I never expected, but yet there it is.  I can’t ignore it, because the character WOULD do that.  This now alters the plan somewhat, but the same events are still going to be on course.  For the most part.

I’ve been really stretching myself with seven way conversations.  I mean, how do you write a meeting of many people?  All of whom have something to say because although they are minor players, they need to be there to flesh out the event.  Ensemble writing is tough!  At least in one case, I was able to strip out characters and decide on the four I wanted involved, laid out their positions on the subject and went from there.  The other… Ummm… errr…. Not so much yet.  And they all share the same title, because they’re peers of the Hird.  So the honorifics get them ‘echoes’ started pretty bad.  Hopefully, it will not turn people off too badly, but I got to feeling a lot like this:

But, as slow as it has been going, I’m really happy with the story so far.  My small team of alpha readers has been keeping me on course and the immediate rewrites (yes I’ve had to redo chapters and parts of scenes a few times before moving forward) have been enthusiastic and constantly wanting the next chapter ASAP.  A good sign I’d hope.  May this transfer well to the rest of my readers when it hits the websites.

Not sure when its going to get done yet.  This is a far bigger book than anticipated with the multiple storylines now converging and the final chapters yet to plan out in more detail  (Something that always gets clearer the closer I get to putting fingers to keyboard.), but I’m very optimistic.  Ultimately this will make book 3 in line for a bigger rewrite than I thought.  I wish I could focus more on writing, but lots of distractions going on (mainly job related).  Hopefully I can get some of that to change for the better and clear my mind up from all that stress.  I know I know some people do far faster projects with ten times the distractions, but that’s them and this is me.  We’ll make it work.

That then begs another question.  Should I break up the release into three sections?  I easily could do 3 novellas, then release the novel in hardcover/paperback.  I dunno.  I wanted to do that with book 1 for the ebook too.  Say make it 99 cents for each part (with the first one for free).  How does that grab you all?

So I shall leave you with a little surprise.  Here is an excerpt from the first draft of one of the chapters titled “Bedtime Stories”, so mind the dust and splinters.  It is just the first draft.

Enjoy!

Bedtime Stories

 

“…and without another word, Saint Ragnar slew the evil Draugr, sending the manitou to hell, and saving the village from its evil, forever.  The end.” the Visekonge said, finishing up his son’s bedtime story.  

Compared to the problems of the crown, the nightly ritual for his son was one of his daily joys.  His simple son looked up at him with his bright slanted eyes, his broad moon face glowing and clapped with the end of the triumphant saga.  He always enjoyed the sagas of Saint Ragnar and his fight against the Skaerslinger and the Draugr, and knew when even a single detail had been changed and always reminded his father.

“Pader?  May I have another story?”

“No my son.  No.  It is time for bed, and I must also go.  My crown is busy tonight.”

“Awww,” Olivr whined.

The Visekonge suffered his son’s disapproval in silence with a smile.  The time he spent sitting on the edge of his young son’s bed was one of the few places where he found solace from his troubled kingdom.  Where he could talk about great men who had already solved greater problems than the ones he faced.  The ritual helped center him again and reminded him what it was he loved most.  The petty infighting of the Statsraad was such a terrible drain at times.

“Will you say prayers with me, Pader?”  Olivr asked again.

“Of course,” The Visekonge said, and then began for his son, “In thee, O Lord, do I put my trust…”  

Olivr picked up where he trailed off.

“Let me never be ashamed and deliver me in thy righteousness,” The boy continued.  His father raised his eyebrows and mouthed along with him.

“Bow down thine ear to me.  Deliver me speedily and be thou my strong rock, and castle to save me.”  Olivr said smiling at his father’s mock serious faces.

“For thou art my rock and my fortress, therefore for thy namesake, lead me and guide me.  Pull me out of the net that they have laid privily for me, for Thou art my strength.”  He giggled a moment, before his father’s face got serious again and encouraged.  

“Into thine hands…?”

“Into thine hands, I commit my spirit.  Thou hast redeemed me, Oh Lord, God of Truth,” Olivr continued, refocused on the words.

“Amen,” Gregor whispered.

“Amen,” Olivr agreed.

The Visekonge leaned over and kissed his golden haired boy on the cheek.

“I love you, my son.”

“Love you too, Pader.”  The boy rose up a little to rub his nose against his father’s in a side to side motion.

Pages 197
Words 59188
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The Importance of Knowing Where You Are.

And now to distract myself from working on book 2 and talk with you lovely people… tsk tsk tsk.

I must say that it has been so easy to get lost in my own creation.  Writing Book 2 has been like driving in the mountains at night when the “holler fogs” are out.  One minute you see things clearly, and you’re up high on a hill, then, zoop! right back into zero visibility with your high-beams reflecting back in your face.

Once again, I have rediscovered the desperate need I have in knowing my geography, and even more than that, the names of places.  I know those of you who have read my book are going “Oh dear Lord!  Not more long names!”  Yep.  They’re coming.  When your naming convention is based on old Norse, Finnish, Icelandic, Swedish and of course lots of Norwegian with a dash of Ojibway for the pickle on top of that linguistic sundae, you get some strange names.  But once named, and considered in the mental geography of my series, it is so much nicer to work there.

On the other hand, once I know the names of things, and where they exist in my mind, things get much easier and my confidence grows which means better chapters.  Much shorter chapters too.  I’m taking a tip from James Patterson on this one and going the Pringles route.  Once you pop, you can’t… steal blatant advertising jingles.  Blah!  What was I saying!?

So anyway, it’s been a little harder going, but I’ve been having fun with it once I defeat the obstacles that keep rearing their heads.  I was hoping to get 5 chapters done this weekend, but it looks like 3… mayyyybe 4 might be the result.  We’ll see.  The resistance is strong in this book.

On a positive note, the Alpha readers are looking at it as we speak and providing a little feedback, but since they don’t know where its going yet, and there are six subplots to work with… umm yeah, currently 6…it’s been a heck of a job braiding a big novel I never expected to happen in the first place!  But that’s what I get when the readers fall in love with a secondary character.  We’re going to have to see what to cull out and maybe use a freebie for you guys.

The even gooder news is that I am keeping careful track of things in the glossary and I am going to try and get help to hot link the terms, so those that buy the eBook will have a much better time with it.  Not sure how yet, but it’s my desire, so if anyone has tips on how to set that up in Scrivener, let me know, please!  I want to learn.

Also, an interesting side business may be cropping up.  Once I research more about this, I’ll make an announcement.  That will also wait till after I finalize banking and small business type of legals too (so after book 2 is in the hands of my lovely beta readers and editors which I hope will be late spring or early summer so I can meet my self imposed deadline.

Lastly, as a precaution, I’m removing all artwork from my blog that I did not purchase or do myself.  Yes, I am sad about this, but thanks to the litigious society we live in, I’m just not going to risk it anymore.  If people can get me some good advice on where I can get SAFE clip art for my website where I don’t have to be looking over my shoulder and worry about surprise bills, cease and desist orders

So… happy thoughts.

 

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Keep on chugging… keep on chugging…

Special Torture

Sigh…

I have discovered a new type of torture that unto itself is not unique, but it’s application is unique to creatives who have put themselves out to the world and are holding their breath.  And that torture is…

Watching their book rankings.

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Oh it’s torment!  And the worst part is it’s completely self inflicted.  I just have to stop looking at Amazon, and Kobo and Smashwords.  Wait a week or more THEN look and react.  I keep saying my inner Veruca Salt is running riot screaming “Make time go faster!” over and over again, so I can see the result, or worse give me something that I have to figure out how to fix.

But then the rational me kicks in and says the things I must remember to cool my conscience.

This is only the first book.  The best marketing is publishing the next one.

Give people time to read.  Not everyone is like Tdub.  (he knows who he is… 😉  )

This is now in God’s hands.  (That’s the one that really hurts to remember.)

So I get to sit and squirm about it, or… I can take the best advice I’ve been given so far and that is get writing on Book 2 and stop obsessing!!!1!

Speaking of Book 2…

I am going to be changing up the direction of my writing on this book and start a different method.  Currently, there are five plotlines, soon to be six in book 2.  Yeah, compared to book 3 this is going to be a monster.  Why?  Because I have so many things running in the background that must occur before Book 3.  I’ve been discovering the alternating chapter story structure (plot1, plot2, plot3, plot1, plot4, plot5, plot2…. ) type of sequencing is really not helpful for writing.  It’s probably going to serve me best to just write a single plotline till it needs to intersect, then write the one that it intersects with till they are ready to link up.

In the end, I hope for a nice smooth transition and a powerful braid of stories.  The key to this of course, is to avoid a stinker of a plotline where people go “I’m just gonna skip THAT chapter till it gets good again”.  I know I’ve done this on other authors, so… well there’s that.

Some plotlines are nothing more than transitional pieces of story that you need to know to tell a better novel, but could not stand up on their own.  That’s something else I’m learning.  Neat ideas that need to be re-purposed and made to earn their keep.  Which, BTW, is also not necessarily easy to accomplish.  Sometimes, the characters wanna do what the characters wanna do and as an author, there is only so much coercion you can do before you end up wrecking the character or worse, wrecking the relationship between you and the reader as they go… “ummmmm lame!”

So, tonight, it’s back to writing since I’m off from work, and building more and more and more.  I still can reach my goal of finishing before Easter.  (That always seems to be a good time for me finishing a project) and turn it over to the editing process for hopefully a summer release.

 

Update: Book 2

We have reached chapter 6 of the second book.  The scenes are still a little difficult to put out, but I am falling in love with some of the characters.  Can’t wait to share more about them.  Oh… and I am bringing back some characters from “A Light Rises in a Dark World” and Book 3.  Yes, remember, book 3 has its first draft done already.  It’s in for a heavy rewrite once this one’s done, but I think we can do this fairly well.

Nattbilder av Gamlehaugen etter snøfall den 26. des. 00.

Stats

Chapters – 6
Words – 11,995

And the plotlines are sprouting up like weeds.  I had forgotten how fast this happened with running RPGs.  You run the first adventure, and suddenly you have a plethora of directions to go in, and it becomes a case of careful pruning.

One of the plotlines, I am toying with making a special freebie for mailing lists since it is an asynchronous story inside the book and necessary for explaining things into the future.

One of the most fun aspects of writing of course is that I do a lot of “on the fly” research.  How did people write these kinds of complicated works before the interwebs?  I mean I am writing a scene where I have to describe the kinds of desserts available to royalty.  Much to my surprise, variations of cookies, called ‘kex’ in Iclandic go all the way back to Persia in the classical era!  Well hell!  Crusaders could have picked up that recipe since that’s when they came over to Europe.

Not to mention, this time, you guys get an out and out palace and castle. Achievement Unlocked!  Get ready for Dyrrvatn Kastali, home of the Visekonge and the celebration feast of Klarrvatn.

There’s your teaser.

Also, this book is going to be bigger than the last, and possibly the next.  Just a suspicion.

Anyways, happy days!  Now I need to move about before my butt falls totally asleep from working so long.