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Outlining

So, I've found out I have a typical writer's brain.

I turned on the oven to bake something for lunch yesterday, sat down to revise something, and revised until I remembered I needed to print out things for my poetry class and then walked out the door for a two hour block of classes. Remember the oven? Yeah, I left that on at 400 degrees with nothing in it. Also, I was the only person in the apartment at the time.
Of course, I remembered that little fact halfway through my poetry class and had to sit there worrying about the oven while everyone is talking about figurative imagery in poetry.
So after class, I nearly ran back to the apartment and found my suite mate had already turned the oven off and left me a note about it.

Needless to say, I felt stupid and really hungry after that.

Anyway,

on to my topic.

Outlining. It seems like you love it or you hate it, you are pantser or an outlining freak. There are billions of ways to it, Snowflaking, bullet points, one sentence per chapter, 10,000 word outline, scene by scene, the list goes on and on.

I think I'm halfway in between after a couple of years of trying desperately to outline my novels in the detail I need before I begin writing. I used to try to write pages of bullet point style outline looking at the big picture like a summary on spark notes, which seems to help some writers, but apparently not me.  I'm terribly at writing summaries in essays and things so why did I think for so long that's what I needed to do? 

I can't fly-by-night in writing. I'll forget things. *see the oven story above?* I have to make notes to myself to remember what brilliant line or plot point I came up with, otherwise who knows if I can remember it if I get there.

So my outlining process: I write notes to myself. A bit of summary of a beginning, a line of dialogue, a character's emotion at this point, just little things to get me from start to finish. This might be a few lines to get me started if it's a short story, or telling myself the back story of my character with turban for hat.

I also try to figure out the ending. If I don't know really "what happens" in the last scene, I'll pretend I at least know who lives and dies, or who is happy and what not and possibly what emotion I want to linger after the story finished by the reader.

The one thing that tripped me up while trying to outline before was I had to see the scene in my head before writing. This  only works sometimes. Most of the time, I have no idea what my characters are going to say besides: "They have a conversation about the weather and that gets them talking about the plot."
I 'm one of those writers who say: have no idea what I'm going to write until I put it down on the page. Which doesn't make sense because we sort of do, somewhere in there, but it's not concrete. It's like trying to kill fog until I just sit down and start to write the scene.

That means, even though I may have an awesome line of dialogue in a note, it might not work once I've written the scene up to that point. Maybe I'll try working it in a bit later, or switch around paragraphs(I think that's my new hobby) to accommodate it. But I think the best advice I can at least give myself is, things will change.  Nothing is set in stone, get it out on paper so you can see it and read it. You might hate your own process but it's the only one that's working right now so go with it.

And another thing: Music. Sometimes I need it to write a scene, sometimes I need it to think, sometimes I need me my notepad and a bad pen. But music always reminds me of scenes or characters. It's strange. I hardly ever buy music just for me. I buy music for that scene, that book, that character. Of course, I've learned it has to be music I actually like in the first place and not just a song my villain would listen to. 

But there are songs that just get to me. Every time they come on my playlist or on shuffle, they take me back to that scene, or that character. The scene is always a tiny bit different every time, but I can see it.

(Obviously, a couple posts about my music playlists to come)

So what is your outlining process? Do your characters talk to you? Do you organize play lists? Do you have to know the color of their socks before you write about them? (I love long-winded answers btw)

Also, just because I need more music today apparently: Give me your song of the day.

Five Things for a Thursday

1. I'm loving the Black Keys this week. They have a such a slick throwback sound to the sixties and seventies. I bought my first real music purchase when I was 13 (yes, I know. I missed out on the 90's). It was a three CD package of the Best of the Sixties (according to LIFE magazine, but I know now they missed a few.) 
Since then, I've loved that sound, enough said.

2. I have Mockingjay, the final book in the Hunger Games series sitting next to me. I might not sleep much tonight. (Spend the day with Katniss Everdeen, I will) 

3. I am now a Sherlock (BBC) fanatic. I'm a huge fan of Sherlock Holmes in all its incarnations on screen and the stellar original stories themselves. Between the new movie and the new BBC series though, the series trumps Downey's version in a heartbeat. The new show writers seem to know how to make the old Victorian feel smart and familiar to previous fans of the fab Granada series and the original stories. I wish I knew when PBS was going to release the series on DVD in the U.S.

4. I have an outline for fanfics, but not for my original (multiple) ideas. (Hey Muse, if you are reading this, please call me back on this) However, I do feel the urge to research and dig up plotlines for my characters (wow, I have characters? ) is underneath the fanfics, simmering. Percolating.

5. I know what I'm going to write for my Sisters Fate story: Arthurian legends. *Squee* 

Bonus video of the year. I love this song. I know it sounds really strange because it's in Swedish, but it's gorgeous and heartbreaking all the same.
I know writers talk about creating strong female characters a lot, and a lot of that strength seems to rely on the physical rather than mental(especially in Urban Fantasy). I know I'm grossly generalizing, and there are many exceptions, but I haven't seen too many heroines in YA or their  who rely on their inner strength to overcome, their faith even.

This video is from the Swedish Musical 'Kristina' (in a concert performance), a story about a woman who is an immigrant, who by the time she sings has lost her child. She talks to God, and she is angry, and she questions his existence.
I guess I'm trying to illustrate my view of a female character who relies on her inner strength to overcome her circumstances, and shows a brutal honesty in how she feels and how she sees the world.



Pursuits achieved

I've written 10,301 words in two weeks. I think that's my personal highest word count ever so far. Even with moving in to the dorm again, and school starting I've written that much. It feels nice. And I have so many more ideas for stories it's not funny. Good thing I have a bit of time tomorrow to sit down and let it all go. Maybe I'll hole myself up in the library when it opens. :)

I wonder how many words I can get out 8 days? 

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Names

Since alice_vd  changed her name from twilighter1, I've been pondering on why I chose my user name. Choosing titles and names for about anything (school or otherwise) do not come easily to me, so when I came up with Gracious Anne within a few minutes, it made me supremely happy. Maybe I'll change it to my real name one day, (THAT will be a mouthful) but for now it's just Gracious Anne, or Anne.

I guess my reasons are two: 

 I share a common middle name with many famous people from history, Queen Anne, Anne Boleyn, Anne of Cleves, Anne Frank.

My first literary hero, and literary "kindred spirit" was Anne of Green Gables. I thought until I was about 5 that the spelling of my middle name was A-N-N, not A-N-N-E. I was relieved when watching the A&E production of Anne of Green Gables for the first time, when my mother made it clear to me after I asked about it, that it was the same spelling as Anne Shirley's. I felt incredibly proud to share that name with such an awesome character, even if it's just my middle name. It's nice knowing I have the "prettier" version of the name according to Miss Anne.

And my story for Sisters Fate is kinda done. It's an older story, but I'm a little exhausted at the moment. I will be reading it a few times before posting it to make it clearer.

So how about you all? Any stories about names? Any good progress this week with writing? 


A Book Meme

Rules: Don't take too long to think about it. Fifteen books you've read that will always stick with you. First fifteen you can recall in no more than 15 minutes. We're not looking for the 15 greatest books ever written here, we're looking for ones that are favorites, that rattled how you look at things, and gave you an 'Ah hah!' moment.

1. Lord of the Rings
2. Wuthering Heights
3. Dust of 100 Dogs(!!!)
4. Anansi Boys
5. The Graveyard Book
6. Mary Poppins
7. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
8. The Iliad.
9. Mr. Norrell and Mr. Jonathan Strange
10. Clockwork Phoenix Anthology (1)
11. Peter Pan
12. Life as We Knew It
13. Shadow Spinner
14. The Black Cauldron(Prydain Chronicles) 
15. The Magician's Nephew(Chronicles of Narnia)

Now you all!

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I've seen things....

As the great nemesis of Blade Runner said, I 've seen things traveling around. I've traveled to Germany, Israel, Ireland, Scotland and England so far. It's been fun. I really hope I can go back to Scotland though and here's why: 



A view out of a 1200's era castle in Oban, Scotland.



One of my favorite pictures that I took especially for my mother. (She loves lighthouses) 
Taken on the ferry to Mull, a small island. It was bitterly cold, but lovely.


One of the oldest abbeys/churches in Scotland on the island, Iona. You can see Mull's beaches on the other side of the water.



The William Wallace monument on top of a MOUNTAIN STEEP hill if you don't have a nice little tour bus to take up there. Once you reach the foot of the monument you can climb the 200+ TINY spiral stairs to the top and brave 30 mile winds to take awesome pictures of Stirling, Scotland. The home of Stirling Castle where the monarchs of Scotland used to reside.



The Chinese restaurant that used to be a coffee shop in Edinburgh. (Edinburgh is amazing you all. Gorgeous city.) Why should you care? Cause J.K. Rowling wrote freaking Harry Potter there. Once Upon A Time. You can see the sign in the window saying so. It took me a day to find it by accident since all I remembered my tour guide saying about it is that the place was painted red.

There you go swhisted your piece of Scotland. More could be coming.

Annnnd, back to writing. This chapter will be done.

Newsies


I am now blogging from my spiffy apartment. This is good and bad news. I am beginning my senior year of university so happy days of studying my little heart out in classes I actually like are ahead, but also the mind numbing reading and essays. I wouldn't mind school if the essays did not eat my time up. I'm a very slow typer, and a very slower writer in general so pounding out an essay in a couple of hours does not work for me. Alas.
So forcing myself not to do what I did last semester, and following my goal sheet and set up times for myself is going to be a little harder than I thought. But I will make it.

I have written a little since I've moved in. Not much, but enough that I'm getting into the habit of thinking of what to write next. Before this summer, the blank page would haunt me and follow me around like an undead dog.
Now I'm working, the pace is coming smoother. I don't need a herculean feat of endurance to push through to finish a story or figure out the next plot hole. Not anything close to the regular pace of 1000-2000 words I want, but I've learned more about writing this summer than any other time. And just really, from writing. and learning how to deal with my moods, writing even when I'm a bit tired, and following urges to rewrite things.

The main thing is to turn off my internet now. I need to find a good PC firefox add-on that bans me from the internet for awhile.

Also, a confession to my fellow writers of Sisters Fate. My Aug. 24th story will be a new draft of an older story I have. It's based off arthurian legends so I think you might like it. I'm not going to even look at my old draft. (as much as I want to) So, new draft of a lukewarm draft that needed massive revision anyway is the plan. I hope that is okay.

And one of these days, I will write a bunch of blog posts that I was going to do on the books that have shaped me as a writer as I had said in my 'Histories' post.

QuestionWhat part of the Arthurian Legends do you like or are interested in?

My answer is a little strange because my real introduction to the legend was the 1960's film version of the musical Camelot, and the haunting song 'Guenevere,' is a part of the things I find fascinating about it. www.youtube.com/watch

The image of Guenevere's death in fire while her husband has to watch because of the laws he has essentially set in place. Law over Love is a hard thing to swallow. And there's the strange love triangle that is Lancelot, Guenevere, and Arthur. They are all friends, and they all feel guilty in some way for the position they are in.

Anyway, I'm curious to know!

Pursuits and Confessions

Taking my inspiration from swhisted 's thoughtful goal post. I thought I'd share mine. Since the month is already under way and I will be going back to school on Sunday, they will be smaller than usual.

1. Writing

  This is my priority. I need to set a time every day that I can meet up with the Muse and pound out some words.  10,000 words for the rest of the month seems an achievable goal.
A time to be set when I know what exactly my schedule will be. Probably some a time where I get to see the sun rise.
Goal: Set a time, write 10,000 words and take two old short stories, throw out the old drafts and write new ones based off the idea.

2. Time Management

I'm a procrastinator. There I admitted it. Last semester I was absolutely awful. Writing papers the morning they are due is lazy and ungrateful.
Goal: a. I resolve to begin studying/writing/reading the day I know things are due because come November if I don't keep up I'll be in trouble. And I need sleep. Lots of it.
b. I have spent too many wasteful hours on the internet. It's time to crack down on that. More writing and more studying equals a less stressful me. So I will cut down the time I spend on it, and set a bit of time to address my internet fix for the day and be done with it.

3. Health

I'm woefully out of shape and I hate it. I want to be stronger, faster, and a bit leaner. I know I'm gonna get frustrated with myself when I pop in an exercise tape and try to do it all and fail, but I will do as much as I can and be gentle on myself. I'd also like to be able to run. I'm a fast walker, but I have very little stamina for running.
Goal: Begin The Couch to 5K program. It sounds right up my alley with three short! workouts a week that don't push too hard. I can do that. (Recommended by writer Nicole Peeler sweet!) 

4. Poetry (this is confession part) 

I am taking an introductory class on Writing Poetry this semester and frankly, I'm terrified. I've never taken a creative writing course before, and with a lot of people saying awful things about workshops in general and the kind of criticism you might get it's a bit scary to put myself in that position.
And, I'm not a poet. I have never written any poetry except for last semester. I wrote two poems as an exercise. There are quite a few students who are poets at my college at least one that have met who has been published. And I know they will be in the class with me, critiquing my pieces, offering advice. They are nearly all English majors too, so though they are a lovely group of people, I don't know a lot of them.

So why am I taking this class? 

Primarily, because I need to learn how to use language. I need to learn how to pack a sentence and make it hold it's weight. I need to learn how to use similes and metaphors and theme to the best of my ability.

Secondly, one of the poems I wrote I sent in to our literary journal on campus and it got published. Huge boost of momentary confidence there. But I'm afraid it was just a fluke or not enough people submitted pieces to it that semester and let my attempt at poetry slide in.

Thirdly, I need to stretch and grow as a writer.

Goal: I need to make time every day to read and write poetry and revise them. If I do not set a time, I will blow it off and submit awful stuff to my classmates to workshop. I want them to read and rip apart work that I worked on and thought about so I can get better. Probably some time in the evening when I don't want to read short stories anymore and I throw my history books at the wall.






Sherlock on the brain.

For the past two days I've been having to wake up at 6.30 but have been getting up at 5.30 because I can't sleep. After watching the last episode of Sherlock for the year (why??) the Muse decided that I should write a bit of fanfiction. Thus, all my free time has been made into Gotta Write Fanfic! time.

Is this what it's like to obsessed with a story? (Can I go back to normal now? )

 I love this exchange so much. It probably doesn't make sense out of context but it's still funny. 

Sherlock: Ordinary people fill their heads with all kinds of rubbish, and that makes it hard to get at the stuff that matters. Do you see?

Watson: But it’s the solar system!

Also, to Mark Gatniss who wrote the "finale." Thank you, you saved the show, had awesome banter, and made me into a fangirl who writes awful fanfic think.

Though at the bit about "darkened swimming" and "tearing off  clothing" and "people might talk," I went "Really? You just gave all the John/Sherlock slash writers the scene of the year." 

Now I 'm gonna have to bulldoze my way through the slush of Sherlock and John in a darkened swimming pool.*


Back to writing. I want my life back. Or at least my brain. I have a Sisters Fate story to write.


*Although I have read two that are actually quite good.





Fuel For The Road

My writing process, I've come to find this month(it might change who knows) is like composing an oil painting.

(cue awful similes) 
  
  The medium is too wet and slippery, and the colors just get muddied the more I second guess myself and try to fix it at the moment.  If I wait a few hours or months or whatever it is, my first attempts will dry and I can see where things need to be touched up, or completely covered with a new coat.
  If I work a little slower, my work won’t be as much of a mess to begin with. I may want to write 5,000 words in a day and just get the chapter/short story down and on the page, but I can never type fast enough to pick the right colors and the right brushstrokes. No matter how much I want to stick to my outline, and no matter how detailed it may be, it always diverges. It might be a paragraph in, or it might be the first sentence.
    I’m learning to trust that diverging line, to write down what comes to me while I’m trying to write to the ending line, because no matter how strange it might be, it always comes out a little better when I let flow. I may delete it entirely, but I’ve allowed it voice and that is what matters.

So this is my note to myself saying: Don’t be afraid to go a little slower. You burn out quick writing right now. Don't worry so much about speed. Just focus on the finish line. Getting to the end and letting your characters have their say. They don’t speak to you anywhere else. The Muse might hand you a little piece of plot, but she never hands you the characters. You have to show up to make them speak.