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October 30, 2010

I have been stewing on another story this past month, which isn’t a good idea when it’s crunch time at school. However, I couldn’t resist thinking about it so I will post a bit about it here.

Recently in one of my classes, I reread Jane Austen’s Emma. The Prof brought up the fact that Emma is technically a detective story, which got me to thinking about what Emma the detective would be like, especially when placed in a modern setting. I talked a bit about my inspiration in one of my Tumblr blogs (post here) and I started thinking about a modern version, not of Emma per say, but of the characters in the story.

What would life be like for them in small-town 2010? How would Emma, Jane and Harriet become friends? And what’s more, how would they become detectives?

I was thinking about doing it as a TV series, but I need to flesh everything out first. I started writing a pilot, but everything was so stiff and weird and I had no idea where to go next, so I stopped. I have made a list of characters from the books and I’m working on finding ways to translate those characters into a modern setting and how they would interact with each other, etc.

Maybe I’ll work on this in December when school’s out.

Reading: Diana of the Crossways by George Meredith, Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson, and selected school texts

Watching: Doctor Who season 4 (I have gotten into such a big DW craze lately)

Listening: fanmixes pertaining to DW and Ashes to Ashes, DW score, Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs

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Goodbye Girl

September 25, 2010

If you have not already guessed, I will be going on a brief hiatus. Or probably a long hiatus of six months. School has started up again and I won’t have the time to write any fiction, let alone any blog posts on my writing. So this blog will close up shop in the meantime.

I seem to have finished my latest draft of SNW. I got to the point where the climax had been written, and I couldn’t figure out how to end it completely, so I just left it like that for the next rewrite. And I do think I am going to be rewriting again, because the middle needs to be redone. The beginning has been rewritten several times and I think I am at the point where I like how it goes, with a few exceptions. But the middle took different turns, and in the next rewrite I hope to see whether or not those turns were for the best.

Honestly, this is a long journey. I had hoped to begin looking for a publisher (or at least begin serious editing) after I finally graduate from school, but I think that will have to wait. A writer is never satisfied with their writing, it seems. We only reach a point where we give up and decide to shove the piece into the world blindly whether it is finished or not.

Anyway, I am going to be quite exhausted by Christmas. I took a vacation from work when school started, but work starts back up again next week for me, so I have been trying to do my homework in advance. I know, I am a geek. I have also entered at least two new fandoms which are also taking up a lot of my home time: Sherlock, the new BBC adaptation with a modern Sherlock Holmes, and Doctor Who, which I have heard a lot about but never decided to watch it until now. It is very exciting and fast-paced, even if it is aimed at popular culture far too much. I’ve already watched the first season this past week, and I started the second season with the tenth Doctor Friday night. And tonight, I am going to try its spin-off, Torchwood. I know, I am insane.

In other news, I am continuing in my Professional Writing degree this year and I am in a class that will be publishing a book ourselves. If you want, you can check out the website, which I will be in charge of, for developments on the book. It is an academic murder mystery, which is actually quite well written and fascinating, so I look forward to seeing how the editorial team works on it.

Anyway… back to the chaos of the world…

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Paradise Circus

July 28, 2010

It’s getting really dark here. It has rained off and on for the past day, but now the clouds are gathering. Eek! Time to get this blog post done just in case I lose the hydro.

I am now at the halfway point in SNW physically. Whether the story itself is at the half-way point… well, I doubt it. I introduced a major plot point about 30 pages back, and that has fuelled my writing and the action in the story. But now I’m back to a plateau where I’m trying to get myself towards another plot point but have all this dialogue and interaction to get through beforehand.

It’s a little annoying. I’m raring to move on, and ordinarily I would just ignore the unwritten stuff and get right to the good stuff. But I want this to be my last draft of SNW, and I know that once I get to the revising, I’m not going to want to write the left-out scenes. Silly me.

Maybe I will move forward. But I have some questions for Liz to ask one of her sisters, and I think that is just as important as going to the garage with James. Tomorrow, I’ll see how I’m feeling about either scene and go from there.

Yes, James, my hidden gem of a man whom I couldn’t understand one bit. His tarot reading flopped, leaving me in confusion. (I don’t think I even told you about this.) The same circumstance happened to Edward, my other main male character, and I was left scrambling mid-writing for ways to learn about their personalities, how they would react, even how they would talk.

I did do character outlines for them from Critique Circle, from which I pilfered their templates (hehehe). In some ways that helped me quite a lot, but if I have to figure out what their favourite foods or colours are, I would go crazy. Solution?

You’ll probably say that this isn’t the best way to go. In some ways it’s not a good idea because my characters’ reactions may be based off of someone else. But this solution has gotten me so much farther forward, so I’m going to use it for now.

Character models, or visual models. Awhile ago, I had found models for the five sisters:

RoseRose, or Kristen Bell

LizLiz, or Lizzy Caplan (alt: Emily Blunt)

MonaMona, or Claire Foy

EmmaEmma, or Taylor Momsen (alt: Dakota Fanning)

AlexAlex, or Kristen Stewart

I am a highly visual person, so using these models has enabled me to focus on the characters more clearly. I had trouble finding models for James and Edward, but then True Blood introduced Alcide, finally, and I found a model for Edward.

EdwardEdward, or Joe Manganiello

Then for James, luck struck!

JamesJames, or Jared Leto

I was checking out Alexander for my mother and I happened to forward to a scene that Jared shared with Colin Farrell. His eyes were just so beautiful in that scene, so I decided James must be a brunette with blue eyes.

Everything seemed to fall into place after that. James’ interactions with Liz became more feasible to me, because I could picture how he would look making a certain expression, even though I haven’t seen the real man do many expressions because I didn’t watch the movie. But it didn’t matter. And now James rocks my socks.

I confess I already have character models for characters that haven’t even been introduced yet. I don’t even know how these characters will be introduced, or whether I’ll even introduce them. If I decide to write another book in Liz’s world after this one, then maybe I’ll take those characters out to play. Or maybe I’ll introduce one of the characters (who is a vampire) late in SNW. I won’t know until I get there.

During writing today, I was struck double-time by just how much my book resembles Twilight. I’m not saying it’s a paranormal romance. In fact, I’m trying to keep romance out of it almost altogether, with just enough teasing of the readers with hints of love. I do know who is going to be with whom, but that is not relevant for me now.

But, as you may have noticed above, Edward and James both have names coming from Twilight. I didn’t do that on purpose, I swear. I liked the name Edward from the character in the Anita Blake books by Laurell K Hamilton, and now that I’ve used it for so long, it just seems like the right name for my character. And James, well I named him back when I had no idea what to do with him, back when I introduced him in the story late, during the first draft. And of course, the name has stuck again.

Then I realized while writing a scene today that James having a Volvo like Edward Cullen having a Volvo is just too close to comfort. I’m considering changing that Volvo into a BMW, or some other fancy German automobile, but then I’d have to change the car that Liz and her parents were in the night the accident claimed her parents. Then I’d be wrecking a BMW, and I kinda cringe at that idea since Beemers are one of my fav expensive cars. Oh well. It’s either that or Edward Cullen. Ick.

Huh. The dark clouds have become less dark. Well, it’s almost supper time. Need food…

Music: “Paradise Circus” by Massive Attack, featured on True Blood S3 E4. Great song.

Reading: Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy (for school), Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen, and Broken by Kelley Armstrong.

Watching: True Blood S1 and 3, some of Ashes to Ashes S3, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and going to watch Tess of the d’Urbervilles at some point this week.

Links: Critique Circle under tools.

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The Edge of Forever

July 17, 2010

Having a part-time job on the side of writing sucks. Even though I need the money, I can’t help but feel a little imprisoned in my life. The job is barely 20 hours a week, but I want time to myself, and I want time for writing. Writing is my full-time job, and you can’t relax while writing. For some people, it may be just a hobby they pursue on the side of their full-time job, but for me, it’s what I want to be.

My p-t job has been absolute chaos these past few weeks. I have just gotten a bad sore throat, in the middle of frickin’ summer! I got my G1 license so I am also learning to drive. And running errands on the side, which I am a bit behind on because I have neglected to bring back my overdue library books for the past four days.

So, from all of this I guess you can see that I am exhausted, mentally and physically. My weeks are starting to end with my thoughts being chaotic and panicked, with my eyes always on the time (when is it all gonna end? when is it all gonna end?!) and with my mind seeking out the next item on my to-do list.

Then there are the people in my life who don’t understand what being a writer means. My grandfather recently stumbled upon a novella I wrote during high school, and he read through the whole thing and really wants me to publish it. Thing is, I don’t remember much about that novella, and I would have to re-read, edit, then find places/people to shop the book around to. I am still working on Strange New World v5 when I’m not at my p-t work, and I am only a 100pgs in. 200 pgs more, at least, to go, and I only have until the beginning of September when I restart school.

Add to that everything already mentioned, and I am close to screaming. Really, really, really close. My mind is slowly swirling down into that deep black pit of emotional overload/depression and something’s gotta give soon.

I suppose writing is a saving grace in a way, even though it makes you want to tear your hair out. In a first draft, you can write write write whatever you want, no-holds-barred. You can explore the characters from toes to tips; you can write down all of the backstory just to get it out of your head; you can leave in all the crappy parts that make you cringe because you know you’re going to be editing them out anyways (or at least supposed to… I’m not so good at figuring out what to edit in my books).

Writing is jumping into another world. It’s cliff-diving, searching for an answer to some of your own questions, without having to dig through the shit that you yourself actually deal with. Dealing with other people’s problems also seems to help you forget about your own, and in writing, your characters are going to have problems in spades… or at least they should.

I write because I have to, because I suffocate if I go for too long without doing it. I suppose writing term papers is fine, but I’d rather be writing fiction.

So here’s to the edge of forever, may I always be writing, even in the deepest darkest pits of despair.

WIP: Strange New World

30079 / 80000 words. 38% done!

I decided to up the total word count to 80,000 because being 60% done didn’t seem right to me, lol

Music: “The Edge of Forever” by The Dream Academy

Reading: Dead to the World by Charlaine Harris (Sookie Stackhouse novels)

Watching: True Blood S3

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Where Did the Night Fall

June 27, 2010

The last couple of weeks have been really busy for me, and I feel like it’s only going to get worse. July is probably going to be worse than anything because so many people at work will be on vacation. That means less writing time, and more stress. I really don’t like not being able to write at least twice a week. I’ve noticed that when I finally do get the time to write, I feel much happier afterwards. Even if the writing sucks, at least I got it out.

However, limited writing time means that when I do get focused on my writing, I am still not focused enough. I think I’ve written about 40 pages without focusing on how my characters would act normally in the given situations, and that has cramped my writing. They are too OOC for my liking, and if I leave that for editing, then I will skip over it. I’m gonna have to redo that section.

It also hurts that there are still things I don’t understand about the story. My main male character, Edward, has changed dramatically since the first draft, but even though I “know” more about his personality, I still can’t get him down on paper right. I can’t even picture him. He’s just this blurry, grey area. If I don’t know how he should react but I do know what his personality should be like, then I feel like I’m strangling his character, and myself. I don’t understand him at all, and his responses on the page are horrible because of that.

His tarot spread was a part of me losing comprehension of who Edward is. The spread gave me more information of stuff I didn’t know what to do with. So the past weekend, I have been building character profiles for both of the male characters. This has given me great insight into their pasts. They are both old, one of them very very old, and knowing a bit about what they’ve been through has made me visualize them better. I might even work with the older character, James, more often. My first two drafts, I was uncertain about him, and his tarot spread made that worse. But knowing his past has made me excited to write him down on the page.

My next step in understanding the story is writing out short story pieces that fill in the backstory. I’ve already written one for the eldest character, Rose. It occurred to me that knowing how Rose got her abilities is as important as the main character getting her abilities. (Although it’s just occurred to me now that I left something out that I’d wanted to look at: how she felt physically when she got her ability.) Even though it won’t go into the main story, I’ll know what she went through and how she should react afterwards whenever Liz talks about learning their magic.

I think the next short I do will be about the night of their parents’ deaths. It will be a bit morbid, and graphic if past experiences are any indication, but the accident is quite important as details to the main story. It needs to be written, if only so that my details are consistent.

I will probably write all these shorts first, so that I can collect enough information to progress on the main story. Then I’ll go back and rewrite those pages.

Phew. That’s it for now, but thinking about everything else I have to, and want to, do is making me dizzy.

Music: “Timebomb” by Beck. (above title is a CD title by UNKLE)

Current Twitter background: Emily Blunt with DeviantArt brushes

Reading: the Reckoning by Kelley Armstrong; Moon Called and On the Prowl by Patricia Briggs; Club Dead by Charlaine Harris

Watching: True Blood S2 and 3

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I’m All Yours

June 16, 2010

Long time no update. Sorry. I’ve been working a lot so my writing has taken the back burner in the meantime. Some days I get some writing in, as can be seen on my Twitter, but it’s not much. I’m going to post on this blog a word meter of my progress:

WIP: Strange New World

16694 / 50000 words. 33% done!

Considering I haven’t really hit the major plotline yet, at least the detective plotline, the total word count will probably be more than 50,000, but I’m using that marker as a guideline.

I’m not sure if I mentioned this before, but I’m also working on a sample Book of Shadows/grimoire for SNW. Info about magic, layout of rituals and spells, etc will be added into it, both as a guide for what the sisters will be reading from their mother’s grimoire, and a guide for me to remember what certain things are. It’s not quite a series bible, but it’s close since a lot of information will be stored in it about magic. But I decided to write it out by hand, and I’m using encyclopedias for info about magic, so it’s going to take me awhile, unfortunately.

I have also been having a lot of fun developing graphics for/of the sisters. The new banner for this blog is of actresses that seem like the sisters to me. I made it awhile ago, but since then I have discovered the fine art of Photoshop brushes, which have been tricky to handle, but they make everything look so pretty! The only online example of my experiments with these brushes is the background for my Twitter account. That background is also of the sisters.

I’ve been reading a lot lately and watching my favourite TV shows again. I have started on Bone Crossed by Patricia Briggs, and I’m rereading the Darkest Powers trilogy by Kelley Armstrong (for the umpteenth time–I know, I’m weird). Kelley just posted the link to the new Darkest Powers website, which, aside from being really cool, has made me interested in her upcoming YA trilogy, Darkness Rising. I wasn’t all that interested before, but this series seems to be going in a different direction. Plus, it’s set in Canada. Go Kelley!

True Blood also restarted last Sunday, which has renewed my interest in it. The third book in the Sookie Stackhouse series, called Club Dead, has always been my favourite, so I can’t wait to see where Alan Ball takes the third season. I have to say though, that I was less than enthused about the second season. It seemed less than stellar to me, so I didn’t rewatch the episodes like I usually do with other shows. I’m going to rewatch S2 to see if I was just imagining it being worse than it was. I’m kinda hesitant about S3, because alot of plotlines have been changed to fit the show’s storyline, but the first episode of S3 was stellar. Definitely ‘Exceeds Expectations’. Can’t wait for the next. And I liked the addition of the ‘minisodes’ that HBO posted online about short clips of things that happened before the season started. Plus, the werewolf biker gang was cameo’d in the first ep, so more to come! Woot! Can’t wait to meet Alcide.

Links mentioned in post: the new Darkest Powers website for both YA trilogies by Kelley Armstrong; HBO’s True Blood website (Cdns can only see the minisodes in Cda’s HBO website); my Twitter account.

Music I’m listening to: “All Yours” by Metric, for the new Eclipse soundtrack

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Life on… something

June 3, 2010

I have started a new version of SNW. I know, it’s crazy. This will be version #5 officially, but unofficially, I think it’s more like seven in unfinished drafts, and maybe version three in finished drafts if I can complete it this summer. After doing the tarot card readings for my characters, I came up with some interesting stuff, so now I’m trying to streamline this version of SNW as well as fit in the new stuff that came with the tarot cards.

So far, it’s been interesting. I’ve been posting my page updates on Twitter, but I realized yesterday that there are more pages than it seems because I’ve been writing in 10-point font rather than 12-point. Publishers are sticklers for 12-point so I’d rather write in that than 10-point.

So, in 12-point, v5 is… *drum-roll* 35 pages! Woot! 5 chapters, and 10,000 words! I’m on a roll.

It is quite different writing this version. Each time I restart writing, I have to remind myself what direction I’m going with the characters, or else I forget. And when you get into a story, it’s very easy to forget where you’re going. I feel like the beginning of the story is a little distanced in the tone of the writing, but I don’t know if I’m imagining it. It’s best for me to just get the story down and look at it later, or hopefully have people from my Creative Writing class take a look at it.

The characters are going to be a little different this time around, and hopefully more real rather than stereotypical. I know in CW class, people were saying that the youngest sister, Alex, sounded too bad-ass or evil to be a real person. So I’m going to tone-down her rebellion, just a little bit, and make her snarkiness seem more subtle rather than so in-your-face, which I had been using before. The eldest is going to be quite different too and I know I’ll be constantly second-guessing where I’m going with her character every step of the way. But it might be worth it. I’ll find out.

I couldn’t write today because I had to go into Newmarket, but I’m going to try and write tomorrow, and hopefully Saturday I’ll get some writing done. Sunday I know I won’t, at least not in the afternoon. My town is having this big gigantic street sale on Yonge Street, so I will be there. I haven’t missed it the past couple of years and rain won’t stop me, lol.

I’m also rereading my favourite fantasy books around my writing time, which is helping. I’ve discovered that while Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series has really good ideas in it and really good action, she has a tendency to be too verbose, which I am going to try and avoid. But I love that series immensely! The werewolves are fabulously written, and the main character, Mercy, is active and very intriguing. I’ve already read through the first two novels and started on the third. At some point, I’m going to buy the fifth novel that came out in April, but I might wait for it to come out in paperback. Hardcover is so expensive!

Another writer whose stuff I’m rereading is Kelley Armstrong. I think I mentioned that I was reading her Darkest Powers trilogy, which is YA series. I decided to reread Dime Store Magic and now I’m working backwards, rereading Stolen now from her adult series. I should try and finish Broken, which I started reading in school last year, but didn’t finish. I didn’t really like the plotline of that book, but hey, coming up with plots that have potential is very hard, and series writers usually only have a year to write one book. I’ll try reading it again soon.

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