Deadly Ever After

Archive for the tag “writing process”

WHAT THE HELL DO YOU DO ALL DAY? Progress on RUNNING AWAY

TODAY’S BREW: NyQuil, but just enough that I can still roam around and be parenty.

By Julie

Sure, sure, I’ve gotten these emails this week during the smashing week of BECAUSE THE NIGHT’s release:

Where have you been, Julie?  and

Our lives hurt without you, Julie. Come back to us.and

Please, tell us you’ll be back after BECAUSE THE NIGHT takes the world by wicked storm and you’ve had your brief hiatus to celebrate Kristen’s dreams coming true.

Okay, there’s a chance that none of those things were ever said to me. But now that you mention it, Julie, what the hell have you been doing, you lazy bitch?

Hey, I’ve been writing, don’t look at me like that! Put that pitchfork down! What the hell?!

*clears throat*

I hit 55,000 words on RUNNING AWAY, the sequel to RUNNING HOME last night. YEAH HUH, I DID TOO.

Oh, also, IT WILL NEVER, EVER END. The end is not almost near.

To update you on how my progress is after I wrote the little post about how I refuse to have my ass kicked by this novel, which, in all fairness, is a little daunting, I’m swimming with it easily. This book is going great. There’s so much happening, it’s like a whirlwind of life slapped Eliza in the face then kicked her a few times, but she still looks good despite being in her pajamas the whole time and having hamburger bun bits under her fingernails. There’s a new cast of characters, building upon some of the old ones, new surprises, old resolutions.

Also, we’re in Japan now, on a mountain top temple that may or may not exist to the ordinary human eyes, and hundreds of vampires live there.

Originally, RUNNING HOME was written completely by hand, so I had no idea how long the book actually was. Turns out that it was really two books, so RUNNING AWAY had a great start. But after revisions and making RUNNING HOME everything it should be, the sequel needed new work, too. So I have a pile of binder clipped loose pages, a bunch of handwritten notes that don’t go together, and random thoughts on more random word documents in my laptop machine to sift through as I write this book, to see what fits. Then there’s the occasional research on a place I have never been and a language I scarcely speak. There’s new mythology to thicken the familiar one from RUNNING HOME, so making that seamless is a job. It’s a process that’s different from writing THE HARPY and THE ANIMAL (which has yet to see the light of day) in that it’s just plain slower.

That being said, I’m still miraculously on track to finish the draft by the end of November. Some days I can write my requirement of 1,000 words, other days I can do 2,400.

But one thing I have made sure to do that’s a little new for me is to make sure I STOP.

I stop before I’m exhausted. I stop before I WANT to stop. That way I’m always fresh and ready to hit it again the next day. Slow and steady is winning this race. It’s easy to say “I’m on a roll!” and write for hours and hours, but that isn’t the long haul smart idea.

My writing process has to change with me. There can’t be one process that works all the time for every book BECAUSE REASONS:

1.  Every book is different. DUH.

2. If you do the same thing every time you write, how do you grow as a writer?

3. Writing is an experiment. If you don’t mix it up a bit, you never discover the next best thing.

I’m a pantser. I don’t have an outline, per se, ever. Like, ever. But a new thing I have to do for this book is at the end of every writing session, I write a quickie bullet point whosey that says what I need to focus on the next time I sit down. It helps keep me on the straight and narrow. Also, I’m writing this book basically music-free. It’s HARD, yo. But I need a lot of quiet for this one.

Now, I’m no hippie, so there are some rules that I have stuck to. In a former post, I gave a THIS IS HOW IT’S GOING TO GO sermon, and I’m on point. (See how I make it my bitch here http://wp.me/p2x7oj-wj). My timeline has changed a bit, but the essentials are still in place. I’m nothing if not a motherfucker about hearing the phrase, “my muse is hiding,” and “I’m just not inspired.” Hell, no. This book works for you. You’re the creator, make it do what you want, when you want. Don’t let some mystical fucking force call the shots on your idea. So, yeah, RUNNING AWAY is going according to plan.

Thanks for giving a crap! I shall post an excerpt, maybe, one of these days. If you’re good.

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Here’s What I Do & Maybe You Should Too Or Not: Starting Your Book

TODAY’S BREW: A lot. I’m writing almost around the clock

By Julie

I was crybabying a little bit about the writing process of Running Away recently, and that it was HAAAAAAARD. This is one step away for me from saying “my muse left the fucking building” or something. Books don’t happen; you make them. No muse required.

MY BOOK BELLYACHE: AN OUTDATED MIX OF OLD MATERIAL AND NEW IDEAS THAT DON’T MESH AND I HAVE TO MAKE THEM.

I can pussyfoot around it, or I can write a book. (hehe. pussyfoot. ) So, I buckled the hell down on what I need to do to get this book where I want it, when I want it. My characters work for me, not the other way around. But this is not a post about how badass I am. This is what I did to get my shit handled. Maybe it will work for you, too.

1. I DETERMINED HOW MANY WORDS I WANT THIS FIRST DRAFT TO BE.

Start at square one. I generally go with a 65,000 word first draft goal. This allows for plenty to be added later, and still space to cut as well. Use whatever number you like.

2.  I GAVE MYSELF A DAILY REQUIREMENT OF WORDS. NOT GOAL. REQUIREMENT.

Look. A “goal” that you give yourself implies that you might not achieve it. A requirement, on the other hand, allows no room for fault. DON’T GIVE YOURSELF AN OUT.  This is your dream, nobody else’s. 1000 words a day is good for me. A challenge, but achievable.

3. DO THE MATH.

That means I have 65 days to write this book, not counting what I have already written. That’s my buffer if I get sick, or whatever. But 1000 words a day, every day, until November 1st. Boom.

4.  ACCEPT THAT THE FIRST DRAFT IS GOING TO BE FAULTY.

There’s going to be more drafts. As many as you want.

5.  MAKE A LIST OF THE DRAFTS YOU WANT TO DO.

This is tough, but doesn’t have to be. There’s a million things you want for your novel, and there’s a level of complexity I want in mine, and it takes a few tries to get it there. I give this process the attention it deserves. This is a long one, so pay attention, bitches. This has now moved on to LETTERS.

A) Draft 1: OPERATION SPIT IT THE FUCK OUT.

Get the words out, all 1000 per day. You can make them go away later if they’re awful, but you have to start. You have to.

B) MAKE A LIST OF DRAFTS FOR ALL THE AWESOMENESS YOU WANT IN THE BOOK THAT YOU’LL HAVE TO REVISIT AND MAKE HAPPEN AFTER THE SHITTY FIRST DRAFT.

My list of drafts is as follows (and yeah, I’ll share it with you, word for word).

DRAFT 1: GET THE WORDS OUT. BAD AND GOOD. MINIMAL RESEARCH.

DRAFT 2: CLARIFY STORY. MORE RESEARCH. ASK WHY, OR IF THERE WAS ANY OTHER WAY. MAKE IT WORSE (for your MC).

DRAFT 3: THEMES….THICKEN IT (for me, death, crows, fate, fire…)

DRAFT 4: VAMPIRE STUFF

DRAFT 5: DIALOGE/VOICE. MAKE SURE THEY SOUND LIKE THEM. AND DIALOGUE IS CONVERSATIONAL.

DRAFT 6: GET RID OF THE FUCKING WORDS JUST, I FELT, I WAS. (your list of words that show up too often may be different. Chuck Wendig keeps his in a file in a drawer, and pulls it out during editing.) If you don’t know who Chuck Wendig is, start here. http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2013/02/26/how-to-karate-your-novel-and-edit-that-motherfucker-hard-a-no-foolin-fix-that-shit-editing-plan-to-finish-the-goddamn-job/  I’ll try not to judge you.

So, there you go! That’s how I write a book. Well, not all books, just this one, but man, I do feel good about it. And I’m off to a great start, which means I’ll have a great finish.

I leave you with this thought, and this is me tooting my own horn a little, because finishing a book is a big fucking deal. If it sits in a drawer and never sees the light of day, it’s a big deal. 30% of people who start writing books never finish those books.

I WILL FINISH THIS BOOK, AND EVEN MORE ON POINT, I WILL FINISH IT BY THE DEADLINE I SET FOR MYSELF. I always goddamn do. Because if I can’t remain true to what I want, what’s the point? If I don’t push myself hard enough to make it happen, how good can it be? Writing isn’t supposed to be easy and comfortable. It’s supposed to bleed your fucking soul a little. Revel in your own suffering and challenges. WRITE THE FUCKING BOOK.

YOU DON’T SCARE ME, NEW BOOK. A story told with Matrix images.

TODAY’S BREW: Caramel Apple Coffee because that is a real thing!

By Julie

I’m a bit of a writing jerk, I’ve realized. I never have had the dreaded writer’s block, and when the time hits that I feel like I have no new ideas, I get one just from being angry that I haven’t got one. They may not be the next Cathcher in the Rye, but when I settle down to write a book, I do it. The words come.

I began re-working my first draft of Running Away, the sequel to Running Home September 3rd. It’s a mix of new material, and a first draft that is so old at this point it’s like the grandmother of books. So, there’s WORK involved, and writing a sequel is HARD, yo, because you have to make sure you give enough basis that a newbie would understand the book if they hadn’t read the first one, but weave that information in seamlessly and in a storytelling fashion, that doesn’t take the reader out of the moment.

So, the whole thing has made me a little slow on the uptake with this book. I don’t like that. I have what the husband calls the ME FIRST attitude. I always go first, it’s sorta my thing. I don’t hesitate. You can’t hesitate in life, or you’ll miss it.

Right now I feel like this.

RUNNING AWAY IS SAYING “STOP TRYING TO HIT ME AND HIT ME!”

I am tired of pussyfooting (pardon my French) around this book. Time to write it and if it sucks, write it again and again. But it has to be dove into. This is the point in all those boxing matches when everyone starts yelling “HIT HIM ALREADY!”

Time to hit the book. Time to get whatever crappy words down I have, and then make them better, and better still. This is different from the way I usually work. I write sparsely, and make every word count, then go back and embellish. I leave a good 10-15,000 word opening at the end of a first draft, so that I can ADD instead of DELETING words that I labored over. I did the deleting thing with Running Home. No thank you, Writing. No thank you.

But every book I write has its own process. My process for Running Away is different, still. That’s cool. It means there’s a new thing to be learned, and a new challenge to master.

SO HELLS YEAH, I’M READY TO WRITE A BOOK. I’m ready for you all to meet the new characters, one of which I am in love with to the point that even Nicholas would be jealous. And I’m dying for you to see the way Eliza is transforming. How she plummets into her own despair, and what changes in her, for her.

And I am absolutely dying to see what these changes do to me.

Bring it on, Running Away. Bring it on.

J. Liz Hill Is The Best Now Go See Why Because I Said So

TODAY’S BREW: Pumpkin is as pumpkin does. I have no idea what that means.

By Julie

If you’re all up in my face on Twitter, then you know that I talk to J. Liz Hill all damn day. I adore her. One of the kindest, most generous and thoughtful people on the planet, and she will destroy you with her writing habits. I mean this girl writes all the time. And never complains that ughgh my muse has been kicked in the face and can’t get up or I’m just too tired from living life to create as I am supposed to do. She is an inspiration and a half.

AND YET SHE NEVER TALKS ABOUT HERSELF AND NOT ENOUGH PEOPLE KNOW ABOUT HER BOOK, BOUND, AND NOW THE SEQUEL IS UPON US ALMOST AND YOU NEED TO KNOW.

So first, this:

http://t.co/TPAOhxcNQC

1. Give us a quick few lines to sum up Bound and Possession.

BOUND

Faylanna graduates from the academy where she learned magic only to find her father has made some sort of deal that involves her, though she’s never been apprised of this. When she flees from his men rather than go along with this, she meets Tavis, who’s on the road himself in search of his long-vanished mother. They help each other through difficult events, and all the while, Faylanna wonders whether she should at last give in to the pressure to make a choice that will be with her for the rest of her life: To bind her magic to that of another.

POSSESSION

Faylanna and Tavis face new challenges, each learning things about themselves that have been kept secret from them by everyone around them. The truth changes the nature of their lives. When Tavis’ mother is kidnapped in an effort to resurrect old plots they both thought finished, the race is on to save her. As the secrets pile up, their weight might destroy Faylanna and Tavis.

2. What’s your favorite supernatural/mythological species to write about and why?

Angels, hands down. I love anything with wings, really, but the idea of angels has always fascinated me, especially the fall from grace that they’re capable of. Come to think of it, that might explain my next project.

3. Tell me your favorite line or paragraph from Bound or Possession.

This is one of my favorites that doesn’t give anything away. It’s from Possession, part of a scene between Tavis and Faylanna.

The light from the hall had ruined his ability to see in the darkened room for the moment, but he heard her cross to him. When she was close enough, he reached out, put his hands on her slender waist and pulled her closer. His own relief was overwhelming as he slid his arms around her. Laying his head on her chest, he listened to her heartbeat and it reminded him that there was still one constant in his world. She tangled the fingers of one hand in his hair and her other arm went around his shoulders. He loved that no words were necessary with her at that moment.

4. Tell me a little about your writing process, and how you maintain such a rigorous schedule.

My writing process. Well, it usually starts with an idea or a character and I make notes as more of it comes to me. I write everything down, no matter how crazy it seems or unlikely. Eventually, the idea feels more like a story than disconnected notes and at that point, I organize the notes in a program called Omni Outliner. Once I’ve done that, I outline the whole story from beginning to end, covering all the major events. These things often happen while I’m editing other things and making notes on other stories by the way. Note-making never stops.

Then I start writing. Well, I start the first draft. Everything else (except the occasional note) stops at this point. Everything is about writing the draft. I put in long days (5-6 hours after my day job, all day on weekends) of writing. Over time my average words per day has increased, but these days, it takes me about 20-30 days to write that draft.

After that, I leave it alone for at least a couple months before I start revisions. I typically go through three rounds of revisions. One for major story stuff, one for wording and continuity and a final one that I do out loud. It’s good for catching repetitive wording and anything that’s leftover from previous edits (I call them the ghosts of edits past)

How do I keep it up? I never stop. Momentum is a key part of this whole thing, and that’s easier to maintain than have to rebuild, so I just keep rolling from one thing to another. Don’t ask how many novels I’m juggling through this process. The number scares me if I think too much about it.

5. What’s going to make readers fall in love with Bound and Possession?

I think readers will love how Faylanna and Tavis negotiate their relationship, not to mention how they each try to cope and help each other cope with the trials they both face. For them, falling in love with each other is just the beginning in many ways.

6. Now you. Tell us your favorite thing to do when you aren’t writing. Twitter doesn’t count. 😉

Playing video games. I love anything with a good story, so I mostly end up playing roleplaying games, but I loved the storyline in the Halo series. I find there’s a lot to be learned from them anyway, on a craft level, but I just plain enjoy them as a way to get my mind off working.

7. What’s the thing you’ve never done that you wish you had and/or plan to do?

I’ve never been on a vacation to anywhere tropical and beachy. I’d love to stand on the beach with the sand in my toes and the ocean lapping at my feet. That’s not in the current budget, but maybe in the next couple of years I can do that.

8. What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever done?

The problem is that I rarely think the things I do are cool. I mean, it’s just me doing them, right? I guess going to Norwescon earlier this year was pretty cool. I did it all on my own, without knowing anyone else who was going. It was scary and I may have ended up texting a friend in a panic at one point (I totally did), but I went and participated in stuff. I ended up having fun and I’m going back next year.

9. Dinner party, and you can invite 6 people, living or dead. Who are they and why?

Anne McCaffrey – Because she was the author who inspired me most to start writing myself.

Carol Berg – Because she’s my favorite living author. I met her briefly at Norwescon and she’s fabulous. (I somehow maintained my dignity and didn’t turn into an brainless fangirl)

Julie and Kristen – Because we really do need to hang out. Seriously. IRL.

(Side note: We eat a lot. This may be something the host of any dinner party may want to rethink.)

Trent Reznor – My all time favorite musician. How could I not have him there?

Keanu Reeves – For a long list of reasons, particularly that I find him fascinating and would love to have a conversation with him.

10. Describe your perfect day.

It’s going to sound kind of corny, but writing. A day where the story’s flowing like a torrent and it’s raining outside. Good music playing. A hot coffee at my side. That’s perfect to me. Since I live in Vancouver, you can imagine, I get these from time to time. 🙂

 

 

The Rules Of Writing And Why I Break Them

Today’s Brew:  Cherry Chip Swirl.  It’s every bit as good as it sounds.  ‘Cuse me while I go make my third cup.  OK, I’m back.

by Kristen

You were always my late adapter.  I couldn’t tell you what to do, so I just let you do your own thing.  And you always got everything done, it looked great, and you’d sell a ton of stuff.

—Dora, my old boss at Piercing Pagoda and one of my very best friends

Wow, you both work so differently from each other.

—Julie, when I had her assist me on a job that another makeup artist worked as well

It’s no surprise I march to the beat of my own drummer. I read magazines from back to front.  When I did the art portion of my makeup classes, my brain wouldn’t let me do things the way the teacher showed us.  I had to do it differently.  That’s when I realized it was art, and there were no rules to creativity.

YOU MUST WRITE EVERYDAY!  LET’S SPRINT!  TWEET OUT LINES! WRITE CRAP!  JUST GET WORDS DOWN!  

I won’t lie, I tried to do all these things.  But they gave me anxiety attacks.  It just isn’t how I work.

Some days, life just gets in the way.  Sure, I know, I should be treating writing like a job.  And I couldn’t call in to my paying job and say, “Oh, sorry. I can’t come today because the house is dirty.”  But I will clean my house before I write, because the mess will distract me to the point I won’t write anyway.  And speaking of that day job thing, sometimes I put it super long hours and all my brain can do is take a shower and go to bed at the end of the day.  Other times,  I need to do other creative things to inspire me to write. As I’ve mentioned before, I love decorating my house.  I just glittered all my switch plates. They make me smile.  I need to get out of the house and experience things.  All of this helps my writing.

Julie loves sprinting.  It helps motivate her.  Sometimes I participate, but I don’t kill myself if I’m not feeling it in that half hour time slot.  Even before we were the Twitter side show we’ve become, Julie would just tell me to “Go!”  And I’d panic.  I can’t write like that.  I have to think about it, know where I am going.  Because The Night had a solid plan.  I even wrote some of it out of order.  Night Moves is being sort of pantsed.  Way out of character for me.  I need to think about what happens next, then write it.  I have to have some control.

My writing is more conversational.  I write like I talk, as if I was telling a story.  Julie comes up with these great word combinations and works with those.  They work great as tweets.  Mine, not so much.  It doesn’t mean that it’s bad, it’s just a different way of getting to the same place.  I love Julie, and she’s an amazing writer, but I don’t want to write like her.  I want Julie to write like Julie and Kristen to write like Kristen.

When I start each of my writing sessions, I read over what I wrote last time.  I tweak as I go, I know, another big writing no no.  But it helps me get geared up for the flow of the next piece.  I can’t write for the sake of writing, words that might not make sense.  Sure, sometimes I don’t exactly know where I’m going and my characters surprise me.  For as much of a control freak as I am, I do let them take control.  It is their story.  But I like to have some hints about what will happen next.  Editing as I go helps me have a more complete piece even at the end of the first draft.  I know that this first draft won’t be perfect, but it’s not going to be a steaming pile of cow patty, either.  I fix plot holes as I go and add and subtract as I work.  When I do go back and read for consistency and to reconnect with the earlier parts of the book, I feel pretty good about it. And that keeps me writing.

All of that being said, I do write most days.  But I don’t beat myself up when I can’t.  I keep notebooks everywhere and voice text myself ideas while I drive.  When I do write, I can write fairly quickly and get a lot of words down in a sitting.  Yesterday I clocked in at about 2500 in two small sessions.   I do my best to treat it like a job.  With every job, there comes a time of the day you put it down and live the other parts of your life.

Once I became active on Twitter, I saw how different my process was than a lot of other people’s processes.  At first it made me feel like I was doing it wrong.  But it’s art, a creative process, and whatever way is best for you is the way you should be creative.  I can’t be the only one who has a different way of doing things.  Creatives don’t like to follow rules.  So if you are doing your own thing, keep doing it.  Just keep getting the words down.

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