rowyn: (studious)
I've been working on the current draft of Demon's Lure since February. Technically, it's a book I started in 2009, but I only wrote around 5000 words back then, plus a rough outline. I scrapped most of the outline and started writing again from scratch. The book went much better this time around.

But, while I'd written a detailed outline for the new version, my draft had severely diverged from the original outline. From where I am now, the rest of the outline works remarkably well all things considered, despite that I've kept changing things as I wrote the story.

The changes I'd made had, however, made the first half of the book much longer than I'd anticipated. I was at 80,000 words and less than 60% of the way through the outline. I complained to Maggie that the book might end up over 150,000 words, instead of the 100-120k I'd been targeting.

"Split it in half?" she suggested.

"Split it in half" is what multiple people advised me to do with Silver Scales and A Rational Arrangement, and in both cases I declined because I don't feel like either book made a satisfying story if I chopped it into two parts. But the way I'd changed Demon's Lure already from the outline did make the current section a reasonably good break point. The central conflict may not have been exactly resolved, but it has mutated dramatically, to the point where it's really a different conflict now. I could finish out the current scene and it ends on a "this obviously needs a sequel" note, but it wouldn't be a total cliffhanger.

So I wrote the rest of the scene and went "Huh. So I guess I finished a book?"

It needs considerable revising and probably some new scenes before I am ready for beta readers on it. I expect that I will plug away at Book 2 as my next-thing-to-write, although I'm not ruling out letting myself work on a different book. I won't be releasing Demon's Lure until 2018 anyway, because I have three books coming out in the next eleven weeks and that's plenty. Really.

But I feel pretty good about having finished a draft and edited three books, with eleven weeks still to go in 2017. I mean, "edit The Sun Etherium and draft another book" was one of my STRETCH goals for this year. I have already finished my regular goals. And those were set when I didn't know Lut had cancer. o__o

Granted, I've decided against serializing Scales and I was still editing it in June and nowhere near releasing it. So my time scale has slipped and I removed one of my goals for business reasons. Even so.

... I still feel kind of like I should finish drafts for another two books this year, though. So I can be sure of releasing three books in 2018 too. And I do have most of a draft of Fellwater written, and book two of Demon's Lure would be comparatively short, by my usual standards ...

I'm not gonna push for this, though. One thing at a time. And Lut is still sick and the new normal is different and not as conducive to writing as the old normal. I need to remember this and not charge off thinking I can write 3000 words in a day and everything else in life will sort itself out.

Regardless: I finished a draft! \o/

rowyn: (studious)
After posting yesterday's poll, I came up with a few new possible pairings. So I'm narrowing this down some and splitting out the Book 2 possibilities because there's more of them.

Poll #18700 Great Unnamed Fantasy Duology Part 2
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 20


Which title do you like best? (These are for book 1)

View Answers

1. Silver Scales
17 (85.0%)

1. Dragon's Scales
1 (5.0%)

1. Warlock's Birthright
2 (10.0%)

Which title do you like best? (these are for book 2.)

View Answers

2. Golden Eggs
7 (36.8%)

2. Golden Birthright
3 (15.8%)

2. Golden Legacy
4 (21.1%)

2. Dragon's Birthright
1 (5.3%)

2. Dragon's Legacy
4 (21.1%)

How do you feel about articles in the title?

View Answers

Use definite article (The Silver Scales, etc.)
1 (5.3%)

Use indefinite article (A Warlock's Birthright, etc.)
2 (10.5%)

No articles (as titles are shown in poll questions above)
16 (84.2%)

Are polls fun?

View Answers

Yes
4 (22.2%)

HECK YEAH
4 (22.2%)

Please just pick your favorite title already like you're going to anyway
3 (16.7%)

I like to click it click it
7 (38.9%)

rowyn: (studious)
I am still poking along with final edits on Scales, aka my Great Unnamed Fantasy Duology. I am, oh, 60% through what'll be my second-to-last editing pass. The last pass will be to see if I added any mistakes on my second-to-last pass, because I'm still doing fairly significant revisions. Mostly taking out words. I've chopped out about 12,000 on this pass, a few thousand by deleting whole scenes, and the majority by rephrasing things more concisely and trimming unnecessary descriptions and such. A few words here, a few there, it adds up. I am long-winded, y'all. You knew that.

Anyway, I am still indecisive over book titles, so I am going to use my time-honored resolution method of LET'S DO A POLL.

Also debating whether or not I want to go to the trouble of serializing it, so I'll throw that in here.

Also, by "which title do you like?" I mean "which title would you be most likely to remember/look at the blurb for if you saw it?" Not being familiar with the story is no impediment to voting. :) If you don't have an account to vote in the poll, feel free to leave a comment, they're open to anonymous.

Poll #18695 Great Unnamed Fantasy Duology
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 20


Which pair of titles do you like? (Pick as many as you like.) "1" would be the title for the first book, and "2" is the title for the second.

View Answers

1: A Dragon's Scales 2: A Dragon's Birthright
11 (61.1%)

1: Silver Scales 2: Golden Birthright
11 (61.1%)

1: Silver Warlock 2: Gold Dragon
5 (27.8%)

1: Warlock's Redemption 2: Dragon's Legacy
6 (33.3%)

1: Warlock: Redemption 2: Dragon: Legacy
0 (0.0%)

1: Warlock: Redemption 2: Dragon: Rebirth
1 (5.6%)

1: Redemption of A Warlock 2: Legacy of a Dragon
4 (22.2%)

1: Scales 2: Birthright
5 (27.8%)

1: Redemption 2: Legacy
1 (5.6%)

Which pair of titles do you like BEST? (Pick one) "1" would be the title for the first book, and "2" is the title for the second.

View Answers

1: A Dragon's Scales 2: A Dragon's Birthright
4 (22.2%)

1: Silver Scales 2: Golden Birthright
10 (55.6%)

1: Silver Warlock 2: Gold Dragon
0 (0.0%)

1: Warlock's Redemption 2: Dragon's Legacy
1 (5.6%)

1: Warlock: Redemption 2: Dragon: Legacy
0 (0.0%)

1: Warlock: Redemption 2: Dragon: Rebirth
2 (11.1%)

1: Redemption of A Warlock 2: Legacy of a Dragon
1 (5.6%)

1: Scales 2: Birthright
0 (0.0%)

1: Redemption 2: Legacy
0 (0.0%)

Other Title suggestions:

If I serialized book one on Dreamwidth and my website, would you read it in that form?

View Answers

Yes, I prefer serials
3 (15.8%)

Yes, but I don't really care
10 (52.6%)

Nah, I prefer books to serials
3 (15.8%)

Ooh clickie
3 (15.8%)

rowyn: (Default)
My Editing Process

Ugh I don't want to edit.
*read Twitter*
Still don't want to edit
*write a scene in a new book*
why is the editing not done already
*open spreadsheet of planned changes, Evernote, three different Google word docs*
*read Twitter some more*
*stare at spreadsheet*
All of these are too hard
*read LJ friends' list*
*pick one item from spreadsheet*
*flip between different parts of book in total despair*
*play with Flight Rising*
*select a scene from book*
*re-read scene*
*despair some more*
*read Twitter*
*go back to scene. Insert two new sentences*
*cross item off editing list*
*wonder why this is taking so long*
rowyn: (Default)
[ Content note: this is about written kink and rape scenes. Contains nothing explicit, however.]

I was talking to a friend of mine about the distinction between "rape written to titillate" and "rape written to be unpleasant/traumatic". (I am sure this is a totally normal, everyday topic, and there is nothing weird about discussing it. At least not when one is writing BDSM erotica.)

I am in kind of a strange position on this topic. I enjoy kink, including rape fantasies, but my tastes in written erotica are finicky enough that I don't look for stuff that satisfies it.  I say "finicky" because it's not that my tastes are particularly bizarre, it's that it's hard for me to gauge what will appeal to me versus what will squick me. I have engaged in some BDSM, both online and RL, but not a great deal. So while I'm not totally hypothetical about the subject, I am nothing like an expert.

My experience, such as it is, is that there are two separate axes: "Do I, personally, find this erotic?" and "Is this designed to titillate?" I may regard something as titillating even if it doesn't appeal to me personally, and I may find something erotic even if I am fairly confident it's not intended to be.

This is not quite the same as "author intent". For example, someone can intend to write a rape scene as a horrific event, but end up writing it as erotic because that's the only way they know to describe the action involved. But I suspect it's pretty common for the way the author feels about the action to affect the way it's portrayed.

But I do have a lot of trouble articulating what exact qualities differentiate "this is not designed to titillate" from "this is".

To return to the specific issue of rape: I can easily name some examples of "non-titillating rape": Captive Prince (the first book, not the series) and Even the Wingless both contain scenes of rape, and in both cases I not only felt revulsed but felt that the scenes were written to evoke revulsion. I have a harder time naming examples of titillating rape, not because I've not read it, but because what I've read is all unpublished. Either it's stuff I wrote myself, or scenes I watched or took part in on a MUCK, or material from forums or archives I browsed many years ago. Oh, wait, I read a lot of rape in historical romance when I was a teen, except that it was supposed to be romantic so they never called it rape. The Flame and the Flower is a good example of that.

It is not as simple as "is it told from the victim's perspective or the assailant's?" or "does it emphasize the assailant's pleasure or the victim's misery?" Because a rape scene written to be erotic can still be from the victim's perspective and be about how much pain the victim is in.

I think one quality of titillation is the way the action and the victim are described: titillation will emphasize the sexiness of the body and use sensual language. Certainly some tropes are common only to erotica and porn, like the rape victim who comes to enjoy being raped. But it's hard for me to say what exactly distinguishes "this is fetishizing pain" and "this is depicting pain to make the reader feel tortured". I am put in mind of the Supreme Court justice who declined to define what he meant by "hard-core pornography": "I know it when I see it".

Anyway, I write this entire long-winded piece because I'm curious if other people share this same sense, that writing kink erotica is not a matter of what one describes as much as the way one describes it. And, if you do ... how would you describe the difference between the two?
rowyn: (Default)
I was talking to @AlphaRaposa and @LynThornAlder on Twitter about the kinds of feedback writers receive and the kinds they want, and thought this might be a fun thing to expound upon at greater length.

 

The conversation was touched off by a post from an author who really, really hated comments of the "PLEASE WRITE MORE" variety.

 

I am not completely unsympathetic to that position. There were ten or so years when I was writing erratically and sharing my work as it was written. At that time, I found it guilt-inducing to have people ask after the next update. But at this stage of my life, I like it when people leave any kind of positive comment, including "WANT MOAR". Alpha and Lyn were much the same way. Encouragement is good!

 

On the broader topic of feedback in general, I find different kinds of feedback are helpful at different stages of my process.

So here are some broad categories of feedback:

  • Cheerleading: The best kind of cheerleading is not just "Yay, you wrote more, I love this story!" but responds specifically to the content of the installment. "I love the way this character snarks about that one thing!" Cheerleading is always beloved; I don't know anyone who objects to it at any stage. Some people may think "but it's not necessary -- it's not like you're going to change something after finding out it's good", but it actually is important to the revision process. If one person dislikes something and three people love it, but I only hear from the first person, I will probably change it. Similarly, a scene or a line might be cut for space or pacing, but if it's a favorite with readers, I would look for something less popular to ditch.
  • Spurring: I'll put "WRITE MORE" and "NOOOO I don't want to wait for the next installment" and "will you update soon?" kinds of comments into this category. These are specific, direct requests to the writer to produce more of this particular story.
  • Neutral commentary: This is general chatter about the story: "Hey, John Doe made it to the castle! I wonder what's inside?" or "Jane and JD met! I was wondering if they were going to". Neutral commentary lets the author know the reader is still following along and what things caught their attention.
  • Structural critique (major/minor): Criticism of the plot/characters/setting on the whole. This would be stuff like "I don't understand how the characters got to this ending" or "this character's motivations don't make sense" or "there's a huge plot hole here". Major structural criticism means "this is a thing that affects a lot of the events of the book and would require significant revision", like "I hate your protagonist, she is too passive and has no effect on the story" or "the plot feels really random and doesn't make sense" or "there is no depth to this setting". Minor might represent a serious weakness, like "you did not foreshadow the technology that your characters use to solve the crisis", but one that can be easily fixed. What I personally like in structural critiques is solutions. So not just "this is a problem" but "and here's one or more ways to fix it". I don't know if all authors appreciate this, but I certainly do.
  • Word choice: Noting sentences that are awkward or words that don't fit for the setting. These aren't strictly errors, just things that could be phrased better.
  • Typos, spelling & grammar errors: Simple, straightforward mistakes.

 

And here are my stages of writing:

 

  • Outlining: This is when I figure out the broad details of plot, character, and setting. This is a great time for structural critique, especially major ones, because it's much easier to revise an outline than a novel. Pointing out word choice issues or typos in an outline is pointless.
    • My desired feedback: Cheerleading, spurring, structural
  • Drafting: From 2002 to 2014 or so, I shared my drafts of novels and stories as I wrote them, with a small group of friends. The only kind of feedback I wanted at this stage was cheerleading or neutral commentary. Negative feedback of any kind did bad things for my likelihood of completing the draft. This is one of the reasons I stopped showing my drafts to people while I was still writing them. Other reasons: I don't want to "use up" my beta-reading audience on a stage where all they can do is cheerlead; I'd rather they read the finished draft and could give me detailed feedback. Also, I now write at a pace that's more likely to lose people who are used to reading in bite-sized serial chunks. Most importantly: in the past, I needed cheerleading to motivate me to finish a novel. I don't any more. I think this is mostly that I am now confident that several people besides myself will read what I have to write, and so I don't need them to prove on an ongoing basis that they will. Note: this is all deeply personal and no reflection on the reasons or motives that other people have. Anyway, I don't get feedback at this stage of my writing any more and for now I'm very happy with that.
    • My desired feedback: None. I don't share at this stage. Back when I did: cheerleading.
  • Revision: At this stage, I have finished the draft and done whatever revisions I personally thought were necessary. (My first draft usually ends up with some inconsistencies that I documented along the way and will fix on my own, and other such things, so I make those changes before I ask for readers.) Here, I can take pretty much any form of feedback: I don't need to worry that it will cripple my motivation to work on the project because, hey, it's basically done any way. I may be sad to learn the whole thing needs a major overhaul and makes no sense, but the worst that happens is "I don't revise it that way" rather than "I give up halfway through the draft and never look at it again".
    • My desired feedback: Any, but especially "how to fix structural issues".
  • Polishing: This is after I've let various people read it and made whatever changes I plan to based on their feedback. I am probably not going to make any structural changes at this point, but I don't really mind hearing it. Mostly I just want to hear about errors or awkward wording. In a more-perfect world, I would only get structural feedback at the first "revision" stage and not worry about wording then, and I would only get line-level and error feedback at the "polishing" stage. This is not that world, so I don't worry that much about getting both kinds at both stages. 
    • My desired feedback: Any, but especially word choice and typos.
  • Post-publication: Once It's out in the wild, I am not going to make any major revisions. I am not even going to make minor revisions. I once had someone write me a few months after I published A Rational Arrangement to tell me what major changes they thought would improve the book. Which, okay, that's fine, I can consider this in future books, I guess? But I'm not going to change a book that's already sold a thousand copies. I am in the middle of writing the next book. I am so done with the last one. SO DONE. However! I do continue to fix typos and other minor errors in my published books, so I am still happy to have people point out errors.
    • My desired feedback: Cheerleading, spurring, typos

This is my process right now, and everyone's process is different. Even my own process used to be different. What works for me may not work for other people, which is the most important thing to remember. We get taught things like "this is how to give a critique" and "this is how to receive one" as if everyone was stamped out of a cookie cutter. As if it were unreasonable to specify "these are the types of feedback that are useful to me" or "this is the type of feedback I am capable of giving". I have to love and adore a person AND their writing before I am willing to do anything other than point out typos and cheerlead or give neutral commentary. I hate giving structural criticism and I hate trying to articulate what I like/dislike about a writing style to the writer. Doing so requires tremendous effort on my part, and I have a hard time even reading novels for pleasure these days. So. I am deeply grateful to people who are willing to put in that work for me, and also for the fact that most people are less neurotic about giving feedback than I am.

I have some closing advice, which I will also put in bullet point form. BULLET ALL THE THINGS.

  • If you are an author and you want specific kinds of feedback, or dislike specific kinds of comments, make sure your readers know what you want. Asking for feedback does not bar you from expressing your preferences. It's okay to say "I just want someone to say nice things about this" or "I only want to know if these two characters sound distinct now" or whatever. If you offer some general guidance, you are probably more likely rather than less to hear from people, Just like writers often have an easier time starting with a prompt than staring at the blank page, so do readers find it easier to answer your questions than to start from scratch.
  • Seriously, if you're really want comments, putting specific questions-to-the-reader at the bottom of your post is a great way to get them. Even "what do you think of this?" often gets some bites, but detailed things like "what do you think will happen if [X] does [Y]?" or "I think John and Jack sound too much alike, can anyone suggest a good speech quirk for one of them?" or whatever.
  • If you are an author posting online and you don't want any kind of feedback, disable the comment box.
  • If you've read something online that you enjoyed, and you want to encourage the author, cheerlead. Whether a generic "I love this!" or a more specific "Your dialogue is delightful!", any author with a comment form will be happy to hear this.
  • It's generally safe to point out typos. Check to make sure they're typos first, and not variant spellings or a meaning of a word you're not familiar with or somesuch. Some authors do hate having their typos pointed out, though, so if there's an author's note or an info page you can check, never a bad idea to do so.
  • If you want to offer an author suggestions, check to make sure they are wanted. Some authors welcome ideas! Some authors hate them! If you can't tell which kind you are responding to, I recommend not doing it.

At this point, I should take my own advice and make sure this is linked somewhere that people can find it if they look for it. Oops.

I feel like I'm leaving some significant stages of writing out, or some kind of feedback that ought to be picked out distinctively, but that since the difference isn't important to me I'm overlooking it. Anyone else have different categories they use in their process? What kinds of feedback do you appreciate most?*

* Yes, I realize I am demonstrating the "use questions to get comments" technique, but I am super-curious what other people think about this topic, so yes, I am gonna encourage y'all to weigh in. :)


rowyn: (studious)
2007 Me: Nano is SO HARD. I barely won it and it was such a miserable slog.
2016 Me: I can't remember why I thought this was hard. Let's write 2500 words a day and finish early.
2007 Me: WAT.
2016 Me: and make an outline for a new book and write 19k more.
2007 Me: HOW
2016 Me: I'mma take December off from writing, mostly, though.
2007 Me: I SHOULD THINK SO.
2016 Me: I'll work on editing and just do a little writing on the side. Like 15,000 words or so.
2007 Me: ... WAT. HOW IS THAT A "LITTLE" WRITING.
2016 Me: It won't all be fiction.
2007 Me: *just stares*
2016 Me: This is what happens when you get power-leveled by [livejournal.com profile] haikujaguar, okay?
rowyn: (studious)
One of my Twitter friends, @AnaMardoll, did a poll for writers on "which part of the writing process is the worst":


I have a clear choice for this: editing. Definitely editing. At the end where I have to fix all the stuff I left notes for myself about fixing later. "I need to foreshadow this clever thing I thought of in chapter 15 somewhere in the first 7 chapters so that it actually looks clever." "I really should've come up with this historical timeline before I started writing but since I didn't, here it is now and I'd better make everything consistent." "Why do all three of these major characters sound exactly the same? I need to make them distinctive somehow." Etc.

Also, I don't have a good way to measure progress when I'm editing. I'm always jumping around in my manuscript looking for places to add foreshadowing or other details. Even when I'm reading through sequentially to edit for things like "make voices distinct" or "fix minor continuity errors", I usually can't hold the whole list of issues-I-need-to-look-for in my head at once, so I wind up making multiple complete passes. Editing just goes on and on until I give up. Writing is better because I can watch the book grow and see how far I've come. And once I have the thing written, I can read it, which is arguably the thing I want most out of writing. The edited version is important for readers-who-are-not-me, so that the book makes sense, but it doesn't make nearly as much difference to me.

I often wonder if the folks who prefer editing have a different process for "getting to the editing stage". Do they never come up with cool new things to add in the middle that effect the beginning? Or do they go back and add the stuff to the beginning right away, before they continue on? Is this a feature of good planning at the start? Is there a connection with experience? Because I used to hate writing a lot more than editing, but that was when (a) I hardly ever finished anything and (b) I thought the things I did finish were perfect and only needed a little proofreading.

It's not that the things I finished were perfect, mind you. They weren't even very good. It's just that I didn't understand enough to know what the faults in them were.

My writing process in general has changed a lot over the years. When I started writing in my teens, at first I didn't outline at all. I also never finished anything. My first attempt at planning a novel was supposed to be a five-book series, and it was an extremely simple outline: here are the characters, here is the conflict, this is the resolution, repeat x 5 with bonus resolution at the very end. I did finish the first book of that but lost interest in the project. It was also the first time I wrote fiction deliberately as practice-for-writing-fiction, rather than because I thought it would be brilliant.

I took a long break from trying to write either books or short stories, ten years or so, from the when I was 21 or so until I was 31. At 31, I was Very Serious about Writing This Book Properly. I decided to write Prophecy, a Serious Book with Meaningful Themes, and plotted out a detailed outline, and set day/week/month/year goals, and wrote pieces of the story in whatever order I felt like writing them. I called it The Master Plan(tm) and generally hated 95% of working on it. I kept at it until I was done, 2.5 years later at the end of 2004. Then I pretty much said "Welp, never doing that again." I hated writing that book a lot more than I hated editing it, but I didn't like any part of the process. The process looked like this:

  • Outline before writing

  • Revise the outline as necessary

  • Write in any order

  • Keep writing. Revise at the end

  • Have a plan for how much writing you're going to do

  • Write an intellectually and emotionally challenging story

  • Share it by email as it's written (with my one wonderfully enthusiastic beta-reader, ♥ [livejournal.com profile] jordangreywolf)

The second book that I "finished" (it's still not really edited) was The Warlock, the Hare and the Dragon (aka Silver Scales). I enjoyed writing it much more. I never plotted it outside of my head, or made any setting notes or character notes. Literally nothing except "wrote the story in chronological order as it went along". I posted each entry as I finished it for a small group of friends to read. I loved this book. I only disliked writing it about 25% of the time. It took about three years, but overlapped with the first book. I finished it in August 2006. I decided that clearly This Was My Process. The lessons I took away were:

  • Don't outline

  • Write chronologically

  • Keep writing. Revise at the end

  • Don't make a writing schedule (no "words per time period" quotas)

  • Share it as it is being written, with a small group of friends on LJ

  • Write cheerful, upbeat stories about lovable characters


Fast-forward seven years, to 2013. I'd been writing, but I hadn't finished anything other than short stories since my second book. I don't even remember if I was even theoretically working on anything when I decided to start A Rational Arrangement. *checks* Doesn't look like it.

Because the process that I'd taken away from my second book had not worked for me since then, I'd been gradually modifying my process. I'd experimented with different kinds of "scoring" systems to track my progress on writing, editing, and completing projects. For A Rational Arrangement, my process involved a weird scoring system, and an outline that I didn't worry about adhering to or revising as things changed. It took me 11 months to finish the first draft of ARA, and then about 16 months to finish editing it, My process:

  • Outline

  • Make character & setting notes

  • Write chronologically

  • Keep writing. Revise at the end

  • Don't revise outline even as the book changes; just keep going.

  • Keep score on progress

  • Share it as it is being written, with a small group of friends on LJ

  • Write cheerful, upbeat stories about lovable characters

Then I published ARA with greatly unexpected success, and everything changed.

Over the next six months, I wrote and edited a three-novella collection, Further Arrangements, as a sequel to ARA. The collection is book-length; one of the three novellas was 2/3rds written already.

Then there was 2016, where everything changed again.

I slogged away at the start of this year on Birthright, the sequel to The Warlock, the Hare and the Dragon that I'd been writing on and off since 2006.

Near the end of March, I stopped slogging on Birthright and started The Moon Etherium, where my process looked like:

  • Outline

  • Make character & setting notes

  • Revise the outline/make it more detailed if stuck

  • Write chronologically

  • Keep writing. Revise at the end

  • Write as fast as possible while in friendly competition with [livejournal.com profile] haikujaguar to see who can finish first. ♥

  • Don't share it as it's written

  • Write cheerful, upbeat stories about lovable characters


I wrote TME's first draft in six weeks, and edited it in about the same amount of time (finished edits 2.5 months later, after letting it "rest" for a month while I didn't touch it).

After that, I finally finished Birthright's first draft, and then wrote the first draft of The Sun Etherium over the next three months. That brings me to where I am now. My process going forward will be ... whatever I think is most likely to work.

I have some elements of my process that I will probably keep using, because my results with them over the last year have been so good:

  • Outline

  • Make character & setting notes

  • Revisit/revise/refine outline if stuck

The rest will vary.

I have complex feelings about "share the story as it's written", for example. On the one hand, I love positive feedback that encourages me to continue. On the other hand: I only want cheerleading while the writing is in progress, and thus I'm asking my best beta readers to either (a) read the story twice or (b) not provide critical feedback. (A) is an awful lot to ask. On the gripping hand: I think sharing the story in progress might actually slow my writing down, as I wait for feedback before continuing.

I am pretty sure that my insistence on "writing chronologically" is tied to negative feelings about Prophecy. I may try writing out of order again some day. We'll see.

I think the "write cheerful stories" is a permanent part of my process, but I don't want to lock myself into that. I do have some sober, thoughtful, heavy ideas that I might yet explore someday. It's not likely. I both read and write as escapism. My tolerance for reading or watching grimdark is very low at present. Writing happy, fluffy novels is like going off to live in a happy, fluffy world for several months. Writing grim material is the exact opposite. "How long do I want to live in this world?"

I have done the "Keep writing. Revise at the end" thing for all of the last fourteen years, though when I was a teen I was much more likely to keep going back and revising earlier sections. "Don't revise until you're done" is a common bit of writing wisdom, and it certainly make the "get words down" part of the process faster. I expect it makes the "edit the final draft" process slower, however. But I am currently pretty happy to write on and on and on, while I hate editing so much that I have three complete unedited drafts that I am ignoring to start writing a fourth book. It's quite possible I could do with exchanging "fun while writing the first draft" for "less hate while revising it".

So that's me. What are your experiences with process like? Do you keep changing your approach, or parts of your approach, while other parts stay static? What parts do you like or hate most, and why?

Gaming

Nov. 24th, 2016 09:28 pm
rowyn: (Me 2012)
Me: I have the day off. I should play some games.
Also Me: *browses through game sites* Howabout 4thewords?
Me: Self, you realize that is not a game, right?
Also Me: Sure it is! Let's beat up some monsters.
Me: By writing. You beat monsters up by writing. That is not gaming. It requires thought.
Also Me: It doesn't have to be complicated writing. Or a lot of it! We could beat up the little 250-word monster. It'd be quick.
Me: I don't think you understand what "relaxing" is.
Also Me: It's at least as much fun as Flight Rising and you get a story out of it at the end.
Me: ... point.
Me: But no, really, this is not gaming.
Also Me: You do text RPGs with your friends. That's gaming, right?
Me: Yessssss but --
Also Me: So writing by yourself is basically like a single-player text RPG.
Me: PLEASE STOP. You're just trying to get me to say "let's read a book" the next time I want to relax instead of looking for a game, aren't you?
Also Me: We do have that hardcopy of The Moon Etherium to proofread still.
Me: ... you are really messing with my self-image as a slacker, you know.
Also Me: \o/

Winner!

Nov. 22nd, 2016 09:36 am
rowyn: (Me 2012)
I won Nanowrimo yesterday, with 50,800 words. At the same time, I completed the first draft of The Sun Etherium (sequel to The Moon Etherium). TSE is a total of 93,100 words at present (I started it in September). It'll probably get a bit longer in edits.

Despite the horrible election, despite taking of a couple of days off for Contra, I finished Nano in 21 days. I am pretty proud of this.

I am also tired. And a combination of amused and annoyed by 4thewords.com.

4thewords has been a nice motivational tool throughout Nano. It's fairly bare-bones still, but it's cute and it encourages me to write more. However, despite having won Nano and completed my book already, I have only finished 5 of 9 quests in 4thewords' Nano section. One of those is because 4thewords decided to throw in a bonus "write ANOTHER 25,000 words this month!" quest. But the other three are because 4thewords has timed quests throughout the month and I am not allowed to finish them yet. As of this morning, I can finally do the "beat the 4th week monsters" one, which takes a minimum of 10,000 words. Then there's another quest after that which I don't know the terms for yet because not unlocked. Then I think I can use that to finish the last one.

*side-eyes 4thewords*

Anyway, this is a reasonable structure for people who are procrastinators that need to be motivated to do some minimum throughout the month and then push hard at the end. But when I'm finally one of those YES I FINISHED MY HOMEWORK EARLY people, I find it aggravating that I have to do some more work still.

Or I can ignore my completionist streak and just let them go undone. (But I'm soooo clooooose!)

Also, I finished my book and I don't have another outline I want to write just now.

Anyway, my current plan is to keep writing stuff for the rest of November, but it's just going to be "whatever the heck I feel like." Maybe I will write some LJ entries! Like this one! This morning I wrote setting notes for a ridiculously self-indulgent kink story. Which my muse seems to think needs to be novel-length with a plot. Part of me thinks "this is an excuse to write erotica! It doesn't need a plot! 'And then they have kinky sex' IS the plot!" and the rest is all "but if there's no plot what's the point booooooring".

*side-eyes muse*

Anyway, there's nine days left to November. I can write 15 or 20k of fluff in it if I want to.

Other near-term goals, which I will probably start in December but might start sooner if I get sick of writing random fluff and/or generally impatient:

1) serialize The Moon Etherium
2) edit The Warlock, the Hare and the Dragon (aka Silver Scales aka I Wish I Had a Title I Like for This Book)
3) find an artist for the cover of (2) above.
4) do some reusable header art for The Moon Etherium.
5) do not do 90-some pieces of header art for TME.
6) Proof the print edition of TME.

That's probably enough for the rest of 2016.
rowyn: (Me 2012)


A long time ago, one of my friends suggested to me that the world would be better off if there were only one human gender: if everyone was hermaphroditic, say. "It'd eliminate gender discrimination. What good do gender differences do us?"
I never liked that idea, although it was hard to articulate why. I've certainly never been fond of gender roles.  But gender itself? I like the diversity of it. It's fun.

After writing A Rational Arrangement, where societal and legal pressure to conform to a heterosexual, monogamous ideal was overwhelming and a major source of conflict for the characters, I wanted to write about a much more open society in The Moon Etherium. I made a magic-rich setting where all the characters had easy access to a variety of powers, including shape-shifting. In their society, gender is a choice: a choice one can change on a whim, and doing so is unremarkable. Many characters in The Moon Etherium strongly identify with a particular gender and do not change it. Most identify as male or female. But some identify as neuter, and some identify as a mixture, and some change randomly, and all of this just happens and no one much worries about it. One of the challenges of writing the story was presenting this without giving it undue emphasis, because to the characters it's trivial.

In a similar vein, there's no societal stance on "this is the right kind of sexuality" or "the right kind of relationship". The female protagonist, Ardent, had a wife for many years, and is now attracted to the male protagonist, Miro. She never reflects on her sexual orientation because of this, because her society doesn't care. Straight/gay/pan/etc are all ordinary and acceptable and the society doesn't feel a need to categorize them. The protagonists do have an explicit conversation about relationship types (monogamy, polyamory, etc.), because 'we should agree on what our relationship is, since there is no default.'

The Moon Etherium's romantic subplot is M/F and between two people, so in a sense the LGBTQIA+ and poly-postive aspects of the setting are not integral to the story. The main protagonists strongly identify as male and female, respectively. There were various reasons why I wanted to write their story this way. Part of that was that my protagonists live in a society without gender roles, and I wanted to distinguish between "gender roles" (which is a meaningless concept to them) and "gender identity" (which they do have, although it's more fluid for some than others).  I didn't want to write about a society where characters took on male forms to do masculine activities and female ones to do feminine activities (though that could be interesting!)  But I did want one where the people still felt that male/female/etc. had some meaning. Because gender is fun.

Every Day

Jul. 18th, 2016 09:47 am
rowyn: (studious)
"Camp NaNo" takes place in April and July; it's a variation on Nanowrimo where writers set their own goals.  Because some of my acquaintences do it, and because I'm writing a book anyway, I set a goal for July.  I haven't been nearly as industrious on Birthright as I was on The Moon Etherium, so I set a modest, easily-achievable goal of 20,000 words.  I made that goal yesterday.

My brain, this month, has been measuring my productivity by the day.  If I write a thousand words or more in a day, then I've done enough for that day. If I don't write at least that much, then I'm a failure. There is no carryover; writing more on the previous day makes the previous day more successful, but today I still have to write a thousand words anyway. I begin every day as a failure and end every day as a success. The "it's 8AM why haven't you written anything yet FAILURE" train of thought is weird.

Everything about this is weird. I keep flashing back to 2002, where I'd struggle and whinge about how hard it was to write 500 words in a day.

In one way, it's easier to write faster. I can look at the draft and think "I'll be done with this in a few months".  When the end point is years away because I'm only writing a few hundred words a day, it's harder to get motivated to write even those few hundred words.  "What difference does it make? It's going to take forever to finish anyway."

I've written a couple hundred words of Birthright this morning, so now I'm going to slack off and play with dragons or somesuch. I'll write a hundred words later, and then another couple hundred, and eventually I'll get to a thousand or more and be SUCCESSFUL!

Until tomorrow, when it starts over again.
rowyn: (Me 2012)
Lut and I don't have a working car, so I rent a car about once a month so we can get groceries and run errands. During most of the year, I get a car from Friday afternoon to Monday morning, because Enterprise has a $10-a-day special from autumn through spring for Friday-to-Monday rentals.

But they don't run this special from Memorial Day through Labor Day, so I only get a car for one day during the summer weekends. When I rented a car at the beginning of June, I got it from 2PM Saturday to 2PM Sunday, because I remembered my local Enterprise was open from noon to 3PM on Sunday, so I could get a ride home at 2PM.

I arrived at 1:45PM and discovered they'd changed their Sunday hours to 10AM to 1PM.

WELP.

I drove home, dismantled my bike, put it in the trunk, drove back, put my bike back together, and biked home.

So this weekend, I reserved the car from noon Saturday to noon Sunday, so I'd be sure to arrive before they closed. On Saturday, I packed up my dysfunctional bike and dropped it off at the bike shop. I really only needed to leave the rear tire, but it turned out he was closing early that day because of the holiday weekend. So I left the whole bike so I could go back for it during the week by bus or whatever, and bike home on it.

On Sunday, Lut and I went out for breakfast and to get a last few things from the store. At breakfast, I commented to Lut that I could walk home from the rental car place if I had to, but it'd be an annoyingly long walk and I didn't have the bike to make it now. So I really needed to be sure to return the car before 1PM.

When I left the house to return the car, I checked messages on my phone, and put my phone in one of the cup holder slots during the drive over. At the rental car lot, I parked, locked the car, unlocked the car, did a once-over to of trunk, backseat, and front seat to make sure I'd gotten everything. I noticed my rental agreement curled in one of the cup holders, so I pulled it out. I locked the car again and went over to the building's front entrance.

It was locked.

I checked the side entrance. CLOSED FOR HOLIDAY JULY 3-JULY 4.

WELP.

Guess I can walk home. It's only 4-5 miles, I thought. (Turns out to be even shorter -- 3.6 miles). I dropped the car keys in the return slot, and started towards the street. I reached for my phone: I can write while I walk!

Except that it's not in my pocket, or my purse.

Did you notice what I didn't grab out of the car when I did my final check? YES THAT WOULD BE MY PHONE.

>_<

Grumbling to myself that I wanted a do-over for the last minute, I started across the street. I kind of had to go to the bathroom, and there was a gas station a hundred yards in the opposite direction. But I didn't really have to go yet, and there was another gas station about halfway between the rental car branch and my house, so I figured I'd stop there.

Determined to make SOME use of the time even if I couldn't write, I set about plotting the next several scenes of Birthright in my head. I thought about exactly what needs to happen, and in what order, and how the climax will unfold.

About thirty minutes later, I got to the gas station. The clerk told me they don't have a bathroom.

...

FINE.

I walked the rest of the way home, plotting out bits of novel and actually pretty happy, because I could finally see what it was that I needed to do next, and where everything had been leading. My toes started to develop sore spots -- I dunno what it is with my big toes now, but if I walk more than about 1.5 miles, I start to get blisters around the bottom joint of the big toe on each foot. I noticed this when I was visiting my parents, because my father and I went for a 2-mile walk each morning.

When I got home, I commented on this confluence of unfortunate events to Lut, and he said, "That's the kind of sequence that would make me furious if it happened to me."

But I'm actually in a good mood because I KNOW WHAT HAPPENS NEXT IN BIRTHRIGHT NOW. I can write it! Maybe even quickly!

So the first thing I did (well, after using the bathroom), before I even wrote this, was write dump a detailed outline for the next events out of my head and into a text file. I have 950 words of outline now. Yeep.

Now I will take a little break to have a snack and relax, and then: MOAR WRITING! \o/
rowyn: (studious)
I am almost done* with my first round of edits on The Moon Etherium. So I am looking for beta readers!

Blurb:

As prince of the Sun Etherium, Mirohirokon has everything: immortality, invulnerability, and the aetheric power to be anything he desires, to satisfy almost any desire.

But the one thing aether cannot give him is his father's freedom. For a chance to win that, he will have to give up everything, and trust that the woman he loves will not betray him.

Even after he betrays her.

The Moon Etherium is a fantasy M/F romance in a magic-rich setting.  It has a strong fantasy action/adventure plotline in addition to the romance (unlike, say, A Rational Arrangement or Further Arrangements, which I consider to have romance-only plots). There is some explicit sex. It's about 118,000 words (400ish paperback pages)

No one has read this book yet but me!  This is so weird. I'm interested in:

  • General feedback

  • Spelling/grammar/editing artifact errors

  • Continuity errors

  • Overused words

  • Confusing text: (eg, if you find yourself confused about what's going on, or what this word the characters keep using means in the context of the story, or things of that nature)

If you'd like to beta-read it, please leave a comment with your email address! Comments are screened**.  Or you can send an email/private message/whatever. I will be sending a link to Google Docs, so please provide a Google-enabled email address.

I'd like to receive feedback in the next couple of weeks.

I'll pick a handful of readers for the first pass, and possibly more for a second, depending on how many revisions I make after the first.

I'll be sending out invitations either today (Friday) or tomorrow.

Thank you!

* ie, "ready to give up on"
** (*double-checks*) Really, they are!
rowyn: (Me 2012)
In the book I just finished drafting, The Moon Etherium, shapeshifting is trivial, and many people in the setting change their appearance casually, including changing their gender. Gender is mostly about aesthetics, but gender differences are considered a fun thing to play with.

One of the major characters, Jino, likes to present variously as either male or female. Jino has a mild preference for male forms; let's say Jino has historically chosen to present as male about 75% of the time.
When Jino is present in a scene, the narrator and characters interacting with Jino use the pronouns appropriate to Jino's current gender presentation. When Jino presents as a woman, everyone uses "she", and when Jino presents as a man, everyone uses "he". I'm reasonably happy with the way this part works.

Jino is the parent to one of my main characters, and that character variously calls Jino either "Dad" or "Mom", as appropriate.  I'm a little squidgier on this one; I am concerned that it will confuse the reader, especially since the character's other parent, Ele, is also a significant character and consistently presents as female. (Ele is never called "Mom"; she's referred to as "mother" or by title).

There are a number of conversations that take place where other characters are talking about Jino while Jino's not present, and the characters have not particularly consistent in what pronouns they use for Jino.  I haven't come up with a good solution for this issue.  Is the character who only met Jino once while Jino was presenting as female going to consistently use 'she'? Or 'he' because the son usually calls Jino "Dad"? I don't really want to use "they"; I've been using "they" for characters using nonbinary gender presentations, and Jino presents unambiguously as either male or female. Moreover, it wouldn't get me out of "should the son call Jino "Dad" when Jino isn't around, even if Jino was female the last time the son saw Jino?" issue.  I don't think there's a good gender-neutral parental nickname? If someone knows of one, please let me know!

Anyway, looking for thoughts on the topic, particularly from folks who identify as genderqueer themselves. Thanks!

Edit: Members of this society learned relatively recently how to shapeshift. Their language still has words for gender and still has pronouns for gender, and people still use these. Because seriously, reinventing a language that has gender-based pronouns to not use them is painful. You think getting English speakers to accept a non-gendered third person pronoun is bad? Try getting them to ditch "she" and "he" entirely. Distinguishing pronoun antecedents becomes twice as hard. Yes, it's a stupid arbitrary way to categorize people, but from a language standpoint, arbitrary categories are better than no categories.

Also, my book is written in English, so I am going to use English pronouns, regardless of what the characters in the story are used to.
rowyn: (studious)
April is "Camp Nanowrimo", a choose-your-own-goal version of Nanowrimo.

I did not intend to do Camp Nano. I didn't set a writing goal for April. On April 1st, my goal for April was "do more research for Birthright". I did do a little of that, but not much.

What I did instead was accidentally win Nanowrimo.

Not even just win: CRUSH Nanowrimo. I started writing The Moon Etherium on April 5. By the end of April 30, the draft was up to 67,000 words. By the end of May 4 -- 30 days after I started -- it was 81,700.

This is the fastest and most easily I've ever written anything. By a huge margin. My previous record for "most writing in one month" was Nanowrimo 2007, where I dragged myself to just over 50,000 words and disliked the process so much that I never finished the half-completed book. (It's about 80% done now, but has serious structural flaws.) My record for "most writing in 30 days when I was enjoying myself" was 40,000 words in 2006, when I was finishing Silver Scales.

This April, the days when I wrote 1700 or 1800 words were the ones when I groused about how little I had written. ME. I was COMPLAINING about writing a MEASLY Nanowrimo target number. Even I thought this was kind of intolerable on my part.

I slowed down last week: last Monday-Friday I averaged 2200 words per day, and when I woke up Saturday morning I didn't want to write. I wrote anyway, because it's what I do now, but "only" 1800 words or so. Then on Sunday, [livejournal.com profile] haikujaguar wrote ten thousand words, and I was spurred to write faster. I've written eighteen thousand words in the last five days. As of this writing Friday morning, the draft stands at 85,200 words.

I have finished writing three books in my life, and each one has been an adventure in what exactly is my writing process, anyway? As of today, I can honestly say: Beats me. *shrug*

I don't know why this book is coming along so quickly and relatively painlessly. I have some guesses, though. In no particular order:

M.C.A. Hogarth

By coincidence, [livejournal.com profile] haikujaguar and I started our current WIPs at the same time. We did not start out competing, because my normal standard for a good clip is 500-1000 words per day, and her normal standard is 1500-2500 words per day.

But I came out of the gate unusually fast for me on The Moon Etherium, and rocketed through the first weekend writing over 4,000 words per day. Micah said, "You're on fire!" and then progressed from fire emojis to a volcano emoji. "I should make my new goal 'stay ahead of Rowyn'," she joked. And "ahhhh the lava is going to catch me!"

And then I did.

For ten or fifteen days, I was actually in the lead of our mock race. And if you'd asked me beforehand, "is it a good idea to compete with a friend on who can write faster?" I'd've said "NO NO STAHP WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT TO YOURSELF AND SOMEONE YOU LIKE?" But we had a competition that consisted entirely of silly jokes and cheering each other on. Any competitive impulse I had to say "no write slower Micah" was overwhelmed by the pleasure of watching her book grow and knowing I'd get to read it sooner the faster she wrote it. She took the lead last Sunday, and I was afraid I'd slow down after it became clear I wasn't going to catch her again. (In the 5 days that I wrote 18,000 words, Micah wrote 30,700).

But I didn't slow. I've been writing 10-20% faster, actually. I make jokes on Twitter about riding my turtle in her wake, and I cheer her on, and I still like the race metaphor just as much now that I'm behind. It's just been fun.

Preparation

I started writing on April 5, but I started noodling with what became The Moon Etherium six days earlier, on March 30. I wrote several thousand words of notes, world-building, and the solidest outline I've ever made. I labored over the outline, because the book I wanted to write required some cleverness on the part of the characters, and I was afraid I couldn't make it work. When I had the last piece in place and I thought it would all hang together, I wondered if I'd still want to write it. "I already know how the story goes."

Turns out, I do still want to write it. And having the outline there meant I was rarely unsure what I wanted to do next. A couple of times, I stopped to refine the outline further, either because I'd gone off the rails or because it didn't have enough detail for me to know what I was doing. On the whole, it's been great. I do not always want to write what's next, and I have made substitutions/additions/removals as I go along. But so far, I've never felt stuck.

Oh, and the freakiest thing about the outline? When I started, I estimated the total scene count at 74. (In fact, as I was putting the outline together, I simplified something that could easily have been very complicated, because I didn't want to end up with another 200k novel.)

And now, after finishing 57 scenes, my estimated scene count? 78. Four scenes. I'm almost 75% done and my estimate has only gone up by four. Plot points that took more scenes than expected have been almost exactly cancelled out by ones that took fewer.

My estimated length when I started was "80,000 to 120,000 words, but strongly leaning towards 120K". My estimate now? Still about120K. What. I have never accurately predicted length before. O.o Technically, I haven't yet, but I'm two scenes from the book's climax so. Pretty sure it's not going to run to 200K.

\o/

Motivation

I started noodling with a new book idea on March 30 because I'd spent March writing romance-oriented dragon bios in Flight Rising. After the last one, I decided, "If I'm this desperate to write romance, I should write origfic so I can get paid for it."

The Moon Etherium has a lot more non-romance plot than I had originally intended. It was supposed to be the B-plot to keep my protagonists together while they fell in love, and now it's more like the A-plot while the romance is a strong B-plot.

But there's still a lot of romance, and I made a point of scattering the kinds of scenes I like to write throughout the outline. So there were always fun scenes to look forward to, even if the current scene was tricky or hard to write. And I just really like to write people falling in love. This may be bad news for all my story ideas that do not have people falling in love. Oops.

In Progress Readers

I don't know if this made a difference or not, but I'm going to note it here anyway. I haven't had any cheerleaders reading along as I wrote. Usually i serialize my novels-in-progress to a small group of close friends. But I haven't felt a need for outside encouragement, so I haven't looked for it this time. I showed the outline to two people and the first scene to one, and that's it. 85,000 words that no one's seen but me. I haven't even re-read most of it yet myself. WEIRD.

On the other hand, I didn't show most of Further Arrangements to anyone while it was in progress, either, so I don't think this actually gets me to write at several times my usual speed. I suspect "I want to write quickly" correlates with "I don't need encouragement", but the cause is internal motivation, not that external motivation is particularly detrimental to my writing speed.

*

This weekend will probably be a slow one for me, writing-wise. I am renting a car so I can run errands, I have to mow the lawn (SO BADLY), and I'm feeling a bit burned out. I mean, I wrote a page already today. I'm not STOPPING. But I may not make it to 3000 words today. That's OK.

I do expect to finish the book in May. I'd like to finish it before my trip to Seattle on May 18. We'll see.

And then I have to revise and oh no get a cover and write a blurb and find beta readers and

*flail*

I'm sure it'll be fine.

PS: 85,000 words in 31 days! WHOA.
rowyn: (studious)
Health/Fitness
It's getting warmer! Daylight Savings is back so it's light again when I get out of work! I biked after work every day in the last week of March. So that's nice.

On the other hand, I've been snacking more in the evenings and at work, so no net change.

Writing
Welp, this was kind of a disaster.

I finished on scene in Birthright, and most of a second scene, and then decided that I should do some research before I continued on. Some serious research.

Thus far, I've read a bunch of Wikipedia articles, one scholarly article, and one and a half books. I have learned a bunch of things! The books have been very interesting. I am an insanely slow reader when it comes to scholarly texts. I still don't feel like I know nearly enough. And I hate not making any measurable progress.

I also wrote almost 12,000 words of Flight Rising fanfic, filling in the bios of dragons in my Flight Rising lair. Much of it was romantic. I decided it was time to admit that I really just want to write another romance where I don't have to worry about my characters being clever or coming up with a brilliant, A-HA resolution that ties the whole book together.

So on Wednesday, March 30, I opened a new file, with the idea of "I will throw a bunch of random ideas into this and see what sticks". And then completely failed to add new random ideas and instead kept building off of the one I started with. By April 2, I had about 4,000 words of notes and plot outline for a new book. A fantasy in a new setting with new characters and a new romance and what was supposed to be a side plot to give the characters something to do while they fell in love, and turned into a main plot that requires the characters to be clever and a brilliant, A-HA resolution. WHAT ARE YOU DOING MUSE STAHP. >.<

So: I wrote a lot of stuff, most of which wasn't for anything I can sell.

The Business of Writing
I don't think I did anything on the business end this month. It seems weird to go through these cycles where everything I do is business-stuff and then cycles where nothing is.

Oh wait! I did my taxes. Which included all the extra paperwork from having a writing business. So that was related. I actually bought tax software for the first time ever. I may not bother with that next year, as I don't think my taxes were as complicated as I feared they'd be.

Art/Other
I've been experimenting with digital doodling in full color, so instead of making quick b&w sketches, I do quick paintings. I haven't decided if I like them or not yet. Kind of? Anyway, I did about seven of these this month, and a couple of regular sketches, and three little marker pieces..

Socializing
I actually got out twice this month! Once for a gem & mineral show, the second time for a Delain/Sonata Arctica/Nightwish concert. Corwyn & Kat took me to both. I had fun!

Happiness
Mediocre, I guess? I was frustrated by my lack of progress on 'important projects' in March, but I had a good time talking to people in FR and writing FR fanfic, so it wasn't all bad.

Goals for coming month
Do some more research.

Declare victory on research at the end of April whether I feel like I've accomplished anything or not.




I wrote most of this post on the evening of Friday, April 2, and figured I'd add a few things and post it on Monday. That did not happen, because the previously-mentioned New Story ATE MY BRAIN. O_O I continued to work on notes and the story outline through the weekend. The new project, The Moon Etherium, has the solidest outline I've ever created. When I finished the outline, I wondered if I'd lose interest now: "I know everything that's going to happen. I don't really need to write it." But I was still keen to begin, and I started writing it last Tuesday. 10 days ago. The draft is now over 27,500 words. I would like to be writing it RIGHT NOW, but I am forcing myself to finish this LJ post and put it up instead.

For the last ten days, I have been pretty sure that, at any moment, the New Book Energy for The Moon Etherium would wear off and I would stop wanting to write it all the time and crash down to a reasonable pace of maybe 500 words per day.

I did slow down a bit yesterday! I think I only wrote 2200 words.

...

WHAT.

Anyway. I'm just gonna ride this inspiration for however long it lasts. I am both very tired (Muse keeps waking me up in the middle of the night to jabber at me about The Moon Etherium) and very happy (YAY NEW STORY SO EXCITE).

So if you're wondering why I've hardly posted this month: that's why. MUST WRITE MOAR.
rowyn: (tired)
Muse: GOOD MORNING!
Me: Unngh.
Muse: Did you know you could be writing The Moon Etherium RIGHT NOW?
Me: Muse ... Muse, it's 4AM.
Muse: I know! Time to get up and WRITE!
Me: You woke me up at 4AM.
Muse: You're welcome!
Me: Do you know when I went to sleep?
Muse: Umm ... Midnight?
Me: Do you know how much sleep human beings need per day?
Muse: Umm ... four hours?
Me: WRONG ANSWER.
Muse: Whatever. Don't you want to be writing now? Here, have some ideas for the next scene! You already started it! It'll be fun!
Me: NO I WANT TO BE ASLEEP.
Muse: Don't be silly! Book won't write itself, you know.
Me: Are you sure? Because it's doing a pretty good job so far. C'mon, let me sleep. I wrote 3100 words yesterday.
Muse: But it's Saturday!
Me: I KNOW. That means I could SLEEP LATE. IF YOU WOULD LET ME.
Muse: Don't you want to know how many words you can write on a day when you don't have to go to work?
Me: I don't know but I'm going to assume it's a lot less than yesterday. Especially on four hours of sleep.
Muse: Oh, c'mon, enough about sleep. Sleep is boring. You don't have anywhere to be, you can sleep any old time in the next two days. You could be writing nooooooooow!
Me: I'm just going to lie here in the dark until you shut up.
Muse: Howabout a LiveJournal post? I have a great idea for a post!
Me: Please shut up.
Muse: [spends next hour yammering about writing]
Me: I hate you so much. [gets out of bed]
Muse: \o/
Me: Just because I'm out of bed doesn't mean I'm going to write more of The Moon Etherium, you know. I could waste the whole day playing Flight Rising or something.
Muse: o/~Whatever you say, honey. o/~
Me: So much hate.
Muse: You don't mean that.
Me: ... no. But I really do need more sleep.
Muse: You're adorable. Have some MOAR IDEAS.
Me: -_-
rowyn: (Me 2012)
I am thinking about the buying habits of readers, and trying to subdivide them into several categories, in relation to a single author's works:

* Character fan. Follows the books about one character/group of characters, may not read other books by same author.
* Setting fan. Follows the books in a particular setting. May not read other books by same author.
* Story arc fan: Reader will follow the story arc through a trilogy or series, but may not read more books in a new story arc about the same characters/setting.
* Genre fan. Reads author's works in a particular genre, but not in other genres.
* Theme/review based. Readers who pick up the author's works based on theme, or reviews. This group has tastes with regards to the author that are harder to slot into the usual groups, and the author's works sometimes suit those tastes and sometimes don't.
* Former fan: Reader followed one of the patterns above, but for one reason or another stopped. "Former fans" aren't necessarily people who stopped reading an author entirely. They might be people who bought the first five books of a ten+ book series, and then lost interest in that series but are still interested in one or more other works by the same author.
* Author fan. Reads everything the author writes, regardless.
* Casual. Picked up one book, may or may not ever get another by that author.
* Other

I don't mean for these categories to be "each person is one of these types of readers". I came up with these categories because they are all groups that I fall into for different authors.

Examples where I am:

Character Fan: P. B. O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin books, Jim Hines' Libriomancer books.

Setting Fan: K.J. Charles, "Charm of Magpies" setting.

Author Fan: Diana Wynne Jones, Lois McMaster Bujold, Bard Bloom, Terry Pratchett, Brandon Sanderson

Story Arc Fan: J.K. Rowling's 7-book "Harry Potter" series.

Theme Fan: MCA Hogarth, Walter Jon Williams

Casual: Neil Gaiman (I started reading Neil Gaiman's Sandman in 1990 or so, and I've read at least three of his other books and a few short stories. I really liked Sandman at the time, but somehow none of his books that I tried have made me a fan of his non-comics work. I don't hate them, just not that into him.) 

Other: Courtney Milan. I've read eight or so novels/novellas by her, and I expect to read more. But she has a bunch of books out that I haven't yet bought or read, and I don't have any plans to go get more.

Former Fan: These are all cases where I read at least three books but stopped, even though more have come out:

Setting
George R.R. Martin: Wildcards

Story Arc:
George R.R. Martin: Song of Ice and Fire

Character:
David Weber: Honor Harrington
L. K. Hamilton: Anita Blake

Author:
Anne McCaffrey
Piers Anthony (I was young and foolish. Seriously, he really does think like a teenager and anecdotal evidence shows he is inexplicably appealling to kids between 10-17 or so, then they grow up and can't really remember why. If you're one of those people who still has nostalgic fondness for one of his books, DO NOT GO BACK AND READ IT. You will have regrets.)

In a lot of these cases, it's hard to pin down why my reading habits are the way they are. I liked  Charles' first three "Magpies" books and adored the spinoff, Jackdaw, but haven't sought out any of her other books in different series anyway.

In some cases, it was series fatigue: I stopped reading new Pern books long before I stopped reading McCaffrey entirely. I think that "historical romance fatigue" may be why I haven't read more books Courtney Milan. I liked the last historical romance I read by her, but I had a strange sense of 'sameness' while reading it that made me not want to get another one. I don't regard that as a "former fan" scenario because I'm pretty sure I will read more of her work in coming years.

Part of why I'm thinking about this is that it's so complicated. The "thousand true fans" theory hinges on the idea that you can hook people on your name, and they'll buy whatever you write. The "series sell" strategy hinges on "readers become hooked on a character or setting, and they won't necessarily read works with a different theme". And yet I know in my own experience that there are cases where I've read several books in a series and then quit that series -- but will still read other works by that author. As well as cases where I read a series but not other works by that author. OTOH, the "series sells" philosophy obviously works for most of the market, if not for me. Hamilton and Weber are very successful, 20+ books on in their series. And I've spoken to authors who kept writing in a successful series for the money, and yes, it worked for them better than branching out did. Even though they were sick of writing that series.

I don't really have any conclusions from this, just musings and questions. Do you have any categories I missed? Do you find yourself more likely to fall into a particular pattern with most authors, or does it vary wildly for you too?
rowyn: (studious)
Accomplished:

* Sent the cover of Further Arrangements to [livejournal.com profile] alinsa to do the typography.
* Wrote the dedication & acknowledgements for FA
* Updated my author bio
* Made some interior illustrations for the FA title page and for each of the novellas, based on grayscale variants of the cover image. For everyone who thought that picking the triangular-sections cover meant you'd escape the twee image of greatcats making a heartshape: that image now appears on the back cover, spine, and title page. MWAHAHAHA.
* Drew five pictures from Twitter prompts, all of them on the theme of "what would your artist/marketer/business manager look like?", a la [livejournal.com profile] haikujaguar's "The Three Jaguars". The prompts for this one were great.
* Sketched some hands in an effort to get less awful at drawing hands.
* Wrote 2 scenes of Birthright
* Refined estimate on number of scenes in Birthright.

I didn't do much writing this week, and realized on Saturday that part of this was because (a) I didn't want to count just words as "progress", and (b) my next bullet point on the outline was going to take a lot of scenes.

So instead of pretending I thought each bullet point would take four scenes, which was clearly absurd, I figured out how many scenes each completed bullet point had taken (0 to 15, with the mode being 2 and the average 4.75). Then estimated how many scenes each of the remaining bullet points will take. This will make reporting my "remaining scenes" count much more fun.

The total based on my first set of estimates was far too low, so I doubled most of them.

I really want to finish a lot more scenes-per-month that I have thus far in January, though. My current rate is just two per week. But in February I won't have all the work for FA hanging over me, so perhaps I can get up to three per week then. I'd like to finish this draft before the end of the year. And pretend it's not going to take me another year to revise it and its prequel.

On the other hand, I want to note that I completed all of my January goals by 1/23/16, went back and added some more goals, and completed those too. BOO-YEAH.

So not feeling like a slacker, here.

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