Writing Notes by Today, I Wrote…

Passionate prose is my PARAMOUR.

April 2

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Writing Journal Day 2(ish)

by Ann-Kat

Today I didn’t do much writing on either of my short stories, but I did have a chance to transcribe them into LSBXE and printed out a couple typed hard copies to make initial edits.

Before the edits, I read what I had to my beta reader to gauge how interesting they would be and received some good feedback, so I do believe I shall continue moving forward with them both. (Although one was described as being “scary” when that wasn’t my intention at all. Here’s hoping I can steer it in the right direction.)

I also spent a good deal of time reading and summarizing what I read, which actually helped me in the grand scheme of things understand crafting a good story treatment (focusing on character and story arcs).

So, the word counts on The Romans and The Angel and the Porcelain Doll remain unchanged, but I did hone their individual story treatments.

March 31

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Writing Journal Day ???

by Ann-Kat

Writing Sample

I’ve been bad about keeping up a writing journal. I’ve been bad about writing, period. But I’m resolving to update here with my thoughts on the writing process, and at very least my word counts. And since I have no idea which day it would be, I’ll just start my next entry as Day 2.

Today (the past few days actually) I’ve been working on a couple short stories. One is more involved than the other and I’ve hit a point of stagnation. When it comes to that, I’ve learned to just wait it out. In the meantime, I’ve been working on the other story, which is a bit lighter in tone and concept and a bit more fun. (It’s a fantasy whereas the former is sci-fi.)

As far as word counts go I will be rounding off since I’ve been writing these stories longhand. (When I transcribe it, I’ll update with actual word counts.)

Sci-fi short story working title: The Romans
Word count: ~1,658

Fantasy short story working title: The Angel & The Porcelain Doll
Word count: ~476

Both of these stories are less than halfway finished, but I hope to have the first drafts done by this weekend so I can put some spit & polish on them.

January 15

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News Bulletin: Characters Lie

by Ann-Kat

I’ve just discovered something interesting: characters lie.

I decided to test a theory provided in Movies of the Mind: How to Build a Short Story by Colleen Mariah Rae (a good book, btw–review forthcoming) and I was bewildered by the results.

Let me back up for a moment and say that I know that characters have the capacity to lie. But in this exercise, I discovered that the characters can lie to me.

Up until this point, I believed it was impossible because I had the notion that I was god in my characters’ world–knowing and seeing all. (And also because I probably had intrinsically honest characters–none of them had reason to lie.)

This stunning revelation came about when I asked the other characters in my WIP to tell me about Tristan. Somehow he just didn’t seem right, as though he were too stiff and dodgy, and I needed to get to the bottom of it.

After playing detective and threading together their observances, I realized Tristan had been lying to me all along. When I called him out* and asked why, he told me that if I knew the truth I’d paint him in a bad light and people would hate him; he wouldn’t have a shot at redeeming himself. Well, don’t that just beat all?

I empathized with him. Sometimes first impressions can be rough. And mistakes? We’ve all made them. Unfortunately, some mistakes haunt us longer than others and Tristan’s list is ten miles long and five miles wide. But I told him that he isn’t irredeemable–in fact, he is redeemed. (Sort of–hey, we can still lie to our characters too you know.)

Now that I have the full scoop on Tristan, I can go back to revisions with a bit more understanding. Hooray!

* My characters are like real people who’ve taken up residence in my head. We have conversations (and arguments) just like anyone else.

November 22

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Purposeful Paper (or Why I Heart Photoshop and My Personal Laser Printer)

by Ann-Kat

Writing by hand can be exhilarating. It’s my preferred method for starting a story and I’ll write until I feel comfortable enough to continue on the computer.

Custom PaperThere are many pens with which I love to write. Lately, I’ve been using the one I purchased abroad. It’s a Zebra Techno Line 0.4mm ballpoint (it’s smaller than any ballpoint pen readily available in the US).

My handwriting varies based on the writing instrument. With such a fine point, my writing becomes “microscopic”, to quote a friend.

That’s not the problem. The problem is my anal retentiveness when it comes to whitespace on a sheet of paper. Frankly, I prefer to avoid an excess of it between rows and considering that I can fit three lines of writing per single college-ruled line, it was becoming a problem.

After searching high, low, and somewhere in the middle for a narrow(er) ruled paper, I decided enough was enough and fired up Photoshop. The result was a striking success. I even took the liberty of creating a space up top for the project title, session date (which I’m always forgetting to jot down), and page number.

The exact specs of the paper are:

  • 1” margins all around
  • Line height is a little less than half the size of college rule (0.125” or ~3mm)
  • Faint grey lines

The rows may seem excessively narrow, but I can assure you they are the perfect size for ultra-tiny writers. I can even squeeze about 800 words on a page.

Here’s how the finished sheet looks:Custom Paper Example (Click image for full-sized view. And since I’m praying I know I’m not the only writer out there with tiny handwriting, I’m providing a printable version for download.)

In the future, I may even add some custom illustrations or decorative nuances to help jolt my muse from slumber.

November 14

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NaNoWriMo Day 14: State of the NaNo Board

by Ann-Kat

Word Count: 18,697
Remaining Words: 31,303

Time flies. It’s cliché, but true. We’re already two weeks into NaNoWriMo and I should be roughly halfway through my novel. I’m not. But I’m not fretting (yet). I am, however, (much more than) halfway done with my NaNo board.

NaNo Board - Almost Done

I’ve finally found the face of my female MC, Tessa Harding, and that face belongs to Christina Milian. She has the perfect balance of sweet cuteness, and sultry sexiness.  Christina Milian

I also managed to find the faces of two supporting characters, Sydney Averdale and Christian Cooper, portrayed by Meagan Good and Ian Somerhalder.

Meagan Good Ian Somerhalder

At one point, when I was adding the additional character photos to the board, I became choked up. It’s the moment I realized that I love my characters, even the flawed (and some might say, downright evil) ones. Granted, I love those characters in a different way; I’m trying to figure out how they became such broken people.

NaNoWriMo Novel Mind Map

I’ve finally added my mind map, which should help with the journey—no more needing to dig through my notebook to find sequence of events and such.

Just looking at the board gets me fired up, but I still see whitespace and that must be rectified.

And I’m not entirely sure this is NaNoWriMo related, but I’ve been inspired to write more short stories lately. Frankly, I think it’s a stalling tactic my mind conjured up to aid its procrastination efforts, but some of the ideas I’ve had are exciting. But I’m just jotting down the bare minimum of notes so I can write them later and focus on NaNoWriMo now.

November 5

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NaNoWriMo Day 5: How I’ve Been Writing

by Ann-Kat

Word Count: 9,994 (so close to 10,000 I can taste it)
Remaining Words: 40,006

This year I actually have a map of my novel from beginning to end. This map contains a word or two which encapsulates each scene. Sometimes I’ll look at one of the words and the entire scene unfolds before my eyes. What’s intriguing to me, though, is how the story is being written.

I’ve never been a true linear writer—bits and pieces come to me, I write it down, and then I rearrange it until it all fits properly—but with this novel, I thought for certain I’d be able to write it straight from scene one to scene final, no problem. Wrong.

Since the first day of NaNoWriMo, I’ve been writing just before bed and I always write the scene that comes to me with the most emotional blow. The passion tends to come through in the writing because the words just pour out of me. But of course that’s not a problem.

My concern is the story I’ll be left with when it comes time to rearrange. Will it still be the same story I envisioned?

November 4

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NaNo Board Almost Complete, or NaNoWrimo Day 2

by Ann-Kat

Cross-posted at Today, I Read…

Going into the second day of NaNoWriMo, I have just shy of 2,000 words complete (and by the end of the day, that total should jump to just shy of 4000—I hope).

The NaNo board still isn’t complete; it’s only halfway done, but I figured I might as well post up a progress report.

Unfinished NaNoWriMo Board

In case you’re wondering, yes those are pictures of Paul Walker. I was watching Into the Blue the other day and all of a sudden, I jumped up and screamed, “OMG! It’s Rick! It’s Rick!”

Of course, now my craziness is showing, but to explain, Rick Dawson is one of the main characters in my NaNoWriMo novel and he goes through many, many changes in the story; I needed someone who could visually pull it off. Paul Walker goes from a sweet pretty boy (upper left corner) to a gritty bad boy (bottom right corner) just like my MC.

paul-walker-20070223-216200paul-walkerwalker66

Unfortunately, I still haven’t found the perfect visual example of my leading lady and I’m afraid I may have to break down and draw her, but I’m keeping hope alive. (If you know of any young biracial models or actresses, please let me know.)

In the center of the NaNo board, I have the calendar that I printed from deviantART and colored in with water colors.

NaNo Board Calendar

To its left is my Magna Carta I, all the things I like in a novel, and to its right is the Magna Carta II, all the things I dislike in a novel.

Magna Carta IMagna Carta II

I still need to include the mind map cloud thing because it would be much easier to look up at the board for reference rather than dig through my notebook. Goodness willing I’ll get that finished and glued on there this afternoon.

November 4

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Preparing for NaNoWriMo 2009

by Ann-Kat

Cross-posted at Today, I Read…

NaNoWriMo.org

In less than a week, the mass month-long caffeination of hundreds (possibly thousands) or writers worldwide will begin. Yep, I’m talking about National Novel Writing Month, aka NaNoWriMo, where the participants are asked to complete a 50,000 word novel in 30 days’ time.

Impossible, you say? Not so. Last year I won, even if the 50,000 words I managed to churn out amounted to nothing more than a coaster made of recycled trees. (Yes, I really am using last year’s novel as a coaster right at this very moment.)

But learning from past experience, this year, I’m going in with (more of) a plan.

My brain likes structured chaos—you know, the stuff that looks like a hodgepodge but is really organization in disguise—and highly visual stuff—big and colorful so I can’t miss it.

The light bulb flickered on for me when I saw the extra 24×36 in. poster frame I had stashed in the corner of my room. I thought, “Hmmm, that’s big enough to fit a whole bunch of bright colorful stuff on. (sound of mental gears grinding.)” Story collages, mind maps, the magna cartas, inspirational quotes…a calendar…all smooshed together.

BAM! The NaNo board idea was realized.

With the easy part of the way, it’s a matter of figuring out how to implement it. (Wish me luck.) Here’s the blueprint so far:

  • Epicenter = mind map. A few months ago I came up with a story idea and drew up a mind map on an 9×12” sheet of paper.
  • Calendar below. I was going to create my own, but finding a link to all the NaNoWriMo calendars on deviantART saved me the trouble. (I printed out a fun one with coffee stains and quotes.)
  • Magna cartas on either side. No Plot? No Problem? (links to my review) discusses creating two magna cartas (aka lists), one detailing everything you like in a novel and the other detailing everything you hate.
  • Inspiration on the fringes. Pictures, other images, and words that relate to my story and help keep me in my inspired happy place while writing. (In other words, shinies in collage form. Looks like all those magazines I’ve saved since 2006 will finally come in handy.)

During the next few days, I hope to finish, in addition to the chaotically structured  NaNo board, my novel folder which will include character dossiers, location samples (i.e. maps, descriptions, random town facts), and fleeting bits of dialog.

When it’s all set up, I’ll be sure to take pictures and update.

Meanwhile, I need writing buddies. Hit me up please. :D

July 30

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Book in a Month and Other Stuff

by Ann-Kat

Already I’m sort of behind on Amanda B’s Journal. I didn’t write my 300 words on Tuesday and I just finished today’s 300 words—394 to be precise.

Oddly enough, I’m enjoying this low pressure way of writing. In fact, since I have such a limited amount of space to progress the story forward, I’m enjoying the new directions that it’s taking.

I think the most surprising thing, though, is how Amanda answers me. Yes, it’s true. Before I wrote each of my 300 word journal entries, I asked Amanda what happened next? Then I listened and wrote what she told me. So far I’m connecting with her and I really do like her, despite her faults. She’s quirky.

In other news, I had finished a short story (2000 words more or less) and it had a sort of open-ended question as an ending. Almost a cliffhanger, but not quite.

As I was discussing something along the same lines of the story’s subject matter, I had a spark of an idea—why not continue the story? Normally, short stories are just that, but this particular story could easily be expanded because of the question posed—the novel will answer it.

The short story needs one more round of edits before I start submitting it, but I’m getting excited about the prospect. When I recently re-read the story after letting it sit for weeks, it sparked a feeling that lingered with me. I didn’t want that feeling to end.

So, I’ve decided to push forward with the novel idea and get the rough hammered out during the month of August. Yes, NaNoWriMo-style. I already have a general outline, it’s just a matter of getting it all out on paper…in a month.

July 26

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Blogging a Book and Finding an Audience

by Ann-Kat

I’ve had the idea for a while (and by a while, I mean years). There’s nothing new about blogging a book. Others have done it before me and others will do it after me.

But with this particular book, in my humble opinion, blogging it is the perfect medium. My one worry is having my material ripped off or plagiarized. That said, it’s a chance I’m willing to take.

With that, here’s my goal: blog one page (300 words) from the book each day. (Not on this blog, mind you. I already have the book blog set up.)

Since it’s a first person journal-style book, I must plan out how to display the content—basically, make it easy for someone just jumping in to read from the beginning.

Something else that just popped into my head is whether to allow commentary on the individual pages. On one hand, it can help me build a following and offer great feedback/direction, but on the other, it can adversely hamper my own creativity (and negative comments could just plain make me feel bad).

Then there’s the question of how to get it from blog format into edited manuscript format.

And, of course, I’ll eventually have to explain that it’s a work of fiction.

*sigh*

Enough yammering, it’s time for me to start doing. I’ll work out all those little details later.

 

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