Writerly Notions: to outline or not? idea or story

I think the parlance terms are “plotter” or “pantser”: Does one write a structured outline or structure the story as one goes along?

I’m trying to process this whole outline vs. no outline. And how that relates to revision. And where I fit. As I’ve done both, and I’ve done something in the middle, where I have a basic procedure of events following each other.

Like, if I have a rudimentary outline, but the actual first draft deviates from that and has developed a completely different tone and plot, which is the one that should be used in revision? The initial outline or impetus for the story? Or what the story became? Which is truer to the story?

And those questions open up a more important distinction: knowing what the engine or heart of the story is. This leads to what I’ve begun to realize: there’s a distinction between writing an idea and writing a story. This is where characters and character backstory and motivation becomes compelling.

More importantly, I’ve come to realize there’s a distinction between writing an idea and writing a story. This is where characters and character backstory and motivation becomes compelling.

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In-congruent Premise, or How I Often Feel What I Think & Feel is at Odds with “General” Advice

Well, getting here, to type these words, was a challenge unto itself. Sorting through emails and passwords.

There’s an incongruity between a self-help card that says “forgive others” & “what you judge in others is a shadow-self of yourself” when the judgement is what you perceive others to think of your skills. 

If I feel bad about myself because of how I feel from what others say, it’s not because I think badly of others. It’s that I perceive myself as not-belonging. So, to follow the premise set up by the card:

  1.  forgive others for making me feeling bad (because I don’t write well or make sense / try to make my writing pleasing to others or what others would expect)
  2. recognize that what I judge in others (that they are competent and correct in their assessments & belong in a writing environment) is a reflection of myself
  3. let go of my unfair judgement of others and…???

The problem is that the entire premise is centered around the idea that one’s judgment is misconstrued. But if someone has bad feelings or judgments, not at others, but at themselves, for what they see as others being right about them in a way that impacts someone negatively or in an emotionally broken/I don’t belong way, then… How does the premise of: forgive/recognize/let go & see the unity make sense??

(I’m not sure this makes any sense. I’m kind of rambling my feelings.)

Writerly Notions: fanfiction and revision

Something that has always puzzled me is how people who write original fiction find time to write fanfiction.

In my case, if I’m going to write, say, a 5k word story, it will take (generously) 8 to 9 months, including writing and revision. And that’s if I’m only focused on that writing project. Why would I take 2/3rd of a year to write fanfiction? And then if I wrote a fanfic bordering on novel-length…

I’ve always been impressed with fanfic writers. But I can’t wrap my head around how I could ever do that because of the time involved. If I’m going to write/revise a story, I need to focus on that story. If I try to balance, say, three stories, the progress is much slower.

I mean, to be fair, my writing ration to my revision ration is 3x or more. That is, if it takes me 3 months to write a novel, it will take me 9 months to revise it. Though if I’m honest, it’s a bit of a puzzle to calculate.

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Writerly Notions: changing & categorizing

Writing, as a category in my head and my life (because who doesn’t do that, right?) encompasses currently at minimum eight aspects. Aside from writing, revising, worldbuilding, and submissions, of the four still unresolved aspects of being a writer, the two most complex and snarled are:

(1) what and how do I want to —– internet?

The best way I can explain this dilemma is to say me and the figuring out what and how I want to — whatever — with my writing (?) on the internet is like having a recipe that includes peppers. I have the recipe. I know what to do. But I have green and red peppers. But which color do I use?

Additionally, how do I cut them, since the recipe doesn’t specify? How do I want the recipient of my recipe to experience the peppers? As tiny minced pieces? As large pieces? As cubes? It’s like that, but applied to writing and my overall creative life.

Also, as I change, this answer will change. I will need to assess and process this, and someday this will change and I will have to assess and analyze regularly.

(2) how I want to be a writer and what responsibilities should I do and can I do?

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Writerly Notions: blogs and purpose

tl;dr: I’ve tried various times to create and categorize writing (and related) blogs. But I can never maintain interest (except in ones I delete or revise the intention of). Until I know what I’m doing with my writing and my various categories of purpose (for me, for fairy tales, for sharing stories, for sharing experience), I won’t be updating this blog on a regular basis, if at all. Thank you to everyone who read and commented on my weird little posts. 🙂

At the beginning of the year (February, to be precise), I typed up an initial post, which has been on my to-do list for…maybe a year?, about this blog. And it’s various incarnations.

The central question was why? Why do I even have this blog?

It started as a place to post detailed responses to books I’m reading or have read. But my motivation and interest in that only lasted so long.

Then it was supposed to be a writing blog, with posts of my writing, especially my daily writing exercises. The trouble with that was two-fold: making sure I didn’t publish anything online I wanted to publish in some other way (and the added analytical sieving to make sure the stories or vignettes I post/posted were not something I wanted to publish in some other way) and a lot of what I would post/posted weren’t really that important. About the most important bits I’ve posted about my writing is my Writing Demons posts.

Then it was supposed to be a place to post my experiences, struggles, and thoughts as a writer. But doing that felt too messy for a blog, so I made a writing journal. But that has since ground to a halt. Likewise, this blog’s venue as a writing blog has ground to a halt. And my question is why?

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Writerly Notions: Stress & Focus

This morning I spent a few hours calibrating and analyzing what causes me stress and my stress levels. Or more specially “needling things that send me into a mental whirlwind panic/confusion.”

I won’t go into the details. Suffice to say, the categories of Creator, Writer, and Promotion feed off one another to create the highest levels of stress and the highest amount of stress. Additionally, as with this blog, some of the trouble comes from the simple question of: what am I doing? What do I intend? (I hope I’ll be able to post my thoughts on that, which have been waiting in my drafts, soon.)

A few, unrelated tidbits I learned about me and my writing today:

  1. a playlist I made of songs I can listen to over and over without getting sick of them lend themselves to worldbuilding and character development in Nights of Heroes. Which is interesting since it may imply that if left to it, I might think about that series a lot.
  2. I realized the third section in my recently complete novel (which is in revision) is more incomplete than I realized. Getting a handle on the chronology has helped a whole bunch (i.e. cementing dates so they don’t wiggle around; I have a tendency toward flexible dating…) Additionally, I realized why the second section comes off as different than the rest — it has subplots! The trouble is I’m unsure how much the content of those subplots plays into the larger story. So anyway, it gives me focus. I can work with that.

Sorry if this was a short and brusque.

I took an iPad photo of by analysis notes, if anyone’s curious.

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Writerly Notions: The Right Revision

I apparently struggle with revision.

So, it’s not hard to conceptualize a pattern of how to revise. I theoretically break revision up into multi-steps, to address more detailed attention. Like start with making sure the structure works, and so and so until you reach sentence structure. So, yeah, I get that.

But I realized there’s an aspect of revision that really throws me:

how do you know what the right order of a story is?

I can string events in order in my mind, especially if I write it out, but how do I know whether that order — event to event to event — is the best order for the story to unfold in? My criteria right now is whether it flows smoothly; does it seem as if it fits together and does the previous events seem to hook up with the following event. But how do I know for sure it’s best?

Some of this is probably predicated by how I feel writers (and creators) often operate on a “what if?” scenario basis. Which is really odd to me. If I write a story one way, that’s the way it is. Characters might change. Ambitions might change. Plot might change. If it changes as a result of discovering and revising the story, sure. But consciously sitting down to play out different scenarios is kind of…weird to me.

I guess what I’m getting at is that my impression of writers is that they mix and match events (or scenes) to get the best string of events (or story).

My question is then, how do you know which pattern is the best story?

And that gums me up in revision because I don’t know. Or don’t feel like I know. I wish there was a criteria to let me know when I’ve reached the best string of events for my story. That would really help. But I don’t think that exists.

As always, feel free to share your experiences or thoughts. I can’t guarantee I’ll respond quickly, but I wanted to extend the offer.