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When stories take over


Whew, what a drag.

This is Sweet Oblivion 5...so far. A big sheet of paper, three colors of ink and a stack of Post-Its.

I've never had to do this amount of searching for a NOVELLA.

I think I'm ready to write. And I don't think I'll need to throw away too much of what I've written.

Cross your fingers for me.



Comments

( 21 comments — Leave a comment )
ocotillo_dawn
Aug. 22nd, 2009 12:58 am (UTC)
Dude. Someday you need to share that with us. :) I'm squinting to see what all the boxes are, with arrows, right? What is the research? What's on the post-its? Is that a plot chart, or characters, or map or what? (all rhetorical questions, don't answer, just sharing my fascination in your creation process.)

Just finished Hemivore a few days ago. Wonderful. I do love the flavor of your writing and your characters draw me.
jordan_c_price
Aug. 22nd, 2009 02:01 am (UTC)
I made it too small to read on purpose so there wouldn't be any spoilers!

Interesting questions. This is all plot and subtext, a summary of the actions happening and a little mind map of all the "why"s next to it. On the left I started to write down themes, but I left off in favor of determining how the action should go down. On the right in another color are scenes I want to weave in to the A plot.

The post-its were quick distillations of various things that had already happened in my writing. Because of course this is not how I started. I wrote have the story, wailed, "Something's not right!" and fretted about it for four days. :D

Thank you so much for the compliment!
ocotillo_dawn
Aug. 22nd, 2009 04:51 am (UTC)
Wow, thanks for that. I do almost everything by computer. I'm brainstorming a new story right now. Haven't started writing it. I have this file where I just sort of journal all of my thoughts on it, never deleting, only adding or rearranging. It has lists, plot sequences, changes of mind, character descriptions, all that stuff. All in one fat file. I've done this for three other stories, find that often I go back to it to refresh my memory of what my feelings were on what was supposed to be happening (related to themes more than plots) seeing if I've started to wander too much.

Not that I mind the act of writing changing my mind about aspects of the story, but if that happens, I need to be conscious of it so that the story doesn't simply meander for the reader.

I'm learning. :) Thanks for sharing what all that was. It looks helpful. I'm envisioning(for myself) a set of actions happening to advance the non-romance aspects of the plot, another set showing the romance progression, then figuring out how they interleave... doesn't work so well by computer, with basically one dimension (top to bottom) to work in.

jordan_c_price
Aug. 22nd, 2009 01:15 pm (UTC)
I'm interested to hear that you're writing down the motivations behind the action -- in this case, the non-romance plotline and the romance plotline. I think it makes all the difference in the world in having the scenes ring true, if everyone is acting the way they do for a reason that the author is aware of. I took a week-long class in writing subtext a couple of years ago so I'm pretty big on working on the iceberg under the surface that no one gets to see ;-)

Have you tried the free program Celtx? It's Mac/PC/Linux. I used it in plotting Camp Hell which was 95k with an A plot, a B plot and a bunch of flashbacks to wrangle. Each Celtx project is a collection of files, so you could have the "text" file be your story, then add a "script" file to the project which will allow you to break it into scenes, and (this is the good part) virtual 3x5 cards. So you could have your iceberg right there with you while you type the story into its separate file.

You can also add character files if you're into that sort of thing. (I usually focus more on my characters' current motivations than their histories, though with my longer series it would have been helpful to do slapdash cards with characters' descriptions, family members, etc. simply to stop from contradicting myself.)
ocotillo_dawn
Aug. 22nd, 2009 06:25 pm (UTC)
I took a week-long class in writing subtext a couple of years ago so I'm pretty big on working on the iceberg under the surface that no one gets to see

I think I try to do a lot of this, working the plot through many angles, at least if I properly intuit 'subtext' (I think I do). Still, I feel sometimes as though I'm flailing in the dark and reinventing the wheel (pls excuse haphazard metaphors). I've read quite a lot on the craft of writing, but now you have me poking around thinking about workshops again.

Question for you (you've already been so generous in your responses, and here I ask for more), workshops or uni/college classes? I have access to both, have you done both, and which have you found most helpful (would you recommend)? Huh. Might be a complex question with lots of if/then, in which case don't sweat it.

Looked up Celtx, sweet package for a free deal, was surprised, reckon it could run into the hundreds if private interests were putting it out there. Thanks for the tip, and for all of your insight.

Edited: Recommend, one c, two m's Oco, get it straight! ^^

Edited at 2009-08-22 06:28 pm (UTC)
jordan_c_price
Aug. 22nd, 2009 07:01 pm (UTC)
Yay, I'm tickled to turn you on to Celtx. I'll bet there may be features in there I haven't tried yet.

Question for you (you've already been so generous in your responses, and here I ask for more)

OMG, I could talk about writing process forever. I love that you're indulging me. The people I know offline glaze over after a few minutes.

I'm not sure how to classify that thing I took. It was offered by UW (University of Wisconsin) but it was billed as a week-long writers' retreat. Of course since I could drive there it felt more like a class. I suppose if I had traveled and booked a motel room it might have felt more like a "retreat."

I was frankly disappointed in the writing level of the other students. I had hoped that the cost of the class and the fact that it was a week long would mean it would attract people farther along in their writing. One of our first assignments was to go out and people-watch, and write a first-person story based on some stranger we'd spotted. Out of 8 or 10 people, only I and one other person actually used first person POV -- what the heck??? One of the other students was in a low-residency MFA program for writing and she couldn't bang out a three page first person story? Again, what the heck?

I think if I did any writing thing again it would be one of the biggies, like Clarion. Otherwise, for me, it might be more beneficial to hire someone to critique a story of mine, or hire a writing coach, or to get a week at a motel and cram with no distractions. I do learn things when I work with new editors.

However, if I had access to free classes and workshops (I used to be eligible for free classes when I was in admin at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and I almost never took advantage of them because my workday was so grueling) I might sign up for a class, check it out, and drop it if it didn't seem to be worthwhile.

I think in that workshop I mentioned, I had an idea on day 1 that it wasn't for me. I could have switched out but I didn't because I didn't want to hurt anyone's feelings -- and actually I did end up having a good relationship with the instructor, a local screenwriter. He's come and done programs for me at my day job. But the classmates? Ugh.
ocotillo_dawn
Aug. 22nd, 2009 07:41 pm (UTC)
*laughing* I'm assuming you've read Lanyon's Adrian English stories? You are reminding me of the writing group he portrays. Would drive me nuts, my absolute preference in a class or workshop is to be surrounded by people who are better than me, but not so much better that I get completely left behind. Just stretched as far as I can go. I dislike being top of the class.

I'm no trained writer, but you have me suspicious now that workshops would frustrate me, and at the very least, I've been convinced that I should punch right into the 'intermediate/advanced' level courses without fear that I'll drag the class down. Should clarify that I do have writing experience (am published), but in academic writing, not fiction.

Out of 8 or 10 people, only I and one other person actually used first person POV -- what the heck???

That is frightening. I teach at college level (science) and this type of thing surprises me enough there - but at a paid writer's workshop? Goodgod.

However, if I had access to free classes and workshops (I used to be eligible for free classes when I was in admin at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and I almost never took advantage of them because my workday was so grueling)

Bingo. Same situation class-wise. We do also have an org here that offers lots of workshops, but they cost.

I think if I did any writing thing again it would be one of the biggies, like Clarion. Otherwise, for me, it might be more beneficial to hire someone to critique a story of mine, or hire a writing coach, or to get a week at a motel and cram with no distractions.

I've heard stories about Clarion... supposed to be pretty harsh but incredibly effective and worthwhile. Also that it is hard to get in, right? So wow, if you apply give us a holler and I'll do my best to send some sort subpsi message their way... ^^

Have to admit that ever since I saw that Lanyon does that crit service, I've wondered about sending him a chapter or two. Support a favorite author, get invaluable objective feedback. It might tell me where to concentrate efforts, what my strengths and weakness are.

You mentioning Clarion brought a question to the forefront of my mind. When I consider classes and workshops, I'm always wondering whether the fact that I write m/m erotica is going to have them treating me dismissively - as though I'm a 'fangirl' slasher that isn't serious. Have you ever run into this? Have you ever applied 'don't ask don't tell' just to keep from having to wallow into that? Not sure what I'm asking here, just I often find that the genre I'm writing makes me wonder how open I should be with that. I *almost* took an SF workshop once, but chickened out largely because it required I share my current novel. Heh. (Envision a workshop of pencil neck geek teenage boys and ex military men being subjected to this!)

I took an art class once, way back in undergrad, and when the professor learned I wasn't a 'serious' artist, but just wanted to learn for hobby, he pretty much dismissed me from then on. I wasn't the best student, granted, but he took zero in helping me improve. That is what I wonder about, I guess. Marginalization.
jordan_c_price
Aug. 22nd, 2009 08:39 pm (UTC)
Oh, you're right, it really was like Partners in Crime (Adrien's group, not Josh & my novel). I led some writing workshops through the local library and the rec department and I found it to be much the same. The ability levels and chemistry of the group members can make or break the group. One really needy, really vocal person often rises to the top and manipulates everything, makes it about them. Almost always happens. So then it takes a really assertive instructor to calm down that one show-stealer...and that's not me. I'm the ultimate in mellow instructor.

I would say absolutely go for Josh's critique service. Not only does he know what he's doing writing wise but he's got a lot of insight into the business end of writing.

I'd be more likely to find a writing coach than go to Clarion, I think, for the money. But if I had all the time and money I wanted, I would definitely pursue Clarion!

On not being taken seriously for writing m/m, I know exactly what you mean. I was on a panel at WisCon a couple months ago and I was worried I'd be looked down upon by the other authors as a fanfic writer. I couldn't have been more wrong. They were generous and welcoming and I've even kept in contact with one of them who happens to live in the town where I work. (A male horror writer...just the demographic I was worried would dismiss me!)

I've been told that RWA has some good workshops around here but I have a mental block about joining because I consider myself a horror/thriller writer rather than a romance writer.

Too bad you can't take advantage of your free classes. That's my biggest regret, other than staying at the hideous job for four years, was that I didn't take more classes. Tired at the end of the day or not!

I wish the "hobbyist" thing wasn't such a stigma. You could always be enigmatic and say "I'm working on a project." (Everyone will probably go nuts trying to pump details out of you. I find the vaguer I am in mixed company, the more curious everyone gets because they sense I'm hedging.)
jordan_c_price
Aug. 22nd, 2009 09:32 pm (UTC)
One thing I would hasten to add, since I realize not everyone knows my entire background, is that by being looked down upon as a fanfic writer I mean having that weird stigma attached to your stuff because other people don't understand it and it's not part of their personal culture. The "I make fun of what I don't understand" mentality.

I had a sudden realization that I could be coming off as saying fanfic writers are lesser somehow. Like so many m/m writers, I started as a fanfic writer. I think often fanfic writers are as good as or better than the original writers -- especially TV fanfic IMO. But because we play in established sandboxes and spend hours on things that can never be saleable, I don't think other writers know what to make of us, so they dismiss it. I suppose the non-monetary aspect also puts that "hobby" stigma on it too. As if one needs to be paid for every activity one chooses to pursue.
ocotillo_dawn
Aug. 23rd, 2009 09:22 pm (UTC)
I think also akin to that is that people are status conscience, and I think that unless we make a conscious effort to not do so, we are often trying to place everyone we encounter on some hierarchical (sp? *gah*) level. And of course, none of us want to be on the bottom, so we find reasons to slot others below us until evidence to the contrary becomes undeniable.

Kind of a crappy view of humanity, isn't it? But really, we are animals, at root. What redeems us is our ability to recognize our more base impulses and check them -- to lesser and greater degrees.

Oh. My. God. See what you've done. Next thread please. ^^
anahcrow
Aug. 22nd, 2009 01:42 am (UTC)
I have been here. I use those huge sheets of graph paper, but I love the roll of craft paper idea. :)
jordan_c_price
Aug. 22nd, 2009 02:02 am (UTC)
Something about the craft paper was freeing. Maybe because it's so disposable. I always seemed to do my best drawing on newsprint or napkins, so it makes sense that the more low-end my medium is, the less psyched out I get.
anahcrow
Aug. 22nd, 2009 02:34 am (UTC)
I use the canary yellow newsprint pads that are less than $1 each and Bic pens (bought in bulk for about $2/10) when I'm getting stroppy about making a mess. That and dollar store post-its, clipboards, and index cards keep me going.

As we've gotten less OMFG-poor, I've gotten to where I don't mind using sketchbooks (I buy very large ones, and large 'landscape' books as well) and markers and such, though. The trick for me, always, is to own two. Because if one's clean, I can get the other dirty. :p

I finally bought one of those beautiful carved leather books full of handmade paper.... because you can replace the folios when they're full. Otherwise, I'd never touch it. I know, because someone gave me another and I can't bear to use it.

ISSUES, WRITERS HAS DEM.
dysonrules
Aug. 22nd, 2009 02:48 am (UTC)
That cracks me up! OMG, your process is fascinating! I make a rambling list of sequential plot points and the rest of it is IN MY BRAIN.

Maybe I should try putting it down on paper one day. O.o
jordan_c_price
Aug. 22nd, 2009 01:16 pm (UTC)
This is unusual for me. I'm sure the story is in my brain, but I'm having a heck of a time getting to it. I have high hopes for today. I think I just wrote the intro I'll be keeping.
dysonrules
Aug. 22nd, 2009 01:19 pm (UTC)
YAY! It's a pain when they won't cooperate. I'll have to keep your GIANT BUTCHER PAPER idea in mind next time I have one that goes AWOL. LOL! I love it.

Your next book is calling to me like WHOA, but I have too much to DOOOOO to read right now! I'll try to finish something so I can give myself a treat and read it. *happy sigh of anticipation*
ali_wilde
Aug. 22nd, 2009 04:08 am (UTC)
Fingers crossed.

It looks like a fascinating process. I just use Andrea. She's great with ideas and we can bounce them around for ages over the microphone or typing on msn.
Nine times out of ten, we end up changing things anyway but it's good to have a start point.

On the writing course I just finished, the lecturer said that most stories are written from the conclusion backwards.
jordan_c_price
Aug. 22nd, 2009 01:18 pm (UTC)
Do you think it's true, about starting from the conclusion? I think a lot of people start with a character or an image and let the story go where it will, and wrap it up when it seems done.

Having someone to bounce ideas off verbally is priceless. I get great ideas that way even if my SO is really listening to sports radio and not me talking.
ali_wilde
Aug. 22nd, 2009 01:36 pm (UTC)
Sometimes I think we have the conclusion first. Mostly we get an idea, gather some characters, Andrea names them all Hank, argue, name them good names and write.
I usually come up with an ending way before we're there and sometimes it can mean tweaking the beginning.

LOL, I don't even bother bouncing ideas off my man. I often get 'Why don't you write normal stuff?' *sigh*
linda4503
Aug. 22nd, 2009 09:39 am (UTC)
I had to laugh, because as soon as I saw that pic I immediately zoomed in to get spoilers. I then read your comments and saw you were way ahead of us chronic 'read the last page first' readers.
I am so looking forward to Oblivion 5 and being in Bill's head again.
jordan_c_price
Aug. 22nd, 2009 01:19 pm (UTC)
Hee hee, I don't want to give away the big "ta-da" for the whole series before it's ready!!!
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