Friday, May 29, 2009

Staying Inside The Lines

Untouched is at 69K! I have been writing like mad these last few days. Making up for lost time, I suppose. I'm just trying to get the story out of me-- free it from the shell that is my mind, and let it loose on paper. Or, rather, a computer word processor. But whatever- it's the paper of the 21st century.

I've had the outlines written up for weeks. See, I don't usually write detailed outlines, usually it's something like:

CH. 1- Gwen is dying in hospital, Glory comes to collect her soul, Gwen convinces Glory to give her a second chance.

CH. 2- Gwen gets second chance, Glory explains rules and restrictions.

Then I make up the rest as I go along. And it worked, quite well, in the beginning. But then the story progressed, and more had to happen, and everything was more complex. So my outlines became more detailed. Instead of one line of text per chapter, it was one line of text per (estimated) page of typed ms text.

CH. 12
1. Falling down, worry, James' voice- surprise, Dante caught Gwen
2. Dante intro'd, who is the boy? How does he know?
3. Explains, guilty, jealousy, 'You would have let her fall?'

Etc, etc.

But now, for the final three chapters, everything is far more complicated. Now my outline reads like a script; a short hand, scrawling, script.

A- Take Gwen back to the world, stay close Dante
G- mutter, I don't want Dante close
Am- raises eyebrow and looks @ A
A- surprised, Interesting, is she aware?
Am- lowers gaze
A- Hm, how odd...
D- Come on, G, let's go
D&G leave room, walking in hall

Etc, etc.

Writing up these outlines takes more time, but writing takes less time, because I consult my script, see what needs to happen next, then quickly write it down in the best long hand prose I can muster up that moment.

What I'm creating now is the skeleton. I know these last chapters will need a lot of attention after I finish, but I'm getting the base, the shell of the story recorded, and right now that is the most important thing for me to do.

I can fix the broken text, I can smooth over the lumpy transitions. But if I don't have anything written down, I have nothing to work with.

I expect to be done with the first draft of Untouched within the week. Exciting!!!

Then I'll take a week to polish it up and fix any holes.

Then I'll need a couple willing victims... er, I mean volunteers.


Cheers, Kat

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Early Retirement

So, as it turns out I'm pretty bad at keeping a regular blogging schedule. Heck, I'm pretty bad at keeping a regular anything schedule- especially writing. By my standards, Untouched should be shiny and polished by now. Remember those goals I set back in February? A little lofty, yes, but if I stuck with the 1K/day writing goal I probably would be there by now.

But sometime in March my writing fever started to dwindle, and in April it took an extended vacation. That lasted until the end May.

I'm getting back on the wagon. Untouched is at about 67K, and I wrote 2K+ just today. I think I've been discouraged lately, because I know that I want my story to be in the best possible condition before I start the query process. And I'm starting to feel that Untouched will never be good enough- not because of the amount of revisions or edits or rewrites I still need to do (which is a lot, by the way). But because the story itself is not good enough. Maybe I'm just too close to the story, but it feels old, stale and ordinary. And I have plenty other ideas that I think could be extraordinary.

So I was faced with a dilemma. Complete Untouched, revise, edit, polish- even though I have a strong suspicion that it will end up on a shelf somewhere collecting dust no matter how much work I put into it? Or ditch the story with 10K words left to be written and start something new, something that actually has a chance at making it?

Hmph. Not a fun choice. Both options are painful and tedious in their own ways. For now I've chosen to complete Untouched. I've made it this far, there's really no turning back now.

I just hope I can turn it into something worthwhile. But if I can't... well, that sucks, but it's a learning experience, and my next project will be better and stronger because of all the effort I put toward this one.

New goals:
Finish Untouched.
Revise, edit, clean up.
Get out to Beta readers.
Gather feedback.
Determine if Untouched is salvageable, or if retirement is the best option.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Run Away With Me

Boredom time= Excerpt time!

“We can leave!” He rose from the couch and took a step backward, toward the door. “We can leave,” he repeated, this time in a whisper. “We can run away together.” He held his arms out to me. “Come with me, let's go.”

I didn't move. “It would never work. We would never get away with it.”

“We might. We can try. I have to try. I have to save you...”


He collapsed onto the couch and buried his face in his hands. “I have to save you,” his muffled voice spilled from between his fingers. “I'm not ready to accept that I can't.”

I moved closer to him and rubbed my gloved hand against his back, wishing I could be more comforting. Wishing I could wrap my arms around him. Wishing I could shower him with kisses. Wishing I could stay, but knowing I could not.

I glanced at the clock, hanging on the wall and ticking like a bomb. My heart quickened, humming in my chest, too many beats to count in each swiftly passing second. The second hand clicked its way toward twelve, and with a heavy sound that echoed around us, the minute hand dropped. Time. We were running out of time.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Hold My Hand

Finishing this ms is like wading through molasses. Every time I think I'm starting to move faster, get closer- it happens. The molasses glues my feet in place and I have to struggle through every centimeter.

I wish my muse was more helpful. See, I like to think of muses as babysitters- and writers are just little kids. Only my babysitter is watching House instead of helping me plow through my story.

This is what's happening:

Me: (Typing) '"What have you decided?" Dante asked.' ........

*Alt-tabs to THE INTERNETS.

Me: I haven't checked my blogger in, like, 10 minutes. I wonder if someone posted a new blog. I wonder if I have comments.

*Checks Blogger, nothing new.

Me: I wonder if there are any new Youtube videos up.

*Checks Youtube. Nothing new.*

Me: I haven't checked my email in a while...

...This goes on quite a bit. I usually find some new blog, or some new writing site to keep me occupied for a couple hours. I want to be speeding through my ms and getting out this draft so I can start refining it. And because I'm not yet done with that huge step, I'm getting impatient. I'm getting discouraged. There's just so much work that goes into it...

What I need, is something more along the lines of this:

Me: (Typing) '"What have you decided?" Dante asked.' ...

*Alt-tabs to THE INTERNETS.

Muse: Hey! What are you doing?

Me: Um, checking Blogger?

Muse: I don't think so. You should be writing.

Me: But I don't know what to write!

Muse: That's where I come in.

*Closes window and returns to manuscript.

Muse: So what happens next? Dante asks for a decision, what's the response?

Me: Well, Gwen tells him that she decided to go.

Muse: Okay, write that down.

*Fingers click across the keyboard as the paragraph is written.

Muse: Then what? How does Dante react to her decision? Is he mad, happy, confused? What does Dante say?

Me: Hmm... he's surprised, but he doesn't say anything right away. James would interrupt, he would be mad.

Muse: Okay, write that down. What does James say?

*More keystrokes as the paragraph is written.

Muse: Wow, he is pretty mad. How does Gwen react to this outburst?

Me: Hmm... oh, wow- she wouldn't react, because now Dante is reacting. Let's see, what would he do? ...He would insult James, he would tell Gwen she made the wrong decision. He would tell Gwen that James wasn't worth it.

Muse: Wow, quick, write that down.

*Tappity tap tippity tap tap (That's the sound my keyboard makes)

Muse: Ok, so what happens next?

Me: Well, Gwen's not too happy with either of the guys... but James was already mad, so he definitely has something to say to Dante.

Muse: What does he say?

Me: Oh my... he's not going to say anything. James is going to take a swing at Dante!

* * * * * * *

Hmm, well that was an interesting experiment. I am now jumping out of my chair with excitement to write. So I guess this post does two things: One, it provided me with an outlet to rant, that accidentally turned into a post that helped me continue my story. (Dante's line "what have you decided..." is actually exactly where I left off- I haven't written these reactions yet.)

And two, I gave myself some good advice. When you're stuck, just go slow. One sentence at a time. Just keep asking 'What happens next?'. You could even type up a transcript of an imaginary conversation between you and your imaginary friends as they help you with your manuscript. Hey, it worked for me.

And before you know it you'll be breaking up fistfights between two of your main characters. Those are always exciting.

Well, I've got to jet, I've got a fight scene to write. :)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The End???

I'm at the beginning of the end of Untouched, and I'm coming across some difficulties. It's incredibly hard to write. I always figured the end would be the easiest part of the ms to write- it's the close of the story, no need to build dramatic tension and throw out crazy plot twists, it's time to wrap everything up and give it a nice, satisfying ending that leaves room for the sequel. Right?

Um, no. Not even. So much plot and action, and dynamic character changes occur, it looks like it's going to be a bit trickier than I foolishly assumed.

But I came across this! It's more about the final parting sentence, rather then the last quarter or so of a novel, but helpful nonetheless.

How to End Your Novel

Have you ever read a book with an unsatisfying ending? Annoying, isn’t it? You’ve just read this exciting, emotionally draining and captivating novel, then arrived at the end only to be left hanging on the edge of a precipice. What happened to the characters? Were all of the problems resolved? The ending to a novel is almost as important as the beginning.

How to End Your Novel with Dialogue Some of the most wonderful novels have ended with dialogue. The main character says something witty or funny, and you close the book feeling like all has ended well. Dialogue can be a powerful way to end your novel as long as you do it creatively.

The best type of dialogue with which to end a novel is closure; the last phrase gives both the reader and the characters a sense of finality, which signals that the story is over. You’ll see this done fairly often in movies, and it can be just as attractive at the end of a novel.

Just make sure, if you end your novel with dialogue, that you haven’t left any questions unanswered, and that the previous prose brought the story to a close. Personally, ending a novel with a question seems cheap, as though you are cheating the reader.

How to End Your Novel with Prose This is the most popular way to end a novel because it allows the author to say everything that needs to be said. For example, you can end your novel with an Epilogue that explains what happened after the final scene in your novel. It can project days, months or years in the future, which is especially helpful in a romance novel.

If, however, your novel does not require an epilogue, you can simply bring it to a close in the present. The characters have solved the mystery or thwarted the great evil, which means that there isn’t anything left to say. It’s better to end your novel with a bang than to drone on with meaningless and senseless words that only serve to leave your reader with a bad taste in his or her mouth.

How to End Your Novel with a Cliffhanger There is only one instance in which this is acceptable, and that is when you have planned a sequel to your novel. Often, trilogies will end the first two novels with a cliffhanger, which ensures that your readers will purchase the next installment.

You have to be careful not to anger your readers, however, because if they are frustrated at the end of the novel, they’ll simply give up on you as a writer. My best advice is to tie up all of the loose ends – save one – and leave the reader wanting more. A novel – even one with a sequel – that doesn’t answer any of the reader’s questions will be frustrating, and you might lose their interest.

Monday, May 11, 2009


Working on Untouched, about 61K and still writing.

Have you ever had that moment where the perfect most amazing story direction comes to you? When I first started on Untouched, I made a basic chapter-by-chapter outline with a few sentences scribbled down for each chapter. Just an overview of what I wanted to happen in each chapter, and how the story would progress.

When I started writing I realized that this story wouldn't be finished with just one book. I started thinking of how to carry on the story through a possible sequel and figured that it would probably end up as a trilogy (the fantasy genre does love those trilogies). So over the course of writing the first book, I sketched out the entire plot of the second one. But I didn't have any finalized idea of what would occur in the third book, or what the big finish at the end of the trilogy would be.

So tonight, as I was writing an interaction between my MC and the antagonist of the series, it came to me. The perfect final conflict, the perfect final confrontation that will wrap up the entire series of events, that explained everything that happened throughout the books.

Because as I write the characters are taking over, coloring themselves on the page and demanding attention. The characters are alive on the page, and driving the story in deliciously unexpected ways. And as I write of the first time the protagonist and antagonist meet- they show themselves to me, and in a moment I can see the entire arc of their relationship, how they balance each other, how they oppose each other- and what happens in their future that makes their story worth telling.

I'm super excited about writing right now, it's nice to get back into it. :)

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Title Love

Untouched at 60K! Woot, closing in on the last stretch. About 20K left, presumably. I'll have to see how it plays out- right now I'm really not sure. Could be right on the 80K mark, could be a lot more, could be more like 70K. We shall see.

So we all know that titles change. You think you have the perfect title? Maybe you do. But maybe the publisher hates it. Maybe the marketing team says it's no good. Maybe the agent wants to change it before you even go on submission. What if the title is absolutely perfect but another book was just released with the same title (gasp, the horror!) forcing you to come up with a new one?

Would you be okay with that?

I love my title, I think it captures the story perfectly. But I'm not married to it. I don't think I would voluntarily change it, but if I had to, and the new title worked, I would be okay with it.

Character names can also change. That one may hit a little harder for some. My four main characters' names I love. The other ones I'm ready to change at the slightest suggestion that they're not working. The mains' names... well, you'll have to be really convincing. I'm not married to them, but I am in a deeply committed relationship. I would consider dumping them if something better came along, but I would need a really good reason.

My questions are these: Are you married to your title or any character names? How would you feel about being asked to change them?

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Something New

I woke up this morning and felt the overwhelming need to write- this voice was pressing on my brain, threatening me with regrets if I didn't record these words. It's something different for me, not only is it more crime/mystery but it's in present tense. And told from a male perspective. This is all I have, just these words. No story, no plot, no names. Maybe it will grow into something.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I try not to focus on the body laying in front of me. It will disappear if I just give it time. I blink my eyes, hoping it will be gone when I open them. It is not. I want this nightmare to end. My eyes squeeze shut again, this time my nose and lips go numb from being clenched so tightly. Any minute now I'm going to wake up, screaming, a cold mixture of tears and sweat dripping down my face. Any minute now...

I slowly open my eyes, blinking as the whiteness of the room blinds me once again. I look at the room, the walls, the ceiling, anywhere but the face of the dead girl laying in front of me. I don't want to remember her dead. She will be remembered living- laughing and kissing me and looking at me with those clear gray eyes. Eyes that now stare lifelessly at the ceiling, blank and empty.

“Can you identify the body?” The voice is faded and fuzzy, with a hint of annoyance. I haven't been listening. It's probably the fifth time the detective asks me that question.

“Y-yes. That's Allison.” That's the girl I love. And someone has ruined her- stolen her life and destroyed her body.

“Thank you, I know this must be hard.” The detective waves a hand at the mortician and he quickly covers her up with a blanket. He slides her back into the hole, a little silver box in the wall. The morgue is filled with little silver boxes, how many dead girls lay inside? How many loved ones left behind?

“What now?” I choke out, it's very hard to speak. I swallow three times, fighting the nausea building in my stomach. I can't throw up, not here, not in the presence of my dear Allison.

“We need you to sign something saying that you have identified the body.”

I grimace at his words- I don't like it when he calls her a body, she is so much more than that. She is Allison, my Allison, and the detective refuses to acknowledge that. I swallow again before I speak. “Then what?”

He shrugs his shoulders, he doesn't care. “Then you're free to go.” He escorts me from the room, but only my body goes. My mind and my heart are still with Allison, and I don't know if I even want them back.

Free to go where? I have nothing. Allison is the only thing that matters in this world, and she is gone. And I can't follow her.

Where will I go?