I’m An Idiot

So I’ve meant to write posts– it just hasn’t been happening. It’s a mixture of laziness, summer classes being a little more work than I expected, and I’ve been spending a lot of time doing stuff for myself. I’ve decided that I’m going to write a post every other day or so, but nothing too long, kinda just to keep up the momentum, kind of deal. I kind of need to get into a routine anyway, and I’d like blog posts to be a part of that again.

Anyway, that’s not what I wanted to write about today. A little while ago I posted a Desolace update. I was pretty happy with my progress up until that point, even though after I finished the chapter I was working on, I knew I needed to go back and change the ending and have something else happen first.

Except that I put it off for so long that now I’ve forgotten exactly what I was I wanted to do instead…

Usually I write it down in the instance that I know I can’t get to it right away, but this time I didn’t. So I’m an idiot, and will probably be spending the next couple days, or maybe even weeks, trying to remember what it was…

Ugh. My own damn fault.

~Erynn

Desolace Update #1

So this is my first “official” Desolace update post. I don’t expect this to be a regular thing because Desolace is going very slowly, but I figured since I’m happy with where I’m at, I may as well talk a bit about what I’ve done with it, talk about it, stuff like that.

I mentioned a couple times in previous posts that I worked on Desolace as one of my projects for one of my creative writing classes last semester. By “worked on” I mean I wrote an analysis on some of my plans for the novel in the future, and wrote, re-wrote and extensively edited the first two chapters. I also wrote (not fully edited yet) the third chapter after classes ended and I plan on writing another two of three over the summer in preparation for my next intermediate creative writing class.

My final grade on my writing submission (the two full chapters) was a solid A, which was my goal, so I’m pretty happy with that and hope I can keep it up.

Desolace has always been in a weird spot in the grand scheme of things. Sure I’ve had a good idea of where I wanted to go with it since the beginning, but writing a book is so much more complicated than knowing your characters and plot. Things tend to happen without your consent because your characters do as they damn will please and your world evolves behind the scenes. It gets frustrating, but part of all that is learning how to control the reins and keep things from diverting too far from your original purpose (or knowing when it is appropriate to let it continue).

A couple things I’ve determined from writing these first few chapters is that without an outline (as I prefer) I’m being really particular about the details I add in, and how scenes transition from one to another. Usually, I leave it choppy or whatever and go back and fix it later, but for some reason, with this project, it’s been really hard to move on to the next part if the previous scenes don’t set up everything right. The result has been three good chapters that transition really well from one to the next, but that also makes it slow as hell.

Even without an outline, though, I’ve got the help of the novel analysis that I wrote on Desolace. It helped me solidify some plot points that I’d been thinking about, fleshed out some traits for my main characters and helped me figure out a lot of the why for the novel. So I think the difficulties of writing the chapters so they transition well aside, I’m in a pretty good place to continue writing a good chunk of the story.

I’m considering writing a brief outline just to organize some of the events I’ve got in my head. I’ve had a couple instances already (I’ve got to go change the ending to the third chapter so it leads into something else first) where I’ve rearranged the order of plot points because it made more sense to do it in a certain order. But it’s a pain in the ass to write it out and then realize it’s too early for that, so I figure it would be worth it to write out all the events I have planned and properly organize them in correlation to each other. I don’t want to do anything too fancy, just some bullet points that I can rearrange things visually rather than in my head.

Anyway, I think that’s it for now. Next time I might go into more detail on the characters and what the story is about, but I need to work on accurately summing it all up before I can write anything about that.

~Erynn

 

 

Writing Non-Heterosexual Characters

I’ve never really set out to write a character specifically to be diverse or to fill a certain status quo or whatever. I exclusively write characters who “come” to me in one way or another, I really hate forcing characters who I can’t picture clearly in my head onto paper. They never come off as real that way.

Anyway, 99% of my characters end up being heterosexual. Not for any specific reason, because I definitely don’t consciously choose their preference, that’s just who the characters are. I might be the writer, but anyone who writes knows that characters tend to have minds of their own. They choose for themselves. But, every so often, I think about characters who aren’t heterosexual, and writing them always ends up being a curious process. 

Let me back up a bit.

In high school sexuality didn’t matter to me. It still doesn’t, but back then I had the habit of seeing things as male or female because that’s just how things are divided. It’s like that in most cases. Hence, when I started writing back then, I tended to write my characters as heterosexual without really realizing it. And in some instances, it ended up being that the reason some of my characters weren’t working the way I wanted was because I was forcing them into an identity that they weren’t. But now I see things differently and am able to let my characters be who they actually are.

An example of this would be Arianne from Desolace. I originally wrote her as a straight female, in a relationship with a male. However, while this worked for some parts of the story, it was not satisfying several plot points that I planned. Of course, I never realized that this was the problem, and me being unable to resolve these plot issues was part of the reason I put the project on hold. 

But now, having looked at it from a different perspective, I’ve realized that the problems in these plot points have arisen because Arianna’s motives weren’t in line with her true character. So once I figured that out, her real character came to light, and since then a lot of these plot points have made so much more sense. 
I don’t think that writing non-heterosexual characters is much different from those who are. The essence of creating a character remains the same across the board, and the desires of characters are almost always different from person to person in the first place. It’s just a different kind of difference. 

~Erynn

My Progress Toward Publishing a Short Story

I’ve got a short story written and I think it’s pretty good– maybe another round or two of tweaking and tightening the prose and it’ll be ready to submit. It’s a darker story, but I guess that’s not really a surprise considering it was me who wrote it. I’ve got a couple places in mind that I want to submit to, I’ve just been dragging my feet on finishing the story and writing up a query letter to go submit.

I’m almost there and I don’t really feel the need to rush and get it done with. It’s not that I’m afraid of rejection or anything like that– I think, unfortunately, that’s just a natural part of writing– and it’s not even that I changed my mind on wanting to get one of my short stories published… It’s just… I don’t know, I guess at the moment, I’m just not willing to force the time I need to finish it into my schedule.

I feel like I’m doing a million things every day. I’m trying to learn a dozen new skills (trying to actually figure out how to draw, Japanese, I’ve been looking at a few other languages, trying to figure out poetry, learning how to actually cook, etc.) on top of all my other daily responsibilities (homework, class, friends, sleeping, boyfriend, work). I mean I COULD make the time to do it if I really wanted to, but I guess right now I just don’t really want to, I’ve got my priorities set up in other places. Hopefully, once I’ve cleared a couple other things off my plate, I’ll have the motivation to put the next step of this adventure to a close…

It feels pretty good to have it about 90% done, though, even if I don’t plan on finishing that last 10% just yet. I’m looking forward to completing it and submitting, I think I’ll just wait until my head is in the right place to do that.

~Erynn

So, Wait, You’re a Writer, Right?

I guess I haven’t really posted anything about my writing in quite a while. I’ve honestly been trying to avoid it because while I’ve been writing regularly over the last couple weeks, I haven’t actually been writing.

I’m in the stage in one project I’m working on where I’ve thrown so many ideas into a story that it’s long past time where I go through everything, take out everything that’s good or that I think I can make work, and then write an outline. I hate writing outlines because I feel like they restrain my creativity, but I do recognize their critical role in organizing and structuring a story. Thus, instead of starting with an outline, I often compromise by doing all the bullshit creative stuff first and then sorting through it.

I may have mentioned it already, I may not have– I don’t feel like going through my posts to find out for sure– but I’m currently preparing the outline for the third draft for one of my three ongoing projects. The outline for v3.0 is about 80% done and I’ll be finishing that up within the next couple of days. I’ve just got to finish reading through the older drafts, write up some more notes, and then edit the outline accordingly.

This outline is for a YA fantasy that I’ve been writing on-and-off for about two years now. I’d honestly like to share more about it as I’m very happy with how the story is shaping out, but I’ve changed so much since I started writing it that I need to work on how to accurately describe the story. I’m thinking that if I can release any details, it’ll probably be in two or three months from now, so if that’s something you’re interested in maybe keep an eye open for that when March comes around.

The other two projects I’m working on are slow. One is going through some brutal rounds of editing (still even on the fourth draft!) and probably needs quite a bit more time before I can consider it polished. My third project, Desolace, which I have mentioned before in the past, has been mostly stagnant but I have come up with a few ideas that I’m itching to write and I’m hoping to get to that by the end of January.

Anyway, that’s all I wanted to say today. Maybe I’ll write up something longer and more exciting for tomorrow. 🙂

~Erynn

It’s Time to Talk Projects

Some of you might recall that I mentioned some time ago that I’ve put Taichiren’s to the side for now. While putting it aside isn’t a permanent decision, it had to be done in order to make room for some of the other things I’ve been working on. There are only two projects of note, but perhaps they will pique your interest.

The first project is what I refer to as ‘Desolace’, a novel that I wrote in 8th grade or so. Now that I think of it, I’m 100% sure I’ve mentioned it before, but this new version that I’m working on is a much different take on the original story. This is what’s taking Taichiren’s place as my personal project.

Desolace is an adult fantasy/ science fiction novel that is written in the first person point of view, following the character Arianne. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a fan of the first person perspective, but I’ve seen it done well often enough to give it a shot for this story. You see, Arianne isn’t your typical protagonist. She’s the main character, yes, but she isn’t a hero or even an anti-hero. She’s the villain. I think risking the first person POV for this story is well worth the potential that could come out of it.

Talking about Desolace will be my focus over the next couple months, so I’ll leave it at that for now and move onto the second project I’ve been working on. I hinted about this in October last year… it’s a bit of a ‘big reveal’.

Since February last year, I’ve been working on a YA fantasy series with a partner. Isn’t that exciting?! I can’t believe I’ve managed almost a whole year without bringing it up… but, wow, the last year has been incredibly productive. Unfortunately I can’t share any details about the plot or the characters as of yet, but here’s the current status of the writing.

The first draft of the first novel was finished in mid-November, at about 99,000~ words, only around 2,000 more than the original Taichiren’s draft. As of this week, my partner and I are sitting down to sort out the intricacies of the plot, so that I can start on the second draft of the first novel by the end of the month. I’ve done a bit of writing for the second book (about 18,000 words, give or take), but that’s been put on hold because of a variety of major plot changes that have brought on the plan to edit the first book early.

It hasn’t been decided how many books there will be yet– though right now we are thinking between 3 and 5. It will depend on how the new plot changes unfold through the first book and how much of the original book needs to be moved into the second. We also haven’t mapped out anything past where I’ve currently written to (besides several vague thoughts), so the length will depend on what unfolds before the story reaches what we perceive as the ending.

Anyway, that’s all I can share for now. I’ll write an update on the second project, which I simply refer to as ‘Drago’, when the editing for the first book beings. Until then, more posts about books, games, random thoughts, and perhaps a bit of Desolace.

~Erynn

 

Taichiren’s Update #3

Hello everyone!

I’ve been a bit neglectful of my blog again, but for good reason. Unfortunately, I’m not quite in a position to talk about it yet… but the hope is that sometime early 2016 I’ll be able to tell you guys all about it. It’s something I’m SUPER excited about, and though I can’t really talk about it, I wanted to write an update on Taichiren’s Heart, as it is somewhat related.

So, as you may have guessed by my lack of updates on the book, I’ve finally made the decision to put it aside for now. It’s not because I don’t want to write it and more because it needs so much work before it will ever be in a publishable state (if ever), time that I would rather put into more promising projects. Of course, this more ‘promising project’ that I have in mind is what I hope to be revealing early next year!

As for Taichiren’s, I haven’t completely abandoned it over the last few months. The story and the characters drift through my mind every so often, and in August, I believe, I wrote a short story about one of the side characters, Laecsam Batede. The story is him in his years of being a young, rebellious elf who did not agree with the ways of elven society. It follows him after he has decided to go to Myrusi’s Arena, a place no elf has stepped foot in decades. There, he finds out what has kept them all away.

I’ve debated doing a bit more cleaning up on the short and giving it away, but I’ve been hesitant to do so because I’m not sure I want to get anyone’s hopes up on the series being written any time within the next ten years.

What do you guys think? Would you like to read this short story, even if there might not be any follow-up for some time?

~Erynn

How I Became A Writer

My earliest memories of writing are from Elementary school. I don’t remember much about those days, honestly, but I know it’s where my road to becoming a writer started.

During school, I would sometimes go out of class with the counselor to write stories. Well, this would have been over 10 years ago now, so she would have done the writing and I would have been telling her what to write. I don’t have any of those stories now, nor do I remember what they were about… but I can imagine that they were cute and innocent stories, much unlike what I write now. Still, the memories are there, and I think that’s what’s important.

Fast forward to middle school, where I wrote my first book. It was crap, of course, as is most 11-year-olds’ writing, but it was mine. I think I wrote a bit about this event on my blog before, but I’ll recap regardless.

I didn’t attend much during middle school. I was “sick”. But I still did my school work from home and handed it in when I actually did go to class. I had an English assignment where we were to write a short story. Nothing fancy, just a short story. But I wrote a couple pages and then just kept going and going and going… and I handed that in as my “short” story. Hah. My teacher wasn’t offended, though, fortunately enough. In fact, he wanted to nurture my desire, and what he called talent, so it was something I continued to pursue in the future. So with him and one of the teachers’ assistants, I worked on the computer to expand on the story, though it never really got anywhere.

At the start of highschool, where I got big into anime, I started writing fan fiction. I don’t want to talk much about it… as everything I wrote was terrible and is still out there on the internet for people to see. NO I will not willingly show it to anyone.

Around grade 10 was when I finally had the opportunity to take an art course. I excelled at the sketches, didn’t bother doing much else. I would draw, but when I ran out of things to do or got bored of drawing, I would write. That’s where I wrote my second novel. I still have the original draft and it’s something I want to rewrite in the future, but I don’t foresee me getting into that for a long time. It’s story about magic, desire, and death.

Finally, at the start of grade 11 is when I started getting serious. My boyfriend dabbled in some writing, mostly for his English classes, but he had a few pieces that I found rather interesting. Most notably, he wrote a scene (I’m hard-pressed to actually call it a story, but I’ll explain that in a moment) about a warrior who met a she-demon. She showed the warrior a future, captivated him, and took him as one of her followers. It didn’t take me long to discover the story was about our relationship. I was the she-demon, he was the warrior. This story is something I want to go into more detail in a blog post sometime in the future, so I won’t say much more about the story than that. Regardless, from there, I wanted to take that piece that he wrote and turn it into a book. And we did, somewhat. Together, him and I wrote about 15 chapters about the demoness and the warrior. This is something we wanted to continue writing together, but it became impossible because of school and the fact that him and I wrote at completely different paces. This is something that I’ll probably finish in the future. There’s an interesting story behind this, so stay tuned for a post about it.

November that same year is where I participated in NaNoWriMo for the first time. I barfed up another novel, what I’ve often referred to as Taichiren’s Heart, which ended at about 97,000 words first draft, my longest manuscript yet. I knew it was bad (I had learned much by writing it, but still had much to learn), but I finished it with the hope of rewriting it after letting it sit until the summer. I wrote out an outline for the second draft, but I never really got around to doing it. So, there is book #3 that I want to go back to and rewrite into something publishable.

About half way through grade 12 was when I gave up on all my plans to do something other than writing. I think I intended to do some network security thing, but in the end, I really didn’t think it was me. Writing was. So February 2014 I opened my doors as a freelance writer and over the year took on several projects. I struggled at first, but over time I figured out what I was doing, and by the time it mattered I was making enough off my writing to live.

I think my history is a bit colourful, even though I didn’t really consider myself a writer until just before my first NaNoWriMo.  But now you know how I became one.

What about you guys? How did you guys become writers?

~Erynn

 

Taichiren’s Update #2

In my first Taichiren’s Update post I spoke a bit about the large errors I made in the novel’s original draft, as well as a bit on what I planned to do to fix them in the new version.

Today’s post will be about what I learned from writing the initial draft, and finally, a bit of a reveal as to what happened in the book. You’ll have to note that while much of the premise and characters remain the same, the story itself is now vastly different. I’m explaining this because though this will be a “big reveal” as to the content of the original draft, you will still only see glimpses of what will carry on to the new book.

So, let’s begin.

A lot of the insight I gained came either during the time I was writing the draft or after I completed it. While better known before I began, it is better to know now than never at all. Most of this pertained to the writing itself, such as: that I should limit my usage of adverbs, that “said”, “asked” and other invisible dialogue tags were better used than ones that stood out. I could go on forever; this is a list of things any novice writer is to learn if they are to succeed.

The most important lessons, however, were things I discovered on my own when I realized my draft was bad.

Characters and Characterization — This was one of the first hard-learned lessons, and it came about when I discovered I hated my main character. She wasn’t a goody-two-shoes perfectionist as you find written by most first-time would-be authors, but another level of entirely plain. She was useless and provided nothing but a lens through which we could see the story told. I wrote a more detailed post on the specific reasons I hated her, which you can read here, as that’s not exactly what this lesson was about.

The lesson was that no matter how good the idea for the character is, unless it is properly portrayed in the writing, they are just an idea and not a character someone would willingly read about. I wanted a story about a young woman who cared about nothing but herself, and was rewarded for her selfishness. Instead, I created something entirely different because I failed to properly build the characteristics needed for her to fulfill that role.

You can’t have someone be selfish and selfless without forcing that character into a devastating identity crisis.

My other characters were alright, but will be stronger the next time around. I tried throwing in some traits that I had never played with before, and though some of them turned out wonderfully– Take Cysar, the playboy who falls in love but still finds it difficult to tame his desires, as an example– others did not take so well to being written.

Making things happen — This was something I struggled with during the writing phase. I kept trying to make things happen; I would insert action in places where it wasn’t needed, as I was sure that action was the only way to make things happen. Of course I eventually learned otherwise, but until then it was fight after fight after fight after fight. Though I enjoyed the scenes individually, reading the book grew tiresome. It was then that I realized that there should be “breaks” in between each tidbit of “action”.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Just because there should be a break every here and there doesn’t mean you should switch from something exciting to something dull. You still want to keep the reader intrigued and dying to read what’s next, so you don’t want to write something that goes from an epic battle between two warriors to a woman talking about how she plans to paint her nails the perfect shade of pink. I would probably cry.

Thankfully, I was smart enough to realize that as well. I told myself, “If my intent [with the action scenes] was to keep the readers interest, then I don’t want to lose it in the downtime.” And I was right. This is what brought in some of my other sub-plots: Mydeth’s child, the Raiya, and pretty much everything that didn’t involve the main storyline, which is where I kept most of the action.

Adding too much — This was less obvious at first, but I came to the realization with time. I simply had too much going on and it was starting to feel all over the place. It wasn’t that what I had was bad, but that the story wasn’t mature enough to handle all that content. An example of something I added and later decided to push to a later book was what i dubbed the “God Children” arc. It was something I really enjoyed creating and it was hard to come to terms with the fact that I needed to move it to the second book. Some of it remains in the first (Mydeth’s child still remains an important character in the story) but most of it, including everything with Tael’rah’s sister, have been moved to the second book.

And finally, throwing more in a scene than I was able to handle. This became a huge problem near the end when the v’yeras and the elves sought to relieve their differences with bloodshed. I had the elven armies come to the battle on foot, and their summoned, undead dragons from the skies. While it sounds like a good idea without knowing anything about the scene, it ended up being an awful mess. Because I wasn’t able to handle so many things at once, I basically had the elves and v’yeras fight each other while half of the elven army remained in the sky doing nothing! Yeah, not a surprise that they lost.

I also removed the undead dragons because I’m tired of zombies and decided against death magic. That was a great decision.

Okay, so this post is a little long now. This isn’t really all I wanted to say, but because I’d like to keep it on the shorter end, I’ll have to finish this another time. But because I don’t want to keep these updates as dwellings on the past, the third update will be about the book I’m writing, and you will hear more about what I learned at a later date.

~Erynn

Taichiren’s Update #1

Alright, so my schedule is finally starting to clear up and I’m going to be setting up so that I can get back to writing my book. I’m pretty excited.

I’m going to be writing a series of posts to sort of outline my progress with my book over the next few months. I wanted to make it so I had an additional reason to trudge forward and so the people who are interested in reading it when it’s done can learn more about it before they can get their hands on it. I’ll be writing one of these posts every three or four weeks (sometimes sooner if I’m eager to write about this stuff) so I’ll have lots of material to write about.

Anyway, for this update I just wanted to talk a bit about the book itself and what it’s about. It’s been a while since I discussed the plot/ premise and a lot has changed since then, so I figured it would be a great place to start.

The original plan for the first book was to make it about a girl who is whisked away to a magical elven city after her home is destroyed. Of course, she later discovers that this magical world isn’t quite what she thought it was. It sounds a bit cliche, I know, but that’s kind of what happens when you summarize the plot in two sentences. Regardless, over the last year or so I’ve had a lot of time to think, and think I have. I decided that there were three large problems surrounding this initial idea:

#1: I’ve discussed Freywyn on my blog before, but because it’s been so long, here’s a quick recap. Freywyn is the floating island above my story’s main continent of Valvrae. The island is teeming with strange, magical energies and is populated only by elves. The reason Freywyn became a problem was because after sitting back from the story and thinking about what needed to be done to accomplish what I wanted with the book, I realized I put too much importance in a location that really serves no key purpose. By realizing this, I was able to remove a lot of the content pertaining to my main character’s actions while on Freywyn and portray them in a more meaningful way in regards to the story by keeping them in Valvrae. I’m not going to bother explaining this now, as I’ll get to it in another post.  Anyway, Freywyn wasn’t completely removed and there will be several scenes still written on the island– but it’s not nearly as important as before.

#2: Now that I think of it, all three of these big problems were noticed when I took a significant break from writing the book (just proves that you should take a break in between drafts). The second problem was that I placed too much value on a “feud” between the elves and the v’yeras (half-dragons), which I later came to see was a poorly crafted attempt at a substitute for a real plot. Whoops. That’s a pretty huge problem if you ask me. Basically, this meant that the integrity of my story was placed upon an event that happened a full generation ago, made no sense, and left most of my book running around all over the place without any real focus. I made a significant change to this (for starters, that means there’s no real feud at all in the newest version), and that’s another thing I’ll get to in another post.

#3: The ending only made a bit of sense. If you’re like me, you place a lot of value on how a book ends. Even if it’s not the last book in a series, it needs to have a genuine sense of finality and continuity at the same time. Something needs to end, but it also should leave room to start something new. While I think I had the first half spot on, I didn’t end it in such a way that made it simple to follow into the next book, which begins (in the story world) only days after the first book ends. Because I have so many other storylines to finish up over the course of the next few books, I had to change it so that the ending flowed into that properly. If I left it the way it was, it would have been pretty jarring to start the second book where I wanted to, and that’s no good.

Out of the three, #2 would have been the biggest problem, and once I found a way around that, solutions to the other two were quick to follow. A plot that was once cliche and mismanaged turned into something great: Kristinn discovers that after she loses her home and her sanity that she still has something else she can lose. The Gods demand that she sacrifice everything, but there are rewards for those who are selfish under the guise of selflessness.

I still need to work on that summary, but it’s a good start. Sounds much more interesting than the initial plot, no? If you think about it a bit, you’ll notice that it’s not as straight forward as the other one. This summary implies a lot, but leaves all of that up to your imagination. Guess you’ll just need to find out what happens, huh? While I do plan on going into more detail about what I’m going to be writing about in the upcoming draft, I also want to talk to you guys about what I’ve learned through the mistakes I’ve made with my first (and previous) draft. And that’s what’s coming up in the second update post…

So, have any of you guys sat back from your writing and found any huge oopsies like the ones I mentioned? How did you deal with them?

~Erynn