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

 

 

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Updated Reading List for 2017

Hey, so I just wanted to quickly update my reading list for the year. Now that the new year has settled a bit and classes have started again, I’m starting to fall back into my routine, which will also include 5 or so blog posts per week.

For my 2017 reading list, honestly, a lot of it is the same as last year’s because I didn’t actually read much except for early on in the year and at the end during November and December. And a lot of what I did read ended up being unexpected stuff that wasn’t on my list in the first place. I have, however, started on the Lord of the Rings trilogy and I feel like once I make it through that a lot of other books will follow soon after.

Anyway, here’s the list:

1. The Fellowship of the Ring – J.R.R. Tolkien (b1)

2. The Two Towers – J.R.R. Tolkien (b2)

3. The Return of the King – J.R.R. Tolkien (b3)

4. The Maze Runner – James Dashner (b1)

5. The Scorch Trials – James Dashner (b2)

6. The Death Cure – James Dashner (b3)

7. The Kill Order – James Dashner (b3.1)

8. The Broken Eye – Brent Weeks (b3)

9. The Crown Tower – Michael J. Sullivan (b1)

10. The Rose and Thorn – Michael J. Sullivan (b2)

11. The Death of Dulgath – Michael J. Sullivan (b3)

12. Hollow World – Michael J. Sullivan

13. The Pirate King  – R.A. Salvatore (b2)

14. The Ghost King – R.A. Salvatore (b3)

15. Gauntlgrym – R.A. Salvatore (b1)

16. Neverwinter – R.A. Salvatore (b2)

17. Charon’s Claw – R.A. Salvatore (b3)

18. The Last Threshold – R.A. Salvatore (b4)

19. The Gray Wolf Throne – Cinda Williams Chima (b1)

20. The Demon King – Cinda Williams Chima (b2)

21. The Exiled Queen – Cinda Williams Chima (b3)

22. The Crimson Crown – Cinda Williams Chima (b4)

23. The Bane Chronicles – Cassandra Clare

24. A Blight of Mages – Karen Miller (b0)

25. Innocent Mage – Karen Miller (b1)

26. Awakened Mage – Karen Miller (b2)

27. Lioness Rampant – Tamora Pierce (b4)

28. Deadhouse Gates – Steven Erikson (b2)

29. Empire in Black and Gold – Adrian Tchaikovsky (b1)

30. Blood Ties – Pamela Freeman (b1)

31. Deep Water – Pamela Freeman (b2)

32. Full Circle – Pamela Freeman (b3)

33. Shogun – James Clavell

34. Bulfinch’s Mythology – Thomas Bulfinch

35. The Name of the Wind – Patrick Rothfuss (b1)

36. The Wise Man’s Fear – Patrick Rothfuss (b2)

37. The Ask and the Answer – Patrick Ness (b2)

38. Monsters of Men – Patrick Ness (b3)

39. Spotless – Camilla Monk (b1)

40. Chasing Ruby – Camilla Monk (b2)

41. Sword Art Online – Fairy Dance (Part 1) – Reki Kawahara (b3)

42. Sword Art Online – Fairy Dance (Part 2) – Reki Kawahara (b4)

43. A Court of Thorns and Roses – Sarah J. Maas (b1)

44. Hamilton: The Revolution – Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter

45. Nevernight – Jay Kristoff

46. Truthwitch – Susan Dennard (b1)

47. Windwitch – Susan Dennard (b2)

48. The Painted Girls – Cathy Marie Buchanan

49. The Dark Days Club – Alison Goodman

50. The Siren – Kiera Cass

My goal is only 25 books this year, but I’m keen on staying dedicated to reading regularly this year, so hopefully I’ll be able to clear this list and then some. It’s been a while since I’ve purged over 50 books in a year, so here’s to hoping I can do it!

I’ll be writing a couple posts over the next few weeks about some of the books I read in 2016. I decided against writing up all of them because that’s a lot of work and I read lots of them months ago. There are also a lot of other things I want to write about first. So any books I do post about will be ones that I found particularly memorable.

Here’s to 2017.

~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

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

Busier Than Busy

Saturday was moving day, and I’ve been pretty busy with things relating to that since about Wednesday/ Thursday. Most of our stuff is unpacked and put away now; well, everything except what’s currently in out bedroom– there are boxes of books everywhere that I need to put away at some point this week.

A couple days ago I also finished The Dark Tower. I started the long awaited post on the series, but with all of the other stuff I’ve been doing it’ll be a couple days before I get to finishing it. But hey, it’s in the works! I’m probably about a third through the post (it’s a long one), and I’m really enjoying writing it. Hopefully you guys’ll enjoy reading it.

I’m really eager to start writing Taichiren’s Heart again. From my estimates regarding that writing, I’ll be able to slowly pick up the story in about a week from now. Even if I’m still really busy, I’m hoping to find enough time to get started, because unless I get to work on it soon, I’m not going to be able to finish this draft before the end of the year (which is basically my goal). So even a couple hundred words is all I’m getting done per day in a week from now, that’ll have to do. I’m determined to finish the draft this year and I’ll do everything I can to achieve it; even if that means I can’t sleep ten hours a day anymore (this would make me sad, but that shows you how serious I am).

Writing in general hasn’t been neglected, however. I’ve still been working rather diligently, and that involves a lot of writing. Lots of reading, and even more writing. With the amount of writing I’ve been doing for work, I keep noticing more and more ways to improve my style and writing in general. I know I’m far from perfect, but it feels good when I’m able to identify a flaw (even if it’s minor) and be able to fix it.

Anyway, there’s your update. I’ll be resuming regular blogging schedule tomorrow, so see you then!

~Erynn

Update on Taichiren’s Heart

So, I’ve made a bit of progress since my last post dedicated to Taichiren’s, which I believe was sometime in March. In March I planned to complete the first 10 chapters of the second draft, but well, with all of the crap I’ve suddenly got added to my plate of day-to-day activities, it was something I had to put aside. Now that things aren’t so hectic and I’ve managed to create a bit of a schedule, I’ve been able to reinstate my regular writing schedule and have steadily been pumping out new chapters.

At the moment I’m sitting at 9 completed second draft chapters and 2 completed third draft chapters. As I believe I previously mentioned, the third draft chapters are for my critique group because I don’t want to put out something for others to read that’s more of a ramble than a coherent chapter. I’m not actually insane, and I do a “third draft” of a single chapter roughly once a month.

As I’m sitting at 9 chapters, which is a bit under 1/3rd of the whole book, I’ve still got a ways to go. But with the progress I’ve been making and the time I’ve been able to create for writing my own stuff, I think I’ll be done with the second draft before the end of August. With the July NaNoWriMo coming up, that goal will be even easier to achieve because I’ll be forcing myself to write about a chapter a day along with my work-related writing.

Something I didn’t think I mentioned before were my plans for publishing Taichiren’s Heart. Of course, you’ve probably assumed by now that it’s one of my goals, but I haven’t been too specific about those goals.

Simply put, I’ve created a bunch of goals for writing and finishing the novels in this series. Strangely enough, Taichiren’s Heart is only a placeholder name because I think I need something more fitting. Unlike the other mini-series I’m working on, I haven’t had a name resonate with the story yet, or the series. It’ll come with due time; after all, I’ve still got lots of work to do before the story is even considered close to “finished”.

Some of my goals for this series are as followed:

Finish the 2nd draft of Taichiren’s Heart by August 31st, 2014.

Finish the 1st draft of Actasus (the sequel) by October 31st, 2014. – I started this draft before starting the 2nd draft of Taichiren’s, so I’m already about 10 chapters through, though it’s been on pause for a while.

Finish the 1st drafts of books 3 and 4 by March 1st 2015.

Finish the 3rd draft of Taichiren’s Heart by February 1st 2015.

I keep these goals to remind myself of the amount of work writing actually is, and the amount of time that I HAVE put into writing, and NEED to put into writing to finish these pieces. The road is long, but with clear goals and a constant stream of ideas, I know I’m heading in the right direction. My confidence also plays a large role in the success of completing my goals. While I know my writing is far from the best, I’m confident in my ability to improve and reach my goals at the same time. So that’s what I’ll do- I’ll keep moving forward, capturing success over success, and take control of my own desires by using a system I know works for me.

My goals keep me in check, but I’m the one who gives them the power to do so.

Do you guys keep goals for your writing, and do you tend to stick to them if so? Do you find that keeping goals keeps you on a regular schedule, or that maybe it only stresses you out and makes you get even less done? I want to hear your thoughts and experiences!

~Erynn

My Camp NaNo Update #1

Hi!

Today marks 10 days into April, and of course, Camp NaNo!

So far I’m about 14k words through my goal of 35k. Nothing too amazing, but I’m keeping ahead of the game and working towards it with no issues. I think I’ll easily get over 35k this month.

I hope all of your NaNo doers are having fun, because I most definitely am. I thought of something brilliant earlier that will solve my problems with not having time for my own writing, at least for this month. I’m so excited to throw myself back into my own world!

My plan is to finish the first draft of the piece I’m doing right now for work, which will probably be close to 40k words or so, and then use the rest of the month to get as much of my own writing done as I can. So simple, but it’s a great solution to my problem!

Good luck everyone, keep writing away!

~Erynn