The Reading Edit

One of the last rounds of editing: Reading it out loud. It’s horrifically embarrassing if you do it too early on in the writing process, but as I’m just about done, it didn’t turn out too bad. Just a few more tweaks left and off it goes!

You can find the guidelines for the Sword and Laser Anthology here:

Editing Pains

Editing is hard. I think anyone who has ever written anything knows that. Recently, though, I have found something even harder than coming up with something better than whatever horrible turn of phrase I used originally and try to figure out what made me think it was any good in the first place.

Editing on a time limit.

I currently aim to get the whole thing done and in to my editors by March, which isn’t much time anymore. Not now that I have a day job.

Oh yeah. I got one of those. Yay!

It does eat into your editing time, though. A lot. Where before I’d have all day every day to work on things, I now have about an hour in the evening and the weekends, which get eaten up by having a bit of a social life and, of course, other ventures. So what’s a girl to do?

Well, write on the phone. I’m not kidding. I’ve been replotting and working on the stories on my phone during my breaks and on transit. I got one that can do that and it’s been helping. Not as much as actually getting time to sit down and write, of course, but I’m still getting a lot done.

Well, when I’m not procrastinating by blogging.

Sites for Writers

It’s time for the inevitable writer’s links post whereby I list a bunch of sites that I like as a writer. I think it’s pretty standard and I should probably get it out of the way now. Let’s get started!

Great for the first stage of research. If I ever need to look up the basics of something, I usually check Wikipedia first so I can get a good grip on what the subject is before I go out looking for more information that might not be explained so plainly. Also, it usually has good links to more information.

Given that I deal with a lot of weird themes, Snopes is a must have for me. It’s a site that lists common urban legends along with verifying them or disproving them as the case may be. It’s actually full of pretty fascinating stuff and lots of story sparks also come from here.

TV Tropes

Be warned, once you start you may fall victim to TV Tropes and be stuck on there all day. Despite it’s name, TV Tropes lists all sorts of tropes used in fiction, as well as examples of where to find them. It’s always nice to get an indexed example of who is using what techniques in storytelling, as well as getting a few ideas of things to try in the future.

Urban Dictionary
Slang can be hard, but it can also be essential to some of your characters. Urban Dictionary is a great source of information on slang terms and how they are supposed to be used.

Seventh Sanctum
My go to random generator site. If I just need something quick, it’s usually got a generator for that.

Baby Names
Names are hard. When I have an idea of what I’m going to name a character, but don’t know what to do with that idea, this one’s a big help.

If I have no idea what to name a character, or if I just need a name quickly and at random, I use this one.

Pantser or Plotter?

There are two types of writers, or so they say. Pantsers and plotters.

A pantser is someone who starts writing and keeps writing straight through until the end of the book, making no plans in the mean time and letting the story take them where they will take them. It’s a somewhat stressful, yet still pretty fun way of writing, hoping that you encounter no problems but if you do, you can go with your instinct and keep going as you want.

A plotter is someone who plans out their story before they sit down to paper and get writing. They come up with characters, plot and any little details they think they’re going to need while they’re writing. They know the ending already and they go at their writing without worrying about not knowing where things are going, instead running into the trouble of their story taking on a very different turn than they want to go in that isn’t a part of the plot.

I’m a plotter myself. I tend to get ideas when I’m in the midst of working on something else and jot it down when I can, then let it stew in the back of my mind until I have a little time. From there, I work out what needs to happen in the plot, some semblance of an ending and the main characters. I also get a notebook for the project so I have a space to jot down any further ideas and have a dedicated stack of paper to write on while I’m working on a project.

Still, I do like a little spontaneity when I’m writing. As such, my plots tend to consist of only about 3 pages of points I have to hit in order. I don’t plan out how they get from point to point and I don’t plan out characters outside of the main cast. Even those characters are subject to change as I’m writing, as are the plot points. I find doing this keeps things interesting enough that I don’t get bored while I’m writing.

What about you guys? Are you pantsers or plotters?

Reading While Writing

Reading while you’re writing is a bit of an interesting subject. Reading is a good habit for a writer to have, but on the other hand there are some problems that arise when you write while you’re reading. You could draw too much influence or outright copy something by complete accident.

I, however, don’t like to let something like writing stop me from reading. If I did that, I might never actually get any reading done because I’m always working on some narrative project in some form or another. Instead, I’ve found a balance in two forms.

First, I don’t read anything similar to what I’m writing within a month of working on it. If I read something in a different genre with a different tone, generally I don’t have to worry about the influence bleeding over much.

The second is, believe it or not, graphic novels. I’m a huge comic book fan and graphic novels are this great alternative in another medium that I find doesn’t really influence my prose as much as it probably could. Granted, I don’t read much in the way of super heroes and do read things that are actually a little closer to the stuff I write, but I do try to avoid similar narratives in comics as well.

So what about you? Can you read when you’re writing?

Inspiration, Muse and That Other Thing

I wasn’t terribly concerned about being right as a child, I will admit. I was quiet and didn’t ask a lot of questions, finding that the information I wanted usually found its way to me. Those answers that didn’t come to me and I didn’t otherwise find an answer to, I made up answers that made sense to me.

Why do I bring this up now? Because I’m going to talk about how my stories happen and I’m going to be talking about things as I came to understand them as opposed to how they’re actually stated in accordance with reputable sources such as dictionaries.

The first step to a story is the inspiration. It’s just a spark of an idea that snowballs out of control. It happens on rare occasions, or maybe several at a time, but when it comes, I do try never to miss the opportunity. I’ll only know parts, but those parts are so much fun that I absolutely must do something with them. At this point I try to write down every loose, unconnected bit and ride out the inspiration for as long as it lasts. Usually, I only get as far as the basic concept and a few scenes at this point. Maybe a couple key characters show up as well.

And then the inspiration passes. It’s all been written down and I take a breath. The idea sits in my mind and I do nothing with it for a bit.

It’s at this point that the story’s muse is born. From that initial spark of an idea, they start nagging at the back of my mind within the underdeveloped mess of ideas and insist that I get to work making this all make proper sense. Where the inspiration has left the idea, the muse helps to make it into a story, meticulously creating characters and plot that actually makes things flow from one bit to the next. The events, the subplots, all of that is in the hands of the muse. It helps me create an outline and character notes so I know what happens and won’t get stuck writing.

So that’s it, right? That’s how the story is made. With just the inspiration and the muse that’s made the inspiration into something I can put down onto the page, that’s the end of it.

Except for the other thing.

The other thing happens to be the thing that causes all of my writer’s block. The thing without name. It’s not lack of inspiration, because that’s already come and given me lots to work on. It’s not the muse, who has ensured I have an outline and will always know what to write next.

The other thing is actually writing it down, the words coming out and creating the sentences that turn into paragraphs. The hard part and the fun part. The part that everyone can actually see once it’s all done with. The other thing is the technical getting down to work bit and it’s the last piece in the story puzzle. Once that’s done, the story exists physically (digitally, I guess, since I write on a computer) and the muse can finally rest.

Well, until the edit, anyway.