Tag Archives: patching plot holes

So Much For That…

My editing plan, that is.  I haven’t touched Onyx Sun except to take an excerpt for Sunday Snippets.

In my own defense I got almost no sleep Friday into Saturday so trying to edit a document would probably not have been a good idea.  I did manage to stay current on the 1K a Day challenge but I’m afraid to go back and read what I wrote – I’m sure it’s beyond cringe-worthy.

But, hey, it’s a rough draft. It’s supposed to be cringe-worthy.

And that brings up a good question.  When do you let someone read what you’ve written?

For me, unless it’s a Sunday Snippet of a work in progress I don’t share anything until it’s been gone over at least once.

I do make a few exceptions. I have a couple friends that I will run a scene past to see if it makes sense to them – if I’m being clear enough in what I’m trying to get across.  (But even then I make sure that the worst grammar errors and typos are gone before I let someone read it.)

So when do I look for a beta reader?  After it’s been gone over at least once, probably more often.  I want to have as many typos and grammar oopses fixed as possible, and have all plot holes patched and be sure that the world stays consistent throughout.  (The joys of writing fantasy and science fiction: not only do you have to worry about how your characters act, but how the world acts as well.)

I’m pretty sure that Onyx Sun doesn’t have too many glaring plot holes, except for a minor character that I need to make dead because he creates too many logic loopholes.

And I think that there are a few things that I need to make clearer – that make sense in my head because I know how the world works but the reader doesn’t.

Yeah, I think it’s going to need another printout when I finish this round of editing.  I’d better get busy…

 

 

 

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Brainstorming With Myself

I’ve written before about 750words.com and how useful it is for writers.  It not only lets you get in the habit of writing every day, it is totally private, so you can rant about your day or work out plot problems or even use it to write a few scenes.

This past weekend I used it to work out an issue that’s been blocking my progress on Book One of The Other Mages trilogy.  There is an initiation scene pending – coming very soon in fact – and I have been at a complete loss as to how to handle it, so I used 750words to talk to myself. Somehow, putting my thoughts down in black and white (and in a format that I can read better than I can my handwriting!) helps me think through problems.

And think through it I did.  I have solved the problem of their final tests before initiation – one seemed unnecessarily cruel and the other I had no idea what it would be.  The cruelty issue has been resolved and I now know what D’Laron’s test will be.

Yay, me!

I also realized that I have quite a bit of work to do before I get to that scene – I need to lay some in-story groundwork for what is to come.

But that’s all right.  At least I know now what I need to do and have a bit more of a plan for how to get there so I can make an outline.

Which reminds me – I started jotting notes for one at work the other night.  I don’t suppose that any of you good folks have any idea what I did with it?

Ah, well, it wasn’t that great of an outline anyhow…

(On a brighter note, while searching for it I found notes I’d written to help me around a major problem in The Academy of the Accord series…)

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Focusing

Well, it’s been a semi-productive weekend.  I got 2 or 3 thousand words written, but I’m just not sure what I should be doing with this story right now, how much detail I should go into regarding Trebor’s training.  I know, I know.  For now, just write it.  If it feels sloggy in the pre-editing read through, fix it then.

I also launched yet another assault on my craft room, trying to get all of my counted cross stitch charts into one container and in alphabetical order.  It didn’t quite happen – I had to pull all of the Heaven and Earth Designs charts out and put them into their own bin as they were taking up over half the space in the other one.

Said assault was probably a bad idea, though.  For one thing, I should have been resting my sore knee more than I was, although I was careful not to overstress it. And for another thing, I found a whole bunch more charts that I want to pull out and kit up and start.

(I’m a serial starter for cross stitch as much as I am novels:  Stitch Bunnies are close cousins to Plot Bunnies, and I’m sure there are others in the family of New Start Bunnies.)

(Anyone want to make fake Latin names for these?  Like Bunniculi Stitchiti, Bunniculi Novelitas, and Bunniculi Novo-genesium?)

Anyhow, I’m still chugging away at Book One of The Other Mages trilogy (and working on the Peacock Sampler) and trying to stay focused and ignore all the other bunnies.

This trilogy is near and dear to my heart, seeing as how it came from my very first novel.  The first NaNoWriMo I ever did, I ended up writing what turned out to be book three of a trilogy, and I’ve been kicking around finishing them ever since.

Of course, that first ever novel has plot holes that you can fly an Air Force squadron through and is due for pretty much a total rewrite when I get back to it, but I’m still pretty darned proud of it.

I mean, really, it was my first novel – it’s always going to hold a special place in my heart, and someday (later this year if all goes well) I’ll actually share it (and the other two books) with the rest of the world…

…after I finish Books One and Two, which was supposed to happen this month, and then do Book Three’s rewrite, and then edit everything…

Oh, and name them all.

By then Sanguine will be out, so my first novel will end up being the fifth one that I publish.

I wonder if I will be as nervous as I was when I released Song and Sword?

No one ever said it was going to be easy…

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One More Chapter

So I finished the first edit of Sanguine, and it turned out to be not quite as bad as I thought.  At least, I don’t think it’s as bad as I thought.

(And for anyone who is keeping track, I did manage to finish the first edit before Christmas. Yay!)

Except it’s not quite done… I have to add a chapter in the middle.  (Fortunately, I found a place where I could slide it in fairly seamlessly.)

Why add a chapter at this point?   Well, because as I read through the first draft it occurred to me that a lot of things that happen near the end are not going to make sense to someone who’s not inside my head.  (And as a friend of mine pointed out, the inside of my head is a scary place and probably no one wants to be there.)

I’m hoping to get the chapter finished so I can take it for another printing this weekend.  The second read-through and edit probably won’t take as long as the first one did, so there’s a good chance my beta readers can get it by the first.  (Hopefully none of them will be dealing with hangovers.*)

That is, of course, unless I end up making some major changes.  (Yeah, I’m still waffling over the sex scenes.)

I think that the hardest part of writing is editing.  Not so much finding grammatical errors (some of those are going to slip through no matter what you do) but checking for internal consistency, making sure that the same conversation isn’t in there twice, and deciding if scenes should stay or go.

And the hardest part of all of that is looking at it from outside my head to see if it’s going to make sense to a potential reader, to someone who doesn’t know everything that I know about the characters, the world, etc.

Oh, and settings:  I really have to focus on describing settings more.  That’s related to “not inside my head” issue, though – I can see the scene: I just forget to draw it for other people.

And this is why beta readers are important: I can find out how the story looks from the outside looking in.

 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
*Note to beta readers: 
Jamie: you’re not allowed to drink that much.
Richard: you’re not allowed to drink at all.
Rowland: eh, never mind – you’re Di’s problem.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My Never, Never Project

I finally finished Book 5 of The Academy of the Accord series — more or less.

It’s a (very) rough draft and has a long way to go to even be legitimately considered a first draft, but I sort of gave up.  I printed what I have, along with a lot of extra scenes that go in it somewhere, and when I do the first edit I’ll flag everything with colored Post-It notes and move them around on paper.  It’s just easier for me to “see” where things go that way.

(There is a logic flaw that corrupted the original version of how a character is introduced.  It was followed by several attempted alternate methods, all of which had some things I like and want to use, but the timing of events is now out of whack. Hopefully by the time I get back to it I’ll have a fresh perspective on it.)

So it’s not “done” but I’m done with it – for now.

This has been the hardest book of the series to write, mostly because I’m not so much writing it as I am untangling other things from it.

See, this didn’t start out to be series.  It started out to be one book about 2 characters (Senzu and Draethlen) on a journey.  Then a flashback got out of control and…

And now Senzu isn’t even introduced until Book 4 and Draethlen until Book 5.

And I’m not even going to have a book about their journey.

At least, I’m not planning on one.

But then, I didn’t plan on any of the 12 books in the series.

I keep pushing back the release dates for The Academy of the Accord. I still have four books that need their first drafts written and then I can start editing and trying to make sure that the entire series has some sort of consistency.

When it is finally released I’m going to feel so lost without it to work on.  I know that there will be other things, but this one is my “never, never project.”  (I had a college roommate who was tatting a bedspread – or tablecloth, I don’t remember which – and she called it her “never, never project” as in “I am never, never going to get this finished.”)

But with only four books left I can get it done by the end of 2014, then spend 2015 editing it, and release it to the world in 2016.

Yeah.  We’ll see.

I’ll keep you posted.

But it will get finished.

Some year.

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A Writer’s Vacation

Believe it or not, I’ve managed to spend a few days not writing.

Well, sort of not writing.

One of my favorite quotes is something along the line of “A writer never takes a vacation.  A writer is always either writing or thinking about writing.”

So, even though I didn’t actually write (um, well, not really…. I mean, I didn’t really write, but I did add the words “Chapter Break” to Sanguine, but that doesn’t really count… does it?)

Anyhow, I didn’t actually write – or edit – but I did think about writing.  I figured out how to fix Onyx Sun (or at least start to fix it) and made a note of what to do, and I cobbled together an outline of the rest of Sanguine:  if I do a scene a day I should be pretty well done with it by the end of the month, barring any last minute changes.

And, of course, I entertained a few other plot bunnies.  None of them are serious contenders for my attention, which is good, as it can only be pulled in so many directions at once before it explodes, and it is already getting close to overload.

So what does a writer do when not writing?

Well, let’s see, so far I have:

done some reorganizing and decluttering in my room (You can’t really tell, though – it seems like the more I get rid of the more there is – I’m sure my room defies every known law of physics and probably half a dozen unknown ones as well)

discovered that I have enough candles to provide light for the entire neighborhood for a week if the power goes out

failed to find two different things that I was looking for even though I knew where they were… (Not surprising:  every time I know exactly where something is that’s exactly where it isn’t – see previous comment about my room and the laws of physics.)

in the process of not finding them I did find two more candles and four more rolls of Scotch tape, both of which apparently breed like tribbles when no one is watching

finished the book I was reading (To Walk a Pagan Path by Alaric Albertsson – I’ll be reviewing it soon on my Pagan Blog, Wytch’s Cauldron.)

started reading an advance copy of Alaric’s first published work of fiction, Perception, which is coming out on December 7th and which I am enjoying immensely so far.  (I will review it here when I finish it, meanwhile, check out its FaceBook page. )

finally got one set of book shelves fairly organized and have put together a plan of attack for the next set

mostly avoided housework

played a lot of Book of Treasures (I love word games)

spent too much time on FaceBook

plotted some future craft projects

And, through it all, of course, I have thought about writing, because…

Well, because I’m a writer and that’s what writers do when they aren’t writing.

 

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Trusting Your Muse

This past week saw Book 4’s rough draft get wrapped up, printed, and consigned to a three ring binder on a book shelf until sometime next year when I buy a large number of red pens and begin trying to edit the Academy of the Accord series.

That means that I am now on Book 5. I had 13 separate files for it, some were duplicates that I was using to cut scenes from to paste into a “final” version (I think there were three “final” versions in the folder),and some were alternate versions of how things happened, and some held things that belong in Books 6 and 7. Everything has been sorted and condensed and I am now reading through what I ended up with for Book 5, just to make sure I’m on the same page as myself.  (I know there is some stuff at the end that is probably going to still need to be moved, but I’l decide on that when I get there.)

But the best thing is that I have a plot.  Book 5 has a direction, a destination.  I have scenes semi-fleshed out in my head and I know roughly where they go. Sounds good, right?

Right.

Except I also have logic fails of epic proportions and plot holes that rival the Bermuda Triangle. I have no rational explanation for why things happen, or how they happen: I just know that they do happen.

Now, please understand: I am not a pantser. (Pantser: one who flies (or writes) by the seat of his or her pants.)  I like to have an outline.  I write better with an outline. At least, I write faster with an outline and I don’t get lost and my characters don’t hijack my plot (as much) when I have an outline.

In short, I love outlines. And the more detailed they are, the better.  

(I have pantsed. It was fairly disastrous,but I have done it: no plot, the characters all safe and sound from the people trying to kill them, and 20,000 words short of winning NaNoWriMo. I considered writing a 20,000 word celebration orgy, but instead I let my muse guide me… and I ended up with a village of zombies.)

So, here I am, with a half completed book that is in total disarray, having been chopped apart and stuck back together with binder’s twine, band aids, and some duct tape, and a plot that looks like moth-eaten lace.

But that’s all right. I’m going to just write, and when I get to those places where a leap of logic lands me in the middle of the Bermuda Triangle I’m going to just close my eyes, turn off my logic center and take a leap of faith, trusting in my muse to provide the answers as I go.

It’s worked before.

I just hope that there’s no village of zombies this time…

Where has your muse taken you?

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Letters from Camp NaNoWriMo — July 8, 2013

One full week gone.  I didn’t make it to 15k on Friday, but I am ahead of par with word count so it’s all good, and I am (hopefully) going to hit 20k today and 25k by the end of the day this Friday.

No, I’m not trying to be an overachiever by pushing so hard to be ahead of the minimum requirement.  I’m just trying to give myself some padding in case life happens.

Like a doctor appointment next Monday that is going to take a bite out of my writing time.  It’s nothing serious — I have to have some teeth pulled at the end of the month and it’s going to be done under general anesthesia.  I made the mistake of admitting that I occasionally (rarely!) need an inhaler for allergy-induce asthma and now I need a note from my doctor that I won’t die in their office.  And, of course, I can’t get the note without seeing my doctor — never mind that I don’t think I’ve used my inhaler at all this year.

So, anyhow.  Life happens, and, sadly, it often happens to word count, so I try to have a cushion built in.  Plus, I know from experience that once I hit 30k writing becomes a real struggle and every word has to be forced out of my fingers.  (Once I hit 40k it’s all golden, but those 30s! Ugh!)

And now it’s update time.

So, just how is it going, working without an outline?
Eh.  It more or less sucks.  I feel like I’m rambling far too much and am going to have to cut a lot out when I edit, as well as add stuff that I missed, and move stuff around into a better order.

On the other hand, though, it’s kind of fun to just ramble and see where I go.

But on the other hand (I’m a nurse and a fantasy novelist — I have as many hands as I need!) I feel like one of my characters is not acting like himself — an outline so that I knew what to expect would probably have prevented this meltdown.

But on yet another hand, Terhesh believes that his wizard, Azlea, is in danger, and pretty much all bets are off when a Warder is protecting his wizard.

So, what’s happening in the novel now?
Well, I got them all out of the meeting.  As expected nothing really got resolved.  (This group of characters can talk in circles for hours.  They should run for Congress.)  Caristen did manage to accidentally destroy the letters, though, so at least they don’t have to worry about what to do with them.

And Terhesh got a letter stating that Azlea was being  held captive by the evil wizards.  (I really need to name their organization) and that he has to give himself to them and they’ll release her.  The others have (for now, at least) convinced him that the letter was a lie and that Azlea is safe at her family’s home for the summer.

What happens next?
Don’t ask me, I don’t have an outline, remember?

I think that Bazlo, the officer who is working against the Accord is going to try to get Terhesh off the school grounds so he can take him to the evil wizards.

And after that?  Hmmmm… I think Yhonshel may have a surprise for Terhesh.  (He and Brythel have gone to Tuanae Woods to try to get some information regarding who is trying to kill him and Radenth.)

And then I think that the as yet unnamed evil wizard at the school may have a shot at Terhesh.  (Which means I should probably start calling him something other than “[NAME 1]”)  And [NAME 1] is going to give them a clue, of sorts, when he mentions a necklace that Terhesh has.  (I left myself a note about it the other day that said, “AHA! The necklace!”  Um… Okay… I love notes that I leave myself.    A couple days ago, though, I came up with more detail about said necklace and why they are so desperate to get it back, and I figured out how Terhesh came into possession of it, so I think I’m solid there.  (And I wrote myself better notes this time.)

And that is about as far as my non-outline goes.

Except…  I cut a huge scene out of this book and put it in Book 10, but now I’m thinking that maybe it belongs in this book after all, just not where and when I had it before. If I do move it back, it won’t count toward my word count because it was written in June.

But I’ll figure that out later, when I get that far.

Meanwhile, someone please pass the Excedrin.

And if you have read all of this and are confused…

Welcome to my world.  Have some Excedrin.

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I know why Vinadi’s alive! (And why they want him dead.)

It’s funny how the mind works, especially when it comes to the creative process.

The weekend was not as productive as I had hoped, word-count-wise.  But I did have a major (I hope!) breakthrough on a gaping plot hole/massive logic-fail in Book One of the Academy of the Accord series.

It was written during NaNoWriMo, and at the time it had seemed like a good idea for Vinadi’s family to be trying to kill him.  But later, looking back, I had to figure out why they wanted to kill him.

I knew that it had to do with them wanting to destroy the Accord, and somehow killing him would do it – but how and why?

And, more importantly, why was he still alive?  If they wanted him dead it would have been a simple matter to do it when he was an infant.

At one point I had a huge convoluted series of step-parents for him, complete with a tangled plot line that would have done any major soap opera proud, but that stopped making sense before it started.

So, it’s been bugging me, as I can’t really sort out everything in the rest of the series with this massive bit of illogic at the start of it, since it’s tied into the overall story arc of the series.  I’ve talked to myself about it on 750words.com.  I’ve handwritten notes and ideas.  (And I’ve crossed out most of them.)

And then while working on a later book in the series it suddenly all seemed to come together and make sense.   I not only know why he’s alive, but why they want to kill him.  (At least, it made sense at the time and I wrote myself a lengthy note about it.)

And with any luck, all the rest of my plot issues throughout the series will fall into place now that this problem has been solved.

Now all I can do is keep my fingers crossed that it still makes sense when I sit down to re-write a large chunk of Book One.

That’s not going to happen for a while yet, though:  I’m trying to finish rough drafts of all the books in the series by the end of the year, and then I want to work on getting the Other Mages trilogy ready to publish.

But for now, life is good.

And I’m off to feed peeled grapes to my Muse.

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