Friday, April 21, 2017

A Process in Outlining and Actually Finishing My First Draft

Disclaimer: I am a shameless outliner as well as a shameless procrastinator. This often leads to me having an entire story written in outline form, while the first draft takes forever to finish.
    I'm about to chronicle one such misadventure. Please don't poke fun. (Or do. I don't actually mind.)

    So, without further ado, here's the story of The Conquest, and how I have totally NOT finished my first draft.
    It started November before last November. I was awake at about two a.m., lying in bed, when a thought came to me, (this thought isn't even valid to the novel now, but it was at that point,) "Hey, what if you had like five books... all of them from different points of view, beginning and ending at the same point in time and every single one ending in a cliffhanger? And then the LAST book, the sixth book, tied up all the loose ends and brought the final conclusion?"
    The next morning, I drew up a rough plan for a series.
    The Conquest was the first book of that series. I decided to start it the November of the next year, i.e., last November. I got to about 60k words, and pittered out. I lost my inspiration. I cooked all the fun out of writing and took a break.
    But today I got back to it, reopened all of the folders, the secret Pinterest boards, and the character profiles I have printed out and hidden under my bed. (Writing is the only part of my life that is organized, to tell you the truth.)
    So, since I opened the story back up, poked at my muse until inspiration stirred, and explored the story (again), I thought I'd blog about it.

    The Conquest is a historical, YA Romance with time travel in it, so it's kind of a fun story to tell. The main characters, Yule--a spunky, friendly Puritan, and Xander--a brilliant time traveler and inventor, are fun to write and I like them. The plot needs work, yes, but that's going to get more attention in draft number two.

    I did a lot of work in the outline. I have an entire binder full of scene outlines, ideas, and character pictures. It's extensive--superfluous, even. But it is kind of cool, so I'm going to show you.

[The title page of the binder. It was originally in a clear sheet on the front of smaller binder, but the pages got too bulky and I had to put it in a thicker one.]

[First page and the outline for the first scene, complete with inspiration scraps and post-its.]

[Outline for Scene 16, with a random scene excerpt fold-out.]

[Unplanned scene slip, and the scene outline for Scene 34.]

[The end of the scene outlines-- showing the envelope with all of my prompts and the beginning of the character pictures.]

[All of the prompts and the envelope close-up.]

[All of the character pictures. ^-^]

[A character drawing I did myself and a little paper. These, along with a few other random story things, are in a purple folder clipped into the back of the binder.]

You probably didn't care to see all of that, but I'm pretty proud of it and I am excited to be getting back into the story. I'll probably post excerpts and sample chapters of the story itself as I work on it. =)
I hope everyone is having a great month!
Happy writing and happy life,


Monday, August 1, 2016

Three-Day Quote Challenge: Day Three

     I have spent most of my day considering humanity so far. Because the very nature of humanity without Christ is such a bleeding, raw mess.
     Hurt people hurt people who hurt people, who, in turn, create more hurt people, and it goes on and on and on. There are so many different kinds of wounded hearts, shattered souls, broken people.
     There are the bitter, there are the violent, there are the hateful, there are the pitiful, there are the pained. Everyone who exists on their own is in pain, whether they acknowledge the ache in themselves or not. You cannot make the truth go away merely by saying it doesn't exist.
     I'm watching a movie right now, and it's practically drenched in these things. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.
     It's the story of a young boy living in New York, whose father dies in the World Trade Center on 9/11. After his dad dies, he's broken and upset, completely unwound by the fact that this--the death of his father--makes no sense.
     He lashes out at everyone. He is hurt, so he hurts others.
     It's heartbreaking.
     But, if you wanted recommendations for sad movies focused on the depressing side of the human mind, I totally suggest you watch it. It's a good movie, it's just very sad.

     Anyway. I'm afraid I went off on a rabbit trail and completely abandoned the purpose of this post.

     Up, up, and away, here is/are the quote(s) of the day:

(All quotes taken from The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.)

     It's one of my favorite books of all time--how was I supposed to choose just one? (Four suits me better.)

     Now, to nominate people, even if they've already been nominated by someone else. =P 

  1. Mae, from a Touch of Euphoria! Thanks to her, again, for nominating me in the first place. =) Her blog design is as gorgeous as her posts are, and just as classy. She's a truly classy person, and her quotes for this challenge have been even better than mine. 
  2. Katie and Sarah from Sister Projects! These two are the coolest, and their blog is almost as cool as they are. They post book reviews, reading list suggestions, recipes, and just all-around awesomeness. 
  3. Remi from On Our Wings! She is one of the sweetest people you will ever meet, first off. Second, her blog is awesome. It's packed full of humor, useful information, and even better--both at the same time! =D
     Note, to the nominees, now and in the earlier challenge posts: I love you guys! If you've already been nominated, or if you nominated me, this nomination is more of a thank-you, a gesture of friendship. It means that you're awesome enough to be nominated twice, because I believe that you are fantastic. (And you do not have to do the challenge again because I nominated you--it's just to show that I'm thinking about you. ^-^)

     Note, to the readers: Happy reading! Have fun! =D (And good luck with your own blogs, if you have one. If you post the link to your blog in the comments, I will definitely check it out.)


Sunday, July 31, 2016

Three-Day Quote Challenge: Day Two

     It's a beautiful morning. Gorgeous, even, and sunny.
     But also hot enough to make you dizzy and humid enough to make your hair look like someone attacked it with a woodchuck.
    I miss writing out on the back porch so much. It might just be a little concrete slab on the back of an apartment where all of the neighbors can see me, but at least it's outside. D= I want my outdoor weather back.

     Anyway. *cough* Enough whining. This is a challenge, not a rant-post.

     Without further ado, my quote of the day.
(Scarlet by Marissa Meyer, second book in The Lunar Chronicles Series, as said by Wolf, my favorite character in said book.)

     This quote is from a modern book, yes, but that doesn't make it any less valuable, or even profound, than a quote from a classic. (I plan to lay out the modern classics in this series of posts. And probably in some straggling quotes after, because I adore quotes and I love to share them.)
     If you haven't read The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer, you need to. They're the perfect blend of adventure, action, romance, and futuristic sci-fi. And not dystopian futuristic, so even better, right? Am I right? It's so original, and the author writes amazing books, so check them out.

     The people I shall nominate this day are:
  1. Madison from Running Hard For the Other Side! From writing advice to updates on her own life that make me see that I'm not alone in my feelings and habits in writing, her blog is awesome. She's an amazing writer.
  2. The crew from Just What I Think! Their posts are packed with fun stories, pictures from life adventures, and the occasional pondering of something deeper, such as morals and spirituality. All around a good, solid blog to follow.
  3. Elizabeth from Confessions of a Teenage Writer! She's a lot like most of my dear blogger friends--a teenage writer, and a completely fabulous human being in general. All of her posts reflect that.
     To the spectacular nominees: If your blogs were people, I would totally be friends with them. :P
     To the spectacular readers: Go follow their blogs.

     Anyways, I think that's it for today! But when this series of posts is over, and all of the hullabaloo about quotes is passed, expect a post about character deaths and the whys and why nots, and also the ins and outs of how they propel or negatively affect your story.


Saturday, July 30, 2016

Three-Day Quote Challenge: Day One

     I've been nominated for another something, and I'm not going to lie... kinda excited about it. I think. ;D
     Thank you, Mae, for the nomination! =) I'm truly honored and you are such a dear. 
     Also, readers, check her blog out because she posts all kinds of awesome things and it would be cool if she got more recognition for that.
     Down to business, then?
     Rules and details of said nomination:
  1. Thank the person who nominated you.
  2. Nominate three new bloggers every day.
  3. Post a new quote every day for three days.
     So, it might be a struggle to nominate new people... since I don't really know anyone that Mae hasn't already nominated, but we'll see. (Some of those folks are so cool that they deserve a double nomination, anyway. ;) )


(From Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell.)

     I suppose I should get on with the nominating, then, huh? Yeah, probably.
  1. Freckles from Freckled Mermaids! Her blog posts always make me smile, and they usually make me laugh. She writes the best Marvel character-themed blog posts of anyone I know, and did I mention that she's funny?
  2. Ashton from Living, Loving, Trying Life! She hasn't posted much, but what she has completely unraveled and rebuilt my understanding of how plot structure is supposed to work. She's super smart and is excellent at simplifying her knowledge to the level where mere mortals--like me--can understand it.
  3. Rubix from The Sea Calls Us Home! Everything she writes is beautiful and poetic and will make you feel things. This girl is TOTALLY winning at the whole blogging thing, and I guess this is a good way to tell her that. 
     To all the lovelies I nominated: You deserve this nomination 'cause you're awesome. Really, you are. Extraordinary.
     To the lovelies who are readers: You need these blogs in your life, please go give them a look. All of them are different and all of them deserve attention.

     I guess that's all. I started reading a new series, so I can't be bothered for long periods of time. ;D I'm sure you understand.


Friday, July 1, 2016

A Shout into the Void

     I understand now why people throughout the centuries have always discouraged the next generation from becoming writers. Writing is an entirely lonely vocation. You're by yourself, scribbling thoughts and feelings and dreams down in the most raw and utterly vulnerable sense, and no one cares.
     To write is to be alone and to have chosen solitude. To have chosen to have a voice that screams and wails and keens into the darkness.
     They say that when a tree falls in the forest alone it makes no sound, but believe me, when I am alone with my thoughts and I pound out stories, it's far from silent. There is too much noise, too much feeling, and I know that no one will ever catch wind of it because this is the path that I have chosen for myself.
     When you have another talent, a great talent, you're not alone. You can get views on that amazing speed painting, that singing video, the dance challenge, the makeup tutorial. When you excel at things like those, you are heard. And people long to hear what you have to say.
     But when you write... it's a struggle even to get people to listen to a single word. You can go about it like a blogger, a wattpad author, and get all of your content out there for free. No one has to pay to read what you write except for you. And that in itself is a struggle. To be noticed is a struggle. To raise your voice above the thousands that already shriek for attention is a struggle.
     Then we have the even harder way. You write a story, you write hundreds of letters, and you wait for months and months strung together for a reply. You wait for anything, and when your reply comes, even if it's a rejection, you get a stirring of relief inside, because my god, someone actually heard your voice.
     But I digress. I've done way too much talking lately, shouting into the void. In my journal, in poems, and now, here. I'm getting better at speaking my mind and getting it all out in an orderly fashion, so I should be happy. Trouble is, I'm not.
     I want to be heard.
     So my word to you (and myself also) for today is simply this: Learn to be content with only the sound of your own words echoing back to you, and maybe, hopefully, prayerfully, someone else's words will come rumbling back along with your echo. You are not a tree that falls in the forest, you are a living, feeling being, and your voice will be heard. Give it time, give it patience, run with endurance, and eventually you will see the fruit of your labor.
     Never give up.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

How to Write a Killer Death Scene

     I'm not going to lie; I've waited months to use that pun. And on top of that, I've been waiting months to write this blog post, because to be frank, life is hard and I don't always have the time, emotional endurance, or mental capacities to blog about squat. 
     Seriously. There are days that I couldn't journal the shelf life of canned peas without bursting into tears.
     Okay, so maybe that's a tad dramatic, but bear with me. The actual topic of this blog post is coming.

     Writing a death scene is a balancing act no matter what role your ill-fated character fills. There are so many things to consider!
     It's a haphazard hash of various details that will get your moment of sadness to where it needs to go. Here are some to think about before you write the scene or when you rewrite/edit it:
  • Who needs to have an in in this scene? That one relative, friend, significant other? 
  • Who needs to lack closure with the deceased character to further their character arc?
  • What is the weather like?
  • What is the character feeling as they die? Pain? Hunger? Nothing? Confusion?
  • Are their thoughts running in orderly streams?
  • Is there anyone crying over them? Pretending to care, even?
  • What are the other characters feeling? Relief that they're going to a better place? Panic at the thought of losing their anchor? Sentiment over all of the stupid jokes they've shared past curfew?
  • Who is your character thinking about? (Because when people are injured, or thinking even that they might die, their minds generally go to one person in particular. Be it their mom, their sibling, their friend, their spouse... something like that.)
  • Is it clear to every other character involved that they are dying? Are they even sure that they're dying?
     Anyway. Once you go through those thoughts, get a grasp of what you're dealing with, it should get easier, right?
     Right. It should get significantly easier.
     The key to writing any emotional scene well is to be in tune with feeling. Know what feels good, know what hurts, know what makes you laugh or cry. Just be in the know, and you should totally have it in the bag. Once you get a feel for life, your emotions, the human mind, everything will be a total breeze. (Hm. That ended up being much more complicated and difficult than I intended for it to sound.)
     Here's another thing I like to consider when I write death scenes:
     As with most things, it shouldn't be purely anything. Gray area is the color in your story, and it's the same with death scenes. It can't be all sad and gloomy and dark. Give it a small flicker of light. A white butterfly fluttering through the blood-filled streets. The thought of a loved one's smile as every face they see is covered with pain. A simple, precious, innocently-uttered word of farewell and adoration as their own cries echo in their ears. 
      All it takes is one good thing among the pain to make it even more impacting. It's like adding a bit of salt to a cookie recipe--it makes the sugar taste that much sweeter. That tiny touch of warm happiness makes the end seem that much more sad.
     And that's all I have to impart to the lot of you! I know nothing beyond this: Write what you feel, and people will feel what you write.
     Burn so brightly that all close to you catch fire as well
     Passion is contagious. I pray that it's spreading quickly.

     ~ Alyssa

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

My Revision Process

     Hello, people! =) I'm here on the topic of revision and editing today!
     So, first things first: Revision and editing are time-consuming. And while that is a bit obvious, it isn't always perfectly clear why. But this is why.
Everyone revises and edits in a different way.
     When editing, you have to find your own groove! You have to find what works for you, and sometimes that takes a long time. (Who am I kidding, it always does.) So don't get overwhelmed by the prospect! =) View the process as one of discovery and not one of wandering into a danger-fraught unknown.
     With that said, I suppose I shall begin telling you what works for me. And who knows? Perhaps some of the things that I do will help you as well, and then you'll be that much closer to being comfortable with your revision and editing style.

  1. Let the finished product age. Like expensive cheese, your book needs to sit for a while before it's ready. After you finish the first draft, it's a good idea to let it stay in a corner by itself for a couple of months. (I have found that, with myself, if I don't do this I grow to hate the story, and then my quality of writing goes down the drain faster than a greasy bobby pin.)
  2. Set it in your head when you return to your book that you are there to tear the story limb-from-limb. You are not going over it to smooth its feathers. The first stage of revising generally is a hacking, messy business that involves lots of coffee and crying. (True story.)
  3. Read the manuscript. Mmm. Yes. As a generally rule, after setting steps 1 and 2 into motion, I pick up the manuscript and read it. I read it slowly, and try to think about every sentence that I come across. If something that I read doesn't make sense, I'll write down a suggestion for rearranging it. Misspelled word? Formatting error? (OCD...) Yep. Write it down, and come back to it. You're in reader/editor mode, no need to stop to rewrite the thing.
  4. Read it again. After reading it once and looking for things to fix and such, (and hopefully writing a list of plot changes to consider,) go back and read it again. And maybe ten more times after that. Keep suggesting changes on little things, keep finding misspelled words, inconsistencies, etc. 
  5. Get down to business. Now! Dust off your keyboards and go back to fix all of the things that you've written down to change. Move paragraphs, cut chapters, kill characters... (That last one is optional.) And hopefully it will be as freeing an experience for you as it is for me. =)
  6. Two words. Line edits. After getting all of the big changes done, go back and check the flow of all of your wording, consistency of detail, and consistency in the characters' personalities. Again, if you find something that you want to change, write it down for the next round.
  7. Repeat steps 3-6 as many times as necessary. I usually go through that process about three or four times before I give it over to beta readers, and then they do the same thing. Read. Suggest edits. The only differences are, a) They have different brains and eyes than I do, and b) They're a lot more helpful to developing my story than I am. My thoughts down flow as clearly outside of prose. And those people are superheros with capes and red pens. Their suggestions are always helpful to me. =) So that leads us to the last step:
  8. Fix it until it's as close to how you imagine it being as possible. Read your manuscript. Cry over your manuscript. Let other people read your manuscript. Repeat. (?)
  9. Go write another story, and change the world. (Whoa. That escalated quickly.)

     Seriously, though, guys! =) Write stories. Be painfully honest with your writing. The raw thoughts of human beings are what change the way the rest of the world views existence.
     I hope that you've found this article helpful! =) And thank you so much, Katie, for suggesting the topic! =)

     Sometime else and somewhere else,