Writing the unplanned

Writing the unplanned.

 

The other day as I was giving myself a mini celebration for almost reaching my goal and deadline for my book, I noticed an error in my chapter guideline. The portion I had slated for my final chapter, which keep in mind should be about 3000 words, was honestly about a paragraph’s worth of material. I was 3 chapters from the end when I realized this and had to figure out what to do. So I knew that had to combine the material chapters 39 and 40. What I was left with was an empty chapter.

 

Why am I so stuck on my book being 40 chapters? I don’t know I read somewhere once that a fantasy novel should be about 40 chapters and about 120,000 words, so I made that my goal. What am I doing about the empty chapter? Well that is what I wanted to talk about today. Writing what you never intended to write.

 

The way I had my story originally outlined, I did not feel there was anything that I had left unaddressed, however, I looked at where I could elaborate instead. For my story in particular, chapter 38 happened to be the ending of a war and chapter 39 was intended to be the coronation ceremony of the Queen. I decided to fill that space, since the coronation became chapter 40, by elaborating on the emotions following the war.

 

Now that I have completed that portion, I see a lot of content that many would say should be cut from the final product, but I also value in some of what is there. I believe that when I go back and edit/re-write other chapters will grow and split and the missing chapter will be something else all together, but at least I have more material to work with.

 

I think it is best to avoid large gaps in writing if at all possible. I would say the best way to prevent this is pay attention to your chapter guideline, storyboard, or whatever you use as an outline for your writing. My error could have been spotted early on, but I was only looking at my outline chapter by chapter. So go back every few chapters and look at your guideline as a whole. Your story will likely change as you write it so you may need to revisit your layout and shift things.

 

Tomorrow is D-Day, deadline day, celebration day, more importantly my day of victory. I’ll be finishing up my novel tomorrow morning and I look forward to sharing my victory with you.

 

 

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Let your story do the writing

I am an advocate of planning a story out. I may not be as detailed as some authors who can detail everything that happens on each page… but I do know what are the instances that pull my story together. That being said, as I mentioned in my first post, my story is now is almost unrecognizable when compared to the original story I was writing in high school. Honestly, I have the proof in paper form!

To me, what is exciting about writing is letting your characters show you what is happening. Countless times I have told my husband with great excitement “I finally know why this happens!” or “I just found out that this is going to happen.” It is quite exciting. Some people give me strange looks and say “You’re the writer, how do you not know what is going to happen?” It is simple, I don’t. I hope that I never tie myself down with a guideline so strict that my creativity cannot leak through, it far too important.

In high school, I can easily say I was not one of the popular kids…. but everyone  knew that I was a writer. My characters live and breathe in my mind. I was then and am still now actively plagued by the daily lives of my characters, most of which would never make it into my story, but it is important to know them on a personal level. Sometimes my friends, co-workers, my husband will catch me pouting or looking angry as I stare off into the distance and I have to explain that the characters are having  an argument, or I just discovered that someone is going to die. I enjoy the experience, even if others find it strange.

If I did not allow my characters to sometimes take over my thoughts I can promise you that I would have no clue that not only will there be a 2nd book, there will be a 3rd, and even more recently I discovered there will be a 4th. I always hoped there would be a sequel, but I could not decide how I wanted my story to end. Some versions of the ending I know would have upset my readers. Now that I know the storyline of the 2nd book, I know the proper ending for my first. I came up with the idea for my next book sitting in the car, a new song came on the radio,  “Lights” by Ellie Goulding. There was one line that struck me “the Queen has been overthrown.” That line rocked my world and spun many many ideas running amuck in mind and suddenly I knew that one of my characters was that actual villain. My story already had a villain, but from that song I learned who was the even bigger threat to my main characters.

I wanted to talk about this today because as I summing another chapter, two of my characters were able to have a touching moment that I had not originally planned. Looking back, I can’t believe that I almost missed this opportunity and I think it will give the readers a better sense of closure for the affected character. This little detour took no more than 1/2 page, but I know that it has improved the ending of my book.

So to those of you who read my little blog… I would like to encourage you to actively give in to your characters and let them help you develop your storyline, you may surprised what you come up with.

I hope you’re having a great Monday, even if its is cold and cloudy where you are, it is still only 4 days until Friday.

I’ll have another post for you tomorrow, good day!

Just catching up…

I normally refrain from writing on the weekends, this is simply because I think we all need time to relax. I once read a book on how to write a book within 30 days and one thing that I read has stuck with me ever since. “Don’t force your writing.” Often times I think people have a goal in mind and they don’t want to stop until they achieve that goal, which is fine… Sometimes though you can tell that you’re just writing non-sense and you know when it comes time to edit, most of it is going to get cut or re-written. So I try now not to force the words, the only exception to this is when I’m at a bit of a roadblock. I have a lot of signposts for my book, the chapter titles and also little things that I’d like to happen within the chapter, sometimes though, I don’t give a section enough detail or the scene doesn’t take as long as I thought it might. I can’t just start a new chapter so I have to continue that scene and sometimes I have to force that a little bit. Who knows, maybe I’ll end up scrapping it later, but the point is that I still got to my next chapter or main point and didn’t just sit there stuck in the current chapter.

I suppose you could call me old-fashioned when it comes to writing. I actually prefer writing with pen and paper vice typing on the computer. I hate typing, honestly. I bought some dictation software to assist me in moving my story from my notebooks to my laptop, but right now, after wiping my computer, the program won’t reinstall. So today I will be hand typing the last few entries from my notebook. This was how I started writing. I wrote all kinds of stories beginning in middle school. I would write every chance I had like lunch break, 3 mins before class began, 10 mins before class ended. Just whenever I could. I don’t have those same habits now, but I do still prefer writing in my 70 page, college ruled, spiral notebooks.

Tomorrow begins my final 4 days to write my final 3 chapters. It’s a tight deadline, but I know that I will make it! After that though, I have to start my prep for my NaNoWriMo story. I have no idea what the layout for the story even will be, its only a concept at this point, and my 30 day 50,000 word journey for that book begins on Friday!

For those of you who read this, I hope you’re having a wonderful day! 

More for tomorrow now…

The end is near!

I have been writing and re-writing my current novel since I was a junior in High School… so that’s about 8 years or so now. When I was deployed to Afghanistan in 2011 I made it a goal of mine to finish my story in the form of a movie script. I accomplished that goal, but I was more than a little upset. Even though I have always pictured my story to be a movie, I was devastated by how much of my story I had to cut out to fit the confines of 120 minutes of screen time. So I once again declared “by the end of the year, I will finish my book”. It of course has never happened.

Every year I vow to finish my story, but unless knowing it cover to cover in my head counts, then I never have. This year, my husband and I started college together. In our first class we were supposed to provide an example of a detailed goal. What specifically we would like to accomplish, how it can be accomplished, and when exactly will it be accomplished by… Out of habit I chose my story, but I gave myself a wide birth. I declared that I would finish my story by my 27th birthday, giving myself 1 1/2 years to do it. I quit my full time job in September. I promised my husband that since I was not working full time now, I would commit equal parts of my day to writing my book and working my part-time job. So I drafted a new goal. If I could commit to writing 1/2 chapter (appx 1600 words) per day, I would finish my book  by the end of October. So today is October 26, I have 3 chapters to go! I’m supposed be further along, but we went on vacation and I slacked for a week. I’m so excited to be almost done that I have been over writing lately, so I’m sure I’ll still make my deadline.

Now this is not the “let’s send this to be published” version of my book, this is the “Hey, I wrote every chapter” version. It has many errors, probably a couple holes that need to be addressed, and my word count is nowhere near my final goal (120,000) but the story will be complete. I am a perfectionist at heart, so I would often start re-writing my book around chapter 10. I always knew it could be better. My story is completely different now then when I started writing it 8 years ago… but I mean, I was 17 back then, and now I’m 26 and married, life is different.

To go from consistently starting over to having the complete story is a miracle for me. I look forward to letting a couple trusted friends and family review my story and let me know where it needs work. Most of all, I’m excited to see if my story affects others the way it has me. Yesterday I wrote the scene where my main character dies, it is no secret, it is declared outright near the beginning that death is expected. To write the actual scene and the characters present and how the death affects them was beautiful, to me. It moved me nearly to tears, but as the creator of the story I can watch it like a movie in my head, so I look forward to knowing if I translated the emotions in my head correctly to paper.

It is bittersweet to be reaching the end, but I am proud of myself. I’m trying to commit to blogging daily and to be honest with my struggles. I am imperfect and sometimes I don’t feel inspired enough to write, but I assure you that I love it. There are two things in this world I know that I am meant to do. One is to be a mother and a wife, the other is to share my book with the world. Will my story bring my fame and fortune? Chances are it will not. But how I can I have a story in my heart for so long that is so important if it is not meant to be shared?

If your looking for tips and tricks on how to be a great author… you probably don’t want to listen to me. I’m untrained, I just like to write. If you’d like to join me on my journey to achieve my writing dreams, stay tuned!