Music that awakens the beast

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Hello hello~

As of late I found myself dragging my bum butt to the computer to edit. I’ve always found writing and other writing related activities to be liberating, so why am I being so stubborn when it comes to editing the novel I want to be published someday? Well, your guess is as good as mine. My only reasoning is that I dislike hard work. (Shame shame, shame on me!) But! Something has started that fire again! That drive to delve into my plot and character’s lives. If you read the title of this post, then you know where I’m going with this…

Music! Makes the people come toge–
Okay, I won’t go there, but… yes music is the key here!

When I decided to ditch my old media player (Zune) and download an old favorite (Winamp) I dove right into organizing my music. Naturally, while transferring files into my new library, I listened to some music that I haven’t touched in a while. [note] When I write I always have something playing in the background. [/note] So I began to feel the way I did when creating stories with these particular songs in the backdrop. My heart ached for recreating those feelings; I jumped right into my editing again, and was thrilled to do so.

The magnificent turn of events
I had not expected to come out of the day’s editing with a new flood of ideas, and especially for a novel with a completed rough draft. I now have brand new notes of changes I’m excited to make in my first rewrite! What’s super-duper awesome about this is that these changes eliminate a plot point that I’ve hated since day one, but I left it there just because I knew I could fix it later. I would not have this new slew of ideas without rereading my draft; I would not be rereading this draft if not for revisiting some writing-nostalgic music.

Camp Nanowrimo!

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July 1st starts the second round of Camp Nano! I will actually be using the spirit of Nano as fuel for editing. I won’t be validating at the end since I’m not writing anything new. But I don’t care about that; I just want to finish my first read-through and note taking finally. Then the real hard part of making significant revisions begins.

Duh dun duuuuuuun!

Umm, so… I’m alive, I guess!

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*Sheepishly* Well, I’ve been absent for… roughly five months. That shall change! I plan on becoming active on this blog again. Several huge changes have happened in the meantime and I hope I haven’t lost your interest as a viewer. 

I plan to post at least once a week. I want to spread out my topics as well as not posting novels in each entry. (Heh, get it? Novels…? Because I’m editing…a…novel… Yeahhhh, you get it!)

Anyway! Stay tuned for updates concerning July’s Camp Nanowrimo session! I may discuss a bit about a new endeavor I’ve taken on, on YouTube.

Script writing and how it helps with prose

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So I decided to take a script writing course this semester. It is only once a week for three hours. Three weeks into the semester hasn’t produced a lot of hard copy work to fill my folder but I have already started to learn quite a bit in ways of improving my novel writing. (I’m also taking the course because it fills a minor requirement and I kind of want to do Script Frenzy this April!)

What I have learned in a short amount of time
One piece of advice was repeated over and over throughout my many classes and ventures in creative writing: “Dialogue moves the story along; dialogue is everything!”

I knew this and thought, for the longest time, that I was doing a grand job at implementing this into my stories. I even remember repeating the advise to other people! The problem is that no matter how many times I told this to myself I never truly understood what it meant that dialogue pushes the story forward.

The very first exercise assigned to us in Script Writing (that’s the course’s actual name, peeps) was to write a scene between two characters using only dialogue. The goal–which isn’t too important to my point but I’m telling you anyway–was to have something happen that would change their relationship forever. I chose two characters I already know.

Simon and Audrey are from this November’s novel. I chose a scene I have not written yet (to be fair to the exercise) and went ahead writing the moment Simon finds out that his unborn child is not truly his; Audrey had cheated. (By the way, this is probably the most I’ve ever revealed  in this blog of anything I’ve ever written, and yes this is hard for me.) I thought this exercise would be so simple. I have history with these characters and I’ve envisioned the scene in my head many times as it’s a huge turning point. But I was limited to just dialogue. I couldn’t add the internal emotions unless it was through character speech. I couldn’t write out how Audrey hesitated and played with her hair as a distraction. This was difficult! Every line of dialogue I wrote had me thinking: “Is this something this character would say? If he says this, then am I portraying his character the way I intend to?” No matter the conversation, everything a character says is imperative to the story line. I knew it was only an exercise but I could already see the impact that finding the right dialogue can have on a story, script or novel.

You blab too much, get to your point!
Yes I do blab! 😀 I blab in my writing quite a lot!

In my editing so far the biggest issue I find in myself as a writer is that I depend too heavily on exposition! I love exposition. It brings me away from the fact that I should write something that actually has substance to the story. I feel like I’m being productive without actually doing any real work. While it is true that what I do write that isn’t dialogue can be interesting and relative to the plot and characters, sometimes it’s just not necessary. A lot of times I’m filling in what one character thinks of another, or how a character feels about a particular situation. These bits can have so much more “meat” to them if I rewrite the flowery words into dialogue!

A reader would much rather (I assume) read the scene where Simon discovers Audrey’s infidelity and speaks his mind of it all! I know I would keep reading to see if Audrey’s replies back her into a corner or turn her into a defensive monster. No one wants the high point in the argument to be interrupted because the author decided to climb into the main character’s head to have a silent muse about it. No, that’s not dynamic dammit! We wants spoken words flying all around the room! We want expletives to be shouted and then tears to fall through choked up apologies.

Why am I scared of dialogue?
Aside from doing “work” without doing work, part of me still feels a bit silly writing dialogue. I feel as though I should adapt to the character speaking (“get into character” if you will). Some dialogue is hard to write because maybe I don’t agree with what my character is saying, so I’m fighting against them. Or the topic of conversation is overall uncomfortable. Maybe someone is being tortured–yeah, yeah, that happens in some of my novels, it happens in a lot of novels and if you’re surprised of this about me please get over it. Writing harrowing scenes is uncomfortable enough but throw in dialogue that’s disturbing and skin-crawling and I turn into the exposition queen! Get me out of that character’s mind please and thank you very much.

This has hindered my writing lately because it’s kind of crippled my ability to create vivid characters with personalities that differ from the others. A friend of mine read over some of my NaNoNovel so I can get some feedback. For the sake of privacy and the fact that she doesn’t know I’m referring to her in my blog, here I’ll call her L. She noticed that a couple of my characters sounded the same, the dialogue was present but nothing in their language made them different people. I definitely noticed this myself when looking it over again and that’s when I realized it was the point where I started to get bored with my story too. And another thing, it’s also where I was supposed to end the novel but I couldn’t for the longest time because the characters that sounded the same were all together in the remaining words of the novel. I told L recently that, that bit of advice helped out so much and not only was a huge moment of realization for me, it gave me a lot to think about. I know my biggest weakness in writing, and now that it’s out in the open I can actually begin fixing it!

Back to script writing
I’ve never written a script in my life but I’m already excited to keep going to this class! I hope I actually have more to post about in the coming weeks as I gain knew skills in tightening up my writing. Script writing is all about making sure every single line (dialogue or action) does something to contribute to the story. Every single line moves the plot forward and moves the characters toward something. I think I picked the right time to take this class.

Hopefully I’ll be joining you Screnzy people in April!

(Maybe some of these posts will contain actual stuff I’ve written! OooooOoooOOoooh! We’ll see! Haha.)

Another resolution, though not writing related

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I’ve never blogged about my weight loss goals before. I figured “why the heck not?” I’ll add a bit more about myself and another goal I have in mind for 2013.

The Resolution
The ever-so popular “I’m going to lose weight this year!” resolution is once again on my list! I feel confident in reaching my goal this year though, much more than my previous weight loss resolutions. Since 2009 (i.e. the year I got married) I have lost 30 pounds. The reality check for me was that I was the heaviest I’ve ever been on my wedding day! Jeez…

I previously lost weight by training for a 5k race, it was the River Bank Run here in Grand Rapids. I lost a good chunk just from that and after I decided to sign up for Weight Watchers, which helped me lose the rest of the 30lbs.

The plan
Diet: I will continue to use Weight Watchers, but diligently this time. I am paying for the service and I know it works (when I use it!) so I will be sure to log my food/drink intake every single day.

I have allowed myself one cheat day a week. By cheat day I really mean either a cheat meal, or a super-rich dessert, or a specialty coffee or something I wouldn’t normally eat/drink as it would put me over my points for Weight Watchers. I have been told by several specialists and fitness trainers (from my gym) that this is a good way to go about losing weight because not only will it keep me sane, the “bad food” will help my body from plateauing.

Exercise: After my 5k successes (I have done two so far), I assumed running was the best way for me to lose weight. So, on this assumption, I tried to force myself to hit the gym three to four days a week to run on the treadmill. This became so boring very quickly and I soon lost my motivation.

I have decided to take advantage of the free—for members—classes at my gym! I have been to several already and I noticed that I push myself so much more in those classes than I have ever when I’m on my own. So this is my schedule:

Mon: BodyCombat (Les Mills)
Tue: BodyPump (Les Mills)
Wed: Break day!
Thu: BodyCombat (Les Mills)
Fri: Free workout day
Sat & Sun: Break days!

The body combat classes burn so many calories per 60 minute session! This will be a great cardio workout twice a week! In body pump I will be using weights to tone my body for 60 minutes while working up a major sweat. The free day is just whatever I want to do; I’ve been working the elliptical as of lately. I don’t have class (college) on Fridays and I want another day of burning calories so it might be a less intense workout but I want a reason to make sure my weekend isn’t full of being too lazy and eating terribly. I have tried working out on Saturdays and Sundays and I am the least motivated to exercise on the weekends. So, I won’t this time around. 🙂

With having these classes set into my schedule I am more likely to go because it means I don’t have to think about the routine because I’m following the instructor, who does the thinking for me. The classes are in a specific time block so I can’t put off my workouts like I usually would. I also work harder because i don’t want to be that one person who goes to class but doesn’t try hard. I mean… other people are watching!

So this year I have a good plan to stick to that I feel is not too strict! As long as I stick to the plan I set for myself I am very confident I will be able to lose another 18-20 pounds by June!

Editing – day one!

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I actually started editing! Woohoo! Although I do admit I’m not far at all in the first process yet, which is re-reading and taking notes, but I can tell you I’ve already learned about myself as a writer.

  • When I separate my critiquing-self from my overly critical-self, my writing actually isn’t that bad!
  • My strong point tends to be exposition. (Exposition is the writing intended to give information. I.e.: Not dialogue.)
  • I am not afraid of a lot of exposition, but this is also a weakness.

TL;DR
In case you haven’t noticed… I tend to be pretty wordy. No doubt this trait appears in my creative writing. I can’t help it! I love to explain everything I can to make sure there is full understanding. But this has become my weakness because I started to interrupt the dialogue in my story with a lot of explaining. This is especially detrimental to quick moving conversation, and my main character has a thing for swift, non-wordy replies.

I caught myself actually rolling my eyes because the dialogue was cut off quickly by me inserting yet more information that could be placed earlier or later on. However the bright side here is that the information I interrupted with is actually good for the story and I know it adds to the plot and character development. I’m just placing the “wordiness” in the wrong spots.

I am afraid of dialogue
Why? Oh I don’t know! What’s terrible is that dialogue moves the story forward, and I can already see evidence of that. The only explanation I can offer to my fear of writing dialogue is that I don’t want to mess up my characters’ personalities by making them say something that doesn’t suit them. While I understand the logic behind this fear of mine it’s also contradictory in using the first draft to develop the characters (and to make mistakes in dong so).

These mistakes in writing are what lead us along in editing. If there were no mistakes in the draft then it would be the finished product. Who creates a finished product on the first go? Huh? No one! (No you don’t; don’t lie to yourself!) Every first attempt has room for improvement.

A word of advice from experiences not writing related
I’ve been given this advice from two influential teachers in my life–my band director from middle school and high school and my Japanese professor from my current college course. This is the advice paraphrased: If you’re going to make a mistake, then do so out loud so it can be heard and then fixed.

Something else I re-learned
Meet Hana! 花

And this is how Hana helps me write.

I almost forgot about something that became daily routine while I was participating in NaNoWriMo. The youngest cat in the house loves to weasel her way onto my lap while I’m working. Contorting my arms around her while trying to knock out as many words as possible in a word war was definitely a challenge. Though her taking over my lap was frustrating at times, it is so cute to know she wants to be in my company. I think I’ll enjoy having her be my muse while I attempt to reform this beast of a novel!

Resolution time–don’t dwell on 2012

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NY2013First thing’s first: Happy New Year!
I thought about doing my year in review, but that would make for a very lengthy post, and my posts are already on the “too long; didn’t read” side. So let me start by saying that I did accomplish some things in 2012. However, while I did do much more writing than usual, I don’t feel like I did much that’s worth while. So this is what I’ve resolved to do, in light of my realization…

Resolution time, you all knew it was coming

  • Update this blog just a bit more often.
  • Have the story read and ready for editing with notes by the end of the month.
  • Have the whole story edited by June 1st.
    • Along with goals to be done by June 1st, I shall be down another 20 lbs. 🙂
  • In the second half of 2013, take the necessary steps in communicating with publishers.
  • Hold onto the courage I’ll need in order to accomplish this daunting task.

The daunting task…
Nearly 170,000 words are waiting to be reviewed by me, the author. They say “we are our own worst critic”. I can very harsh on myself. I know that my ideas are good and fully capable of being accepted as publishable. The hard work of developing those ideas into the story I see fit–into the story that’s meant for the audience I envision–is what’s daunting. My biggest fear is that publishers and readers won’t see or feel what I do when in the writing process. I hope I have enough skill to be able to mold this monster draft into a mature, compelling novel that is capable of suspending anybody’s disbelief!

One word at a time

I did end up editing/re-writing the first chapter for one of my classes in Spring 2012. The class (I have mentioned before) was a fiction writing workshop. My peers read and critiqued my chapter and gave me thought provoking feedback in order to improve. After working diligently and using the new essential suggests and questions given to me, I rewrote the first chapter. In two weeks I created something that was almost a different story! I took out some fluff, added more sensory content, and wrote an additional 5,000 words over all. On the reread of this new creation I could hardly believe that the language was my own! The story already had much more life. That one chapter rewrite gave me confidence that I am able to write with substance that might compare to some well-received published authors today. I know I just need to hold off from diving into the huge pile. I need to take a step back and go for it one word at a time.