Novelling: Life is What Happens While Making Plans

If you have read my previous posts about my novel you would know that I’m not much of a planner. I started by thinking about the concept for a while (several months) until I got fed up and just started writing. 30,000 some words later I realized I should probably figure out some things. So I did the basics, I developed a simple timeline and list of characters with their traits and whatnot. It didn’t take long and I had a what I thought was a decent base to work off.

I’m sure more experienced writers see this coming. I was wrong. Now I’m at the 50,000 word mark and have hit a wall, my meager plans were not enough. I finished a chapter the other day and thought, what’s next. I have several ideas but they swirl and shift and I can’t decide on any of them. So now I have to go back to planning. I’m currently in the process of figuring out my characters motivations so I can thoroughly understand what they will do next, not to mention figure out where the specifics of the story are headed.

This is the part I don’t enjoy, I write because I myself want to know what happens. My favourite part of writing is when I’m in the ‘zone’, the story flows almost without conscious thought and I’m watching it play out in my mind. But now I’m stuck in slogging my way through the planning swamp, full of misteps and disjointed paths (thoughts). Which is where the title for this entry comes from, life being the writing, I want to get back to writing instead of planning.

So I might just do that, I’ve been thinking maybe I’ll just choose a path and write, fuck planning. There’s always the edit, right?

Novelling: Dreaded Edits

Technically this doesn’t have to do directly with my current novel in progress, forwarning. On this fine afternoon I was discussing writing with some fellow wordsmiths and we decided to compare short stories. I found one I had written a few years ago but was still relatively proud of and showed it off. Immediately I got feedback and felt an urge I hadn’t really ever felt. I wanted to edit.

I have always dreaded the edit, in my earlier writing days I hated the process. I never wanted to sit down with something I had finished and re-write the bloody thing, I was done with it. I wanted to move on to the next thing. Or, I thought it was good enough, no need to go over it again. Such a naive, stupid thing to think. As I grew older I realized the editing process was important, my first drafts (no matter if it was fiction or non-fiction) were never even nearly perfect. A great deal of editing was always, always, always required. Often though I would spend hours writing and then feel sick of the piece, I never wanted to go back and have to re-do it all over again. So I often put it off until I forgot about the piece.

Then today happened. I took out an old piece that I had actually edited around the time of writing it, even letting others look at it, and eventually posting it on this blog. I let some writers take a look and they had some suggestions. I read through it again, I noticed so many things that I wanted to change. I turned on the change tracker in word and set to work. It took several hours to go through, line by line, meticulously examining and re-examining each sentence and word and comma.

Finally after an hour or two passed I was finished. I read through it again. It was so clearly better. I hadn’t reduced the word count by much if at all but it was smoother, the flow better realized. I felt proud and reposted it to the group. The feedback was even better.

This experience showed me not only is editing not as terrible as I had so foolishly believed but it also is important for your writing. In order to improve we need to see the mistakes we make and realize they are mistakes, they need to fixed or worked on. I used to constantly use the word seem, everything in my writing used to seem a certain way to the viewpoint characters. I never noticed it much before, until this meticulous line edit. Now I avoid using that word at all costs, unless absolutely necessary.

Editing is good and absolutely necessary to become a better writer. Don’t be afraid of it, like I foolishly was.

Novelling: Never Enough Time

This week was a tougher week. I barely managed to write a hundred words. So unfortunately I still am sitting at the 30,000 word mark. Luckily though it’s not as if I didn’t get anything done. I didn’t get much chance to write because life kept getting in the way but I had time to think. Which I did quite a lot. I have 20 sticky notes of thoughts in fact to show for it. These notes range from ideas on the climax, to timelines of the different relationships and lots of other random ideas.

This is something I have been doing since I started writing. See before I started writing my novel I would have said that I am an ‘architect’ or planner. I would have told you I need to plan out everything before ever writing a word. That I would need to have a detailed list of all the characters and the plot, of each chapter and the titles and on and on. However on when I sat down for the first time to start my novel, I had done none of these things. I hadn’t even really intended to write much. I was going to jot a short story quickly and that was all. Several days later of course I found myself 10,000 words into a novel that seemed never ending. I’m clearly not an architect. I’m a gardener, or as some youtubing authors say, ‘a pantser’. Gardener meaning the ideas grow and change as you write the story.

Personally I find being a Gardener interesting, as I write it feels as though I’m watching the story unfold, rather than knowing everything that will happen before it happens. However I’m reaching a point where I need notes to stay on top of all the characters and the plot and make sure everything makes sense. I’m blending the traits, this week it was architecture. Hopefully next week I’ll have some hours lined up for gardening.

Listening to Lately…

I have been listening to a lot of music lately. As I’m sure you know it can be useful for a great many things, soothing you before sleep, relaxing you, taking your mind off stress, helping you focus… you get the picture.  When I was younger around grade school age (basically before high school) I did not listen to music all that much, I heard what my parents listened to, and I was forced to wake up every morning to my sister blaring her latest and greatest pop sensation. Around grade 8 I decided it was time I figure out what I like listening to.

I started out with the bands I knew, ACDC, Led Zepplin, Rush, these were bands my parents (mainly my father) listened to. Soon though, I got bored, I wanted something for myself that no one else in the house listened to. I wanted rock and metal that was new, not from the 70’s and 80’s.

The first band I found on my own was Linkin Park, I’m sure everyone has heard In The End, probably one of the greatest songs of all time (at least in my opinion). I had heard it many many times but never known the band behind the song, it wasn’t until I started looking for music that I found out who actually sang the song. I was instantly hooked, I couldn’t get enough of their rock/metal/modern style (I’m not entirely sure what genre to put them in…). Linkin Park opened the door to metal and modern rock. Within a month I was listening to Avenge Sevenfold and Disturbed. I thought I was so hardcore, such a badass. I was naive to say the least.

Then in high school, around grade 10 I started hanging out with a new crowd, made some new friends, who introduced me to the world of screamo. At first I hated it, it was awful, I couldn’t understand the words, it sounded like noise. But every time I got in my friend’s car I was submitted to this hellish, ear bursting music. As the weeks went by, I found myself humming some of the tunes, I started understand the lyrics, they weren’t just incoherent screams anymore. Had I found a new genre to listen to?

Soon enough I was in love, this was my genre, this was what was missing from my life. The first bands I chose were The Devil Wears Prada (whom I still love and listen to) and Atreyu (not so much a fan anymore). From there I just delved deeper and deeper into the world of screamo, hardcore and punk.

Now just an FYI screamo is not all devil music, in fact most of it isn’t. There is in fact a hefty portion of Christian bands in the genre, but for the most part the songs may sound angry but in reality the lyrics are not. Most of the bands I listen to sing about relationships, friendships, and their experiences such as being on the road and such, not and I repeat NOT devil worship or satan or evil things or what have you.

Now, lately I have been listening to the new album by Memphis May Fire, and even if you don’t like screamo, have never heard of the band or the genre or have never listened to any music ever in your entire life, you need to listen to this album. In my mind this is the pinnacle of the genre, perfect in so many ways, the perfect mix of screaming and melodic singing, and the lyrics are simply fantastic. Here is one of their songs from the latest album Unconditional. Have a listen and maybe you will find yourself as hooked as I am.

Another song you should have a listen to, especially if you enjoyed the first one: Need To Be

I know there isn’t much screaming in either of the songs (if any) but I really think they deserve a listen. Screamo and hardcore bands get a bad rap I think, and this is some truly great music. Don’t always judge a book by its cover.