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Friday, July 31, 2015

Where the Music Ends

I have finished the rough outline for The Perilous Forest and have decided to change the title now instead of waiting until whoever reads this blog is used to the working title and is confused.
I've always known that The Enchanted Forest sounded like a light hearted story, maybe with fairies, which is definitely not what I wanted readers to expect when going into the story.
The Perilous Forest was better, but I didn't really like it because it's too generic. Fortunately when I first was writing the story, I posted it on InkPop (which went over to Figment a year or two ago) and asked for ideas for titles. One reader suggested Where the Music Ends, which is really the perfect title. Anyone who knows me knows that I have always had a problem coming up with titles. They've almost all been generic and boring: Prince Peter and the Goblin King (and about six other Prince Peter and books), The War for Erasthinia, The Tale of the Long Darkness, all of which basically tell you the plot of the story, and not even in an interesting way.
Of course, there is Red Sea Rising, possibly my proudest achievement in title making. It will probably never be written, though. And I rather like The Mind of the Queen, which may be written in the future.
To prove my abysmal titling skills, the political fantasy I referred to in my last post has the amazingly interesting working title of Risalia (the name of the main character). And why? Because I literally can't think of anything else. It might do, but I don't like it; I want a title that conveys something of the atmosphere of the book, or asks an intriguing question; a title that makes someone want to at least look at the back cover of the book, and then hopefully open it up.

So, getting off the topic of titles, I am really excited about this story! Not only have I, for the first time, outlined to the end of a story, but I am in love with it. The climax is going to be great.
I am completely sold on outlining now, that's for sure. It took me about ten years to realize that making everything up as I went was not a recipe for successfully completing a story. I considered myself a pantser, but that was only because I didn't understand how to outline. I would highly recommend Outlining Your Novel by K. M. Weiland. I'm not using all her suggestions, but I am using what is working for me. I have a feeling that as I get better at it, I'll tweak my methods and change how I do certain things, but there is one thing for sure: I'm never going back to writing by the seat of my pants for anything that has chapters.

And now, for another excerpt (keep in mind that this is a first draft, so it's not polished; but I am rather fond of it).

“I think we should be cautious.” Gilbert leaned back in his chair and sighed. “You do things much too hastily. Think about where we would be if we had gone by your impulses.”

“We might be rescuing Joseph right now, that's where!” She could almost feel the heat radiating off of her body, as if the fire were inside her instead of several feet away. “There is no reason to delay any longer. I refuse to delay past tomorrow morning. I'll go by myself if I must. And if you ...”

“I'm going to bed,” he interrupted, standing.

Alice stared at him. She wanted to shake him hard, to make him see sense, but instead she spun on her heel and headed outside, biting her tongue to keep from saying what she wanted to say.

“Don't forget your cloak; it's cold out!” Gilbert called after her. She ignored him.


What do you think about the new title? How do you come up with titles? 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Thinking and Writing

I do a lot of outlining in my head before it ever reaches solid form on paper. I'll mull ideas over, fitting them with what I've already got, sometimes replaying scenes over and over (don't tell anyone, but sometimes I act them out when no one is looking) until I know exactly how I want them to turn out ... and then when I try to write them down they end up smaller, less impressive than I imagined them.
I was sailing along, planning out The Perilous Forest (that's just a working title, by the way), when I realized that there was really very little suspense, tension, whatever you want to call it, and it was bogging down after a certain scene. I've been trying for a week to work it out, and I think I finally have. I must say that outlining is really helpful. I do a stream-of-consciousness kind of outlining, where I simply sit down and have a conversation with myself, writing it out as I'm thinking it.
It's been a long time since I did this, actually. I used to have what I called a writing journal; whenever I was writing, and came upon a difficulty, I'd write through it until a solution came to me. But I never used it to actually outline anything.
The nice thing about having an outline is that you don't realize something a hundred pages in that can't be fixed by simply going back and editing. Of course, before I started an outline for The Perilous Forest, I was already about eleven thousand words in; I'm fully aware that I may have to go back to the beginning and change some things, but so far I think I'm safe.
I'll be glad to get this story written; it's been rattling about in the back drawers of my head for long enough. And as nice as having everything planned out is, it's even nicer to be able to write it out.
I'm not sure what I'll do with it when I'm finished; I may release it as a serial, or I may try to get it published. We'll see.
I also have another story that I've been trying to write for two or so years that could do with some serious, serious outlining. I've got some good ideas for it, but every time I try to write it it just falls so flat; it's what I call a political fantasy (heavy on the politics, light on the magic), and gets into some convoluted schemes, counter-schemes, machinations and intrigue. It's a lot of fun to think about, but there's something about it that just doesn't click. It possibly has to do with my main character, who no matter how hard I try to define her, she seems like a one-dimensional person. Every scene I write with her turns insipid. Unlike Alice, of The Perilous Forest, who is beautifully alive and makes me happy whenever I write her, even when she's trying to slap someone.

There are, of course, other stories knocking on my mind, trying to get out: half formed ideas, snippets of tales, bits and pieces of conversations. For my part I put them in my little boiling pot and let them simmer.
Oh, and I'm working on a Chronicles of Narnia fanfiction. I've had it completely written for three or so years, but it had gotten shoved down deep in my email files and needs to be rewritten and polished up. I'll be sure to let you all know when I start posting it!

What are your methods of planning a story? Do you ever outline?