Posted in editing, writing

Project Roadmap: Rosekeeper

I tend to switch my projects around fairly frequently, usually from month-to-month. It’s worked out well for me for years. Until recently however, I haven’t been doing much more than choosing a monthly project to work on and sort of diving in wherever felt best. The results of that have been mixed. Sometimes it works out great, and other times I end up staring at the same chapter for days on end. A couple of weeks ago, a friend suggested that I try mapping out what I aim to accomplish for each project each month.

Which, for me makes a lot of sense. I tend to work best when I have a goal I can aim towards. While I’m a discovery writer by nature, I also have a love for to-do lists and goals. Having a roadmap checks both those boxes by giving me a list of things I want done, and dates to accomplish them by. In theory, that should mean I can streamline my editing process like I’ve wanted to do for years.

I’m testing that theory with this month’s project: Rosekeeper. If you’ve read my short novella Crimson and Gold or my serial Seventh you’re already familiar with the world of Rosekeeper. With the rough draft clocking in at just over thirty-three thousand words, it should be another novella, albeit longer than Crimson and Gold.

Like its related stories, Rosekeeper takes inspiration from Western fairytales. In this case, the Beauty and the Beast. If you’ve read Under Her Own Power, you’ve actually met one of the main characters of Rosekeeper, Sola.

Because it’s so short, I’m aiming to have a second draft completed by the end of the month. With that, I’ve broken it down into four main tasks. The first of these is completing any necessary editing notes such as outlines and character arcs. The following three are each roughly ten- to eleven-thousand sections of the story itself to be edited. All four have their own deadlines, about one per week, the first of which is to have all my notes done by the fifth.

I’m excited to see how things go now that I’ve got a detailed editing plan in place. What about you? Do you have a roadmap? What does your plan look like? Let me know in the comments below!

Posted in character, General

Emotional Arcs

In every scene of your story, your characters should want something. What they want can vary wildly and often contradicts what other characters want. This is a part of creating conflict and tension. Today however, we’re talking a little bit about actions and reactions. More specifically, we’re discussing how emotional arcs work in scenes.

With the exception of a few characters, most of your characters will have some form of emotional movement. As people, our emotions often change in response to external stimuli. Within the context of a scene, that means your characters should have emotional responses as their scene-level goals are blocked, both by obstacles and other characters.

Keep in mind that there’s not a clear cut spectrum of emotions. Rather, they work more or less like a color wheel: shifting and blending into each other almost imperceptibly. Fear can turn into anger just as easily as it can give way to affection. The change is a result of the stimuli from outside.

For example: Your standard ‘monster under the bed’ complaint from many children. Their goal is pretty simple: get rid of whatever is under their bed that’s scaring them. Mom or Dad’s goal is to get some sleep. How the parents handle the complaint often affects the kid’s emotional arc.

Mom or Dad could easily get upset, scoffing at the complaints and dismissing their child’s statements. Kid eventually gives up, fear giving way to hopelessness, or perhaps even anger as they feel unprotected and unloved. This is a good place to ask how that might impact the character arc—do they lose trust in their parents at this point?  

Alternately, Mom or Dad takes a moment to check out the under the bed, reassuring the Kid. Based on the response, the kid’s goal is satisfied, and their emotions taper into love and happiness, leaving them (hopefully) with pleasant dreams. Mom and Dad however, now have to deal with the regret of an half-hour of lost sleep. How would that effect the next morning?

Because each action causes an emotional reaction, this gives you an opportunity to build your scenes off one another and helps tie your character arcs directly into scenes of your story.

As an exercise: Take a scene from your story and label it with the emotional changes your characters go through. What causes their emotions to change? How are they feeling at the end of the scene? Then, when you’re finished, look at the next scene. How does the end of the previous scene impact the next?  

Posted in General, writing

Camp NaNoWriMo

Three months a year, NaNoWriMo hosts a writing event. For the regularly scheduled NaNoWriMo in November, the goal is set at a solid fifty-thousand words within thirty-days. For the two Camp events in April and July, you have the option of setting your own goal.

Because I have such a bad habit of start ten million projects and simply never finishing them, I’ve opted to only work on new projects during the three NaNoWriMo events. Technically, this is something I started last year, by trying to finish at least a few of the continuously unfinished projects I have on the list.

So far it’s worked out decently. Although we’re only a few days into April, I’ve found a lot of the ideas I’ve had on hold are better fleshed out even though I haven’t been working on them. I’m aiming to get two novellas written this month.  

Are you doing Camp NaNo? What project are you working on for the month?   

Posted in General

Book in a Week

A couple of years back I heard passing mention of a unique writing challenge. The idea was simple: write an entire draft in a week.

At the time there was absolutely no way I could even conceive of taking on a challenge like that. I had neither the time nor the skills needed for it. Since I last heard about it, my situation has changed and as a result I’m back to take a look at it.

Although I found a few remnants of what looks to have once been an official backed site, I couldn’t find anything concrete when I went looking. The idea of the challenge still appealed though, which left me to figure things out on my own.

Based solely on plausibility, writing a book in a week is more than possible. If we pull in the NaNoWriMo standard of fifty-thousand words to a draft, that breaks down to seven thousand, one hundred and forty-three words daily. Difficult? Absolutely. Impossible? Not quite so much.

Looking again at NaNoWriMo’s forums and participants, there are forums for Overachievers—people who go well over the fifty-thousand goal in a single month. There’s also another challenge: MilWordy. That is, the challenge to write a million words in a single year. Asking around any writing community  and you’ll likely hear at least a few stories from someone who knows someone who wrote their rough draft in seven days or less.

So while writing an entire book in a week sounds incredibly difficult, it might be possible, given the right tools.

The first tool, clearly, is time. I don’t know it could be done around a forty-hour work week, plus family or school commitments. I did all of the following math based on my average typing speed of roughly fifty-five words per minute.

Reaching seven-thousand, one hundred and forty-three words would take roughly two and a quarter hours. It sounds impressive, but remember that’s fifty-five words per minute, for a hundred and thirty minutes without dropping speed or pausing for some reason. Since that’s not likely to happen, it’s rounded up to three hours daily. Times seven days, that’s a minimum of twenty-one hours.

If twenty-one hours sounds doable, the next thing is a solid plan, especially if there’s no possibility of taking a week off to focus solely on writing. While I’m a huge advocate for planning for bad days during NaNo, writing an entire book in a single week doesn’t leave room for zero days. If making seven thousand words a day isn’t an option, you’d need to figure out which days on chosen week you can frontload the words onto—and stick to it.

As far as plans go, the math breaks down nicely and makes it more than possible, which is where we take the hard-left turn out of math and into the biggest obstacle of writing, inside or outside of a challenge:

Inspiration and motivation.

I’ve noted a few times over a couple dozen different posts that I’m much more of a pantser or discovery writer. I prefer to write the story first and then make an outline once I start editing. That said, it’s not a challenge I want to try without an outline.

Not for the first attempt at least.

As it stands however, after a rough February and looking back over my project list, one of the projects I have on there is a major rewrite. A rewrite that does have an outline.

And this week, oddly enough, lined up to give me plenty of free time with relatively few outside obligations.

Since I’ve been wanting to try this particular challenge for a while and things have lined up so well, I decided to bite the bullet and go for it. In the worst case scenario, I end up not having a complete draft at the end of the week (March 6th, if you’re wondering).

I’ll post an update on how things are going (or have gone) on Friday. In the mean time, I’m curious: would you ever try to write a book in a week?

Posted in blogging, General

Upcoming in February

Admittedly, January did not see a huge amount of things actually getting ‘done’ owing to the fact I took on a lot more than I really had time for. However, I’ve taken a little bit of time and hopefully gotten myself reorganized.

February’s main writing project is the second draft of a paranomal novel I’ve had sitting on the list for ages. I last opened the silly thing all the way back in 2019. It’s still incredibly rough, and at this point the plan is to polish it up and begin querying it for traditional publication. That’s still a long ways off however.

On the blog side of things, I’d like to get my short stories page reorganized. Ideally I want to turn it from a list of links into a gallery, showcasing the header images for each story. Because not all of these stories have header images, the first part of getting this accomplished is to update all the ones currently missing images.

If you’re supporting me over on Patreon you’ll get early access to this month’s short story, plus an exclusive behind-the-scenes video for an upcoming project. Patrons will also get a couple of other treats this month, so if you’re interested in finding out more about that, check out my page here.

Although last month wasn’t fantastic for reading, I’m all set for February’s challenges. February’s challenge plot is Obstacles to Romance. Location is Seoul, South Korea (I’ve chosen Wicked Fox by Kat Cho for this one!). The title word is breath and the cover image is a heart.

What’s on your calendar for February?