Monday, January 19, 2015

A list. An outline? A plan.

So the other day I outlined a space scifi novel, meant to be the first in....a series, anyway. Or I listed the most bare bones of events which would make up the plotline. It involves a Macguffin, as so many good stories do. I just need to figure out the details of what it involves/contains. It's one thing to decide a Thing is important; it's another thing to justify it in the story, for the characters. I want ramifications to be understood. Show, don't tell, natch.

So, some world building.

I thought of the characters first. A ship, its captain, her business partner/mechanic. Because I want to edge closer to realistic space travel, that's all who's on the ship regularly. Cramped quarters, weight still a concern, food still freeze dried, etc. Probably no artificial gravity, or at least not on small ships. Space Law a new and shaky thing.

Now I'm thinking of locations. Probably not Mars, though it'll be mentioned. Europa. The moon. Earth itself. Maybe one of Saturn's moons as well, like Titan or Enceladus (we've watched a few of the Space TED talks on Netflix, and Titan and Enceladus get brought up a lot. Europa a bit as well. And oh yes, the asteroid belt might be a bit of fun.

The fantasy novel I started in July has also been kicking around in my head, so I might outline what I've got ("outline") and then outline where it's gotta go. That novel's been a departure for me in a couple of ways, starting with a prologue, consisting of multiple point of view characters (only 2, other than the prologue, I didn't go nuts), and completely in a secondary world. So again, world building was necessary.

So the fantasy novel is a world I'm building from the ground (heh) up. The space scifi is a world I'm building using current technology and projected technology as the basis. The differences in the ventures are interesting to consider, and the limitations, or lack thereof.

Do you do much worldbuilding in your writing?

Friday, January 16, 2015

Nothin' much

I'm not really working on much just lately. Planning for my workshop. Planning for submission. Waiting to hear back from my readers (though at least one person gave me quite helpful comments on my query letter).

I have any number of unfinished short stories sitting on my hard drive. "Unfinished" ranges from "has characters and something of an arc" to "has a titled file with a sentence or more in it", which can be a daunting proposition to, say, make the decision to finish each story scrap that you've started. Or finish five.

I haven't made any such decision, but I've thought about it. Those Chuck Wendig prompts I didn't finish before the deadline, if I started them at all beyond the basest selection of random criteria. Those stores my interest wandered from when they were only a page in, halfway done, almost to the climax. I can't explain why I didn't finish the ice cream man story when I started it, or the girl with horns. I can't explain where I was going with the pickpocket story, or the file titled "never McDonalds." I had the ideas, sure, but didn't follow through and they slipped away. Use it or lose it, kids.

This isn't the first time I've talked about this, nor will it be the last I'm sure. I'm certain many, if not all, writers have these dog-ends of stories, these remnants to be finished, or discarded, or crazy quilted in with another idea entirely.

It would make sense to pick one of these files, read what I have. Outline what I have, and what could logically follow. Write. Will I do this? I dunno. It could be fun. It would add to my portfolio. Need to plan for future submissions, of course. So far as October Submissions go, by the way, I've only got 5 left I haven't heard back on. On one, I'll be nudging them soon, as we've passed the ninety day mark they recommend on the website. The others, there's lots of time before I'm supposed to worry. I also have 5 post-October submissions, because I figured once in the saddle, I might as well keep riding.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Continuing my Library Writing Workshop

So, starting in February, I'm going to be running a longer-term writing workshop at the library.

My intent (and you know how this goes) is to split workshop time periods between prompt writing (which everybody seems to have a lot of fun with) and critique. Writing the critique guideline has been fun and interesting.

I obviously don't know who my sign ups will be yet. I can assume a few "repeat customers", and I know that group is solid. I have no misgivings about doing critiques with them. The newer element, well, adding new people to a group can always be a little iffy for everybody at first. So I want there to be no confusion that the critiques are to HELP. Help the writing, help the writer.

We're all going to be adults, and face to face, so I don't want to be insulting by spelling out certain things like "no personal attacks" because it seems to go without saying. But I do want it to be clear that everybody is to be respectful. Helpful. I'm excited and have no misgivings; I feel like it's going to be a blast!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Pick 20 pages

So you know what's hard? Figuring out the 20 pages you feel best represent your writing.

See, there's an arts grant thing in New York state I want to apply for, recommended to my writing workshop by a local author. One of the categories this year is fiction, you see. They're different each year. You don't have to have been published, just an artist who has a vision which can be aided/supported/whatever by this grant. It's pretty rad, actually.

So you need to pick 20 pages. And then do a 200 word work statement that relates to the writing and explains it. Not so bad, I guess, once I figure out what I'm going to use. Should I just go for the gold and use the first twenty pages of The Last Song? Should I use a couple of short stories (it can be any 20 pages, though not "fragments"). I should probably use The Last Song. Though there's also a 400 word excerpt explanation to contextualize the piece, which makes sense.

Of course, then there's the 700 word "curriculum vitae", which is going to look awfully spare for me. I don't have a Bachelor's in writing. I'm not pursuing an MFA. I devour books. I handwrote a 1000 page epic fantasy novel in high school. I work at a library, where I have run NaNoWriMo workshops. I've been a NaNoWriMo participant since 2007. These seem eclectic. I guess it could be worse?

Have you ever applied for an artist's grant?

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Climbing the ladder to the high dive

Okay, guys, I'm going to do it.

In February, I'm going to start submitting The Last Song to agents.

This month (this WEEK, I should mean) I'm going to email/text/Facebook message/WHATEVER the people who have the manuscript and said "Please, guys. Please try to get to it by January 31."

This may be unreasonable. It might not be. I maybe should wait longer. I might not need to wait at all. I need other human eyes to cross my work before I take such a big step. But I feel like I can't wait, either. I'm not sure there's anything else to add to the text, anything else to take away. Of course, if my readers tell me I've done something terrible, I need to fix X things, that February thing could get pushed back.

I want it to be ready, though. I'm ready. I look at Library Journal, Kirkus, publishing blogs. What's coming out in 2015. It isn't me, not yet. But it won't be if I don't sub.