Crashing

Glad to be back in the world of flash fiction with my favorite weekly writing prompt over at Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers.  Hope you guys enjoy this one!

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Crashing

“We’re losing elevation, Tom.”
“I know Ben.”
“There are cars in those streets, Tom.”
“I know Ben.”
Tom had never flown a chopper before. He still wasn’t sure how Ben had talked him into being the one to do it. Ben was always setting him up. They had been planning the heist all summer. Weeks, even months of effort would be wasted because Tom couldn’t maintain altitude. Assuming they weren’t killed. Even if they somehow survived, the consequences would without question last the rest of their lives. There’d be no leniency.
“Tom, you’re going to crash!”
Tom panicked. He pushed down hard on the stick and the chopper lurched violently towards the ground. Too late he remembered he should have pulled back.
“Oh no oh no.”
There was a terrible grunt as the thing hit the asphalt. Cars shrieked as their drivers slammed on brakes and horns alike in a futile effort to avoid this sudden invader to their streets. Time stopped for Tom as his world crashed down. In that frozen moment, a single car dodging the pileup managed to break through and run right into Tom’s chopper.
And crushed it.
It was Dad’s favorite.
Dad was going to be pissed.

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Word Count and Other Odd Thoughts

I’m sitting here working on Maega (and writing a blog post, shame on me!)…

My goal is to get 1,000 words per day.  Ambitious, I’m sure, but if I have a target novel length of 70-100k, that will get me finished in 2-3 months.

Or will it?

For instance, I’m going through scene by scene right now (up to scene 8) and fleshing them out in a lot more detail.  In this post, I talked about how I wrote a narrative of the whole story, and then split the narrative into scenes.  Each scene then has probably a paragraph (4-6 sentences) of description.  This method is usually taking the scene and writing a narrative of just that scene.  Then I go back and delete the old one.

Unfortunately, that’s knocking down my word count.  I push forward 200 words, and then delete 50 of them.  That hurts.

Then to is the subject of Back Story / Setting Descriptions / Character Summaries / etc… Not to mention plotting.  The plotting I’m listing above is technically not  going into the final draft so obviously it won’t count for my overall word count… But should it count for my daily?  It took time to write them, time that hopefully is well spent as it will speed my process along.

In doing this ironing, I also wiped out an entire character.  It’s tragic, and I really don’t want to do it (He’s the former head of the exiled faction… A kindly old man that demonstrates to the reader that the exiled faction isn’t all bad).  However, he ends up adding no real content, and his scenes are somewhat boring.  I’ll keep him in the back of my mind, but for now, I think he’s gone.

Do you care about word count?  Do you think it’s a good measure?

Novel Word Count: 13,025

Developing a Story Concept

I want to take a moment and discuss my approach for writing Maega.

The original premise was a “Coming of Age – Young Adult” story.  Boring and overdone, but it was a starting point.  I had a Princess that Would Be Queen.  I started her as a spoiled brat with a self-entitlement mentality, and my story would pull the rug out from under her and let her learn how to truly be a leader for her people starting all the way at the bottom.  After coming to grips with the fact that I’m not good enough yet as a writer to properly create a spoiled brat that we want to read about, I made a few tweaks.  She got a bit more agreeable, but now what she lacked wasn’t moral character so much as time.  She is getting made queen way ahead of schedule, and she doesn’t feel ready for this.

Still wanted to pull out the rug, but now just losing her kingdom wouldn’t be enough.  Since she’s a bit reluctant, losing the monarchy (while certainly devastating on some level) may end up being a strange relief.  I needed to take more from her, and I needed to add enough so that losing the monarchy is unacceptable.  She has to fight to get it back.

This brought me around to magic.  If I made her a spell-slinger of some sort (and a frightfully powerful one at that), and then took her magic away, she’s really gotta figure things out from the ground up.  And thinking about magic… What if magic is hereditary?  What if her mother had the magics too, which makes taking her away doubly painful:  We lose the only person relate-able to this much magical power, and we now face becoming queen before we’re ready.  Sizzling.

This got me toying around with magic:  I wanted something where males and females leveraged magic in different ways.  Females were true spell-slinger wizardy types… The males I decided were item crafters… And Mom overthrew wicked male item-creator government to install an army of women spell-slingers.  Let’s say that’s how she’s losing her throne now… The exiled men have returned, and mom isn’t around to protect them.  This completely negates mom’s work.

Oh.. And one more thing.  Since I now have two halves of magic, I feel the need to add a second main character, a new POV with his own storyline.  Let’s have a male join the story to show his struggle.  For fun, let’s make him the half-brother of our Princess… Except he’s not poised to inherit anything.  For more fun, rather than sharing the queen as a mother, they share the same father… A father who happened to be part of the now exiled prior regime.    This adds all kinds of new layers to explore.  And as I pursue each of their stories, I want to show them each on a mirrored path, but where one learns and grows, the other slips into ruin.

This is the baseline of how I came up with the story.

What are your thoughts?  Too cliche?

How did you start your stories?

Novel Word Count: 12,006

Starting the Novel

I want to take a moment and talk through the process I’m using to write Maega.  It began with a premise surrounding what I wanted to do with magic (I’ll do a post with how the lore evolved).  After this premise, I thought about protagonists.  I decided there’d be two, a male and a female.  Each would have their own story that crossed over with the other continuously.

I started with two new documents, labeled Gavin and Luan (my two heroes).  Within each of these documents, I wrote a summary of their stories.  If the mood struck, I threw in a little dialogue.  Primarily however, I was doing the most raw form of “Tell” imaginable.  Although Gavin and Luan have definite overlap in their stories, I still listed each independently, gathering thoughts or impressions when they pushed to my fingers.

To do this, I leveraged Scrivener, a purchase I still have no regrets for and love.

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This ended up being about 1500-2000 words per character.  After the character outlines, I started breaking these into scenes.  Scrivener makes this easy with CTRL-SHIFT-K, which splits a document.

This gave me the 50+ scenes that are going to form the framework for my book.  Whenever Luan and Gavin had overlap, I merged those scenes.  Then I went through and assigned a POV for each scene.  The POV could be Gavin, Luan, or “Either.”  Scenes.png

I don’t have all the names of the characters yet, nor the towns or locations, but I have a general framework of what I’m going for with the story.

Next steps:

  1. Flesh out my characters with backstory and bios and settings with maps and history.
  2. Take each scene and build a larger summary of each, trying to cover some of the specific details.
  3. Anywhere during the process, if inspiration seizes me, I’ll explore it, whether that’s making a new scene, changing my plan for a scene, or even a theme for the whole novel.  To be safe, I’ll make a snapshot (backup) of the scene before I make changes.

I’ll let you know how those go!

Word Count: 10,504

Kicking it off

I labored a bit over this post.  I feel like I need more preamble before I dive straight into my story chronicles.  I should deliver some kind of haughty details or powerful and/or inspirational messaging…

If I wait for that, this isn’t happening.  So let’s talk core details.

I’ll note lots of things as I go here:

  • Strategies and approaching I’m leveraging
  • Specifics related to the technology I’m using

More than that, I also intend to include items specific to the story itself:

  • Character details
  • Plot issues I’m working on
  • Scene breakdowns and listing

In all of these, I’ll also try to list a word count.  I think showing a word count will help me feel more accountable.  We’ll see.

So, some specifics:

I’ve chosen to resurrect “Truth of Power”… Which I’m adjusting the Code name to “Maega”, which will be book 1 of “Legacy of the Aether.”  The book is a complete stand-alone, so if the story ends at 1, it’s no biggie, but part of my twisted mentality is seeing all the stories down the road that could be brought into it.

I’m starting this book over.  There are a few scenes I’m keeping, but on the whole, it’s a clean re-write.  Most of the characters remain the same, and the most basic of the architecture, but a lot of details and plot threads are receiving facelifts and overhauls.  My next post will talk to how I’m structuring.

As an additional, I think reading books on writing keeps me motivated, so I recently picked up Holly Lisle’s Create a Character Clinic.  So far, it hasn’t been a bad read, but there are a few line-items I’m dubious on.  It’s riddled with typos, and I definitely feel like it’s dramatically overpriced (@ $9.95 on the kindle!) compared to other books of its type.

Has anybody else read Holly Lisle (either fiction or non-fiction)?  Impressions?

Also, what are you working on?

Maega Wordcount: 9377

Re-Start Your Fiction

Greetings all!

So it’s been a little over 2 months since I’ve posted anything; Probably 3 since I’ve written anything.  I had a lot of lies I told myself when I stopped and why I didn’t restart:

  1. Working on the blog has taken me away from what my true passion is: Writing that story.
  2. Challenge to myself:  I’m not going to do any more blogging UNTIL I get one short story finished.
  3. I’m transitioning from fiction into a non-fiction blog on leadership and career coaching.
  4. The premise of the blog isn’t good.  I’m not even a published author… How can I make judgments on what is good or bad?
  5. I’ve got a lot going on.

I told myself all of these things, but not even the last one is a good enough reason.

So where have I been?

A few things have been going on that have pulled me away:

  1. We started the year-end process at work, so it gets really busy for me as we start having performance and compensation conversations with everybody.
  2. My wife is getting towards the end of the pregnancy, and we have a million things to do at home to get ready for another baby.
  3. Kids started school back up, which cuts means I need to get to bed an hour earlier to get them ready in the morning.
  4. I started playing some video games again
  5. Frankly, I just lost motivation.

I’ve known through all this that writing is hard work, and books don’t write themselves, and blah blah blah… But man.  It really is tough work.  While I love the stories in my head, sometimes the act of getting them on paper is a siege.

That said, I’ve rekindled myself (literally; just bought my first kindle).  I tried the non-fiction thing, and while it’s a lot easier for me to write, it only inspired a deeper need within me to get my stories out there.  I’ve got renewed focus on making sure my book gets written.

This blog may take a different form… I intend to leverage it a bit more as a mental journal as I work on one story… Forgetting everything I’ve read about marketing, and building a following, and all that good stuff.  I’m not going to get fixated on my nightly schedule, or all the other things I’d like to participate in.  I just want need to get my books done.  It’s going to happen.  The blog posts may not be as consistent as they were, but they’ll do what I originally designed the blog for:  Chronicle my journey from writer to author as I start my first fiction… And get it done.

Hope you enjoy  the journey with me.

How do you stay motivated?