Sunday, January 25, 2009

5,000 Words

Novel Update!

I'm seven days into my novel and already I've got 5,000 words. I've been sticking to my guns and writing at least 500 words a day. There's gonna be days ahead when I know this will be hard, so I'm sticking to it and enjoying this first wave of creativity.

I'm working in standard manuscript format now, so it's a lot easier to keep track of my publisher's word count (Thanks Sheila!) and to save me time doing it later. I'm also trying to redevelop the good habit of two spaces after a period. After being on the internet for so long, it's easy to fall back into bad habits. I still like one better, but if the industry standard is two, I'm not going to argue with them. They're the ones I'm submitting too. It will just take practice. Maybe I'll come to see I like using two spaces, hahaha.

Current Status:
Words: 5,000
Pages: 22
Chapters: 3

Along that same line, I'm currently following my favorite writer's advice:

"If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot."
(King, "On Writing", 145)

So here's what on my reading plate:

- Four Past Midnight, Stephen King
(Just finished "The Library Policeman")

- The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Book Two: The Golem's Eye, Jonathan Stroud
(Can't say enough good things about this series. Absolutely fun to read and humorous the whole way. Bartimaeus has to be one of my favorite narrators.)

- The Elements of Style, Strunk and White
(Basic writer's toolbox item. I'm enjoying revisiting this one.)

What I want to grab at the library:
- Brian Jacques
- New mystery author
- Dean Koontz
- Kingdom Keepers
- Whatever's new in the YA section
- Horrors, I might even pick up "Twilight" just to learn from its mistakes.

Here's hoping next week will be good too.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Beginning of a Novel

Codename: DreamShapers
(i.e. Until I finish and come up with a good title.)

Yes, it's true. I'm scrapping the entire rough draft that I had started in favor of a new one. (Not throwing away, just putting it aside for now.) I'm doing this for several reasons, all of which I've discussed at length with a number of writers I hold in high regard:

1.) Too much P.O.V. switching.
I'm keeping it solely between Guy and Travis now. First half of the book is Guy, second half is all Travis! (At least until the Second Draft...)

2.) Cutting out main characters.
Blythe, my dear, you're quickly fading to the background. As much as I love your story, it's getting in the way of the main theme. God forbid I get a second book with DreamShapers, then I promise I will tell yours. Otherwise you'll get your own book. :) Erin has also made it clear she does not like Lambent at all so she's fading back to supporting character. I had thought about making her a nightcrafter, but she's too grounded in the real world. Logan's also getting major rewrites, but I think I would include his P.O.V. in Book 3 if that ever happens. :)

3.) Necessary for closure.
A lot has happened recently and has proven to me that I had been writing it for the wrong reasons and with other characters in mind. I need to start over again to give my characters a chance to be themselves and not who I "want" them to be.

So bearing all of this in mind, I want to state my goals:

1.) 500 words a day.
2.) Get the rough draft done by this time next year.
3.) Do not go back and edit until it is completed.
4.) Even when I don't want to write, I will at least sit in front of the keyboard and try to.

I'm really excited about this. Everyone has been so supportive and seeing my other friends finish their novels has given me hope about mine. I also have King's On Writing nearby, so he's been a big help too. I'd like to post one quote I found so maybe someone else will get inspiration from him too:

When you write a story, you're telling yourself the story. When you rewrite, your main job is taking out all the things that are not the story. (King, 57)

One of my friends published her progress of her novel on her blog, which is actually what inspired me to first start this one. I might change formatting for these posts as time goes on, but for right now, I'll just stick with her system because it seems like a good one. And as Charles has told me, why spend time trying to figure out how to do something when someone else has already come up with an efficient way to do it?

Novel Progress:
Words: 608
Pages: 3
Chapters: 1

I also want to start up an outline soon as well. I'm getting the settings and introductary chapter out of the way first. I'm also working up a comprehensive set of "universe rules". One of my friends suggested it and it's been a huge help. Now I can keep track of the magic in the dream realm and make sure I'm not contradicting myself. It's also helped me come up with some great situations and even more ideas for story events.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Professionalism: To Write or Not to Write?

An incident happened to me on Christmas Day that's brought an old battle of mine rising to the surface of my mind.

I won't go into too much detail save to say that someone anonymously posted a handful of flames** on a fan fiction story that I posted. Normally this kind of thing wouldn't bother me, because you typically get lots of "trolls" who will come across your work and seem to get a sadistic pleasure from making you upset. But this particular person I knew, so it was surprising to say the least to see them do that.

Not wanting to cause unnecessary drama, I quickly removed the story to destroy the comments. This was done in immediate reaction to the comments posted and had I known what I know now, I wouldn't have been so quick to remove it. A friend informed me about some new features I wasn't aware of. Apparently you can get rid of anonymous reviews without deleting the story in the process. It used to be (some 5 years ago) that wasn't possible, but the site itself where I post has seen many upgrades in their technology.

Bearing that in mind, to the subject at hand.

Saying the word "fan" tends to drive up a bunch of images in a person's mind - watch the "Nerd" on Robot Chicken and you'll see what I mean. And add on the "fiction" part and you can say goodbye to any hope of gaining any shred of dignity from the average Joe on the street. Or is that really true?

Granted most stories that fans write are not very good. I don't need to explain how easy it is for fans to come together on the Internet. People usually tend to flock to others who share common interests. Based on the growing availability of the Internet, you have a mix of ages, grade levels, class status and culture. So, of course, there are going to be people who have not had the opportunity to take writing classes or for some reason or another, just aren't skilled at writing. But even Ernest Hemingway and Mark Twain had to work to become skilled in their trade and they started off with the alphabet just like everyone else.

On the other side of the coin you have people who write fan fiction that are superbly good - and who some fans would argue are just as good as what's on TV or better. Considering what makes it to TV and film these days, it's probably a correct assumption. There's also the tiny percentage of people who get paid to write what fans typically refer to as "canon" stories. I can point directly to the immensely popular Star Trek and Star Wars franchises which have many series of novels dedicated to furthering the main story lines. They must be selling well because they continue to make more. So what do you call that then? It certainly isn't the same fan fiction you see posted on the web, but it's not exactly well known either. You also have the artists and writers who (due to the retro comeback of many old movies) get to work on projects they had once enjoyed merely as fans. Then suddenly they become "official".

So probably at this point you're nodding (or shaking) your head now going, "Okay Joanie, I see what you're saying here, but what's the big deal you mentioned earlier?"

Well, bearing what I said in mind, for a person to become professional is it necessary to cut all ties to what they enjoy, which includes the creation of art and writing that is primarily of homage or in honor of something they enjoy?

At first my gut reaction was, "Heck yes! Get rid of everything! Leave no trace!" A part of me wants to pander to that kind of fear, thinking that if I try to "act professional" that people will respect me. If I get rid of everything no one will be able to point and label me as "rabid fan girl". They'll have nothing to point at.

I've discovered something though, and mainly it was while wandering around (of all places!) at Comic Con '08. Meeting artists and taking a peek at what they were drawing surprised me. I saw Marvel artists sketching D.C. characters, I saw animators doodling video game characters. I was confused. But these guys are "professionals" I said to myself. Why are they doing fan art? But that's when I figured it out.

They were drawing on their free time, doing whatever they wanted. But when it came to looking at their professional portfolios and prints, it was all their original or hired work. It was separated. Even when I was working at Disney Interactive and got a peek at some of what was going on the creative side of things, I saw the same thing. A clear line of separation. But there was a difference between how they were handling it and how I had been. They weren't afraid. They were confident about both halves of their creativity.

In animation writing, you also have the "spec" script, where you submit a script written for another show already in production to showcase your skills to take existing characters and create new material for them. Wait a minute. Sounds familiar n'est-ce pas? Good fan-fiction accomplishes the same task, keeping the spirit of the show going with new adventures for the cast.

I'd like to know how other people feel about this. Because this is what I've decided:

Creation in itself is a gift. Whether it's something brand new or a new version of something already out there. If someone finds joy in it, it was worth the creation process. There is a difference between your personal work and your professional work. But that doesn't mean that because you choose to be professional that your personal tastes have to fly out the window. Neither does it mean you go parading it around or stamping your fandom on your resume. It's your personal taste.

That being said, what about posting fan art and fan-fiction? Well, I see the pros doing it constantly on their blogs and places where they interact on the internet. No they usually don't include it in their portfolios unless it's an outstanding piece of work that showcases their skills. That's the answer for you right there. Every professional has the ability to look at a piece of their work and determine if it would be a good addition to their portfolio. If not, it can still be posted somewhere if they so choose to share it.

As for me? Well I took down my DeviantArt work, though more so because I didn't care for what was on there anymore. I still have all of it on my computer so I can look back at it a few years down the line. But right now I'm back to writing full-time again. It's what I love and it's what I do given a keyboard and a blank computer screen. For a long time, I had forgotten the sheer joy that comes with writing. The ability to start with the white space of a new document and to fill it with imagination and adventure.

I will continue to post on and I won't hide who I am on there, because it brings me happiness in more ways than I can describe. But I won't go advertisting it here. I'm writing a novel after all and that's what I'd really like to promote. Because this blog is special. It is professional. It is separated. And that's how it will stay.

- /^>

** For those of you not familiar with writing and forums on the Internet, when someone "flames" you it basically means they posted an offensive statement about the person they were attempting to critique, focusing on personal attacks instead of objective help.