‘In the Shadows’ is dead, long live ‘Fabrica Scribendi’

Just in case anybody wondered, I have re-located my blog (with new shiny title and username) over to blogspot at http://fabricascribendi.blogspot.com/ Because? Well, honestly, because wordpress started to annoy me and it was time for a blog make over. And because I say so.

Anyway, I’d love if you stopped by the new blog. Hope to see you there!

Cheers

~dystophil

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Outline or just wing it?

I actually got into a discussion with fantasy author Brandon Sanderson about this during a writing convention last year. He pointed out the differences between what he called the “planners” and “discoverers” as far as writing is concerned. Planners in this case religiously following an outline they had made for their books, outlines usually being very meticulous and detailed with a clear concept of opening, middle of the book and ending. Unlike planners, discoverers are the kind of writers that like to just go by a general idea and watch the story unfold as they wrote it.
Back then I found myself very strongly agreeing with Sanderson’s middle approach of this: I had a general idea that I was going by, but also had kind of an outline, one however that lacked both an ending and most of the details, thus resulting in me mostly just winging it.
Now I’m not so sure that this is the right, or maybe just not the appropriate approach to this novel anymore. Maybe this has to do with the fact that by now I’ve been working on this for over three years and the book has grown from a “general idea” to “scraps that just featured the wrong main character” to “a partly horrible, partly readable first draft” to “some more, much better yet still mediocre, rewritten scraps”.
Anyway, three years later I felt like it was finally time to put this whole thing that always went by the work title Light into an outline. And something interesting and fabulous happened! Structure! Logic! A well-rounded plot! Wooo!
The bottom line is that in this case going at my book by stripping it to its studs, isolating separate scenes and deciding what to keep and what to can, resulted in an entirely new book. Yes, what was originally conceived to become a trilogy, or two books at best, with a very vague idea of how in hell this whole mess is going to end, could be compressed into one single volume! Hurrah! Finally I have what this book was lacking all along – an ending, an a complex and dense but coherent (in my opinion at least) plot – yay! Now it just needs to be written. And then…well, then we’ll see.

As far as the outline is concerned I discovered the virtue of COLOR CODING and POST-IT NOTES! Seriously, they are a writer’s best friend ๐Ÿ™‚
Since I have two first-person characters whose narrative as well as numerous scenes containing sex and violence, I decided to give each of these characters and elements a distinct color. Green for Ares, yellow for Damian, orange for violence and pink for sex to make sure they’re more or less equally distributed throughout the novel, and to get a closer look at the plot. After a couple of edits I also added content notes, and the finished product is now hanging in my apartment making me all kinds of happy.

Outline Board version 1.0

Outline Board version 1.0

Outline Board v.3.0 final version

And we are writing the Week of Doom.

Which sadly means no writing time for me due to office madness and homework insanity. Unfortunately I have two very impatient protagonists clamoring for attention inside my head (which probably isn’t very conductive to getting rid of this migraine that I’ve been having for the last few days >:-( )

But I’m getting there. I’m counting 2 more papers to write, 3 more exams to take, 5 more oral reports to give and I’ll be free of school for a few months. Which will hopefully bring me closer to my goal for this year: to finish the second draft ofย  Light and start polishing it so I might eventually get somewhere with it.

Here’s to optimism ๐Ÿ˜€

Should I really write this or would that be too much conflict for my novel?

The answer is easy: Always go for the conflict. The more conflict, the better the novel. And no, of course it’s not that easy.

I just happened to talk to my best friend about the matter of adding enough conflict to your plot to keep your novel going and your readers on the hook. In my opinion, you really can’t have too much conflict in your book, because, let’s face it, long-winded and drawn-out introspective scenes are ultimately boring.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that there shouldn’t be any introspective moments and that your entire novel should consist of gunfights etc. because not all conflict is conveyed by action scenes or outright character confrontation. What I’m talking about are all those conflicts that characters go through. Conflicts about relationships, conflicts about the political system, conflicts about doing what needs to be done or having to make a difficult choice.

When it comes down to it, there really shouldn’t be any scene that is not in some way or another driven by conflict, whether that’s an exterior conflict such as a protagonist/antagonist confrontation or an interior one such as conflicted emotions. That’s what drives the novel and sure, you will probably have those little moments when the plot seems to ease down a little and makes room for a more contemplative scene, but those shouldn’t ever take over your plot.

Nathan Bransford just wrote a great article about his attitude on conflict and I found it to be great food for thought as conflict has been a major thing occupying my mind lately and I noticed that you really can’t have enough of it.

As long as you keep track of all the little plot threads that will doubtlessly arise from this and are able to tie them off that is. And if it you’re writing a series and it will in fact take another book to tie them off that’s fine, as long as you don’tย  get your readers and eventually yourself lost in a wild tangle of loose plot yarn ๐Ÿ˜‰

Title woes… (again)

Seriously, I keep losing track how often I’ve been whining about this little dilemma of mine before, but the fact is this: while “Light” is a perfectly fine working title for my novel (and let’s face it after three years of working on it, it pretty much stuck).

Still, I’m looking for something more unique, something that stands out, something sophisticated that describes the novel as a whole.

So far I’ve failed. Other than me really liking “Deviant” as a simple mono-verbal title that is, but I’m refraining from using it just as it is because the sexual connotation. Even though I may have the occasional graphic scene I am still writing SFF, so…

*grumbles and throws something at random*

Anyway, to everyone who’s read the second draft (the first one really doesn’t kind in so many ways :p) or knows about the general outline or has read excerpts or has been following the blog, or, or, or…(I’m almost to the point of accepting random suggestions :p) Any ideas or suggestions would be very welcome ๐Ÿ˜‰

Love,

Nym

Yes, we’re having an In Character Moment (TM)!

This was texted to me by a friend last night:

“I can’t decide if you’re calling me small, or if I should laugh at the idea of being compared to a fictional character.”

Yes, sometimes I take my characters a little to serious, but what can I say? That’s what you get when you’re good friends with a writer…

Also, telling people you’ll quote them in a story and them not taking you serious may result in getting you hilarious look.

“What, you were serious?”
“Dead serious.”

Just a rule of thumb: The Writer Sees and Hears Everything. We’re like the Stasi or CIA just that we don’t get you into jail, but into plot instead ๐Ÿ˜‰

You lose 150 Health and 200 Durability

Yes, I’ve started playing WoW again. It’s been my newest addiction since Spring break two weeks ago in fact. Anyway, aside from the apparent geek factor that’s beside the point…I think (do I?)

Anyway, I’m down with some sort of bug that involves migraines and being dizzy as hell. Thus, my prognosis is that no writing is getting done today. Too bad for Ares and Damian I guess. Sorry, guys!