Oh, My Stars: I Have A Plot

Ordinarily I walk through life being informed, fairly regularly, that I have lost the plot.

I accept this but politely correct them by pointing out that one cannot lose something one never had in the first place.

But, alas! (Side note: I’d love to wander about in public just shouting, “Alas!” at random moments, without actually following it up with anything else.). Last night, I gave my first thought in quite a while to my novel and sat down with my Wunderlist app to try to hash out the plot from start to finish.

And I did it.

No pauses. No regarding a gap awkwardly and muttering, “I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.” I actually wrote my entire plot out, in its entirety. Like, entirely. All of it.

Not to mention, I’ve written a good chunk of it in rough – more than I thought I had – so I can now hash out a whole first draft without any more hiccoughs.

So happy!


I Am A Very Bad Blogger

I can do little but apologise for all this tardiness. I have been highly neglectful, but I’ve been rather busy in other areas of life.

I have two more articles up now, and many more are pending. Check them out if you have time (one was an Easter What’s On and the other is about beauty tips) because we’re after as many views, Likes and Tweets as we can get!

In other news, I am putting together two new blogs. One is just an overall portfolio of my work, because a blog seems like the best way to show folks what I’m producing. The other… Well, the other you’ll find out about when I’m ready to start posting. I’ve got a couple of articles written for it, but I want a healthy backlog for those weeks when life just gets in the way. Suffice to say, I hope all of you enjoy reading it when it goes up.

Other than that, I’m also attending a new writing group. It’s not a group to write with so much as a group to share writing experiences, and so far it’s been a brilliant networking experience. It’s nice to have something advisory rather than something creative, too – I have enough on my plate at the moment without too many extra stories!

What else has happened? I’m starting to write something for the Harry Bowler writing competition. It’s for first time writers in the UK, and the objective is to send them the first chapter of a novel. Doesn’t matter what the novel’s about. There’s only one condition: it has to be set in a specific city. Any city, I assume, as long as it actually exists in the real world. Naturally my first choice is Sheffield. I lived there for three years, after all, and know it fairly well. The only question is, what will the plot be?

It means putting my other novel on the back burner for a time, but I reckon it’s worth it for the chance of being published.

Speaking of the back burner, I’ve also put my current novel down in favour of writing a review for work. I won’t tell you what I’m reviewing yet, but I’ll let you know when it’s on the website. The book I’ve been reading, though, is another of my dusty paperbacks: Out by Natsuo Kirino. It’s a pretty sweet read so far, but we’ll see how it pans out when I get half a chance to read the rest of it.

Wow, I had more to say than I thought! Better get a move on, though: this article it’s going to write itself!

 


Published.

Hi everyone. Sorry for taking so long to update this week. I was just waiting to show you this.

All the smiles for Laura.

I. Am. Published.


Happy Birthday, Blog!

Wow!  This blog is now officially one year old.

I shall launch balloons, eat birthday cake on its behalf and consider how utterly terrifying that thought is.  Time passes much too quickly these days.  I guess now would be a good time to reflect on what progress has been made since those early days…

LIFE LESSONS

 JUST WRITE

It may well be hard to appreciate this if you aren’t me, but it was invaluable for me to get out of a certain way of thinking and working.  I used to be obsessed with perfection and, as a result, was never able to finish anything.  I used to look over a story I’d had in mind for several years, unable to move forward because I’d planned too much and for too long.  Since then, I’ve changed my ways.  I’ve moved on to a fresh new project and write in a relaxed, carefree way, just writing scenes to have a draft of them finished rather than scrapping anything which isn’t solid gold.  This has made writing far more fun – and far more productive.

READ MORE

It helps to improve your writing style.

THIS IS IT

This is the route I want to take in life.  No matter what I need to do to get by financially, I never want to stop writing and I ultimately want to be published.  Preferably a lot, and preferably in exchange for money.

I AM GOOD AT THIS

I’m not going to sit here and brag, but equally I’m not going to wring my hands and shrug off my abilities as average anymore.  I’m confident now: I know I am good at this.  Popular opinion, some of it professional, has confirmed that I have talent.  I know I have the potential to make this work and if I keep my ears and eyes open for opportunities, as well as keep my mind open to criticism, I will be published.  It’s just a matter of time, patience and commitment.

WHERE AM I NOW?

My novel is 20,000 words of first draft, which I started in December.  Most of those words actually constitute the bare bones of scenes, which won’t be too hard to fill out, and I’ve worked out most of the plot points.

I have several completed short stories, one of which won a little competition, and two other novels on the backburner.  And I’m writing for a magazine, building my article portfolio, and therefore hopefully about to have my name in print one way or another.

Basically, compared with where I was in my ambitions a year ago, an administrator without a single completed piece to her name, I’ve actually made quite a bit of progress.

SO WHAT NOW?

Looking back, the past year has involved an awful lot of stopping and starting – my switch to a different novel, for a start off.  As such, even though I’m proud of my progress, I need to pick up the pace this year.

GOALS THIS YEAR

I’d like to start entering some short story competitions, especially ones which provide feedback on entries.

Secondly, I’d like to set up a new blog with an emphasis on entertainment.  I’d like to start showcasing some of my work on the web.Third, I want to get published, both in fiction and non-fiction if possible.

Finally, I still want to finish my novel by the end of this year and start sending it off to publishers.

It’s a long slug to get where I’d like to be, but I’m up for the challenge.  Watch this space.


The Verdict…

Time to find out how well I did reaching my target.

And now to explain why I have to work this out.  Well, you see, as soon as I went away for the weekend, I realised I would be writing the fruits of this challenge on Evernote and that Evernote doesn’t have a word count function.

Immediately upon discovering this, however, I realised it was actually quite a blessing.  It made me paranoid that I might overestimate how much I was writing, and therefore not hit my 5,000 word target because I was prematurely resting on my laurels.  The result of this was a huge case of pre-emptive overcompensation to make sure I wouldn’t fall short.

So, what’s the verdict?

At this point, I’d like you to imagine a supercomputer making what the ’70s understood to be computer calculation noises.  For those who are struggling, it sounds like the noise wind chimes would make if they bleeped rather than chimed.  Wind bleeps, you might say.

Anyway, here it is!  Computer says…

It's... not actually over 9,000...

7773 words.  In eight days.

Wow.  I may not have reached 10,000, but I actually doubled my normal work output.  In fact, I achieved my 5,000 word target in just one weekend, look!  And, to be fair, you can only produce so much twaddle before you have to stop and organise the twaddle you already have.  Then you can work out where you are twaddle-deficient and fill in the gaps with adequate levels of additional twaddle.

So, now it’s time to put all this stuff in the folder and start thinking about what needs doing next.

And award myself the sapphire relic, of course.  Nice job, methinks.

Also, determined to read May Contain Nuts before March arrived, I blasted through several chapters last night and am proud to say I have completed it.  Another novel down!  Now to find a shiny new book to read…


Five Triple-Oh

I just spent all week slamming plot points onto PowerPoint slides and reshuffling them, attempting to climb out of the plot-related rut in which I’ve found myself.  As a result, I am glad to say the second and final acts have finally fallen right into place.

The first act is still very fuzzy and uncertain, but I doubt it’s going to right itself – or, indeed, write itself – with any amount of further planning at this stage.  It’s reached that point where you’ve just got to scribble out reams of total garbage, then empty the bin and assess which bits can be used for junk modelling.

Therefore, this week I have decided: it is time for a big push forwards.  Over the course of the coming week, I am going to write at least 5,000 words.

That is a fairly high word count for me.  Anyone who recalls some of my old graphs will recall that I tend to write around 600 words per day.  On a roll I’ll pass the 1,000 mark but, at the end of the day, rolling isn’t going to win me the hundred metre sprint.  (I am pleased with that quote.)  I’ll have to be disciplined to make this work, especially with my shockingly limited progress lately.

Still, if I hit the ground running, 5,000 might not be quite enough.  It seems wrong not to drive myself to reach for the stars and see how far I get.  You don’t know if you don’t try, right?

To tackle this issue, I’ll take a leaf from the proverbial book of fellow blogger Jim Franklin, who set out his 2013 year targets as Xbox achievements to complete.  Instead of these, however, I think I’ll give this task a Crash Team Racing theme.

For anyone too young, old or deprived of life meaning to know what I’m talking about, I am referencing the time trial relic races on the Crash Bandicoot racing game, which still stands as one of the best games ever made.  If you haven’t played it, I demand that you buy it for your Playstation 3.  And if you don’t own a Playstation 3, I demand that you buy a Playstation 3 exclusively to have bestowed upon you the honour of having played this game.  Even Chandler and Joey played this game – true story.  So:

 Sapphire relic:
5,000 words

Gold relic:
10,000 words

Platinum relic:
15,000 words

On your marks.  Get set.  Go.


Sleep in Heavenly Peace, Christmas Story

Good news!

I finished the Christmas Carol story! Somehow it totals over three thousand words, blurted out onto my iPad at various opportune moments and filled in where necessary two days before I took it to the group today. I’m sure I’ll pick up problems once I’ve given it a bit of space, but I’m actually very proud of what I’ve done.

I can hardly believe it was completed so sporadically over the course of this month. Most of the time I just glared at it fruitlessly. It feels like I only granted it my full undivided attention five or six times. Yet, in spite of all of this, it fits together cohesively. I love my characters, I love the way the plot unfolds and that all the things I wanted to include were included. A job well done. It even won the Christmas competition!

Having said that, though… I’m free. Free, I tells ya! Free to write other fiction, including my novel. The Christmas story was hanging over me so much I didn’t dare to so much as open the file. Time to get back to my main focus this year.

Watch this space.


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