Spinners & Storians

I’m definitely in the middle of the story. I could feel it today while I was writing—the frustration of trying to move the pace forward without doing a huge infodump, the need to get critical concepts onto the page in an entertaining fashion.

I’m not sure I succeeded, but I got 648 words of something down, and I did manage to leave the story with a nice little surprise from Fred—something I’d intended for two scenes back, and then ended up having to cut.

I’ll know more about how much I like what I got tomorrow when I come back to it.

Meanwhile, it did feel good to get back to fiction, even if the early going was choppy.

So. How about you and your words?

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About the author: Novelist, writing teacher, on a mission to reprint my out-of-print books and self-publish my new ones.

19 comments… add one
  • DD Holley Jan 1, 2010 @ 14:23

    Hmmm. Being as this is my first shot at fiction, I thinjk I’ll stick with the traditional way. I have lots of characters right now, multiple storylines and lots of conflict. I think I am going to go ahead and finish writing this one, then go back and take a good look at it. Perhaps I will find places I can add to description or setting without burying the reader, and perhaps I will end up cutting it down a little and see about the short story angle you mentioned. Thanks so much for your opinion. I appreciate it.

  • DD Holley Jan 1, 2010 @ 13:52

    I was afraid that was going to be the feedback I got. Thanks. I have considered another possibility. I have another book in mind. This book takes the main character from my current story and makes her a minor character a few years down the road. Her best friend, one of the minor characters in the current book, becomes the major character in the next one. It isn’t a sequel, but a stand alone that shares the characters. So you could say book 1 gives the background on the characters for book two and how they get where they are. The option I considered was simply writing both books and publishing them together, as a single book. The two stories happen consecutively, so I was thinking that it might work. What do you think of that idea? Honestly.

    • The Pencil Neck Jan 1, 2010 @ 14:09

      (First off, let me add the caveat that everything I’m about to say is just my opinion and I’m just some guy on the internet so take it with a huge grain of salt.)

      But that’s what I was saying about adding more storylines and more characters.

      I think the main thing standing in your way is that it’s consecutive, one story and then the other. So you’ll have a Part I with one character and her story and then a Part II with another character and her story. In a book, you normally want an event at the beginning that creates story questions that are answered at the end. In this case, you’re probably going to have a story question for each Part. So, I’d expect a lack of unity and a feeling that things just got jammed together to fill space.

      BUT… this is writing and it’s your book. People have written successful books that have multiple sections/stories like that. If you’re creative, you can make it work.

  • DD Holley Jan 1, 2010 @ 3:11

    I am not really sure how this goes, and this is my first posting here. So with word counts in mind, this works nicely. I started the book I am writing now (my second book) on 22 December. That day I did about 500 words, none of it on the actual story though. I wrote the intial blurb (like the one that would go on the back of the book, you can find it on my blog), and the skeletal story board in bullet format. I am finding that I am an over organized writer. (A little OCD there). I have my skeleton on Excel, and I put Xs out to the side of each bullet once I have covered it in the story. At the top of that page, I have a formula set up that counts my total number of bullets and my total number of Xs and gives me the percentage of how far I am through my story. On another page in that same file, I have each day listed down column A, the day number (Day 1 or Day 2) in column B, column C is a formula that I will explain momentarily, and column D is my total word count. When I finish writing for the day, I input my total word count from the word document into column D. That’s when column C kicks in. It automatically subtracts my total word count for today from the total word count for yesterday and spits out how many words I have written today. Here’s where the OCD gets really bad…lol That information automatically updates a bar graph I have set up right next to those columns, so I can see my trends. When I work better, when I can’t work and that sort of thing. At the top of this page I have the total word count goal for the book. In this case, it’s 100,000 words. Then my current word count and yet another formula that tells me what percentage of the word count is completed. I have three other pages in that same file, but I won’t bore you with it unless someone asks me about it directly. But I digress. As I said, I started this book on 22 Dec. I set my daily goal at 1,000 GOOD words a day. My numbers look like this:

    22 dec 500 (these don’t count towards the total count)
    23 dec 2,590
    24 dec 1,077
    25 dec 362 (no such thing as a failure on this day)
    26 dec 1,063
    27 dec 1,760
    28 dec 979 (my only failure day)
    29 dec 1,456
    30 dec 1,148
    31 dec 1,627

    My goal is easy for me to hit and I know I can write more, but I don’t, I am interested in the quality of the words, not just the number. That puts my book at exactly 12,070 words right now. So here comes the problem. According to my story board, I am already 52% done with the story. But according to the word counts, I am only 12% done with the book. I see this as a major issue, but I can’t seem to find out how to fix it. I am afraid if I put too much more descriptions and thoughts and action in there, I might bury the reader in useless information. So now what?

    Thanks for listening to me rant, I needed to get that off my chest.
    DD

    • The Pencil Neck Jan 1, 2010 @ 13:35

      If you’re at 12,000 words and you’re 52% done with the story, then you’ve probably over-estimated how much meat there is in this story. If you finish at 24,000 words, then you’ve basically got a short story. You might want to consider seeing how many words you can REMOVE during revision and see where you can sell it.

      If you’re dead set on expanding this to 100,000 words, then you’ve got to add more conflict. You can look at adding complications or more story lines or more characters. Look to see if there are any places where you’ve narrated things that you can flesh out and create scenes for.

      But, personally, I’d look at turning this into a short story.

      Oh, and right now, this WABWM thing has been quiet. Up until late December, we were rocking with everyone posting their daily progress. Then Holly took a break for Christmas and it really hasn’t gotten going again. Keep an eye on this and see if it starts back up again.

  • hannabelle Dec 31, 2009 @ 16:05

    No words. I plan to go back to square one and do better planning on either Bx1 or Bx2. I am 12 lessons into HTTS and I see how the specific planning works now. (I am one of those that need to see the big pciture before I can do the details, by lesson 12, I am seeing half the big picture.)

    What do you do when you have more than one story pressuring you? I was thinking to make a nice box for each one, and jot down ideas as they come and toss them in, but keep one story in primary focus. Maybe my muse needs to see the other boxes to see I am respecting those ideas too.

    Any ideas will be appreciated.

    Holly, I am looking forward to your New Year’s post.

  • BeccaBooG Dec 30, 2009 @ 20:01

    Man, I really wanna know what the heck Fred does! You’ve mentioned it before and I am hooked already because of the story (I’m sure you know that) but the dog is too funny.

  • Lisa R Dec 30, 2009 @ 11:36

    1556 words. I am getting to the huge climax and am a bit concerned. My candy bar scenes always seem to fall short of what I want them to be. I will finish this chapter by the new year which will hopefully also finish the book!

    • Lisa R Dec 31, 2009 @ 11:06

      I got another 1548 words written. The chapter is finished but best of all the candy bar scene went beautifully. Now I have a short wrap up to finish the novel. I will finish by the end of the day!!!

      • The Pencil Neck Dec 31, 2009 @ 11:35

        Rock on!

  • Michelle Dec 30, 2009 @ 0:13

    578 for me tonight. Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday break!

  • Nancy Dec 29, 2009 @ 17:10

    No new words, but lots of revision going on. Glad to see that everyone is making progress.

  • Greg Dec 29, 2009 @ 14:30

    No words to report, as I’ve decided to use this haphazard xmas-new year week to sort out RFW so i can get back into it in the new year. I’m also trying to compensate for increased food and drink with increased exercise!
    Hopefully the revision of D&DI scenes will continue, too, and I’ll also be figuring out what I need to get done each week/day to get my projects done by my self-imposed 30th birthday deadline in April.
    So words will wait until 4th Jan.

  • Phil Dec 29, 2009 @ 12:27

    I am writing middle also, introducing a main character for the first time, and like you say, so difficult to not do an info-dump. I have done so much with developing Sarah’s character, I feel I know her. It’s first draft, I just want to start somewhere.
    I love these links like TimK has – not that I have my own web page yet, but very cool. Tim, your books look interesting to me.

    pk

  • Khena Dec 29, 2009 @ 8:20

    I didn’t get any writing done, but I finished lesson 3 of HTRYN and started lesson 4, so I got a goodly bit accomplished. I hate being behind, and plan to rectify that as soon as possible. I haven’t written any new words yet, but I plan to start with 500 words a day on the first. I’m giving myself a yearly goal for writing this year, and I hope that will help keep me on track better this year. I am rather proud of myself though, I managed to write consistantly for the most part since I jumped back on the wagon in June, and I can see how much my writing has improved. And thank you Holly, because this blog has helped me stay on track a great deal =)

  • The Pencil Neck Dec 29, 2009 @ 2:27

    1002 words.

    Our Princess has been working 20 hour shifts for a week piloting the ship (The Humility) under escort (a pirate ship named Rain Bringer). She’s tired and she’s looking for a way out. A Confederacy cruiser appears on the horizon and the escort pilot (with the Pirate’s usual lax attention and undisciplined style) doesn’t even see it. The cruiser opens up contact and strangely enough, the Confed comm officer is wearing an olive green uniform and is blond haired and blue eyed… just like the “rebels” that supported the person who usurped her throne. The Confed commander watches as The Humility darts away from its escort and receives a message from The Princess about how she’s locked herself onto the bridge and how she’s been captured by pirates, etc. The Confed ship moves in to protect the Humility as The Rain Bringer brings up its shields and goes weapons hot.

    Been a rough day. I got hardly any work done. My internet was down from about 11:30 last night to about noonish today. I can’t work without the internet. Then the plumber showed up to fix a nasty leak we developed when we had guests and I had to help with that.

    BTW, I’m reading King’s On Writing, and I’m going to shoot for his suggested 1000 words a day for the foreseeable future… except maybe next week when I’m in LA.

    • The Pencil Neck Dec 29, 2009 @ 2:28

      Oh, and I usually have things plotted out for about a week in advance of my writing. In my last writing session, I deviated from my outline and I’m basically pantsing it right now.

  • Steff Metal Dec 29, 2009 @ 1:40

    Oh, Holly, its good to hear! Today has been fantastic. I got hooked on this writing program called Ommwriter (only for Mac at the moment). I’ve never used writing software before, but this one … it’s designed to take away all the distractions and calm you so you can enjoy writing. I’ve written about 5000 words today, in a couple of hours. GOOD words too. I love this feeling.

  • TimK Dec 29, 2009 @ 1:07

    I think we’ve all been there. Sometimes, I think it would be useful to look over a seasoned author’s shoulder (like yours), over the course of a novel + its revision.

    -TimK

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