Ramblings Of a Steampunk Writer

A blog about writing... occasionally mine. But, mostly just writing.

Author Interview & The Writing Process: A Mess To Some, Organized To Others

Saturday, March 23, 2013

First order of business: My author interview is up for those of you who are interested in reading it. I think its fascinating stuff, but I could be a little biased. Anyway, link is here.

Now, onto the meat of the article.

When I first started writing fanfiction years ago I was something of a lazy author. What child, teenager, isn't though? I would never make an outline, but I always had a general idea of what I was writing about at the beginning, the middle, and the end. Still, is this really laziness or are you just using a creative process? I know or have heard of a number of authors who can and do write this way; however, from those authors I've also heard frustrations bemoaned...

"I don't know what to write now..." 
"I have writer's block!" 
"Bloody hell! It's not working!" 
"Can you help me brainstorm? I just don't know where this story is going anymore..."

It's not and entirely uncommon theme. They're frustrated; who wouldn't be? Sometimes this freeform way of writing works in the start, or just works for those rare people; although, for the majority of us--insofar as I've noticed--if doesn't work.

So, what do you do? You're asking yourself, can I still be a freeform kind of writer and be a little more organized?

Let's first look at what works for others in the extreme case of organizing.

When I first explored publishing I came across a site about formatting a manuscript and synopsis; naturally, these were things I was still learning about beyond my grade school/high school definitions. The woman who wrote the web site (I'd share it if I still had the link) spoke about her form of organization and how it was very important to the writing process to establish one. Her method was very in depth; she had a room just for writing that had: a filing system, post-it notes and index cards, and a map on the wall of the city her novel (series) encompassed. Now, this was just the tip of the iceberg. She would use the index cards on a wall with tacks and then run strings wrapped around them to other index cards; all of the index cards had information about the book(s); each one connected to a different idea or how something was connected in the story. This was to help her keep track of all her ideas and story-lines over the course of her book series or book.

I found this fascinating, but couldn't see myself doing it. Still, it was an awesome idea for the more driven of writers in need of a visual aid. If you're that type of author it could work very well for you. Or, if you have a lot of books and series sometimes the notebook stack of information might need a more stretched out visual form. I can personally see myself getting to this level in the next few years when I actually have my own writing room/office/studio/study.

Is there an easier way?

There's plenty. For now, my own methods worked very well for me after reading Fiction: The Art and Craft and Getting Published by Michael Seidman. He covers a great number of topics, but outlining was one of the better sections. He urges there aren't really any rules about it, not in so many words. At the very least though, you need a rough bulleted list for the whole book; or numbered. It needs to encompass your beginning, your climax, your ending, and bits of things you consider important between all these that you want to have happen no matter what (at least when you begin to come up with your ideas). He tells the reader the list can change at anytime during the novel writing, but it's important to have because it helps keep a writer on track.

I wasn't so sure at first, but the guy has been in the publishing business since before computers became available to the public; I figured he had a point. I gave it a whirl and altered his idea to suit my own needs.

When I make an outline I do it on my computer first. Recently, I'll do it on a reference tab on Scrivenver. (A great--the best in my opinion--writing program. I'll cover it in another entry.) It's just for the whole of the book and rough at that. Then, as I start to write (in that more freeform manner) and find myself hitting blocks, I'll make outlines in a notebook for each chapter. This keep me from getting in a slump, gets me away from the computer where the slump may have a hold on me (or the computer might be giving me distractions: facebook as an example), and helps me keep continuity. It's also another freeform way of writing because it helps me brainstorm and run with ideas however I see fit through each chapter outline.

Now, my outlines are not perfect. For my novel outlines it's really loose one a bulleted list with almost no chapter distinction. On my chapter outlines I just write the chapter name at the top of the page (Chapter 25 as an example: very basic) and then write a summary of what I want to have happen.

So what should I do...?

Whatever works best. If the total freeform method is working for you, then keep it up! But, I urge you to always try new ways to write. Sometimes, you might find your writing grows and matures to something better. More importantly, you might find a way to do this process and that's better than what you're currently doing.



Interview Inspired Writing

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Recently, (actually last night) I did an author/book interview for The Steam Runner. One of the many questions I was asked about the book was what made it stand apart from other self-published books. Now, at first, this make me think of how different the book was in all it's forms, then it made me think about the message I was trying to send. However, I finally came to the conclusion--that in some part--it was about my long-standing dislike with the weak female in literature (especially romance novels). Now, Gary (my husband) came in to sat down and listen to me read back the interview with my responses. Oddly, when I came to this question he pointed that I should add more about the other reason why my book is different from other self-published books (which you can read in the interview later). With some nagging in my head, I went to bed and closed my computer

Today I got up and the question started plaguing my mind again; my answer did.

Recently, I'd watched a video on youtube about female tropes in video games. I found it thought-provoking as a gamer--a female gamer. I'd never seen it that way before. But, there you had it; women being used in a number of video games as devices or objects for the male hero's or champion's growth. Now, don't get me wrong. It doesn't bother me if someone uses it as a device. It only bothers me when there's so little on the opposite side of the fence.

That prompted me today to look at some of her other videos. One in particular about the Woman in Refrigerators trope. It just sounded odd so I had to watch it. (You can view the video here.)

But all this comes back to my response.

I grew up watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer as a kid. I liked women like Laura Croft in her movie (based on the game Tomb Raider) who weren't anymore afraid to take their clothes off and strut around naked as they day they were born as much as some men would (typically) in a movie (to fluster a female character). I liked woman who could get out a sticky situation on their own and did. I enjoyed stories where she wasn't always be saved, but also did the saving.

When I created Tes I created a character that could stand on her own, who could save herself, who didn't always need someone to back her up--male or female. Watching these videos has given me ideas for future novels in order to combat these tropes and stereotypes. It's not that they're bad; it's that there's too many of them.

We as authors, creators, artists, and visionaries need to stand up and and empower female characters we create. Not so there are stories without male characters growing from the tragedy of a female character, but so there are more stories where this is either reversed or doesn't happen at all. It's not about balance; it's about showing men, women, girls, and boys that women don't always need to saved, they don't always need to be captured, they don't always have to be the ones standing aside who can't solve the problem instead of their male counterparts. We need to give generations a viewpoint that different and shows them they can aspire to being more than a plot device for the growth another character--male or female.

We need female heroes who are the stars of their own stories and save their love interest, if they have one.

That's all I'm saying.


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Finally finished with the majority of my work for class. I've got more to do this week, but I'm not being bombarded anymore. Tomorrow I will more than likely begin working on the first chapter of the next book in The Steam Runner: The Clockwork Archer. I'm very excited. I'm supposed to see the pencil work for the cover from my artist sometime this week. We already planned out the basic design when he was in the area. I can't wait to show you guys. But, I'm not really sure how soon that will be. I'll keep you posted.

I already have an outline done. I plan on it being ten or more chapters, just like the last book was. I've also got plans to explain a little bit about why Tes had the poketwatch, for those of you have been keeping up with the book on the website, or those of you who have read the whole first book through purchasing it. For a while there I wasn't sure. I had some ideas, but now it's all concrete. It'll likely take a few books before it's all revealed. But then, I have no idea how long this series might be. Perhaps 15 books, perhaps 30. Who knows. I do know one thing I'm big on continuity. I generally hate it when you can read or watch something and tell they came up with it on the fly and it just doesn't fit, or it contradicts what the writer has already written. I can promise I won't do that; too much of a stickler over the notion.

Fanfiction is almost done entirely. I finished one work and now I've just got two left. One is a collaboration and the other is just me working on it. I have to finish them both. I dislike being sombody who doesn't finish stuff, although it has happened from time to time. (I'm working on it.)

Anyway, hope you enjoyed the blog post. Keep up with me on my online accounts like facebook and twitter. Or, you know, my website.

No Writing For The Weary

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

I am jam-packed busy this week. Bio work, Math work, and Social Problems work. Ugh. And this Saturday I have an 8 hour computer class (and next Saturday too) to meet a one-credit requirement to graduate. My brain is fried already! I also have a midterm for Bio on Sunday! I really wanted to get this new book started for The Steam Runner series and it's just not gonna happen (probably) until April. And then I'll only have a month to get it done.

>,< ARG!

New Chapter ect

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Got a chapter posted for up for The Steam Runner and the outline written for the next book. My trademark extension is up in June, so I need to get the second one done to get it all finalized and the trademark approved. Because it's for a book series they want to examples of the books--as in two different books. It's a pain, but has to be done.

The outline took me about an hour and half. It's over 2k words and completely covers each chapters in rough form on what needs to be written. I had planned to only do a rough outline like usual and chapter outlines separately, but I don't really have time for that.

As you may or may not have seen on the site, I updated my twitter as well; I'm still trying to get solid info on the con; and I released the first book on nook also. I was tempted to do it for smashwords also, but I haven't quite had the time to figure out their system with what's going on at my house.

For my fanfiction readers... I'm working on the chapter for Right Kind of Wrong, the Neji/Tenten fic. Nokito and I are nearly done, but it's still taking a while. I'm hoping to have that update out by the end of the week if all goes well. However, I do have a lot of sewing for my steampunk costume for Dragon*con. I'll do my best! As always. *grins*

Thank for reading.

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