Tuesday, July 29, 2008


I work at a library which allows me, not only a lot of books to borrow, but first hand picks at books we must get rid of. I know this may come as a shock to avid library patrons, but we can't possibly keep all books that are ordered for us and with time, some of those books are removed from our shelves and sent away (to where, I do not ask). If I'm lucky, I get to snag a few interesting titles for my own library at home.
As a reader, you probably have a large personal library of your favorite books. I've found that not only do I have a wealth of my favorites but also a lot of books I've acquired that I hope to read "someday".
I keep these books to inspire me, as helpful sources for research and to continue my personal world of gluttony I've established since my early childhood.
As a writer, you must keep reading, no matter what. This helps you stay fresh, gives you new ideas, and continually reminds you of appropriate grammar and spelling. By reading, you make yourself into a better writer; more informed about the craft, more informed about history/science/etc., and more inspired to try new styles or to venture into new worlds.
Be you a reader or a writer, I say keep your library full and your mind open. Even if you don't want to be a glutton like me, you can always get a free library card and utilize their shelves as your personal collection.
And, it has been suggested, that if you write fantasy, read (at least on occasion) outside of that genre. I like to read historical fiction and non-fiction, I don't know if it helps with my writing of fantasy, but I know it can't hurt.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Fantasy Pick for July 2008

Discworld Novels by Terry Pratchett are a great, fun read if you like humor and fantasy.

I came across the first one years ago:

(The Colo(u)r of Magic)

and I loved it.

The second book

(The Light Fantastic)

was equally enjoyable, but after that the series begins to follow new characters who may reappear from time to time throughout the 36 book (and still growing) series. Now, being a slow reader, I only got through the first five books, but the entire series looks promising. If you're looking for a good fantasy read, check these books out.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

My Writing Process Pt. 3 Edits (and the end of this post series.)

I tend to write 95% of my novels by hand. My first edits occur when I type up all of my handwritten work. This group of edits is pretty basic, since I find typing to be so tedious.

The second batch of edits occurs one chapter at a time. I will print a single chapter and edit it as thoroughly as possible. At this time, I usually find places that need more description, more back story, better character development etc. and I will write out more (by hand) to add to the story. Later, I will type up my edits and my new additions into my word document.

As a third (and hopefully final) edit, I will look at the novel as a whole, to ensure fluidity and lack of plot holes. At this point, I'll have a clear vision of whether or not the story is complete or needs work, it is in this stage that I also like to share my story with chosen readers who give me helpful feedback - although they tend to steal the work from me to read at the first or second stage of edits and then I get the wonderful chance of being humiliated at my underdeveloped stories/characters/writing/self.

Usually at the third stage of edits, I feel like the novel is a strong as it will get and as long as it will get (damn you low word counts!), but sometimes I have to go back to stage two edits again to fill holes and make the story complete. Overall, edits tend to take up the most of my time as a writer because they are grueling but oh so necessary.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

My Writing Process Pt. 2 Writing Time

It's another long one, so please pull up a chair...

After ever major plot point and character is to some extent figured out in my mind and roughly outlined on paper, I finally sit down and begin writing the story.

I tend to find that the hardest thing to do as a writer is write. I don’t believe this means I shouldn’t be a writer, I think it just means I’m human – not a time traveling robot with super cool disco moves as previously believed. Story ideas are pretty easy to come by, but finding the time/ drive to chain myself to a notebook for more than 20 minutes can be hard to come by.

Last year, I took three or so months off from writing my last novel. This was partially due to my inability to just sit down and to the work and primarily due to the fact that I didn’t like where my story was going, and I didn’t know how to fix it. Ultimately, I momentarily gave up. When I finally decided that I wanted to finish the book, I was able to find the time and the drive to do the work.

Recently, I realized that my last book, which was barely up to novel length, took me three years to write. Now I was going to school full time and working 20 hours a week, so hopefully future books don’t take as long, but I freaked out at the prospect of only writing three books over the span of ten years. I decided things had to change.

Authors always tell you to write everyday. I didn’t agree with this for years but now I concede and agree that it is a good plan for any writer to adopt. In my attempt to write daily I did two things. 1). I gave myself a daily goal (only two handwritten pages which I proudly surpass on most days) AND 2). I gave myself a monthly goal (25 writing days a month). In this month, with its 31 days, I have 6 freebie days – days when I don’t have to write. I like to keep track of my writing days on my calendar. I put a star on each day that I do write and keep tally marks on the top of the calendar. This way I can see my progress through the month.

So far, I am happy with my plan and each day I write I feel good about my progress. Keeping a writing plan helps me ensure that my novel is being written and I don’t anticipate/worry that this new book will take me three years to complete

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

My Writing Process. Pt.1

I know the title of this post suggests this subject will be merely egotistical, but knowing my writing process may be interesting and/or helpful.

For readers of fantasy, this may be interesting because your favorite authors may have similar processes when creating another amazing novel.

For writers, this may show you a way to conquer the ‘I don’t want to’s, to see a project to its fruition and to edit your work into (nearly) perfection.

To begin, let’s examine the first part of writing: the idea.
An original thought is hard to find, or at least I see my initial ideas in so many places. Just to vent: my current book awaiting some publisher, has a main theme of two people being stuck in one mind, Stephenie Meyer’s recent book The Host, also has this main concept. With these basic concepts are quite similar but they diverge severely after that point. Meyer’s book is a contemporary science fiction piece about an alien and a love triangle. My book is a fantasy piece about magic set in a medieval like world. I know what you’re thinking “Her book sounds better” and maybe it is, but my point is that no matter if you start with a similar idea, our own unique outlooks and imaginations allow us to take identical ideas to different places, establishing new novels out of similar concepts. Begin with a basic idea: give it plot, characters and conflict that take it someplace only you could create.

When I first get an idea, I roll it around in my head. Like a piece of clay, I warm it in my hands and shape it. Depending on how tough the clay is (how hard it is to mold your concept into something usable); it may take you a while to begin the shaping process. Depending on the complexity of my initial concept (sometimes it’s only a scene in a dream that I want to build on, sometimes I have 6 characters but don’t know what to do with them) this molding process can take a long time. If I don’t feel ready to begin a story, it can take me months before I begin a project. For me, this may also be a case of the ‘I don’t want to’s which is hard to explain since I do want to write in the grand scheme of things, but it can be hard to write in the moment. It has made sense to me, through the advice of others, that if you feel like you can’t write, you’re probably taking the work in the wrong direction. I find that if a project is taking too long to begin, it’s just my muse keeping me from making a big discouraging mistake.

Now that I’ve established a concept, gathered some characters, worked out some plot and conflict, I outline. At the beginning of a story I will do a basic outline, with a definite beginning and end and with a few points sketched out to carry the story from one end to the other. As I go along with writing, I will establish more in depth outlines to help carry me through important plot points.

I usually don’t work on expanding my characters until after I start writing and it hits me that my characters are a little flat/lame/boring/dull/crude. At that point I’ll have to do some character work (subject of a forthcoming post). This work often stalls my progress, but this is my writing process and if I don’t jump off the train when I’m excited (even if I am missing a few key elements) then I may never jump off and start a new novel.

Then, over the next who knows how long, I write and write and write and write. And since I just wrote and wrote and wrote all of this, I’ll save the rest of my process for another day…