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I'm popping in to chat about my WIP, Cloy, with the help of Paper Fury, Further Up and Further In, and the Beautiful Books writing link-up for bloggers this NaNoWriMo Season. I'll be answering their questions below. Go check out their website, it's pretty fantastic. But while you're here, let me ramble a bit about my writing this November:
1. Overall, how is your mental state, and how is your novel going?
The novel is going, well... Slowly. I tend to do this thing where I have an exciting plot (okay, you know, when I have a plot at all) but when it comes to the actual writing, it turns out to be a couple of main characters standing in various locations talking about what's going on, rather than doing anything. Other than that, I suppose it's going well. I'm getting in the word count, and I guess you could say the story is progressing. As far as the first part of that question, my mental state is really good. I have been able to spend my past two days off from my day job, and pretty much crashed at the neighborhood cafe to write like mad. I've felt like a professional writer, like this is what I do for a living, and it has made me so happy and content.
2. What’s your first sentence (or paragraph)?
"Stories and histories begin in many ways and many places, some quite unexpected, and some quite unexpectedly normal. They can be told and are told by many voices, carrying through countless generations, weaving their facts and rumors and mysteries into our lives in ways we often overlook. I suppose this story should be no exception, and could be told by many people, revealing a thousand lies and a million truths. I’m going to tell it, however, simply by how I came to know it best, from the voices that told it to me when I was very small, until I was old enough to read the books, and listen to the old men at the bar, and go into the secret galleries on my own."
~Cloy, from the verbose and completely unnecessary prologue.
3. Who’s your current favourite character in your novel?
Ooohhhh, tough choice. This year, I kind of slammed into my novel headlong without knowing it or its characters very well up front. I'll go with Mathen, for the moment:
Mathen is the Head of a scientific endeavor to explore and capture magic. He is the boss of both of my MCs, River and Captain. He is an impersonal sort, intent on his job, clever, and secretive. But he has a kind of fondness for Captain and takes great - if thinly veiled - interest in River's abilities. He's fun to write, I look forward to seeing how he develops as a character.
[Art by Phobs at phobso.tumblr. This is similar to how Mathen looks, almost more in the personality than anything else. He's a bit more modern, but I like this illustration for him and am using it for inspiration.]
(alternatively, I think Rufus Sewell would be amazing as Mathen, so that's probably how I'm going to think of the character. Related: it is very difficult to find gifs of him in not extremely obvious period garb.)
4. What do you love about your novel so far?
I love the carefree attitude I'm taking with it. XD It's not carefully plotted, it's not spectacularly written, it's just kind of words thrown out there and raked together like a pile of leaves vaguely resembling the original tree of the story I have in mind.
5. Have you made any hilarious typos or other mistakes?
Some, I'm sure, but I can't think of any off the top of my head... Most of my bad typos have come in talking with friends about the story, rather than in the writing itself.
6. What is your favourite to write: beginning, middle, or end — and why?
I think I like them all, they're all so different, but for me, the beginning is the hardest. It sets up absolutely everything about the story, so you've got to get it just right. Everything else is a payoff of that foundation. Your first line, first paragraph, first chapter - all of that is massively important to what the story will become, how it will progress, and what sort of ending it needs to have. I enjoy writing endings. I have a tendency to rush them, but I love tying up the loose ends finally and letting everything fall into place at last. Middles are cruising territory, which feels very safe but can often be dangerous: the middle is important too, and I sometimes let it sag a bit into descriptions and simple stuff.
7. What are your writing habits?
Inconsistent. That's what my writing habits are. Actually, the things I like to do best, especially during NaNo, is find an energetic location to write at (like a cafe) and allow the noise, sights, sounds, smells, and other stimuli to get my writing brain in gear. I love going somewhere to write, because it gets my brain in gear to actually be doing work, instead of allowing myself to kid around and be lazy. But there are times, especially late at night in the quiet of my apartment when the rest of the building is pretty much asleep, that my creative side gets busy, and those are great and productive times as well.
a) Is there a specific snack you eat?
Skittles. Skittle candies have been my writing snack of choice for years. They're like tiny little rewards. I finished a scene. Red one. I got through that paragraph. Green one. I introduced a new character. Yellow one. I got my word goal in. Aaaallllll the orange ones. Also, this year, I've been having lots of bagels from the cafe, whoops...
b) Do you listen to music?
I do. Music helps energize me, put me in the mind of work, and also engages the artist side of my brain. This year I'm primarily listening to Ramin Djawadi's Person of Interest soundtracks, Danny Elfman's Age of Ultron soundtrack, David Arnold's Amazing Grace soundtrack, and various lyric tracks from the band Take That that I feel tell the characters' story:
c) What time of day do you write best?
Nighttime. Definitely nighttime. I am not a morning person by nature, and I do my best work just as the sun is beginning to go down, right up until it threatens to rise again before I'm ready.
d) Feel free to show us a picture of your writing space!
I don't have a desk at present, and I have been doing most of my hardcore writing at the cafe, but this is the corner I do my writing in while staying in the apartment. It's nice and cozy and pretty comfortable, and there's a handy outlet nearby for keeping that laptop battery running. The corner is really dark tonight, but here's a pic facing out of it from earlier.
8. How private are you about your novel while you’re writing? Do you need a cheer squad or do you work alone (like, ahem, Batman)?
One of the reasons I love doing NaNoWriMo so much is the community aspect. Everyone is working to achieve the same goal, even if you're working on your own projects and in your own ways. I absolutely love doing word wars with people, staying up late to hatch plots and patch holes, and the rants back and forth between friends about what characters or aspects are or aren't working. I don't need a cheer squad, I can settle into the darkness of my Batcave and get things done, but I'd much rather be an Avenger, solving problems on my own but working among a team when I get the chance.
9. What keeps you writing even when it’s hard?
Caffeine. Just kidding, mostly. Right now, for this particular NaNo, it's been knowing that this story has so much potential, and not allowing myself to let fear of failing that potential get in my own way. Also, because this is the seventh (HOLY COW SEVENTH??) NaNo Project I've done, just trying to keep a spotless record is pretty good incentive. I know I can do it because I've done it before. I try not to let my expectations get in the way. The days I fall behind, the way the story doesn't flow the way I want - all of that, I try to push it aside and just write.
10. What are your top 3 pieces of writing advice?
1. Don't get in your own way. ;) Seriously though, there are so many times we let our ideas get in the way of making them happen. You have to let yourself know it isn't going to be perfect the first time around. Heck, it may never be perfect, but don't let that stop you from creating art. Write as you can, let it be, get it done. Don't think about revisions as something you have to do to fix the story. Think of them as touching up, remolding the beautiful work you've already made to make it better.
2. Pursue your craft. Don't ever think that you've gotten to a place where you are as good as you're going to be. Keep working, keep learning. Nothing is owed to you, so work hard for it and earn it and you'll be amazed by what you can do. Spend time in libraries, follow your favorite writers' social medias, subscribe to a science/political/social/etc magazine, and then just write. Practice it, measure it, refine it. Always continue to learn, don't rest on your laurels, and just keep at it because the journey goes ever on and on and each new destination is beautiful.
3. Serve the story. This is something I learned recently from author Kathy Tyres, one of my favorite writers and teachers of craft. "You need to add this particular demographic to your novel." Okay, but is that what the story needs? "I really wanted this character to be a Helper, but they keep siding with the antagonist." Hey, let them side with the antagonist, see what happens. Don't force it to be something it's not. It's a middle-grade novel but someone told you the themes were too deep, dark, or complex? Kids are perceptive, smart, and don't always want Garfield comics. No matter what your or someone else's preconceived notions are, serve the story.
Well, there you have it! Me rambling about Cloy, and my writing habits and the road thus far. Hope you've enjoyed this bit of insight and maybe found something helpful along the way.
In the very least, there's a gif of a kitten playing in leaves, right?
Go visit the link at the top to grab the button, answer the questions, and join the link-up of writers! Have fun!