ROW80 Week 10: Not Enough

(other ROW80 participants)

This was a productive week, but not in the way I’d hoped. We had a house inspection on Friday and spent most of the week preparing.

The house is now much clearer, but it hasn’t helped my writing. :-)

Although I caught up on the short story on Saturday and Sunday, I didn’t quite meet my general writing goal — only five days this week.

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ROW80 Week 4: Changing Gears

Here’s my linky for #ROW80 Week 4.

My editing isn’t exactly off to a flying start. I did rewrite one-and-a-bit scenes over the three days of editing, and wrote on another two days to get the total of five.

But I completely forgot about typing up the hardcopy scenes, and I haven’t done any outlining whatsoever.

(I didn’t do much reading either; but that goal isn’t due for another week, and I’m ahead of it in any case.)

Reflection

My current draft of Conkers is in the first person, but switching between several different narrators. One of my aims in rewriting is to change to third-person everywhere, to make things less confusing.

That’s been harder than I expected. Part of the problem is the first-person plural (“we”, “us”, “ours”, etc.). I use those words quite a bit, and the third-person equivalents really don’t have the same meaning.

The other issue is that I can’t seem to focus on one point of view. A lot of the scenes have focus shifting between several characters, which meant the narrator was often describing a scene a different character was more involved in. Now that I’m using the third person, focus just shifts randomly between characters, and I can’t get it to stick to anyone.

This is obviously a solved problem. I need to pay more attention to how books written in the third person stay focussed, and try and apply this to my scenes.

I’m also wondering if outlining will help; perhaps I’m having trouble because I don’t know what the scenes are trying to achieve. And I’d like to do more outlining this week anyway.

Good luck and happy writing!

ROW80 Week 2: Echo

My progress this round of ROW80 (linky) matches the model I set last week.

Once again, I wrote two scenes from my outline for Conkers, one scene for a future arc, and poetry on the other two days of the week.

I have had some new plot elements pop up, which might lengthen the story a bit; but it doesn’t look like it’ll be enough to stop me finishing the draft this round.

I also finished reading a book I started last week. — Agatha Christie’s Taken at the Flood. I’ve said a lot about Christie books already; the only new thing I noticed was the amount of time it took to set up all the characters’ relationships before the murder could happen and make sense.

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#ROW80 Week 6: “Almost”s

I’ve made plenty of progress this week of #ROW80 (linky), without quite having anything to show for it.

I had a really interesting philosophy book that I wanted to finish this weekend, but it took longer to read than I thought. And since it was so interesting, I didn’t pick up another book when I realised it would take too long.

I did finish editing my research blog post, but I wanted to have a reference list for all the books I scored, and that turned out to be more work than I thought.

And I wrote 800 words on Conkers; not quite what I’d hoped, but at least an improvement on last week.

Reflection

Those 800 words ended up mostly old scenes in slightly different costumes. But in the process of re-reading the ‘old’ material, I think I got a better grip on what my stealthy character is doing.

Most of the people he’s been running away from (strangely enough, he wasn’t worried about fighting a lion) were only potentially dangerous; but the first-person narration, and his actions, were as though they were actually trying to attack him.

It’s not so much cowardice as some kind of insanity, imagining people are out to get him just because they are capable of ‘getting’ him. Not quite what I expected this character to be.

But now I know what’s going on, I can set up a situation where the character realises it; and once he knows he’s misunderstanding things, he’s in a position to do something about it.

 

I also suspect Kait Nolan’s sponsor post is something I should apply here. Invented or not, this character’s fear should still feel real, and to do that, I have to try to find real fear in myself. Hopefully I can keep that in mind in my writing this week.

Good luck and happy writing!

#ROW80 R12, Week 3: Ill

This check-in (linky) will be fairly short, as I’m afflicted with a cold or flu or something at the moment.

I think I’m happy with what I’ve managed despite that.

While one day only got a last-minute haiku, I did write five days out of seven. And I got sizeable chunks written on Conkers on three of those, making a total of 1,600 words or so.  It seems like I do the most writing when I have a fever, for some reason.

Reflection, as usual, I’ve put off until today:

I’m worried what I’ve written this week is touching on topics I don’t know how to treat respectfully.

In particular, one of my characters was confronted by a mugger, overestimated her new powers, and got badly beaten up. The problem is, I have no idea how she would react to that.

Rightly or wrongly, I feel like I need to follow the Mary-Sue Test‘s advice to “carefully and thoughtfully researching the traumas/hardships/handicaps/disorders your character has” (very last question on the page).

The problem is that I haven’t actually gone and done the research. I did browse through the biographies in the library, but I felt as though “what does it feel like to be mugged?” was the wrong kind of question — as though I was being disrespectful to people’s stories by approaching them as a way to answer that.

I suspect I’ll have to try and answer it anyway, though; at least that way I’ll be better placed to reflect on it.

Characterisation (again…)

I was worrying about other things in my writing last week, and mostly forgot the character-related issues. I think the dialogue came out worse as a result, but I feel as though the characters have improved as I focussed less on them.

For the first story arc, I had very clear ideas of what each one was like: one squeamish, another almost revelling in gore, and so on. That broke in the next arc, when they had new problems and acted differently. And what I’ve written this week has characters acting quite differently to those first impressions.

However, I’m starting to think this isn’t actually a bad thing.

A character only defined by one trait is probably going to be one-dimensional. Since I expect Conkers to be bad, I didn’t think that was worth worrying about yet. But that seems to have led me to making the characters one-dimensional, forcing them to behave the same in all situations.

Maybe I have to let my characters grow a bit more, before I try and prune them again.

#ROW80 Week 7: Better…

This is my week 7 check-in for ROW80 (linky).

While I’m still busy at work, I did get back up to my previous level with ROW80. For writing, I did 1,500 words on Conkers, and worked on my entries to the poetry competition. With any luck, I’ll have those in by next week.

And my reading advanced another 50 pages, this time in Beyond Good and Evil. Nietzsche certainly makes a lot of interesting points, although I haven’t yet been able to find a coherent thread through it all.

That just leaves reflection. I’ve been complaining about my characters’ voices for the past few weeks, but I tried a few words and phrase structures I wouldn’t normally use this week, and it seems to have helped.

I didn’t do so well with character motivations, though.

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Reflection

The scene I wrote for Conkers this week was supposed to be a political debate about the sudden appearance of “adventurers” in a previously more sedate society. I enjoyed using different styles of language to differentiate the speakers, but I’m not happy with the way their scene fits into the plot.

On the one hand, it seems like too many words and no action; on the other, I feel as though it doesn’t build up nearly enough to end as dramatically as I want.

There are things that might fix this: I could break up the dialogue with actions of the speakers and the crowd, and I could focus more on the events leading up to it. But all that assumes the characters have a reason to care about it, which they don’t.

So I suppose the real problem is a lack of context. If events built up to this scene over time, and the characters started running into the problems and the arguments about fixing them, the debate could count for something.

Reflection (Week 10)

This week, I’m reflecting on the scene I wrote for Conkers on Tuesday.

Having read the Not to Be post on The Daily Prompt this week, I started out by looking for passive voice and other weak verbs I could remove. I didn’t find much I could change (although I did ignore dialogue), but I still felt the scene was lacking some punch.

I suspect a characterisation issue. Most of the scene is a character not quite explaining what she wants, but when she finally does, there’s no significance to it. She leaves the scene having achieved nothing, but somehow still completely calm and confident. The other character doesn’t attempt to encourage her to talk, either.

I’m also a bit concerned about Mary-Sueism. I imagine the narrator of the scene is involved in plenty of shady dealings, but that completely failed to come up. I probably should have given him something to hide, so he couldn’t just sit back and ignore the situation.

The general problem is that I’m not remembering the different characters’ personalities. I’m not sure what specific techniques I can use to remedy that. My best idea is to give them leitmotifs — pick a particular tune for each of them, to listen to when I’m writing that character; I’m sure there must be other techniques, though.