World building

So today’s blog is going to be a short, but rather relevant to myself topic: world building. For nanowrimo, I’ve been looking into this a lot. There are a lot of facets that go into  making a world believable and well built. It can easily be overwhelming and get boring fast. What information is important? What is stuff that is going to be relevant to the exposition, and what is only relevant to me, the God of this world?

I spent a large amount of time looking through reddit threads, reading other panicked writers get lost and confused, when one lovely person posted the single most important (and possibly only) bit of information that you’ll need for writing.

This is how you build a good world, friends.

Seriously, that’s all you need. I don’t think there are any bits to world building or any questions I had that aren’t covered in this! Bam, you’re welcome.

On that note, I am a teensy bit overwhelmed with plotting and planning, but hopefully I can introduce a little bit of my world to you guys soon!

Happy writing,

Emma-Kate xoxo

Goodreads

Today I want to make a quick blog about something that is as equally important as writing- reading! I used to be such a little bookworm, but as I get older, I realise like any hobby like writing, or video games, it can be a little hard to muster up the energy to read a book. It makes it harder when I can’t just binge the novel in one sitting because silly adult things get in the way (my boyfriend needs kisses every ten minutes, alright?).

Even though I struggle with concentration and being organised more as I deal with external issues, I am still heavily a type A. I plan, and I goddamn love planning. So one way that I’ve kept myself on track reading is through Goodreads. I had no idea it was a thing until one of my favourite vloggers mentioned it.

I started my list in late August, so I’m way behind where I want to be, but I’ve been consistently reading at least one book a week. Way slower than I like, but not terrible. At least I’m reading instead of just saying “eh, I can go play Dota.”

goodreads.png

Now, as someone that loves tracking systems (because I need a visual representation of achievement), Goodreads is amazing for me. It feels like a competition, and well…I am definitely the competitive type. There are a few benefits I’ve found:

  • Easy to use, management system means I can see what books I’ve read, in case I forget! BAM!
  • Tracking system means I can feel accomplished about reading. Yeah. I struggle with feeling unproductive, hence my extravagant list making. This makes it feel like I’m ticking off something I need to get done when I finish a book!
  • Being able to see what my friends are reading/have read sparks conversation!
  • There’s a want to read list so I can see what sparked my interest
  • Also, checking off books means I read through my literally massive to read list before buying more books

Do you use Goodreads, or would like to? Want to compare books? Find me here! I’m still trying to decide what my next book is why I wait for The Beauty of Darkness to get to me!

Happy writing,

Emma-Kate xoxo

Plotober week one!

Week one of plot-tober is halfway done for me, and I’ve done a few things to get ready (emphasis on few). My blog this week is going to be mostly a confirmation that I’ve achieved things/a way to keep myself on track, but I want others to feel like they’ve gotten stuff done too! So grab your notepad, and start scrawling down the things you’ve gotten done on your writing this week.

Things I have accomplished:

  • Naming my land. This was actually super hard. I generally struggle with this because fantasy world names can sound ridiculous, pretentious, over-zealous or just dumb..and I’m good at all of them. I actually picked a name I enjoy that is a nod to one of to my all time favourite character (hopefully just subtle enough).
  • Added an excerpt on Nanowrimo of my novel. This won’t be going towards my word count obviously, as that’s against the rules, but it’s nice to have a small jumping off point.
  • Wrote a small blurb that I’m not overly happy with. Hopefully finishing my synopsis will inspire a better one. Both of these can be found on my nano.
  • Cried a little bit because I’m terrible at finishing anything but great at starting a million different things.
  • Convinced several friends to do Nano with me! Yay! This was great because it’s hard to do alone; it’s easier for me when I feel like I’m competing against them and have to do my best!
  • Went to a pre-nano meetup.
  • Booked in and paid for my first ever write in. I’ll be going to the Burnside Nano write-in with Lauren and I’m super excited. (Link to the event here and Lauren’s new blog can be found here!)
  • I’ll also volunteering at my first writers event tonight, and I hope it goes well!

I’ll be working on The Story of Audrey with the intent on finishing the first full draft before January and plodding along with some short stories and my Nanowrimo outline. I’ll be hopefully finishing a horror short story collection soon, so keep an eye out for that. The Daemon Revelation is taking a break because I got to the end of the first draft, and obviously have hacked it up. So it needs a little time to marinate.

What have you all gotten done this week? Are you doing Nano too? What have you written? What do you want to write? Feel free to tag me or tweet at me and let me know!

Happy writing,

Emma-Kate xoxo

Plot-tober and my guide to getting ready

21691195_1253920618053417_1568441486_n.jpg

Hey guys! With Nano approaching fast, and my normal projects stagnating, I’m turning my attention to prep. I’m a severe planning; even if I don’t follow everything exactly, I like to have a clue of where I’m going. Nanowrimo forums are filled to the brim with plotting and resources, but the general consensus is using the month of October to plan your baby. I’m not going to a daily bingo of “do x”, especially when I’ve done a bit of my stuff already, but I’m going to show you the rough plotting guideline I’ve given myself to get stuff done with. If this is at all helpful to you, and I really hope it is, please let me know how you go plotting and planning this way!

 

Week One, October 1-7th: Plot

For the first week of October, I’m going to tackle the basic plot of my story as a starting block. Some of the aspects I really want to nail down include:

  • Writing a brief synoposis so if anyone asks “what’s your story about?”, instead of me umming and ahhing and saying “well it’s really complicated a lot”, I can grab my synopsis and wave it in their face.
  • Work out the themes my story is representing. Is it about love, friendship, a greater moral victory? Is it a quest? That sort of business.
  • Work out the rough beginning, middle and end. Divide them into three sections, and acknowledge what I want to accomplish in each. What is the climax of my story, and start working out how I’m going to get there. It doesn’t matter if I’m too detailed with this; I’ll be approaching this a bit more after.

 

Week two, October 8-14th: Characters

I have some notes on my characters already, but I haven’t fleshed them out a lot. This is hard because I am doing a multiple POV story, jumping between chapters, so I need consistency in my characters when swapping over, so I don’t feel like it’s just the same character without switching. So a few of the goals I have for each character, for my own benefit, include:

  • One page backstory for each character. Include trivial notes on their life, beyond basic physical and personality traits. What is their family like, how does that tie into the plot.
  • Work out exactly how important they are in the plot; are they directly affecting things, or are they more of an overarching symptom/side effect of what’s going on
  • Clearly define how they connect to one another. I feel like I’m going to go full Charlie Kelly, red string style with this.
  • Be able to give them each a one or two word motive driving their actions in order to understand how they shape the story.

 

Week three, October 15-21: World

Oh boy, this is the bit that usually scares me the most. Again, I’m lucky I have a rough world and a map and stuff, but it still needs a lot of work, and I’m dreading this. My world is OK, like I know where the holes are and that they need to be filled, it’s just a matter of…filling them.

  • Magic. I need to know exactly WHAT my magic is, does, it’s limitations, and that sort of stuff. It’s not an all-powerful, OP magic, I based it in as much realism as a fantasy world can get, but I want to make sure there aren’t plot holes in it.
  • Fantasy creatures: I need to do some notes and outlining. I have a few minimal creatures but I need to make sure they aren’t out of place, or ridiculous.
  • Map out my literal cities/villages/kingdoms a bit more.
  • Is religion a thing? Do I want to nod in that sort of direction? I feel like even with the monarchy system, religion of some form is usually the case. Would it revolve around magic, seeing as that’s the fundamental basis of my world?
  • I know what my world looks like, but realistically, how big is it? How long does it take to get from point a to b? I’m a bit touchy about this stuff after the most recent season of Game of Thrones.
  • Is there more to my world than the particular continent I am using? Which hemisphere is it in? On that note, how do seasons work? Gonna have to do some research and read some academic resources.

 

Week four, October 22-30th: Preparation

So, assuming I did all that stuff during the time I designated, I should have a pretty solid idea of my world, and the plot. The final week and a bit, I’ll be doing the worst bit of all: outlining my chapters. I don’t want to be too “this has to happen here!” with outlining, but I also don’t want to be too vague. I think I’m going to write up chapter outlines for each character individually, and work out what order they go in after one another AFTER the story is written, or I’ll be too stressed trying to balance out POVS and stuff, when really, I just wanna tell my story.

 

October 31st: REST AND PREP

This is just as important as all the other stuff, resting is important too! I want a fresh mind and a fresh start for Nanowrimo, and with a 2k daily word goal between other things, it’s gonna be tricky. So my to do list for the 31st is:

  • Meal prep! I’ll shop and buy some fresh fruit and stuff for easy lunch and whatever, but I’ll make enough vegetable soup to go in the freezer for a month that I won’t have to stress about actually eating. Fun fact: I forget food exists a lot.
  • Although it’s basically done, add to my nano treat/goal box to keep me motivated and on track. Here’s what it looks like so far:

21767456_1253920621386750_24068026_n

I have about…35 candy bars in there (one per 2000 words!) and a bath bomb for every 10,000 words finished. I also have scents in there for an oil burner, because I have to have candles going. Ikea had a special, $7 for 200, so I stocked up. I have just over half of those ready to go on my writing desk next to my treats.

21698146_1253920628053416_262040543_n

  • Playlists. I’m pretty particular about music, I’m pretty sure I’m just going to throw on Swan Lake and the Four Seasons a million times this year, though.
  • Take a bath!
  • and most importantly, have an early, restful night of sleep.

 

I think that’s just about everything for my nano prep. How are you all going to tackle October and the scary rush for Nano? Are you plotting, or just pantsing? Are you going to eat all your snacks before then, like I’m tempted to? Let me know!

Happy writing,

 

Emma-Kate xoxo

Creative space and creating a balance

Today’s topic is going to be something I’ve actually been thinking of in terms of my cosplay, and realised it was way more applicable to my writing after listening to a recent live-stream (Thank you Mango Sirene, you always pump me up, Nina!). Now, for reference, my cosplay stuff lives in the lounge room. Three out of the four people living here are into costuming, and it’s great! Our machines are kept in a drawer, and we have shelves with supplies and fabric and stuff. Easy.

This space is kept separate from the rest of my life, and I can up and leave it without feeling awful or like I’m not getting space (well, the guilt of leaving a mess bothers me). However, writing is work for me, and that work isn’t as easy to separate. I do all of my writing on my PC right now, because my laptop needs some TLC. As an avid gamer/netflixer, this is already a big, bad, blurry mess. We then have the fact that oh wait, I live with housemates and my writing stuff lives in my bedroom. Which means my relax space feels like work space because, well, it is work space.

Here are a few things I’ve done to mitigate these problems.

21769857_1254554627990016_1926537440_n.jpg

This is where I usually set up shop with my laptop. It’s also where my boyfriend or Adara works when stuck here. I keep one desk completely empty so I can strew notes over it or whatever else. The desk next to it I only keep stuff on it that pertains to my writing. I recently did a VERY big clean out and I need to reorganise stuff/add stuff, but it’s a solid little area. My pens, main notepads, and chocolate are kept over there. It also looks out onto my yard/the main road so it’s a fairly interesting view.

21850332_1254554634656682_1715698413_n.jpg

Next is my computer desk area, which isn’t as big and plain. I actually threw out a lot of stuff and removed nearly all of the toys I had in here (I’m sorry Star Wars pops!). Although, I have a Disney theme going on the top shelf for inspiration, as my desk has wheels and likes to move. A lot. Which means folders kept smacking me on the head.

As you can see, there isn’t a lot of space on here for writing, even with the minimal amount of junk. there just isn’t room for it and my PC. Mostly, I do my hand notes at my OTHER desk and use my PC to crank some music while I work, and sob at every steam notification I get in the mean time.

21875712_1254554741323338_192650179_o.jpgCurrently, as you can see, my main writing folders are crammed under this desk. I have a space by the door that I’m looking to fill with the right size bookshelf so I can empty that out soon, hopefully, and fill my alpaca in there.

All of this organisation and keeping my space clean/functional is more important than keeping me from being distracted. It means that it’ll (hopefully after some more tidying and organising) as a professional space. Freelancers or any other kind of individual that works from home has a dedicated, neat space they can conduct business in. Given that Adara comes over here and illustrates for me already means it’s being used in a professional context. I want that space to be comfortable enough for me to be able to sit down with an editor or an agent. Yeah, this may never get used for that purpose, but keeping it clean and set up that way keeps me in that mentality.

Whether your writing space is a whole office to yourself or the tiny shelf and end table rammed in the corner, keep it a space that makes you feel proud of yourself and your work. We don’t need the most grandiose things to be good writers, but we do need to feel about ourselves, and I believe this is one of the ways that a happy space makes a good mentality.

Happy writing,

 

Emma-Kate xoxo

Resources

Everyone can benefit from different resources, whether it’s to improve a skill or even to just get a different perspective. One of my favourite writing resources when I was a kid was books about the craft. I read a LOT of them, in my weird little introverted way thinking that yeah, writing is like studying and I can just learn to do it.

In this day and age, we have a lot of different resources, and ways to communicate amongst ourselves, and it’s fantastic! I don’t even have to go outside, bonus! Books are still good- even just reading is a great resource. You can’t write unless you read, after all, to paraphrase Mr. King. With the introduction of the internet in homes there are a vast number of platforms we can access. Here are a few that I find personally useful:

  • Youtube I follow writers, editors, other general bloggers/vloggers. They have a lot of advice and opinions, a lot of it professional, really applicable stuff that can be used in writing your book, as well as marketing and selling that bad boy to publishers. A few I enjoy in particular are:
    • Kim Chance  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtcDmM2bgezD0c95Y38OAcg Kim covers a bit of everything on her channel, and I live for her weekly vlogs and instagram streams. She’s really perky and inspiring, and her debut novel Keeper is out early 2018
    •  Ellen Brock https://www.youtube.com/user/KeytopServices I only found Ellen the other day through recommendations, but I’ve been binge watching her videos as I do my spring clean of my room/office to get in the zone for the weather change (it’s also an excuse to procrastinate, obviously).
    •  Kristina Horner https://www.youtube.com/user/italktosnakes/videos Kristina is one of the first ever vloggers I watched, and the reason I even know things like Nanowrimo exists! She’s perky, fun, and a massive nerd, which really makes the process easier to enjoy.
  • Dedicated forums I’m currently not really on any but the Nano forums, which I occasionally lumber through, but over the years I have definitely read my fair share. This is a good way to connect with similar writers and bulk post information.
  • Twitter there are actually a lot of good hashtags for writing challenges, titbits, and all sorts! They’re all super fun and interesting and it’s a fantastic way to connect with other people in the industry, and not just writers!

Among these and other online resources, we still have the good old fashion in person ones. Writer’s groups/centres are super handy (I’m part of the SA Writer’s Centre and I’ve been slowly attending things as my anxiety lessens) and they’re enjoyable as well as useful.

Sorry for the short post. Does anyone have any resources that they use that I haven’t mentioned? I’d love to hear. I hope you’re all having a fantastic week and get a lot done. I’m attending the first Nano event of the year Saturday so hopefully my next blog will include a bit of that.

Happy writing,

 

Emma-Kate xoxo

Editing and Revision

This is probably my most hated bit of the writing process. Writing- sometimes it’s fast, sometimes it’s slow, but whatever man, I’m slamming words on the page! Writer’s block? Oh, that sucks, but I guess this is an excuse to read, or catch up on the sixteen video games I bought and are staring at me on my TV cabinet/from my Steam library.

Editing and revision though? Just set me on goddamn fire. I don’t want to re-read my stuff and figure out what I did wrong, what I could do better, or to figure out “oh my God, you literal walking trash, go sit on the curb, this is terrible”. I used to have a very “let someone else handle that attitude”. Uh, well, in a world where you shouldn’t be letting anyone see it until several drafts in, this doesn’t fly. One resource that has really helped me with that thinking and some of my other less than desirable habits is this one:

518Rxn4UpdL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_[1]

I fully recommend reading Stephen King’s: On Writing. Here’s a link to some Goodreads reviews of it https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10569.On_Writing (I should REALLY go write my review, I finally finished it and that book is a 7/5 if I ever read one, oh man). Also, feel free to add me on Goodreads and judge me for being lazy! I’m sorry I’m the worst!  https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/70831452-emma-kate

Back to the issue at hand. Revision and editing is a nightmare for me. It just saps at my energy, my will to live, and my faith in my ability. I’m pretty narcissistic about my skills (but my mum told me I am the best and I won all those awards as a kid!). Unfortunately, my inability to take criticism and reflect on it, especially self delivered criticism, delayed me for years and stopped me from writing for… a long time.

While I work on my big manuscripts and ignore finishing them and the scary next stage, I’ve taken to writing short stories- some for competitions, and  some for a little eBook anthology I kinda maybe wanna do. Here’s a first draft of my writing.

writing example blog post.png

I’ve not edited it, but I’ve highlighted bits I want to revise in a notebook (it’s missing at least an entire scene that, going over it, I realised it needs. Otherwise the point I want to make with it is rushed and stupid, in all honesty). Even glancing at this, I can see a lot of places where it feels..stiff. I also have a penchant for unnecessary commas (the oxford comma is always necessary though, and you’re a heathen if you disagree). I’ve definitely made grammatical and structural errors in here. I don’t think they’re glaringly obvious, but I could probably go over this a few times and spot different things. Sometimes, its easy to make dumb mistakes (oh-my-god-is-that-the-correct-usage-of-an-apostrophe).

In the past, I wouldn’t have thought twice about it. I would have said yeah, that’s not bad. That’s the truth of it. My initial writing isn’t bad. It isn’t good either, and it definitely isn’t fantastic like I want it to be. Much like writing is a discipline, the second and third and maybe fourth drafts are too. Fortunately, academic writing for so long has taught me to be a bit pickier and to try harder.

writing example blog post.png

This is a crude and quick look over. I’m not entirely happy with it, and I’ll be going over it again once I’ve finally finished it. I’m lazy and spent maybe five minutes on that, but that still means I spent five minutes trying to improve my writing. It might be small but it is still a difference and a step towards quality writing.

While, yes, you will have other people read your work and pick up on mistakes you don’t or inconsistencies (’cause you’ll be so used to your own work, you’ll glaze over it), learning how to do even simple revision is the best skill you can have. Otherwise, who is going to want to read something that isn’t polished to the best of your abilities? Editors are there for when you can no longer provide nourishment for your baby, and you need someone else to step in. Maybe I’ll start proof-reading and revising my blog posts, too. Today probably isn’t that day. One baby step at a time, guys! On that note, I have my own writing to go weep over today.

Happy writing,

 

Emma-Kate xoxo

Writing Quirks

I’m sure everyone has their own weird little writing rituals. I have one friend that refuses to use anything but a particular pen. I have a million different little things I like to do to encourage myself to write, or to help get ~in the zone~.

One of my favourite things during the planning phase of writing something is to make a youtube playlist that I think suits the feel of what I’m trying to write. Especially when I have different POV characters; they get different OSTs that I’ve put together that I feel suit their personality.

I’m pretty weird about what music I use; it’s usually either classical music, or anime/video game soundtracks. I can’t listen to normal music like Taylor Swift when I’m working. It’s not…atmospheric, it doesn’t feel me with the vibes I need to hammer out words (that’s cleaning and walking music instead!).

writing.png

This is part of the playlist I use for Emilia for my Daemon Revelation piece. It’s all anime; I used the Chrono Crusade OST and a bunch of Attack on Titan covers because it connects me to her sort of angry/moody teenage attitude.

This sounds a little silly and weird, but it is also one of the ways that zones me into getting ready to write. I use this system for writing, for doing my outlines, everything.

Another ritual of mine is handwriting. All my notes about a story have to be handwritten, in their own little special folder. I can’t type up character notes or plot arcs or anything, which is weird because I am perfectly fine with typing up the entire story.

I know everyone has their own little quirks; a special mug they absolutely must use to write, or a particular sweet, or even a special place that they write in! I personally feel establishing your own little ‘this is my writing zone’ patterns and habits helps a lot.

 

Happy writing,

 

Emma-Kate xoxo

Writing competitions and why they are important.

20170820_191947.jpg

The desk of a woman in the midst of writing hell.

Writing competitions; remember entering a bunch of those as a kid? I sure did. I used to jump at them, because they were an excuse to write one of the many stories that were invading my head space, and I needed them out to make room for important stuff. Like, Aeris’ date of birth from Final Fantasy VII (February 7th!). There was also an added incentive like ToyWorld vouchers, which I gleefully ended up hoarding a lot of.

Getting back into the concept that I could do something with writing has been daunting, and without a lot of reward in all honesty. I’ve taken a lot of steps (which I’ll be covering in other blogs!) but there isn’t exactly any instant gratification, unless you have hungry/sort of vicious beta readers like I do. Also, how do you know your work is even on track to being publishable or likable, aside from paying someone a lot of money to read it and tell you well yeah nah maybe we can make something of this?

This, for me, is where writing competitions come in. They have a lot of use:

  1. They force you to write, and usually to a theme or genre you’re not used to. Also, word counts! Practicing telling a concise story can clear up a LOT of unnecessary words in your novel (what-do-you-mean-I-need-three-thousand-words-talking-about-protagonist-having-hair-the-colour-of-sunrise.)
  2. Incentive.  Usually, competitions have cash prizes, and mostly important, people that know their shit reading it. If they like your stuff, FANTASTIC. Some competitions, even if you don’t win, you can pay to get some feedback for a pretty small amount (or they offer it up to you, occasionally).
  3. They’re a good way of getting used to rejection/winning. We’re probably going to get rejected more often than not, and it is so hard not to take that as a huge criticism. Sadly, we need to toughen up and realise that we can probably do a lot better than we are offering, and that’s ok! Because this is what we want to do. Its a bit easier to not win a short story competition than to be rejected with our labour of love.
  4. That good old instant gratification. It’s nice to finish something in its entirety, and to send it off. I’ve posted a few off recently and it pumps me up to go back to my novels and give them my all ’cause hey, turns out I can finish stuff!

 

These are some of the reasons I find writing competitons rewarding. Yeah, it is extra effort and you do have to pay to enter a lot of times (otherwise how are they going to get that sweet prize pool for you and your fellow writers?). The rewards even without winning are worth it, in my honest opinion. So why don’t you grab your pen and paper or computer, have a look at some competitions, and give them a go? I’ll also stop procrastinating from my own current competition pieces and get back to them!

 

Happy writing,

Emma-Kate xoxo