Friday, 22 August 2014

The Writer's Blog Tour

Not too long ago, the ever-lovely Nicole Nally asked me if I'd like to take part in a Writer's Blog Tour questionnaire she'd been tagged in, and I thought, what the hell, it sounds like fun.

And then I kind of forgot about it, but now she's posted her entry and that serves as a remarkably good reminder.

What Am I Currently Working On?

I've got several projects on the go, all in various states of disrepairand then there the ones I should have on the go, but am apparently trying to avoid by trying to avoid working on other things instead.

Gratuitous Kir nudity is always fun
I guess, most pertinently, there's The Reconstruction of Kirill, the sequel to The Destruction of Kirill, which takes place in Gasconywhich, in my steampunk universe, is a separate country from France.  I've just started chapter 5 and life is becoming rapidly terrible for the unfortunate hero (again).  It's all plotted out so there's nothing keeping me from writing it except the fact that it's all plotted out.  I had this problem with its predecessor too.

On that note, there's a short novella I'm supposed to be writing about Kirill and Niko's first Christmas as a couple, but that one's quite slow going....  Does so far involve sugar plums and smut though.

There's also The Rose Queen, a scifi about a man who's hired to steal a very quiet, shut-in young lady and discovers that if the information in the file is sparse, it's probably best not to make assumptions...  It's actually in marginally better shape than Reconstruction as I'm on chapter 6, but unlike Reconstruction it's not plotted out and suffers somewhat from the fact I was incredibly 'flu-ey when I started writing it.  It... needs some significant work, let's put it that way, but I think it has promise.

I'm supposed to be detailing the writing process of Dust & Ash for this blog, but it's safe to say there's not actually been that much progress to detail.  I discovered that it didn't feel inclined towards being plotted meticulously out like Destruction was so I've found myself starting chapter 4 and feeling a bit lost.  It needs even more work than Rose Queen does, or at least a spark of sudden plotting inspiration.

I should also have nearly finished with Three Graces: Spectrum now, but it's safe to say I've done absolutely sod-all on that in ages.  I reread the existing pieces and I've figured out why I got suddenly and abruptly stuck on it ('Black' and 'White' are in the wrong order, of all the stupid things) but I've yet to sit down and finish it.  I think I'm worried that how I write now is actually worse than how I wrote then (true, not actually just paranoia), so I keep putting it off.

And on the subject of putting it off...  I've been prodding a story called Chime lately because I feel incredibly bad about not even finishing chapter 3, but as I started it in 2011 I think we may be waiting some time for that...

And finally, I write occasional stories about a genetically modified dokkalfa (dark elf) and his co-worker / lover / ever-ready irritant human who work for a shadowy, semi-governmental British , which can be found both on this blog and on the Radial: Unravel tab up top there.  I love those dorky boys so I can never keep away from them for too long.  They're a comfort blanket.

How Does My Work Differ From Others In My Genre?

I honestly couldn't tell you...  I don't stick well to one particular genreI write fantasy, sci-fi, steampunk (though I guess that's a derivative of one or the other, or both, aforementioned genres) and contemporary sci-fantasyand as a 'genre', the m/m one is pretty colossal.  There's probably a ton of people who write the same kind of stuff I do, and I've just not met them yet.  Although I'd say perhaps my work differs in that other people actually have a knack for finishing it...

Though again, if they were just like me and didn't, we'd never know, would we?

Why Do I Write What I Do?

To be honest, I have no idea.  I've just always written like this, usually in the same genres.  Way (way) back in school, if ever there was a question in an exam that was just a single word, it was pretty much guaranteed that I'd write fiction for it.

For my A-Level English Language & Literature exams (that's a mouthful) there was one such prompt, which of course meant that I needed to write about two demons having thinly-veiled metaphorical sex in a dreamworld, that left one stabbed to a tree... and it was only a thinly-veiled metaphor because I wasn't too sure how well gay demon sex would go down (hah) with the examiners.  I kind of wish I'd written it explicitly now, just to see what would happen.

That was a depressingly long amount of time ago, and I'm still writing in the same genre, so I think we're stuck with one another now.  (And the demons; I still have those characters too.  I miss them but don't need another project right now.  So, guess what I'll no doubt be doing next week...)

So basically...  The short answer is: I can't help it.  The characters and events appear in my head, so I write them.

How Does My Writing Process Work?

It varies depending on the project is the short answer.  The long answer is that I actually am not quite sure, because of the fact it varies between projects.  Some projects seem to lend themselves to being plotted out chapter by chapter while others seem to demand being flown by the seat of the pants, and a few like to straddle the line between them without ever managing to put a foot in either camp.

A lot start out like the image to the left: a stream-of-consciousness set of notes that helps me sketch out ideas and work out who's doing what and where.  These all go in one notebook and I use different coloured inks to keep the stories separate.

If they're lucky, they then end up like the picture on the right: a series of key scenes.  In this case, the red ones were the ones I thought of before I started plotting Destruction out, and the green ones were ones I'd thought of during the plotting process.  I'm not entirely sure why I decided to to it that way, but it made sense at the time.  (Disclaimer: this might as well be my battle cry and will probably end up on my gravestone.)

Also, might include spoilers so on the off chance you actually want to read The Destruction of Kirill proceed carefully and possibly avoid the stuff in green.

Once I've got the scenes in non-specific order, I can figure out where it is I want them to go, hence the purple numbers beside it.  The actual plotting is always done in purple (I'm on my second atyouSpica Lavender pen) because somehow it just feels right.  And if it feels right I'm not going to argue with it.

When I've got those basics, I can either skip straight to the plotting, or I can make a detour via beats/breakdowns which is (in my case) when I break down the plot into a string of events.  I use a two-column method because I can then use the second column for relevant notes, cute ideas etc. that link directly to the first, left-hand, beat.

To the left is the start of Reconstruction (so no actual spoilers), complete with little note about the the room Kirill and Niko are sparring in and an addition to a section from the second chapter.  Some pages have nothing in this column, others have five or six notes.

Then, once that's done, I can move on to the actual plotting.  In my case, it's a scene-by-scene stream of text, all in the aforementioned lavender pen (which actually ran out halfway through the plotting of Reconstruction as a dodgy kind of portent), which expands on the breakdown until it fills out approximately a chapter.  Again, if you want to read Reconstruction you might want to not look at the right-hand image too closely as it possibly contains spoilers, coming quite near the end.  It was when I'd just replaced the pen, so it's in a stronger colour than pretty much everything before then.

Once I've got that, I'm all set to write.  The one problem with this approach is that you can feel like you've already written it so it can take away the desire to rewrite it.  On the other hand, you have a very clear roadmap of where you're going so, unlike writing by the seat of your pants, you're unlikely to get stuck unless your characters suddenly and wildly deviate from the plot (which is always possible, admittedly).

Obviously, when it comes to thinks like Rose Queen, it all starts and ends with the first step.  Everything else is crammed into my headso if I get hit by a truck tomorrow, that'll be where it stays.  If you're worried about the possibility of sudden death, plotting might be the best way to go.

I Tag...

As the adorable Nicole tagged me (and you can read her four answers over at her blog: http://nicolenally.wordpress.com/2014/08/22/the-writers-blog-tour/), I choose to pass the baton on to Danni and Windi.

Danni has a degree in Writing Contemporary Fiction from Southampton Solent University, writes fanfiction and is a fiend at NaNoWriMo (my description, not hers, but anyone who writes 55,000 words in 18 days is a fiend).  She likes shiny things, has an impressive collection of notebooks that I am just a little big jealous of, and is a Fountain Pen Enablermostly by encouraging everyone around her to buy them.  You can find her stationery-based blog entries at: http://fourwordsfourworlds.wordpress.com/category/danni/.

Windi is another stationery addict and the owner of some very beautiful handwriting.  She has a lot of varied interests and tends to gravitate to new things often, but her love of Matt Damon and Jack Davenport will never die.  She also likes shiny things and notebooks, and is a very sweet and enthusiastic personality who is currently finishing up a novel.  You can find her various blog entries on a variety of themes here: http://windismusings.wordpress.com/.

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