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Today’s Project

Today I started work on an image I hope to work up to a standard that I could handle putting on my cover for “Healer’s Touch”, if a better alternative doesn’t present itself. So, rather than a bunch of words, here’s a bunch of images.

Early development image
I sketched this far in Artrage Pro

I really wanted to like ArtRage – and I do! – but I am finding GIMP preferable for this sort of work.

Read more…Today’s Project

Novel Factory [Software]

So I’m beginning work on Book #2 of the “Weapons of War Trilogy” (current title … what can I say, I am rather attached to it). I’m trying out the beta version of the upcoming writing software “Novel Factory“. It’s challenging, because I don’t naturally work in such a structured way. And yet it’s very helpful, because that structure is exactly what I need to help me create a quality follow-up to the first book.

Novel Factory Screen Shot
I love the fact that you can link several images with each character

I learned a lot working on that first book. I learned from Larry Brooks about story structure – midpoint reversals and plot points, etc – and Randy Ingermanson about the Snowflake method of developing an idea through to a publishable novel, and I have learned TONS of stuff from Janice Hardy, from various methods of writing strategy through detailed how-to’s when it comes to reducing passive voice and writing dialogue and the like.

The Novel Factory Software combines a lot of those ideas and helps the novice writer (or the semi-experienced with heaps more yet to learn) apply the theory. It still leaves a lot of room for the writer to do their own research, but it even helps a bit with that, with a “Resources” section with links to where you can purchase well-known writing advice books. But it basically guides you through the Snowflake method, while also getting you to think about the major plot points. It even gets you thinking about Scenes and Sequels (Heads and Tails in the software) … It’s really rather cool. The more I look at it, the more I can see it being incredibly helpful.

Another feature I really love – because I thought about doing it for my first novel but didn’t get myself organized enough to do it – is that for each character, it encourages you to write a mini-synopsis for each scene re: what each character is up to. To me, that is a really good idea. As I said, I wanted to do it the first time around, I just got lazy. But this makes it so much easier – I believe it automatically links the scenes a character is in to the character’s profile so you can then go and make notes about what that character is doing at the time.

Novel Factory Screen Shot
Multiple images per character, and scene-links that allow you to really delve into each character every step of the way

I haven’t actually started writing yet, I admit, but that is because I don’t have the story worked out just yet. I have a couple of scene ideas, which are evolving as I think because of other ideas that have cropped up – and changes I made to the end of the First Book, which affect character knowledge at the start of Book Two … probably for the best.

The one thing I have requested is a bit more of a sandbox area. I mean, I love the organizational structure of the software. But I am a partial-pantster. I need a little space to just play. Also, whenever I delete scenes or sections, I always keep them. So I need a place to move them to. We shall see if that shows up in the final edition of the programme. I have played with yWriter and Scrivener previously (Book 1 was greatly developed in yWriter and completed in Scrivener). I made the switch to Scrivener because I liked the flexibility it offered me to design my own work area. Well, actually, the main draw was that I could build my character profiles and link as many photos as I wanted … (Hello, Novel Factory … you do that too, you say? Hmmmm). The total freedom of structure in Scrivener did lead to my files getting rather messy. I actually have three Scrivener projects leading to the final version of my story. Although, that’s not really a reflection of the software – that’s how different some of my versions were … They were so different I had to basically start over.

Anyway, this post is turning into a bit of a ramble, and bedtime is fast approaching. I just wanted to toot the horn for this new piece of writing software. I think it shows a lot of promise.

Officially done

The final draft of what I am now calling “Healer’s Touch (Book 1 of Weapons of War trilogy)” – trilogy being expected, but tentative until I nail down a few more details – is done and submitted in a competition to, hopefully, win a critique.

I have also forwarded copies to two willing beta-readers.

So the plan is to try not to look at it for the next 4-6wks. I may look at it for the sake of:

1. studying it for structure so I can learn from what I’ve done and hopefully do things more efficiently next time

2. making notes re: character details/timelines so that I have good reference material to go on with

I have several other things I can do instead:

Read more…Officially done

Beta Reading … result number 1

My first “Beta Reader” report came back tonight. This is good. I may just have enough time to address the issues raised (which were already in the back of my mind, anyway) before the Tuesday deadline for the Manuscript Contest.

It sucks a little bit that I was aware of some of the issues already. It means I had chosen to put them in the “Too Hard” basket. But then again, I like a challenge. Can I deal with htem without fundamentally changing the story? I think I can. It’s amazing how much I have had to leave out of this just over 100,000 word story (currently at 103,908), and I’m about to take out a little more (because it is simply an issue I didn’t have the space for my characters to deal with in this story). I was worried I wouldn’t have material for a trilogy. I think I do now that I have to keep relegating all this stuff to Book 2. It is stuff that readers will want to know – it’s good back story! But it was awkward to bring up in this Book.

Oh, one comment from my reader was that the title (“Weapons of War”) wasn’t all that “interesting” … hmmm. Anyone got any ideas?

That could still be the title of the Trilogy, of course. I haven’t finalized that, yet.

So themes to base titles on …

* I have a girl who can heal (she is a Syaenuk – the most superior form of the Aenuk race).

* I have a man who is super fast and strong (he is a Syakaran – the most superior form of the Karan (pl. Kara) race)

* I have two warring nations

Read more…Beta Reading … result number 1

Final Edits

I thought I’d let y’all know where I’m at with the Work In Progress.

Hey there sexy, I heard you were into World Wa...
Hey there sexy, I heard you were into World War era English fantasy literature (Photo credit: revrev)

Currently I am working on the edits for the final chapter (OK, well, not currently … currently I’m writing a blog entry, but well, you know what I mean). In my first draft, I brought up a few issues that I plan to deal with properly in the next book – sort of a foreshadowing kind of thing. But, well, I think my readers would prefer a happy ending. So, on this edit, I am reviewing what issues get brought back to mind for the readers.

I’ve been trying to decide if my story is a straight adult Fantasy novel, or if I should class it as YA Fantasy. I suppose that with my two protags being 17 and 22, it is more YA. Plus, I read a snippet to a friend last night and realized just how tongue-in-cheek a lot of my writing is. I can’t seem to help writing with a jovial-lilt. It’s my “voice”, I guess. I don’t know. I guess I’ll get a few people to read it and see how it goes. I’ve had positive comments from various people – male, female, older and younger than myself, so maybe it doesn’t matter. I guess I label it fantasy and let the blurb and first few pages advertise it. I don’t know. I’ve never done this before. And I don’t see me going through a publisher at this stage, so I’ve got to sort it out myself.

It’s a bit of a game we play, isn’t it? You put your piece out there and see where it lands … will you collect $200? Will you go directly to jail? Will you have to pay a fine for landing on someone else’s square?

 

Snippet for Snippet’s sake

 

So, you guys know I’m not organized enough to have special days for special kinds of posts (I call it being creative … You know, writing whatever my inspiration tells me to write) but I know sometimes other bloggers share bits of their WiPs(eseses – uh oh … maybe my coffee was a touch stronger than necessary), and I just felt like sharing a scene.

Um, yeah … that’s all the intro I can think of. So here goes:

Leaving yet another small town behind, Jonas swung from Chino’s back and punched a tree.

Things were not going well. They had been zigzagging through every Turhmos town that lay roughly between Brurun and Duffirk – that city being the capital of Turhmos. Jonas suspected that was where Braph was, but there was no telling for sure. He could just as easily hide in a small town, if he found the right one. Granted, small town folk were more likely to talk and be suspicious of the kind of activity Braph got up to, but it wasn’t impossible. And so, they had been checking, with nothing to show for it. There hadn’t even been sightings.

Jonas punched the tree again. Bark and blood went flying – he might have been super strong, but his skin wasn’t impenetrable.

“Hey, Jonas.” Hisham slid from his own horse and tried to stop Jonas taking another swing. But Jonas went Syakaran on him and swung even faster and harder preventing Hisham grabbing his arm.

The tree creaked, and pain shot up Jonas’ arm. He bent over, cradling the limb, then shaking out his hand, all the while cursing profusely and stamping a foot. It was a hard-won victory, but a victory nonetheless.

“That’s not helping, man,” said Hisham, placing a hand on Jonas’ back. “We’re doin’ the best we can.”

Jonas took a moment to breathe through his curses. Then he straightened, stretching and clenching the injured hand. He’d scraped his knuckles good and jarred his bones, but nothing was broken. If he’d been alone in a room, he might have been pacing and throwing things. Nature didn’t always offer a decent alternative. But punching a tree was close.

Jonas looked at Hisham thinking he would just agree with his friend, climb back on his horse, and they would carry on. But when he looked up, all he wanted to do was punch something – someone – else, and Hisham didn’t deserve it.

Jonas turned from his friend, striding several frustrated paces, muttering incoherently, cursing Braph, cursing Turhmos, cursing himself for leaving Llew, cursing Llew for not just letting him be and staying put inside where she was safe, cursing Lord Tovias for not having an estate secure against Braph . . . He walked away from and back to Hisham several times, muttering and cursing, muttering and cursing. And finally stopped, puffing out a deep breath, in front of his friend.

“I know,” he said. “But it’s not enough. Braph can fly.”

The usual “I’m open for constructive” criticism invitation applies. Of course, scenes out of the middle of the story might not work as well as I think they do out of context, but oh well.

 

Heh …

So, I’ve been editing up a storm. The Weekend went really well. I made edits on a hard-copy print out, so then I had to type them up. Great – actually, it was quite good – I got to revise the edits (some I ended up ignoring, and some I re-edited).

Now I am up to the chapters that I know need some serious editing . . . or, rather, re-writing. I need to double-check character motivations and reactions, and then there are those two coincidences in one chapter to tackle. Well, as of tonight, I have a plan for one of them.  And, I do have a plan for the rest of it . . .

So, why is the actual re-writing so hard? Maybe I’m scared that the re-writes will need more re-writes . . . Hmm . . . Well, I guess I won’t know until I do them. And time is running out!

I think part of it is finding the “perfect” (or, at least, “perfect enough”) environment to write in. Fact is, I got me and the toddler out of the house fairly early this morning. We went for a drive to drop off some work documents; then we hung out at the dog park for an hour, throwing the ball for the dog and walking the paths; and then it was the supermarket . . . We got home right on lunch time, so it was lunch, nappy, and get the kid off to bed. He went down pretty easily because he was tired. But, guess what? So was I . . . Writing didn’t come so easy under the circumstances. Luckily I had edits, and a new (handwritten) scene to type up, so I got something done.

And, of course, I’m trying to do my voting for The Countdown, which means listening to music that I need to pay a little attention to while I write. Hmm. Not the “perfect” environment.

Well, I think I shall head to bed. I’m reading a friend’s story (which can be found here – NB: it’s really rather good … starts off a bit romancy for my taste, but it really picks up the pace – and she’s still working on it, so it will no doubt be awesome by the time she finishes it) and it keeps keeping me up late. So, I really ought to get to bed a little earlier!

Wish me luck with my re-writes. I just have to commit. Put them in written words. Get them out of my head. Yes. Must. Tomorrow . . . By the end of the weekend . . .

P.S. Seriously considering taking up that “get up before the rest of the household wakes” writing timetable … considering.