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Author Topic: NSG 4/24 - 4/30
WBSchmidt
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It's that time again, another Novel Support Group post.

For me, the last week has been frustrating in that I finally put aside my novel. This week I sought ideas for a new novel. I came up with a few ideas but none of them really clicked with me. I had decent "hooks" for the beginnings of these ideas but I could not come up with an overall storyline for them. So, I wrote some of them down and let them go. Then, in the middle of the week I came up with an idea that I felt comfortable with and enthusiastic about. So, I am going to run with that story idea and see how it goes.

Since I focused on getting a new story idea I did not do any fiction writing this week. However, I did start up a blog. I want to track the progress of this new project as it moves along. I thought it would be interesting to look back after the project is complete to see what trials I went through as I wrote it. If anyone is interested feel free to check out W. B. Schmidt's blog.

From here I will concentrate on the world building aspect of this new novel. First, I will work on the characters since this idea appears to be very character driven. My last novel seemed more plot driven and that may be why it failed (for me anyway). I did not know the characters well enough. After getting the characters down I will work on the plot and see how the characters will react to the events I will throw at them.

That was my week. How about yours?

-- William


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InarticulateBabbler
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Well, I have written a good chunk of the first chapter of my new Historical (tentatively called Warrior).

I'm waiting to start on Kevin J. Anderson's maps.

More than likely I'll sign over the option to the film version of my flash fiction story The Sad Girl today.

I've shamefully let editing APTW fall along the wayside, but I will get back to it--as a matter of fact, I believe I'll add some danger and possibly rearrange some events.


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Meredith
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I've mostly been giving Book One (The Shaman's Curse) (finished except for polishing) a once-over. I'm almost done with that. I still have work to do on the synopsis, though. Taking a rest has started to pay off, though. Ideas are coming through for what Book Two (The Ignored Prophecy) needs on the rewrite. And I feel excitement building for that project. It's going to be a little different than originally envisioned.

I also did a couple of critiques and have one or two more waiting.

I haven't gotten to the world-building for Dreamer's Rose, yet. The background for that is mostly blah right now. I need to generate some ideas about what makes it different from generic fantasy-land before I can go back to that project.

Not my best week. But not bad, either.

Goals:

Finish the synopsis and get a high buff finish on those first four chapters of Book One.

Start the rewrite of Book Two.

Start world-building for Dreamer's Rose, so I have something to work on when I get tired of these characters and need a break.


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Jeff Baerveldt
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@ WBSchmidt -

DO NOT QUIT YOUR NOVEL! DO NOT QUIT YOUR NOVEL!

From your posts -- and your blog -- I gather that this is your first attempt at a novel in long time. So you can technically count it as your first novel.

I just turned 35. I started writing "more or less" seriously when a few months before I turned 30. During those five years, I abandoned close to 9 novels for all sorts of reasons. And none of those reasons were good.

This year I told myself I was going to finish a novel. I told myself that finishing it was all that mattered. My mid-March, I was able to hold my COMPLETED 310-page crime novel in my hands. It was a wonderful feeling.

But you know what -- that novel sucks. But who cares? It's finished. And a finished BAD novel is far better than an UNWRITTEN great novel.

Two years ago I emailed Brandon Sanderson (the dude who's finishing THE WHEEL OF TIME) and asked him for some advice. He said that all writers have five bad novels in them, so I should forget about publishing and just get to work on writing those five novels. It took me two freaking years to finally take his advice, but I am. And not only have I finished one novel, I'm a little more than 30K words into my second.

I often think back and wonder where I'd be if I had just written those 8 or 9 novels I abandoned over the last five years. Wasted time.

Don't fall into the habit of quitting. Don't do what I did. On your blog you noted that the main character is no longer the main character. You know what you to do? You start on the next page, whatever it is -- 210, 346, 497 -- and start writing AS IF your main character is the one you think it is.

Just keep writing it. Don't quit. You'll be happier in the long run because you not only know you can finish a novel, you know that you're able to suffer through all the bad times writing a novel will bring.

[This message has been edited by Jeff Baerveldt (edited April 24, 2009).]


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WBSchmidt
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@ Jeff Baerveldt

I understand what you are saying. Yes, in a way this is my first novel, especially since I decided to change the storyline significantly from what it was ten years ago. I certainly have not abandoned that novel entirely, believe me. I want that novel and the series behind it to be my "flagship" series. I have a lot of world building sketched for that world that goes back hundreds of years in the past and I have events churning through my mind that can become several novels after this one takes place.

However, when you lose enthusiasm and start getting headaches over trying to fix something you envision as being broken (whether or not in reality it is broken) then writing becomes a chore. I decided to set the novel aside for the moment and work on something completely fresh. That was not an easy thing to do, believe me. However, I think for now it is a good thing for me to "take a break from the family" for a while.

I will definitely return to that world. Perhaps I'm making a mistake. However, I have a great deal of enthusiasm for this new project and that's important also.

If you would like to discuss this further feel free to e-mail me so we don't hijack this thread. I think you and I have things in common and I appreciate your thoughts.


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Gaudrhin
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Hi! First timer here, but here's what's been on my mind this week.

The bank I work at has stopped letting me write while on the clock (my branch is really slow, especially in the middle of the week) so my writing has screeched to a halt. I was writing a chapter a day. SO I'm kinda floating in the water right now.

The project I've been working on, Blood of Princes, is something I'm working on with my best friend and roommate. I've been doing the writing, and discussing it with her every day. Until they stopped letting me write. So until I can get her to sit down for five minutes in front of the lappy with me, that's standing still.

SO I've got 6 options for continuing:

1. Try to pick up on the fantasy series I've been working on since the beginning of 2007. I'm writing draft one of book 3 and polishing the second draft of book 1.

2. Try to work on writing more of The Sleeping Boy. I got hung up doing world development on it, but I think most of what I developed is going to be scrapped. The world was too big for the story.

3. Work on Battle Gypsy (working title) A lot of this will be development. I got stuck and need to dig myself out. I just haven't yet to this point.

4. Pick back up on Mental Pages, my fantasy story paralleling the lives and relationships of the 12 Apostles.

5. Start the children's chapter book that has been sitting in the back of my mind for awhile, A Pocket Dragon.

6. Come up with something new.

I know I'm working on a lot. It was sort of the nature of writing at the bank. It was all I had to do, so I did it everyday. I had enough stuff that if I got stuck on what I was working on, I had something else to occupy my time with. What I'm wanting to do is really focus on one thing, I just don't know what.

Wow... it just felt good to kinda vent this. I already like this group!

[This message has been edited by Gaudrhin (edited April 24, 2009).]


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Jeff Baerveldt
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Last week's goals for my current novel, tentatively titled THE RUINS OF MALZIRUN.

1. To draw map -- check.

2. To write 7,000 words -- check (7,889 words, to be precise.)

This weeks goals:

1. To finish Part 1 of MALZIRUN.

2. To outline the at least half of Part 2.



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satate
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I did good this week. I got my WotF story finished and sent off for critique and I got through all my critique. I feel a little lost now since this is the first time I don't have some unfinished project to write on, but I got a great idea for a new novel and one for a short story which I plan on starting soon. So I have a little time if anyone needs a reader I have some time while I wait for critiques to get back on my WotF story.

My goal is to start brainstorming ideas for this new novel and do critiques.

Good luck on writing everyone!

Oh and welcome Gauhdrin.

[This message has been edited by satate (edited April 26, 2009).]


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BoredCrow
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Welcome, Gaudrhin!

As for me, I just now got my partials sent out to the agents that requested them. So I'll finally have some brain space to get to other projects.

My goals this week:
-finish all critiques in my inbox (not that there's many)
-work on my WOTF story
-work on the letter game I have going with my friend


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Unwritten
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After several weeks off, I am stepping back into the fray. The time off was good for my imagination. I'd written a very, very bad short story for IB's contest a while back, and last week I realized that the story itself would fit into the world of novels I have half written. At the beginning of the first novel, someone leaves, and is MIA for the rest of the novels--he's mentioned occasionally, but no one knows where he went. HA HA--the idea for my short story not only answers that question and turns his story into a novel of his own, but it also makes my world more complex.

My goals:
Finish my critique queue.

Do some storybuilding and editing.

I'm stuck in a rut of working the same stories over and over. Jenny's story is close to completion. I'd like to finish it, get it out of the way and figure out why I'm stuck in an endless loop on the next story--and get out of it. I've got my trusty How To Write Science Fiction and Fantasy with me, and I'm going to read it until I figure out what's missing. I think it has something to do with some underdeveloped minor characters and only a hazy idea of what the major conflict is. Yep--that would do it! :-)

Melanie

P.S. WBSchmidt--Nice blog. That's something I'd like to start one of these days.

BoredCrow--YAY! I'm so glad you got that done! You are my hero!


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WBSchmidt
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@ Unwritten

Thank you. I wanted track my ups and downs as I wrote a project to see what mistakes I make along the way. Since I'm a very structured writer I hope this will help me better plan and organize future projects. Plus, I hear that having a web presence is becoming important even for unpublished authors. So, my blog will fill several needs.

And, thanks to Jeff Baerveldt, I will be continuing the project I had planned to set aside for a while. What I discovered (well, finally admitted to) is that I did not dig deep enough into the character planning and world building aspects of that project. Therefore, it felt as though I had lost the spark. Now, after a couple days working with it again, I have made significant progress in developing my main character.


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BoredCrow
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No no, Unwritten, you guys are totally my heroes for stepping up and helping me in last minute edits.

I was a bit dazed last night, so I forgot to put special thanks in here for all the people in the group who helped me read a chapter or more for this submission. So thank you, satate and Unwritten and Steve and WBSchmidt, and especially Meredith, who read ALL FIVE CHAPTERS in the space of a week! You guys rock, and you totally made my first five chapters much, much better, and I'm really proud of how the novel is right now.


(and Kitti and BenM and Nate and my writer's group. If I forgot anyone who stepped up and read for me in the past three weeks, please smack me).


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shimiqua
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So in my reading of Dragon Fate, I've realized that it is muddy crap.

I've got this awful feeling that although I can see a good story behind all the awfulness, I'm not a good enough writer to make it any better.

So I guess Jeff is right, and this is just my first complete crappy novel, and there is just four more of these I'm gonna have to write before I actually write something good.

It sucks, and I'm bumming right now.

I appologies for those of you who I made read it, when I thought it was freakin awesome. I think I had blinders on or something.

On to my crappy novel number two!

~Sheena


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BoredCrow
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Aw, ::hugs:: to Sheena. I certainly didn't get the 'utter crap' from it, not in the least. I loved the beginning. Don't be so hard on yourself! You've got skill, that's for sure.
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InarticulateBabbler
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I see that I'm not the only one who gets first draft-sucks-itis.

Sheena, give it a bit of time (start writing the next project), then go back into it with a critiquer's eyes--that is, with the thought of helping another writer make it better.

Some great advice can be found here. (Sheena, pay particular attention to #II.)

You're being way too hard on yourself (take it from someone who intimately knows the symptoms).


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Unwritten
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That's the spirit Sheena! We have to love writing enough that we don't give it up even if we stink. (I know, I know...do as I say, not as I do...)

That said--you are not a crappy writer! Don't toss that book out, cause someday you'll come back to it and say, "Wow. What an awesome book this is. Why did I think it was crap?"

So, on to your next work of genius!
Melanie


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satate
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You're not a crappy writer Sheena. I enjoyed your story.
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WBSchmidt
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@ shimiqua

Although I'm new here still, I would say that it may be a good idea to set this novel aside and work on another project. It may be that you need to clear your head of this story for a while and come at it with a fresh mind later.

What I hope to do with my novels is to finish a first draft and then do some pleasure reading to help clear my head. Only after reading at least one new book will I go back to that novel and do an edit on it.

You could do the same thing or work on another novel project or simply go camping, anything to take you mind off of that novel. Sometimes coming back later with a fresh start allows you to see things you did not see before.

Hope that helps.

-- William


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shimiqua
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You guys are so great, thanks for the words of encouragement, and thanks Rich for the link. Really helpful.

I've started polishing chapter one, and then I get "Oh, this is such crap!" moment, so I scroll down and read another chapter, which, of course, has mistakes.

I've just become overwhelmed with the massive amount that needs to be fixed.

My solution is to copy each chapter into its own file, and then work on that piece by piece. Hopefully then I don't get overwhelmed by how much work needs to be done.

Second drafts are a lot less fun than firsts.

My problem is that I allowed myself to write crap the first time, and now am surprised that some of it stuck.

~Sheena


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Jeff Baerveldt
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Let's get some perspective here.

Every writer says the same thing -- you start off by writing crap, then you get better. Ray Bradbury says it takes a million words. OSC says it takes 10,000 pages. Stephen King says it takes 10 years writing 1.5 hours a day. Brandon Sanderson says it takes 5 novels.

The point is this: to become a good writer, it's necessary to endure a period of apprenticeship.

So put Novel #1 on the shelf and forget about it until you get a couple of more under your belt. Novel #2 will be better than Novel #1, and Novel #3 will be better than Novel #2. Once you gain the technical skills needed to tell a good story, you'll be able to go back to Novel #1 and make it right.

Also, don't forget this: With each novel you write, you now have more intellectual property from which you can build future novels -- even if you don't publish these novels. Setting, character, basic plots -- these can all be reused five, six, seven novels down the road.

Try to yourself as building a career, not merely writing one novel. If you see it like that, then no time is wasted . . . even if the writing itself isn't professional quality.


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Unwritten
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Great advice. Thanks for that.
Melanie

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satate
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I'm about to do much the same thing Sheena. My plan, after I let the story sit a little longer, is to focus on one chapter for a week or two unitl I get through each chapter. Then I'm declaring the story done even though I know it will still have mistakes. I plan on trying to send it out to get published but I'm not going to do it with much hope since it's my first novel. Then I'm going to start on the next novel.

I've already started world building the next one because I don't want to go too long only editing. I feel your pain Sheena, but I also think you're too hard on yourself. You're going to be great.


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BenM
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I really should check this forum once in a while; I can identify with the challenge. I'm trying to get started on crappy novel number two. Crappy novel number one, of which I'm very proud simply because it exists, is so crappy -- and I so under-skilled -- that I don't feel ready to tackle what I know are major problems with it (I made 120+ footnotes as I wrote it of things that needed fixing, and that's just what I knew at the time).

I'm finding it very hard to get the momentum going though. Life has been pretty tough this year due to personal/family issues, much more so than in the last few years. The best I can do at the moment is bend in the breeze, weather the storm, and make a little note here and there when creativity strikes. Eventually the storm will break and life, and writing, will pick up again. With that in mind I'm bringing an exercise book with me on a family weekend away this week - hopefully I'll get a bit more plot and characterization sorted out.

So I guess my point is, if you're having trouble getting started or making progress... I'm right there with you :)


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Jeff Baerveldt
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@ BenM --

Can't you find time to write one page a day? 250 words? Do that, and you'll have your novel finished in a year.

Just a bit of encouragement.


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shimiqua
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On a positive note, Crappy novel number two is going much smoother than crappy book number one. I can really tell a difference in the quality of writing when I stand them side by side. And Dragon Fate is so much better than the first novel I tried to write, but gave up. I compared those two, and I was amazed at the improvement.

So lesson learned. I'm not there yet, but I am moving, and moving in the right direction.

I'm just impatient I think. I want to be published now.

Everyone in second draft sucks mode, think positively! We'll get there.

~Sheena


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Jeff Baerveldt
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quote:
I want to be published now.

Who doesn't?


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