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Author Topic: NSG 5/11 - 5/17
Member # 8533

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Welcome to this week's Novel Support Group (NSG). Anyone can join. If you're new, tell us a bit about who you are and what project you are working on. Feel free to update the NSG Work in Progress thread with your current projects. Although we can report on any number of things, here is a list of suggestions (suggestions welcomed).

  • What were your goals last week and did you accomplish them?
  • Describe what you worked on.
  • Set goals for next week.
  • Did you learn something during this week?

Here is a list of things that you can do each week as we work on our novels (suggestions welcomed).

  • Writing on a novel
  • Characterization
  • World Building
  • Relevant research


Last Week's Goals

No writing accomplished.

I've been working to upgrade one of my computers so I can hand it off to my kids (and then buy myself a new computer). Unfortunately, I got some bad advice from a sales person at a big box store where I bought a computer component and now my power supply fan is dead. So, I have a large paper weight on my desk. [Frown] I could put more money into the thing but it no longer feels worth the financial effort. So, I'll be buying the kids a computer tomorrow. Due to all of this hassle I have not done any writing this week. Love life. [Smile]

My goals for next week:

  • More Article Writing

Would love to do some writing this next week but I'll be working on other things, in addition to setting up the kids new computer with all of their software. Fun.

What did I learn this week?

Don't trust the advice of big box store sales people. [Smile]

Since that's not very "writerly" I'll add something else.

When I returned to writing back in 2008 I was in a hurry to get a book written, represented, and published. I don't know why I'm in this rush to get something written quickly. I like my job; it is the best one I've ever had and it pays well enough to survive and something extra now and then (e.g. new kids computer). However, I still like the thought of finally "making it" and I'm rushing to get there.

As such, I have gone straight to outlining my novels and then writing them. For some this may work but it doesn't seem to work well for me. I get frustrated as I write from those outlines because I don't know anything about the culture. Or, I force the culture and setting to fit the outline. This does not feel natural to me. For the last several years I struggled with this. Sure, I got a novel completed (55,000 words or so) but I'm not happy with it. It's bland because I concentrated on the story and forced the characters and setting to fit within that outline. I'm seeing more and more that the reverse seems more natural, at least to me.

So, what I've done in the past few weeks is contemplate the important aspects of story. I've come up with three basic components that a story needs. These are my thoughts and in no way are these the "only" or "correct" components to story. A story needs, at the very least, setting, character, and plot. Now, from those items I tried to analyze for myself which of them needs to be developed first. For a while this became a question like "Which came first? The chicken or the egg?" However, in my experience plot does not come first. I had that much at least. I decided that setting needed to come first. Here's why.

Without setting (culture, etc.) how can you define a character? I'm sure I could find many studies on this, but we are all influenced in some form or another by our setting (culture, geography, upbringing, etc.). We are defined by all of these factors and more. Without these influences we could all be nearly identical except for our physical traits. Once the characters are developed out of setting the plot follows. Plot comes after characters. After all, the plot is set in motion by the actions of the characters. You can't have plot until the characters make decisions. Those decisions are based, in part, upon the setting that has influenced their lives. In addition, what is important to the characters determines the type of story that can be written. Should I join these dwarfs because they don't like unlucky numbers or should I stay home in my comfortable hole in the hill?

Over the next few months I'm going do some research for myself about how to develop setting. I may write up a few articles for myself as I do this, which I may some day post on a blog. I feel I need to step back (perhaps way back) and analyze story a bit more.


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Member # 8368

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Last Week's Goals:

MAGIC'S FOOL: Figure out what changes I need to make to improve this story.
Still working on this. [Smile]

FIRE AND EARTH (formerly known as SEVEN STARS):
Two more queries out this week. '
Three, actually. [Smile]

BLOOD WILL TELL: The hard part (for me)--marketing.
Still working on this. [Frown]

BLOOD IS THICKER: Let it rest.
Easy one. [Smile]

MAGIC'S APPRENTICE: This goes on the back burner now.
Another easy one. [Smile]

THE BARD'S GIFT: Start working on this seriously. At least the first two chapters.
Yes, and I'm well into chapter 3. I'd have gotten farther if I didn't have certain interruptions this week. Oh, well.

Update my blog twice a week.
Yes. [Smile]

Next Week's Goals:

Figure out what changes I need to make to improve this story.

FIRE AND EARTH (formerly known as SEVEN STARS):
Two more queries out this week.

The hard part (for me)--marketing. This week, I may have to force myself to try twitter.

Let it rest.

Still on the back burner now, for when I get temporarily stuck on THE BARD'S GIFT.

It's started. It's beginning to build momentum. Through Chapter 5 this week.

Update my blog twice a week.

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Member # 7354

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Metzgerhund Retreat
What I said: Finish one first draft, choreograph one new story, and crank out at least 3K new words.
What actually happened: I didn’t finish the one draft I was expecting to, but instead I found a gaping hole in the story line, and have been working on closing it. I clunked out a fraction over 3K new words, although quite a few of them were to patch the aforementioned hole. Oh…and I created the ‘order of events’ for two new stories. Grade: Round-about-esque success

(mainstream novel)
What I said: My goal for this week will be simple: get reacquainted with the story and the characters.
What actually happened: This goal took a weird turn. Instead of pulling out all my notes, I sat down with a blank sheet of paper and wrote down where I wanted the characters to start, where I wanted them to finish, and how they were going to get there. When I was done, I came up with the clearest picture of who these characters were than I had when I was in the trenches writing the story. And, as an added bonus, this exercise gave me what I think is a great idea for the blurb. Grade: Success+!

Metzgerhund Retreat: I want to finish that one story that didn’t get finished last week. If I would stop finding problems, I could do that. [Big Grin] Also…I’ll up my new word count to 4K.

(mainstream novel): At the very least, I will read what I have so far and make sure the order of events is solid before I go any further. My bonus grade will come from making adjustments to the story based on my clearer picture of the characters.


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Member # 9447

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Last week: sent out 2 queries for Null Prophet, finished a critique for my upcoming workshop, & researched/brainstormed for North.

There's one particular plot element of North that I've been stuck on for awhile, so I called up my sister and had two really good conversations about the story. Another person's perspective can be very helpful, and just being forced to articulate what I'm thinking helps me refine it. I haven't quite filled the plot hole yet, but I have something to build from now.

Next week is more of the same: research/plotting and a second critique for my workshop. I'm going to put querying on hold until next month.

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