Sunday, January 8, 2017

Beautiful Books: 2017 Writing Goals

It's time for January's link-up with Cait and Sky! Guess what. It has now been one entire year since I began participating in the Beautiful People/Beautiful Books link-ups. Every minute of it has been stupendous, and I would like to thank the wonderful hosts for, well, hosting it.

And now! On to the questions.

beautiful books

What were your writing achievements last year?

2016 was a very productive writing year for me. Or at least, it was very productive first-draft wise.

At the beginning of the year, I drafted the second book in my space trilogy, tentatively entitled The Prince of Erdania. (Haha, that's funny. That space trilogy seems so far away and long ago. Oh, those characters...I love them still, but I'm in the habit of forgetting they exist, in a way.) That draft turned out to be 40,931 words. And it's messy. Very very messy. That entire story world is messy. Let us move on.

After finishing (ha! "finishing") The Prince of Erdania I started "pantsing" a fantasy story, which became my project for Camp NaNo in April. This story, at one point entitled Ellen of the Wildlands and now dubbed The Pearl and the Horn, turned out to be 61,725 words long and is also hideously messy. And cliche. And messy. Like, I-cringe-when-I-think-about-it messy. Maybe someday I'll go back and try to coax it to life.

Over the summer I kinda took a drafting break. I did, incidentally, write (chiefly for the enjoyment of myself and my siblings) a really long and extremely silly fan-fiction. Usually I call these sorts of things "Tintin Stories;" this one was the "Tintin Book." It's 13,682 words long, and mixes characters from The Lord of the Rings, Tintin, The Great Gatsby, Tom Playfair, and Hogan's Heroes, among others. Even though it was incredibly silly (the authors of the original characters are probably rolling over in their graves), I feel like writing it gave me some experience in drawing two plot-lines together towards one climax.

Sometime during the summer -- towards the end of it, I suppose -- I started yet another rewrite of Lillian, the fairy tale I first started work on some ten years ago. (It's actually probably more like nine years, but ten years sounds cool.) And this time, I honestly think it's going somewhere. This most recent draft is only 32,362 words, as opposed to the last draft's 69,613 words, but it's by far the best.

In November, I participated in NaNoWriMo for the first time ever and actually managed to win! The Time Traveling League's finished word count was 55,009 words, and I'm mildly pleased with it overall. Of course, it needs work. Maybe it needs ten years of work. But I rather like it.

Nieuport 11 & 17 Escadrille N.3 'Cicognes', by Martin Novotny:

I spent December writing more "Tintin Stories" for sibling Christmas presents, a short story for a contest, and, at the very end of December, reading through Lillian once to my little sister and again with a pencil.

What's on your writerly "to-do list" for 2017?

Agh! To-do list for 2017! *jumps around in a tizzy of mixed feelings for a minute*

My first priority is Lillian. I really, really, really want to edit Lillian, and rub it down with a polishing-cloth until it shines. After that....I don't know. I've got a sequel for Lillian in mind, and I'm kind of impatient to get started on that. But I might decide to go back and work on, say, The Time Traveling League.

I'd also like to draft the third book in my space trilogy, if only to make one of my sisters happy.

And ooh! April is blocked off as the month Anna Deubell and I finally write a story we've been planning on for forever -- a retelling of Cinderella/The Wild Swans. Camp NaNo will hopefully ensure that that gets done.

Then there are all the story ideas I'd like to start drafting...mainly historical fiction. Oh, drafting is just so tempting for me. Maybe I'll have to save one of these ideas for NaNo 2017, although whether or not I'll be able to do NaNo with college coming up is questionable.

stories yet to be written:

Tell us about your top-priority writing projects for this year!

I suppose I've already done that a bit, haven't I? Well! I'll blabber a little more, because it's fun.

Lillian has me extremely excited. It's the oldest of my surviving story-children, so the story is quite close to my heart. But it's changed a lot in the last year, so it feels new and exciting at the same time. Because I've finally accepted that it's meant to be middle grade and not YA, it feels nice and small and manageable, not like some stories I could mention (*cough*myspacetrilogy*cough*). I know I can make it into something really worth reading, if I try hard enough. So I'm gonna try.

And oh! The characters and settings I get to write about in it! The fairies and lillidies and turvies and mice and redwing blackbirds! The woods and mouse holes and dollhouses! It's just so much fun -- like a trip into my childhood imagination.

As for that Cinderella/The Wild Swans retelling. I really don't know much about it yet, but it's been hovering on the edge of my imagination lately and it's going to be fun. I just know it is.

How do you hope to improve as a writer? Where do you see yourself at the end of 2017?

Well, I know I want to work on editing. That's my #1 area of intended improvement this year. And then...I don't know, I want to improve on every front.

I've been letting myself fantasize about publication for Lillian sometime sooner than later, so that's one hope (however unlikely) for the end of 2017. Who knows? Maybe by the end of 2017 I'll have my first rejection letter!

So true!:


Describe your general editing process.

My general editing process.

It...isn't.

Okay, okay, I've edited short stories before. Kinda. And written second drafts of novels/marked finished drafts up. But really I don't have enough experience with editing to tell you what my editing process is like.

I plan for it to be something like this:
1. go through current draft with pencil
2. fix glaring plot holes/make major changes that can be fixed by rewriting one or two scenes
3. write way through draft working on characterization
4. read through again to make sure everything makes sense in the major areas
5. go through with a fine-toothed comb fixing wording and stuff
6. start over

On a scale of 1-10, how do you think this draft turned out?

The Time Traveling League: Oh, about a six. I'm being generous because it's a first draft and, what with writing it so quickly, I really can't expect it to be pretty. There's a ton of stuff that needs improvement -- characterization (especially for the main character), plot twists, character motivation, world-building/story-world rules, historical accuracy, and the list goes on. Overall I think it's a decent germ to start from, though.

Lillian: About a nine. The biggest problem is Lillian's characterization. Besides that I'm thrilled with it -- the plot, the story-world, the supporting cast. After ten years, the whole thing is finally starting to bloom! *deep sigh of writer contentment*

Reminds me of the adorable Bonet my grandma Bernie made Marisa. So cute.:

What aspect of your draft do you think needs the most work?

The Time Traveling League: The bad guys. They're still as boring as mashed potatoes without any salt or butter, and, as a result, the conflict is quite lacking. Another big issue is my protagonist -- she isn't involved in the story as much as she should be. I guess you could say the whole thing needs more centralized.

Lillian: Lillian's characterization. She's not sympathetic enough, mainly because I haven't shown why she's acting the way she's acting -- what she loves, what she fears. And her personality/quirks are kind of all over the place. On one page she's dreamy and sweet and obedient, on the next she's feisty and adventurous and giggly. I conjecture that this is from having so many different drafts and different versions of Lillian vying for dominance. I know all her current character qualities could fit together somehow and make her a really interesting character. But right now she's just plain inconsistent instead of interesting.

What do you like the most about your draft?

The Time Traveling League: The ending. I feel like there's a nice mixture of merriness and optimism at front and center with strains of wistful heartbreak running through it.

Lillian: The conflict/plot. The turvies never came in before, and now that they have it's like they've fixed everything that was wrong with the book (by causing all the problems in it, of course). And I like the setting/world-building. It's fun. :)

Snoopy:

What are your plans for this novel once you finish editing? More edits? Finding beta readers? Querying? Self-publishing? Hiding it in a dark hole forever?

The Time Traveling League: I haven't even thought as far as editing it yet, really, so probably hiding it in a dark hole forever. :)

Lillian: First round of edits will probably be followed by beta readers. Then more edits. Then more beta readers, I suppose. And then hopefully querying. And a sequel at some point. :)

What's your top piece of advice for those just finished writing a first draft?

Don't beat yourself up for it not being perfect, because first drafts are never perfect. If you get critical about your first draft, you're running the risk of getting critical about the entire story and possibly dropping it.

(And if you're like me, embrace the fact that it might take ten years for an idea you like to turn into a draft you like. I'm starting to think all my stories need to simmer for a decade before spreading their wings.)

Well! What about you? What kind of writing adventures did 2016 hold? What kind of writing adventures are you setting out on in 2017? Are you participating in Beautiful Books this month? (If so, leave me a link to your post so I can read it!) 

16 comments:

  1. Oh, cool! Woozas! You finished three novels in one year?! I haven't even finished one novel in three years! :P (P.S. I will, though!). And really, Lucy, the ending was the best thing about NaNo's book? *blinks disbelievingly* I hated the ending. What about the characters, what about the setting, the creativity, the sub-conflicts, the beauty, the hilariously charming prose, and all such things?! The ending?! Really, Lucy? Why did it have to end at all?!!!! :(
    Alrighty, sorry. There's my rant for the day. :P For now, I've got to go do something to get "One Day More" out of my head because it's been playing there all morning. :P

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You'll get there! I spent all of 2015 on The Prince's Pendant, and all of quite a few years before that on Lillian. Besides, you're working on lots of books at once, and that's impressive in itself. :)

      But -- but -- there was square dancing in the ending! And they sang "Hail, Hail, the Gang's All Here"! :) All right, so it ended rather differently than I'd expected it to...I'd originally wanted it to be happier. I'm sorry it didn't, for your sake. :) Glad you liked all those other things, though!

      Ooh, One Day More...that is a very easy song to get stuck in your head. I need to listen to more Les Mis...

      Delete
    2. Yeah... I hope to finish Mina's book before the anniversary rolls around, but I'm not sure it'll happen. :P
      Oh, it wasn't the worst, as endings go. I just don't like endings at all, especially to good books, so thus I particularly didn't like it. :)
      And yeah... For never having seen it in my life, I am one of the most obsessive Les Mis fans... :P
      Btw, got any questions for Perce on the blog? I wouldn't ask, but I've only got one person's queries for him and present, and that's not going to make for a very long interview. :P Sowwy.

      Delete
    3. I'm sure you can do it! I believe in you! Gee that sounded cheesy...

      I've never seen it, either, but I still listen to the music. I did read the book rather recently, but I don't recommend doing that. I found it quite maddening. Still like the music, though. :)

      Oh dear! Didn't I ask Percy any questions?? I must have convinced myself I did... Well! Away I go to interrogate Percy de Blyrnwynn! (....did I just butcher that spelling?)

      Delete
    4. Good gracious, I did butcher the spelling...and not only that, the pronunciation! How could I?? Percy, forgive me!!

      Delete
  2. A story with Tintin, LOTR characters, and even a bit of Great Gatsby? That's hilariously awesome!
    Please don't keep the Time Travelling League in a deep dark hole forever. I'd still like to see it, sometime.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was tons of fun to write. :)

      Don't worry...my stories aren't good at staying in deep dark holes. I'm sure it'll find its way out sooner or later.

      Delete
  3. WOW! You got so much done this year! And I want to beta read Lillian! I want to see all the changes you've made since I last read it. :D And I can't wait to write our book!

    annadeubell.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You can certainly beta read Lillian! As soon as I've chopped it up m'self a bit. :) I can't wait to write our book, either! It's going to be so much fun!

      Delete
  4. Wow, congratulations on all the stuff you wrote! That's quite a lot. And they all sound so interesting, too!

    Last year, I started Heaven Bleeds Fire (a heaven vs. hell novella), The Year of Splattered Paint (a Michelangelo/Leonardo da Vinci retelling), and Karissa Goldlock's Guide to (Almost) Utterly Everything (a steampunk/fairyland mashup novel). I also started overhauling my fantasy quartet, and progress is slow but good! It's a bit like Lillian in that I've had it in my mind forever, and now that I'm revamping it, it's actually somewhat good! This year, my goal is probably to finish Karissa, return to HBF, and continue with my fantasy quartet.

    Ellie | On the Other Side of Reality

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Ellie!

      Wow, sounds like you got a lot done last year, too! A steampunk/fairyland mashup -- that sounds stupendous. I've never actually read any steampunk, but it looks really tantalizing! And oh, isn't it nice to revisit an old story and make it into something you can be proud of? Has to be one of the best writer feelings ever. :)

      Thanks for stopping by, and best of luck with your writing!!

      Delete
  5. Wow, that fan fiction sounds... fun. ;) I've never been very into writing fan fiction, but reading about yours kind of makes me want to???? Also Lillian sounds FANTABULOUS!!! *flails with you*

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha! You know, upon reflection I'm not quite sure it qualifies as fan fiction...I've actually never read much of anyone else's, just my own very silly ones. You should try it! It's lots of fun. :)

      Aww, thanks! :) I can't wait to get into editing it!

      Delete
    2. I really should! Just for fun, of course. ;)

      Delete
    3. Exactly! That's the only reason to write a fan fiction, in my humble opinion. :)

      Delete
  6. Exactly! It seems kind of silly to write fanfictions seriously, but for practice I think they could be a very good exercise to get into!

    ReplyDelete