Summer vacation is here, at least for my son. What that means for me, of course, is finding new and creative ways to keep an active, extroverted elementary aged boy occupied for two months. Not easy for an introverted writer personality.
I have a few goals for the summer, beside staving off boredom and insanity. Promises, Like Tears might be written, but it needs to undergo some major revision. Essentially what I have is the plot all laid out, and now I need to make sure everyone’s character arcs are headed in the right direction. I’ve set a personal goal of having this all worked out by November, at which point I can start passing it to some alpha readers.
I’ve started work on Free, which is the story about the winged people who live on floating islands and the earth elementals that plague them. Normally I do a brief outline, laying out the main plot points; a more detailed outline, laying out things in an event-reaction format; and then I start writing. I’m trying something a little different, in that I’m making a third, scene-by-scene outline. Essentially, a summery. I’m hoping that doing this will allow me to catch more of the major snags NOW, as opposed to after I’ve written the thing. I’ve been learning my organization on Shades, which means each book ends up going through three and four and sometimes five drafts before I find the best method. Fixing the big stuff in post is challenging, because there’s always something else and something else and something ELSE you realize you’ve missed. I’d like to move beyond that.
Free is my “when I get tired of revising” project, with a tentative goal of being done (or at least have a draft done) by the end of the year.
I was planning to plow through This Chosen Fate during November’s NaNoWriMo, but now I think if I’m going to do that, I’ll need to take some time beforehand and do a scene-by-scene outline, like the one I’m doing for Free. I’ll probably have to see where I am around September/October to decide if I want to jump ship at that point.
The reason I’m working on these other manuscripts before tackling the final Shades book is because it’d be nice to have a couple of other, stand-alone works to start submitting around, if I just can’t get anywhere with Shades. It could be that I’ll have to “break in” with something else.
One summer-specific thing I would like to accomplish is to get my online presence figured out. I’ve thought on and off about branding and platform and stuff like that…but it’s one of those things that can be hard when you’re writing fiction. When I’m coming up with a story, I don’t sit there and consciously say, “Okay, now does this story fit within my brand?” Obviously there are certain kinds of stories I’m likely to write, certain patterns I tend to fall in, but I would like to preserve the freedom to write the kinds of stories I don’t write, if that’s what a particular story requires. If that makes any sense. I don’t want to pigeon-hole myself before I even get started.
So it’s a matter of coming up with something vague enough to give me that freedom to write what comes to me, but specific enough to not be meaningless. And one thing, I think, that defines me is a dislike of black and white morality in fiction. As much as I love Lord of the Rings, for example, there’s never really any doubt about who the main good guys and bad guys are. Much of the fantasy genre is like that, where the bad guys are not really characters so much as they are forces of nature. However, and I don’t know what this says about me, but heroes who are essentially good and villains who are irredeemably evil don’t interest me much.
I like bad people who are painfully sympathetic. I like normal people who are forced to make hard sacrifices. I think Gollum and movieAragorn are far more interesting than Frodo or Sam. I want to know where Saruman went wrong, and I’d like to see him struggle with it instead of just going full-blown antagonist on everyone. I like stories in which the protagonists and antagonists are evenly matched and equally right in their own way, if I can manage it, and nobody is truly the “hero”.
I guess that’s kind of a brand. What I haven’t figured out is how to sum all that up in a nice, pithy slogan.
Another thing I need to do is separate my online writing persona from my normal online persona. Which means having different twitter accounts, different facebook accounts, etc. Which, hopefully, means I can still post all the liberal, political mess I like to keep up with on my personal accounts, and not having it come back later to bite my author persona in the butt. This will mean figuring out where all my various accounts and crosspostings and stuff ARE, and rerouting them to the appropriate places. Grunt work. But necessary.