Revisions & “Project 2012”

I’m still outlining my current novel project.  But some of you out there are revising novels.  The first quarter of 2012 is already almost half over, but if that “revising a novel” thing describes you, then you might still find this to be of interest.

Writer Merrilee Faber has launched on her blog what she calls “Project 2012”: a one-year plan to revise an existing first draft and start and finish a new first draft for a new book during the 2012 calendar year.  She’s got a pretty tight program for how to achieve those two concurrent goals, and a few interesting tools to help along the way.  So if this sounds interesting to you, maybe you should check it out.

What follows are some links to some of the first few interesting posts she’s put up on the project:

http://notenoughwords.wordpress.com/category/project-2012/

http://notenoughwords.wordpress.com/2011/12/07/project-2012-from-first-draft-to-submission/

http://notenoughwords.wordpress.com/2011/12/08/project-2012-program-outline/

http://notenoughwords.wordpress.com/2011/12/29/project-2012-and-a-plan-with-a-capital-p/

http://notenoughwords.wordpress.com/2012/01/04/project-2012-starting-your-revision-step-1-the-read-through/

Plus, here’s another tool that one writer – Kerryn Angell, a particpant of Merrilee’s “Project 2012” – built off of Merrilee’s tools:

http://www.kerrynangell.com/2012/01/project-2012-starting-your-revision/

Of course… as I said, I’m not revising.  I’m still plotting and hopefully soon writing my first draft.  So what I’m really doing  here is posting these links up for my own personal future reference, come that time when I am finally revising (Project 2013?  2014? Somewhere in-between?)… But hey, if you are revising, it doesn’t hurt if this helps you out, too.

Missed One

As I was doing a quick bit of “research” on my personal writing history – to make sure I got some of the details right on my right on my recent posts of the same topic – I made a discovery in my notebook.  When I wrote up my entry about my various novel and story projects, I’d missed a potential “back-burner” item for a novel concept I came up with following some of my personal set-backs.  I’ve amended the “Note on Novel Nomenclature” entry with the missing project, called “Book of C”.

“Book of C”, like most of the other back-burner projects, currently exists only as an entry of approximately 500 to 1000 words or so in my notebook.  That’s the same state that you’ll find “Book of J” in.  “Book of M” differentiates itself by having about a half-dozen such entries at this point (which is barely anything at all compared to more than a hundred entries in my journal about “Project SOA”).

I describe “Book of C” as a genre mash-up, in a sense.  Part of the idea behind it is to combine tropes and conventions from multiple genres.  Unlike “Book of M” and “Book of J”, which are conceptually stand-alones (at least for now), “Book of C” is conceptually the first in a trilogy.  It centers on three  characters who are brought together in unlikely circumstances in spite of their “differences”, and find they must rely on each other if they’re to escape the powers that hunt them.  In all honesty, though, I’ve not fleshed this one out significantly, even as compared to “Book of J” (which had the benefit of having most of its major plot points laid out for me in a dream).

Still, the initial idea seemed fun, so I’ll definitely be giving it thought in the future to see if I can put some meat on its bones, someday.

A Note on Novel Nomenclature

So, I’ve written in the past about “the novel that I’ve been working on since forever” (and also often used the term “blather” when referring to it) and I’ve mentioned the new novel that I intend to start writing (just as soon as I have time to write).

I’ve come to find these long descriptive phrases to be unwieldy.  And, from the perspective of you, the reader, they’re not entirely useful or meaningful.  Because those long, unwieldy descriptions don’t tell you anything about the book itself but instead tell you about my temporal relationship with the book.

This ends now.  Inasmuch as I may continue to refer to either or both of these books – or even inasmuch as I might refer to any of my writing projects – I intend to start referring to those works and projects either by their titles (in the fullness of time) or by code-titles (in the beginning).  Eventually, therefore, I may be able to add word count meters and write in blog posts about my various projects and what I’m doing in them, and it will be easier to you, the reader, to understand what I mean rather than having to parse some long-and-not-altogether-useful-phrase like “that novel that I’ve been working on since forever”.

So, let’s get started. Continue reading

Review: Wheel of Time Books 1 thru 12

So, over the holiday weekend, I finally finished The Gathering Storm, the twelfth book in the “Wheel of Time” series by Robert Jordan.  I’d mentioned some time ago that when I finish this book, I’d do a review of the series up to this point.  My reasoning for doing a review of the series, and not of just this book, is that by this point fans of the series are likely to know whether or not they want to read the next book, whereas people who’ve never read these books are more likely to want to start from the beginning.  So, a review is of little worth to the former (especially some ten months after the book’s release) and the latter will be more interested to know if the series as a whole is worth investing in.  So, here’s my review: the good, the bad, and the ugly of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time.

(I will try to keep this review spoiler-light, as it is intended for those who’ve never read the books, but I can’t promise I won’t mistakenly slip one in here or there.) Continue reading

First Hint of a Novel

I was a bit excited about this, so I wanted to share it with you all.

I’d been struggling for some time with the notion that maybe I”m not quite ready to write that novel I’ve been working on since forever.  Anyway, I’m focusing on short stories for now, because that’s all I can fit in the little slices of time I currently have.  But what I really want to write is  novels.

And when it comes to writing novels, there’s that epic novel I’ve been working on since forever, as previously alluded to.

But I love the idea of that novel too much to leave it in the hands of the unskilled self that I am now.  I want that novel to be something great.  But I cannot write great fiction, as yet.  I need to know first that I can even write very good fiction.  But I can write something else.

So, at some point in the recent past (and I may have mentioned here) I decided to shift gears.  I decided that when I get into writing a novel, I will not start by writing this epic behemoth of a thing.  I will write something else instead.  After all, I had three or four different ideas for very different, other novels to write.  So I thought about the ideas, and I felt out which one I felt I could actually start to develop.  And one of them I kept coming back to as the idea that just felt right.

I’ll admit, though, I was afraid.  What if I could only do that one novel idea, the one I’d been working on since forever already?  What if I didn’t have what it takes to even attempt to write something else?  What if I couldn’t think of enough good ideas – to flesh out characters and world and plot – to make this other idea work?

I don’t know why I worried so much.  All I had to do was think about it for a while.  And I did.  And as I did, ideas started popping up in my head.  Oh, well, this is what happens in the first chapter.  But then this happens in the second.  This is the inciting incident, the thing that gets the main character started on her journey.

I only have the barest of details yet figured out.  Some of the first bases of the world-building that I sketched out a few years ago when the idea first came to me.  The first sketches of a few characters.  And now the first sketches of how the story opens.  I’m still working on the plot – as in, what is the overarching plot, and what does the main character want, and what is the course of the overall journey?  But I was delighted to find myself adding a couple new handwritten entries in my little notebook (I call it my Book of Ideas), and that these new entries, their not just for the same old book I’ve been working on since forever.  They’re for a new book idea.

The former book, I’ll still be working on it.  I can’t abandon it.  I’ll still write ideas for it down.  I’ll build up my little project file on my computer with notes and articles and ideas and worldbuilding and characters. But my overall focus, slowly, is going to shift in this new direction.

Happy writing.

Writing Quote: Demanding to Be Written

Time is short these days, and I don’t get much time for writing, except here on my blog (and it looks like I’ll be cutting back on that for a little while).  But for almost as long as I’ve thought of myself as a writer, I’ve been working on, to some degree or another, the same book.  While I started the book when I was a kid, it’s grown and evolved with me, becoming more complex, more mature, and to my mind more entertaining.

For the past couple years, due to various circumstances, I haven’t really worked on my book in any significant way.  Sure, I’ve made notes here and there about ideas and plot points and characters, and historical background.  I’ve got a notebook where I make those notes, and sometimes I type them up into my computer.  But I make a new note on average once every two or three weeks, and then its usually only a few short thoughts.

In the meantime, I’ve come up with a few new novel ideas for books that I think I may need to write before returning with full attention to that book that’s been with me since forever, if for no other reason than to test and grow my skill as a writer before trying my hand at rewriting my defining saga.

It’s sometimes a melancholy thought, to be apart from this book for so long, to have made no progress in it.  I long to write it.  I yearn to write it.

And for this reason, today’s quote caught my eye, by esteemed African American author Toni Morrison:

If there’s a book you really want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it. 

~Toni Morrison

You see, that book of mine: it’s like the fantasy novel version of me.  It’s not a dramatization of my life’s history, or anything so dull as that.  But the book is as though the character of who I am, and of all the little bits of my life, are transformed into this little world, and these characters, and their lives.  It’s a reflection of myself.  And, all the while, I think it’s just a good old-fashioned adventure tale of the good-versus-evil and coming-of-age and finding-yourself and boy-meets-girl and love-conquers-all variety (it’s not a romance by any means – far too much violence in it for that – but like all good stories, there’s a bit of romance on the side).

You know, I think it’s the kind of book I’d like to read.

Writing Quote: When to Plan

The author of today’s writing quote needs no introduction.  She wrote nearly a hundred books in her lifetime and has sold more books than any other author in contemporary times, with a large number of those featuring the famed literary detective Hercule Poirot.  I speak, of course, of Agatha Christie.  So now, I’ll turn it over to Agatha to reveal the secret of when to work on planning that novel you’re working on:

The best time for planning a book is while you’re doing the dishes.

~Agatha Christie

I find this to be an interesting quote, especially at a time when I’ve been bogged down with so much busy work, trying to finish up projects, work on final exams, and be supportive of my Dear Wife – all while doing the old day job thing.  It’s pretty busy.

And, as I’ve mentioned, I have several novel project ideas dancing around in the back of my head.  There’s that long-gestating novel, plus several other novel ideas ready to be planted.  I’d really like to start fleshing one of those other ideas out into something that looks more like a book.  But when will I ever have time for that?

Well… whenever!  If I’m busy doing something else that is occupying my hands but not my mind, that’s the time to engage my mind on coming up with interesting characters, fantastic worlds, and engaging plots.

Ideally, to get writing done, you need to follow the BICHOK rule: “Butt In Chair, Hands On Keyboard”.  In other words, you need to spend some time in a place where you can write.  But we don’t always have that luxury.  That’s when Agatha’s advice comes into play.

Happy Writing.