Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Story Revivals and Master Classes

I oopsied, and I'm paying for it right now.

Once again, I lost track of what day of the week it was. So, while I was home alone for five hours while Hubby was at work last night, I neglected to write this post. Then, at about 10:30 last night, I remembered that today is Wednesday, and that I'm working 8-3:30. Whoops.

So, I forced myself up at 5am so I can make sure that you folks have a noon update. But my eyes are still half-closed, I'm yawning, and I don't have the time to edit this before heading in to work - yes, it takes my that long to write these things - so please forgive any typos and bad grammar.

Let's start off with the important part, the conclusion of my August Goal Challenge on Struggling Writers Society, and thus the end of my summer writing challenges. It was tough to try to squeak everything in, but Monday was my day off this week. Given that it was also the last day of August, I locked myself away in my Writing Nest I created last week and typed all morning.
Set this up in my library when I typed last week's post.
When all was said and done, I actually ended up with TWO chapters. The chapter I was originally intending was a little with Chayse and Lia at first, and then about 80% Chayse and Nix, concluding with Chayse getting in trouble with his mom as well as Nix and Annika heading out for a date.

While I'm not a fan of the majority of the chapter following Chayse's POV, only to hop over to 3rd Omniscient for the last 500-so words while sticking with Nix and Annika. However, them running off for a date seemed like a natural end, and a nice segue into their date chapter. At the same time, Chayse getting in trouble with his mom took on a bit of a life of its own as I embellished the solo role play Hubby had between Chayse and Kitty. Over 2000 words later, I decided it was probably best to break it off into its own chapter.

Plus, even though there's some POV-Hopping when Chayse leaves and I stay with Nix and Annika at the end of the intended chapter, for some reason it fits the flow to stay with them. Cutting back to Chayse for his solo thing felt disconnected even though the majority of the chapter was his POV anyway.

So, there are two back-to-back Chayse POV chapters now. Oh well.
Hacker Girl Facebook Sticker
by Birdman Inc
In the end, I finished off August with something shy of 9,000 words written. Not nearly as exciting as Cyhyr or Mouse hitting 30,000 words, but given that I haven't written actual prose since about April, I think it's a nice wing-stretcher.

Another snaffu that I hit is that FanFiction hasn't been allowing me to properly log in the past two days. I managed to post my chapters on August 31st perfectly fine, but now I can't get back in. I keep getting some error message about no servers available. I can still read stories - including my own - perfectly fine, I just can't get into my FF dashboard to upload, edit, or post anything that I write. Weird.

Anyway, the reason I realized that was because at about 10pm - apparently my realization hour - on Monday I remembered that I had posted the new X-Future: The Second Generation Begins chapters up on FanFiction, but I had neglected to post them to DeviantArt as well. I spent roughly the next forty-five minutes editing the chapter. See, I still haven't learned how to upload prose as if it were a picture file on to DeviantArt. A lot of authors have done this so that you scroll through a PDF or something. Very professional because it's like an ebook.

Like I said, I haven't figured that out yet. Mostly because I'm just computer literate enough to survive in this digital world and know a few tricks to impress my mother with, but I'm computer illiterate in most things beyond "basic". So, I haven't figured out how to save my Word Doc as a PDF that I can then upload to DA.

Because of this, I have to post things the hard way, by entering text into a box and then adding all of the formatting things - such as line breaks - via HTML. One of the most annoying formatting edits I have to do is redoing all the italics that I put into my story. They don't transfer over at all with a simple copy-and-paste. So I have to then re-read the whole story and try to find all the parts I had italicized.

I tried something new this past time. I scanned my story, stopped just before an italic, copied, pasted, put in the HTML, wrote the italicized word or sentence, and then copied the next section of text leading into another italic.

Since the first chapter had a LOT of Chayse thinking, it also had a lot of italics. It kept me roughly 45 minutes to get it all formatted.

And then I derped.
Hacker Girl Facebook Sticker
by Birdman Inc
I brought up the preview to make sure the edits worked the way I wanted them to, but when I went to close the preview, I hit the wrong box and closed out the entire document. It doesn't auto-save. It doesn't ask if you're sure you want to close. It doesn't warn you that you'll lose everything you didn't save. It just complies, and closes the window.

Nearly an hour, gone. Never to return, and with nothing to show.

I was kinda ticked at that point and gave up for the night.

Problem is, now I can't get back into FF so I can copy my chapters, since FF won't let you copy a story you're reading. A great way to prevent plagiarism, but an annoying feature right now. So, when I'm done with work today, I have to again unbury my external hard drive - I have one of the older "My Book" models that's about a pound or so, and kind of clunky; not an issue when it's forever still next to a desktop, but annoying when attached to a moving laptop - so I can access the original files that I had used to post to FF in the first place. At least I know I have access to them. I can even attempt to save as a PDF one more time before going through the stupid HTML edits again.

In the meantime, you can check out the latest chapters - as well as the rest of the story - on
 > Bro-Bonding
 > You're in Trouble, Son!

Yes, I'm well aware that I still suck at coming up with titles....

I'm also aware that my story's voice, style, and detail have all evolved since Chapter 1. It's a fanfiction I started over 2 years ago; I'm not worried about it. Just enjoy the evolution, I guess.

*cracks knuckles*
Alright, and now for some super exciting news. The news I meant to tell you guys last week, but COMPLETELY forgot until about 10minutes before I had to publish the update.

So, my awesome mother did a thing.

There is this site called MasterClass. It has all of these mini-courses about tons of different professions, and they're taught by professionals in said career. Right now, there are three available classes: Acting taught by Dustin Hoffman, Tennis by Serena Williams, and the one my mother found for me. Writing taught by James Patterson. In case my mother wasn't quite amazing enough for finding this for me, she also paid the sign-up fee as an early-anniversary/Super-Early Christmas gift for me.

So, the Monday before last week's blog, I excitedly watched the first four videos - as directed by the "class syllabus". I was just too excited to wait any longer to open my gift, so to speak.

These classes are awesome! Patterson is a really down-to-earth guy who is playful, funny, personable, a joy to listen to, and you can tell he really cares. Yes, I know there are skeptics out there that might think "Yeah, he's paid to care," but he also does donate millions of dollars towards literacy programs, such as funding libraries and book donations to schools and the like. I legitimately think this man cares about both literacy and the up-coming aspiring writers.

Plus, the guy is inspiring, and has so many great quotes!

Here's a few I made sure to copy, and then I posted them on my FB:
  • "It took me into my forties before people really believed in the kind of fiction I was writing."
    This is actually really comforting for someone in her early 30s who hasn't even finished a manuscript yet.
  • "When I got out of school, I started working at an ad agency... but I've been clean for twenty years now..."
    This one just made me chuckle. I absolutely loved my time at the production house right out of college. In fact, aside from maybe my brief stint at a movie theater, I think it's my favorite job I've ever had. I guess it just depends on the ad agency you fall into, and what sort of advertising you do...
  • "If you had to tell me your story in ten minutes; fifteen minutes. Figure out a way to tell me that story in fifteen minutes, and that will be the core of your story.... There's the story. You should be able to tell that story, I would think, in ten or fifteen minutes, or less."
    I'm fairly certain - based on context surrounding this quote - that he meant verbally telling someone. Either way, it's a good rule of thumb; especially for someone long-winded like me.
I also want to state that I am dumbfounded by a factoid that Patterson threw out about himself. Apparently, when he was in college, he was reading 10-12 novels a week. A WEEK! NOVELS! I can't even get myself to read 10-12 novels a YEAR and he was doing so A WEEK! Geez! How the heck!? Speed-reader, much?

Anyway, back on topic...

The video classes are only about 10minutes long, and so it's real easy to tear through them. As I mentioned, there's a sort of "class schedule" that MasterClass posts. A suggested schedule on how many videos - and which ones - you should watch per week.

Yes, per WEEK. I'm assuming most who take the classes put 10minutes of their busy schedules aside three or four times a week in order to watch a class. Then, on their "off" days, they spend the 10minutes or so they would be watching a class, and use it for the "homework" provided with each lesson.

I was too eager and watched all four suggested for Week 1 in one sitting. Whoops.

On top of that, I've been so preoccupied with finishing up the August Goal writing challenge that I didn't bother with any of the assignments.

So, now that it's September, and the challenge is over, I'm bothering now.

Assignment #1: Create a writing schedule and fill it out on the week-long calendar provided.

Well, I intended on doing these classes Monday nights, which would mean the week would be Monday through Sunday. Given that it's Wednesday - which would be when NORMAL people would watch the second video - and I only came up with my schedule last night, I feel like I failed a bit. However, I did CREATE the schedule. It didn't say anything about actually following through with it.... #Loopholes.

Anyway, I'm writing now, first thing in the morning, to make up for not writing at all yesterday, and I wrote like the Dickens on Monday to finish up my challenge. So, maybe consider this first assignment only semi-failed?

For the rest of the week, at least - and hopefully spilled over into next week, I'll have to check my work schedule - in the hour between 5pm and 6pm I shall be writing every day, again, ignoring yesterday and Monday.

We'll see how a consistent writing schedule works for me. It hasn't in the past, and that has been one of my biggest pitfalls in the world of writing. I really REALLY need to learn how to discipline myself enough to get a steady writing schedule, even if it isn't a daily routine.

Alright. So, Assignment #1 is done; sort of.

Now on to Assignment #2: Create 3 raw ideas - either new, or ones I've been playing around with - and write them down somewhere.

In other words, I have to start physically creating a Plot Bunny Farm. The ideas have to be physically written down. Either by hand on some hardcopy - index cards, notebook, looseleaf in a folder, etc  - or digitally - word doc, folder names for future documents, spreadsheet, MS Paint Thought Maps, etc.

Unfortunately, this turned out to be trickier than I gave myself credit for. I have a few Works-In-Progress that I could use to build the Plot Bunny Farm, but it feels a little like cheating, I think. So, I figured I'd attempt some new ideas. It's hard to transition away from ideas you've been brewing for years in order to "magically" come up with some new ones for an assignment.

Worst part is I discovered I'm pretty good at coming up with a neat story environment/world, and I'm also pretty good at coming up with interesting characters. What I'm surprisingly bad at is coming up with actual PLOTS. Beginning, middle, and end. Done. *dusts off hands*

I have Amara. She's a D&D character that evolved into a High Fantasy story character that evolved into one of the many stories I have based in the world of Gyateara.

I have Amara's backstory, physical description, personality, and life goal all mapped out. What I DON'T have, is a specific story arc for her. "Amara does whatever she can to try to find a way to banish the human part of her soul so she can become fully Elvish." Great life goal to give her drive throughout a story, but that in and of itself isn't a plot.

Jump over to my Vampire: The Masquerade character that I attempted writing a story for this past NaNo. Same deal as with Amara: backstory, description, personality, life goal, but no plot. That's the main reason I abandoned the story. "Lottie is on three simultaneous quests: hunt down the vampire that killed her sire, as well as as many of his clansmen as she can; find out what happened to her husband when he went MIA in WWII; find a way to retain her humanity." Three great starts to books. I can write one based on any one of those goals, let alone all three at the same time. However, there's no PLOT there. What is the fighting force against her?

Then you have the idea I was going to attempt for Script Frenzy. A story similar to Pixar's "Inside Out", but instead of the "little people living in your head" being personified emotions, it was an author's characters literally living in her brain. Fun world concept, but there's no plot there.

Then you have X-Future - and it's reboot I've been working on - which is simply "Teenagers with powers struggle in a world both trying to co-exist with them as well as destroy them. Chaos ensues."

I can go on. This past week I thought of about four more characters like Amara and Lottie, and three more world concepts like the "Inside Out" one or X-Future.

You know what that probably means I'm good at? Serials.

I can probably write comics or TV series. I have characters with vaguely specific goals in life that they're working toward, and each strip/episode is a different little plot that either fights against that goal, or helps lead them to it. I have a fun world that readers/viewers might enjoy exploring, and they can with each new strip/episode which is another "slice of life" in that world.

However, my inability to come up with solid PLOTS does not bode well for me as a novelist....

So, I'm still working on that Plot Bunny assignment.

The final assignment I have for the next time I watch more classes is this.

Assignment #3: Write a plotline out - preferably based on one of the three Plot Bunnies from Assignment #2 - in 3-5 concise sentences. Once the plot is fleshed out, send it to a good, but brutally honest friend. If they want to know more about the story, then you have something you should commit to. If not? Then go back to the drawing board and see if you can tickle their fancy next time.

My NY Bestie Spink volunteered to be my "Brutally Honest Friend" for this assignment. Now to figure out what to tell her....

Well, that's it on my assignment list and my feelings on my writing MasterClass for the week. Plus, I need to wake up Hubby so we can get ready for work....

Keep an eye out for my list of Plot Bunnies, as well as my 3-5sentence plotline next week.

No comments:

Post a Comment