Friday, November 13, 2015

Getting Closer to My Writing Group (And 7 Deadly Sins)

Sorry for yet another late post. My last day off was the 2nd, and even then I spent the entire time battling the mess I call “home.” So, I haven't really had a day to sit and unwind in about two weeks now. I'm boarderline homicidal rampage mode. To calm the beast, Hubby has had me snuggle with him: Netflix and Chill. It works wonders for destressing me, but it's crap for my productivity.

My place still has that wonderful “recently ransacked” look, and my mind can't really form anything cohesive enough for me to call “writing.” Worse part is that my day off – FINALLY – is Sunday; Football Day. So, you can bet I STILL won't get anything accomplished. Then it's again Full Steam Ahead, until my next day off: again, Sunday. Then chugging along until Thanksgiving and visiting my family out of state. Followed by Hubby's birthday, as well as Spink's birthday spent at David's Bridal looking at bridesmaid dresses for her wedding. Sprinkle in rush jobs on my crocheting projects in order to get them done by Christmas, and productivity for the remainder of 2015 looks grim.

Not all is lost, though. While I failed at my New Years Resolution to go through one of Ali's webinars, I DID do the MasterClass instead. So, there's that. I do plan on still going back and doing Ali's modules, but that might have to wait a bit more. I've also made sure to not allow myself to slack off completely. While I'm not doing NaNo this year, I DID just join a writing group. I need to write at least every other week for that, so that's something to make sure I don't completely fall off the writing wagon again.

Speaking of which, Tuesday was my second go at the local writing group. Spink and the two guys from the college didn't attend this time, but neither did two of the “regulars.” On the plus side, that gave me time to start figuring out what to call them when I refer to them here.

My friend's mom has vibrant red hair, so until I come up with something better, she's Red. “Future Me”, as I referred to the one woman, is laser-focused on her novel about the silent movie actor Buster Keaton – so much so that even the writing practices HAVE to somehow relate - so she's Keaton now. The last woman – who was actually the first one to introduce herself last time – claims that no one person is in charge of these meetings; we're all on equal footing and may run the group if we have something we want to share. However, she's the one who sends out the group email reminders, and seems to be the one that directs the conversation whenever there's a lull. So, she's basically our de facto leader. As silly as it is, until I think of something better, I'll refer to her as such: De Facto Leader, or DFL for short. And thus I yet again showcase my amazing naming abilities.

It was a lot more of a relaxed and social environment this past go. We each read off what we wrote for our writing prompts, and then I asked DFL how she was doing on her NaNo story.


Day 10 out of 30, and she was already well over half-way to the 50,000 word goal! I can't even to 25,000 in a month, and she's surpassed that by the tenth day of the event! The Worst/Best part? She didn't even take the full ten days! She spent the first week writing out an outline and finishing up some quick research to prepare herself for the story. That way she wouldn't get stuck throughout the month. Then she wrote over 27,000 words IN JUST FIVE DAYS! That's about 5400 words per day. I struggle with the recommended 1667 words per day in order to “win” NaNo. Which, in and of itself, is an odd fact considering I typically write 1000 word blog posts...

Anyway, she stated that this was the first time she had an outline set up before working on a story, and it worked wonders for her. Further proof that James Patterson was on the money while preaching about outlines.

I commented as such, and added that he feels so strongly about starting with a solid outline, that he spends about four months just writing one. Going back through, tinkering the story, adding suspense, adding details, cutting scenes or characters that don't work. Essentially perfecting the story before a word of it is written. It really helps with the revision process as well because you don't get stuck with a character or passage you really love and don't want to cut. The outline should be considered a vague story in and of itself. The reader should know exactly what happens, but without the details or dialogue.

Well, after I was done going on and on about Patterson and his love of outlines, Keaton kind of rolled her eyes and grumbled about how OTHERS write his stories; not him. Well, that's true, but only SORT OF; based on the Co-Author lesson from MasterClass. She didn't seem to really want to hear the counter-argument, though, so I let it drop.

Thing is, he does spend a lot of time on the outline. It truly is the story in and of itself. Then he passes the outline over to his co-author who adds the meat to the bones of the story he created. The details are added in and the dialogue is written. That doesn't mean he doesn't write the stories, though. Nor does it mean his co-authors aren't just as skilled. It's not a matter of them writing the story and then having him tag his name to it in order to sell more copies. Nor is it him passing the story off to someone and then stealing credit at the end in order to avoid doing work. He puts in all the effort in the start. They put in the effort in the middle. They work together in the revision to make it a blend of both of their efforts. And I'm not just assuming as much, the co-authors interviewed stated just that.

Saying they're not true co-authors is like saying the director and script writer aren't equally involved in a movie. Granted, in that case it's the director who gets most of the credit and is the name that sells the movie, and they DO tend to have more involvement just because of everything they need their hands in, but still. The script would be nowhere without the director to bring it to life. The director wouldn't have that movie to tell if a script writer didn't write it first. They both are equally important to the story.

As are both Patterson and his co-authors.

I think I also took some offense to that because it's so similar to how ChibiSunnie and I work. When we co-write stories – or that Jungle Movie fan-written script – it's usually Chibi coming up with the fantastic ideas and the over-all outline of the story. Then I take what she wrote and I run with it. I plug in the details and the dialogue to bring it to life. At no point is this HER story with me just hopping on to pick up the slack. Nor is it MY story since she never wrote a word of it in the actual prose/script. It is BOTH our story with equal effort put in.

Alright, enough of that.
*Hops off High Horse*

While attempting to change the subject off of James Patterson, DFL passed out some Dove chocolates to everyone. For anyone who hasn't had them, the Dove brand has something amusing, sweet, or inspirational written on the inside of each wrapper. DFL thought it would be brilliant to use these sayings as our writing prompt for this week. Keaton wrote down what everyone had, and we agreed that you could use any of the prompts that anyone at the table got, as well as write using as many prompts as we wanted.

I had already interpreted that what we were doing was finding a way of combining the two wrappers we each got in order to write a short piece, so I basically ignored what everyone else's were. Mine were “Learn something new with an old friend” and “Rock a bad hair day.”

At first I was going to go with something to the extent of two mothers who gave up on how they looked; pulling their long hair back in ponytails and messy buns just to get it out of the way. They decide one day that they need some “me time” and set up an at-home spa day while the kids were off somewhere for the weekend. This “spa day” leads to them attempting new hairstyles by cutting each others' hair; it doesn't end well. They proudly rock the bad styles because at least it's something new and exciting, and they never really cared about their hair anyway.

I may still write that story, but when I started up the prompt at the library I ended up writing something much more autobiographical. I still put a creative spin on it, though, so it's more “inspired by” something that really happened to me. I'm still working on it, so I don't have it to share today. Next week, kiddies.

In the meantime, I DO have the prompt from the last writing group session. Or rather, the prompts. I managed to write both Sunday morning after dropping Hubby off at work.

This first one is what I thought of, and started writing while at the library that first meeting. I hit a bit of a hiccup and switched to the second version before coming back to finish up.

"Fashion Gone Bye"

When I read my prompts off to Hubby, he joked that “Where's the time capsule?” is a question asked by a drug dealer to some punk he's beating up. I really liked the idea and was going to run with it. However, I couldn't find a way to explain that “time capsule” is a name of a drug without it seeming spoon-fed to the reader. That's when the FanFiction side of me kicked in, and I realized that maybe my binge-watching of “CSI: NY” was exactly what I needed for this prompt, especially since the place I got was New York City. Perfect!

Hubby was watching another episode after I decided to got to bed leading into his Sunday overnight shift. I heard the muffled sounds of the characters describing what they figured out in the lab, and the dialogue just hit me. Granted, it's probably not the best in the world; a bit rushed, but that's because it was really hard to write in prose instead of a script, and I tried to limit myself to the page or two recommended for easiest reading while at the group.

Anyway, I polished it a little bit Sunday super-early morning before work.

"Memory Tap"

It's not much. Between the two of them, I think I wrote about 1800 words. Still, I was the only one who had to relatively distinctly different stories based on my one writing prompt, so there's that.

Now to just get some more actual writing done! I do have some posts on X-Future I need to respond to, and maybe poke Ronoxym into working on our outline a bit more. Then again, I have had the NaNo spirit hitting me a touch, and nudging me to open up “A Race to Destiny” again. See where I can go with that. Maybe I should start with reworking the outline and the backstory lore so it's not so blatantly “Fable meets Legend of Zelda; now with more InuYasha.” Hubby and I also just finished up a quick Netflix-exclusive anime called "The Seven Deadly Sins" and I sort of want to do something based on that.

Each Holy Knight that made up the squad known as "The Seven Deadly Sins" has a mark of a sin on them; represented by a different animal. Having never read the manga, this is all I know:
  • Wrath is the Dragon Sin
  • Greed is the Fox Sin
  • Sloth is the Grizzly (bear) Sin
  • Envy is the Serpent Sin
  • Lust is the Ram Sin
  • Gluttony is the Boar Sin
The anime never introduces you to Pride - something that annoyed the heck out of me, but they at least acknowledge it at the end of the season - and I don't recall them mentioning an animal we weren't introduced to. So I'm not sure what animal is supposed to be connected to Pride. Lion, I'm assuming. All the more reason to dislike not meeting him; lions/great cats and foxes are my favorite animals.

Most of the characters didn't seem to portray either the sin or the animal they were linked to - although we were shown a little bit why Wrath, Greed, Sloth, and Envy had their sins - but I still really like the concept. Also, there are five main races - or "tribes" - in the world of "The Seven Deadly Sins", which also appeals to me. There's obviously the Human race, but there's also the Fairies, Giants, Demons, and Goddess. The Lust character comments about each one of the five Sins present at the time being from a different race. Interesting note, which leads Hubby to believe Lust is from the Goddess clan somehow... the actual race is never mentioned, but it is poked at on occasion.

Point is, I really like the idea of people being marked by an extreme character trait. Each Sin was dubbed so based on a crucial, defining part of their past where they themselves felt they failed the most. That if they had conquered that "sin" back then, life would be a lot different and better. It's their greatest regret; their cross to bear. Another way to look at it, is a Fatal Flaw. I also like the idea of it being symbolized by an animal that seems to perfectly portray that fatal flaw. Dragons, for instance, are almost always thought of as beings of wrath and rage. Foxes do seem quite greedy, although, I'd peg that more as an American raccoon. Boars, or pigs in general, are obviously very gluttonous, etc.

I'd really like to try my hand at this concept myself, but I need to find a new angle for it. There's already so many animes centered around the Seven Deadly Sins, or that demons/The Devil isn't really evil, or animal possession. It's hard to find a new angle. I know it's out there, though, because another manga/anime always seems to find it.

Either way, another one to add to the Plot Bunny Farm. Geez, lots of writing possibilities bouncing around in my head. Perhaps I'll start bringing them up at the writing groups.

No promises on getting the blog update up on time next week, but I should have a prompt for you at least. Catch ya then!

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