Endings and Renewals

So this will be the final blog post in 2013, and I must say it’s been an interesting adventure in jotting down and posting my (usually) random thoughts on writing and the journey (thus far) in pondering, plotting and writing my series saga. While I haven’t made much stride forward in the actual writing of the first novel in the first part of the three-part series saga, I managed to gather some interesting plot bunnies, Muses and the occasional plot ninja – the perspective in which the novel is/will  be written has changed, as have some of the characters [a few characters “died” and a few others were moved to another series] and a few other details.

While I may not have been actively writing as much as I probably could have, I have been reading and re-reading other things – my own works (narrative false starts, discarded character development and plot points) as well as published novels – to stimulate my Muses into working through the perpetual writer’s block. Also, I’ve joined “Writers World” a writing group on Facebook which has lesson posts on style and grammar and is a place to posted sample works for constructive feedback and critique. I have yet to post any of my own work there, as it is still very much a work in progress that changes every now and then, but I do hope to do so eventually once I get over my own insecurities about my own ideas (though I did participate in a round robin  science fiction story within the group, which was a fun collaborative experience).

Other quasi-random year-end musings: in reference to this week’s blog title, as 2013 is quickly coming to a close, and with 2014 just nearly around the corner, the theme of endings and renewal is naturally prevalent. It also has another meaning for me, at least when it concerns some of the influences to my writing process and sensibility (as I might have cited in earlier posts):

Ending: 2013 saw the end of the Poirot series on ITV after 25 years – David Suchet has achieved a feat that no other actor (to my knowledge) has done: he has inhabited the role of Hercule Poirot in every story Agatha Christie ever wrote about the little Belgian. Of course, the final batch of episodes have aired in the UK, and won’t be seen in the US until probably late 2014, at which time it would truly be 25 years since the series first aired in the UK in 1989. I remember first seeing the Poirot series sometime in the 1990s on PBS’ “Mystery!” series (now called “Masterpiece Mystery”), which was a tremendous influence on my decision to start writing my own stories (and was also my introduction to Agatha Christie, which lead to my discovering other great mystery authors).

Ending/Renewal: 2013 was also the 50th anniversary of the first airing of Doctor Who, as well as the (fairly recent) departure of Matt Smith, the 11th Doctor, and the (very brief) introduction to Peter Capaldi, the 12th Doctor; Doctor Who is a relatively new influence on my writing sensibility and plot musing, though I had been aware of the series before I started to watch the show in earnest this year. Regardless of what most Whovians (the official? designation of Doctor Who fans) believe (if Facebook, tumblr and other social media posts are to be believed) I enjoyed the intricate plots that have arisen as late, mainly from the current lead writer and producer Steven Moffat – the characterization and the story arcs that make sense in the end once the answers (or at least as we know them to be) are revealed. While I was sad to see Matt Smith go, I’m looking forward to what new nuances Peter Capaldi (a Doctor Who fan himself) will bring in the new year.

Anyway.

2013 has been quite a year for kick-starting (again) my writing endeavor and I do hope in 2014 I actually finish extracting at least one of the many, many stories bouncing around in my head. I was never really one to make resolutions (or at least resolutions to which I would adhere) but maybe I should, if only to give myself an internal deadline /prompt to keep me motivated.

Ring out the old, and ring in the new – see you all (I hope) in 2014!

Advertisements

Juggling Concurrent Narratives

There are (rare) times I wish my creative muses weren’t so productive to inspire so many different stories all at once, or rather, I wish I could ponder, plot and write out all the stories at the seemingly breakneck speed these ideas occur. As mentioned in previous blog posts, I am working on a multiple book series saga, mainly in the mystery genre with dashes of Steampunk, inklings of fantasy, hints of horror and a smattering of science fiction,  as well as a fan fiction novel that is (more or less) set in the same quasi-alternate history universe as the aforementioned series saga. There are also other  story ideas I would like to develop – most of which had been created years ago, thought to be earmarked to fit in the series saga, only to be discarded and filed in the archives of “narrative false starts and such”. Then there’s the meta story (possibly series) of my writing process, featuring the various Muses, plot bunnies, plot ninjas and such I’ve mentioned in this blog  – heck, this blog could almost qualify as a sort of narrative story of a writer struggling to make sense of the various ideas bombarding the brain, and who takes to writing a blog about the process and progress (or lack thereof), which in and of itself a kind of paradox of sorts.

So in a way, I’m writing a blog about a writer creating a story about a writer creating a story arc and chronicling the process and progress of a writer creating a story arc. Timey-wimey, wibbly-wobbly.

Anyway.

For now, I’ve decided to focus my attention on the first part of the three-part series saga that is (miraculously) still to be called the MASC Chronicles, that series (still) to be known as Tainted Blood, with the two other parts (still) designated, respectively, as Fatal Illusions and Buried Secrets. Of course the first series (at the moment) consists of fifteen separate stories (well, technically speaking, thirteen novels, one prequel novella and one short story collection), so at the moment I’m (concurrently) pondering, plotting and writing the first novel, entitled One More Angel in Heaven, and the prequel novella (though it might turn out to be a full length novel – the jury is still out on that) entitled Going, Going, Gone. One of the reasons for my doing this is that I’ve quite inadvertently inserted references to the prequel novella/novel into the first novel before I fully developed said prequel, which might be considered paradoxical (maybe, I have no idea).

Other changes that have arisen is the change in narrators and (minor) character changes to the narrator and the main detective – this shift has dramatically altered the sequence of events and perspective (and I’m not just saying/writing that to be grandiose about it all, but it has made me rethink some of the general plot points and narrative arcs that will manifest itself in the later stories.

Working on multiple stories at once is rather akin to juggling… stuff, and is probably not the best plan of attack, especially since I have trouble actually juggling stuff (unless the things I’m “juggling” are scarves – I’m quite good at that… for a while), and is kinda fun…

But I digress.

Working on these two specific stories concurrently does actually make sense since they are connecting, though I started out writing them in reverse, which probably is a good way to tackle sequential stories – write the end / middle then work backwards to find the beginning. The rest of the stories in this first series may (or may not) have this sequential aspect, though will most likely have some references, as these stories are centered around my detective, the narrator, and the handful of recurring characters.

Literary juggling is fun.

Most of the time.

Old Ideas Revisited

It’s funny how ideas and musings from the past can return and impact the present – character arcs, narrative snippets, and outlined plot points created and written years ago can suddenly pop up and effectively fill a plot hole (or several). As mentioned (I’m sure) in past blog posts, I have been working on my Epic Saga for the majority of my life, and in that time I had dreamt up and written a multitude of ideas, narrative, character sketches, etc., many of which were deemed unusable and archived (date and sometimes time stamped) in folders (both physical and electronic). The overall structure of my novel saga series has also changed (expanded) from being a simple short story to a full-fledged novel, then to a book trilogy, then a book series, until it reached its current incarnation of a three-part series consisting of 36 novels [ambitious, probably, as I have a big-picture outline of how the series/saga will progress – it’s the actual details within each book / series and its pacing that I’m slowly figuring out].

Anyway.

While the discarded ideas have been filed away in physical and electronic files and have for the most part been out of immediate sight, they are still very much in my mind, albeit filed away somewhere in the mainframe of my brain (alas, my mind palace is not as neatly organized and categorized as I would like it to be, with ideas floating about and scattered about quasi-haphazardly). Every now and then when faced with pondering narrative structure and struggling to make sense of sequence of events, some of these stray ideas pop up like curious hedgehogs and find their way to be relevant again. Often times they manage to find their way back into the narrative flow, but bring with them alternate avenues towards which the narrative can proceed; sometimes they bring clarity to plot holes, though in doing so create plot bumps that need to be addressed (and eventually smoothed).

[I really should write a meta series about my writing process. It might help my actual novel-writing.]

I sound like I’m rambling about generalities, and I probably am – in the overall narrative saga arc I’ve (generally) plotted and planned, I’ve quite inadvertently put into place a multitude of moving parts within each series that, when seen as a whole, will make (almost) perfect sense (hopefully). There are incidents and revelations that the reader will be  fully cognizant of (of course), but hidden from certain characters until the proper moment; then there are those revelations (and potential plot twists) that will (hopefully) catch the reader(s) by surprise. It’s the figuring out who will know what when and where and why and how that has stymied me, and the (nearly) infinite possible ways things can unravel and reveal that has kept me in a literary limbo (of sorts). Also, as the main genre in which I am writing is mystery, this dilemma is magnified, as red herrings need to be dangled and the denouement cannot be too obvious.

But I digress (a bit).

The ideas of old have proven to be useful after all, and will most likely be reused; some will mesh well with the new(er) ones, while bringing more questions and possibilities, which may or may not prove to be a good thing.

I suppose that old saying is true – everything old is new again (or something like that).

Onwards and upwards (again).

Post NaNoWritMo Blues…

There’s a slight chill in the air, all the leaves have descended from their branches and the sun now sets in the late afternoon – December has arrived, and the month-long event that was National Novel Writing Month [NaNoWritMo] has ended in failure. Again. While I was determined to make an honest attempt at finishing, or at least do better than I had last year, at the start of the month, sadly once again I fell short of for the former, but at least managed to succeed in the latter – the final word count recorded via the NaNoWritMo site was 8,244 words, almost double the word count I had ended with last year.

Of course, with this quasi win (well, at best a mini-personal victory for me), comes the inevitable question/task: what to do with what has been written? In keeping with the general spirit of the NaNoWritMo objective (and as mentioned in the NaNoWritMo-themed entries last month), much of what had been written for the (still proposed) first novel in the first series of the MASC Chronicles, One More Angel In Heaven was done so as a quasi-stream of consciousness, which resulted in a diversionary tangent not originally present in my initial outline of the story. As I re-read what I had written, much of it is usable, but other parts make little to no sense, or might not fit in the overall story arc (and will probably be re-purposed somewhere else in the saga).

I’m also tempted to scrap the month’s effort (and by that I mean date stamp and archive into a separate “Narrative False Start” folder) and start over, which would make those 8,244 words a wasted effort – but then again, I have re-read through “narrative false starts” from years past and have incorporated parts of that to the current narrative effort.

Though now with the time-limit pressure removed (at least until next year) I now can return to ponder and plan and plot (and eventually write) the story I had originally thought I was writing.

Things I’ve (quasi) learned from participating in NaNoWritMo the second time ’round:

1. I have trouble (creatively) writing with strict deadlines [the “creatively” caveat added as I have been successful in my college years in writing term papers and such within the set deadlines, but then again I had to or face the prospect of not passing my classes – a useful motivator to write, absent when creating my own works].

2. I have trouble not editing when I should be writing and spend too much time checking continuity, which accounts for my only completing two chapters, consisting of the aforementioned word count – fact checking for consistency and adding missing bits (only to remove them again) impeded my ability to move forward.

3. I have trouble with writing period-specific dialogue – I had sent those two chapters to a good friend of mine, who beta reads my work (and I also beta read her work) and it’s come to my attention that my characters’ manner of speaking does not match the time period in which the story is set. Of course that could or could not be intentional, but probably not.

Anyway.

It’s back to the writing board (is there such a thing? I’m not drawing so I can’t really return to the ‘drawing board’…) to plot, ponder and think about how I really want my story arc and characters to be and how events are to unfold.

Upwards and onwards and all that jazz…

Or to start at the very beginning (a very good place to start)…