Reviewing the Situation (so far)

When I started this blog nearly a year ago, I committed to writing a blog post every week, with the hopes of sharing my writing/plotting process, random musings,  essays/ramblings based around general themes and (eventually) excerpts from the various  novels I find myself concurrently plotting/pondering/writing. And yet here we are, almost a year into the blog (and many, many more years of thinking of, plotting, planning and scribbling drafts of various storylines) and not much has been written thus far, though I have sketched out ideas that may or may not end up in the final version.

Real life things have “distracted” me from focusing on the stories, as well as the (seemingly) overabundance of separate ideas that I want to develop/edit/revise, so it’s sorta become a case of “too many ideas, not enough time” (or rather, too many ideas, not knowing which one to focus on first). I envy those authors who can focus on one novel story at a time – it seems I’ve developed (maybe?) a kind of ADD when it comes to getting down to do the whole writing thing, where I ponder over potential plot  twists, or character development and a quasi-random thought inspires an aspect of another story (sometimes within the same series or saga, other times for the stand-alone fan fiction novel, or spark a flame for an entirely new novel/series/saga). The latter has happened whilst transcribing/reviewing some old(er) short stories written half a lifetime ago, (which was from where my current series saga sprang forth), my potential foray into the (seemingly) lucrative and popular genre of young adult fiction (albeit without the insipid love story subplot).

Anyway.

While it may seem that I’m making excuses for myself for not being disciplined (and in a way I am – might as well call a spade a spade), I suppose my inability to focus on a single story (though in fairness, much of the plotting and development has for various parts within the series saga, with possible ties to the stand alone fan fiction novel) is part of the writing process (if it can still be called that), or at least my writing process. Then again, going over what I’ve jotted down and written over the years is helpful (to a point) and can assist in finding my way out of the writer’s roundabout and get past the writer’s speed bump [I really, really hope  one day these two writer’s conditions become a thing like writer’s block, then I can attempt to patent the phrase and become rich and famous. Or not.)

But I digress again.

To continue the quasi-meta scenario stated several blog posts back, while spring-like weather appeared for a fleeting moment, and the chance to finally emerge from the Character Development Inn and leave the Land of Exposition, a lingering blast of winter weather (or at least winter-like temperatures) has momentarily halted travel out of the Land of Exposition, resulting in an extended stay until weather conditions return to its proper spring-like state. A steady amount of rain has left the hamlet soggy yet cleansed of the blocks of snow piled haphazardly about; flora and fauna are slowly returning from the winter thaw and the paths that were obstructed have cleared.

There’s possibly a light at the end of this tunnel, and actual writing (and subsequent sharing of excerpts of said actual writing) might happen for real.

If I can figure out when/where/how to start.

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Going Through the Archives…

In a slight continuation of last week’s exploration of my back catalog (as it were) and in a quest to stop pondering and get back to actual writing, I’ve become distracted (yet again) with the aforementioned back catalog of my nascent attempts at storytelling. As mentioned, I’ve taken to transcribing the handwritten and pre-PC typed stories into Word for  the sake of posterity and the possibility of revising, expanding and utilizing parts of those stories, and I must say I have been amused, horrified and fascinated at what I had written back then. Some of it is usable, while other bits need a LOT of work – to my horror, there was one wherein I had fluctuated between using 3rd person and 1st person perspective throughout the latter portion of the story. While structurally and grammatically challenged, the overall narrative arc of that story reads like a typical YA (young adult) scenario, one which I am (slightly) tempted to fix and expand into a novel, perhaps into another series if the whimsy takes me.

Of course the short story that inspired my current (if stalled) series saga was among those early works, along with the one-act play and initial (unfinished) novel, which were my first attempts at expanding that short story. It’s interesting to read how I had initially plotted out the story, the setting and the character developments within, and see how far I had come from that point. While the dialogue is highly melodramatic and much of the plot “borrowed” a great deal from existing works, there was some potential in those first attempts.

Other permutations of the plot, along with character lists, timelines and narrative ideas notated in spiral notebooks are equally fascinating and possibly usable for the MASC Chronicles or perhaps other possible series sagas. I wish I had more substantial things to impart in relation to my works in progress, but to be perfectly honest, I don’t – I have far too many ideas and want to work on them all at once, which leaves me bouncing from one project to the next, all the while reading, editing, and rereading things I had written years ago and pondering where they might or might not fit.

Sometimes I feel a failure for not getting any actual writing done, but I do take some comfort in the notion that all the pondering, potting  and figuring out timelines and family trees will pay off in the end.

At least I hope so.

Forwards or Backwards, Backwards and Forwards

So in my quest to leave the Land of Exposition and its delightful distractions (and myriad of possible paths), I decided to get back to basics, go back to before  – before the subplots, the plot twists, and other interesting yet distracting… well distractions to the narrative structure of the individual novels, to each quasi-standalone series and the series saga as a whole. To that end, I went back to the beginning – back to the (handwritten) short stories written half a lifetime ago (including the short story that sparked the one-act play adaptation and unfinished novel), to find inspiration, to gauge how/if my writing style has changed  over the years, and to transcribe a copy for my (electronic) archives, as a good amount of my writings, musings and other literary attempts are in notebooks (large, medium and small), slightly yellowed lined loose leaf paper , legal pads and other scraps of paper, all (well mostly) date stamped (and some notes time stamped), which is convenient in figuring out the sequence (and possibly pinpointing what I might have been thinking about/obsessed with at the time of writing).

Anyway.

What I found were interesting albeit strange stories with questionable structure but potential for expansion, as well as a fascinating snapshot of my writing psyche. It also got me thinking  (again) about  sequence of events and the overall narrative structure – while I’ve spent (too much?) time pondering, tinkering and musing about my characters, their personal exposition and how/if it impacts the story arc, I’ve done very little actual writing of said narrative. While staring at the very beginning might be a very good place to start, I’ve spent (more) time pondering  on the (apparent) validity of that philosophy and wondering where/when the “start” of my series saga really is (or should be).

The place at which I decided to start the series saga was originally the prequel section (I think) of the main story, which has become the middle portion of the saga, while the third part was (very) loosely sketched out. In thinking things over and adhering to my quest to return to keeping things simple, the question of whether to continue to struggle with figuring out the beginning (and the exposition associated with the beginning, hence going further back in time) or to start in the middle (which has a quasi foundation) and work with the semi-formed exposition that is the prequel.

Or, in simpler terms whether to start at the beginning and move forward, or to start at the middle (or near the end) and move backwards.

Either way would/could be beneficial to the narrative arc as a whole, and in all my pondering to figure out the actual sequence of events (thus delaying my departure from the Land of Exposition), a bit of clarity has come forth in my adherence to the “back to basics” thing I proposed/declared. Throughout my literary journey, creating characters, sketching out scenes and pondering through plots, a (literal) handful of names have remained relevant throughout all the changes, expansions and other configurations over the years. While the general character makeup for each of the five names has undergone changes (some major, other minor),  the name structure and gender designation have (remarkably) remained the same, even though they had been separated between series. In the aforementioned effort to go back to before, bringing this  band of characters back together and returning them to the original series in which they had resided has tipped my (internal) literary scale to focus on the latter rather than the former – in short, to apply the George Lucas method and start with the middle series then focus on the prequel series (and then work on the third part of the series saga).

Or I could work on a linear plane, from start to finish, but then again, time isn’t strictly a strict progression of cause to effect, it’s well, you know…

It’s gotten chilly again, despite the few days of (relatively) mild weather – all this oscillation is compelling me to extend my (virtual) stay at the Character Development Inn, visiting the Plot Structure Tea Room in the Land of Exposition.

One of these days I’ll get around to writing the meta story series about my muses and this writing process.

Some day.

Until then, TTFN! (and Beware the Ides of March, because, well, you know…)

Back to Basics

As the weather turns warmer, and as the snow (finally!) begins to thaw in the Land of Exposition, perhaps it’s high time I cease being the (quasi) comfortable tourist in this oasis away from my usual writing mind palace. In all my musing and wandering down the different paths my series saga could take (the individual novels, the series and the entire saga), plus some meandering about the fan fiction novel that may (or may not) have ties to the series saga, I’ve become so distracted by all the pretty flora and interesting fauna that the original path has been lost, overgrown with moss and mushrooms (mostly harmless, I think), sporadically covered in piles of snow, sleet and slush (mostly in that order). I’ve added far too many (distracting) bells and whistles to the ever-expanding series saga that I’ve placed too much focus on figuring out how/where/if those extraneous elements fit into the series saga – elements dreamt up recently (well, in the last few years, which, given how long I’ve been tinkering away at this writing thing, is fairly recent) – that the original story has been obscured.

[Hmm, reading that last sentence over again, it seems that I naturally tend to embellish my statements and babble a bit. Oops?]

Anyway.

As the blog post title attests, I need to put aside the extraneous embellishments  (at least temporarily) and focus back on the narrative, overall plot and character interactions/exposition. After all, this story started out as a ghost story wrapped in a mystery with a dash of horror (and a lot of “borrowed” elements); that core will resurface (eventually) in the series saga, almost at the same place where it was situated when this series saga was a (mere) trilogy. To that end, I’ve also returned to reading existing novels similar to the genre in which I am crafting my series saga – detective fiction/mysteries, if only to regain a sense of tone and direction on how/when/where to properly begin the tale.

Also to that end, I’m about 89% tempted to revert to writing in third person omniscient, as I had been doing up until a few years ago when I decided to try my hand at writing in first person perspective – concurrent with my pondering/plotting/complicating my series saga, I’ve remained committed to the Writing Prompt Project, writing and posting something using the list of prompts I found online. Of the prompt entries I’ve written and posted  (nine thus far, as my meandering mind decided that the prompts should be akin to “deleted scenes” or “bonus features” for my series saga, possibly filling the gaps between stories or providing a deeper character study, which, in its own way another distracting factor, as the prompts are not linear, and I’ve spent time pondering on events/characters that are nebulous in their current state), all of the fictional excerpts were written in third person omniscient.

While I want to keep attempting to write in first person (which has some distinct advantages over third person where some of the plot twists are concerned), I’m sorely tempted to return to my (seemingly) natural state of writing in third person (though how I had generally thought out the entire series saga, the third series would be told in third person, whereas the first two series would be told in first person).

But I digress (I think)

So while this week’s blog is (more or less) a filler, as I have very little progress to report, I do need to refocus, regroup and re-think what I’ve thought and will think and might think in order to move ahead.

Wibbly-wobbly, timey wimey… stuff.

It’s kinda like that.

The (abridged) History of Epic Storytelling

As mentioned (frequently albeit sporadically) throughout my (almost) year of writing this writing blog, my  literary ambition is to create a multiple (36) book series spanning over  three centuries  –  or rather, three separate yet intertwined series set within each century (tentatively late 19th, early 20th and mid 21st), with characters with links with one another and with their antecedents and descendants.

In short, I plan on writing an epic saga, and a complex one at that.

As today (March 1, 2014) is the first preview performance of the second Broadway revival of Les Miserables, my all time favorite musical, my (small) way of commemorating this event is to pay homage to the epic storytelling and multiple storylines that are interwoven throughout the (very long) musical (and novel). In fact (as I think I’ve mentioned here before) my literary objective was to expand one otherwise short(ish) story – the plot of which was essentially a ghost story with elements “borrowed” from Phantom of the Opera (my second all time favorite musical) – into a full-fledged novel. That initial effort was probably 85% written, with copious notes on the final handful of chapters, written nearly half a lifetime ago (well, half of my lifetime at least) – that first draft  will most likely never be seen by anyone else but myself, though some elements will be retained, revised and recycled, removing all the “borrowed” elements.

Fast forward a few years and the literary plan expands to become a trilogy, with character and plot exposition that kept delving farther and further back in time, to the point where the idea of a separate prequel trilogy is needed (if memory serves, this idea was inspired by the announcement of the Star Wars prequel trilogy). Anyway, at this point, the series was to be six separate sequential stories spanning about twenty years or so, all set in the same location, with the conceit that the location (a massive English estate) would be another “character”. As time went on, thoughts on exposition and relationships between characters developed, and new inspirations were discovered, all of which led to the general structure currently in place: three separate series, with a finite number of novels within (quasi-stand alone, with some related, sequential elements), set in the three distinct (aforementioned) time periods, with the initial location at its center. How that last bit will work is still a work in progress.

Anyway.

For those following the quasi-meta quality of the last few blog entries, I’m still in the Land of Exposition, staying at the Character Development Inn, though I’ve wandered about (quasi) aimlessly to the Plotting Forest, exploring the various narrative trails and avoiding the various fauna. The trails were lush, interesting and all different – some were clear, some were rocky, and others were just confusing – the provided brochures were mostly useless, with preconceived images, presumably provided by other visitors. Most of my writing Muses spent the days lounging by the indoor pool, drinking martinis and munching on chicken fingers and nachos, every now and then blurting out something useful. Thankfully the Inn has an infinite supply of chocolate covered espresso beans, of which I’ve taken to nosh when the mildly annoying trio of Writer’s Block, Writer’s Speed Bump and Writer’s Roundabout loom in the distance.

[OK, that’s about all I can think of with relation to the quasi-meta story I started]

Needless to say, I’m still in the plotting/pondering stage, with occasional sojourn into actual writing – as stated in last week’s weekly blog, I’ve returned to working on those writing prompts, several of which will be (brief) fictional scenes that will be akin to “deleted scenes” for the Epic Series Saga. Or for the fan fiction novel based on Dance of the Vampires (one of my top ten all time favorite musicals – its place on the list shifts depending on my mood), a novel I do intend on finishing one of these days (and may or may not have ties to the aforementioned epic series saga).

Basically, this week’s post is a status update on what I’ve been up to, along with a lot of babbling and reiteration (I think) – there isn’t that much actual narrative written that can be shared, as I tend to revise and edit as more and more ideas pop into my head. This inevitably leads to many, many versions of Word documents and more documents of musings, character development and other tangents. I do hope to have something substantial to share, but the endless possibilities (and possible plot twists) render the overall narrative structure to be nebulous and a constant work in progress. I know I should be more definite and just write without (too much) planning, but I like plotting things out. I like knowing where the path with eventually lead me (and my characters).

To wit, enough pondering and musing here, and onward (back) to writing!