Side Projects and Other Distractions (revisited)

So this week’s entry is not so much an update on the Great Quasi-Free Form Writing Experiment (which has stalled somewhat for reasons explained in the remainder of this [probably short] weekly entry), but more an update on things in general, and the other writing projects I’ve undertaken [of my own free will] and endeavor to complete (at least to the best of my ability).

One such project that I started this year was the Writing Prompt Project, started on New Year’s  Day 2014 – its purpose was to compel me to write and  to post a bit of writing every day using a 100 writing prompt list I found online (I forget where I found it) as a basic framework/theme. In theory, I should have completed that task a few months ago had I stuck to the post something-using-the-writing-prompt-list-every-day regimen, but it’s nearly the end of September, and I’ve only managed to write (and post) 11 entries (mostly fictional scenes  that are [for the most part] stand alone, and a few stream-of-conscious musings). Granted, I still have (some) time to complete the task (if I really buckle down and stop over-thinking everything and actually!write) so I’m not going to panic.

Yet.

Of course, the over-thinking bit is a result of my fixation (and consistent pondering) on the main series saga I’ve dedicated much of my life (albeit not quite in a liner fashion) creating and getting out of my head. Some of the fictional snippets (scenes) were borne out of situations/interactions occurring “off stage” (akin to the deleted scenes for a film/TV series) focusing on minor/unseen characters and events occurring at various points within the larger Series Saga. So naturally that has slowed down the writing/posting of these snippets, as I subconsciously (unconsciously?) ponder how the proposed snippet will/could/might fit in the Series Saga (and if it might contain potential spoilers). Conversely (as a quasi-epiphany) some of the [outlined, plotted] events have inadvertently shaped the possible sequence of events in the narrative arc, causing  some plot elements,  character relationships and character personalities to change. Either way, the initial purpose of the Writing Prompt Project has faltered a bit (though inadvertently and concurrently clarified/confused things).

Anyway.

While I’ve been determined to not have my Muses (and their army of plot bunnies/ninjas) distract me from getting some actual!writing done for Series One, Book One, the stray plot point has wandered across my mind for the on-hiatus fan fiction novel based on the short-lived (yet highly entertaining despite being slammed by the critics) musical Dance of the Vampires – not too surprising as a new production is due to start its run in Paris next month. That’s another project that (for a short period in time [and space]) had ties/crossover with the Series Saga; that notion was swiftly discarded, as getting the rights/permission to use the characters/situations from that musical would be a lengthy process – though if and when I ever get around to finishing that fan fiction novel, [still] entitled Carpe Noctem – mentioned here a few times in passing – I would make an ardent attempt to secure the necessary rights to incorporate those characters.

Until then, I [really] should limit my time and energy to actually!writing – ideally Series One, Book One (as I’ve fallen behind in the quasi-challenged posed by a fellow aspiring writer a few weeks back), as well as completing the remaining 89 writing prompts from that list.

TTFN!

[Hmm… so much for this entry being a shorter one…]

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Quasi-Free Form Writing

Quasi continuing the theme of streamlining ideas, and building upon the quasi-epiphany provided by a fellow aspiring writer [Yes, I’m sure you’ve noticed I like using the word “quasi” A LOT – it’s such a fun sounding, quirky word], I’ve stopped most of the plotting and pondering I usually do and have finally (!!) gotten to the actual!writing of the narrative for Series One, Book One.

Or rather, I’ve continued with one version of the narrative I had started a few months before and had quasi-abandoned (during the time I had debated which of the two main characters would be tasked with narration duties), and have made some edits/corrections based on the Hemingway App, which is an online editor designed to pinpoint passive verbs, adverb usage and sentences deemed “too difficult” to understand. Other than that, I’ve been actually!writing, and more or less pantsing the narrative direction (based on quasi-developed plot ideas).

So far it’s going well, though I’ve “fallen” back into the editing-while-writing trap (a side effect enhanced by using that Hemingway App) a few times but other than that, the narrative sequence of events is moving along quite smoothly, albeit slowly. A new(ish) plot device has been created (along with a quasi-new character) to motivate my main characters into the main thrust of the mystery within the narrative, which was an unexpected (and unique) twist to the idea I had originally planned. With these spur-of-the-moment ideas as I write-with-little-plotting, some of the forethought character development has (slightly) changed, bringing forth different facets of the character(s), which may (or may not) affect the overarching story or series arc.

[Yes, still being vague about the details, as it’s still in malleable clay form, and any definite details might be discarded in a week (or so) later. I suppose once I’ve actually finished writing the narrative (or at least written a good deal of it), I’ll provide details on the first series of the MASC Chronicles, (still) subtitled Tainted Blood.

Well this entry is a bit shorter than most, as I’ve kinda almost run out of things to write pertaining to this topic (or at least anything I can definitely state) – but at least I’ve focused myself to get some actual!writing done and not go on and on (and on and on) about plotting and pondering.

Hopefully by this time next week, I’ll have something more quasi-substantial to report.

Maybe.

 

Streamlining Ideas Further

In a quasi-rare instance of continuing on a theme, this week’s blog will focus on my (apparent) inability to get any actual!writing done, and the complications in pondering and plotting out such a large series saga. I tend not to reveal much about my works-in-progress, keeping the musings, theories and overall narrative arcs purposely vague – as I’ve said/written before, it’s mainly because I’m not quite sure how it will all play out in the end, though as the creator of this (now overly) complex series saga, I have the final say and should have at least some inkling of who these characters are and what their goals are and why they do the things they do.

Of course, I do have an idea about all the aforementioned, yet (as a fellow aspiring writer has pointed out) all the plotting and pondering I’ve been doing, and all the changes I’ve applied to the series saga over the years (which, as I’ve said/written before grew from being one novel to a trilogy and now as a three-part multiple book series saga) has happened because of the passage of time and the different influences that “inspired” me to make changes to a work in progress that had not been fully yet formed. All of these (killer) plot bunnies have successfully distracted me from getting any actual!writing done, as each new/old idea prompts me to figure out how said idea could/should/would fit in the series saga.

No More.

After a bit of “tough love” from the aforementioned  aspiring writer (albeit via a late night Facebook conversation) I won’t get any of these books written if I keep going on these flights of fancy (or rather all the extended stays in the Land of Exposition) and make changes the narrative arc, sequence of events, etc. It’s taken me a (long) while to figure out that I’ve been perpetually stuck in the Writer’s Roundabout, adding plot twists, alternate universes and other bells and whistles to the series saga when I should  be ACTUALLY!WRITING Book One of Series One, and JUST STICK TO THAT ONE SERIES. [Yes the all caps was needed, for the reasons it’s often used online.]

I suppose this is a quasi-epiphany of sorts (though probably not, since I kinda, sorta subconsciously knew I had to stop with all the plotting and pondering and get to the actual!writing portion of the process). I suppose it was buried so far in the corner of my mind that I needed someone else to point this out to me.

So.

I resolve to stop with the plotting, pondering about the other two series and abandon the extraneous plot twists (at least for the time being) and get some actual!writing done, starting with the first novel, which is entitled One More Angel in Heaven (which was the novel I attempted to write during last year’s NaNoWritMo). While I managed to write almost 9K of that tale (roughly equating to two chapters), I propose to scrap  archive that version of the narrative and start anew.

Wish me luck (again).

Streamlining Ideas

Curious how imagination works.

A flurry of ideas scattered about, with plot bunnies conspiring to “improve” upon established narrative arcs and character development and the muses editing what little narrative I’ve written thus far, giving me (mostly) helpful advice to figure out the sequence of events and how the story arc should proceed. Yes, I do pay heed to those voices in my writer’s head (though most of the time, random song lyrics and melodies accompany these musings). Characters move from series to series, their roles may (or may not change) in the Grand Scheme of Things from hero to villain (or somewhere in between), narrative arcs are shuffled about and fixed points in Time are messed about for a spell then put back in its proper place.

Brief Disclaimer:

Of course, they really aren’t voices in my head telling me stuff (lest I get carted away somewhere “for my own good”) – my imagination does run away with itself once it gets going and often leads to unexpected places, all in the name of Getting the Books Written (or at least Outlined As Best As Possible).

But I digress.

Needless to say there are a myriad of story ideas waiting to “grow up” to become real books, and sorting through the ideas (the good, the bad and the strange) is a monumental task. New (old) ideas crop up, subtle changes to a character’s motivations or history can (and usually do) impact the narrative arc, leading to revisions of plot lines and (mental) revisions to scenes/chapters. While it’s a stimulating task, working with a mountain of ideas weaving them into a cohesive narrative, it’s also time-consuming and confusing, as my series saga deals with generational characters, with a good deal of causality and its consequences.

[Quasi-Disclaimer]

Yes, I’m still being quasi-vague about the details of the series saga, but what quasi-spoilers I can tell (which I’m 95.6% sure will remain the same) is that the sub-genre is leaning more toward science fiction than fantasy, with a slight dash of Steampunk and a touch of horror (maybe). The main genre is (and has remained as such) a mystery – the genre that sparked my interest in reading and writing.

Anyway.

I’m more or less close to figuring out the (actual) sequence of events within the Universe I’ve created, and managed to move the Players to where they need to be (or rather should be for the series saga to make some semblance of sense). Most of the scenes are set, the lights are arranged accordingly and the orchestra is quietly tuning, ready to start the story.

Now all I need to do is raise the curtain and cross that (increasingly) long (imaginary) path from my imagination (through my fingers) and into reality.

Wish me luck.

Writing Prompt #11: 33%

[Disclaimer: The story that is about to unfold is completely fictional – any resemblance to actual or existing fictional people, places and/or events is purely coincidental.]

Writing Prompt #11: 33%

Emerson Barlow leafed through the latest report and frowned. While the report contained a plethora of complicated words, its findings were clear. Efforts to restore the timeline reached an impasse, despite the meticulous research the Council of Sages conducted to pinpoint the exact moment when history diverged from its true path. A mere 33 percent of the discrepancies purged, achieved at a high cost for many of the operatives recruited for the job. By restoring history to its proper order, their existence forfeit once they achieved their goal. Emerson turned to the sideboard, reached for a fresh bottle of scotch, and poured a liberal amount into his glass. He uttered a silent prayer for the lives lost to the ether of time – he drank to remember and to forget.

The sound of heavy footfalls interrupted his moment of solace, causing him to replace the half empty bottle on the sideboard. He smoothed the wrinkles from his suit and sat on the edge of his desk, hoping the meeting would be brief. An imposing shadow filled the threshold before entering the room, followed by a smaller, slender figure. Emerson sprang to his feet and reflexively stood at military attention – this was unexpected.

“Countess, what an unexpected pleasure,” Emerson bowed his head, greeting his unexpected (yet esteemed) guest. “I trust your journey was a pleasant affair.”

“Spare me your false courtesy, Barlow – it reeks of sycophancy.” A sharp retort emerged from the Countess Natasha Blackhampton, entering the room with great authority. “The Council is concerned with the lack of progress in the task you claimed you could resolve within the specified time frame.”

“The Council is aware of the complexity of the task and the intricate steps needed to complete the mission. I had imparted as much when I agreed to undertake the job.” Emerson retorted, his instinctual apprehension vanishing. He would not tolerate an affront to his abilities from anyone, regardless of their stature. “There were… unforeseen complications which needed to be eliminated before the mission could proceed.”

The Countess crossed the room, inspecting the wastebasket overflowing with empty bottles. She signaled her companion to remain at the threshold as a subtle warning for him that escape was not possible. She glared at the rumpled-suited man, apprehensive yet proud of his self-proclaimed talent. So much potential wasted on such a mundane task – nevertheless, the Council demanded results. “The Council believes these complications preventable and resolved before they had a chance to emerge.” She approached Emerson and glared into his eyes. “Our very existence depends on removing the impurities from the timeline – your life will be forfeit if you cannot deliver on your promise.”

Without waiting for a response, the Countess exited the room, her hulking companion trailing behind her. Incensed at the implied threat, Emerson grabbed the bottle he had been drinking and flung it towards the open door.

“Throwing a rare bottle of single malt away so flippantly,” A familiar voice emanated at the threshold instead of the sound of shattering glass. “Surely things are not so bad as that?”

“Giles, I might have guessed,” Emerson exhaled, his anger subsiding. “What brings you out of hiding? I thought the Council had a price on your head.”

Giles Kendrick strode into the room, closing the door behind him. “I risked a run-in with those Council thugs to warn you.”

“Warn me about what?” Emerson felt a slight shiver ripple through his body. He knew Giles’ reputation as an information hub, with his elite network of spies and informants. He knew everything about everyone, and was willing to sell that information to the highest bidder.

Giles surveyed the room, searching for any surveillance devices. He directed an energy beam at the angel figurines in the bookshelf with his flash pen; he then replaced the bottle of scotch on the sideboard. “The historical purity meter will never exceed thirty-three percent – they’re sending out incompetent operatives as a method of selective population control.”

“That doesn’t make any sense – why would they…” Emerson stopped, realizing the truth behind that outrageous statement. He noticed the subtle spike in number of variances after each mission, but attributed them to random chance, coincidence or a simple miscalculation. After all, analyzing causality and its consequences was not an exact science. “It’s a test.”

“But at whose bidding? Who ultimately benefits from these missions?” Giles stood by the window, gazing at the amber sunset. “Why did they choose you to lead this project?”

“I volunteered my expertise to reach the Council’s objectives in purging the flaws caused by the Alliance.” Emerson retorted, his role was vital, and would garner the accolades he richly deserved yet consistently denied. “In the end, everyone benefits once the Alliance’s manipulations are eradicated.”

“What makes you think it’s the Alliance manipulating the timeline?”