Inadvertent Time Travel

As this is blog has become more a weekly journal (of sorts) of my progress (or lack thereof) in my writing process, with purposely vague allusions to the various works in progress currently brewing in my ever expanding mind palace, a brief summation of what’s been going over the past week.

Things have been rather interesting since the past entry – wi-fi service went down early Sunday morning – seems there was a house fire on the block behind where I live which knocked down wires and such (as far as I’m aware that fire was contained and minimal damage remained). So there was no internet, (landline) phone service or cable – thankfully cell phone service remained active (the cell phone provider was independent from the landline counterpart). After the obligatory complaint query to said provider (which shall remain nameless), whose automated voice service intoned that repairs would be completed by midnight Tuesday [while an annoyance, it was sort of understandable, as Monday was Memorial Day], I set about pondering my options.

It’s funny how technology has become ingrained in our lives in these modern times – how one becomes accustomed to the omnipresence (and reliability) of high speed internet for checking email, logging into Facebook, and conducting Google and Wikipedia searches. That Sunday morning I awoke to the absence of the (habitual) pinging from my iPad, indicating I had unread email. While I can (still) remember a time before the internet,it was a bit disorienting to be without it – it was as if I had inadvertently traveled back in time. It felt odd to lose that quasi-communal connection (if only for a few days), yet it was oddly serene to not have the “distraction” of checking email, Facebook and such. If anything, this brief hiatus in internet connectivity allowed me to (re) focus my efforts in my neverending quest to actually!write, plot and ponder the aforementioned works in progress.

[Full disclosure: I did take quasi-breaks during my off line time to check email, Facebook and such by traveling to my local Starbucks to use their free wi-fi,so I wasn’t totally cut off from the modern world]

Anyway.

During the (relative) quiet during my (inadvertent) travels to a time before the Internet, the plot bunnies came out to play, and I set about to actually!edit and actually!(re)write those writing prompts I had posted, and ponder how/when/if they fit in the Epic Series Saga. Thoughts (and plot bunnies) strayed back to reinstating old plot twist ideas and formerly discarded- and-filed-away subplots and digressions. Some of the old(er) ideas I had had suddenly made (some) sense and could actually work within the context and construct of the individual series, bringing forth a quasi-linear sequence of events and narrative arc. Character development shifted (slightly) – personality traits were tweaked, some characters were eliminated, some reinstated, while others were moved about from one series to the other. Things were moving at a not-so-glacial pace, and ideas were flying all over the place.

Then wi-fi service was restored early Tuesday evening.

Back to the Future Present I went.

The progress made during my (figurative) travels back in time remained, while some of the extraneous subplots returned to its filed-away status, a lingering side effect from the trip. Again, while it was a (minor) annoyance not having that omnipresent Internet access (which in the grand scheme of things, given world events and such, seems such a First World Problem) it was an interesting experience to relive (though I wouldn’t want to go through it again). Though technically speaking, I could voluntarily “turn off” these “distractions”, and plot, ponder and actually!write using the “old school” methods [the ever trusty pen and paper], the temptation of going online will always remain.

I’m not so sure what the point of this entry was/is or if it’s of any interest to anyone, but at least it’s a quasi-permanent record of the goings on during my brief sojourn back in time.

I’m also still pondering whether or not to keep the writing prompts I had written and posted last year intact and repost the edited versions in a separate entry, or to simply replace the original post and republish the edited version.

Opinions are welcome.

As are comments (positive, negative or indifferent) – sometimes I wonder if anyone actually reads and follows these weekly musings…

TTFN!

Advertisements

Editing While Writing

A continuation (of sorts) from last week’s entry of wading through the multitude of ideas, plot bunnies and other quasi-random ideas bouncing about in the strange place that is my Literary Mind Palace. Thus far it’s been an interesting adventure sifting through the ideas I’ve had brewing over the past few months/years/decades (!), reading over character summaries, plot twists and some actual!writing [mostly narrative starts and character-driven scenes, all written in 3rd person perspective]. Some of the ideas have shifted over time, narrative arcs discarded, only to be reinstated at a later date (then changed or filed away for future use); a few names, places and plot points have remained the same (for the most part), and as [almost] everything I’ve written has a date (and sometimes time) stamp, it’s fascinating to see how these ideas and such have been influenced by whatever I was “into” when I was plotting/pondering/actually!writing.

But I digress.

In the midst of this literary version of Spring Cleaning, I’ve taken to editing what I’ve written, as well as (re)reading what has been written, in an attempt to compartmentalize (if possible) where what has been written can fit in the Epic Saga. In this quasi-new quest, I’ve taken to running what has been written into the Hemingway App [which targets hard-to-read sentences, over-complex words, adverbs, and passive voice to ensure bold and clearing prose], and making the necessary changes. In the past, I’ve attempted to avoid using this app when actually!writing, as I’ve tended to run each sentence/paragraph through the site and agonize on how to ensure whatever has been actually!written “passes” the app’s guidelines of clear, bold prose, which stagnates the actual!writing process (and probably is one of the reasons why there’s not that much narrative actually!written).

Anyway.

In addition to all this writing while editing and editing while writing, I’ve pondered and plotted all (or at least most) of my works-in-progress, and volunteered to dramaturge (I’m not sure if that’s an actual verb or not, but it sounds right) a friend’s play. While I may not have official (work) experience in editing, it’s a (marketable) skill I’ve acquired and utilized over the years, from editing/writing my mother’s email correspondence [English is not my mother’s native language, and she still has trouble with grammatical issues], and running the aforementioned friend’s writings through my FanGirl Meter (patent pending). It’s hard to explain how the FanGirl Meter (patent pending) actually works, as it’s specific to each writer and his/her personal preferences and interests, but it’s an internal sensor to ensure that what has been written isn’t overly gushing, Mary Sue/Gary Stu or too “inside baseball” – and that the story makes actual sense and isn’t overly cliche. This is yet another screening process that quasi-hinders the actual!writing process (as the internal klaxons alert me to return to the plotting and pondering),  yet is still a helpful tool (nebulous as it is).

So, my objective of this long holiday weekend is to edit the writing prompts posted in this blog and see where/when/if they fit in the Universe of the Epic Saga (which I’ve 96.7% decided will not contain the quasi-alternate history exposition, as it’s far too much work to keep track of, and overly complicates things, though I’m 98.3% certain that at some point in the future I’ll revisit this quasi-alternate historical universe and essentially write AU fan fiction of my own works). A part of me wants to post the edited writing prompts as a new blog entry and leave the version originally posted as is, while the other part of me wants to replace the original narrative text with the edited version. (Of course, as the handful of writing prompts posted last year were a mix of essays and fictional scenes, my editorial focus will be on the latter entries.)

So off I go (again) to the Editing Room Cove in the Land of Exposition, across the street from the Character Development Inn, to edit and ponder whether to post the edited prose as a new post or replace the original entry with the edited version.

Opinions are welcome (though they may or may not be actually!used).

Thanks in advance!

Finding Order Amid Chaos

Or at least attempting to do so.

As mentioned frequently (overly or otherwise) throughout this blog series, I spend far too much a lot of time plotting and pondering the plots of my stories – actually!writing (sorta) plot summaries and jotting down possible sequence of events within each of the three series and how/if they fit within the greater scheme of things in the saga that is (still) the MASC Chronicles. A few subplot/sub-genre elements added (to make the series and series saga “different” from other epic sagas) have been removed (then added back again, only to removed again) to streamline the actual (or at least tentatively structured) narrative arc. Plotting and pondering is a perpetual work in progress, and inevitably, new ideas pop up at any given moment, supplanting old ideas or modifying them so they make some semblance of sense.

Creating all (or at least most) of these ideas is the easy part – ensuring that they fit within the quasi-structured narrative arc (which has remarkably remained relatively unchanged) is the fun part. Then again, the overall structure of the series saga has undergone changes over the years/decades, from one short story to one [unfinished] novel, adapted into a one act play, expanded into a novel trilogy, then to a three part, 36 novel series saga (which is how this Epic Saga stands today). Whether or not it remains so is to be determined – it’s been commented that I’m overambitious in (generally) plotting out so many novels, with a character list (almost) as massive as the A Song of Ice and Fire saga (best known as the Game of Thrones series). spanning across time (and in some drafts, space – time travel is a plot device that pops in and out of the plotting ether).

Anyway.

The point of this entry (or at least I hope there’s an actual point) is to detail, albeit in a quasi-vague, roundabout way, my process and progress in writing my novels (or lack thereof). There are fleeting times when the stars (and Muses) align and I actually!write the narrative for one of the stories within the series saga, or work on other works in progress unrelated to the Epic Series Saga. Even then, plotting and pondering continues, to the (almost) inevitable point where everything I write (probably this blog) will find its way into the Epic Series Saga.

One day, some day, when the overall narrative arc is frozen, and things are more definite (or as definite as possible), I’ll actually!explain the madness that goes on in my creative head, and impart actual details of what I’ve been working on, with the great hope that it (a) actually makes sense and (b) actually is any good/unique/different from the myriad of Epic Series Sagas already published.

I might even actually!write a story about the process, which will (again) inevitably expand into its own Epic Series Saga, and perhaps become the topic of another series…

It will become the Story That Never Ends (not to be confused with The Neverending Story, a fantastic, and fantastical story).

… and there goes yet another plot bunny…

Back to the Land of Exposition I go, to get some (more) actual!writing done.

Hopefully.

More Plotting, Less Writing

Well, that pretty much sums up my progress (or lack thereof) on my writing process.

While it’s not an epiphany, grand or otherwise (and I’m not exactly sure if I’ve detailed any of this in previous blog entries, though I highly suspect I have in passing), it’s a truth I should formally accept and acknowledge as I continue on this merry quest to actually!write a novel in my sprawling series saga. As I’ve stated [numerous times] throughout the length of this [still continuously weekly] blog, I plot out my novel(s) and the characters within, mapping out potential plot twists and narrative/character arcs that will appear (at varying degrees) throughout each series and the saga as a whole, as well as pondering how/if the other WIP stories about which I’ve (once again) plotted and pondered will/should fit in the Epic Series Saga. I’ve yammered on about it (albeit quasi-vaguely) at length, writing more about the process than actually writing about the stories themselves.

Though I have made attempts at actually!writing the narrative, recently, and in the past – both via pen and paper and via electronic devises (aside from using MS Word on my laptop, I’ve made some attempts on the Hanx Writer on my iPad mini, which was an interesting experience), I often get tripped up on how/where/when/with whom to start the narrative. The majority of the attempts have ranged from a few words to several (digital) pages, both in third person omniscient (the POV I originally used when writing) and in first person perspective (in quasi-homage to some my favorite authors); the majority of there narrative starts have been discarded and filed accordingly (by title, with date stamps on when they were started and when they were abandoned). The same goes with the various character development summaries and plot summaries. It does seem to me that I have an aptitude to create interesting plots and characters, yet an (apparent) inability to detail the pacing of the actual story in a clear (or as clear as possible) way.

Then again, I do worry far too much about how/if things will turn out, and often edit what (little) I’ve written before moving on with the actual narrative. I suppose I should stop being such a plotter and adopt a pantser attitude – just write and fixate on the plotholes and such after the story has been written. I suppose I can make an attempt at that.

After all, I’ve done well with pantsing (kinda) with this weekly blog – I type each entry directly to the WordPress site (as opposed to writing it out in MS Word and pasting the text, like I do with my theatre blog) and just make up write whatever comes to mind. No doubt I’ve repeated myself (numerous times) over the years, and I rarely ever look back to read what I had written (though I have the urge to edit the few fictional pieces I’ve written and posted last year in that started-out-well-but-faded 100 Writing Prompt Project). Perhaps the fact that the subject of most of these entries is nonfiction (essays, commentaries, reflections, or whatever the correct term is) drawn from my writing life, rather than fictional excerpts of the characters and situations I’ve created even though I mention them in passing (vaguely, of course) is the key to getting past this Writer’s Roadblock (different from the more traditional Writer’s Block, as there’s a road upon which to take from Point A to Point Wherever).

Anyway.

I’m babbling (again) about things as I swerve past the Writer’s Roadblock (deftly avoiding the Writer’s Speed Bumps) and find myself (once again) travelling in the Writer’s Roundabout – that seemingly never-ending circle (of life, as it moves us all… oops, quoting songs now…)

Hmm… 600+ words written in about an hour’s time – that’s more actual!writing that I’ve done for my stories in the past few days…

That says something.

I think.

Maybe I should focus on that Meta story (series?) rather than the actual novel(s) I’m attempting to write.

Perhaps, in the process of writing about the process of writing the story, I’ll actually!write the story about the process of writing the story and actually!write the story itself.

Wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey.

End blog entry.

Narrative Arcs and Developing Ideas

Another Camp NaNoWritMo session has ended, another failed attempt at completing its objective. Then again, writing with a hard(ish) deadline has never been my strong suit, (yet I continue to participate in these quests with the slim chance I’ll actually!write something of note). even with the 17,000+ word Draft as a potential launch pad. I know I’ve been quite pessimistic about my lack of progress and I really have no one to blame but myself as I’m perpetually distracted by the multitude of plot bunnies and such bouncing about in my head, with their oh-so clever ideas about the narrative arc, character development and plot twists. I’d like to think I’m quasi-proficient in plotting out general overviews and character summaries – seeing the “big picture” and plotting out the details within; yet figuring out where/when/how to start the story has been quasi-elusive.

Well…

Technically speaking, I sorta have an inkling of where/when/how to start – most of time, the attempts at actually!writing the beginning of the narrative comes across as either rambling exposition or stilted dialogue. Or from the “wrong” perspective – I’m (stubbornly) adhering to writing in first person perspective for (at least) the first two series in the three part series saga that I’ve quasi-mapped out. Finding the “right” tone is the tricky part, as well as figuring out how much information to impart (to the reader as well as to the other characters), since the main genre in which these stories are set is mystery, with hints of Steampunk, horror and science fiction thrown in for good measure. The writing/plotting process is always a work in progress, constantly changing as new angles, ideas and such pop up – sometimes I feel the urge to write (essentially) one story from different (first person) points of view…

Hmm… now there’s an interesting idea…

Anyway.

Plotting out the overview of the entire series saga that is (still called) the MASC Chronicles has been an adventure in and of itself, and will most likely be the subject of that Meta series – heck, this blog could serve as a starting point, or at best a journal of its progress – or is that too meta? I don’t know. What I do know (sorta) is that I (still) spend far too much time plotting, pondering and worrying about how the overall narrative arc will unfold and just get to the actual!writing or, in the case of the Revision of the Draft, editing what has already been (badly) written many, many moons ago.

So enough with blogging and back to actual!writing….

…Of my stories that is – since, technically speaking, writing blog entries every week counts as actual!writing (even if it’s mostly quasi-rambling thoughts and such). The fact that I can actually!write (on average) 400-500 words every week should count for something, even if it’s a non-linear narrative of sorts.

And I will make an attempt to be more positive in these blog entries (or at least not as negative as is my nature).