YA Indie Carnival: Fiction Pie

YA  writers and bloggers unite each week to share their thoughts, hopes and  dreams about what it’s like to go indie in today’s publishing world.  The future’s so bright, we built our own place to play.

This week we talk about recipes for plotting our stories.

I always thought I was a Pantser aka flying by the seat of the pants. It’s the romantic version of the creation of words. As opposed to the evil, organised, planned creation called Plotting.  But, as much as I claimed that wild horses would never drag me over to the dark side, I had to come to terms with it. Eventually.

The first pin to burst my bubble was the matter of a full request from an agent. With first draft in hand I had to begin the process of edits. Yup, some like ’em, some hate ’em. But editing, like sleep, is totally and unequivocably necessary. So I edited.

Problem was, my WIP had timelines and flashbacks. And I’d only done two things to get this novel moving :

1. Planned the whole novel in my head aka many, many daydreams.
2. Used Chris Vogler’s 12 Step Hero’s Journey in THE WRITER’S JOURNEY to do a rough outline, and used the 3 Act structure to plane the beginning, middle and end (yeah, I promised myself this was not plotting)

So when I started my edit, I realised I was all fired up with no idea where I needed to go. So I Googled. Yup. I did. The amazing thing was I found I was not alone in my quest to learn.

And further I found I had actually done a bit of serious planning along the way. You see, I like mind maps. I love to visualise things. And I’m a bit lazy to do the whole pen and paper thing. A while back I’d searched online for a neat mapping tool and found Freemind. It’s brilliant. Even has Export to Excel and Word options. Brilliant. So I mapped out my 3 Acts, then used the 12 Step Hero’s Journey to create a basic structure. And after a while, this is what I ended up with:

Yup. I was totally guilty of plotting. Glad I didn’t know it at the time. Using this ‘guide’ I wrote the book, one scene at a time. Even more amazing, this basic outline was enough to keep me moving so quickly that I finished writing this book in 24 days (not counting weekends as apparently my family owned my weekends and I couldn’t complain, not really).

But, despite this great and detailed amount of non-planning I still had problems editing. So I went back to Excel. Excel and I are friends. After winning NANOWRIMO 2010 I used and eventually bought Scrivener for Windows. Scrivener is amazing, and has the option to Export scene descriptions. So I dumped the final descriptions unto Excel and neatened the spreadsheet up, using it to track my progress, any scene changes, and the length of my scenes for pacing. And this is what I ended up with:

Yup, I pretty much tracked everything, and managed to complete the first full edit in a month. I especially liked the little graphs that measured the length of my scenes. This was awesome for pacing, to remind me to split the longer scenes, to revise in case my scenes were too long and tension filled, and to check if those little scenes were really needed to move the story along. Not to mention a bunch of other things … The best thing the spreadsheet did was to help me with my Timeline, as days, weeks and months merged to create a neat little novel.

And this became my process. You see, I found this publishing company who was keen on me, and as these things go, there are editors and copy editors poking around in those precious words I created. So it’s really good to have a plan under such circumstances. I realised I had created my own little recipe for the creation of a novel.

And as with most recipes it will most likely get tweaked, added too, slimmed down, and eventually perfected into the perfect plan.

And then, it will probably change… 🙂

Coming December 16! You let us know why you’ve been naughty or nice and enter to win books at each carni’s booth all week, from 12/16 to 12/23. On Dec. 23, find out what books you’ve won!

‘Tis the Season of the Squeee!

In preparation for December’s release of Guardians of the Cross, author T. R. Graves is sending out a coupon which will allow the most-recent edition Warriors of the Cross Click here to downloaded for FREE. Enter coupon LY87N good through 12/20/11. Guardians of the Cross will be released 12/24!

Callum & Harper by Fisher Amelie Releases December 24th! Join her blog tour NOW!

Friend of the Carnival Tiffany King’s Blog tour for book 3 in The Saving Angels series on NOW!

Check out the new trailer for The Midnight Guardian series by Bryna Butler!
Melissa Pearl, YA author of Golden Blood has just started a new blog called YAlicious. It’s a blog to celebrate YA fiction and aimed at teens and readers of YA. Swing on by and check it out!

Visit the rest of the Carnival entertainers for their special recipes, concoctions and creations:

1. Laura A. H. Elliott author of Winnemucca & 13 on Halloween, Book 1 in the Teen Halloween Series 2. Bryna Butler, author Midnight Guardian series
3. Heather Self 4. T. R. Graves, Author of The Warrior Series
5. Suzy Turner, author of The Raven Saga 6. Darby Karchut, author of GRIFFIN RISING
7. Lexus Luke 8. PJ Hoover, Author of SOLSTICE, Blogging at ROOTS IN MYTH
9. Cheri Schmidt, author of the Fateful Trilogy 10. Rachel Coles, author of Into The Ruins, geek mom blog
11. K. C. Blake, author of Vampires Rule and Crushed 12. Patti Larsen, The Hunted series and The Hayle Coven series
13. Courtney Cole, author of The Bloodstone Saga 14. Amy Maurer Jones, Author of The Soul Quest Trilogy
15. Dani Snell’s Refracted Light Reviews 16. Fisher Amelie, author of The Understorey
17. M. Leighton, Blood Like Poison Series, Madly, The Reaping 18. Abbi Glines, author of Breathe and The Vincent Boys
19. Kimberly Kinrade, Bits of You & Pieces of Me, Forbidden Mind 20. Madeline Smoot, Missing, Summer Shorts, and The Girls
21. Cidney Swanson, author of Rippler 22. Nicole Williams, author of Eternal Eden, Falling Eden
23. Gwenn Wright, author of Filter 24. TG Ayer, Author of Dead Radiance
25. Melissa Pearl, author of Golden Blood
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The Little Engine that Could

As I sit here editing my NANO WIP, I can see how easy it is to get side-tracked by every little thing possible. It’s easy to find excuses to stop the edits, start a different project or go back to tinkering with another WIP.

Who said writing was easy? Someone ,somewhere probably. But, in saying that, there are parts of writing that are incredibly easy for some. Writing down your thoughts, putting a scene onto paper, easy. But stringing all those scenes together without mixing things up, forgetting what a character said in the last scene…

Frustration mounts as the difficulty increases. And that’s where it gets so easy to give up. When things begin to go uphill, and muscles need to be strained – the going gets tough. And the tough need to get going. Don’t flee. And if you feel like fleeing find your crit partner, a support person, a friend, a loved one.

Someone who will be there with a ready foot to give you that kick that you need. Like the little engine we could all do with a few friends to help push us up the incline and over the rise. Today, my critique partner made me take a good break- get my head out of my WIP and take a breather. It worked like a charm! Thanks Kim!

Like many authors I know, I like to retreat into seclusion when writing. Sure, I swat away the few intrusions when I am in the thick of it, but that’s good. It means I’m concentrating. But when I lift my head I like to have contact with other writers who understand what I am going through.

And just the simplest of contacts could give you the impetus to surge ahead, make some progress. Skype someone, read or write a blog, catch up with friends.

So remember, we are all little engines, and the only time we ‘can’ is when we have a helping hand – in whatever form they come….

NANOWRIMO 2010 is over – now the real work begins!

Yay, NANOWRIMO 2010 was completed by yours truly with a total of 60 000 words. I could not be any happier. Admittedly I had hoped for a higher word count but there’s this thing called life that kept getiing in the way.

At least I now have the guts of my novel- the first draft. The work’s not over though. I am hoping to get to the first edit soon. Perhaps Early January 2010? Here’s hoping I have my novel completed by end of Jan, and if it so happens that I reach the finish line by end Dec then I will be pretty chuffed!!

Congrats to all those who tried NANO and everyone who completed – superb job!

Roll on NANO 2011!

Nano Warrior!

I guess I will have to concede that NANOWRIMO took precedence over my blogging, but we all know thats not a really good excuse anyway. So lets pretend this is last weeks blog- promise to be more consistent….

On Day 18 of NANO I reached 50,450 words and technically completed my first NANO. Not that I am done. Not by a long shot. I am aiming for around 80k. I do believe 80k is a good point to aim to give me the full flesh and bones of my WIP ready for its first polish…

At this moment my yWriter confirms I have a total of 52500 words in my current project. So I have 27500 words to go to reach my goal. At 4000 words a day I shall surely reach that goal.  (wipes sweat off brow and sighs dramatically!)

Believe me I am now kicking myself for taking so many days off. Yes, I took a break, a nice weekend spent with the kids and DH, doing mommy things like baking the Christmas cake and hemming new trousers. With a nice Thai restaurant and some boardgames, thrown in for good measure. So yes, a nice weekend was had by all. So what kind of a mother am I when I am thinking ‘Perhaps I should not have taken so much time off.’ But it’s not a race anymore, I keep telling myself- I have completed NANO!!

And that’s what NANO has done for me- given me the incentive to at least attempt to have my first draft completed by end of Nov. I will keep you posted on my progress though.

Another wonderful thing happened on YALITCHAT- a Nano Competition where everyone posts their totals and a snippet of their project. I absolutely love reading the snippets other authors have posted too. There’s a Kindle up for grabs too so that is incentive enough. Not to mention a professional critique and a prize of books too. So all you NANO YA writers, get to YALITCHAT and check it out!

Kudos to all WRIMOS who have reached the 50k mark already, and all the best to those who ares till pushing. Go Go Go. You can do it…..