Without a Word

I’m trying something unusual with the current story I’m working on.

The character that I’m following right now is a little girl with a rough childhood.  She’s smart and tough, but has to be independent at a young age.   (Her mother sold her as an infant, and she was raised at a laundry that serves as a front for human trafficking.  She escapes and lives alone as a street urchin for a while before joining up with several other children.)

While she has the ability to talk, and certainly does so throughout her life, I’ve decided that she isn’t going to speak in the first scenes in which we encounter her.  She communicates just fine, with looks and nods, and no one questions her lack of words.  It’s made me think more about the dialogue around her, and how to describe her responses.

It didn’t start out as something intentional, but I noticed it after the first few scenes and decided to see if I could keep it going.  It’s worked so far, and I should now be at a section where she’ll need to say something.  The next chunk of story that I have planned is when she first encounters the group of kids she joins, and I have a great line in mind for the first time we hear her speak.

She’ll always be a character that listens and watches first and speaks only when necessary, and I think this is a great way to establish that personality trait with the readers (even if they may not realize that it’s been done intentionally).

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More Words

My current project invites comparison.  The first novel I ever completed, The Queen’s Butterflies, has a lot of potential but mostly it just has a lot… of stories, of characters, of time, all crammed into one novel.  I am taking all of that and expanding it into a series of books.  Right now it looks like it will be a trilogy, but that has yet to be determined.

The good and bad of this project are basically the same thing.  I get to go into more detail with the characters and the stories, but that means I need to go into more detail.  It’s taken a lot for me to finally get the inspiration to do so.

The main story follows three girls who are all born at the same time, during a lunar eclipse, and who eventually end up training and working together.  In the original, we saw snippets of their childhoods – just enough to see the shape of their stories, but not much more.

I’m now working on telling their growing-up tales, in a book I’m calling Blood Moon Born.  I’ve started with the girl who is eventually called Mara, although I suspect she won’t be first in the book when all is said and done.  A significant event happens when she is six years old.  Beyond this point, I won’t be able to do much direct comparison between the new and old books.  I’m changing the timelines pretty significantly, to both better align them with one another and to make their ages more believable.  (Let’s face it; no matter how smart or strong or amazing, there are some things that an eight-year-old can’t realistically do.)

However, since the significant event is still happening at nearly the same age, I can compare the two books up to that point.  I pulled out all of the bits of Butterflies about Mara, up to and including the event, and copied them into their own document.  Total approximate word count: 2100.

Last week I finished the significant event in Blood Moon.  Total approximate word count now?  7200 words.

There are a few more words in Mara’s story now, and a lot more details.

Tuesday Night is Writing Night

Today is Tuesday, and Tuesday night is writing night.  Therefore, I am at my local library, having just finished tonight’s writing.

During NaNo 2017, I discovered that my local library is an excellent place to write.  It’s quiet, it has work tables with comfy chairs, and best of all, it’s not my apartment.  Without chores and entertainment to distract me, I’m much more productive in my writing.

In addition, Tuesday evenings are pretty open for me (barring a work conflict, but those are rare this time of year).  So shortly after the start of 2018, I decided that I would come to the library to write on Tuesdays.

There are two great things about having a writing routine.  If it’s a routine, you’re more likely to stick to it.  It’s basically a habit.  For me that means I don’t get by with procrastinating – I actually hold myself to writing once a week.

The second great thing is that if your creativity knows that you’re going to need it to do some work, it will often oblige.  This is the same concept behind journaling at a set time every day.  Sooner or later you’ll have more and more productive journaling sessions, thanks to the priming of practice.

Thus, Tuesday night writing night.  It’s working so far – every week the amount of writing I get done has increased.

I think Tuesday nights will also be blogging nights, so if you’re looking for new stuff, now you know when to look.  🙂

A New Start

It’s been a very long time since I wrote a blog!  In fact, it took approximately 57 attempts for me to remember my password.

Writing has been a very minor part of my life for the past few years, but within the last 8 months, my creativity has begun to bubble up once more.  In May 2017, I was hit with inspiration for a new story.  I let it simmer in my brain until November, when I used it to once again participate in NaNoWriMo.  I wrote over 50,000 words in 18 days!

After NaNo, I’ve been finding myself creating once again, going back to some of my first characters.  I’ll give you more details of the project in future blogs – for now I just want to say hello again, and jump start the blog.  My goal is to blog once a week, which is also my writing goal right now.

Thanks for reading!

The Gap is Gone

For many years, writing filled a gap in my life.

When they came into my life, the characters kept me company in the dark as I tried to fall asleep in my new apartment, totally alone for the first time.

Later, my brain explored their world as my body did physical tasks long since gone mindless.  Their conversations kept me entertained through the boredom of lines, their adventures gave my mind a place to wander when it had nothing else to do.

A lack of challenge, a shortage of stimulation, led me to writing.  A hobby soon grew, becoming a passion, and I was hooked.

For the past year, I’ve barely written.  Blogs are sparse, characters are quiet, and it’s been perplexing to me.  These are my children, this world one of my own making, a place I am always welcome.  There are still lines to stand in, still quiet moments in the dark, still tasks that don’t require my brain.  Where has the story gone?

This week I realized – the story is not gone, but the gap is no more.  Those empty moments are now occupied with work, with stress, with the many things to which I’ve committed my time and energy.  The chatter that filled my mind now dims in down moments; what was once a fairly level din is now peaks of intensity followed by valleys of quiet.

In searching for and finding a more challenging job, I fear I’ve reduced writing back to an occasional hobby.  I’ll have to decide if I want to pursue ways to bring it back; perhaps I’ll find quiet moments again, as this job becomes more routine, and the characters will speak once more.

NaNo 2013 Advice, Part 2

My advice for this week is simple.

You actually need to write.

Needless to say, I have not been very productive recently.

Is your NaNo going better than mine?

Learning to Read

I had to do a little research and a little decision-making tonight for Mara’s Tale.

She’s starting to learn to read, which is awesome and will set up several other scenes to come.  However, she’s learning to read in a fantasy world with technology similar to the middle ages or Renaissance, from a herbalist in the poor district of town.  This means I can’t have her using lined paper and a pencil, the way I learned to read and write.  What would she use?  Slate and chalk?  Charcoal and… what?  The little research I could do online turned up quill pens and ink on paper, or even pencils.  I’m not sure that the poor herbalist would have access to those, at least not to waste on a child’s practicing.  For a few moments I was stumped.

Of course, this isn’t historical fiction, so in the end I decided to use a variation of it.  Rough paper, probably made nearby, and a charcoal stick seemed to work well for the tale and feel like something that the herbalist would have at her disposal.

Additionally, I remembered that spelling wasn’t standardized until much later (at least, in real history) so I made it a point not to have Mara spell out words or refer to letters explicitly.  It made the section a little trickier to write, but it worked out ok (at least for now).

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