Sunday, January 29, 2017

Beautiful Books: January 2017 // Goals and Drafts

~Beautiful People is a monthly linkup for writers hosted by Cait at Paper Fury and Sky at Further Up and Further In.~

1. What were your writing achievements last year?
I re-wrote the fantasy novel that I have been working on for the past two years, and I focused on characters. I also attempted to write a few short stories, though I haven't finished any of them. Additionally, I wrote a lot of blog posts of which I am proud, and I earned A's on all of my college essays (though one was, technically, a B+/A-)!

2. What’s on your writerly “to-do list” for 2017?
My biggest goal for 2017 is to finish my fantasy novel. If I can, I would also like to write/finish several short stories. If I can't write them, then I would at least like to outline them. Tentatively, I am thinking about writing an anthology of scary stories (my Gothic Literature class inspired me). Also, my sci-fi cafĂ© story idea is still cooking in the back of my mind. It's not fully baked yet, but I have high hopes that the oven timer will sound its completion soon!

3. Tell us about your top-priority writing projects for this year!
My fantasy novel! Though have learned a lot through the enjoyable process of editing this book, I am ready to finish this story.

4. How do you hope to improve as a writer? Where do you see yourself at the end of 2017?
I hope to continue refining my essay-writing skills. Also, I hope I can continue growing in my characterization and streamlining skills.
At the end of 2017, I would like to have a physical copy of my finished manuscript in front of me. (And my secret hope is that I will have published something in my school's literary journal. But, shh! Don't tell anyone!)

5. Describe your general editing process.
Since I've only editing one book before this one, I don't have an editing process yet. The one I've been using for this novel has been working well, though. I started by working on my plot, and then I worked on my characters. Now, I'm working on my plot and characters again. After I finish with them, I will look over the draft for wordiness, decide if I need better word choice, and fix grammar mistakes.

6. On a scale of 1-10, how do you think [your most recent] draft turned out?
A seven. It was much better than I expected and it has a lot of potential, but it still has a lot of work to be done to it. Luckily, I can see exactly what needs to be done! All I need is the time and motivation to do it.

7. What aspect of your draft needs the most work?
In addition to my characters, my world building still needs work. I don't have to worry much about one of my races since only one of its members is in the story. Finn's race, however, I have renovated since I decided that I didn't want him to be an Elf. I've made up my own race, which means a lot of rewriting later in the story. Hopefully, I can write them well enough that people don't think they are Elves.

8. What do you like the most about your draft?
The cleverness and humor. I didn't remember that my story was so funny! I'm taking this as a good sign: if I'm entertained by it, certainly my audience will be entertained, right?

9. What are your plans for this novel once you finish editing? More edits? Finding beta readers?
Querying? Self-publishing? Hiding it in a dark hole forever?
After I finish this draft, I will have several people read it. Then, I will work on edits based on their comments, and word choice and grammar edits. After that, I don't know. I want to publish the story somewhere, but I don't know yet if I want to self-publish it or go the independent or traditional route.

10. What’s your top piece of advice for those just finished writing a first draft?
First of all: Congratulations!! You wrote a whole novel! My advice to you is to take a break from your story for several weeks. Then, start looking at it again. You will see the problems and have to come up with solutions. Sometimes, letting other people read your work helps you figure out problems and solutions.

No first draft is perfect, but nearly every story has potential, so find problems, find solutions to those problems, and make your novel the best that it can be!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

The Long and Winding Editing Road—It Begins Again.

~I've been inspired by Katie at Spiral-Bound's "Editing Diaries" posts to do my own editing series. Currently, I'm in the process of editing a fairytale-fantasy novel I wrote in 2014, and I want you to join me on this journey! Maybe, together, we can learn a few things about writing along The Long and Winding Editing Road.~

I figured that Christmas break would be the ideal time to begin the fourth draft of my fantasy novel. Despite a number of major changes to my characters, I had the fanciful idea that I would be able to finish the fourth draft during my three week break. I made excellent time through the first third of the novel; but, the second third took me by surprise. It has always been the most difficult part of the novel as the characters are between quests and nothing much happens. It is a time for character development and a time for me to lay the foundation for things to come later in the story. In past drafts, I have taken out much content from this middle section. This draft has been no different. In fact, I took out two chapters, and allocated their necessary parts to different chapters.
I've never had to make big cuts like this before. It's liberating to highlight several thousand words, hit the backspace key, and see them disappear (don't worry–I have them saved somewhere else!). It's fun to make these cuts, knowing that I am streamlining my story and making it better! I feel like a real writer.
I did, however, run across a roadblock. This roadblock has come in the shape of a character. Surprisingly—nay, miraculously!—the character who is giving me trouble is not Finn. Finn is behaving himself (for once). No, King John is giving me trouble. He's my villain and I've never felt solid with his characterization. During the last draft, I had a better handle on his character; because I was focused on my main characters, though, I couldn't devote as much time to him as he deserved. Over the summer, I wrote part of his backstory in short story form. That helped me understand him better.
Now, I have printed out the fourteen chapters that make up the middle section of my novel. I plan to go through them very carefully so that I can...

-Continue streamlining this part of the story so that the audience doesn't get bored. I want every scene and every character interaction to have purpose.

-Fix King John's character. I want to write him in such a way that the audience feels exactly how I want them to feel about him. This is going to be tricky, since I want them to go from despising him to sort-of liking him to despising him again. Since this is how my main character, Rozella, feels about him, I am hoping that the audience will follow her feelings.

These two goals are going to take precision to complete, which is why I printed out these chapters.

I don't know how much I will be able to work on them during the first eight weeks of school because I have a lot of classwork. My workload drops significantly during the last eight weeks, however, so I hope to work on my story then! I will keep you updated.

Are you writers out there working on anything exciting at the moment?

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Obligatory End-of-Year Post

A lot happened to me in 2016.

Out of my fourteen goals for 2016, I only completed four, half-completed four, and failed at six.
I did not perform in a musical, get a piano student, write four pieces of nonfiction in January, host a Dutch-themed dinner party for my friends, practice voice five out of seven days in the week, or read the books that were on my reading list.
I did, however, do better at eating no sugar (I went sugar-free over the summer), exercising, prioritizing other things over the Internet, and reading nonfiction.
I re-wrote my fantasy story. I memorized and performed Sinding's "Rustle of Spring" on the piano, which you can watch here. I figured out college and, to some extent, life. Most importantly, I grew closer to God and put more emphasis on persistent prayer.

What else happened in 2016?

Well, I moved to this blog from Dolls, Books, and Things That Matter. We've had 56 good posts here, nearly all of which I am proud of. Some of my favorites have been The Long and Winding Editing Road series, which I hope to continue this year; a post on why singleness is okay; the exciting adventures of Sharon and Dudley as they try to win fortune and glory; A Shakespeare Appreciation Post on the Bard's 400th death-day anniversary; the Silmarillion Awards; and the essay I wrote about the conflicting feelings I felt when my grandpa died.

Many of my recent blog posts have been about college. That has been the biggest change in my life this year. I have met wonderful people, enjoyed lovely classes, and learned a lot about interpersonal relationships and living on my own.

March 30th marked my one-year anniversary of being migraine free.

I read fifty books. My favorites were...
-Symphony for the City of the Dead by M.T. Anderson, a biography of one of my favorite composers Dmitri Shostakovich.
-The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien.
-Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.

What do I hope to accomplish in 2017?

-I want to give my blog a makeover, including changing the name to "Regarding Reading, Writing, and Sometimes Life." Additionally, I hope to post at least once a month, if not more.

-Eat less sugar and exercise more.

-Read thirty-five books (perhaps Anna Karenina? perhaps Anne of Green Gables? perhaps some Arthur Conan Doyle, of which I have many? perhaps some Herman Melville, of which I also have many?).

-Continue to do well in school.

-Find a home church in Minnesota and continue growing in my relationship with God.

-Finish my fantasy novel.

While this final goal is a big one, I have confidence that I can complete it! But, more on that in my next post.

Do you have any goals for the upcoming year?