Now for something completely different

There has been a change of plans…

Now, you may see this and roll your eyes. Gosh, she’s been absent for a while and here she is again, getting back on with the writing. Well, that is partly true, but I still have a plan and I’ve been keeping up the writing, just less of it!

First up, is that I’m going to be a Fibi-Mom – hooray! Short term it means that I’ve been coming home from work, and going to sleep, waking up for dinner, and going back to sleep. No really time for writing, and combined with a constant nausea, no concentration for it either. The best way I can describe it, is that it’s been like having the flu for a couple months. Thank you, new Inhabit (-ant. And there is my sly ping to the daily prompt!)

Long term, it means I worry about the time I will have in the future for writing and starting/finishing new projects and the projects that are currently in development. Mostly though, myself and Mr lovely are very excited.

But back to the writing – as I said, plans have changed. With Poisoned Well, I managed to write myself into a corner, or rather a brick wall. With 2000 words to go before I reach my original target and bam. No more words.

I think there are a few reasons for this and I’m going to try and explore them below, without giving any of the plot away. Because no one wants to know the end of the book before they start reading!

  1. I know that I’ll need to write a few thousand words beyond my original target. This is a positive thing and I’m pleased about it. It means that the story has developed and in order to tie it up, I just need a few more words. (Well a few thousand.)

Why would this stop me writing? – Because the goalpost has moved. Even if I reach my intended target, I’m not quite there yet. Then there is the editing (all of the editing) and the re-writing and the editing and I’m way way behind where I thought I would be and … and the guilt has made a return.

How to move on? I just need to start writing again. I’ll go back to my mini plan of doing 100 words, then maybe 200 and slowly, I’ll be chipping away at that word count! I’ll do it! Just, not this weekend because I’m seeing family. Wednesday. Wednesday next week will be my day to kick myself into writing mode for the poisoned well. There I’ve said it, I has to happen!

  1. I knew what was going to happen in the story. That at some point my protagonists were going to go from point D to E and X was going to happen. This was always going to be the ending of the narrative. I dreamt many of the details, conversations, scenes and emotional arcs between points A to B to C etc and all the little things that need to happen in the middle.

Why would this stop me writing? Well I KNEW that D to E and X was going to happen…but because I KNEW this…I didn’t put the extra thought into exactly what D to E entailed. How does that get underway, how many chapters does it take? If I write it in one, have I rushed the complete ending?

How to move on? Well, I’ve actually written the majority of D to E now, but it’s been an uphill struggle. Mr Lovely will argue that those struggles tend to give me my best writing, but…they’re still a struggle and having reached the crest of this particular hill, I felt exhausted.  I’ve needed to spend some time dreaming about what happens at E, and exactly how I visualise X. This is where the flu-symptoms and lack of concentration have been a particular hindrance. If I have a little day dream and try to work out what’s going on, quite frankly, I fall asleep. However, I’m now feeling better and I’m hopeful that I can finally devote some time to unpicking these important moments in the narrative and feel more confident writing them. Then it’s just the downhill slope to roll down.

Hopefully.

In other news, you can still pre-order the teeny tiny books where a piece of my flash-fiction is being publishes as part of an anthology! They’re so small! They would make perfect stocking fillers and the art work to accompany the flash fiction is gorgeous. Order a copy now, while you still can! They’re only £4.00 plus p&p. Third-Word

Look – it’s so tiny and cute!!!!

Finally, having reached the conclusion that Poisoned Well is going to take a bit longer…I’ve agreed something with myself. I’m going to self-publish Burning Embers, my fictional baby. Designs for the front cover are underway and will be shared as soon as possible- Sqeeeeee!

Watch this space for teasers from #BurningEmbers, and a publication date…

And on that bombshell…

Happy Writing

Fibi xxx

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Exciting News!

I haven’t dropped off the face of the planet again, I have been writing – honest! The Poisoned Well is so nearly ready, I can almost taste it! So close… *mutters and carries on typing and editing like a fiend*

However, earlier in the year I was so excited to win a prize for a piece of Flash Fiction! A Prize for Everyone has been selected for a small anthology and is going into print – sqeeeeee!!!

The anthology is available for pre-order until the 21st of August – ONLY. If you would like a copy of wonderful short fiction, with proceeds going to a good cause then please do follow through to Third-Word and make sure you place an order.

A House of Music & Other Stories is available to pre-order online from our website, for a month only, until 21st August!

A collection of eighty-word works from published, aspiring and casual writers from around the world, including the award-winning authors Joan Byrne, Sam Palmer, K S Dearsley and Hannah Froggatt.

This anthology showcases sparks of imagination from the fantastical to the obscure, celebrating the spice of flash fiction.

Sold in support of the homeless, each copy sold online subsidises the printing of 3 copies for the homeless (or homeless organisations) to sell.

There seems to be a veritable list of authors included in the anthology, and I am so proud to be included among them.

Happy Writing Everyone!

Fibi xx

 

A clatter of birdsong

As I know you’re all eager to read some of The Poisoned Well – today is your lucky day! In response to today’s daily prompt of Volume; here are two small extracts. I hope that you enjoy them.

Raucous – Extract One

It was a loud chatter of birdsong that woke Lyris. Sparrows hopped from branch to branch so that the over-hanging vines rustled and bounced; dappled sunlight shaking on her face. It had been a cold night with sleep coming in short uncomfortable bursts. The moss-covered ground that she’d hoped would be soft, had become unyielding. Her left hip and arm felt bruised and bracken poked her cheek as she lay peering at the pale green leaves. Warmth wrapped around her middle and she felt like a stream, suddenly frozen and unable to move.

Lyris couldn’t remember when it had happened but in the cold, endless part of the night, she’d curled up beside Arn and his arm had wrapped around her waist. His belly pressed against her back. His hand was warm on her middle. The weight of it sent tiny flickers through her abdomen.

The young woman let out an uneasy breath and rolled onto her front, flat against the soil, then onto her side again. His arm dropped with a thud and he grunted in his sleep. Shadows moved across his face as he rolled onto his back. It was the first time she’d been able to see him clearly. His hair was a darker shade of blonde than she’d imagined in the silver patches of starlight the night before. His beard was coarse, tracing the line of his jaw and chin and covering his top lip. There was a red line across his nose from a recent break and a healing scar on his left cheekbone. In the dim light, it looked as though a necklace of dull metal curled around his neck and vanished beneath the V of his shirt. Transfixed she watched him lift a long limb and press a hand over his features. Lyris held her breath as he sat up, the movement slow, as though sleeping on the ground had left him feeling just as delicate. Willow leaves scattered to the mossy carpet beneath.

Still – Extract Two

Out on the deck and safe from the biting insects, Lyris considered her options. She could either swing down the rope ladder and wade back to the shore and the bonfire, or she could remain on the ship. The call of her power, was often a distant hum in the background of the world. Travelling over the water though, it increased to a song. The Lake knew that she was there and the body of water showed sparks of colour as she watched it. Roan had explained that with the right weather conditions, blue waves would wash on the beach of the island. Lyris opened her canteen of water and poured it over the edge of the ship. Where it splashed there was a flash of blue light before the shine sank. She drew a circle in the water and watched the flare of natural fire dancing atop the waves.

Arn joined her and leant over the rail to watch, ‘is it magic?’ he murmured the words, fascinated.

Lyris shook her head and passed him the canteen, ‘take a drink,’ she encouraged.

He paused for a moment before taking a sip, ‘it’s just water?’ He was surprised and the young woman nodded.

‘Pour it into the lake,’ she gestured and bent to watch the results.

The first splash was large, it sent up sparks of glowing liquid into the air before they too faded.

‘It’s the algae,’ Lyris explained and folded her arms on the railing, resting her chin on top her hands. The cloud that moved obscured most of the starlight was moving fast. The sails were lowered for the night and the ropes secured. Wood creaked as the ship moved in a slow rock, with the sound of lapping waves in the distance and the scent of the wood-smoke drifting up from the fire. She could still taste his kiss, and remember the sensation of his warm hands on her skin sliding up the length of her spine as he held her close. The breeze moved between them now, though the hairs raised on the back of her arms and neck, heart still drumming and uncomfortable beat.

‘I’ve never seen anything so beautiful,’ Arn looked across from where he lent, his gaze lingering on her features before he looked away.

Lyris cleared her throat, watching the last of the water as he cast it out and the splash moved like a firework, exploding. The blue faded from their sight, but with her power the woman could see the shift in the lake. As the fresh water dropped in through the algae she could pick out flashes of orange and red, invisible to anyone else watching. It was a beautiful sight, with the rising and fall of slow waves, lifted by the wind and cresting against the beach. She could hear Rafa laugh in the distance, and the slow build of Kit’s flute as the music drifted through the night.

‘You told me you were travelling with your brothers. I believe you,’ she added quickly, she had no reason to doubt her companion. ‘Why though? Why so far south and so few?’ He’d mentioned their quest to the southern border of Staven and there hadn’t been a good opportunity to ask him any further. Now, with the quiet sway of the ship on the lake, and no one around to hear them, the young woman studied his face. The starlight that broke from behind the clouds, glimmered on the surface of the waves.

I hope that you enjoyed these two little snippets, please remember to leave me a comment. I’d love to know what you think of them.

Happy Reading,

Fibi xx

Tender – But Should We Be?

A response to today’s daily prompt of Tender

I’ve been giving some careful consideration this week to the creation of characters, and the advice I could share on this.

Tender is a lovely word isn’t it. The tender loving care, devotion and gentle hands are conjured by its appearance on a page. It’s a beautiful description for a character and perhaps embodies a characteristic of personality trait we’d like to explore. However, I think it’s also how we tend to treat our characters – with caution. Your characters, once fully fledged start leaving the metaphorical nest and it’s hard to let them go. Harder still to let them crash to rock bottom. I for one, try to protect my characters. That doesn’t mean that I don’t let anything happen to them, but I always write in an escape hatch – a way out. A way to mitigate the dark circumstances. I can’t help but feel that maybe I shouldn’t – that they would be stronger characters with me hovering around with a parachute or eager to pick them up when they fall.

Enough musings for now – onto the serious business.

Character Creation – Names

(Because I’ve just realised how much there is to discuss around this topic – oh my)

I have a feeling that this part of my ‘writing advice’ series is going to take more posts than intended. That can only be a good thing – right?

Let’s start with the basics

Who is this character? Is it your main character, a supporting member of the cast, or a background extra?

If your answer is ‘Main protagonist,’ then carry on reading – if not, then I’m sure one day soon I’ll have information about the other types of character creation. Although, a lot of my advice is going to be very very similar…

Now, I struggle with names for my characters. Always have and probably always will unless I dive into a Tolkien-esq exploration of language and development. The problem with names, is that they mean so much!

Take Bob Brown as a name. What does it make you think of? It makes me think of someone maybe a bit boring, steady. I think of a middle-aged man and Brown – well it’s not an exciting colour is it. Those two simple words, two simple names come packed with associations we already have stuffed into our minds. What’s more, Bob Brown is alliteration, and when I see names like Bob Brown, Matt Murdock, Peter Parker – I think superhero.

Bob Brown – tax accountant by day, crime fighter by night?

Now transplant Bob Brown into a fantasy setting and hang on a minute. Do those two words have different associations in the world I am building? Brown – is it a colour of power? A symbol of status high or low? What if this is a civilisation where castes are allocated a colour. Brown could be the lowest of the low, Bob Brown could be rebelling against the absurdity of having your life mapped out because of your name and perhaps that is why he’s a super hero in this context?!

What if Bob is short for Roberta?  Bob is a woman trying to gain her shield as a knight.

Looking at the history of the name, Bob from Wikipedia- It most likely originated from the hypocorism Rob, short for Robert.

According to Wikipedia – Robert is a Germanic name.

Now if Bob comes from Robert, and Robert is Germanic, and Bob is my main protagonist in this story – then how closely do I centre the rest of the names in the book on Germanic language? If Bob is the only Germanic name, and the rest has a basis in Hebrew or Polynesian culture – then there might be some jarring.

There are some very very useful name finders online. Baby name search tools are wonderful – and I love forming new words and names from a selection of meanings and finding a name that utterly embodies the personality I’m aiming for.

My advice is to investigate current languages and to play with them for your fantasy worlds. Once you get the name of your protagonist clear in mind, you’ll be naming cities, towns, forests, gorges and everything else that they encounter. If Bob is a stranger to those lands, then it makes perfect sense for his name to be of a different sound and origin. If this is where he was born and has lived his entire life – then his name should possibly be more common in the surroundings.

In The Poisoned Well, I have a character called Redston – A baron. Now, this has raised several questions, are the names of my nobility based on geological features, or is Redston a one off? What I’ve developed is Redston’s backstory, which may never feature in the book, but he is a man of the Northern Mountains. Mountains that are rich with Iron deposits which make them (surprisingly) red. His ancestors were born in the mountains and they carry the name of their heritage with pride. He is proud to be Redstone. However, times move and his own Barony is further to the South in Golden Fort. This may be a fairly simplistic way of naming and world building, but I feel that this small snippet of history has given Redston a feeling of Authenticity. There has been a change in his life, an arc of development that he has undergone – off screen or off page as it were.

What does Redston as a name tell you as well? Red – firey, passionate, red-headed? Stone – stubborn, forceful, slow to move? But the Stone is shortnened – meaning that there has been a development in his history, this is an old name because it’s been corrupted over time. Just like places called Little Town might now be Littleton.

What are you thoughts? How do you find names for your characters?

The Dragon’s Bride

I’m Writing for the Poisoned Well is going well! I’m getting closer and closer to the end and then the editing will begin in earnest. However, for now I thought that I would share this extract with you. I hope you like it! Remember to leave me a comment 🙂

The Poisoned Well – Extract

They made a fire on the beach beneath the stars. No clouds covered the sky or hid the stars as they stretched out, wary of the flying bugs. Lyris buried her feet in the sands as they started to cool. Timmit told them about his travels by foot from Ipito to Golden Fort. He’d trained in the capital city before venturing out to live somewhere a little quieter, and further away from his family. Kit shared a story from the caravan, how Rafa had fallen in love with Kelanin and defied his guild to follow the wagon’s, forsaking his license of medicine. Arnit had declined to share a story of his own, and instead, Timmit had started to speak again.  An ancient folk-tale about a dragon who fell in love with a girl.

The mighty Arian would watch the girl from the mountains above the castle where she lived. With all of his years of life upon the world, she was the most beautiful woman he’d ever laid eyes upon. He was a guardian the pass between Veglen and Ipito and he watched over the girl and her family, and visited her in her dreams. Till one day, word reached his cave that the Princess of the land was due to marry. Jealous, he made a deal with the old gods, and traded his scales and impossible hide for breakable flesh of a man. Though he retained some of his mighty power, an ability to communicate with the beasts, the birds and the serpents of the sky.

‘I heard he kept his gold too,’ Kit interrupted and Arn, who had been sat listening to every word, punched the traveller in the arm.

‘Dragons are famous for their hordes of coin,’ Timmit conceded, ‘though it is believed that Arian sacrificed his wealth for this, a chance to wed his beloved before she could marry a Prince from a distant land.’

‘He probably couldn’t carry it down the mountain,’ Kit was stretched out, with his hands looped behind his head, and this time, Lyris prodded him in the belly. He yelped, gripped his side and rolled to his knees. ‘Alright, alright,’ he laughed and gestured for Timmit to continue.

Lyris must have heard the story a thousand times, but sat watching Arn over the firepit the myth meant more to her. The young woman wrapped her arms around her knees, and with a final glare at the repenting Kit, watched Timmit as the dark-haired man continued once more.

‘Arian came down from the mountain,’ the Smith paused, waiting for Kit’s additional commentary. The traveller grinned, but remained mute, ‘and he approached the castle with an aura of splendour. The guards knelt before his power and he was granted an audience with the King. Arian made his request, to take the hand of the King’s daughter. For he was certain that she loved him as truly and as deeply as he loved her. For they had spoken in dreams about their desires. The young woman wanted to travel the world and save it, too bring light to dark places and the hearts of men. She had no desire for wealth or nobility and Arian knew that there was no heart so pure as that of his love. The King, believing that Arian was the Prince sent from the distant lands, was eager to agree the match and the next day. Arian was bound to his bride. The ceremony complete, he turned to the girl beside him and lifted the veil from her face.’

It had been difficult, to see Arn all throughout the day, without any chance to speak to him alone and ask her questions. To reach out and touch him, or pull him into a dark corner and forget that the rest of the world existed. The young woman watched him now, fascinated by his expression as he listened to the story that he too, must have heard a thousand times.

‘Arien had trusted the king,’ Timmit continued and poked the embers of the fire with a stick. Sparks shot into the air and scattered in the wind, drifting like fireflies over the beach. Everything smelt like wood-smoke. Sand covered her feet and hands and the young woman shifted. It always looked so soft, until you sat on it for too long.

‘Arien was furious to find that his bride was not the princess. His love had hair the colour of smelted gold and eyes as dark as the night. He turned his wrath on the king, and demanded to know what trickery this was. The princess, his bride and now his wife, was a woman with dark hair like yours Lyris, and eyes as pale as the jealous moon. The King grew angry and demanded to know why Arien, a prince of distant land could treat him so poorly. Arien explained that this was not his love, the woman he had come to marry. The King was confused, this was his only daughter, and a whisper rose through the court. Finally, a young woman stepped forward, with her hair the colour of the setting sun and the darkest eyes the dragon had ever known. His love, a servant, daughter of servants and granddaughter of servants. She had watched the ceremony with tears in her eyes, and her lover marry the princess and bound with blood.’

‘What happened to them?’ Lyris had heard the story, but there had been different endings. Sometimes, the King annulled the marriage and the servant and the dragon lived happily ever after.

‘Arien was bound to his wife,’ Timmit finished the story, ‘for his foolish belief that beauty could only belong to the rich and the powerful. When in truth, beauty is something that is born within, and more often found in the humblest houses.’ He prodded a lump of coal and avoided the young woman’s gaze.

Kit snorted and stood, brushing the sand from his trousers, ‘or he regained his form as a dragon, melted the King on his throne and flew away with the servant on his back.’

Arn stirred, his own hair the colour of burnt copper in the firelight. He lifted a shoulder in a shrug, ‘they say that he grew to love the Princess, though when the Prince from a distant land arrived, the servant girl was offered to him in marriage. Part to punish Arien for his secret love of the maiden, and in part to hide the fact that the King’s daughter had been married to the wrong man.’

‘What do you believe?’ Lyris joined Kit on her feet. Together they doused the last flames and scattered sand on the embers.

‘I believe that it’s a story,’ Arn smiled, and staggered to his own feet with a groan. He watched her, across the pit but kept his distance.

‘Come on,’ Kit slung an arm around her shoulders and led the way back to the boat, ‘tomorrow we’ll be docking in Toscun, and you’re still never going to beat me at dice.’

‘Because you cheat,’ Lyris and Timmit responded in chorus.

‘Everyone cheats,’ Kit laughed, ‘you just have to be the better cheat.”

‘You’re full of brass

Our Line Through History

A response to today’s daily prompt: Trace.

I love it when a Daily Prompt ties into something I want to discuss.

Last week I went to see King Arthur. Not going to lie, I’m a little bit in love – with the entire film. Now, I’ve turned into a bit of a King Arthur advocate, but I’m serious – go and watch this movie (even if only so that they can make the entire six part series!) The critics aren’t a fan, and I’m so confused. The pacing is brilliant, the dialogue is fast and witty. It’s an amazing story, well told.

This is not a fantasy film that you can approach, expecting a Lord of the Rings epic. You can’t expect a Game of Thrones straight-faced, unflinching gaze. Think more, A Knights Tale – Heath Ledger, Chaucer, Bowie and Queen.

But darker, grittier…

In the first five minutes of the film, I was sat there with Mr Lovely and I have to admit, I was thinking –oh my. What…what is this? Then it was awesome. We fist-bumped and the film continued to be awesome. So much so, that Mr Lovely and I took my parents and brother to see it over the weekend, and I’m trying to con someone into seeing it with me for a third time. Yes, yes it’s that good. You’ve got to love it for what it is.

How though, how does this have anything to do with the daily prompt? I’ve been sold a lie! I hear you  cry.

Well, I’m glad you mention it.

I was at middle school before Harry Potter. Yes, yes I am that old.

The first I heard about the boy wizard was from my younger brother (mentioned earlier). Now, he being four years younger than I, was prime Potter age when it was first released. About 7 years old? It was the first book he loved and dutifully my mother bought him the first and second books in the series (as nothing else had been released yet.)

Because my little brother thought it was cool, and I was a lofty 11 year old, I was definitely not going to read it – and it definitely wasn’t worthy of my attention. I loved the Worst Witch, Enid Blyton, Agatha Cristie. Then on a trip to my grandparents I got bored in the back of the car, and before the two hour journey came to an end – I’d finished the Philosophers Stone. I spent the rest of the visit and the trek back, devouring pages of the Chamber of Secrets.

I think this episode is important, as for a lot of people Harry Potter is a doorway into a world of magic. Game of Thrones is amazingly popular, and I wonder if its because, in part, it’s being watched by adults who had their appetite for Fantasy whet as children by Rowling?

Growing up, I was always a nerd, and very proud of it. There was the Sword and Sorcery surge of the 1980’s – popularity of Lord of the Rings and love of the Hobbit. There are the Hundred of Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms books, and there are the Dungeons and Dragon’s games. But admitting to enjoying that world as a teenager in the early 2000’s – well that made you a little weird. Fantasy has been a strange, almost underground adoration. Now though, now it feels ‘cool’. I can openly admit to regular playing of table-top games. I can display my collection of Dragonlance books with pride and for GOT fans, I can offer Fantasy words that my friends might enjoy.

It feels as though there has been a shift. If you admitted to playing a little DnD twenty years ago, people might look at you like you’d grown an extra arm. Warhammer was perhaps a bit more forgiving.

With the success of Harry Potter, millions of children were invited to explore a different landscape. Encouraged to find Narnia, Middle Earth and now as we’re grown up, Westeros, Essos, and Sothoryos – not to mention ever popular RPG – World of Warcraft. We’re able to explore fantasy in completely immersive ways, and I think with this, older stories and older lore are returning to the surface as well.

My favourite albums of the last few years have been Monsters and Men: My head is an animal

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLMogyzvc_OR333NwjsPy6CfNVTlCoEB1m

Mumford and Sons: Babel

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iWza_On7ajs

These albums, it could be argued have had a dramatic impact on popular culture. They performed well in the charts and they’re far more ‘Folksy’ than what I would have previously thought as ‘Popular’.

What I’m trying to say – and doing quite badly. Is that I feel that rise of Fantasy is resulting in a rise in ‘Folk’. An encouraged, more narrative lyric in music. Something more reminiscencent of Beowulf. If you watch King Arthur – and you totally should, it marries the two beautifully. The music is excitement and reflects the grit within the film, but it also has its roots in historical sounds. The feeling of a modern folk tale.

There seems to be more of an appetite for those folk-tales though, a rise in interest in dark-ages history. I know that some people have always been fascinated, but it seems more popular, it feels more acceptable.  Fantasy in some ways, feels an extension of folk tale and music. Good fantasy, seems to carry a resonance that is traced back to something primal within us all.

Perhaps that’s why I like King Arthur so much, it seems the culmination of a decade of change. Until the recent years and surging popularity of Game of Thrones, it felt as though the world was trying to cover up the past. Too look forward at Sci-fi, Comic-book heroes and futuristic worlds – but with a determined attempt to ignore the past. It feels as though this is changing, or is has changed like the landscape of a landslide. The past will not be buried, and ancient tales will always surface.

This may warrant further blog-posts…

Now, I may have made a hash of this explanation, but I’d love to know what you think!

To plan the words – or to let them dictate?

This weekend started with an impossible goal. Intending to get everything finished for The Poisoned Well, I decided, yesterday, that I was going to write 20,000 words in two days. No big deal. Then reality dropped by and this obviously has not happened. I’ll Detonate that target now and gladly; ka-boom! Although I have made a respectable amount of progress and I’m pleased with the development of the story. I just about hit my target for today, when a writing friend from across the globe in New Zealand explained they were planning to write 15,000 words. Naturally, a challenge was set and the race is on. My brain is already a little tired today, so there was no way I was going to reach 15,000 words! However, Hollie has managed an amazing 4,000 and I’m 1000 words up on my target and ready for the week ahead.

Now, onto the serious blogging.

I’ve started to do a series of posts about writing a novel, so here is part two: Planning

To plan, or not to plan?

Now, having attempted novel writing myself, and finishing the first manuscript: Burning Embers, I feel I have a good idea of how to get this ball rolling. I’ve also be reading up on other writers and their techniques to what can feel like a long slog. The conclusion, is that like anything, there are several different ways to plan a novel.

1: Using a program to write. I’ve never done this, but I know a lot of people swear by it. There are a lot of free programs, and paid ones out there. They seem like a useful place to store information, write character sheets and keep motivating. Such as at: Bibisco

One thing that strikes me about this kind of software, is how easy it is to plan to an exacting detail. You can set how many chapters, what will happen in each one, their intended word count and then map the arc of your book in a diagram.

Pro: You’re able to set clear targets and goals. You’ll also be super organised!

Cons: Does it allow the same flexibility? If you’re going to go over your word count for that chapter, will it feel like a bonus, or a negative thing? Knowing myself, I think I’d have too much fun setting up the minutia and then not get as much writing done. It’s hard enough with facebook, and reading daily prompts, and twitter to get a clear head and just get the words down.

Then there is perhaps the opposite to using a program to plan out the individual steps.

2. No planning. When the LOTR extended box-sets were released, I was addicted. I probably know the words of every single interview, better than I know the films. Viggo…if we tip over…save yourself…

One thing that always remained clear in my memory though, was the discussion about how Tolkien approached the LOTR. After the success of the Hobbit, he set out to write the sequel. Now, there’s a lot of complaints about G.R.R.Martin finishing a Song of Ice and Fire, yet it took Tolkien 12, (17 according to some sources) years to write the Lord of the Rings! 12 YEARS! Now, the image that stuck with me, was the way they described Tolkien’s approach. He sat down and he started to write.  He didn’t know where the story was going, and eventually he got stuck, scrapped it all and started again – from the beginning. This time, he got a little further, until he reached a point where he couldn’t continue – scrapped it all, and started again.

This is in the day before the computer! It was described as the waves rushing up the beach, every time they got a little further until we had the Lord of the Rings that we know and love. It sounds exhausting.

I like to have flexibility when I write, I like to be able to let my characters breathe and develop their own voices and ideas. This is possibly because I am rubbish at Character sheets. In the role play community people ask me – so how much planning did you put into this character and their arc and I get all embarrassed and mumble…I wrote the bare minimum so you would let me write on your site… however, I think it’s a good idea to have some vague concepts in mind and at least a direction.

Now, I was always going to advocate for option three – the middle ground. Option 1 is a planned hike with your day sketched out to the minute. You have everything in your bag, that you might possibly ever need. A strict schedule to keep you moving, and gps on your phone so you don’t stray from the path. Option 2 seems like setting out on a journey, with just your boots on your feet and wondering where you’ll end up. There’s a certain amount of mystery and allure to this, I must admit. However, Option 3 – you’re prepared for a hike. You have essential supplies to get you through and regular way points to tick off at each chapter.

3. Middle-Ground Planning

When I start off on a journey, ready to write a longer piece of fiction. I like to have a clear idea of a few things. They’re listed in Getting Started as well.

  1. Approximate word count. How big of a beast is this going to be?
  2. Audience? Adult, Children, YA? (Inevitably the answer for me is YA)
  3. What do I plan to do with the project when it’s done? My current intention to publish The Poisoned Well on Wattpad has meant that I’m aiming for chapters with around 2000 words in each.
  4. What is the destination – roughly? I love to have a good start, but then I like to now where I’m aiming for. As a few chapters get ticked off, then a plan starts to form, of how I’m going to get there. I can draw a few lines on the map at least. Then a few more chapters down, and I work out how I’m going to mess with the straight lines, and make a more interesting narrative.

I like to think of this as a middle-ground plan, a rough guide. It’s not without its downside. I could probably do with being more focused at the beginning of a project and do some world-building first. It’s hard to build a map around a narrative, and feels less realistic. Then you realise that you characters have been walking in the wrong direction, and it’s edit the map, or edit the text…I could probably take a bit more from planning the tiny details, but then I could probably loosen up a little more as well.

Let me know how it goes, or if you use a different programme for writing. I’d be interested to give one a go on another project.

Happy Writing

Fibi