Planning Mirror Image

Mirror Image will be a young adult novel. It will be character driven with a strong message within the plot. The story is difficult to slot into a genre, but if I had to do so, I think I would have to say it fits best into mainstream.

Three days ago, I announced my intension of doing a full NaNoWriMo this year instead of a Mini-NaNo as I originally intended. Since then I have put in many hours each day in planning the project. And I must say that the plans are moving steadily along.

Outline: I wrote the outline from beginning to end in just a few hours. There was none of that starting and stopping business. I knew what had to happen and just typed, and typed, and typed. It felt great to see the words fall onto the page like that too. The outline itself gives me an excellent look at the manuscript I’ll be writing in November. If I refer to that alone, I can’t possibly get stuck.

Characters: I spent two days (and this time there was a lot of starting and stopping, but that was unavoidable) building character profiles. It’s amazing how these people developed. First, the main character and her brother came into the light and I wrote a lot about them, but something didn’t feel right for quite some time. Then I realised that these two were twins. Everything fell into place after that.

The rest of the main character’s family were targeted next. I knew the type of family the character came from and easily put the people together. Nothing was overlooked, not even their middle names (although I doubt I’ll ever use those names in the story). They all have jobs, interests, favourite clothes and pastimes. Even the house they live in has been decided.

Then I moved onto her friends, including a boyfriend. Actually, the boyfriend was the one I had the most trouble with. Even now I’m not entirely sure I’ve got the right person for her, but as I work through the next steps, that should be sorted out and finalised soon. Her girl friends, however, were a different story. Talk about eager to get onto the page, which sort of sums up their personalities too.

Chapter Plan: Honestly, the outline is so in depth, I don’t really need a chapter plan, but I figure there’s no harm in working on one anyway. I have figured out a few extra things from it. If nothing else, it will be a guide for those tough middle weeks of NaNo when writers are feeling tired and are thinking of quitting. I’m determined that won’t happen to me.

The only other thing I want to do is make a list of emotions my MC should experience as the story progresses. I’m not going to explain that statement, but it is important to the story.

Oh, I just thought of something else. In my mind I have the sentence, theme and premise sorted, but I want to make them official and write them down. It’s amazing how much clearer the storyline will become by doing this.

The one thing I will say about this project is that it has sparked a flame within me, which in turn has seen me dedicating hours at a time to the planning. I feel passionate about the story and the characters. I want this story told and I’m determined to get a huge chunk of it (50,000 words at least) written in November. The overall word count for the entire story will be around 75,000 words (I don’t mean that I intend to write that number of words in November though).

And in conclusion, I announce that should I be ready to start writing prior to 1 November 2007…then I’ll start writing. I will not take a change on losing the enthusiasm I feel right now by having to sit and wait for two weeks to start typing. It’s not worth the risk. However, whatever is written prior to the start of NaNo will not be included in the official word count for that month. The way I see it, I’m aiming for 75,000 and I’ll be working on that odd 25,000 words prior to the start bell instead of trying to get through it after the finish line. That’s not cheating and if anyone thinks it is…tough! 😉

A Change in Direction

On 1 October 2007, I wrote the following:

Now I must move on to the second part of the goal. I have until the end of October to plan book three. This sounds like a long time, but I’ve been thinking about this book – on and off – for some months now and still don’t have any real ideas (except for the ending). For this reason, I hope a month is long enough for the planning. However, setting a public goal and a deadline might just be what is needed to get the job done. We’ll see.

Eight days have passed since then and yesterday I finally started working on that plan. In all honesty, I’m having trouble with the plot and the plan isn’t going well. This has nothing to do with writer’s block or laziness on my part. There’s another reason altogether – another story has pushed its way to the surface and is demanding some attention.

I have attempted to push it aside and return to book 3 of my children’s series several times. I have struggled for over 24 hours to stay focused, but nothing is working. I started a spreadsheet and figured out some of the plot, but this other story is quite determined to have its time in the lime light.

This afternoon, I set up Google Documents and decided that if I type up a quick outline of the other story I would then be free to carry on with book 3. To me, it is logical to think that the story just wanted to be sure I wouldn’t forget key points of the plot and would be satisfied when the outline was written. Yes, well, I was wrong!

Once I opened the door to this “other” story, everything just gushed out and I wrote a five page outline within no time at all. I now have a story title and a complete plot. However, I don’t have any character names. That doesn’t mean the characters are shy. No way. They are right there, and they are pushing their personalities at me as if to say the names are not important – the plot, the personalities, and the setting are.

It’s quite overwhelming how quickly it all came together. I told G a quick overview of the plot and he simply said, “write it.” My reaction was, “I can’t yet” and he asked “why?”

I sat and thought about it for a while. Why can’t I write this other story? Well, firstly, I want to finish the children’s series. Writing book 3 in November would be a mighty giant step to getting that goal completed. Secondly, I don’t like to swap and change between projects because that’s undisciplined, which easily leads to many unfinished projects. I don’t like the sound of that.

But…

NaNoWriMo starts in three weeks and my book 3 plan isn’t coming together. Fair enough, I never planned on doing the full NaNo thing, for me it was always going to be a Mini-NaNoWriMo month, where I aim for 25,000 words. I can manage that. I know it won’t make me turn into something nasty and, at the end of the month, I won’t suffer from burnout (like I did the first time I did the full NaNo thing).

Why is a tiny piece of me so eager to push book 3 aside? Why have thoughts of doing a full NaNo this year been swirling around my head all day? I’ll tell you why. Because this story is so full and vivid in my mind, I feel I could easily reach 50,000 words in a month. I also feel I’d be a fool not to use the NaNo experience to write the first draft of a new novel while the plot, setting and characters are so real to me. I also think that a change of “scenery” will do me the world of good.

Yes, you’ve guessed it. There’s a change of plan. I’m heading over to NaNoWriMo right now to register and I’m going to write the first draft of Mirror Image this November. Yoohoo!

Edit: The NaNo website is offline. With the increasing number of writers doing this each year, the website can’t handle the traffic. I hope the problem is sorted real soon, otherwise, there’s going to be a lot of upset NaNoers in November.

Half an hour later: I’m registered!

Sorting the Weeds and the Flowers

Following two hours of sorting through my Writing folder, I think I’m close to knowing which of my stories can can be called “weeds” and which are beautiful “flowers”. Unfortunately, the number of flowers in my vase are few. 😀

At the moment, I’m taking a short break, sipping a cup of tea and … writing this post! I will return to my sorting in a few minutes, at which time I will go into phase two of my plan – reading the flowers one more time and making minute changes if necessary. When I am satisfied that these flowers are perfect, I will turn my mind to publishers. No less than five markets will be listed for each flower, and this will be added to regularly.

Next week, I intend to parcel each flower carefully and send it off to the first publisher on its list. How could a publisher turn away a beautiful flower? I wonder if I can make those flowers blossom? Maybe it would be a good idea to visit an old haunt called Critique Circle and see what can be done in that department.

2007 will be the Year of Submissions for this writer. It’s time to step up to the mark and get my work out there.

Year of the Writer Comes to an End

At the end of last year, I said 2006 was going to be the Year of the Writer. Besides wanting to see publication for many of my internet writing friends, and for myself, I made a list of goals. I’ve just been reading the list and … I can’t believe it, even though I didn’t come close to the dates provided, I did complete everything on the list. I’m shocked! I thought I would have failed miserably. That has given me a little spurt of confidence. 😀

The Year of the Writer is coming to an end. I don’t think anyone I know actually got published in a big way, but I do know a few people who are within touching distance of this happening.

For me, 2006 was not what I wanted it to be and the year will be forever etched in my mind. The Year of the Writer ended in May when I lost my beloved son. I did, however, finish editing Book 1 in my children’s series and I wrote Book 2 of the series, so it wasn’t all bad.

I’ve been thinking about my options lately. And I’ve also been thinking about my lack of “movement”. Something has to change, and that something is me. I need a plan.

Firstly, however, I need to know what I have to plan with. What stories are finished and polished? Which of these are already “tied up”? Which are free to submit? What stories need more planning or editing? Which stories need to be rewritten from the beginning?

Here’s my current list of manuscripts, in their various stages of development:

Novels

Isle of Cotti (romance for adults) – (complete, 10 chapters rewritten in edit stage, second half needs replanning)

Kingdom of Marlinor Trilogy (fantasy for adults)
1. Whispering Caves (complete, but needs replanning and rewriting)
2. Windy Plains (in planning stages)
3. Butterweed Fever (in planning stages)

Westmore Castle (fantasy for adults) – (4 chapters written, needs proper planning)

Blood Red, White Fire (fantasy for young adults) – (22 chapters written of first draft)

The World of Jaishree (fantasy for young adults) – (written as a short story that should have been a novel, needs replanning and rewriting)

Sam & Arden (fantasy for young adults) – (4 chapters written, needs proper planning)

Mid Summer’s Day (science fiction for adults) – (fully planned, but not written)

The People of Miu Series (fantasy for children aged 8 to 12 years)
1. Cat’s Eyes (100% complete)
2. Cat’s Paw (complete in first draft)
3. Cat’s Whiskers (in planning stages)

Short Stories

Help Wanted! (general women’s fiction) – (complete)

Journey to Freedom (fantasy for adults) – (complete, but I’m still not happy with it, so it needs another edit)

Guards Mustering (fantasy for adults) – (complete)

Wynter Boundaries (fantasy for adults) – (complete)

Putting this list together has helped me in more ways than one. For starters it shows me that I have a lot of unfinished projects. I can safely say this is because in the early days of writing I didn’t plan, which meant I quickly ran out of steam, or cornered myself or just didn’t know where the story was heading and wrote in circles. And because these projects are from the “early” days, it also means that my writing skills were not the best. I’ve improved tenfold since then and all the stories need to be properly planned and rewritten from the beginning (even the finished projects).

The list also shows me that I’m unorganised because I don’t have many manuscripts polished and ready for submission. As a writer this is bad and I intend to change this.

For the moment, I only really have one novel manuscript which is 100% ready for submission and that is currently with a publisher in Sydney, so it’s not free for submission elsewhere.

I only have four short stories. I’ve never been keen on writing short stories. All my stories seem to turn into full length novels. Obviously, I can’t think small! Anyway, two of these are “tied up” with anthology projects and I must be patient with those, but I expect one of them to be released soon. The other two are free to submit now.

So what are my plans for 2007?

  • To edit Cat’s Paw and get it ready for submission.
  • To write and edit Cat’s Whiskers and get it ready for submission.
  • To finish Blood Red, White Fire. I only have approx. 4 chapters to go for heaven’s sake!
  • Plan all three books of The Kingdom of Marlinor trilogy.
  • Re-edit the story Journey to Freedom until I’m happy with it.
  • Query and submit all “free” short stories until they are accepted.
  • Write and edit two new short stories.
  • To read at least three writing “how to” books from cover to cover, which is something I’ve never done. At least one of these books must be on self-editing.

That sounds a lot, doesn’t it? But I’ve done my sums and I feel certain that this goal is not unachievable and it’s time I tried to stretch myself.

I challenge the readers of this blog to make their own list of manuscripts (for private use), but to make their 2007 writing goals public.