allisonholz: Here I am in my writing cave, aka my basement (Default)
First of all, sorry for the lapse in blog posts. I just had a baby, so it took a while to get back into a routine that allows "superfluous" writing like blogging. I'm still in grad school, so I've had to keep up with classwork and thesis submissions with a newborn, and the blog was one of the things I just couldn't handle. But my daughter is sleeping 4-5 hours a night and I've finished thesis submissions for this semester, so I should have more time now. Plus, NaNoWriMo starts on Wednesday next week, so I'll have plenty of fodder for blogging!

On to the subject of this post:

Writing can (and should) be a voyage of discovery. Like all journeys worth taking, writing requires sweat produced in hours of slogging through (metaphorical) mud, tears of frustration and joy, blood spilled in ripping out our hearts and pasting them to the page, and an open mind for those times when the course shifts unexpectedly.

I just had an unexpected shift in my novel. I won’t write about what it was because it’s a pretty big spoiler and I’m going to do my damnedest to get this novel into print within a year or so, but it’s one of those shifts that changes everything. I totally didn’t see it coming and it’s going to influence some major plot points in the third book of my trilogy. I’d been setting it up unconsciously the whole time I was writing the book, and I’m only going to have to make a few minor changes to make it work perfectly.

In the writing world, people generally identify as “plotters” or “pantsers” (plotters make outlines and write synopses, pantsers just take an idea and run with it), but I tend to fall somewhere in between. Maybe I’m a plotser? I work through my ideas with outlines and such, but once I start to write I let the story grow organically, even if it wants to go somewhere that I never imagined in the synopsis. I know when changes like that occur that I’ve succeeded. I’ve hooked into something living and breathing, something exciting. And if I’m excited, my readers will be, too. Can’t you tell when an author was bored or disinterested in their work? And isn’t it so much better to feel enthusiasm? Yeah, I think so, too.
allisonholz: Here I am in my writing cave, aka my basement (Default)
In undergrad I took a course on Tolkien where we spent half the semester on The Lord of the Rings. Once the Fellowship breaks, Frodo, Sam, and Gollum spend the rest of the The Two Towers toiling through unforgiving landscapes. They get lost and wander through the rocky labyrinth of Emyn Muil, then slog through the interminable Dead Marshes on the Plain of Dagorlad.

I've always identified with how these events happen in the middle of the book (I'm referring to the entire cycle here, since it was intended to be a single volume), because the middle is always the hardest part of writing a book. In the beginning you are excited, motivated, charged with this new idea that still has all of its sparkle and shine. You start building a world and putting characters into it and seeing how they interact and then at some point you realize you are lost. Isn't that the same outcropping of rocks from twenty pages ago?

That's kind of how I feel about my WiP right now. I've set myself a NaNo-like goal of writing 1500 words a day every day in September so that I can finish the novel by the end of the month. That will give me most of October to work on revisions and putting together the other items one needs in order to successfully query agents/editors.

One of the things that has helped me with this novel was writing out a very detailed synopsis during the early writing process. There have been deviations from the synopsis, but nothing major. So every time I get lost or am unsure about what I'm writing, I go back to the synopsis to get my bearings. I'm going to start doing this for all of my books. It also helps a great deal in keeping character names and details straight.

Now it's back to slogging. Well, after I finish my homework for my MFA class.


allisonholz: Here I am in my writing cave, aka my basement (Default)
Allison Holz

October 2011

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