Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sick Toddlers and Declining Word Counts...

Well, it finally happened this year. The little guy and I are both sick. I'm pretty sure that all I have is my typical sinus issues because of the crazy weather changes we've been having here, but the little guy has been a bit sicker than that. Took him to the pediatrician and was told that he seems to have a mild sinus infection and a mild case of pneumonia in his left lung. We were just thinking that he had an ear infection!

So, as I've been helping nurse us both back to health the past few days, my writing has slowed down a little bit. When you're up until 3 or 4 a.m. with a cranky, sick toddler and then spend all day cuddling under blankies with him on the couch, the word count totals take a nose-dive.

Not that I'm not getting at least some work on the novel done, just not much actual scene writing. I think that I went from writing about 2,000+ words a day to about 1000, so it's not horrible. I'm doing random editing and trying to map out the series and see if there's anything I need to include in the first book to set things up for the later ones. I have one thing that I'm going to introduce in this book as a hobby of one of my characters that will play a big part on the second book, but I'm going to wait until the entire thing is done before I go back and implement it.

Why wait? Well, I've also been doing a little bit of research on how series books are published. Instinct can very easily be a stand-alone book, but it has the possibilities to expand on into three more books afterwords should a perspective publisher be willing to buy the rights to them. I figure that I'll type up the stand-alone version first, take out anything that is solely there to set up the later books and have that be my first version of it. Then, I'll use a copy of the manuscript and edit it with everything that's needed to set up the series to have a second version.

Who knows? Maybe the fact that I have everything done to publish the book either way will set me apart when I start sending out query letters. I can market it as a stand-alone novel initially, but mention that, should an editor or publisher want this book to be made into a series, not only do I have another version of the story that sets everything up, but I have the next three books outlined. The story definitely ends after the fourth book though, it's a really good place to stop.

If by some miracle, my books became a success and people would want it, I have notes for a prequel of sorts. More of a collection of past scenes that are mentioned in Instinct that helped make the main characters who they are. Instinct doesn't need these scenes/flashbacks in order to make the story work, but if people liked the stories and the characters, maybe they'd like a glimpse into how these characters grew up. It's just a thought...

On another literary note... after Instinct I may try writing my first book with a male protagonist. I came up with this story idea where a race of people are descendants of mythical creatures. Originally, I outlined it from a female perspective. Upon researching the idea a little bit I suddenly realized that my main character would work so much better as a man. The main internal conflict seems so male-oriented anyway. My husband loves the idea and thinks that it could become a series of sorts. Not necessarily one where the same characters appear in each book, but where each book would follow the story of a different person in the same world. I'm liking the possibilities that this idea presents and it could very easily take the slot as the next story I write.

I'm glad that I found a new story idea to keep on the back burner. My Hollywood story just isn't turning out how I'd like to in my head. I can't seem to come up with some big, main conflict for my characters to overcome. It has my two main characters own internal conflicts but the only real external one is how the world perceives them as a couple. It just doesn't seem like enough for a story though. I love the characters and I like the scenes that I've seen in my head, but something's still missing. Maybe if I put it away for a while it will become clearer next time I pick it up... With how descriptive my outlines are, I shouldn't have any problems remembering the scenes later on.

Oh yeah, I've also realized something new about my personal writing style. From what I can tell so far, I seem to write entire plots out at once. The best way that I can describe this would be to have you imagine how a soap opera is set up, several sub plots all mixed together. If you imagine a writer writing out the entire story line for couple A, and then moving on to the story for couple B, then C, etc. then that's how I'm writing. I know that in the end, everything has to be mixed together, but as I can't write chronologically- this will have to do for now.

In Instinct I have subplots for Casey's relationships with the other characters. All of these subplots tie in nicely with the main plot and are only there to help further the story, since I'm against adding scenes that have no intrinsic value.

At first I wrote a lot of the scenes that were mostly just about Casey and the ones that introduced the other main characters. Now, I've found myself writing all of the scenes pertaining to her relationships with specific characters.

- First I wrote up pretty much her entire storyline with one of her suitors. I'd say 90% of those scenes are complete now with the remaining 10% needing me to write other scenes before I can write them.

- Then, I started writing up the scenes leading up to Casey's friendship with another main character. I was about 30% through writing this storyline when we all got sick, so that kind of threw off my writing process. But fear not! As I'm beginning to feel better and after a fun evening with friends last night, I'm pretty eager to get writing these scenes right where I left off.

While I've been sick, I've found myself writing and outlining new scenes for Casey's relationship with a second suitor. Originally, I hadn't planned on writing this many scenes with him, but I like the idea of this love triangle of sorts. This character was always just supposed to kind of be in the background, but his motivations at the end of the story just didn't seem strong enough with the scenes that I had originally planned. By adding in these scenes, it really rounds out the character and shows the reader why he does what he does in the end. (was that vague enough?)

I'm also loving placing all sorts of red herrings for the reader to throw them off and keep them wondering who Casey should end up with in the end. This is really easy with her main character flaw. She has a problem interpreting situations in her personal life. She can see things clearly that are going on at school or work or even with her friends' lives, but just has a blind spot within her own life.

For example: With Casey's past experiences with men, or lack thereof, she can't always tell when they're flirting with her. She'll see the flirting actions and those around her will say that a guy was flirting with her, but she never sees it for what it really is. She's completely oblivious when it comes to such things.

Having this flaw makes it really easy for her to not pick up or focus on the important things. When she tries to overcome this problem, she starts latching on to the wrong things in situations. Instead of noticing the important parts of a conversation, she'll get stuck on another part and pick it apart. I almost feel like I'm writing a whodunit book and having to place good and bad clues everywhere and it's fun!

It's also really fun to see my beta reader react to these interactions. While the book is from Casey's point-of-view and you see and hear everything from her perspective, it's funny to see how different people read the situations differently. Seeing your beta reader act like she wants to reach into the manuscript and smack your main character to knock some sense into her is a funny thing to witness. I guess that means that my characters are believable enough that people really connect with them, so that's a good thing.

Well, I think I'm going to see if I can write up a scene that I had begun before we all got sick... wish me luck!

Until I Blog Again,
Talk 2ya later...


P.S. - Here's some basic stats on where the novel is at:
- 72,790 Words
- 260 pages (1.5x spacing, 12 pt. Arial font, 1 inch margins)
- I'd estimate that it's approximately 70% complete, 30% outlines

Oh yeah, I have a progress meter bar on right of the page that keeps a running total of my word count if anyone's interested in seeing how much progress I've made on any given day. I try to update it daily to show my current word count compared to my minimum goal of 100,000 words.


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