Friday, March 26, 2010

James Dashner and Chapter 7

1) James Dashner substituted Sanderson’s class yesterday. I’ve never read his books, but I like him as a person—he’s very friendly and sociable. He brought five copies of his book The Maze Runner* to hand out of the class, courtesy of Sanderson.

So the class goes on like normal until there’s about ten minutes left, and those books are just sitting on the table. I kind of wanted one. There are about thirty people in the class, so I have a 1/6 chance of getting one. And I want to read some Dashner because I like him (unlike David Farland, who has recently dropped in my ranks).

So I figured I’d just ask for one. Couldn’t hurt, right? I passed the plan by my friend Kristy (who is awesome) and she confirmed its legitimacy. I raised my hand and asked something like, “You know how you haven’t passed out those books yet? Since it’s my birthday next week, can I have one?”

This started the “How are we going to distribute these copies?” debate, which I fully participated in. I think my two best arguments were that I had to share my birthday with Jesus this year**, and that I had a plate of snickerdoodles (which I’d brought for writing group). So Dashner gave me a book, if nothing else because I’m “shameless,” as he worded it, ha. I then, in a very dramatic and timid manner, asked him to sign it after class.

I guess he liked my performance, because he said he was glad he gave me a book. Score. Now I just need to find time to read it.

2) Had CSH chapter 7 (the beginning of it, anyway) critiqued yesterday, and I have a lot of work to do on it. It’s my weakest submission to the group so far this semester, methinks. YAY MORE REWRITING. But that’s okay. That’s what authors do.

Meanwhile I have this fear that since I’m waiting so long to start TR I’m never actually going to do it. That would be pretty stupid of me.

P.S. I’m reading Jim Butcher for the first time, book 1 of his Codex Alera. Not enthralled yet, but I’m not bored either. I’m only 1/8 of the way through the novel, so we’ll see what happens. (I believe this series is the one summarized as being Pokemon meets Lost Roman Legion.)

*The book trailer is really weird.
**Easter and General Conference both fall on April 4th.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Character 180

This post should have come before my last post, but oh well. I was thinking about character arcs the other day. Character growth is fundamental to a story (one reason why so many of my earlier novels failed—lack of character growth*). Because I’m being so particular to characters for TR, I’ve considered this more heavily than before. How will my characters change and develop throughout the course of this book? Why will they change that way? What does this mean for the story as a whole?

I then realized that TR will have something none of my other books (even CSH) have ever had—a complete, 180-degree character turn around. This certain character, who shall remain unnamed, is a completely different person by the time the book ends. Other characters change and grow, but this guy’s persona gets molded into an entirely new shape. I’ve never done such a drastic change before. I’m really excited for it, too.

That’s a good thing.

*This especially makes me think of “Where Lifa Was,” a novel I started in high school. My main character was stoic and didn’t grow whatsoever. (I only got half-way through the book, but she wouldn’t have changed had I finished it.)

Yes, Dear. Revising = Rewriting.

So every week I do 2,000-3,000 words of revision for Sanderson’s class. This week, after prepping next week’s word count, I started reading ahead. It’s weird when I read things I forgot I wrote—almost like I’m reading someone else’s book. Makes it more entertaining that way, eh?

Anyway, I realize that this big event I have in chapter eight doesn’t make logical sense at all. As I read it (and attempted to fix it without really changing anything) I could hear the criticisms I knew I’d be getting from my writing group in the back of my head. I saw every error they would point out to me and demand I fix.

So, I’ll fix it now and spare them. What is revision if not for scene rewriting? I had to rewrite part of chapter four, but the scene still remained the same. For chapter eight, I have to actually scrap what I have and redo all of it. Hurray.

So I pulled out my little red notebook for CSH and worked on it during my history class. (I’m such a good student, I know.) I wrote out all the problems I had and figured out the most logical way to solve them. Some of my solutions caused other problems. I think I have the new scene down to a point where yes, it makes other problems for the story, but ones that can be dealt with should I write them well. I’ll probably get on that sometime this week.


On another note, The Raimos is ready to be written—I took the liberty of writing the first 500 words or so via notepad*. However, I decided not to put too much work into it until summer for two reasons. First, because of this post, and second because I’m so involved in CSH revisions that I don’t think I could give TR the attention it deserves. (And it will need a lot of attention. I have a ton of emotional trauma I need to pull off.) So, I’m going to focus on CSH and getting it out to alpha readers pronto, then dedicate my time to TR. :D

*The Raimos will be the first novel I’ve [seriously] written that doesn’t have a prologue.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


I am an outliner. Sometimes I can discovery write [very] short stories, but overall, I am a thorough, anal, musthaveit-outliner. I honestly don’t understand how anyone can write a novel without an outline. (Not that it isn’t possible—Stephen King does it all the time.)

I’m trying a tactic I got from David Farland’s “Daily Kick in the Pants”, albeit a little tweaked. As I work on my outline for The Raimos (TR for future reference), I’m color-coding the text by character. I’m using six colors—Esrov, my protagonist, is blue, my three side characters are orange, pink, and green, my villain is brown, and everything else is classic black. (Did you need to know my colors? No. But I wanted to say what they were anyway.)

After he color-codes his outlines, Farland changes everything to black and starts his story. I’m not going to. I think I prefer the excessive rainbowing of my (currently 15-page) document. It’s really nice; I can see where my characters come in, where a character has been forgotten, and how much of a character is in each scene (which will help when I choose POV). So . . . yeah. We’ll see how it turns out. I like it so far.

I recommend outlining. Don’t be uber anal with it, but know what you’re doing. My stories always fell apart before I outlined, and now I’ve [somehow] developed the ability to finish books. Outlining FTW.

P.S. Sanderson sits in on my writing group tomorrow. I submitted CSH’s chapter 4. We’ll see how it goes.