agilebrit: (Well shit.)
It is cute. It is amusing.

And that's all it is. There's no there there. The core question of "who is this character and what does he want" cannot be answered flippantly by "He's a genius pharma researcher who doesn't want to be murdered by robot bunnies."

Well, I mean. It can, but that doesn't make for a very satisfying story. There's a nugget of... something, here. But I can't seem to winkle it out, and nothing anyone's said to me about it (at least not yet) has hit the core of how to fix the issue.

The last Alex story finally came together when I figured out that it was about his relationship with his wife rather than about the flying weasel and the birth control. In this one, the robobunny accuses him of being "the savior of mankind" before attempting to kill him. And I wonder if maybe he should embrace that role, or I should enlarge on that theme a little. Alex doesn't see himself as a savior, but the dude cures damn cancer for a living, you know?

I have three days before it's due. Theoretically, I should be able to beat it into shape before then.

But, man, I just... don't know. The solution to the problem is elusive.
agilebrit: (Tony Stark--Anteaters)
I have an Idea for the Temporally Out of Order antho that refuses to gel into a coherent Plot. Four hundred words in, and those words are awesome, but I have no idea where to go with it.

I'm also staring at everything else on my hard drive, hoping to find inspiration somewhere, and going "Nope, that one's broken, nope, that one's broken too, nope, that one is yet another Plotless Idea, oh hey look, yet another broken one, that one over there is about half-formed and needs way more brainstorming even though you've already scribbled ten thousand friggin' words in it..."

I don't know what to do. This year has been fairly terrible, writing-wise. I've scribbled 48,900 completed words across nine stories, which isn't even a story a month. I had twice as many words this time last year. It's been like pulling teeth, and it's making me miserable and snappish. I know we always say "give yourself permission to write crap and then fix it in post," but if it's fundamentally broken to begin with, I can't bring myself to write it. It's one thing to realize it's broken after that END goes at the bottom, but quite another to go into it with eyes wide open and deciding to write it anyway even though you know it will suck.

Only way out is through, I guess, but realizing that is not going to help me hit this deadline. Staring at the Submission Grinder, where I have 24 stories posted (and there's another on my spreadsheet that's not on the Grinder because it's an invite-only antho, and holy crap, I just visited the website of one of the editors and saw the cover art. I want to be in this like burning). I'm seeing movement in places I'm subbed at, and I've flipped a rejected story once today, but it's not helping me with moving from Idea to Plot in any of these current Things I could have going.

So. Blah. Yeah, I know, cry moar, first-world writer problems, but you people really do not want to hear me whine about the actual important things in my life. Trust me.
agilebrit: (Sad)
I feel like a fraud.

By this time last year, I'd written and submitted over 100,000 words of new fiction.

This year, I'm at 41,500.

Less than half.

As you know, Bob, last year I decided I was finally going to get serious about this Writing Thing. I had a plan, and I stuck to it: A short story NaNo project in January, and then (if it was successful) another in June. January was wildly successful, and in June I did 40K. And there were stories between there too for various anthos. It was awesome.

This year, I was going to do the same thing. And then January rolled around... and I got sick. It has completely derailed me for the entire year. My creativity has screeched to a halt, the words are being recalcitrant, and sales have been super thin--five this time last year as opposed to two so far this year. And one of those, I wrote as a throwaway joke, ffs.

So this has all combined to make me seriously doubt myself and my abilities. And then someone like Larry Correia (whom I adore) thinks I'm super awesome and I just feel like I'm... a complete and utter fraud.

And I realize that the answer to this is to say "Screw you, brain, I'm going to write something terrific now," but the Muse is off sniggering in a corner drinking absinthe and eating chocolate-covered ants, which means I should probably have more than a vague notion of what I want to write instead of thinking "Oh, I can totally pants this one because I can write my mad scientist in my sleep," but I have far more than a vague notion of this other thing I need to write (on deadline!) and it's not coming either.

I feel burned out, and like maybe I should take a damn break, but I also feel like I've been taking a damn break for way too long (and also that my last three stories were kind of phoned in, even though they're objectively not--especially the last one, which got the "OMG YOU ARE TERRIBLE" reaction from one of my betas I was going for), which makes me feel guilty and starts the Spiral of Unworthiness all over again.

It is awful.

And I don't know what I need to pull me out of it. Affirmation is clearly counterproductive; I have that in spades and it just feeds the feeling that I'm a fraud. Kicking myself in the butt isn't working either, because it's feeding the feeling of guilt and Why Bother Because You Suck Anyway. Ugh.

But I also know that it is not just me. That other authors go through this. And that helps. It really does.
agilebrit: (Over My Head)
The story for the Baen Adventure Fantasy contest. Deadline: June 30. This one is making me crazy. It'll be great if I can get it under control, but I'm terribly afraid it's bigger than 8000 words.

Edits on the Tattoo story for subbing to the Athena's Daughters antho. Deadline: June 30. This one, at least, will be relatively easy to fix. I think.

Collaborative project with roleplay partner. We hashed out the plot at MisCon after independently coming to the conclusion that our first effort, while amusing to us, doesn't actually work as a story. But it's going to be awesome now that we have actual Conflict.

Expanding Angry Bitter Angel into a novel. No deadline on that one. I'm 30K into it.

Editing the New Ben & Janni novel so that it makes actual sense and isn't sheer Ben-whumpage. No deadline on that one either, but it's 144K and should probably be expanded and made into two books.

The story for the I Am the Abyss antho. I don't even have Concept for this one yet, and it needs to be pretty extensive. Deadline: Oct. 1.

Something for Blurring the Line. Again, I don't even have an idea for this one yet. Deadline: Oct. 31.

Gaaaaaah. I must be insane.
agilebrit: (Over My Head)
As you know, Bob, I'm heading out to MisCon next month, where DAW Books is guesting. I'm hoping for a sit-down with an editor so I can pitch the novelthing at them.

I don't have a synopsis. Synopses are of the devil, I'm firmly convinced, and I'm stalled there. Thing is, I've pretty much outlined all but the last two chapters of the thing. You'd think it'd be the easiest thing in the world to just sit down and do it.

You'd be wrong.

I'd rather be doing anything but working on this damned synopsis. So I have been. Which doesn't mean I've been actually working, of course, because that would be too productive.

I think my reluctance to finish it is twofold:
1. I'm afraid the novel actually sucks, and sucks so much that I can't fix it. Considering the fact that I finished the thing clear back in 2009, this is not an unreasonable fear--even though people have told me that it's "compulsively readable." This is Writer Insecurity at its finest.

2. If I finish the synopsis, that means I have to go back to actively marketing the thing again. The agent hunt is a soul-sucking descent into the bowels of Hell. Not only that, but I am not a novel writer. This has been amply demonstrated across 42 short stories. Heck, the novel didn't start as an actual "novel project," and if you can remember that far I wouldn't even call it that until I was 25,000 words in and figuring out that, yeah, this thing was going long, okay. The only thing I've done since, that's even close to that length? Has been the sequel to it--which will probably never, ever see the light of day, because it's way too close to my id for comfort. Ain't no one wanna see that. People would be (justifiably) "Oh, John Ringo, no"-ing at me.

So, yeah. Not a novelist, and I'm pretty sure that agents don't want a one-shot wonder. Which is not to say that I couldn't do another novel somewhere down the road. The Angry Bitter Angel 'verse begs to be expanded and the ramifications explored, and there's another fantasy novel on my back burner that I need to actually outline and work on as well.

So. I need to break free of this stupid paralysis and just do it like the Nike ad says. And then I can ship the damn thing off again, and work on the short stories that I actually need to work on--of which there are three, right now, all in various stages of first-draft-itis.

Argh.
agilebrit: (Well shit.)
And have now realized that the motivation for my villain creatures is essentially lame. So that's awesome.

Basically, I have dark and light aetheric entities, and my villagers think the light ones are the good guys. They're not, of course, but what do they want?

...nevermind, I just figured it out. This is why I do these blog posts when I get stuck. It tends to shake things loose in my head.
agilebrit: (Over My Head)
So, yeah, I'm planning another short-story NaNo push for January. As one does.

And for some reason, my Writer Brain has decided to go completely offline. I still have three outlines to finish.

  • I need a concrete villain with a concrete motivation for one.
  • I need to figure out if another one even has a villain. So far, the answer to that seems to be a resounding "no!"
  • I need a wholesale Plot for the third. All I have at this point is a bare Idea.


What this means in practical terms is that I'll probably still be outlining some stories while I'm writing others next month. The one I'm outlining right now is the one that's pinging me the hardest, but it's not the one I need to write first. The one I need to write first is the second one on that bulleted list up there, because it's got an actual deadline (February 1). And I still have the second Plot Turn and second Pinch to come up with in that one, along with a Resolution rather than a denouement, which is what I have now.

Antubis and Flaubert (my anteater muses; don't ask) are sticking out their considerable tongues and going "NEENER" at me, rather than actually helping. And I am banging my head on my keyboard and assiduously wishing for something stronger to drink than diet Mountain Dew. At one in the afternoon. I'm just about ready to throw my hands up, say "screw it," and wing the rest of these damn stories.

But I know that will end in disaster. So. Gyah. I am a professional, dammit. Therefore, I will sit down and do my job, which at this moment consists of outlining these stupid stories so I can hit the ground running in January.

A doctor doesn't get to say "Sorry, guys, I've got Surgeon's Block, so we're going to have to reschedule this procedure for a different date when I'm feeling it." And neither do I.
agilebrit: (Over My Head)
The problem with it is that my protagonist doesn't actually protag. He's swept along by events and doesn't actually make a decision until the final paragraph...

And neither beta who's gotten back to me so far are sure that's the right decision.

It's the decision I want him to make. So I guess I just have to explain his thinking better. Or come up with a better plot reason for what he does. I just thought of a Thing, and then rejected it (out of hand) because that's not him making a Decision (again), that's him being Carried Along By Events (again).

Writing is hard. Why do we do this again?
agilebrit: (Guri praying)
So, in a fit of utter insanity, I decided to attempt to turn Angry Bitter Angel into a novel. Considering the fact that I'm not a natural novelist, this is going about as well as you'd expect. Which is to say, not at all.

What I wanted to do was a sort of three-part thing where all three parts could stand alone, or somewhat--after all, part one stands on its own just fine, thanks. But I'm looking at the Hollywood Formula, and trying to shoehorn that into the seven-part story structure, and I'm not actually sure that works.

Plus there's the fact that I've got a Great Swampy Middle here that I'm not sure what happens in it. I have a great story for the third act, but Act Two is giving me fits.

*squints* I guess I could outline Act Three. That might make actual sense, since I have some idea what happens in it. Hell, maybe I'll skip Act Two altogether, or decide after writing Act Three that Act Two is already encompassed within the whole thing.

I'LL DO THAT.

See, this right here is why I do these blog posts. More often than not, writing out the dilemma gives me the solution to it.
agilebrit: (Ben & Guri)
So, remember how I said before that Angry Bitter Angel could be a novel?

Well. I've thought about how to accomplish that. What I have is Part One. Parts Two and Three, of similar lengths or possibly a bit longer, would give me something novel-length. It's definitely doable.

The problem is that I rather loathe the whole novel-subbing game. It's a soul-sucking descent to the bowels of Hell. And, as a novel, this thing still has the "too Christian for a secular market and too rough for a Christian imprint" problem that it has as a novella.

On the other hand, part of the reason I'm having trouble with the synopsis for not!KKBB/IM is that I didn't outline it beforehand. It was entirely pantsed, and as such requires a major re-reading and retroactive outline to even start a synopsis. And, hey, I already have a synopsis for the first part of Angry Bitter Angel!

I had a Plan for the rest of the year. I was going to re-visit the New Ben & Janni Story, outline it, whack it down to manageable length, and finish at least a draft.

But. Yeah. I adore Nachi and want to write more about him. I've scribbled a good 25000 words across three stories starring Ben already this year, plus another story he had a minor but significant role in. And I could treat this like another NaNo project and have an outline and first draft banged out in a month and a half or so.

I must be insane.
agilebrit: (Write Dammit)
But according to the handsome and hard-working Larry Correia, I should be treating this like a job.

Which I've done this year--I've penned thirteen stories since January and sent out nine of them; the other four are still in edits. I've tripled my wordcount from last year. I've sold four stories.

So why do I feel like I'm still spinning my wheels and faking it?

Maybe it's because my inbox has been woefully empty for nearly ten whole days. Maybe it's because I've scribbled 115,800 words in six months, and it's burnt me out. I realize that 115K words is, like, a weekend for someone like Larry, but it's a lot for someone like me, and I'm caught between awe that I managed it and and disbelief that those words are actually any good.

I guess that's something that I'll just have to grind through until I see a light at the other end.

In the interests of that, I'll be posting something, probably De-Wolfed Ben, up for the Usual Suspects pretty soon. Because this is my job, and I need to do it even though I'm not "feeling" it right now. My husband doesn't get to call into work and say "I'm just not feeling the Pilot Muse today, so I'm taking the day off." So neither do I.
agilebrit: (Over My Head)
So, yeah. I haven't written anything for about two days. Staring down the barrel of the end of a NaNo project, this is a problem.

I think part of my issue is that I'm not very excited about this story, although one would think it's right up my alley. Another part is that I've written 110,000 words in six months and it's entirely possible that I'm just burnt out. Maybe other people can sustain this pace, but I'm not used to it, at all. And another part is that I'm pretty sure that this story will not tip me over the 50K mark and I'm unwilling to start another one when this one is done because I'm tired and I don't want to commit to that. BUT. It won't tip me over 50K and so that makes me feel like a failure. *tears hair out*

So. What I really need to do is just buckle down and finish this one and call it "good," no matter the word count. This will give me fourteen stories on my year. Then I'll edit these and start the outlining process for the Ben-in-vampire-prison novel.

And maybe I'll do a half-NaNo in September or October or something just to say I did, although I'm sure there will be other themed anthos coming out that I'll want to write for as well.

My output this year is nothing to be ashamed of. However, resting on my laurels is also a terrible idea. So. I have a Plan. I just need to implement it.
agilebrit: (Facepalm2)
Where I have realized that the 1st person POV I started it in simply will not work. There is no way to make it work, and I should stop trying to do so.

Of course, now the question is: do I go back and fix 3600 words' worth of Wrong POV, or do I just go forward on the doc with the assumption that I've done so and then fix the beginning in post? How crazy will it drive me to do that? Survey says: "probably pretty crazy, as per experience."

However. I'll probably, at this point, just go forward like it's always been in 3rd person. I am woefully behind on wordcount, and fixing it Right This Minute will take time that I could spend, you know, writing.

Last time this happened to me, it was the opposite problem. I started in 3rd and the story needed to be told in 1st. That... was an easier fix than this. But at least this means I get to write the scene I wanted to write but was constrained by POV because the POV character was not on the stage when it happened.

*sigh* It's never easy, is it.
agilebrit: (Hit you for no reason)
Yeah, so, Glam!Ben was rejected. A personal rejection, I think the very first personal rejection I've ever gotten from these fine folks. She said she wanted more depth and complexity from the bad guys but loved the humor and the little twist where Ben's not actually the Alpha. (This is not, particularly, a spoiler for my flist. No one who knows Ben would mistake him for an Alpha anything.)

Now, I made my bad guy a shallow Bad Bond Villain totally on purpose. There's even a wink in there to "twirling his mustache." So I get where she's coming from on the whole "more depth." It's a fair criticism, and she's not wrong.

So, I guess the question is, how do I add "more depth" to a character when I'd really like to keep the story under 6000 words (it's knocking on 5900 at this point), and it's not from his POV? And... well... should I?

I've got him monologuing pretty good there. Honestly, I think I could add a couple of lines and give him the depth. If only I knew what those lines should be...

I'll poke the thing, I guess. Because, like I say, the editor was not wrong.
agilebrit: (Well shit.)
That does what I need this one to do for my plot.

Mainly because the design is completely stupid, redundant, and unnecessary. Apparently you can build a double-barreled shotgun with pump action, but no one makes one. For obvious reasons, now that I've thought about it.

But I need it for my plot.

And, you know, maybe it seems ridiculous to be worried about the verisimilitude of my firearms when I'm writing about werewolves, vampires, and sorcerers--but even in a story like this, the things that people know to be factual? Still need to be factual.

So, I'll figure out some other way to do what I need to do here.

If I have to.

I guess.

Combined with the other problems this thing has, frustrated [livejournal.com profile] agilebrit is frustrated this morning.
agilebrit: (Straight from the Bottle)
*singsongy* I'm the-errrre!

Seriously, I hate this story. It sucks. It sucks hardcore. I have no idea how I'm going to stick an END at the bottom of it or how I'm going to fix the hot mess that it is in editing. My character is all over the place. It's in present tense, which I hate with the fire of a thousand suns, but it sort of needs to be because of the way I've structured it and restructuring it will take too much effort. The stakes are not nearly high enough here, and the simple solution would be for him to just get a damn room in town for the three nights a month the Thing bothers him--not go in guns blazing to try to kill the monster that's already kicked his ass at least twice.

My plot is broken. It may be fundamentally broken.

This. This shit right here. Is why writers drink.
agilebrit: (Over My Head)
Is that I need to do a massive re-write of the meeting scene between my protag and my preacher and I DUN WANNA. I've already written it, but I need to go back and re-do it because then I'll be able to make that snippet I posted on Sunday actually resonate instead of lie on the page like a dead and smelly carp.

And that feels like going backward, because I've Already Written That Part, Dammit. But it needs to be done. And so I am putting on the Firefly soundtrack (since it sets the appropriate mood) and I'm doing it.

Half the battle is getting the cursor on the Word doc, you know? I keep letting myself get distracted by Shiny Things instead of just sitting down and scribbling stuff. This is really the part where I should turn the damn internet off and write for an hour, even though I hate the story right now.

But, as my lovely and effulgent RP partner said "You'll never stop hating it if you don't finish it." She is a wise woman. And I need to stop worrying about the structure of the thing and where what looks like the climax is falling. Like they said on today's mini-cast of Writing Excuses (paraphrased because I suck at remembering exact quotes): No one ever finished reading a book, set it down with a happy sigh, and said, "I really loved how the author used the three-act structure."

Tell a story. The structure will take care of itself.
agilebrit: (Well shit.)
about the new!Ben&Janni story.

It's not actually Ben's story.

Oh, sure, he's the one getting whumped. His pain (mental, physical, and emotional) drives the plot.

But the story itself is about Angeline and how she grows as a person.

Capitalizing on this realization will require an extensive re-write that I'm, frankly, not sure I have the energy to tackle. Or even the inclination. May I just say that I love the fact that it took me 145,000 words and over a year to realize this. And by "love," I really mean "it makes me want to stab myself in the eyeball, repeatedly, with a letter opener."

I may just chalk this one up to a learning experience. This is akin to the realization I had 70,000 words into the last one that Ben was my real protagonist. At least with that one, it was an easy tweak. This one, not so much.

I hate everything I'm writing right now. I have five fic docs open and no idea where any of them is going. I should just go to the bookstore, or perhaps the coffee shop, and see if a change of scenery and an infusion of real caffeine and sugar helps the process.

The good news is that I've finished three short stories (for a certain value of "short") totaling nearly 23,000 words in the last three months. And they are all out seeking homes. So, I guess that's some sort of accomplishment, and I should hold onto that. Lord knows I don't have any other accomplishments to hold onto; I haven't been paid for my writing in over a year and a half, and it's wearing on me. I remember when this was fun.

Meh.
agilebrit: (Well shit.)
about the new!Ben&Janni story.

It's not actually Ben's story.

Oh, sure, he's the one getting whumped. His pain (mental, physical, and emotional) drives the plot.

But the story itself is about Angeline and how she grows as a person.

Capitalizing on this realization will require an extensive re-write that I'm, frankly, not sure I have the energy to tackle. Or even the inclination. May I just say that I love the fact that it took me 145,000 words and over a year to realize this. And by "love," I really mean "it makes me want to stab myself in the eyeball, repeatedly, with a letter opener."

I may just chalk this one up to a learning experience. This is akin to the realization I had 70,000 words into the last one that Ben was my real protagonist. At least with that one, it was an easy tweak. This one, not so much.

I hate everything I'm writing right now. I have five fic docs open and no idea where any of them is going. I should just go to the bookstore, or perhaps the coffee shop, and see if a change of scenery and an infusion of real caffeine and sugar helps the process.

The good news is that I've finished three short stories (for a certain value of "short") totaling nearly 23,000 words in the last three months. And they are all out seeking homes. So, I guess that's some sort of accomplishment, and I should hold onto that. Lord knows I don't have any other accomplishments to hold onto; I haven't been paid for my writing in over a year and a half, and it's wearing on me. I remember when this was fun.

Meh.
agilebrit: (Well shit.)
Stuck? Stuck! STUUUUUUUUUUUCK *cue crying and massive freakout* Fortunately, we won't need to call the fire department. Unfortunately, the cure for my personal "stuck" won't be as easy as pouring warm water over my tongue.

I am the last person on Earth to flinch from dropping a building on a character's head. I do that all the time (Hi, Ben! And Alex. And Clint. And pretty much every character I've created ever with the possible exception of my spaceship crew, who seem to exist for the sole purpose of screwball comedy), at least metaphorically.

The problem is that this poor guy got the building dropped on his head in the opening scene, and now I don't know how to make things so very much worse for him. I want to. I need to. I just don't know what the Next Thing should be. It's like my Well of Hurting the Crap Out of My Characters has gone dry or something.

This is bad. This is very very bad.

CRUDBUNNIES.

Okay, the fact that the "frustrated" picture for my mood theme is Obadiah leaning over the character played by Peter Billingsly fills me with glee. Just sayin'. I solemnly swear that I did not plan that.

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