Wednesday, January 27, 2010

First Pages of Writing!

It's been quite long enough since I put up an update!  I've been busy and OYAN has not been advancing very fast.  It's second semester and I think I should be writing, but I want to outline the novel more in the workbook before I start.  :p  Call it copping out or whatever...  The case of the matter is that this book is one that I'm working through the workbook with and I'm not really figuring out a lot on my own.  Pathetic, isn't it?  You know, I can write books just fine on my own, but then I get a workbook and I choose to rely completely upon it...

The one plus of this is that I've been asked a lot about the course and I can answer very honestly because I've been working the course ONLY and not adding a lot of my own stuff and flare and all that.

But writing is going to be exciting.  It is also going to be a lot of work.  Now don't get me wrong.  I want to write it and I can't wait to get started.  But writing a book is always such a stack of work and this is going to be no exception.  In fact, this might be more work than a lot of the ones I do because this is a story came up with just for the program...not because the idea has been bugging me or anything...

I don't really feel...prompted to write the story.  There are stories that just scream to be told.  (“Brothers” is driving me absolutely nuts right now because it is telling me that it needs, needs, needs to be told, and I just haven't the time/energy to go back and fix the beginning and then proceed with it.)  “Courage Enough” is not screaming to be told.

And the first person is going to be  a lot of work!  I've written some first person but usually do not prefer to work that way.  Also, for some reason, the workbook has really gotten me thinking of it as third person...  Probably because I'm constantly answering questions ABOUT the character instead of from HIS POINT OF VIEW.  The only first person I have ever done well—and enjoyed—was a book where I was very much in that characters pov.  I've never done it with one where I wasn't.

We'll have to see how this comes out.  It's like...


Suitable, at least.  ;)

I was working through “Conflict” today...which was great fun.  I like Mr S's concept that if there's not conflict the scene isn't worth going into the book.  I think that might be something that I don't like about classics is the fact that very often there are entire scenes were there is no conflict, or the conflict is immaterial.  So I'm going to work really hard to keep that in mind when writing the book.

I was reread one of my NaNo novels the other day (“Strike in the Dark”) and that book is really good.  It's got a gritty sort of realism to it.  That said...I'll never be able to do anything with it because it is so culturally wrong.  (Lack of research!  :o )  But every scene in there is conflict.  And more than is conflict that pertains to the plot!  There is never a quiet moment in that book.  There are scenes that aren't all fists and guns, but they're FULL of conflict!  It tingles in the writing!

So...I s'pose the goal for “Courage Enough” is to try and mimic that.  Is to try and get those same dynamics to it.  Because if I can I think I've got something really good going here...

I started writing today—just one scene, but it's a start.  It came out with a pen on paper...  Blah.  The story will NOT write on the computer.  I'm hoping that that cures itself or it's going to be a long and painful job to write it.

Friday, December 4, 2009

NaNo and OYAN--combined

It's been way too long since I updated this blog!  That is with good reason.  Truth be told I haven't gotten much done on OYAN since I wrote my last post.  November was NaNo; which kept me more than busy.  It turned out to be a much more eventful NaNo than I'd expected, but it was fun.

And OYAN once again came into play!  It was awesome.  I wrote three adventure novels during November (although only one was planned) and I used OYAN strategies and thoughts in all of them.  The one that I used OYAN on most was not the one that I saved using OYAN...but instead another novel that I wrote completely off the top of my head.

It was a fantasy/adventure novel that is practically one long treasure hunt.  I intend to edit it and have it self-published through CreateSpace by Christmas—but that's another story.

It was the sort of novel that you write during OYAN.  And there were so many times I kept on thinking in OYAN-speak during that novel.  ;)  Probably the most memorable time is when the characters are about to venture to cross a swamp.  Everyone keeps on telling them they can't go into's one has ever survived, ect.

Then, when I got them into the swamp I realized that with all that stuff previously I'd made a dreadful promise!  Now there was only one thing to do!  I'd made a dreadful promise and now I needed to fulfill the dreadful purpose.  But how...

So I had to invent some really dreadful stuff.  And really, really dreadful stuff, because it had been a VERY dreadful promise, and so to make the 'bad thing around the corner' worse than what I'd promised would come...

It was a challenge.

The whole novel was like that, practically.  OYAN came into play A LOT.

OYAN rocks.  :)

Monday, October 26, 2009


I love OYAN.  Just, let me say that again.  I LOVE OYAN.  It's been the greatest.

I am doing NaNoWriMo this year.  NaNoWriMo is “National Novel Writing Month”.  For one month of madness over a million people strive to write 50,000 words in the month of November.  I won last year...and am bound and determined to do the same this year.

I'm doing an outline of my novel to help my try and keep going at least semi the same direction during the month.  But I'd gotten stuck on my outline some time last week and all my attempts to advance it were just making the book worse and worse and worse.  I'd lost it.  It looked like what I'd thought was a tremendous plot was indeed going to come to nothing and totally flop.

I was actually starting to consider starting over with a completely new plot.

But I wanted to try something else first.  I made copies of the workbook sheets for the Five Elements.  Someone to care about, Something Want, Something to Dread, Something to Suffer and Something to Learn.  And I worked through them for my NaNo novel.

It worked.  It really worked.  I now am on track for my novel again and just hurrying to try and finish my outline, as well as make changes to what I already had to add in the new elements and theories that I came up with.

Mr. S—you saved my NaNo novel!  GO OYAN!!!!!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Lessons Learned

Well!  I finished the work book pages alright, although they provoked a lot of thought and I had quite a time trying to find some of the answers!  The ones that was the hardest were the symbols of the theme...  It's funny, I'm the person who absolutely loves themes and thinks they are the most awesome thing—but then when someone asks me about specific symbols I draw such a blank...

It's pretty frustrating.

But I even got that part done (although I abhor my first idea and I think that I shall probably never ever ever use it in the book—no matter how much more stuff I need).  I like my other two ideas, though...  I think I shall use them both.  The third one might just not work in well...  It's one of those ideas that is a fantastic idea, but I'm not sure if it'll fit in.

I suppose we'll have to see!  :)

I'm going to put in two photographs that I took of a page spread I did today.  I said I'd scan them...but the scanner was in use and I tend to think that it will be for a while.  ;)  You might have noticed that I'm working in a three ring binder—we copied the workbook so that I can use it again if I want to.  I think I'm not the only person who has done this—I believe multiple people have.  I know for certain that some people write their answers in a notebook...but that's kinda a lot of work, something that I can tend to be a bit adverse to.  I thought copying it was just easier.

ANYWAY...that's sorta off-topic.  I didn't mean to go into a whole spiel about why I work in a three ring binder (it also stays open better than the workbook and lays flatter when you're writing in it...okay okay!  I'll get back on topic).  I just want to say before I put them in here that David Schwabauer owns  all the rights and the copyright and all that.

I love disclaimers.  I always feel better afterwords.  ;)

AND SO...without further ado...  My workbook pages from “Something to Suffer, Part 3”.  (the two different pages are different angles.  The first one is sideways...but it might be clearer...)  Oh yes...and one other thing.  The copy of “Prisoner of Zenda” that is sitting there in the first photograph is NOT the copy that comes with the curriculum.  The one that comes with the program is a paperback.  The one in the picture is “Prisoner of Zenda” and “Rupert of Hentzau” (sequel to “Prisoner of Zenda”) leather-bound copy put out by Reader's Digest.  I was very, very, very lucky to find it for $1 at the library book-sale.  ;)  It's a beautiful copy—but I just wanted to point out that it wasn't the one that came with the course!  It's probably a very expensive copy.

(I am SO sorry these two posts are so scatter-brained.  I honestly was trying to make more sense and keep them more like the other posts I've done here...but it's just been a trying week so my brain is not operating as it should.  Very, very sorry if they're hard to read and little help or information mixed with lots of nonsense.  SORRY!)

The Potency of Meaning

I am currently working on the worksheets for “Something to Learn”.  As much as I found “Something to Dread” and “Something to Suffer” perhaps the two most useful for my stories—this one is provoking the most thought!  Everything that I learn in OYAN I feel the need to apply to everything else I've written or want to write...  It's odd.  I apply it to my other works almost more than to my actual novel for OYAN...  Really keeps me thinking.

“Something to Dread” and “Something to Suffer” were both things I was TRYING to keep in my novel and that I was trying to emphasize and such...  But “Something to Learn” is something I've never actually actively thought about before...  I don't have 'themes' or 'premises' for most of my stories.  At least not conscious ones.  Odd, hmm?

The theme of my OYAN novel is “Courage is greater than fear”.  I think.  Which would make my premise “courage is greater than fear even in the face of death.”  ???  I think.  Think think think.  It's all being rather tricky, and this process is starting to be painful.  The theme is proving incredibly elusive.  *sigh*  In any case...

You might find another blog post when I finish my worksheets...depending upon how they go.  ;)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Key To The Reader's Heart: Suffering

I just finished the three lessons on Suffering. It is by far the second most interesting topic. The entire thing is really splendid, I'm really enjoying it and I think that I'm getting a lot out of it. The only thing of it is that I am now trying to do the workbook-pages and having a horrible time with them. o.O

It struck me as very interesting what he was saying about suffering and how it's the key to the reader's heart. The point of writing a book he said was to cause the reader emotion. Without suffering there is no emotion. I was thinking about this and the most powerful scenes ever—they all somehow involve emotion. Interesting... They're the ones that make you want to laugh or cry...


From there he went on to talk about how there are two sorts of suffering, physical and emotional. And what I found very interesting was that he said that emotional suffering is way stronger than physical. He said that emotional suffering is remembered, but physical can be easily forgotten... He was using the Moria scene in “Fellowship of the Ring” as an example. Frodo is speared by the troll, and it's a blow that probably broke some ribs and such... But we quickly forget about it. But the loss of Gandalf—you don't forget that through the whole rest of “Fellowship of the Ring” and right into “Two Towers”. The loss is so felt.

The emotional was remembered, but the physical quickly forgot.

I got to thinking about this and how it pertains to my story—and I realized that I'm very good at physical suffering. I like to use physical suffering. I'm comfortable with it, and it's—well, I feel the tangible a lot. And find it best when writing. But emotional suffering I'm not generally very comfortable with, and so I don't use it a lot. And I started that why there is never really any 'motivation' for the hero winning? When I think I'm making them suffer, I'm not really? Not enough for it to be felt?

Interesting. And then I got to thinking about the end of “Waking Rose” and also “The Midnight Dancers”. Both of which were INCREDIBLY powerful, and incredibly—felt. Uhuhhh... Regina Doman did a tremendous job on them. When I first thought about it I thought—they're physical. And then I realized that the strength in them was that it was both physical and emotional. For both of them, they were very physical and pain played a huge part. But there was something else... Humiliation, I think, that made it absolutely bone-shaking. There was also the whole emotion with Rose in the end of “Waking Rose” that had you just ready to scream... And the very humiliation of the end of “Midnight Dancers” drove me nuts. Both of them had me ready to scream myself.

So maybe since Emotion is strongest and Physical is second—the strongest of all would be the two combined?! I started thinking about it and realized that Regina Doman is the only one I know of who combines subtle, but strong emotion with incredible physical suffering in her climax—and those are the most powerful climaxes.

So using that theory—maybe the strongest climax would be one where you used emotional and physical suffering...

The other weird, weird thing about this is that working through this I am thinking almost more about my NaNo novel instead of my OYAN novel... Which is really very, very bad of me. I'm glad that I'm working through this though, because I think that my NaNo novel shall be 100% better than last year because I think I've got tools to work with this year that I've never had before. Which is just such fun...

With every new technique he introduces I end up sitting here going “That is so brilliant! Why didn't I think of that?” ;) Haha. Bit of a funny situation. We have another novel writing course that we bought years ago that I was going to go through, but I just couldn't connect with it. (It's “Learning to Write the Novel Way”). And OYAN is so different. It is different in a very good way, and I feel like I'm learning a lot but I'm also enjoying it tremendously.

Mr. S is incredible at making learning fun and also turning English into something you can use, without focusing on the things that you don't need. It's also giving me a new look at all books, and what makes a great book. I still cannot understand the classics, but I'm able to see now why I like certain books. There are books that I haven't been able to put a finger on why I liked 'em...but now I'm starting to figure it out. I'm also starting to be able to know WHY a good book is a good book, and for writing I'm starting to understand what has to go into a book for the people reading to care... And it's not all about endings and beginnings and all that... It's all about having a character you can care about, a villain you can fear, a story goal that you can want (and proof from the character (suffering) that it's worth fighting for) and a lesson learned from it. It's not so much about having it stuffed with information and odd facts.

It's about having something that readers can relate to and understand.

Two thumbs up for OYAN.

Next project: Figuring out how to use suffering to enhance not only my OYAN novel but also the other novels I am working on... :p Also to try and attempt to get the worksheets done... :p multiplied by two...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Discovering Dread

So far I have found “Something to Dread” the most work, but also the most informative. I write a lot, but I wanted to do the course because I thought that it would help me at writing a plot centered book. Generally my books tend to center around characters.

It has done just that. “Something to Dread” was a lot of work but also very good because it actually made me THINK about the villain and about the suspense and the raising of the stakes that is needed to keep a story moving. Usually I find my villains far from as frightening as they should be. I think this tends to be because I loose sight of just how scary they should be. Also, I'm afraid that previous to this I have not tied them into the plot enough... And I think I've never raised the stakes quite enough.

Raising the stakes is the practice of having thing after thing go wrong—and then, ultimately, the one thing that you do not want to happen happening. It's the pins and needles, and the upping of the stakes that makes the person not able to put the book down. See...if the hero has to kill the villain, that's one thing. But if the hero is trying to kill the villain while being pursued by the whole army—that's another thing. But when the stakes are highest are when the hero is trying to kill the villain, who is trying to kill the person that the hero cares about most, AND the entire army is chasing the hero trying to kill him... The reader is not going to be able to put the book down because he wants to know how it ends. Does the hero win? Does the villain win? Does the army catch up with him? What is the villain has captured the very person that the hero cares about most and is ready to kill them, but the hero is being pursued by the army, so cannot go and rescue said person...and then the army catches up to the hero? (actually...I think that's a good idea. I might use that. :D )

And the other thing he talks about is the “Bad Thing Around The Corner”...or just BTATC. It's the hinting, the foreshadowing that something bad is going to happen. SOOOO... if you say that the hero really does not want to have the person he cares about most be captured...then we know that that person will be captured, because why else bring it up? So now the readers know that that person is going to be captured, but we really don't want it to happen. And THEN we show the villain killing someone else, and then the reader really doesn't want to have the person the hero cares about captured, PARTLY because they just don't want it and PARTLY because we're afraid that the villain is going to kill them—and well, if I've done my job well, the hero isn't going to be the ONLY person who cares about said other person. But THEN, when the villain DOES capture the person that the hero cares about, he DOESN'T kill them. He TORTURES them. And then it's worse than the BTATC that we were EXPECTING. Because if the author gives us only the BATATC that we were expecting, we'll be disappointed. (human psychology...I don't understand it either)

But neither of those things are things I have EVER done in my stories before. Which might just be why my villains are never quite satisfying—even to me! Heh...