Ashe Elton Parker

A Writer of LGBT+ Characters in Speculative Fiction

Tag: ALON1

Nano 2015 Project Decided!

After much flailing about, I’ve at last figured out my Nano 2015 project.

But first, the Saga of the Selection:

Way back at the end of September, I was in limbo. I’d just completed The Power of Music III: Measure of Resistance, and I thought I’d very much like to get started on the next book in the Discordant Harmonies series, A Life of Note I: Antiphons. I in fact quite looked forward to doing so, and set to work on it with anticipation of having an at least partial outline for it ready for November, as I’d decided that it would work perfectly as my November Nano project.

At first, work progressed well enough. Not as quickly as I’d have liked, but I was in a bit of a writing downswing and gave myself allowances for it. I didn’t push myself, but I got plenty of plot points entered into Scapple, and was working up something of a playlist for it since I’d decided to create a new one instead of using the one from TPOM, which I was rather weary of. It was easy to feel good about ALON1; I’d enjoyed finishing TPOM3, had the MCs firmly in mind, and could see a mostly-clear path from beginning to end of the first book of the ALON set which gave me the confidence I needed to work on it.

Then my writing downswing deepened, sometime within the first week or two of October. I lost interest in ALON1, but kept trying to work on it, even as my bipolar mood swung into a nesting phase. I cleaned house, then, in the third week of October, the nesting phase induced me to rearrange my living room, clean out my real-life files, and organize the files I keep for my writing. Over the course of the nesting phase, I threw out much, and I started working on another story set in the same world as ALON1.

This project was The Horseless Carriage I: Clockworks, which happens in part in tandem with the ALON series. Enough so that the characters cross over. I figured this was fine, as I needed to write both first books before going on to even outlining the second books of both series, because those books are where characters cross over. Even though I didn’t intend to have the same scenes written from the different points of view in the books, I do need to coordinate the storylines so I’m aware of what each of the characters are saying and doing in the books so there’s no confusion of the timeline.

Because I hadn’t quite lost interest in ALON1, I arbitrarily declared I was prepping both for Nano and would decide, at possibly the last minute, which one I’d work on for November based on the one I’d been able to do more prep for. This lasted until the beginning of the last week of October.

And, on Monday or Tuesday, I’d been up past my bedtime and was contemplating going to bed when another member of Forward Motion mentioned, on twitter, getting a steampunk comic idea. That induced me to open up one of my defunct projects which I hadn’t done much work on. It had a number of plot points, two scenes, and two reverse-outline plot cards written on it. Nothing much. I read through the two scenes and realized within myself a desire to read the rest of the incomplete story, so set to work on it.

I was rather willing to be distracted by Masters of the Schism I: The Elect because neither of my two Chraesti projects, one of which I’d already entered as my Nano project, were moving. I felt enthusiastic about MOTS1, though, and I was enjoying fiddling with the MCs’ lives. Over the next couple of days, I named more characters, brainstormed a major plot issue (Why is magic dying—and what’s the solution to bringing it back?) for the entire series, and wrote a couple of plot cards.

By the wee hours of this morning, it was pretty obvious MOTS1 was going to be my Nano 2015 project. I’d managed to write almost 15 plot cards, and decided at some point to do full plot cards for the first two scenes, cut them from the main WIP, and save them to another file so I could rewrite them for Nano and decide at the end of November which versions of the scenes I liked better. I’ve since entered the project as my Nano project, stats to be found here, and it comes complete with a full synopsis which I agonized over for all of about 45 minutes. I’ll add a snippet when I have something written after the first few days of November.

I probably won’t be staying up all night to write just after midnight on Sunday. I have church that morning, and I really want to be alert because I didn’t make it to church last week due to not sleeping the night before. I’ve also got a couple other things to do, but I hope to get to writing at some point before midnight so I can enter a wordcount on the first. As always, I’m not going to sweat it if I don’t write every day, but do my best to maintain a consistent wordcount ahead of the goals for each day.

Slow on the Writing Front

My writing downswing seems to be over, but I can’t really say as I’m tearing through any projects with regards to writing right now. I’ve been trying to divide my attention between two projects set on Chraest in preparation for National Novel Writing Month in November.

The books I’m trying to prepare for Nano are A Life of Note I: Antiphons and The Horseless Carriage I: Clockworks. The reason why I’m trying to tackle both of them right now is because I have this notion that during the course of both series they’re going to touch and tie in to each other somewhat. As I see it, Géta’s friend Udé is going to train one of his Gifts by assisting the MCs of THC1, and I’m considering having Géta and one of the MCs (his name keeps changing) of THC become romantically involved. This means, either way I go with the books, I need to have both books 1 written before I start working on books 2 for both series so that I can tie them together.

I’m thinking THC will be only two books long, unless I send Juner and the other MC of the series off to war for some reason. ALON will of course be three books long, and I suspect may carry some of THC’s characters’ lives into the third volume.

But I started on THC1 late. LOL Only last week, I started getting plot points on it. Actually, I outlined a couple of scenes, then realized plot points would help me there and started on them. I’m excited to work on this project. More than for writing on ALON1. I’ve been concentrating on getting plot points into Scapple for THC, and intend, if I do write that book instead of ALON1, to do my usual thing of getting two plot cards per scene written until I have a total of 15 cards and then run with an open-ended outline.

Getting the plot points is slow, though. Only two or three a day. The way my scenes build upon one another, I’m wondering if the plot points won’t come faster until I’m actually writing on the project. Same with the plot cards for the outline. Over the next week or so, I’ll be outlining from what plot points I have to see if that shakes something loose like writing can sometimes help with the outline. That’s part of the reason why I prefer an open-ended outline. Sometimes a scene I write gives me an idea for a future scene, or feeds into a subplot thread in a way I didn’t see prior to writing the scene out. I’m hoping the outline will work like that for the plot points.

It would probably help if I were a bit more enthusiastic, but this year has been a low year for writing enthusiasm in general. When I have written, I’ve not been as into it as I was last year. Knowing my luck, my writing enthusiasm will surge up the moment I start classes in January. LOL

A Creative Writing Downswing

This has been a “slow” year for me, writing-wise. I’ve spent most of it in one writing downswing or another. These have, for the most part, been productive, though. My creative mind hasn’t gone on complete hiatus during these periods, which has been good.

Most of the time when I’m in a writing downswing like this, I focus on existing stories or projects which I’ve had in mind for a long time and want to start, like with ALON1. This story has been on my mind since January or earlier, and is the primary reason why I pushed so hard in previous months to finish TPOM3 so that I could work on it. I’d like to write it during Nano, and it currently looks like I’ll be able to do so.

But this writing downswing has been odd in one way. I’ve been getting brand-new ideas. The main one I’ve been fiddling with, in my head, is set on Chraest—a sort of tie-in to another story set taking the character from the Empire to a new member country to help establish a Temple of the proper Gods of Chraest there. I’d like to make it one long book instead of the duology it seems like it’ll be, and I have no problem with such long pieces.

I don’t typically get brand-new ideas during writing downswings. I don’t know why. It’s one of the creative endeavors my creative mind decides not to focus on. I’ve just been glad to be working even the inching little big I have been on ALON1.

There are a few other odd ideas drifting around in my mind. Mostly concepts I’d like to employ in future stories, matching them up to existing ideas. A couple of these concepts have been inspired by a movie I saw last night, and I’m seeing places where they can fit on Chraest.

One thing I’m glad of is that the world of Chraest seems to be my main focus at this time. And I mean I’m feeling particularly enthusiastic about working on projects set in that world. I hope this doesn’t change before Nano, because I’d really like to start on ALON1.

In a way, it’s been good I’ve been in this writing downswing. It’s given me an opportunity to absorb things from the rest of the world in a more attentive way than I usually do. I’ve really been doing my best to pay attention to the world around me. That awareness has definitely fed into my creative mind, and I’m looking forward to finding out just what else I can come up with for ideas.

It’s Almost July!

And I’m not prepared.

I haven’t been working on TPOM3’s outline enough to get it finished over the past few weeks due to the distraction of other stories. I think I have maybe five or ten more plot cards left to get for the outline, maybe a few more.

Today, I did a bit of work on the outline, though. I finally figured out the interim scenes between the numbered cards and those cards I’d “numbered” with ## to indicate that I didn’t know their precise placement in the outline. All I did know was that they came at some point after a few more points of conflict for my MCs, and I got those cards today. This enabled me to officially number those cards, and now the count stands at 90 cards. I expect at least five more cards to finish off the book, possibly ten, but not much more than that.

For prep, I have the scenes plot-pointed out in detail, so it should only be a matter of ensuring they’re logical for the characters and situation, then basically copying everything into official plot cards with any necessary adjustments made. After that, it’ll be a couple scenes to wrap up the entire trilogy, with a vague pointer toward what my characters are going to be doing over the interim between the ending of TPOM3 and the beginning of ALON1, which I’m very much looking forward to getting into . . . just not right away. I need to do prep work on it, which means naming a number of characters and writing up plot points. I also need to figure out where ALON1 ends, and it’ll likely be a bit of a cliffhanger like the ending of TPOM1 was, which I don’t mind. Sometimes I have all three of ALON’s books clearly in mind, other times, like now, I can grasp only the very beginning of the entire trilogy.

But for now, I’ll be happy if I’m able to complete TPOM3 during July Camp Nano.

Fear of Finishing

When my creative mind wakes up again, the WIP I’d most like to focus on is TPOM3. I stopped working on it a while back for a few reasons: 1) I couldn’t figure out how to carry on the outline from the card where it stops; 2) my creative mind decided to focus on something else; and 3) I’m afraid to finish it.

I go through this fear at some point with all my writing. Sometimes it stalls me longer than it does other times. With some stories, I’m able to power through; this works best with my short stories, especially since I tend to enjoy seeing how they end. While I enjoy seeing how my longer works end also, I also start to balk at completing them. The longer the project, the more I balk.

Someone suggested I may be afraid of completing my longer WIPs because I’m afraid I’ll miss the characters—writing about them, that is. I don’t think this is the case with TPOM3. This is the culmination of only one particular story I want to tell about Asthané and Géta. I even already know how I want to open the next book, A Life of Note I: Antiphons.

The Power of Music is the absolute longest project I’ve ever worked on—at least, up to this point in my writing life. I expect ALON to be longer, and Melodies of War to be even longer. These are epic stories, though I don’t think they precisely follow epic fantasy’s “rules.” Quite frankly, I don’t care about whatever rules I may be breaking.

I think at least part of the reason why I’m afraid to complete TPOM3 is because it’ll mean I can succeed as a writer. This will be the first major project I’ve ever completed from any genre of writing. It also means that I’ll have to make good on the “promises” of writing ALON and MOW, and, right now, I’m not sure I can do that. There’s a part of me which cringes at the idea of completing anything more than TPOM3, even though that alone isn’t the entire story of Asthané and Géta. Géta has much more to do magically speaking, and Asthané has a lot of learning to do. I also want to see them and their Empire through the major conflict they’re going to have with Ghulia later on. They have much, much more to say than what I could possibly fit in TPOM.

I think the plot card which I stopped outlining with is a turning-point, though. Both for my story and the characters in it as well as for me. Back in November, I started to get inklings of a way to deal with the block, and those vague notions came stronger when I recently read through the plot cards I have. I’m currently in the middle of a writing downswing, but it’s been mild, and I’ve been getting clearer ideas for my MCs’ lives onward from the ending of TPOM3 than I’ve had before now.

All this is making me anxious to finish TPOM, and hopefully I’ll find the courage to do so. Maybe holding up starting on ALON will help me. Maybe this writing downswing will send me into a writing upswing which will enable me to blast through my fear to complete TPOM. I don’t know. All I do know is that I want to complete TPOM so I can start on ALON.

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