inverarity: (Alexandra)
Another sub-par week. I managed to write about a thousand words.

If I get snowed in tomorrow, I'll try to do something productive with my time. :P
inverarity: (Alexandra Quick)
I did a little bit better this week, though still not up to what I used to do when I wrote diligently. The word count is 176,680 and I think I may need to rewrite the last two chapters.

Need to research riddles. Finding or making up good ones for Hogwarts Houses Divided was not easy.
inverarity: (Alexandra@13)
This week kind of sucked - I only wrote 900 words (most of them tonight). Trying to get back into some kind of daily routine, even if only for half an hour or so. It doesn't help that the current chapter is one of those really difficult ones that I'm not even sure belongs.

Maybe having to post that I only wrote 900 words for the week will motivate me to do better this week. :\
inverarity: (Alexandra Quick)
Okay, I really, really need/want to finish this book this year.

I'm not setting myself any hard wordcount deadlines, but maybe a regular public accounting of my progress will help motivate me. So I'm going to try to post a progress report at least every Sunday.

As of now, I am working on Chapter 34, and am at 172,800 words.

(And yeah, still looking like this is going to be one big book, because I'm still in the second act. I think I may have some serious structural problems with AQATWA - we'll see how much it changes once I finish this big, bloated, meandering, swiss cheese of a first draft.)
inverarity: (inverarity)
Reading like a writer who is Francine Prose and likes books that Francine Prose likes.


Reading Like a Writer

Harper Perennial, 2006, 273 pages




In her entertaining and edifying New York Times bestseller, acclaimed author Francine Prose invites you to sit by her side and take a guided tour of the tools and the tricks of the masters to discover why their work has endured. Written with passion, humor, and wisdom, Reading Like a Writer will inspire readers to return to literature with a fresh eye and an eager heart - to take pleasure in the long and magnificent sentences of Philip Roth and the breathtaking paragraphs of Isaac Babel; she is deeply moved by the brilliant characterization in George Eliot's Middlemarch. She looks to John Le Carré for a lesson in how to advance plot through dialogue and to Flannery O'Connor for the cunning use of the telling detail. And, most important, Prose cautions readers to slow down and pay attention to words, the raw material out of which all literature is crafted.


Genre fiction? What's that? Who reads that shit? )

Verdict: Reading Like a Writer is about how to read like the writer who wrote this book. Read it if you share Francine Prose's tastes (check out her bibliography in the back); skip it if you're expecting any kind of comprehensive survey of literature or useful writers' advice. 4/10.




My complete list of book reviews.
inverarity: (Alexandra Quick)
Now and then I talk about about my writing style, my technique, my efforts to improve my craft. It's not just because I'd like to be published someday, but this writing thing, even if it never becomes more than a hobby, is still something I'd like to be really good at.

I am pretty clearly a "storyteller." Most people who like my writing like the story and the characters. They like my plotting, and the consequences they see unfolding as I bring my plans to fruition.

My writing style, at best, is readable and technically proficient. Now and then I polish a sentence I particularly like, and I've managed a few nice bits of imagery, some description that I thought was particularly fine, but I don't have the wit, the finesse, the mastery of vocabulary, of some writers whom I particularly admire.

That's not to say that I want to write like them — above all, I want to write like myself. But as I work on AQATWA, now and then I find myself trying to polish up some prose, or promising myself I'll go back later and make it prettier, and I realize... despite the fact that I know shiny prose when I see it, despite the fact that I do have a rather expansive vocabulary, despite the fact that I fancy myself somewhat knowledgeable about literature... more often or not I don't know just what I should do, or even could do, to "improve" a sentence.

I don't know if this is a flaw or not. I mean, there's nothing wrong with writing clean prose that is pleasant to read and carries no particular signature style. Lots of writers write in this kind of plain-prose style. It's not like I aspire to be "literary."

Still, I do look wistfully at some real wordsmiths and wonder how their prose all comes out looking very much like something crafted.

Quotes of shininess. )

So, I can't do that. I kind of wish I could, but I think it's a mistake for any writer to try to emulate another writer's style.

But I do, at least, have a knack for stories, and interesting characters. When I can put in the writing time. That's the other thing I envy: writers who can churn out thousands of words a day. A feat I haven't managed in... far too long.

AQATWA is at 32 chapters and 166,000 words.
inverarity: (Alexandra Quick)
No, really, I am still writing. Okay, I'm still not hitting my targets (good thing I didn't attempt NaNoWriMo), but I managed to get about 2000 words written today.

Since I am now up to 157K, and I haven't done one of these in a while, here's a wordle, as of Chapter 31.

AQATWA worldle 157k

The story is still spaghetti and continuity is a mess and I am probably trying to cram two books worth of plot into one. But it's going to get done. Or I'll die. One of those two things will happen. /GRRM
inverarity: (Constance Pritchard)
I know, folks, I know. I'm getting more people asking me in slightly worried tones if I'm really going to finish book five (let alone the series). And how I said I'd be done last year, then that I'd be done this year.

It's been a rough year. I just don't have the writing time I used to. But I am still writing. I even want to get around to writing other things besides AQ. That hasn't happened either, lately.

But, however slowly, progress is being made. I hope you all will still be around when I finally get to the end.

I just finished chapter 30, at 152K words.

[livejournal.com profile] cactuscommando has finished his splendid series of AQ fan art. And he's promised to make an AQATWA cover to match the others he did, when I have finally finished a rough draft.


Constance Pritchard
by cactusfantastico on deviantART


Forbearance Pritchard
by cactusfantastico on deviantART


Lineup
by cactusfantastico on deviantART
inverarity: (Alexandra Quick)
Also, time, focus, and concentration.

I am up to 149K words and I have finished 29 chapters. Yes, that is not much progress since last time. But I am writing (slowly). So I figured I should let you all know.
inverarity: (inverarity)
So I just spent most of the evening writing a chapter that I then realized repeated something that happened in Chapter 3.

'Cause that's what happens when you let months go by and the story is no longer fresh in your mind.

*headdesk*

Okay, still making (a little) progress. But I think I need to spend some time going through my notes and maybe even resorting to an outline again.

Also, I finally re-uploaded all my ebooks, this time to a shared Google Drive folder. So the Download my stories! link to the left should work again. Let me know if you have problems.

(And I'm still planning to do revised ebook editions with [livejournal.com profile] cactuscommando's newer covers one of these days, but that too is on the procrastination to-do list.)
inverarity: (Alexandra Quick)
So I have a confession to make: my writing output for the past few months has been... slim. Minimal. One might even say, practically zero.

I've spent lots of time thinking about writing, but not a lot of writing has actually happened.

There have been reasons for that, some good, some bad, but reasons don't get words on the page. And I've been missing the writing and yes, I do want to finish the damn book! As well as other things.

So anyway, I wrote 1400 words tonight and finished Chapter 28. This is going to need some serious, serious rewriting and editing when I finish, but I remembered where I was going and now I'm just taking off in that direction and trying not to let the hobgoblins that demand revision and polish slow me down.

So, current word count is 145,096. We're back...

And here's some morale-boosting fan art.


David Washington
by cactusfantastico on deviantART


Troublesome
by cactusfantastico on deviantART
inverarity: (Alexandra Quick)
Yes, I kind of suck right now. No progress to report.

Really, I'm going to finish AQATWA. Honest. I haven't lost interest or motivation. Just... temporarily suffering from a lack of writing mojo. That's why the lack of AQ posts lately.

The book is maybe not quite half done, I just need to get moving again on the second half.

So as a reward for your patience (those of you still following my LJ), I will stop teasing you with the title. The title of AQ book five is Alexandra Quick and the World Away.

Still aiming to finish by the end of (this) year. Which will happen. If I can start writing again...

In other news, I received a stern email from Box.com, which is where I hosted my ebook downloads, claiming they had received a "complaint" about "copyright infringement."

I doubt J.K. Rowling and her lawyers are sending C&D orders to hosting sites, so either Box.com just started cracking down on fan fiction, or someone out there doesn't like me. Boo.

I'll try to find another hosting site with fanfic-friendly TOS soonish.
inverarity: (Alexandra Quick)
To finish this damn book. And some OF on the side.

27 chapters and 138K words so far. The pieces are actually kind of fitting together now — at least I kind of know where I'm going — but individual chapters are big messes of dialog and characters muddling about. I've introduced a bunch of new characters who are kind of interesting (to me) but have no real long-term utility, and meanwhile I don't know how to keep Alexandra's friends from spending most of the book sidelined.

But thank you to everyone who is still reading and still waiting for me to finish this project. My "fanbase" is small even by fan fiction standards and insignificant compared to that of a real author, but the occasional reviews and comments and people arguing over whether or not Diana Grimm is evil are enough to keep me going. Yes, I admit it, I probably wouldn't continue if I were writing only for myself. I don't need to be famous, I don't need to be a BNF, but I do need an audience. So thank you.

2013 was not a terrible year for me, but I've had better. I get the impression that's true for a lot of folks. So may 2014 be better for all. Even Diana Grimm.


Diana Grimm
by ~cactusfantastico on deviantART
inverarity: (Alexandra Quick)
To celebrate finally finishing Part One of AQATWA, have a wordle. With most of the fragments and contractions filtered out this time.

wordle AQATWA 122k

I had a fairly productive weekend. I have finished 24 chapters and 122K words. Alexandra has finally left the Ozarks, and her summer is almost over.

The most recent chapter is about 8000 words, and most of it dialog. So... yeah, might need some editing. :P

Progress in Original Fiction projects has not been going as well, because I can't settle on what I am actually going to write next, and I keep feeling driven to finish one thing at a time.

Anyway, I am officially declaring that AQATWA will definitely not be finished by the end of the year. Not a chance. Sorry. I was rather proud of keeping up my book a year schedule, even with side projects like the SF novel, but that just ain't happening this year. I now know that with serious dedication I can actually write two books in a year, and with moderate dedication I can write one book a year. Unfortunately, this year my dedication has been somewhat on the half-assed end of "moderate" and I was finishing my SF novel at the same time. And I really want to get going on something else maybe-publishable so I don't feel quite so silly about putting all of my writing energy into fan fiction.

However, rest assured, progress shall continue to be made.
inverarity: (Alexandra@13)
You know, break it into three parts?

I am not serious. I take the plotting too seriously (and have too many concerns about it) to release any part of the story until I've plotted it all the way to the end.

Anyway, I am almost finished with Part I. 23 chapters and 114K words. Eeee.

(And yes, I know I should do another AQ Reread post. Between book reviews and trying to actually write the next AQ book, and tinkering with a new original manuscript, well. Oh yeah, and I have to go to work, too. Darn mortgage.)
inverarity: (raven)
Alexandra hoped the raven wasn't dripping eyeball-juice on her.


Golden words!

Here's another wordle, for 105K words (click for larger version):

AQATWA wordle 105K

I know they look impressionistic, but I sorta try to choose an image appropriate for the scene I am currently writing. (No, those are supposed to be mountains, not eyeballs.)
inverarity: (raven)
Oh, I'll still try to finish it this year. But progress is definitely slower than previous books.

I am at 100K words now. And still on Act One.
inverarity: (Alexandra Quick)
Ozark highlands

Ozark hills

Ozark river

Isn't it beautiful? Aren't you glad she's having a nice, peaceful vacation?

So, I've hit 95K words, and I am at that "All over the place" place where I realize I have littered this draft with plot seeds and unexplained occurrences and hints of things I am not quite sure yet what I am hinting at.

Like, what about the basswood wand? I can't decide if it's staying in the plot or not. There are chapters where Alexandra has it, and chapters where it has simply disappeared. Obviously this needs to be fixed in revision. Along with the Hide-Behind. Which is kind of cool to include but right now does nothing. And there's sure an awful lot of hiking in the woods - who do you think you are, Alex, Frodo?

Those who have complained about Alexandra persistently being a loner will not find this tendency altered much, at least in the first part of the book. This is probably one of the greatest departures from the source material, and one of the things readers complain about. As much as I try to include Alexandra's friends, she will just keep insisting on doing things by herself. I've been thinking about whether and how to bring her friends along for the ride, but for now, she's on her own — again. So I have never quite captured the group dynamic that Harry had with his friends.

From a storytelling point of view, this doesn't bother me that much, because Alexandra is my character and she is more closed off and isolated than Harry. You might even say she's a bit pathological about it. As much as she loves her friends, she's got some fierce walls up and that means where Harry would say "Hey Ron, Hermione, let's go do this," Alexandra says "Hey Anna, David, Constance, Forbearance, I'll see you later. Oh, nothing really, don't worry about it." She only lets them in when they beat down the door and force her to let them help.

However, this means I have somewhat neglected the "supporting cast" and really need to build those ties so that when the shit rain truly begins to fall, it will be believable that they will all stick together through hell and high water. I don't know if I will actually be able to do this. It may be that Alexandra winds up standing alone in the end after all.
inverarity: (raven)
You would think with a three-day weekend, I would get more done.

I am coming to an unsettling conclusion that my "Internet ADD" is more than a joking matter. Or that there is something else going on affecting my ability to focus.

I've received two form rejections for the SF novel, and other than that, no responses at all. I've now sent about 20 queries out, so I guess I should simply be patient and give it a couple of months before making a decision about whether I need to revise my query. I must say, I totally understand why agents usually don't give any kind of personalized feedback with rejections, but "No response means no" is very unfortunate because you have no way of knowing whether you are still in the slush pile or have already been binned. And because of the advice to query X number of agents and see if you get any bites, and most agents say to allow them up to 8 weeks to respond (or not), I guess that's why the corollary to that advice is to work on your next book while you're querying.

Anyway, AQATWA is up to 90K words now. Here's a wordle with a link to the full-size image.

wordle AQATWA 90k

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