Wednesday, October 25, 2017


Yes, it's that time of year! The time where I either will post WAY TOO MUCH or NOT HARDLY AT ALL. The time when I abandon all normal rhythms of blogging for these abstract, disjointed blocks of text that have nothing to do with anything else I have currently going on... I've just been planning and jotting down various notes and making strange outlines since SPRING and finally it all comes out in one mad, glorious rush!!

But there's just one teensy problem with pulling such shenanigans this year: my original resolution to "Finish Forward." To start yet ANOTHER of a laundry-list of new projects would do NOTHING to further my progress as a writer, nor to clean up the virtually-endless list of ideas sitting, untouched, on "The Shelf."

So what's a lively, writing-obsessed scatterbrain like me to do? I'll tell you!

This Year's Challenge Goes To...

This year, for National Novel Writing Month (commonly known as "November" in most English-speaking parts of the world), I will be tackling....

a rewrite. But not just any rewrite. (and definitely not the one that holds the record for the most rewrites... *sidelong glance* )

Remember THE LAST INKWEAVER? Remember how much it bothered me when I got stumped on it? Remember how flipping excited I was to finish it, seeing as I'd been working on it for pretty much the entire life of this blog? Well, I'd finished it, but I wasn't happy with it. I sent it off to at least 5 different friends for a casual "beta reading", applying no pressure because I had no specific deadline, plan, or goal attached to it, and heard back from 2 who chose to respond in questionnaire form, and one who used my story to practice being a professional-grade beta-reader/editor (and I was beyond pleased with the caliber of her feedback! It was everything I needed!) and let it rest while I focused on other things... like releasing Princess of Undersea.

Its time has come. There were two major things that happened that ended up restoring my motivation to return to that project.

Link to the original image
The first, and ostensibly most important motivational thing: I got a cover. A Facebook group I follow for inspirational images (the same group that inspired "The Clan of Outcasts") happened to post a particular picture that I immediately felt was an exact fit for a cover for The Last Inkweaver. It might just be me, but I'll let it speak for itself!
What's even more amazing than just the fact that this image fits so perfectly, is that, while this specific image is not royalty-free (and thus it is only a "mock" cover), I do know a very talented artist who I am sure can mimic the style--enabling me to not only request additional touches to tie into the books, BUT ALSO I could potentially commission said artist to do the artwork for the whole series! Wouldn't that be epic?

The second thing that happened was that I learned about Dan Harmon's Story Circle.

See, one of the reasons I'm so terrible at rewrites is that I get so hung up on the way a story happens in my head, that even if I were to ask myself the question, "Can this happen another way?" I just can't make the characters behave in a way that is different than what I wrote, because the original line "fits them so well." So I end up with a crappy story because that's all I can come up with, and when I need to go back and rewrite, the ideas are gone. That's what holds me up so badly with stories like "Laurel of Andar" and "Merely Meredith," where I got stuck and had to give up because I needed to go back and change some details, which resulted in the ensuing scene falling apart and the whole story veers in a completely different direction... and yet I can think of no alternative segue.

Early in the spring, I learned about the 3-Act Storywriting Method. At it's most basic, it's the "Intro-Conflict-Resolution" method of storytelling. Heck, even trying to break down The Last Inkweaver into the Seven-Phase Process I've explained before didn't work! What else was I going to do?

Just in the nick of time, a friend posted a helpful YouTube video explaining Dan Harmon's Story Circle, and my brain latched onto it almost immediately. I began to notice that the stories I was most satisfied with tended to follow this 8-step framework. The linked text in the first mention explains it better than I can (since it's written by Dan Harmon himself... who, if you don't know, is the creative genius behind Rick and Morty) but basically there are eight phases a character goes through, from the initial need to embark on the journey, to the eventual return after the journey has changed him or her. If you really think about it, most stories that come to your mind when you think of "good ones" probably follow some semblance of this method--and now you know what makes them so good!

So now I've spent the last month figuring out which of the various phases of the story fit with the certain parts of the Story Circle framework, and using that to help me come up with a more convincing and focused plot. Starting from Square One also enables me to take into account the various comments I've gotten concerning the story, and gives me space to address the issues and incorporate the suggestions where they can fit.

One of the big changes I've decided to make is changing the names of the characters. It might come as a surprise to you, but the name "Shereya" was a place-holder from the very start, just an anagram of another character name, which I never went back and changed. I'm not really attached to that, nor any of the other names, so I've decided to change them all, in honor of the new story! It makes it really complicated to make notes when all I have is "Girl 1/Girl 2/Girl 3/Boy" but I think having actual, sensible character names would be better than the slap-dash ones I had before.

Next week, I'll talk more specifics about what changes I'm making, and how the tale fits into the Story Circle, but this is the initial announcement, so consider yourself warned!

Catch You Further Upstream!