Just like it says on the tin, I’m writing again. More like, rewriting since now that I’ve finally let go of the last ambitious project that was on my plate (the steamy novellas to coincide with 10 holidays in the year are no more—but the reverse harem is still in), the slate is finally clean and I’m starting over.
But instead of writing new stories, I’ve gone back to the ones I set aside last year and trying to fix the things that had me set them aside in the first place, like story arcs that didn’t seem true, or seemed too contrived, etc. Only this time, instead of typing it out on my phone or laptop, or writing on yet another notebook that I keep picking up wherever I am, I’m using a Rocketbook reusable notebook.
The Rocketbook is basically a 32-page reusable notebook that uses only Frixion erasable pens. After you’re done writing, you can take a picture of the page and it will go directly where you want it to go—email, cloud, Google Docs—you name it. You can then erase it with a wet cloth (it comes with the notebook, along with a Pilot Frixion pen) and start over again.
I actually loved the first Rocketbook Everlast (6×9) I tried out last week that I bought the bigger size (8×11) today.
I’ll probably end up creating my Outline template with permanent markers in my letter-size Rocketbook tonight so I can easily outline my stories starting tomorrow. And write, of course.
I’ve written 31k words into that holiday novella and… I’ve hit a wall. It’s one of my own making, of course, one called the this-crap-could-be-better wall.
Technically, the book is “done,” as in, I got to the ending which, unfortunately, falls short of that moment in the cinema when you await (with bated breath) the hero’s answer to the question that will make him a slumdog millionaire or the group of eccentric friends driving their friend all across town to the press conference that will reunite him (in front of the world to see) with the celebrity he’d pushed away after she told him in his tiny travel bookshop, “I’m just a girl standing in front of a boy asking him to love me.”
Nope, I don’t got that moment at all.
I’ve kinda run out of steam and hopefully, it’s temporary, giving me enough time to collect my thoughts on the novella because no way is it going into that box set now. And since it’s not, now I can go for as high a word count as I need to tell a fully rounded story. It will also be a lighthearted addition to my Different Kind of Love series.
But first, I need to figure out what scenes to add, what the external plot is going to be (if it needs to be tweaked) and build up the internal plot that I had to discard along the way to fit the original word count requirement of 25k. Man, that’s a tight one, isn’t it?
Anyway, it all sounds so technical, doesn’t it? You’re probably wondering, where’s the spontaneity in the writing? Does everything have to be so planned? Where’s the surprise?
One of the things about writing a romance is that there is no surprise when it comes to the ending. We all know what happens. The couple or people involved if you’re writing about more than two people getting together (hello harems or reverse harems!) ultimately get a happily-ever-after (HEA) or a happy-for-now (HFN) ending. That’s why it’s called a romance. Not a love story which can have a sad ending (she died or he died or they went their separate ways) or an uncertain ending (what the hell just happened? Did they get together or not?). And not a drama which does not have to have a happy ending at all either.
They get a happy ending.
I guess the fun is in the journey to get to that ending.
There are many books out there on how to plot your story and for the last twenty years, I’ve gone by Christopher Vogler’s The Writer’s Journey – Mythical Structure for Writers which is based on Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey. My copy is frayed at the edges and filled with highlights.
I also have his Audible course with Michael Hauge and listen to it often.
A summary of the journey, the archetypes, and Vogler’s memo can be found here.
As much as I insist that I’m a “pantser” (someone who writes by the seat of her pants, with no outline), I’m not. That’s because even if I don’t write down my outline, in my head, I have the hero’s journey (above) memorized. I know what happens next. I can watch a Hollywood-produced movie and know they’re going to hit on all those beats. And even if they mix the pieces up like Memento, when the movie is put together in order, you’ll come out with the same journey. So much for calling myself as a pantser when I really wasn’t. I knew the rules well enough to know what to break if I wanted to. I plotted inside my head.
But Vogler and Hauge’s methods aren’t the only ones that I use. There is also Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat! which is mainly geared for screenwriters but is so helpful for writers as well. Imagine you and your friends are having dinner at a restaurant and someone goes, “Hey! X movie came out tonight! Why don’t we check it out?”
Everyone pulls out their phones and pulls up the movie poster and someone asks, “What’s it about?”
One of the main questions that Save the Cat answers is What is the movie/book about? Can you answer it in one sentence (logline)? There’s more to it, of course, and it gives the reader s basic outline or beats that happen in a movie.
Knowing basic story structure, no matter whose method whether it’s Vogler, Hauge, Snyder or Hayes’, is the reason I’m stuck at that ending of my book because I know I have to make that moment count and it’s not happening. It’s why I know that I need to beef up Phase 2 of the story (also called Fun and Games in Save the Cat!) to build up the attraction between my characters. Because there’s nothing like insta-love to turn off a reader…
What about you? Are there any books that help you write your stories? What would you recommend?
On May 25, the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) which gives each individual (in the EU) more control of his/her data, comes into effect. Because I don’t know whether or not my subscribers are based in the EU or not, they all received an email from me requesting them to reconfirm their subscription if they want to continue receiving emails from me. I didn’t even mention anything about my books. Just the reconfirm request and that was it.
A few authors have already begun lamenting the steep downsizing of their list from over 10K, for example, to just under 1K or 2K. I actually am happy for the downsizing for it will mean that the ones who do click (all ten of them) actually want to receive my emails!
If anything, they may even know who I am and what books I’ve written.
In other news, I still have a love/hate relationship with outlining. Sure, I outlined it and it looks perfect. But execution to get it to that 60K word novel is another thing entirely. Even though I’m following the outline (all 5k words of it, word for word), I’m unable to come up with my own words, my own voice. It’s so terrible I looked at my novel this morning and didn’t recognize it was mine. Empty and without my usual Liz flair and voice. There is angst but it’s mechanical. No feeling. It feels like I’m on a big adventure but I’m not driving.
A week ago, I wrote about how plotting for two weeks didn’t work out for me and that I was going back to pants-ing. Yes, I was whining but after much thought and finally a conversation with other authors who write a lot of books in a year because they outline, I’m going to give it a try again.
But this time, I won’t call it plotting.
I’ll call it Outlining.
I already do this, to a degree, only I never finish outlining the full novel because I end up getting so excited that I would then start writing Chapter One before the outline is completed. And that’s when trouble starts because it’s like mapping out your journey to see the country and not knowing where you’re going to end up at the halfway point. Worse, not knowing where your last stop will be.
And so that’s how I’m looking at my current WIP now. It’s all outlined and ready to go, broken down by chapter and even word count, all the way until those sweet two words, The End. All I have to do is fill in the blanks, writing the chapters as outlined without much deviating.
So far, I’ve written over 2100 words so that’s a good start. I’m finding myself defaulting to my bad habit of editing the current novel before moving on instead of just writing the darn thing and coming back to edit it. Today, my goal is to write 3k more words and follow the outline as religiously as I can.
So what’s the story about? Well, after posting a poll on my Facebook Reader Group as to whose story they would like to read next, the majority picked Sawyer Villier, Dax Drexel’s friend and neighbor in Taos. Sawyer works for a private security firm, Fredrikson Security which is from Collateral Attraction. When Sawyer’s not building and maintaining Earthships in Taos, he’s guarding some billionaire named Heath Kheiron whenever the man travels for business. Yes, I’m totally mashing two series(es) together!
The story is angsty and like Everything She Ever Wanted, deals with heavy topics of PTSD and suicide. It’s left me feeling angsty for the last two days and that’s a good sign. It means I’m starting to lose myself in the story and I’m hoping to finish writing it this month. I’ve got 25 days more to go.
In the meantime, I woke up this morning to this baby, and what a nice treat it was to see while sipping my morning coffee: