Growing Frustrations With My WIP

If you’ve been following my “Writing Logs” you may have wondered why I haven’t posted the latest one yet. Here’s a bit of an explanation.

So, I haven’t been writing because I’ve become frustrated with my story. I don’t hate my story. I love it. I haven’t jumped ship or anything like that, I’ve just grown frustrated because I realized that I started the story too early. I’m an over writer—that has always been my problem which is why I didn’t freak out at the idea of writing an 85,000 word novel in 3 months. I thought it would be a fun challenge but now I’m just sitting here frustrated because I’ve come to the conclusion that my first act is dragging on. It’s not boring but I’m also aware that a lot of this information can be cut down and told in a more engaging way to make sure my pacing stays in a good range. If I shorten the first act, everything moves faster. The only problem is, that would mean a rewrite is coming.

I should wait until the second draft to fix it all but the fact is, I have to get through the first act in my current outline; I still have two more chapters to get through. That’s about 8k more words/2 more weeks of writing something I know I’m going to cut and rewrite. I’m frustrated. I love this story so much because it’s helping me work through a lot of internal emotional turmoil I’m dealing with right now and I don’t want to give up on it. Sigh.

Writing Log 5: Trying to Balance Writing & Working

Day Twenty-nine—Sept 17, 2017

Today was a pretty good writing day. I hit 1k before sunset and I created a character and subplot that was unplanned. The only reason it’s staying in the story is because it helps me fill in my main character’s back-story without a whole bunch of exposition and the character will help me wrap up one of the larger storylines. It’s great when that happens. I killed two birds with one stone and the character is a fun character to write because she can be used to show what the world looks like from the perspective of someone who is not part of the main plot.

Total Word Count: 13,586

Day Thirty—Sept 18, 2017

Today was my first day back at work. I work evenings and nights so I decided to write in the morning. I feel that it’s important to note that I’m not a morning person so actually getting words on the screen was hard but once I got going, everything seemed to flow.

Total Word Count: 14,859

Day Thirty-one—Sept 19, 2017

My brain and my hands needed a rest day.

Total Word Count: 14,859

Day Thirty-two—Sept 20, 2017

So, after I wrote the sentence above, I shut down my computer and tried to fall asleep but I couldn’t. So I turned my computer back on and started making changes to one of my central characters. For the past few days, I’ve been trying to decide on whether to use a Western name or an Eastern name for an Asian character I’ve been developing. It took two hours for me to decide to switch the name from a Western name to a more ethnic name. Because I’d stayed up to like 4 a.m. doing this, when I finally fell asleep, I slept hard. I actually overslept and ended up waking up really close to the time I had to leave for work. I rushed out of the house, trying to make sure I wouldn’t be late, only to realize I was actually an hour early. So, I went back home and wrote for about 20 minutes and then went to work. I couldn’t work on my story during my break because I am training a new employee.

Total Word Count: 15,044

Day Thirty-three—Sept 21, 2017

Work is killing my writing time.

Total Word Count: 15,209

Day Thirty-four—Sept 22, 2017

I wrote for one hour and 15 minutes before going to work. On my break, I couldn’t focus enough to work on my novel but I did start working on a blog post that I will publish probably four days after this writing log is published.

Total Word Count: 15,908

Day Thirty-five—Sept 23, 2017

Today was a productive day. I learned all about wood burning stoves because I wrote a scene that took place in a kitchen where someone had recently cooked. I used some advice from a video about World Building. I have a multicultural cast of characters existing in one location (much like the USA but on a smaller scale) so there is bound to be some differences between the ethnic groups and sub-cultures. But my world exists in a future in which the past has been largely (and forcefully) forgotten or ignored and the countries that used to exist are long gone. I’ve been struggling to describe people ethnically or racially without using terms that people in the story wouldn’t use because they are irrelevant to them and without using harmful stereotypes. So, thanks to the video I came up with the idea to use small bits and pieces of a culture to try to reinforce what I might be alluding to and it works great with the idea that these things were at some point, part of the culture but has been watered down over the decades as people were forced to assimilate as history was covered up.

So although my story is set in the future it is still a dark fantasy set in a medieval-ish pre-industrialized world because it is easier to control people in a world where the spread of information is slow and technology has regressed. I can honestly say that a lot of the ideas I’ve put into my world are the things that are happening around me. The idea of having the erasure of history become a running theme as well as part of my world building came from what is happening in the U.S. There are states, mostly southern, that are erasing important parts of U.S. history such as the reasons why the U.S. civil war started and the U.S. involvement in the transatlantic slave trade. Angry parents have been posting their children’s syllabi and textbooks, highlighting areas of the text stating that the enslaved Africans were immigrants who immigrated to the colonies. And there have even been passages from textbooks that talk about the U.S. civil war as being a war over property versus a war over the right to keep enslaved human beings as property.

Everyday things happening in the U.S. have influenced how I’ve built my fantastical world. The rise in conservative influences in government helped shape my religious and political systems and the tension between the two institutes. Race relations both present and historical helped me write the history of the world and explain why there is tension between the Enhanced and the humans and even the level of classism displayed within the Enhanced species.

So, the big take away from this is everything you encounter in life can help you build a believable world. People say write what you know and that’s what I did. Even though my major plots are very fantastical, the blood and bones of this world are heavily grounded in the world we live in and I hope that whoever reads my book takes the time to reflect on some of the real world issues presented in it.

Total Word Count: 17,781

Writing Log 3&4: Procrastination and Finally Hitting 10k

Day Fifteen—Sept 3, 2017

I finally finished that scene I’ve been working on for the past week. Lucky for me, it reads pretty fast but it took forever to write.

Total Word Count: 9,311

Day Sixteen—Sept 4, 2017

I didn’t even open my document.

Total Word Count: 9,311

Day Seventeen—Sept 5, 2017

I realized that I wrote a scene that isn’t in chronological order and it wasn’t a flash back. I should probably fix that.

Total Word Count: 9,311

Day Eighteen—Sept 6, 2017

I actually wrote today. So, first, let me explain the last few days. I’ve been binge-watching a television show. I covered 28 hours worth of footage over the span of three days. But anyway, I finished the show so I’m back to writing. You know how you create all of these really cool things and then you have to figure out what they look like. That’s where I’m at right now. I created a world that isn’t set in a particular historical setting so now I’m constantly trying to mix and match my ideas with things that actually exist because I’m such a visual person. I wrote for about an hour and spent two hours learning about the different parts of the uniforms clergy wear and learning about medieval and ancient armor. I’m starting to lean towards leather armor because it fits in with my world visually, it looks cool and it’s pretty functional although it’s not the safest compared to metal. So, I’m thinking about placing metal armor only on certain characters to show their rank.

“I love doing all of this research on things that I’ll never use in real life,” I say sarcastically. One day, I learned about ancient sewer systems, toilets, and how to generate power in an age without electricity. Another day I spent five hours learning about medieval and ancient kitchens—how they worked, how they looked, and what was in them. Being a writer is the reason I know so many random facts, I swear.

Total Word Count: 9,980

Day Nineteen—Sept 7, 2017

I’m sick because my brother got my mom sick and she got me sick, although she’s blaming him for getting me sick. Anyway, I didn’t write anything today, but I did do some world building. Now that I’m actually writing, some of the ideas I had for the world have either changed a little to better fit the story or they have become fleshed out. I worked on my mythology a bit and worked on descriptions of clothing worn by soldiers and members of the Cloth (religious figures).

Total Word Count: 9,980

Day Twenty—Sept 8, 2017

I watched TV all day.

Total Word Count: 9,980

Day Twenty-one—Sept 9, 2017

I watched Korean television again because apparently I don’t care about my deadline.

Total Word Count: 9,980

Day Twenty-two—Sept 10, 2017

I can’t write in my room right now so I’ve been trying to write in the living room. When I sat down to write, everyone decided they wanted to have long conversations with me. I kept trying to write but by the end of it, I was no longer in the mood.

Total Word Count: 10,114

Day Twenty-three—Sept 11, 2017

Television and the chores that come with adulthood took up my writing time today. But let’s be honest, I’m also procrastinating for some reason.

Total Word Count: 10,114

Day Twenty-four—Sept 12, 2017

For the past week I’ve been binge-watching Korean dramas for some reason. They’re entertaining and distracting and whenever I go through internal struggles, I always search for distractions. Usually I just throw myself into my writing but this time I chose TV. I’ve finished four dramas with running times of 1 hour and 5 minutes per episode with anywhere between 16—24 episodes per drama. I’ve been watching a lot of TV.

I went back and read my story from the beginning so I could keep the same tone throughout the work. Plus, I needed to jog my memory on what has already happened.

Total Word Count: 10,468

Day Twenty-five—Sept 13, 2017

Didn’t even open the document.

Total Word Count: 10,468

Day Twenty-six—Sept 14, 2017

I wanted to write today but I ended up spending most of the day doing some online training for my job. I also had the sniffles so I took some cold medicine and went to sleep early.

Total Word Count: 10,468

Day Twenty-seven—Sept 15, 2017

I actually wrote words. Yay. These past two weeks have been weird. I haven’t been able to write. Like even when I sat down, the words just wouldn’t flow. And it wasn’t like I had writer’s block. I knew what I was supposed to write I just couldn’t. It was weird but I’m so glad whatever that was, has passed. I only had about 30 minutes to write today but tomorrow I’m pretty sure my word count will jump back up to it’s normal 1k.

I’m a month into this project—nowhere near where I should be word count wise—but I finally feel like I’m writing a book. It wasn’t until today that I slipped back into my standard literary style of writing. Yes, that means this whole time I’ve been writing the book the same way I would write a screenplay. Not format wise but style wise. It wasn’t until I looked over what I wrote today that I realized the reason my other stuff felt so dry (not boring just dry) was because it wasn’t as full as literary works can be. It was bare in the same fashion that screenplays have to be due to the limited amount of pages available. So later on, when I’m bored, I’ll go back and fix the first three and a half chapters but for now, I’m just glad to be writing again.

Total Word Count: 11,080

Day Twenty-eight—Sept 16, 2017

I wrote words two days in a row. I guess it is just like walking. You have to put one foot in front of the other in order to get anywhere.

Total Word Count: 12,264

Writing Log 2: What Type of Writing Hell Is This?

Day Eight—Aug 27,2017

I didn’t even open my document today. But can we all appreciate that Game of Thrones season finale? It was great.

Total Word Count: 6,747.

Day Nine—Aug 28, 2017

I wrote a little. I’m not un-inspired, I’m just sleepy for some reason. I worked on a smaller scene today and enjoyed how eerie it was. I’m starting to develop the dark undertones of what the Dream World (the barrier between different planes) is like. It’s definitely not the kind of place you want to wander around in by yourself.

Total Word Count: 7,504

Day Ten—Aug 29, 2017

I didn’t do any actual writing but I did do some plotting. I have a seven-page outline for this book but I’m super detail oriented. To explain better, I’ll tell you how I outline my screenplays. My screenplays run around 90 to 120 pages. My outlines for my screenplays are super detailed (because the beats for the scenes are included) and they usually run around 7 pages. My novel is probably going to be around 80-85k words. I’ve never tried to outline a book because all the ones I’ve written before have been pantsed. This one is planned and I’m still developing a way to outline this project. I tried for a few months to outline the book the same way I outline films and it didn’t work. I kept getting hung up on what to write next because of how big the project is. So I decided to use the same format I do my screenplays in, just not as detailed. That’s how I ended up with my current outline.

It tells me the beginning, middle, and end of my story. This outline also has the key plot points, subplots and character arks integrated into the overall story. I have three central characters so I had to figure out how to outline their journeys in order to make sure all three characters progressed. Today, I took some time to basically plan out the beats per chapter. I think doing the outline this way made it manageable and by the end of the first draft, my outline for this book will look like my outlines for my screenplays.

I’m realizing I may be too organized.

Total Word Count: 7,504

Day Eleven—Aug 30, 2017

I actually wrote words in the document today. Woohoo! After yesterday I was inspired to do something very stupid. I’m rewriting my prologue and first chapter. You know that sinking feeling you get as you write something that you know you’re going to have to rewrite later on down the road but you’re trying to push through and finish a project. That has been me this whole time. I have one scene that I feel is great. The rest of it is word vomit that barely explained what I was trying to express. So today, I took it upon myself to give in to my inner editor and re-write the problem areas. I completely rewrote the prologue and now it is so kick ass. And I’m currently working on the first chapter again to make it awesome as well.

I know, I should have left the inner editor in the dark hole it was in but it was really bothering me that my writing was so bad. And what made it worse was the fact that the events that happen in the prologue are super important and would be retold over and over again in the book from different character perspectives. So every time I was going back to fact check the prologue I was seeing how horrible it was. Today I wrote 2,025 words. Before this is done, I’ll probably write an additional 4 thousand words and then I’ll delete the older versions of the scenes. So when my word count suddenly plunges, you’ll know why. As of right now, I have my chapters broken down into scenes and I label each scene using numbers: Scene 1, Scene 2, etc. but now I have scenes named Scene 1.2. Also, I’m so close to the 10k mark. Too bad I’m going to lose so many words once I cut the older scenes. What type of writing hell is this?

Total Word Count: 9,529

Day Twelve—Aug 31, 2017

Sad day. I started cutting scenes. I would like to say that before I started cutting I’d made it to 11,283 words. My new word count is listed below. I’m sad now but it had to be done. I’ll probably reach 10k on day 14—two weeks after I started writing.

Total Word Count: 7,699

Day Thirteen—Sept 1, 2017

I decided to give myself a rest day, plus, I’m still bummed out about losing so many words.

Total Word Count: 7,699

Day Fourteen—Sept 2, 2017

I only wrote a little bit and I realized why my writing has slowed. This is the first “summer” I’ve had in four years. And when I say “summer” I mean duty-free summer—childhood-like summer. I’ve been enjoying this little two-week vacation from adult life but I know after Labor Day, adulthood is going to come crashing in and it’ll be back to schedules and work. The sad part is my word count will probably go up once I start working because I’ll have a set time for when I can write. Until then, I’ll be enjoying life. I am sad that I missed my goal for this week. I was hoping to hit 10k this week but it’ll probably happen on Monday or Tuesday.

Total Word Count: 8,204

Writing Log 1: Start With A Bang, End With A…Whimper?

Day One—Aug 20,2017

Last night I finished my seven-page outline in under three hours. I was so excited about this project. I thought that when I woke up the next morning I would still be excited and ready to write but I wasn’t. I guess I realized I no longer had my lack of an outline to hide behind. Suddenly I realized that this was the first book I was going to actively write with the intent of publication. I guess that frightened me a little bit. So I put off writing until after I watched Game of Thrones. I also had some problems with tense. I thought I was going to write in third person past tense limited and then I kept slipping back into third person present tense limited. I know a lot of people don’t like it but I’m used to writing in present tense. I’ve been writing films in present tense for four years. I guess it’s a little harder to shake than I thought. Prologue complete.

Total Word Count: 1,116

Day Two—Aug 21, 2017

I didn’t get a lot of writing done today although I can say it was much easier to write today than it was yesterday. I guess I was just rusty. The last time I wrote something in a narrative style, it was back in May so I can see how that happened. The Solar Eclipse happened today. That stopped me from writing earlier in the day and then after the eclipse passed, I got a headache and ended up taking a nap. I woke up from the nap a little later than I expected but the headache was gone and I was ready to write. Or so I thought. I ended up having to sit and think about what the city and certain rooms in the story looked like. I ended up looking at lots of pictures to try to match the vagueness in my mind with some real images to help me narrow down what things actually look like because I’m a visual person. But after that, I started writing and really loved it and then I started playing with Scrivener’s compile setting because…why not? I love wasting time. It’s midnight. I’m going to sleep.

Total Word Count: 2,142.

Day Three—Aug 22, 2017

So I thought I was going to get up and write but it was raining and my mom is so paranoid about the rain that I ended up pushing my writing time back. We did laundry today and that took longer than usual but overall today was a pretty good writing day. I also washed my hair today, so that’s a plus. 👍🏾 I think the hardest thing I had to do in regards to writing today was trying to figure out how to describe racial/ethnic markers on people without sounding racist. I never realized how much I relied on generalizations or cultural understanding until I tried to describe a diverse group of people in a world without our established countries and racial categories. I didn’t do as much writing as I wanted to but there is always tomorrow.

Total Word Count: 3,583

Day Four—Aug 23, 2017

Today I actually got up and wrote when I was supposed to. I only wrote for about 45 minutes before I took a break and went to the gym for an hour. When I got back, a laid around for a bit and watched a few YouTube videos before getting back to writing. Things were going well until I spent four hours on Netflix. Chapter 1 complete.

Total Word Count: 4,972.

Day Five—Aug 24, 2017

It was a good writing day, I just didn’t write for very long.

Total Word Count: 6,747.

Day Six—Aug 25, 2017

I picked greens, baked cupcakes, styled my hair and worked on a physical map of my fantasy world. I put off writing because my sister was supposed to bring my nephews and niece over, but in her typical fashion, she broke her promise. I’m going to bed three hours early because I’m irritated and I might have plans tomorrow that requires me to wake up before 8 a.m.

Total Word Count: 6,747

Day Seven—Aug 26, 2017

Oops. Not writing for the second day in a row, huh? I’m not trying to justify this, I’m just stating what happened. I had a really busy day. I actually got out of the house and had some fun. My sister also brought the kids over for a few hours and then I got drunk by myself and went to sleep early. It’ll be better next week. I swear.

Total Word Count: 6,747

Crafting The Look And Feel Of My World

If you haven’t noticed already, I took a little hiatus earlier in the month so my posting slowed down a bit but never fear, I’m back and in popular demand. I actually stopped posting because I was down in Texas for two weeks being a live-in nanny and I thought that the child I was taking care of deserved my undivided attention. I’ll do a post about that soon because it was actually a pretty cool and enlightening experience.

I would also like to note that any posts I do about the book I’m writing would be tagged as TWE. It’s the shortened title of the book I’m working on, so just in case you’re not subscribed to/following my blog or Facebook page but still want to check in on the progress of the book, you can always come to this website, go to my tag cloud, and click on TWE.

Today I’m going to explain how I came up with the environmental concepts for the book I’m working on and you’ll get to see how I worldbuild.

What I Did Wrong

For the book I’m working on now, the idea for my story started nearly four years ago when I was a freshman and college and was too overwhelmed with my school-related writing projects to even think about working on something for fun. So I just let it sit on the back burner of my brain until I had the free time, which wasn’t until I graduated from college. Over the years, the idea of the story shifted and with each new shift, the world changed a little bit. But it wasn’t until I sat down to write out the story that the world truly started to form. That’s how I worldbuild. I build the world around the story that I have in mind and if the story changes, the world changes.

That happened to me while I was in Texas. Earlier in this month or at the end of last month, I announced that I was writing a book. I knew I was going to write the book way back in January but the announcement was a way to force myself to start writing. I wanted the Internet to hold me accountable if I didn’t deliver the goods. I was struggling with my outline and I knew I couldn’t write without my outline because I had no idea where the story was headed. I didn’t have a middle or an end. I just had a killer start and some basic (and somewhat vague) plots/storylines for my three central characters which I have now fixed. That’s part of the reason that the summary of my book that I posted read so poorly (in my opinion). It’s because I still hadn’t figured out what I was doing.

I’d spent so much time world building that I’d lost my actual story. Yes, world building is that addictive to me. It’s crazy how wrapped up I get in it. So while the child that I was taking care of was napping, I would sit and try to think up ways to fix my problem. Eventually, I came to the conclusion that I wasn’t having problems with my outline. I was having problems with my world. I’d designed a beautiful world that had one huge flaw. It was set in the future but it had no guns. I omitted guns from my world because guns could solve so many problems so quickly and I just didn’t want to have gigantic plot holes. Sorry, not sorry. But by doing that, the story couldn’t function because it just didn’t make sense. Why didn’t they have guns? And if they didn’t have guns, what type of weapons did they have? Once I started looking at older weapons, the idea of them running around with swords (even if they were fancy futuristic swords) just seemed so wrong in a world that also had hover cars. So I scrapped it all.

How I Fixed It

I stopped fighting the enviable—I changed my genres. My story went from science fiction to fantasy. I set my world in a more pseudo-medieval world. Why was I fighting this so much? Because I’m tired of reading the same thing over and over again. When people talk about fantasy worlds, they’re normally talking about pseudo-medieval Europe and once they start talking like that, it opens the doors to arguments against people of color being in stories. This in its self just doesn’t make sense. People really try to act like trading wasn’t a thing back then. Or that Europeans were the only people who were exploring other countries/continents back then.

Following that same train of thought, I was suddenly hit with the best idea ever: when coming up with the look of the world, look at what the rest of the world looked like during the medieval period. So I did and it was amazing. The rest of the world was just as developed as the Roman Empire had been before its fall. Some places were even more developed. The reason why the medieval period/dark ages looked so dreary for Europeans was because they didn’t take care of all the infrastructure and architecture that the Romans had already laid out. As things fell apart, nature reclaimed most of what humans didn’t fight for. That combined with western Europe’s climate, religious superstitions and the dumbing down of forward-thinking lead to a lot of the darker parts of Medieval Europe. The rest of the world wasn’t dealing with that, so the medieval period looked very different for them.

When coming up with ideas to help shape my fantasy world I looked at what medieval life and architecture looked like in Africa and Asia. I can’t post any of the pictures because I don’t own them and don’t want to get hit with anything copyright related so I’ve linked some in the post.

Décor

While looking at some of these places, I tried to envision what the inside of my world would look like. Game of Thrones came to mind. It’s one of my favorite shows and I love how they blend modern touches of fashion and décor within medieval settings. So looking at the color pallets for their Southern settings (which are filmed in Spain and some other country that escapes my mind) I was able to locate a style that fits my story and the world I was building around it. I discovered Moroccan style/décor. Moroccan décor is a beautiful blend of bold and vibrant colors such as gold, brown, orange, blue, and green. The colors are linked to the environment. Moroccan décor also incorporates a lot of elaborate patterns stitched into textiles and carved into wooden furniture. There is a lot of fabric and metal that gives the sense of lushness and excess that fits well with my story. And the architectural style is beautiful because it is a fusion of Arab and Moor history.

Weapons and ClothingDSC_2161

When coming up with the weapons and transportation for the story I did return to Europe although I’m trying to incorporate more medieval weapons from Asia such as the sai. We have the standard long-swords, rapiers, crossbows, javelins, and so much more. When coming up with the clothing style for the world I wanted it to be something that was different but functional. As much as I love the steampunk aesthetic, I’ve never tried to write a steampunk novel because I don’t feel like it would be functional in the actual situations that I like to write about. So I went with something that is considered high fashion right now. I looked for the tattered and layered look. Earth-toned fabric with lots of belts to hold up clothing or to hold weapons. Since the first book takes place in a warmer climate, I haven’t played with what furs would look like in this world but a lot of the clothing is asymmetrical and extremely functional. I wanted the people to look almost nomadic—a fusion of past and future. I wanted to create something that was different. When coming up with ideas for how the people would dress, I looked at clothing that had been tagged: post-apocalyptic clothing, dystopian future clothing, dystopian future nomad, costumes from the show Vikings, and the Dorne costumes from Game of Thrones.

Religion and Political Systems

Here comes the fun part: politics and religion. I created my own religion for this project because religion and religious superstition were so important to the story that I decided to just create my own instead of perverting an already established religion to suit my needs. In my world, Church (I call it the Cloth) and State are separated but not by much. It’s one of those situations that if the Cloth pushed hard enough, the state would become a theocracy. Speaking of the State, the State in my story is a weird blend of an Absolute Monarchy and Authoritarianism and there is no feudalism. So although this story will probably fall into the genre of dark fantasy, it has plenty of dystopian appeals as well.

IMG_0984

This is how my mind works. This is how I world build: one connection at a time until the world and the story work. And this version of my world works. The other day, I sat down and started a new outline and finished it within three hours. It felt great. The storylines for the three central characters changed a little bit, but the core is still there and I’m finally writing. Words have actually been typed into my document. The world is right again.