WRITERLY WEDNESDAY: Camp NaNo Week Three Roundup

Welcome… and the beat goes on.

A flood of ideas can easily take you over when you’re super excited about your WIP. I spent a lot of time researching story technique, and consulted with fellow writers, agents, and other industry experts. It was important that I could see where things worked and areas that needed improvement. What I want to do can be done, but not in the amount of time I had to do it. Even after I complete the revisions, there is still the need for critique partners, beta readers, then further revisions before I could even query. Seventeen days just wouldn’t cut it and still produce a fully thought out story ready for publication.

After coming to terms with the magnitude of what I wanted to do in the short time frame I had to do it, I realized it was still a wonderful opportunity for me to learn and grow as a writer. I needed to respect all the new information I learned and the perspectives shared for me to reflect upon, that it wouldn’t be right just to cram everything into a couple of weeks and send it off. It almost feels like a “Meh. Good enough.” approach and that feels icky.

What it did help me with is provide a proper direction to work towards. That excites me. I went from thinking that I’d been the furtherest along on this writing project, to thinking I’d fallen off course, to being right back where I need to be to reach my destination. With all those ideas fresh in my mind. I’m going to return to it next month after I’ve worked on some shorter form submissions.

Here’s a quick look at what I’ve been up to on all things writerly this week during Camp NaNo:

  • Joined more writing groups with members who specialize in the field. We’re talking everything from medical procedures, fire and rescue, police interrogations, and all manner of death. They are truly aimed at helping writers stay accurate in their scenes. Hypochondriacs and potential criminals need not apply.
  • Connected with fellow writers to set up a time to beta-read/critique each other’s WIPs. Over the next couple months, I’m going to be reading my fellow writer’s amazing stories we’re all preparing to share with the world. It’s exciting.
  • Researched for upcoming short story submissions. It’s so tempting to go down the rabbit hole, but thankfully, I also asked questions in my writing groups to keep the queries focused.
  • Kept tabs on questions I threw out into the interwebs about my MG manuscript, so I know what steps to take to shine it up nice.
  • Had a great FaceTime chat with The Sestra. Caught up on what’s going on with her, spent some excited time discussing fandom, especially the highs and lows of both WandaVision and The Falcon and The Winter Soldier. We then brainstormed on the manuscript because she’s the one who’s the most familiar with it since its inception.

I’m already in the initial stages of drafting each short story, so I’ll be spending the final week of Camp NaNo drafting and polishing them for submission. Overall, it’s been an exciting and intensely productive April. There were pleasant surprises and new connections forged along the way. The writing continues and I can’t wait to see what stories I can conjure up by then.

Stay creative, stay weird, be kind to yourself and others.

Until next time,

T out.

FANGIRL FRIDAY: For Your MCU Viewing Pleasure

I’d been so busy with everything under the sun the last couple of months that I didn’t give the time and love that WandaVision so richly deserved. It’s okay, though, because it’s still within the spoiler zone, so a more in-depth discussion of how that story unfolded will come in a future Fangirl Friday post.

For now, without going too much into it, I want to share how excited I was to see Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan reprise their respective roles in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. The long awaited first episode in this 6-episode run is ready to stream at the time of this writing on Disney+.

One thing I can freely discuss and praise is the diverse cast of characters in this premiere episode. I’m not just talking about ethnicity, but also the character traits, quirks, and flaws that each person brings to the story.

For those already anticipating the buddy-cop dynamic between Sam and Bucky, all I can say is that if the trailer was any indicator, we’re in for a real treat. Just the recall to their shared scenes in the movies were some much needed tension release from the heavier storylines.

I wish I could into further detail but I’d rather people watched it first so I don’t give anything away. As for the streaming platform, say what you will about the recent controversies with Disney, they’ve been putting out a lot of outstanding programming, of late, and I can only hope that it’ll keep getting better from here on out.

Be sure to catch The Falcon and the Winter Soldier each Friday, streaming today, March 19 with the final episode streaming on April 23. Before the year’s over (is that enough time to be out of the spoiler zone? lol), more discussions and story element breakdown to follow.

Stay creative, stay weird, be kind to yourself and others.

Until next time,

T out.

WRITERLY WEDNESDAY: The Music in Me Vol. 2

In case you missed my first instalment discussing music and my WIPs, you can catch up here. Musical choices in storytelling fascinate me. After watching the LoTR franchise, I can’t fully appreciate life in The Shire without hearing the jaunty melody that enhances the light and playful experience of running through the grass. The juxtaposition of rock and roll and other more modern songs in A Knight’s Tale doesn’t seem like it would work, but it does. And our favorite erstwhile bounty hunter The Mandalorian, a.k.a. Din Djarin, travels about in a galaxy, far far away, to what? Space Opera music? Space Western music? You can hear some of the score in the Season 2 Final Trailer here. (Fair warning, there are spoilers if you haven’t watched the show yet. And if not, what are you waiting for?) Whatever we want to call it, the music brings that part of the universe to life in a way uniquely its own.

It’s as though the music becomes as integral to the worlds we create and the characters within them. One could argue that the music we ascribe to the stories we tell are characters in their own right.

Yes, these examples are for a different medium. However, I’m a visual writer and have been told as much by others who’ve read my work. I want my words to leap off the page and into life, whether on the page or on screen. I aspire to write screenplays as well as adapt the WIPs I’ve already begun in book form. Either way, music has always been an essential part of my writing process.

If it’s not music I already love that I incorporate into my WIPs, I somehow hear a score as the scenes unfold in my mind. There’s no other way to describe it than that. I’m not adept at music production but I am intrigued by the process. As part of the various creative outlets that I’m pursuing for my own edification, as well as for their therapeutic benefits, I want to delve more into illustration and music creation. The art supplies have been purchased and I do have music apps and tech that will (ideally… hopefully… lol) help me bring out the musical notes that have been dancing around in my cranium as I write. Adding other tangible aspects to my stories to supplement and enhance the words is an exciting prospect for me. Considering the technology available to us and how innovative people have been during the pandemic, I would be keen to try an immersive, interactive and potentially collaborative means of storytelling. I’ve been wanting to do something like this for years and there’s no time like the present, right?

Have you ever seen behind the scenes footage of a show or film you like? They’re blocking the scene, filming it from different angles, but it’s completely silent other than the actors speaking or certain sound effects activating. The score is added in post-production. The viewing experience is completely different when you have music accompanying the various emotions of a scene. How about moments where no words are necessary but you see a character realize something crucial to the plot?There are musical cues and dramatic pauses that allow the audience to come to that realization along with them. You’re really brought deeper into the story and find yourself in suspended disbelief. You’re no longer a spectator but an active participant in the story and the stakes are just as high.

I have a very similar experience when reading or writing stories. The scene unfolds, the music swells, and I’m right there with the characters amidst the adventure and turmoil. I’ve had to close a book because it left me overcome with emotions. The respite is almost immediate as I’d be drawn back into the story, no matter how late into the night I’d go. As an insomniac, it’s so late it becomes early–as in, early morning.

Do you have musical inclinations when you’re drafting your stories? Do you like listening to music to help you get in the writing mindset or do you also enjoy particular music to help inspire the scenes themselves? Either way, music is a powerful component of my story creation.

A compelling score adds texture and nuance to the scenes as they unfold in my mind and translate to words on the page. What are you writing? And what music, if any, moves you? Music that moves you to write, music that moves your story forward. I’d love to hear what inspires other writers and add to my playlist.

Stay creative, stay weird, be kind to yourself and others.

Until next time,

T out.

FANGIRL FRIDAY: Planning by the Seat of Your Pants

With Camp¬†NaNoWriMo¬†coming up fast, I thought I’d try to go into the event with eyes a little more open than last time. If there’s anything I learned from this last week in writing, it’s that any and everything can and will happen to throw you off course. That’s life. It doesn’t mean you have to pack it up and call it a day.

Make the most of your off-road experience. After all, side quests are arguably more satisfying than the main storyline in games. Why shouldn’t it be the same in your writing journey?

It’s true. It’s about the journey, not the destination. What’s the point if we can’t enjoy the ride?

Take, for instance, a short story competition I learned about in the wake of my missed deadline faux pas. With the deadline being what would be 4pm my time today, it wasn’t feasible for me to rush a 1000 word short story with everything I had going on with my darling X-23, Izzybear.

Add to the fact that I had two ideas I wanted to run with and only one entry was allowed, I decided to flesh the story out further and give it the TLC it deserves and over the course of the week, I developed a plot more rich in texture. It goes to show that not all plans laid are best.

If I had stuck to the original plan, I would’ve had a piece that I wasn’t fully satisfied with and only submitted for the sake of meeting the deadline. However, isn’t it preferred to put your best foot forward the first time? It’s hard to get past a wrong first impression. The fact that I like the way the story is now versus what I had come up with on the fly a few days ago further supports the advice of taking a step back to really see what you’ve got. It doesn’t mean that I’m ignoring my main goals. It doesn’t mean that my detour is a distraction or is less important. It’s a matter of perspective and looking at the bigger picture.

I read about an author sharing something she called an editorial calendar. The premise is simple and straightforward but you then realize how the simple things are so profoundly helpful in organizing your writing life. Take a calendar and map out all deadlines and writing tasks. Simple, right? The fact that you can then strategize your day around everything else you need to get done, you facepalm at how the methodology makes perfect sense.

As you might have gathered by now, I’m not saying to stick to plans hardcore. In my life, it’s been virtually impossible. Heck, I’m perfectly content doing a crossword puzzle in pencil. Nobody can be that certain of everything all the time. Also, if you tell me not to do something, the six year-old me perks up and says, in the words of Barney Stinson, “Challenge accepted.” The result? Such wonderful and potentially life-altering changes. And this can happen when plotting a story differently from your original idea. Or, you can decide to write poetry instead of prose. Maybe, you make the choice to scrap the idea and go in a completely different direction. Graphic novel? Limerick? Screenplay? There are no wrong answers here. Who wants a boring journey, anyway?

I guess what I’m saying is make a plan. Sure. But as I’ve said before, nothing needs to be set in stone because the universe will just laugh at you while tossing the odd molotov cocktail in your general direction. So, while I’m still a work in progress, I’ve transformed myself into FlexiGal, a person of ordinary means with an extraordinary passion to do some good in the world. I roll with the punches–and dodge the ones I know will land hard.

Easy peasy.

How do I know? As I write this, I’ve had to step away from the laptop at least a dozen or so times. I’m currently typing with a stuffed toy–a golden retriever pup, for those curious–sitting atop my noggin like a fascinator at a pet-themed Royal Ascot. X-23 has me chasing her again while intermittently sneaking in some cheese and crackers. The cheese to cracker ratio is obscene. I have only myself to blame. My favorite cheese is the Kerrygold Dubliner. I had her try some one day and I’ve never quite had any cheesy snacks to myself since. Anyway, I think she might be attempting a reenactment of a Doc McStuffins version of the Wolverine v. Sabertooth battle scene from X-Men and these were all we had to work with. Given the theme of today’s post, I fully appreciate her effort and 100% approve.

So, make a plan. Or not. Stick to it. Or don’t. Either way, take those twists and turns, but keep going. Every moment you experience becomes a part of you and when you reach your destination, you’re so much better for it. A better person, a better writer. And that’s a huge LEVEL UP, in my book.

Stay creative, stay weird, be kind to yourself and others.

Until next time,

T out.

WRITERLY WEDNESDAY: It Is Wednesday, Right?

a.k.a. When the Days Blur Together

I can’t believe we’re already almost halfway through the month. As mentioned previously, I didn’t have strict expectations on myself for deadlines if something took priority. A little bummed at what ended up happening, but I know I made the right call when it came to family.

Izzybear was having a tough time these past several days. Her sleep schedule, or lack thereof, is almost as erratic as mine. Therefore, I thought it was a good thing to work with her through what could’ve ended up being a tough meltdown, and instead eventually got her back to laughing and running about–at 2am. She was happy and we were trying to find different ways to communicate with each other. Despite the late hour, I call that a win.

As the weekend drew to a close, I knew I had to dig deep to get the submissions in for impact x SKYDANCE. It was Sunday night and I even remember thinking I still had another day to go. I’d work through the night and hopefully would be finished by the following afternoon. That’s when I happened to look at the date on my laptop. Because of the late night/early mornings, I’d gotten my days mixed up. I knew the deadline the entire time, but it was around 10pm on Sunday that I realized that March 7 WAS Sunday and not Monday as I somehow thought.

The disappointment soon faded because somebody wanted me to chase her and I had to demonstrate the need for soft steps at that late hour. She humored me for about a minute, then chuckled before flailing off into the living room.

My main takeaway from the experience is that I need to learn how to stop feeling guilty for choosing one or the other… or neither, for that matter. If I want to spend time helping the kids, I should. If I need to lock myself away to write undisturbed–though I hear her lil’ stompy feet as she runs a floor above me with or without noise-cancelling headphones–I can do that, too.

Camp NaNoWriMo is just a couple weeks away. They have a prep guide that I always manage to forget to do in a timely manner. I always seem to remember it much closer to the start date. At least, this time, I was busy working on a project already. Since I’m currently revved up about the missed story prompt and my mirrored closet doors are still filled with brainstorming material, I’m going to do some research on serial storytelling and might work on that in April. After I get my bearings, I’ll go more in depth about Camp NaNo next week.

I’m definitely going to finish what I started for the prompts so that when the next submission call-out is posted, I’ll have something ready, especially the screenplay that serves as the writing sample. I really got into the story ideas I developed and whether or not they make it to the next round, I intend to play around with them either in stand alone novel form or serial story structure, similar to what was originally intended for the TV series submission.

Stay creative, stay weird, be kind to yourself and others.

Until next time,

T out.