Knowing Characters And Project Apollo Update

When me and Owen were writing Project Phoenix we were writing by the seat of our pants. Owen wanted to get character profiles written and plot outlines and so on but I had no idea how to do those things. If I’m honest I was blagging the active writing of the book.
Since then I have written ten short stories and a couple of novella length stories that are still in progress so I have a few stories under my belt, which means a lot of characters.

One of the problems with Project Apollo is the characters are not well thought through. I thought they were but as I’ve been making notes I can see that they are not and I’ve lost track with whose who in the story, we’ve got two different characters working in one job. Now with Project Phoenix the characters may not have been well thought through but I did not confuse any of them. I knew each of about ten major characters and another thirty support cast and I’m wondering if the confusion I’ve had with some of the Project Apollo characters is partly that I’ve now got a lot more characters and stories that I’ve written behind me, but as I’ve written that I’ve thought ‘no that should have just made me better at remember these things’ :-/ so I’m now thinking that its more of a case that we were not prepared well enough.

I had a night off from it last night but I’ll be getting back into it tonight. I’m pretty much going back to the start of this. I’m going to try to write a detailed outline of the plot but I’m not there just yet. I’m currently looking at the characters and their backgrounds and making notes on the universe. I’ve spoken about that before, this stories universe, but we’ve not got much written down for it so I’m correcting that.
I’ve finally got around to watching The Tribal Eye and although I would have preferred to have spent that time 100% on planning I have learnt a few things which I’m hoping will help with parts of Project Apollo and the stories in its universe.

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Project Apollo Update

I have just finished reading through Project Apollo and what started as ‘edit then finish’ draft has turned into a draft where I’ve found lots of plot holes and multiple character issues.

This has been a massive slap in the face for me if I’m honest. I had not realised how much needed to be done on it. More planning is needed. Project Phoenix which is our only completed novel, will never see the light of day in its current format, but one of the reasons it’s finished is because we had character names written down and a pretty simple plot. Here I have found two different characters in one job! There is no real thought in our antagonists story arc, nor is there much in our protagonists either.
The story is good, but needs a little more thought put into it.

We need to up our game, a lot!

Making Changes

Over the last few months I’ve been trying to figure out ways for me to get writing more productively because I am not where I want to be. Although I will just say that I have a few life things that have knocked me off my pace more than I had realised. In many areas my life is getting to where I want it to be, albeit a little slowly but it’s getting there. In other areas though it’s not and it is very testing at times. These are things that I have no control over, I can’t do anything at all. I NEED to get back into a writing habit though. My lack of productivity is getting painful now and I need to change that. Here’s some of the things that I am going to try to get back into the writing mindset and fine tune my writing process.

  • Write: This one is really obvious but its the one I am lacking mostly on. I know editing is still a part of writing but I need to be writing in the purest of forms as well as editing.
  • A Paper Draft: This is something that I have mentioned that I ma going to start doing again and I have. When me and Owen wrote Project Phoenix I done all my parts with a pen and paper first. This way when I type it up I edit it as I go and this will eliminate one of the many editing passes i seem to have to do.
  • Streamline My Process: This is a big one. I spend far too much time re-reading what I have written and second guessing myself so I need to snap out of these bad habits. The paper draft is one of the ways I am going to try to streamline my work.
  • Read More: This is a huge one for me. The act of reading is more important then the actual act of writing in my opinion. We have to know what we like to read and see what others are doing in the literary world. I have set myself a target of reading fifteen books this year, that may not seem a lot but I am a slow reader and I did not want to set myself an unrealistic target.
  • Do Proper Research: This I need to do before I start the actual writing of a story. I hate having to go back and squeeze in details. This adds to the editing passes and adds too much time.
  • Plan What I Write: NaNoWriMo last year went really well for me, until I got past where I had planned the story out. With no direction I floundered and failed miserably. So, I am going to try to plan out anything that I write which I think will exceed a thousand words.

I’ve written this on the fly so I’ll probably come up with more once I’ve hit that ‘Publish’ button. If anyone has any bits of advice I would be grateful to hear them. I’ve been told I can write, so now I need to actually do it.

Multiple Projects

At the moment I am working on my current WIP which has a working title of Avoiding The Game, which as I have mentioned before does not fit the story so that will change. As well as Avoiding The Game I’ve got Project Apollo beginning to catch my attention again. I’m coming up with a few little bits and pieces that will hopefully make the story roll a little smoother and help with character development. And Project Phoenix is flicking little bits of paper at me from the corner of the room, I think it wants attention.

So it got me thinking, how do I prioritise these different stories that are in me?

Okay that’s kind of easy. Avoiding The Game is number one, no question. This is the nearest to being complete and probably the one that I am most able to complete and turn into a story that makes sense. I is also the most simple of the three. In that I mean it is a fairly straight forward story without too many sub-plots that I focus on. It is also only told from one point of view which makes it easier in my opinion.

The next one is probably Project Apollo as this one is about a third of the way complete, although it does have its faults and it needs a lot of fixes. Me and Owen will be working on how to do that.

Finally, Project Phoenix. This is one which is kind of demanding attention. Project Phoenix was the mine and Owen’s first jump into writing. We were going to have it written, published and made into a movie within a year. Yes we were naive, very naive. the novel is finished, but it is bad, very very bad. Really it should be our ‘Trunk’ novel. That one book that never sees the light of day, but its a good story. The characters are a little carbon copy of each other but that can be worked on. If we were to start work on this one again it would be a complete re-write, well maybe aside for the ending that is (It’s pretty cool if I do say so myself). I would also need of convince Owen that it was worth starting again with this one. We have not spoken about it for a long time as we have other stories we’re working on.

I am not sure how I work best just yet as when I am working on only one project I get a little distracted by other ideas that I have, but when I am focusing on two or three projects I’m less likely to loose interest in the primary WIP.
At the moment I am editing Avoiding The Game and brainstorming ideas for Project Apollo, and with Project Phoenix I am thinking through how to make it work and how to make the protagonist more sympathetic to the reader.
I do think I need to get things wrapped up quicker (I can hear people yelling at me in agreement as I type that lol) I am thinking of giving pen and paper for a first draft another go. When I was writing Project Phoenix most of it was done this way. I would do the first draft with pen and paper and when I typed it up I would edit it as I went which if I remember correctly streamlined the process quite well. If I do this now then I could print off the second draft for an out loud read through and then the changes that this brings up would be done and that would be my final draft. Then it would be off to Beta readers for their thoughts.

How do you prioritise your work and how do you write and then edit what you have written? Don’t be shy, feel free to comment and join the conversation 🙂

Igniting Old Ideas

I’ve watched a couple of alien invasion movies recently, Skyline and Battle:Los Angeles. I was planning to watch this movie again soon but a post on I Am Ipodman’s blog pushed the viewing forward (http://iamipodman.wordpress.com/2013/01/29/have-you-watched-battle-los-angeles/)

Alien Invasion is something that I love but I’ve not found many examples recently that have really impressed me, Aside from Scott Sigler’s Infected and Contagion, and the movie District 9, but those are not what I think of as alien invasion, not in the Independence Day, War Of The Worlds sense. I would love an epic alien invasion story to come out (if anyone knows of one please feel free to share 😀 )

Me and Owen (writing partner) have an alien invasion story that we’ve played with but we never took it anywhere. I think it is far too complicated for our current level of writing ability but one day this could be a story that we go back to one day because like our Project Delphi and Project Apollo universe it is a world that we have batted about for many years and just because we have not been able to get a story up and running in the past doesn’t mean we wont be able to get it going in the future. If a story needs to be told, it’ll be told.

 

This week’s episode of The Dead Robots Society was really good. It was about description but slipped into Pacing too. I found this episode really helpful and it got me thinking about how I describe scenes and characters as well as how I’m pacing my work.

 

Here’s the link: http://deadrobotssociety.com/2013/01/29/episode-257-setting-the-scene/

Please go over and check it out. It’s an impression show and this episode in particular was very good.

Exploring Genres

I’ve heard a lot of writers saying that its good to read and try writing in genres which are not your own. Now, I’m not to sure I’m ready to try writing in genres outside of what I do. I tend to write science-fiction and horror, I think if you read the end of Project Phoenix you may add thriller into that.
I’m not going to try writing anything different to what I am but I would like to expand what I am reading. The majority of books I have read have been written by Tom Clancy, Dan Abnett and Kathy Reichs. Three very different genres and three very different authors. The Dan Abnett books have been his Gaunt’s Ghosts books in the Warhammer 40k universe. In addition to Gaunt’s Ghosts Abnett has written other work in the Warhammer universes as well as Doctor Who and Torchwood and a tonne of other works including comics, audio and screen plays. Yes I NEED to read more by this juggernaut of a writer.

I’d like to take a huge jump and try some genres that I don’t know much off though. Steam Punk is one of them. There’s a couple of authors whose blogs I love who write Steam Punk, one of which I’ve brought some of his non Steam Punk works so I know I like his writing so I think that will be a good place to start.
Fantasy is something I think I should like reading, but I don’t think that I will be able to get through it, especially epic fantasy. I’m quite happy to watch fantasy (love A Game Of Thrones) but when I’ve tried to read it I just get slower the further I get into the story, it should be the other way around.
Romance and Erotica does not appeal so I don’t think I’ll venture into those realms. I’d like to read a little more war novels. Every time I see my grandad (a voracious reader) he gives me at least three books. More often then not they are by someone like Andy McNab or Chris Ryan which I think will be of interest to me. I’d like to read some comics too, just to see if I can find a passion for them.
I definitely need to read more horror and science-fiction which is what I am focussing on at the moment.

What would you like to read more of?

The Fear

One of the things that held me back from getting rolling with one of the many items in my editing pile was the fear that I did not know what I was doing, but I’ve done it before.  Technically I’ve editing a novel, Project Phoenix. I’ve also edited a few of the short stories I’ve written and there is The Space Watch which is still halfway through edits (That one is in limbo till we have other aspects of the wider universe thought through). So I’m not sure why this fear crept back into me? The more and more I think about it the moe I am convinced that it is a little bit of a lack of confidence on my part and a lack of experience. The thought of formatting for ebooks scares the life out of me and I think a lot of it is because I don’t know how to do it. I know I have some great people who will be more than happy to help out when the time comes but it is something that I will want to learn how to do myself.

On editing I think that I have a good eye for picking out mistakes and continuity issues so I am pretty confident that I find most of the mistakes before I send them out to Beta readers (Let’s see how many comments from my (Fabulous) Beta readers appear on this post lol) So I have no reason to worry about editing.  I know what I am doing with it.  I have a history of being slow on the uptake. It can take me a while to realise something and I think this is what has happened here.

Good this was a whiney post lol