Let’s Be Honest, Here…

This blog is kind of turning into a joke. I think it’s coming up to four months since my last post. I think that might be a new record for me. I’ve already let a third of a year pass, but I flat out refuse to let half a year go by without posting here, so…

Hello! Hello! I’m back again and ready to update all you lovely people on my writing endeavours. But before we get to how much of an obvious failure that was, let me just say that despite being a retake student, being in my last year of college… again, and being in the last few months before exam season, I still think I’m going to be far more active on this blog… But then that really wouldn’t take much, anyway. How would a post a week sound? How about something other than my constant whining about how awful my writing is coming along? How about some actual structure in what I post? How about some consistency? I mean, come on! Where’s the professionalism? Well… Me and professionalism are two things that just don’t seem to go hand in hand. But as laughable and unlikely as it does sound, I do intend to make this blog something other than… whatever the hell it is now. So…

Onto the writing. Onto the one thing that I am consistent about. Because, if you asked me how the writing was coming along in the past four months, I would just look at you blank-faced and try not to break out in laughter. If you asked me if I have at least finished planning my series, I would just look at you blank-faced and try not to break out in laughter. I imagine all of you are smart enough to infer what I’m getting at, but in case not, I’ll just come out and say it; in these past four months, in terms of writing, I have done next to nothing. What I have done is get a notebook and write down the profiles of sixty-six of my characters (Yes. Sixty-six… and I still feel as if I need more characters to fulfil certain purposes, even though I already know I have far too many of them. To be fair, not all of them are as active…). I have very brief and extremely poorly drawn “maps” of the city and towns, and what’s in the main towns, as shown through this poorly drawn mess of the main town, Nox: Image

I am more than aware of the poor quality of this “map”. Who needs roads, right?

I’ve got who’s in what clan and what clans are allies with each other and what they call themselves. To put it bluntly, all I’ve been doing these past few months is putting off actually writing the damn thing. There’s nothing more I can really say to this except I’m probably going to start writing soon… Probably. Very probably. (What the hell does that even mean?) So…

This is just me saying that things are probably going to change around here. This is me saying that what I’m saying in this blog post is not going to be completely ignored and forgotten about because I can’t be bothered to implement them. This is me saying I want this blog to at least be somewhat decent. I mean… four months, guys. Four months. What the hell is that? And so…

I’ll be back soon with something of actual quality for you all. You know, because everything else about this blog screams high quality content, right? Exactly right.

This is me signing off.

I’ll be back soon. (You can count on that.)

Laurence out.

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NaNoWriMo. Take 3.

Yes, yes. It’s that time of the year again, when writers from all around the world block out the outside world, glue themselves to their computer screens and attempt to write a 50000 word novel in a month. I know you’re all just absolutely dying to know what my plans for NaNoWriMo 2013 are, but just bear with me. We’ll have plenty of time to drone on about my failures later.

First thing’s first; how goes the writing? Welp, thanks to a little unknown game by the name of Pokemon X, all the time I had intended to outline my novel for NaNoWriMo mysteriously disappeared. Funny how that happens when you spend over 100 hours glued to your 3DS. So, what’s going on with my novel, that, at this point, seems as if it’s never going to get written? Welp, let’s just say that right now, I am not writing a single word into it until I’ve got a full outline done. I’m not even going to talk about that novel right now. Of all the times I’ve started it again, you guys already know what the deal with it is.  So . . . what does that mean for NaNo 2013? Does that mean I’m not doing it this year? I mean, it only makes sense not to. I’ve got a bunch of work to do, it’s already 4 days in, and I don’t really have a solid plan for anything else. Only a crazy lunatic would think doing NaNoWriMo in such a state would be a good idea.

Yeah . . .

It’s my third year doing NaNoWriMo, and I am no stranger to going in blind with not even the tiniest plan to speak of. So, here are my options; I could either use my English coursework task as an excuse to write a full crime novel, with little to no research and planning; I could write a story which I have a fairly developed concept for, but have got almost nothing in a written down plan, and absolutely squat in the way of a developed plot; or I could write a story in which there really isn’t actually a linear plot and I could improvise pretty much the entirety of it without it looking like absolute ass . . . Funny, seeing as how the characters for the latter were originally going to be in my first NaNo, before I realised how awful I was at writing romance at the time.

So . . . I guess it’s decided then. My A cast is going to take a rest this month, and make way for my B cast as I attempt to write a romance novel . . . A genre in which I have a . . . uh, let’s say a “history” in. Oh, yay . . . I already hate where this is going. There’s only one person I don’t want knowing that I’m writing a romance again, and I couldn’t be happier that he doesn’t follow this blog.

So! I’m gonna go and probably not start the novel. I’m probably going to do nothing constructive for the next few hours and then go to sleep, and probably put off writing tomorrow, too. Productivity!

Till I’ve actually finished my outline and stop torturing myself with this WIP,

Laurence out.

Getting Down And Dirty With Prologues

Where do I begin?

First off, let me just say that although I understand why a reader would skip a prologue, I just refuse to take the same mentality. If the author spent their time writing it and thought it would be good enough to include in the story (because prologues are legitimate parts of the story) then I’ll spend my time reading it. Just because prologues have gotten a bad press, that doesn’t mean that good ones don’t exist.

But that’s not what this post is going to be about. I could spend all day ranting about how crazy I find it that people skip the prologue, but that wouldn’t be interesting to read at all. At least, I don’t think it would. So, think of this as “Prologues 101 with Laurence” . . . Disclaimer: people will almost certainly have different opinions than me on some of my points. Also, I will probably be a horrible teacher.

If your story doesn’t need a prologue, don’t include one!

This may sound like common sense, but the number of prologues I have read in stories where they were not needed is ridiculous. When does a story need a prologue? Well, a story never really needs a prologue, but if you can manage to write one correctly, you can make it seem as if the story wouldn’t be the same without it. I’m going to use this particular book, not because I hate it with a burning passion, but because the prologue was insanely irrelevant and added little (if anything) to the rest of the story. The prologue from the international bestseller “Along Came a Spider” by my least favourite author ever (biased, anyone?) had a prologue that was so detached from the rest of the novel that I felt as if it added absolutely nothing to the story.

Key tip: If your going to set your prologue decades before the events of the rest of the novel, at least have one character that occurs in the rest of the novel. Hell, at least make it somewhat relevant to the rest of the novel. I can safely say that  if the prologue was removed from Along Came a Spider it wouldn’t harm the story any more than the story does that itself. Okay . . . I’ve got to remember this isn’t a review.

Prologues are not an invitation for exposition!

Infodumping. It’s rarely ever a good idea, and it’s practically suicidal for a story if the first thing a reader reads is paragraphs upon paragraphs of exposition that really should have been skilfully spread out throughout the novel. This is probably one of the biggest offenders, when it comes to poorly written prologues (definitely with online stories, anyway). And although there are no actual rules for writing fiction, I would go as far as to saying that this should be an official rule. If your prologue is nothing but setting the scene, I’m sorry, but I’m going to say you’re doing it wrong.

You should go through your prologues and check to see if there’s anything that could or should be in the rest of the novel, instead.

The prologue should be relevant to the rest of the story!

I covered this a little in my first point. What is the point in including a prologue if it isn’t in any way relevant to the rest of your novel? It doesn’t even need to be directly connected to the plot. It could be used to show part of a character’s backstory. As much as I didn’t want to say that, my point still stands. Of course, you shouldn’t just dump endless character backstory into a prologue. I’ve already covered that. What you could do is show the character at a key or pivotal point in their lives, so we get a little insight into both the world and the character.

Keep the tone consistent!

Prologues are still part of the story, and so should still have the same tone that’s present in the rest of the story. A serious story? Write a serious prologue.

Do not start  your main plot in the prologue!

Prologues are not the start of your plot. They’re the start of the novel. Not the plot. Chapter one, as pointed out in the very name of it, is the first chapter of your novel, and so should be where the plot starts. Not in the prologue! A prologue should contain an event, or events, that happen before the start of your plot. For example, say you’re writing a story about a wizard named Harry. Your prologue wouldn’t get straight into the main plot where Harry gets a letter inviting him to a school for witchcraft and wizardry, and then leaving his horrible aunt and uncle. No. You’d want to start before any of that stuff happens. Before the journey. So, maybe you’d want to start with your character as a baby. Maybe you’d want to start with him being dropped off at his aunt’s and uncle’s house. It’s a little character backstory that’s not shoving the character’s entire life down your throat. And maybe you’d want to rename that prologue to chapter one, because of the stigma associated with prologues, even though everyone can tell it’s a blatant prologue . . .

However, you can continue chapter one off your prologue. Like I’ve said, the prologue shouldn’t be the start off your plot, however, that’s not to say that it can’t right before the start of the plot.

So, a reminder: Major plot points go in the other chapters within the novel, not the prologue.

Ask yourself this question: What is the purpose of this prologue?

If you don’t have an answer then discard it or edit it like mad. As with everything else in a novel, the prologue should have some purpose. To put it bluntly: What is the point of your prologue? Other than trying to grip the reader, which should go without saying, what does it add to the story? Is it the only part of the novel that uses a different point of view, and shows events from a different perspective? Regardless of what the purpose is, it must have one.

Don’t create excessively long prologues!

Now . . . Personally, I wouldn’t mind either way. I’d read a fifty page prologue and I wouldn’t mind. However, given their reputation, long prologues are just asking to not be read. Do yourself a favour and make it a reasonable length. The average length of your chapters should do. Remember, it’s quality over quantity.

Make it interesting!

Obviously. It doesn’t need saying. But the fact that the prologue is the introduction to your novel means it’s the first thing your readers (those who read prologues) will see. This is what they will judge you on. Whether or not they read on falls on the shoulders of your prologue, so you better make it something great.

If you’re worried that people won’t read your prologue, call it chapter one . . .

Many author’s have shamelessly done this. I would personally just call it what it is and say it’s a prologue. If people don’t want to read it, that’s their issue, not mine. But, if you’re worried about that, I guess that’s fair.

Prologues. I, for one, love them when they’re done well, but I will agree that there are a disheartening number of horrible ones out there. I could probably go on for much longer about them, but I have a strong feeling that I’d just repeat myself, with maybe only a couple of new points.

At any rate, if you’re writing a prologue and found this useful, then that’s absolutely wonderful. But if you found this utterly useless, then you’re probably absolutely right. I mean, just go back through this blog, I’ve got a pretty terrible prologue up myself . . . (Although that was over a year ago).

Well, till my next one, guys (Whenever the hell that will be).

Laurence out.

So . . . I’ve Been Told I Actually Have A Blog.

Me? Blogging? What a sick, sick joke.

Well, hello there ladies and gents. It’s been . . . just under three months since my last post here. What is that? Almost a quarter of a year? A few more days and it would have been a new record for me.

So, let’s just go through the usual. My last post was about Camp NaNo and my 75000 word goal. By now, you should know me well enough to know that that failed miserably. I said I was going to attempt to conquer this novel . . . Again, you’re looking at one of the most unproductive writers on this planet. How’s my novel coming along, though? Well, I’m somewhere around 36000 words and I’m barely into the real meat of the plot. My motivation to continue? Almost non-existent.

Now . . . I am going to continue this thing. It’s at this point that I would usually just scrap the entire thing and start all over again because I would think that it was going absolutely nowhere. But now that’s not going to happen. Because I actually have an outline! I know what I want for this story. For pretty much the entire series, in fact. I know my characters. Even the stupid, unnecessary, never-even-mentioned-in-the-novel, pointless facts about them. I know where this is going, and if any other writer in the world was writing it, it would no doubt be done by now. Unfortunately for my characters, I’m their author.

Admitting it is step one, I guess?

You would think that knowing I should be writing right now, I would go and actually write, later, huh? Again. Nope. I’m probably going to procrastinate around on the internet, for a while, attempt to start reading Game of Thrones, since I brought the entire series in one purchase (because why not?), and probably eventually fall asleep in the evening because my body likes having a messed up sleep schedule.

Sounds like a good plan to me.

See you all whenever.

Laurence out.

Camp NaNo . . . Again.

Yes, yes. It’s April and it’s Camp NaNo again (just ignore the fact that I’ve been gone for however long it’s been. Let’s pretend I’ve been posting the whole time). So, putting aside the fact that I’ve done very little writing these past few months, I have been making good progress with my series. How? Well, let’s go on a little, huge deviation from the original topic, shall we?

I have found out something about myself. I write much better and quicker when I actually plan what I want to write. Go figure, huh? So, as always happens when I go into a story without a written plan is that I either hit a wall, just end up writing absolute crap, or I work in extremely convoluted plot points to get around the solid brick wall I hit. So, as I kind of expected, my last attempt at writing what is becoming the bane of my existence was not exactly a success. Again. Ignore the fact that in one of my past blog posts I said that I knew exactly what I wanted to write, or some crap like that. I didn’t write it down, I have no idea what my ideas for my series were back then. At the end of the day, if I don’t write down a plan or an outline, I will not write anything of quality. I’ll just keep making up random stuff that either keeps the story from progressing or contradicts everything I mentally planned about a character. So, yes. As you’ve all probably guessed by now (surprise, surprise!) I’ve started yet again.

Now. I am planning on participating in Camp NaNo. Yes, it’s already three days in. No, I have not even written a single word yet. Why? Because I haven’t finished my plan for my entire series yet. Yes. I said my entire series. I really do think I have something here and I’m not just going to rush into Camp NaNo without a solid idea of what the hell is going on in my world and end up writing mindless crap. Again.

I think I’ve reached the point where I love my characters to bits, I really, really do, but I just hate the idea that if I totally screw this up, I’ll have to start it over for the billionth time (to be honest, I can’t imagine anyone enjoys doing that). It’s not that I hate writing, because if I did hate it, I wouldn’t do it. I’ve got other things I can waste my time doing.

So, I’m not dead yet, even though I’ve been gone for months. I am participating in Camp NaNo. I’m not planning on ‘winning’ and writing 50000 words. My next attempt at writing this bloody novel will manage to get to the second draft. And I probably won’t be back soon . . . Well, there’s no point in lying, is there. At least I’m honest about it. I reckon that should keep you all satisfied. Here’s a smiley to artificially force that to sound playful and not at all like an asinine comment. 🙂

See you all in however many months it will be till I can be bothered to post here again . . . (wow, I sound like such an arse).

Laurence out.

Highly Infrequent Blogging Is Better Than No Blogging, Right?

Right.

And a long title is better than . . . well, maybe not.

Well . . . I’m not dead. That would probably make a much better title.

You know? I find the thought of being back on this blog extremely hilarious. I don’t even know how long it’s been. (Well, that’s a lie. I kind of do) But, I don’t need to tell you all that this blog has been seriously neglected. What’s even worse is that this wasn’t even because I forgot about it. Because I hadn’t. I still remembered it existed. And I’d like to think that the reason I posted nothing in almost three months was because I had just been busy. That’s definitely better than the real reason, which is that I just couldn’t be bothered to put in the effort and found it more useful to procrastinate, literally doing nothing.

Okay. I could ramble on far longer about that, but that’s enough of that. And as is the norm for me for when I come back from a ridiculously long break from blogging, I tend to update you on my shenanigans with my writing. Right?

Right.

*Sigh*

Sorry. I needed to put that sigh in, because this is just going to be the same old *bleep* all over again.

First thing’s first. I ‘won’ NaNoWriMo. Managed to write 50 000 words in a month. Yay? Well, I’d say yay if the thing wasn’t swamped with plot holes. Plot holes that are absolutely ridiculous. I mean, I guess the mentality of NaNo is to just write and write and not look back, but seriously. This was some seriously dreadful stuff. Anyway, I think it’s needless to say that I didn’t actually finish my NaNo novel.

Why, I hear none of you ask?

Well, I’m sure in any of my other blog posts you’d see me talking about how important planning is, but how I just can’t be bothered to do it. But then in my very last post, before I took a three month break, I said that I would actually write an outline that I would actually follow that would actually help me finish my first draft.

So, here’s a new rule that I want you all to follow.

Never listen to a thing I say on this blog. If I say I’m going to do something, it’s probably not gonna happen. If I say I promise I’ll try to do something (like stay active), it’s definitely not going to happen.

So, no. I didn’t make a plan for my current work in constant progress. No. I didn’t finish it. No. I didn’t even stick to the little outline I made for the prologue. And as is so incredibly foreseeable when it comes to me and writing that it’s no longer even that surprising for me anymore, No. I haven’t stuck with the idea that I wrote for NaNo.

So, to put it simply. I have started again. Again.

From the very first idea I had with these characters, I can’t tell you all the times that I’ve reworked them, remodelled them, redone the entire story and and just overhauled the entire thing and essentially started from scratch. I forgot where or when I wrote this, but I don’t think it was on this blog. But I remember writing somewhere that from all the times I’ve started this story all over again with the same characters but with a drastically different storyline I could probably make so many entirely different novels of those failed attempts, just with different character names.

So, what am I doing now, I hear some of you ask?

Well, one of the reasons I disliked the way my NaNo novel went was because it was in the third person and present tense, and it just did not work for it and sounded way to jarring. Not to mention the fact that there was next to no plot whatsoever, and if I wanted to make it a series that would really have had to change. So, until recently, I’ve barely written a word. I just could not be bothered. And now, as I’ve said, I’ve started again. I’m making it past tense (hardly anything important enough to mention), I have got a vague idea that finally, actually makes sense. I have a beginning and an end of the entire series, but I’m trying to figure out just what all the stuff in the middle could be about, and I’ve got vague idea about some of that, too.

So, really, what I’m trying to say is that I am actually getting my act together as a writer. (Like I said, don’t listen to a single word I say on this blog. I’ll probably end up doing none of what I said I would).

So, on a slightly different note, I just want to take a second to just spill my thoughts here on my writing. Why? Well, I don’t really know. I just feel like it. I just need some sort of outlet.

Warning, severe self-criticism follows!

Early on when I started writing seriously, my writing just sucked, and yet in my eyes, what I was writing was actually fairly decent. Now, I don’t think that’s too uncommon. I’m sure we’ve all experienced that, where we’ve written something, and then after a long while and you go back to it and read over it, you realise that it’s just garbage. Well, as is the case with writing, my current writing is way better than the *bleep* I wrote early on. So, in some ways, I’m glad that it’s taken me so, so, so many attempts to actually try to get these characters right, in a story that actually makes sense, both in plot and for the characters. And in some ways (Warning! Super mushy, stupid, crazy, emotional mush follows) I feel as if I’ve really connected with my characters, and so far this has been one incredible journey with them. I feel as if I’ve finally got them to their optimal personalities and traits (Is this the right context for the word ‘optimal’? Probably not) And now, I just can’t imagine writing any other characters other than them. And the fact that . . . (You know something? I am starting way too many sentences with ‘And’ or ‘So’ . . . ) Anyway, so the fact that I’ve already planned out exactly how this series will end and where I’m going to leave these characters is kind of sad. Well, for me, anyway. The thing I liked about winging it all this time was that I could keep working on the characters and was also under the illusion that if I didn’t really know what was going to happen to them, myself, I could just write these characters forever. And hey, yeah. Sure I could write prequels (Yeah right!) but . . . well, I don’t know where I’m going with this, anymore. This kind of took on a life of it’s own.

That’s unplanned blogging, for you.

Anywho. This was a blog post of mine. Completely unplanned. Completely jumbled up nonsensical mush. Three months absent has turned me into this terrible, sappy thing who produces bad quality blogs like this. That will not happen again. (But remember what I said. Do not believe I’ll do a single thing I say I’ll do on this blog) So, I’m not going to promise I’ll be back soon, because if I don’t come back soon, I won’t be a liar. I’m not going to promise that this will be the absolute last time I’m going completely restart my novel (which, of course, I’ve renamed yet again), because if I do, I won’t be a liar. And I’m not going to promise to stay active, because we all know my word means nothing, when it comes to that. So, since I’m not promising any of these things, I won’t lose any credibility if and when they do or don’t happen.

Jeez. Let’s hope my next blog (whenever that may be, hopefully soon) won’t be so self-criticising.

Till next time guys. (Oh, I bet you’re all laughing at that)

Laurence out.

Change Of Plan

50 000 words. Thirty days. Yep. Sounds simple enough.

So there are only two more days till NaNoWriMo in my region. I previously said that I had very little idea of what my novel for the month would be about, other than the fact that it would be the sequel to my current, never progressing, work in progress, Syphon. Well, now that I’ve got an idea that I know will stick (I’ve told myself that so many times now I have actually lost count… but I definitely mean it this time… maybe), instead of being all backwards and awkward and working on a sequel to a story that I’ve… started again and barely even gotten that far into, as a result (I swear that this is the absolute last time I will start this story again. Just try to forget how unreliable I am at keeping my word) I’ve decided that it would make far more sense for my NaNo novel to be Syphon, the first in my trilogy turned series.

Now… I know I say that I do not plan and I hate the mere concept of it, as I just cannot follow one and they just feel too restricting, but brace yourselves, because here comes the most shocking news of the century; I am going to make an outline for Syphon.

Shock horror!

But wait; there’s more! I am going to follow it!

Good god!

Surely not!

You’re insane, Laurence!

Please. Please, try to calm down. I know how difficult it may be for some of you to grasp and too much for some of you to bear, but it is happening. I repeat; I am going to make an outline for Syphon. This is happening… I hope. And… well… with NaNo only a couple of days away, I guess I know what my priorities need to be.

Only two more days. So, to amend what I said it my previous NaNo post, I am most definitely not winging it this year. I most definitely will be planning. There will most definitely be quite a lot… a bit… a little of it.

That’s that, I guess. I managed to win last year, though that poor, disgraceful manifestation of what is now going to be Syphon will never see the light of day (and to you NaNo muggles who are unaware, ‘win’ does not necessarily mean I beat anyone, it merely means I accomplished the goal of 50 000 words), but this year, with my outline that I will manage to make within these next two days, I will actually know what on earth it is that I’m writing, and I won’t just skip the middle of the story because I got stuck, and resume writing with all but a couple of the main characters, who were present throughout the entire story, dead. (Oh, I don’t know why I haven’t erased that novel from existence, yet).

But I digress. No one wants to hear my mindless rambling, so I’ll be going now. If you’re participating in NaNo, good luck. And for those of you who aren’t, here’s some advice right off the top of my head about writing: if you find that while you’re trying to write a story, that you always end up starting again and again and again, it may be a good idea to make yourself a little outline or a plan. It might stop you from ripping your hair out and save you from insanity. The more you know.

I’m sure I won’t be back informing you of how terribly, terribly wrong things have gone… At least not soon.

Happy NaNo-ing.

Laurence out.