Monthly Archives: October 2012

Much Ado about Halloween

 Pixie, kobold, elf, and sprite,
All are on their rounds tonight;
In the wan moon’s silver ray,
Thrives their helter-skelter play.
~Joel Benton

Sadly this year I did not dress up and go to a Halloween party, but I did get to hang out with some friends and we played board games over the weekend. Tonight, I am ironically enough, going to go and do yoga with the boyfriend after I finish helping hand out the candy to the trick or treating kids.

The internet has not yet come up with a way for food distribution. I find this disappointing. So electronic treats will have to do – and so I give you a bowl of electronic snickers. You are welcome to other treats as well, but it is up to you to think them up.

I love Halloween as an adult. It is a small wonder; I love the supernatural, magic, and anything that we think is impossible. One of my character’s favorite sayings is “nothing is impossible just improbable.” I love that and more or less ascribe to it in my life.

This brings me to another point. Halloween is also All NaNo’s Eve for me and any other people who are participating in NaNoWriMo this year. I have that well of anticipation. I am waiting impatiently to start writing the new idea.

With the end of the rewrite and the beginning of the new idea I want to set an intention for this new novel. My intention for new idea novel is to have fun writing again. I loved rewriting novel-1, but it definitely felt like work. I burned out a bit towards the end of it. So here is to a happy NaNoWriMo for those who participate. Wish me luck in rediscovering the joys of writing.

©K. Klein 2012

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under nanowrimo, writing

Come have a cup of tea with me

Strange how a teapot can represent at the same time the comforts of solitude and the pleasures of company.  ~Author Unknown

I have all sorts of odds and ends on my mind at the moment. So join me for a virtual tea time if you please. If you don’t drink tea – feel free to have a cup of coffee, hot chocolate, or whatever warm beverage you fancy. Not to brag, but I do make a mean cup of hot chocolate.

The dominant thought on my mind is that I finished my rewrite last night. Part of me can’t believe it. I don’t quite want to let go. I do still need to read about half of the book to my brother for final polishing. But for the most part, aside from the tinkering, this draft is done. This is the first novel that I have rewritten completely. I have finished several first drafts, but this is the first one that I felt compelled to bring to the next stage of the writing process.

I found it interesting to learn about my rewrite and revision process. I found it different from my first draft process. During the first draft I tend to write by the seat of my pants – letting the characters and story take me where they will. I also try to shut the editor off so that I can just sit down and write.

I reverse-engineered my novel throughout the planning stage of the rewrite. I reread the first draft and figured out what plot points made sense; added in scenes and chapters where I found plot holes. Then I sat down to rewrite and revise the novel. Much of the beginning included writing chapters from scratch because I lost the thread of a character arc in the first half of the first draft.

It is interesting to see how it turned out. My first draft was 65000 words, which is a bit anemic for a novel. I am a rare underwriter. I get the bones out and then fill in the rest later. My second draft is 20k longer at 86000 words. In the second draft, I filled in physical descriptions and fleshed out character arcs and characterizations. Slowly, but surely I am sharing the baby novel with my beta readers.

I am proud of myself for reaching this new milestone in my writing journey and process. I hope that the next time I do a revision that I won’t have to write more than half of it by hand before typing it up. Who knows? We shall see.

The other thing on my mind at the moment is NaNoWriMo. The New Idea is knocking at my brain and it wants me to write it. I have two and a half days where I cannot write in the new novel. Gah. Anticipation is a good thing. I sort of lack the patience though. I want to write now and not wait.

On the bright side, this does give me a chance to catch up on some reading. My dad recently bought a tablet, and I borrowed a copy of Pride & Prejudice from the library to read it on his tablet. I own a paper copy, but it is buried in my boxes in storage. So I am rereading it for the third or fourth time. I love Jane Austen. Reading is a great way to refill my creative well. And it is soothing; my anxiety has been a bit high today.

What is your favorite part of the writing process? Do you prefer tea, coffee, or hot chocolate? Any new books you’re curling up with that you’d recommend? I always love to check out new and interesting books. Not that my to be read pile isn’t a couple miles high. But I always love to hear about new authors and great books.

©K. Klein 2012

Leave a comment

Filed under anxiety, nanowrimo, reading, writing

What is in a name?

Nicknames stick to people, and the most ridiculous are the most adhesive.  ~Thomas C. Haliburton

Usually when I am writing a novel I am quite fussy about my names. I either want a specific sound. Or I am aiming for a meaning or association with something such as the sun or moon or any number of other objects. Sometimes, although not usually, I will have a character arrive in my mind and introduce themselves fully named. I once had a character arrive and say hello my name is Will – you’re going to need me. It unnerved me because I had written two-thirds of the first draft of novel-1 when he did this.

It is interesting to see what names of character evoke. For example, let’s take the characters from my description from Wednesday – Miss Andrews, her sister (Mrs. Saunders), and Mr. Saunders. From the way they are addressed they’re probably not from the modern times. For the most part we don’t go around addressing people by Mr. Smith and Miss Johnson anymore. It seems to stiff and formal for our modern form of communication. We usually address people by their first names such as Jane or John.

There is also the question of what are their first names and how does that affect their characters? And do we get a picture of where our characters are from by the names we give them? Right now, without giving my description’s cast any first names they seem vaguely British. Perhaps they hark from the last nineteenth or early twentieth century. Their parlor had a fireplace, but no television or radio. We don’t know what other technology they have access too.

Does the perception of the reader change when we give our characters first names? When it is revealed that Miss Andrews’ first name is Eleanor or that her sister is Prudence and her brother-in-law is Charles. The first women’s names seem a bit on the old-fashioned side. Charles is pretty common overall. These names evoke pictures of what sorts of people who these characters are or might be.

Names are powerful. They can help to provide dimension to the world of the story I am trying to bring alive.  Some of my favorite fictional names include Fitzwilliam Darcy, Albus Dumbledore, and Gandalf the Grey. Each provides a different picture of whom that man is. I love how names can help to paint the picture of our world. What are some of your favorite character names?

©K. Klein 2012

2 Comments

Filed under nanowrimo, writing

Movies in my mind

My characters and stories are incredibly visual to me. When the writing is flowing I can see the story in my mind and part of my job is to transcribe those images into the ethereal nature of words. Finding the right amount of description is a challenge for me. Often, my brother’s biggest complaints about my writing are him wanting more description.

However, I tend to err on the side of caution and begin by under-describing rather being too detailed. These days readers don’t want pages upon pages of minutes details; some writers can get away with it. Most cannot – and so I try to balance my own images with the needs of my readers. Part of the reason I write is so that my world can come alive through sharing it with others.

One difficult piece of description for me is the spatial aspect of it. When describing a room – where are the things in the room in relation to one another? Where are the people in relation to the things and each other?

For example, I love old houses with parlors. So how does that look to my mind? Or yours?

The parlor felt rich done in earth tones. A fireplace stood on the far wall away from the door; flames danced merrily within its confines. In front of the fireplace sat two comfy chairs with a table in between. Nearby the large picturesque window was a couch. Across the room from the couch was a large antique wooden desk with a hardback chair; the desk top had clutter of papers and books.

This is a rather rough description. Considering I did it kind of on the fly it isn’t too bad, but it still feels a bit stiff. What if we added in some people?

Miss Andrews walked into the parlor and sat on the cream couch near the large window. Mr. Saunders greeted her from the desk across the room; she returned his greeting. However, she did not wish to chat and instead took in the room. She enjoyed the view of the fire as it danced merrily within the fireplace. Her sister sat in one of the chairs in front of the fire, but didn’t say anything. Miss Andrews walked over to her and they chatted quietly as Mr. Saunders cleared the clutter away from his desk.

I like this better; it feels a little less stiff now that there are people populating the room. However, it still doesn’t feel to me like it has come alive. Perhaps adding in a bit of Miss Andrews’ emotions will help to set the scene.

Wiping away tears, Miss Andrews entered the parlor. She walked past the desk and Mr. Saunders greeted her; she returned the favor. Mr. Saunders not noticing her distress continued to clear the clutter away from his desk. Not wishing to speak she walked over to the cream couch and perched upon it. From there she enjoyed the view of the fire – it danced merrily. Her sister sat in one of the comfortable chairs before the fire; she turned and asked after Miss Andrews’ day. Miss Andrews walked over to her sister and whispered her discontent.

Of the three descriptions, I think the last one is the richest. It has layers of things, people, and emotions. I could probably stand to go over it again and throw in brief physical descriptions of Mr. Saunders, Miss Andrews and her sister. However, I tend to prefer not to give too much description of my characters. People tend to imagine them how they want even when description is provided.

How do you handle descriptions when you write? Does it take multiple drafts for you to get your vision across? I think my final description could still use some work. What would you add? Or take away?

©K. Klein 2012

Leave a comment

Filed under nanowrimo, writing

Inspiration & criticism

If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put foundations under them.

~Henry David Thoreau

I am in the process of sharing my rewrite with close friends who volunteered to be beta readers. The thought of it makes me squirm because criticism is so gosh darn hard for me to take. I’ve improved as the years have gone by. I can actually hear the constructive criticism now instead of freaking out inside and out. But it is never going to be easy or anything.

Luckily, thus far, I’ve gotten positive feedback from most of my readers. I find it funny that my brother is my harshest critic and biggest supporter. He always tells me what he wants. That chapter needs more description. (My stories are visual to me, so I often gloss over description in the first and sometimes second drafts). Or he’ll say that he wants to know what X character is thinking or feeling.

He asks me the best questions. Because if he has these questions then I know someone else will have them too. So I am able to work on it because he gets me thinking about my writing from the readers’ perspective. Actually, I don’t consider a chapter in my current WIP/ re-write finished until I’ve read it aloud to him.

This does two things for me. One, I hear my words as I read them. I can hear any awkwardness. Secondly, it gets him asking me questions that need to be answered. I am so lucky. He is spot on; I don’t think I’ve disagreed with him yet. And even if I did, I would seriously consider his critiques before deciding not to change it.

In any case, he inspires me to be a better writer. I love it when he thinks my chapters are awesome and he has no questions. I love it when he does have questions too because it is fun to look at the chapter and make it deeper or more than it was originally.

©K. Klein 2012

2 Comments

Filed under writing

Brainstorming

NaNoWriMo is approaching and I have been busy trying to help friends with their ideas and stories. In the past couple of weeks, I have batted around ideas with one friend on Facebook chat. We chatted about her idea. I asked her questions and gave suggestions.

Some questions I asked her included: Where is it set? (On earth? In space? In another dimension?) What is your character’s name? (Or are there multiple point of view characters?) Is there magic involved? That last question is usually a yes for me; I can’t seem to write a story without a magical element.

Another way to get the muse in gear is to spend some time alone brainstorming. Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way calls these Artist Dates and discusses it as a way to refill the creative well. For example, it is a lovely time of year to take a walk. Heading to a new place can spur ideas. A day at the museum can fuel ideas. My favorite museum in my area, currently, is the art museum.

Finally, if you have a writer friend in person or just by yourself a great way to brainstorm is to just get ideas on the page. Sunday night another friend and I did this. We took out a notebook while hanging out in her apartment. She wrote down one word and I wrote down one. We sometimes built off of each other. I tried to write ideas that sprung off of her idea. We were trying to think of ideas because she wasn’t sure if she wanted to do NaNoWriMo. I’m still not sure if she is going to or not. I hope so, her idea seemed like fun.

The great part about helping my friends to brainstorm is that it helps me too. It gets me thinking about the possibilities of my work. It is sort of like turning the compost. If you aerate it and are patient, eventually your compost makes dirt.

To be honest, I haven’t taken myself on an artist date recently. Perhaps it is a time to take a walk or something. What do you do to get your creative juices flowing? Do you brainstorm alone? Or do you bounce ideas off of friends?

©K. Klein 2012

Leave a comment

Filed under nanowrimo, writing

The sound of writing

Music is what feelings sound like.  ~Author Unknown

Oftentimes, I cannot write in absolute silence. I need background noise to help me concentrate on the page in front of me. In fact, as I type this post I am listening to classical music. My choice of background noise is usually music. I find the television too distracting; especially if it is from the other room. Many times I will put my headphones on and tune out the world.

The past couple of days have left me on a classical music kick. One of my favorite composers is Antonio Vivaldi; I’m fond of the Four Seasons. However, I have eclectic taste in music  and enjoy –classical composers of most stripes, big band and swing, popular music of most decades, and rock n’ roll in most forms.

I am always open to suggestions. I love listening to music, especially when I write. There are some who don’t understand how I can listen to music with lyrics when writing. I guess because the lyrics don’t bother me. Often I am chasing after the mood or rhythm of the music rather than paying attention to what words the singer is crooning.

Music often helps me to let go of any doubts or insecurities I am feeling; it allows me to connect to the movement of the tune. I can flow into my story and characters without any chatter from my somewhat incessantly anxious mind. The monkey-mind is distracted by the music and the rest of my brain is free to commune with the keyboard.

Do you listen to music when you work or do you find it too distracting?

©K. Klein 2012

12 Comments

Filed under nanowrimo, writing