Perfect mix of magic and mayhem

Category: Writing Process Page 2 of 7

2019 in Review – The Year of Experimenting

I’m not gonna lie, I don’t think I’m ready for the end of the decade. I wasn’t ready for my oldest niece to turn 18, but apparently, nobody cares, especially not time. So, like every December, I looked back on the year that’s about to end and took stock of where I am and what I accomplished.

2019 was a Year of Experiments for me

I tried new things in my writing life as well as my professional life. And it all went much better than I initially anticipated.

After querying my first novel in 2018 and receiving nothing but boilerplate rejections, I figured I need to work on my craft and hone my skills before I can send another manuscript out there. So I read some books on plot and structure, to see what I can improve on that level (spoiler, apparently a lot).

I also asked myself if the writing and editing process I employed so far was what fit me best, or if I was simply doing what I thought would work. And so my experiments started.

Experiment 1: Can I pants through a novel?

Answer: YES

During this year’s CampNaNo, I decided to write a novel and not outline it ahead of time. I had a couple of scene ideas and I knew where I wanted to take the novel and the characters. And then I proceeded to write it. I was skipping around, writing whatever scene idea I got, then working my way back to connect it to the rest of what I had. I kept my excitement up and I actually managed to finish a 50k draft. Success all around!.

What I learned:

Skipping around the manuscript is a lot of fun and was a great way to keep my enthusiasm going. But pantsing is not for me, I like to know where I’m going. And I don’t have to waste time figuring things out.

Experiment 2: Can I write a novel in a completely different genre?

Answer: YES

Another CampNano achievement for me. I had this crime thriller at the back of my head for ages and I finally decided to write it. I needed a cleanse from my urban fantasy werewolves stories and this seemed like a great way to switch focus. It was difficult because while I’m an avid reader of crime novels, I’ve never actually written one. 

What I learned:

I still have a lot to learn when it comes to pacing and foreshadowing. I think editing this novel will also teach me a thing or two. Right now, I’m just happy to have this idea out of my head. And though I now know I can actually write them, I don’t think my primary focus will ever be crime thrillers.

Experiment 3: Can I pants a crime thriller?

Answer: Eh?

I’ve done it. I’ve accomplished what I set out to do. But after completing the first draft, I know how much better the manuscript could’ve been if I had it all planned out. Writing it was a great adventure, but the end result could’ve been much better.

What I learned:

I really need outlines with certain genres and there’s no denying it, I’m a plotter and I work best when I have a lot of prep done.

Experiment 4: Can I improve my editing process?

Answer: YES

After the disappointing querying results, I wanted to see if I could tweak my editing process to make it easier for myself and to make sure my novels are even better. So I started to learn from books and youtube all while editing Draft 0 of my YA urban fantasy. And even though I’m not done yet with my first pass, I can already see the improvements!

What I learned:

Thanks to all the time I spent learning and researching and applying all the new knowledge, I feel like I have established an editing routine that will do wonders for my process and my future projects. I can’t wait to test out my improved editing skills on the drafts I have sitting on my drive.

2019 was a great year and I learned a lot about being a writer. I’m really excited about what’s to come, so keep your fingers crossed and wish me luck!

Female protagonist that saves herself

Major Samantha Carter and Buffy were an integral part of my growing up. And yes, I realize that I just dated myself pretty bad. Shut up. That’s not the point. Strong female characters who are allowed to be vulnerable without it costing them their strenght is the point.

The problem is, after Sam Carter and Buffy, my expectations, when it came to the female characters in my media, were somewhat high. And more often than not that amazing woman needs to be saved from a monster, a magic curse or a serial killer. TV shows and movies more so than books, American media more so than European ones.

When Tess Gerritsen’s crime novel series was adapted into the TV show Rizzoli & Isles, a book series I adore with the power of a thousand suns, I was terrified watching the pilot, when Jane Rizzoli was tied up in a van, in danger of being killed. I wasn’t afraid that she would die (she was, after all, a title character). I was scared that they would have her male partner save her.

He didn’t. She saved herself.

It’s my greatest fear and a thing I hate the most in stories.

A female character who is established is tough and a fighter, who needs a man to save her, solve the mystery, fix the problems.

Ugh, no.

It’s the reason why I told myself that any story I ever write will never have a female protagonist be a passive participant. She might need guidance or help (because sometimes there’s stenght in numbers), but she will not be a helpless damsel losing her agenda because there’s a strong man there intent of saving her.

It does mean that sometimes I have to work around some plot problems and get creative when it comes to solutions. Sometimes Istruggle and it takes longer than it would otherwise. But it’s worth it and you better believe I will continue to do this, because ultimately, I think it’s important. And it might be important to others as well.

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