{Working Notes 6} Death’s Lover’s “Duh” Moment

Longest weekend ever!

At least for me.

I had one of those “duh!” moments Wednesday and of course I had to wait until Monday to do anything about it because of my workload. *sigh* Sometimes being a mom of young kids who’s also trying to not be the workaholic mother and yet run two business and help with the ranch work, sucks. I need to clone myself…twice, possibly thrice. Then I can have writer mom, book cover designer mom, housekeeper and ranching mom, and raising the kids mom.

I’m sure my hubby would be in heaven…or possibly Hell. It’s hard to know with men. 😦 Plus four Stephannie’s might drive him crazy. It’s probably good I can’t clone myself.

Anyhoo, back to the “duh!” moment, or as some call it “the great epiphany”. As some of you might know, I’ve been struggling for years to find my writing process. Each book has been written with a different writing method that I’ve found somewhere (Internet, writing friend, or books) and tried. Some I liked but didn’t love. Others were plain awful and like pulling teeth. And a few held some merit, but something just didn’t work for me.

Small history lesson: I had no troubles writing from 1996 to 2002. The rough patch popped up in 2002 and lasted until 2004, leaving in its wake this strange shift that has made writing difficult.  It got worse in 2006 and 2007 with the birth of my baby girls. I’ve just never gotten back into the groove. If anything things got worse. I blame social media (but only because it’s easy to do and unnatural for me.) End of lesson.

So I’ve pretty much given up hope of finding something that would make writing a little less painful. If I had the choice I might have given up, but then I’d be in a crazy ward or drive other people to the crazy ward.

I tried to go back into a free-writing style of storytelling for Death’s Lover, or as some call it, “pantsing it.” And it failed, as in crash, explode violently, and burned to an unrecognizable crisp. It’s not that I can’t write by the “seat of my pants”….*gag, choke* Ick! The imagery on that sentence is just gross. I need some mind bleach and a scrub brush to wash that out.

Ok! Back!

It’s not that I can’t sit and write a story. I can and it will take me at least 6 months to fix the twisted mess of sentences. Best example is Loving the Goddess of Love and Keeping Mhairi, both books that were written on the fly and took me 6 months to 2 years to edit.

But I’ve also found that I can’t plot a story to completion. I lose interest for one and two I feel the need to follow the plan regardless of how the story wants to go. I think this might be why Once a Valkyrja failed so horribly and didn’t sell more than 5 books in 3 years. (Now it’s out of print.)

Death’s Lover started as part planned–I knew the ending mostly because it was written in My Lord Hades and goes into more depth–and part “writing to see if I can connect point A to point B.” As you probably guessed, this didn’t work out so well. I kept starting and stopping the story. Four months later I’m only half way through the novel.

How sad is that?!

So I decided to try something that was a hybrid method of something I saw on my new favorite TV series Castle (Love it!) and from a show I stumbled upon The Writer’s Room (the story behind some popular TV Series).  The plot board. Or scene board. Sometimes called the Beat Sheet.

(If you watch The Writer’s Room pay attention to the bulletin boards in the back of the room.)

I know it’s not really a new concept and I’m sure there are those out there shaking their heads and wondering how I could have missed that one in my travels through writing methods. I didn’t. I actually tried it before when I thought I had to plan a novel to the last detail. In September 2013, a large stack of note cards (around 300+) found their way into my compost bin. I’m sure they are still decomposing. They were also useless, far too detailed, and for a story I was writing in 1999. It was a fail for me and I’m sure my OCD clean mom was happy when I pulled them off the walls of my room so she could once more see the pretty blue walls.

Present day 2014, there isn’t a wall big enough in my little cabin to accommodate my ideal plot board which is sad because the splash of white on wood panels would lighten up the room. So being creative, I used a cardboard box (more sturdy than a poster board and something I had laying around so if it didn’t work I wasn’t out anything.). It lasted two weeks.

I loved the idea. I hated the bulk.

It’s too large to take with me and opening the damn thing takes too much space. Also I write too small so I have to get up every time I wanted to see it. Then there was the problem of taking it with me when I want to take kids to the park, library, or out to play in the meadow. Also, how am I going to pack that for vacation. I need something that can travel with me. Hence, the notebook that’s been sitting around forever (or at least the last 20 years).

I spent Saturday, Sunday, and Monday sticking all the cards for each chapter into a front facing page of the notebook, then moving them around until the scenes seemed to flow better. I loved the overview of Thanatos’ and Lilith’s story that touched on plot points but didn’t delve too deeply into them and ruin the surprises.

However, by Monday morning I knew something was still off about Death’s Lover. So I printed off the Timeline I created for the Children of Khaos Series and used small sticky notes to line up the events with scenes from the book. (Damn! I should have taken pictures. That would have made me an awesome blogger.)

That is when my “duh” moment came.

My scenes were out-of-order and there was far too big a gap between fixed events. I had the first part of the book covering almost 5 months and the last ending in a week days. Talk about an imbalance. So I kicked out three unnecessary scenes for fixed events, moved some scenes up and a few events sooner in the book, then spread the remaining scenes across the needed time frame. It no longer covers five months. Yay!

So now that I found the one problem with Death’s Lover, I wonder when the next one will pop up to slap me in the face.Ahh, the Laws of Writing, “What can go wrong while you’re playing with your imaginary friends, will go wrong, and then make you crazier then you already are.” 😀

5 thoughts on “{Working Notes 6} Death’s Lover’s “Duh” Moment

    • Didn’t really think of that and I’m not really sure. I was pretty secretive about my writing for years because both experiences when I shared them with others were bad. However, I was always telling my friends the latest story popping around in my head and they were always telling me I should write it down. Also had a Creative Writing Teacher that was very supportive of my writing. Anything she wrote on the paper to improve had what she loved about something and what I could do to strengthen the writing. Looking back I think that was more because she didn’t want to discourage budding authors like some people.

      Also, I don’t find myself worrying to much what people think of my book until after I send it to beta readers. It’s as if that is the moment it finally hits me that people will read this. It then becomes a matter of editing if fast and sticking it out in the world, otherwise I might chicken out. Also, I need to learn to leave things be once published and stop fighting myself over the possible typos and grammar mistakes that might have been missed.

      I believe part of what made it hard to write was the stress and going against my nature which added more stress. There was so much I felt I needed to be doing, so much that I did need to get done, and it’s only by realizing that I can’t do it all and that I need to make that which helps my goals priority and everything else secondary or cut it completely that allowed me to relax a little. I’ve found that since I’ve cut back on the social media and blogging, I’ve been more relaxed and have a better desire to write (even if part of that included two weeks of outlining the book and planning what needs to happen.).

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      • Well, you have a gift for storytelling. 😀

        I can see the social networking thing being a drain. When we spend time doing that, we aren’t writing. I don’t know about you, but the more I write, the easier it is to write and the less I write, the harder it is to write. Marketing a book forces the creative part out, I think.

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        • Thank you. It’s a job I love and have always wanted to do. 😀

          Social interaction period, has always been draining to me. I was always the one in the corner of the room at a party with a book in my hand. I like to listen and watch, not so much talk. Makes for one-sided conversations. LOL

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  1. Pingback: {Working Notes} Plotting Stories, Rearranging Scenes, & Creating Cover Designs | Stephannie Beman

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