Writing a Scene

So last week I began to create a tentative “Bible” for the world of the novel.  It wasn’t much, I just put down on paper some of the ideas floating in my head and fairly hastily sketched out the ideas for the world that I needed to know such as the history, important people, and the important institutions of the world.  Again, nothing major, but all of it is helping me to refine my process of thinking about the larger world and Skye’s relationship within it.

This week, while I finally have decided on how Skye should look, I still don’t have a clear handle on her personality, so the consultant and I decided I should write a scene with her in it.  I know next week is going to be hectic for me so I actually wrote out the scene write after I the session.  I’m not sure that it accomplishes my goal.  It is an action scene, so it has Skye doing a lot of things and being clever, but she doesn’t really say a whole lot, nor does she really emote.

I think I’m going to have to try to find time to write a non-action scene that is heavy with dialogue as well to see what that looks like.  I can’t seem to find the emotional resonance with her character.  I’ll see what the response is next week, but I think the action scene doesn’t show enough of Skye’s emotions or feelings to really give an indication of who she is and how she acts in real life.  I really need to know more about her personality and what makes her tick in order to do this story correctly.

EDIT: While search for a heading image for this blog post, I came across this interesting Infographic about 5 ways to write a scene.  Considering that Infographics was one of the “genres” that I taught this semester, I thought it only appropriate to include one in my blog post–also, since I’m still having issues, maybe if I try writing a scene in each of the 5 “ways” that the graphic suggests, maybe by the end of the process, I’ll have a better understanding of Skye’s personality and who she is as character and person.


Building the “Bible”

So this is the post that I’d intended to write yesterday about the progress on my novel based on my time in the Writing Center.  This will be a shorter post, but hopefully informative.  Basically, we dived a little more into the character of Skye and I discovered that I don’t really write “deep” character sketches.  I write them on a surface level, so over the weekend, I plan to revise the character sketch and add in more details if possible about Skye and her personality.  I also hadn’t settled on physical characteristics for Skye yet, but I think that I have now, so I’ll add those in as well.

My consultant wanted to know more about the world and how the “rules” of the world operated.  I told her about some things, but she suggested that I, like Tolkien, commit them to paper instead of trying to hold them all in my mind’s eye.  I told her that I’d tried to do that earlier in my career.  There’s a term that series TV uses for it: “The Bible” for that series.  Most Television shows (& some movies and graphic novels–probably even some novels) have “Bible.”  I know that Babylon 5 had one as I heard about it through a history site of the show.  Apparently, the B5 used to sell copies of the show’s “Bible” during its run, but now that the show (& I’d assume the fan site) is no longer active, it is unavailable.  I even went to eBay to see if someone might be selling a copy that I could purchase just to see how it was put together (no luck though–at least as of a year or two ago when I last looked).

My consultant decided that I should go ahead and try to create at least a nascent “Bible” of the world, the politics, the history, etc., just to get all of my ideas out of my head and on to paper.  Even if I never use them in the story, at least I would have them down and “codified” on paper in a tangible way so that I could refer back to them as necessary and so the consultant might be able to read them and understand both the backstory and the motivations behind the various people, institutions, and world that I had created.  So that’s my homework for this week: to create a nascent “Bible” that begins to explain/explore some of the concepts that I’ve created for my world.

Finally, we talked a little bit about how the story (plot) is developing.  It is Science Fiction, but as the protagonist is young, we talked about how it could be a Young Adult story (or perhaps marketed as Young Adult).  We talked about some of the possible advantages and pitfalls of the YA market at the moment, and discussed some of its conventions.  We decided to wait and see how the story evolved organically before deciding where and how the story could be marketed, but even at this early stage we are looking at the audience for this story and trying to decide which audience is most appropriate for it.

Anyway, that’s it for this week.  So sorry for yesterday’s diversion, but when life throws a curveball, I fell compelled to play the umpire and call it as I see it.  Not sorry for the baseball reference, however, as the World Series has just wrapped up–wish I could have seen more it, but maybe next year.

Baby Steps To a Novel

So, yesterday I took my first steps to trying to complete a novel.  Regular readers of the blog will note that I’ve tried before (without much success) to try to write a novel, but this time I’m using my university’s Writing Center to help.  I’ve worked in the Writing Center myself all last year and I have a friend and colleague who is working there now who has agreed to a “Writing Partnership” with me–a fancy term for a standing appointment to talk about writing over the course of the semester.  Generally, they are used for long term projects (thesis, dissertations, etc.), but they can also be used for just improving one’s writing in general.  We talked about what I wanted to do ultimately (short-stories or novels) and we decided that writing a novel would be a good way to “grow” as a writer.  Then we discussed the idea I had for a novel and what the next steps should be going forward.

Character Sketch
So, my homework is to complete at least one character sketch–the main character/protagonist–and have it ready by the next meeting.  We talked about who the main character is (Skye–which longtime readers will remember from earlier blog posts) and what is her personality like.  If possible, I’d like to write a character sketch for her father as that is her major familial relationship in the book, but based on school work and obligations, there may not be enough time for that.  We spent quite a bit of time talking about the importance of characters and how they should act appropriately–something that I don’t think that I always do well because of my interest in the plot.  Hopefully, I can really nail Skye’s personality and be able to create a convincing character arc for her.

Plot Outline
I also need to produce a plot outline for the next meeting.  Again, one mandatory, but two if possible.  I have “story map” that I use that is a 1 page “synopsis” of the characters, setting, plot, climax, and resolution.  However, I’d like to also provide a chapter-by-chapter breakdown of the story as that is where I always seem to break down when writing the novel, but I may find that that might be better suited to do after we talk about the character sketch/synopsis of the novel.  In any case, I do intend to do what Brandon Sanderson noted about how he writes novels on his podcast, Writing Excuses, where he notes that he writes down big tentpole scenes as he’s generating ideas for his novel.  I think that the tentpole scenes, in addition to the synopsis, would be helpful to do before trying to tackle the larger, chapter-by-chapter breakdown.

November is National Novel Writer’s Month (NaNoWriMo).  I’ve never really tried to do anything for the month because I always had school (or a ton of things to do in the month of November), but as I’m in the midst of trying to write a novel and as the Writing Center will be holding a “Write In” on November 17, I guess I’ll give it a try.  I don’t know what the outcome of all this will be, but I’ll blog about the process here to hopefully inspire other writers (aspiring or practicing) and maybe provide, tangible techniques and tricks to my fellow writers out there as well.

Wish me luck! 🙂


Finished The Green Rider by Kristen Britain 

I finally finished the novel The Green Rider by Kristen Britain and I liked it.  It wasn’t my favorite fantasy novel ever but it had enough characterization and and action that I forgave some of its flaws. 

According to Wikipedia, this book is a first novel and I could tell.  Not to be disparaging, but there were elements that seemed out of place.  The meeting with sisters early on in the book seemed to exist only to give the protagonist items she would need later on in the story–a la Tolkien.  Her desire to ignore the repeated attempts to get her to believe that she had the necessary talent to be a good “Greenie” based on all that she had gone through was also particularly irksome.  But overall, I’d say it was pretty good.  Will I read the sequels? Probably, just not right away.

Yet, Kristen Britain did in 1999, what I haven’t yet found a way to accomplish yet in 2017.  She wrote, finished, and published her first novel.  This is the goal I’m working towards.  I hope one day (soon) that I can also reach this milestone myself.  Fingers crossed! 😀

Overall Grade: B-/C+