I’ve treated this blog as a publishing platform, assuming people just wanted the stories, not the blathering of a writer’s process that goes behind them. However, since I missed this week’s deadline I thought some of you would like to know what’s going on. If you don’t care, that’s fine too. Stories will continue appearing either way. 🙂

Chapters That Sneak In

I was all set to post Gna’s next part, Heartcleft Road’s chapter 7 this past Thursday. I’ve been trying very hard to line up chapter writing and my friend Ethan’s editing of them so I could post regularly every week. This week was supposed to be Bridge of Blades, the big exciting fight scene, but as happened a few times while posting Gefjon’s story, a whole chapter decided to insert itself before it.

No problem, I was inspired and wrote two pages of it Thursday, and in total writing frenzy another two pages Friday all the way to the conclusion of the new chapter. Then I copy-pasted something from another version, closed the file without saving and… oh crap. I hadn’t saved the two pages of Friday, and that was the document I’d closed by mistake. It was good, gripping, and… gone. In a panic, I spent the rest of the afternoon trying to recreate it from memory. Then worked some more in the evening after my client (I’m a spiritual counselor / therapist / hypnotherapist who works over Skype). Still, couldn’t recreate it. I was bummed, to say the least.

Now I strongly suspect that losing the pages was a message from Gna. It had more crying and weeping, as in previous chapters, and that was enough of that as far as she was concerned. The new version, which I still haven’t managed to finish, has an entirely different and more active emotion.

If you talk to serious writers, they’ll tell you characters have a will of their own. You may have an idea of where the story is going, but a character can totally wreck that and take it somewhere else. When you’re writing about an actual goddess you’re devoted to, and trying to be as true to their will as you can, that brings it to a whole new level. So chapter 7 is delayed until I can finish it and get it edited, hopefully by next week.

In the meantime, I’ll be posting the second part of Not The Tree very shortly.

Why Are These Chapters So Short?

Heh, you’ve noticed that, did you? That’s an artifact of my writing process. My Writer’s Circle gets together every two weeks and we each produce a piece for others to edit, critique, and suggest improvements. Typically, it’s a thousand word limit on each piece, and whenever possible I use the theme to write for my goddesses. A thousand words is about two pages, single spaced. It forces you to be really tight in your writing, and every sentence is there because it needs to be. No wandering off into exposition or getting sidetracked, you have to resolve it to a satisfying conclusion in that small space. It’s just not possible to edit novels for each other in a single evening, there isn’t the time. I’ve grown to like these short, dense chapters, because I used to suffer severe verbal diarrhea when writing on my own time. It wasn’t pretty. These are better, trust me. More words do not improve a crappy chapter.

The Writing Circle Process

Gna’s Heartcleft Road, chapter 1, was written on October 4, 2013 as part of a 20 minute timed writing exercise on an emotion. The meeting was at my place for a change, and I served my writer friends shepherd’s pie. We rolled a dice and I got “Loss” as my theme emotion. So I asked, “Hey Ladies, anyone want a story about loss?” I was surprised to have Gna step forward saying “Me, I want one.” She’d always given the impression of an easygoing free spirit, and that seemed out of character, but hey, who am I to argue with a goddess? So I prepared my pen and paper, the timer started, I felt inspired and I wrote. It was excellent, people loved it. For handwritten stories we take turns reading them aloud and having others comment. I took note of all their suggestions, typed it up, and wrote two more chapters during the next few weeks.

On the March 8, 2014 meeting, we got to revisit one of our old stories with the word count limit relaxed. I polished that chapter and expanded it to about 1700 words. For stories written prior to circle, we each get a hard copy of each other’s work, then start editing with the Red Pen Of Ultimate Pain.

You have to understand, the worst critique a writer can get is “It’s nice,” because that gives you no way to improve your piece in any way. You don’t know what you did right or what you did wrong. A bloody hard-copy, filled to the edges with slashed sentences and red comments about what to change, that’s love right there. It’s hard work to figure out what needs changing in a piece during editing — worse yet to find what should be there in its place — and I wouldn’t bother spilling all that ink if I didn’t care about my friend’s writing improving. If I think the writing’s crap but you’ve got a trembling heart of glass that might shatter at the smallest critique… I’ll just say your piece is “nice, could use some polishing.” I’m not a monster, ya know? Not everyone can handle having their baby mauled.

Once the editing’s done, we roll a dice to know whose piece will get read first. You don’t get to read aloud your own piece, you know how it’s supposed to go in your head, beyond what’s written. No, someone else will read your piece, stumble on awkward sentences, and you’ll know those needs fixing. Typically it’s the person to the left of you that reads it, but sometimes someone volunteers instead. Everyone takes a turn reading aloud.

Incidentally, that’s when people usually break out the booze, to dull the pain of critique. You’re not allowed to respond to anyone’s comments or questions on your piece until everyone’s had a chance to voice their thoughts. If you corrected someone’s confusion right away, you wouldn’t get to hear whether everyone else was also confused. We call this “Where’s the Fire?”

One of our members wrote a story where a huge fire was raging. It was vitally important to understand where that fire was happening, yet every reader had a different idea of where it was. If she’d provided that information to the first reviewer, everyone else would have nodded, and said nothing further on the matter. It was a problem that needed correcting. She fixed it.

And Now Back to Gna, The Big Fight Scene

On April 19 2014’s meeting we decided to do a pre-written piece, 1500 word limit, to practice doing fight scenes. I had a pretty good outline of how Gna’s story was going by then with more chapter drafts, and felt like doing this one for her. I could always fill in the missing chapters later. Again the story got great reviews, as well as suggested improvements. I just had to write the missing parts between.

In June 2014 I started getting a strong sense that Frigga’s Ladies were getting impatient with me. “We’re not giving you these stories for your entertainment you know. Get them out, let people read them.” So I resolved to prepare a bunch of chapters, get them edited, and have enough of a buffer to keep posting them once a week while I kept writing. That worked out in July. It utterly failed in August. I got back on track in September. Right now I have chapters 8, 9, and 10 edited and ready to go. Chapter 11 is still being written. I just have to get this newly inserted chapter 7 done, edited, and then I can keep posting the rest on schedule. Hopefully!

Not The Tree

In the meantime, I just finished chapter 4 of Not The Tree last night at circle, adding their feedback into a final piece after I got home with a few more hours of work. Until I can get Gna’s back on track, that’s what I’ll be posting.

Incidentally, Not The Tree was done for another writer’s exercise we did December 13, 2013, this one on Worldbuilding. The idea was to have a “tourist” character visit a location we needed for a bigger story. Enter Shining Song, the modern Pagan tourist, who is so clueless she needs everything explained to her (I’ve known people like that, not naming names or anything). Characters familiar with a location won’t really comment on it much, there’s nothing remarkable there to them. A tourist character lets you explore how the place works without launching into boring exposition.

The Alfar city of UpSpoke is the hometown location for most of Lofn’s story, as well as Sjofn’s. Writing Not The Tree helped me fill in a lot of gaps, for when I do get back to it. I wrote it three years ago, before joining the Writer’s Circle, and my writing has much improved since then. It needs a lot of editing, rewriting, and inserted chapters. It’s also very very dark, writing it was an emotional roller coaster for me. But it’ll be awesome.


 

As always, I love getting comments. Wails and complaints are okay too. 🙂 

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Comments
  1. ❤ Thank you for sharing your process, and as always, for sharing the stories of the Ladies with us.

    Liked by 1 person

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