Editing Progress & Stuff

6 Aug

So. Guess what? I’ve been making solid progress on the perpetual novel.

As I write this, my progress meter, as measured by completed scenes, reads at 92.37%. Translation: only 9 more scenes to edit then I’m “done.” (Don’t you just love those quotation marks?)

(Almost) Endless Edits

My goal is to complete all of my personal edits by the end of August. The progress meter is for all that remains…to a certain extent. See, I have a stack of notes scribbled on scraps of 1/4 sheets of paper that I’ve been chopping through, making sure each concern is dealt with in a linear fashion—that is, from chapter to chapter, beginning to end. Right now, I’m down to two notes, which means most likely, I don’t have much left in the way of structural edits to worry about. The remaining 9 scenes should go pretty smoothly.

I’ll probably even finish these edits by the end of next weekend.

Now, after that, will that really mean I’m “done” with editing? Not really. See, even after all of these edits, I’ve found it helpful to go back and reread the five “parts” or sections that I’ve divided my novel into because hey, every change potentially brings another problem. Like a disturbance of overall cadence or altogether omitted words.

Yup, can’t catch them all.

So far, I’ve only done this with Part I.  I started Part II but then other changes I made later required tweaking a few things in this section again. So really, I need to do a quick reread of Parts II through V—and I do mean quick ’cause I’m sick of looking at this thing. But like in the best way possible. (It’s funny what your brain picks up when all the major issues have been taken care of versus when you still have those to fix.)

Even after I do a quick reread of my edits, I expect beta readers will still find things because I always find something when I look back. I’m pretty much at the point now where I can’t rely on my eyes anymore. Beta readers will be very helpful for a variety of reasons. (I’m mostly interested to see people’s emotional and intellectual responses to my story, to be honest.) Though, even after I’ve gotten their feedback and taken that into consideration (meaning more edits), I expect I’ll want to hire an editor to look over my work for me—especially if I decide to self-publish.

Then, say I do find representation by a literary agent instead then later a publishing house if I go the traditional route. Naturally, they will require even more edits.

As you can see, “done” isn’t really “done” until the final proof of a novel is submitted for publication, really. As far as I know. In the meantime…

Flash Fiction: ‘Mmm…thought so.’

16 Jul

“Is he here? Is he seeing all of this?” Andre asks, referring to Voi’s clairvoyant handler as he knowingly runs a hand past her stockings, pausing on the garter straps.

She murmurs incoherent noises into his ear, struggling to make sense of words. Chamber music echoes off the walls—waltzes or trots or tangos. She forgets which.

“Mmm…thought so,” Andre says anyway. He stares into Voi’s unfocused eyes, flipping a clip undone with his thumb. Her pupils enlarge suddenly just as a gale bursts through the window.

Andre curses, flinching away.

Obliviously drinking in the fumes of ambrosia with another drag on her cigarette, Voi soon tosses her head back with a manic laugh as she allows herself to slip further from reality, no longer resisting Andre’s attempts to “parley.” All the while, the crowd continues dancing under the spell of the domesticated ball downstairs…

Voi gasps, then breathes.  The wind starts to die down some, and so does her laughter.  She begins humming.

“You’ve been a naughty girl, Voi…” Andre carefully takes the contraband drug from her fingertips now and stares at it.  “Where did you manage to get this from anyway?”

Voi pulls her head upright, peering at him with dark eyes. They no longer seem unfocused.  Instead, she says in a low voice, “Is that really what you came here for, Andre?”

Sometimes, I come across art or music that gives me a very specific idea for a scene in a new novel or, perhaps, one I’m already working on. This painting, “Night Geometry” by Jack Vettriano, is one such piece of art. Actually, a lot of Vettriano’s work has been inspiring scenes for my fantasy series over the past few years. It’s sultry and moody and full of tension, sometimes with noir-ish undertones, and that appeals to me. (Not your typical fantasy stuff, eh?)

Anyway, I had this particular scene in mind for a story that I won’t get to for another three novels from now—The Elementalist: Grand Masquerade, in fact—but hey, gotta catch that inspiration when it strikes, right? Also, my series has been in third-person limited, past tense so far, and sometimes it’s subjective because the narrator will add a bit of whimsical dramatic irony here or there, so I don’t know why I’ve changed forms here in this snippet.  Not even sure what perspective this is in or if it’s consistent! Kinda feels omniscient, in a way—which would be fun to play around with later, given that Voi is apparently playing with drugs at this point in the series…

I guess that’s what happens when you try and wing things.

In other news, I’m about 70% done with my edits on Book I. Kind of a nice feeling, considering. 🙂 Planning on being done by the end of August, at the latest. If I keep making steady progress, I should be able to hit that goal.

Would be nice!

…And here’s a little (not-so) random music to go along with the snippet, just because.

https://open.spotify.com/embed/track/0fw2O8ZuCHgFt6CVvDZZds

Black Authors, Diversity, & Epic Fantasy: The Bigger Picture

5 Jul

So I was Googling stuff about the difference between epic and high fantasy earlier when I somehow came across this blog post by a black writer named Derek Tyce who asks a poignant question: “Black authors writing fantasy… Where are they?” Naturally, being both black and interested in fantasy, I was intrigued, so I decided to read on to see what he had to say.

…And it got me thinking.

One great example of black authors writing fantasy with diverse characters: N. K. Jemisin's The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. | The Chandra Tribune

One great example of black authors writing fantasy with diverse characters: N. K. Jemisin’s The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms.

First of all, I must note that Derek, of course, does mention a few black writers like N. K. Jemisin and The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms series, among others (which I read the first book of though wasn’t terribly crazy about it myself; still, I found certain things to admire and appreciate). There are others, which fans have pointed out, but Derek’s point still stands: why aren’t there more black writers tackling epic fantasy? He also points out a lack of diversity among the characters displayed in epic fantasy stories. Granted, his post was written back in 2013 and a lot of new stuff has come out since then, but these are all still relevant topics to consider.

At least, I think so anyway. Continue reading

Let’s Be Honest

18 Jun

I’ve done it yet again: I’ve fallen into a slump with my novel, TEROH. (Thank God I’m not a career novelist!)

Can I be honest? I’m not a very consistent person. Except at work. Though, when I’m not at work—that is, getting paid for said work—I have a totally different mindset about, well, everything: if it’s not work then it’s basically leisure.

I know, that’s not how real life works (chores, bills and the like), but my brain forever has a hard time accepting that.

Anyway, out of my three big goals for this year, finishing TEROH is the one I’ve yet to cross off the list. (Okay, technically I haven’t started writing the second book yet. Though realistically, I should have set the goal as “start outlining and otherwise conceptualizing the remaining books in the series,” which I’ve done.) Every time I take a break and look back at what I’ve accomplished, I only see how much I’ve left to do. And when I think of the effort it took to get to where I am now, it saps the energy right out of me.

I have tunnel vision when I’m set on something, too, so I get really intense when I do work on my novel. It’s like the only thing I work on (outside of work). Worse, when I’m not in “work” mode, I’m as scatterbrained as they come.

What I’m saying is I don’t know how not to operate at 100% in any one mode, resulting in a spectacular crash-and-burn followed by a complete standstill on certain projects.

So, what have you been doing instead of writing, Tiyana?

Working on my house, apparently.

 

I have a lot of interests outside of writing, so when one thing stumps/overwhelms/bores me I’ll just hop onto something else. Thing is I really don’t want to get to the end of 2017 and not be able to say, “Hey guys, it only took me 10 years, not 11!” (This is not an exaggeration.)

This may be hard to believe, but I do just want to be done with this novel. I also know what will be required of me to get it to its best and it’s still a decent amount of work—less than I’ve had to do in the past but enough to psyche me out every now and then. (Hence the prolonged periods of nothingness.) Up to this point, I’ve been reading the whole thing aloud, but I actually find it effective to do a mixture of things:

  1. First, do a quick read-through of a scene to see if anything glaring sticks out then fix what I need to.
  2. Next, read the scene aloud and edit whatever else jumps out at me.
  3. Third, at a later date, read back through my changes and assess whether things still sit well with me. (Since I’ve divided the novel into five parts, I find it helpful to go back a do a quick re-read of that entire section as a whole once I’ve finished editing all the scenes in it.)

Doing this, I find, helps me finesse over errors that can happen in the middle of editing and makes me feel good about moving on—for good! Something I’ve been able to do with Parts I and II, thankfully. (I’m two super short scenes shy of finishing Part III. I’ve just been putting it off for reasons I don’t entirely understand.)

This is all fine and well, but when do you plan on finishing edits on TEROH?

Honestly, I have no idea how/when I’m going to kick myself into finishing the rest of my edits right now. I just know the goal was to get it done before the end of the year. So instead of pushing myself into these intense sessions where I’m working on it all day during my free time to make insane levels of progress, maybe I should just pace myself a bit slower and take more time.

It’s not like I haven’t taken enough time already.

(Edit: when I say “take more time,” I mean “take more time actively editing” and not “more time doing nothing.”)

How do you get yourself back out of a writing/editing rut?

Oh, yeah—and on a totally unrelated note, Happy Father’s Day to all you dads out there!

Also, is it just me or has WordPress been annoyingly buggy lately? I mean I go to type something then come back later and it’s like I never typed it!

‘Does your book have any romance?’

7 May

We were sitting in this high-rise apartment, this stranger and I, J, talking about my novel. Sipping on some mixture of pale Moscato and red wine he’d poured, not realizing I wasn’t really into wine.

I like juice and whiskey, I said. Oh, then you might like this, J assured me.

He kept pouring. Turned out the drink was alright.

J was a writer, too. He understood. Though, when he asked the question, “Does your book have any romance?” I fell quiet for a moment then gave him this kind of wry, bitter laugh.

That he didn’t understand. He furrowed his brow, so I had to explain.

“The men in the novel aren’t exactly romantic. One tries to be, but it doesn’t come across that way because he’s too forceful; the other’s profession involves manipulating the protagonist to do something she normally wouldn’t do. I can’t really call that romance.”

J didn’t have much to say about that. The night carried on regardless.

Why There Isn’t Any ‘Real’ Romance in My Novel

Photo by Nathan Walker.

Continue reading

Switching Gears

16 Apr

(Nope, not a steampunk pun. Promise!)

As has probably been evident by my latest blog posts, I’ve been especially inspired to catalog the swarm of ideas for other books in my series that have been coming to me lately. To be honest, that meant putting editing the first book on the back burner for a bit. However, I really think I needed the distraction at the time. I had a lot of words left to sift through (over 100K). New ideas give me a solid reason to push through the rest of my manuscript.

It’s not that I’m not enthused about the words I’ve written; I’ve just been looking at them for a really, really long time. I want to move on.  Though, to do this, I realized I needed to make some big decisions about the future of my series. Now that a lot of those decisions have been made, I feel less vague about where the series is going. (Book V is still something of a blank slate in my mind, despite knowing what key events I’d like to have in it. I’m just not sure how I want to swing the blurb yet. Need to explore more details from the prior books first.)

Lately, I’ve seriously gotten back into the editing of Book I, The Elementalist: Rise of Hara. Each time I read back through my story, I find myself double-checking some assumptions I’ve made about my understanding of certain things it shares with our world. For example, a knife versus a dagger. One of my characters carries one, another the opposite weapon. It’s always been this way in my mind—probably an aesthetic choice, when I first created their characters—but I never really stopped to ask myself “why?” for practical reasons. Naturally, that required some research and deliberation on my part. (In the end, it turned out not to be a big deal. Still, it’s just one of those things you take for granted, I think, without actively realizing it.)

Anyway, I’m looking to get through a few more scenes this morning before I chill with the parents for Easter—which I don’t actually celebrate, but they do, so… In any case, it’s nice to be making progress again.

Challenging, but nice.

Thoughts on Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them

1 Apr

Not long ago, I decided to sit down and finally watch Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. I was ambivalent about watching it because (1) I was never really a hardcore Harry Poter fan (mainly because I just didn’t catch the wave of Potter Pandemonium when it first rippled through America), (2) the previews didn’t get me very excited and, (3) call me a Debbie Downer, but I thought the premise was a bit silly. I mean a foreign wizard irresponsibly loses his magical beasts, adding trouble to an already magically-troubled America? (Great! Let’s give that man a visa!)

Despite these things, I understand that Rowling is a very clever writer, which I both appreciate and admire. That being said, I had to give it a try. So today, I’m sharing some of my thoughts about Fantastic Beasts, though I don’t intend this to be a full-blown review or summarize the plot in any way.

(Want a video version of this post? Check this out!)

Continue reading

Writing Vlog #2: Planning a (Fantasy) Series

19 Mar

Today is the day Tiyana explains how she actually sat down and thought about the future of her fantasy series…

…after 10 years of working on the first novel, heh.

 

I’m amazed at how much my brain can come up with simply by listening to music. (A lot of this I actually talked about in the “goals” portion of my last blog post, so this may be a little redundant for blog readers. However, if you like videos more than text, then voilà!)

How do you plan for a novel series?

If you’re working on one, that is. 🙂 (Or have worked on in the past.)

Channeling Your Emotions into Dark Writing Themes & Writing Complex Characters + Goals Update

4 Mar

Last weekend, I released a new YouTube video discussing the idea of channeling your own emotions in order to tackle dark themes in your writing and how this can result in more complex characters. Also, I reference some of my personal life experiences and explain how they manifest in my writing.

 

I really believe that if you’re going to play with any particular theme in a story—be it light or dark—then it’s important to come from a personal place when doing so. Otherwise, you run the risk of writing a story that does not emotionally resonate with readers in an authentic way and instead comes across more like a dry essay or intellectual exercise in flexing your technical literary muscles.

At least, this has been my experience while wrestling with my WIP and reading other people’s writing. Continue reading

On the Importance of Being ‘Black’ & the Burden of ‘Proof’

1 Mar

Today, I was watching an interesting YouTube video by a biracial writer named Maya Goode, who was discussing the topic of “do I have to ‘prove my blackness as a writer?'”—to which my response would be a resounding hell no.

Allow me to explain.

‘Blackness,’ Today, Retains a Mindset of Enslavement, Sadly

To be honest, I’ve always found it mind-boggling how biracial people can be treated in the United States. My cousins, who are mixed, have always talked about feeling as if they never really “fit in” with blacks or whites. Yet, as for me and my black family and how I didn’t grow up with “the struggle” of being poor, I have constantly been reminded of this—especially by my mixed cousins. How could I possibly understand what it means to be black when I haven’t even had to “struggle?”

Personally, I don’t care for being black. At all. “Black” is a prison some choose to erect around themselves in order to feel safe then force onto others who make them feel unsafe.

Why would I want to be “black” when so many other “black” people have failed to accept me—the same “blacks” who are constantly trying to find ways to invalidate other people’s experiences so they can elevate their experiences over that of others, just so they can feel better about themselves? That is the most enslaving attitude a person can choose to cling to all of his or her life, and I refuse to live that way.

It’s like certain black Americans today simply refuse to just let go of the idea of slavery…despite that it’s everything our ancestors have suffered for and fought so hard against. (Oddly enough, I don’t think this mindset restricts itself to the black community.)

What good is there in limiting your creative potential to ethnic or cultural expectations? Continue reading