Tag Archives: Element 7

Pantser Special: Using Story Structure Models to Write a Synopsis (& Tighten Your Plot)

14 Jan

Not long ago, while editing my novel, it occurred to me that eventually, I’ll be expected to provide a synopsis of my story whenever I do get around to submitting to agents. (The horror!) As someone who started this ginormous project as a bonafide pantser after failing to produce a likable manuscript going the outlining route, well, the idea of writing a synopsis seemed like a big fat joke…until I realized it really wasn’t.

Without a coherent, logical structure, my story would be DOA.

So…when a YouTuber I follow named Shaelin Bishop posted a video about a 15 Beat Plot Structure this week, I decided to tune in and watch. Perhaps, I reasoned, I could learn something useful.

Boy, did I ever!

Now, I’ve read articles about all sorts of story structures in the past—some more detailed than others—but this “15 Beat” one just seemed to really “click” for me. Maybe because I already had my story pretty much figured out this time around; maybe because it’s actually meant for the visual medium of movies, which I tend to see more than I read, and I’m a very visual person. Anyhow, while listening to Shaelin explain it, I was nodding my head along, mentally listing the ways my story already seemed to align with the plot progressions she was explaining.

Phew! What a relief. I guess, without really thinking about it as “creating a plot structure,” that’s exactly what I’ve been doing all along!

Well, this came as a great relief to the-pantser-that-is-me. Maybe, I thought to myself, I should actually try being organized for once and write down this plot of mine now—y’know, just to make sure I’m telling a coherent story. (It certainly is an easier way to examine plot without the multitude of details of worldbuilding and dialogue and what have you getting in the way.) Within a half an hour of drafting my story structure in Word, I realized that this whole little exercise could actually help me tighten my plot.

It could also, potentially, become the starting point for my synopsis! Continue reading

Neo-Noir, Dark Themes & Fantasy

12 Nov

As I comb through my finished draft of The Elementalist: Rise of Hara (TEROH from here on out), reading it out loud for awkward sentence structures and flowing cadences, I’ve come to realize that my novel is surprisingly dark—surprising to me only because I never intentionally sat down and told myself, “Hey, I’m gonna write a dark fantasy novel!” All the same, it’s making me seriously consider whether my story is even a bit neo-noir.

It’s very much dieselpunk and fantasy, sure, but that doesn’t describe the tone. Not that a series of labels for a novel has to, per se, but if I want to give people a better idea of what they can expect from TEROH, then I wonder now if I should also be adding “neo-noir” to the mix somewhere. (Depending on what version of my blurb I use, I could see people interpreting the story as a light-hearted, swashbuckling type, which could be misleading. Especially if I use my shorter “under 200 words” version versus my slightly longer “under 300 words” one, the latter currently showing on my site.)

Before I get ahead of myself, let me explain why I suspect my novel may be neo-noir. Continue reading

One Year Later…

21 May

Wow. I can’t believe it’s been over a year since I’ve written a blog post here or worked on my novel, but…I actually did some editing today. (Progress bar went from purple to pink!)

I’ve missed it. I’ve missed it a lot. Reading fiction, working on my own, connecting with other writers…

For the past few years I’ve been busy with my interior design business Simplicit Interiors, LLC and figuring out a career as a visual merchandiser working at furniture stores. It takes a lot to be a business owner–more than I may be willing to give, I’ve realized. Which is totally fine. It’s not for everyone. Waiting to see how things play out for the remainder of this year, to be honest.

In the meantime, I decided to get back into the ol’ novel. Picked up on a troublesome chapter I last left off on. Finally tackled it and fixed some big problems I had with it. Wasn’t easy, but…it was worth it.

I’ve remained fairly active on Instagram and Pinterest all this time. Thinking about starting a new Instagram account specifically for my Element 7 project and dieselpunk stuff. It’ll be a fun way to share what inspired me (and keeps inspiring me) to take a crack at this thing called writing and coming back to the world I’ve created. It’s worth the sacrifice of time, I think.

Been popping in on different bloggers’ websites the past couple of days, seeing what’s up. Don’t be surprised if I stop by and say hi!

8 Sentence Sunday #6: Business & Pirates

25 Jan

In this week’s “8 Sentence Sunday,” Voi and Paul, her business partner and one of her best friends, are contemplating the state of AeroTaxi, their air charter and touring venture. This is just after their only tour for the day falls through early on in the story. Business has been increasingly slow–and while Voi is inclined to remain optimistic, Paul sees things differently.

Paul has always been skeptical about government, big business and large organizations in general–to the point of becoming a mild conspiracy theorist. While he and Voi fly planes, Paul is suspicious that a recent airship heist scare, combined with the wild success of a particularly large airship company, is somehow negatively affecting their ability to conduct small business.

Here’s a look at how he sees their current situation as opposed to Voi’s viewpoint. (Aside: both Voi and Paul are from a country named Apexia, though Voi holds dual citizenship in Borellia.)


The Snippet

“One measly Borellian cargo ship—not Apexian, mind you—goes missing, and suddenly everyone thinks Haran pirates are back.”  He looked outside again.  “As for the rest of us with real problems, a hot-shot Borellian war hero practically shows up out of nowhere and opens his own airship company after the war; it does amazing.  A handful of naval mechanics who’ve been working the ship yards practically their entire lives do the same with Skyward Enterprise, and they don’t last more than a year against Neverri before he buys them out.

“A fucking monopoly is what that’s shaping up to be.”

Voi took off her leather gloves and stuffed them into one of her pockets, shrugging.  “So he’s successful.  That’s no crime, is it?”


What are your impressions of Paul?

Do you think there’s a chance his concerns are legitimate, or is Captain Neverri’s imminent “monopoly” over the airship industry (and aerial transportation in general, in Paul’s eyes) as innocent as it seems? Also, what can you make out about the role of pirates in recent history?

Granted, this is all based on a short series of snippets, so this is just for fun. 😉

8 Sentence Sunday #4: Introducing Captain Andre Neverri

11 Jan

Every writer has their favorite characters, and ideally you’d think it’d be the main protagonists in their stories. As much as I love Voi, I’m afraid I love one of her employers even more. (That’s gotta be some sort of writerly sin!)

Captain Andre Neverri

Ah, Captain Andre Neverri…where to begin…

Aeronautical engineer, airship navigator, former air guard captain, pirate hunter and war hero, entrepreneur, multi-millionaire, gentleman inventor, expert on aetheric mechanics, and knife-throwing enthusiast…

Well, what isn’t this man capable of, dammit!

Ronny hates him, Milia can’t stand him and even Voi has her doubts about the man. Though, at the end of the day, in the middle of a crisis, Captain Neverri is probably someone you want on your side. He does have a reputation, however, for being a queer lone bachelor who keeps a crazy wife locked up in the attic (or local institution, in his case)… Though, *ehem* I digress.

Prolific resume aside, he’s a bit of a headache, to be honest, though that’s just my opinion. I’ll let you be the judge.

Below is a snippet showing the first time both Voi and Milia meet Andre. They were walking into a room full of men who were supposed to be working. Everyone is somewhat oblivious to their surroundings, as they’re all engaged in various conversations and activities.

Enjoy!


The Snippet

Without warning, an object came soaring through the air.

Voi froze instinctively, though Milia dodged more quickly than Voi could process.  A blink of the eye later, she realized Milia was holding a combat knife in her hand, hilt clutched at eye level.

Male voices cried out at first in appraisal, apparently thinking the knife would hit the center of the target board pasted on the wall behind the ladies.  Their cheers, however, were cut short as Milia slowly directed her gaze towards them, seeking out the owner of the deadly projectile.

Every wide-eyed soul in the room turned to the lone man sitting at the drafting desk some distance away.

“Whoops!” he declared blithely, tossing his hands into the air.  “Looks like you walked right into our little game!”


What were your first impressions of Andre?

And was it just a little bit absurd that Milia caught a flying knife mid-air? (Hint: the answer should tell you that there’s a lot more to Milia beneath her diplomatic title of “special envoy.”)

8 Sentence Sunday #3: Introducing Ron Callahan

4 Jan

For this week’s “8 Sentence Sunday” over at Dieselpunks.org, I’d like to share a snippet with a different character: Ron Callahan.

Ron, usually referred to as “Ronny” throughout the story, first introduces himself to Voi as a social worker. Though, it isn’t long before Voi realizes he is an altogether different sort of government agent! (I’ve written about his character once before in my flash story, “Betrayal.”)

Ronny’s character is revealed a lot more slowly than Milia’s and Voi’s, I’ve realized, so I’m going to fast forward and share a snippet from further in, after Voi’s already had the chance to exchange some words with him. We don’t really get to see much of his personality here, more the nature of his relationship with Voi. It’s definitely one of the more complex relationships out of all my characters, I think. Very nebulous. Though, when I think about it, Ronny isn’t the most straightforward, easy-to-understand character to begin with.

Of course, there are reasons for this.

Anyway, at this point, Ronny has just visited Voi’s home and has caught her skipping doses of the medication she’s supposed to be taking to manage her condition, emelesia (summary here). In Voi’s world, it’s a serious thing when a social worker comes to check in on you. Emelesiacs live under fairly close government scrutiny and dread the day they’ll be sent to live in an insane asylum—as most are at a relatively young age.

Even though she’d never admit it, Voi is pretty darn scared that Ronny is here to take action on her noncompliance.

However, much to her surprise, Ronny instead starts asking Voi to describe what it’s like for her to go back on her meds after she’s been off of them for an extended period of time. Caught off-guard by his curiosity, she hesitantly begins to explain but then pauses. He asks her to elaborate.

He’s waiting patiently for her reply but is still sensing some hesitation from her. This is what happens next.

The Snippet

Suddenly, the warmth of his aura seemed to reach out to hers subtly—like a soothing brush of the hand.

Voi closed her eyes, embracing the foreign calmness of that moment.  Though, she soon sensed his energy pull away and reopened them.

He stood there with his arms folded.

After clearing her throat and licking her lips, she explained, “I meant…my pores, they close up.  I noticed my senses become duller, as well, as if…as if they’re being suppressed.”

Mr. Callahan drew his eyebrows together.  “Ever wonder what else it is they’re trying to suppress?”

What were your first impressions of Ronny’s character?

What do you suspect is the nature of the relationship he and Voi will share? Let me know in the comments!

8 Sentence Sunday #2: Introducing Milia Furlan

28 Dec

This week, for my “8 Sentence Sunday” snippet, I’d like to introduce a new character: Milia Furlan.

Special Envoy Milia Furlan is a well-respected diplomat who works for the League, an international peacekeeping organization–modeled loosely after The League of Nations, as you might have guessed.  Though, it’s been around for about 700 years in Voi’s world. (Funny: I tried thinking of other names to use, though “League” just seemed to have the best ring to it!)

Voi has heard a lot about this woman in the newspapers–including the first headline from last week’s snippet–but this is the first time she actually meets Milia face-to-face.

Suffice it to say Milia is not who Voi expected her to be!

The Snippet

At the other end of the barn sat a woman in a steel grey ladies’ suit atop a bale of hay with her legs crossed, smoking from a long, silver cigarette holder.  Traces of a sweet-smelling smoke lingered in the air.

To be honest, the woman looked rather glamorous to Voi, with her thin red lips and wavy blonde bob.  She held an air of aloof worldliness about her—a complete contrast to Voi’s disheveled tomboy-pilot look.  As such, the mundaneness of her attire in comparison caused Voi to unintentionally slow in her approach.

“My goodness,” said the diplomat.  “You look so…Borellian.”

Voi just stood there and frowned.


Granted, none of my snippets have included a physical description of Voi thus far, so we don’t have any specifics as to what she’s talking about. (I will say she is biracial.) However, for our immediate purposes, the goal here was to introduce the kind of tension that will be present in most of Voi’s interactions with Milia, as well as reveal some of Milia’s character.

What was your initial impression(s) of Milia?

Based on my first snippet, do you think Voi and Millia have a good chance at working together as part of a team? Let me know in the comments!

8 Sentence Sunday #1: Introducing Voi Román

21 Dec

Since I’ve gotten back into blogging and editing and whatnot, I’ve come to realize that my blog here still has been gathering a good deal of new followers! Needless to say, this was only all the more reason to get back into the groove of writing (and editing).

One new writer I’ve met (so to speak) since coming back to the blogosphere is Sarah from The Old Shelter, who also writes dieselpunk fiction and is working on a trilogy, as well. In visiting her blog, I’ve learned about a series over at Dieselpunks.org called “8 Sentence Sunday” in which writers are encouraged to share snippets from their finished works or WIPs and get a little feedback.

Sounds pretty swell to me!

I think this would be a fun way to help get me back to my writing happy place on the regular, so I’m going to try this and see how it goes. 🙂

The following is actually a snippet from the first novel in my Element 7 series, which I’ve decided to call The Elementalist: Rise of Hara. Here, we get to meet the main protagonist Voi for the first time. Voi Román is an aviatrix with a rare genetic condition that she suffers from–or so she believes! Hint-hint: it has something to do with that fantasy element I keep mentioning. 😉 (Check out my updated blurb for a more detailed summary about the plot, if you’re interested.)

Anyway, without further ado…my 8 Sentence Sunday entry! (You’ll see where I’m getting the new name for my blog from, as well.)


LEAGUE SPECIAL ENVOY ATTACKED ON TRAIN LEAVING DARMOIL.”

“LOCAL PILOTS LOSING BUSINESS TO AIRSHIP CONGLOMERATE.”

“FLIMSY STUNT PILOT MEETS GRIM END.”

It was 8:37 sunrise and Voi soaked alone in her clawfoot tub, avoiding her meds, with a morning copy of The Chandra Tribune propped open.  An autumn breeze drifted in through the awning window, gently encouraging the jasmine-scented steam rising from the tub.  The telephone clanged repetitively from a faraway place—Voi’s sitting room, actually—though she paid it little mind.

Rather, she folded the newspaper and set it aside on a nearby stool, flexed her fingers and toes then slipped deeper into the bathwater with an earnest sigh, keeping her head aloft.  She shuddered as she closed her newsprint-assaulted eyes, momentarily forgetting AeroTaxi’s financial woes, the Tribune and the troublesome world it reported.

‘Realistically’

25 Jan

Realistically, I’ll probably get in 3-4 days a week, depending on my energy level and assuming there’s no design client to attend to.

Amendment: make that “I’ll be lucky if I get in 1-2 days a week…”

Happily going back at it today, though–editing, that is.  Comes in stop and starts, but I’ll take it.  On the roster for the day: sprucing up scenes where my main character, Voi, gets a tentatively-awaited letter from a friend she last parted with on uncertain terms… Also, Voi departs to a new city to embark on an–ehem, how shall we put it…technically illegal endeavor along a border region shared with historically-belligerent neighbors. (They are now admittedly peace-loving and seeking to join in an alliance with Voi’s people, but it wouldn’t be interesting if things were always what they seemed, now would it!)

Anyway, good times ahead…

(I feel like I should have been giving updates like this all along.  Hmm…maybe I’ll start doing that on The Other Blog.)

~

Speaking of The Other Blog, (maybe mentioned this before, but) I’m actually over at Tumblr, too, if anyone has a haunt/tends to lurk in those parts.  Sometimes I write about writing, but I post a lot of other random stuff, too, usually regarding dieselpunky and interior design stuff or my LDR adventures.  You can even see pics of me and the stunning boyfriend. 😉 (I’m not lying; he’s pretty darn handsome.  Just sayin’.)

Finding Time for The Novel

12 Jan

Well, folks, it certainly hasn’t been easy, finding time to work on the ol’ WIP.  Most times I fail, but I’m starting to see a slither of sunlight through thick grey clouds.

A Morning Writer with No Mornings

I have determined that, even going in to work at 7:30am rather than 6am, there’s no way I can motivate myself to get up early enough to put some editing and writing time in before my day begins.  Yes, I write better in the mornings but like 7am-10am morning, not 5am.

It’s just not going to happen.

Other Time

Just recently I wrapped up a bunch of research and presentation materials I was putting together for a new interior design project.  There may be a handyman/electrician and custom cabinetry involved, which will be a first for me since starting my own business.  In any case, it’s taken more time than I expected to consider all aspects of this particular project and getting my ducks all lined up to come up with an affordable solution for my client…but the legwork is finally done.

Now, when I come home from the day job at the furniture store, I actually have time, and energy, to work on the novel.

The reality, I’ve come to accept, is that if I have a design project in the works, there’s simply no way I’ll be able to dedicate time and energy to Element 7.  I basically work whenever I get a free moment–around the clock–to get a project done as fast yet as thoroughly as possible.

I just sent off my presentation materials last night via email, as my client likes to look at everything that way before meeting and discussing what she’d like to do.  So this morning I was able to sit at my computer and edit another chapter.

It felt really good.

Homesick for E7

I’ve missed the story.  I think about it all the time.  And lately, my boyfriend (God bless his soul) has been reading two chapters at a time and giving his first impressions, on top of his equally busy life… (This is the guy who is also a writer and had started a story about Tesla and Amelia Earhart time-traveling.) It’s been really nice being able to talk about my story with someone who seems to get it–or is at least interested in it.  Though, soon enough I’ll run out of chapters to send him if I don’t get back to editing!

So yeah, I’m happy to be sitting here dedicating time to Element 7, even if it’s only a couple of chapters.  I’ll do what I can to continue working on it, but it’s going to be pretty sporadic.  I am living with my parents and sister, so I don’t have the full responsibilities that come with being an adult (besides paying for most of everything else I need).  I do cook two days a week for everyone, however, and afterwards I’m like X_X (zero energy), so I know on those days I won’t get any editing and writing done.  I need some alone time at night to just let my brain lazily float out in space.  Also, as I’m sure I mentioned here before, every other weekend me and the boyfriend visit each other to make our long distance relationship work until we can work something out (it’ll be at least another year and a half/two years, I’m thinking *sighs*), so that leaves the opposite weekends available to work on the story plus three weekdays…technically.

Realistically, I’ll probably get in 3-4 days a week, depending on my energy level and assuming there’s no design client to attend to.  I thought I’d get used to the physical demands of my day job–and in some ways I have.  Though, overall, it’s still pretty tiring most days.

In any case, I’m just gonna do what I can to keep the ball rolling.  Even at this tortoise pace it’s possible to get the thing done.

We’ll get there…eventually.