Hoarding Plot-Reveal-Secrets Syndrome

Friends, I have a problem.

It’s called Hoarding Plot-Reveal-Secrets Syndrome.

Okay, so this is a name I made up. But whatever it is, I HAVE IT.

Let me explain.

When I’m writing a story, I have to set things up in the story before I can get to the major plot points.

Then the beginning gets longer than I planned, because I’m a disaster longwinded.

And I also have this strange thing where I ALWAYS HOARD SECRETS.

  • If there’s a big reveal about a certain character? = Hoard it.
  • If there’s a plot twist? = Hoard it.
  • If there’s a villain doing things THAT WE SHOULD KNOW STRAIGHT OFF but it’s “too early” to reveal? = Hoard it.

This results in the unfortunate tendency for nothing interesting to happen in the novel for huuuge stretches of time, as I throw in tiny hints toward said hoarded plot-reveal secrets but don’t actually put any of them in until way later in the book.

BECAUSE… SECRETS.

Because I’m saving them for later. *cough*

But this means that I DON’T INTRODUCE VITAL PLOT PIECES EARLY ON BECAUSE THEY’RE TOO “SPECIAL” TO PUT IN YET.

I don’t even know, guys. I’m a mess.

(It doesn’t help that sometimes, if I’m discovering a story as I go, and don’t have it all plotted when I start, I don’t even know the big plot points until I discover them when the heroes do…)

It’s not just one book, or anything. I’ve noticed this multiple times in my writing. It adds up to a repeated problem.

Enter Hoarding Plot-Reveal-Secrets Syndrome.

(Thank you, Doctor. No, really. You’re a huge help. -_-)

It would be like if in The Lord of the Rings, they don’t find out what the One Ring is actually for until, like, Lothlorien.

It kills me that I can’t offer specifics about my own stories to help explain this, because… spoilers. But let me be vague for you and pick one story as an example…

I’m currently writing KW2, The Secret of Kedran’s Wood. (Oh, great, there’s a secret in the TITLE. And guess what, it doesn’t get revealed until HALFWAY INTO PART THREE. I’m not even there yet. I’m even hoarding plot points from myself. Joy.)

I’m currently writing Part 2 (I always split my novels into three parts — no idea why, it just works that way so I can have bite-sized pieces).

Unfortunately, the “setup” on this novel has taken so long, that Part 1 is currently 63,522 words.

THAT’S RIGHT, THE FIRST “THIRD” OF THIS BOOK IS CURRENTLY THE SIZE OF SOME NOVELS.

I need help.

There’s a character I’m going to introduce who’s going to be hugely important to the plot, and may even steal the show from Tare (*universe stands still while audience squints and asks “IS THAT EVEN POSSIBLE?”*) and I keep putting off introducing said character. And I keep having the villains beat about the bush instead of doing THINGS. And the heroes are always trying to figure out the mysteries but they keep juuuust eluding them.

One of the problems with this… er… problem is that if the PLOT doesn’t start until halfway through the book or later, then… what is going on to start with? It’s kind of like the description on the back of a book, making you interested without “giving things away”.

While we’re on the subject, what is my summary for this book going to look like? O_O

The Secret of Kedran’s Wood by Yours Truly

In which Tare and the Chess Club do things and discover SHOCKING, EXCITING THINGS (No, really. They’re awesome.) but those are in the final third sooo we’re not going to talk about them here on the back of the book because #secrets and BECAUSE YOU NEED TO READ 100K WORDS OF RAMBLING FIRST THANKS.

Not to mention, it’s awkward when you can’t tell anybody the reason why your story is cool. Because it’s spoilers.

Or is it?

HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHAT YOU CAN TELL PEOPLE ABOUT YOUR STORY WITHOUT RUINING THE SURPRISE.

Ahem.

Y’know, I should just accept that the Kedran’s Wood series is getting longwinded and episodic and should just become a serialized book-equivalent of a TV show. Yeah. Let’s do that…

But that doesn’t solve the plot-reveal-hoarding issue for my other works.

Basically, IT’S STARTING TO BE A PROBLEM. And I have NaNo coming up and don’t want to do this to… whatever it is that I’m going to write for NaNo. (Which, incidentally, I haven’t decided yet. I’m doing it, but picking a novel? SO HARD. *cough*)

So, does anyone else have this hoarding-plot-reveal-secrets problem?

And, more importantly, WHAT IS THE CURE? O_O

I don’t want the stories to be drawn out and lack plot-reveals until the final few chapters, but howww do I sprinkle them in?

How do I stop feeling like I’m “spoiling” the story by actually, you know, revealing what’s going on every now and then?

How do I stop hoarding the juiciest bits and cackling about how I’ll get to reveal them …someday?

How do I know what I can and can’t reveal about the plot or the sequels or whatever?

HALP.

Do you suffer from Hoarding Plot-Reveal-Secrets Syndrome? Any condolences or tips for me? XD

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Beautiful Books #2: NaNo 2015

So… I have stuff scheduled for the blog throughout this month, and was going to entirely ignore blogging (after my Ishness post) until December, because NANO! Because I’m so insanely busy and can’t even seem to get around to replying to comments till like a week later (sorry guys…).

…But then I saw that Cait and Sky have a second round of Beautiful Books up, and I fell in love with the questions and just HAD TO DO IT!!! *flails around*

So, for those who care, you’re going to get a peek into how my November writing is going and what’s up with The Silver Forest. 😉

bb-redone

Join in the linkup if you want! (You don’t have to be doing NaNo to do it.)

1. Is the book turning out how you thought it would be, or is it defying your expectations?

My goodness. HOW DO I EVEN ANSWER THIS QUESTION??? *rides on roller-coaster of emotions and gets off, panting*

SilverForestCoverFinalUm. Some of it I like and is turning out wonderfully. Most of the princesses are kind of how I want them, especially Emerald… Fun dialog, gorgeous description of Faerie. I love some of the other characters too. But it also has a lot of poor quality writing, just thrown together. Some of the characters are being stubborn and not turning out how I want them to be (i.e. not cardboard…), not to mention I’m 16,700 words in (which is a third of NaNo’s goal of 50k) and I still haven’t gotten out of what I was originally planning to be chapter two…? Um. Yes.

I basically am going up and down between passionately loving it and loathing it with the loathing of a thousand burning suns.

I was sick of it last night and thinking of just ignoring it forever and going to write something else instead, or, ya know, just ignoring the fact that I need to write at all this month and just read books… when suddenly I read over some of it and fell in love again and a whole bunch of things clicked into place and now I want to go back and rewrite all of it that I have so far BECAUSE I KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH IT NOW AND IT’S GOING TO BE AMAZING. …But I’m going to make myself press on instead, just knowing that I’m going to know how to fix the beginning after I finish the story.

So right now I adore it and can’t wait to write more (even though I’m behind and am apparently blogging instead…?) but probably by this weekend I’ll be in the depths of despair again, I dunno. *shrugs* Such is NaNo.

2. What’s your first sentence (or paragraph)?

As the first chapter was written between the hours of midnight and 2 a.m. after a week of sleep deprivation and absolutely no plotting whatsoever, the first chapter (including its first sentence/paragraph) is not fit for any living being to see and is going to be SCRAPPED. So, instead, you get the opening of Chapter Two:

     Peach skipped along a white-pillared, tapestried corridor and ducked out a side-door into the castle garden in search of more sisters. At fifteen, she was the youngest of the twelve, and that was perfectly fine with her. She was full of life, constantly curious, and tended to move at higher speeds than any of her siblings besides Emerald. So it was not surprising when she came around a magnolia bush in the glory of summer bloom and ran smack-dab into someone else, and they both went down in the grass in a tangle of arms and legs and skirt.
      “Oh, stars! I’m so sorry,” she said, scrambling back to her feet and surveying with curiosity the person she had run into, who was doing likewise. It was a boy, perhaps her own age, whom she had never seen before.

3. Are you a plotter or a pantser? Have you ever tried both methods and how did it turn out?

I am a plotter. I need plot, otherwise I flail around and make messes and the story gets monstrously long and sprawled-out. I always try to plot extra for NaNos, but most NaNos I seem to end up pantsing more than ever because I don’t get my plotting finished because I was too busy. THIS IS A PROBLEM BY THE WAY.

So I’m currently using a mixture of both methods because I have a rough outline for the first several scenes, and after that a VERY rough Three-Act-Structure (which I’d never used before) outline of the rest of the story. But the details, I’m pantsing ish, and as soon as I get past the scenes I have in mind, I’m basically doomed, so we’re not going to think about that right now…

4. What do you reward yourself with after meeting a goal?

I update my wordcount on the NaNo site so that I can see the little graph looking as it should. *nod nod*

statsNaNo2015twelfth

(Yes, yes, I know I’m behind. Hush.)

5. What do you look for in a name? Do you have themes and where do you find your names?

I don’t usually have themes for my names, but this time I do, so YAY! 😀

The princesses are all named after colors, mostly gems/precious metals. Silver, Ebony, Amethyst, Sapphire, Turquoise, Emerald, Ruby, Auburn, Ivory, Goldie, Rosie, Peach.

For most of the other characters, I’m using Celtic names, mostly Irish ones, or tweaked combinations of words from an Irish dictionary. 😉 Irish names like Finnigan, Brogan, Seamus, Rory, Fergal, Etain, Niav, and Alanna, some of which I pulled from memory; others I looked through some books of Irish fairy tales for inspiration. Niog is a Welsh name, I believe, which I ran into somewhere and just LIKED. Justin and Tristan and Kern just sounded right. Taghdach (moody), Cothrom (fair), Dilis (faithful), Riogal (from rioga/riuil: royal), Prechan (rook), Bronach (sad), and Leithshae and Sisceall, were derived from Irish words or tweaked.

6. What is your favourite to write: beginning, middle, or end — and why?

I have no idea. I’ve only written endings a very few times, so I don’t feel I can even answer this question… But probably endings because it gets so exciting and I’m almost done and just yes. I only wish I got to them more often… 😦 HOWEVER I also enjoy beginnings, getting to explore the opening of the story and meet the characters. But middles might be the best too because you’re over the awkward figuring-out stage of the beginning and are just zipping along with the plot. I DON’T KNOW OKAY. Maybe all of them? Or none of them? Or something.

7. Who’s your current favourite character in your novel?

My half-fae prince Taghdach. ❤ …Also Niog the enigmatic gardener boy. And unexpectedly, Seamus the court jester who appeared fully formed on the page without planning and stole my heart. I imagine the only reason there aren’t several others on here is that we haven’t met them yet in the story…

8. What kind of things have you researched for this project, and how do you go about researching? (What’s the weirdest thing you’ve researched?!)

(See my review on Goodreads.)

I researched the Twelve Dancing Princesses fairy tale, which means that I read a collection called Twelve Dancing Princesses Tales From Around the World edited by Heidi Anne Heiner.

I also “researched” character types that I like, meaning that I went through my list of favorite characters from books I read this year, and previous years, and categorized them in the categories I wanted to use, and then made lists of the characteristics and stuff. (Dark guy; sweet romance hero; young enigmatic lad; awesome fighter; rogue/thief; and Undefined — which is a favorite category of mine, which I cannot describe, and is where Seamus is going.)

And I’m going to eventually have to research magnolia bushes and wharfs and causeways and such things because I threw them in there in the heat of the moment when I was writing, and then realized I don’t know if they were really what I was thinking of. XD

9. Do you write better alone or with others? Do you share your work or prefer to keep it to yourself?

It depends. I think in the long run I write better in a room entirely alone. But sometimes, being at a write-in will make me actually write because everyone else is writing.

And I like to share my work sometimes; it also depends. I usually read each day’s work aloud to my sister to get a feel for it and some immediate feedback/encouragement. Most of the time I like having beta readers as well, but during NaNo it’s far too horrendous for anyone to see, so I like to keep it to myself for the most part during November. 😛

10. What are your writing habits? Is there a specific snack you eat? Do you listen to music? What time of day do you write best? Feel free to show us a picture of your writing space!

During NaNo, I usually open my bulletin board on my laptop (a feature that came with it) where I keep inspiration, and open my document and plotting file, start some music, and — hopefully — write.

NaNo2015BulletinBoardSilverForest

(Bulletin board for my NaNo this year.)

I don’t eat while I write; I can’t multi-task like that. I listen to a playlist of fast or inspirational music I have on my computer; or, if I’m somewhere with internet, I’ll have Pandora or my youtube playlist. Music is so helpful! I think I write best late at night, which is unfortunate. But I do want to try writing early in the morning to see if that’s better… it just hasn’t happened yet.

nanowritingspace2015

(Le writing space.)

And there you are. My Writing Process. Huzzah for Beautiful Books!

Now it’s back to NaNo for me…

A Look Into My Mind: The Writing Process Blog Tour

The wonderful Elizabeth Kaiser of E. Kaiser Writes-a-Blog tagged me with the Writing Process Blog Tour. Thanks Elizabeth!

I’d seen it going around the blogosphere and it looked like fun, so I’m excited to finally get to do it! I can babble about my writing, but say that somebody ASKED me to, and therefore I can annoy everyone in the name of being useful. 😉 Hee. That being said, I hope you’ll find it interesting!

So here we go: a look at my writing.

1. What are you working on?

KW2coverPOh, lots of things. But I think I’ll go with the recentest thing I’ve actively started working on.

The Secret of Kedran’s Wood is book two in a contemporary fantasy series I’m writing. (It’s theoretically a trilogy at the moment, but I hesitate to call it that, lest out of spite it decides there’s another five books or so…) I may have mentioned it before on the blog, but if so it would have been under the title “Snowfall at Kedran’s Wood”, because I recently changed the title… Just so you know, in case you’re getting confused. 😉

It’s about a group of friends (the “Chess Club” of their little town) and how they’re trying to make sense of various mysteries that seem to tie back to the adventurous happenings in the first book, while the still-mysterious Tare has returned and thinks he’s going mad due to a succession of nightmares. There’s some winter fun as they get ready for Christmas, some suspicious villains who are up to suspicious villainous things, and a surprise or two that nobody expected, which includes something going on in the wood . . .

2. How does your work differ from others of its genre?

WarehouseThe Owl of Kedran’s Wood and The Secret of Kedran’s Wood (books 1 and 2, the latter of which I’m writing) are contemporary fantasy, i.e. they take place in a modern but unspecified American town, and have fantasy elements (in the first, some villainous creatures from another world; in the second… well… stuff. *cough*spoilers*cough*). My answers here mainly apply to the first, but, by extension, to the second as well.

I’ve only come across a tiny handful of contemporary fantasy books that I liked at all, so I think I started writing this series to fill an empty slot in the genre. For some reason, I tend to find modern fantasy books to be “icky”. Well, most modern things I find icky, and when they add fantasy it just seems to make it worse.

I feel like most authors, presented with these ingredients: fantasy, modern small-town, group of friends, female MC, dark mysterious guy, monsters — would construct it roughly as: girl falls in love with dark guy because he’s off-limits, while having problems with her friends, amid ickness at school; monsters are a big part and very creepy, and the fantasy element is blown out of proportion with lots of special effects and probably dark magic.

ChessDoorstepThese stories of mine are about modern teens, but being set during vacations I don’t have to deal with them “at school”, which I think accounts for a large percentage of why I don’t like modern YA books. The friends are actually *gasp* nice people, and get along (for the most part). There also isn’t a large focus on romance, and although there are some “couples” it’s not a big thing and it’s more focused on the group and how they’re friends and what they’re doing together. The main girl isn’t even the “main” character–we’re just in her head the most because she’s the newcomer–and she starts liking the happy-go-lucky guy; while the cool dark guy, who is very much a loner and at first they’re not certain he’s even good, lurks on the fringe and slowly becomes a part of their group, almost. But he’s dark and dangerous at times, and this makes them wary of him (instead of the girls falling head over heels in love with him). The monsters I tried not to make too disturbing or gross, and the fantasy element is only that there are monsters who have arrived from another world, that the main characters need to deal with.

In short, it differs from others in the genre because I write contemporary fantasy that I would actually be willing to read and recommend to others, whereas most books in that genre I wouldn’t.

3. Why do you write what you write?

Well, the reason why I write contemporary fantasy is found above. But it’s not my main/favorite thing to write. And that is fantasy adventure set in other worlds, generally without too many fantastical things, and generally with a medieval-esque feel.

I write medieval fantasy-world adventure because it’s my favorite type of genre and I feel at home with it, both in reading and in writing. Since some of my earliest favorite books I read were medieval-esque fantasy in other worlds, or at least places that feel otherworldly (gadrillions of fairy tales; The Princess and the Goblin; The Gammage Cup; the Prydain Chronicles; Narnia; Middle-earth, etc.), I just naturally fall back on that genre. It is HOME to me. The forests, hills and glens, mountains, moors, castles, swords and bows and arrows and cloaks and horses, knights, princesses, kings and kings-in-exile and just everything! I like the FEEL of it, the refreshing sort of green feel, and the possibility of wonder around every corner.

BridgeRoad2In my writing, I love the freedom that comes with inventing your own kingdoms/lands and all their intricacies and relations and cultures. Especially if there can be a slight fantastical bent to the things in the story, just to spice it up . . . A clan of talking bears, or enormous bats blacker than the night; a stone that glows with moonlight; invented trees or berries; pirate captains who tame the seas with their singing; a different race of people with special abilities. Or you can go the whole way, and have a fairytale kingdom (especially with a fairytale retelling inside it!) with creatures like unicorns or dragons, selkies, birds who turn into people and back, mind reading abilities, fairies . . . The possibilities are endless! (Basically all of these find their way into one story or another of mine, in case you were wondering.)

Fantasy gives me the freedom to write whatever I want, and I am just so very at home in my medieval fantasy worlds, where I feel myself and my characters can go out into the vast green and leafy forests, wandering amidst the tall mysterious trees, and meet fascinating people, mythical creatures, and wild sweeping adventures of any and every kind imaginable.

4. How does your writing process work?

I keep a journal of all my writing ideas, which is generally where my first ideas go. When I have a particular story idea in mind, I keep making notes on it whenever I have ideas, either in my journal or in a file for it, and just let it simmer on the back burner. When it’s ready, it attacks me and makes me start writing it.

I generally have to have a title and a one-paragraph summary of what it’s about before I can officially start a story. That’s the bare minimum, but I usually prefer to have something of a plot outline. I’m a plotter and feel most comfortable when I at least have a list of the main events. I often cut those up into parts–like acts, if you will–and it depends on the story whether I have just a list of events or a full-out outline that’s like a long summary.

When I actually get to writing the story, I often plot each scene before I write, including a rough idea of some of the dialog. It depends on the story whether I feel most comfortable mapping it out so minutely, or whether I let it come as I write. And invariably, there’s always new things that pop up when I’m writing that I hadn’t plotted. That’s one of the best feelings. I also sometimes act out scenes to myself, which can help.

KWplaylistPicThen I write. Usually in my room with music on. For the most part I write in order, but occasionally a scene from later demands to be written, and I often comply. And I write some more. And make a cover for fun, and make lists of characters, and find songs to play in playlists, and procrastinate, and get stuck. And get distracted into working on something else for awhile. Then I get stuck on that one and go back to the original (or a third). Unless it’s really flowing, in which case I just type madly away and suddenly it’s finished and I don’t know what to do with myself because I’ve been living in it…

And after I finish… I let it sit. And then I edit it. And then I let people read it. And then I edit it again. And that’s… currently as far as I’ve ever gotten with a story. Don’t ask about what comes next–the dreaded Publishing with a capital P–because I’m not sure about that yet. Shhh…

***

And there you have some of my writing process and thoughts on writerly things! If you actually read it, in which case you deserve a cookie for your patience!

I think I’m supposed to tag people now but most people seem to have done the tag already… But I tag Lauriloth and Ashlee Willis because they’re both awesome people who I would like to hear talk about how they write!