The (belated) post of Writerly goals and resolutions

 

Technically this post was supposed to go up last month, but January = insanity. Which means today you get to hear all about my 2016 writing goals and plot bunnies and all that good stuff! I’m using the Beautiful People questions (hosted by Sky and Cait) because as always they suit perfectly, and I like lists and such things. They give a sense of order in the universe. *dramatic music*

Shall we?
What were your writing achievements last year?

*in which Annie does a happy dance because SHE ACCOMPLISHED STUFF*

In March I found out that I was a finalist in Rooglewood’s Beauty and the Beast re-telling contest. Of course, I was disappointed not to be one of the winners, but finding out I was one of the Top Twenty? I still get happy chills over that.

For the first time I participated in Camp NaNo July which was a blast (shout-out to Schuyler and Emily for being such amazing writer buddies). I’ve never written so much in one month, and I’ve never had that much fun, or that much pain (I write longhand). Also, it had the added bonus of creating a habit of writing daily for me. WOOT. I’m a procrastinator, folkies, hence why July was so important. Not to mention I added over 25,000 words to the third draft of I am Juliette so there’s that. I worked on typing it up over the next few months – my sister-in-law helped me tremendously – and in the meantime I started Blood Thread, my fantasy steampunk novella about a cat-fae and his unruly human charge. In November I joined in NaNoWriMo for the first time and wrote about 11,000 words of Witching, the sequel to I am Juliette. I would have written more, but life happened. I finished and edited Blood Thread in December.

All in all, I feel happy about what I did last year. I finished two books, one full-length and one novella. I learned good habits and more about my own style and voice. And my social media platforms grew steadily – I made connections with some brilliant, lovely people. Also, I discovered that Fantasy is my life’s blood; I suspected it already, but now I know for sure.

Tell us about your top priority writing project for this year?

I feel like I should maybe have a microphone and a holograph right now.

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I am Juliette takes Top Priority for sure. It needs an extensive edit of the Draft 4 (that’s actually what I’m in the middle of right now). But after that? Once IAJ is sent out to beta-readers I have no idea what I’ll be working on, and I am incredibly excited about it. There’s this glorious horizon awash with bright ideas and I can hardly wait to have a blank slate and a fresh story to work on. A few I am dying to get my paws on are:

the Zorro re-telling: in my head it’s all a palette of dusty roads and orange sunsets and rad motorcycles and political tangles and swashbuckling rescues and Spanish food/jargon and deliciously suspenseful bad-guy-is-two-steps-behind-Zorro-on-the-staircase scenes. I need this book in my life, people.

Witchling: It’s a bit untrue that I’m wild to write this one since most of it takes place in outer space and that can be a hampering setting for me. I crave the color and life and air of Earth. Not even kidding, humans; this is an actual, legitimate problem I face as a writer. Space drains my creativity. BUT. There’s also Hansel and Gretel who are just so sweet and adorable and wring my heart, and I want to spend more time with the Witchling. The Wolf Master is one of my favorite villains of all time, and as for Halsey? He is a precious charrie who deserves to be set loose on paper again.

The Runner Chronicles: Again, Fantasy is my Kryptonite. MUST HAVE THE FANTASY. I’ve been half-brainstorming this series in the back of my mind, and then I wrote a Beautiful People for two of the characters which just made matters worse, and now I want to write all about this gifted, confused, prejudiced world with its gorgeous scenery and bone-chilling creatures. The problem? It’s a series. I have no wish to start another series right now. I get cranky just thinking about it. Someone give me chocolate chips.

List 5 areas you’d like to work the hardest to improve this year.

Writing description: I never used to be so unsure of myself in this area, but now when I write it’s like I’m looking through poorly-made glasses at the world around me. It’s incredibly frustrating.

Keeping to a consistent schedule: Honestly, I’m doing much better at this, but it’s too easy for me to slip up. I want to get up earlier, start writing earlier and accomplish my set word-count/goal each day. Lists are my best friend.

Plot: I know I’m pretty strong on the character front, but plot is my Waterloo. I don’t like simple, I like convoluted and surprising—it’s just a matter of learning how to replicate that.

Writing humor: My brand of humor tends to always take place in dialogue and a lot of time it sounds similar—snarky one-liners and the like. I plan on learning how to write different kinds of humor, focusing on working it into the prose.

Bravery: In keeping with my word for the year I want to be braver when it comes to my writing. I want to incorporate the themes I feel called to, even if they scare me. I want to try new styles and modes of writing, and delve into my imagination and creativity without thinking about how other people might respond negatively. I’m going to query this year and work more on the publishing side of things which terrifies me. Hence, this resolution.

Are you participating in any writing challenges?

Since I loved Camp NaNo so much last year, I really want to join in again. April will probably be too busy (pleasedontbepleasedontbe) but, Lordwilling, I will be writing up a storm in July. I may or may not do NaNoWriMo this year… WE SHALL SEE.

What’s your critique partner/beta reader situation like and do you have plans to expand this year?

There are several lovely humans who beta-read for me, and I’m hoping to increase their number this year; specifically, a few male readers/writers since I don’t have any at the moment and a masculine viewpoint is invaluable. I don’t really have any steady critique partners, but I’d like to have a few (I need to, would be more accurate). My sisters are stellar in the critique department, but I would also like some writers who are more advanced in their craft.

Do you have plans to read any writer-related books this year? Or are there specific books you want to read for research?

Yes, indeedy! I have a list with a plethora of writerly books I plan on digging into sometime. Top of said list being Bird by Bird, The Emotion Thesaurus, Revising and Self editing for publication, Structuring your Novel and Outlining your Novel among others.

As for research I need to read the original Zorro book, re-hash various fairytales for my I am Juliette series, study some more well-written science fiction (recommendations, anyone?), and I’m planning on reading Quiet since I need to have a better handle on how introverted people think. Also books about ninjas and aromatherapy and gunmanship and Spanish culture and outer-space and blindness. Beyond that? Who knows? That’s half the reason a writer’s life is so exciting.

Pick one character you want to get to know better, and how are you going to achieve this?

Only one? That’s adorable.

The Wolf Master from Witchling fascinates me and, since he’s the antagonist for the whole of the series, I really need to learn more about him; what makes him tick, what his driving motivation is, why exactly he became the way he is. I have strong inklings and I am eager to find out more. I’m hoping to explore the Witchling and Halsey’s friendship more too because a) they give me many Best Friend feels, and b) they help each other grow in ways I can’t quite grasp yet. I need to understand exactly what their dynamic is and how they view each other.

Another character I’m anxious to get to know is my “Rapunzel” from the third book in the I am Juliette series. She’s going to be grand fun to write because she is just so blunt. That girl has absolutely no filter, I tell you. Or any concept about the normal way to behave, and her mistakes are hysterical and embarrassing and adorable. She’s like a wide-eyed, innocent child in a 17-year old’s body, but she has startling flashes of insight and womanly intuition. Plus, she and her AI have the cutest, grumpy fits at each other which make me happy.

And then there’s this assassin charrie from another book….

Lots of character sketches, questionnaires, interviews, and excerpts are in store, methinks. *rubs hands together gleefully*

Do you plan to edit or query, and what’s your plan of attack?

I shall be editing I am Juliette like a small, maniac tornado and then querying it out like said tornado’s scared twin. Of course, I’m terrified to my very bones. This is all as new as the first sunrise for me, peoples. But secretly (well, less secretly now) I’m also wildly optimistic so hopefully there won’t have to be too many comfort-blanket forts built (I promise, I am a serious adult, but right now I’m listening to Spanish music and it’s bringing out the unquenchable child in me. And I struggle with hyperbole anyways).

Toni Morrison once said, “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”  What are the books that you want to see more of, and what “holes” do you think need filling in the literary world?

I have strong opinions on this subject.

Firstly, I would love to see more books that are clean, but still have depth. There’s no earthly reason why a book can’t be free of foul language and innuendoes/scenes and still be deeper than the Mariana Trench. No reason at all. Half the reason I don’t want to market my books as “Christian” is because of the bad name so many Christian authors have given that market by writing shallow, preachy, bland books—see here. I want to see more of my fellow authors-in-the-faith tackling tough issues head-on. Be brave, darlings. The moon shines all the more clearly in the dark (I keep telling myself this because I know I need to write a book that deals with human-trafficking and the idea scares me stiff).

More thick historical novels that aren’t solely romance fiction would make me happy. More anthropomorphic fantasy is always good. I would be thrilled to see less of the strong-woman-who-don’t-need-no-man and more of the strong woman who can still have a man without thinking it degrades her (maybe I’ll write an article on this at some point).

Please, more books with a male protagonist. I BEGS.

And I second Aimee: lots of steampunk, pretty please and thank you. And more platonic/close sibling relationships would be nice too.

(aaand this question has reminded me of so many plot-bunnies/spawned more.)

What do you hope to have achieved by the end of 2016?

I want to see:

I am Juliette edited, sent out to beta-readers, queried, and even accepted (I believe in reaching for the sky, lovelies).

– the first draft of Witchling completed.

– Zorro re-telling at least plotted and out-lined.

– win a creative writing contest.

– secure a critique partner and male beta-reader (or two).

– accomplish a Thing with Blood Thread which is currently under wraps.

– lots, and lots of research done.

– attending a writers’ conference would be spectacular.

– my writing vastly improved on all fronts.

How about you? Tell me a few of your goals for 2016. I want to know ALLLLL the things, my friends! And which of my plot bunnies intrigues you the most? H

7 thoughts on “The (belated) post of Writerly goals and resolutions

  1. I love reading about people’s goals! Like you, I’m really hoping to create a much more consistent writing habit this year.

    Really good science fiction: I don’t know if you’re into Star Wars, but Matthew Stover’s Star Wars novels are some of the best-written books I’ve ever read: he wrote the novelization of Episode III and Shatterpoint (caution: this is a retelling of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and is both dark and violent, but it doesn’t feel either just for the sake of it). I also loved Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot, although I’ve never had much luck with his other writings.

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  2. You’ve got so much planned!! Hooray for bravery and twisty antagonists. *hands you chocolate chips* I’d ask to be one of your beta readers, but I can’t say that I’m male or advanced in my craft, so I probably wouldn’t be much help to you. *cries*

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  3. AHHHH ALL THE AMAZING THINGS!!! Your plot bunnies sound incredible and omg good luck with querying Juliette!! Querying is mildly terrifying. BUT SO GOOD. OMG. I will cross my fingers for you in this year of Big Writing Things, Annie! 😀

    Omg you write by long-hand??!!? *bows to you*

    *gives you chocolate chips* YOUR FANTASY SOUNDS AMAZING THO. WRITE IT.

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  4. Woot woot! You accomplished some awesome things in 2015! That’s so impressive how far you are in editing I am Juliette. And your Zorro idea sounds WONDERFUL.
    This past year I actually wrote a whole first draft, in a month (for NaNo). It was the first time I had written something longer than 35,000ish words, and even though the story is in terrible shambles, I’m quite happy to know I actually CAN write 50,000 words or more. But I’ve learned that world-building is a very, very weak-point of mine. That’s probably why I ended up so dissatisfied with my NaNo novel. Since November, I haven’t done much writing but I’ve been brainstorming a lot, and rather intentionally, trying to world-build and all that. I’ve been brainstorming a fantasy series with winged humanoids that’s sort of a epic steampunk with Downtown Abbey flairs. 😀 And then recently I read Howl’s Moving Castle, fell in love with Diana Wynn Jones’ writing style, and that spawned a whole new take on an old story idea I’ve had. It’s a more humorous, light-hearted fantasy, yet still steampunk-y. I’m doing Go Teen Writers 300 for 30 in March (we’ll see how that goes), so I’ll probably write bits and pieces of both series while I continue to brainstorm. It would be kinda nice to query some time this year, but I don’t know…
    Best wishes for your writing year! 😀

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  5. I feel like I say this every time I comment on your blog, but something about reading your posts just makes me feel so thoroughly happy… I don’t know why!! I often skim through blogs (shh, don’t tell anyone), but with your posts I find myself hanging onto every word. ^_^

    I also feel like I say this every time, but I’m so excited for all of your stories. OMG. And by the way, I know you’re looking for more male readers, but depending on the time of year (and if you decide to take in any more female readers ;D) I would love to be a beta reader for I Am Juliette!! *hopes*

    I agree with literally EVERY ONE of your “holes that need filling.” Passionately. So I won’t add to them. ^_^

    By the way, do you know which writer’s conference you want to attend yet? Because, just as a bit of free information, I will be attending the Chapter One Young Writers Conference in Chicago this August… :O ;D

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  6. Hello, Annie! Can I just poke my nose around the door to say something about plotting?

    It really is a pitfall to want to be big and complicated in your plotting (I suffer from it myself). However, there really is nothing better than coming up with a very strong and simple overarching plot structure. If you get too complex too soon, the plot tends to vanish altogether. Think of your book as a tent you want to put up, and the fabric of the plot like a big floppy piece of canvas. You’re going to need some definite tent poles to hang the whole thing on in order to give it a basic shape. Otherwise it’ll just be confusing.

    I like to use the example of a huge multi-book space opera series I’ve been reading over the last few years. It spans thousands of millenia and a dizzying array of characters, cultures, creatures, and history. It’s hugely complex in both the setting and the plot. However, it’s all constructed around a very simple motivation: the main character is trying to stay alive long enough to meet his wife when she returns from a voyage to another galaxy. No matter what happens in the rest of the plot, it always comes back down to this. In amongst all the madness, that provides a very simple, very relatable constant.

    In the same way, it’s good to give your plot a very simple, very strong shape. Traditional plotting structure actually does allow for some staggering twists and turns (as I discovered when I started trying to dissect plots of favourite literature like THE LORD OF THE RINGS and Shakespeare’s plays, which you can find posts about here: http://www.vintagenovels.com/search/label/article )

    To add complexity to these simple, strong plots, I also like to employ what I call “fractal plotting” which means that I treat each “act” of a plot structure as its own mini-story with its own internal plot structure. This can (if I need it to), replicate itself all the way down to the level of a single scene or conversation. This means that even within a given act or scene, I can write a strong plot arc containing multiple twists and turns. Yet, because I am always aiming at the next plot point, the story keeps moving forward toward its ultimate aim instead of being derailed by complexity for the sake of complexity. The only difference is that there are a few more twists and turns along the way!

    Hope that helps :).

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