Category Archives: Writing Process

Feeling Feelings

I can’t even remember where I found this, but it’s been sitting in my dropbox for a while now. I pull it out often when I’m writing. It helps to work through what a character might be feeling at any given point in time.

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Click to embiggen.

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Word Count Calculators

I can be a bit OCD about wordcount, it’s something I picked up over four years of NaNoWriMo, and it’s about the only thing that keeps me writing some days.

There are NaNoWriMo word count calculators out there, but I always ended up making my own. I wanted a little more than the NaNoWriMo website stats could give me, but I didn’t need sheets and sheets of linked… stuff, either. My spreadsheet skills are very basic (I don’t even know how to link sheets) but they do what I need them to do, and they keep me writing for the most part, which is the main thing.

I started, of course, with a NaNo calculator, then after NaNo ended one year I started making the calculators for different targets, different time periods. This November, I made one for NaNo that had both the standard 50k target, but also had space for a custom target (I found 50k to be no great challenge, after three years of wins).

Thought I might as well share them. Maybe they’ll be useful to someone else :)

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Writing Apps

With NaNoWriMo done and dusted for another year (keep meaning to blog about my latest NaNo adventure, I’ll get there in the end), a couple of days off, and diving head first into a head-clearing PWP Teen Wolf fic, I’ve started thinking about the tools I use to write and how I use them differently for different purposes.

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Prompts and Procrastination

I’m supposed to be editing AMMD2x01 right now but it’s 3k of scary mess, so I’m avoiding despite the fact venis-envy is clamouring for it. Editing scares me, especially when I’m in the sort of mood where creating is much more attractive.

Hell, creating is always more attractive.

My problem is that I’m fickle and I have a very short attention span (one of the reasons so much of what I write is short). I could write more AMMD, I could finish a mind-fuck fic that I’m trying to complete, or… I could play in an entirely new story.

Mmmmm. New story. *drools*

*smacks own hand* Bad vamp! No more new stories! I have trillions of stories already and certainly don’t need a new plot bunny.

But.

There’s no harm in playing, right?

I think the funnest part of writing is nutting out new stories. It’s my favourite part, anyway. It’s why I have dozens of hardcover notebooks with fleshed out plot bunnies and stuff all completed stories (by comparison). I could play with plot bunnies all day long and be happy. So when I’m really lost for something to do or procrastinating hard core, I dig up random story prompt after story prompt and grab my notebook and just play with no intention of doing any actual writing.

I just went to my favourite prompt website, Seventh Sanctum, navigated to the romance story generator, and this is the first prompt it spat out for me:

This story starts on a world that has all but forgotten its magical past. In it, a treasure-hunter who has rare occult knowledge runs into a persuasive alchemist. What starts as mutual respect soon turns into love – all thanks to a joke. It seems a mentor will bring them even closer together.

Can you imagine it?  Okay, so it doesn’t lend itself to twific very well (set it to ‘modern’ for AH-type prompts), but keep clicking, or just imagine you’re going to write original fic.

I’m off to play now :)

Of course if you do this and come up with a winner, there’s no reason why you couldn’t write it, I’m just sharing my favourite method of time wasting.

It’s not a complete waste of time however. Even if you never use the prompts or the notes you make while playing, you’re practicing that brainstorming and plotting part of making a story.


And Then: Learning from your Beta

And then you kneel beside me. "You’re drunk."

"Very observant, Potter." I moan and roll toward you, but I misjudge and fall off the couch and onto the floor. And then I linger on my hands and knees for a moment, giggling as I try not to throw up, and then I feel your hands on me, under my arms.

You succeed only in dragging me to my knees. I wrap my arms around you, around your neck, and then I fall against you heavily, searching for your lips with my own.

"Draco, god," you mutter, and then you push me away and get to your feet. And then I wrap my arms around your hips and press my cheek against the front of your jeans.

"Don’t make me go, Harry," I plead, brushing my lips over the bulge in your jeans. "I’ll do anything."

Your fingers twist in my hair and then pull my head back. "Stop it." But your breath quickens and you don’t step away. "Please, Draco."

My biggest tell in a first draft is my copious use of ‘and then’, often at the beginning of a sentence. Posting the above first draft excerpt is, quite frankly, embarrassing, but it’s the way I write most comfortably.

It was a beta who called attention to this habit of mine. She would go through my fic, pulling me up on instance after instance, chapter after chapter. I think it took me some time to click onto this and actually edit out those ‘and then’ instances myself before she ever saw it. After that I started doing an extra read through of all my stuff just for those ‘and then’s.

Nowadays, I still write with copious instances of ‘and then’ but I do it with the awareness that I’ll take almost all of them out in edits. I don’t  need to do a separate read for them now because I’m very good at spotting them in line edits (in fact, they stick out a mile to me now) but early on that ‘and then’ read either before or after I’d edited for everything else was essential for catching one of my biggest problem habits while writing.

I learned something key from that beta, something I’ll be aware of for the years to come. I’m sure she thanked me for it, too, because she no longer had to correct that very pervasive error in my work.

By learning from your beta, you’ll make their lives a lot easier, and you’ll become a better writer.

I’m sure there’s other stuff I do now that drives my beta batty because she has to correct the same shit over and over again. If she’s reading this, it’s permission for her to kick my ass and tell me to learn from my mistakes, dammit ;)

So. What’s your ‘and then’? Are you aware of it? Or does your beta correct the same mistakes chapter after chapter after chapter?


The road to hell is paved with adverbs.

A lazy middle-of-NaNo picture post today. I’ve been re-reading Stephen King’s On Writing. This is one of my favourite quotes from the book.

the road to hell is paved with adverbs


NaNo 11: Calendars and Timelines

I suck at timelines. I usually end up with scrawled lists on bits of paper and so far I haven’t inserted a timeline in any of my story bibles except for the one that spans 5000 years (and that’s just to keep track of my vampire family trees). But as I was picking through my day planner while planning my latest (and hopefully ‘the one’ since I have what? A day to get distracted?) NaNo plot bunny, I realised what I needed was a calendar.

So I went to FreePrintableCalendar.net and printed off six months worth.

100_6645 Oh. My. God. So freaking easy to plan out the major events in my book and so bloody logical I have no idea why it’s never occurred to me before. I’ve pasted these into the back of my story bible and once again, I’m filling them in as they come to me.

This will possibly be my last blog post (except for Flash Fiction Fridays—I’ll keep doing those as long as people keep writing for it) before NaNo. I start writing at midnight tonight (but that’s past my bed time, so perhaps first thing in the morning) and I don’t know how much time I’ll have for blogging.

I’ve decided to write under my original fiction penname for NaNo this year. Some of you know it already, if you do, you’re one of the lucky few ;)

Anyway, thanks for hanging about during the lead up to NaNoWriMo, it’s been heaps of fun :D