January Goals: Final Check-In!

Blessed be! Thanks for joining me for month-end! Let’s see how we’re doing so far in 2017!

  1. Notes for Kheras: Done! I finished these about a week ago, so I’ve been making the transition to my note project for February. More on that below!
  2. Touch base with my betas: Done! Now that I’m done working on the Kheras notes, I’ve been able to open the door to discussion on Virtues and gauge interest. Feedback should start flowing in by the end of February or so is my hope. I know one thing: I am never doing a closed-door beta again. I thrive on the interaction!
  3. Finish Transformation by Carol Berg: Done! This one, I accomplished pretty early on in the month, so I’ve moved on to the rest of the trilogy. More details below!
  4. Bonus Goal–Work Every Day: Twenty-six days and going strong! Pat on the back!

Looking ahead to February, now, what’s on the docket?

  1. Writing: Notes for Noble Virtues- The first book of my vampire history is much longer than Kheras’s rough draft, so I’m hoping to get through the first third in the next month. The first half, if I’m aiming for the moon.
  2. Reading: Finish the Rai-Kirah trilogy by Carol Berg- I’m just a few chapters from the end of the second book, REVELATIONLast up will be the finale, RESTORATION
  3. Bonus Goal: Work Every Day- With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, this month promises to be among the busiest of the year. Still, I’m committed to doing something pertaining to my work each and every day.

Five Things: Illness, Injury, and Medicine

Blessed be, all! Next week will be our final check-in for the month, but tonight’s topic comes from my favorite and most diligent research bug: my wife. She’s been up to her eyeballs in resources lately, compiling lists of herbal remedies and when and where they might have been available. Ah, the things you have to consider for historical fiction!

But wait, you say! You’re writing fantasy, so anything goes! Or the story you’re working on is far-future, and their technology is much more advanced than ours. Well, that may be so, but you still have to consider how health and medicine work in your world. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Magical/technological advancement. You’ve come to a point in your story where your character has taken a serious wound and you now have to find a way to save them. No matter what the injury, they’re generally going to have an easier time of surviving if you have more/better treatments available. If you’re writing in a world before the advent of antibiotics, you might have to worry about sepsis and infection.
  2. Availability. Let’s say your far-future dystopia has the capability to heal wounds with fresh-grown skin in minutes by applying this topical aerosol. The liquid binds to the wound and, through the wonder of medicine you’ve devised, the healing process is nearly instantaneous. That’s great!
    But. Who has access to it? Is the spray tightly controlled by the government? Do the rebels have to make do with linen bandages? Do ordinary citizens, even, get to use it, or is it prohibitively expensive? Could they use it if they had it, but they’re in the middle of the woods and can’t get to a facility? Maybe you can only use it once or twice before it stops working, so you have to exercise discretion.
  3. Cultural stigmas and personal objections: Just because a character can be healed doesn’t always mean that they will be. Perhaps the culture has a deep-seated mistrust of this other group and won’t allow their sickness to be worked on by them, even if they’re the only healer around. Maybe they had an addiction to narcotics and won’t take painkillers for fear of relapse. These sort of scruples are a great way to add some tension to even a mundane injury like a broken arm.
  4. Recovery time and aftereffects. Your character will need time to heal completely from their injury. No matter their training, they probably won’t be running on that pulled hamstring. Be realistic in the amount of downtime your character will need to get over their injury or illness, and then see that they get it. Or, if they can’t, show how it’s still affecting them because it hasn’t properly healed. Even afterward, there may still be lingering signs: scars; weakness; loss of mobility. Don’t forget –and don’t let your reader forget–what the character has been through, or the conflict will fall flat.
  5. Mortality:  Vim and vigor will only take your character so far; medicine and even magical healing shouldn’t be a miracle cure. Sometimes characters just won’t realistically survive. Don’t pull your characters back from the brink if it’s reasonable that they would go over. It will break the reader’s suspension of disbelief at best or make them feel cheated or emotionally manipulated.
    Or, if you really must have the character survive, consider making the injury less severe. It can still be a close call, but pulling back on the scope can make all the difference for your reader.

Goal Checkin: January 2017 Mid-Month

Blessed be! It’s right about mid-month, so let’s do some accounting on my goals so far!

  1. Notes for Kheras: So far, so good! Scrivener tells me I have eighteen scenes left to do revision notes for, and I have nineteen days left in the month. With any luck, I’ll actually be able to finish ahead of schedule and start moving my attentions over to my project for February to smooth the transition.
  2. Touch base with my betas: Sooorta? I had a great conversation with one of them last night, in fact. Another has made quite a bit of progress, but we’ve decided that–in the name of not distracting me from Kheras–we wouldn’t talk in depth about it just yet. The last is waiting until I’ve taken my moratorium off such talk to start reading it, which is probably fair.
    An important thing that I’ve learned from this is that I don’t do well with closed-door betas. I like to be able to interact with my betas in real-time as they read, geeking about favorite bits and one-liners and combing through plot tangles. It’s all part of the learning curve for me, though.
  3. Finish Transformation by Carol Berg: Done! I’m now working through the sequel, RevelationI’ll update you on that bit of progress toward the end of the month.
  4. Bonus Goal–Work Every Day: It’s been rough, but I’ve done it so far. No matter how long or bad the day, even when I’ve gotten sick, I have set aside time each and every night to write, read, or blog. We’ll see if I can keep this up the entire year!

Five Things: Music to Write By

Blessed be! This week, my wife and I went to see Moana at the theater. This was a good thing because it’s a brilliant movie and we enjoyed our night out. It’s a great thing because the music fed my creative side and got me excited to work on my story summore. Now, it’s a bad thing because it fed the wrong story. A number of the songs and themes put me more in the mind of my vampire history than my fantasy romance. Whoops.

So! While I fend off the termites trying to get me to cheat on my current project, here are my thoughts on listening to music while you work on your story.

  1. Set a mood. I write a lot about emotional resonance on the page. You want your reader, ideally, to feel the same way your protagonist feels or otherwise to have a visceral response to your work. The best way to do that is to make sure as you work that you’re feeling it, yourself. For me, the surest way to elicit emotion is to put on music. Something light and humorous, something sad, something dark or complicated or unresolved.
  2. Establish setting. I also find that music serves to transport my mind. Whether I’m working on my fantasy novel or my historical, listening to music that reminds me of the setting heightens my attention to the other senses. That helps me more clearly communicate my vision of the surroundings to the reader.
  3. Heighten character. Sometimes I hear a song and it just screams a character’s name at me. It evokes their voice or their motivations or struggles in my mind. Playing it will instantly put me in their mindset.
  4. Ritual. Turning on the playlist for a story is an important part of my writing ritual. It becomes a cue to my subconscious that it’s now writing time. Even when I’m not particularly in the mood at the start, I find that I can buckle down and get some quality words out just by getting myself into the right frame of mind.
  5. Focus. The sound of the first few notes sinks me into the narrative and lets me block out distractions. I don’t hear the phone; I stop clicking around on Facebook and messenger. With the music as a buffer, I’m free to funnel all of my attention into the work.