Monday, December 30, 2013

Giving Plot to the Plotless (Part 2: The Love Kite)

Hey everyone! Its been awhile hasn't it? Finals sure do make updating difficult and the holidays are surprisingly busy so I haven't gotten time in awhile. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. But, without further ado: Part 2 of Giving Plot to the Plotless!

Alright, so if you've been following the last posts, you know that character A and R decided to have an affair behind my friend and I's backs. And when we tried to restrain them, they basically gave us the literary middle finger and took over our typing fingers, forcing us to write more scenes.
But of course they were not only screwing us over but also their original literary partners. We'll call them characters L and T. What were we going to do with them? I mean they had to find out right?

No, of course not. We were just going to keep it a complete secret from them and--

Just kidding, they found out pretty quickly. In fact, L and T only ever met because the original affair happen. And that eventually resulted in them getting together as revenge.

And then they kept getting together. Just as A and R kept getting together.

Inadvertently, with our anger with A and R, we made an entirely new affair that lasted a lot longer than it should have. You've heard of love triangles? Well, this was a love kite. All the characters were torn between two different people.

And I was freaking out a bit. I mean, what the heck were we doing? Neither of us liked writing romance that much. It's not our genre. But the couples were just so FUN to mess with. How would they react in this situation? Let's try it. What if we put them here with these characters? No harm in that.

And the scenes between the rebellious, unofficial, totally-not-an-actual-thing couples continued. They continued to develop and expand and before long we had a LOT of scenes written. Three months after we first started we had almost 200,000 words worth of material. All completely plotless of course.

That's not to say that only A, R, L, and T were the focus of these scenes. We started tossing in more of our characters and experimenting with how they would react to certain situations. We explored a lot of our characters insecurities and fears and discovered some new ones.

Before we knew it we had a network of characters on our hands. It kind of seemed like the building blocks for a plot. Possibly a new book that was a completely original thing. All we had to do was change a few names at that point because our characters really had developed into completely new entities. R, L and T were especially different than who they were at the start.

So, one day, in the library, I pulled open my laptop and started brainstorming a new world for our characters to fit into. And that, of course, is where the real challenge began.

Join me next time for Part 3: A Whole New World...hopefully it will not be as delayed as part 2. *Hangs head in shame* The holidays really do make things busy don't they?

Til next time!

~Aimee

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Giving Plot to the Plotless (Part 1: The Affair)

So, as we have discussed in the intro to this venture, my friend and I only meant to write one scene between these characters, just out of curiosity. We'll call them R and A, for the purposes of this post. Character R and A had established lives at the time of this scene because they belonged to our separate stories. In fact, they both already had love interests. They were in pairing we were quite proud of actually. We fully shipped the pairings we had created. And love triangles weren't our thing.

Before I began writing this, I'd never had the problem of having characters 'go rogue' so to speak. They sometimes developed in ways that surprised me but I always had a good idea who they were from the start. People often talk about their characters taking the reigns from them and driving them in another direction. I always thought this was a funny, exaggeration of sorts.

It is not.

In the midst of writing our sixth scene between these characters, they were having a rather emotional discussion after A had been disturbed by a nightmare. We wrote the scene as usual and finished it. But then my friend and I facebooked each other at about the same time: I feel like a kiss should have been there.

Our characters were bizarrely attracted to each other. Even though they were in happy relationships. We questioned this phenomenon for a moment and then decided to go for it. It wasn't like it was going to go anywhere.

A few scenes later our characters, A and R, were officially in an affair. Behind our backs. We just kept on writing scenes with them and they kept wanting romantic moments. Did we give them permission to do that? NO! In fact a few scenes earlier, before the first kiss, we talked about how they would NEVER be in any sort of romantic relationship. They were perfectly happy where they were. We're in total control of our characters anyway.

Right?

No, apparently not. A and R decided to go rogue. And it was this first kiss between them, this "Literary Affair" that lead to about 2,000 pages worth of material. From two writers who don't write romance. And all because, each time we got an idea, we let our characters take the reigns. And we got a lovely mass of words because of it.

We also didn't get very much homework or sleep done, but that's beside the point.

Tune in next time for Part 2: The Love Kite

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Giving Plot to the Plotless (Introduction: The Experiment)

When it comes to starting a book, there are two kinds of writers: Pantsers and Plotters. We've heard this many times before, and by now most of us know where we stand on the spectrum. We either start writing and fly by the seat of our pants, letting our writing lead us where we may, or we sit down and outline our book from start to finish before we type the first word. Or, sometimes, a mix of both.

For awhile, I thought I was a pantser because, hey, I never wrote down outlines. I thought about the story in my head for a few days, then started writing. But as I matured as a writer, I realized I'd always been an plotter at heart. I was just too stubborn to put the outline down on paper.

In fact, its kind of impossible for me to be a pantser. When an idea hits me--a really good, I-need-to-write-this-down-now, kind of idea-- it often explodes. Within a few days of daydreaming I have the beginning, middle and end basically plotted out in my head and character arcs and relationships nailed down. I just need to fill in a few gaps and pieces before I'm ready to roll. My ideas mature very quickly and its hard for me to step into a story having no idea where its going to go.

And then, last year, something happened. Almost a year ago today in fact. I met my friend. We'll call her 'T' for short. T and I were talking about two of our characters in one of our writing conversations. She was recounting her main character's past and I kept on chiming in saying 'oh yeah, my character had something similar happen to him'. Eventually this expanded. Our characters would get along, we decided. In fact, it would be very interesting to write a conversation with them. Just one conversation to see what happened.

They had a conversation. Then we decided to write another scene. Then another. And yet another. Slowly, other characters started getting involved as we experimented relationships. New plot threads came in. And we just kept going, and going, and going. As of now, we have written about 2,000 pages of material.

Yikes right?

It gets even better. Now we're trying to distill all of this original material into a series of books with a plot. And it isn't easy. But it is one of the most fun and strange experiences I have ever had writing.

This is an interesting journey I've embarked on, and a long one. But I think its worth writing about because it has been a really unique experience for me. I'm an plotter who's been taken by her characters and dragged by the seat of her pants through hundreds of thousands of words of scenes in just a year.

The journey is still going, but let's see how far we've come, while discussing writing tips, outlining and plotting. It might have some good lessons for NaNoWriMo in there, as well. ;)

Stay tuned for Part 1: The Affair.

Friday, September 27, 2013

The Nerves of the Waiting Game

Any writer who has ever been in the querying trenches knows of the harrowing ordeals. Ordeals of patience, which when you're waiting for a response to a query, you don't have much of.

It gets worse once you send out partials or fulls. Then you have to wait even longer. And by that point the ever torturous seed of hope has taken root in your chest. "They liked the beginning," you tell yourself. "They saw something in my idea. Maybe, just maybe, they'll like the whole book."

I've recently reentered the trenches and I know this feeling. Upon entering #pitmad I got a few requests to see pages so I sent them out. I also sent out a few queries. I was fine. Playing it cool. I wasn't going to get as freaked out as I did the FIRST time I started querying. Whatever happens, happens.

But hope does wonders to the calm mind. I was sitting in History of English class when I got an email. Casually I checked to see who it was from. One of the agents I sent my pages to.

They wanted a full.

Apologies to my History of English professor because my mind short circuited the moment I read those words. She was still talking but I watched her lips move and heard gibberish. All attempts to process the lecture were in vain.

Suddenly, I've gone crazy. Checking my email a million times a day, hovering over query tracker and twitter. I'm a ball of nerves.

Last night I had a dream I got an offer of representation. After which I started wondering if it was a dream. My dream family said it was and I started arguing with them about why it wasn't a dream, even though I knew it in the back of my mind (This dream also included space school but I don't need to get into that). It was kind of depressing to wake up the next morning.

The point is, every writer has been there. When you look for an agent you WANT it so bad and you hope and pray and pray some more that you might finally find the right one. You want someone to see something in your work.

You want to be an author. No, you NEED it.

Keep hoping and dreaming and never lose that edge. The dream is what keeps us going. But also keep calm in the face of rejection. Accept it. Busy yourself with other projects. Go outside every once and awhile. Breathe. Its going to be okay.

When the time is right, your book will find a home and you will see it in print. It could be this book or a few books from now. Heck, you could get the call tomorrow. But we all have a lot of life to live and a lot of time to live it.

Now if I could just take my own advice, I'll be dandy!

-Aimee

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Pen Names and Internships

Hey everyone,
So, I am now a literary agent intern to the fabulous Pooja Menon! Its an exciting and unexpected experience that I wasn't really searching for this year. I happened to run across Pooja's tweet while browsing twitter and thought I might look into it. Just for fun.
As soon as I found out the internship was a remote position, I jumped at the chance. I'm thrilled that she has given me the opportunity to sit on the other side of the industry.
There's something really exciting about reading a project, loving a project, but also wanting to improve the project to make it the best it can be. I love reading. I love that foggy feeling I get when I've just come out of a three hundred page book. I look around at the world and wonder... why is everyone still moving around?
They're going about their lives?
Don't they know what just happened?!
Being able to read and critique books as a job instead of a hobby is kind of gratifying. I'm really excited about where this will take me.
This means I'll of course be blogging about slush in the days to come. Little pointers and patterns I notice. Maybe I'll be able to offer up some helpful advice from the other side of the query letter.

But in other news, I promised to talk about my pen name. "Kallypso" first came to being on fanfiction.net in my middle school years (Gag me). I guess I decided I was too cool to go by the normal spelling. Calypso is obviously a cooler word spelled with a double 'L'. And everyone knows that 'K' is the new 'C'.
Pretentious spelling changes aside, I kept the name and I wrote the majority of my fan fiction under it. I've always had a passion for fan fiction and I still genuinely believe its a wonderful tool for improving writing. You get a pass on world building. You are able a scene between two characters you know and love without having to come up with them yourself. It helps to practice prose and dialogue and gets the creative juices flowing.
For this reason, my old pen name has an important place in my heart. So, I think I'll keep it for the purposes of my blog. When I think 'Kallypso' I think of my journey as a writer, from awkward middle school years to now. And that's kind of nice. In retrospect, I guess even the preteen years have some value.
But only in retrospect.

- Aimee (Aka: Kallypso)

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Journey of a Book

The journey of a book, especially one written early in a writer's life, is a rocky one at best. Often a long one too. This thought occurred to me while I was looking through my 'Novels and Shorts' folder. Anyone who knows me or my computer knows that my folders have folders have folders. I like organizing things.
Within my Novels and Shorts folder I have a folder for each genre. Realistic, Fantasy, Sci Fi etc. Each of these genres have about, say, twenty-thirty files all together. That's for each genre.
Then you get to the Urban Fantasy folder. Within the Urban Fantasy folder there is another folder entitled 'Children of Ink'.
And within that folder, there are about 60 files. Extra scenes, outlines, character profiles, world building. You name it, its there. You could say this novel has been a long time obsession of mine. But because of that it has gone through many, many changes. And that's fine. Today I'm going to show the timeline of Children of Ink, my first baby as a writer.*


Early March, 2011- The first inception of the idea. I came up with my basic plot and characters in the span of a few days, writing most of it down in my journals during school.

Springbreak 2011- Writing spree of epic proportions.

April 2nd, 2011- Completion of the first draft. My magnum opus, originally entitled 'Inkpen' The draft went into storage for the rest of the school year so that I would become detached from the material (I got that tip from Stephen King)

Summer, 2011- EDITING TIME! The book at this time was dubbed 'The Gifted' because I realized Inkpen and Inkheart were too similar in title. Also the realization that maybe every word wasn't brilliant. My brother began reading and critiquing my work in this time and pointed out some fallacies in the opening pages.

Fall, 2011- Ignoring a lot of the feedback, I launched right into writing book 2. I continued to get feedback from my brother. Slowly, mind you. He's a lawyer with a busy work schedule.

November, 2011- Finished first draft of the second book in the series and put it away... now I had to wait and edit the first book. I ditched the prologue and changed up the beginning for the first time.

Spring 2012- Began seriously editing. Also began researching literary agents like a madwoman, writing query letters, and other such things.

Summer 2012- The querying began. And the waiting. When no one took the bait, I began editing again. The opening changed for a second and third time during this period. Oh yeah, and my brother finally finished reading my book (Took him longer than it took me to write two of them...)

Fall 2012- The discovery of twitter as well as competitions. Changed the opening for a fourth time and entered in a few competitions. Changed the title of the book to 'Children of Ink'. Some interest from one agent but followed swiftly by rejection. Wrote and finished the first draft of the third book in the series. Lost a lot of confidence with Children of Ink. Changed the opening for a fifth time.

Spring of 2013- The doldrums. Did little work on Children of Ink. Experimented with a few new openings (I had about eight possible openings over the course of the process)

Summer 2013- Joined a Speculative Fiction group to get feedback. Used that feedback to completely change the planned POV. Re outlined.

Fall 2013- The final (hopefully) outline and a fresh start. I plan to write the book again from scratch, hopefully with my new found knowledge about writing.

The journey of 'Children of Ink' isn't over yet. It's probably far from over. But this time has gotten me so acquainted with the characters and world that I feel an inherent attachment to it. It will never truly go into the trunk, even if its another book that eventually gets me an agent. Children of Ink was my first book child, and I love it dearly.

The point is, just because your book isn't working now, doesn't mean it will always be like that. There's always knew insight to be had. Join a critique group. Brainstorm with friends. Write experimental side stories to get your juices flowing. Put the book aside for awhile and write something else. Its okay. There's a lot of life to live and a lot of books to write. The worst thing a writer can do is get stuck in their first effort and never move on.

One day I hope to see 'Children of Ink' on shelves. But until then I'll keep writing and loving every moment of it.

- Aimee (Aka: Kallypso)

PS: I know I said I'd talk about my pen name in the next post but I lied. This was on my mind to write. NEXT post I'll talk about my pen name.


Saturday, September 14, 2013

How I Blog and What I Write

Hey there,

So, being in college, trying to triple major and constantly writing every hour on the hour, I figured I'd add something else to my plate: Blogging.
Why?
Because everyone's doing it.
Okay, I have more reason for blogging than jumping on the bandwagon. I think blogging is a good thing for aspiring authors. It gets them out there in the literary world and allows them to engage with hundreds of other writers from all around the globe. Thousands depending on how much time you have to spare wandering around the internet.
I am a writer but I'm also aspiring to one day enter the publishing world as a literary agent or editor. Because of this I like to talk about the craft of writing.
A lot.
To everyone I ever meet ever. And the ones who don't run away are the ones I induct into my circle of friends.
So what do I write, you might ask?
Pretty much everything
But mostly speculative fiction. I've completed five books so far (three from one series) The series is YA Urban Fantasy. The other two books are a YA Steampunk and an Adult Speculative. The book I'm writing currently and almost done with is MG magical realism. And the book I plan on writing this year for NaNoWriMo is an Adult Paranormal Thriller.
You see what I mean?
All of these books are vastly different in their genre, audience and goals but I like it that way. I write whatever I feel like writing at the time. We don't even need to get into all my other works in progress. Because that would take forever.
I've begun to send out queries for my YA Steampunk and I'm currently waiting on pins and needles to hear back. As I'm sure many of you writer's out there are.
Assuming anyone is reading this. I like to pretend you are.
What will you find on this blog?
- Book Reviews
- Movie Reviews
- Writing tips and advice
- Random musings
- Writing journey joys and woes.
- And probably much more.
I love engaging in conversations about writing so drop me a comment if you have any questions or thoughts.
This weeks question is: What is your favorite genre to write in?
Thanks for reading!

-Aimee (Aka: Kallypso)

PS: Wondering where I got my pen name? I'll answer next time :)