Brainstorming plot can be quite useful…

But only if you can focus on the part of the story you right now have to work at.

No brain. NO. I do not need ideas about Theo’s first marriage. It’s at least five years ahead from where we are in the story. I need a character-appropriate ways for Nyx to smash things. Not her reactions to people trying to put her into a dress, as funny as they may be.

Brain, no. BEHAVE.

Detail work like editing seems to help, at least a bit.

At this stage, all my writing’s plotting.

So, lately I have been hammering out the scene count for Nyx+Nyssa, my fantasy-horror romance (is it still horror if the main characters WIN?) and the outline is shaping up nicely. Ideally it gets done this week and I can hammer out the rough script next month during NaNoWriMo.

It’s quite interesting to work on book per book basis – there’s a metric asston of story there; but I can only fit so much into the roughly 100 pages of each book. 100 pages are 25 scenes on an average of 4 pages per scene. That’s actually damn little space for a full fledged fantasy story, and I have to pick and choose my scenes very carefully.

But that also made me realize that ToC needs editing badly; oh boy, sooo much editing. For starters the whole Another Life Sektion needs to go – it is just as good as the main story, but they mix strangly. Even ToC has an end I am working towards, but I’ve never paid any attention to page count or where my nifty ideas would take me. Alas – this Sin of Plot has already been gleefully comitted and unless I want to yoink ToC again, it’ll stay where it is, visible to all.

(I do not want to yoink ToC again. I am finally getting somewhere with it. There are just a few superfluous characters that need some story appropiate culling.)

It’s funny how different those two books are. One’s written chapter by chapter in a way that usually involves cliffhangers, the other insists in self-contained books and refuses to yield any attempt at a chapter breakdown.

I don’t think I could write one without the other: ToC-style stream of nifty ideas gave me some of the most awesome pay-offs in Nyx+Nyssa; while the scene count discipline gained from plotting the later tremedeously helps me with dedicing what to include in ToC.

Creative cross-pollination. Apperantly it’s a thing. I’m glad it is.

My Projects in overview!

Since my story-brain tends to go sprawling and epic and then promptly latches onto the next SHINY!,  I’m working on getting it to focus on the bits I want it to do. Lists help!

 

1. Traces of Chaos:

A sprawling space opera, quite epic in scope. You can read it over at trarr.net.

Status:  Currently being published and valiantly limping along.

It’s still alive, dammit! But it sure is taking its time.

My issue is that my art keeps catching up to my writing, so I am putting in the work to get a script buffer right now. For that to work I have to untangle all the plots and the world building and make sure each plot line is on the same level. Going too big too soon is such a common beginners mistake and I am a bit embarrassed to admit I fell prey to it in ToC. I don’t have beta-readers, so the story-debugging is a bit complicated.

But hey, I as long as I keep working on it, it will eventually be finished.

When I started out on this adventure, I expected the art to be the stumbling block. But it is the least of my problems: Podcast + Script + daily timeslot = finished page.

 

2. Nyx and Nyssa

A lesbian anthro-themed fantasy romance comic. A rather niche appeal, but it’s a small, self-contained story I greatly enjoy working on.

Status: World is being built & plot is being plotted

This is the project I actually work on whenever ToC’s hit its current goal. And since this is currently the shiny idea my brain’s latched on, this ensures ToC’ actually gets done. Yes, the most efficient bribe for my writing brain is allowing it to even write more.  Don’t ask me why, but what works that works!

It’s a relief to work on something quite less epic in scope.  Due to Nyx & Nyssa’s smaller scope I easily can practice plotting, world building and writing techniques on it, which I then take to handle ToC’s challenges.

Useful!

 

3. Thundercliff Falls

A planetary Romance with Superheroes. And Aliens. And Gods in exile.

Status: References and Ideas are being collected, but I deliberately do not do any writing for it.

This is a project I am deliberately not working on until Nyx and Nyssa is written and edited. I get to jot down ideas and collect references, but that’s it. That’s harder than it sounds for me, because TCF’s focus on the social effects of its alien world makes it so delightfully different to ToC and N&N, which means I am really, really looking forward to writing it.

But waiting a bit is fine, because it gives me an opportunity to actually learn enough to intelligently write about the problems of my heroes and their friends.

 

4. Twelve Immortals

Huge fantasy universe, either for comics or multiple novels.

Status: On hold.

The second of two  projects I am deliberately not working on. For starters, it’s less of a project and more of a setting – it has spawned at least three main characters so far, each with multiple books.  It might have to wait till ToC is nearly finished, just so I can give it the time it requires. It will definitivly have to wait till I am done writing N&N. They tackle similar themes, but are a vastly different tone – Writing them too close to each other will give me crossover, which will lower the quality of either work. That’s why I plan to use Thundercliff Falls as a buffer.

But I’m looking forward to. It has the potential to be really great – or totally suck. Time will tell.

 

5. Silent Suns (working title)

SciFi Noir

Status: Might happen, might not.

A ToC Spinoff about the population of humans that made it to Andromeda before the Sarrath came and knocked Earth back to the Stone Age. There’s a high chance its story will get cannibalised into Thundercliff Falls and ToC itself. ToC already stole one of its main characters and some of its plot might invalidate Silent Suns premise.

We’ll see what’ll happen.

Creating characters to match your plot

Over at webcomic underdogs a fellow comicer posed the question of how to come up with characters to match the plot. It’s a good topic (give it a read) and it made me think, especially considering that my usual writing style is “find character, throw her or him at the world”.

This is my answer to that question:

Characters are the lifeblood of a story – a story wouldn’t happen if they didn’t interact with the world.

So, I think the question you need to answer is “What kind of person would choose to act like this plot requires?

For example, your plot requires a young teenage girl to shoot her father to protect her brother, so you need to etablish that your character capable of enough love to stand up for someone else in the most scary way possible, that she loves her brother enough to do so. You need to etablish that she’s CAPABLE of that kind of violence (even if she doesn’t know it yet) and that she’s the type of person that, when pushed, ACTS as opposed to freeze or hope the problem goes away. She needs to be someone who’d chose to kill instead of watch their loved one die, which means, no matter how kind or generally harmless she is, she needs to be someone with a certain ammount steel in her spine.

If your characters aren’t chosing to act or can’t make choices and thus are just pushed about by external forces, you have major problems with your plot. People don’t like reading about passive people being pushed about. Agency is important.

Find the choices your characters make. Then find out what kind of person would make that choice.

Hm. Now I kinda want to write a story where I start with the plot as opposed the characters. Might learn a lot.