WIP Joy

Well, #WIPJoy is wrapping up today on Twitter, so that means it’s time for a compendium!

For those unfamiliar, WIPJoy is a Twitter series hosted by @simmeringmind; each day writers answer a question about their work-in-progress using the hashtag #WIPJoy. Here are this month’s questions:

WIPJoy

I’d not participated before because I was still working out the details of my WIP. This time, though, I’d done enough novel writing that I felt like I could answer most of the questions. And here they are:

Day 1: Tell us about your WIP!
Daystar (working title) is an epic fantasy about two friends who bind their souls together, then accidentally start a revolution while trying to reverse the unexpected consequences. (Awkward….)

Day 2: Introduce your protagonist.
First up is Prince Navarion. He’s kind and sensitive, short-tempered and a bit of a snob, and runs on coffee. A political figurehead like the rest of the royal family, Nav is frustrated by his inability to serve his kingdom and people in a way he feels is meaningful.

CANav
Protag #2 is Alahir, Navarion’s best friend and sometimes bodyguard. He’s loyal and protective, flippant and a bit too honest. How Alahir became such a good swordsman is anyone’s guess, as he has none of Nav’s ambition and is happy going with the flow–until the flow threatens his familiar role and relationship with his best friend.

CAAlahir

Day 3: Share a line showing your WIP’s atmosphere.

Far beyond glowed the wall of the sphere—from this distance the magical barrier was nothing more than a pale gold sheen, like a second, massive sun, and for a moment he could imagine what it had been like in the time before the spheres, when Palasar and its neighbors had been whole countries and not collections of individual domes.
Or perhaps that was merely too much listening to Councilor Valan’s insistence that they were all careening toward another catastrophe. Too often hearing reports of yet more magical experimentation gone wrong.

Day 4: One of your WIP’s main emotions.
So far Daystar doesn’t have a romantic arc, but love is still at the heart of the story, particularly the love between friends. For Alahir, this manifests especially in his willingness to sacrifice his own interests in order to protect Nav.

“You know I’ll always protect you, right?” Alahir said, voice quiet, earnest. As he laced his fingers through Navarion’s the tingling sensation returned, spreading up his arm from the seal. “From the Council, and everything out there, and….”
“And our own stupidity?”
A long pause and then Alahir chuckled. “…well, I’ll try.”

Day 5: The character you relate to most.
A rather personal response, but given current life circumstances, I’ve been relating to Navarion a lot lately—feeling directionless and useless, wishing I’d made different decisions, and afraid I’ve disappointed the people I care about.

Day 6: A flaw that you share with a character.
Alahir and I are both insensitive, but in different ways. For him it’s usually speaking without thinking, or being too blunt. Mine tends to come from not paying enough attention to emotional cues, or just plain forgetting to inquire after a friend who’s been having a rough time.

We both also shy away from serious or heavily emotional conversations by making jokes instead. Have you heard the one about the prince and the….never mind.

Day 7: Did you base anyone off a real person?
Consciously, no. Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever based a character on someone I know. Subconsciously, though, I’m sure I’m pulling traits from people I know or have met.

Day 8: Humor!
The Elnaron family together is pretty much guaranteed to result in humor. My goal is to give them more air time, because I love them all. (NB: Alahir is eavesdropping on this conversation)

“I can’t wait to see Nalandri again! Do you think she’ll remember us?”
Navarion laughed. “She’s only been in Xiat half a year, silly.”
“But now she has a husband! And a baby!” the young prince protested, as though afraid his sister would have to trade memories of her brother for her new family.
“There’s no baby,” came Anorith’s voice, full of disdain. “Just a big lump on her stomach.”
A loud snort, and then a sound that was half coughing, half laughter. “Very poetic, Anorith,” said Queen Renia.
“You want poetry, talk to Navarion. I’m a swordsman.” Alahir could almost hear him sitting up straighter.
“I suspect,” Navarion offered, “that any attempts to immortalize Nalandri’s expanding waistline in verse would result in my early demise.”

Day 9: Which character would you want to be roommates with?
I’m a no-roomates-thank-you kind of person, but if I had to pick someone, Ithinia wouldn’t be too bad. She’s friendly but also has no problem doing things by herself, and she’s always willing to take on tasks others (read: Alahir) might not want to do. Plus she’s a master swordswoman so we wouldn’t have to worry about security.

As a close second, Prince Elion, who’s 9 and adorable and would probably just want to play with LEGOs all day.

Day 10: A line that makes you want to hug a character.
(Alahir hates hugs, but I think he’s required to accept them from his author, right?)

“Alahir, there’s nothing you—”
“Don’t tell me there’s nothing I can do!” The tears he’d been fighting hammered their fists against his eyes, dragging with them the memory of Herit’s body, laid out on the stone table and draped with a death-shroud.

Day 11: Some minor character headcanon.
Hmmm… My story is still very much a WIP, and since I’m not even to the 25% point, there aren’t a lot of minor characters yet (heck, I’m still working out the main villains. :P).

However, some silly modern-day AU headcanon for you: I’m pretty sure 16-year-old Prince Anorith writes fanfiction about Alahir. The kind where Alahir’s the mentor and Anorith’s his apprentice and they fight bad guys together and are TOTALLY AWESOME. #NoticeMeSenpai

Day 12: Share a chapter beginning you love.

Navarion woke Alahir at something ridiculous he called “predawn”, and tried to coerce him from his warm bed with tea—not the promise of tea, but actual tea, steaming provocatively and placed just beyond his reach.
For someone so kind, Navarion could certainly be vicious.
“You,” he growled as he strained for the tea, arm protesting at the cold, “are stupid and…spoiled and…and….” It was far too early for adjectives. “And I hate you.”

(I’m sorry, did I say this book was about love?)

Day 13: How do you want readers to view your protagonist at the beginning vs. the end?
At the beginning, Navarion is frustrated and kind of bitter, and while he wants very much to serve his people in some way, his motivations are largely selfish–he wants to feel useful and proud of himself.

By the end [of the series, probably], I want him to be able to give up his need for personal satisfaction and recognition and instead be able to put his people’s needs first, even if that means giving up what he wants. Sacrificial love, basically.

I’m currently despairing of my ability to actually effect this transition, by the way. 😛

Day 14: A character trying something for the first time.
I’m cheating today–this is from the backstory rather than the novel proper, though I do reference it in the main story. Alahir refers to this as “the darkest day of our friendship” because he is, apparently, a drama queen.

“Augh, what is this?” With every word the bitter taste in his mouth worsened.
Navarion grinned. “It’s coffee.”
“Yes, but what did they poison it with? There’s no way this is how it’s supposed to taste, not if people drink it willingly.” He set the mug back on the floor and pushed it away, scowling at it.

Day 15: What grabs you about your premise?
This story started with a friendship, and exploring the ups and downs of that relationship has always been the strongest pull for me. If novels didn’t need plots, Daystar would be 100K words of Alahir and Navarion shenanigans.

However, when the plot fiiiinally began to develop, I was most intrigued by the idea of putting superhero elements into a fantasy setting. Still too early in the first draft to say how it’s all going to play out, but it’s fun!

Day 16: What sticks with you about the ending?
Ending? I need one of those?
…..well CRAP.

Day 17: In the end, how has your protagonist made you proud?
Navarion has begun to grow into a true leader, placing his people’s well-being before his own interests & desire to prove himself.

If all goes as planned, Alahir will meanwhile be heading down the “not proud” road for a while, but he’ll make me proud later, I’m sure.

Day 18: A chapter ending that you love.
Am I a horrible person because I love this?

Hands gripped his arms and pulled him backward, and Alahir tumbled from his grasp and collapsed to the floor, unmoving. He tried to struggle and his body refused to cooperate, tried to shout and no sound emerged.
The last thing he saw as his eyes forced themselves closed was his friend sprawled at his feet, hair fanning out around him like a pool of dark blood.

Day 19: Does your story have a contagonist?
Properly Alahir is a contagonist, but I tend to think of him as a second main character/protagonist. However, Navarion’s father, King Navanith, could also be considered a contagonist, though his attempts to help his son mostly leave Nav feeling antagonized instead.

(Don’t know what a contagonist is? Check out Helpful Writer’s article.)

Day 20: Share a line about food.

For several minutes they ate in silence—Alahir drank three cups of tea before even starting on the food, giving Navarion plenty of time to hoard the honey sesame balls on a napkin at his side,then pile as much rice and elris onto his plate as possible without eliciting teasing remarks from Alahir.
As it turned out, his friend was too busy tossing bits of fish to Qwet, who prodded him with her nose and batted his hands whenever he tried to ignore her.
“She’s even more spoiled than you are.”
“Oh hush, you.”

(I don’t think Alahir’s going to get any food, personally…)

Day 21: Does nature or the weather ever act as an antagonist?
No (though maybe in Book 2?), but it’s nearly winter, and as far as Alahir is concerned, snow is the only antagonist worth taking seriously.

Day 22: Share a line about smell.

Through the dirt and grime of their travels he could still catch his friend’s familiar scent, a wash of adventure and bravery and loyalty and everything else the Scion had come to mean to him over the last seven years.

(I’m embarrassed how little smell there is in my story given that my entire dissertation was on smell.)

Day 23: Is this a kissing book?
I suspect there’ll be a romantic arc eventually, but I haven’t found it yet. I have an idea for one that doesn’t involve the leads, but would have to do something cliche to make it work–is it okay to use one cliche to help you fight another?

In the meantime, there’s fighting, swords, magic, revenge, monsters, twue wuv, and canines of unusual size.

Day 24: Something your character would hate for us to know.
Alahir’s name means “little flower,” and he’s super jealous that his twin sister got the “cool” name. (So of course Nav has a store of flower jokes at the ready.)

After reading a “Beauty and the Beast”-type story, 5-year-old Navarion tried to run away from home because he was afraid of being turned into a beast.

It would also mortify Nav for you to know that, at age 26, he’s still reading fairy tales and adventure stories.

Day 25: Do your characters feel like family? Friends? Kids? Something else?
Alahir and Navarion feel like very good friends. The rest of the cast are acquaintances I’m still getting to know bit by bit, in the hopes that they’ll become friends.

Except the villains…. They can just keep doing their own thing.

Day 26: What keeps you working on this WIP?
I love my characters and want to share their story…even if I’m still not 100% sure what that story is. 😛

I was also surprised to find how relevant the issues surrounding magic are to today’s gun control debate. This was completely unintentional, and I don’t plan on using the story as a vehicle for arguing one side or the other, but I’m really curious to see how things develop now that I have this modern parallel in mind.

Day 27: What threatens your writing joy? What do you do to combat it?
Mostly impostor syndrome–it often feels like everyone’s more qualified, more creative, and more productive than I am (and not just in writing). I also have a terrible habit of rereading and editing things I’ve already written rather than just plowing ahead to finish the draft.

Social media is my big impostor syndrome trigger, but I’ve found that reflecting on everyone’s differences helps. We’re all in different places, have had different life experiences, work at different paces. There’s no one right way to get writing done so long as writing is getting done.

As for editing-while-writing…I’ve yet to find a cure.

Day 28: What do you want the future book cover to be like?
This is so far in the future that I have no idea. I Photoshopped myself a cover for NaNo last year, but the plot has changed so much since then that the cover’s no longer relevant.

I do know, though, that I want a drawing/painting rather than a photograph. I don’t generally like covers with real people on them.

Day 29: What’s the best thing people can say about your WIP?
It’s a tie between “How’s it going?” and “I can’t wait to read it!”

Day 30: What are you planning for your next WIP?
Next? HA! I haven’t even finished plotting *this* WIP! And then there are likely to be more books.

But! I did a fantasy crime novel for NaNo ’13, and I’d like to pick that up again someday. Think Miss Congeniality meets Gladiator-plus-magic-and-music.

NAResonance

 

Save

Save

Advertisements

Monday Reminder: Success and the End Goal

I was all set to write a writing-related Reminder for today, but a conversation with a friend yesterday got me thinking, and I decided some of those thoughts were worth sharing here. To start us off, here’s today’s Reminder in a nutshell:

MRSuccesses

 

I realized yesterday that I rarely stop to congratulate myself on my accomplishments; still less often do I actually reward myself for them.

I finished a PhD program in August after 6.5 years. Grad school sucks every bit as much as they say it does, but I made it and I’m a doctor now. (Whooo! *Straightens bowtie*) My family threw me a really awesome “Not That Kind of Doctor!” party, but I never really sat and just…felt proud. I’d been keeping a list of “Possible presents to buy yourself after you get your PhD!” and I deleted it. A week after my defense I was already worrying about getting a job. 10 months later I’m still worrying about getting a job and feeling like a huge failure because I still don’t have one.

Last year I joined @Writerology’s #WriteChain on Twitter, an accountability group where you pledge to do a certain amount of writing (vel sim) every day. Yesterday I hit 266 days. That’s 38 weeks of writing, editing, or plotting EVERY SINGLE DAY. And yet I’ve not once stopped to celebrate my milestones. 100 days? I tweeted about it. Not sure I even acknowledged 200.

What I tend to forget–and maybe you do, too–is that the end goal is not the only accomplishment worthy of notice. There are any number of smaller stopping points along the way that deserve attention, too.

One semester of college.

One chapter of a 50-chapter novel.

The initial sketch of a work of art.

The fact that I don’t have a job doesn’t in any way detract from my successful completion of graduate school. The fact that your novel isn’t published doesn’t make that completed-but-icky rough draft any less a milestone.

Never devalue what you’ve done because you still have more to do.

Stop and celebrate your accomplishments, big or small, stepping stone or end goal. Watch your projects come together bit by bit rather than waiting until they’re finished to feel a sense of success. Feel proud that you’ve done *something.* I’m not going to recommend going out and buying yourself a reward every time you write a paragraph, but heck yes, give yourself permission to feel awesome along the way–and if you want to eat an M&M after every paragraph, I say, bring on the candy!

 

Hey look, I wrote a blog post. I AM AWESOME!