Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Solving the Plot Hole Problem

One of the minor problems that every author usually comes across is the Plot Hole. Everyone has seen them even if the weren't quite aware of what they are. It's the 9 year old Pod Racing boy who JUST HAPPENS to be able to fly the space ship and take out the shield generator. It's the traps meant to keep an adult wizard out yet three first year students were able to bypass them. It's the One Thing that statistics, science, and probability saying shouldn't happen, but for the sake of the plot it happens.

While working on my latest story, I ran into not one but four of these little delights. To be rather vague, a crime happens and someone important is injured enough to require medical care. My plot holes became the following:

1. Why weren't the police notified?
2. Why wasn't a doctor summoned?
3. Why weren't the family notified?
4. Why didn't anyone show up for X amount of days?

I took those questions, wrote them down on a piece of paper, and then stared at them for a while this morning, pen in hand ready to answer those questions. Oh, I could keep writing the story as it was going, but those four questions would keep poking me. I could even wave them off as not necessary due to plot, but that just felt lazy and wouldn't give the story I want to give my readers.

Besides, answering those stories would make it challenging and force me to actually think about what's going on in this world instead of just shrugging and answering those questions with "Because reasons".

It took about a quarter of an hour of weighing pros and cons before I came up with answers that were acceptable to continuing the plot instead of disrupting it. Are the answers perfect? No, there's still a bit of a plot hole in them but not nearly as large as they had been. It's quite likely that in the editing phase I'll be able to close them even more, but for now, that small bit of a gap is going to have to do.

I will probably use this technique for all of my plot holes in the future as it seemed to work out rather well this time. Having the problems right in front of me like this allows me to realize just where the issue is and now it needs to be fixed, perhaps it will take creating a whole new plot point or something in the story to seal up that plot hole, or perhaps I won't be able to successfully seal up a plot hole. It will be interesting to see what happens in the future.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Best Laid Plans

So, this past weekend, I was writing, determined to get my Beauty and the Beast short story done and published before the month was out, and on Sunday, I thought it was completely done at 25 pages and around 15k words. Then I sent it to my beta reader.

"Are you trying to do a novel in a short story?" was the kindest thing she said (which I actually appreciate instead of someone squealing and stating it's the best thing ever!!) She went on to explain that I pretty much had done next to nothing in the story and there was quite a bit that needed to be done in it. Also, the ending didn't make any sense.

I admit I was a bit aghast at that, but I realized she was right. I had been trying to write a novel in a short story, and there were so many holes, the story was practically the crib notes version of what it could be. There was so much more that needed to be done in this story to get a good tale out of this. So, I'll be taking that "crib notes" and expanding on everything that is there, and turning it into a novel.

Of course, this means that my plan for publishing a fairy tale short this month, then next month, and finally the anthology in March has been completely derailed. See, Beauty and the Beast is one of those that is included in the anthology, and also, if this story needs something of a novel rewrite, then I'm gonna have to rethink the other story I have planned plus the anthology only special story.

What does that mean for my writing? Well one of my goals for 2017 is tho have a novel written, edited, have a cover on it, and published on Amazon by no later than November. I will be shelving Beauty and the Beast for the immediate future to focus on one of the novels that I actually have a great deal of it written out by hand. When I get stuck on that story, finish that story, or need something to do when I don't feel like writing pages upon pages, I'll pull Beauty and the Beast out and poke at it to see where it wants to go and how it wants to get there.

I'm not throwing the story or the idea away, but it definitely needs a lot more meat on those bones before it can be ready for anyone aside from my beta readers to read. Mainly because I hate promising my readers a steak and lobster dinner only to hand them a McDonald's Happy Meal.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

New Project?

For a long time, I have enjoyed playing a tabletop RPG called Shadowrun created by Catalyst Game Lab. It a cyberpunk meets Dungeons & Dragons, meaning if you want you can play an elf that has so much cybernetics they're practically a robot or a human that can fling fireballs and call up spirits to do their bidding. It's fun, exciting, and I have had a character die twice (Had to permanently spend an edge point both times to keep that from happening but totally worth it!) I confess that I've only played the game when my husband was running it, but I've always had fun strapping on my Colt Manhunters, cybering up my elf, and taking to the mean shadows of the Sixth World on Mr. Johnson's NuYen.

Imagine my surprise when I found out that there were novels based in this world of science and sorcery, some stand alone and some in trilogies. My husband has quite a few of them to go along with his two shelves of Shadowrun gaming books. Here, I could return to the cold streets of Seattle whenever I wanted or follow someone into any other dangerous pit of scum and villainy.

Back when I started playing, it seemed like a lot of the campaign books seemed to focus on the West Coast, the West, or the South but not too many in the North. And me being the imaginative person in love with the setting had two little words whispered in my ear.

What If.

Dangerous words, yes, but the basis of so many delightful story beginnings.

What if I wrote a novel in this corporate controlled landscape, creating my own team of Runners, and perhaps fleshing out a little used area to enjoy on my own terms?

So, this past week, I started seeing about making this a reality. I sat down with paper and pen and started fleshing out what had been a small story. Another author, R. L. King, was polite enough to give me the basics of what Catalyst Game Labs wanted in one of their novels when I asked, and I was even offered the professional e-mail address to the gentleman in charge of novels for the company. Yesterday, while doing my best to ignore the increasing cloud cover, I sat down at my computer with all of my notes, and I wrote this gentleman an inquiry to see if he would be interested in my novel idea. When putting my story together, I raided my husband's source books on Shadowrun because I found out that a couple of them had information on the area I was looking at. One book only had half a page while the other had an entire chapter dedicated to Boston in the Shadowrun world. I hoped that the plot I outlined in my inquiry would be just as attractive to him as it was when I started writing it.

Now, I sit and wait for a response back. I hope that Catalyst Game Labs will find my story intriguing and will take a chance on a relative nobody to let me write my little novel, indulging in my self delight in doing two firsts for me: Writing a novel based on a game, and writing a novel from a first person point of view. Both will let me stretch my wings a bit more as a writer, and I'll be able to share this incredibly fascinating world with people who might decide to take a chance because they enjoyed the other stories I wrote. I'll keep everyone updated as I get any information, but until then...

See ya in the Shadows, Chummer....

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone!

I hope you had a fun and safe transition from 2016 into 2017, and this is a year fresh with possibilities. One of the first things I started doing this morning was playing around with designing a business card after having a long talk with a random person about the stories both of us were writing. It started because she needed a pen at a restaurant, I gave her one of the cheap and disposable pens I carry for just such an incident, and we started talking. When I mentioned my stories, she instantly scrambled for a piece of paper to write them down.

After I left, I had to wonder what would have happened if I hadn't had a bit of paper or a pen to give her. Would she have remembered the stories later? Or would she have completely forgotten about them? That was when I decided I needed business cards pointing people towards my stories where I could just give it to them without having to search for paper or a pen to write info down on.

So, I went out to one of those business card sites that a friend recommended, and I've been playing with designs and ideas. I think I have one, but I need to get a second opinion from my husband because sometimes the only taste I have is in my mouth *laughs*. I also confess that I'm thinking of starting up a mailing list to announce when new stories are coming out, but as I only have two stories solo published, it seems rather silly to have such a thing just yet. I'll probably wait until I have a few more out there before I start that since all of the announcements of a new book end up on my Facebook page.

So, once more, I hope everyone has a happy new year and a wonderful 2017! Seize the year and make it your own, full of achievements and excitement of the good kind!