Spectra · Stories · Uncategorized · writing

Camp NaNo Complete – Spectra Coming Along

My April camp goal was 15,000 words and I ended it with 16,210 written.

Because of that I added 8,704 words to Spectra 1, filling in scenes I’d put off writing for ages and filling in all the holes remaining with notes for future revision.  It made me realize that Spectra 1 is enormously depressing and it’s going to be tough to balance so it’s not a slog, however there’s not much I can add to increase purely fun action.

There is also I have to decide how a deadly plot point will unfold, I have options for it, but nothing’s felt striking yet.  Likewise there’s a worldbuilding aspect I still have to nail down regarding religion and spirituality.  Can’t decide what people in Spectran society generally believe about it, what the truth is for them, etc.  It’s much easier figuring out aliens in that contest, because they can go high fantasy without it breaking realism/verisimilitude.

So I have that to figure out next.  But with the depressing aspects it feels harder to form it into a novel, whereas as a webcomic it would at least have nice visuals to uplift the mood.  I really can’t decide how to approach it.

Stories · Uncategorized · writing

Writing Block: Apparently I Need an Antagonist

I’m reading a book called Write Like a Beast by Adam Lane Smith, and the first part covers character creation, with emphasis on creating the antagonist first and then the protagonist, as the antagonist drives the plot while the protagonist first reacts to trouble before getting proactive about it.

And therein lies the problem for Sheyla in book 1, probably for half the book she has no direct antagonist, no direct conflict.  Before the war there is only some tension, unease, and sadness about future changes, but there’s no direct, decisive conflict the way there is for the rest of the series where she always is fighting against something in some way.

But what kind of real, concrete antagonist can I give an 11-year-old girl that fits with a peacetime to wartime switch?  I can’t do something boring like a school bully, it would be dumb and out of place for the type of story it is (not to mention a mage bully would not be tolerated in their society).

I guess this is why dystopian stories usually start inside the dystopia, rather than before it’s taken over.

The only direct antagonist I can think of is a mage hunter, but again, that only works once it’s in the war part of the story, and at that point it doesn’t matter because there’s already trouble in her face.  But before?  I legit have no idea right now.  Maybe I could give her paranoia about aliens, or something a bit supernatural, but those seem too close to abstractions, which there are enough of already.  I can’t really have a dangerous antagonist, but it can’t be too normal…It still needs to point to danger.

Spectra · Uncategorized

2020 Goals: Figure Out How to Get Spectra Going

I feel a bit late writing this since it’s a couple weeks into the new year, but whatever, I want to join the fun since my friends wrote goal posts on writing.  Initially I thought I would only plan: “Get real life sorted out so I can do any sort of writing/storytelling again,” which still has to happen.  But…I’ve been thinking about how much I want to work on Spectra and get it going, so there is my writing goal for 2020.

Now I have two ideas about how to move forward with Spectra.  One is to complete a novel or two of the beginning with only Sheyla’s POV, to keep it simple and less intimidating.  And the other is to start drawing the comic as a whole and accept that it will likely be drawn in a way that will require redrawing later.  I’m still pretty scared to get it out into the world, I still feel like I’m not ready (but I’ll probably never feel ready so I should probably start already…) and it’s so big I don’t know how to break it down and persevere through drawing it all.

I really want to see it in comic form, but I have no patience for drawing these days given the aforementioned real life issues taking up most of my mental energy.  Meanwhile, I could work on the novel, but I never feel like I’m writing it how it’s meant to be, or that there’s too much left to vagueness.  For instance, I gloss over Sheyla’s parents without trying to develop them, but I don’t think that makes sense given that Sheyla would care about them and be affected by them but wow, I don’t want to bother, I want to get to the explosions already.

That’s the problem with kid Sheyla and the beginning of the story, there’s no action or explosions, which is not at all representative of the rest of the story.

The very beginning always feels flat, like it’s colorless and muted.  Maybe I’d be better off skipping all of it in the novel.  Except I need to answer my own questions about certain events that happen at that point, and I don’t want to leave them all vague.  So I still have to do the work of figuring it out even if I don’t novelize it.

Probably I’m just overthinking and being too anxious over it all and it’d be better to just get started rather than worrying about polishing every single facet of the story, but ARGH! Things still bother me!

Skipping ahead isn’t really possible, but maybe condensing down the backstory elements would help…See it all flows nicely in my head, it would make for a nice movie or tv series beginning.  I don’t think it’s innately boring, it’s just frustrating to write.  It’s missing those sorts of scenes I’m really excited to get to, the kind the middle is usually full of.

I think I’ve rambled enough on this post, it was supposed to be about setting goals, not venting story problems.  Anyway, so that’s all on my mind and I’ll see what can come of Spectra if I keep focusing on it.

Spectra · Uncategorized · writing

Spectra 1 Revision: Deleting the Chaff

Start: 40,655 words and 94 pages

End: 30,313 words and 74 pages

I cut down Book 1 of Spectra today, removing all the outliney description, author notes, and obsolete material from it (okay, so maybe 0.9% of it remains) while it lopped off 20 pages and 20k words (AAA!) it made it much clearer what scenes I need to write since their spots are no longer filled with synopsis paragraphs that camouflage as narrative.

And some of it spilled over into the second book.

I should specify:  I cut down the copy of the Spectra 1 manuscript.

I have a thing about having copies.  And I simply copied a bunch of notes into a new revision note document so I don’t lose track of ideas.  Pretty much in order of the plot lines, so it should be fairly tidy.  So there’s some nice redundancy and ways to stay on track.

Still it’s weird that this thing is down to 30k.

I keep telling myself it’s going to be a giant book, that this whole storyline will be many books, but I see numbers like this and I question the whole thing.

Except I got most of the way through and listed a bunch of empty scenes that needed to be written or majorly added to…And there were 24 of them, and I added more to the list.

So, once I write through all of those, I hope my story will finally take the shape of a respectable novel instead of being such a crazy draft.

I think that’s about it for now.  I’ll probably start filling it in tomorrow AND I’ll start changing some of the outline headings within the manuscript to chapter headings!  Whoa!  (Pretty much don’t write with chapters labeled, instead I use detailed outline labels so I don’t lose my place and I know where to find specific parts of scenes and such.)

I suppose it might be fair to share an old snippet and a new snippet…

Sheyla’s parents discussing Plot Problems:

“It’s just… there’s always alien skirmishes… someday, Sheyla will be strong enough that they’ll see her…”
He put his hand on her shoulder.
“Sheyla is going to be fine, we’re going to stay where there is good security, we won’t have to give up our rights for it.”

Something I wrote the other day before copying the draft:

“Disengage,” a pilot commanded, “You are in restricted …spacespace… like airspace, but in space…Guys, what do I say here?”

And now you know why I had to cut a quarter of my words out of the story, because I talk to myself in the middle of the story all the time.  But I gotta do it to figure things out! xD

(Also just hit me that I literally cut out a quarter of my manuscript.  Wut.)

Spectra · Uncategorized · writing

Camp NaNo Update with Spectra News

I’ve written double what I needed to for the little Camp goal, I’m currently at 6007 words! (300 words are 3 comic pages technically) so I’ve got no worries about camp, just story structure!

And here’s the thing, after hopping about imagining Spectra and dabbling in other stories and all that, I figured out a solution to Spectra’s beginning.  Because for the longest time I’ve felt like it starts off too unevenly, or really that it does NOT give the reader a good idea of what they’re getting into whenever I planned to start with young Sheyla having to handle her magic before the war that sets everything off, and even when combined with Des and his encounters with aliens, nothing quite clicked.  The problem was that even though they acknowledged the wider dangers out there at the start (aliens) they aren’t really shown and there’s simply a lot more about them and their families, the “normal” before the storm.

And even if that was okay, I never solved “Do I open with Sheyla?  Do I open with Des?  Do I open with a flash forward prologue that mostly has Sheyla and maybe a bit of Des?” I wasn’t satisfied.

It was simply apparent I was bored of the opening I planned.  Not that the scenes are utterly bad, but they make bad openings, they do nothing to indicate the scale of conflict in Spectra, just a teenager and a kid being set up before the war that puts them on opposite ends.  It just couldn’t work.

I couldn’t think of a way around it.


I decided it would have to open with someone besides Sheyla or Des.  Someone already in the middle of the action, someone deep in the action throughout the whole story.  Thankfully, there are a few characters who have already have several segments with their POVs consistently spread throughout the government.  I considered Dale and other members of the Kaldoan military and resistance, who are certainly prominent.  But, I realized that perhaps the best one to open it up would be the Void Lord, since he would have the benefit of being in space.

And also the first chapter is a few years before the war, so the Kaldoan military wouldn’t be doing anything plot specific and I’d be tempted to make filler politics that connects to tension between the factions and that sounds too complex for now.  And like filler.  But the Void Lord…his focus stays the same through the whole thing.

I might still introduce Dale’s side afterward, but it wouldn’t be necessary and it verges into needless backstory that only I (and friends) would be interested in at this point.

For all I know the prologue will only be a page, but it should give a nice sense of scale to the story and hint at how all the disparate threads of Spectra will come together in a cohesive whole.