Author Toolbox: Plotter Shmotter, Pantser Plantser

If you’ve been in the writing community for any length of time, you’ve probably heard of plotters and pantsers — people who plot their stories before they write them, and people who write by the seat of their pants.

Thing is, from talking to a lot of writers, it seems like everyone does a mix of things. This pantser outlines a little in advance as they go, or has a short list of major plot points when they start writing. A plotter may use a super loose outline, or knows that nearly everything on it will change by the end. So though most people pick sides like some odd writing sports team, it almost seems like they’re nonexistent.

What I have noticed, though, is that a lot of people who identify as pantsers end up spending a lot of time revising, and tend to enjoy it. And a lot of outliners take their time to create highly polished first drafts and avoid tedious revision they dislike. So, instead of pantsers vs. plotters struggling in an age-old writerly battle, I think something more accurate might be drafters and revisers.

How about you? Do you think you’re a drafter or a reviser? Or do you think I’m totally wrong, and you’re a pantser or a plotter?

Also, be sure to check out more writing advice the rest of the #AuthorToolboxBlogHop!

Bacon, out.

Author Toolbox: The Mythical Existence of Writer’s Block

Writer’s block debates seem to come in waves. Lots of arguing about the existence of this apparently mythical psychological state that always ends up bringing out this statement: It doesn’t exist, only weak writers give in to writer’s block!

That one makes me want to scream.

Whether or not you call it writer’s block, I claim it does exist. And I’d go so far to say this mythical beast comes in different breeds:

  • Inadequacy – This is the kind of writer’s block you push through. “But my words suck, but no one cares, but, but, but!” No buts. Or butts, please. Only words. (If your words include butts, they count.) This beast may look big and scary, but is the easiest to conquer—you just have to face it first. This article has a a lot of good advice for knocking this one out.
  • Stuck – This is a toss-up. For me, personally, I need to write through it, because I normally find where I need to go by forcing the absolute worst thing to happen (setting people on fire is a favorite). Some people need to stop, sit, and plot, though. For others, this means they need to go back and edit. Learn how you work, and don’t let this one stop you—even if you aren’t writing words, keep moving forward. This beast is a little grisly, but may end up being an ally in the end. Maggie Stiefvater just posted a great graphic (and another version) of navigating the twists and turns of this battle.
  • Emotional Constipation – Oh, this writer’s block. This is the one that knocks you off your feet when your personal life explodes, or the publishing industry destroys you. It would be so nice if writing could only be a work of love, some magical process that’s entirely rainbows and unicorn poop and catharsis. But, if you’re like me, the greatest reward to writing is having others reading your work. Which adds that lovely, stifling expectation to every word you write. And of course any additional stressors in your life love to add on to it. For this one, I have no answer on how to get right through it. This is the one I feel is the most mythical, evil being of them all, gross and rotting and dripping and oozing with doubt and insecurities. You can try stabbing and punching and screaming at this one, but sometimes it refuses to move off your words, hoarding them just out of reach. And that’s okay. You’re a human (I assume). Sometimes you need to take a break and re-focus, re-charge. Then come back and stab that sucker through the eye socket.

What about you guys? Do you believe in the fabled create called writer’s block? Do you think my list needs to be longer? Wanna share your battle scars?

Also, be sure to check out more writing advice the rest of the #AuthorToolboxBlogHop!

Bacon, out.

I Have a Book in the World!

Long time, no post!

Like the title says, as of last Friday, I have a book in the world!!! Well, a graphic novel/illustrated urban fantasy for adults, but it still exists and is buyable. It’s a project that I’ve been working on with my wonderful editor Villipede Press for about three and a half years of uncertainty and progress, and it’s insane to think that after all that time people can hold this book I wrote in their hands—it’s insane that anything of mine ever got published! Anyhow, if you’d like to check it out, it’s up on Goodreads and Amazon, and here’s some more info:

Sacrifices of Shadow is a graphic novel in the vein of dark urban fantasy, written by K. Kazul Wolf and illustrated by Matt Edginton. Anya is on her way to visit her mother when she comes upon a strange man lying in the road. It’s the middle of the night, pouring rain, and through the headlights it looks like something has just tried to tear this guy to pieces. He asks if she has a weapon on her, and before she can scoff or run back to the safety of her truck, something large begins to growl behind her…

Anya finds herself drawn into an eldritch world where hellish hounds stalk the between-worlds, magic-infused firearms are bought and traded, and shadowy entities in human guise appear to be eerily common.

sos-front-cover-d_web

I also have plans for blog-ish stuff in the future, but for now I’m just going to bask in the internal screaming that is this book existing. :D

Bacon, out.

Bus

 

Prepared

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“Prepared” is what they said I was. They couldn’t train me any more for this moment than they already had.

I’m calling bull.

Princesses are supposed to be captured by dragons. Not disgusting, smelly, mechanical ogres. Uhg.

“Princess,” one creaks, reaching a hand out toward me.  “This can either be easy or hard, you —”

I kick out a leg, jamming it into their arm and sending them flat onto the ground.

“That was totally unfair and mean of you to kidnap me.” I cross my arms. “Apologize. Or else.”Read More »

Silver

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“Silver doesn’t kill werewolves, they’re allergic it.” I sigh and lean against the counter. Same spiel, different day.

“Young man, I will have you know that I’ve killed two dozen werewolves with silver.” The tiny little old lady waves her silver-tipped parasol in my face.

I eye the tip, going slightly cross-eyed before shaking my head and re-focusing. “And they got all puffy when they died?”

“Of course they did!” She old crone’s voice reaches a pitch I’m surprised hasn’t cracked the jars lining my shelves. “It’s a part of the process! Not simple allergies. I guarantee you I’ve seen more of their dead bodies than you have, boy.”

“It is a part of the process, yes.” The allergic reaction process. I suppose it does commonly end in their death, but I’ve met a couple of werewolves that are immune. It isn’t true magic, like the transformation process itself.

I gently slide a paper bag across the corner toward her. “Will silver bullets be all you need today?”

Read More »

I Made a Thing!

LOOK AT IT.

2016-09-05 16.19.13

It’s really blurry, I overall suck at taking pictures, BUT YEAH. I ripped apart a book (please don’t kill me, it hurt a lot to do it), mod podged it all onto this ugly cabinet, finished it off with a sealer, and many hours and two days later it is miiiiiine.

What book, you ask?

2016-09-05 12.43.04

(I kept my favorite bits to keep on the front.)

So WIP shots because why the hell not (I swear, these shots do not do justice to how ugly-butt green this thing was and still is in the inside because I’ve still got work to do (also, enjoy my neighbor’s puppy)):
2016-09-04 10.35.182016-09-04 11.10.282016-09-04 12.07.222016-09-04 13.57.072016-09-05 08.33.122016-09-05 10.14.032016-09-05 12.42.33

Now I’m gonna go keel over and eat chocolate or something.

Bacon, out.

Bus

On Why You Should Keep Writing

Alright, so I haven’t been updating my short story project lately. It isn’t because I don’t enjoy them, they’re fun to write. It’s not because I don’t have anything to post, I have like three stories in the file that just need to be edited. It’s because….

*DRUM ROLL*

(You’re never gonna guess.)

My crippling self-doubt, yaaaay!

“Really, Bacon?” you say. “Didn’t you already write a post or two about this?”

Well, I probably did, but I have some new thoughts. So let me get to my point by way of a round-about story.

Anyone who knows me personally knows that my writing life has been hell for about two years now. I am Murphy’s Law. If it can blow up in my face and cripple me emotionally, you better believe it will and then laugh as I try to crawl back up. Sorry, no gory details because those wounds still sting. Sometimes it does get better, sometimes you can use that anger to beat everything back and move forward. But sometimes you keep getting beaten down and beaten down and beaten down, and that anger dies and becomes a ghost that haunts you with its creation.

You think about it before you go to sleep. You think about it every time you open a document. You think about it every time you hit send on a query. You think about it in the shower, while driving, at work, while eating, while reading, while you’re on the freaking toilet.

It gets to the point where you look for help, you ask anyone you can to help drag you out of the pit and you get the same, meaningless advice. And it’s equally awful to get, “You’ll get there!” as, “Why don’t you just quit?” Because you want permission to stop but you also want to find a reason to keep going and it’s this awful limbo.

So I’m a part of this Twitter DM group, and I I expressed my despair awhile back. It felt like they said (note that I’m emotionally constipated and what they said and what I heard could easily be two different things), “But you’ve gotten into Pitch Wars (a fairly large competition) twice! And you got into those other contests! And you made it into that writing retreat where they only accepted so many applicants! How can you feel this way?”

Which made me angry. And depressed. So I kinda slunk out the back door and ate too much chocolate and had a lot of good crying and played too many video games. (Because I’m a child, apparently.) They just didn’t get it. Sure, I got into these things, but I’ve never made it any farther no matter how hard I try. No one actually cares about the words I’ve written. I’ve gotten to the point I wonder if any of my critique partners give a damn.

And that brings me to today. I’m still at a low point. It’s hard to think about writing. Hope is a dangerous drug I’d like to ignore, please and thank you. But this morning I saw there were new messages I will probably ignore in the Twitter group, and then in the next second I saw Victoria Schwab’s post on being an “overnight success.” And I naturally I got a couple paragraphs in and huffed and puffed when I saw that she got an agent on her first book (I’ve written six or seven books in at least in as many years of taking this business seriously, with one agent that didn’t stay for very long), and then it hit me. I’m feeling the same way that Twitter group felt when they saw me despairing. I’d hit the level of “success” they’d dreamed of. And there I was whining and complaining I hadn’t gone far enough.

Does that make my struggle any less real? No. But it brought what I’ve been able to accomplish back into focus. I have done some things to be a little proud of and to be thankful for. And maybe if there’s someone actually reading this word vomit, maybe you’re thinking, “Well whoop-dee-do, you’ve done more than me and you’re just realizing it. What a special snowflake you are.”

Some day you might be in my shoes. You might be in my shoes right now, observing my spoiled-bratty-ness. I’m sure you’ve done something worth being proud of. Maybe you’ve gotten a request for a full manuscript. Maybe you’ve found a critique partner that loves your words. And above that, maybe you’ve written. I know that fact becomes static when you’re surrounded by writers oozing out of every corner of the internet, but take this from a writer who hasn’t made it anywhere near the top: go walk down a crowded street and remind yourself that you may be the only one there who can call themselves a writer. That’s something.

If you don’t learn how to be proud of what you’ve done right now, you’re going to be miserable. Because life sucks. Writing sucks even more. And if you don’t believe what you’ve done matters, no one else is going to do that for you.

It really made me understand what those authors mean when they say that having a book deal or an agent changes nothing. Because on a subconscious level, I still think it has to change something.

But it doesn’t change enough to matter. There’s nothing that will magically make you “enough.” You do that.

So maybe think about this for awhile. Maybe don’t. It’s up to you. If you’ve stalked me long enough, you know that I write in an attempt to bring a little itty bitty piece of magic into the world, and I’m still not sure my writing does that so I don’t know where I stand. But maybe me rambling out my feelings will help somebody else.

We’ll see.

Bacon, out.

Bus

A Few Things

  1. I’M MOVING NEXT WEEKEND. ISH. So I don’t know when I’ll have internet. Which means that I may not be posting shorts for a time. Which brings me to…
  2. The short story project I never explained! I’m in a fun writing limbo, but if I don’t write I can’t sleep. So I’m re-doing a short story project I did ages ago and posting it to hold myself accountable. I’m going to aim to post every Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday, with the exception of the moving weekend/week.
  3. I swear I actually am on a social media hiatus (mostly Twitter and FB). From now until probably November is going to be super painful for me as it’s Pitch Wars season. It’s a huge dream of mine to be a mentor, but I’ve realized that’s more than likely never going to happen and it’s a constant reminder of how bad I am at this whole thing. (I still love the contest — a bunch of my friends are mentors and I’m encouraging two CPs to get their butts in gear for it this year!) I was hanging around a bit lately because of a thing, and I will check stuff those days I post stories, but otherwise I will not be online.

I think that’s it? WELP. If not we’ll know soon enough.

Bacon, out.

Bus

Secret Santa Story: Sidekick

So, since I have no talent other than writing for the Secret Santa exchange (AND THEN THE SECRET SANTA SITE ATE ALL MY QUESTIONS), I decided to steal a bunch of my victim’s random tweets and RTs to create, uh… a different sort of story. :’D Merry Christmas with this not-Christmas-related-at-all story, Alex?

A whirring and ticking wakes me from my sleep. I flail, getting tangled so bad in my blankets that I flop onto the floor and, wrapped in my comforter, worm myself from my room and slyly creep down the hallway until I catch sight of… the desktop computer.

“Did I really?” I collapse into a heap on the floor, snort-giggling into the carpet. I’m a superhero for heaven’s sake. I guess it’s just been one of those days. Or, well, two days now since it’s three in the morning. First it started off with those stupid lawyer ads on TV freaking me out — they just get under my skin, I dunno why. Then I got up to make myself a comfort quesadilla, because cheesy goodness is the best sort of comfort food, and there was no cheese in the fridge.

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2015 PitchWars Mentee Blog Hop: The Story (Or Lack Thereof) Behind the Story

Yay for the mentee blog hop! This contest is amazing, and what with last year’s being so awesome (you can read my old post over here) I couldn’t resist joining in this one. Same topic as last year, too: the inspiration behind the novel that got me in. Though there’s a little problem — I don’t remember what inspired the story.

Seriously, no idea where the plot bunny came from. I remember that I came up with the concept early on in my writing exploits, but thankfully didn’t write it then.

The only inkling of an idea I have of where it came from is one my all-time favorite authors: Diana Wynne Jones. Not only is one of the character’s named after a secondary character in the second Howl’s Moving Castle book (shhh), I’ve always adored Jones’s plot and world building. Her worlds are so vast and complex and deep that I can only aspire to be like her one day. Every time I re-read any of her books, I notice new things, I laugh at loud at the jokes, I believe every word she writes, I’m transported to a world that isn’t my own.

So, I don’t have a particularly amazing story behind my novel. It’s just my little love letter to an amazing author that managed to bring a little real magic into this world, and my promise to try and do the same.

Okay, done gushing. If you’d like to hear more stories of inspiration, check out the other Pitch Wars novel origin stories:

  • Amanda Rawson Hill
  • K. Kazul Wolf
  • Vanessa Barger
  • Michelle Tran
  • ES Wesley
  • Cindy Baldwin
  • Ashley Martin
  • ​Michella Domenici
  • Tracy Gold
  • Brian Palmer
  • Julie Artz
  • Joan He
  • Kyle W. Kerr
  • Ashley D. MacKenzie
  • M.C. Vaughan
  • Bacon, out.

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