(09/03/17) Part 1: In Absentia

Maintaining a blog is a difficult thing, especially a blog about writing. Things happen in your writing journey that makes you consider making an update, but the concern that you have nothing worthwhile to say, that you will make promises you cannot keep, causes you to reconsider. The anxiety stays your hand.

In short, I am aware that it’s been seven months since my last word; it’s for this reason that today’s blog will be in two parts.

When I last spoke about NoHoper 2nd ed., I was more than one thousand words into chapter 7 of 21 planned chapters. I am now more than two thousand words into chapter 21 of 23 planned chapters, putting the story at more than 141,000 words long. Since these remaining three chapters are already so precisely planned, I’m actually fairly confident I can have the first draft finished by the end of this month; the only thing that could prevent that is if I choose to pause writing for some reason. Considering that I’ve had assessments to complete over the last semester at the same time (one reason for my absence) and I had surgery on my left wrist on November 21st and wrote chapters 10-16 entirely one handed, my progress has been pretty impressive.

The real issue now, in fact, is planning what happens after finishing the NoHoper 2nd ed. first draft. Go to Part 2: Abhinc for more.

–Ruin Dun Burnit

(31/08/16) A Short Update

It has been a full two months since I officially began the first draft of NoHoper 2nd ed. If you remember, the last time I spoke a month ago I was one sentence into Chapter 2. Now? I’m more than a thousand words into Chapter 7, and the story is more than 32,000 words long. Of course, there’s a few things to keep in mind with this:

Firstly, a lot has changed in the plan between the 1st and 2nd edition. Gaps have been filled in the House of Night canon to apply strictly to the inner workings of the story. By the time I get to writing certain chapters, I’m rarely looking at the original copy; if I keep a line or two from the 1st ed., it’s either because they stood the test of time or because I think you’ll appreciate them.

Secondly, the story itself has been developed far more than it was in the original, partly to make it better and partly to incorporate the very real threat of a sequel. A couple of changes to that effect may be obvious from the first chapter, but some will hit later. Thanks to changes that were made to the plan (thanks in part to accepting that there are pieces of the HON canon that must remain), Chapter 4 in the plan (which was once one of the shortest) became the equally long chapters 4 and 5.

In other words, chapter 7 actually covers from the second scene in Chapter 6 and onward. It’s a little bit of a pain to have to relabel chapters to make the shift work, but I think it will better the story in the end; the last scene in the new Chapter 6, for example, was one I wanted to work on for a while. I doubt it will change much in the edit. The fact is, though, that I’m having to rein in a great temptation to feed you a few choice lines, even knowing full well that they may be suckered out by the next draft.

As a disabled writer, I feel like the burst in productivity I’ve had this Summer will not be around for much longer. I try not to be bitter about it; without my disability, I wouldn’t be me. I wouldn’t be the kind of writer I am now. As a dyspraxic in a creative field, I try to remember that it’s because of my out-of-box thinking that I am so valuable – even if I have become Irony Walking. I’m going to carry on being outspokenly disabled and creative: I knew of actor Daniel Radcliffe’s dyspraxia before I knew my own, but knowing a famous actor had the same disability helped me feel less broken and less alone. If the Boy Who Lived could be hardworking, successful and dyspraxic, why not me?

I hope that, if you’re dyspraxic and reading this, you know you can count on me to help you in the same way.

–Ruin Dun Burnit

(28/07/16) July Burn Up

Well hey. Long time, no word.

This month has been an eventful one already (he said, writing on the 28th). The first draft of NoHoper 2nd ed. has begun; the excellent news I mentioned in January came to fruition; a heatwave put paid to all of my plans for dedicated productivity and the results from the application came back.

If we remember from the last post, I mentioned how close I was to beginning the first draft of NoHoper. In fact, if you’ve been following my Tumblr you’ll have seen a few pictures of my tiny writing. The current status? The first chapter, which needed so much work from the 1st ed., is finished! The second chapter? It has a sentence, at least. I hate that. I know it’s because of the ‘Spanish Plume’ heatwave that hit the North for about a week, laying waste and putting paid to my plans, messing with my total inability to manage warm climates, but it’s since been replaced by sporadic showers and I have no more excuses.

Don’t worry, I’m finding my focus again.

Of course, a baby stole it. Two weeks ago on the 13th, the excellent news basically got better, and I became an uncle for the first time. I won’t share names or pictures, but that’s only because a, I’m not his father, and b, the Internet. Already, I’m so proud of the tiny nephew who will probably grow to be a 6’2″ rugby player who only listens to his uncle because he provides the good birthday gifts. It doesn’t help that I’m in Yorkshire and the nephew is in Wales, but other than enjoying this blessing for what it is, what can you do?

If nothing else, I can attempt to stay busy. The results came back from the application I’ve been mentioning for a while, and from September I will be working full-time on an MA in Literature and Creative Writing. Will I probably be buried in student loans for the rest of my life? Yes. Would I be able to get gainful employment in the field of my choice as a disabled person without the MA? Probably not. Go figure.

Readers, I’m continuing to work hard. I need to try and set a good example, at least. Let’s make this Summer count.

–Ruin Dun Burnit

 

(22/06/16) Gratuitous Hyperlinks

The last two weeks have been some of the best and the worst.

The worst because a few days after my last post ((04/06/16) June Burn Out) I had a new responsibility thrust upon me and just 12 days to complete it in (because someone didn’t check his e-mail til Wednesday).

The best, because once I got into the swing of it, I really fell in love with the process.

For an application I was having processed, I was required to write about 2,000 words of fiction. While it began as a major headache as I had almost nothing to mind, it actually gave me the opportunity to tackle a short story I’ve been wanting to write for an exceptionally long time. By the time I was finished and e-mailed it to the right people, it felt like I was saying goodbye to an old friend. It’s made me want to write more short stories. The great thing about short stories is that it’s often necessary to utilize one of my favourite tools: the Unspoken Ending. Like Wittgenstein’s ‘Whereof one cannot speak’ and Jazz, rather than spell out what it obviously all means, it’s often best to lay out the events and leave the horrifying conclusion unwritten; trust in your reader, and they will connect the dots and scream for you. Unfortunately, it still ended up just shy of 2,500 words, but that’s one more lesson to eventually maybe not learn for a while.

That ended on the 20th. Since then, I have driven over the proverbial hump and finally planned the last three chapters of NoHoper. I know. Go me.

As I mentioned in my last post, one of my favourite methods for working with plot-laden projects is to make a plan of the story that exclusively tracks the plots. By taking this plot plan and turning it into a visual chart to display which chapter each plot appears in and marking where each plot ends, I can see which plots needed to be included in the remaining chapters.

Without giving away any spoilers, the chart looks something like this (as it stands now; tiny font intentional):

NoHoper Plotline Image

Now, from chapter 1 to 21, I can see which plots occur where, as well as how many plots actually occur in each chapter. Chapters 10 and 15 hold the record for 8.

I reckon this method could help someone, so here’s how I put it together:

  • I went through the plan I had thus far and picked apart what plots I was continuing through the fic. These can be main plots, subplots, or simply the actions and motivations of a character who’s having a particularly heavy influence (spoiler alert: Zoey Redbird isn’t one of them).
  • I arranged this list by alphabetical descending order (A-Z) rather than by ‘importance’. I then assigned each plot a number. As you can see, I wasn’t lying when I said there were 14.
  • I assigned each plot a colour; this wasn’t for any particular meaning, but simply for the most visually helpful result. Rainbows are important to me as well as the most visually pleasing, so I chose colours that would produce the best rainbow.
  • I put together the chart with the plotlines listed vertically and the chapters list horizontally, and gave a coloured block at the right point using the fill tool. Plotline 1 occurs in chapter 6? Put a maroon block in row 1 under column 6.
  • The first plot-block is given the letter B; the last plot-block is given the letter P, E, or C.
    • B – first introduction
    • E – wrap up; the plot continues no further
    • CĀ  – the plot evolves into a new plot (under a different name) in the sequel.
    • P – the plot continues under the same name in the sequel.
  • Once I knew what plots had been wrapped up or else done with by chapter 18, and already knowing where they would be in the sequel, I now know how to go about wrapping up the last of the plots. The fic should end feeling both complete and anticipatory of the sequel.

If you look at the bottom of the image, there’s the top of a table showing the plotlines for part 1 and part 2. I won’t show it now, but here’s what you ought to know: 1, two of the plots become as many as three new plots and 2, Part 2 currently has as many as 16 plotlines. It really will end up being about twice as long.

Dear reader,

We are very close to beginning the writing of the first draft. Tantalizingly close. If I’ve bored you, I’m sorry.

–Ruin Dun Burnit

(04/06/16) June Burn Out

I’ve been talking a little bit about this already, but this week has been a busy week for me in terms of getting NoHoper stuff done. Maybe it’s because I’ve not worked this hard on a project since I finished my degree course, or maybe it’s because I’ve finally been unleashing my inner emotional investment in this story, but these three full days of planning the second half of story have been difficult. I’ve jumped from finishing chapter 14 to completely planning chapter 18. In short, I’m suffering a burn out.

In case you don’t know, I have a process when it comes to writing. Before I write first drafts, I write a full content plan for each chapter (which also includes conversations in scripted dialogue). If a story includes a fair amount of plots or subplots or developments that need to be minded – at last count, NoHoper has about 14 of these – I will make another plan to keep track of how they develop and in which chapter they do. That’s what I’ve been working on for the last few months outside of final projects.

At this moment in time, I am at a point where the Climactic Event of the story is planned out completely. Since I have plans to make a sequel (because of course I do), the direction I take to resolve issues, wrap up completed plots, develop the plots I intend to put in play later and incite incidents for the sequel is all critical work. The issue that I’m having, I guess, is finding the balance between having the Climactic Event mean something and yet not overshadow the last few chapters; here as in real life, just because something was a big deal doesn’t mean that all other action has stopped. Life is just not that kind.

I’m supposing my rundown feeling has something to do with my current situation. I’ve been working hard, managing my health and dealing with the left over bits of stress from my degree as well as issues in my personal life I don’t have time to get into right now.

In any case, I know I promised pieces about trans and bi identities, but the fact is that making them ready for grading was a higher priority than making them available here. These issues remain incredibly important to me, especially considering how invested I am in the outcome of these conversations. So, get ready for them soon.

–Ruin Dun Burnit

(18/04/16) More and More

One thing that has struck me over these last couple of months of developing NoHoper 2nd ed is how much the whole story strikes me as more of a TV series than, well, a ‘book’ series.

You know what I mean? In a book series, the point is that one book may continue the series, but its story ought to count as a stand alone novel in its plot and development. In a TV series, you have numerous storylines developing alongside each other, but one season may not necessarily count as a ‘complete show’ with a beginning conflict in episode 1 and a resolution of the main conflict in the work by episode 20 – rather, the series is like a book and the seasons operate like chapters. It’s for this reason that I often feel that George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire feels more like a Medieval soap opera than an honest-to-God book seriesĀ  (which, for its format, is part of the whole draw for me).

Which is to say, it is very likely that there will be more than one sequel, and the cut-off points will be based on ‘does it feel complete?’ rather than ‘have we resolved the original conflict?’. I apologise in advance. I think a part of me wants to ‘go the distance’ and do what the Casts were never willing to do to begin with and cover the full four years (or however far it gets). Suggestions for sequel names won’t go unheard.

As for the previously mentioned project on Bisexual and Trans identities, I will be starting these posts this week. Definitely. Don’t let me forget. They will go on both this and the Tumblog, so please feel free to share and give feedback and essentially start a conversation. I’d love to hear what you think.

I think I promised something on the conference, but frankly I have more in mind to write the dissertation itself than talk about the presentation I made on the dissertation while it was a work in progress.

Basically, this is all about to become more than its parts.

–Ruin Dun Burnit

 

(29/03/16) All Is Revealed

Since my last update, I got an interesting message from someone asking why they couldn’t access new chapters of NoHoper 2nd ed. So, to make this totally and completely clear to everyone (as I have to them):

I am currently reshaping NoHoper. I am taking my new ideas to my old ideas and making sure it’s perfect. Once my two graded projects are done, I will write NoHoper 2nd ed., edit it, and make sure every chapter is perfect and devoid of holes. Only when the whole thing is done (hopefully by July) will I upload them here. July. At some indeterminate date. Once the first chapter is up, I will upload each new chapter either once a week or once a fortnight (which ever works for the schedule I will have by then).

Well, I say July, knowing that I have at least the majority of the 1st ed. chapters to build on. However, with all the changes I’m instilling, these 1st ed. chapters will quickly become redundant. Let’s make a deal: if July changes to August, or even September, I will tell you first. In return, please trust that I am working hard and being upfront no matter what. Deal?

If you have any questions about NoHoper, about the story or anything at all, the Tumblog at ruindunburnit.tumblr.com is the best place to ask me (at least, that’s where you’ll get the fastest response).

As for the graded projects, with the dissertation moving smoothly, this is what I have going on for the second project:

I have 5,000 words to discuss a subject that brings in material from at least a majority of the modules I have studied over the course of my degree in English Language and Linguistics (sorry to say, but I am in reality a desperately boring person). The subject, on which you will see many updates on this blog and the Tumblog?

Linguistic and Media Representation of LGBTQIA+ Identities, with Particular Focus on Bi and Trans Identities.

“What? You can actually do that? For an undergraduate degree project?”

Abso-smegging-lutely. I have the support of my tutors and professors. They’re actually very interested to hear what I have to say on this. For which I’m remarkably fortunate.

If it’s not your bag? If you’re not interested? Feel free not to read. I have no problem with you sitting it out. Of course, if you have anything to say, absolutely feel free to comment, ask questions, whatever you want. It’s as much for you as it is for me.

So, be prepared to hear a lot more on that in the very near future.

–Ruin Dun Burnit