Amanda Kenney's Notebook This is where my creations and I hang out.

April 3 (Thursday)

April 3

Well, I realized that it was April and I hadn’t being keeping you guys up-to-date at all.  And April is special because I’m doing Camp NaNoWriMo!!  You remember in November I wrote 50,000 words in 15 days?  This is like that, only different.  Instead of 50,000 words, you get to set your own word goal.  I decided on 25,000- nice and easy.  And it has been great so far; writing a thousand words a day is really easy.  So I’m writing yet another sequel that’s totally different from the other one I write back in November, although it’s supposed to be happening during the same time period.  Hopefully this version will more exciting than the other one.  There’s just one little problem.

I don’t like it.  Now, I know that NaNo is all about quantity and not quality, and that’s what the editing months are for, but, honestly, it’s painful.  Only two days into it and I am dissatisfied with the measly two chapters I’ve written.  The characters aren’t being themselves (a problem I encountered last time and eventually defeated) and I think perhaps my world isn’t developed enough (I only designed it two days in advance- not enough time).

Last night I fell into my little writer’s Pit of Despair and wondered if I’d ever be happy with any sequel- I’ve written about three different versions now and don’t really like any of them.  So now I’m wondering if I should just press forward and hope it gets better, or abandon it now and try an entirely new idea.  I’ve got until this afternoon to decide.  Either way, I’m writing a thousand words today.  It’s just a question of what.

March 14 (Friday)

March 14

I realized I hadn’t posted in awhile, and since I have all these thoughts swirling around in my head I’d like to share, I reckon now’s a good a time as any.

What?  No, of course I’m not just procrastinating!  Why would you think that?

Yeah…anyway… I did a totally fresh rewrite on chapters thirteen and fourteen, and now I’m working on chapter fifteen, which is even more totally fresh.  Dad was really pleased with chapter thirteen, and I hope the rest of this revision comes out as successfully.  Interestingly, it looks as though chapter fifteen is going to have to be split into two separate chapters (it’s already twenty pages long), which means I’ll have to join two other chapters together in order to maintain a total of seventy-seven chapters.  See, by decree of my evil twin, the final draft of the book has to have exactly seventy-seven chapters, not including prologue and epilogue.  (It’s a crazy writer thing; don’t try to understand it.  Or is it just a crazy Amanda thing?  Same difference, I guess.)

Fortunately, I think I’ll be in need of an extra chapter, because I’m anticipating some reduction in the climax.  Certain events need to be merged together, resulting in fewer chapters; some secondary plot lines are going to be dropped, resulting in some chapters becoming null and void altogether.  Of course, the ending is morphing all the time, so how can I really know one way or the other?

Speaking of which, I’ve tried to rewrite the last chapter a couple of times, but I couldn’t really finish it because I needed a special design for a medallion and I just couldn’t come up with one.  The design had to reflect the characters and somehow be meaningful for the whole story.  Then, just this last Tuesday, something about the warm weather inspired me and spawned a whole new plot device.  I invented a national holiday called Helm Hyelt, closely related to the main character, came up with a symbol for it, and- ta-dah!  Gap filled!  It may morph yet, but for now I’m satisfied.

And now, back to chapter fifteen.

Amanda Kenney, Season of Betrayal  |  Comments Off

March 4 (Tuesday)

March 4

I think I’ve posted once or twice about how much trouble I’ve been having with my attempts at editing recently.  I’ll work on a chapter for most of the day and not get halfway through, and what I do get done is not to my satisfaction.  Well, yesterday I devoted the morning to some serious schoolwork and getting other important, mostly school-related stuff done.  I had lunch and then beat the heck (or the dust) out of the stairs and dining room rug with the vacuum.  Then I went to my room and spent several hours reorganizing my closet.  When that was finally done, my back was quite sore, I was tired, and felt very satisfied.  I was also rather dirty, so I took a nice, hot shower.  I watched an episode of my favorite TV show and then had a relaxing dinner with my family.

Notice none of this is writing.  All day, the only book-related thing I did was sort through my maps while cleaning the closet.  (I also found some drawings that will probably find their way into the story, but that’s a post for another time.)  So after dinner, I went upstairs to my desk, sat myself down, and started to work on a chapter that needed considerable revision.  I had three hours max before bedtime.  And I got it done in that time, quite satisfactorily, I might add.  I didn’t get distracted; I didn’t get frustrated; I didn’t feel overwhelmed.  I was focused, at ease, and inspired.

I basically did the same thing today.  And you know something?  It worked.

March 1 (Saturday)

March 1

I’m not sure what I’m here to write about.  Maybe I’m just here to procrastinate from my editing work.  It’s not going so well.  I’m just too undecided about certain things, most especially about the significance of some characters.  I want them to be important, but I just might not be able to fit them into the story.  And if not, then they need to be more or less erased.  I’m nervous to make so many changes, since a decision either way will cause rippling effects throughout the whole story.  But that is what editing is, after all: making decisions that change the book.  I guess I’d better get back to it.

Season of Betrayal  |  Comments Off

Valentine’s Day Fun

February 14

In honor of Valentine’s Day, I’ve decided to post a writing prompt.

In Jane Austen’s Emma, Robert Martin writes a marriage proposal to Harriet Smith, Emma’s best minion.  We never get to read the letter itself, but meddling main character Emma critiques it and informs us that it is very well-written: romantic but practical, direct but respectful, and short but powerful- though of course she disapproves.

So, if you’re not too busy eating chocolate, now it’s your turn.  Have one of your characters write a proposal to another character.  Have a dozen different couple combinations!  Have the antagonist propose to the protagonist!  You can have the letter be romantic, funny, sarcastic, innocent, hateful, or totally indifferent.  Most importantly, post the results back to me!

Also, my characters’ love song is Hoobstank’s ‘The Reason’; what’s your characters’ song?  If they don’t have one, find one!

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February 9 (Sunday)

February 9

Hello there!  Sorry I’ve been gone so long.  But that’s what I’m here to talk about!  For some reason, right in the middle of a big rewrite for Season of Betrayal, I decided to also revise its sequel.  Well, what happened was I promised the NaNoWriMo people I’d spend January and February editing, since it’s a traditional part of the winners’ program.  Point is, I committed to editing the darn thing when I knew I was going to be rewriting my Magnum Opus.  Not the smartest thing I’ve ever done.

Thanks to my dad’s advice, exciting new horizons are appearing for Season of Betrayal.  There was a time not so long ago when I would have sworn that I was done with major changes, but -surprise surprise- I’ve already rewoven important plot points, and there is still so much more to be done.  Characters are changing and timelines morphing.  I hope I will be satisfied with the result.

Amanda Kenney  |  Comments Off

Bubble Syndrome

January 14

Every writer has their own strengths and weaknesses, but when it comes to beginning writers, there’s one thing they usually have in common.  They more often than not suffer from what I call bubble syndrome (which plagued the first draft of Dragon’s Heart- still does in some places).  Basically, this is when the writer suspends his character in a tiny little blank bubble with no sound and has them float through the story, only coming into contact with the outside world when the plot needs them to.  Bubble syndrome is caused by the writer being so anxious to move forward with the story that they forget to color in the background.  A common side-effect of this condition is info-dumping, where the writer tries to make up for the lack of description and reality by taking a paragraph of minute detailing and wedging it into the story at odd places that break up the suspense, action, and natural flow of the story.
It takes a lot of work to achieve, but if the writing is to feel natural and effortless to the reader, it must have a constant buzz in the background.  There must be movement and bustle and a whole world revolving without the main character.  It has to feel like the main character is one small person moving in a vast world.  We’re following them around, but the rest of the world isn’t.  Creating this buzz gives the whole story energy and reality.  Instead of distracting, having your character be one of a whole population actually focuses in on them.

NaNo Novel Synopsis

January 13

By popular request, here’s a synopsis of this year’s NaNo novel; however, being a sequel, it could contain spoilers for Season of Betrayal, so it’s been modified slightly.

‘One dark night was all it took for twenty years of darkness to suddenly overcome them.’

Two years after the war, just as things are settling back into peace, newly-wed Minkhoy is suddenly thrown into the dark and still-dangerous past of her husband.  With death at their heels, they flee the country to enter the shadows of yesterday, where mysteries, memories, tragedies, lies, and secrets lurk, ready to tear them apart.  But their greatest danger is far more real: an old hatred that will stop at nothing to get its revenge.

-Shadows of Yesterday

Blank Paper

January 9

I learned a new trick recently, and I thought I should share it with you.  I was revising a particular part of my climax and getting really frustrated.  I knew it really needed a big change, but however I worked at it, I couldn’t seem to fix it.  I tried taking out sentences and writing new dialogue, but it was still stuck inside this death-grip of old writing.  Finally, I just opened a blank document and rewrote it all from scratch.  It worked like a charm!  I was able to work in this whole new angle and steer the dialogue in the right direction to end up in the right plot device.

So the lesson of the day: never underestimate the power of blank paper.

Happy New Year!

January 1

Happy New Year to you all!  Let this year be even better than the last.

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