thinkinglazy

Aspiring author and random thinker

Tag Archives: outline

On Writing: The Choice Diagram

About a month ago I started working on my new book, a poor choice considering that I have not yet completed my fourth installment of Book of Kayal, because I found myself in a unique position to learn about writing from some incredibly talented writers and professors.

This one, however, is different from all my former stories, mainly because it is an exaggerated and science-fiction version of an interesting former experience of mine, which I chose not to disclose at the moment. Also I expect to improve my skills writing this book at an accelerated rate compared to the other books because of the vast wealth of resources available to me, including mentoring.

Yet I still continue to develop my own writing process and refrain from using that of someone else, unless for exercising purposes, and only pick up elements which I find potentially useful and testing them. One of the new additions I have come to explore is the ‘choice diagram’, essentially a diagram for all the main characters in the story which states the choices they have for all decisions contributing to plot development.

For example, the first chapter/part in my new story, which I decided to name ‘Palladium Falls’, is about a man trying to put together a case stating that robots – specifically a highly, self-evolving type of robots – should have their own freedom. The first set of choices he face is to go through the process through the courts or through the scientific community, he chooses the first. Then he faces a choice of bringing a robot to be questioned, bearing in mind that it would provide both him and his opponent the opportunity to take advantage of this situation, or bring one of the scientists working on the self-evolving program supplied to the robots.

The choices go on as such until the conclusion is reached. At the moment I am experimenting with simple ‘choice diagrams’ considering that I don’t really understand its potential impact yet, or whether it is better to have a complicated/detailed one or a simple one, yet I intend to develop a set of integrated diagrams by which all choices made by the main characters are influenced by one another. Essentially I plan to have this diagram visually depict the perspectives of the characters as they continue to interact and develop.

Maybe this is a completely useless idea, or maybe it is the best idea I have come up with since I decided to pick up writing.

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On Writing: Finally Finished Book IV

I have finally finished my fourth book, originally called Deliverance Edge, today and felt like sharing. I can clearly see the improvement in my writing, for the thoughts start to flow freely and it feels easier to write them down and express them than it did in the third book.

The moduling outlining technique I spoke of earlier worked fairly well, but it did cause me a major setback when I was forced to leave the book for four months without working on it. I have, however, discovered a new method that I intend to use in my next book, which I have been thinking about for a year or so now. Basically, I will prepare two outlines; one general outline with the direction of the story to be prepared before writing anything, and one detailed outline to be prepared before writing each part. In short, I will further segment the process in a method that is supposed to allow me to stay on track and not get bored. I am already excited!

Stick around and see how this works out. Good luck!

On Writing: Finally a Chance

Last time I worked on completing my current story was four months ago. I have, however, been editing it as best as my abilities would allow.

The module-type outlines I have been experimenting with proved to be fairly well in keeping me motivated and in allowing the story to maintain its coherence. While I finished outlining and writing the first three parts, the fourth, and last, part was completely blank. This, nevertheless, was not a hindrance to me continuing the story. In fact, it was possibly a great thing considering that it allowed me to think thorough the ending of the story and not rush it.

What I noticed though was that the passing of time and me writing academic and business pieces instead of literature, due to my current studies, made my writing style differ significantly. Overall it was an improvement, but it did make it more difficult to maintain my fantasy writing style. Perhaps it would be a great asset in writing science fiction, considering that the language is less archaic and more scientific, but this notion remains untested at the moment.

I believe that the modulated outline method was a success to me and that without it the chance of me finishing a story that has been left untouched for 4 months would be fairly slim.

On Writing: Outline Disadvantage Discovered

So I realized that outlines work perfectly when there is a short time-span between preparing them and writing the story. However, their disadvantages are truly revealed once a little time passes. Personally, one of the biggest challenges I have to face is to keep writing everyday. Writer’s block is not such a problematic issue for me as much as motivation is. Though it seems that outlining has a profound positive impact on my stories, they are somewhat opposed to my natural tendencies.

The modular outlining method was a great way of overcoming the motivation issue, yet it also take a lot of time and has the same advantages if the actual writing process is delayed, as has been the case lately with my busy schedule.

Anyway, I have just finished the second part of my current project titled and am about to start preparing the outline for the following part, with a little less detail this time to make more room for writing.

On Writing: Outline Deviation

So I prepared an outline for the first part of my third book, the fifth outline I ever prepare for a book part, and I liked it. However, as I wrote, new ideas, like the fizz in a soda can, started popping in my head. I ended up following the first two chapters with no deviations from my outline as the story was yet to take shape. When I started working on the third chapter, I realized that some additional unexpected situations would greatly increase the quality of the book.

The third chapter is about the main protagonist starting his quest, after being torn from his pleasant lifestyle. It starts when the protagonist and his two companions seek an audience with a certain notorious Countess as part of a dead man’s will. I intended to make it focus on the protagonist and almost excluding any significant situation regarding his companions – they would simply sit this one out. However, I realized that adding a major handicap to one of his companions would only make the story more interesting, and this addition would not affect the intended ending of this book because it has not been prepared yet.

This is the first time I make such a huge deviation from the outline. I consider my lack of my reluctance to do so as proof that it is a valuable addition to the story. So I basically wanted to say that I found an additional advantage of preparing modular outlines.

On Writing: Meaningless Delays

I discovered that naming things often delays my writing and prevents me from ‘riding a thought wave’, if that makes any sense. Instead of wasting time searching for names and titles, I started preparing a key-type chart. It goes something like this:

(1)-main character

(2)-small town, windy climate

(3)-support character, middle-aged female, shy, blond

(4)-main character father, old, deceased

(5)-special Greek-derived art

(6)-imperial city

That is just something I picked up a few days ago. This saves me the research to later, and allows me to freely explore the concepts I am brewing.

On Publishing: Attempt One

Just in case some of you have not been following my writing posts, I will give you a short summary about what happened so far before going on with my first attempt at independently publishing.

I started seriously writing about a year ago and finished three fantasy books for a series I named Book of Kayal. I knew that the first two books would not be very good, yet I tried my luck finding a literary agent for them. Because there was somewhat of a cliffhanger in the end of the first book (Rise from Exile), I decided to merge it with my shorter second book (Broken Shackles), I named it (Wolf Emperor). Needless to say, I got rejections left and right. At first, doubt started to take over and it felt rather depressing, but I realized that this would not be an easy journey and kept writing just for the enjoyment of the process.

The third book I finished revising and all last week. It was by far the best work I have ever done in terms of concept, idea and plot. I spent some time researching the characters and integrated the same idea from the first book, with a great deal of tinkering, of using mythological and historical characters in the story. For example, Thalia was the Greek Goddess of drama, I made a character having similar features to what I expect a talented artist to be like – I named my character Thalia too.

This books outline was my second attempt at making one, I wrote the first book using a method referred to as discovery by Brandon Sanderson (author Mistborn series and many other books),  and making a coherent plot to bind all elements together while focusing on sub-plots during each chapter. After reading a lot of books, I mean over 40 in a span of less than six months, I found the exact style I wanted my books to have, that ending that makes everything suddenly seem so logical – the big ‘Ahhh’. Additionally, I read a great deal of short stories which provided a quick insight on the conceptual elements, not ideas, I wanted to have in my books. I finally decided to write each chapter as a short story with its own moral or philosophical lesson to it, some were better than others though. The hardest part, however, was finding this golden idea that made a mediocre book – I know this sounds strange – great by incorporating a hinted sub-plot that unveils itself in the end – the reason behind all of what happened.

So I finished my third book, revised it and decided on the platform I wanted to publish it on. From my experience with literary agents, I realized that most of them don’t even consider unpublished authors regardless of how well a synopsis, query or sample chapters are written, and you can’t blame them for it. Amazon Kindle seemed the best way of publishing my book, after some research.

Two days ago, I posted my book on kindle and started sending emails to various book reviewing websites/blogs. I am not sure what happened regarding the emails yet. Nevertheless, I could not sit and wait for the reviewers to respond, so I went with the second part of my plan and created various announcements on different forums, including relevant reddit subreddits, deviant art, facebook and goodreads. I know that there is practically no way I might make a single sale unless I have reviews or the book was offered for free, so I enrolled in the kindle select program and offered my book for free on Friday and Saturday 14-15. Yesterday at 11:00 am (+2 GMT) was my first book download. The amount of happiness I felt when seeing that 0 become a 1 was incredible, in spite of the face that it was a free promotion. Now, and 190 downloads later, I find myself reaching a halt about my next step. I guess the only thing to do is wait for reviews to pop in and see how it goes from there.

For a book to be successful it needs to have thousands of copies downloaded, but I do not expect mine to reach this level yet, unless by some miracle or great marketing. Being an author is a difficult thing, but when you see the slightest improvement or interest by someone else in your work, it is a reward which outweighs all the hard work and effort spent in this beautiful hobby/profession. I still have leagues and leagues to go, but perhaps one day I might be able to be good enough to make a living out of writing.

You can find the book on Amazon US here http://www.amazon.com/Book-Kayal-Hands-Fate-ebook/dp/B00DCJR284/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1371325868&sr=8-3&keywords=book+of+kayal and Amazon UK here http://www.amazon.co.uk/Book-Kayal-Hands-Fate-ebook/dp/B00DCJR284/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1371325880&sr=8-1&keywords=book+of+kayal. It is free today (Saturday 15/6/2013) and will be offered for free again on (Friday 21/6/2013). I will keep you updated about any other free promotions on this blog and on my twitter account (@TarekCherif3), which I seem to be horrible at managing.

On Writing: First Work

It has been some time since I returned to reviewing my first written work, and I realize how drastically different it is to the one I am currently working on – the second volume.

As I was deciding how to address this issue, I came up with two alternatives: (1) editing it or (2) rewriting it. I have just decided to go with the latter.

The first thing I need to do is complete the second volume and make myself well acquainted with its events so that it would not contradict with that of the first – about 2/3 into it. Then I will decide on which chapters to include in the second written version of the first story. Once the chapters have been decided on, I will be drafting a general outline which would gradually develop its complicity until it becomes the book itself – a technique which I thought of and grown curious about.

Although I find myself swarmed with a new demanding and unpaying task, I cannot help but smile whenever my mind dwells on the struggles which await me.

On Writing: Sample Character Concept

While researching the writing process for fantasy books, I came across an uncountable number of opinions. As I have previously posted, the third story I am working on focuses on the characters rather than the world or events. To match my personal goals for the book, I prepared a detailed dramatis personae prior to the story. Here is one of the 10+ characters I developed before the writing started.

PS: the terminology might be confusing regarding certain concepts which I never explained before. If there is anything that sparks your interest leave a comment and I will reply once I see it.

Ninazu

Appearance

Having long black hair and a long black beard, Ninazu’s features were difficult to tell other than his tanned skin tone and his pitch black eyes. He was roughly fifty years when he commenced his journey to Utyirth along with his comrades.

Fighting Capabilities

Ninazu trained in the fighting arts of inflicting any wound in order to allow his poisons to enter the bloodstream of his enemies. He used a projectile weapon mounted on his right arm to shoot poisoned needles at his foes during combat. Daggers and a short sword were his preferred weapons of choice when fighting at a close range. Additionally to his eccentric weaponry, Ninazu often made explosives that dispersed his poisons in the air and used them during combat.

Individual fighting capability        3                                              Group fighting capability               8

Skills

The two skills where Ninazu shined at were healing and poisoning. He was capable of making strong healing salves as well as poisons and their antidotes. Ninazu always made sure to have the antidote to the poisons he made before using them to inflict their pain upon his enemy.

Being an expert at understanding how the human body functions, Ninazu managed to condition his own body to be immune to most poisons and highly resistant to disease.

Personality

He was a rather dark figure shrouded in negativity and pessimism, which made people fear and avoid him. If not for his unusual talents, Ninazu would have not been capable of joining Lyra’s Ona. Although he was a grim individual, he cared deeply for his comrades without openly admitting it.

Trait

Curious

Organized

Social

Friendly

Confident

Score

8

10

0

0

8

 

History

Arriving from the hostile continent of Tur, Ninazu and his tribe roamed the continent as nomads. Their travels allowed them to be exposed to numerous herbs and concoctions made by others they met in towns, cities or on the road. He took advantage of this opportunity to study the effect of herbs, plants and potions on people. Eventually, he became a well self-studied botanist which surpassed most others. Any chances to test his discoveries were welcomed by his people as well as him. Most of his test subjects were prisoners captured by his people.

After the arrival of the Council and the founding of the Peacekeeper Core, Ninazu and his tribe found it difficult to resume their life-style and attempted to hide in a safe and hidden location. During their search, they came across a Peacekeeper patrol and were attacked. Ninazu was knocked unconscious during the fight and woke up to find himself the sole survivor of his people.

Without anyone to search for him, he became an untargeted man and was free to do as he pleased yet again. Ninazu offered his services to various crime lords in Gallecia as a master poison-maker. His success and built name in the underground world made him a target to the local authorities. After nearly escaping from Gallecia, one of his associates informed the local authorities about his attempted escape.

Once captured, Ninazu was sentenced to exile in Partha where he met Thane the former Peacekeeper Commander. Thane took an interest in Ninazu’s skills and used him to tend to his wounded and ill followers. Once Servak’s Demigod declaration was made and the second civil war started, Thane recommended his services to Lyra and was admitted in her personal unit.