Hey everybody, it’s WriterPunk! As the title says, this video is about my writing goals for November and surveying what I accomplished in October. First, I wanted to announce that three more of my flash fiction pieces from Thirty-Three Tales of War have been picked up by Worldbuilding Magazine! You will be able to read them totally free in the Trades and Occupations issue that comes out the first week of December. I really cannot recommend this magazine enough for speculative fiction writers; the amount of hard work and dedication that goes into each issue from their team is truly inspiring.
Anyway, let’s get on to October wins and fails!
Wrapping Up October
I did not end up finishing Godblind by Anna Stephens this month, so I will be moving that one to November’s goals. I also did not write a new article, so I will take my licks and add one on for November as well.
My first win is that I completed chapters 9, 11, and 12 of Marrow, totalling 13,653 words across six scenes. If this trend continues I can expect the final seven scenes to add another high-fourteen to low-sixteen thousand words, leaving me with a grand total of just under 75,000 words, which is not bad for a first draft of mine. I have been described as a chronic under-writer, so my drafts tend to get longer each go-around. My best guess is that a totally-finished Marrow after second-draft rewrites and third-draft revising will sit somewhere at or near 80,000 to 85,000 words, but I would be shocked if it became any longer than that.
My second goal was to write at least one new flash fiction piece for Thirty-Three Tales of War, which I did end up meeting! For the uninitiated, Thirty-Three Tales of War explores the Candrish Civil War through the eyes of anonymous individuals who are mired in the day-to-day consequences of such a large-scale conflict. You can read the ones I have available on my website or in select issues of Worldbuilding Magazine. The piece I completed this month followed the Minstrel, and it ended up being a lot darker than I originally intended, but I suppose that’s a hazard of doing business as a dark fantasy writer. I will likely submit this one to Worldbuilding Magazine in the future, so I can’t say anything else!
The next goal I met was to upload one more YouTube video, which I well surpassed by adding three! I also did end up with two realised illustrations for Thirty-Three Tales of War (I work on the second illustration in the accompanying video).
Let’s move on to my new goals for the month!
I will not be competing in NaNoWriMo this year because I will be moving cross-country toward the end of the month, and preparing for and making the move will eat up a significant portion of my time. I only have seven scenes left in Marrow making up two chapters, so instead, I am going to focus on finishing that. My overall goal for the year was to complete Marrow anyway, so it’s best I don’t distract myself.
For those who don’t know, Marrow is about a magically gifted artisan who gets wrapped up in a lot of political intrigue and espionage. You can read more about it in this post and this one.
Read Godblind by Anna Stephens
This is a carryover from last month so I won’t go into too much detail about it again. Suffice to say it’s a grimdark fantasy novel with ten point-of-view characters and deals with the return of the “red gods”, who are portrayed as evil entities. I did end up making it to chapter four, but that’s nowhere near even a quarter of the way through.
Add One New Article to Website
Also a carryover goal. I don’t want to get too complicated with things in the interest of making it through this move. Finishing Marrow is also my main priority.
I may end up drawing another Thirty-Three Tales of War illustration or I may not, since I’m quite invested in finishing the headshots I’ve been doing of Marrow’s main cast. We'll see what happens.
Work on...The Secret Series!
I am writing a bunch of scripts for a series of videos that will be posted to my channel, but I don’t want to say too much about it yet! These will probably be a bit longer at around 15:00 each, but I hope that the information within them will be useful.
I think all that just about sums my goals for the month up! But before you go, don’t forget to answer this week’s Weekly Topic!
1. What are your creative goals for November?
2. Have you made any recent breakthroughs that you want to share?
3. What's your favourite thing that you wrote in October?
4. What are you most looking forward to writing this week?
Bonus: If you're competing in NaNo, what is your novel about?
Journal it, think about it, send it as a comment, keep it to yourself, do whatever you like! I always appreciate your comments, likes, and subscriptions. Thanks again for watching, and I’ll see you sometime soon!
I have seen something of an uptick in this advice going around, so I wanted to discuss why I hate the saying “All first drafts are garbage”.
Intention vs Actual Meaning
Before anything else, let’s define this saying and see if we can discern the intent from the meaning.
What I believe “All First Drafts are Garbage” intends to package up in a neat little laconic phrase is that first drafts are rough and impermanent. They will have many kinks, inconsistencies, errors, and gaps in logic, and that they aren’t near ready for publication.
But, this is not what “All first drafts are garbage” actually says. What it literally says according to the definition of the words used is “Each and every first draft is refuse; i.e., worthless.”
Isn’t it a bit pedantic to hate a piece of advice because of how it’s stated?
In an art form like writing, what you say and how you say it matters. Things like word choice, tone, and actual meaning vs intention are important. This is a profession of semantics, definitions, and language. If you write “Sally hated the idea of weddings” [I am knee-deep in a wedding scene right now <_<] but intended to say “Sally hated the idea of the wedding everyone expected her to have,” wouldn’t you agree that those sentences imply two entirely different things?
I especially despise this tip when accounting for my observation that most often it is given to young or inexperienced writers in high-pressure situations [like asking for critique online] who might not yet be able to discern the intent of the phrase from its literal meaning. I was one of those writers when I was younger, and it affected my ability to see any value in what I had accomplished. I know many writers who were or are the same. Sure, it might be easier for the adviser to shoot off a pithy little phrase rather than exerting the effort to explain themselves, but at that point would it not be better to simply say nothing at all?
The other secondary and perhaps hidden meaning of the saying “All First Drafts are Garbage” is to dissuade one from thinking that just because one has written a first draft doesn’t mean one is ready to package it up and sling it off to an agent (or Amazon or your blog followers or whoever), and that really is the hard truth [but also not what it actually says]. The intent here I believe is pure: it’s to dissuade unassuming new writers from happily sending off their first draft only to be disappointed or embarrassed when it’s rejected, criticized, or poorly reviewed.
Your story will go through hundreds if not thousands of changes as you rewrite, revise, and edit. Through this process, your first draft will be your Pole Star and the rawest form of your creativity. If nothing else, first drafts are the least well-polished version of your end product. You need drafts two, three, and beyond to refine things into the purest form you are able to achieve. As you continue to write, you will write better first drafts and you will streamline the process—but that requires writing many first drafts!
First Drafts are the Literal Opposite of Worthless.
Writing a manuscript is a monumental task. Dare I say most people who set out to write a book will never finish a draft. To my way of thinking, this means that we should not devalue our own or other’s accomplishments because it’s imperfect.
You cannot edit a blank page. You also cannot sell a blank page or post it online. In order to edit or publish a book, first, you have to...write a book. That necessitates completing the first draft. This will be the springboard off which you develop your story and skills, and that in itself makes first drafts worth something—even if your manuscript ends up locked in a box on a dusty shelf somewhere or lost in the cloud. No, first drafts aren’t perfect. Neither are second drafts, third drafts, or “finished” books. Your book will never truly be “done”. You will simply polish it to the point that you can say “Alright, I’m pleased with what I’ve accomplished and now I’m moving on.” Don’t allow writing the perfect book to become the enemy of writing a book.
I know it can be tempting to use sayings like “All First Drafts are Garbage” as a shield to defend yourself from others’ remarks or criticisms—or even your own. Inner monologues can be rough. So, why not beat it or them to the punch? Think constructively about your first draft. Rather than devoting your attention to everywhere your first drafts are deficient, try making a note of where things do work. You’ll have a much easier time writing draft two if you have an idea of what you are going for instead of trying to write around the things that you aren’t. Looking for the sweet instead of sour, to begin with, sets a positive tone for your next draft that will likely make you feel better about your ability and the manuscript. Happy artists make better art. [Card: NaNo Habits] Self-flagellating by declaring your story is trash before you’ve even begun draft two isn’t going to make you a better writer. It’s okay to be proud of things that are imperfect! In my opinion, no story we can write is totally un-salvageable. Some stories just require a bit more work than others.
When you are ready for outside critique—and it is my personal opinion that first drafts are not ready for outside critique—focus on constructive criticism. This is critique focused on solutions and improvement (as opposed to destructive criticism that zeros in on every single conceivable error in the name of “brutal honesty” [god I hate hate hate the idea that b r u t a l h o n e s t y is the only valid form of critique]. And for the sake of everything pure and holy please, please never throw away or delete your drafts! It could be impossible to get them back, and there might come a day when you wish you were able to read them again. First drafts are not garbage, so don’t throw them out!
As the title says, in this post I'll be answering the AuthorTube Work-In-Progress ("WIP") Tag. The original WIP tag is unavailable and I’m uncertain as to who the original creator is, but here is the link. My first draft of Marrow is drawing to a close, so I decided to do this tag!
What is the working title of my book?
Marrow, as in “bone marrow”. I briefly considered *Belladonna*, but I think that defeats one of the major themes of the novel.
What genre does it belong to?
Dark Fantasy. It is not what I would necessarily describe as “traditional” dark fantasy, being written in first person and having a fairly limited scope as far as plot scale goes, but it some of the themes it deals with are definitely not for the faint of heart.
What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
“An elite artisan gifted with the ability to sculpt metal with magic recounts the events that led up to her arrest on charges of treason, espionage, and murder.”
Where did the idea for Marrow come from?
Marrow the story was born out of pondering the shockwave consequences of my other novel, Silverblood, which primarily deals with the resurgence of a magical necrotic plague. The events of Silverblood (which I won’t go into here) had myriad far-reaching consequences, the most dire of which in the context of Marrow is laying the foundation for the Candrish Civil War.
As for Marrow the character, I wanted to explore someone who was uncertain of her own morals, ethics, and especially her identity. This was a pretty easy thing to slide into the characterisation of someone in a profession such as hers. Marrow is an elite artisan called an uzņika. Uzņika are inspired by Japanese geisha/geiko, but are in no way meant to be an accurate or faithful representation of them. Uzņika are trained in classical dance, voice, instruments, calligraphy, and the art of holding effective and engaging conversations to entertain their patrons. Marrow herself is gifted in a form of elemental magic, “metalweaving”, which she uses to sculpt metal. Uzņika are also easily the most educated group of Brisian women and are more well-educated culturally than most low-to-mid-grade nobility. The training process takes six years to complete and is extremely demanding; around ¾ of potential uznika fail out before getting their license. Uzņika perform under a registered name (Lady + Flower/Herb/Tree/Spice/Plant), which is unrelated to their real name. Marrow goes through two stage names and three legal names throughout the course of the story. Because of this and other things she deals with, Marrow struggles with rather extreme issues with her identity, paranoia, impulsivity, and feeling “empty” or unlike a real person. I would not say that Marrow's mental state is the primary focus of the story in that it is not what's entirely driving the plot, but it is key to why she does many of the things she does throughout the course of the novel. However, even if I untangled her from the story, there are very strong lore-based reasons for the things that happen.
Who or what inspired you to write Marrow?
Marrow began as a short little novella idea as a palette cleanser for Silverblood, and then I quickly realized it was going to be a bit more involved than that.
What other books would you compare Marrow to?
I...honestly am not sure. I’m sure something like it exists, but I have not come across it yet. If you have any ideas, feel free to send them to me and I will check them out!
Will Marrow be self-published or represented by an agency?
Some of those who have read snippets have encouraged me to seek representation for it, but whether I do that that will depend on a number of factors. I don’t hate the idea of trade publishing, but I have some reservations that I feel would be stupid to ignore. Briefly, I genuinely abhor the idea of giving up a lot of my artistic freedom with my work because they are such a huge part of who I am. I am very protective of things like covers, character art, film rights, audiobook rights, and similar. So, for now my answer is “Uncertain”. I just want to enjoy writing the book.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
If you don’t count the time I took away while dealing with real-life issues, it will have taken me around four months. If you do, about one and one-quarter year.
Which actors would you choose to play in your movie rendition?
I have never envisioned any of my stories as live-action films; one of my aforementioned reservations has to do with film rights, because if anything visual comes of it I would like that to be an animated miniseries. Marrow could potentially work as an animated film, but I am iffy on that. Anyway, as far as voice actors go and keeping in mind that none of them look anything like their characters, I think I would choose…
Alexis Bledel as Marrow
Charles Dance as Artis Maj Melidi
Carice van Houten as Rutgita Maj Melidi
Max Pirkis as Pashzak
Jean Gilpin as Elgana Yolkerev
Saorise Ronan as Martere Maj Sutki
Joseph Fiennes as Tavars Maj Impozars
Diana Rigg as Ozelyga Maj Impozars
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Marrow is presented as if it’s a run-of-the-mill first-person past-tense political intrigue romp, but in the final chapter the tense switches to first/present and you find out that what you probably thought was going on is not actually what was going on. It’s really hard to explain this without spoilers <_<. Marrow the character is somewhat unique in that because of the way the story is structured she doesn’t really appear to have any obvious personal goals until you get to the twist at the end. I know that can send off alarm bells in some of people cos passive or obfuscated characters are very easy to make boring, but it seems to be working out so far with test audiences.
In terms of worldbuilding…
Early Imperial Rome, Byzantium, Han and Qin dynasty China, Cyprus, limited Greek influence, and Tsarist Russia in the styling of some titles specifically.
Marrow makes heavy use of the Roman concept of patria potestas, or “power of the father”. Whereas Silverblood takes place in a matriarchal society, Marrow takes place in the Empire of Bris, whose society is almost totally male-centric. Men are generally favored and privileged in law, business, most religious positions, and everyday society. However, Marrow takes place during the reign of the first and only Empress of Bris, Ozelyga, who was inspired by both Wu Zetian, and Theodora of Byzantium. Her reign is the source of a lot of issues within the Empire as she has introduced many (to the Brisian layman) odious concepts such as broadening women's rights and reforming several major laws concerning slavery).
In terms of architecture, Rome definitely has the most influence in Brisia (the capital, which is where the majority of the story takes place). Byzantium has heavily influenced Brisian fashion. Örös, a tributary state under Brisian rule on an island far south of the mainland, takes a lot of its influence from Cyprus and Greece. Early Imperial China has influenced some of the inner court structure (both the physical structure and the social), some fashion, and a few naming conventions. The Brisian language is derived mostly from Latvian phonology. The conlangs of my setting are almost all derived from the Eastern European or Baltic language families (with the exception of the Seadweller languages, which are derived from the Polynesian and Chinese language families).
All that said, I think that about sums things up! But before you go, don’t forget to answer this week’s Weekly Topic!
Journal it, think about it, send it as a comment, keep it to yourself, do whatever you like! I always appreciate your comments, likes, and subscriptions. Thanks again for reading, and I’ll see you sometime soon!
Hey everybody, it’s me again! Today, I will share what I believe are overlooked but healthy writing tips and habits, particularly for new or young writers or those who will be doing NaNo for the first time. Please keep in mind that this is not intended to be an all-inclusive list. Also, all of these habits can be useful year-round. That said, let’s go!
Habit One: Regularly Tidying Up Your Workspace
If you’re anything like me, your desk slowly accumulates the last four sessions’ water cups, a cat toy or two, stacks of loose papers with lore or character references hastily scrawled across them, post-it notes, a small mountain of hair ties, and several random tchotchkes from elsewhere in your home that somehow migrated to your desk. Well, consider it time to reset!
Once a week or so I like to wipe down my desk with a 2:1 ratio of water and vinegar and either burn a candle or use my diffuser nearby to freshen up the air a little [I promise I’m not an MLM hun lol]. Wipe down your monitor, keyboard, and mouse (in a way that’s safe for electronics) and clean the dust bunnies from your wires and computer tower if you use a desktop! For the handwriters amongst you, dump out your utensil cup (or drawer, or bag, or spread out your pile), clean it out, get rid of broken or dead utensils, pencil shavings, eraser bits, whatever, and organise your stationary in a way that’s convenient for you. I know approximately nothing about typewriter care, so if you use one I will assume you know how to properly clean it!
While we’re looking at our workspace, look around and see if there’s anything you can do to change things up a bit, which might help if you feel a bit “stuck” or “murky”. If space permits, try moving your desk or working near an open window. The increased airflow could help you concentrate better [unless you’re like me and have horrific seasonal allergies, in which case it just makes you sneeze]. Try swapping out or rearranging nearby decor—paintings, tapestries, calendars, those little word art signs that say stuff like “live laugh love”, figurines, whatever. Of course, be careful to not use anything in this tip as an excuse to procrastinate.
Habit Two: Practise Telling your Inner Self-Saboteur to Get Lost
On that note, let’s talk about the two most common times I see writers (including myself) “get in their own way”: when we’re struggling with procrastination or impostor syndrome.
Easily the most common issue I have observed is procrastination. “Procrastination” is defined as “the action of delaying or postponing something”, which could be intentional or not. Sometimes we procrastinate because our subconscious has realised that there’s something dissonant about what we’ve written and where we’re trying to go. In my opinion, this is the most frequent cause of writer’s block. Other times, procrastination can arise from things like stress, untamed perfectionism, failing motivation, and low creative self-confidence. [If you are experiencing symptoms of depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues, please seek out help from a licensed professional. It’s okay to ask for help, even if you think your issue is minor.]
When I catch myself procrastinating, I find it most helpful to make a realistic to-do list and work through it piece-by-piece, giving myself as much time as I need to complete it without allowing myself to procrastinate further. Being flexible and taking time to refresh and reset guilt-free has done wonders for my productivity.
As far as impostor syndrome goes… if you write, you are a writer. There’s nothing more to it. Even if you just put down your first word six minutes ago, you’re no less worthy or meaningful as a creator than someone who’s been writing since the seventies. Nobody expects you to be an expert in the craft with a film deal and your book printed in six foreign languages before you’re allowed to share your ideas, opinions, experiences, and stories. If anybody does, then they’re the ones missing out. Communication and sharing with others is at the heart of storytelling.
So, start telling your inner self-saboteur to get lost!
This ties into our third habit, so let’s move on!
Goal One: Finish chapters 9, 11, and 12 from Marrow
I’ve technically already begun chapters 9 and 11, both of which are quite long, so I’ve tacked on 12 as well because it will be a short and easy chapter coming in at only one scene. I’m saving chapter 10 for November because I will be moving cross-country around Thanksgiving week and it will be its own beast to get through.
Marrow was supposed to be a novella-length side project to help me while I was dealing with burnout from my main project, titled Silverblood. I very quickly realised that Marrow was going to be a bit more involved than I intended. So, I did what any reasonable and well-adjusted author would do by panicking and pretending it didn’t exist for a while.
After some back-and-forth with Silverblood and my side-side project Thirty-Three Tales of War (interspersed with periods of intense burnout where I got absolutely nothing done), I eventually returned to Marrow and decided it was the story I would dedicate myself to finishing this year.
Briefly, I will call Marrow a fantasy spy novel kind of but not really. Longly, I’ll say (in very informal summary)
Marrow is the story of a young Candrish girl adopted by a high-ranking Brisian nobleman who sends her to a special art school to become an uzņika, sort of like a geisha or a tawaif. Before Marrow is allowed to obtain her license to conduct business as an uzņika within the Empire of Bris, she must contract with a sponsor to guarantee reimbursement of debt to her father and the school—and this is where the trouble begins. Unable to find a sponsor and with her graduation date looming, Marrow begs her father to convince one of his illustrious colleagues to help her—which lands her the support of the Candrish Yellow Queen of Chariv, who traitorously rebelled against their home country’s lawful ruler. The Yellow Queen suspects the Empire is clandestinely working against her and wants Marrow to discover what, if anything, is going on. Enter absolute mayhem as Marrow is sent to the Imperial Court, which leads to a series of events including sabotage, counter-spying, dueling, metal-weaving, and multiple crises of identity.
Marrow is unique in that it is my only work thus far that is A) written in first person, B) contains only one point-of-view and C) uses a noun for the main character’s name instead of an in-world one. It is a huge departure from my norm, but that’s because of this lovely thing called x-treme insurmountable burnout. Although it is a lot less violent than Silverblood, it’s not really any less dark. Quickly, I would also like to clarify that neither uzņika, geisha, nor tawaif are or were consorts or prostitutes, and while uzņika resemble these traditions, they are not intended to be an accurate or faithful representation of either.
I have no idea if I want to try to trade publish Marrow or simply self-publish it. Thinking about trade publishing makes me want to forget writing is a thing that exists, so onto the next thing!
Hey, everyone! I will be answering the AuthorTube Newbie Tag questions as well as the BookTube Newbie Tag Questions in this video. The whole thing is about introductions, so I’ll just go for it!
How Did You Find Out About AuthorTube?
I found out about BookTube and by association AuthorTube after falling down a clickhole that started with Terrible Writing Advice and ended with #ARCsAreFree. From there I found a few interesting channels, like Shaelin Writes, Read with Cindy, and The Courtney Project.
Why Did You Start This YouTube Channel?
I want to expand my circle of writer and reader friends and maybe trade some experiences and learn new things.
In Which Genres Do You Write?
Dark High Fantasy. If you're looking for specificity, I would describe my work as "neutraldark fantasy fiction that explores the consequences of story actions on individuals and society at large across multiple works and is primarily focused on complex female characters ." My stories also include a healthy smattering of LGBT characters, by which I mean "most of my main characters are lesbian, bisexual, or asexual."
What Kind Of Books Do You Like To Read?
I like speculative fiction, obviously, nonfiction about a variety of topics including history, hobbies, and linguistics, as well as graphic novels and webcomics. I don’t really do lit fic, general or contemporary fiction, YA of any genre, fanfiction, horror, or romance.
Who are you and what do you write?
Hello, stranger, and welcome to my tiny corner of the internet! I hope you find what you're looking for or how to find it if you don't.
If you like magical lesbian cat-elves, you've come to the right place! Come for the cat-elves, stay for the...cat-elves. They're called "ren", by the way.
Anyway, I write dark high fantasy. Or, if you want to get fancy, I write neutraldark fantasy fiction that explores the consequences of story actions on individuals and society at large across multiple works and is primarily focused on complex female characters. All of my works, which I collectively refer to as The Chroma Books, are set in my original fantasy setting The Chromaverse.
A Word of Friendly Warning
Being a dark fantasy writer, please expect graphic or mature content in many of my works. I always try to keep things tasteful, but I will not sacrifice story for stomach if the narrative demands it. Not all of my stories are rife with unsettling things; if there is a section that's particularly nasty in works I post to this site, I will do my best to mark it for your reference. Generally, I don't do outright gore. It's simply not my thing. I'm wishy-washy about explicit sexual content, and I certainly don't write anything that resembles erotica. I also don't venture so far into the unsettling and violent that my stories become horror or slasher fic; I stay pretty firmly planted in dark fantasy. I will never write something simply for shock value, that doesn't further the narrative, or that doesn't enrich the characters or world, and that goes for both graphic and regular content.
About This Blog
I intend to use this blog to post the things I wish people had told me when I first started writing and add my chips to the table on those topics. Here I will also discuss worldbuilding exercises that might be too difficult to work into a story organically but that I still like enough to want to draw attention to. This is also where my video scripts will go if and when I post to YouTube.
I don't intend on being anything other than candid in my posts. I don't see the point in adhering to "blog voice", which is what I call the peppy tone a lot of blogs seem to be written in the style of, when I don't actually talk like that. I think that if you want to write honest stories, you should be an honest writer. I wasn't assembled from a package at birth and I have no intention of pretending to be from whatever sci-fi universe such a thing occurs in. Learning and expanding one's frame of reference is of paramount importance to me, and things are in a constant state of flux as humanity discovers new ways of thinking and doing things. Therefore, I will do my best to correct articles with factual inaccuracies or notate these inaccuracies as I am able.
So, whether you’re here for advice, stories, lore, or the spectacle, I’m happy to have you around!
- Emory Glass