Music that has helped forge my book (so far)

Although I know I did mention something about music that I like to listen to while I write in one of the old posts that I transferred over from my other blog (Ray Reads Books), I thought I would do more specific post to talk about all the music that has been part of my writing process this year as I try to complete my first fantasy novel.

I know it’s practically a trope that writers like to make a playlist of music for different books but here I go, adding my own tuppence to the pot. The albums below have been played repeatedly (I mean almost constantly) over the course of 2014 when I have been writing on my novel. I’m probably forgetting some tracks or artists but the major players are as follows.

The Frozen Movie Soundtrack – Since the whole went mad for this film after it came out in 2013 I found myself buying the soundtrack around the start of the year and it became my constant writing companion throughout January (and probably February too).  After I get past the rather distracting vocal tracks, by which I mean after I have finished belting out Let it Go and Love is an Open Door all by myself, I love how many instrumental tracks there are on this album and the different emotions they evoke. One of my favourite tracks is the Great Thaw (Vuelie reprise) as it starts off so heart-wrenching and then blossoms into a beautifully triumphant chorus that reuses the theme from the opening credits of the film.

 

The Anastasia Movie Soundtrack – Being a child of the 90’s this film came out when I was 7 and I was in love the moment I saw it. With the animation, the story, the characters (*swoon Dimitri*) and most importantly the music. It was the saddest day of my childhood when my video player chewed up my VHS beyond repair and the most gleeful of my late teens when I found a DVD of it for only £3. This year I finally bought the damn soundtrack and it is glorious. There aren’t that many instrumental tracks but they are all fantastic and bring to mind so vividly the scenes from the film I sit smiling as I listen. Now for some people that doesn’t help to have music so strongly associated with a story that isn’t yours but for me while I was writing the later half of my book the emotions that Anastasia makes me feel are perfect.

The Mulan Movie Sountrack – Again another film I’ve adored since I was 7 or 8. It was such an inspirational story and the music is such a contrast between semi-hilarious vocal tracks and punch-in-the-gut instrumentals. Mulan is the kind of heroine I want to write forever; the kind of woman who is willing to step up beyond all expectations to protect those she loves or defend what she believes to be right.  My favourite track (after I’ll Make a Man out of You because that is just AWESOMESAUCE) is the track called Haircut/Short Hair from when Mulan sneaks in and steals her father’s armour, cutting her long hair off with his sword. I’m listening to it now and my skin is tingling I shit you not. It’s like a call to arms and I love it.  The video below is actually longer than my version because I think the soundtrack I have is slightly abridged *boo*

 

Yoshiki Classical – I talked about this album to excess in a few of my older blog posts and how it heavily influenced one of the hardest scenes I had to write out of the whole damn book. I was left in literal floods of tears  by some of the songs on this album. Check out the previous post talking about the Yoshiki songs that wrecked me  here.

How to Train Your Dragon 1 & 2 Movie Soundtracks – I only bought these two albums around the end of July since I somehow hadn’t thought to look for them sooner. I saw the 2nd film at an advance preview in June and ADORED IT although the music is so much more emotional than you can believe. I have only seen it once but the second I hear the opening notes of the song below my heart shatters and I’m borderline tears. But there are so many amazing tracks on these two albums that something comes along pretty quick to perk me back up after that emotional wrecking ball. I haven’t actually written much since I got them so they might be more influential on the Dragon Book (as they should be :P).

 

I think I need to start winding this back down now as it’s getting pretty lengthy. I could wax lyrical on all the different movie soundtrack albums I own and how ridiculously often I listen to them. If I flash-listed the ones I have it would look rather like this: Tangled, The Swan Princess, Various other Disney songs, Several tracks from the Return of the King soundtrack (one day I will own ALL THE LOTR SOUNDTRACKS), Avatar, The Avengers, Star Trek, Skyfall theme, Casino Royale theme, Divergent, Les Miserables. Yeah that’s a long list, and it’s not taking into account the soundtracks I keep finding on Youtube.

But I hope you’ve liked getting a look at some of the music that has been forging my novel, even if it isn’t finished yet 😛

Until tomorrow

Ray 🙂

Writing Ray – Plot, plot, plot

Now that I’ve completely destroyed the meaning of the word “plot” for myself I should say that this post is going to have nothing useful to other writers on the subject of plotting a book or anything else like that – for actual advice and helpfulness y’all need to check out Susan Dennard’s website and her page of links to awesome blog posts For Writers because seriously she rocks and I’ve got the page bookmarked to my main toolbar.

This is more just a way for me to journal my writing process over the year so that maybe in another year or two I can look back and rofl myself into a stupor over my naive writer self and her daft assumptions about writing a book for the first time. For funsies and all.

Anywhoooo today I wanted to talk about the fact that I *think* I have the remaining scenes of my first draft plotted out – vaguely. Over the weekend while I was at my parents (and reliving my childhood by visiting Sudbury for like the 7th time) I busted out a crappy A3 pad I bought ages ago and grabbed some marker pens and mapped out about 8 scenes apiece for my two MCs for the middle section between when they meet for the first time and for the second.

It was a bit daft of me to leave the middle until last as by now it’s been nearly 9 months since I wrote the First meeting scene and at least 3 since I wrote the second meeting so my thoughts about certain things and characters may have shifted slightly in that time – not counting the fact that I can be a fucking idiot and just forget I wrote some things – so getting everything to match up is going to be a challenge. One that will probably have to be sorted in the second draft.

So I now have two A3 sheets with my middle section planned out; some of the scenes on there have already been drafted so I really only have 12 scenes to write rather than 16/17 which is a bonus I guess. How long all those are going to end up being, I have no clue as yet. My original estimate of the book being 85,000 words is starting to fall short, it’s looking like 95-100K will be more like a realistic endpoint for this book.

Setting up all the scene cards in my Scrivener project is delightfully fun and it will be even more enjoyable when I get to change the status of all those cards from “To Do” to first draft or something similar once I’ve written the actual scenes. Then once I’ve got all that done I might be able to say I’ve finished the first draft of my novel! *le gasp*

Now that will be exciting. For now I gotta keep chugging away at it and today’s wordcount of 1113 words  has been rather lovely and helpful for getting me to a current overall wordcount of around 71.5K *holy shitballs that’s a lotta words* So while the end may be in sight it won’t do to give into complacency now.

But that’s all for now folks. Carry on!
Ray x

Writing Ray – The Difference a Year Makes

So yesterday I happened to be pottering about on my Youtube channel and I saw a video I did last July entitled Why is Writing so dang hard? It was about 8 minutes of me grumbling about my difficulties with writing and how although I had several story ideas and many notebooks half-full with scribblings that none of it ever materialised into actual novel-sized pieces of writing.

In that video I showed two notebooks that had both got some notes on the first five pages or so – those are the notebooks for my current WIP that I have been working on this year. The yellow legal pad is now nearly full with plotting notes and scene snippets that I did in pencil (exclusively in that notepad I don’t know why I just preferred it that way). The other notebook is not quite as full but it still has quite a lot of pages that are crammed with snippets, thoughts on characters and story timelines.

So if you think that a year ago, all I had an idea that was bouncing round my head, some scribbled thoughts and little else. Fast forward to now when I have nearly filled a notebook and have written **Monday Edit** nearly 67,000 words on this idea… that is some pretty awesome progress. Just since the start of 2014 I have written more than twice as much as my longest previous piece of writing.

According to Scrivener my book is currently equivalent to 215 pages in a paperback so when I get to my intended word goal it will be around 285 pages. If I overshoot a bit maybe it will end up as a round 300pgs. It will be a very strange thing indeed to have to print over half a ream of paper that will have my words all over them.

That’s not to say that this year has been a cakewalk getting all this writing done. I’ve had to juggle my full-time job, my Open University studies and my home life while trying to write. My boyfriend has been amazingly supportive of me, even when he’s nagging me to actually get my OU work done when I’ve been neglecting it for too long. But I think without the push from him last year to try and write this idea I might not have got started and I’d still be that grumbling non-writer lamenting the inability to get her thoughts out onto paper/pixels.

No gushy post about my writing progress will be complete without me mentioning, once again, the Amazing Alpha Reader/Slave-driver that is my best twinnie Jess. She has been my touchstone throughout this project. Every time I’ve sent her a scene to read I’ve been sat anxiously wondering “will she like it? What bits will she not like?” and when she sends me her feedback it all gets filed in the “Do not forget” part of my brain and when it comes round to editing this book those emails are getting printed out as the starting point.

So again, THANK YOU WITH SPRINKLES ON TOP Jess for keeping me locked in my Writerly Cage and rewarding me with cashews when I done good 😛 I’m pretty sure you’re first in line for a dedication if/when this book gets itself into an actual printed format. You’re the best first reader a girl could wish for.

Twinnie Jess on the left 🙂

A year can change a whole lot, while I’m not 100% confident in my abilities as a writer (heck I don’t like to think what the real percentage might be), I have irrefutable proof that I *can* get my ideas out in a reasonably coherent manner and create a story that at least one person wants to read. Which is a pretty damn good feeling. Who knows where I’ll be next year? Charging ahead with edits on Book 1? Maybe have a first draft of Book 2? Be Plotting Book 3?? All of the above?!

I’m looking forward to finding out. I hope you guys don’t mind me dragging you with me on the adventure.
Later
Ray x

Writing Ray – The awkward questions from relatives

Afternoon m’lovelies, I wasn’t too sure what post I wanted to do today since I need to do a July Reading round-off post but I also wanted to share the rather awksies situation I found myself in yesterday while on a coach trip to Llandudno with my mother and Gran.

I was a last-minute replacement for my sister who injured herself at work the other week (how she still functions like a human I do not know – I’m sure she ought to be a cyborg by now) to help my mum push my Gran round Llandudno. Since I’m now footloose and fancy-free after finishing work I was like “sure, why not?” I haven’t been to the Welsh seaside in forevs and if it was nice and sunny then it would be lovely albeit kinda sweaty if I was pushing the wheelchair.

Anyway this relates to my writing because rather than taking a book to read on the coach journey there and back I decided to take my notebooks for my current WIP which I’ve got back into writing recently. So there I am on the coach sat by the window angling my notebook away from my mother so she can’t read what I’m working on when my grandmother pipes up asking me what I’m doing.

How do you go about explaining your Fantasy novel to your 74 yr old Grandma in a way that won’t sound mental? How do you explain just the fact that you are writing down the ideas that dribble out of your head? I made some very vague references to it being a story similar to what I like to read and didn’t say much else.

Then she asks the most irritating question that I’m sure most non-published writers get asked – “Are you going to get it published?” As if it’s just a case of taking the handful of pages that fell out of your printer into a publisher, plonking it down onto a desk as is and being given a pretty, bound book straight back. I had to try and explain that not only is my book not finished, it is also going to require a fuck-ton of editing undoubtedly and then that’s not even getting near to the mainstream route of queries, agents and publishers – if I get there at all.

I also found it bizarre how my family seem to have got this idea that I’ve been writing stories solidly since I was a child. Yes when I was younger I probably did (I can’t honestly say I remember) but I have never finished a story in my teens/adult life so far. What do they think I’ve been doing for all this time? It was just so odd to hear my Gran talking about my “stories” as if I’ve done loads and they’re just lying about my house waiting to be published. Dude I wish that was the case!

Another strangely awkward relative situation recently is that my mother is completely fine with the idea of my writing. To the point that she is more than happy for me to be doing a Creative Writing module as part of my Open University degree. I find this so unexpected and bewildering you wouldn’t believe – I expected disapproval and hints to do something more worthwhile not… whatever it is that my mother thinks about it all.

So yea that was yesterday. In terms of actual writing it was a pretty good day – I got three pages hand-written for what is currently going to be my first chapter which has kinda ended up as 6 pages. Now I gotta type all that up into Scrivener and see what the finished first draft version will be. If you’re really lucky maybe I shall post that and the prologue up onto my Wattpad.

If you care to have a read of a little snippet I put up last week which is related to my WIP but not actually part of the novel then take a mosey over here. Any thoughts or comments on that will be muchly appreciated.

Right I’ve spent too long writing this – getting distracted by other interwebby stuff. I may do another post soon on some of the music that has been part of my writing process more recently.

Toodles
Ray x

Writing Ray – Forget yesterday, write today

So if you were one of the 6 people who saw the post that was here up until this afternoon or if you saw my rather frantic twitter conversation late last night then you might know that I had a bit of a writerly freak-out yesterday. This sudden spiral into fear and self-doubt came over me after I finished an amazing fantasy novel that had me flailing all over the place when I realised how long I had to wait for the sequel.

Then that stupid little voice came nagging – “*Your* book will never be this good,” it said like the little shit it is. “Why you haven’t written anything for 2 months!” “What’s the point of even carrying on with it? It won’t be half as good as *that* book” Y’know the standard kind of negative shit internet trolls throw at you, except this was coming from my own fucking brain. *anguished wail*

I go through phases like this where a previously optimistic and happy mood just get shattered and dragged down by sudden negative thoughts. Then I find it very hard to feel good about any projects I’m working on and everything I do feels all rather futile and pointless – “It’s all shit so why should I continue with it?” kind of mentality.

So I wigged out on twitter. Several people came to my aid; my ever-awesome bestie/twinnie Jess, the lovely Lily from The Whispering of the Pages and another kind twitter user. All had very helpful advice for me to try and motivate me back onto the horse when all I was thinking of was bolting and never looking back at my book again.

This morning, when I woke up at around quarter to nine I picked up the notepad and pencil I had put on my beside table before I went to sleep, stuck in my earphones and started to write. And I wrote. I kept writing even while I was in Wetherspoons getting breakfast with Le Boyf (who has to be credited for his awesomeness in not questioning why this particular Sunday morning I simply *had* to write and bring my notebook with me to breakfast). I finally finished the scene I was writing around 2pm-ish and felt pretty awesome.

12 pages of my yellow legal notepad (because those things are cool) were full of my scribblings. After two months of nothing but angsty thoughts that I should be writing but wasn’t, I had gone and got 12 pages written. Fucking suck on that Negative Ray of Yesterday.

I then spent the next 2 hours typing up all my penciled pages into my Scrivener project – in a separate document since this scene is not necessarily going to end up in the book, I wrote it in 1st person POV rather than the 3rd person POV I’ve been writing the rest of the book in.

It turns out that I managed to write 1,944 words today. Nearly 2K of story that I didn’t have before – regardless of whether it goes into the book or not, it has gotten me to write and think about my book, write from my main character’s POV about a time in her life that was a fulcrum between the old and the new. What I’ve written today has given me a base to jump from to write the scenes between my main character and the person she meets for the first time in this scene.

I have to say a massive thank you to Jess & Lily for being so awesome so late last night – without you guys I may have spent the rest of the night bad-thinking myself to a point where I simply just put my notebooks away so they couldn’t make me feel guilty about abandoning them. And Stupid Negative Ray would have simply said “It’s for the best,” without a second thought.

Thanks to you I didn’t do that, I got up the determination to start writing and damn it I wrote for something like 4 hours! *super-massive squooshy hugs*

Now the only thing I have left to say is – Does anyone want to read what I wrote this morning? Just purely for the hell of it with no context if you don’t want to know the whole spiel about my book. If so then please leave me a comment (heck leave me one even if you don’t, I just don’t get enough comments these days and it makes me a bit sad) and I shall either post it up on here or email it over depending on how chicken I feel.

So yea, let me know.

Sorry for being weird guys,
Ray

Writing Ray – Mega Milestone

So a very short while ago I finished what is currently the last chapter of my book. And I finally passed 60,000 words. Y’heard right. SIXTY mutha-effing THOUSAND WORDS! :O

Dude I know *I’m* shocked as hell. When I started seriously writing this book back in January I had very little idea that I was going to end up here in June, well on my way to finishing writing my first book. I mean WUT? I have daydreamed ideas for years and excepting my Nanowrimo attempt of 2010, never really started writing any of the story ideas I had. I have several drawers full of notebooks with odd bits of scribblings about various ideas but nothing on the scale of tens of thousands of words.

I ain’t finished yet though. I have at least 25K more that I need to write and that includes the first few chapters after the prologue and some important plot development sections from the middle of the book. So no slacking off for me. If the writing gods are nice to me maybe I can get this first draft complete by the time the summer holidays start so I can spend those sunny days *crosses fingers* in my garden editing and planning rewrites, but more likely plotting for book 2.

So there’s that. Also I have to say a MASSIVE THANK YOU to my twinnie/bestie/Alpha Reader extraordinaire/Primary cheerleader Jess who has been such an awesome part of writing this book so far. Without her reading my scenes when I finish them, pestering me when I’m procrastinating and motivating when I am feeling wobbly, I do not honestly know if I would be at this milestone now. I love you to bits Jess and I can’t express how much I appreciate everything you’ve done for me.

I do also owe thanks to my lovely, lovely boyfriend, Mark who has dealt most admirably with having a slightly crazy writer-girlfriend these past six months. He has given me the chance to write guilt-free on some evenings and then made sure I did my other work on others 😛 He has listened to me rant and ramble about my book even though he hasn’t read all of what I’ve done (eventually once the first draft is done he will *have* to read the whole thing). He’s given me hugs after I dissolved into a sobbing mess  when I wrote the DDS and he has kept me fantastically supplied with cups of tea. Sweetie, you possibly won’t see this (unless you click the link on Twitter out of curiosity), but I love you and thank you for putting up with me through this. I will do my best to get my Spacey-Wacey work done as well as finish this book 😛

Ok now I need to stop faffing about with gifs and do my ironing since I go back to work tomorrow for the start of my last term working as a TA at that school and I have *nothing* to wear. :S

Thank you again and here’s to an exciting June of writing, reading and HOLY SHIT TFIOS!! *prepares all the tissues*
Laters
Ray

Writing Ray – Where I’m at with things

Evenin’ folks! I thought that I’d do a bit of a post Nano update talking about where I’m at currently with my writing shenanigans (God I love that word). I haven’t done much writing since I hit my camp goal, little bits on a couple of scenes that are going to go towards the end of the book and also one which is purely for the repayment of feels to my dearest Alpha reader and Twinnie Jess since she was rather upset with me after she read the dreaded Dramatic Death Scene.

So I’m not going to be allowed to kill any more of my protags for at least one book – which is fine by me since I have already created for myself a musical trigger for tears from writing that death scene. Which is going to be very awkward later this month when Le Boyf and I go to London to see Yoshiki (Former drummer for the band X Japan) play his classical piano music which does include orchestral versions of some of their songs – two of which were playing as I wrote the final bit of the DDS. So it’s very likely that I’m going to burst into tears in the concert hall on hearing either of those songs (One is ironically enough *called* Tears – skip to about 3mins in and then tell me that you wouldn’t well up. The other is Forever Love – this is a shorter version and do excuse wet Yoshiki :P).

The plan for the next few months is going to be to get the end of the book done (only two scenes left I reckon) and start working on the beginning. Due to how I started writing this project I have the first scene I wrote being the first time my two main characters meet which I have got to write up to and then continue with the next section of the story. Originally I thought this scene was going to occur about a third of the way through the book, but now that I’ve written about half of the first draft I think it’s going to have to come earlier than that.

But then will come the question of do I need to re-write that scene when I get to it? How drastically different has my writing become from that first scene to now? I don’t really want to the consider the possibility that I’ve got worse from that point but one should never rule these things out and with me I have found that the more I do something the worse I get at it in certain bizarre occasions (cf. my book reviewing). It’s shit like this that keeps me panicking.

However I gotta keep that neurotic side of my brain crammed in a teeny-tiny box otherwise it’ll just jettison my confidence in this book and I’ll stop completely – which I really don’t want to do. Seriously I am really fucking enjoying writing this book even when it’s mashing my brain or making me cry.

All being well I should hopefully *fingers crossed* have my first draft done by the time I finish work in July so I can spend leisurely days sat outside with a stack of paper (heck knows I will need to buy a efficient printer with affordable ink) and a heap of red pens alongside Jess editing this thing into something that works as whole and not in chunks.

I don’t currently plan to even attempt to publish it, that is just something I don’t have the energy or mental fortitude to put myself through. I want to finish a book, for me, so that I can say that I have *finished* something before I continue writing the second book, which may eventually turn into three depending on how out of control the world-building gets and what plot bunnies spring up from that. If I get to the end of writing this story, however long it turns out to be, and I am happy enough with it that I’d like to start submitting it then maybe I will. But that won’t be for a while yet.

Until then I’m just gonna keep plodding on with it and dragging y’all along with me if you don’t mind.
Current rough count on the manuscript is probably around 57,000 words but that’s with two scenes to write and one to complete that I kind of abandoned. So by the time I hit the “end” of the book I should be at around 60K.

Now this post has got really lengthy and kinda meandering so I’m gonna go back and carry on with this scene that is going to hopefully stop me receiving Howlers 😛
Until next time folks
Ray