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Backstory complete

I completed my backstory on Saturday, and on Sunday heard back with approval from my beta-reader. The story answered her questions, so now I have the opportunity to weave the backstory into my novel in several tiny snippets. I finished up somewhere between 21,000 and 22,000 words, which is a lot of writing to never see publication. But at the same time, it’s invaluable to me, since it taught me so much about the characters and where each of them is coming from.

Of course, I’m not thinking about just ignoring those words. I’m considering the Writers of the Future contest, if I can tighten up the story enough to fit the word count. I think it’s possible, because I always write really long on my first drafts of anything. That’s probably a blessing, since I think it’s easier to cut words than the alternative.

In the meantime, I’m back to work on the actual novel, have sent chapter 11 to one of my beta-readers, and am excited about moving forward again. I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving!

Hijacked by Backstory

The novel revision has been on hold for a couple of weeks as I’ve been working on backstory for several of the characters. Not generic backstory like, “He had four brothers and two of them died and now he’s the heir” or “She grew up north of the mountains and has never been in a city”, but an actual event that took place three years prior to the events in the novel.

One of my beta-readers (the amazingly talented Slightlyjillian) pointed out several opportunities where I could, instead of having Character A think Character B is a liar, I could have Character A flash back briefly to a specific incident that made him realize Character B is a liar. Similarly, when Character B is reflecting on what a loyal person Character C is, he could reflect on this particular incident where Character C proved his loyalty.

What has resulted is (so far) almost 15,000 words about a formative incident in the lives of five of my novel’s characters. Three of them are main characters, two of them minor, and the relationships particularly between the three main characters is crucial to the outcome of the novel. In addition, I am absolutely loving this backstory and I’m hoping I can eventually turn it into something worth publication on its own, provided it won’t spoil the events of the novel for people. (I don’t think it will, though!)

Something I love about this backstory is that it gives me a chance to lavish a little attention on a couple of characters who only get namedropped in the novel itself. It also allows me to spend some time in a setting that was ruthlessly chopped out of the novel because the subplot that took them there was superfluous to the main action (and, frankly, my high-school attempt at a scene inspired by the Council of Elrond).

Another great thing about writing this backstory is that I’m learning new things about the characters that have been living in my head for twenty-odd years. That’s always a good thing! And they’re surprising me, too. I shouldn’t be surprised, because their actions are entirely in character…and yet I didn’t realize, for instance, that Character B had actually told Character A he would do a certain thing, before he ended up weaseling out of it. (Character A isn’t necessarily wrong in thinking Character B is a liar!) And I didn’t realize just how uncharitable Character A could be in his judgments of other people until I discovered that he would completely misinterpret something to fit his opinion of someone.

Anyway, it’s been a great exercise, and I’ve been enjoying it. All the same, I’m looking forward to getting back to the actual novel revision. My goal is to finish this backstory today. I want this novel ready for submission by the end of 2012, and I’m running out of time!

Added some lifelist birds today

Went to Pine Creek Important Bird Area with the parents today. Mom and I have been meaning to get up there during the fall migration for three years now, and this year finally managed it. I’m not sure why Dad goes along on bird-watching expeditions, because he spent most of the day sitting in the car. Apparently he just likes riding around in the car with us. Anyway, we had a good time. We hiked a few miles of grassland at Pine Creek (which is not currently a creek, thanks to the drought), then drove over to Willow Slough on the state line. We added a few lifelist birds and spotted some other exciting birds.

We’re getting a lot better at warbler identification, thanks to my Audubon Birds app on my iPhone. If we have a bird narrowed down but aren’t quite certain, listening to the calls always cinches an ID for us.

Our lifelist birds were:
Sedge Wren (at Pine Creek)
Black-and-White Warbler (at Willow Slough)
Blackpoll Warbler (at Willow Slough)
Black-Throated Green Warbler (at Willow Slough)

In addition, at Willow Slough we saw two Great Egrets, three Sandhill Cranes, several Great Blue Herons, two Belted Kingfishers, and one Bald Eagle! Along with the remarkable birds, we also saw the usual blue jays, catbirds, crows, and of course, lots of my spirit bird, the turkey vulture. *G*

Came home, made supper, paid bills, and read a little bit of Writer’s Digest. Now I need to sit down and get some writing done.

Writing Plan – August through December

August 2012
– Finish The Loyalty Factor revision.
– Finish “Blue Watch” or “Long Way Home.”
– Identify markets for short story.

September 2012
– Write a short story set in Teronn.
– Begin querying agents about The Loyalty Factor.
– Submit finished short story.

October 2012
– Continue querying agents about The Loyalty Factor.
– Examine writing goals and revise if necessary.
– Decide on and plot NaNoWriMo 2012 novel.

November 2012
– NaNoWriMo 2012
– Attend at least one write-in.
– Continue querying agents about The Loyalty Factor.

December 2012
– Recover from NaNoWriMo.
– Finish NaNoWriMo novel if necessary.
– Continue querying agents about The Loyalty Factor.
– Set writing goals for 2013.

Writing Patterns for July

Because I have become obsessed with the time-management side of writing, I printed out a calendar of July and marked the days I didn’t write. I wanted to see if there was a pattern. And I discovered there’s a pretty obvious pattern.

Click to see my calendar

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