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"Cave & Woods"
Dev blog #1
So I have been putting work into two different projects, one of which I talked about in my last dev post. I also have my next topic picked for my main newsletter and will start writing soon, due to my vacation I am running behind, so it will most likely be the end of the month, or maybe the start of next month. Don’t worry it will be a Thursday.
Project “Cave & Woods”
This is a short that sits within the world for my novel “WildWoods” that I am working on. The project has moved through my brainstorming, my rough draft, and my 1st draft phase of my project. Which is coming up with the idea, writing it while skipping parts I don’t know yet, then going back and filling those parts in.
One of the big things I have been focusing on recently with my writing is the point of my story. What are my goals with the piece? And what am I trying to say to my readers? My “Why” of the story. While I don’t think you need to know your stories “why” right away, I have noticed my pieces that have legs and land way better with my early readers are pieces that have a vision, a “Why”. Honestly, when I started seriously writing, I would so often in my self studies see so many writers talk about a story’s “Why” and its importance to them. I failed to see the point and just wanted to write my stories, but as I enter into this new point in my writing, it’s all I can think about. It’s one of those things that people talk about the theory, but I did not realize the importance, until I got to a point where it just finally click. Something I just need to struggle by writing hundreds of thousands of words get to.
So now my “Why” is one of the first things I think about. I believe it is a foundation that takes an idea anyone can have, and helps change it into something new to readers. So in both my brainstorming phase, and moving into 2nd draft, I have questionnaires for myself that help guide and learn about my piece. This question of “Why” for the piece is at the top of both lists.
With “Cave & Woods” my “Why’s” are:
Test the waters of a tricky marketing sub-genre.
Expand the “Wildwoods” world.
A short story under 4,000 words. (Longer pieces become harder and harder to find viable markets.)
Introduce readers to my heroes of this story. I’d love to do a series of interconnected short stories with these characters.
have various plots within the piece, with a “nested” or sub plot that is my core “Why”. To explain this better, I will list all the plots as they help feed into achieving my other “Why’s”:
A character plot, this would be the connective tissue for the “series” of stories.
A “Meta” plot, this would be additional connective tissue to the “series” of stories, while also feeding into the world building and my novel.
A Main plot, which in this case will be an event*. This would be a monster that is terrorizing a town.
A sub plot, This would be my biggest “why” and vision of the story. I want to try to capture the idea of “The pain of being pushed to the outside, when all you want is in and how that can push people to radical actions.” This will be my story behind the story that I want people to walk away thinking about.
*Most short stories can be defined by a single, or multiple, “MICE” plot. These are:
Milieu, a plot driven by a place/navigation.
Inquiry, a plot driven by a question.
Character, a plot driven by a character problem/internal conflict.
Event, a plot driven by an external event.
So that is a lot of “Why’s”, and some of it is more “goals” verses a story “vision” but all of it is important to the core concept of what I consider a “success” for the piece. I would also love to see it get published.
So as I go into draft 2, which I have already completed, my series of questions and my “Why’s” were the main things at a high level I need make sure I am achieving between draft 1 and draft 2. These also help me identify problems and concerns. Between how I write and the complexity of the piece itself, this will bring up a range of problems I know will need to be carefully handled from draft to draft.
One of the biggest things I am worry about is burying the Sub plot to such an extent that it confuses the main plot, and readers don’t see what I am trying to say with the sub plot.
Personally, as a reader, I love to be challenged by what I am reading, and I love to analyze it. From theory crafting of where the story is going, the mysteries of the world, character past and their drives, and what the author is trying to say behind the story, their “why”. So I love when an author trust me as a reader, and does not tell me every piece of what is happening. So when an author fails to trust me and does not give me the opportunity to figure it out for myself, I tend to put the book down. There is a lot of complexity to both sides of this, but I will get back on topic. In short, my concern is because I know what I am trying to write and my audience is a reader like me, that I am going to hide my subplot too much that it’s going to ruin the piece. I have a problem burying the lead.
So draft 2 I have laid the plots bare more than I typically would, or so I think, and I have sent my piece off to my writing group. This will give me time apart from it, and I always get great feedback from them. Sometimes the feedback is on things I never thought/saw before that needed help, but they will help me with nailing this high-level problem before I start to dive in deeper with the piece.
A new idea…
So my vacation was in Europe, which has led to plenty of random one lines and ideas written down. One idea grabs me. Many of my ideas that come to me often start with a pivotal scene. But this was more of a concept that I seem to keep encountering in my life more and more, my brain constantly making every connection it can to the idea.
So I know my setting, mediaeval. The story's focus will be on a character’s internal conflict, something weighing on their mind. The genre I am unsure of, but like one of my favorite music genre, alternative, it will be a mix of things. I don’t think it’s Fantasy, as much as may be Supernatural, or as all my research wants to call it, Magical Realism. I seem to be running into this a lot as a genre of my recent writing. But it will have horror, potentially cosmic horror, for sure the psychological elements of the sub-genre. My theme is clear, claustrophobia. That is the most important thing at this stage, which builds into the next most important thing. What I want to talk about is the piece (“Why”), which is closely aligned. For now, that is my secret.
Talking on “Why’s” I also want the character to be a knight talking about the horror of battle, the press of being in the middle of things out of your control and the pressure it puts on you. The scars that remain. The PTSD that comes from it. This then leads me to my goal for the piece. While I want to talk about this, I want to keep this a straight forward and to the point project. In my mind, this topic and theme, while deep and full of nuances, best feels in a short medium to keep it to the point. Right now, 1,000-2,000 words feel about right. These build to a scene in my mind, revolving around the idea that started all this, which I am very excited for as it takes more shape. I feel like I am almost ready to write this. Another few weeks of letting the ideas sit and I think I will be ready for a rough draft session.
Writing about this idea was super insightful for myself, and while writing about it here was all over the place, hopefully it’s insightful of how some of my brainstorming works when I sit down to write. Some things I talked about above I never consciously thought about, so helpful! Thank you for that.