Writing Update #6: I finished my novel!

Word count: 84,094

I just finished writing the first draft of my novel! Woohoo!

I’m so happy this stage is finally over. It’s taken me about ten months to complete the draft, which is ten times longer than I’d originally thought. However, I wasn’t writing the whole time and took a few super-long breaks in between.

Drafting has had its fun times, and not-so-fun times, but now I’m ready to move on to the next step: editing. I’ve never edited a book before so it’ll be a big learning experience. I’ve already started the first read-through of the manuscript, and let me tell you, there’s a lot of work to be done. Nonetheless, I’m looking forward to it. After all these months of rough-drafting, my inner editor, a relentless perfectionist, is itching to be let loose on my writing.

My goal is to revise this book over the summer and come September, have a (for the most part polished) manuscript. We’ll see how that goes. I’m feeling pretty optimistic at the moment. 🙂

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Writing Update #5: Almost There

Word count: 72,042

It took a good amount of motivation to start writing again after a month-long break from my book (and blog), but I’m finally back to working on it.

It’s been a long journey- over six months, to be specific. I’m so ready to finish up the first draft and jump into the uncharted territory of editing. I’ve never edited a novel before, but I’m looking forward to learning- and letting my perfectionist self out. Yeah, the one that has been going silently-but-surely insane for all of the times my grammar was garbage or I showed and didn’t tell, or couldn’t remember someone’s name and put brackets instead.

I estimate to have about 17k words to go until the end. So close, yet so far. I just gotta keep on trekking!

Writing Update #4: Halfway There!

Word count: 45,008

I’m officially halfway through writing my book. Woohoo!

My intended word count goal is 90k, but it’s looking like I might run over given the fact that I haven’t even reached the midpoint scene yet. Oops. My new deadline (I keep moving them further and further back) will now be December 1st. I’m hoping that’s realistic enough.

It has been a roller coaster of a process so far. There have been weeks where I wrote only one or two days, and then other weeks where I could afford to write a lot. It’s not very often I get to do that, though. I just try to find time to write whenever I can.

For example, there’s these 3 days in the week where I have about 35 minutes in between two classes. There’s not really much you can do in that amount of time, so I use it for a word sprint and see how much I can write. My record is 540 words. Even though it doesn’t seem like much, I’ve learned that even a little bit of writing here and there can really make a difference.

It helps that it’s a structured writing time because when I leave it to myself to write “whenever” it usually gets pushed aside.

I’m learning a lot about scheduling and organizing time through doing this project. (And, of course, writing!) Hopefully I’ll improve my productivity skills for the future.

Craziness

I can’t believe how long it’s been since my last blog post. I’ve been super busy lately with the graphic novel, outside work, and general life. Not to mention a whole barrage of new distractions- tumblr, instagram, etc. I really need to start putting my phone away.

Anyway, many things have happened since my last post:

1. I Sketched 68 Pages of Solstice

Nope, it’s not finished yet. I have to get there soon because I’m really running out of time. Being a procrastination god does have its faults.

2. I Got 100 Followers

Yippee! That makes me really happy. I can’t believe even one person wants to hear me rattle on about my current obsession. Thanks. I really appreciate it. 🙂

3. I Sketched Characters

Hawk Sketch

This is Hawk. She’s the tough, bossy type.

Bear Sketch

This is Bear. He’s not cut out for the wild life. Too soft and squishable.

4. I Visited Cape Cod

It was beautiful but cold. I’ve decided that when I retire I’ll buy a tiny cottage near a lighthouse there, wear shoes with holes in them and a sunhat, and paint all day on the beach, my untamed white hair blowing in the breeze.

cape cod dock

5. I Bought a Guitar

I randomly fell in love with folk music (by Jose Gonzalez and Syd Matters) and now I quest to learn how to play it. It’s actually really relaxing. The first song I learned was Obstacles by Syd Matters.

my guitar

There you have it- random craziness at it’s best. There’ll be more next time. 😀

Moving Along

You know that big goal I set for myself- to finish thumbnail sketches for Solstice? Well, it didn’t quite work out  (surprise, surprise). Normally I’d be pretty disappointed, but in this case I’m still happy because I’m making progress. And I consider any progress at all to be a great thing.

So far I have sketched 34 pages of thumbnails. It seems like a lot but I think I have a long way to go considering I’m not even through half of the script.

solstice sketch binder

Yes, it’s a mini binder. Shhh- I know I have a problem. It’s just so cute and easy to organize. I even found these little plastic page holder things that perfectly fit my half-page sketches. It’s great because I can rearrange pages, re-edit them, and see how the book is going to read.
solstice sketch binder 2

solstice thumbnail sketch p 22

A couple of surprises I hadn’t accounted for made it harder to fulfill my goal of completing all of the thumbnail sketches for Solstice by yesterday (which I think was pretty insane to begin with):

  1. The tire of our car popped
  2. I misjudged how many sketch pages my script would create
  3. I misjudged how much time I really had (I always do that when traveling)

My goal for now is to just keep moving. 🙂 Hopefully next time I’ll have a more exciting update.

In the meantime, please enjoy some random nature sketches XD :

solstice nature sketching 3

I Wrote the Script

Yay! I just finished writing and typing up the script for Solstice! It was challenging but I finally sat down and banged it out on my mini legal pad.

Mini Legal Pad Notes

I love mini things. They’re so cute and non-intimidating.

I’m so excited because I can see the story coming together and I can imagine what the finished book will be like.

The script is 13 pages and about 1600 words long. It doesn’t seem like a lot, especially when compared to that of a written novel, but I’m pretty sure that it will become about 60-90 pages of illustration. The book isn’t going to be text heavy, so I think that number makes sense. There will be a couple scenes that don’t use any text.

Solstice Script Draft One Printed

I don’t know about you but I love printing out writing and holding the stack of paper in my hands. It’s a nice feeling, especially if you’ve been working digitally for a while.

The script is not exactly finished, as I need to edit and fix and add things, so I’ll just call it draft one. However, I don’t know how long I can edit if I want to be done by mid-May. I’ll have to speed up the process quite a bit in order to have a lot of time for creating art. From my experimental pages I can already tell that it’s going to be time-intensive.

After my quick edit I’ll finish sketching thumbnail pages and working out the visual side of the story, which I’m really excited for because I love drawing.

Speaking of, here’s some random doodles of nature:

Solstice nature sketching 1

This project has been really fun so far and I’m excited for the challenges coming up next. In the spirit of challenges, I’m setting a lofty goal of finishing thumbnail sketches by the end of Saturday the 28th. I have some time off so I think there is a chance that it could happen (if I get my lazy self off the couch).

Experimenting Some More

I’m still working out the text for Solstice, but I wanted to see what a finished page would look like, so I tried drawing one. It’ll also help me see how I need to schedule my time, as I don’t have a lot of it!

I’m pretty sure I’ll create the art digitally, with a program called Paint Tool Sai and a tablet. I think it will be easier in the long run because I won’t have to scan pages and format them. I can also fix mistakes a lot more quickly. (I’m sure I’ll make a lot of them). But that’s all part of experimenting- getting out all the kinks before creating finished pieces.

Speaking of, I ran into a problem while coloring the page. The line art/drawing part of it turned out okay but then I tried coloring it and it looked clashing.

Here’s what I mean:

I mean, everything’s the color it’s supposed to be (kind of). The sky is blue, the trees are green, and the sun is yellow, but they just don’t look good. It might work for some art pieces, but the look I was going for was more natural and easy on the eyes. I figured out what the problem was after doing a bit of research and observing other artists’ work- my color scheme wasn’t unified. The colors had nothing in common, so they didn’t fit together well.

So I tried editing the page (taking the easy way out):
Solstice practice sketch 1 edit 2

It didn’t exactly work out either. The whiteness of the page changed!

Finally I sat down and colored the whole thing again, this time making a palette of sorts on the side of the page and adding a little bit of orange to each color:

Solstice practice sketch 3

oh no I spelled except wrong!

I think it worked out much better. Fox’s hair kind of blends in with the background and the value (lights and darks) is a little wonky, but it’s a step in the right direction. I’m glad I took the time to figure this out. Hopefully the whole process will go faster in the future.

This page is just an experiment. The story will deal with a similar sense of loneliness, but I’ll have to see what format and words it calls for when I reach this point.

Remember how I changed the story? Well I tried making a synopsis to get it straight in my head. Here goes:

A boy named Fox happens upon a group of children celebrating the summer solstice after waking in a forest with no memory. After one child claims to have seen a shadow-beast lurking around the camp during the night, the group realizes that the forest may hold hidden dangers. The leader of the group, a girl called Hawk, organizes a scouting group and recruits Fox to join and explore the forest surrounding the camp. As they watch out for the mysterious shadow-creature and run out of food, tensions run high. They soon realize that the greatest threat to their delicate society may not exist in the forest outside, but within themselves.

So it’s going to be kind of like a Lord of the Flies story set in the North American wilderness with folk elements mixed in there. I love dark and eerie stories, so I wanted to make my own. I’m just happy that I get to draw trees and stuff. 🙂

Writing my Graphic Novel Script

I started writing the script for Solstice and so far it’s about four pages altogether. It’s definitely been a challenge because it’s so different from prose writing and I have to concentrate on how it will work visually.

Part of the challenge was finding a format to write in. On the internet there’s a multitude of different formats, from writing the content of each panel in paragraphs to creating something that resembles a screenplay.

So I had to experiment and try different things. Eventually, I came across a video called “How to write for comics! Comics for Beginners episode 2” by Palle Schmidt. He used a format closer to what I wanted and put some helpful notes. Here’s a shot from the video:

comic script template

Schmidt’s Format

By using this format, I wouldn’t have to think about the panels and page in such detail. So I tried it, and I like how it’s working. Here’s the first page of the first draft:

excerpt solstice format

My Attempt

The dialogue is in the middle of the page, with visual description and random notes to myself between it. The internal monologue I put in italics.

It’s really experimental at the moment, since I’m still trying to figure this whole process out and use it to build a story. It doesn’t feel like I know what I’m doing, but that’s okay. It’s all in good fun.

The deadline I’m setting for myself is a week from now- March 15. Hopefully by then I’ll be ready to start thumbnail sketches. Onwards!

The Plan

So I finally sat down and did some planning to see how I’d actually go about making a graphic novel in two and a half months.The result is this schedule-type thing:

  1. Outlining- 1 week
  2. Writing- 1 week
  3. Sketching- 1 week
  4. Drawing- 4 weeks
  5. Coloring- 2 weeks
  6. Formatting- 1 week

Basically, I’m going to split up my time into these six parts. It looks like a lot of work…and I think it’s going to be. But that won’t stop me!

The good thing is that I’m pretty close to starting the actual writing. And then comes the art side of it, which I’m more unsure about. Well, that’s something I’ll tackle when the time comes. It’s all part of the adventure.

Outlining my Graphic Novel

The first step on my graphic novel journey is outlining. So I’m doing it, albeit reluctantly. It’s my least favorite stage of the writing process, but I know from experience that it works for me.

Last year I finished my first novel. I wish I’d documented it online, but sadly, I didn’t have a blog. Anyway, outlining was my breakthrough. After years of seat-of-the-pants writing and countless abandoned stories, I forced myself to try it, just to see if it worked. (I was doubtful). But in the end it did work. It worked wonders.

My Supplies List:

1. Notebook 2. Another Notebook (you can never have too many)

1. Notebook
2. Another Notebook
(you can never have too many)
3. Complete Idiot’s Guide
(I embrace it)
4. To-Do List
5. Pens/Pencils

*It’s not on the list, but a computer might be helpful. I use one along with writing by hand.

Even though I’m working on a visual story, I find that the three main elements of novel-outlining- character, plot, and setting- are still present. The major difference is the layer that illustration adds to the written story.

The outlining process involves many steps, all of which I’m doing at the same time in a chaotic frenzy.

1. Character

Although I don’t often try to develop characters first, I’m putting it as #1 because I consider it the most important aspect of a story, right next to plot. Creating characters involves making biographies and listing traits and flaws along with more abstract things like goals and values. I like to work on my main characters first, including the antagonist, then the secondary characters.

My protagonist’s character development is the most extensive out of all the characters because it determines what the voice will sound like. I’m going to write in first-person, so he’ll be the character the readers hang out with the most. His voice needs to be strong enough to carry them through the story. Also, I have to make sure he is likeable, relatable (to some extent), and interesting.

So far, I know these little things about my protagonist: His name is Fox. He is a young boy who is curious, introspective, independent, and lonely. He likes to collect strange objects and doesn’t talk much.

2. Plot

I think it’s fun to block out scenes and see how the story twists and turns from a bird’s-eye view. It’s at this stage where I can really imagine the story coming to life.

Plotting can be difficult at times because I have to stop being lazy, actually sit down with a pen and paper, roll up my sleeves, and start the dirty work. Blocking out scenes involves messy handwriting, arrows going everywhere, scene lists getting reorganized and cut and mashed together into a big mess of ideas that resembles a five-year-old’s mud pie. If anybody saw my notes they’d probably think I was going mad.

But there is something magical about this part, however messy it may be, because the story is starting to take shape. I’ve connected things and now it looks like a sculpture of sorts, with pieces and chunks of clay sticking out. It’s not pretty, but now I have something to work with. The general story is shaping up. Later comes the smoothing out.

An exercise I like to challenge myself with is the one sentence plot summary. It helps me streamline my story into its bare parts, letting me know what I’m getting myself into. It catches me before I dive into the details and realize that this is not the story I want to tell. Or it assures me that I’m on the right track.

Here’s mine: A boy named Fox is recruited into a group of children who want to track down the shadow monster that lingers on the edges of their makeshift village and threatens its unstable balance.

It took me several tries and a lot of cutting-out, but I somehow managed to describe the main idea in one sentence. It’s not perfect, but it’s a start.

Going through the beginning of the outlining phase, I didn’t expect so much change to happen to the story. I don’t think you’d believe me if I told you that three weeks ago this book was going to be about a cat who wants to be an astronaut. I’m very indecisive and had a lot of attractive ideas, but I chose to put that story in the vault for another day and continue with this one. Over time I’ll try to embrace change.

3. Setting

I’ve found this aspect differs from novel outlining the most. In a full written novel, descriptions must be written out sentence by sentence. In a visual story, the visual description happens through artwork. There’s no need to describe the emotion on a characters face or how the light hits the trees in the forest because the readers will see it and understand (hopefully).

tree doodle

tree doodle

I’m both excited and nervous for this part of the process, which I haven’t really started yet, because it indicates uncharted waters. This is where the familiarity ends. I have experience in drawing and art, but not in creating characters and worlds. That’s what makes the whole process an exciting adventure, though.

My goal for now is to continue outlining and start getting into the details. I know this is going to be challenging, but I’m so excited!

-Tori