* Put the streamers away. It’s only the first draft.
I’ve been waiting SO LONG to be able to make this post.
I FINISHED THE FIRST DRAFT OF DIVIDED THEY FALL LAST NIGHT!
You have no idea how freaking happy I am right now. I’m still on a high.
Last night, I slept SO well.
Yes, I know I’ve used this GIF before. It’s as relevant now as it was back then, if not more so.
So Divided They Fall has been in my mind since around 2002, making it technically 12 years old now, although it didn’t exist in its current idea form until around 2009.
The DTF2002 (that’s my special name for it–it’s code, see if you can figure it out) outline was as, um, “imaginative” as the very first outline of The Genesis (which had the door knockers that talked, and the genetic experiments that also talked, and the injections that could make vampires immune to sunlight for a time, and the car with the SUCKIT licence plate…I should stop telling the world about my early drafts. It’s really not good for anybody).
Its main focus was this shape-shifting spider demon (called Dark Nation, because I’m awesome and also like to steal things from Final Fantasy VII from time to time) that had the ability to change specific events in time, and this demon used her power to stop Catrina from ever being turned into a vampire, for some reason. I think she wanted the Genesis power, or to get in on the Clan, or just to get into Fox’s pants or something, and Catrina was getting in her way–I don’t remember, it was over a decade ago.
Anyway, while the idea was obviously gold, it had absolutely no value in terms of the series (plus, it broke a lot of things, because…well, because a lot of things that happen in the series are Catrina’s fault–mostly indirectly, but still–and let’s face it, if we’re being 100% honest, things probably would be better for everyone–at least for anyone who isn’t Catrina…and actually no probably for Catrina, too–if she’d never been turned).
Maybe when the first series is finished (ha!), we can revisit something along this line, to ask the question of whether changing the past could improve the future. (Future spoiler alert, the answer will be no.)
I started working on the real serious draft of DTF in March 2013, then it meandered for months.
Writing this book frustrated me, perhaps is a better way to phrase it. Or planning it frustrated me.
Back in the day, I used to write a book out of order. I’d do the classic idiot thing and write all the scenes I was looking forward to writing the most first.
Helpful advice for you, if you’re just starting out on writing a full-length novel: this is a terrible way to write a book. It’s pretty self-explanatory, really, since if you write all the bits you really want to write, what you’re left with when you’re done with those is all the scenes you don’t really feel so much love for. And then you don’t want to do them. And then they don’t get done. And what you’re left with is a bunch of scenes that don’t really fit together and no drive to fill in the bits in between, an unfinished not-a-novel.
At least, that’s what happened with me. And I’ve been trying not to write like that anymore. And it’s hard.
But anyway, the important thing is it’s finished for now!
And now…some exciting graphs!
Total word count over time.
I didn’t start recording the daily word counts until around August.
The 20k before that day is a mystery, oooOOOOooooo!
And here’s my EditMinion Report Card:
All looks good, in summary! It’s only when we get into the details where it starts to fall apart. Also, not entirely sure why it’s saying there’s only 94,000 words in there. I think it might be because EditMinion.com has a limitation to the number count. I did write 115k, I swear!
Lastly, here’s a lovely-looking word cloud, showing the most used words in the manuscript.
Seems Devaux is the main character in this book, after all!
(If you want to make your own word clouds, you can generate them at Wordle.net)
Now, I’m a firm believer in the quantity over quality, when it comes to first drafts. Because you have all these ideas flying at you from every angle, you should just throw them down onto the page. Yes, they might be tragically pathetic, and they might not work, but you could find one very important snippet of character development in that terrible scene, which you can use somewhere else.
It’s like the idea of comparing writing a novel to carving a sculpture. You start out with this big block of clay, and you have to make it into something beautiful. Somehow. Using your mind.
This is only a first draft, an alpha version, if you will. It’s very inconsistent, tonally and thematically. The characters are all over the place, in particular the new main protagonists, Devaux and Damien. Catrina is consistent, particularly on being stupid and doing stupid things. I really don’t mean to make her that way (or do I?), but it just seems to happen in the early stages. The biggest changes will be making her decisions less stupid, but with the same results.
The two new POV characters aren’t really solid yet. I know I’ve failed terribly with at least one of them. I’ve never written anything from the Agent’s point of view before, except for that one scene from Nathaniel Rae, and he was King of the Dicks, so writing that was easy. Damien, on the other hand, is supposed to be this complex character who’s supposed to go through some incredible character development, and that’s…just not there yet. He’s just Nathaniel Rae with blonde hair right now.
This draft is not for public consumption, because, in the words of Greg Davies, “It’s fucking awful.”
I sent it to my two alpha readers last night, and they can tear it apart for a while, and theeeeeeeeeen, I’ll be taking it back to start the next monstrous task of the beta draft.
I expect the beta draft will be due around late July/early August.
And now, I’m going to go take a break, maybe play some WoW, or just bum around on Tumblr for the next month.
I’m FINISHED! Weeeeeeeeeeee!
Want to be a Beta?
If you want to be a beta reader for me, you can sign up to my list here. Just bear in mind that since this is the second in a series–unlike From The Ashes, which is a companion novel–I will need you to have read The Genesis first.
I need blunt, honest people to work with. I don’t want things sugar-coating.
I appreciate that I’m not really “selling it” to you with the above post, since all I’m doing is calling it dreadful. But I promise you, it will be better by the time it reaches beta stage.
[Warning: This post contains some spoilers for The Secret Life of Walter Mitty]
I can’t sleep on planes. Being a freakishly light sleeper anyway, the constant sound of EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE and occasional roller coaster turbulence moments and people walking up and down the walkway inches from my lolling head, sleep just doesn’t happen.
So on the overnight, seven hour stretch of a twelve hour journey back from visiting the boyfriend in Illinois, I was pretty stuck for things to do. I’d already listened to all the podcasts I’d downloaded in preparation for the journey (prepared poorly, I might add), I didn’t feel like reading any more of A Dance With Dragons (42%–I’m hoping to get it finished maybe before Christmas), and I couldn’t be bothered trying to write with a bluetooth keyboard that only sends around 2/3rd’s of the keystrokes to my tablet.
I spotted The Secret Life of Walter Mitty amongst the paltry film choices, and I thought, what the hell.
Now, going into this film, I knew only two things about it: 1, Walter Mitty liked to daydream, and 2, Walter Mitty was played by Steve Carell.
You may have noticed something wrong there, but herein lies my story.
Actually, Walter Mitty isn’t played by Steve Carell. He’s played by Ben Stiller.
Google reassures me I’m not the only person to have made this mistake.
However, I’m fairly confident I am the only person who watched the entirety of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty waiting for Ben Stiller to turn into Steve Carell.
Because going into this film knowing 100% that Walter was a daydreamer and Walter’s character was played by Steve Carell, I came to the conclusion that Walter was only played by Ben Stiller when he was daydreaming.
That’s right, I watched the entire film thinking it was a never-ending daydream.
When it opens on Stiller checking his dating profile over breakfast, my thought process went like this: “Oh, so he’s not awake yet–maybe he’ll send the girl of his dreams a message in his dreams, because he doesn’t have the stones to do it in real life, and then we’ll see Carell waking up…oh, okay, so he’s dreaming about going to work. Odd. Well, he’s about to meet his new boss. Maybe the camera will shift and we’ll see what Walter really looks like…oh, no. Hmm.”
And I went on thinking like that for two hours.
When he heads off on his adventure to Iceland to find the elusive freelance photographer and get a copy of the missing negative that’s resulted in his job on the line, I thought it was all in his head. When he jumps out of the plane aiming for the wrong boat and is almost eaten by a shark? I figured, pfft, that’s far too ridiculous to be real. Any minute now…and of course, it was real, and Stiller never became Carell.
It actually made the film marginally more interesting, because without that aspect of a completely imagined impending plot twist, I would’ve turned it off as quickly as I turned off Gravity (3 minutes in–sorry, these films might impress the cinephiles, but not me, the luddite who can’t differentiate her Stillers from her Carells).
Four hours laster, I’m reblogging gifsets on Tumblr or watching YouTube videos.
And the writing doesn’t get done, because the Internet is a temptress, and I am weak.
I used to use a piece of software called Freedom to stop the distractions, but it broke and instead of trying to troubleshoot it, I just uninstalled it and went back to my distraction-filled days.
Now I think I’ve found something better, and this one’s free!
What is SelfControl?
SelfControl is, in a nutshell, an app that blocks Internet access for a set amount of time.
A question I can immediately hear is, “Why don’t you just turn off your WiFi?”
Basically, if I just turned off my WiFi, five minutes later, I’d just turn it right back on, because that’s the sort of person I am.
SelfControl stops that from happening, because once you’ve started it, you can’t stop it. Quitting the program won’t stop it. Uninstalling the program won’t stop it. Restarting the machine won’t stop it.
So I’m encouraged to just keep going, because I have nothing else to do.
A Small Caveat
SelfControl is only as useful as you want it to be. In the world of smart phones and tablets and microwaves that probably have WiFi connection, you are never more than two feet away from the Internet.
You still have to be motivated to get your work done.
But for me, most of my casual straying is done via my computer (the Chrome button is RIGHT THERE!). I usually open up a browser without even realising I’m doing it. SelfControl is good for me, because when it’s on, and I’m greeted with the “You’re not connected to the Internet” message, it reminds me that I actually have work to do.
That’s probably why it’s called SelfControl. You still have to stop yourself from straying.
If you’re planning to stay off the Internet, stay off the Internet.
1. Since you can’t turn SelfControl off once it’s started, keep the timer low, I’d say no more than an hour–not because you can start browsing again more easily, but because after the hour is up, you can catch up with anything you’ve missed before turning it on for another session.
2. Use the “Whitelist” option instead of the “Blacklist” option. If you just use a blacklist and strike off the obvious sites, chances are there’ll be something you’ve forgotten about blocking, and then you’ll be back to square one. The whitelist lets you specify which sites you can still go on while SelfControl is active, which I’d recommend you keep to the basics, like Wikipedia or Google for research.
3. If you’re practically surgically attached to your mobile phone, make it a point to put it into Aeroplane Mode for the duration of your writing session. You can turn it back on when the SelfControl timer ends. If you don’t own a phone that has Aeroplane Mode,put it on silent and turn it over.
Folklore is, in my humble opinion, not that great a game. While it appears to be expansive on first inspection, the progression is actually very linear, and I found the combat elements grew samey very quickly–like MMO grinding without the leveling up. This review can explain it better than I can.
Even so, the game itself is stunningly beautiful, both visually and in terms of the music.
Here’s a playlist; I’ll break down my favourites below.
The Beginning of the Journey. The opening track to the album, and the track played on the opening screen of the game. A good one for getting a sense of wonder. It veers between quite sweet and innocent to something slightly more sinister and not-quite-right.
The Fairy Waltz. This is one of the first combat tracks in the game. Clearly inspired by carnival/circus music.
Visited Tragedy. The long, drawn-out notes on the violins really hit a mournful, and maybe slightly sour, note.
Land of the Gods. Another track that accompanies the combat in-game. A relatively fast-paced track, compared the majority of the soundtrack, and has a sort of tribal beat to it.
The End of the Memories. This one just feels dark. A mixture of the cellos and the higher draws on whatever the hell that other instrument is just gives off the kind of sensation that sends shivers.
Where the Soul Goes. The final track on the album, and the longest at almost nine minutes long. This one best encompasses the general feel of the entire album, since it varies from the relatively quiet beginning to going out with a bang. If you listen to no others on the soundtrack, you should listen to this one.
Music to Write Suspenseful Scenes By…
Most of the tracks have a dark, mournful undertone, making them a good companion to scenes of reflection or those following (or leading up to) some kind of tragedy.
On a more general view, if you’re writing any kind of classic fantasy, I think these tracks will suit your needs well. The slower ones sound like the kind of music you’d hear coming from a tavern in an impoverished little village.
Also, if you’re writing anything based around a carnival–as I will be in the future–this fits perfectly.
More Information / Further Reading
You can buy the soundtrack from CDJapan, but again, most if not all of the tracks are available on YouTube, so give it a listen before you make the decision whether to fork out the $34 they’re asking for. The CD is notoriously difficult to come by, though, so if you’re a collector of rare albums, this could be a nice addition.
Check out the full list of my ‘Music to Write Novels By’ series here, including a spiffy FAQ section, which will likely cover any questions you have.
So I’m going through something of an identity crisis at the moment.
It’s something that happens to me, oh, about thirty times a day.
Every time I log onto Twitter or Tumblr or my Facebook page, I ask myself the question:
And I never really know for sure.
See, because while my name is Kat in the real world (or Kathryn, if you’re a family member or are angry at me for some reason), online I’m known by my username, Penrefe.
I’ve become strangely proud of the name. I go insane every time YouTube tries to lure me into using my real name on its web site. I am not Kathryn on YouTube, YouTube. I am Penrefe on YouTube.
Penrefe is my username on just about every web site I’m registered on. I even bought a domain of a discontinued e-mail service to get my username back on IMDB: that’s how insane dedicated I am to my moniker.
As anyone with a favourite username will tell you, your online alias is more than just a name. It’s the embodiment of who you are online.
And yet Penrefe is me. Just me. Penrefe is K. L. Kerr is Kathryn is Kat. We are all the same person. But who am I? Who do I want to be known as?
It’s a difficult choice, especially when I’m a writer with books to sell, so I often think I should be pushing that side of things (which was the reason for my initial change to KLKerr.com last year). You hear all these things about branding and centralising so that people can easily find you, and blah blah blah blah blaaaaaaaah.
But I’ve decided to move everything back to Penrefe.com, and build everything on the name I’m best known for*, even if no one is really 100% sure how to pronounce it**.
TL:DR Basically, this was an incredibly long-winded way of saying I’ve moved my site and its contents back to Penrefe.com.
This will have no impact on your life whatsoever.
* Second only perhaps to Catrinna, the Draenei hunter.
She’ll be back eventually, NuGenites. So will Winston. And Bigwig. And my One-Eyed Willy. Warlords of Draenor, woooooooooooooooooo!
Alright, nobody freak out, but I’m pushing back the self-imposed deadline of the first draft of Divided They Fall to mid March.
I have been working on this book more-or-less non-stop since November 2013.
I need a break.
I know people are waiting for this book (which is something that freaks me the fuck out. I mean, I have my usual 3 friends (Muse, Richy, Dee–see there’s actually 3) who ask me when the next one is coming, but now I have Internet friends and relative strangers asking about the next instalment. That kind of thing is just…my mind, it’s boggling at the very idea. The Internet, man. It’s a powerful beast.).
And I am working on it, but the going is slow and painful. And at the rate I’m going, I just can’t see a finished, workable first draft being ready by the end of January.
So to save myself the stress, and to save the alpha readers’ future disappointment, I’ll just come out and say it now: you’re not having a book at the end of the month.
Were I in a traditional publishing environment, I’d have already spent my advance and be crying into dust as my publisher and agent both abandon me by the wayside to be eaten by wolves or whatever.
But I’m not. I’m independently published. I’m my publisher. I’m my agent. I’m my publicist, and my media guru and marketing manager and finance department and customer services representative, and that creepy lady that hangs around the copier making awkward and uncomfortable conversation. And I’ve made a management decision to extend the deadline.
So I’m going to set a new estimated date for the alpha draft (not the beta draft, that will be 6-8 weeks later) by 15th March 2014.
I will be taking a short break from writing in the meantime.
Nothing major. Just a week or two.
I might work on something else (*cough*DARKWING*cough*), or I might just not do anything. I don’t know yet.
Only a week or two.
Then it will be back to the grindstone, shoulder to the wheel, and all the other well-known work phrases I can’t think of right now.
When I was a young girl (a young girl, a young girl), I assumed that 30 was practically dead in terms of age. I assumed 20 was old, when I was 12. 16 was ancient to an 8-year-old.
Back when I was 16, scribbling the hilariously bad first draft of my first book, I made the main character 19, because 19 was so mature.
As I passed 19 in reality, I scoffed at the notion of it being “mature”. I still scoff on occasion when I think about it to this day, the same way I still laugh out loud at those who think people should have their shit together by 25.
Technically speaking, I was a mature person for 19. By the time I was 19 years old, I had already:
Moved out of the family home;
Got a car;
Got a job;
Got a house (with a mortgage!);
…and I was totally on my way and set to be a cog in the machine of life.
Since I’d already done most of what I thought you needed to do as a grown-up, I kind of coasted through my 20’s, for the most part.
I remember when I thought people in their 20’s were adults. Now all of my friends are in their 20’s and everybody is just kind of fumbling around bumping into each other, trying to figure out where the free food is.
In my 20’s, I met a boy and fell in love, and settled down, and got married. That didn’t end particularly well, but I learned a lot from the experience.
I spent my 20’s working in accounts and software support, although I had no real passion for either. I mean, who really has a passion for finance? It’s one of the most stressful jobs you can have, besides technical support, so I was covered on both bases.
I’m yet to meet anyone doing work in accounts who does it because they feel it’s their true calling.
I suspect most, if not all, of people working in accounts do it for the same, simple reason that I worked in accounts: because we could.
I’m still working in accounts, though at a different company to the one I spent the majority of my 20’s in, because the company I joined aged 18 and spent ~10 years busting my ladyballs for doesn’t exist anymore. Sad story, the recession was a tragedy, and so on…now let’s move on.
I also wrote and published two books in my twenties, which is a pretty damn big deal.
I wrote these two books. Have I mentioned that before?
Writing, as I have recently been reminded and have constantly known, is such a fundamental part of my life, it tends to push everything else out.
I’ve learned to accept that, as has everyone close to me, so when a family member calls to ask, “What are you doing tonight?” and I reply, “The same thing I do every night, Pinky: trying to take over the world write a book!”, it’s universally understood that I shouldn’t be contacted for the rest of the evening/weekend/month.
Thankfully, I still have no intention of having children, so I’ll have no one to neglect. Hence why cats are great pets of choice for a writer.
And yet, there’s a part of my brain that won’t accept I’m turning 30.
You’re not thirty, it scoffs, throwing popcorn at the back of my head. You can’t even cook. You still eat Pot Noodle butties and live on takeaways. You don’t know how to pop the bonnet on your car to add screenwash. If a lightbulb goes out, it stays out until your Granddad visits. You don’t even know how your thermostat works. Give back your grown-up card; you’ve clearly not earned it yet.
That part of my brain has a point. There’s still a lot of things I should know how to do by now. There’s a lot of things I should’ve already done.
If I’d done things differently in my 20’s, I’d be somewhere else by now. I’d be someone else, maybe.
I don’t know whether that’s a good thing or not.
But then that’s the thing about time: it doesn’t wait for you. It doesn’t wait for anyone.
And I have been incredibly lazy in my 20’s, letting a lot of opportunities pass me by.
This isn’t a declaration of a proposed dramatic life change. I’m just going to say that I think I might put a bit more effort into my day-to-day life to acknowledge that time isn’t waiting, and we’re all getting older, and that’s okay.
To start the ball rolling, I’m going to attempt to strip all the colour out of my hair over the weekend, a sort of “cleansing” ritual of sorts (while simultaneously stinking out the house with the smell of the hair dye remover, Colour B4, which really reeks, trust me–like someone cooked a batch of rotten eggs and sprinkled the scrambled mess over a corpse drying in the sun, left it a few days, then worked it into your hair so it permeates the air around you for weeks).
I don’t use many parts of myself to make a statement: I don’t have the ladyballs to pierce anything (other than my ears, which I never use), or tattoo anything (because there’s nothing I know I’ll want in 20-40 years’ time).
But my hair has always been something I’ve used to make a statement about who I am. From blonde to red to black, and there and back, I’ve been all of those, making statements, breaking hearts, being an angel, being a bitch, and everything in-between.
Let’s just hope the colour stripping is a success and doesn’t leave me venturing into a new era of my life looking like Worzel Gummidge.
I want to close by saying: I’m not nervous or anxious or upset about reaching 30. I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be a new era, a new chapter in the book of Kat.
I like to think I’m ending the chapter on a relative high, so let’s see where the next decade takes me.
In my 20’s, I was riding with the training wheels on.
I think I’m ready to take them off.
Anyway, many people, including friends who are reaching the big three-oh themselves, feel they should’ve done more, that they should be more by the time they reach 30.
I don’t care how small or insignificant my experiences might be when compared to others.
I have done plenty, and I’ll do plenty more.
Now, in real closing, I’ve been trying to find a song that best sums up the last decade, something that articulates how the last ten years have developed me as an individual.
I’m really struggling. I’m browsing through my iTunes and madness threatens. I want to post something uplifting, something inspirational, but Shed Seven’s “Chasing Rainbows” keeps coming in my head.
So I suppose that’s what I’m going to have to go with.