Category Archives: Once Upon an Ever After

It helps to know where you’re going

I’ve discovered that one the hard way.

Some time back, I embarked on a little project called Once Upon an Ever After. I started it with absolutely no idea where it was going. I actually thought that was a good idea. But after a couple of chapters in, I got lost and frustrated because…well, because I didn’t know where I was going. I don’t write with a super detailed outline. But I usually have at least some indication of how the story will progress between beginning, middle and end. Jennings Grove had a chapter list and some basic notes. The Final Quarter had nothing but a chapter list. But I had something.

With Once Upon an Ever After, I knew where the next chapter or two was going, and that was about it. And it almost made me give up on one of my best ideas to date. So I’ve spent the last week or so making notes about the story. There’s going to have to be some rewriting of the parts I’ve already done, but now I have a cohesive plot. It’s a lot more detailed than what I’ve worked with before, but there’s no chapter list, and there’s still plenty of room for the story to evolve as  I write, as I prefer it to.

It’s been a good lesson to learn, and I’m sure it will do me good in the future. Just wish it didn’t have to be such a hard one.


I can see (more) clearly now

Chapter 2 (Going to the Church House) of Once Upon an Ever After is in the can. That makes me about 3% done with the first draft. There’s a long way to go, but the words are still coming fairly easily. And the further I go into this story, the more I learn about its faerie-riddled, post-apocalyptic world. I know more about my characters and what drives them.

There’s usually a fair amount of discovery as I write. I’ve always been one to have a starting point, a destination and a basic set of directions that probably won’t bear much resembalance
to my final route. Google Maps, it ain’t. Most of the time, it’s not even an outline, just a chapter list. But right now, Once Upon an Ever After doesn’t even have that. It’s like the muse told me , “Go west, moderately young man,” and I went without waiting to hear where exatly in the west I shoild be heading.

Keep in mind this project didn’t start out as a novel or even a short story. I had intended this to be a fragment, a writing exercise for a scene based on a particularly vivid dream. But I kept writing. My brain spitting out ideas as it mulled the scene over. I took those ideas and kept writing.

So, here I am, 4,300 words later, still plodding along. I’ve got a pretty good idea of Chapter 3 (Be It Ever so Humble) and Chapter 4 (Error & Trial). Beyond that, it gets a little hazy (but it is getting better, since I didn’t really know where Chapter 2 was going when I started Chapter 1). There’s a long road ahead of me. I know som of the points it will pass through, but there are also a fair number of blind curves along the way. The end is kind of like the backstory issue I had. I have a rough idea that feels mostly right, but it’s not quite ready yet.

So, I have basically stepped out on Bilbo Baggins’ Road. It goes ever on, and there’s no telling where it will sweep me. Although I am pretty sure my destinations are more Mirkwood than Rivendell.

Got your hiking boots on?

I’m not quite dead…

As you can probably tell from my blog posts recently, I’ve been reading a little bit more than I have in awhile. And it’s been nice to have that opportunity. As writers we hear how important it is to read, but you don’t realize the truth of it sometimes until the opportunity presents itself. But that’s not all I’ve been doing.

I’m about 2,300 words further into Once Upon an Ever After. Again, perhaps not the greatest of metrics as that only puts me about 4,500 words in, but it’s progress. Which is something on my tight schedule. Even better, I’m nearly done with the second chapter, “Going to the Church House.” Soon I’ll start on Chapter 3, “Be it Ever so Humble.” I’ve also been able to figure out some backstory/worldbuilding points that have been bugging me. Namely, how the faerie world  managed to gain the upper hand over the humans. I’d been working with an idea for awhile,but it was bugging me because it didn’t quite feel right. Now it does. I’ll probably put it into a prologue. This is an approach I’ve picked up from C.S. Friedman‘s Coldfire Trilogy. In two of the books, she put a little bit about the history of Erna as it related to the current story (how humans got to work the fae and the origins of the Hunter). I know some people don’t like prologues, but that has always intrigued me. It’s how I begin Jennings Grove and The Final Quarter.

On a more frustrating front, I’ve had another ping from my “Twitter muse,” the one that keeps throwing ideas at me. It’s hard enough to find time to work on Once Upon an Ever After without other cool ideas bombarding me. I had one a few weeks ago (about a guy who ages forward and backward over and over again), but it’s managed to leave me alone. This one won’t. If I can find the time (ha ha) to work on it, Remember the Alamo would be a steampunk horror novel set during an alternate Texas Revolution. I’ve been wanting to do a steampunk story for some time, but couldn’t ever come up with an idea. Now that I have…it’s hard to remain focused on the WiP. Oh, well. I’ll manage. And if I get stuck on the current work, I can move over to that one, I suppose.

Why do you do what you do?

I’ve made a small bit of progress on “Once Upon an Ever After” this week. I’m about five hundred words or so into Chapter 2: Going to the Church House (Chapter 1 is Peaches & Scream). I know many writers post their word metrics and rejoice their productivity, or bemoan the lack thereof. I’m not here to do either. By most measures, that’s pretty pitiful for a week, but it’s proof to me that I’m still making progress, however small.

Much of the overall plot still eludes me, but I have noticed a trend in the ideas I’m working with these days. I’m working a lot with traditional fairy tale critters in a modern setting. And that brings to mind the question: Why do you do what you do?

I don’t mean so much why write as where the decisions come from as to what to write about. The first question is answered on the front page of this site. Writers write because it’s what we do, much in the same way that fish fly and birds swim. But why write the things we do? I was recently asked this question for a blog — specifically why I wrote zombie tales. I can answer that in part. I like exploring primal fears, such as darkness (Jennings Grove) and death (zombies). I’m also a huge fantasy fan. Aside from that, though, it’s a hard questonto answer. There’s something about bringing the fairy world to a gritty, modern reality that I like. With Once Upon an Ever After, it’s mostly a case of inspiration struck, and I’m not going to let it go.

And that’s good enough for me. I know self-reflection is a good thing, but there’s little point in winding up like Narcissus and staring at that reflection until you die. I’ll save it for my editing.

An ending and a beginning

As the year draws to a close, I find myself facing some harsh realities. Times are tough. Needs must be met. Wants and nice-to-haves face the chopping block. Which puts me in a bit of a quandary. As a writer, I do need a Web presence aside from my Facebook page. But at the same time, the cost of a hosted site is hard to justify right now. Fortunately, there is a workable solution. You’re looking at it.

Much as I like the freedom and control an independent site gives me, there’s little reason to fret over it when WordPress lets users host free blogs. Domain names are cheap enough; I may purchase one to go with this blog to get rid of the “.worpress” URL. Now, if WordPress’ policies change, I may have to revisit this. Hopefully, things will be less tough at the point it ever comes to that.

There are some good reasons to make the change, anyway. I’m kind of rebooting here. My writing has slowed and foundered somewhat over the last couple of years. I’ve started projects and lost my way with them. I may pick them back up at a later point, but for now I’m moving forward in a slightly different direction. I have a new project that is moving slowly, but it’s moving. And for me right now, that’s a big plus.

Writing was a struggle. No matter what I worked on, I had to force the words. I kniow it’s something we all go through, but I couldn’t seem to “power through it.” That ended when I started writing what was going to be a random scene I could save and use elsewhere some time. It was just something vivid that stuck with me after I woke up. I started writing…and kept writing.

Now,as I said, it’s been slow going. It took me a few weeks just to pound out 4,000 words for the first chapter. I’ve only got the vaguest of ideas where “Once Upon an Ever After” is going. But at least it’s going. And I’m not having to fight it. That’s a beginning.

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