Le Journal de Das Book, Day 0

I am seldom subject to self-delusion. It has been the bane of my existence, this longing for rationality. No, it is not the desire of my dear, sweet frontal lobe, that tattered handmaiden burdened to my subconscious’ longing for prime numbers in all things. The poor dear is merely slave to its master, doing the…

The November Project

I’m torn. Some of you may have heard of NaNoWriMo, the National Novel Writing Month. It runs for 30 days in November of each year. Well, I’ve done it a few times, and it’s no big deal at this point. In fact, it’s a little asinine in that the objective is to write a 50,000-word…

The Rest of the Story

So, I’m at the point in my web serial where I can either continue to post, or wrap up the online portion. My latest work-in-progress, Hard as Roxx, also started as a serial. But due to spotty readership and my unhappiness in posting a 1st draft, I turned it into a novel. Two drafts later,…

Overthinking and Underthinking in Plotting

I often see writers debate about which is preferable, “plotting” or “pantsing.” Plotting refers to diligently lay out your story’s plot before writing in earnest, using outlining or some similar method. True plotters may create outlines so detailed that they are actually incorporated into the work during the writing phase. Evan Marshall, author of The…

Background Work

I decided that the main character of the new book, Jeanne “Dark” D’Arc, owns a 1972 Renault Alpine. She is proudly, almost stubbornly French, and the year is special to her. Her personal symbol is the Ibis, which she had painted on her car. It is a clumsy bird, inelegant, until it can take flight. Having…

Getting Dark

My next book, which I will start plotting this month, stars a female Security Analyst – a female Sherlock Holmes type – who is gifted with Synesthesia. Her partner is a burly, ex-Army Ranger with what he calls a “Crazy Magnet.” Together, they stumble across a plot that threatens to unravel the uneasy thread of…

Outlining Short (or longer) Works

  Getting  organized can really blow. Typically, I don’t outline short stories. That isn’t because I don’t think I need them. Frankly, I think any story can benefit from a bit of outlining. Rather, I use short stories as stretching exercises; since I am by nature organized, I use shorter pieces to expand my extemporaneous…

A Very Small Matter of Outlining

Now, I already know what you’re saying, Alica McKenna-Johnson. “I already told you, I’m a total pantser.” Yeah, yeah. Oh great, now the rest of you are nodding. (sigh) So there you are, happily kicking the story along by the seat of its … pants. You don’t want to stop and outline, because the words…

Plots or Pants?

I have seen a great deal of online discussion regarding whether or not one should plot. I have largely been on the sidelines of the debate, as to me, this is another “is the glass half-empty or half-full?” argument. (Neither, your glass is the wrong size for your content.) There are two schools in this…

Writing in Darkness

Each book I write, I make it a point to write differently than the previous books. My first two books were outlined together, and written as a unit. The third was rigidly plotted, outlined, and written to my detailed notes. Book four, I developed the main characters, did eight hours’ worth of world building (a…

Getting in at the Ground Floor

In the two years and three months since I started writing fiction in earnest, I’ve met hundreds of new and established writers. Each one has a unique way of writing, I’ve discovered. However, to those just considering starting on a journey to write a book, the prospect can be daunting. With that in mind, I’ve…

Building the Story

I am a believer in planning one’s novel. That isn’t to say that a more improvisational style is less effective. It is simply what works for me. I follow tangible steps in building a storyline: Determine the main “Suppose“ – That is, decide on the one-sentence that outlines what your story will be about. For…