Charlotte Harris

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I’ve loved writing since I was a child, when I used to write stories I wanted to read but couldn’t find in the library. I still primarily write for my own enjoyment, but since giving up teaching to raise my kids (leaving me with actual free time in evenings again), I am finally taking the jump to try to make writing more than a hobby. I’ve written a sprawling epic fantasy book that needs taming and shredding, so I’m looking forward to using this year to bring the beast under control. I’m a huge SFF  fan, both writing within the genres and reading as well. I’m looking forward to getting to know other writers, as I’m sure you’ll all agree, writing can become quite isolating!

Charlotte Harris Discussions
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Hello there,This is my first forum post. I'm on the Novel Writing Course, but I am beginning to vent…
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  •  · Hi Charlotte,I think it depends how much crossover there is in terms of events (which it sounds like…
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Hello there,

This is my first forum post. I'm on the Novel Writing Course, but I am beginning to venture into the rest of the community. I'm after some advice/opinions from people who enjoy reading series. Now, before I begin, I know I'm getting ahead of myself in thinking about Book 2 before Book 1 is done and dusted, but it does impact how I write this book, what events need to be taking place in the background, which is why I am thinking about this now.

So, what I'm wondering: How do you feel about two books in the series addressing the same time period but from different POVs? I ask because I used to have three POVs in my book (the first in an epic fantasy series), but it was far too long, so I cut it back to just one POV. The problem I have is that I really liked how all the events tied in together across the three POVs, and though I have plans to fit the events from the other two POVs into the next book in the series, if I have to move their events in time, it just doesn't all work as seamlessly as it once did. I had mulled over the idea of making Book 2 take place at the same time as Book 1, with the main protagonist being one who was cut from this book, but I'm nervous about taking this approach. I disliked it myself when GRRM did this with his ASOIAF series, though to be fair, he did spent an entire book on mostly secondary characters whose storylines which I found less than interesting. I also remember, when I was a teen reading His Dark Materials for the first time, how disorienting it was to go from Lyra's story in book 1 to suddenly opening with Will in book 2. With the way I'd have to make it work, my central protagonist from Book 1 might not be in Book 2 much, so my hypothetical readers would have to get used to a new central protagonist, though my antagonist from Book 1 would become this new character's antagonist as well. I know I'm getting way ahead of myself thinking about the next book already, but it does effect events in this book, so if I'm going to go this route, I will need to write things into the background of this one that then come to the fore of the next one.

Has anyone got experience of other book series that do this? Bad idea? Depends? What do you reckon?

They sound like my kind of people :)

My characters spend a lot of time running for their lives or finding themselves in one problem after another. I've been told by one of my beta readers that it's exhausting. I am trying to work in ways to have more reflective, inner-conflict moments and times where they get to breathe between trials.

My antagonist is a functioning alcoholic, and I use his drinking as a means of showing his emotional state, as he's a reserved, quiet guy who doesn't ever reveal much about his emotional state. He's never without a tumbler or hip flask, and the pace at which he knocks it back is a cue to show when he's struggling to cling to control of himself. I think habits are important for characters, to make them feel real and jump off the page. I love it when I see quirks or habits in characters. Perhaps coffee and alcohol can be your characters' quirks?

I like to use action beats for clarity and impact. And I also like to occasionally put in my character's perspective/thoughts, but I use this effect less. I also rarely comment on the type of voice they use.

Dubious examples: (I wouldn't normally write them back to back, but just for illustration's sake, I have here)

'They're afraid of me. I don’t blame them.’ Thais laughed—a pitiful, wretched thing. 'I'm a freak. A joke.'

It was a long moment before Gallus met her eye. 'You're being ridiculous.' Hard and unyielding, just like his gaze.

Thais' lip trembled as she slumped back in her chair. She had been a fool to think he might— 'You don't understand.'

That sort of thing, anyway. It gets cluttered and slows the pace if I use them too often, but sparingly, they can break up long dialogue and make it more emotive/meaningful without having to resolve to speech tags. Also useful in dialogue with more than two characters. 

Not at all, Tami. I don’t think there’s any set goal for our manuscripts in terms of word count or hours spent per week.

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Hi All- Im missing out on the part where we aim for 5000 words- is that w/a specific mentor or a UNWC group goal? Tami 

Ha! That must lead to some pretty hectic/angsty scenes. Trying to imagine writing to heavy metal, and I can't picture it :)  I think it's the polar opposite of my atmospheric ambient bands.

Ha! I'm sure mine aren't either. I find I need at least four or five revisions to get to a stage where I'm happy with a chapter.

I didn't actually write 7000 words form scratch. I borrowed several from my last draft, but melding them into the new work was actually harder than writing from scratch. I'm a night owl and will stay up most days when I'm in the creative zone writing solidly from about 9pm to 2am. When writing the first draft, at my most prolific, I could write 10K words in a day as an absolute maximum (if I got several hours in the day to top up my nights), but usually anywhere between 1-7K per day. Overwriting is my kryptonite. And my first draft, with three primary protagonists and their storylines was 450K—obviously unworkable.

I love the first draft stage. I am finding rewriting much, much more challenging, particularly trying to keep style/voice consistent between new and old material.

5000 words is a great achievement for week 1! Well done. 

I've been rewriting my first and second chapters over the last week—probably reusing about a third to a half of my old material. All together both chapters weigh in at just over 7000 words. I am finding it harder to rewrite than to write from scratch if I'm honest, as I'm having to go over everything I'm cutting to find the crucial world-building and exposition that needs to be replaced. It's cathartic in a way, but exhausting as well.

Opera! That must lead to some emotive scenes, I imagine. I get distracted by lyrics/singing too, so I only usually listen to instrumental/orchestral music when writing. I also listen on repeat if the track has the right mood for what I'm writing. I also find it helps when editing/rewriting to either put on the same track to get back into the same headspace I had when I wrote the original, or to try a completely different track to see if that makes a difference.

I had this thought too, but then I thought that seeing as we only share 500 words per week (usually), we wouldn't be sharing our whole manuscripts from start to finish with our groups (unless people offer to beta for one another). I also imagine that the homework each week will lead to parts of manuscripts being shared out of order. I don't think we're going to get a normal reading experience of one another's WIPs, and knowing one another's structures will help us give and receive advice about key things that we wouldn't normally get advice on during the writing stage—i.e. looking at the whole thing in brief, there might be something glaring that isn't working that we can't see for ourselves, but others in the group or mentors can. It will be really useful to discuss our WIPs with knowledge of what's to come so things like set-up, foreshadowing etc. can be discussed in the weekly homework sessions. 

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