Sep 29, 2016

My writing planner

I've never been a very organized writer. I have hundreds of text documents on my computer of ideas, outlines, half written scenes, world building, and drafts. Then I have several notebooks, all for different things. It was getting to the point where I was losing track of what was where, so I decided that I needed to get organized. I'm a very visual person, so the best way to do this was with paper. This post is about my writing planner, which is my main way of keeping track of my writing and life. I have another binder that's larger and more comprehensive, but I haven't had a chance yet to transfer most of that information over from my jumble of computer docs.

I know this is a long post, but I’m hoping this is helpful- please stick around to look at the pictures! I got some of the ideas from my planner-loving friends on Facebook, some ideas from a writing planner one of my tumblr friends uses, and some things are just things that I realized I needed.


For this planner I'm using an A5 size Color Crush planner/binder, so it's a little smaller than a regular size binder. This makes it a little easier to carry around, although with all this stuff in it, it's pretty heavy.  This is the cover. This was actually an accident- I ordered grey and got teal, but that’s okay because teal is a color I associate with my main character. I used glue dots to attach charms. My main character is a cartographer, so a bunch of these are compasses. The others represent my other 4 main characters: a sun for Sol, a moon for Etri, a sword for Blythe, and fire for Firedrake. Attached to the planner’s strap is a lizard charm. That one is also for Firedrake. ;)



Inside I’m keeping with the teal/blue/purple theme and have a cute fox dashboard I got from shopwithpinkpeony on Etsy. (I’ve always loved foxes!) I also have some page dividers, paperclips, and stickers tucked into the front pockets along with a NaNo sticker. I added the peace sign ribbon because it matched the colors. I didn’t get a picture of my dividers other than just sticking out between the pages, but they’re matching colors, too! The dividers and the bookmarks that are currently sitting in the front flap came from ChelseyJeanneDesigns on Etsy (that's also where I got the pencil case later in this post).



Okay, onto the important stuff. The sections! The first section is my writing lists, which I took out of the binder for this picture because otherwise you'd just be seeing the blank back of one. Here I have a list of project ideas that I would like to work on with smiley stickers showing the ones I've finished. I have a weekly to do list (that’s the green page) and a monthly to do list (white page). The monthly one involves crafting and flow arts as well as writing. (Since my characters are carnival performers, my flow arts love is relevant!) The white "to do" pages came from ChelseyJeanneDesigns on Etsy. The other "to do" type pages were pdfs I got from HeatherGreenwoodShop that I printed on rainbow paper from HappyCardFactory. As you can see, Etsy is a great source for this kind of thing!



The next section is my “remember” notes. These are to do lists specific to my stories. The orange page is characteristics and things I need to remember about my characters for the entire series. The green is specific things I have to fix or look up or remember for book 1 specifically. In hindsight, I should have taken the orange one out so you could see the front filled in.



Next up are my character sheets. Oh my gosh, these are so useful! The most important info about my characters is right at my fingertips: appearance, mannerisms/habits, personality, background, magic, occupation, and secrets.





The same goes for the next section: culture sheets. I have more detailed ones elsewhere, but it’ll be cool to have these handy, too! I made these and the character ones up in LibreOffice since I couldn’t find any pdfs like what I was looking for on Etsy, then I printed them out A5 size to fit in my planner. The fill in the blanks for my culture sheets are things like location, physical description of culture/group, fashion, history, hierarchy, customs, taboos, beliefs, economy, occupations, fun, and magic. I still haven't gotten around to filling these in yet, but I know they'll be as helpful as the character ones!



Next section: Outlines. This is where I have my signature sticky note outline for the book/s I’m currently working on. I love using sticky notes for this because I can easily remove them or move them around when my story changes a little! I laminated these pages so that they’re a little stronger for the sticky notes. Each sticky note is a chapter. This is somewhere around the middle of book 1.



Next section: my calendar. I’m using a custom calendar for my culture (I blogged a bit about that here- basically the calendar is one I made using this site) that involves 6 days in a week and 9 months in a year, so I couldn’t just use a real calendar. It’s mostly empty now except for character birthdays and notes telling me what dates correspond with real word dates so I can get an idea of season (the year is weird, but there are still 365 days). Eventually I’ll be putting the events that happen in the books onto this calendar so I can keep track of my timeline.



Next section: inspiring quotes! Most are just in printed list form that I copied and printed from LibreOffice, but this one is pretty so I took a picture of it instead, lol. These were pretty font quotes that had fed through my tumblr dash at one point or another.



Here's an important section for NaNo and just general tracking: word counts! The first picture is for NaNo this year, the second picture is the sheet I'm going to be filling in for non-NaNo months. Since it's fall/winter, I decided to use a lot of leaf stickers. Also pandas. At least the cat has a scarf?






Then I have a section for “good things” that I don’t update nearly often enough. I can find myself getting so bogged down in negative things, so I’m trying to use these pages to mark down the good or positive things that I did/saw that day. I’m trying to color code them by week, but I don't always remember to do this every week lol. Oh, the divider here is weird looking because I didn't like the original colors on it (it came with my planner) so I tried painting it. It sorta worked.



After this is the traditional planner part of my planner. I have my regular calendar for keeping track of appointments and stuff, as well as my weekly schedule and things I have to do. Sometimes these are writing-related, most of the time it’s just stuff. After each day I put down a cute sticker because stickers make me feel productive. I also use a different color pen each week. This planner part is really the only thing I kept that came with the planner/binder; the rest of the inserts just weren't my style, which is why I bought pretty much everything from Etsy.



And last up are my planner supplies. I have some tapes, white out, and pens in a cute pencil case. Behind this are my small sticky notes. I also have a tiny kitty charm in the back cover because I love cats and because my characters have a pet cat.



And that’s all for now. I know this was a super long, but I hope it gave some ideas! It’s nice having this all in one place even though I haven’t had time yet to fill everything in. It's already been super useful! :)

~Meri

Sep 15, 2016

Casting my next set of characters!






Casting my next set of characters! Okay, so I’m writing an lgbt+ comedic fantasy series and I’ve been working on the first trilogy for the past few years. I’m nowhere near done that, but I’ve been jotting down ideas for the next trilogy in the series. Since I’m taking a bit of time off from my novel writing to write short stories (hopefully!), I had an idea for a short one about two of my future characters. But I realized I had no idea what those characters look like!

So yesterday I started going through Pinterest and adding casting pictures to my writing inspiration board. I'm pretty happy what I've come up with, although these might change once I start writing those books. This is sort of the next generation since two of them are kids of my current batch of characters.

These characters actually exist in three places in the timeline. It's complicated, but the idea has intrigued me so much! Gilly, Chantrell, and Ametrine are in the present (a few years after the first trilogy takes place). Astra and Char are about 15 years in the future from that. Grandeau and his ghost friend are caught on the plane of shadow that exists outside of time, but Grandeau originally started in the present.

The pictures above are:
1.) Gilly: she fills the "main character" slot that Adair holds in the first trilogy and is part of a trio, as well. She can’t speak, so she communicates via sign language and a small chalkboard. She’s a carnival performer as her profession, working mostly with sleight-of-hand tricks. Her more secret occupation is that she's one of the thieves that return stolen art. Her magic is that of a medium who can control/communicate with ghosts.

2.) Chantrell: the Artisan of the trio who becomes a musician with the carnival troupe. Chell's magic involves sound. Gilly rescues her in their first book and brings her back to the troupe. They fall in love and it's freaking adorable.

3.) Ametrine: Gilly's long-time roommate and best friend. Exasperated roommate because Gilly keeps bringing home haunted objects and leaving them in their apartment. Ametrine is gender fluid and aro/ace, ending up in a queerplatonic relationship with Gilly and Chell later. Ametrine's a dancer with the troupe, specializing in hula hoops. (I needed a hooper in my series somewhere!) Ametrine is my only completely mundane character so far and has no magic whatsoever.

4.) Grandeau: Gilly's brother, although neither of them know this. Grandeau was raised by their mother, Gilly was with their father but adopted after he died. (Their parents separated to keep the kids safe... it sorta worked.) He makes decisions based on arbitrary answers- I'm thinking he uses playing or tarot cards. This bad decision is what got him stuck on the plane of shadow in the first place. He's a goofball- basically the kind of person who would make decisions based on the equivalent of a coin toss, lol.

5.) ? is Grandeau's best friend, if just for the fact that he's a ghost on the shadow plane where Grandeau is stuck. He has no memory of who he was before he died and can't remember his name. Gradually I think he starts to piece this together.

6.) Astra: the daughter of Adair, Blythe, and Etri. She's a member of a different carnival troupe (haven’t come up with an act for her yet) and her part of the story exists in the future. Her magic is... weird. She has Etri's shadow magic, but she also managed to end up with light magic, too. (Because Etri's twin has light magic, it runs in the family.) Part of her plot is deciding between the two types and using it to help free Grandeau.

7.) Char: daughter of Firedrake and Sol, she’s Astra's cousin and closest friend. She's a fire performer with the troupe since she inherited the fire/light magic from both of her parents. She's also part Salamander (my shapeshifting lizard people), but I don't know if she's enough of one to be able to shift. It's possible she can only change her appearance slightly.

I really need to finish the current trilogy so I can move onto the next one! These characters and their stories intrigue me so much! (You can find my post where I cast the characters of my first trilogy here.)

~Meri