The Violet Project Diaries – Entry 3 – Kill Your Darlings (or torture them)
The chaos is what we want to show our characters responding to. We must also be brave enough to show that they may never learn how to flow with the chaos of life or releasing expectations for things they can’t control or simply taking responsibility for what is within their control. If our darling aren’t working for the story, we kill them; if they need more development, we torture them.
I think this is a common thing to happen to most writers. You get to that weird middle ground of your novel and wonder if any of it is even worth it. For me, I was worried about my poor habit of overthinking. In my Violet Project Diaries on Vocal, I mentioned that I had to delete some characters and parts of my novel because it was “too meta”. Although I do want my work to be thought provoking, I don’t want to seem like I’m trying to hard or that I bit off more than I can chew. I’m trying to stay humble during this process, but I took a step past humility and wandered into hopelessness. It was tempting to just let it all go and figure out what I “really” wanted in life, but… I mean come on, I’ve spent over 2 years on this thing. Even though I have been thinking critically about the audience’s reception to my work, I’m not going to just drop it because I can’t figure out EXACTLY how audiences want their story told.
The last diary entry got to me. I was going in circles about the concept of karma and trying to figure out why we connect to that concept in storytelling. I was unsure if I was writing my story “correctly” regarding the karmic justice thing, but I already know I won’t know if it’s working or not unless I finish it to the best of my ability and then get it out there.
Writing the second draft has been one hell of a ride, but I’m not giving up. Please check out my Violet Project Diaries on Vocal where I discuss my workflow and the writing resources I stumble across. I’m trying to post as much as possible throughout the week.
I had some mental health issues and a cold to deal with last week, so I disappeared. I’m a lot better now and am ready to get back on track. Being in bed gave me time to think about how to publish my upcoming short story. Self-publishing looks like the way to go considering it’s too long to submit to most magazines and too short for any publishing house to consider. I’ll let you know what platforms the story will be published on, Kindle Direct Publishing being a definite one.
It was aggravating having a cold while wanting to write and edit the story so badly. It means so much to me. I took the Kafkaesque approach in a more personal direction where I reflected more on Kafka’s life and my own life rather than focusing on the Kafkaesque genre as it’s known (but it still has the basic elements). That’s why I’ve been so enthusiastic about having it be my first published story. It will open the door to another new project where more music will finally be released.
There’s been a lot of chaos in the world, some of it warrants panic and some of it doesn’t. Art and the forced solitude without art kept me grounded in a strange way. I hope the rest of you stay grounded too. What I love about Kafka the most is his ability to make some sense of the bizarre, even though he’d often conclude to a state of powerlessness, the surrender to that revelation ironically empowered him as a writer. When chaotic or bizarre situations consume us and our environments, we often want to anchor ourselves in a place of control so we can stand our ground and brace the storm, but some of us get carried away by the momentum of the situation and we interpret that as a failure way too often. Change happens. Chaos is constant. Sometimes you have to go with the flow to relearn how to stand your ground. Change is just experience, not a complete loss of power, but of course, there’s still loss.
As someone who struggles with mental health almost constantly, I promise you I’m not trying to make this sound easy.
Be well and wash your hands. My heart goes out to all who are dealing with changes beyond their control.
On Instagram, I said I was working on a Kafkaesque short story and it’s going well. I’m enjoying it while editing the second draft…but I’ll admit that, yes, my focus was Kafka and his influence is clear, and yet subconsciously there’s some Poe influence, maybe Shelley. Ultimately, it’s me. Truly.
The goal is to publish in March. More updates soon.
It’s strange that there are so many people out there who offer tips and tutorials about writing, myself included, and often forget that writing is an art and art is the language of the soul. Since no soul is perfect, there is a perseveration in the writing community over great writing techniques and all we wish to do is take that to heart and sharpen our craft, but I want to propose, or rather remind those who may have forgotten, that we never ignore our imperfections and remember that they are the guiding force to our artistic spirit. A writer’s vulnerability builds a successful career with ease.
Rage writing is when something angers you so much, you grab the writing method closest to you and start creating a story based on the event that you’re pissed at.
It’s good fun, yes, but I find it most fulfilling when I reread what I’ve created and reflected upon the theme later. The reflection makes the ending and details in between very clear and solidifies the theme.
Rage writing is also a great way to make sure you write more frequently, have a healthy outlet for your emotion, and process that anger. I’m not saying you’ll turn out being a better person than you were before or that you should try to write a happy ending to your rage-written story; but I am saying, at least for myself, that this is a satisfactory method of expression and it’s going to feel damn good to publish it in time.
So after some work and some rest, I’ve been able to progress in character development and the lore of my world. I’m stuck on vampires again, but temporarily. One of my characters is my vampire and an exorcist. I’m basing her spirit work skills on exorcism techniques they used in ancient Japan.
For the record, working on a novel isn’t doing the same thing every day, at least for me. To keep the mind active and the inspiration flowing, I think it’s okay to take different approaches to your work. It’s a great confidence booster too when you create a different way of developing your story and it leads to progress, but even when you don’t make the breakthrough you hoped for, taking in that experience is a progress in itself.
My struggles with anxiety have surprisingly inspired me to fight for a confident attitude towards my work and myself. Shadow work during this time (shadow work is a self-reflection process many pagans/witches do through divination or other means, in case you don’t know) has helped so much. I did start a daily Instagram posting of one of my shadow work methods, but now I’m behind because of some mental health issues on my end. I’m still trucking on though and wanted to say that things are still moving forward.
To end, a little advice from a teabag tassel I got yesterday: The purpose of life is to know yourself, love yourself, trust yourself, and be yourself.
Today I spent a part of the day keeping clarity with the exposition in mind. The importance of clarity really slapped me across the face today while editing. I do like it when the beginning of the story gives a good punch, but audiences get sour about the punch if they don’t have enough information as to why they were hit so hard (by the way, I don’t know why I’m using violence as a metaphor…maybe I just like it when stories make me feel something).
It reminds me of a time I tried to show a friend of mine an anime series that I thought was cool and she couldn’t get into it even with all of its action and mysterious characters because she said there was no one to care about. I was bitter at first thinking she just couldn’t keep track, but after discussing with it further, her points were based around the pacing of the first episode. Granted, with anime it’s a little different (we otaku have the rule of at least giving a show 2-3 episodes before you completely drop it), but if the pilot of a weekly anime series is airing, the writers and producers should be considerate of what will catch their audiences and keep them itching for more. That’s an important attribute of the exposition; there should be a character, an event, or some detail that makes you wonder about the bigger picture and persuade you to stay for the whole story.
Every character should have purpose. I had to redesign a character today, who started off one way, but I had to make her the opposite of what she initially was to improve her presence in the story.
I hate side characters without purpose. I’ve seen main characters without purpose and they make me livid, but side characters are just as bad because you don’t want the atmosphere your main character is in to be bland or not memorable. A side character without purpose and depth to their design is a nuisance. Even if the character is the comedic relief or specifically needed as a plot device for a single moment, the character should have purpose.
Okay, I sound like a broken record, don’t I? A character with purpose is a character designed with significant attachments to the setting, themes, and plot of the story. This doesn’t mean the character has to “belong” in the world you put them in; it means that their attributes affect what is happening in your world or story for a goddamn reason. Like, imagine reading a romantic story where the protagonist and their love interest are destined to be, but a character who is literally a nobody, doesn’t even have a name, starts spewing out the protagonist’s darkest secrets for no reason just so the love interest negatively reacts and every time the protagonist somehow gets their love interest to accept them again, the nobody just appears again to spew their shit and vanish into the darkness until they’re needed again. And when you get to THE END of this romantic story, even though it ends with “happily ever after”, the nobody is never explained! No! I hate that! I’ve even read fanfictions like that! I’ll never accept this unless the story is avant garde af (but even avant garde has more purpose than an underdeveloped character and that’s saying something)!
I don’t know why I’m heated about this…it’s because I’m thinking about characters without purpose in other stories…maybe. I don’t know. I am sure as hell determined to give my character’s purpose though. If I ever create a pointless character, it will be done to prove my point in the most spiteful way possible.
Yep. It’s time to start tracking my writing progress again. So far, I’m really happy with it. The editing system I’ve created has helped me so much with rewriting. I’m able to keep track of my changes and the plot. For now, I’m living in a perfect world for a writer like me.
So another part of the system that I have is every 50 pages I edit, I stop and rewrite those 50 pages. Once I reach 100 pages edited and rewritten, I’ll start sharing that sample with beta readers to see what they think.
For the second draft, I’m taking greater consideration of how my audience will think, especially their imagination. One thing I stress out about a lot is the description of the setting. For fantasy and scifi, you do want the setting to be vivid, which is what I’m going for, but I also need to trust my audience’s imagination and the best way to encourage that is with sensory details. Not just what is seen, but what is heard, smelled, tasted, felt, etc. The setting of this story has such a hybrid culture with nature and technology and I desperately want my audience to experience it (hopefully with enamor). Rather than stressing, I have to think of this as improving diction. What stands out? What blends in? What improves the immersion? That kind of stuff.
Additionally, I think exposition is the least stressful part of any story. My flow is strongest at the beginning. It’s the ending…endings are hard. You can read my post about that here. I am determined not to “Game of Thrones” (tv show reference, not novel series reference) anyone. I promise you that. Let the flames fall where they may.