Beautiful People: Writerly Resolutions and Goals


January is the month for making resolutions and setting goals and, for me, I find it quite helpful to set at least a few loose goals for my writing for the upcoming year, which makes this month’s Beautiful People subject perfect for me. Beautiful People is a writerly link-up hosted monthly by the amazing duo of Cait@Paper Fury and Sky@Further Up and Further In, and this month, it’s all about our resolutions and goals for our writing over the coming year.

What were your writing achievements last year?

Last year I:

  1. I reached draft 7 in Song Of The Crystal Tree. It’s taken me over three years to get to this point with it, but I feel like I must be getting close to the end at last.
  2. I wrote the 2nd draft of Snow. For a 2nd draft, I was pretty happy with the way everything turned out. The plot’s pretty solid and while the rest of the writing is a mess still, I have a solid base at least.
  3.  And finally, I wrote two good drafts in NaNoWriMo Blood Debt, and my unnamed mystery/thrilling, and ended up with a total of 175k words for the month.

Tell us about your top priority writing project for this year?

I have two major writing projects. The first is, of course, Song Of The Crystal Tree, my YA fantasy which is about young magician with a kidnapped sister, an exiled prince, stolen power, magic and song, and a plot to usurp the throne. My plan this year is to get this book to the point where I can send it out to beta readers. It’s going to take at least one more draft to reach this point, possibly two, judging by previous progress.

My other major project is Snow, my YA superhero/Snow White retelling, which is about mutants, politics, hard decisions, and lots of ice and snow. In an ideal world, I’d like to get this book ready for betas as well, but knowing how I edit, I’ll be happy to settle for the much safer goal of getting two drafts of this book done.

List 5 areas you’d like to work the hardest to improve this year.

Showing Emotions: I often find translating emotions onto the page very difficult. My characters generally end up telling their emotions rather than really feeling them, which is honestly making them seem quite dull and flat, and is a problem that’s been bugging me for a while.

Creating Strong Character Voices: I’m editing Snow at the moment, which is told in dual POV, and one of the big problems it has, is that the two narrating characters sound almost identical, which, considering the rest of my planned series also has dual POVs, could be quite a problem in the future.

Writing Humour: While I enjoy humour in books, I find it a lot more difficult to write it into my own stories, which is a pity, because in my head my characters are quite witty and funny and much cooler people than I am. They just don’t come out that way on the page.

Worrying About Equal Chapters: For some reason, I feel the need to make sure all my chapters are the same length, and will even add extraneous fluff if they aren’t going to reach a standardised word count. I want to work on letting go of this and focus on making the chapters interesting rather than the same length.

Sticking To My Schedule: I have very good plans and intentions, but quite often my writing schedule slips a bit, I make some excuses as to why things aren’t progressing as fast as they should, or ignore the fact I’m getting behind, and drift. Creating and sticking to a writing schedule is one of my big goals this year.

Are you participating in any writing challenges?

I’m planning on participating in both of the Camp NaNoWriMos as well as the normal NaNoWriMo in November. That’s probably enough challenges for me at this point, considering I also want to get several tons of editing done during the rest of the year. 

What’s your critique partner/beta reader situation like and do you have plans to expand this year?

Currently, I don’t actually have any beta readers or critique partners, as I’ve never manage to quite reach that stage with my books. However, this is something I’m planning on changing this year, so hopefully, when the time comes, I’ll be able to find a few people interested enough in my books to beta read for me.

Do you have plans to read any writer-related books this year? Or are there specific books you want to read for research

I do indeed plan to read writing related books. The books I would like to read include:
  • Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott. I’ve started this one, but haven’t finished it yet. I will though!
  • Revision and Self-Editing for Publication by James Scott Bell. Rereading this one should be a big help with my editing goals this year.
  • On Writing by Stephen King. I’ve never read this one, but I’ve always wanted to. I’ve heard good things about it.
  • Outlining Your Novel by K. M. Weiland. I can always do with a refresher on outlining strategies, and this book helps me find the perfect mix between plotter and pantser.

Pick one character you want to get to know better, and how are you going to achieve this?

That would probably be Nicola from Snow. She’s the second narrating character, and while I have a basic idea of her personality, I get the feeling that there’s a much deeper person behind the exterior that I haven’t managed to find yet. One way I want to get to know her better is to character journal, which I hope will help me find her voice and give me an insight into her life and the way she thinks. I also plan to work on her responses to a basic questionnaire, which will give me an idea of how she reacts to things and the way she thinks. I’m going to put together my own one though, as most of the questions asked in questionnaires aren’t really useful to me at this point.

Do you plan to edit or query, and what’s your plan of attack?

At this point it’s looking like I’m going to be doing mostly editing over the course of this year. I’m working out a schedule for writing and editing that will give me time to edit my two major projects, while also giving me a chance to increase my ever growing stack of first drafts (because having a manageable amount of projects to work on is no fun at all). Alas, I’m not yet at the stage where I can think about querying yet.

Toni Morrison once said, “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”  What are the books that you want to see more of, and what “holes” do you think need filling in the literary world?

I write the books that I like to read already: Fantasy, sci-fi, retellings, and mysteries. I think that’s why I like writing first drafts so much, because discovering the story is almost like reading the exact book I’ve been hoping to find. As to filling holes in the literary world, I think that writers are already starting to fill them. I’ve seen a lot more books about people from different races and countries, and characters with mental health issues or physical disabilities in recently months than I have before. Writers are definitely already taking up the challenge of writing what they want to see and filling the holes.

What do you hope to have achieved by the end of 2016?

Ooh, goals. I mentioned some of my writerly goals in a post last week (which you can read HERE), but since then I’ve made a few more goals for myself. By the end of 2016 I would like to:
  • Complete two drafts of Song Of The Crystal Tree
  • Find some betas willing to read my books
  • Send Song of the Crystal Tree to betas
  • Not cry over feedback from said betas
  • Complete two drafts of Snow
  • Write book four of my superhero/fairy tale retelling series
  • Rewrite my book about dragons, elf thieves, and stolen relics
Are you participating in Beautiful People this month? Like me to your post! And tell me, what is one of your writerly goals for this year?

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  1. Ooh, those four writing help books look great and I should probably try them out sometime too. *glances at fiction TBR warily* Not crying over feedback is pretty easy, in my experience. It's just not crying over the revisions said feedback demand. But then that is solved quite easily with chocolate.

    1. Haha, the fiction TBR doesn't like to be left alone for too long, does it? Especially when they might be losing out to NON-fiction. Chocolate fixes everything in my opinion. I'll be keeping plenty of that on hand when I get to the beta feedback stage. Something tells me I'll need it!

  2. I WILL READ YOUR BOOK!!! =] LOL. Song of the Crystal Tree sounds amazing. Congratulations on writing all these drafts. I am heartily envious, but it's motivating me to work harderrrr! Equal chapters is one of my worries as well - I need to do a lot of juggling, it seems.

    On Writing is amaaaazing. I need to read that one again. Structuring Your Novel by K.M. Weiland is the book that got my sister from being stuck halfway through her novel for years to being finished, drafted again, and ready for editing. She ravesss about it and bought Outlining Your Novel straight away. So that one's on my list too. It's weird because I've read a lot of books on writing, but now all of them are before the ebook boom and quickly becoming outdated. I'm gonna read Weiland asap because I need to get with the times. O_O

    Lots of luck with all of drafts, I hope 2016 is a great writing year for you.

    1. Argh, those pesky equal, chapters, right? Like, you know in theory that it's fine to have chapters of unequal lengths and that other writers do it all the time, but when it comes to your own book, suddenly the amount of words in a chapter becomes supremely important. It's so weird.

      Aw, thank you! Song Of The Crystal Tree is one of my favourite projects, but I'm never sure if people are actually interested in it. You made my morning, thank you Ashana.

      Outlining Your Novel is awesome! It's the book that got me from being a chronic pantser to a halfway decent plantser (I'm never going to be a plotter it seems). I haven't read Structuring Your Novel yet, but I think I shall have to add that one onto my list now.

      Thank you. Good luck with all your goals and writing this year too.

  3. Ahhh so many rewrites and edits!! YAYYY. Me too. XD And I say "yay" but I really mean "wail" because editing/rewriting is hard. XD But necessary. Ahem. Also congrats on the 175K in a month. I...I'm just going to be standing here with my mouth open, gaping at your amazingness. YOU ARE THE BOSS.
    Thanks for joining in the linkup. ;D

    1. Exactly right Cait. We can wail together. It's so hard making things logical and pretty. One would much rather eat cake, read books and write more first drafts and ignore the glowering tower of unedited books plotting your death.

      Haha, says the person who wrote over 50k words in LESS THAN 5 DAYS. I'd say you are the boss and I'm still wondering how you have any hands left. I bow to your prowess.

  4. Emotions are so hard to convey, aren't they? But wow, congratulations on getting everything done that you did last year! *applauds you* And your goals for this year look really great and exciting and I hope you reach them and then surpass them (but like, no pressure or anything :P). It's funny because I was reminded, after I wrote my own post and only mentioned that I planned to read Letters & Life, that my sister owns On Writing and Bird by Bird, so I really want to read those as well and will probably get around to those this year.

    Having distinct characters with distinct voices is so difficult, and it's so easy to lose concentration for a moment and let them bleed together on the page. That's something I focus on especially when I'm doing my overhaul, because all my characters initially sound and think the same, and even after editing them, I'm not generally confident that I've done a good job.

    And humor is so hard! Like, when I'm writing, I feel like I literally forget how to be funny, and when someone laughs at something in one of my novels, I'm really surprised and I have to know what part they laughed at because I know that I didn't put any intentional funny parts in there. It's so confusing, and I feel like the more I try to work in humor, the cheesier and lamer it gets. But I am confident you shall prevail! :)

    1. On Writing and Bird By Bird seem to be two of the favourite books recommended by writers, especially On Writing. Bird By Bird has been interesting so far, and I would definitely recommend it.

      Ugh, I knooooow. It's so hard to tell if you've nail a character's voice and emotions. I think the only way to know if you've done a halfway decent job sometimes is to hear what other people think about it. And that is scary.

      YESSSSS. It's like, 'I'm funny. I know how to be fun. I can do humour.' And then you get to the page and you're all like 'waht be jokes?' I have a great desire to write witty sarcastic characters, but I forget sarcasm and wit when it gets to the page. Kind of like how I never have a witty comeback in real life *sigh*. Writing is hard sometimes.

  5. Showing emotion is so hard! I'm struggling through it too.

    1. Have you ever seen 'The Emotion Thesaurus' by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi? It lists the physical manifestations of a load of emotions to make it easier for writers to show emotions. I've been finding it so helpful.

  6. These are some great goals! :D I really hope you get to the beta stage. It can be tough getting critique, but having people to fangirl with is awesome! ^ ^

    1. I think half my worry when thinking about beta readers is that they won't love my book. But at the same time, I think having people to support you with your books and writing would be awesome. I'm hopeful and nervous in equal portions at this point I think. Thank you for stopping by Victoria.

  7. I just noticed that you also did Beautiful People, so I had to read this, too!

    From the looks of it, you had a busy yet amazing year writing-wise. Congratulations on everything you accomplished! I hope you can get both stories (especially Song of the Crystal Tree, since that sounds like it's further along in the process) to the point where you're happy with them and ready to share them with beta-readers.

    I agree that it's not really necessary to worry about whether chapters are all the same length. What's more important is that they're the right length for what needs to be covered, and that they each end at an appropriate moment. I'm still having with my WIP), then you might want to consider editing them to make them shorter. But for the most part, I wouldn't be too concerned.

    Here's my BP post for January, if you're interested:

    1. I would love to get both books to beta stage, and at the moment, I'm actually feeling highly optimistic about 'Snow'. Though that's all sure to change when I come back to read it later of course!

      I definitely agree with you on that. My chapters actually tend to run a lot shorter than I think they should in reality, but I'm hoping edits will change that, plus me working on my own mentality about them as well.

      Thanks so much for hopping back to this older post. It was so nice to receive your comment!


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