023. A To Do List, In Paragraph Form.

The end of the semester is fast approaching. Typically, for me, this would mean that in a week in a half, I’d get to go home, relax, watch re-runs of Criminal Minds and CSI, devour many gyros from my favourite local restaurant, and spend time with all my New Jersey friends who, throughout the year, I’ve barely seen. But this is not a typical summer.

Technically, I believe my last real day of finals is May 3rd (give or take). And then four days later, I’m heading on vacation to the North Shore of Massachusetts for a week with some friends and my parents; then I walk in a commencement ceremony on the 16th. And on the 17th, for six days, I go home. Just for six days. And then it’s back to classes and an internship.

It’s a new internship: with a literary agent (Ann Collette of the Helen Rees Literary Agency), and I’ll be reading query letters and manuscripts, mostly of commercial fiction. It sounds like fun, and I’m quite excited about it. My classes are likewise going to be interesting. But this is it: at the end of this summer, I will no longer be a college student. I will be what I’ve deemed a Real Person, which means I need a Real Job and a Real Life Plan. All of these things are, unsurprisingly, terrifying.

Before then, though, I need to finish my thesis. “Finish” is not really the proper term, because when I turn it in it will hardly be complete; I won’t have written the whole thing (only approximately 50-60 double spaced pages of it), nor will it be ready for publication. But it will have a title page, a table of contents, an epigraph, the first three (or four) chapters, and a prospective outline of the rest of the book.

Right now, I have several things to do before I can turn it in: I need to come up with a proper dedication, and think hard about it. I need to fix any glaring errors in the text. I need to finish writing chapter three and perhaps chapter four. And even though I don’t need to, I’d like to have some preliminary cover art. I am, unfortunately, not particularly artistic and I don’t have any photoshop-esque programs.

Any suggestions on where to find some? Or ideas of what it should be? Or how to make some?


021. In Which I Am The Unpaid Spokesperson for Scrivener.

It’s hard to organize my writing. I have my manuscript, which I like to have in one document, as well as split into separate documents for each chapter. Then I have my research — in this case, research on forensic psychology, on serial killers, on true crime cases, on forensic science. I have character profiles, notes on my crime scenes (including the evidence discovered and the victimology, among other things) — and if you put all of these things together, it adds up to having approximately two to six documents up at one time.

The other day, I found the solution to all of my writing issues. Its name is Scrivener, and it’s the most amazing program to ever grace this planet. I now can have all my information in one place, split the screen to reflect what I need, have floating windows that have reference material inside. It has a template for a novel manuscript; it allows me to even have a murder board, and multiple murder boards within the main one. It’s unfathomable.

Each time you make a new “page” within your project, you have an index card attached to it, which allows you to summarize that part of the manuscript. And that, of course, makes it super easy to outline. And don’t even get me started on the full screen mode.

Here are some screen shots of my particular work in Scrivener:

Corkboard view of my manuscript outline (so far), organised chapter by chapter. Lower half of the split screen is the text of chapter two.

The outline of my manuscript in the outline format. Very, very handy.

Character profiles: half of the screen as the corkboard view, the bottom half is Lilly's profile.

My main murder board is on top, mini board on the bottom (for the second victim).

008. Decisions, Decisions.

Writing-wise, things are looking up.

Novel is moving along smoothly, for now. Kate read the reworked first two chapters, and she agreed that first person is working out better. That’s one third of the opinions I want/need, but I’m not going to wait forever. If I don’t hear back definitively by Sunday, I’m moving forward and trusting my gut, which does officially say “LILLY FIRST PERSON POV” in large capital letters and a very loud, grumbly voice. Or maybe I’m just hungry.

I’m coming closer to a decision on The Catharsis; I’m 70% leaning towards not reapplying. Why? The following reasons:
1. I’m not happy with the prompts. At all. They’re uninspiring.
2. I don’t like various things about the structure of the magazine, and there’s no real way to change that.
3. I’m going to be working a LOT on my novel, and I don’t need the added distraction.
4. I’d rather keep writing for the weekly/monthly contests at Brigits Flame, which is a livejournal community that Jen and I participate in. I like competitions, the prompts are usually quite good, and I’ve gotten a relatively large fanbase there. I get feedback from multiple people (Jen included) and I write a lot more, and can also use this as an unofficial sounding board for my novel and other novel-length ideas.

Also, (un)fortunately — it really depends on how you look at this — the prompt for this week at the Flame in the regular contest (not the all-stars, which I’m also in) ended up inspiring a possible sequel for my first novel. I have the profile of the killer already. And a possible love interest for Marshall. I’m going to try and do something with it for this month’s contest, and then put it away and deal with it after the first novel’s been written.

In non-writing news: I hung out with Mirela today. Went to Smyrna. Hung out with Kate at Borders. Played Setback FOREVER. Watched Top Chef All-Stars. Tomorrow, I go shopping for internship clothings with Jen and Kate, and then see Black Swan with them! Yay! So excited. I’ll talk about how it is tomorrow. Which … actually is today. Fancy that.

007. Point of View Dilemmas.

I finished rewriting chapters one and two from Lilly’s first person POV. I’ve sent it off to Ali, Jen, and Kate for feedback. But my personal, gut feeling is that it’s working out better this way. I feel like the chronology, the dialogue, the personalities of the characters are less … forced, somehow. I feel like they’re naturally falling into place instead of my hand pushing all these elements into place. Of course, granted, that feeling could just be attributed to the fact that I’ve been rewriting instead of writing new chapters, and so I already have a base. But I’ll see what they think.

In other news, I have some decisions to make. One important decision is about the Catharsis. I applied for assistant editor and didn’t get it. Which is fine, because they probably wanted someone who would graduate after Jess, so she could therefore take over the permanent position, whereas I’m leaving in August. But … man. Their prompts are awful, the website is awful and they refuse to ask for help (even though they self-admittedly have no idea what they’re doing), and their way of structuring editing is terrible. I mean … I like Jess a lot. I respect her, I think she’s sweet, and she’s a good writer. But she isn’t better than me, she’s got no real authority, and she wasn’t voted into her position. So what makes her feedback better than anyone else’s? And the fact that only one person edits all the pieces in one genre … that’s ridiculous. That’s what workshops are for. And I’m not a fan of the fact that they clearly don’t know how to run anything. On the other hand, I do like Jess, Kimya, and Christine, and of course some of the other people in the club. But do I really want to go to campus for something I don’t care much about? Am I really proud of anything I send to them? I don’t know. It’s a bit of a dilemma, and the draft for January is due in twelve days. And the application.

We’ll see what happens with that.

009. Black Swan.

Went shopping yesterday. Came back with nothing. And I saw Black Swan, which was quite good but not what I expected. I loved watching it. I thought the dance scenes were exquisite, and Natalie Portman’s acting was just … phenomenal. I expected more of Mila Kunis’ character, and I felt that she needed to be involved more — in the sense that her character ACTUALLY needed to be present for more real-life scenes to warrant the sexual fantasy/paranoia that Nina feels. I also thought the mother’s character could’ve been developed a bit more. Basically, I thought that the narrative didn’t match up to the psychological power of Natalie Portman’s performance. But god, was it good.

Today is Friday. This means I only have three days, including this day, left in Ramsey. I’m not too happy about that, but I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do. Today, Jen and I are going into the city (too bad it’s snowing. A lot.) and seeing Trent Reznor speak at the New York Times’ Arts & Leisure weekend. The event doesn’t start until 8 (and only goes for an hour fifteen), so we’re going in a little early to spend time with Jen’s boyfriend, who I’m very excited to meet.

I haven’t been writing as much as I’d like. Still waiting on feedback. And I’m about 1500 words into the sequel. Wheeee.

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