It was four AM in the morning when it happened: Madison Lorfing, in ultimate misery and despair, opened her mouth and wailed at the top of her lungs.

This Wail of Despair most likely made its way into her family’s dreams and caused them horrific nightmares.

But you see, Madison Lorfing isn’t a quitter. She may be a little lazy—or, actually, maybe quite a bit lazy—alright, throwing in the hat: she’s totally, completely, 100% lazy—but she’s not a quitter. So she groaned again, quieter this time, and continued.

They were diabolical, Wail-of-Despair-inducing things, the first and second drafts of what was once known as Loyalty Book I. Even the third draft, a rewrite, is still a directionless hunk of junk.

And then she was a complete and total idiot and began writing the second book without the right planning, too! Which, of course, ended up in another Wail-of-Despair-inducing draft. How dumb can she get and still breathe?

So what does Madison Lorfing do? Certainly not quit. Not even delete the awful drafts. She’ll do another rewrite, of course! This time with a plan to not end up with a Wail-of-Despair-inducing first draft.

But everyone knows she will fail, because she’s lazy. And easily frustrated. And totally lame. And—

Hey!

Ahem, yes, thank you for that, conscience.

I’m here today with some novel updates and snippets—basically briefing you on what I’ve been doing the last couple of months concerning my novel (planning, outlining, and structuring it correctly to end up with a near-perfect first draft that only requires edits while others spend years on rewrites >:)), where I’m at now, and some snippets because you know you hate them but I like shoving them down your throat anyway.

… Don’t ask about this old meme from April, please. I think I was 11 when I took that selfie. *facepalm emoji bc my computer is mean and doesn’t have it*

August 22, 2017

It was also my IRL BFF’s 14th birthday, so it was extra special. All month, I had been reading, studying, and taking notes on Outlining Your Novel, Structuring Your Novel, and 5 Secrets to Story Structure by K.M. Weiland, and finally I began to put some of the techniques to use.

I officially began…

BRAINSTORMING.

Headphones are a must.

If you weren’t already aware, I’m doing a complete and total rewrite of my very first novel. It was previously known as Loyalty Book I.

After reading those three books, I was ready to dive into outlining. I printed out the Outlining Your Novel Workbook, and, well, got to work.

I sat down in this lovely spot in my living room for outlining, and it remained my little spot for quite a few days.

When on our hurricane evacuation, I did hundreds upon hundreds of questions of character interviews for seven characters, and then even more backstories, profiling, enneagramming, and more for eight characters.

And then… the unthinkable happened.

I HAD DONE ALL THIS PLANNING, AND I HAD DONE IT WRONG. 

There’s something incredibly evil and awesome called a character arc, which is how your character changes and becomes a better—or worse—person at the end of the story. Because I hadn’t read K.M. Weiland‘s book on character arc, I didn’t understand it very much, and I MESSED ALL OF ARI’S ARC PLANNING UP. (Ari is my protagonist and main character).

It gets worse.

What’s set up in the first half of a good novel must be paid off in the second half. But I had planned my novel all wrong. The first half did set up a little of the second half, but there was barely any foreshadowing; the two halves didn’t mirror each other like they should.

Late September, 2017

SO CUE EVEN MORE WORK!

I printed out the Creating Character Arcs Workbook to work on Ari’s arc. Just look at all that work up there.

I was too impatient to read the entirety of Creating Character Arcs, so I just briefed myself on it with K.M. Weiland’s blog post series on it instead. See my notes next to my laptop and the paper plate in the background meaning I was obviously eating food in my room

In creating the character arcs, I realized that where were 8 1/2 character archetypes I should be writing—and aren’t.

At this point, the small frustration that was building all throughout the mess of creating my character arc had built to the point that I was hating it. I’d keep tearing up at the most frustrating moments, something I, like, never do? I rarely cry unless I’m really, really devastated—I hate giving the devil the satisfaction of letting him see me cry in misery—so that was pretty huge. 😮

I had to take a break and eat cake or I would have died. Because chocolate makes everything better, am I right or am I right?

Did a little more brainstorming and with a “bam”, a “boomo”, and a “genius you!” I thought I had all my problems figured out.

But nope! There were still plenty of problems to go.

Like this one!

I had finally finished Ari’s character arc. Whew! I could finally work on my scene outline, which is what I’ve been waiting for since forever!

But then I realized that to get my story’s full potential, I need at least, like, three or four character arcs. One each for the protagonist, antagonist, love interest, and impact character. (Luckily, Hinoki doubles as both the Love Interest and Impact Character, so only three arcs. Still very much death.)

It was doomsday. A legit crisis situation. I WAS GOING TO DIE.

Because creating Ari’s arc was misery. Tearing up, frustration, the whole ordeal of a very painful and horrific experience… and now there’s at least two more to go? Might as well kill me now.

But as my conscience told you, I’m not a quitter. I suffer from that Never-Never-Never-Give-Up compulsion. So I got right to work and started on Hinoki’s character arc. (Hinoki actually triples as the Love Interest, Impact Character, and later Sidekick. See my knowledge of character archetypes? Yay me.)

What you see here is me desperately trying to figure out the Thing My Character Needs, AKA his Truth. Hinoki’s Lie was falling in love will destroy a warrior.

(And in a sense, it’s actually true, since the warriors in my story have to take something called Warrior Code which includes vows against marriage; and breaking Code is punishable by death. So if you marry / break the vows and get found out… YOU DIE!)

(In most circumstances, anyway, unless your master is a hypocrite like one of my big bad guys and is actually married himself so he gives you mercy. *facepalm*)

After days of using different Lies, confusing myself, and messing things up, I finally decided that his Truth would be falling in love is with someone worth fighting and dying for is worth any risk.

Which I have to congratulate myself on because it ties in perfectly and thematically with Ari’s Truth and Lie. Double-yay me.

Aesthetic writing photos are a necessity during the writing process, I assure you. This one was my iPhone background for weeks.

So… I finally got to the Midpoint in Hinoki’s arc. Could you tell I was excited to begin it?

XD See the “Ummm… this is harder than I thought. >:(“?

Yeah, I messed it all up and had to completely redo it.

Hehe. More aesthetic writing photos.

And then, because I lack a lot in the area of smarts and tend to mess up a lot…

I messed up that Midpoint too, and had to completely restart on it again.

By this point, if I wasn’t hating life before (which, actually, I was), I was hating everything now. Tears and frustration galore, I kept messing up or misunderstanding, and I just plain hated doing it.

Wait. Hate’s not the right word. I loathed it. I loathed it with a vile, burning, seething hatred.

^ Spoiler alert. Can you read my handwriting? Maybe we shouldn’t mention again how unreadable it is to even me.

This was at the end of Hinoki’s arc. Freedom!

My brother bought me Skittles and then plopped it right on top of my work. I see the light at the end of the tunnel! Things are looking great! Life is amazing!

And then the ship crashed and sunk.

It was a glorious crash, too. Though there was much frustration and tearing up, it was very dramatic and terrible and glorious.

I still had one more arc to go, and for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out what kind it should be (Negative Change Arc? And a Disillusionment, Fall, or Corruption? Or maybe a Positive Change Arc after all? Or a Flat arc with its own destructive Truth twist?) or how many books it should stretch over, and my questions weren’t getting answered very directly.

Yep. You guessed it. That was the floor of my room during my sob-inducing, hair-pulling, I-hate-this-ing days of character arcs. No, seriously. That’s my gif.

Finally, finally, finally, the light at the end of the tunnel beamed. I got one more answer. My antagonist, not being onscreen until the Climax, doesn’t need to have a full arc; just a thematically pertinent goal, conflict, and resolution. So I ecstatically worked on his mini-arc.

I figured it out without a hitch, and even did some extra work I didn’t think I’d have the time for and fleshed out a few minor characters that appeared later in the book.

I wanted to jump right into my scene outline, as I finished the structuring part of the Outlining Your Novel Workbook, but no. Just when I think my much-waited scene outline is within my grasp… nope! It keeps getting pushed farther and farther away.

It’s depressing.

But this is where I am today! Structuring. Having gone through the mini structuring part of the Outlining Your Novel Workbook, I decided to dive in to the more vigorous and in-depth Structuring Your Novel Workbook before moving on to the scene outline.

My most recent outlining spot is now my front porch in a comfy camping chair and hopefully with a yummy frozen lemonade. If not, a frozen citrusade like an orangeade or limeade will do.

Can’t forget those aesthetic writing photos now!

See the name Warfare? That’s the new, unofficial, subject-to-change title of what was previously known as the Loyalty series. Warfare Book I doesn’t have a title yet, as Loyalty Book I did (To the Death). For now, it’s just Warfare Book I.

My previous outlining notepads. Two of them are only half-full, as I realized major problems and had to start all over (one day I got up at 3:30 AM just to work on it so I wouldn’t get behind. But alas! I’m not where I wanted to be. But I’m somewhere and I’m moving forward, so that’s okay). I’m now on my fifth notepad.

I’m 42 / 193 pages of structuring in. To see my progress on a more frequently updated scale, follow me on MyWriteClub! My username is MadiGrace. And because I’m nice, I do follow-for-follow, too. (In most circumstances).

Sorry for such a large photo, but do you see what my new pen says? (By the way, I dried up like, six different super awesome pens the past few weeks with all my outlining. Waaa.) It says PILOT JAPAN, which I thought was super cool and perfect since the Warfare series is set in Japan.

And HAH. Even if this one dries out, I’m PREPARED. I have two ink refills waiting for me, so I’ll be enjoying the luxury of one of my favorite super inky pens while it lasts for thrice as long as usual.

And then I’ll have to quit stealing pens from my family, under beds, in drawers, and around the house and just buy myself some. Hmph.

OH WAIT NO. My Uncle Brian is sending me fifty of my favorite pens because of a misprint error. I can spend all my money on music again instead! *nods*

And now. The moment you’ve all been dreading!

Snippets. Did you think I’d forgotten?

Okay, actually, I did forget. In editing this post along the way I was reminded I still had to shove some snippets down your throat! Your hopes of being spared are demolished now. My deepest insincere apologies.

From Notepad #1

 “I gave her reason enough to hate me.” —Hinoki Jinomoto

Do you want this to be in modern or historical[ish] language? “Bloody, accursed fool” as opposed to “freaking moron!”

XD ^ That brainstorming note from Aug 22 makes me laugh out loud each time I read it.

I couldn’t help myself and got so caught up in planning a scene that I actually began to halfway write some of it, with brainstorming notes set apart in brackets in this post for clarity.

I look up to meet Hinoki’s gaze, and he jerks his head in the direction he wants us to go. [He turns and leads her there, taking her quite a ways a way.]

After a while, I say as we walk, “I think we’re out of earshot by now.”

Hinoki stops and turns around to face me, and I halt, too. “You’re right.”

[And then he socks her across the face and in the eye so hard that] I lose my balance and collide my side into the nearest tree.

When I’ve pulled myself away and am standing straight up on my feet, Hinoki is in front of my face and socks me again. “I’m going to kill you.”

You’ve never seen Hinari rivalry quite like this, betas. You won’t believe how much different—in every area—it’s going to be from the draft you guys read.

[She feels a peace that allows her to close her eyes, lean her head against the bark of a tree, and fall asleep.] Tomorrow I will face the day.

[Scene break. Ari has traveled for 3 days, it is now the 16th. She’s on foot, but she has one more day to go. She stops in a near town to get a horse, and while standing outside the stables she locks eyes with Hinoki across the stalls and/of horses. She looks away after a while, panicked instead by trying remain calm. When she’s about to pay for her horse, she hears a voice beside her. Hinoki says he will pay for the horse, and Ari folds her arms and breathes heavily/angrily in irritance. Hinoki grabs the reins of her horse as the peddler/horsekeeper dude/stableboy walks away, and Ari finally turns to face him.]

“Give me my horse.” [are the first works spoken between them from Ari.]

Hinoki smirks. “You mean my horse. I paid for it.”

[Ari lets out] a frustrated breath and lunges for the horse’s reins, [but Hinoki holds them out of her reach.] “Nice try. That’s cute.”

[Ari huffs in anger/frustration/irritance and puts her hand on her hips or something or whatever idk. He takes her and they travel away from the westerner’s party and toward the samurai academy. But on the night of the 20th, Ari escapes, 21st travels to town, 22 gets horse and travels, then is captured by Hinoki again, and this time he has to take her right to the westerner’s party with him.]

• Westerner’s party, Ari escapes. → brainstorm this more, but basically, Escort is nowhere, Hinari dances, Ari disappears in the middle to find the woman she needs info out of, but Hinoki stops her b4 she gets the info and drags her back 2 part, THEN ← Ari escapes.

^ That snippet right there is subject to change since that was before I realized I had messed up the first and second half mirroring thing. I should probably mention that everything is subject to change.

From Notepad #2

Ari Character Interview

What 5 words would she use to describe herself? Committed, average, obedient, respectful, humble

What 5 words would her best friend use? Clever, strong, brave, loyal, annoying

Typical Expressions and Attitudes

When angry: Death-glares for a long time. When provoked more, she can say hurtful things she doesn’t mean.

And here’s some 3:30 AM brainstorming.

What Went Wrong?

Well, I know what went wrong. The story has a little more of a focus on the Big Epic Mission—it’s more complicated than I thought it would be. Is it? With all the complicated strategy stuff and inside men and double-crossers, trying to tie in Maruko’s trying to kill & make an example out of Ari is going to be just too much and too—well—complicated, since we already have the subplot of Hinari’s romance.

… Is it?

… IS IT?!!!

I think so. There’s a lot going on and UGH. I gotta create new characters and POV. Should I have new/more POV?

This is how I brainstorm, folks. It’s surprisingly effective and makes for really weird snippets.

POV Test

Character Name: Ari
Voice Test:

I breathe harder. “I hate you.”

Hinoki laughs at me. “Oh, I know.”

“Do you know that I can kill you, if I wanted to?”

Hinoki shrugs. “Maybe you could try. But I’d stop you every time.”

“Oh, I doubt that.” I harden my seething glare. “We drew a tie.”

“Once. We drew a tie once. I bet you if we fought again, I’d kill you.”

My glare steams until I realize I’m not breathing. He’s right. And he knows it.

So he laughs.

AOFWOFB ALSO YOU GUYS WILL NEVER BELIEVE WHAT ARI DOES TO KICKSTART THE RIVALRY I CHANGED IT SO MUCH ASDJKFHSJDS

Notepad #2 ended here because what I thought was the solution was not so. After some ranting and problem-solving attempts in the beginning of Notepad #3, I finally realized I had to create Ari’s character arc more in-depth… cue the tears and frustration! Notepad #3 was the one I was taking notes on by my laptop in an above photo.

From Notepad #3

BAM. BOOMO. GENIUS YOU!

… No. There were a lot more problems “genius me” overlooked.

Notepad #3 then began Hinoki’s character arc, which was finished in Notepad #4.

From Notepad #4

What about the Adventure world of the Second Act makes Hinoki’s Lie less comfortable than it was in the Normal World?

He’s falling in love with Ari, of course. 😉

I can’t snippet any of the Midpoint (yeah, the one I had to redo twice). Even that is too much of a spoiler, and this post is full of spoilers. YOU’LL JUST HAVE TO WAIT AND SEE AND OH MY GOSH I’M SO EXCITED TO WRITE IT.

… BUT UGH STUPID LIMITING CHARACTER ARCS!!!

This was not the only thing I wrote in my notepads about my frustration with them. But we don’t go there.

And now I’m on Notepad #5!

I hope to do weekly or bi-weekly outlining / structuring updates maybe? Depends on if you guys thoroughly enjoyed this post, skimmed it in boredom, hated it, or loathed it like I loathed character arcs. I understand it’s over 3k, but I really like long posts (that are interesting). Would you mind being super honest and tell me your thoughts in the comments?

The weekly / bi-weekly updates won’t be half so long… this one was just long because I hadn’t done a novel update in forever. And they’ll span different subjects, like music I’ve bought to outline to, theme songs for my characters, face claims, and much more fun stuff like that.

Be sure to follow me on MyWriteClub to stay updated on a more frequent basis! What’s your current WIP (work-in-progress)? I’d love to hear.

AND ALSO:

Did you…

  1. Thoroughly enjoy this post
  2. Skim it in boredom
  3. Hate it
  4. Loathe it like Madi loathed character arcs?

Let me know in the comments below! Love you guys and am always praying for you. Never forget you can always drop me a specific prayer request.

Oh wait. What do you think about the new fonts as well?

If you’re in Safari, they show up like a Georgia or Times font, which isn’t right (that or my Safari is just super weird). Try to view this in Google Chrome or somewhere that processes modern fonts—the proper fonts here will show up then.

Okay, now I’ll shut up. And at 3.4k, too! How considerate I’ve been of your time and busy life.