Always quirky, sometimes sweet speculative fiction
Mother/writer/gamer Kirstie Olley is president of Vision Writers group and author of many quirky speculative fiction stories that have been competition winners, Aurealis Awards finalists, and honourable mentions in international competitions.
Last year I started a novel (well it was supposed to be a novella, but it got out of control) I’ve given the working title of ‘Skeleton Romance’ (I really need to give it a proper name). It was a joy to write, and – as often happens when in the throes of writing – I chased the muse.
I stuck to my plot outline quite faithfully actually, just I found myself adding in extra stuff. The primary addition was my two antagonists. Now when I look at the story I know it’s all the stronger for their unplanned appearances. The problem though is since I never planned them, I also hadn’t planned how to resolve their conflicts.
Just like bullies in real life, it isn’t so easy to deal with bullies in fiction. I didn’t want to fall back on stereotypes for their motives, nor wrap them up in a way that a real teenager might try to do and then find themselves in deep water. This is why I stopped when I was essentially 3/4 of the way through the novel. I knew I couldn’t proceed without resolutions for both antagonists.
As the year passed and I wrote other things flashes of inspiration came here and there until now, when I have enough to wrap them both up, but am now faced with figuring how to weave the romantic ending and the resolutions of the two antagonists together.
In case any of you out there are writers or just curious This is how I’ve done it.
I wrote out my original plot outline ending from the point I stopped to the end (which I’ll refer to as the romantic conclusion) on index cards, one scene per index card. Then I wrote the major antagonist’s conclusion as I envision it scene by scene onto cards, and the same again for the secondary antagonist.
Now I’ve got 10 cards each with their own scenes on them. When the kids are NOWHERE NEARBY (crucial in case the caps lock isn’t a hint) I spread these out on the rug in front of me.
First I lay out the romantic conclusion, because it’s already got its flow and order. Then I look at my to antagonist conclusions and look for where they would piece in nicely to the romantic conclusion. For the most enjoyable end I need both of them wrapped up just before the final conclusive romantic scene, but depending on how it all reads, putting both conclusions side by side just in front of the final romantic scene might be awkward from a pacing and timing perspective.
I also look to see if some of any of the antagonist conclusion scenes can be merged with any of the romantic scenes. for example, information to defeat on of the bullies might be stumbled across while the characters are actually doing something that propels the romantic arc forward. Now instead of having to write two separate scenes, I merely have to add a little to an already outlined scene.
Ultimately I had a lot of fun with this, figuring out my concluding outline, and I had so much fun finally finishing my extremely unusual romance filled with teen angst, sexual identity, and suicidal thoughts (because what romance doesn’t include considering suicide?)(the story really isn’t a romance anymore ;p more a coming out/coming of age).
With a Kickstarter campaign that well over doubled its initial goal and surpassed all its stretch goals, the release of WARRIOR from Ink & Locket Press has been much anticipated. Now at last you can grab your copy — if you weren’t already receiving a copy for backing the campaign ;p
I’m excited to say my story Glass Bones is one of the twelve within these pages.
Glass Bones is about Mizzy, a Lake Maiden’s Champion(and lover), and how far she will go free her brother from the curse of Glass Bones he was born with.
After years of approaching wizards and witches for help only to be disappointed, Mizzy and her brother, Bran, have spent yet more years of traveling the world gathering magic rings. Now they are collected the pair can finally go to the world beyond Gate Eighteen, a place where gossip claims there is a cure for everything. But rumour isn’t always right, and everyone knows there’s consequences with any magic.
Interested in the rest of the anthology?
“I was a hard-boiled soul with a blood-stained dress. I was a warrior, right from the start.”
– Unnecessary Risks
A werewolf stalks the streets of London, fighting for her humanity. In Ancient Rome, a gladiator battles monsters for the man he loves. In alien-infested Ontario, a metal-lunged soldier fights for guns and glory—and the girl of her dreams.
In worlds far and unknown, a cursed man fights rumour and raiders to save the children who have no one else. A big, buff, wingless fairy wrestles with a fiery portal to save her Great Tree from demons. At the lost temple of the Red Desert, a human sacrifice fights for her life.
Facing aliens, demons, curses and armies, twelve unstoppable heroes must find the strength to defeat their enemies with wit, weapon and a warrior’s heart.
These short stories all feature heroes who identify within the LGBTQIA spectrum.
I’m a few days late with this post but – feel free to skip this paragraph if you don’t care why ;p – considering Cyclone Debbie hit our area, first blocking the road south to the funeral we were supposed to go to on Friday (we’d already driven halfway there before the roads flooded), then causing the evacuation of the area the funeral was being held, resulting in rescheduling the funeral. So we drove back home to enjoy my birthday and go to my writers group, then drove back down today for the rescheduled event, and all the way back too. You can imagine blogging has been the least of my worries these last few days ;p
So to wrap up March, I:
With a new 19,000 words, finished the first draft of ‘Skeleton Romance’. The draft is 64,000 words total – and yet I’m still no closer to a real title, maybe in edits?
Got a good start on Light In The Deep, an extra 3,200 words
Also wrote 17 writing prompts for Vision (I felt inspired to be inspiring ;p )
All up I wrote 22,000 words in March. I hit all my goals except the coming up with an actual title for ‘Skeleton Romance’, and did some work on my stretch goal too (for the first time in months ;p ), I’m pretty chuffed with those results.
For my April goals I plan to:
Help promote the release of the anthology WARRIOR from Ink & Locket Press which contains my latest short story: Glass Bones
Use the beta reader feedback on Glass Slippers to revise it
Use my critique group’s feedback over the last several months to revise Charming Rivals
Begin the first draft of Nothing Charming
Finish the first draft of Light In The Deep
Do a bunch of research on tension, including reading some good books (fiction and non-fiction) to help me with that
And for my stretch goal:
Use the editor’s feedback on Mudgerwokee to complete it and return to her (well before the July deadline)
So lots of revision this month, but still some fresh words for first drafts planned too. I might be being a bit over ambitious, but there’s so much I want to work on NOW that I can’t wait ;p
So far this year I’ve written a new short story: Mudgerwokee. A horror tale which was initially 9,000 words, then I shaved down to 7,500 to meet the editor’s word count, but now based on the editor’s notes I’ll be bumping up a bit again to flesh out the ending.
I’ve also completed self-edits on the first sequel to Charming, a fun novella called Charming Rivals and getting it out to my critique group for feedback – a longish process since the story after editing has become 18,000 words long and I can only post 5,000 word each month to my group.
February I’ve spent most of focused on Glass Slippers, completing my self-edits on that novella(which includes adding almost 10,000 words) and have now sent it off to beta readers and should get the feedback returned by end of March. I also wrote a (completely unplanned and out of nowhere) an erotic scene between two characters from Glass Slippers. Considering the style of the novella though, I doubt that scene will ever see the light of day ;p
And for the last couple of days I’ve been getting my head back into the voice of Min, my first person perspective protagonist from ‘Skeleton Romance'(working title) as I intend to finish that novel’s first draft this next month. I’ve been rereading the 43,000 odd words I’ve already written to refamiliarise myself with both plot and voice. Yeah, yeah, I know you endlessly hear writing ‘gurus’ telling you to never do that, just push ahead with the draft, but sometimes advice needs to be ignored. I mean if I didn’t do this, how much more rewriting and editing would I need to do later? Is the three days I spent re-reading (note: I was reading, not editing) a bigger waste of time than the time I would spend in rewrites and editing because I wasn’t better prepared? Also, I’m not a newbie who has never finished a novel (I’ve finished several) and the advice feels aimed at newbies who are finding ways (subconsciously or otherwise) to avoid finishing their novel.
Yesterday I had the distinct delight to go to a part speech part panel featuring the lovely and clever Joanna Penn.
It’s funny, here in Brisbane we get a bit ignored, we aren’t Sydney (who the rest of the world thinks is Australia’s capital, not merely a capital of one of our states) and we aren’t trendy Melbourne, so we get overlooked fairly regularly by celebrities(though perhaps not so badly as the other capitals ;p ). Thus I honestly never expected an amazing author like Joanna would come here. Naturally the second she mentioned on one of her podcasts she was coming here I was like ‘sign me up for whatever seminar she’s doing’.
And I did sign up. I went into the event thinking I’ve listened to so many of the podcasts (I started listening when Xander was still an infant, I’d do our daily walk with him in the stroller(so he would fall asleep) and my headphones in) that I kind of assumed I wouldn’t actually learn anything much new, maybe just one or two points I’d forgotten over the years. I was there for the sheer excitement of seeing THE Joanna Penn, not just hearing her voice like I do every week. At the end of the seminar I looked at the notebook I’d brought with me and saw I had four pages of notes! Some of it ideas that came from what she said or reminders to myself, but also a lot of fresh info.
One thing that surprised me a lot was how much Brisbane actually played into the early stage of her writing life. i mean you know the basic story from having read her non-fiction books and blog posts and having listened to the podcast, but it was one of those things that didn’t really sink in until I heard her talking about all these familiar things. I knew the suburb where she’d lived, her old house looked like it could have been down the street from any of the places I’ve lived, she did the ‘year of the novel’ course from QWC (which I’m a member of). Isn’t it interesting how these points of commonality make you feel closer to someone (even if you don’t actually know them ;p )
There were plenty of laughs too, both in Joanna’s original presentation and the panel style chat that happened after that. The Q&A that wrapped the session up was informative and they took the time to answer pretty much every hand that went up – and those whose questions involved a more in depth answer they invited to come down and chat with them at the end for more details – and, best of all, at the very end Emma and I got a selfie with Joanna.
I absolutely recommend if you ever have a chance to see her speak you do so.