Color Me Impressed

When your character says something awesome.

sheldon_approval


Jennifer A. Johnson is a newly published fantasy writer thanks to The Adventure of Creation anthology. She's still revising her first novel, but you can sign up for her free newsletter to pass the time.

Novel Soundtrack: Narrator

If you’re far enough along on my bi-weekly emails, you’ll know that I have a crap novel soundtrack for Narrator. If you’re everyone else? I have a crap novel soundtrack for Narrator. Seriously, it’s three songs from Swan Lake. Over and over and over…

Or at least, it was.

Now I’ve found actually relevant songs thanks to Bea Miller! So it’s…you know…three different songs over and over and over…

But here’s the best one. As in I think there are only two or three lines that don’t actually fit. First verse is Calder, second verse is Arianna. Listen and be amazed…at how much you trust me to tell you it’s accurate.

(For the writing group friends who were horribly spoiled on the ending, this song makes total sense, right? Right? Because it totally does.)

Update 1/28/16: If you’re interested in the other two novel soundtrack songs, listen to Perfect Picture for Arianna and Paper Doll for Calder.


Jennifer A. Johnson is a newly published fantasy writer thanks to The Adventure of Creation anthology. She's still revising her first novel, but you can sign up for her free newsletter to pass the time.

It Is and Is Not Calder

When I realized that my main character is basically Schrödinger’s cat on a large scale.

mind-blown

(And here’s a bonus, thanks Exploding Kittens.)

cats_schrodinger


Jennifer A. Johnson is a newly published fantasy writer thanks to The Adventure of Creation anthology. She's still revising her first novel, but you can sign up for her free newsletter to pass the time.

Old Grievances

That moment when you reach the end of the first draft and the two characters who had begged you for a romance decide that they just want to be friends.

maximus_mad


Jennifer A. Johnson is a newly published fantasy writer thanks to The Adventure of Creation anthology. She's still revising her first novel, but you can sign up for her free newsletter to pass the time.

Hiatus: Over

Starting January 1st, I have taken great pains to write every day. I don’t have a word count goal or a time goal. I’m writing random scene snippets from all over the book.

But I am writing.

Proof:image


Jennifer A. Johnson is a newly published fantasy writer thanks to The Adventure of Creation anthology. She's still revising her first novel, but you can sign up for her free newsletter to pass the time.

And Now for Something Completely Different

keith-margos-murder-mystery-dinner-at-matteos-los-angeles-caI hate to admit it, but I think I need a break from Narrator. I haven’t written at all in the past few weeks, and I need to write something or I will explode. SO. I’ve decided to write an anthology of three murder mystery short stories. I’m hoping that writing this will help me in the Narrator department as well.

All of the stories will be fantasy (of course). Two of them will be related to series I want to write after Narrator. The first is set in an alternative 1910* England, where magic has been outlawed. I’ve already got a great mystery lined up for it. The second is a little murkier since my plans for this series have undergone many iterations over the years, so that’s definitely in the TBD category.

The third short story isn’t based on a future series, unless I want to turn it into one. It’s an off-shoot of the Supernatural fanfic I’ve been playing in my head these last few weeks. I specifically designed this “episode” to not rely on the Supernatural mythology so that I could easily turn it into an original piece. Again, great mystery lined up, if I do say so myself.

Now, why murder mysteries? I enjoy them, but never thought of writing one. Then when you consider that the Supernatural-inspired story is already a murder mystery, and my 1910 series is already a thriller/mystery series, the common thread is plain enough.

I’m also going to try putting my new technique idea into practice. Scrivener has a “screenplay” mode. My theory is that a) it will be easier to let the action flow, and b) it’ll help me curb my tendency to expand the crap out of my plot. Seriously, I always get stampeded by subplots. It’s ridiculous. So sticking to a 45-60 page screenplay should nip that in the bud, right?

Hopefully working on this anthology will begin to allow me to work on Narrator again, and I’ll just switch back and forth for a while. Wish me luck! *crosses fingers*

 

* What? No, I didn’t set it in 1910 so that a few books down the road I could set one on the Titanic. Why would you think such a thing?


Jennifer A. Johnson is a newly published fantasy writer thanks to The Adventure of Creation anthology. She's still revising her first novel, but you can sign up for her free newsletter to pass the time.

How to Break Writer’s Block

cameraOnce you admit that you listen to the voices in your head and write out what they’re saying (aka that you’re a writer), the inevitable question is: where do you get your ideas?

Most writers will facetiously-yet-sincerely reply, “Everything.”

Because getting ideas isn’t the hard part. Not the initial ones you’re thinking of, anyway. The hard part is when you’re mired in the middle of your novel, with no idea how to get your characters out of the mess you made for them. When you go to write and your mind is a complete blank.

Now, there are tons of ways to get the juices flowing again. You’ll find advice everywhere, from amateur and experienced alike. It really just comes down to the individual author. The method that usually works for me is a stream-of-consciousness brainstorm. I basically write out a conversation with my Muse, tossing ideas back and forth. Alternatively, I do the whole “do a rote activity and let your brain churn in the background.”

But sometimes, like over the last few weeks, neither of those methods work.

Now, you probably don’t remember, unless you creepily remember everything I post on social media, but several weeks ago I had a really cool Supernatural-inspired dream. And I woke up before I found out what happened next. So, being the cool person I am, I decided to find out by continuing the story. Ever since that dream, I’ve been running the story in my head, creating new monsters of the week and even establishing a season-long arc. (Over-achiever, much?)

It’s been pretty great, watching the story unfold. Even better, I found that it’s a fun way to pass the time during otherwise boring activities, like my commute or daily walk. I throw different situations at the characters and let them react however they want — and since the characters are so well defined, it’s pretty easy to set on auto-pilot. Everything just flows so seamlessly.

The other day, I realized I should try this with Narrator.

I had one troublesome scene where I only vaguely knew what I wanted to happen. I’d managed to figure out things up to a certain point, but anything past that was just wide brushstrokes. So I started at that point and encouraged Calder and the others to play it out like they were in a movie. No delving into thoughts or anything, they just needed to be actors for a while.

That immediately made the action flow better, and I just let the story unfold the same way I let my Supernatural fanfic unfold. I did have to “rewind” a couple of times to fix some logic or increase the tension, but that wasn’t too difficult.

And it worked!

I was able to see how the situation played out, in a way that made sense, and I got some great ideas. And I mean some great ideas. I wanted to take a picture of my notes in triumph, but if you managed to read my chicken scratch you’d unwittingly see spoilers. (Sucks to be you, I guess.)

Anyway, this particular writer’s block seems to have broken. The next hurdle is going to be trying to write everything down and hope the Muse doesn’t make a sharp left turn and throw all of this under the bus. *crosses fingers*


Jennifer A. Johnson is a newly published fantasy writer thanks to The Adventure of Creation anthology. She's still revising her first novel, but you can sign up for her free newsletter to pass the time.

Oh Yay!

When a reader tells me they will always ship my favorite in-story couple:
200
(True story.)


Jennifer A. Johnson is a newly published fantasy writer thanks to The Adventure of Creation anthology. She's still revising her first novel, but you can sign up for her free newsletter to pass the time.

Choosing the Perfect Word

dictionaryI love it when my characters use words I’m not certain of, and then when I go to check the definition, it’s precisely the right word to use! Ah, the cleverness of them.

For example, in the latest scene I was writing, Arianna was walking through the castle with her bow and arrows, feeling stupid. She said of passersby, “To their credit, none of them openly stared at her strange accoutrements.” Now, I don’t use that word. It’s too stuffy. And it didn’t sound like the right word for the situation, so I looked it up. The definition is “the equipment needed for a particular activity or way of life” — turns out Arianna had chosen the perfect word.

Eustace does this all the time, unsurprisingly. I mean, he’s not the Scholar for nothing. (Of course, when I go back to look for examples to show him off, I can’t find any of them. Alas.)

In a somewhat related vein, the most obnoxious feeling is when you’re thinking of a word — the perfect word — it’s on the tip of your tongue, but…nothing. No idea what it is. You can think of every almost-good-enough word there is, but not that perfect one. I turn to the thesaurus at that point and encounter every single word I’d already thought of (and then some) but I still can’t find it. Maybe it never existed, I don’t know.

It’s been several weeks now, but I’m still trying to find a word that means “soul” or “spirit” but isn’t either of those. Nothing seems right. Seriously, I’d love it if you’d leave a comment with options for a word I can use, because I’m running out of ideas.


Jennifer A. Johnson is a newly published fantasy writer thanks to The Adventure of Creation anthology. She's still revising her first novel, but you can sign up for her free newsletter to pass the time.

Whoa

When you finally put the last pieces together and realize what your Muse has been trying to tell you all along:
ron


Jennifer A. Johnson is a newly published fantasy writer thanks to The Adventure of Creation anthology. She's still revising her first novel, but you can sign up for her free newsletter to pass the time.