My Writing Process

Maybe I’ve talked about this before in a video, but I feel like I haven’t blogged about it. My own writing process has been the same for a few years now, so I thought I’d take a moment to talk about it. I like reading about how other people write, as I sometimes can take bits and pieces of that and use it for myself.

Stage 1 – Idea Percolation

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I can’t tell you how many spur of the moment ideas I’ve had for a really great book. Yeah, you know what I’m talking about. You crack open a fresh Word document (or Scrivener project) and start writing and dang does everything sound awesome. But then the book usually fades away and becomes nothing more than a few pages of good writing that is destined to gather dust.

I don’t do that as much anymore because of my idea percolation stage. I typically get an idea for a book, then instead of writing right away, I let it sit. I’ll sit on an idea for months. During the years it took me to write TUS3, I was sitting on the idea for Pulse. I kept creating scenes in my head, plots, etc.

Keep in mind, I’m always writing something so there is no down time during this stage. While I’m writing a book, I have idea percolation going for my next book. By the time I’m ready to start writing the next book, I know what I want to do. Whatever ideas stuck with me the most are the ones I know I should write, because they’ve been with me for so long.

This really helps me weed out ideas that are just fleeting, cool ideas, versus more substantial ideas that have potential to become something great.

Stage 2 – Very Rough Outline

I like to outline, but not to the point where I’m following a script. Once I know what I want the book to be like, I’ll do a bit of light outlining for scenes I’m confident I want, and general plot flow. This is to keep me somewhat focused so I don’t lose sight of the big picture.

At this point I’m open to new ideas, major changes in plot and character, etc. I’m just writing stuff down in case I forget later (which happens; even amazing ideas sometimes disappear!)

Stage 3 – Easy Writing

No getting around this part. Eventually I just write. Write, write, write! I use Scrivener to outline, so I have a ton of note cards representing scenes. I’ll write any scene I feel like, any character. I allow myself to write what I think will be “fun” that day.

Once my writing starts slowing down, usually at about halfway, I know it’s time to move on to Stage 4.

Stage 4 – Concrete Outline

At this point it’s time to tighten up the outline. I use outlines as a way to make sure my timelines are all good, scenes are distributed correctly, and things like that. During Stage 3, I might’ve come up with new cool ideas that I need to seamlessly integrate into the rest of the story, so in Stage 4 I revisit the outline and make sure things are still looking good.

Now there won’t be room for much improvisation, because writing has become a matter of finishing the work, filling in holes, smoothing the rough edges. I allow this late outline to pretty much be the last say in how the book will go, barring any revolutionary ideas that might happen later.

Stage 5 – Writing to Finish

This is the “busy work” of writing for me. I’m still having fun writing, but it wasn’t as whimsical as it was in the beginning. Now I’m just trying to get the book done, writing like crazy, finishing up all those scenes and making sure the transitions between them are solid. It’s important to realize this stage of writing isn’t necessarily fun the entire time. It can, and does, feel like work. But that’s okay because its all part of the process!

Stage 6 – Let it Rest

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When I finally finished the book (yay!) I walk away. I don’t start revising immediately. Like my Idea Percolation Stage, I also need time away from the book. That space allows me to revise more efficiently and with fresh eyes once I come back. This could be a week or a month, but never longer than a month.

Stage 7 – Self-Editing

I’ll go over the entire book, start to finish, and read and edit. I catch and fix plot holes, character inconsistencies, and phrasing. If I think an area needs more, I’ll integrate another chapter or few pages. I won’t address how I deal with a major change needed in the book; that’s a whole other blog!

Stage 8 – Beta Readers

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This stage is SO important. I have a handful of trusted people that I can send my second draft to and ask for feedback. They’ll tell me what sucks, what needs more work, what doesn’t make sense. I parse that feedback and create a third draft based on it.

Note: Around this time I start finally writing that idea that had been percolating!

Stage 9 – Professional Editor

Whether it is being published by someone else, or I’m hiring someone personally, the third draft is sent to a professional editor. They’ll go over it, I make the edits, then sometimes I send it back for them to look at one last time.

Stage 10 – Bask in the Glory… Kinda

At this point I’ve read the book so many times there are another billion things I would do to change it, but I consider the book done. You have to ship it eventually. And in my experience, if you keep a book too long, and work on it excessively, it can start to suffer from it.

So, now that the book is done I proceed to cover design, formatting, blurb obtaining, and all that good stuff. I send the book out into the world and hope for the best!

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Zompocalypse Short: Sadie’s Story

In August one of my giveaway gifts was a short story featuring the winner as a zombie apocalypse survivor. This is the first story in that series! The giveaway is done through my mailing list which is at my website www.eloisejknapp.com.

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Sadie wasn’t surprised the zombie apocalypse really happened. After reading so many books and watching so many movies, she figured it was only a matter of when, not if. When the telltale signs started popping up—strange bite victims, overloaded hospitals—she called it what it was.

She was in an inopportune location with opportune resources when things really got bad. Sadie happened to be judging a youth fencing competition at the local high school when the first undead broke through the door. The stiff was just as she imagined. His glassy white eyes were hungry for flesh. Fingers worn to the bone reached out for anything living while eager moans escaped his fetid mouth.

While everyone screamed and tried to run, Sadie headed straight for the rapier in a glass box that was to be awarded to the fencing champion. It was meant to be decorative, but she recognized good steel when she saw it. She shoved the display case onto the ground and gingerly picked up her weapon of choice.

People were falling over each other as they tried to cram themselves through a single emergency exit on the opposite side of the gym. A few bold individuals would circle the zombie and dodge by it.

She didn’t want to dull the blade if she could avoid it and took the same approach, easily side-stepping the oafish monster. Sadie mentally noted their strength would be in numbers and if they managed to get her by surprise.

Her numbers theory was proven correct as she went for her car behind the school. There were a dozen of them all headed straight for the building. Four were blocking her from her vehicle. Despite her confidence with the blade, by the time she dispatched any attackers, the rest would be on her in an instant.

The run home would take thirty minutes at top speed. Sadie wasn’t confident she could maintain top speed that long. Plus, there was no way of knowing what was between her and safety.

An alternative idea came to her.

“Hey! Hey, look!” She waved her free arm and instantly caught the attention of the stiffs. They began shuffling towards her. “Come on. Over here, that’s it.”

Her blood pressure was through the roof as she executed the risky maneuver. Her body screamed for her to run but she stayed firmly planted. Eventually the horde was consolidated and only ten feet from her.

She bolted right and ran around the group towards her car. The second she navigated around the minivan parked in front of the driver’s side she came to a hard stop. Standing right in front of her was Mr. Pearson, the principal who invited her to judge the competition.

Only now he wasn’t Mr. Pearson. He was dead, his shirt missing and his entrails hanging from his stomach. Huge chunks of flesh had been torn from his arms and chest. They seeped blood. He must not have been dead for very long.

Sadie’s reflexes were better than she remembered. She took the proper stance and jabbed him. The strike went through his throat. Not good enough. She readjusted and quickly corrected her mistake. The rapier went through his eye and plunged into his brain. His body fell to the ground with a loud thud.

She steadied her hands as she unlocked the car and set her weapon in the driver’s seat. If she could drive any distance closer to her house, she’d be happy.

But she only made it halfway. A semi-truck was tipped in the middle of an intersection, blocking any way around. An SUV and sedan were wrapped around each other in a tangle of metal and rubber causing even more congestion. At least fifty zombies shambled around the scene, picking off the living still in their vehicles.

Sadie went to back away, but in the time she assessed the scene another three cars were behind her. She cursed and flung her door open, snatching her rapier as she exited the car. Speed was her best friend. The sooner she was out of the mess the better.

The jog home only took fifteen minutes as she was able to cut through lawns and parking lots. Her confidence was building. She just killed a zombie and had multiple near death experiences. If this didn’t make her a badass apocalypse survivor already, she wasn’t sure what would.

A pang of stress dampened her mood. As she turned onto her street she saw dozens of the dead wreaking havoc. Some were eating people on their front lawns while others beat on cars as they tried to get escaping prey.

Thinking quickly, she slipped around the back of the first house she saw. The fences weren’t too high. She could climb them and make her way to the back of her house and enter unnoticed. A handful of zombies already caught sight of her, but she was sure after jumping a few fences she’d lose them.

It worked. At first. What she hadn’t anticipated were the ones already in back yards or moseying inside houses that came to greet her. Sadie’s muscles ached as she dodged and sprinted. Climbing fences was a lot harder than she thought it would be. Each time she tossed her rapier over and hauled herself over, she worried she wouldn’t have enough strength to do the next one.

After four houses, she needed a break. Her arms were like jell-o. She glanced around the backyard for somewhere safe to hide.

A shed! It was the perfect place for the stiffs to lose her trail, not to mention give her burning arms a break. The house it belonged to was silent; no zombies had yet to see her. Sadie crossed the lawn and pulled the door open on the prefabricated storage shed.

Inside was the last person she ever wanted to see.

“Sadie?”

“Lola.”

The wannabe home wrecker extraordinaire sat by a lawnmower with her knees pulled to her chest. Runny mascara made thick trails down her thickly applied foundation. Uninterested in spending a minute with the crazy chick, Sadie turned to leave. She had a history with this one.

But the groans of the undead sent her right back into the shed, where she closed the door quietly.

“They’re out there,” she told Lola. “Be quiet.”

Lola eyed the bloodied rapier and bit her lip. “Um, is that a sword?”

Outside something rattled. A fence door, she figured. Sadie shushed the woman. Her plan to lose the undead might not have worked. It certainly wouldn’t work unless she shut up.

“Hey, I asked you a question…”

“I said shut up! Don’t you hear them out there?”

Now she whimpered, burying her face into her hands. Her makeup was a horrific mess. It reminded Sadie of a demonic clown, the way the gloopy pink lipstick smeared around her mouth. “They killed Ted!”

“Ted? Oh my—wait, why were you with Ted?” Sadie thought better of it, also realizing she broke her no talking rule. “Nevermind. Just shut up.”

The sound of wood splitting caught her attention. The living dead were relentless. Whatever it was that drew them to the living was an effective radar. If Sadie stayed in the shed, they’d find and trap her. What she needed was something to distract them long enough to truly escape.

She clenched her jaw and took a deep breath. Her house was only a few fences away and she had the perfect distraction right there with her. Every woman for herself, right?

“Lola, we need to make a run for it. On the count of three…”

“What! No, I can’t!”

“Two…”

“Sadie I’ll die out there!”

“THREE!”

Sadie pushed open the door. There were five zombies shambling into the yard. Their mouths opened and snapped at the sight of the women. A few were only ten feet away from the shed. Sadie bolted left and ran to the fence, using every precious moment she had.

A shrill wail came from behind her. Sadie took one glance back and saw Lola halfway through the shed, her strappy heeled shoe caught in the doorframe. Two undead had descended on her. One pulled a sinewy chunk of flesh from her neck. A waterfall of blood cascaded down her chest and her screams turned into gurgles.

Sadie tossed her rapier over the fence and followed suit, forcing her body to obey her command. The next two yards were completely empty. It appeared her zombie followers had given up as well, distracted by the taste of trampy flesh.

As she finally entered her own yard and home, relief flooded her. The entire experience lasted about an hour, but it had taken its toll on her. She’d only be safe at home long enough to gather supplies and make a plan. Who knew when the undead would be at her doorstep.

No matter what, Sadie knew she could handle whatever the apocalypse threw at her.

She was a fighter. She would do anything to survive.

 

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Reality Check: where does your time go?

I’m always trying to improve functionality in my life, and a lot of that has to do with time management and prioritizing. I try to be aware of where my time is going and if I’m being productive, but since I don’t really time myself on anything, it’s kind of guesswork.

My friend recently introduced me to an app called RescueTime. While being very considerate of user privacy, the app logs all websites and things you do on your computer and phone and puts it into sweet graphs. I’m extremely wary of apps like that, and privacy issues, but after reading up on it I decided it was legit.

The great thing about this is that you cannot escape the truth. When the approximate number of how you’re spending your computer time is right in front of you, there is no more disillusion. You will see, instantly, if you’re truly being productive or not.

How I Use It

This is an average workday for me.

This is an average workday for me.

I categorize anything to do with my day job as a neutral activity  (purple). Anything to do with social media or time killing websites is unproductive (red/dark red). All software relating to design, writing, or blogging, are productive (blue/ dark blue). It’s important to be realistic with how you categorize your activities. Even though I use Facebook as a marketing platform for my author stuff, I still classify it as unproductive. However, that’s why I have goals!

Here's the graphs showing an extremely productive day (Pulse of 71 with 3 hours logged).

Here’s the graphs showing an extremely productive day (Pulse of 71 with 3 hours logged).

My goals are 1 or more hours of writing/design a day and less than 1 hour of social networking a day. Whatever legitimate stuff I’m doing on social networking will never be more than an hour.

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You can also manually add time on your phone. This is something I don’t really use right now. It’s hard to remember to start logging the time and end it when whatever the activity is, is done. I’ve used it for reading and house cleaning, two activities I consider productive.

If you’re looking at improving your productivity, or at least being more mindful of time spent on technology, try it. Getting a snapshot of how you really spend your time on the computer is eyeopening. Face the music, make some changes, and be more productive.

Please note: this is my honest opinion of this app. I was not paid to or contacted about blogging about it. :)

Posted in Life, On Writing | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Final Comedian Cosplay

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“Once you realize what a joke everything is, being the Comedian is the only thing that makes sense.”

I posted here and there about this cosplay, but I wanted to have a solid blog post that goes over the entire thing like in this video. Like I’ve mentioned before, I’m the kind of person who gorges myself on research before actually starting something, so I hope this information is helpful to you in your own pursuit to create the Comedian from Watchmen.

Base
The basic items I have on are leather pants, a leather underbust corset, and a leather top. Guys, an easy route for you would be black cargo-y Military looking pants and a black sleeveless shirt. I’ve seen instructions before on making his body armor out of plastic car floor mats. I used some knee-high leather boots I happened to have on hand. I never got around to making fancy elbow pads, so instead I just sewed tubes of leather fabric and called it good.

Gloves
I bought these cheap fingerless gloves that I’ve bought two other times for different cosplays. I used hot glue to attach metal studs to the knuckles, then silver fabric paint for the rest of the details.

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Suspenders & Belt
I got these suspenders from Amazon also (pretty much everything is from Amazon, hehe). They are a little expensive, but I use them for other things too. I already owned the tactical belt that they are attached to.

I designed the smiley face and went to a local button making shop and got a couple made.

Holsters & Guns
I purchased these holsters. Not leather, but affordable and they work.

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I got these Desert Eagle airsoft guns. Yes, I know he uses 1911s. Do I have airsoft 1911s? No. Could I find the Deagles that fit nicely in the holsters and worked just fine? Yes. :)

I used my same design from the smiley face pin and printed it out, then ground off the emblem on the guns and glued them on. I then applied a thin layer of clear glue over it to seal it. I put them on both sides of the handle because I liked the way it looked.

Armor Pieces
I made the belt, knee, and shin pieces out of a thin plastic I cut out and heated to keep a curve. I then used craft foam to create the details. The whole thing was spray painted, then painted with acrylics for aging. I used Velcro and a ton of hot glue to make the straps used to hold them in place.

Here is all our gear laid out and ready to go for Emerald City Comic Con!

Here is all our gear laid out and ready to go for Emerald City Comic Con!

Right Shoulder
This was tricky and now, after two years, I can think of a hundred better ways to do it (mostly just L200 foam or Worbla). What I did for this particular one, was put expanding foam all over a knee pad that fit over my shoulder, then carved it into the right shape. I used paper mache to smooth it out, sanded it, then applied a thin layer of Instamorph over the whole thing to make it strong.

Way too much work, and also the product of a more novice cosplayer (not that I’m a pro now, lol). Seriously, try using L200 foam or Worbla for this shoulder piece if you can. I know you can do a better job than me!

Left Shoulder
I made the left shoulder out of craft foam, then used one piece of plastic from my other armor pieces as a base underneath. This was just a matter of getting the shapes right and gluing them together. I used a painted stud in the front for detail and Velcro to attach.

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Mask
I made two versions of this mask: one in craft foam, the other in Worbla. The Worbla one looked and fitted better, but you could go either way. I simply drew the mask in Illustrator, printed it, traced and cut it out, then heated it up until moldable and pressed it against my face. Painted it, etc. I used wig tape to adhere it. I used gel eyeliner to paint around my eyes, then set it with black matte eye shadow. That makes the darkest, most consistent look.

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Other Details
For the cigar (a must have on this cosplay) for conventions I took black electrical tape around the part that goes in my mouth and put a layer of glue on the rest of it to seal it. Why? The cigar gets wet and flaky fast, which is gross. It starts flaking off everywhere and looks bad.

I got some silver hair chalk and tried graying my hair a bit at the temples. I think it really looked good and added another level of detail.

You could also carry another gun if desired.

10469698_814134345278394_407892681443365845_nIf you have any questions feel free to contact me on facebook or leave a comment here!

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Final Lady Ozymandias Cosplay

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“I don’t mind being the smartest man in the world, I just wish it wasn’t this one.”

This cosplay was a lot of fun to do. It was my first time using L200 (or Y2) foam, and also my first time putting a wig on someone. The only part of this cosplay I never ended up doing were the gold accents on the shoes, but the rest is pretty great! Here is a quick breakdown of how I did it. Don’t forget to check out the video version of this post for more info!

The Basics & Fabric
She has on a gold bodysuit. It was a Zentai suit and then I cut off the head, hands, and feet. For the rest of the fabric items, I used cheap white fabric to get the right shapes and create patterns. Then I sewed the final products.

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She has on a purple tube dress I sewed in about five minutes, then a purple tunic. This is all made out of the same purple knit I got from fabric.com. The cape is made out of the same fabric, attached to the tunic and body suit with safety pins. All of the edges are turned under and sewed.

The Gold Armor6 I built the shoulder piece, belt, forearm bracers, and headband out of L200 foam. I made the patterns first out of paper to ensure the shape was right, then cut it out of L200. At the time I used hot glue to piece them together, but I would HIGHLY discourage that now and recommend Contact Cement! The detailing is done with craft foam and more L200.

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The photo above shows the basic forms of foam armor before any detail was added. Looks kind of funny, eh?

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After all the details were added, from there I sealed the pieces with Mod Podge, applied PlastiDip, then spray paint, then a high gloss clear sealer.

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Wig & Other Details
The wig is from International Wigs. This site looks kind of sketchy, but I’ve ordered three wigs from them and only had one minor shipping delay.

Britt has a TON of hair, but it wasn’t that hard to put it up. I used a ton of bobby pins and slowly wrapped all her hair around her head, pinning as I went, until it pretty much was even. I then applied the cap, wig, and used wig tape to secure it. Rest assured, even if you have a ton of thick hair you can still effectively pin it back! Patience and tons of bobby pins are key.

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The makeup is very simple. Just foundation, eyebrows, a bit of purple and gold eye shadow to define the eyes, mascara, and some lip gloss. She also has purple nails.

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I bought some heels that looked kind of similar to Ozymandias’ and spray painted them purple.

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That’s it! If you have any questions feel free to contact me.

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Half-Life HEV Suit Cosplay- Part 6 (Final Armor Pieces)

Please check out my other blogs on this project for more info and helpful stuff! Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3, Part 4 AND Part 5 on painting where it really gets good. Also do not forget to check out my YouTube channel where I will have more videos and info on this project.

The armor has been built, primed, and painted! Barring a few finishing touches, all the armor is done. This has been a huge undertaking but was extremely fun. The best part of doing this cosplay was definitely painting the armor. I just hope once I get the sewing done and put it all together, it works out.

Anyway, here is a gallery of all the finished pieces! Chest is made out of worbla and the rest is L200 (also known as Y2) foam. Everything will be attached to my pants and shirt with velcro. After this, the next update you’ll see will be a sweet gallery of me IN the suit with Alyx Vance by my side!

Click on any of the images for a larger version!

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Inspiration is a Jerk

Hey, what’s up! Did I catch you at a bad time? Sorry (not really).

I know you’re driving right now and have no way of writing this down, but I have an amazing idea. Like, seriously. This is going to really bring your latest book to the next level. I have to tell you right now though. I’m sure you’ll remember when you get home, this is groundbreaking stuff.

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Did you remember that last thing I told you? No worries, I have another idea and this one is stellar. It’s going to solve that jarring plot hole you have. You’re in the shower? This can’t wait, I’ll just tell you now. Keep thinking about it and right when you get out, go write it down. You’re a writer, right? How could you possibly forget an amazing idea?

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Are you sleeping? You’re just about to fall asleep? I’ll be quick. This idea is totally original and is going to be a best seller, I swear. An idea like this is so good and makes so much sense, there is no way you will forget it. All right, close your eyes and get some sleep! See you in the morning, bright and early, and we’ll get some writing done!

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And now, some tips!

I don’t know about you guys, but inspiration hits me at inconvenient times. I have the best ideas when I can’t write them down. I used to tell myself, if I forgot the idea then it must not have been that great. Not true. Fact is, I get distracted easily. I forget things easily. Ideas can be fleeting. Fortunately I have a few tips that have been working well for me when it comes to inspiration retention. Hopefully they might help you, too.

First and foremost, keep a little notebook and writing utensil with you. The notebook needs to be dedicated to ideas and writing. Even if you only have time to jot down a few words, that might be enough to jog your memory later. This is the most obvious solution, but can be hard to commit to.

In the shower? Driving? Chant the idea. Assuming you have a notebook nearby, if you’re in a predicament where you literally can’t write your idea, chant it until you can. If I realize something in the shower, I’ll repeat the idea in my mind over and over until I’m out and can write it down. Same with driving. Even if you don’t have the notebook, the chanting will help drill the idea into your head and solidify it.

If you have a good thought and someone is near you, tell them. Not because they’re going to remember and tell you later (that would be cool if they did!) but because the mere act of verbalizing it and telling it to someone else will help you remember later. Many times I look at the person I told, remember I told them something good, then will ask them or spend time thinking about what I told them. They become a visual cue.

 

Posted in Humor, On Writing | Tagged , , | 1 Comment