Beautiful People, Vol. 11: 2016 Writerly Goals and Resolutions

Beautiful People 1

Beautiful People is a monthly blog meme hosted by Cait @ Paper Fury and Sky @ Further Up and Further In. Every month they pose 10 questions for writers to answer about their writing and give readers the opportunity to learn more about the writer’s characters.

This month’s Beautiful People isn’t so much about our stories or characters. Instead, it’s about the writers themselves! We’ve been asked to share our writing-related goals and resolutions for 2016. I sort of did this already for my Happy New Year post. However, the following questionnaire will reveal more details for those plans, as well as other insights such as beta readers and critique partners, which character I’d like to get to know better, and which craft book I want to read this year. So, let’s get to it! 🙂

(Visit the Beautiful People category page to catch up on past BP posts.)

1. What were your writing achievements last year?

Finishing the first draft of The Keeper’s Curse was without a doubt the BIG writing highlight for me in 2015. Finally coming up with its title was a welcome relief, too. I had spent 2 years referring to the poor thing as The Book, The WIP, or Eva’s Story because I couldn’t think anything better that reflected the story well enough.

Also, this isn’t exactly a writing achievement, but I attended two writing conferences (Writer’s Digest Conference and The Muse & The Marketplace) in 2015. Both events allowed me to learn more about the business side of writing and meet other people who share my passions and whom I can cheer on as they work on achieving their own writing dreams. Not to mention they were so much fun!

2. Tell us about your top-priority writing project(s) for 2016.

Hmmmm, gee, I wonder what that might be… TKC? 😉 Right now, Draft #2 is almost 80% complete – but it still needs more work before I feel comfortable letting anybody else read it. So, these priorities will require more revising than actual writing, but here’s what I have planned for the WIP this year:

  1. Finish Draft #2: This should happen during the first quarter of 2016. I’ll reveal my target completion date in the next edition of Chronicling The Craft, which should be out next week.
  2. Work on Draft #3: Once Draft #2 is done, I’ll take about 2 weeks off to prepare my “game plan” for Draft #3. Since Draft #2 took half as long as Draft #1 did (1 year as opposed to 2 years, 2 months), I’m hoping Draft #3 will take even less time. No deadline at the moment; I’ll wait until I’m closer to finishing this stage before doing that.
  3. Give TKC to Beta-Readers & Critique Partners: This may be a stretch, but it’s the next logical step after Draft #3. My thinking right now is this won’t happen until the beginning of 2017, at the earliest. Even if it’s ready by the end of 2016, I’d hesitate to ask people to read it over the holidays, since it’s such a busy time for everyone.

3. List five (5) areas you’d like to work the hardest to improve this year.

I could only think of two areas. Both are more “writer’s life” related than craft-related (though I’m sure I need help with some craft areas, too), but they’re the first ones I thought of and the most sensible ones to tackle this year:

  1. Being Less Hard on Myself and Accepting My Process: Originally I was going to call this item “Becoming a Smarter Writer.” The problem is, I already do everything in my power to make my process as efficient as possible. Yet, despite blocking out distractions and using note-taking between sessions and mood-enhancing music to “get in the flow,” I’ve learned that I’m simply not a fast writer. I still beat myself up (figuratively speaking) over it from time to time – and I know I shouldn’t. So, I need to accept the kind of writer I am. I’m self-motivated, passionate, and persistent – and right now, that matters more than writing 1,000 words per hour.
  2. Starting My Writing / Revising Earlier on the Weekends: When you get up at 5:00 AM on weekdays for work, it’s so, SO tempting to stay in bed later on weekends. (If you’re wondering, 8:00 or 9:00 AM is late for me.) This year, I’m going to get up at 7:00 AM on Saturdays, Sundays, and other days I don’t work. That way, I can squeeze in an extra hour or two of novel work while still giving myself a reprieve from super-early mornings. The easiest way to achieve this? Set my cell phone alarm, and put said phone on the other side of the room – which will force me to physically get out of bed to turn the noisy bugger off. 😉

4. Are you participating in any writing challenges?

No. I’m focusing only on personal blogging and novel-writing goals. That’s plenty for me right now.

5. What’s your critique partner / beta reader situation like? Do you have plans to expand this year?

Well, several people have already told me they’d be interested in beta-reading / critiquing TKC once it’s ready. But since the manuscript isn’t actually ready, I can’t say I have anyone committed to it yet. That said, I’ve beta-read for other writers in the past (once for a first chapter, once for the first 3 chapters, and twice for entire manuscripts), and three of them have already volunteered to the return the favor.

I should also mention that I’d be happy to beta-read or critique anyone’s manuscript in the future. Fantasy is my preferred genre, but I also enjoy other types of speculative fiction (science fiction, dystopian, steampunk, etc.) as well as historical fiction. Be warned, though: I’m SLOW. (*lol*) I’m not a fast reader, and my comments tend to be quite in-depth. However, I try to be honest, fair, and constructive in my feedback. If you don’t mind that kind of beta-reader, drop me an email at my Contact page and I’ll let you know if your project might work with my schedule.

Wonderbook_Case_r2.indd

6. Do you have plans to read any writing-related books this year? Or are there specific books you want to read for research?

Wonderbook! I bought it last year at Writer’s Digest Conference, and it’s the one writing-craft book I really want to read this year. Not to mention it’s such a shiny, pretty, colorful thing – because it’s not just a speculative fiction craft book. It’s a speculative fiction craft book FULL of pictures and diagrams. Oh, and essays from writers like Neil Gaiman, Ursula K. Le Guin, Lev Grossman, George R.R. Martin…

Yup. I need to read Wonderbook this year. 😀

7. Pick one character you want to get to know better. How are you going to achieve this?

B-b-b-b-but I want to get to know all of my characters better!

Stitch sniffle gif

OK, if I had to pick one character, it would be Nomaro, one of two protagonists for a novella I’m planning to start once TKC is with beta readers. I’d do this by completing a character profile on him (I do one for each of my characters, covering physical and basic characteristics, personality traits and flaws, personal history, motivations, fears, etc.), and by doing at least one Beautiful People entry for him.

Apart from Nomaro, I’d also like to do Beautiful People entries this year for three characters in TKC whom I haven’t covered yet: Vandar and Doni (the last two of Eva’s fellow Councilors); and Aurek’s brother Drasten, who was featured in last year’s Siblings Edition of Beautiful People but deserves a solo post at some point.

8. Do you plan to edit or query? What’s your plan of attack?

Oh yes, there will be all kinds of editing in 2016. 😉 I already have a plan of attack in mind for Draft #3, but I’ll wait to share that in an upcoming edition of Chronicling The Craft. As for querying, it’s much too soon to think about that. The earliest it will happen at this rate is 2017.

9. Toni Morrison once said, “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” What are the books that you want to see more of, and what “holes” do you think need filling in the literary world?

I’d like to see more YA fantasies that focus on non-romantic relationships. There’s been talk in the blogosphere about more friendships between female protagonists in this genre, and I support that idea wholeheartedly. (In fact, I’m reading one such book right now, Truthwith by Susan Dennard.) But I’d be just as happy to see more stories about siblings, parents and children, relatives, male and female-male friendships, etc. I’ve got a couple story ideas along those lines, but they’ll have to simmer on the backburner until time and clarity allow for them to “fully cook,” if you know what I mean. 😉

10. What do you hope to have achieved by the end of 2016?

To be as close as possible to finishing Draft #3 of TKC, if not done and ready to send it off to beta readers and critique partners. I also want to have an outline for my novella ready so I can start drafting it while I’m waiting on TKC feedback.

That’s it for this month’s edition of Beautiful People. What do you think of my writing goals and resolutions for 2016? What are some of yours?

41 thoughts on “Beautiful People, Vol. 11: 2016 Writerly Goals and Resolutions

  1. Those sound like some great resolutions! (And we’ll be working on draft three at the same time, hehe.)

    I also may end up taking you up on your offer about critiquing, depending on whether or not my two possible beta-readers at the moment actually pan out.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You have set your goals very clearly, Sara – which in my experience is crucial. When we’re in the midst of goal-setting/writing down that really cool idea, etc, we can’t POSSIBLY imagine we’ll forget all the nuances, extra consequences and linked objectives we’ll need to tackle… until we do several months down the line! And the other aspect I applaud in this set of goal, is that you’re being KIND to yourself, which is great! As you say, you’re already working as hard as you can. So, you don’t write fast. This is also your first book and therefore a huge learning curve – as you continue in your writing career you may find you speed up… or you may not. But at the end of the day, it has to be about the QUALITY. All the best with your editing and as you’ve mentioned – I’m more than happy to be a beta-reader when the time comes:).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Sarah! I think the key this year is simply being reasonable with my goals. Last year I thought I’d plow through Draft #2 of TKC in a couple months. That was… overly ambitious, to say the least.

      And the kindness bit… I think we could all be kinder to ourselves, and sometimes it starts by saying, “It’s OK if I’m not [fill in the blank]” and accepting the fact. It’s a lot harder than we think, to make those kinds of changes in our thinking… But it’s a start.

      TKC is actually the second book I’ve ever written. I finished my first one… 9 years ago? (Jeez, that seems so long ago now…) And I managed to get through a second draft before trunking it during the third. I basically lost the passion for it, and it was hard to manage it with moving and other life changes that were going on… But it also had a lot of issues that I was trying to ignore. I’ve learned a lot about novel-writing since then, though, and I think TKC is a much stronger story than the previous one.

      You were one of the writers / readers I was hinting at in #5. So of course, you’re on my list, Sarah, and I’ll be thrilled to have you read TKC when the time (finally) comes. 🙂

      Like

  3. I definitely agree with non-romantic relationships. I’m rather annoyed with culture’s obsession with having romance in every single story, and I think there need to be more strong platonic relationships between guys and girls in literature. And, of course, more girl friendships in speculative fiction.
    It was great to read about your plans for this year! I hope you achieve it all and much more, and I’ll be praying for you. =)
    And I did this month’s Beautiful People, if you want to check it out: https://victoriam00.wordpress.com/2016/01/14/beautiful-people-january/

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re actually next on my list for responding to BP posts – so I’ll be over there in a bit! 😉

      I don’t romance at all. It’s just that it’s nice to see a change once in a while. Though I’m not a fan of love triangles, so… yeah. You won’t ever see me write about those!

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  4. Everyone’s answers to #9 have had me nodding along saying “YES!” And whatever happened to friendships?? I don’t like the disturbing trend in books where male-female friendships develop into a love triangle (once Danger, or Chance, or whatever bad boy/girl comes along). I have A LOT of guy friends (and I did as a teenager too, btw), and to date, I have fallen in love with, exactly none of them. Zero. So I know it works. And I love friendship stories in general (look at Frodo and Sam in LOTR). I want some more epic female friendships (these actually used to be pretty common in novels). I’m sure these books are out there somewhere, they are just harder to find!
    (Sheesh, I’m becoming ranty over this question on absolutely everyone’s blog)

    All that aside, it looks like you are not only organized, but you have a lot of great writing goals (plausible ones at that). I’m always excited to read more about TKC (and I share your delight at finding the perfect name). You’ve probably noted my enthusiasm for anything fairy-related by now!

    Good luck – and Happy Writing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Actually, I was going to add “NO MORE LOVE TRIANGLES IN YA, PLEASE!” *lol* I’m not a fan of them, either; they’re just not realistic. But I decided not to mention it because I wanted to stay positive. 😉

      I’d actually like to a 5 on the 5th or #5onFri (the latter for DIY MFA) on female friendships in speculative fiction (for all ages, not just YA). I just need to check and see if I’ve actually read five such books – and if not, that will have to wait for a bit.

      Thank you! I don’t know if I actually feel organized, if you know what I mean, but having a plan always helps. And honestly, I would be thrilled if you wanted to beta-read TKC when it’s ready. From reading your book reviews, BP posts, and responses to my BP posts, you seem to be the kind of reader who looks at things with a constructive, discerning eye – and I know that’s what I’ll need. But it’s totally up to you. (I’d be happy to beta-read TLCS when it’s ready, too, btw.)

      Like

      • Love triangles make me feel like a dragon on a rampage. (With VERY FEW exceptions). And while I admire your intentions to stay positive, my inner rampaging dragon is not always shut down by tea and yoga (though there seem to be a few magical songs that can distract it)

        I am totally on board for beta reading TKC!!! (Eventually, no rush – because I totally understand) I honestly have more experience beta reading than having my stuff read. I’m not the fastest reader, but I put a lot of time and thought into honest reactions/feedback. And despite my rantyness^^, I’m normally a calm, harmless sort. I swear.
        Likewise for TLCS – it needs a lot of work (I need to read it through and see if it makes sense before I even think of editing it, so we’re really early on here). But I will eventually want someone other than me to read it. Preferably BEFORE I get to the stage where I decide it’s the worst book ever written, lol! Thanks for even being willing 🙂 I really appreciate everyone’s kindness and honesty when I mention the subject.

        Liked by 1 person

      • XD You mean like Smaug rage-flying through Erebor??? XD

        Yay! (I think we discussed the beta-reading thing on your blog, too, but YAY again!) And don’t worry about your beta-reading “speed.” The amount of feedback is what matters more to me. Actually, it sounds like we might have very similar beta-reading / critiquing styles…

        Hey, I’m always happy to help my writing pals make their stories the best they can possibly be. Plus, TLCS sounds like something I would read while being totally unique from anything else I’ve ever heard of. I love having my mind blown by someone else’s imagination. 😀

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  5. Awesome goals!! And yes I completely agree that there’s way too much romance in YA books (not that romance is a bad thing, but I feel that many books focus too much on it). And love triangles are starting to become a pet peeve of mine. :/ But good luck with all your goals!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Awesome post! Sounds like you have some great goals this year… Best of luck on achieving them! 🙂

    I also agree on the putting the alarm on the other side of the room thing. XD I don’t actually have a job at the moment, but I do love my sleep, and it’s SO. HARD. for me to get up earlier. So it’s a trick I use often when I actually need to get up early. 😛

    Being hard on myself about my writing is something I do too, so I feel you on that one! It’s okay to be slow, yes! I hope you can embrace your own unique approach to writing. ^_^

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I will add to everyone’s comments on #9: “Please, no more YA love triangles!” I don’t mind some romance, as long as it doesn’t involve triangles, but I prefer friendships. I’ll have to do this month’s BP post soon, too. I’ve fallen behind with so many things these past few weeks, but I’d like to catch up now.

    I’m sure you know this already, but I’d be more than happy to be a beta reader for TKC. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • *lol* I don’t mind romances, either, especially if they’re convincing and don’t overshadow the protagonist’s relationships with other characters. But… love triangles… they’re just not realistic!

      I’ll keep an eye out for your BP post. 😉 But don’t feel rushed to finish it if you don’t have time.

      Of course I’d be happy to have you as a beta-reader for TKC! 🙂 And I extend the same offer to you when your story is ready.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I love how open you are with your process! It really makes me feel like I’m working alongside you. I just recommended your blog to someone who was complaining about the lack of writers who make their process transparent. That’s something you’ve inspired me to do more of. Hey, I guess that’s a goal for 2016!
    And PS- I hope I’m one of the people on your list to return the beta-read favor! So grateful to you for doing it for me!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh wow, thank you, Leanne! 🙂 The writing process feels like a natural thing to talk about, so I figure, “Why not?” And I like how you’ve made it a goal for 2016.

      Of course! You were one of the people I was hinting at in the beta-reader section. 😉 I’m sorry that it won’t be for a while, but you are absolutely on my list of people to read TKC when it’s ready.

      Like

  9. I love that you want to work more on accepting your writing process. It can be so tough to embrace ourselves as the writers we are, instead of as the writers we wish we were. One thing I’ve had to learn to accept is that I can’t sit and write for hours on end, even if I have time to do it. Instead, I write in 300-500 word spurts. If I try to write more than that without a short break, I burn out!

    Liked by 1 person

    • “It can be so tough to embrace ourselves as the writers we are, instead of as the writers we wish we were.”

      Absolutely! And it’s tough to reconcile those differences sometimes. But the more we fight our process, the less productive and more stressed-out we’ll be – and it’s not worth it.

      I actually love long marathon sessions. *lol* I do take breaks along the way, for lunch, brewing more tea, etc. Of course, sometimes I have a problem with ending the writing / revising session altogether. For example, I’ll say that I need to stop at 6 pm to cook dinner… but then 6 pm comes around, and I’m so motivated to finish a scene that I push myself onward… and when I actually finish, it’s almost 8 pm. XD

      Actually, that’s probably something I should have listed under “things to work on”: ending my writing sessions when I say I’m going to, so I don’t screw up my schedule for the rest of the evening. :S

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Oh, these sound like fantastic goals! You are so dedicated to your writing. To the point of getting up early to keep at it. (I seriously fail at that one.)

    And you went to two writer’s conferences?? Aaahhh!!! My dream right there. So excited for you!

    Looks like it’s going to be a great writing year. I hope everything turns out wonderfully for you! ^_^

    Liked by 1 person

    • *lol* Yes, well, I’m sort of struggling with the “getting up early” bit still. That alarm clock may wake ME up, but not my motivation to get out of bed just yet. XD

      Yes! Two conferences last year. 😀 I’m returning to one of them this summer, and might do another one… It depends on how the rest of 2016 shapes up, so we’ll see.

      Thank you, Christine! Best of luck to you, too. 🙂

      Like

  11. I’m so glad you’ve made so much progress in TKC! I hope you reach your goal and finish it this year! Will this be your first finished craft? Everyone has their own process and as long as you can get a book finished that’s what matters. Best wishes. ^ ^

    storitorigrace.blogspot.com

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Tori! 🙂

      I’ve actually finished a book before this one, and made it as far as the middle of Draft #3. But then I had to put it aside because of moving to my condo, and then finishing up a great-great-aunt’s life story before she passed away (i.e., I interviewed her about her life and wrote it in a sort of bookish format, then printed copies of it for her family). When I went back to the novel, I decided to trunk it because I’d lost the passion for it. :/

      Ohhhhh, the apocalypse would have to happen in order for me to stop working on TKC now. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Pingback: Time Flies!: January 2016 | Sara Letourneau's Official Website & Blog

  13. Wonderbook looks amazing! A writing book with essays by famous authors AND pictures and diagrams? All I can say is, I really need to get my hands on a copy of this book pronto. Also, I love your bookish goals. It sounds like you have a real drive to get The Keeper’s Curse finished. Good luck with all your revisions! Most of my bookish goals revolve around revisions this year as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Imogen! Yes, TKC is my priority. It’s hard for me to work on multiple stories at one time for various reasons. That said, I really love this story, and I want to make it as strong as it can be, so it’s getting as much of my attention as possible until I say it’s “done.”

      Oh yes. That’s exactly what Wonderbook is. The fact that it focuses solely on speculative fiction is also a huge plus. 😉

      Thanks for stopping by! Good luck again on your writing and revision goals for 2016.

      Like

  14. 2017… *thinks* Okay. I can wait patiently. ^_^

    And I heartily agree with what you said about more FRIENDSHIPS in YA fantasy! Sometimes romance feels trite and forced. EVERY story does NOT need to have a romance. (Or at least, it doesn’t need to center around romance.)

    I mean, romance is nice, but I’d like to see a bit more open-mindedness with character relationships. Especially between guys and gals. Everyone does not have to be “shipped.” That doesn’t even reflect real life! We have normal, platonic relationships with people of the opposite sex all the time. Why can’t we see that more in fiction?

    Or maybe I’m just less romantic-at-heart than the average person, I don’t know. 😉 But I’d definitely love to see more fictional friendships.

    Liked by 1 person

    • ^^ Yes to everything you just said about fictional friendships. I don’t mind romances, either – especially when they’re well done. But more variety in relationships would be very welcome. 😉

      About 2017… yeah, well… It’s hard when you’re not a fast writer, and when you also don’t have a lot of writing time due to your work schedule and other commitments. I have to make do with the time I have. But when I do, all my focus goes straight to the story. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

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