E20 – Coaching with Meg Moore (video, show notes, transcript)
In this episode, Miss Catherine M.H. and V.E. Griffith coach Australian Meg Moore through beginning her new novel!
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V.E. Griffith’s website: https://www.vegriffith.com
Miss Catherine M.H.’s website: https://www.scribes-pen.com
Transcript at: https://revisionwizards.com/?p=2311
Miss Catherine MH 00:00:00
Welcome to the Revision Wizards podcast. I’m Miss. Catherine MH. And I’m joined by my magic haggling co-host, VE Griffith. This is episode 20 and we are doing a coaching session with a new writer, Meg Moore. This episode is sponsored by our amazing patrons who help us to build our podcast so we can help you make your editing and revision process so much better.
VE Griffith 00:00:24
Our podcast patrons help us to pay for transcripts of our shows that are available on our website and for better audio recording quality. So I don’t sound so awful. If you’d be willing to support the show financially for as little as a buck an episode, we have a bunch of neat benefits you can take advantage of, including a special podcast feed with extra content and personal updates. Inside access as we collaborate on a Kindlevella project, the opportunity to ask questions for an Ask the Editor episode, professional editing, and more. You can find out everything you need to know at patreon.com/revisionwizards. And with that, off with Meg Moore. All right, so let’s get started. If you’d please tell us your name and your pronouns.
Meg Moore 00:01:06
My name is Meg Moore and my pronouns are she here.
VE Griffith 00:01:09
Great. So, Miss. Catherine, why don’t you get us started today?
Meg Moore 00:01:13
Miss Catherine MH 00:01:14
Okay, so let’s start with what kind of genre are you writing. So this way I get an idea.
Meg Moore 00:01:22
Yeah. So it’s a fantasy series. I have in mind a trilogy, I’m thinking.
Miss Catherine MH 00:01:27
Okay, let’s see. I know I sent you some of these questions, so you already know what I’m going to ask you. All right, so how confident do you feel in your story concept?
Meg Moore 00:01:40
So I’ve fleshed out a lot of it just talking to people over the years. I guess I’ve got the three main characters really well fleshed out in personality. I’ve got what they called beat. I don’t know.
Miss Catherine MH 00:01:54
No, no, that’s right.
Meg Moore 00:01:55
In my head, I’ve got I write a lot of things in my head and I sort of taken an idea and written out whole scenes in my head, but there’s nothing, no pen to paper yet.
Miss Catherine MH 00:02:07
Meg Moore 00:02:08
Not for this one.
Miss Catherine MH 00:02:09
How do you feel about your world building?
Meg Moore 00:02:11
I have a great imagination, but I could use a lot of, I guess, help teasing it all out.
Miss Catherine MH 00:02:19
Okay, so if you were to say like, hey, this is one of the biggest, I don’t want to call it a problem, but a problem I’m facing with getting started, what would that be for you?
Meg Moore 00:02:33
I think maybe having a format to use is what I need, I think to help get me started.
Miss Catherine MH 00:02:42
Do you mean like a series bible or like an outline? What do you mean by format?
Meg Moore 00:02:49
I guess I’ve got a lot of great problems that have happened and then the solving of the problem, but it’s about, I guess, where to put it. Okay, so say I’ve got a kidnapping. Where do I put this kidnapping? Where do I put this rescue? That kind of thing.
Miss Catherine MH 00:03:13
VE Griffith 00:03:13
Sounds like a job for scrivener.
Miss Catherine MH 00:03:17
Meg Moore 00:03:17
I prefer google docs.
Miss Catherine MH 00:03:19
Yes. I also like sticky notes. Sticky notes will do it too. If you write them on sticky notes, you can move them around. So, like, you can get a board, write out the ideas, and then you can shift them.
Meg Moore 00:03:32
Do you mean sticky notes? Yeah. I thought you meant like an app sticky note.
Miss Catherine MH 00:03:38
I’m sure they have those too, but I actually use sticky notes.
Meg Moore 00:03:43
That’s probably a good thing. Actually, I might try that because I am a very tactile person.
Miss Catherine MH 00:03:49
Okay. All right. So, if you could, I know this is a challenge, if you were to describe a bit of your book using five sentences, what would it be like? So, like, your story, what is it in like, about five sentences?
Meg Moore 00:04:06
If you could it’s a fantasy series where we see what normally would be considered the antagonists. They go on a journey to end up as the protagonist. So it’s three main characters. One is the ruler of an empire, the other is her captain of the guard, and the third is the husband of the captain of the guard.
Miss Catherine MH 00:04:06
Okay. Anything else? I guess here, let me give you a little more direction. You have it set up in your head as a trilogy. What would you say book one is about?
Meg Moore 00:04:43
Book one is about the protagonist’s quest to find out why her husband attempted to assassinate her queen.
Miss Catherine MH 00:04:52
Why who was assassinating the queen, why her husband? Is that what she said?
Meg Moore 00:04:56
Yes. So the captain of the guard tasked with protecting the queen, her own husband, has attempted failed attempt, an assassination, and the protagonist’s quest is to track down her husband and bring him to justice and find out why he’s betrayed her and her queen.
Miss Catherine MH 00:05:18
What would book two be about?
Meg Moore 00:05:21
Book two would be about the revelation to the protagonist, captain of the guard, that her country, her queen’s empire, is corrupt and colonizing, has used weather magic because it’s called the weather queen. The first book is weather magic has basically enabled this kingdom to colonize a continent and most of the islands. And book two sorry, let’s get back to that. Book two is about the protagonist learning to understand the damage that’s being done to other nations with weather magic. And it’s about basically bringing our protagonist on-site to understand why what she’s believed to be right isn’t right. And there’s also a love triangle with her husband and one of the people in the resistance who initially radicalized her husband.
Miss Catherine MH 00:06:30
Okay, and what about book three? What is book three about?
Meg Moore 00:06:35
Book three, so I sorry, I probably need to add with book two. Book two also follows the queen, who is back in the capital city dealing with the fallout of the assassination attempt. I haven’t fleshed out exactly how it’s going to happen, but she is going to be removed from office and smuggled out of the kingdom. And the idea is not to kill her, but to keep her out of the kingdom. So that happened and sort of book two ends on that kind of cliffhanger. Book three is about the queen’s journey, so she loses absolutely everything she’s bought completely low, and starts to learn about the damage that her ancestors have brought on the continent and the islands. And what happens is the protagonist finds out that her queen’s been kidnapped, launches a rescue mission, they bring the queen back to the hideout of the resistance, and she’s actually learnt a lot. She’s suffered, and she wants her kingdom back, and she makes a deal with the resistance members to help her take back to the kingdom.
Miss Catherine MH 00:07:52
That’s pretty fleshed out for me, so I can see where you’re at. VE do you have any questions while I finish jotting my notes?
VE Griffith 00:08:03
Not so far. I think this is a good start, and I’m going to be interested to see sort of where we can go with it.
Miss Catherine MH 00:08:10
All right, so you’re talking about formatting as being your struggle. Do you write anything down or would you call yourself a pantser? Would you want to have things written out for yourself, or do you want it to just be like, whatever, I’ll write it.
Meg Moore 00:08:28
I’m a bit of a pantser. I like to write a scene and then jig saw it up with, like, I think this scene belongs in this chapter, so I’m going to jig saw it up and then mix it up. So that’s sort of how I do that. This is very higgledy piggy.
Miss Catherine MH 00:08:48
That’s all right.
VE Griffith 00:08:49
It sounds like part of your problem actually is process, and it may be that we need to find the right organizational system for you in Google Docs or Google Drive. Or it may be that Google Docs is the wrong tool because of the way you write. And I’m not trying to push scrivener. There are other tools, but it’s something to think about that Google Docs is good for short form stuff. It’s good for letters and things like that. But when you’re starting to move large blocks of text around, it really starts to fall down and be difficult to keep organized.
Meg Moore 00:09:26
I kind of see it like just this long sheet of butcher’s paper that I can just keep bringing down to write more on.
VE Griffith 00:09:33
Well, that metaphor works well, as long as you’re not taking a pair of scissors to chop the butcher paper and then move it around. That’s where Google Docs starts to fall down.
Meg Moore 00:09:46
Cut and paste.
VE Griffith 00:09:47
Okay, we’ll talk.
Miss Catherine MH 00:09:49
I use Google Docs too, so I get it. I will say, though, that after about page 150, when you’re writing on Google Docs, it starts to slow down. So that I’ve noticed you will get to a point where it takes a really long time to load back up, and that can get frustrating. So for me, when I have it in my Google Docs, I have a part one, two, three. That’s why I have those parts, by the way, because you will get to a point where you’re like, oh, my stuff is slowing down. Next part. When you write in Google Docs, are you writing strictly in one document?
Meg Moore 00:10:33
No, I tend to do a chapter. Each chapter is a document. Each document? Yes. So I’ve got a particular document that I call my travels document, where I write in a lot of scenes that I don’t know where it’s going to go yet, in what chapter and when I’ve, like, say, I might be writing, sometimes I’m writing a couple of chapters, which is possibly not the most organized way to do it.
Miss Catherine MH 00:11:07
Do you have a master document where it’s this is it from one to whatever. So you can look through and be like, yes.
Meg Moore 00:11:16
No, I don’t. Something I should start doing.
Miss Catherine MH 00:11:20
Not saying it has to be scrivener, but is there anything else you write in besides Google Docs?
Meg Moore 00:11:27
No, not at the moment.
Miss Catherine MH 00:11:29
Does Microsoft work on a Mac? Yes. It would have to, right? Like you can get one note on it.
Meg Moore 00:11:36
Miss Catherine MH 00:11:38
All right. I suggest looking into OneNote. That’s something else I use, so I don’t have to be online either, but it will sync online so I can sync it to my phone still in case I wanted to write something on my phone. You can organize it a lot easier than you can in Google Docs, so you can have each section be like, I’ll send you pictures of how I set up mine, and you can have draft 1-2-3-4 all there with all of the chapters and like a note section where you can add extra scene and title them. Okay, so that might be a little easier because you can keep it all in one, so it’s not you’re looking at Google Docs and it’s all there. Do you color code your documents by any chance?
Meg Moore 00:12:28
I don’t. No.
Miss Catherine MH 00:12:30
Do you have anywhere that you would have written out, like an outline? It doesn’t have to be an outline, but you’re like, if this was the order of events. This is sort of what I’d do.
Meg Moore 00:12:30
Miss Catherine MH 00:12:30
Meg Moore 00:12:43
So not with this particular idea, but the things I have written before, that’s generally how I start with an outline.
Miss Catherine MH 00:12:50
And for your world building or characters, do you have anything from them written down?
Meg Moore 00:12:57
Miss Catherine MH 00:12:58
Meg Moore 00:12:58
What’s in my head, but no.
Miss Catherine MH 00:13:00
Interesting. You write similar to me. I’ll either keep it all in my head or I have to jot it all down. So have you ever heard of the turn your chapters into one-sentence summaries?
Meg Moore 00:13:13
I think so, yes.
Miss Catherine MH 00:13:15
Okay, so what you can do…
VE Griffith 00:13:17
Sometimes it can be called the 40-sentence outline.
Miss Catherine MH 00:13:21
Yeah, but she’s already written the chapter. What I will do is after I’ve written a chapter, I will give myself a one sentence summary on what that chapter is. And then when I’m looking at where I want stuff in the book, you have one sentence, and you can technically read your book in one sentence for each chapter to make sure that they’re lining up where you would like them to. So if you have this one chapter that’s like, here’s the stake out before they raid the castle. And, you know, that like, oh, we have a raid out the castle here, then this goes right there. Doing pretty much a reverse outline in that sense, where you will go through and just, here is what this chapter is about. And then you also don’t have to go back through to be like, where was did I write this chapter? You will see it as bam. I have that sentence already.
Meg Moore 00:14:24
I like puzzles, so that kind of works with the way my brain works.
Miss Catherine MH 00:14:28
That works on sticky notes, too. I like sticky notes. That’s how I’ll start. If I ever I write an outline, it’s made in sticky notes, which usually get lost eventually, so it’s not like I follow them anyway, but they would have started off so I could move things around. And if you like to be really detailed, you can get different colored sticky notes to follow different characters to make sure that they’re going in directions.
Meg Moore 00:14:56
Miss Catherine MH 00:14:58
You can do that with typing, too. You can pick a color. So when you’re doing those sentences, this whole chapter is all about the queen. The queen gets put in red. So you can also see how many chapters are following what subplots that you also have going on just by color coding.
Meg Moore 00:15:17
That’s great. I like that. Yeah.
Miss Catherine MH 00:15:20
Becomes fun and addicting. You can also do it with changing the color. If you don’t even want to do that, you can change just the color of your Google Docs page so you can look through and just see the colors of the pages. So if we were to help you solve or go over something, do you have, like, an idea or a concept, even world building, that you’re really struggling with and would want to talk it out with us?
Meg Moore 00:15:48
I need to find a way that I can, I guess, some sort of internal world laws or how things work in terms of the weather magic. We need to figure out a way that the bad guys can’t have a reason, I guess, to not want her dead and want to smuggle her out instead of killing her.
Miss Catherine MH 00:16:14
Meg Moore 00:16:15
And I’m a bit stuck on that, so I kind of started with thinking, well, like, there’s maybe some way that a transfer of power happens with the death of a king or queen that can destroy the transfer if not done an exact way. And that’s why, if I guess, the monarch was to be killed through maybe not a generational curse, like some sort of curse that protects yeah, I guess I was thinking of a curse as a mechanism to save her reason to keep her alive.
Miss Catherine MH 00:16:53
So I guess I should then go to your magic system, because it sounds like that is where if we figure out a bit more of your magic system, we can figure out why a queen would be important. So with your magic system, I do have templates that I create for people that helps them fill out stuff. So I’ll also send you one of those. Tell me a little bit about your magic. Is it something that anybody can do, or do you have to be born with it? Do you have to learn it? Tell me a little bit about your magic.
Meg Moore 00:17:28
Yeah, okay. So the magic is a tightly held thing that happens. It’s to do with bloodline. So it’s really only a small family who have for several hundred years been slowly growing in power because of the weather magic. It’s localized weather magic, so they can’t pull, I guess, a huge tornado out of nothing straight away. So there’s time frame, so things take time, and I guess I want to make it not realistic, but you manage to sort of shift the weather a certain way, and then the actual outcome you want happens a week later. So you need storms in a certain place to wreck some enemy ships. That requires planning because you’ve got to be physically there. So the family members, usually it’s the ruler of the empire, sort of goes to war, essentially with their armies because they need to be physically in this place that they’re trying to affect the weather.
Miss Catherine MH 00:18:50
So with that little bit you have that the family then became the royal family. Right? Who can do magic.
Meg Moore 00:19:01
Miss Catherine MH 00:19:02
Okay, so how many family members?
Meg Moore 00:19:06
So we’ve actually got quite a big family. There’s a lot of infighting, and it’s an absolute sort of I don’t know what you would call it. It’s not a monarchy because it’s an empire, but it’s an absolute monarchy, sort of Magna Carter style. And although it’s an absolute monarchy, there’s no senate or congress or whatever, there is a lot of politicking and powerful nobles who are not family, but still rich and powerful can still impact the ruler and their experience ruling pretty hard.
Miss Catherine MH 00:20:04
Why is she the queen?
Meg Moore 00:20:07
I wanted to have some flashbacks at certain points to sort of address that. And she is the daughter of a, I haven’t decided if it’s a mum or dad who was the previous ruler, but basically, she’s just the direct she was the Princess royal, fully expecting to take over the throne someday, just a bit sooner than she thought.
Miss Catherine MH 00:20:35
Okay, so it has nothing to do with the amount of magic she can produce. Right?
Meg Moore 00:20:41
What has nothing to do with it?
Miss Catherine MH 00:20:44
So the direct line of secession has nothing to do with the amount of magic she can do, right?
Meg Moore 00:20:51
Yes, it’s completely along descendant lines, whatever you call that, family lines. It’s nothing to do with the most powerful person in weather magic gets the throne. Which is interesting because you will get some very powerful people who, like cousins and whatnot, who have the magic and maybe want the throne. Yes, there’s a lot of that.
Miss Catherine MH 00:21:27
Okay, so if you have more family members with magic, does that weaken the amount of magic? So let’s say if you killed off a family member, does the rest of them gain what that person would have had?
Meg Moore 00:21:41
It’s actually depending on how direct a descendant you are to the first person who was blessed with weather magic, that determines how powerful you are. So there are, I guess, younger son of younger son style families, the power sort of tapers off and you get people who kind of can really not do much at all.
Miss Catherine MH 00:22:12
Where is she on the power level?
Meg Moore 00:22:16
She is unremarkable. I guess there’s been a fair few kings and queens in recent times that have been average in power, so they haven’t done anything much with it or pushed bands or anything. And she looks to be going the same way. So she’s competent, but there’s no amazing sort of, wow, new wonder king, wonder queen sort of thing.
Miss Catherine MH 00:22:45
If you were kidnapped, let’s say, can somebody use your magic because you’re in a location? So if you’re a family member, can you tap into your other family members to try to build this huge storm faster? So if you kidnapped a bunch of your members of your family, could you use them as like, power?
Meg Moore 00:23:12
It’s not something that they can force by magical means, but they can physically and politically put pressure on her family to be a part of weather magic. That needs to have quite a lot of people involved and there’s many different reasons for that. So it comes down to maintaining crops and everything. There might be unimportant family members that are expected to go sort of like on a rotation of the continent and help with rainfall and that kind of thing and make sure everything’s exact. And the more powerful ones will have more plumb jobs like military sort of the more powerful ones get to do to basically make a name for themselves through conquest.
Miss Catherine MH 00:24:08
Who takes her place when she is smuggled out?
Meg Moore 00:24:12
So in my mind, I have a bit of a cabal of sinister, powerful relatives who are not, I guess, power hungry and greedy and they don’t like because the queen is very young and they are used to I guess her father was a lot pretty much corrupt, so they were used to one way of doing things. And the queen’s attempting to I guess she knows that she’s been put into a bit of a puppet queen position and she’s trying to get out of from under that thumb, from those shadowy sort of people. I haven’t decided whether they’re going to be people that she knows and trusts or people that she’s fully aware of her political enemies.
Miss Catherine MH 00:25:06
Okay, so if I was a person with magic and somebody’s like holding a sword to my neck, being like, if you don’t do this, you’re going to die, can I transfer my ability to another family member? Or if I die, does my ability and what I can do completely vanish?
Meg Moore 00:25:30
Yeah, it completely vanishes.
Miss Catherine MH 00:25:32
Where do they smuggle her to?
Meg Moore 00:25:33
I feel as though it needs to be a completely separate out of colony that she’s ruled that’s ruling over essentially somewhere where a lot of abuses and horrible things are happening that she can see and maybe even experience firsthand. And they’re happening in her name? Well, they were happening in her name until very recently. I just haven’t fleshed out the culture that she’s going to be sent to yet.
Miss Catherine MH 00:25:59
Okay, so I can see two ways for the smuggling to happen. One, how young is she?
Meg Moore 00:26:08
She’s 19, and she’s been in power for about eight months.
Miss Catherine MH 00:26:13
So one, you can have your bad guys smuggle her out there to threaten her. This is what we can do to you. You’re not powerful enough. We can dump you here and nobody would know what happens to you. So they could use it as a threatening piece for her, or she is smuggled out by someone who kind of feels bad for her but can only get her to a location that most people wouldn’t know. Like, oh, hey, you’re really young and they’re really going to actually kill you. I kind of feel bad for you. Let me smuggle you out. Not that I’m actually going to help help you. I’m going to dump you off here.
Meg Moore 00:26:55
That would actually really help, because it means that I don’t need to have a reason for them not to kill her because they actually do want to. They just miss their chance. Okay. Yeah, I love that.
Miss Catherine MH 00:27:10
Yeah, like, they’d feel bad being like, I’m killing a teenager shouldn’t have a whole lot. We’ll sort of help you. I feel like this person would help in this way in order to be like, hey, oh, no, she got away, but look where she’s at. It ain’t going to be like she’s going to live.
Meg Moore 00:27:29
Yeah. And I guess her personality. She’s very sweet and not timid, but just charming, I think, and she’s really well-loved by the people in her city.
Miss Catherine MH 00:27:44
Okay, so I’ve got lots of notes that I do plan on typing up for you. I’ve got some templates I can send you to, so I have stuff where, like, your government we can figure out your empire setup and how that runs for you. I have a magic one. I have weather.
Meg Moore 00:28:02
Miss Catherine MH 00:28:04
I’ve got some of these templates. I can definitely send them to you. You can put them in Google Docs. You can have them in there. You can fill them out. So they’re set right in there. I’ll send you a few pictures of, like I said, how I set up my one note, because that might also be an easier solution than just having tons of Google documents, because eventually, you do eat up your storage. I’m at that point, I’m at 94% in mine, and I’m like, oh, whoops. That’s not going to work anymore. So unless you want to keep creating or buying stuff, one note does work in that it will keep it all separate per chapter, and you can click back and forth through them. There is scrivener. Not that I like Scrivener, so all right, VE, do you have anything?
VE Griffith 00:29:00
Are tools other than Scrivener, and we can help you find them. The big thing that I am hearing, I feel like a lot of the world building stuff can work itself out as you write, and we can have another session later if you get stuck somewhere. I feel like a lot of what’s going to help here is figuring out how to keep you organized and how to keep your ideas straight in your head. And so whether we go to something like Scrivener or one of its competing products like Campfire or something like that, or if we go to a big white poster board that you have lots of Post it notes on. I think that I’m hearing that that’s a place where you’re struggling, not creating, but in organizing and in keeping it straight in your head. And when that starts to happen, the problem that you run into is it starts to affect your writing. So if we can keep it straight in so you don’t have to keep it in your head, and you can use a reference, oh, they’re in this crazy place, because, okay, now I can go back to writing. So you don’t have to remember those kinds of details. It helps you keep stuff straight. And I think that’s going to be a big place where you’re going to get a lot of benefit.
Miss Catherine MH 00:30:23
Yeah. As much as fun as keeping things in your head are, writing some of it down will clear space to just add more into your head.
VE Griffith 00:30:35
Let me ask, what is your eventual goal here? Are you wanting to publish? Are you wanting to traditional publish, or is this just for entertainment?
Meg Moore 00:30:44
I do want to publish. I just haven’t decided exactly how that will go.
VE Griffith 00:30:50
Okay, well, we need to solve the getting it written problem first anyway.
Miss Catherine MH 00:30:54
How fast are you at writing?
Meg Moore 00:30:56
When I’m on a roll, I’m pretty fast.
Miss Catherine MH 00:30:59
And do you write every single day, or is it like most of us Pantsers, suddenly you want to write?
Meg Moore 00:31:06
I haven’t written for a long time, and I have sort of come to that point where I feel ready to write again.
VE Griffith 00:31:14
Is there anything else on your mind that you want to cover while we have time?
Meg Moore 00:31:18
No, I’ve got some really good ideas there. I really love the little tweak with how the queen gets smuggled out. Very excited about that.
VE Griffith 00:31:32
Okay, then what we will do is we’ll get you the materials that we’re going to put together for you, and then we’ll check back in with you in a few months and see how it’s going.
Meg Moore 00:31:44
Awesome. A reason to write.
VE Griffith 00:31:46
Yeah. Now you have a reason to write, and you want to get back on the show, so you got to have something to produce to show us and tell us how it went.
Meg Moore 00:31:55
Thank you both very much. Really appreciated.
VE Griffith 00:31:58
All right, so that’s going to be all for today, I think, and we will see everybody next time.
Miss Catherine MH 00:32:04