Monday, December 24, 2007
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Go figure! Just when I ended my last post with the very optimistic comment that nothing would stop me now, what else happens but something that could stop me! Ugh. I should have known better than to jinx my writing progress!
I won't go into details because I'm such a private person, but something rather significant came up that most definitely did take all my time, energy and focus away from writing. I didn't write at all last week, and am now struggling to get back into it. C'est la vie! The distraction was certainly something important enough to cause such an upset to my routine. I'm not upset with myself for not writing -- it was entirely appropriate to set it aside under the circumstances -- but now it's time to get back to work. I can still finish JASPER within December if I get a move on.
Current status on JASPER, after cutting and editing again, and adding a little: around 28k, in Chapter 10. Goal: 60k to 65k.
Where's that RESET button?
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
I did finish the JACK & JILL story last night, coming in at just over 70k. I'm not sure on the ending. It was a surprise to me. There was another ending I had envisioned, and which I might want to write after all when I do the editing. This ending is intriguing, but I'm not sure about it. Can't say more, unfortunately.
Now, I'll go back to JASPER and start on that tonight, to finish it. Before I dive back into the writing, I want to rethink the story in basic outline terms, just to make sure I feel solid about going into the second half of ACT II, which is always the most difficult part to write. I know I had intended JASPER to be one I write off-the-cuff, in order to reconnect with unfettered creativity, but to put it bluntly I've found I do have access to my creativity even when working from an outline, and I feel a lot better having a sense of what I'm doing. It saves a lot of time and produces better results. I'll do what I did recently with basic outlining of the JACK & JILL story -- I actually used my own walk-thru from the GAY MAN'S GUIDE TO WRITING FANTASY FICTION and wrote my notes in a simple text editor. A couple of hours to work through it, think it through again, edit, change, improve, was well worth the time. I'll also take time to reread, since it's been a few weeks now when I took off from JASPER to do JACK & JILL for Nano.
I hope to finish JASPER in about two weeks, three at the most, definitely within December. Then I'll edit both JASPER and JACK & JILL. I'll make complete copies available to Beta Readers once I have edited them, for feedback to use in final editing and polishing. The Beta Reader versions would be available in January, 2008, both as encrypted eBooks and on my new password-protected blog.
Oh, and it's December. That's okay. I'm on a roll. Ain't nuthin' stoppin' me now!
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
I took a couple of days off as Nano concluded but now I'm back at work. Each of the past two days I wrote about 6k words on the story, which is now surpassing 60k, the original word count goal. I'm in Act III, have gotten past the Darkest Hour and am about to write the part where the MC makes the decision to act and prepares himself for the next big confrontation, the final one of the story. I'm estimating another 10k to 15k words to finish this out. It should fly by as I get into it.
Sure enough, the story has picked up again. I felt like I lost the way for a while, in the second half of Act II. That's normal, the part where a writer thinks "this is utter *@%@! and nobody would ever want to read it!". Thank goodness I revisited my notes, sorted out the few things that were weakening the story, and got it back on track. I have learned more again doing this story -- every new story teaches me something new and helps me get better at applying the strategies I am using to write and manage the work. I see constant progress, probably because I constantly work at it.
One nice thing I saw happening as I solved these recent plot issues was that I was able to turn things around from stuff that "happens" to decisions the MC makes. Sometimes, juggling so much new material during a first draft, the MC ends up going along for the ride. I guess it's hard to depict the MC as decisive if I'm not sure of the decision to be made or what's going to happen next -- I have the general idea, but I didn't plot out the details for this novel. I'm using "intuition", which is fine, but it just means I have to go back and fix some things to draw a more direct line between them, and recast things as decisions. Just a little focusing work in the editing, nothing too much.
I like the story again, and that's the main thing. For a while I was wondering, but I've gotten past that stage, fairly quickly and fairly painlessly. It IS a cool story. I'm finding between the JASPER story and this one that it is much easier to work with the material if I just KEEP IT SIMPLE. I tend to make everything so complicated, with so much symbolism and other levels of interpretation, etc. It's just the way my mind works. I see that complexity, and I tend to want to put it into the story. If I just keep it simple, concrete, and work with that focus, then all these other things will work their way in anyway -- I can't not write that stuff -- but it will be anchored to something that is more tangible and satisfying to the Reader. Stories are much easier to write if you keep an emphasis on a simple, uncluttered, concrete plotline. Then, work with that, to your heart's content.
Back to work. In another day or two, I hope to report that JACK & JILL, Draft 1, is finished.
Making December count,
Saturday, December 01, 2007
I recently closed the PWP site for retooling. I reopened it today, Dec. 1st, to invite people curious about it to learn more and consider taking part. I hope to get a group of about 6-8 serious writers together to help each other with feedback and also to take advantage of the Parallel Writing idea.
If anyone wishes to link to the site, please link to my main web site address:
You're welcome to "steal" the banner and resize it to your needs.
Feel free to contact me by email or through this blog if you have any questions or wish to take part.
Visit the PWP site to learn more about significant changes to the project and also to view the first novel template.
It will come as no surprise, of course, to those who follow my blog. I hit 50k fairly easily this time. When I first did Nano two years ago, I also hit 50k, but it seemed like a much bigger adventure then. I had never done that before and wasn't sure I could. Since then I've written many thousands of words in any given month, and I knew going into this Nano that I certainly could do it, so it was only a matter of putting in the time and effort to do it. It was much less gratifying than it was the first time, since the mystery of "can I?" was no longer there. But it does feel good to have accomplished a lot during this month.
I do have to wonder though whether there is really any point to my doing Nano again after this. I think I need to focus on my own writing goals throughout the year and do what I need to do, regardless of the Nano schedule. I was in the middle of the JASPER novel and set it aside to take up something new just for Nano. It was kind of silly to do that just because it's November. If I had trouble getting words down or something, then I could see where I would benefit from that extra push, but I've been working steadily at my writing and have greatly increased my output over time, so other than the opportunity to network with other writers (significant in itself), there is no reason I would need to do Nano for anything other than kicks. I think it's great for those who need the push, but we don't all need that.
Also, I have mixed feelings about the whole Nano thing. I think it's a great idea, don't get me wrong, and I strongly support the general concept. However, there are thousands of inexperienced novice writers doing Nano each year who have no idea what they're getting themselves into. It's a marathon for the sake of a marathon, with a lot of hopes and dreams tied up in it. Most of them fail to reach their goals. I read that this was a very hard year with more than the usual number falling by the wayside. I don't know the numbers, but previously 5 out of 6 people failed to reach 50k within the month. Setting up 5 out of 6 people to fail is questionable in my view.
Also, I don't know that I much enjoy seeing so many forum questions by writers who not only don't have a clue, but who never will, simply because they only "think" they want to write a novel, but once they discover how much hard work it is, they'll just give up. I wholeheartedly encourage anyone who wants to write to do so, but isn't there something to be said for participants' having some realistic notion of what they're doing? If they're truly committed, they'll keep at it. They'll learn and grow, as I have been working so hard to do over time. I guess it just bothers me to see postings in the forums like "help save my plot" and "put a zebra in your story because I said so". We can all use plot help from time to time -- I'm referring to those particular pleas from clueless individuals who will never get a clue no matter how much you try to help them. They'll just give up and walk away because they didn't really make the commitment in the first place. They're not writers, they're thrill-seekers and the marathon is too much to resist.
Perhaps Nano is beneficial in that it can draw in more potential writers, encourage them, and out of the mayhem those who are committed will find the support and encouragement they need. It's just awkward to post alongside people that I know are there on a whim and who will ultimately give up and not bother to really bring themselves to a point of understanding what it was all about in the first place (meaning those details that writers know about but readers aren't generally aware of).
There is one positive aspect of Nano that I am very impressed with, and that is the way it is getting more people interested in writing and therefore books. With sales of novels for adults falling off, it's good that so many young people get caught up in Nano-fever. Many teachers get their classes involved, which I imagine must make a typical school writing class much more interesting. That's a wonderful thing and I strongly support it. Nano-mania is spreading around the world. At a time when DVD's and MP3's and other forms of electronic entertainment are distracting us from reading books, such an interest in writing and reading should be strongly encouraged.
There is one other issue I have with the Nano forums, which is that they have not yet created a separate forum for GLBT lit. They have one for "Chick-Lit" and other genres, but the Nano elite do not regard GLBT literature as a genre in itself, or GLBT writers as deserving a place to congregate. For the past three years I've read the arguments that are invariably posted on this, wherein GLBT folks request a form for themselves and are denied it. I even posted on this myself previously. It makes no difference. I can't help but feel that people just don't "get it".
GLBT individuals deal with very unique circumstances. They have a unique culture, which is rich and varied. They deal with issues that are similar to what other groups deal with, yet the issues GLBT individuals face are unique. Scholars recognize "African-American Literature" and "Women's Literature". It's time people allowed themselves to understand that there IS such as thing as "GLBT Literature". I know in scholarly circles there is some disagreement still, so it should not surprise me that the Nano elite also don't quite "get it". To keep it very, very simple, let me just say that to deal with prejudice is something blacks, women and gays have in common. However, the particular types of prejudice, the ways in which they manifest themselves, and the types of discrimination that these groups deal with is unique. Also, who these people are is unique. Their mindset, culture, life experiences are unique when seen in light of their membership in an oppressed minority. I could go on at length, but I'll stop there.
So, I will have to think it over before signing up for Nano in the future. I think it's a great idea, but I'm not sure it's right for me.
Best wishes to all Nano winners, Nano-almost-winners, Nano-"I gave up after 3k"-ers, and all the rest of you who did or did not, who would or would not, take part in the craziness that is Nano. If any noobies got a taste of something wonderful and decide they are in it for the long-haul, then that at least was worthwhile.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Yes, it's the final countdown, the final few days. I'm almost there and will likely finish it tonight, or else tomorrow, at least a little ahead of the November 30th midnight deadline.
The story, JACK & JILL: THE UNTOLD STORY, is turning out to be an amazing ride. It's only a first draft, and at times it feels to me like it's all over the place, but when I let it sit a while then read back over it, I find generally that it does make sense, is coherent, and very absorbing. It's certainly interesting.
I have no idea when this story is finished whether it'll be something to edit and polish to send out or not. I was thinking yes, but now with some of the things going on in the story, I really have to wonder. Still, I'm not writing it for commercial reasons but for the practice of it. If it has no commercial value, I may still eventually post it online for free because it is a very intriguing story and I think others would enjoy it, too. Even so, I won't give up on the possibility that this might be one to send out once polished. We'll see!
Wishing others success with their Nanovels,
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
I'm working now on the Parallel Writing Project website. I've decided on a few changes to the concept in order to make it more flexible and more appealing.
I'll post again soon with more info.
Best wishes to everyone on their writing,
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Over the past few days I worked very hard at coming up with a new feature for my website. It's called the GAY MAN'S GUIDE TO WRITING FANTASY FICTION. It's an illustrated guide to the basics of plotting in three acts with a focus on fantasy novels. There is a great Resources page with lots of useful links for fantasy writers. There is also a free download of the "Plot to Draft" section, which helps visitors to the site to develop an idea of their own, resulting in a working outline.
Take a few minutes and check it out. It's fun and worthwhile. Feel free to link to the new part of my site!
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Just wanted to wish everyone a HAPPY THANKSGIVING. This is one holiday I truly believe in for reasons other than having a holiday: we should all take time every now and again to think about what we have to be thankful for.
Since this is my writing blog, I'll keep my thanks focused on writing. I am thankful that I have been able to sustain a significant effort on my writing over the past couple of years. I am happy that I have made real and tangible progress. I am happy that I finally learned to bridge the middle, complete a manuscript, play the external and internal conflicts off each other (something I'm still working on, but I did learn to do it in a meaningful way). I am happy that I have no shortage of ideas, that I choose to see the world as full of them, billions and billions of them all around us at every moment. I am happy that I do not suffer from Writer's Block like some others do. I am happy that I can type 100+ wpm and churn out large quantities of prose when I'm in writing mode (it saves time). I am happy for what each of the stories I've worked on these past two years has taught me.
I am happy about these things, and grateful.
Now, when I get my first publishing contract, I'll be really grateful!
Best wishes to other writers and aspiring writers for their continued progress and success,
Thursday, November 15, 2007
As you have hopefully noticed, I am sharing the Prologue and first few chapters of my 2007 nanovel on my new blog, ADRIAN'S FIX.
I have finally also joined the Nano forums and have rejoined the LGBT forum that Athildur maintains, something I helped start two years ago. Athildur has done a great job of keeping it going. It would be great if more LGBT writers would get involved, and keep it going throughout the year.
Anyway, back to the topic....
I was thinking to share the entire nanovel online as it is written, essentially foregoing any chance of paid publication. I was thinking to do this in order to share some work, get some feedback, and then edit it and release it as a free ebook, essentially as a promotional tool. I still like that idea, but every time I try to think of a story I'd be willing to give away ... well, let's just say I feel the story has potential and I hate to just throw it away in commercial terms.
I don't know whether this nanovel will have a chance at getting published or not, but I think it is worth keeping under wraps and finding out. I am happy to share the Prologue and first few chapters, though, and feel that this should hopefully not hinder possible future publication.
So, what to do now that I've maxed out that portion I can reasonably share?
Aha! I have a Plan B, and it's not from outer space.
I will try to set up a members only blog, where I can then post the remainder of the novel so it is readily available, but I can then limit the access to it so that only those individuals who would be willing to read it and share some helpful comments would be able to access it. This does not qualify as self-publishing or otherwise making it publicly available online -- writers can share their work with a select group of readers for feedback and still seek publication.
As I mentioned in my last posting, I also plan to make the text available in ebook format using Mobipocket. Beta Readers could read it online in the members-only blog, or could download from there the ebook version and then read it at their convenience in that format.
So, if you would be interested in reading my novel and offering helpful comments, please let me know! You can post a comment to this posting, or you can email me at:
yahoo [DOT] com
I would be most grateful for the opportunity to receive some feedback, which would mean a chance to work outside the vacuum I've been working in for the past two years. Yes, your feedback would be most appreciated!
Best wishes on your novels,
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
I've discovered the wonderful world of ebooks (duh ... 'bout time!). I am using Mobipocket(tm), which is available as a free download and is very versatile. You can use it to read books on your PC or PDA or smart phone or whatever. It will even turn the pages for you, a cool feature I discovered with Adobe Acrobat Reader(tm) for those days when clicking a mouse is just too much. (haha ... how lazy will technology make us in the future?).
Anyway, I've been posting chapters of my current WIP, my nanovel, titled JACK & JILL: THE UNTOLD STORY, on my new blog, Adrian's Fix. Soon I'll put a link at the top of that blog so you can download the current version of the novel, through whatever chapter has been posted most recently. That way, you can just click, download, and read it in a better format at your convenience.
I've discovered writing my manuscripts in Word(tm) works well, and then loading them into Mobipocket(tm) to read them back helps since it seems like a new view of the document. It's almost like printing something out, has the same effect for me. I get a new perspective, think of it as if it were finished, which then helps me spot more things to change than I can see in Word(tm) after editing the text there repeatedly ("familiarity breeds contempt"?).
Hope everyone's work is coming along. This is the good time of year for me to write, so I'm taking full advantage of it. Although I'm busy now, I'm sure the pace will pick up even more. I'm still just warming up, getting on a roll . . . .
Best wishes for your novels,
Saturday, November 10, 2007
Friday, November 09, 2007
I was hoping to avoid it altogether, but somehow the Nano bug got me. I've decided to start a new blog and post my nanovel on it as it is written. It'll be a rough first-draft and I won't go back to fix things. It'll be fun, I'm sure, and a little frustrating at times, but overall it's a challenge that I find quite intriguing.
You can follow my progress on my new blog, ADRIAN'S FIX.
The "Fix" part stands for fiction. It's actually the plural, as in "fic's". I can score one-half point for creativity right off the bat. Two points if I can hit that half-point with the bat.
Well, I'm off to write my new nanovel, while also continuing work on JASPER. Which, by the way, is a story I truly enjoy writing.
Oh -- and what's the new nanovel about? I have no freakin' idea. Hahahaha!
Wish me luck!
And good luck to others attempting a nanovel!
Thursday, November 08, 2007
I had a very productive session last night and was able to work my way through most of what had been troubling me about Chapters 8 and 9. I'm still finishing Chapter 9, but the key transition points that I had been missing are now in place. I'll be able to borrow a key scene from my "Outtakes" file and reuse it, then I'll only need to add the conclusion to Chapter 9 and I'm finished.
Chapter 8 runs long and will need to be pared down later, but it's not long in a bad or loose way, but in a good way. It all reads well and fits together, I simply have too much of it and so I'll have to edit simply for length. I'll save that for another time, so that I can continue making forward progress at this time. I want to build momentum!
It feels good to finally have the right pieces for these two chapters. I had played with various versions, ways of handling the plot issues, but none of them "rang true". What I have now does. The key to solving the riddle was to go back to how I set this sequence of chapters into motion: a key event back in Chapter 6 that leads directly to the events of Chapters 7, 8 and 9. It is only by focusing on that event, and what it means, that I was able to see a more direct through-line for the MC. There is now "harmony" between the various issues and events, something that was lacking before.
I love it when I stick with it and get the results I've been seeking! It's nice to have Chapter 9 focus on a more serious dramatic moment, bringing this sequence to an end, where this same moment is directly in line with and the result of other events that began back in Chapter 6 at the start of this sequence. Previously I was off course, starting with one event and ending with an event that looked right on the surface, but which was not really in keeping with the real issues here. Like a new vase on your table that seems to belong there, but something tells you it just doesn't quite fit in the room. You finally realize it clashes with other items in some way that was not obvious at first.
Tonight I'll finish Chapter 9. I'll look before I leap, then start moving forward with the next sequence of chapters. I know the main intent, but there is still much to discover along the way. The adventure continues!
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
I'm finally getting my high-speed internet connection up and running. Feels good after having stayed with dial-up far longer than any person reasonably ought to. Of course, by the time I've done this, the internet has advanced so far I'm sort of confused about everything all over again, but that's the way it goes. There are so many new things people can do with this technology now, and web sites are so much more "enriched" these days. That's okay...I'm patient, and I'll keep at it, and eventually I'll learn what I need to know to keep up, more or less.
There were a number of non-writing things that came up in the past week. I did put in a lot of time last week, but the past few days have been less productive. I'm getting back into the swing of things again now.
I'm still going back and forth with Chapters 8 and 9. I've rewritten them a few times by now and am still working on them. I had to find the real heart of the matter, the essential things that are true to the characters. These chapters mark an important transition. They bring the story to the mid-point. I need to clearly establish the MC's mindset and emotions, goals, etc. I've had to do a bit of searching to draw these out in a truly authentic manner, and then also find the right way to dramatize them.
I finally got it "right" but the way one of the chapters was written focused too much on individual introspection. I am now rewriting that chapter yet again to have the character arrive at these understandings through interaction with other characters, in a way that would make sense for him to interact with them. I'm throwing in some conflict as well, in order to heighten the tension, so that he doesn't simply figure out what he needs to do, but has to wrestle with it (quite literally). I don't mind longer passages of introspection when I'm reading someone else's novel, and find they often add a lot of insight, but I want to avoid that sort of thing for this novel, which needs to move forward with an absolute minimum of exposition or other asides.
With any luck I'll finally finish this delicate part of the story and then will be able to resume breaking new ground on new chapters by the end of the week. I look forward to getting some momentum going with that, to make some more rapid progress.
Best wishes to others as they work on their novels,
Friday, October 26, 2007
The past several days I did manage to get some quality work time in on my writing. I finished editing, and went back even to those first chapters which I had previously declared "finished". Well, they're really finished now! At least, for a while. Until I look at them again . . . .
I took out those two chapters, as I mentioned last time, and went back and rewrote them. I also edited that somewhat, and have moved on. I'm currently in Chapter 9, over half-way into it. The word count is growing and I'm happy with the story as it is developing, and especially the characters, the way they have distinct personalities and perspectives. They are a lot of fun to work with!
The tone of the piece has been changing due to the gravity of the situation. I did manage to bring it back in line with the earlier chapters for the two chapters that I tossed and rewrote. I may have to do the same with the new Chapter 9 and maybe several more, writing then rewriting, to develop the story then bring it back into the style that has otherwise been established. That's okay with me, as long as I get the end results I'm looking for, and so far I have been able to do that.
Again, this problem is due to the fact that the story started out somewhat light-hearted in nature, and has become much more serious as the plot events unfolded. I don't want to just make it silly and funny throughout -- that would be totally out of step with the realities that occur along the way -- but I want to keep the same optimistic and fun quality, letting that resurface whenever it can, even in the face of the difficulties. Also, I tend to shift to a deeper, heavier, style with longer sentences and different sentence patterns and diction when dealing with weighty matters, whereas otherwise this story is lighter with shorter sentences and a faster-moving rhythm.
Wynn noted that I count words in a recent comment she posted. Yes, but I don't actually count them every day necessarily. I've gotten away from that sort of intense monitoring of words produced, which I used to engage in regularly. These days I'm just checking to see that I am making progress, and I am trying to keep my chapters to certain lengths, not too long. I am noting the word counts and chapters edited since they help me see that I am making reasonable progress for the hours spent. When the word count is too low, or the editing too little, then I know I'm not being as productive as I should be. Also, when they go up, I can see that I am on a roll and that feels good. Obviously, we each do whatever works for us. In my case, quantifying and monitoring help me to keep on track and estimate the time I will need.
On that note, I'm still hoping that I will complete this novel by the end of this calendar year. Hopefully, that will mean completely finished and edited, and with any luck even before Christmas. I'd like to send copies of it as gifts to a few friends who would enjoy reading it. And after I let it sit over the holidays, I'll make any last-minute fixes then start packaging it and trying to get an agent or publisher interested in it, hopefully starting in January, 2008!
And then somewhere in all this I'll get back to work on my other two novels!
Wishing everyone much progress now that "writing weather" is on its way,
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
I finished editing chapters 1-6 and then I took chapters 7-8 and put them in an outtakes file. That's why the word count fell ... the other few thousand words have been sidelined. I'll rewrite those chapters, using the basic ideas I already came up with, but reworking them to fit better now that I've done all the editing on the other chapters.
I shared the first two chapters with a reader and there was an enthusiastic response, with two words in particular to describe the story: "interesting" and "well-written". That's encouraging!
So, I'm pretty well there now, finished with the review and revision and ready to plow on ahead with new material. I'll be getting to work on that tonight.
BTW, visit Wynn's blog this week for news on the writers' conference she attended!
Best wishes to all working on their novels,
Friday, October 19, 2007
The past week I edited the existing chapters, as planned. One chapter grew so long that I had to split it in half, meaning I now have 8 chapters instead of 7 chapters. I thought of just cutting stuff out to bring that one chapter back down to size, but I realized there were interesting and relevant things there that needed drawing out, so as I drew them out, I cut them off and made a separate chapter out of it.
The "darkness" that had me bothered last week is much more tolerable now. I added some lighter stuff in where I could to balance it out, and managed to keep the sense that something dark has happened but we're still in a fun story in spite of it. I especially enjoyed adding extra bits of dialog into a couple of scenes to draw out more of the humor between the characters. It's humor for humor's sake, and it was fun to work with. It also shows a little more of a glimpse into how these characters really would interact with each other, if we could watch them beyond the narrow focus of what's happening in this plot line. Adds a sense that they have lives beyond just the story.
I'm still trying to get these chapters just right so that I can then stop, refocus, and plow on ahead with new material. I look forward to writing a few more chapters all at once, like I did with these existing chapters. I have about a third of the novel already -- written in one week, edited in one week (plus...). I just need to wrap this up as best I can and push on as soon as I can.
I can say at this point that Chapters 1-5 are pretty much DONE, and Chapter 6 is nearly done, and then I still have to work more on Chapters 7-8. If I can get a lot of work done this weekend, I might be able to wrap this up, but I suspect it will take another week to accomplish this editing, and by mid-week or late next week I'll finally be able to break new ground again. That's fine. I really like the quality and nature of the stuff I'm producing.
I'll post again Saturday, hopefully, with more news.
Friday, October 12, 2007
I was very busy with other obligations the past few days, so I didn't get to write as much as I had hoped. I'm still in Chapter 7, though nearly done with it. That's two more chapters, and about 4,0000 + more words.
The story took a dark turn -- I guess that's because bad things happened that are a part of the story, stuff the main character has to fight against and eventually overcome (hopefully) by the end of the novel. It's kind of sad to see that, since things were so upbeat at the beginning. Gee, I feel terrible unleashing all these nasty things on the unsuspecting! All in the name of conflict, or drama, or tragedy.
It's becoming more of a struggle to keep the focus and clarity. The story started very strong, maybe 99% final draft quality in the first three chapters. But since I haven't actually planned this one out in detail, and don't actually know what I'm doing, just winging it, inevitably I'm having to feel my way along, and that shows up more the farther I go. It's unavoidable. I'll have to edit for sure, though the prose is still stronger than it was in early drafts of my other novels.
I'm still on track with the basic plot but the story has evolved a lot -- a good sign in itself -- and that means I am asking myself a lot of questions during those times when I'm not writing. If it gets to be too much, I'll just stop and write out a simple outline and pin things down, but I'm hoping to avoid that this time around, so that I can draw more on creativity and intuition during the writing process. I guess it's an effort to counteract all the planning I've done the past couple of years, an effort to re-establish creative spontaneity, on schedule of course.
As 7 of 9 said in an episode of Star Trek Voyager(tm), one of my all-time favorite lines on television, "The fun will now commence."
Wishing others much progress with their WIP's,
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
JASPER is now 25% complete! I've written 5 chapters, with a word count at 15,800 words. I also went back through and edited; I'm still tweaking the last chapter just a little.
So far, the story continues to write itself, moving along quickly and easily as things go. The voice or tone of the prose is distinctive and flows smoothly.
I'm following the basic plan for the story that I came up with in my mind (no written notes!). The plot details are evolving, with surprises along the way, things I never expected, but I just went with the new ideas as they came up. Even with the unexpected twists and turns, everything is still on track according to the larger plan, which means I'm both following a basic blueprint and also allowing for innovation.
One thing that is helping a lot is something I worked on in the second complete draft of THE REFLECTING STONE, which is writing shorter chapters and emphasizing the "cliff-hanger" at the end of each chapter, the suspenseful moment that makes you want to turn the page to find out what happens next. My first draft for TRS featured fewer, longer chapters, running about 10,000 words each. These long chapters were broken into sections, separated by skipped lines. The various scenes were short enough and comparable to typical chapters, but they did not always end with as much suspense, since they were steps along the way to a larger pay-off by the end of the 10,000-word story units. By keeping the chapters shorter, I have to get that punch in for each one, which means a larger peak occurs every few thousand words, instead of every 10,000 words. It's certainly much better to do it this way in terms of building suspense and holding interest.
Still, I think in terms of larger units -- the 12 steps of my 12-step outline, based on the 3-act structure. With Chapter 5 now complete, JASPER stands at the end of Act I, about to embark on Act II (3 steps complete, 9 to go). What is different now is that I'm equating the steps with word count, rather than chapter count. For this novel to come in around 60,000 words, Act I needs to run about 15,000 words: mission accomplished!
Enough about the details of the process. What's the story about?
I'll update my web site with a little more detail....
Glad to be back at work,
Sunday, October 07, 2007
Jasper: 3 Chapters, 7,444 Words.
For some reason, putting a numerical value on my progress with the "Jasper" story is like rating a sexual encounter while still in the middle of it.
"Would you rate that as a 10?"
"I was thinking of a "9".
How can you put a measure on true love?
The story is moving along well, the honeymoon phase still in full swing. I'm now 1/8 of the way through the story, with a goal of about 60,000 words. I want this one to be shorter, simpler, funner, for me and the reader. So far, so good. If this continues, I'll finish the complete manuscript within a month. Based on what's already written, it might need only minor editing and then I'll have a finished product. That would be cool.
The next few chapters will tell me whether this ease of writing will continue or whether I'll end up needing to stop and plan things out in detail, something I was hoping to avoid. I'm trying to use my new internalized sense of storytelling. It's an experiment, a risk, but one I think I'm up to.
Yes, I'm game. Just gotta keep the flow going. Stay in the mood. Feel the story, let my instincts lead me naturally toward the inevitable climax.
The challenge is on....
Saturday, October 06, 2007
I began work recently on a new novel which could be part of a new series. It focuses on -- well, I updated my web site with news about it, so you can read about it there in the WIP'S Section. Look for the keyword "Jasper".
It's interesting how well this new story is coming together, how tightly the first two chapters are written. Clearly I've learned a lot through my work on THE REFLECTING STONE and THE ISLE OF THE DEMIGODS. I've internalized a lot of the writing process at this point, which I was hoping would happen. I'm thinking in story terms, rather than abstract ideas. I don't have to struggle to put it all together anymore -- I readily see what the pieces are, where they belong.
I'll keep working on the new story even as I continue work on my other two WIP's.
This past week I re-read the entire second draft of THE REFLECTING STONE and gained a lot of new insights into the story and what it needs at this point. It felt very good seeing real progress in my work over time. I produced about 10,000 words in new notes for the STONE/ISLE series, and found answers to a LOT of the questions that still linger. I'm almost finished with that planning. Once I can tie down the last few questions, I'll be ready to launch the THIRD COMPLETE DRAFT of THE REFLECTING STONE. I had commented previously that I wasn't sure whether to rewrite all or parts (about half). Some of it is very solid. However, I think it would be worthwhile to make another complete draft, to further grow the story and draw out the details in the scenes. Also, I'm still in search of the exact tone and style for the prose (something which is no struggle at all for the new Jasper Series).
The new novel ("Jasper") currently stands at about 4,700 words, written in two days, chapters 1 and 2.
Altogether, I re-read an entire draft and produced about 15k words of new material last week. Not bad for my first week back at work!
Wishing others well with their WIP's,
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
For years I had hot flashes -- moments of sudden inspiration -- ideas, images, entire scenes with near-perfect dialogue. I wanted so badly to use these ideas in my fiction. Some of them made such an impression I couldn't help but remember them, and they made it onto the page when I was writing. Sadly, most of the ideas just vanished into thin air, never to be thought of or heard from again. Then I tried capturing them in note form as they occurred to me, for use later. That helped, but I still could not write down every idea, especially when urinating, no matter how many beers I had drunk, and again most of them were lost.
Then I realized it was like throwing darts at a dart board, something I'm terrible at. Sometimes the darts will hit the board, but as often as not they'll hit the wall, the floor, or someone standing a little too close to the action.
For illustrative purposes, the dart board was a story. The darts were the flashes of ideas I would have for the story. I'd get the flashes at any time, any place, whether convenient or not. I couldn't always interrupt other things to stop and write them down, the way it's not always possible to write somebody's phone number on your hand in a drunken stupor no matter how many times he gives it to you. Likewise, when I tried to hold onto the darts, they protested, telling me if you love something, let it go. When I did, they would fly off in some unknown direction, never to be heard from again. Many of them were really good. Some of them were breathtakingly beautiful, stirring me deeply in a truly profound sort of way.
I tried contacting the Dart Makers' Association for help. They told me there was nothing they could do. All around the world, millions upon millions of darts went missing every year, darts nobody ever heard from again. When the DMA stopped returning my calls, I knew I would have to solve this problem on my own.
Then I realized something wonderful, something that had the power to change things forever. No longer would I lose so many darts. I had found a way to get them safely to the dart board, where they would stick and become the stuff legends are made of (and dramas, satires, colorful dialogue, etc.).
Have you ever noticed that dart boards are not just plain, round boards, but they have designs on them? Little lines that radiate outward from the center, concentric circles, panels with different colors. Some boards even have writing on them. You can use these various markings to tell where a dart has struck, to rate it, classify it, assign it points, something I hadn't noticed before since no one ever bothers to keep score when I'm playing -- fractions are usually too small to be considered significant in competition.
I realized that plot ideas are best retained when you have something to attach them to. Not a large, blank, nebulous, ill-defined and poorly-conceived mass of generic story matter, but a story that can be pinned down, draped over a framework, a pattern. I needed a a generic navigation system that could help me determine in which direction a dart, or story idea, went flying.
Once I began to apply the three-act structure to my planning, broken down into twelve steps, things changed dramatically. I conditioned myself for story-telling purposes to conceive of stories and then think of them spatially, temporally, in a pattern that is generic and very much the same for all stories. While the story particulars might vary considerably, the basic sense of a beginning, a middle, and an ending, remained constant. I could pick up a dart and tell at once which part of the story it was destined for. I even learned to discern different kinds of darts! There are darts that incite other darts to fly, darts which fly fast and hard, darts which float along then sneak up on you with a sudden rush (as those standing by the dart board have confided in me). There are even those darts which strike clean through to the very heart (thankfully, with modern medicine, this is not as terrible as it might sound). In short, I learned to tell what sort of dart I was throwing, and where it was supposed to land. Knowing this meant I was now throwing Smart Darts (tm), the kind that always find their targets because, frankly, there's nowhere else for them to go.
What this means for those long drives in cars with songs, and those long showers under refreshing streams of water, is that I can now remember my ideas much more better, and I can recall them later as well. I don't lose nearly as many of them as I used to, and any of True Value (tm) or significance will almost certainly manage to show up eventually precisely where they were supposed to ... not on the dart board, but on the printed page, where they can reside happily forever alongside other darts in a mosaic pattern that, well, it just sort of makes you weep to see it.
My new motto: "A Place For Everything, And Everything In Its Place."
Monday, September 24, 2007
Well, now I've done it. Listening to so much music has given me what the Germans call an Ear Worm (Ohrwurm): a song that you just can't get out of your head!
It's okay. It's a great song. I really like it. And it's inspired me with a lot of new notes for my second novel.
The visualization technique has worked wonders, too. I really see the final scenes unfolding, with new imagery, a clearer sense of the ending, and how both novels tie in to the series.
Golly, it seems I'm back to work already. The time away has helped generate some very fertile creative soil.
Wishing everyone well with their WIP's,
Saturday, September 22, 2007
As I'm mulling over the last of my decisions before getting back to my writing in earnest, I've been visualizing my novel as if it were a film, wondering what song should play during the opening sequence, how best to capture the theme, the mood, hint at the nature of the story with just a few key images and lines from a song. It's not that my novel will necessarily ever get published, or that if it does, that it will ever be made into a movie -- but I want to SEE this story, to FEEL it, to know it thoroughly, in my mind. Of course, I do hope that it will at least get published, since I feel it is such a worthwhile story; otherwise I wouldn't be writing it.
As you've guessed, apart from the shower, the car is another good place for me to get inspiration for my writing. And of course what do I do in the car when driving? I listen to various CD's, always wondering whether this song or that song might better suit this or that novel idea. It's a terrible habit because I sometimes prefer to listen to the lyrics rather than the conversation of whoever might happen to be riding with me, and frankly I think that's rude, but perhaps it's really rude of other people to think that they should attempt a conversation when riding with someone who is preoccupied with a novel in progress.
Which brings me to a singular thought: the world really should stand still for a while to allow those of us who need time for contemplation that precious introspection which we require in order to move forward with our creative projects. Until that happens, we creative types will bear the unnecessary burden of carrying on with our creativity in the face of a world that does not understand the creative process, the need to stare into space while contemplating realities that others would never know existed if we didn't give form to them and share them.
Alas, it is an all-consuming struggle.
Fortunately, as I ponder while driving, I realize my priorities lie in avoiding collisions, so I do keep my thoughts primarily on the road, especially the pedestrians lining it, and I use my rather significant patience to brake frequently, as often as necessary in our heavy traffic. I do attempt to appear interested in whatever conversation might be offered me, and appreciate the courage of anyone who would venture a dialogue with a preoccupied writerly type. And in the face of it all, I listen as the songs spin round and round on the CD's, smiling a private smile whenever I realize the words that just went by struck gold.
Sunday, September 02, 2007
Okay, there's lots I could do with an opening like that....
But I'll keep it focused on two ideas. The first one is about the shower, the second one about the agent.
Like many writers, I find certain moments tend to work for me as "creative time". One of these moments is when taking a shower. The other day, when taking a shower, my eyes closed, water streaming all over me, I had a powerful set of visions, the kind you can only get in the shower. I saw key scenes from my novel, the pivotal scenes that I've been trying to figure out what to do with, and I saw how these scenes could unfold, and lead from one to the other. It was great to see how I could draw a line, connect the dots, bring motivations and circumstances forward in a meaningful, logical and satisfying way. I felt I had most of the answers I needed and with only a little more thought I'll be ready to finish the novel.
It's important to capitalize on moments like this. When you get those insights, when those powerful visions stream through your mind, you have to focus on them, go with the flow, let the creativity take you where it wants to go. This is your inner voice opening, the well-spring within you telling you where your story needs to go. Such deep insights are either right, or very close to it. A little reflection can help bring them into line with all the other story decisions you've made over time, or help you adjust other things to mesh with the visions. If the insights are right, you'll know it, deep down, and you'll see it because things will fit together without much difficulty. Just be sure to write down some notes afterward, to help you remember as otherwise you might lose some of the fascinating details.
The second idea concerns finding an agent. I just wanted to share that Susan Fleming has recently posted on her blog about this, with a couple of links that are more than worth checking out. Visit her blog to see what it's all about.
These two ideas are related. I think if you take a lot of showers, you'll smell nicer and you'll have so many great ideas, what agent wouldn't want to read your manuscript? Just don't shower with the manuscript -- that approach has not been scientifically proven to have any positive benefits for writers or manuscripts, and may result in ruined pages or damage to electronic devices.
Wishing everyone much progress with their WIP's,
Sunday, August 26, 2007
Golly, it seems a month has gone by since my last posting! That is probably my longest break yet since I started blogging. Well, I needed the break, and it's done me good.
I'm still on break, by the way, just stopping by to greet the world. I also visited some of the blogs I normally read, to take a gander at what all I've been missing out on. So much has been happening with those whose blogs I normally read (except I haven't the past few weeks). I'm amazed.
I guess a lot has been happening with me, too, during the past few weeks, but I'm such a tight-lipped individual when it comes to personal matters so I'm not likely to blog much about it. What is important and relevant where my blog is concerned is that I'll be getting back to work soon, on my blogging, and more importantly on my writing, and also trying to get word out about the Parallel Writing Project to see whether there is sufficient interest in it to establish an official start date.
Although I've been engrossed in many other things, I have kept my two novels in progress firmly in mind and have continued to reflect on them and seek answers to remaining plot questions. I think I'm almost ready to tie the last major issues down in THE REFLECTING STONE. The existing drafts address the various turning points and possibilities ... I just have a few options that I still need to choose between, mostly to do with narrative structure rather than actual plot.
I like to take the approach of thinking that a difficult question is actually a "no-brainer" and I look as quickly as I can to find the obvious best solution. I then spend additional time scrutinizing that solution and all others that presented themselves, looking for the pro's and con's, weighing things, until I can finally buy in to one or the other answer. That process can take a while, even if it starts out quickly. Usually by the time I make the final decision, I get back to "no-brainer" mode and tell myself whatever decision I make that it was a no-brainer all along and I really should have seen the answer clearly first-off and saved myself all the extra deliberation.
Well, the summer has definitely been a summer (and it's not over yet), which is nice because it contrasts with the winter, which was definitely a winter. The hot weather has been a welcome change after a nasty winter that seemed to drag on and on and on, and to kick back into gear for another storm each time it almost looked like it was turning into spring. I don't miss that. The miserable summer weather, however, has been little better, so I'll be happy when autumn rolls around. Guess I haven't liked the weather this year very much, a little too extreme for me, and with the recent flooding in the mid-west, worst in a century, it may not simply be my impression that the weather is getting a bit out of hand.
Best wishes to all those working on their novels. I'll be back at it, too, soon, in earnest, with a lot of catching up to do.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
I've been working at a slower pace, enjoying the beautiful summer weather. Summer tends to be my least-productive season, and I'm willing to accept that. I'm still diligently working on other projects, but my writing projects have slowed noticeably.
I appreciate the feedback that Susan and Suresh provided regarding the chapter descriptions for the hypothetical novel for the PWP. I incorporated their feedback and added another new twist, revising the descriptions. I have put them online for Susan and Suresh to review at their convenience.
Presently I'm working (still) on the actual challenges, and hope to have them done this week, since I didn't finish them last week.
I continue to reflect on my novel, and its sequel. I'll be getting back to work on the final push for the completion of THE REFLECTING STONE as soon as I'm ready to buckle down again. Right now, the summer beckons....
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Gabriele has posted an article about writing battle scenes ("How To Make A Battle Come Alive on the Page 1"). I am always amazed by her site and this new article is really helpful for historical fiction or fantasy writers. There will be another article to follow it in the coming days.
Scott Marlowe posted a link on his blog (see sidebar) to an article on scene writing at Paperback Writer's site. It is also a helpful article, stressing the need to make scenes count.
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
Just a short note to let folks know I'm still keeping busy, even if I haven't blogged much the past week. I finished reading the 2nd draft of THE REFLECTING STONE and am currently reflecting on what to do to finish the story. The second half got a bit looser since I tried some new things out. They were very intriguing, but I might want to tone some of it down, or cut some of it out altogether. Not sure yet. Otherwise, the various scenes did work well individually for the most part, and some very intriguing new leitmotifs came out of this 2nd draft, things I'll definitely keep. I'm taking more time to reflect, since this next "push" should be the final one that involves any substantial writing -- I may just rewrite some chapters, rather than the whole draft, or I may yet do a 3rd complete draft, not sure yet. After this next "push" though I do expect the story to be within a short distance of "complete" and to require only some editing. This 2nd draft is already so much farther along than any of the previous work on this same story and it suggests the final novel already. There is certainly light at the end of the tunnel and it's within sight.
Apart from this, I'm reading a lot and working on some other projects, but nothing to comment on here.
I'm taking a break from the PWP until I get feedback from the registered writers about the story description (email me at your convenience, no rush). I am thinking of launching that in late summer or early autumn, which might be a better time for that than during the height of the summer. Also, I want at least 6 writers signed up before starting, as I think that would be a minimum number that would make it interesting and foster meaningful feedback.
Okay, so "short" is long, but that's the way it is when I sit down to write -- the words just flow....
HAPPY (& SAFE) 4TH OF JULY,
Monday, June 25, 2007
[Note: This post concerns my first novel, THE REFLECTING STONE, which is nearing completion. This posting is not related to the last posting, which concerns the hypothetical novel to be used for the Parallel Writing Project. That plot is totally unrelated.]
I'm getting back into my first novel, THE REFLECTING STONE. I reread the first half yesterday. I hadn't read it since I wrote it, and I didn't remember some of the new twists and turns I put in when creating the 2nd draft. So, I really had a sense of reading it "for the first time" and it was quite interesting to have that experience. Usually I work so much with my manuscripts that I virutally memorize them word-for-word, and even after taking some weeks off I go back to them with virtually the same sense of them that I had while working on them. So, this was quite a pleasure, a chance to actually read and wonder just how a chapter might end -- I really didn't know!
When I wrote the 2nd draft I focused on shortening the chapters and putting a lot of twists and turns in to keep things moving, focused, and surprising along the way. It all makes sense, nothing is there that doesn't fit the storyline exactly, yet I used misdirection to suggest things were going one way when suddenly they went another way, or otherwise the MC ran into snags a lot more quickly than he was anticipating. It was a lot of fun to read an escape scene where he went to great lengths to extricate himself from the dungeon only to find himself surrounded again by the enemy by the end of the chapter. I suppose it wasn't fun for him, but as a reader I had a distinct sense of tension, release, heightened tension. Virtually every chapter succeeded with this in a way that was satisfying to read.
This evening I'll read the second half of the novel, then starting tomorrow I'll reflect and make some decisions about what to keep and what needs to fixing. Most of this is to a point where I could just edit it and be done with it, provided I want to keep the storyline as-is. I might want to tighten it up a bit, or try another approach. Also, I'm still debating on the prose style. I put a lot of effort into developing a tight and fast-moving style. It works well overall. I can still see ways to edit on the micro-level, tightening even more. I rewrote the first scene some time ago using a different style, and reread that yesterday as well. It's really good, but it is a different style. So, there are lots of questions as to exactly how I want this to read, but one thing is definitely clear: the story itself is very close to complete at this time. I can definitely see where my hard work over the past year and a half has resulted in a well-developed and intriguing story. I certainly hope it finds a publisher, since it is a compelling and worthwhile novel, IMHO, which is the reason I have continued working so long with it.
Well, back to work!
Thursday, June 21, 2007
I completed the description of the novel and put the pages for it online, but I'm sharing it only with the registered writers right now for their feedback. Once it's had a chance to "settle" and get feedback, I'll make any changes as needed then post a link here and on the main PWP site to those pages, making them available to everyone.
I can tell you the following:
The story concerns a young maiden named Willa who lives in a poor village in the hills. An evil Queen named Orlantha has taken over the kingdom. Willa meets Faxon, a young man who is a member of the resistance movement. Faxon enlists Willa's help in a plan that goes terribly wrong. Willa is devastated but stays in the fight to make things right. In the end, she must learn to use magic in her struggle to depose the evil Queen. She must also learn she cannot take the whole weight of the world on her shoulders.
Now, I'm going to take a break from the PWP until the feedback comes in, and get back to work on my novel!
Best wishes to other aspiring writers,
Saturday, June 16, 2007
I was offline the past few days since I hurt my back again. I have to stop doing that! It's much better, but the medicine threw me for a loop. Anyway, it feels good to be getting busy again.
I managed to complete about 50% of the work on the hypothetical novel this past week before I had to take time off from anything non-essential. If I hadn't injured myself, I would certainly have finished the complete novel. (Grr....)
The story, to me, is really quite interesting. I think others will find it interesting, too. I certainly hope so!
I went with a female protagonist and antagonist, a first for me, and an opportunity to stretch and try something new (we'll leave the personal jokes aside). I'm working out a detailed synopsis, chapter by chapter. It is not essential to read the synopsis -- the other pages of notes, noticeably briefer, are adequate to prepare one to write the scenes -- but it would probably help to get a better sense of the story concept as it plays out, and how the characters develop, especially for writers who prefer more rather than less detail.
I will share the information about the novel soon. I'll share it with the registered writers first, for their feedback. Once I'm satisfied it's solid, I'll share it with everyone.
Then, I'll get the actual challenges done. I was debating whether to share all this information up front or not, but I don't see the harm in doing so. There could be a value in sharing it only with the registered writers first, then revealing it to the Readers as we put each challenge online, then finally sharing everything with everyone once the project is complete, but I don't see the need to put such a limit on it. There is probably more value in putting it all online as soon as it's available, to give people time to think about it, and potential writers to see the reality of it, which might help them decide whether to join. If anybody has any thoughts or insights, anything I'm missing, please let me know, either way.
Wishing everyone ein schoenes Wochenende ("a nice weekend" in German, in honor of Gabriele Germanica's safe return from her travels,
Sunday, June 10, 2007
I finally had time to get the Creative Commons license information together and post it to the PWP web site. This resulted in the need to change a few other pages to reflect the new information. Details available on the PWP web site under the current News Flash (June 10, 2007).
I also upgraded the Text Viewer once more. The Text Viewer now displays the News Flashes when you first open it, along with a new feature called the "Scroll of Inspiration". The idea is for registered writers to contribute quotes or images which they find inspirational. They can do this at any time as the Parallel Writing Project progresses. The stuff on there now is just a beginning.
With these latest changes, the Start Page and the Text Viewer are pretty much DONE. (Yippee!)
Now, the only significant tasks remaining are to develop the hypothetical novel and the 12 challenges, and to take some time to promote the PWP to grow the list of registered writers.
Still not sure of a start date. It will depend on progress on the sign-up of writers.
This really is a cool opportunity to hone writing skills. I think the effect of writing scenes alongside other writers -- the same scenes told in your own way -- will be a powerful experience, a chance to see how other writers tackle the very same writing challenges. I'm very excited about it and hope plenty of writers and readers get involved to make this project a success.
PS -- I have been working on the next set of 3 Tips & Tricks articles for my web site. I had hoped to post them on Friday morning but missed my deadline: I've been too busy finishing the PWP site to complete them. I'll finish them soon and will post them this coming Friday, and will try again to post each new set of articles on a weekly basis, putting them online Friday mornings.
Saturday, June 09, 2007
I've updated the Parallel Writing Project site to include the current list of writers and supporters (those who provide links to the PWP site to help promote it).
Suresh posted a comment recently about joining the Parallel Writing Project, but did not leave any way for me to make contact.
Suresh -- are you still out there? Please send me an email or post a comment here again with a link to your web site or blog, so I can keep in touch with you.
Also, writers are welcome to send me a bio to post on the site (details under "Participants" / "About Bios").
By the way, since I'm updating the PWP web site so frequently right now, it's best to clear your cache before visiting, to be sure the most recent versions of the pages will load for you. Otherwise, you may visit the site but still be seeing older versions of the pages from your cache, rather than seeing the current versions.
Almost completely done putting the site together. The main task that remains is developing the story and challenges, which I hope to finish this weekend, and then spending some time promoting the project.
I'm wondering when the best time to start the project would be.... After more people sign up, of course, but also perhaps later in the summer? Or September? I just wonder if the summer is the best time -- but the truly dedicated work on their writing year-round, right? ;-)
Thursday, June 07, 2007
Wynn Bexton writes historical fiction and also does some travel writing. She is currently in GREECE and having a wonderful time traveling and seeing so much. She is blogging about it on her travel blog. If you haven't checked it out already, it's well worth a look -- some nice "summer reading" if you imagine what a wonderful time she must be having! Certainly more fun than Paris Hilton these days.
There is a link to Wynn's travel blog in the sidebar under Featured Links. (Her other blog is listed with the writers' blogs.) You can also find her travel blog by clicking this link:
Yes, it's summer already, and what better way to spend it than cruising the Greek Islands! Go, Wynn!
I managed to get the next and hopefully last significant upgrade online this morning for the Parallel Writing Project web site, bringing it up to Beta Version 5.0.
If you check out the Text Viewer now (the place where you would read the scenes for each challenge), you will find the Viewer can accommodate 12 scenes (1-12) by 26 authors (A-Z). I think that's a good limit to establish.
Currently, the idea is to have writers turn in new scenes once every two weeks. At that rate, that would mean 2 scenes per month, and 6 months to complete the 12 scenes. It may be more desirable to increase the rate to once a week, or 4 per month, in which case it would take 3 months to complete the 12 scenes. I think there should be a definite end point to the project, and 12 scenes seems like a good number, adequate to cover the major points in the storyline. If there are more writers, then less often is better for submissions. If there are fewer authors, then weekly would work out okay, if people prefer that option.
My next main task is to create the storyline and the challenges, then put that information online. That might take 1-3 days. I'll keep you posted. If anyone wants to share ideas, let me know by email.
Please check out the Parallel Writing Project web site, if you haven't done so already, and if you have, please check out the new version of the Text Viewer! Now you can see what it will really be like.
And...any help in spreading the word about this exciting project is greatly appreciated!
[NOTE: THE URL HAS CHANGED: SEE COMMENT ATTACHED TO THIS POSTING FOR DETAILS!]
I created more images to help promote the Parallel Writing Project (PWP). I've uploaded them and added a new page for them, called the "Gallery" (go figure). It's under the "Participants" menu.
Here is a sampling of the new images (there are more on the site):
More news soon....
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
Feel free to use any of these images instead of the other "invitation" banner from my last posting, if you prefer. You can still save one of them as "invitation.jpg" and then use the HTML code from my last posting (you'll see the file referred to in the HTML code as "invitation.jpg").
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
I think the Parallel Writing Project can be a very useful tool to help writers learn and grow through focused writing challenges and helpful feedback. It's like a writing group, but without the need to drive somewhere and meet up in person, which can be difficult with busy schedules.
I do hope that other writers, and fantasy writers in particular, will jump on board. The train will be leaving the station soon (start date to be announced). I don't want to leave anybody behind that would enjoy taking part.
I hope my blog readers will support this project either by taking part or by passing along the word about it. If you take part in any forums, please let others know, and feel free to provide a link:
PARALLEL WRITING PROJECT
You can also use the following banner:
To add this banner to your blog or web site:
1. Save the image above (right-click, "Save Image") as "invitation.jpg".
2. Add the following HTML code to your blog template or web site. There should be no space after the first or second lines--it all runs together.
IF YOU DO PROVIDE A LINK, let me know -- I'll add a link back to your site on a page thanking Supporters in the PWP site! A little extra promotion for your own site, blog, or the forum where you participate.
Let me say "THANKS!" to anyone who helps promote the Parallel Writing Project!
And if you haven't already, please check out the web site and see for yourself what it's all about.
I thought I was going to get back to my novel already, but seeing the need to further develop the PWP site I decided to keep at it until it's done.
I made another very significant step forward yesterday. I revamped the Text Viewer so you can view texts by author or by writing challenge, reorganized the system for filekeeping, and added the "Legal" Stuff" and "Participants" sections to the main menu of the Start Page. I liked what I did the day before so much I thought I should extend that format (the green submenu). The Start Page is now pretty much done except for the Creative Commons License, which I haven't had time to go fetch yet. I think the Text Viewer is done now, too, except I need to set up a bunch of blank pre-formatted files to be ready for the eventual submissions.
Much is done, some still to do. Back to work!
Monday, June 04, 2007
The Parallel Writing Project (hereinafter "PWP") is growing quickly. After putting up the Beta Version, before the launch of my web site, I have managed to revamp the Beta Version and create the foundation for the actual site. If you visit it now, with the most recent additions from today, you will see Beta Version 3.0!
The PWP site is linked to from the "entry page" to my new web site, a generic page that you can use to reach any of the stuff I'll put on the web site (the PWP isn't the only project up my sleeve!). When you arrive at the "entry page", you can click the image and enter my actual web site, or click on any other links to go directly to specific projects. Right now, the PWP is the only project available (another one is in the pipeline for the next few months).
Once you reach the PWP site, you will see a logo in the top left corner, with a menu below it. The links open messages in the main portion of your screen. There is a welcome message, a News Flash, the Rules, Submission Guidelines, etc., all from the original Beta Version but edited and developed somewhat more.
The latest addition is the link labeled "ABOUT THE CHALLENGES". When you click this link, it opens a new menu in a green panel with links to information about the actual challenges. This is where you learn about the Hypothetical Novel, Challenge Scenes, and more details about submissions, comments and the schedule. This new information will give you a more detailed sense of what the project is all about, what the reality of participating in it will (hopefully) be.
The next things I'm working on:
Posting information about the Creative Commons license for the hypothetical novel and challenge scenes.
Developing the storyline of the hypothetical novel and writing the descriptions of the challenge scenes.
Adding a little more to the PWP site, including a place to list the writers who are participating and provide links to their blogs/sites, and a place to list the supporters (readers and others) who have links to the PWP site, providing links to their sites as well (cross-polination is a good thing, as beekeepers will tell you).
Upgrading the Text Viewer to allow you to read all the submissions by author or by writing challenge (this will enable you to maintain continuity in reading successive submissions by the same author).
Upgrading the Text Viewer to feature the News Flashes and also a comic or quote as a source of encouragement or inspiration (as if anybody needs encouragement or inspiration with all that's going on in the world today).
Finally, as all the pieces come together in the next week or two, it's important to get the word out. Thanks to Romance Writer who has already linked to my new site, and to Susan Fleming who will soon post about the PWP on her blog.
I'll post more in the days ahead, keeping you informed as this AWESOME, COOL, EXCITING project comes together and we get ready to actually start!
It's not too early to sign up: just send me an email to let me know you'd like to take part. I think you will be happy you did.
Best wishes to everyone else on their writing and writing-related activities,
Saturday, June 02, 2007
After a lot of FTP hassles, I managed to get the site online (without using FTP -- I did it the old-fashioned way, file by file). Regardless, it's there, and I've taken time to debug it, so it should be working pretty well at this point. Feel free to check it out, and let me know what you think!
Please add this link to your bookmarks:
That's the "Entry Page". Bookmark only to that page since it will remain constant: all the other pages will change over time.
Yippee! Now I can get back to my novel!
PS: Thanks, Susan, for encouraging me to take on this long-awaited project after completing my second draft of THE REFLECTING STONE. Glad I got it done. It's a start, with room to grow.
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
I'm setting Friday, June 1, 2007, as the tentative launch date for my new web site. Half the site is now finished, and much of the rest of it is in progress. I have lots to do yet, but I think I can finish it and put it online by this Friday morning.
Check back here for the link and the announcement that it's officially up and running!
I'm eager to get back to my novel!
Saturday, May 26, 2007
The Beta Test Version for the Parallel Writing Project is available for you to check out. I'll describe what you'll find when you visit the web site and the blog, then provide you with the links.
When you click the link below for the web site, you will be taken to the temporary start page (the rest of the new web site is coming soon!). Click the link there to see the mock-up of the Parallel Writing Project.
You will see a page of text explaining details about the project for first-time visitors. This page will be changed as far as presentation goes, but the content is the current version. At the bottom of this page are links to the Text Viewer and the Blog Site.
The Text Viewer is the page where you would actually spend your time reading the texts.
I set up generic posts for each writer (A-Z, if that many take part), and for the first writing challenge.
The idea is that you would first read the texts for the current writing challenge on the web site (above), then visit the blog where you would use the list of links on the right side to find the writer or challenge you want to comment on, then post comments under that posting.
The links below will take you to the web site and the blog site. Feel free to explore. Please share any comments here on this blog (Chronicling the Novel...).
I appreciate your comments and suggestions!
Monday, May 21, 2007
I had an idea for my new web site that I wanted to share with my blog readers for feedback. I welcome anyone with an opinion or who might wish to take part to leave a comment.
It occurred to me that it might be fun, interesting, and enlightening to gain some writing practice on various aspects of the scene, and to do this along with other writers, in a way that enables those who take part to share their work alongside that of other participants. Hence...
THE PARALLEL WRITING PROJECT
On a bi-weekly basis, participants would write one scene and send it to me by email. I would post the scenes on my web site, side-by-side, as a series of long running "strips", with each new scene posted below the last scene by the same writer. You would recognize each writer's work as you scroll across because each strip would have its own color scheme. The description of the writing challenge for each scene would appear in the first column. Here is a diagram.
The trick is that these would not be a miscellaneous collection of scenes by different writers, but would be scenes focused around specific "challenges". Each writer would attempt to write the same scene in terms of plot/characters as described in the writing challenge for that scene, and with the same focus on particular aspects of scene creation.
It would be interesting to see how different writers approach the challenge or writing "problem". It would be interesting to compare overall style, vocabulary, sentence structure, and the way the scenes are developed or certain effects achieved.
I would set up another blog just for this project, with links between it and the web site. Participants and observers could post comments on the blog site regarding each of the scene challenges and each writer's texts (advice, observations, things to think about). Those taking part would be able to provide input into future challenges or items to focus on, so that it would be a collaborative experiment.
I think the benefit of participating in this opportunity would be:
Sharing work online and getting feedback;
Comparing your work to the writing of others where there is a direct parallel between texts;
Developing an increased awareness of the interplay between style and structure;
Refining your techniques for handling dialog, character development, etc., in the context of a progression of individual scenes.
There would be no fee to participate. Participation would be limited to 6-12 writers to keep the task of updating the site every two weeks manageable. The work you share (texts you submit by email) would remain your own property with your own copyright. There would be no commercial use of this material as posted on my web site as part of the Parallel Writing Project. You would be free to develop your individual texts and seek publication elsewhere, although that is not really the purpose: the intent is to do this as a shared, collaborative writing exercise, "practice writing" alongside whatever other projects you are working on toward publication.
Comments? Anyone willing to give it a try?
Sunday, May 13, 2007
I have started developing the new web site that I have been wanting to put together for some time now. I started on Thursday night, and over the past few days have made some very satisfying progress. I'm eager to launch the new site, but don't want to rush it; I should continue to develop it and prepare content for it, so that enough of the new site is ready to make it worthwhile when it does launch.
I'll probably throw a Launch Party to celebrate and then invent a new "Launch Dance", some sort of jumping up and down with arms reaching out to symbolize how a new web site can reach out to the world . . . well, maybe I should leave the choreography to those actually skilled at that, but the idea of celebrating the launch of the new site, when it's ready to launch, is appealing.
I usually create web pages using Simple Text, writing out the actual HTML code myself--I like the challenge of it. I haven't done this in a while, so I've had to spend some time relearning HTML while also figuring out the site design and major sections for content. It's very creative work and a lot of fun.
Since I've become absorbed in this work, I haven't written anything more on OCCUPANT. That's okay. I'll get back to it soon. I've continued to explore ways to make OCCUPANT part of the ongoing series that starts with THE REFLECTING STONE. I found some new twists that would help raise it to the required epic fantasy level by the end of the story, but I also thought of other new twists that would simply make it a better story even if it's not made part of the series. As a stand-alone novel it would be interesting, and as part of the series it would be interesting. I'll continue to work with it and see which direction I like better.
Thanks to Gabriele for posting a recent comment about the idea of having novels share the same world even if the plots aren't directly linked. That was certainly interesting to think about and I'll continue to reflect on that.
Oh, by the way, the Mystery Project I worked on so hard back in the Fall will be linked to through the new web site, so I will also start working on that project again to finish it up and get it ready to launch. I guess that means another Launch Party. I won't complain.
Keeping my stories in mind where they continue to grow,
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
Only writing about one chapter per night right now. I find I'm quite tired when I sit down to write. Must be fatigue from last week's mad dash. So, I'm taking it easy and trying to rest a bit. I really wore myself out last week. Also, whenever I start a new draft, it seems it's always slow going for me no matter what. I think this is because I just have to work with the story to find the right voice or style, and the heart of it, the core of the story out of which springs so much emotion, and that drives all the rest of the stuff in it. I think I found that for this story finally in Chapter 6, although it's still a developing sense.
Today I most regrettably had the first insight into how this novel, too, could be adapted to fit my ongoing series that starts with THE REFLECTING STONE. I am intrigued by the idea of tying many different stories together. That is the intention for that series, although I won't say exactly why or how things should tie together. There is an epic fantasy level to it, but then there is also the nitty-gritty specific level of each individual story. In a way, the individual stories, as different as they are, shed light on different aspects of larger ideas, which then are further explored and brought together on the over-arching epic level. Nuff said. So, I'm not sure yet whether I'll actually use this story in that context. It can perfectly well stand alone, but elevating it to the next level brings out some intriguing ideas, takes things even farther than they go otherwise as I develop the themes throughout the story. This is what I ended up doing with THE ISLE and I LOVE the results. We'll see what happens. Even if I don't use this story, I am always on the lookout for other stories that can fit that series.
I am dabbling a bit right now in developing the new web site. I don't know when that'll be done, but I think I am ready to start work on it. There is more I want to do and a new and expanded site would enable me to do that. Time to grow!
Wishing everyone success in cultivating their creativity,
Monday, May 07, 2007
Last Thursday night I spent a few hours going over my notes for OCCUPANT and totally revamped them. This was a novel I worked on last year for a while between drafts of THE REFLECTING STONE and THE ISLE, based on an idea that I had been carrying around for a while even before last year.
I wrote the first chapter Thursday night, about 3k words, then let it sit over the weekend while I caught up on sleep. Last night (Sunday) I wrote another 3 chapters and about another 9k words.
Although I was able to write many words last week and finish off the first draft of THE REFLECTING STONE, I do have to ask myself whether it was truly wise to push ahead at such a pace, considering I didn't get much rest. There are trade-offs. I don't want to push that hard with the current draft, but still I should be able to finish it by the end of next week. I hope the finished draft runs around 72k.
OCCUPANT is an engaging story. Those I've shared a description of it with have all found it interesting. It's a ghost story, to some extent, in that a ghost appears in it, but rather than the main focus, which it was originally supposed to be, the events related to the ghost are almost a subplot alongside the family drama that unfolds throughout the story. I'll have to see once I've completed this draft whether this current take on it works well. The story is intriguing, but much less complex than the story of THE REFLECTING STONE, which is an epic fantasy. I'm enjoying the lighter weight of the plot, which allows me to focus more on character development, a crucial component in a story of this type. I'm also focusing on my sense of how to write a scene. Another feature of this new novel is multiple points of view. THE REFLECTING STONE is written entirely from the main character's POV. I wanted to dabble in multiple POV's, and OCCUPANT is a good story to do that with.
While I'm working on this draft, I will see about developing the new web site I've wanted to get around to for some time now. I envision it as a combination of web pages and blog pages, as many writers have at their sites. A way to provide information, and blog, and get feedback. I'm also thinking of that certain other creative project I put two months of hard work into last Fall, and which I have let sit ever since so that I could focus on my writing again. I was nearly finished with it, and would love to see what comes of it when it's actually finished. So, I may get back to work on the Mystery Project as well, we'll see. I'll keep my number one priority as finishing OCCUPANT so I can get back to work on THE REFLECTING STONE.
Each time I write a draft, I gain more experience in applying the techniques I've learned for completing a manuscript. I get to see those techniques and the process of creation as a constant, regardless of the particular story I'm working on. I also gain experience in thinking through a story, exploring it, fleshing it out, developing it in detail as I write it. I gain experience in keeping track of details, building suspense, pouring emotion out on the page, all that stuff that hopefully will engage and motivate a Reader. So, I feel working on OCCUPANT right now is not a waste of time, but a great way to continue to move forward in developing my skills. When it's done, I'll go right back to work on THE REFLECTING STONE, pouring over what I did and figuring out what to do with it.
Thanks to those who shared their comments with me recently. And, I'm happy to introduce a new link on my site, to the blog of KATE EVANS. Check it out when you get a chance.
Keeping at it,