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,
Thursday, May 03, 2007
Finished the second complete draft of my first novel, THE REFLECTING STONE, this morning. The later chapters are certainly first-draft material again, rough around the edges. Still, out of the many thousands of pages I wrote the past week there is a lot of really solid material to work with. I am guessing now that I'll end up with a third draft, but I'm not sure yet. At any rate, some of what I have is definitely what I want, and some of it is "getting there". I may just rewrite the portions that need it and tie that in with the chapters that I'm happy with. I'll have to wait and see.
Next is a short break from this, so I can gain a little distance, and then I'll read over what I have and assess the damage. Then I'll decide what needs rewriting, and whether to rewrite the whole thing or just sections. Then I'll get to work on that. I'm only a few days after my self-imposed deadline of the end of April for the completion of this draft, close enough. I can take the time to figure things out and still get another complete draft done within May or by early June.
My goal is get a COMPLETED MANUSCRIPT done as soon as possible and to start sending it out. I will take the time I need, but hope to get it done this summer, which was the same time I set for last year -- last summer -- but I was much too premature with that goal. I'm much closer now, might actually make it this time around.
I'll consider whether to work on another novel, one I had planned in detail last year (OCCUPANT), or work on my second novel, doing another rewrite of that (THE ISLE), while I let this current draft cool off. I wonder whether I should avoid any more work on THE ISLE, though, until I pin this first novel down very tightly, because that is the sequel, and my first draft gave me enough to work with, and any more work there would be tenuous at best while this first novel is still open to "tweaking". OCCUPANT would make a great side project, not too long, not too complicated compared with THE REFLECTING STONE.
Oh, and by the way, I still LOVE the characters and the story. I haven't gotten tired of it or them yet. I only get that way when I go over and over the same few scenes or chapters again and again and again, rewriting and editing them. Otherwise, I don't tire of the work.
Also, going so quickly this past week has helped me see the story in a more cohesive fashion, which is lost when I move more slowly. I really got into it, and was amazed at how I was able to keep track of so, so, so many details, raising questions or setting up things in one chapter, coming back to them repeatedly, then resolving them in later chapters. I had no idea I could keep track of that much in my head. It's good to push myself, to raise my limits, expand my horizons. That's the way to learn and grow, and see just what I'm capable of.
Well, I'm off to take care of other things. I hope to find something to work on quickly, though. I don't think I do as well if I take a total break from the writing, unless I'm really burned out. It's best to keep the momentum, although I'll work at a slower pace in the coming week after the mad rush of the past week. I'm afraid if I stop altogether for a week, I'll find it hard to get started again. Maybe this is a time to write some other stuff, develop some other ideas, just to keep plugging away.
Wishing everyone progress and joy in their work,
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
Moving right along. Exploring some of the heavy-duty metaphysical stuff right now, so what I'm writing is coming across more as rough first draft stuff than has otherwise been the case. Back to lengthy conversations, not good if you want action, but there's plenty of action throughout, and the questions raised have to be answered sometime. I can work this into a usable form, just need to edit or rewrite it to pare it down. It is showing me the real conflicts, the real nature of the conflicts. I'm finally seeing in the writing the stuff that I knew was there all along but which I hadn't been able to bring out before. It'll need major work, this part of the story, but at least it's coming along. Making good progress.
Another couple of days and this draft will be finished. I am still not sure how it'll look once it's done. Will have to wait and see. Am very, very curious about it.
Enjoy the Spring, it's here now,
Tuesday, May 01, 2007
I didn't write the rest of the weekend after my marathon session Friday night into Saturday morning, which will certainly go down in the history book for me as far as my "adventures in writing" go. It was fun, and I was so incredibly absorbed in the story that I just couldn't put it down. Afterward, though, I realized I very much needed to put it down and focus on something else for a while. Helps in maintaining balance, good health and all that sort of thing. We can write too much, as well as too little. I think I wrote 54k words last week. Enough already! That's Nano in a week! I should call it "WeekMo" and get other maniacs to sign up. We'll form our own little club, the "People Who Hemorrhage So Bad When They Write It Ain't Funny Club". We might even get a tax deduction for it, although our insurance premiums will probably skyrocket. ;-)
Last night I was back at it again (Tuesday night) and I wrote another large bunch of stuff, apparently about 12k words in 4.5 hours, minus a couple of short breaks, again right on track with what seems to be my going rate for words per minute and per hour (about 45/min, 2750/hr). It's interesting that I had gotten worried during my short hiatus that maybe what I had written was going to come falling down around me. I felt I had done so much so quickly, maybe it wasn't as solid as it seemed at the time (one of those, "oh-my-gosh, whatever was I thinking" moments, paired with "it seemed like a good idea at the time"). I was truly worried. However, I picked up right where I left off without missing a beat and hammered out more truly intriguing new stuff.
I'm rewriting the story, keeping the same basic idea of it all, but allowing creativity to take over. Although this is still coming out like a first draft, which in effect it really is, still there is much more control and it holds together very well. It's far more solid than my actual first draft. I'm avoiding going back and reading and editing what I wrote, but I had to glimpse back a little, and what I saw left me feeling very satisfied.
I don't want to give any of the new twists and turns away, and there are LOTS of new twists and turns to keep things interesting. However, I wanted to mention, since I think it's very funny, that the concerns that fueled my "what have I done?!" moments were solved by looking at a short bit of two different shows on TV the other evening. One was an episode of Star Trek TNG, the other the documentary that was on this past week about the Illuminati. Neither of these had anything whatsoever to do with my story in any direct way, but when I saw what each was about, I realized they did sort of almost parallel my story in an indirect and unconnected sort of way. The point was, I said to myself, "if they have the b***s to tell these stories, then I should not worry about it -- I can certainly tell my story." In other words, I got a lot of confidence that the limb I had gone out on was no farther "out there" than some of the limbs I see others going out on all the time. I took heart, gathered courage, and let myself dream.
And oh, what a dream!
Again, I was so wrapped up in the story that I could barely force myself to stop when I finally had run out of time to write. The hours flew by. I love to be so wrapped up in my writing like that. Tremendous focus, tremendous involvement, feeling literally as though I were experiencing it myself. Hopefully it will have at least some of that same sensation for the Reader.
I'll keep at it, and hope to finish the draft within a few more days this week. It's turning into another 120k draft, but that's okay. It is what it needs to be. I can still try to whittle it down.
I had hoped to finish this draft within April. I made slow going of it for several weeks there, so that set me behind, but I'm catching up and it won't be that late, only by a few days. Not so sure now that another complete draft is inevitable. I'll have to wait and see. There is so much solid stuff here that this might actually be something I can just edit into shape. It will depend. However it goes, if I keep the new twists and turns, then I want to edit this enough that I'm comfortable to share it, and then share it with a few Beta Readers. If I decide to alter the story significantly yet again, then I'll have to do a rewrite before I can share it. Too soon to know for sure. Need to finish it first, then have a look back at it.
In the meantime, my fingers are itching for this story to be FINISHED so that I can get the next one finished and then the next one and then the next one ....
Best wishes to everyone else trying to get their novels finished!
[Note: Blogger acting up, had to republish this post!]