Saturday, July 31, 2010

Charting the Course

My recent Creative Break is officially over! I'm back at work and have been for a couple of weeks, albeit off and on. Now I'm rolling up my shirt sleeves, baring my knuckles, preparing to dive in and stir up the dust to drive things home! And no, I don't have time to cut down on mixed metaphors!

I'm excited, which is a good sign. I needed a break and I don't regret taking it. My head is clear and my sense of purpose is sharp. The iron is hot. Time to strike.

As always, I reflected on how things went this last go-round, in order to avoid whatever pitfalls I encountered and make a better go of it this time. Here's what I decided:

(1) I can burn out on a story if I spend too many months and too much effort on it. It's more important to get through a draft. I'll limit myself to a quick first draft, whatever the result, and trust in my editing capabilities, which I'm quite happy with after seeing how I turned rough stuff into slick stuff over the past several months.

(2) I'm going to work from a detailed scene list rather than just major plot pillars. The details can be basic (POV character, goal, complication, result, time, place, etc.). To help me plan, I'm using the Snowflake Method for brainstorming and general overview, the Marshall Plan for scene and sequence, and to write it I'll use yWriter5 for the first time.

(3) Some other things I won't blog about, including new tricks I've come up with that are helping immensely. You know I've gotten onto some really good stuff if I'm not sharing it.

Once again, I won't say anything about the novel since I want it to sell. I won't even give it a name. It's just my current WIP. Nuff said.

Good to be back in the driver's seat, on the road again, building steam in the engine, etc.

Current goals: finish planning in one to two weeks; start first draft immediately once scene list is complete; finish first draft within three months of starting it. Oh, and do a really good job with it! ;-)

Wishing Wynn a lot of fun in Greece, where she may finally wrap up her novel on Alexander the Great this summer, and wishing everyone else all the enthusiasm they can muster,


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Who'da Thunk It?

According to a web site which analyzes your writing and compares it to other authors, I write like:

I write like
Dan Brown

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Who'da thunk it?! (hahahaha)

I tried it with a sample of my recent WIP, the one I worked on steadily from November until recently. Trying it again with another section of text from the same WIP, I got these results:

I write like
Ian Fleming

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Trying it again with an excerpt from JACK & JILL: THE UNTOLD STORY, which I worked on a couple of years ago (and have been toying with recently), I got these results:

I write like
J. K. Rowling

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

And, using a sample from my children's fiction (Middle Grade, ages 8-12):

I write like
Ursula K. Le Guin

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Finally, using a sample from THE REFLECTING STONE, the first novel I worked on about four years ago....

I write like
William Shakespeare

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!


So what have I done to my writing over the past four years that it would plunge from the heights of Sheakespeare to, well, uh, nevermind.

At least it's good for a laugh,


Friday, July 02, 2010

Sunrise & Sunset

My Kindle ebook reader arrived yesterday and I must say -- I'm impressed! I really like it. I've always felt comfortable reading on my laptop, and the new e-ink technology is even better. The Kindle is lightweight, solid, a good size that's easy to hold and the buttons are easy to use.

I've already downloaded about 500 free ebooks of various kinds, so I have plenty to read. A lot of them are classics I've always wanted to experience but never have, or some I read years ago and would enjoy reading again. Some deal with history, philosophy, mythology, etc. I also look for current novels that are offered for free -- there are plenty of them around. Eventually I'll start buying content and will be happy to do so at a reasonable price -- I think ebook prices should be lower, not higher, than print books (a topic in itself).

One thing really struck me once I started reading a book on my new Kindle: this thing really does mark a major step forward in the evolution of how we read. I think back to the ancient cuneiform tablets of Mesopotamia, the papyrus scrolls of ancient Egypt, the runes hacked into the sides of trees or carved into stones along the roads of ancient Scandinavia. Then came paper and finally the invention of movable type. The Kindle and other ebook readers represent as big a step forward as the Gutenberg press. We're now witnessing the first steps of a major transformation in how written information can be disseminated. It's already started, of course, with computers and the internet, but with devices such as the Kindle the digital age will bring us to a time when print books will be a rarity, something for collectors. Not in our lifetimes, but it won't take long for this new technology to become widespread in the developed world, then the norm. We're seeing the sunset of the printed word, and the sunrise of a new age.


It's cool on the one hand, but a little weird on the other. I wonder how those with access to hand-copied manuscripts felt in Gutenberg's time when printed books began to appear, then became the norm!

The first novel I'm reading on my Kindle is His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik, which was recently offered for free on Amazon. I'm about a quarter of the way through it already and I'm enjoying it immensely. It combines an old-fashioned sea tale with dragon lore -- awesome! The writing style is reminiscent of nineteenth-century novels, which I adore. I'm impressed with the consistent quality of the prose. It's a great story for someone into dragons and the era of sailing ships.

The Kindle certainly helps me to focus while reading. I use a larger font size which puts fewer words per line and ultimately per page. This helps me to read quickly and the need to turn the page draws me forward. Seeing the progress bar on the bottom of the screen also encourages me to move along. I have no difficulty losing myself in the story; the device does not distract. The Kindle certainly makes reading easy -- I could read from sunrise to sunset!

I won't commit to reading a novel a week, but I will certainly enjoy reading as much as I can as often as I can. What a great way to catch up on my dream list of books I've always wanted to read but never found the time for! And what a great way to keep current with what's being published today. I wasn't sure how I'd feel with the device, whether it might seem overblown and unnecessary, but now that I've tried it, I'm totally sold. Glad I bought it, and I look forward to countless hours enjoying it.

Back to my reading,