Category: Writing

Writing Report for 16 October 2017

Writing Report for 16 October 2017

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Quick update for the previous week. I’m not as far along on anything listed below as I might have been if I hadn’t gone to Ottawa to attend CanCon (about which more tomorrow) and visit my parents this past weekend, but I’m still happy with the progress I made where I made it.

I have two stories left at the revision notes level for The Undead. Both of these are edging up against novelette length, and the editing process will probably push them over that edge.

I’m about 20% through the final draft of Draugr Rising. Mostly tiny wording changes although there was a scene where I chopped a couple of paragraphs and another where I twisted things a little for better emotional result.

Closing in on the halfway mark of Shrine, (18.5 chapters drafted out of 40) at least according to the original outline. But I’m at 41000 words into an outline that estimated 60,000 total. Oops.

Haiku selection is done and I’m drafting the opening and closing text for the book.

Fourteen of twenty strips drafted for Star Trek: The Badly Drawn Stick Figure Comic. This is actually only two more than I had, but is still progress.

All in all, not bad.

The NaNoWriMo debate is over. Not doing it. Nothing I’ve plotted or could have ready two weeks from now will come in around 50,000 words when drafted. I have too much going on at the moment and I want to continue to make progress on existing projects without starting some random new one. I do plan to push the word count back into NaNo levels for Shrine if I can, and I certainly have other things to pick up right after it’s done.

Gotta go. More words to smith.

Be well, everyone.

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Writing Report for 09 October 2017

Writing Report for 09 October 2017

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Doing one of these two weeks in a row doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m back to doing one every week, but it does mean I have something to report this week.

I have a lot of in progress projects. Not all of them are fiction (although most are), and one of the ones that isn’t hit a major milestone this week. I finished the selection of 120 haiku (from among something like a thousand) for a slim volume of them I’m planning. That was more work than you might think and probably is the lion’s share of the “standard” creative part of the book. Next, a little bit of introductory text before I teach myself the basics of layout and design. Still not a published book yet, but a step closer.

From a novel standpoint, I generally give myself a breakdown so that each phase is a separate item. I discussed those phases in a blog post last week, but I’ve just completed the first phase, the chapter level rough plot, for the third Troll World book: Palace. Book 1, Arena, is on the slate for 3rd draft shortly, and book two, Shrine, is my current 1st draft project. The final (?) book, Battlefield, isn’t even going to get an outline until late next year.

Feeling productive for a change, I’ve also made some revision notes progress on a number of the short pieces for The Undead and I’ve started the read aloud draft on Draugr Rising.

Oh, and I’m debating NaNoWriMo as I’ve been pleased with the results the last couple of times I’ve tried it and it’s been a couple of years. Trying to decide if it should be something completely fresh or one of the couple of things I could have outlined by November 1st. Thing is, none of those are likely to be merely 50,000 words in the first draft. Something to think about.

Yeah, I’m diving in as deep as I can.

Be well, everyone.

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The Stages of Writing a Novel… For Me

The Stages of Writing a Novel… For Me

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No jokes, no bad puns or exaggerations. This is the basic process of writing a novel for me.

  1. Basic Concept. I’ve got too many of these. Really. There are around three dozen novels I want to write at the moment. Actually, probably closer to twice that, but three-ish dozen where I’ve got a basic, solid concept in mind, and probably a couple of hundred words in a file somewhere describing what I want, including probably a sentence to describe each POV character.
  2. Rough Plot. Start with the beginning and the end and figure out a rough sequence of events, possibly even at the chapter level.
  3. An expansion of the Rough Plot to the scene level, more or less, with a hundred or so words of description of each significant scene and a couple of sentences to summarize shorter bursts of action or activity.
  4. 1st The brain dump, getting the story out of my skull. This is raw, filled with issues and problems and inconsistences. I’ll come back for those later. My 1st draft is often very bare bones, not a lot of description beyond the immediate action. That comes later.
  5. Put the first draft away for long enough that the story isn’t fresh in my mind. Write something else, or more than one something, to help that process along. Could be months.
  6. Revision Notes. With fresh eyes, read the story, making a note of every single problem, issue, continuity error, or anything else that bugs me.
  7. 2nd The fix what’s broken draft. All of those notes from the last step get addressed here. Every single one of them. Plus whatever else jumps out. This usually adds length to the story, on average about 8% on the novels I’ve gotten to this stage, even though there’s often stuff that gets cut out, too. This is also where I clean up a lot of dictation errors if it’s something I wrote while commuting.
  8. 3rd The make it pretty draft. This is all about word choices and making sure every scene, paragraph, and sentence says what I want it to. The story usually gets longer here, too. More dictation cleaning, probably, but this is also where a lot of the description I didn’t put in when doing the initial draft appears.
  9. Final Draft. I usually call this the “read it aloud” draft, because that’s the primary focus here, reading it aloud to see if I’ve missed anything. Hearing the words sometimes catches things my eyes just gloss over. If my tongue trips, it probably doesn’t work and I need to fix something, even if it’s just a single word.

And remember how I said my initial draft is usually pretty bare bones? The distance between the last sentence of the first draft and allowing other human eyes to see the story is, based on a sample of 4, roughly 20-25% of the original length. Sixty thousand words probably becomes 72-75. 80 might break 100. That said, a novel I’m going to take from 3rd to final sometimes soon may be a whole lot less than that; Scattered on the Wind has had less than 10% growth between 1st and 3rd drafts, and I don’t think it’s going to add much in the final.

Going through all this for this post, I discovered I’m even farther behind where I wanted to be at this point in the year than I thought. I have eight different novels somewhere between the rough plot and third draft, never mind the dozens of others I’d like to write.

Probably, I should get to work.

Be well, everyone.

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Writing Report for 02 October 2017

Writing Report for 02 October 2017

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So it’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, but since most of what I’ve written lately has been in the form of book reviews, that’s probably okay.

I have made some progress on some creative things, having drafted the majority of my Star Trek stick figure comic strips, picked out about 80% of the haiku for a planned book of them, started (but not finished) two short stories, and, of course, written a whole bunch of book reviews as well as a few blog posts.

I did finish the rough plot of the sequel to Universal Destiny, but that book is still in the group of novels I actually need to do something with, a count which stands at four. Well, sort of. There are four novels I consider to be “final” draft complete. There are six more running somewhere between first and third draft complete. Plus two first drafts in progress, one fully outlined, and two rough plotted.

Sheesh. I better get to work.

Be well, everyone.

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Writing Report for 08 August 2017

Writing Report for 08 August 2017

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There should have been one of these last week, but I guess that will just make this one a little longer. Projects completed:

  • Last week, I finished off the Star Trek Marathon logs, at least the written versions of them. All 53 drafted. A little polishing at a later date and then recording sometime after that.
  • Late this afternoon, I finished the read through on the “final” draft of Scattered on the Wind. Time to find some beta readers for this one, and a couple of other things.

Which makes the “next 10”, in currently anticipated completion order:

  1. Star Trek Comic Strips
  2. Haiku Selection
  3. Novella/Novelette Review Catch Up
  4. Shrine 1st Draft
  5. LoC 2 Plot
  6. Star Trek Book/Comic/Merch
  7. Fallen Heroes Outline
  8. Palace Plot
  9. Fractured Unity 1st Draft
  10. LoC 2 Outline

There are a couple of short forms at work here.

“Star Trek Comic Strips” is actually tentatively titled “Star Trek: The Badly-Drawn Stick-Figure Comic”. I have the rough plots for all of them and have some truly horrible first sketches done for seven or eight strips out of a planned twenty.

LoC = Lords of Creation, which is the name an adversarial alien species gives to itself in Universal Destiny, something else I need beta readers for.

Be well, everyone.

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Writing Report for 24 July 2017

Writing Report for 24 July 2017

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So I’m going to stop calling this weekly reports and just put one up when I’ve got something significant to report.

I have made progress since the last one, and since it’s been four weeks since the last update, I’ll put more detail here, but I think, going forward, I’ll only put up updates when I’ve marked a project as complete or when I’ve hit a major milestone.

Recent accomplishments:

  1. Shrine – I’ve gotten back into the dictation thing, and I’m making a thousand-ish words progress per work day on this, less on days off. Fourteen chapters of 40 are drafted, and I’m into the fifteenth. Also, I haven’t diverged from the original outline too much. That 40 will probably end up being 42, though, as there are a couple of chapters I think will wind up getting split.
  2. Star Trek Marathon logs are now going very well. I found an old draft of many of the original version on my Google Drive. Instead of having to write the next couple of dozen fresh, I can take the previous versions and modify them to match up with the overarching story as it’s currently built. I expect the speed of progress to increase here.
  3. Scattered on the Wind final draft progresses, and I’ve finished the read through, with a few changes in word choices here and there and only one substantial change in one chapter, to the end of Chapter 12. There are 30.

The current “next 10” projects remain the same, but the completion order is probably not what you see below. Some things are bigger than others and some just take longer. Example, while the first draft of Shrine is number one on the list, there are three things (maybe even four) I actually expect to be done before it. First draft of a novel is always one of the biggest projects I can have going.

  1. Shrine 1st Draft
  2. Star Trek Marathon Logs Redux
  3. Scattered on the Wind Final Draft
  4. Star Trek Comic Strips
  5. Novella/Novelette Review Catch Up
  6. Haiku Selection
  7. Fractured Unity 1st Draft
  8. LoC 2 Plot
  9. Fallen Heroes Outline
  10. Star Trek Book/Comic/Merch

Be well, everyone.

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Error Code: -72

Error Code: -72

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I’ve started making story submissions again. Rejections are a part of that. A big part. And sometimes, they’re because you screw something up that isn’t even related to the story itself.

I made a rookie mistake yesterday on one submission, spending the time to adjust the manuscript formatting to match the requirements of the market in question (“Industry standard”, but with a different font, a specific type of quotation mark, italics instead of underlines) and making sure it was exactly as requested. But my eyes skipped over the line that said they like things anonymous inside the story and to take your name out of things. Oops.

Here’s what I got back only a few hours later:

 

“Dear Lance,

Submission guidelines tell you what a magazine is looking for. If you don’t read them carefully, you won’t know what’s wanted, and you’re saying to the venue that you can’t be bothered to find out.

In our case, we only accept anonymized stories. Your submission contained your name or other personally identifying information (e-mail, address, etc.), and is therefore declined. You may resubmit an anonymized version no sooner than seven calendar days from now.

Sincerely,

Editor Of A Publication I’m Unlikely To Submit To Again”

 

Yes, I made a mistake: I didn’t read things thoroughly enough. Reject the story and tell me to try again. The response I got does that, but it does so with a very passive-aggressive tone designed to make me feel bad and punish me more than just rejecting my story would.

What if I’d been a 16-year-old kid submitting my first story ever and excited about it?

What if I were overcoming an anxiety disorder to submit a story to a magazine I love?

Neither of those things apply, but what if I were a human being? You know, one of the ones who exists and has feelings?

I have to wonder if I’ve just been lucky or if this kind of thing is common. There are old (ancient) rumours that publications and publication groups have blacklists, a file somewhere containing the names of authors they won’t work with for a variety of reasons. This is not my first negative experience in publishing, and I’m far, far from doing this for a living, so my experience isn’t all that broad, but I’m starting to wonder if I need a blacklist of publications. Or at least a grey one for markets I should think long and hard before sending something to.

It’s fortunate for me that the positive experiences tremendously outnumber the negative ones, but that just makes the negative ones annoy me more. For a little passive-aggression of my own, I’ll suggest maybe I should have submitted this story on July 29th instead of July 18th.

Writer folks out there: have you ever received a rejection that seemed designed to make you angry or punish you? I’m suddenly very curious about how widespread this might be.

Be well, everyone.

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Writing Update for the Week Ending 25 June 2017

Writing Update for the Week Ending 25 June 2017

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Not a lot of writing in the past seven days. A little progress on the same top three of the next 10, but not really enough to make big notes on. Still, to keep myself honest, and keep things up to date, my accomplishments last week:

  1. Shrine – Still on 250-300 words per day pace, which needs to pick up, but I’m struggling with this piece of the story even as I can clearly see the things I really want to get to later on.
  2. Star Trek Marathon logs – squeezed four of these in this week. Should have been seven.
  3. Scattered on the Wind I pushed another chapter and a bit in, but not nearly what I’d hoped for.

The current “next 10” projects remain:

  1. Shrine 1st Draft
  2. Star Trek Marathon Logs Redux
  3. Scattered on the Wind Final Draft
  4. Star Trek Comic Strips
  5. Novella/Novelette Review Catch Up
  6. Haiku Selection
  7. Fractured Unity 1st Draft
  8. LoC 2 Plot
  9. Fallen Heroes Outline
  10. Star Trek Book/Comic/Merch

Every day is a new one. So is every week. Maybe I’ll get a little farther forward this week.

Be well, everyone.

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Writing Update for the Week Ending 18 June 2017

Writing Update for the Week Ending 18 June 2017

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Which, yes, I should normally have posted yesterday.

Lots going on this week in life, and I got some work done, but I didn’t get far enough on any of the primary projects to actually take one off the list. I probably won’t the next couple of weeks, either, because they’re all in the first 33%.

That said, I made good (or at least some) progress, on the top three.

Accomplishments this week:

  1. Shrine – I’m finding it hard to get back into this story, gaining 250-300 words per day right now.
  2. Star Trek Marathon logs – the first seven are redrafted, which still leaves me a long way to go, and I wish I knew what happened to the original file and when. It’s not in any of my backups and was basically a complete first draft.
  3. Scattered on the Wind final – since this is the third-tier project at the moment, I haven’t made it there every day, but I’m still three chapters through that final read out loud draft. A few small adjustments here and there, but I’m liking how the story works so far.

The current “next 10” projects remain:

  1. Shrine 1st Draft
  2. Star Trek Marathon Logs Redux
  3. Scattered on the Wind Final Draft
  4. Star Trek Comic Strips
  5. Novella/Novelette Review Catch Up
  6. Haiku Selection
  7. Fractured Unity 1st Draft
  8. LoC 2 Plot
  9. Fallen Heroes Outline
  10. Star Trek Book/Comic/Merch

Lots of creative stuff to do.

Be well, everyone.

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Weekly Writing Report for 05 June 2017

Weekly Writing Report for 05 June 2017

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Although, I don’t think weekly is accurate lately, but let’s go with it.

New strategy.

What, again?

Yup.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m happier when I have multiple projects on the go. That’s still true, but I’m trying to find some additional focus.

To that end, I’m going to have a primary project with the backup plan to switch to other things here and there when I’m starting to feel burnt on the primary or when I only have a few minutes at a time to work. To that end, here’s the list of the next ten primaries (though it’s worth noting that I have a plan far beyond that):

  1. Draugr Rising 3rd Draft
  2. Book Review Catch Up
  3. Undead Story Selection (100k)
  4. Shrine 1st Draft
  5. Star Trek Marathon Logs Redux
  6. Scattered on the Wind Final Draft
  7. Star Trek Comic Strips
  8. Novella/Novelette Review Catch Up
  9. Haiku Selection
  10. Fractured Unity 1st Draft

Some of these need a little talking about.

Draugr Rising: first draft finished in early 2015 at 50,650 words. Pulled it out very early this year, made some revision notes, made some major revisions, changes, and additions, and I’m currently about a chapter and a half from being finished the third draft. It will probably come in at a touch above 63,000 words when that’s done.

Book Review Catch Up: I like doing quick book reviews, but I’ve fallen behind. Actually, way behind, but I’ve been slowly catching up over the last few weeks. Right now I’m only seven behind. So, it shouldn’t take me long after this draft of Draugr Rising is complete. I’m rather farther behind on the Novella/Novelette Review front, but these tend to be shorter than my novel reviews.

Undead Story Selection: all of the stories I wrote towards this collection total just shy of 140,000 words. Historically, my first drafts are very bare bones just to get the story out of my skull. I expect to add 15-20% of the word count to most things by the time they reach final draft. Taking the upper number, I think that 168,000 words might be a bit long for a collection of short fiction, so I’m going to try to pick 85-90k worth of stories I like the best, which will almost certainly take me over 100k for a final count. Once selected, the editing of those will be a separate project.

Shrine 1st Draft: second book of the Troll Wars Quartet, and it’s been on hold for a little while. I’ve completed the first quarter of my outline, planned at about 60k altogether. However, a couple of minor things exploded, and I’m 9,000 words ahead of what I estimated. I’m a little worried about that happening in the rest of the book, too. That may mean I have some hard decisions later, but in the meantime, I actually need to get the first draft done.

Scattered on the Wind Final Draft: this is the read it out loud and make sure I haven’t missed anything draft. Usually, I have. Sometimes, I find a writing tic or two and fix them while I’m at it. There isn’t usually a large difference in overall word count by the time this is done.

Star Trek: Marathon Logs, Comic Strips, Fractured Unity. I’ve been a Trekkie for as long as I can remember. Sometime in 2014, I had the idea for my own celebration of the 50th anniversary of Star Trek and it involved me producing a whole lot of content. Life intervenes. I’ve been poking away at it here and there, and the 50th anniversary was last fall, but I’d still like to do this, so I’m trying to step up my Trek game over the next little while to get things moving properly again. Short Fiction and Blog posts are complete, but I’ve got a lot of things left to do yet.

Haiku selection: over the last couple of years, I’ve written hundreds of haiku. For quite a while, I was penning several per day, though that’s dropped back quite a bit in the last few months with a heavier schedule. But I’ve been thinking I’d like to put a hundred or so of them into a digital chapbook. So I’ve got to pick good ones.

Writing Reports for the next little while will focus on project completion rates. I’ll still leave the reports on Mondays, but hopefully will have good news here and there about getting stuff done, or at least how much of that stuff I’m getting done, and I’ll conclude each post with the current list of the next ten focus projects. Things may move around. Individual drafts of novels will count as projects on their own because I like to let things rest in between to come back to them fresher. Overall, I have a flexible five year plan, although only this year and next are plotted out in detail.

Be well, everyone.

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