Category: Writing

Sometimes, Writing Is A Struggle

Sometimes, Writing Is A Struggle

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I decided, while I’m working out some of the bits of a set of related short stories that I’m going to try to make a little progress on what would technically be the next novel project, so, yes, that means I’m once again working on two novels at once. Well, technically three, and not so much again as still. I’m also doing the conversion of A Matter of Honor, a novel-length fanfic coming over from audio drama scripts. But the two primary projects are both original novels.

Big Hair Day: I started struggling about two thirds of the way through the first chapter. Up to that point, it had gone very well, but, for a chapter I’d tagged for 2500 words, I’d said everything I wanted to say in 16 or 1700. For some reason, I resented that, so try to push it. I’m probably going to manage to force it to 2000, but I really shouldn’t. If I do, one of the notes when I do the read through is will probably be something the effect of, “Holy crap, this is too damn long. Cut, cut, cut.”

I decided to try to make some initial progress on Fallen Heroes, having a different issue with the first chapter. In this case, opening with what is essentially an introspective, it seemed natural in the middle of that to start borrowing a piece of things from what was going to be chapter 3. And I tried to resist doing that for some reason. Oh no, will that screw up my outline, you ask? Sure, whatever.

The message to myself in both cases is essentially the same, although I didn’t manage to come up with it until I’d actually set the computer to do the transcriptions: do what is right for the story.

In one case, it shouldn’t matter what you think the length of something will be, don’t get hung up on the length it turns out to be. Just because you plot of the 2500 doesn’t matter if it’s 15 or 35, or takes a quick veer into left field for something that for whatever reason is incredibly important to the current POV character, and I got 6000 word instead of two thousand and three extra scenes. Do what is right the story. If it is natural or something you thought was going to be later that’s now happening sooner, fine, let it happen. The outline is not a guarantee.

And, considering how these two projects have started, I don’t feel like I should be giving advice at the moment. But, as long as the story is going in the general direction you want it to, keep writing. When the scene is done, go to the next scene, and don’t worry about your projections. Those are just there as placeholders.

Life is filled with lessons, and the writing life is no different. Sometimes, those lessons need to be relearned. So be it.

For now, I have stories to tell and I need to get my fingers on the keyboard.

If you have a story to tell, you should be doing that.

Be well, everyone.

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Psst! Do you like fanfic?

Psst! Do you like fanfic?

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In particular, Star Trek fanfic?

I’ve got two available now. And more on the way.

So far, there are two of seven shorts available, and there will be a novel in there somewhere, too, because it’s going through the final draft reading right now. Mostly, I enjoy working with the supporting and background characters from the series, usually using the Big Three in smaller roles, but there’s a little variability there. It’s a big universe to play in.

Details on this page, but I thought I’d mention it, just in case.

Be well, everyone.

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The Zeroth Draft

The Zeroth Draft

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So I’ve written plenty of times before about how my basic story writing process works from first to final draft: story dump, read through, fix what’s broken, make it pretty, read it aloud. I don’t think I’ve ever really written about what goes into things before the first draft.

What makes up the 0th draft?

Once upon a time, a long time ago, I was pretty much a pantser when it came to writing. Either I would start with a cool concept or character or situation and write until I found my way to the end or, sometimes, just start writing and see what happened, figuring things out as I went. It was fun, and it worked well enough for me for a first draft, but after that first draft, it got to be a lot more work.

The read through produced a crazy number of notes and things to be addressed, probably twice as many or more as it does now, and in the second draft, where I actually fixed all the problems, I often turned up a whole bunch more that I missed the first time instead of just a handful. That said, although the second drafts took a lot longer than my first drafts, they might have made the third draft part of the process a little easier.

One of the major projects that I’m working on right now is a return to my roots in that method. I started with the scene of a small group of people exploring the wreck of an alien battle cruiser when the partner of someone another team runs up them and collapses. That partner turns at be another, different kind of alien, whom humans are allied with, but who only communicates in the couplets and verses built out of iambic touch amateur.

That scene has led me to how those known aliens form bonds with other species, lost alien colonies, remains of a collapsed alien Empire, and exploring the galaxy far, far off the far frontier. It’s fun, and at this point I more or less have the ending in mind, and have for a while, but the story itself messy, crazy, all over the map, and probably has a whole lot of internal inconsistencies. I think the basis of a good story is there, but it’s going to take quite a few editing hours to bang into a shape words actually readable and flows properly.

Which, essentially, is the reason I don’t really write that way anymore, even when looking at short fiction. In more recent times, I’m an outliner, and, to a certain extent, a plotter. I use what I guess is kind of a semi-snowflake process to get to the first draft. I like the basic methodology of starting with what essentially is a log line, blowing that up into a few sentences of what the key plot points are, blowing those up into chunks a story arc, and then breaking those chunks of story arc down into chapter or scene level bits of description. Those bits usually wind up having 50 to 150 words each in them, so that by the time all is said and done, my outline process has produced a document that is somewhere between five and eight thousand words long.

And that’s before I even start the first draft.

I don’t follow the snowflake method, exactly, even on the plot side of things, and I don’t follow it all on the character side of things. I like the characters to help me tell who they are through the course of the writing, and sometimes that means that I wind up having to adjust the plot here and there, and that’s okay.

After I’ve got that scene level district description document, now it’s time to build the tracking file for the story as well. This is basically a scene or chapter listing, sometimes both, with a prediction of approximately how many words each of those scenes will take to complete. Those are broad guesses, though, even if I frequently wind up plus or -25% from the initial projection. In the final word count, once I reach the end of the read aloud draft, may bear no relation to that initial projection. Just because I write something that I expect to take 1500 words in the first draft doesn’t mean the final draft won’t be 3000, or 500, or, occasionally, disappear entirely with the important bits sprinkled somewhere else in story.

And I do, to the course that first draft, leave myself room for a little pantsing, to explore more of the world than I had originally planned to or because the way the characters have developed indicated something very, very different should happen next. I’ll veer off the plot but figure out ways to get the same basic events and steer my way back to it eventually. Last year, working on the second of what was originally the Troll World Quartet, I had two big deviations that added between eight and 10,000 words each to the story, but both added appropriately to the story I was working on and both became critical to the modified storylines in what were originally the third and fourth books. I overshot the original plot length island by more than 25,000 words, and I think there’s still little bit to build in. That book has a fairly logical split point, so it’s likely going to wind up being a Quintet, but I’m getting sidetracked.

These days, I’m a significant outliner who allows himself space for as much pantsing as he wnats, most of the time.

And I follow the same basic principle of short stories, although it’s a much more compact version of it. Single sentence description of the story becomes thumbnail sketch of story arc becomes a single sentence to describe each scene in the story becomes first draft. There’s probably no Excel tracking involved unless it’s part of a larger, connected set of stories, or my initial expectation is that it’s going to be a novella.

I do find that having the outline, even if I don’t necessarily follow it exactly, or even closely sometimes, helps me keep the end goal in mind, the narrative on or close to track, and makes sure that each scene is contributing to some combination of story developments, character development, and world building. I kind of like it when a scene does all three. Though not all of them do.

So, before I even start the first draft of a novel, there’s usually some significant amount of time spent on figuring out story events, at least in broad strokes, and building the basic structure of the tale. Different writers have different needs of course, and there are different names for this piece of the process. A lot of those come down to something like “pre-writing”, but I tend to think of the various pieces of that as writing as well. You’re still making progress in creating the story, and that counts just as much as editing after story has made it out of your head and into a first draft. It’s still making words.

Be well, everyone.

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Writing Report for February 2019

Writing Report for February 2019

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A good month, although a lot lighter than January, mainly due to doing only a little writing, and that by hand, during the vacation trip to (mostly) to Curaçao that was more or less a diary of the trip. 27 writing days out of a possible 28. Groundhog day got missed completely for reasons.

Accomplishments in February:

  1. Welkiri Corps: now coming in at 49,616 words, and I’ve revised my guess at the word count to 55k. The end is a little farther off than I thought it was, and may still be. We’ll see.
  2. Battlefield: is now coming in at 59.6k and I’m still forecasting a 77k first draft with the 36th (of 46) chapter complete.
  3. Editing: 32 of the 40 Undead stories are at third draft status, with 8 out of 40 at final.
  4. Still editing: the 3rd draft of Fractured Unity is complete. I’m going to let it rest for a while as I edit other things until just before I’m ready to start posting it.
  5. 11 blog posts. A little light, but I was travelling for more than a week. That trip will probably get me a bunch of blog posts down the line. And maybe a novel. Definitely a few short stories.
  6. 23 journal entries, 10 of them from the vacation diary.

Total word count for the month of 47,594 which is a lot lower than January’s 81,661 (but far above the 23k goal), and averaged only 1570 words per writing day. The average month for 2019 is probably somewhere in between the two, but every month is a new one and life happens.

On the publishing side, things were not according to the original forecast, but have caught me up a little to where I want to wind up for the year.

  1. Thorvald’s Wyrd has started posting on Wattpad and the ebooks are in progress.
  2. Cover designs are complete for “Babysitting the Taran-Saurus” (a makeover) and “Breath Control”, a ST:TOS fanfic. Imagery selected for a novella and a novel to publish in the next few weeks.

Next up, Goals for February:

  1. Short Fiction: Welkiri Corps should be complete well before the end of March and I hope to put a short story or two into the short fiction category, finally. Overall word count goal of 10k here.
  2. Battlefield: 21,000 words or to the end of the plot. I’m hopeful
  3. Short fiction editing: moving into the final draft for the rest of the Undead stories.
  4. Third draft of Fractured Unity to be completed.
  5. Non-fiction word count goal for the month is a mere 5000 words.

Switching over to publishing:

  1. 10 short story submissions.
  2. Query letters will go out for Ancient Runes.
  3. Ebooks for “Thorvald’s Wyrd”, Turn the World Around, Skip to My Luu, and “Breath Control”.
  4. Serialization begins for Skip to My Luu, continues for “Thorvald’s Wyrd”, and runs completely for “Breath Control”.
  5. Ebooks for “Babysitting the Taran-Saurus” and “Wolves and Sheepdogs”.
  6. Cover design and layout for Skip To My Luu. I’d like to get this up and rolling as well.

The total word goal for the month is 40k. So long as I continue to work hard and don’t miss too many days, this should be doable. I actually hope it will be significantly higher, though I’m not necessarily pushing for a January total.

Be well, everyone.

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Book Covers

Book Covers

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So it’s 25 February 2019 and, aside from the snow and a minor basement flood, deep February in southern Ontario is pretty much like I’ve grown to expect in recent years.

I know there will be an actual writing update a few days, nut there are a couple things I wanted to talk about a little bit more detail, and in the ordinary writing update, they’ll only get a sentence or two.

This past weekend, I didn’t do a whole lot of editing. Life aside, the time I set up for creative pursuits on the weekend was primarily taken up by cover design. I am a little bit behind where I’d hoped to be at this point in 2019 in terms of e-books and the serial fiction, but then, my goals were pretty significant across the board. They still are. This was an attempt to bring a piece of things back on the track I want.

First, “Thorvalds Wyrd”.

This is probably the final version, which has gone through a few iterations, but, in my search for imagery that suits the story, I did come up with a lot of awesome glacier and snowy things, and an alternate concept that I haven’t taken as far looks like this:

There were also some possibilities using a particular mythological spear, but I couldn’t find one I liked and don’t have the budget at this point to get someone to do properly for me.

Next up, a relaunch of the cover for “Babysitting the Taran-saurus”. I was never really happy with the original cover, because it really didn’t say anything about the story other than that it took place in a large city. And it was built using Microsoft paint. Which, at the time, was about my skill level. Actually, if I’m honest, my skill level hasn’t really progressed a whole lot since then, but I have access to better tools and I have learned a little bit about design in the meantime. On the left, the original, and on the right, the new one, which actually does say something about the story, but you have to read it to find out exactly what.

The last item under the category of complete covers, and, honestly, which took me the least amount time, of the three, the e-book cover for my next to publish Star Trek fanfiction story, this one starring a freshly minted Dr. Chapel in the Motion Picture time frame, or, really, six months or so before it. Having freshly completed her finals for her M.D., Dr. Chapel has accepted a short term assignment as temporary Chief Medical Officer on board the USS Yorktown. It entertained me to make the commander of Yorktown another character that the same actress has played in the Star Trek universe, though earlier. I don’t specifically say that, leaving it to the reader to figure out. This one was just a matter of finding the proper capture I liked from the motion picture that featured Christine Chapel and getting the font where I wanted it. I did start out thinking that it should be the Motion Picture font and color, but this font is closer to transitional between TOS and TMP and the gold wouldn’t show up very well. I think it works, but it might not be quite final yet.

I have also come up with the probable cover imagery, though there are still several finalists in each case, for both Turn the World Around and Skip to My Luu. I’ll share those a little later on when they’re closer to ready.

Technically, “Thorvald’s Wyrd”, “Babysitting the Taran-saurus”, and Turn the World Around have all been serialized before, but only my blog. “Taran-saurus” was the only thing that made it off my blog to Wattpad. This time, everything is also going to become and ebook, though I haven’t quite got all the tools I want to make those effectively. PDF version is easy, but I need a little bit more to work out a couple of major e-book formats – Kindle and EPUB. “Thorvald’s Wyrd”, in fact, was supposed to have been done and beginning to post two weeks ago this coming Wednesday night, but life, always, intervenes. Being a couple of weeks behind on that doesn’t derail the timeline in a big way, just shifts a couple of things a bit.

I set three levels of goals for both writing and publishing this year: the public goals, the stretch goals, and the super stretch goals. I built my background plans with the intent by squeaking in under the wire of December 31 by making the super stretch goals. (And if you think the regular goals are aggressive, well, I’ll share the others as and if I get there.) But I built a plan that way intentionally, giving life plenty of space to intervene, for things to happen. As long as I keep working, keep moving forward, all of the standard goals should be more than doable. Maybe I’ll even get some of these stretch goals in, too. But always reach farther than you think you can, because you never know.

And then there the secret goals. These are things that are technically part of the standard goals but that I haven’t put a timeline of any kind on. Rather, they each hinge on meeting certain other goals. I’m preparing for these in the background, with the appropriate research and skills building has required. There are two major ones that launch when specific publishing goals are reached, and one of them partially hinges on the other. These are things I’m going to do, but will be sort of a surprise for everyone else.

In the meantime, I do still have a fair bit of words to make and editing to do. Lots more.

Be well, everyone.

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Writing Report for January 2019

Writing Report for January 2019

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A good beginning to the writing year: 31 writing days out of a possible 31.

Accomplishments in January:

  1. Welkiri Corps: now coming in at 39,443 words, and I think it’s going to just tick 50k by the time I’m done, although it might be a little lower. I seem to be careening towards the end point right now.
  2. Battlefield: just broke the 43k mark today (43,352). Currently forecasting a 77k first draft, which is tighter than usual for a first draft plot for me, drifting only 5k from the original 72k estimate with the 25th (of 46) chapter almost complete.
  3. Editing: finished the final draft of Hero’s Life. Hopefully drafting the third book in the trilogy, Fallen Heroes, this year.
  4. Also editing: all but one short and two novelettes of the chosen Undead stories are at least at third draft status, with 8 out of 40 at final. The short (currently 5400 words) will probably finish 3rd draft tomorrow.
  5. Still editing: working my way through the “make it pretty” draft of Fractured Unity, just over half way through chapter 9 (of 20).
  6. 17 blog posts.
  7. 12 journal entries.

Total word count for the month of 81,661, averaging over 2.6k words per day. I think this was an above average month for what I’m expecting for the rest of the year, even with missing a commuting day due to have to replace a car battery. I worked from home that day and lost the dictation word count, doing some editing in the evening. However, I did also do two solo trips to Ottawa, once using about half the trip for dictation for 6k words and once using all of it to hit 12.7k, so there’s pair of significant boosts there. I don’t expect those trips to be normal, at least not going on my own.

On the publishing side, things were a bit lighter than I originally intended.

  1. I did get all of “Between a Rock and a Klingon” posted on Wattpad.
  2. I also mostly did the cover design for “Thorvald’s Wyrd” but haven’t managed the internal layout yet.

Next up:  February Goals. The open ones, at least. These are heavily reduced due to the vacation my wife and I are taking. Not bringing a computer along.

Goals for February:

  1. Short Fiction: it’s just possible that I’ll get Welkiri Corps done by the end of Feb, but with the vacation it’s more likely that it will take a week or so into March. Looking for at least 6k here.
  2. Battlefield: 12,000 words. There are only 19 commuting days in February for me, with no vacation involved. Looking at the time I’m taking off for flights and recovery, I’m down to only 12.
  3. Short fiction editing: the last Undead stories to 3rd draft, and start into the final drafts of the 32 that aren’t there already.
  4. Third draft of Fractured Unity to be completed.
  5. Non-fiction word count goal for the month is a mere 5000 words.

Switching over to publishing:

  1. I do still want to try to get 10 short story submissions in.
  2. The first batch of query letters will go out for Ancient Runes. Yeah, that was supposed to happen in January.
  3. “Thorvald’s Wyrd” layout to be finished so that it can actually become an ebook and start posting on Wattpad.
  4. Cover design and layout for Skip To My Luu. I’d like to get this up and rolling as well.

The total word goal for the month is only 23k. Very low, but in line with time off and other plans for the month. A vacation that costs only a week of commutes will drop the monthly goals by 9250 words. I’ll adjust accordingly. I’m taking 7 working days and there’s a stat holiday in February, too. March is back to normal and I’ll likely be looking for a similar set of word count goals as I’d originally set for January, something around 40k.

Be well, everyone.

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Star Trek – A Chekov Story

Star Trek – A Chekov Story

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So, I keep mentioning that I’m doing the fanfiction thing a little bit. In fact, I have seven stories and the novel written in the Star Trek prime universe, all set in the time between the last episode of the original series and Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Six of the stories have basically gone through the “make it pretty” stage, and the seventh is not only complete and has had its final read through, but I’ve published it on Wattpad, plus made a pdf version of it available here.

Under the wonderfully horrible title of “Between a Rock and a Klingon”, that story uses recently-promoted lieutenant Chekov as the primary character, so is probably only your cup of tea if you really like my writing or if you really like Chekov. Well, and if you really like Star Trek. It’s completely published on Wattpad, all 16 scenes, or, like I said, available for download here.

I just thought It was worth an announcement, and while I did one Facebook, things on Facebook are far more transient for most folks.

And, it’s worth noting, Star Trek and all of its canon characters, places, locations, and names remain the copyright of CBS Paramount. No infringement Is Intended. It’s a work of fanfiction.

If you have a taste for Star Trek fanfiction, please check it out. And then maybe go watch your favorite Chekov-centric episode.

Be well, everyone.

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What I’m Working On Right Now

What I’m Working On Right Now

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So, looking at the list of writing goals for 2019 you might guess that I’m working on more than one thing at time. You’d be right to guess that, and I thought it might be fun to run down the list of projects that I consider currently actively in progress.

At the moment, I’m not actually working on any short fiction in the first draft stage. Instead, I am working on drafting two novel-length projects at the same time. One, Battlefield, is the final book in the Troll Wars set to get a first draft, and so far is a little less action oriented, a little more introspective, and a lot more political than previous books in the series of the. I’m not sure how I feel about right now. The main character, who was 12 in the first book, is closing in on 17 in human terms, although her 16th birthday, as measured on the planet she’s now on, is about to happen, and it’s a big deal. Also, the action is coming.

The other project here is Welkiri Corps, that I did originally envisioned as a 20-ish-thousand word novella, although I tried to convince myself for a little while it might be done and novelette length. I was completely wrong about that, but mostly because the story I want to tell got bigger. Right now, my estimate is in 50 to 55,000-word range. That’s only an estimate and a number that’s more or less pulled out of the air, because, unlike most of the longer projects I’ve worked on in the last few years, I am pantsing this one. There’s been an end goal in mind for a while, although that end goal does leave things open for potential sequel if I want to write it, but I’m running the whole book on the theory of, “what would be something really cool to happen next that could, at least in theory, logically follow from the story that’s come so far?” I’m slowly steering towards the end goal, but really don’t have any idea what’s going to happen between here and there, except for a couple of major points. Could be fun, could be royally and totally screwed up. Don’t know, don’t care, it can all be fixed in post if I need to.

I am, on the short fiction front, trying to edit at a reasonable pace to get all the stories done for the Undead collection. I’m also still trying to decided if it needs a broader name. Most of my horror, if you can call that, isn’t really horrific, it simply takes the reader to a darker place than my fantasy would, or is designed to disturb, or explore a particular idea, concept, emotion, or creature type, in this case. I think I will have to get a couple of the horror aficionados as beta readers to tell me how much of the book really fits in that genre, but I strongly suspect it’s a SF/F collection. There are 40 stories I selected for the book, out of the 55 or 60 I actually wrote. I thought, even though I much like all the stories, that 140,000 words in a first draft was maybe a bit excessive for a one-author collection. I may still change my mind, but I’m thinking it’ll take other people to do that. Right now, of those 40 stories, a dozen are left in second draft to be taken to third, twenty more just need the final read through, and the remaining eight I’m satisfied with.

From a fanfiction perspective, I have just finished the “find what’s wrong”phase of Fractured Unity, a story set in the Star Trek prime universe with the original crew just after the original series timeframe. More specifically, it’s set a little more than three years after the episode “Arena”, and while it doesn’t actually retcon anything, it does present certain events that happened in that episode in a different light, as I take some liberties with what the Metrons were really up to, and what the Gorn are really like.

And, of course, I have made a start on my first major nonfiction project, a mostly episode guide, partial memoir, focused on the BBC radio series, I’m Sorry, I’ll Read That Again, originally broadcast in the late 1960s and early 1970s, but which I discovered as a teenager in the mid-1980s. This will be done at a slower pace because I really want to enjoy things as I listen to them again.

So that’s, what, five major projects going on right now? It’s probably too many, but it’s the way my brain works. When Welkiri Corps is finished, I will be switching back over to short fiction, which that was supposed to be originally anyway, at least shorter than a novel. After all, I do want to write at least a dozen short stories this year, as noted in the previously mentioned 2019 goals.

In the meantime, more dictating, more typing, and more editing to do. Plus, some cover and layout design, but we’ll talk about publishing another day.

Be well, everyone.

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Driving and Dictating

Driving and Dictating

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My favourite dictation app. Care of tascam.eu.

I seem to be getting a little more comfortable with driving longer distances. Not that I’m ready to become a transport driver, or anything, but being able to sit in the car for several hours at a time is probably not a bad skill at this point my life. I have one child in university in the city that is about two hours away, door-to-door, and, parents that live almost as far away it almost the same direction, plus two more children who will be trying to figure out where they’re headed in the next few years as well. And it will not surprise me in the least if one winds up a couple hours in the opposite direction. Not necessarily to get away from their sibling, although I’m sure that’s a consideration. One of the places she’s looking at is potentially in the same city as the, but the way she’s discussing things so far, it’s not her preferred option.

That’s okay. I can drive.

I have, in the past couple of years, proven I can drive farther, although with a break every couple of hours. I’ve done as much eight hours one day. Actually, I did that twice in a four-day stretch, once to Krikland Lake and once back and, really, it was only eight hours because of those stops every couple of hours, plus a break for lunch.

And, from a completely selfish perspective, if I’m driving by myself, I get to dictate.

The last time I drove to Ottawa on my own, the transcript of my dictations for that trip, there and back, was just over 6000 words. That may not be quite what I would’ve gotten if I’d sat down to type for those four hours, straight, but it’s not too far off.

Well, it is a little far off. Just typing, I expect to get 1500-1800 words in an hour. I’ve found that, on average, I come in at about 40 words a minutes when dictating. 40 words per minute, if I maintain the pace, is about 2400 words per hour. Maintain that whole paces for four hours, and that’s a potential of 9600 on a trip to Ottawa and back.

2400 words per hour: I would actually be really, really happy with that kind of production sitting at the desk. That 1500-1800 works for me, and sometimes, when I’m really focused, it actually works it to be 2000 or touch more. But, now that I think about it, my daily commute covers just a touch more than an hour, and I frequently wind up in the 2600 to 2800 word range in the transcription files. Really, if I start dictating the incident in the car on and stop instantly turned off the other hand, I should get about an hour-four, or five. So 65 minutes times 40 words is about 2600. Right ballpark, sometimes little better. I like that.

I think the issue when typing at the desk is that I have the easy ability to check on something if I feel the need to. Did I name that character Bob or Howard? Were Janine’s eyes blue or green? Is it Mills canyon with or without an apostrophe? And is that really the exact location I wanted to be close to Las Vegas, not the one in the Nevada? Hey, is it anyone’s birthday today? Did my scheduled blog post release at the right time?

With the exception of the last couple, and there are a lot of other things I could put in as examples, if I’m dictating I will just open a bracket [ and dictate a note to check on the spelling or location or eye color or whatever later, and it magically becomes part of the editing process rather than interfering with my first draft. I think that’s probably one most of that stuff anyway. If I didn’t research in advance, frequently because I didn’t know I needed to, or can’t remember what I did with a certain character or certain number or certain anything, those just become the initial, already embedded in the text, comments for the revision notes my process.

(Side note: for reference, because I think it’s been a while since I talked about my process [insert link to the appropriate post here], my basic draft hierarchy before I consider something ready for other eyes is: story dump, find what’s wrong, fix what’s wrong, make it pretty, read it out loud. I don’t consider the “find what’s wrong” phase be a separate draft, although the word count can change, sometimes significantly, depending on the accuracy of the dictation (if any) involved in the first draft. But I’m generally just flagging things to be fixed later and tidying up the easiest transcription stupidities in that phase. I’m not doing anything substantial to the text.

But I keep running back to that 2400 words per hour. That last trip, I didn’t use the whole time on dictating. I spent a big chunk of it listening to a couple of episodes of my favorite podcasts and a couple of chapters worth of an audiobook. The fact that I listen to most things at double the recorded speed doesn’t change the fact that I took away some significant time that I could have used for dictation. It could easily have been a couple of thousand words more. I could have been a couple of thousand words further ahead right now in one project or another.

I’m at the very beginning of another solo drive to Ottawa and I’m going to attempt to use the entire time for dictation this round. I wonder if I can actually break the 10,000 word mark?

Wish me luck.

Be well, everyone.

(Update on the morning of the 12th: the dictation file came in at 12,773 words for a total of 4 hours 38 minutes 27 seconds of dictation. I made a side trip to visit my parents for a while before heading on to the primary destination of my son’s house.)

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2019: The Writing Goals

2019: The Writing Goals

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I’ve spent the last five months getting my writing back on track, ramping up the editing of drafted material, and prepping for some indie, and hopefully professional, publishing in 2019.

Rather than talk about specific projects, even if I’ve got them in mind, I’m going to keep the goals listing very general. I do have a habit of reforecasting and modifying my plans on a regular basis, so I’m going to establish benchmarks here instead of specifics.

I’m building my writing

Writing Goals

  1. Plotting of the four novels I hope to write in 2020.
  2. First draft of three novels.
  3. Three novels to final draft.
  4. 12 Short Stories, which will likely mostly fall into the 3-7k range. Yes, scaling back to one completed story per month. There are reasons, which will be revealed in the fullness of time.
  5. Editing on all of the Undead stories. I’m starting the year with about a quarter of them at a finished third draft.
  6. ST:FU Final Draft. This may be harder than it sounds. The first draft was just a conversion from an audio drama script. The second will likely involve some heavy expansion.
  7. Finish the Haiku book. I just need the lilacs to bloom to get the image I want.
  8. Book-length non-fiction project. Hint: ISIRTA.
  9. 100 Blog Posts. 2 per week, which I managed in 2018, from the first of August onward.
  10. 50 Journal entries. 1 per week. There was a time when I kept a daily journal with entries 100-200 words long. I somehow doubt I’ll ever get back to that level.

Making the writing piece of things only requires an average word count of 1100 per day. Counting all of my writing days in 2018, I averaged just a touch over 2000. That said, I’ve built a lot more editing into the plan than previously. Aside from all of the books I want to write, I have six novels somewhere past first draft complete but not having made it to or through final draft yet and at least 50 short stories that fall into the same category. Those numbers are only going to grow if I don’t start catching up.

But 1100 words per day on average means that if all of my drafting is via dictation during commutes (which I hope it won’t be), I need to manage 1750 words per commuting day in 2019. As in every commuting day. I average about 40 words per minute composing and dictating while I drive. Not exactly fast, but that does add up to 2400 words per hour, which is roughly my daily total commute. 1750 seems achievable.

Publishing Goals

To preface these goals, I’ll note that I have seven novels and one collection sitting, waiting. Final draft complete, but I haven’t taken that next step. This year, I’m going to take a whole bunch of next steps.

  1. I’m going to shop 2 of those 7, at minimum, looking for either an agent or a small press for each.
  2. I’m going to independently publish 3 of the other 5.
  3. I’m also going the indie route on that collection.
  4. And on four shorter pieces, though nothing smaller than a long novelette.
  5. 100 short story submissions to magazines, websites, and anthologies.
  6. All 7 of my Star Trek shorts will appear on Wattpad and maybe wind up being downloadable PDF files as well.

If it seems like a lot, it probably is, and there are certainly no guarantees. But I’m a firm believer in dreaming big. All of the writing goals are more than achievable if I stay more or less on the track I’ve been building for the last half year. The publishing ones are a new piece of the puzzle, except for short story submissions, so they don’t have any data to back them up, but we’ll see how things work out.

There are also a handful of secret goals and stretch goals which I have detailed, but will probably only get shared on a one-by-one basis as conditions are met.

Be well, everyone.

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