Tag: Writing

Some Thoughts On Writing Speed

Some Thoughts On Writing Speed

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I recently read a really interesting article on writing speed on Dean Wesley Smith’s blog. It’s a few years old now, but still relevant.

Without going into a lot of detail (because that would spoil the article for you), he talks about how people made really good livings writing in the Pulp era and how much of that came to output speed, about the history of the pulps, about differences in word lengths, and about how the fiction market as a whole has changed, evolved, and is leading us into a new Pulp era.

An era where your earning potential is going to be heavily affected by your writing speed.

And edits and rewriting kill speed.

The basic theory goes that, assuming 1000 words per hour finished production, Pulp Speed One is 1,000,000 finished words per year.

Holy smoking keyboard, Batman!

Finished words.

Mr. Smith makes the argument that none of the great Pulp writers and most of the great literary writers never rewrote anything. Period. Rewriting wasn’t a big thing until the 1970s.

Pulp Speeds Two through Six add another 200,000 finished words per year. If you’re counting, that means that at PS6, you’re producing 2 Million finished words per year. 8 hours per day, 5 days per week, 50 days per year. 2 Million words.

Now, I don’t work that way. I’m not sure I can.

My basic writing process (which I know I’ve discussed a number of times) has six steps:

0th Draft = Plotting and Outlining

1st Draft = Story Dump

Revision Notes = read through the story and identify issues

2nd Draft = fix issues

3rd Draft = make it pretty

4th Draft = read it aloud to make sure I’ve caught everything

Now, from practice I know my drafting speed is about 1800 words per hour (thirty words per minute) most of the time when I know the story I’m trying to tell. Doing some measurements at the various points, and making word count comparisons to figure out how much, on average, word counts change from draft to draft, I come up with 600 finished words per hour, on average, when I’m working on fiction.

I spend, on average, around 20 hours per week on writing activities.

If I wrote, edited, polished, only fiction during those 20 hours, I should, at the end of the year, manage about 624,000 words worth of finished fiction.

However, knowing my historical average length in the various length classifications used by SFWA, one year of writing, if I hit those weekly numbers, should compute to:

6 Novels

2 Novellas

4 Novelettes

12 Short Stories

12 Flash Pieces

And leave room for about 70,000 words of polished non-fiction left over. Since my non-fiction is mainly blog posts and journal entries, that 70 is probably more like 100 as I don’t edit as heavily, especially the journals.

But by Mr. Smith’s counting, I haven’t come near Pulp Speed One yet. It would take me 32 hours of dedicated writing per week, at that same hourly production level to get there, and 64 hours per week to reach Pulp Six.

Interestingly, if I count my current commuting time, I spend about 50 hours per week out of the house. That would get me to within spitting distance of Pulp 4 and three cents per word might let me not have a day job. You know, if I sold every word.

Why?

Because rewriting kills speed.

I’m not sure it’s in my nature to write one-draft fiction, and not just because I dictate a lot of my first drafts. Although, there have been times where I’ve let dictation cleanup and second draft be the same thing. When that happens, I’m usually fixing enough that the third draft doesn’t require nearly as much effort – if I’m cleaning up that much, it makes sense to make things pretty at the same time. But it requires a lot of willpower during the Revision Notes phase.

Still, maybe that’s a way to boost my production.

I keep fairly detailed track of how much I’m writing, so I’m well aware of production levels at any given moment. The math is always fun. I’m in my 10th straight month of solid production, although there was a break that lasted about three weeks in late October and early November last year.

But I’m a touch over 600,000 words of total production since I started back into things on the 30th of July last year.

And that makes me happy.

Getting paid for some of those words would be cool, too, but quantity lends itself to the eventual production of quality when it comes to creative endeavours. My time will come.

And I’ve got a lot of stories I want to tell.

Be well, everyone.

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Goal Revisions

Goal Revisions

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Sometimes the problem with having goals for something is not so much when you set them too high but when you, accidentally or on purpose, set them too low.

Since I committed myself to writing at the end of last July, I’ve completely blown away my goals almost every month. Even when I essentially took three whole weeks off from writing anything in the middle of fall, I missed the 51.5k October goal by less than 600 words and while I barely wrote for half of November, I still pulled in 26,000 words.

Taking a look at things, I now have 9 full months of data. If I go back month by month, simplifying a bit so I’m just looking at the basic drafting fiction and nonfiction goals, it looks like this:

(There are a couple of cell references here and there that don’t seem quite right, but I haven’t dug into all of them. Totals might be slightly different than previously reported, in either direction.)

Editing, plotting, and such have targets that aren’t word count dependent, though I do track how word counts are affected. In December, I actually dropped the drafting targets a lot to try to focus more on editing, and while I managed the editing focus on days off, I continued to produce a lot on the drafting side anyway. Mostly, I hit the basic targets, and sometimes a lot more, and while some things took longer than I actually wanted to, they didn’t take more than the actual background goals I’ve set on the writing calendar. (For the Undead stories, for example, editing looked like it was spread across large timeframe, but there are 40 of them that I wanted at it for eventual inclusion in a collection I don’t intend to release until late this year.) I’ve done plotting on stuff I can’t write until next year, even assuming I maintain the quite impressive, in my mind, pace I’ve been working at in 2019 so far.

The targets I go after are set daily based on what data I have and what I expect to be working. Days off are modified by anticipated events but tend to focus more on things that have already had their first draft, whether it’s editing, polishing, or prepping for publication. But, five days a week, I am looking for 2000 drafted words each day: 1000 on the primary project which is usually a novel, 500 on the secondary fiction project, which has often been a different novel in recent months but is really supposed to be short fiction most of the time, and 500 words of nonfiction, normally a journal entry or a blog post. 2000 words per day, 10,000 words per week. My two days off each week from the job that pays the bills, I try to spend several hours on creative pursuits each day, but the nature of those, mostly editing, suggests a much, much lower word count.

All that said, at a high level, not distinguishing weekdays from weekends, I’m averaging 2500 words per writing day so far this year, with only one missed writing day since the calendar turned over. That should mean a 30-day month, in theory, averages about 75,000 words considering all sources.

But going back to the dailies, if the average commuting month has 22 days in it, that means I’m only setting my actual goal at 44,000 words on. Meaning, all things being equal, I’m exceeding the overall targets I set by more than 70%.

Transition: I am making things too easy myself.

The question I find myself asking is if it’s more intellectually and emotionally satisfying to totally destroy a goal you know was a cakewalk, or to just make, or even just miss, a goal you know you had to work hard for?

The more I consider it, the more I think the second option is likely to get me to work harder. It’s nice to smash those daily word counts and it’s beautiful to look back in the month and see the overalls being so much higher than my plan, but I think I’m past the point where the goals I’m setting are particularly meaningful. I’m setting those monthly goals, and accumulation of the lease, just for the sake of setting them. From where I’m drafting this post, I can already see, based on current trends, just about exactly where I’m going to hit all the targets remaining for May, and it’s well before the end of the month. Even with a very light counts from the first five days, by the 8th my average was already 2000 WPD.

I think, for June, I’m going to try an experiment. The goals for June are going to push into the upper territory of what I’ve been consistently doing. In fact, I think I’m going to revise the daily goals for May from this point forward (and only forward, because retconning is a horrible practice), and by the time this posts, because things already slotted, those revisions will probably already have been in effect for a few days.

Be well, everyone.

Addendum: the original draft of this post was dictated very early in the morning on May 9th. I did decide to revise these goals fairly heavily right after writing the post. The revised goals, and they’re entirely on the drafting side of things, because it’s very, very hard to predict the word count change in editing session will produce on any given thing, are as follows:

Primary novel project: 25,750 words.

Secondary fiction projects, taken as a whole: 15,750 words

Non-fiction writing of all sorts: 14,050 words.

Total drafting targets for May now set at 55,550 words, up from the original 40,000. Remembering that these kicked in on May 9th and that there was a vacation involved the beginning of the month, this is still a 39% increase. It goes there by taking my daily goals to the basic average for what I’ve been doing on commuting days (1250 primary fiction, 750 secondary fiction, 650 non-fiction) and adding some small goals for non commuting days.

I will possibly make further adjustments for June. We’ll see where things wind up and if this will push me a little bit harder.

Be well, everyone.

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Playing Catch Up

Playing Catch Up

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Spending a little time catching up in the last week. Blog posts that didn’t get edited on schedule, a cover that should have already been designed, internal formatting for a couple of projects that are supposed to become ebooks before summer, and even a couple of serial posts that didn’t get up exactly when they should have.

I’m down to just the uploads, Good Reads pages, and web pages for Heroes Inc and Graceland to be back on the track of where I wanted to be with most of my (ridiculous) goals for the year.

The only one of the primary goals that isn’t on track is the non-fiction book about ISIRTA. I’m listening to episodes, but not yet doing the detailed notes and analysis I should be. At the moment, it’s the achievement that’s most in doubt for 2019 drafting. That’s probably okay. If it happens in 2020, that’s fine, too. I’m enjoying the re-listen, especially those episodes I’ve only heard once.

I should do s Stretch Goals post.

And a review of the Standard Goals for 2019.

Be well, everyone.

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Notes in the Dictation

Notes in the Dictation

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I dictate a lot of my first drafts. Makes my commute more useful (and seem like it goes faster), helps get the basic story out of my head quicker, and makes things more interesting when I get to editing phases.

Sometimes, I leave notes for myself in the text of a dictated story. They usually (but not always) relate to the story. These are distinguished by square brackets [] which the verbal commands for are “open bracket” and “close bracket”. Normally, it’s things like [Add more detail here.] or [I’ve forgotten if this character is supposed to have red or green hair.] or [Cool idea unrelated to this particular story but I want to make sure I don’t lose it.] or even [When you come across this note, check to see if you have enough snake food.]

Starting the read through of the Troll World novels (well starting with volume 2, since the first book is sitting comfortably at 3rd draft), and I came across this, exactly, in Chapter 9:

Grinning, Mira smiled. [Oh, that makes sense.]

Wow. Just, wow. No commentary. No obvious remarks about fixing it or about how it was probably the stupidest sentence I’d ever written, just the sarcastic comment.

Be well, everyone.

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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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Doctor Who In the Modern Era

Doctor Who In the Modern Era

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So, here’s the thing, I’ve been having a hard time with the modern era Doctor Who for a while. I know it’s been running for like a decade and a half now, and sometimes it’s getting hard to call it the modern era, but I think it completely lost me a few years ago.

The Christopher Eccleston Doctor Who was at times goofy, and the writing wasn’t always there, but it was fun. The show started to really hit its stride well towards the end of his season, but the next Doctor was my favourite.

David Tennant, and it’s entirely possible it’s as much due to him as the actor as the rest of show as a whole, pretty much defined the modern Doctor Who for me. It was fun, exciting, and mostly things make sense.

The Matt Smith Doctor was a bit weird to begin with but functioned well for the first couple of series before slowly beginning to get weirder. I mean weird for Doctor Who. Not weird aliens or creatures or situations, because that’s the show, but we started to slide into what I think of as sort of the 1980s and 90s James Bond syndrome. You know, that group of movies across a couple of actors where it didn’t matter what was going on, Bond was an expert in it.

Towards the end of the Matt Smith years, and definitely into the Peter Capaldi times, more and more of the solutions seemed to be just pulled out of the Doctor’s ass with no reasonable explanation for the story to date. Doctor Who lost me and my youngest daughter, who I’d been watching it with, somewhere late in, I think, series 9. We actually paused in the middle of an episode and never went back. Peter Capaldi is a good actor, and I generally enjoyed his performance, but the crap he was given to work with most the time wasn’t worth sitting through.

When Jodie Whittaker was announced, I was actually excited about Doctor Who for the first time in several years. Well, probably more than several. Here was an opportunity to tell some new stories, to make things different, to expand the universe and hopefully the minds of the people watching.

There is a little bit of shame as I type that I haven’t actually seen a single Jodie Whittaker episode yet.

And I think the reason this actually comes down to fear. I’m afraid it’s actually not going to get better, but it will, in fact get worse and just become a pandering fan service experience and I would almost rather preserve the idea in my mind that this New Doctor will revitalize what to me is a dying franchise.

Silly, isn’t it?

As you’re reading this, keep in mind that I grew up mostly on Tom Baker as the Doctor, with a sprinkling of Peter Davidson, Colin Baker, and Sylvester McCoy. In those days, story was king, and while the stories weren’t always great, they made sense, and they worked. They had to, with the BBC’s special-effects budget probably measured in tens of pounds sterling per episode.

But I whine about that a lot these days.

We live in an age of eye candy, story isn’t king or queen anymore. Most the time it’s not even Princess or Duke or Countess. It seems like a lot of the time the story is only there to stitch together the action set pieces and a beautiful videography.

I know that’s not always the case, and maybe I’m just watching the wrong stuff. But I’m not alone in that. I don’t think the right stuff is actually getting in front of large audience, because it’s much easier to aggressively market something that looks pretty.

I know I fairly regularly complain about wanting film and television to tell new stories rather just rehashing the same thing they’ve sold us a hundred times before, but there are days when I would settle for simply good stories. I’m tired of retellings and reworkings and reboots and re-imaginings, but I miss the days when telling a good story was the most important thing, not a bonus.

Is it just me? Shouldn’t story be the prime mover, the centerpiece, the king or queen of the production? We aren’t really that shallow as a society, are we?

I’m not alone, am I?

I’d love some reassurance that the writing for the newest series of Doctor Who will be good enough to actually tell stories that don’t just rely on jump scares and special effects.

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 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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