Tag: Writing

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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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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2018: The Year in Writing

2018: The Year in Writing

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So while 2018 didn’t work out even remotely how I planned in terms of the writing goals I set in January (for mostly, but not completely, good reasons), it did work out reasonably well in the end.

I didn’t achieve all of the original goals, much less the Stretch and Super Stretch Goals I never told anyone about, but I did get a lot of work done, and at least some of it is good work, if I do say so myself.

The Basic Goals

Outline Goals: Completed outlines for the third book in the Destiny trilogy, the final book in the Troll World Quartet, and a sequel to Draugr Rising that may involve some transplanted Japanese mythology.

Result: Completed outlines for the third and fourth Troll World novels as well as for Seven Days a King. Three, if not the same three I originally planned. Counting this one as met.

First Draft Goals: Shrine, Bad Teenage Poetry, and Fallen Heroes.

Result: Completed first drafts on Shrine, which is going to split into two separate novel-length stories, and Palace. Due to a realigning of the order of goals, I’m currently working towards the full Troll World series being completed. Counting this one as met.

Editing Goals: Arena to final draft. Hero’s Life to final draft status. Shrine to third draft. Bad Teenage Poetry revision notes. Translated: 3 final draft, 1 third draft, 1 set of revision notes.

Result: I left Arena at 3rd, under the understanding that I want to do the whole set as a single, gargantuan editing project. I did manage the 2nd, 3rd, and most of the final Draft on Hero’s Life, but that’s it. This is what happens when you essentially take 6.5 months off from serious writing.

Short story goals: 24 short stories drafted.

Result: two long shorts and a long novelette.

Short story editing: get some done, dagnabit.

Result: There are 40 stories I’ve selected for the Undead collection. As of this writing, 8 are at final draft, 8 are 3rd draft complete, and the rest have all reached second draft. So, not bad, all things considered.

Publishing: Photography and design elements for my small haiku collection.

Result: I just need the photography and can’t get that until the lilacs bloom.

Fan Fiction Goals: USS Marathon logs recording, the rest of the “Season 3” audio drama scripts, Fractured Unity novel completion, fan production list, book, comic, and merchandise reviews, meme collection.

Result: Fractured Unity converted to a novel. First draft only.

Notes

There were also Stretch and Super Stretch Goals, which I didn’t tell anyone about and would have put in the open when/if it became apparent that I was hitting all of the public goals. I didn’t manage most of that for previously mentioned reasons, so we’ll just leave that there other than saying I’ve set similar not-public goals for this year.

It may be worth summarizing what I actually did accomplish in 2018.

  1. 3 short stories drafted. Two longer shorts and a long novelette.
  2. Outlining and Plotting for three novels.
  3. First draft of three Troll World novels, plus the last one started, and 19k into another one entirely.
  4. Taking Arena to 3rd draft status and holding it there for the other Troll World books to catch up.
  5. A novel’s final draft towithin visual finishing distance.
  6. I’m ¾ of the way to releasing a collection of haiku into the wild.
  7. Lots of journal entries and blog posts.
  8. A few dozen book reviews.
  9. Just over 313k words, all told, counting up all the buckets, against 250k of actual monthly targets set for the months I actually managed real writing time in.

So while the year wasn’t what I’d originally planned, exactly, it worked out just fine overall. And think of what I could have managed if I’d pulled the 57k per month post August 1st average from January 1st on. I still wouldn’t be ahead of my long term goals, but I’d be a lot less far behind. Well, 375k words less, anyway.  I will try to do better this year.

It is worth noting that the amount of reading I did took a serious nose dive when I started getting the serious word counts again. There is only so much time available in any given day. Much as I might wish it otherwise sometimes, sleep is still a requirement.

Next up: the goals for 2019. They’re big and depend on me maintaining the pace I’ve developed since coming back to writing in at the end of July.

Be well, everyone.

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The Writing Life

The Writing Life

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusrssyoutubeby featherSometimes, the writer’s life is easy. Sometimes it’s not.

Sometimes the words don’t come or the story doesn’t work or you suddenly hate your main character.

Sometimes, you forget the rules of grammar so that the ones you break aren’t intentional and what you’ve just written reads like you wrote it while drunk and having bed spins.

Sometimes you can fly by the seat of your pants and sometimes you can’t.

Sometimes your carefully plotted out story bores the crap out of you because you plotted it out too much.

Sometimes, a sentence falls out of one of your characters’ mouths so perfectly and so naturally that it sends you reeling away from the straight-line path of your outline, so far out of the way that’s going to cost you thousands of words and be perfect for the story even though you have no idea how you’re going to get back.

Sometimes, when you’re going back to edit something you’ve written, the thing that has just passed before your eyes makes no sense whatsoever and you have no idea what you originally intended for that sentence, paragraph, chapter.

Sometimes, when you are experimenting with dictation, and you’re not in a perfect sound environment, the transcription software twists your words and the background noise into something nonsensical, hilarious, offensive, or pornographic.

Sometimes, when you’re thinking about that transcription software to closely, you start to lose hope over the fact that you can probably, most of the time, never expect more than about a 90% accuracy, regardless of the claims the software makes, and you’re crushed into realizing that that means 10,000 of the hundred thousand words in your novel are the wrong words.

Sometimes, not counting the words it gets wrong, your transcription software drops words or adds some that aren’t there.

Sometimes, you could get so wrapped up in getting today’s words in that you neglect housework, other projects, plants, pets, children, spouse.

Sometimes, you forget meals, miss appointments, leave for work far later that you should have and risk a significant speeding ticket to show up on time.

Sometimes you wake up with a spectacular idea or have one in the shower or while you’re driving or running or doing something that doesn’t involve writing and by the time you can reach for a pencil or a voice recorder or a phone or laptop, it’s far too late.

Sometimes things work too well and sometimes they don’t work at all, and

Sometimes that’s in the same writing session.

Sometimes it’s in the same paragraph.

So why would anyone choose to be a writer?

Especially since I haven’t mentioned any of the massive frustrations of trying to get someone else to publish your work. Or review it. Or read it. Or even look at it.

I should look up who said it first, someone very famous in the writing world, I expect, but it’s fairly common advice that if you can do anything other than write then you should. It’s a miserable life.

Sometimes ecstatic and others soul-crushing, it’s filled with extremes, and you have to have a life while you do it and a real job and maybe even a family; at the very least there are probably people you care about. So yes, if you can do something other than write, you probably should.

If you can’t, then some part of your energy is almost always going in that direction.

I definitely go through phases where I can’t write, where life intervenes, where stuff is going on that has to be dealt with, but I’m still desperate to, and I’m always, always happier when I’m writing. I can’t speak for every writer, just for myself, but I’m always happiest when I’m learning or creating something, and writing is one of a very few things that can give me both.

Someday, I may even be good at it, but there’s only one way to find that out.

Be well, everyone.Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Back On Track?

Back On Track?

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusrssyoutubeby featherSo I’m starting to feel like I’m back on track with the writing.

While I’m not back up to the daily output of August to October yet, there’s at least some word count. Some days are pretty solid. Others are lighter. This past weekend, I actually had no words on Saturday, but that was due to a set of all-day seminars in the karate part of my life. Whenever I take all day for something like that, there are other things are left done, so I when come home, there are a whole bunch of chores to do. By the time I was caught up to where I wanted to be, I really had very little energy left, and let myself sink into the couch to watch a movie with my wife and my oldest daughter.

But otherwise, the word count is on the upslope again. Yes, there are some days where I’m under a thousand, where I choose to listen to something on the way home from work rather than dictate, and the novel progress is suffering a bit that way, but that’s okay, if I think about it a little. I have lots of stuff that needs a lot more editing, and the more time I spend drafting, but further behind I’ll get on the editing side. To stay even, or get ahead, I need a whole more editing time than I’ve been getting, and that’s a lot harder to come by.

I’m sure I’ve talked about it before, but I do four drafts of most things: story dump, fix what’s broken, make it pretty, read it out loud. Actually, technically there is a partial draft in between story dump and fix what’s broken, where I read through the story and make notes so that I can figure out what needs to be fixed. All told, on average, every hour of drafting probably needs about 2 1/2 hours to get through the various editing passes.

I’m thinking that means I’ll never catch up so long as I am working a regular job five days a week with a commute that lets me dictate. Ah, well. I have a lot of stories I want to tell. Maybe I’ll get most of them out of my head before I die.

My current process makes more specific use of my commute, as well. The morning commute, or the commute to work, whichever phrasing seems make more sense that day, is about evenly split between a blog or journal entry, and a piece of short fiction. Although, based on where my mind is going with it, the piece of short fiction I’m working on right now is probably a fairly long novella. Evening is dedicated to the current novel project, which is still Palace for another 22,000 words or so.

In practice, if I’m on the ball for all of both commutes, that’s around 2500 words once it’s been run through the transcriber. Twelve to thirteen hundred in each direction. And that’s a good total for me, even if it is divided among three things. At an average of 22 working days per month, that should usually wind up in excess of 50,000 words each month. And that’s not a bad monthly total. If I can find some evening time and get a couple of hours of work in each day on the weekends, the numbers should only go up from there, right?

But I really, really need to find some editing time. Lots of it.

If I could just afford to take a year or two off work…

Be well, everyoneFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Writing Report for September 2018

Writing Report for September 2018

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusrssyoutubeby featherTime for the monthly writing update. This one is likely to be a bit longer as I have a bit more to talk about than just raw word count on things. There’s still a lot of that, though.

Accomplishments:

  1. Short Fiction is a bit more limited this month than last. Only one piece got all of my short fiction attention, and also all of the words for it. I spent more time focused on the novel-length drafting, but I hit the 10k target here even if I didn’t finish Lake of Stars, which may wind up squeaking into novella length when I’m finished the editing process. Right now, it’s coming in at a total of 12,291 words (it started the month at 1254 and I still have four scenes left to write) and making my short fiction drafting total for the month 11,037.
  2. I finished Shrine on September 8th and it came it at 94,124 words. Unless I excise significant parts of the book, the editing process is likely to take it well over 100k. A good split point might be better as these are intended to be YA books and quick, fun reads. Two books at 50-55 k would be better. Tentatively, the piece I split off will be called Forest, sticking with the one-word title theme.
  3. And I got 27,548 words into Palace, which was the third (probably now fourth) book in the Troll World Quartet (Quintet).
  4. The final book in the set, Battlefield, is outlined at the summary level and I’m working on the scene level detail at this point, at chapter 12 and adding a couple of chapters per day. The initial projection is for 45 chapters, but that’s the initial outline for Palace called for only 40. I’m not even halfway through the plot and have adjusted that to 43 already, and that’s without a couple of things that might be better split into a couple of chapters. I’ll mostly worry about those when I get to the Revision Notes phase.
  5. Switching over to editing, I’m 24 out of 40 chapters through the 3rd draft pass of Hero’s Life, the sequel to Heroes Inc, with a bit less than 22k words to reach the end. Surprisingly, I wasn’t making a lot of big adjustments here until I hit Chapter 20 where I discovered that I’d left off fixing all of the transcription errors while working on the second draft. That second draft appears to have fixed all of the major problems story issues, at least, but the transcriptions aren’t horribly and I’m probably only expecting to gain about 3k or so words between the 2nd and 3rd drafts, not much more than a 4% expansion. I’m actually really pleased with this story.
  6. Fractured Unity conversion continues, mostly as a secondary project, but with a little extra time devoted on weekends. I’ve just finished the last scene of Chapter 17 (of 20), which is two-thirds through what would have been the 7th (of 8) audio drama episode. Conversion is a bit of a messy business and involves a lot of bare bones action to hang the dialogue on and make the story make more sense in a written form. The second draft will probably see some big expansions in word count. I know the plan was to do this completely and then move onto Palace, but I’m feeling the Troll World And I am only 7 scenes from the end of the first draft.
  7. 11 blog posts, and that’s with a couple of big blank spots, particularly in the first week of the month. Not all of these have dropped yet.
  8. 13 book reviews. Still catching up here. Honestly, I’ve just hit the end of my rough notes for reviewing books I read in 2017, and I just need some commentary in some spots of the overall document. My reading speed was pretty blinding for the first half of this year, too, until I got back into my writing in a big way, and I’ll still have all of those to take care of eventually.
  9. 7 journal entries
  10. 1 essay. This was martial arts related and a requirement for an event I’m participating in on October 12th.

Total word count for the month of 81,012, averaging 2.7k per day, which is awesome. I’m very happy with word production this month. While I don’t intend for every month to be this productive as I push into the publishing side of things more, knowing I can hit totals like this is a good reminder that maybe I can do this thing.

And speaking of the publishing side of things:

  1. 0 short story submissions. I never quite found the research time to start picking markets, so i’ll try again next month.
  2. I’ve started, but only just, really, making a list of Small Press houses and potential agents I’d like to send Ancient Runes Of the “completed” novels I want to do something with, it’s one of only two I don’t plan to work actively in the same universe in the next 18 months. I know that shouldn’t be a consideration on its own, but I want to have things worked out in my head. There is one other I’d consider, Skip to My Luu, which is an older book and, though I think it reads well, the prose isn’t as mature. Everything else I’m either working in the world currently, or have a sequel plotted and on the list for drafting next year.
  3. I’ve started brief experiments with cover design, mucking about with the fan fiction work first. I consider it more likely that I’ll wind up going with an independent professional for novel covers, but intend to slowly hone my own layout and design skills on short fiction and fan fiction projects. I’d like to do a number of these next year.

Which brings us to the revised plan for October. Based on small adjustments I made this month to the order of things in progress, the October targets are pretty clear. I’ll use the same zero-to-completion order for long fiction, followed by other work, and finally publishing as I did last month.

  1. Finishing the scene level plotting for Battlefield, the final book in the Troll World set, however long it ends up being. This is the last thing I intend to plot this year (no promises), and it should be done well before the end of the month.
  2. I think the plot for Palace is just a little too long for me to get through in October, but I don’t see it stretching that far into November, at which point I’ll get Battlefield
  3. Star Trek: Fractured Unity. With my revised schedule, I’m looking to complete the transition from script to first draft prose by the end of October. With a little luck and the appropriate amount of spare time, I may make it by the middle of the month.
  4. I may just squeak in finishing the third draft of Hero’s Life before Halloween. Not too much before, though.
  5. Short Fiction: in spite of my sporadic production here in September, I think the 10k goal here is a good one and I’m going to leave it at that level for the time being.
  6. I’ll reiterate that I still want to work in a little short fiction editing, recognizing that I didn’t get there last month.
  7. Similarly, I’m going to leave the non-fiction at 10k for the month again. Killed it this month, but let’s not get overconfident. Some of this effort might be better spent on fiction, but it’s mostly dictation time, and the amount of that isn’t going to change.
  8. 5 short story submissions.
  9. Small Press/Agent hunt continues, broadening the list of possibilities.

And I think it’s becoming a mantra, but I need to type faster. Not that I’m in any way displeased with how the last couple of months have gone, but there are a lot of things I want to craft, and, like most of us, I’m not getting any younger.

Be well, everyone.Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Submission Log and More Commentary On Society

Submission Log and More Commentary On Society

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusrssyoutubeby featherI have decided that I’m going to reboot the Submission Log, mostly because it’s been a long time since I’ve done any serious story submitting. I have a lot of short fiction I would like to get in front of readers and there’s no reason I shouldn’t get paid by someone for some of it, right? Even if it’s only a token payment here and there.

I’ve never written or submitted to “exposure” markets, because I disagree with the concept. If the publisher is expecting to make any money whatsoever, some of that money should go to the author. If you’re not interested in paying your authors, I’m not interested in doing business with you.

I have a couple of times written for royalties. One time, that was okay. The other, the editorial process was so long and involved that the royalties would have needed to total several hundred dollars to bring me up to minimum wage (at the time) for all of time and energy I put into the process. They were not.

Now some out there may be thinking that writers and artists shouldn’t expect to get paid a lot of money. To which, politely, I suggest that you’re misguided. No artist expects to get rich on their work, but if money is changing hands for a product then the people involved in producing that product should be making a living wage from it, and that includes the artist. I think that’s entirely reasonable, without going into Ellison style rant (but it’s well worth watching – here).

If, on the other hand, it’s your thought that artists should be happy getting their work out there and not be concerned about money at all, my slightly less polite response is, fuck you. You don’t expect your favourite movie and TV stars to work for free, your favourite sports players to work for free, or your favourite musicians to work for free, why would you expect artist to?

See how easy it is to go into a commentary on society?

But it is frequently worth commenting on society, and maybe that’s why I do it a lot. Sidesteps in blog posts here and there, entire blog posts sometimes, frequently in conversations by off and online, and, well, pretty much all the time time. Like or not I live in a society with a lot of problems that need talking about and dealing with. Expectation of writers and artists working for starvation or no wages is one of many.

Back to the point.

The submission log is still on file and looks back to even the first couple of stories I submitted way back when. Since I’m trying to make both submissions and short story publishing part of my overall plan, I really do need to track them. Independently published collections are part of the publishing plan in 2019, as is some novel-length work, fanfiction, and poetry. I’m doing a bunch of Star Trek fanfiction individual stories and a collection, although those will only be available for free. Fanfiction by definition has to be free unless sanctioned by the owners of the property. I’d love to, but never expect to, write Star Trek for money. But, if people like my Star Trek work, maybe it’ll lead some of them into my non-Trek work. If not, oh well.

Releasing something for exposure or giving it away for a little while is far different than someone only willing to pay exposure in order to make money themselves, btw. It’s a valid marketing tactic for indie traditional publisher, but the traditional publisher, no matter how small, needs to be aware that their authors deserve to be paid.

I’ve also got plans to do one themed collection a year for about the next five years, and that doesn’t stop me from just pulling together some of what I feel is my best work to do a non-themed collection. And I will be doing novels, and a poetry collection so self-publishing will be strong, but it’s not the only path. As I’ve mentioned, I will be looking for an agent or small press for some work.

I track word count and goals and I’m certainly going to track who I investigate for agents or publishers, so if I’m targeting five short story submissions per month for the rest of the year, including September (and 8-10 per month in 2019), I need that submission log. I need to know where I send things, who liked my work and should get more of it, who doesn’t bother to respond on rejections, who gives feedback.

Tracking is important. So, beginning any moment now with the first submission of 2018.

Be well, everyone.Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather