Tag Archives: STRANDED

WIP Update And Change In Editing Process

I’ve been a somewhat on the quiet side lately as far as Actual Blog Posts are concerned, mostly because of being busy working.

Hey, there are worse reasons, right?

I’ve also reinstated my rule that my work gets done first before I check into the world.  This means no checking Facebook/Twitter/flickr/message boards/statistics/whatever until my work is done.  Otherwise, if I do, it derails my mind into marketing and promotion mode instead of creative mode.  Not a good thing.

I’m in the middle of revisions for MOROCCO.  This is a tricky one both story-wise and editing-wise.  I’ve finished, hrm, a dozen or so stories by now–enough that I feel I have tabs on my working process, how I think, how I revise.  But I know damn well I’d be stupid to think I know everything (or even the tip of that iceberg) or can’t improve, so I’m trying a different sort of revision process on this story.  Anything that helps me find the holes in my story is a good thing.  The problem is in the change of habits.  It’s hard, it’s slow, it’s confusing, and I find myself checking back on the guide I’m following to remember what it is I’m supposed to be doing it.  I’m sure this will go smoother as I find my stride with the new system.

I had the feeling during the writing of MOROCCO (and again after I finished it) that I needed more.  More story, more time in-story, more description, and that feeling is holding up during the revision process.  I’m finding spots where stuff needs more development and to be actually grounded in the real, living world through description.  The story weighs in around 15k words.  My concern is that this will push it above 20k, which seems to be the upper limit for most short story markets that I’ve seen, and in the very low range for novella word counts.  I don’t think I would prefer it to blossom to novella-length for two reasons:

  • I already have one novella in the form of STRANDED
  • I don’t think there’s enough story in MOROCCO to fill out another 10-20k words (to get it up to 30k-40k) without feeling bloated.

This is all subject change as I continue revisions.  Most likely, I won’t know what I have until after the first rewrite.

When I’m not editing MOROCCO, I’m doing planning work for my next book, FUTURE.  Part of the reason for the change in editing for MOROCCO is that I’m going to use a very similar system for planning FUTURE and I’d like to get a handle on it before I begin.

In other news, I started participating in the Flickr 365 days group (see the 365 category and flickr links in the sidebar). Photography is on my list of “things to do and get better at” but often gets trumped by writing, music, and Actually Taking Some Time To Relax On Rare Occasion (see Murder Your Darlings ).  As such, I’m participating, but keeping a tight rein on my desire to excel and be perfect at it (and the time that that would take, which I don’t have).

June 5th, 2010

I’ve spent some time the last few weeks–including the time since finishing STRANDED–on working on a side project for purposes of promoting Norton’s Ghost.  It’s finished now and I hope to be able to release it sometime next week.  To say I’m excited about sharing it would be an understatement.

I got new glasses.  Five or so years overdue, but better late than never, right?  Apparently I have an extremely big head–no one had anything that fit right.  So in the end, I had to settle.  I’ll be taking the rest of my frame shopping online from now on.  What kind of business is it when I ask, “Can you order anything else in?  You know, something that fits me?” and they say, “Nope”?

Getting STRANDED finished means my path is clear to begin work on the FUTURE project.  I’m trying my best to ignore the pile of printed pages that is STRANDED for now so that it can cool off before I edit it.  I should stow that manuscript away in a box somewhere so it’s not sitting out and taunting me.

At any rate, I spent a while this morning re-familiarizing myself with my notes for codename FUTURE.  I’m very much looking forward to returning to this work.  I had some of the original ideas ten years ago.  I wish I could have written it then–some of the main hooks in the story are technological in nature.  But 19 years old isn’t old enough to write a story like this.    So I’ll have to make do with my soon-to-be-30 self.  I hope I didn’t miss the boat or had someone else already put forth the ideas in this story.  One way to find out, right?

Stranded Is Finished!

stranded boat

http://www.flickr.com/photos/todojuanjo

My Stranded novella is now finished.  Hooray!

After forcing out a mediocre wordcount over the course of about five hours yesterday, I hit a stride in the evening hours and ended up writing 4k words. It was enough to finish the work in rough form. There are some bits that I wanted that didn’t make it in, but I might be able to fit them in during the rewrite.

I’ll set it aside for a while now. I’m looking forward to the rewrite, where I can make it tighter and better all around.

The best thing about a story that’s finished is that you can make it better.

Rough draft wordcount: 34,200.

Daily Musings – May 8th

Today was a good day for productivity.  Ideas and energy to do something with them came from all over.  A few were related to things I’m actively working on.  A few got backburnered.

Some ideas and “plot points” (for lack of a better phrase) came together for STRANDED and I got 1000 words out on it without too much wailing or gnashing of teeth.  An okay wordcount by most standards, but a stupendously and massively awesome wordcount on a project that’s been stalled for a while.

I submitted 5 old poems to a publisher yesterday two days ago.  That feels like progress.

First instinct is to mention where I sent stuff.  Is it bad form to do that?  Who knows–could be.  To be safe, I’ll keep it to myself.

I also did another round of edits on PIPES and its now in the hands of a preview reader before I send it out.  That also feels like progress.

* * * * *

There’s a pile of papers on my desk that I should probably go through.  Story notes, random thoughts and scribblings, lists of projects, and so on.  Rooted through it a bit and found a piece of paper hearkening back to my days of heavy editing on the Norton’s Ghost novel.

It’s a collection of “problem words” and whatnot, along with some numbers.  I was going through the manuscript and using search functions to find said words and eliminate them.  I also wrote them down so that I can revisit the list whenever I edit another story and scrub them out.  For instance, in whichever round of editing this was, I went from 364 uses of the word “just” to 126.  That’s a 66% improvement (or thereabouts).

Some of the other words I worked to remove were:

  • suddenly
  • not
  • really (117 down to 21)
  • very
  • quite (30 down to 9)
  • perhaps
  • maybe (110 to 78; sometime tells me I could have done better there)
  • some of
  • seemed
  • afterwards
  • sat there
  • I feel
  • continued _____ (verb in blank)

The rest don’t have numbers written next to them.  I feel rather guilty for putting them in there in the first place, but think I vindicated myself pretty well overall by seeing to their removal.

Oops: Discovering an old WIP and Thoughts On Novellas

stranded boat

Up until now, I’ve listed Code Name: Future on my Works In Progress page as the next place I’d be devoting my efforts.  I opened up my project file for Future a few weeks ago, intent on reading through my notes and figuring out where I was.  While doing so, however, I stumbled upon another story I began in late 2007 and never finished.

“Oh crap!” I said.

Seeing as Future is still in planning and world-building stages, I’ve decided to try and sneak in work on this in-progress story and see if I can finish the darn thing.

I’m calling it Code Name:  Stranded.

All I’ll say about it story-wise at the moment is that I’m trying very hard not to let it turn into a Good Omens wanna-be.  I’m neither Neil Gaiman nor Terry Pratchet, and they told that story better than I ever could anyways.

“Not Good Omens, not Good Omens” is almost a sort of litany that runs through my mind as I’m working on it.  Will I succeed in both avoiding imitation and writing something worth reading?  Only time will tell.  And until Time–that fickle, fickle guy–decides to talk, I’m just going to try my damn best to write more of the story.

I never thought that the Stranded story would be a novel or novel-length and I counted that as sort of a blessing.  In the writing of it, though, I’ve come 20,000-something words and I’m not close to done yet.  And that’s assuming I’ll know when I’m done and know where I’m going.  Which I don’t.  I’m sort of stuck on the story, which is why it’s sat unfinished for these past years.  I dust it off every now and then and try to write more, but I’m still missing major parts of the setup for it.

It looks like this thing’s shaping up to be a novella of sorts.  This is both good and bad.

It’s bad because novellas tend to get the short end of the stick: people like reading them but not necessarily publishing them.  They’re too long for short story markets and too short for novel markets.  And so on.

It’s good because I realized today that being a novella dictates certain expectations for the story and the writing due to the limited wordcount.  There simply isn’t enough “room” to do everything you do in a novel.  As such, I realized that the “rules for a novella” (so to speak) might help me overcome the difficulties I’m having in writing it.  These are things such as

  • a minimal cast
  • mostly one major sort of conflict
  • minimal amount of subplots (sorta related to the previous point)
  • should end in growth of a character (which checks with what I intended for the storyline)
  • usually lacks discrete chapters (Stranded seems too short to make each section stand individually as a chapter)

and so forth.  So I’m revisiting my notes and ideas for this story with the above guidelines in mind.  Even if there’s no “eureka!  I’ve found the story!” and subsequent deluge of daily word counts, the guidelines provide a target to aim for and relieve any sort of guilt that might creep in that the story isn’t novel-y enough.

I’m usually a firm believer in the “just keep getting words down” camp of What To Do When You’re Stuck On A Story.  But that hasn’t worked for this one.  Part of the reason is that I never had more than a tenuous idea of What Was Going On in the story in the first place.  And so I got 20,000-something words into it without more than a vague idea of the shape of things, trusting that more would come and things would solidify as I went.  But it didn’t.  And so those 20,000-something words were fueled mostly by character banter.  Which was a lot of fun to write, but it’s felt as if my characters were just amusing themselves on a smoke break until I figured out what the hell was going on.

And so I spent most of today going back to the basics: brainstorming story landmarks, thinking about character motivations, why are things like they are, and so forth.  I even skimmed through some of the books I have around on writing and used their questions as springboards for fleshing things out.  I’ve felt as if I’m waiting for another idea to come along, like some second chunk of story-grade uranium that I can ram into the first one to get some sort of word explosion that resembles a narrative.

At the end of the day, I think I had a few ideas on the overall setup that might get me back on track.  I’ll probably do a little more brainstorming and note-taking and whatnot before I try to take up the actual writing.  I’ve finished enough pieces to believe that this isn’t just a stalling tactic on my part.