After two whole days without writing anything (where it felt like I had about 5 hours of spare time each day), I’m back on it! However, I’m going to take a short break from Naobi and Cheton and work on some scenes from Motiva that have been in the back of my mind for a while, which will hopefully become relevant toward the end of the story. I’m also going to wait a few days before I start posting again. Thanks!
I have re-published my first novel Lute of the Sparrow on Amazon and CreateSpace.
I have re-published my first novel Lute of the Sparrow on Amazon and CreateSpace. I disabled it a while back because … well, I don’t actually remember why. Possibly because I thought it might hurt my “career” as an author (such as it is). Perhaps I thought that if I ever did submit that novel to a publisher, they might Google it, find it on Amazon, see that only four people have read it, and drop my manuscript in the trash. However the odds of me submitting that manuscript to a publisher without significant alterations is pretty slim.
In case you are wondering, no I don’t make any money from those, and no I would not recommend self-publishing unless you 1) hire someone to paint a cover for you and 2) super-dedicate yourself to obnoxious self-promotion 24/7. So don’t quit your day job. 🙂
Looking at my schedule, which is really a virtual schedule, in that there is nothing to physically look at, I see that October has just begun, and I’m currently a little over 15k into Airworld, and writing at what I estimate to be a slothful rate of 500 words a day. NaNoWriMo begins on November 1 and runs through November 30.
Naobi still has to have an adventure in Sarin Morn, some kind of discovery or adventure in Leavon, and, assuming nothing else happens, she still needs to deal with the Council. Which does not even consider events going on back in Motiva. Basically what I’m saying is that there is very little chance I’m going to be done with Airworld by the end of October, unless I miraculously begin writing closer to 2000 words a day.
So don’t be surprised if I have to set it aside during November. I’ll try to get to a somewhat logical stopping point, at least.
April’s update, where I come up with a thoroughly disgusting and grisly metaphor.
I was scheduled to finish the first draft of Tel on April 30. I think I did pretty well on that, in that I was indeed finished Monday night. Until I thought of a tiny thing I needed to add to resolve one plot line. Then on Tuesday morning I thought of one other tiny little thing I needed to add to explain what happened to one of the characters.
It made me think of that old logic puzzle (Zeno’s dichotomy paradox, I believe), which I will now adapt to the writing process: Suppose that each day a writer sits down to write, he finishes exactly half of what is left to write. How long does it take him to finish? The answer is forever! That’s pretty much what writing a novel is like. You never “finish” per se, because there is always an infinite number of things you can do to improve it. In order to move on, you have to make a conscious decision to abandon it. I imagine it’s something like having a baby, except that instead of nature performing the normal birthing process, you have to do it yourself by tearing the child from your flesh, leaving behind a massive, bloody cavity of organs, meat, and bone fragments.
Hrm. Yeah, that sounds about right.
So anyway, after I write those two tiny scenes, which I will probably do after I finish writing this post, I will be ready to abandon Tel. (Update written before posting: Those two tiny scenes are done!)
Then what? An excellent question. I am not scheduled to start my next project until June 1. I’ll have four full months to complete that one, so I expect I’m going to set an unprecedented word count goal of 150,000 for it. I used to think that my first novel submission needed to be 90k-100k, but even a 150k book is pretty short in the fantasy field. If I spend a few weeks planning, then the rest of the time writing, I should be able to meet that easily. Assuming there is enough story to fill 150,000 words, which is always a challenge.
In the intervening month of May I could do a number of things. 1) I could do nothing, which would obviously be the easiest thing, but not writing after months of writing would leave a hole in my life akin to the death of a loved one, which would leave me pretty depressed and likely to spend most of my off time playing uselessly unproductive MMOs, and then when June rolls around I won’t feel like writing and I’ll be out of practice to boot. So I’m not sure I like that path.
I could 2) continue working on the Tel draft because of the aforementioned infinite number of things I can do to improve it. However, that doesn’t seem like a productive thing to do either. It feels like this draft is at the point where it needs to be set aside to “simmer” so I can come back to it later. If I had alpha readers, this would be the point where I would send them some chapters to get some feedback.
Or I could 3) do some revisions on a previous draft. This is probably what I’m going to do. I’ll pull out Kubak Outpost, import it into Scrivener, and start revising it to fix all of the known problems in it. I was quite fond of that story but I know it has too many problems to submit it anywhere. If I spend a month correcting those problems (mainly rearranging the order of things, as I recall), I could possibly start sending out query letters for it in June, so I can start building my collection of rejection letters!
I have finished what could loosely be defined as a “first draft” of The Sovereign of Tel. Now what??
Okay, here’s the sitch. I have finished what could loosely be defined as a “first draft” of The Sovereign of Tel. (Although, technically, it is the third draft of the March project. It’s hard to define these things. The first revision might not count since it was a totally different story and world.)
Now I face the same dilemma I had after I finished a draft of Kubak Outpost. I’ve imported everything into Scrivener for Windows, which, sadly, is the best thing out there for novel management on Windows, as far as I can tell. So now I can look at the draft from a very high level for the first time. (I used WriteMonkey during the actual writing.)
Wow, it needs work. I can clearly see that I wasn’t really into it through the entire first half of the draft. Almost all of it would need to be redone before I would feel comfortable with it. Also, the focus of the novel changed over time. Also, some sub-plots were started but I could never work them back in later. Also, it doesn’t really have a beginning.
So here’s my question. (If any of the Writing Excuses folk happen to see this, it would be an awesome topic for a podcast.) I’ve written this draft, but I know it needs work. Should I a) shelve it and go to my next project, and try not to repeat the same mistakes, or b) take some time to fix it up now while it’s still fresh in my mind?
At the end of this weekend, I should be around 50,000 words into The Sovereign of Tel. I hope to be finished with a decent first draft by the end of April. I am not completely happy with it right now, but I’m soldiering on anyway in the hope that I can patch it up in a rewrite.
My coolest achievement for the month is this nifty spreadsheet to keep track of my word totals. It does nifty gradients and everything. I set a 7,500 word goal for Monday through Friday, and originally I set a 5,000 word goal for the weekend, thinking I would obviously have more time to write. Well, perhaps counter-intuitively, it turns out, after a week of a day job and writing, I don’t seem to have the energy to write a lot on the weekend. So now I’ve shifted it back down to the regular 3,000 words. (I can’t remember where I read it, so I can’t give credit, but somewhere I read that setting a weekly word count goal might work better than a daily word count goal. So far it’s working for me.)
I have also planned out my writing schedule for the rest of the year, and hopefully every subsequent year. I will write a novel from January-April, take May off, then write a novel from June through September, then take October off, then do NaNoWriMo in November, and take December off. The idea is to write as many novel drafts as I can.
With this Tel book, I tried to outline everything in the book from beginning to end, so I wouldn’t get to the end and find myself struggling to figure out how to tie everything together like I usually do. Well, it didn’t work. My outline wasn’t detailed enough, and I still don’t know how to tie everything together. So lesson learned: Either a) Spend more time outlining the ending, or b) Just plan on “discovering” the ending no matter what.
I did a more detailed outline because I wanted to find out if I work better as an “outliner” than as a “discovery writer.” Outline writers plan everything out beforehand and work from that. Discovery writers basically make it up as they go, and fix continuity problems in a rewrite. Thus far I’ve been more of a discovery writer, but I wanted to try outlining.
As it turned out, I still deviated from the outline. So I guess even with an outline, I still want to “discover” things. On the other hand, an outline is very useful for giving me at least a framework of what’s going on, and at least a fuzzy idea of where things are going. When you’re staring at a blank page, it’s really helpful to bring up the outline and re-remember what’s supposed to be happening.
So I guess I’m sort of a half-outline, half-discovery writer. It seems like I outline to the point in the story where things need to start getting resolved, and then I start discovering. It’s kind of a frustrating way to work, actually.
Time for another fan update. Because real writers do that, or so I’ve read.
Last time I mentioned a short story about a magic sword with a bad personality. Well, I got bored with that. I was trying to write it from the perspective of the sword, which sounded very cool in my head, but, well, it didn’t work out.
I did, in fact, write a short story called Lucas the Jewish Vampire, which I thought was hilarious, but it will probably not be as funny when I go back to revise it. (In it, I learned that vampires are afraid of rabbis… who knew?)
I also wrote a very short story about a harpy named Margway, who was a side character in my NaNoWriMo novel Kubak Outpost. The short story is the chapter I had envisioned to introduce her character long before I had decided on the Kubak story. In it, we find out she had lost her son in a tragic accident, and her husband died in battle (mainly from grief over losing their son), and then she was driven out of her home eyrie, so now she wanders the land, bitter and alone, looking for her true purpose in life. As it turned out, none of that was relevant to the Kubak story. But I thought the harpy race has been sorely under-represented in fantasy literature.
Speaking of Kubak Outpost, I think I have decided that instead of splitting it into two different novellas, I will attempt (later) to patch it all up into one novel. I think I just need to move some of the elements from the second half up closer to the beginning.
Before revisiting Kubak, though, I began a new fantasy novel, part of my finish-two-more-novels-before-November master plan. It was going to be set in a world with big floating creatures that served as transportation between mountain cities, but as I outlined and re-outlined and re-re-outlined the story (something I don’t normally do, incidentally), the flying stuff didn’t come into play at all, so now it’s just set in a regular old medieval city, where the Elahi aristocracy breed and train their Buhite servants, sort of like dog breeders. What could possibly be more uplifting than a story about the human capacity to fully degrade and de-humanize another species?
Oh, and I installed WordPress on my site, so I won’t be using Tumblr anymore. Now you can see my witty Twitter updates and my witty blog posts in the same place!
I like to keep both of my fans informed of my work, so here’s what I’m doing.
This month I have been working on revising my NaNoWriMo 2011 novel, and it hasn’t been going very well. I finished close to half of a second draft, wherein I rewrote a lot from scratch, but I had to stop when I sensed a rather major flaw. I like the characters and I particularly like the character relationships, but there is unfortunately a startling lack of plot around them. In fact, the plot that I had intended to be the main focus of the novel back in November doesn’t start until about the halfway point, which I’m pretty sure is not the way these things are supposed to work. Breaking it up into two different novellas is the only way I can imagine rescuing it. I have patched together the first one as a third draft, but it still needs considerable work before it turns into a Three Act Story.
In the meantime I am going to start a new project: A short story about a magic sword.
After that, well, I’m not sure. I just finished watching all seven seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which I’m pretty sure is the quintessential template for urban/paranormal fantasy, so I have a few ideas in that area. I want to write something that undermines all modern vampire tropes. For example, one of the vampires might be sort of a Jewish hypochondriac, like Woody Allen, with one of the super old school vampire “powers” like severe OCD. Unfortunately, given the absolute glut of vampires, werewolves, and zombies in urban fantasy right now, it’s impossible for me to believe that such a concept could be sold. But it would still be fun to write.