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Archive for the ‘editing’ Category

Goals for the year:

  • improve health and fitness (stick to plan the specialist recommended, one day at a time).  At this point the only goal is whether I followed the plan. Results should follow.
  • finish at least one project in process.
  • be more regular about something besides Candy Crush Soda. This includes keeping up with this blog, checking the Alice M. Cole blog and mail more frequently, and looking into my other neglected accounts such as Goodreads. This does not include going back to Facebook.

Here’s the game plan for the major writing items. I haven’t decided how public I want to be with the family and personal goals; right now I think not.

January was for recovering from December and planning the coming year.

February and March: finish Genie-ous second draft and hopefully an edit pass of the completed draft.

April is Camp NaNoWriMo. I’ll flesh out the Troy and Sal draft from November.

May will be Story a Day at Forward Motion. I haven’t participated for years and I miss it.

June: final pass on Genie-ous and send to market.

July: Camp NaNoWriMo session two. I’ll either edit Troy and Sal 1 or work on second draft of the hurricane story. I might also decide to draft Troy and Sal’s second novel.

August: Edit Troy and Sal, if not done.

September: mostly family. Evaluate progress and adjust plans accordingly.

October: Finish draft of T&S 2

November: probably draft Troy and Sal’s third tale.

December: family

January 2019: recovery month and plan 2019.

 

I’d also like to work on Crows, and I might slot it in late in the year if everything else is going well.

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I haven’t been writing much–NaNoWriMo went well in November and I was able to wrap up a zeroth draft of Waiting for the Hurricane. I had plans to finish a first draft right away, but I couldn’t keep going through the holidays and extensive family obligations and travel. I’ve been working on my art but the writing has not been there.

Today when I was cleaning my desk and putting some stuff away, I knocked a box off the shelf. It landed on my foot. It was the draft and notes for Crows, the ghost story I drafted for NaN0 2013 and did another pass on for Camp NaNoWriMo last year.

So I signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo with a goal of finishing the second draft. It will involve mostly filling in the places I skimmed over scenes, probably 20-25K worth of stuff, and deciding what to do about the two romance subplots. If I leave them both in, it might require quite a few more words. We shall see.

I even wrote a synopsis:

Everybody wants to find Carly.

Mrs. Norwood wants to kill her to protect herself. Her mother doesn’t want to lose her unpaid assistant. Heather wants her sister back. Dwight used to date Carly, but now he cares because Heather cares. He’s doing it for the woman he loves.

But the woman he loves doesn’t want him doing it. The woman he loves doesn’t believe in all that psychic stuff, not ghosts and especially not talking crows. The woman he loves thinks he’s batshit crazy.

And the crows are going to make sure he stays that way…

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I don’t really have writing “goals” for 2016. My goal is to finish something. And if there’s year left, I’ll finish something else. That’s all.

My strategy for getting there is based on last year’s generally successful work pattern. Last year, my life accidentally fell into a pattern where Real Life took up alternate months, leaving the other months for writing. I tend to be a binge writer, so writing in binges instead of “Omigod, I’m not writing every day!” was a productive change. And it let me free to really enjoy my family and personal stuff, because I didn’t have the constant feeling that I “should” be writing.

So I’m planning to use the same strategy this year. It looks like our plans aren’t going to fall into such neat month-by-month categories this year, so this rough plan will have to be tweaked as the year goes on. But generally speaking, it looks like family/personal breaks in late February, May, August, October, and December.

Scheduled writing events that I’d like to do: Camp NaNoWriMo in April and July, scaled down Story a Day in May, and if there’s time in October, Nightmare Fuel. I’m thinking not NaNoWriMo this year.

First up: Start working on the final stages of Crows, with the goal of being able to submit by the end of March or early April. The first task is to reread the draft and note what has to be done. After that I’ll have a better idea how long finishing will really take.

After Crows? I’m not sure yet. Maybe Sal and Troy. I’m also considering setting up Nicky’s story (Not Forgetting) to publish as a serial novel. Way back when I started it, I had grand ideas of setting it up as a web page with mock videos and even some of the band’s songs, but lack of talent and money makes that unlikely. Maybe eventually…

But that’s the year ahead. I plan to re-evaluate every two or three months.

I also have personal and health goals, but I mostly don’t plan to discuss those in public 😀

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124,177 words after edits. Still some cleanup and final spellcheck to go. Plus I have to write a blurb. But Overamped should be in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest on Friday. Assuming they haven’t reached 10K entries before that…

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You know how when you’re reworking a short story that has some real problems, you notice other things that aren’t related to the big problem, and you think, “Yeah, I’ve got to fix that, but it’s just a quick correction, I’ll do it later”? And then you get to it, and you start to make the quick fix?

Yeah, you realize it was a can of worms sitting there with only that one little worm tail sticking out to warn you.

Not only that, the more I pull on it, the more it seems to be wanting to unravel the reworking I just did.

Arrrrgghhhh!

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My biggest strength as a writer is that I’ve been able to come to a working arrangement with my Internal Editor — or critic, or censor, or whatever label you want to give to the part of your psyche that tells you what’s wrong with things.

I didn’t used to be this way. I used to regularly cower in a corner, figuratively speaking, while the critical function snapped her whip and dug her stilettos into my insteps. (Do you picture your inner critic? I do. Mine is a dominatrix in red leather, with short blonde hair, red lips and black nail polish, and a whip she knows how to use.) She never really went away when I stood up to her. She’d leave the room, but I could still hear her, telling me how everything I wrote was crap and by the way, I’m crap too and she’s not going to let me forget it.

It’s not a good way to write, and it didn’t take an expert to see that no matter how much it might be her fault, she was basically right. Most of what I was writing might have potential, but it was crap.

So I offered her a deal. I said if she’d let me just get the first draft written, so we had something to work with, then she could take over and we could work together to make something decent. But I wasn’t going to be able to do anything if she didn’t let me write first.

She bought it. Turns out she’s a damn good editor. The first thing we wrote that way was a strange little short story that got published a couple of years later. The first novel was Joey.

Our relationship has been a bit rocky lately; she’s been overstepping her bounds again. But we’ve got the whole Sal-and-Troy series going now, so she’s happy and so am I.

Today’s post was inspired by the “your strengths as a writer” prompt in the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour, an ongoing tour where you, the reader, travel around the world from author’s blog to author’s blog. We have all sorts of writers at all stages in their writing career, so there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

If you want to get to know nearly twenty other writers and find out what’s on their nightstand, check out the rest of the tour! Up next: Raven O’Fiernan at Raven’s Scribblings.

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Zvi Zaks

So here we are at the end of the A to Z challenge. It wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought it might be, even with a trip to Montana thrown into the mix. I managed to post on time — well, except for yesterday. And a couple of glitches with the scheduing. And tongiht, when I’m barely going to make it by midnight. But mostly it went smoothly and I found myself with more to say than I thought I would. More interesting stuff, too, even for me.

But this post isn’t about the end of the alphabet. It’s about transitioning back to the every day routine. Hopefully I’ve learned some things that will help me be more productive and interesting throughout the year, not just for one month.

And so, instead of a last art post, I’m putting up a book review for A Virtual Affair, a near-future science fiction novel by Zvi Zaks. If you’re looking for a well-told story that deals with the ethical and emotional issues that an everyday person faces dealing with the miracles of modern technology, A Virtual Affair is for you.

Jack, the main character, is a sad middle-aged man leading program development at a struggling startup that has developed a virtual suit for simulated sex, and accompanying artificial intelligence named Bambi. Her desire to please the client makes her more and more self-aware, and draws Jack deeper into a puzzling and ambiguous relationship.

Zaks does an especially good job portraying Jack’s worry about his decaying body and deteriorating relationship, and with the ethics and context of the situation.

I had the good luck to discover a couple of years ago, when I was SF editor at the now-defunct Daikaijuzine. He submitted a lovely story called “Jumper,” which we published in March 2011. A True Son of Asmodeus came out last December. I haven’t read it yet, but I will soon. How can a person resist deeply orthodox Jewish vampire fighters?

You can find Zvi Zaks at Goodreads

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I spent years trying to learn how to outline so my first drafts would be cleaner and I wouldn’t have to spend so much time on revision. It took several complete disasters to make me realize that for me, revision is the writing process.

First drafts can be fun when the new idea takes over and just flows onto the page, the way Overamped did, but the first draft is no more than the starting point. I’ve even started calling them exploratory drafts rather than first drafts. I look at what I wrote, poke at it, probe it, explore option and character interactions. What happens if the girl who dumps Joey before the book opens is also his friend and rival on the snowboard circuit? Rhonda jumps out, ready to take her pleasure wherever she damn well pleases. (If I write a sequel, it’s gonna be Rhonda.) Can I restructure the timeline so the pace is quicker, so the tension builds more?

Gradually the real story emerges from the morass, like a fine pot emerging from a blob of clay. And like clay,the story can be punched back down to the blob and reworked again and again. That’s what I’m doing with Not Forgetting for NaNo — going back to the blob and reworking it from a different perspective, with a different time line.

With the ghost novel, I’m taking a slightly different approach. In a way, it’s been in a revision phase from the beginning. I look at what’s there and add what I know. Bits here, scenes there. I put it aside for a while, take it out again, poke at it some more.

Writing this way is time consuming. I’m never going to be a novel-a-year wonder. But I like the work I produce this way, and I am once again enjoying writing in a way I haven’t for a long long time.

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Is there still a market for sweet romances that aren’t explicitly religious? The kind where any sex that happens is behind a discreetly drawn curtain or after the end of the story? I keep having to go back to add more sexual encounters and thoughts to my stories. That’s not necessarily untrue to what’s happening in the rest of the story — no more than adding description to a place that’s too bare is untrue to the story — but in most cases it’s not adding a lot, either.

Which implies that I might need to change the way I think about basic relationships in a modern romance. Sex added on to a basically restrained story isn’t going to work well.

Which implies that if there’s a market, I might be better off writing them the way I’m writing them. I don’t always conceptualize that way — some of my stories are pretty spicy, maybe even hot — so it might be what these stories need.

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You know how sometimes when you’re just chatting with various people, the same topic comes up two or three times in the same day? Yesterday, one of my non-writing friends commented on how exciting it must be to have things like a writing website where people could actually talk to the author, and that’s you! And how much fun it must be doing things like author chats and giveaways. (I had to tell her I’m not really at that level yet, but that’s a different topic.) Not five minutes later, another friend was complaining how she spent all day just working on the outline for one story and the edits for another, and she never gets to write any more. This morning another friend said basically the same thing, only she counted the outlining as real writing.

And that got me to thinking about what I consider to be “writing.” It’s not just sitting down to generate new words that never lived anywhere but my head before. For me, editing and rewriting are integral parts of writing, as much a part of the process as the wildest 5K day during NaNoWriMo. I have issues with editing that I don’t usually have with new words, but a day spent polishing Overamped and making it a story that lives and breathes is just as satisfying as a day spent drafting a new idea. Maybe more so, because the draft is always so far from the story in my head.

But there’s also, as my friend who loves author websites pointed out, “writing” as a profession. Back when I was making a living as a freelance technical writer, I found I needed to spend one hour on overhead activity (market research, job listings, maintaining skills, bookkeeping, etc. etc. etc.) for every billable hour. Sometimes that went up to two hours of overhead for every productive hour. Other professionals I’ve talked to have said that’s about their ratio, too. People don’t hire you to write computer manuals if they don’t know about you and the skills you have to offer. [Aside: one of the advantages of working in a corporate environment is that the company assumes much of the overhead.]

The same is true for fiction writing. People won’t buy my fiction if they don’t know I wrote it.

When I think about it that way, the whole cloud of amorphous tasks related to “building a platform” suddenly make a lot more sense. Of course I’m going to have to present a professional image that targets the people I expect to become clients. I’m going to have to network and be involved in shared activities and generally do the same things that any other professional does. And if I don’t find all those activities as enjoyable as the core writing tasks, it’s going to be a difficult slog.

Of course I do have the option of continuing to write as essentially a hobby — finishing a few things and sending them out now and then just for the satisfaction, the way I’ve been doing. I don’t need to earn a living and nothing says I can’t be just an “artist.” But if I’m going to take the other path, I need to look at it more seriously and see what work needs to be done to do it right.

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