A Retreat, Shame and wth? An Editor…

I got back from the writing retreat setup by Randy McCharles earlier this week. Randy’s a great friend to writers of all levels. Check him out. He has new series coming out soon. More news as events warrant.

 

Ok – the people at the retreat made me feel ashamed of my commitment level.

They were a bunch of BIC’s (Bums In Chairs) It was humbling. Their schedule looked something like this:

  • Writing by 630 AM
  • Short Break 10:15
  • Lunch Noon (45 Min)
  • Short Break 230 ish
  • Dinner 6:00 PM (an Hour)
  • And most nights another 2 hours of writing then a sit around chat.

With the guilt hanging over my head after the first day I tried to buckle down and get crunching out the writing.

Here’s what got accomplished:

  • 30K editing pass – and then sent to an editor for revision, plus alpha readers. Yes I crapped my pants.
  • 10K New words
  • Major problems resolved- two
  • Incorporate all changes from Editor on the Prologue. (2500 words)

Robert J. Sawyer Blessing My Keyboard

This is for what I refer to as the “CheeseSpaceOpera” Today’s working title “Icarus: Book One of the System War”.

Some of you might be still coughing about me sending something to an editor, please check her site out: http://moreedits.ca/. If she can work with me, she can work with anyone.

So in an effort for full transparency – Yes –  I am on the road to having something published; either self-published or otherwise. (Insert Laugh Track Here)

The biggest single new technique I learned and put into practise – Editing pass while you listen to the story. I did this through MS Word’s “Read Aloud” function. It’s astounding the sheer volume of prepositions I don’t put in when I write.

What are you going to put into practice for your writing?

Be Well…dcd

Reset your defaults…

Yes, gibberish for a title. It’s one skill I can excel at.

Listening to Writing Excuses the other day and MRK used the expression, defaults. The context is that we all have defaults if direct clues about people aren’t given.

Example: White Male protagonist in a story, by many including me, will be assumed to be straight. White Female protagonist ditto. These are my defaults.

The majority of characters in most novels/movies will be male.

All of these examples are also stereotypes and there are of course, exceptions to the rule. But in general these defaults hold true. When they don’t we treat the situation as odd, or unique. When is the last time a brothel scene in a book or movie was populated with an equal number of males and females?

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None of this is new to the discussion of gender in writing. The point I am trying to learn or teach myself don’t use defaults. If a characters sexual orientation or gender or species is not relevant, and doesn’t come up naturally, DON’T MENTION IT. Does the reader need to know that the engineer on my spaceship is a Slargbo from planet Xenius X? Maybe the fact Slargbo’s have two brains that function in parallel will be important at some point, but until then, the answer is no, the reader doesn’t need to know. Or yes because you want to foreshadow it. But I am only going to foreshadow it because it’s necessary. I don’t need to define my characters gender or sexuality because of my personal defaults. Nor their brain capacity.

“I better tell them this character is gay.” “I better tell them this one is bi-sexual.”

I mean really, in life do people come up to you and say, “Hi I’m Ryan and I’m bi-sexual.” No, it’s ridiculous. I don’t go around saying, “Hi, I’m Doug and I’m straight.”

Other examples of “defaults”: dwarfs in fantasies always speak with a Scottish accent, drink ale,  and have beards. (even the female dwarfs)

Or the engineer on a Star Ship always lies about long it takes to repair the ship. “Oh I canna do it in less than 4 weeks in space dock.” And then has it repaired in 4 hours using spare parts made out of lasagna.

As I am working through the Cheesy space opera novel I am making a conscious effort to populate the world with women, but treat it as the norm. I am wondering what the effect will be on the reader. For example, any side characters or “spear carriers” are women. Why? I haven’t clue, it felt right.

It will take real time to repair the ship, and the engineer will underestimate the time. There will be characters and spear carriers of various genders and orientations. Will you know who is what – only if it furthers the story.

Be Well

dcd

 

 

 

Waiting for…

Writing is similar to  other jobs, and other times, bears no relationship to regular jobs.

Waiting has been fundamentally different in every job I have had.

  • Busing tables meant waiting for people to finish eating.
  • Lighting tv sets meant waiting for staging to finish setting up.
  • IT means waiting for something to break.
  • Writing means waiting for rejection or acceptance.

The fundamental difference in waiting as a writer is that you can still write.

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I quibble with myself about how all jobs have overlapping roles and responsibilities, but for writing, it’s different and longer. I’m not used to such long turnaround times.

In the restaurant business, at least at the one I worked at, turnover time on tables was about 45 minutes. This was lunch rush. Which was chaos most days. The initial part of the shift was preparing for the day, the calm before the storm. Then non-stop for about 2 hours. I knew when the people would arrive. It was regular as clockwork.

In TV, you’d look at a set, discuss the treatment with the director, and know how long it would take. When all the sets were lit, you went home. Again, no waiting.

Working support in IT, I wait for a call or an email, fix the problem  and then wait for the next one. When your shift is over, you’re done.

When you finish writing, you submit the story or novel or flash fiction and wait.

There is no clock to watch, or set to light or table to cleanup. You wait. There is no feedback, the piece of fiction goes out and then you wait. This varies from 30 days, to a year or more. During this time, I am learning to work on other pieces and the get them submitted. It’s not making you money on your computer.

Most authors, that talk about their process have multiple novels underway. This novel is out for submission, that novel is in revisions, here’s one being released. These processes are going on at the same time.

What this produces is fragmentation.  The outlining process differs from the writing , which differs from editing. And submission and query letters are an art form to themselves. I joyfully wait for the time when I get to work with an editor because a piece of work is accepted. (Please feel free to quote me when I complain about an editor I am working with…)

I need to learn to write while waiting for whether a piece is accepted or rejected. If I end up selling one of the series first books, the second book better be ready to go PDQ. There is a grind to writing. A methodical repetitive cycle I seek to discover to let me perform as a writer. It’s a struggle for me. No doubt about it. But when I find it, whatever it is,  I suspect that is when I will get an acceptance. Until then, I am looking for groove.

ETA to first rejection is one week if the submission guidelines are accurate.

Be Well…dcd

Editing, no one told me there would be editing…GAH!

Sent the first scene/chapter off of “The Einstein Fallacy” for critiquing.  Should have all the results back around April 20th, 2017. I may post a before and after.

I wish I had a drinking problem. Even though I trust these people, and they are excellent writers, fear still invades me at the thought of having anyone read my work. Why?

Why?

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I suppose it’s because if they don’t like the writing, they don’t like me. The subconscious me wants them to validate my writing so they will validate me. My mother always said I was a fragile child, and it appears that I am. Aren’t we all fragile children? Somewhere hidden inside we fear being known and at the same time want to be known. That inner self. To be identified with, to know we aren’t alone. The exposure of true self is guarded.

But lets return to the skill of editing. I don’t have it. It is so much easier for me to write drivel on a page then it is to go and edit the writing. Having said that, I can learn to edit. Here is my current process in a nutshell:

  1. Tea and a Timer. Normally Peppermint and the Pomodoro “Tomato Timer” https://tomato-timer.com/ I work 25 minutes get up and take a break for 5 and then back at it. I try to do a min of an hour.
  2. I start with Passive Verbs, spelling, and adverbs, and remove them – as Stephen King said:

“I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs, and I will shout it from the rooftops. To put it another way, they’re like dandelions. If you have one in your lawn, it looks pretty and unique. If you fail to root it out, however, you find five the next day… fifty the day after that… and then, my brothers and sisters, your lawn is totally, completely, and profligately covered with dandelions. By then you see them for the weeds they really are, but by then it’s — GASP!! — too late.” Stephen King

3. Once this is done I print a hard copy, double sided, 1″ Margins, double spaced, and read it out loud to myself and make notes in the text with a red pen. I go all the way through. This time it took me three days over the weekend. If I see that I need to move where plot points are, I detail them on a separate sheet as well, with the page numbers listed.

4. Back on the computer, I read through a couple of more times and then send it off to an alpha reader that is unknown to my writing groups. If they reply with the “I want to know more” or “Well what happens next”. I submit.

5. Once I get the feedback. I make sure that I understand their notes, asking for clarification or examples when needed. Then I put these items away for 10 days to two 2 weeks. The urge to leap in and make the changes suggested to me is too strong. I have to take a step back, wait and then in cold sober calculation consider what needs to be changed.

The goal is to have all the chapters done in time for When Words Collide this summer and pitch it to a Publisher. Or as I refer to it, outa da fryin pan and into the fire…

As always, be well

dcd

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