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

oneRock

 

My mistakes in writing

The biggest mistake I make in writing is the simplest. Avoiding writing. Sounds way to simple. But it is the biggest issue for my attempts at becoming an author. I talk a lot about writing, I read a lot about writing but I don’t do a lot of writing.  I have grandiose ideas and plans. Wonderful characters in great situations, at least I tell myself that, and sometimes others. In many ways, this struggle is the reverse of the trouble I had when I quit smoking.

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I had tried quitting many times before I found the way that worked for me. This is important. It’s important for you to know that I have tried many ways to write and to quit smoking. For me to quit smoking it boiled down to, “I won’t have one right now” or “I don’t need one right now”. I just had to beat the habit one cigarette at a time. One craving at a time. Sounds simple, right? But if you have ever tried to quit smoking or anything else, you know it’s not simple or easy. I won’t attempt to describe the struggles. That is for another day.

So for writing, I need to write today. I don’t need need to finish 70,000 words. I just need to write today, where ever I am, however, I feel. Even if I write 250 words a day that gives me 91,250 words in a year. More that what is needed for a novel, novella. Unless of course if you are a “Sanderson”, where 300,000 is the norm.

The silliest part is that I can be quite productive if I just sit down and write. I can crank out a lot of words in a short period of time. Crappy words, but words none the less. Its not that I am not trying.(double negative) I have started participating in two writing groups that will help my word count. One that meets and writes weekly and one that meets monthly. But those discussions are for another day. Yes I know, I have promised two more blog posts, one on my journey to quit smoking and one on my writing groups. Don’t complain it will give you something to look forward to.

As Always
Be Well…

 

NaNoWriMo – Day 9 13244 – Finally someone died

Still 1700 words behind where I should be to complete on time. I am hopefully about tomorrow, as any writer should be. Today’s excerpt is an explanation of why Jorunn and Othin (our heroes) killed all the raiders. Again this raw, unrevised, what I just finished writing.

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“Now that we are going I can explain what happened from my point of view. First the ambush wasn’t a chance meeting. Someone put a tracking spell on something we were carrying. My guess is that it was on the grill. The trigger for it was when you started to set up, Karl. When it was touched the spell sent out the location. The attack ddidn’t happen immediately, because the raiders were waiting at the normal spot you stop for lunch. We went past it. We went by it pretty fast. Which meant the Raiders had to play catch up. Did you notice how almost all the raiders were in the direction of your normal camp[? They knew we were coming. They also knew enough that Noak and Neilsen would react with trained and experienced skill and put a wind wall up. But Othin and I were unknown talents. This is why they went after Othin first. A channeller without a forge is just another person. Othin being larger and known to have great skill with an axe and mace was the target they wanted. If they had tried for Noak or Neilsen, they would have felt it and protected themselves in time. Killing you, Karl, gave them no advantage. They wanted you to see the wizards die. To show you no hope. Why this is I don’t know. But I am certain that they would have killed Noak, Neilsen, Othin and I. I know this because all the arrows, all of them were poisoned. You could see it by the black tips. To poison that many arrows to kill channelers and forges costs a small fortune. There are only a few poisons that can do this, the ingredients are hard to find and dangerous to assemble. Only few persons in the world know how to make them.

When you lose momentum

Life happens, we all know this truth. As a new writer, losing momentum has proven to be my biggest challenge, so far. Not “writing”, not “taking criticism”, not “finding time to write”, not “ideas”, not “writer’s block”.

All of these I thought would be bigger problems. For me the biggest secret to writing, is writing every day. I can’t take pauses of days, I lose the time too easily.

For me I think the easiest way to write every day is to have options, like this blog, or flash fiction. Something that gets me writing. Finding time for writing has required me to rethink my daily schedule. Change what I do and who I am.  None of this is new to any of you who write, but I think that all writers have some sort of “Achilles Heel” that is our own personnel weakness. For me that is not writing every day.

Writing is a solitary work, but doesn’t have to be done in solitary confinement.  Eventually stories want to be read by someone other than the author. Yes there times when we have to be immersed in the world we are writing about, but not always. To keep momentum I am tring these three suggestions:

1) Post It Note, White Board, Fridge Note – “DCD Writing tonight at 7:00 Starbucks”. Don’t do this all the time, as it will then become easier to ignore, twice a month, no more!

2) Once a month, near the end of the month, get someone to read what you are writing, just a snippet, a couple of pages. It doesn’t matter what they say, or it does, the point is you have to have material ready for that person to read what you are writing. The key here is only a couple of pages.

3) Here’s the hardest one, once a month, near the beginning of the month, your Facebook status is your current word count and [drum roll] what your goal is.

Lastly, something that should be second nature to anyone as a writer, encourage other writers to write, ask them how they are doing. Nothing lifts your own burden, then helping someone else with their’s.

Be Well – dcd

Flash Fiction

The smell of burnt flesh lived in the air, alive, seeking to be experienced before it dissipated, before it died through dispersal.

Jennifer easily avoided the plume of living smoke. Anyone still alive could avoid the new life forms that arose after the awaking and the mistakes that followed.

She continued on her way to the meeting. The human meeting.

“I call this last meeting of the humans to order,” declared John Smith

We have one order of business today. To elect a new leader. My time is done. My mandate was to stabilize the remaining humans, to find a way to have a stable environment that didn’t change daily.

Welcome to Eden Prime. Coordinates have been downloaded into your datastreams. They require living human dna to be decrypted. There are no exceptions. ” John intoned

At this, there was a murmuring through the crowd. Many had argued that the coordinates were to be shared with their allies, The robot AI had helped keep the humans alive. Had protected us when we were at our weakest. They deserved to know where we were going. Jennifer was one them. She was alive because of them.

“I know,” acknowledging the unspoken concern, “and there is more bad news, so you might as well sit down, and get comfortable. Many of you won’t like this next bit. ” He waited until they all were seated.

“Eden Prime is aware and programed to only allow on human sentient beings to live in it. Humans with complete dna.”, he sat down, exhausted and free. Free of the secret that he had kept for so long.  It was like his final confession.

Ten minutes later the yelling, threats and pandemonium stopped. At least no one was dead, Jennifer thought. Especially John. Her team had protected him when he was attacked. Kept him alive. He didn’t seem to care if he lived or died.

“Order, Order DAMM IT!”, Jennifer yelled.

“Nominations for leader of the humans is now open”, she declared, stepping down.

“I nominate Jennifer, as leader of the humans”

“I second the nomination”

“Are there any other nominations?”

“Jennifer, Jennifer, Jennifer” the crowd yelled.

After a few minutes of applause the it died down. She let it play out, letting the emotion of the moment be wrung out of the crowd.

“Thank-you, Thank-you one and all” She cried.

“Sargent of arms, arrest John Smith for treason against humans. Hold him in custody for trail”, Jennifer ordered. She was in charge now.

She was in charge of the humans, hopefully everything else went as smoothly with the AI’s…

Prepping to get a critical opinion

I mentioned a while ago that I was going to meet a writing coach. So this week I am prepping the material I would like reviewed. I am 
mainly concerned with two questions:

1) Am I on the write(lol) track? Am I following a proper outlining process that will allow me to succeed… OR am I deceiving myself?

2) One critical item to work on writing wise. Currently I am struggling with the whole concept of “Show, Don’t Tell”. At some point you have to describe the setting you are in? So hopefully she will point out one helpful point for me.

The chronological order of the story is put together, but after reading it through, it is very rough. What I mean by this is that I am not getting the whole story out of my head. Lots of bits and pieces are coming out, but not all the key points. I will be going over it several times this week. This is very repetitive work, but oddly enjoyable.

While putting it together I stumbled across a minor character I need to deal with Britta Couri (not her real name). She turns out to be our HERO’s guide aboard the starship Spirit.

I will let the description of Spirit present why Tanner needs a guide…(if you are playing the dcd drinking game, this is your second ellipses, double shot)

/sidebar

Our commentator is The Abbott, Nathan Farstrider of the Dominion. Believers in the One God

“Let me present to you the my flagship, Spirit. She’s old but she has served us well over the years. With a diameter of 15 kilometers, it gives her a circumference of just over 47 kilometers and a displaced volume of about 1700 cubic kilometers. Her crew, the staff to run the ship total 10,000 persons. With my staff and support personnel she supports 18,000. Over the years we have added rooms for another 3000 visitors.
The interior surface of the ship is lined with a complete hydroponic eco system. The eco-system functions in 2 core ways. The first is obvious in that it can supply a tremendous amount of basic food stuffs. The farms can also be planted to grow planet specific food

The second use is for medicinal plants. This section is maintained through an agreement with the Unsforce Collective. If needed Spirit can be a support food station for nations and worlds that are devastated by natural disaster. She has been used in this capacity on many occasions. The Consortium and the Republic have their own hub. Several other governments have consulates on Spirit.

The exterior surface, which you can see is pot marked, houses some 1,000 weapon emplacements. The largest of which are the mass particle beams capable of destroying small moons, given time. They are focused off the “top” and “bottom” of the dodecahedron power grid. Spirit is the Hammer and Shield of the Faith.”
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He goes on to explain power supplies and other details. But  you now see the need for the guide. Of course I went for the cliche of an attractive women to take Tanner around the ship. Sadly it turns out they each spurn the other, both for painful reasons, it is doubtful that they will remain friends.

/endsidebar

I am still struggling with working entirely on the computer. It is frustrating not to have bits of paper scattered about to use a quick reference or reminder of how I want to tie this point into that section. I continue to revise. Expect a follow up on how coaching session next week.

It is better to be scene than herd…

DSC_1632The little of writing that I have been able to do over the last few days has evolved around scenes. Yes that is right I have been making scenes!

It is amazing to see how the story unfolds, what motivation gets generated for the plot to move forward. For a long time I knew that certain events needed to occur to get to the end of the story, but I did not see the impetus to get from one scene to another.

Remember that I am trying to write Hard Sci-Fi, or Space Opera. Something in that vain. I want it to be almost predictable or at least have the driving force of the events seem familiar, like an old friend to the reader. It is important to me that the reader is comfortable in the story; that they feel like they are “along for the ride”. I am not trying invent or expand the known features of the Sci-Fi landscape.  This is just a visit to a part of Sci-Fi that reminds us of where we have been.

Making scenes has helped me flesh out my characters in a variety ways. Here is an example; Caul Brin (not his real name) is the hereditary dictator of his system. His family has ruled for ten generations. He is therefore the 10th ruler of the people. His family’s leadership has been unbelievably successful. So much so that inbound migration is tightly controlled. Make no mistake, this is a military dictatorship they are conquerors, you don’t want to face them in battle.

Early on in my book I have a bomb go off at a dinner party. The bomb is part of the centre piece at every table. I wanted the components of the bombs to point to the three principal leaders in the universe as the culprits.

This centerpiece is beautiful. On each side is a glass etching of the person that is suppose to be sitting at the table. The colors are wonderful. The bomb goes off scattering shards of glass everywhere. The glass has poison on it. One leader years ago invented the poison, one leader years ago developed the explosive. But what does our military dictator contribute to the bomb?

He is, it turns out, the artist who etched the faces on the centerpieces! This allows me to show that he has a sensitive side and he is not the stereotypical military dictator. All in all rather convenient for me as the author. I need him to have a sensitive side so that he console the other leaders without being out of character.  This also allows him to be the ruthless military dictator and take decisive action when needed.

The other part about writing out the scenes is that it has shown me part of what I have to go back and include in earlier part of the book. For example it is important to know that Ein, another leader, appears gentile, but is viciously ruthless. At a moment’s notice he will act in violence. Understanding this has lead me to insert a section in the story where he acts cold hearted to our hero and the hero’s side kick.

The other parts about scenes is that I have discovered that there are other characters that need to fulfill roles for the story to be successful. Even if they are only used for a short period of time for a specific purpose.  Marnie Shiu will be love interest that never comes to fruition. She will also show our hero Tanner how ruthless Ein can be.

Finally scene’s have shown me that there is a lot to write before I start writing. I mentioned earlier that I like the planning phase, outlining of the story. This is continues to be true. What I am seeing is that I may have too much story. That I may need to tear whole sections out of the book. By having an outline, it will make this kind of outlining much easier.

As always I hope you are well – dcd