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.”
File:Roman dodecahedron.jpg

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

AGH! Everything is Everywhere!

and I can’t find anything

One of the first realizations about writing I had was that I had notes, ideas, maps, research (although I didn’t know it was research at the time), bits and pieces of half written starts, napkins, notebooks, backs of old faxes, wrapping paper, inside cereal boxes, cardboard and the back of bills…

Well, everywhere

I hoped and believed that there would be some sort of tool to organize and gather all of the various pieces of “junk” into one place. I suspect that many of you thought I was going to say that I found a “magic bullet” to be writer.

/sidebar

I learned as a younger man, that there is no magic bullet; that fate or the universe doesn’t reach down and save you from yourself. All you can do is ask forgiveness  and hope they forgive you.

/endsidebar

What I have done so far to help myself write is the following:

1) A Place to write that I am surrounding with inspiration, objects, knick-knacks, coffee cups. This a large table with room for my laptop, notebooks, paper, pens, etc. It has a large window and overlooks the street.  It makes me quite happy.

2) Bought Scrivener software program for writers of all shapes and sizes, “from First Draft to Finished Novel”by Karen S. Wiesner, a subscription to “Writer’s Digest”,  “Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction” by Orson Scott Card, Philip Athans, Jay Lake and the Editors of Writer’s Digest and good quality moleskin notebooks [2].

3) A Laptop

4) Looked for a local group of writers – hopefully attending my first meeting soon…can you smell the fear…

5) Looked for opportunities to write, as opposed to wasting time… example waiting for planes, kids, and NOT watching TV.

6) Wrote about 4000 words and gave it to a friend who is a University english teacher to go over. Scared the crap out of me. Turned out to be a great process to go through, thank you Paula!

7) Started this Blog

8) Realized that I like outlining, backstory, character sketches. While I have moments of “Seat of the Pants” writing, I seem to like outlining.

9) Admitted that I am scared to write

That’s enough honesty for today, Happy New Year All!

Be Well – dcd –

Write, Pray, Read

One of the common themes and tips I have read about writing, is to just write. Write every day, just write something.

So of course the first thing I did was to start watching TED videos. Sadly though, the random video I selected to avoid writing was from an author, Elizabeth Gilbert. I never read, Eat, Pray, Love. Never saw the movie.

Unfortunately the video was very captivating and she describes some aspects of creativity that made great sense to me.

There are many parts that I liked in this video, but for today this is the one for me:

I just lifted my face up from the manuscript and I directed my comments to an empty corner of the room. And I said aloud, “Listen you, thing, you and I both know that if this book isn’t brilliant that is not entirely my fault, right? Because you can see that I am putting everything I have into this, I don’t have any more than this. So if you want it to be better, then you’ve got to show up and do your part of the deal. O.K. But if you don’t do that, you know what, the hell with it. I’m going to keep writing anyway because that’s my job. And I would please like the record to reflect today that I showed up for my part of the job.”

P.S. I sincerely doubt that I will ever read Eat, Pray, Love – but I will greedly await her next TED Talk…

P.P.S. – Excuse me I have to go write…

Be Well – dcd

In the beginning…

This blog is about me trying to write my first novel, Assassin of Earth. Like many aspiring authors I have been toying with the idea of writing a novel for years. Now that I am much older, I am trying to commit some time and effort to the process.

The funniest part to me is that I am not a good writer; I often leave key words out of emails, even though I think they are there.

In my effort to write, I have turned to various sources. Some books, some software programs, some chaos.

I have “just started” several stories throughout my life. I figure that I should try and finish one of them.

4,000 words into this story I realized that I needed to understand in greater detail what a novel is , and what a novel is not. I stopped writing the story and started examining what outlining and planning a novel is about. I apologize to those of you that are “seat of the pants” writers.

Here is an excerpt from the first whack of words:

Monicale Pre Sone started the conversation, directly.

“So how does it feel to kill 8 billion people?”, looking directly at me – flat expressionless, she could have been asking me about the weather.

“You would have to ask the Empire, I am but an instrument” , I replied in an equally flat tone. It was a true statement, deaths done in the fulfillment of keeping the accords were attributed to the violating the government leader or group of leaders. I turned to the Ambassador who was looking at the place setting.

“So, Ambassador, how does your Emperor feel about killing 8 billion of his own subjects? Her flat stare and question was now directed at the Ambassador. I would not want to be the ambassador. There was steel in the eyes of the First Prime.

“The Emperor is at “school” this week, learning from his mistakes.” replied the Ambassador.

“And you are not in school with him?” The Abbott questioned, speaking for the first time.

“I passed that class already” answered the Ambassador, turning to the Abbot with a slight smile on the his face. “Honor student.”