Archive for the 'Writing' Category

Four Thousand Words

Feb 24 2008 Published by under Writing

I’m four thousand words into a very rough draft of the next Giant Armors novel. I’m trying something different this time.

With my last novel, I wrote progressively longer summaries. I started with notes, then wrote a half-page summary, then a three-page summary, then a twelve-page summary, then the whole novel. I called this my shellac method, of adding flesh to skeletons.

With this one (randomly titled The Green Dawn), I started with notes, then wrote a three-page summary. Now, I’m writing a full-length draft that I plan to completely rewrite. I want to get this down, in detail, even though the details will all change as I identify themes and find apt descriptions. With this, I’m working out implications in real time. I can see a lot more at once, oddly, even though I’m working in the weeds.

This keeps my momentum going. I don’t worry about getting every word right; if a phrase bothers me, I add a footnote and forge ahead. So I’m creating a fairly complete body as I go, even though it’ll need extensive cosmetic surgery.

Well, I’m four thousand words in, and it’s working thus far. I’m about a third of the way through, which means I need to create some subplots in the middle of the book if I want to keep this from being a novella. But I can do that, I think, as I find themes.

The most important thing, I find, is to just keep going. Get in a few hundred words a day. I set a soft goal (an ideal that I measure myself against while knowing I probably won’t hit it, to see how close I’ll get) of 1,000 words a day this week, and obviously didn’t fulfill it. So I’ll aim for 500 words a day this week.

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6 Nov 07

Nov 06 2007 Published by under Self-improvement,Writing

Writing is difficult, which is strange, because writing is easy.

Typing is easy. Putting words on a page or a screen is easy. It’s keeping at it that’s hard.

There are numerous potholes on the road to a complete story, and many psychological Jersey barriers. I write a few hundred words, then feel a strong urge to research, say, map making. Useful, but an obvious detour, so I stare at the page some more. Repeat until I’m Googling overstuffed armchairs.

Still, the point is what you do, not so much what you feel. For me, after ten long hours at work, I got home, cooked up some pasta, and wrote eight hundred words of fiction. Can’t say I’m disappointed in myself.

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3 Sep 07

Sep 03 2007 Published by under Writing

Accomplished less than I’d hoped, but plenty today.

Lack of progress is due primarily to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which I “took a break” to read, then paused when my stomach told me I was very late for dinner, four hundred pages later.

In reading it, I’ve identified four primary dimensions of fiction writing:

  1. World building
  2. Character building
  3. Density of prose — ability to describe scenery or events evocatively
  4. Storytelling — how well the story pulls you along, compelling you to read more

Frank Herbert was a master at dimension 1, Terry Prachett’s amazing at dimension 2, Ray Bradbury’s a perfect example of dimension 3, while J.K. Rowling’s real strength is in dimension 4. Some of the descriptions are bland, her world can feel generic, and I’m occasionally confused by characters’ behaviors. But I just can’t put down her books.

Why? A few thoughts come to mind:

  • Her stories are sufficiently complex that every chapter brings at least one new twist to the danger that confronts the characters.
  • Her characters are sufficiently sympathetic. I care for them.
  • Her prose style is clean and clear, so that my mind doesn’t get bogged down parsing an intricate description.
  • The plots are action-oriented. Plenty of stuff happens.
  • Each book has a few central mysteries, which I want to see the protagonists solve.

There are undoubtedly others.

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28 Aug 07

Aug 28 2007 Published by under Writing

Thanks to my parents, I caught ImaginAsian TV’s Tuesday anime block tonight. Very interesting. Briefly:

  • The Law of Ueki — Very standard shonen series. Not always a bad thing.
  • Paradise Kiss — Neat little fashion-oriented show hampered by severely limited animation budget.
  • Ayakashi: Classic Japanese Horror — Well-done and refreshingly mature, but as is common with classic Japanese stories, rather murky and weird.
  • Kyo Kara Maoh — A pretty boy surrounded by pretty boys. Quality, but I predicted almost every event in the episode.
  • KamiChu! — The warm surprise. I still love this show for its quiet, unhurried pace and realistic characters.

A fun night, despite the late hour getting back home.

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23 Aug 07

Aug 23 2007 Published by under Writing

I just finished watching Gravion Zwei, a modern twelve-episode giant robot series.

It’s ridiculous. It’s over-the-top. It’s full of maids, giant robot combination sequences, fanservice, teenagers screaming their attack moves, and bickering teens who really love each other.

It is a perfect example of its genre. It is clearly pushing every genre convention to its limit. It’s entertaining. It’s trying so hard to be entertaining. It’s great, great fun.

And it’s gratifying to experience a creative work that knows what it’s trying to do, and does it completely and fully through to the final frame. Even if it’s “just” a cheesy giant robot show.

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20 Aug 07

Aug 20 2007 Published by under Writing

Aaand I come down with a cold. Just in time to affect work. Great.

So I spent the day watching clips on YouTube. Wish I didn’t; this evening, I changed my hosts file to block YouTube. I enjoyed myself, but I could’ve just as easily spent my time watching anime, which rewards watching.

I did catch a few episodes of Loonatics, the “Looney Tunes meet Batman Beyond” series currently airing. There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth when it was announced, and the end result is actually quite entertaining.

It’s not Looney Tunes, and it’s clearly not meant to be. It’s a fun, light superhero show told with The Tick-like takes on Looney Tunes characters. I laughed out loud at times, and was generally entertained throughout.

Not the desecration that many feared it would be.

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17 Aug 07

Aug 17 2007 Published by under Writing

I sat down tonight to assemble chapter one of Grave Thoughts, and got myself thoroughly confused and frustrated. I didn’t keep track of which drawings correspond to which line of dialog, and I think I’m either way ahead or way behind. I’ll probably have to work my way backwards from the end.

All because I scribbled down notes as I went, and apparently threw away my notes. Arg. I feel like I should just keep everything. On the other hand, I have so much stuff now, I feel like I should give away everything.

Which is a petty complaint, really. I have a cool little creative project here; I’m just having a tough time with it right now.

So maybe I can just sit down and finish assembling it over the weekend. Can’t do it tomorrow, as I insist on having one day a week when I really relax. But maybe on Sunday.


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15 Jun 07

Jun 15 2007 Published by under Writing

Final reminder: I need your comments on Giant Armors by midnight tonight, if you’re going to send them. Thanks!

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10 Jun 07

Jun 10 2007 Published by under Writing

If you have a copy of my YA novel to review, please send me any comments by this Friday so I’ll have time to incorporate them. Thanks, as usual, for all your thoughts.

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5 Jun 07

Jun 05 2007 Published by under Writing

Just returned from the writer’s group, where I received lots of feedback on draft three of Giant Armors. I have a few minor changes to make now, and will incorporate any changes I receive from other readers by mid-June.

Felt great. They said that this was a significant improvement, and they look forward to reading any other changes. They had excellent advice for how I can tweak it.

Life’s good. I need to remember how much I need community.

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