Tag Archives: inner editor

Busy Busy, As Always

The deadline is fast approaching, so I’ve been reserving my writing time for actual writing rather than blog posts. As you can imagine, these posts will be a little shorter and more scarce over the next two to three weeks.

On schedule, I’ve finished my Part I re-read and I’m halfway through Part II. I hope to get that finished tomorrow, and then it’s on to Part III over the weekend. I might even be able to get it entirely done by Sunday, and then I can do Part IV over the first couple days of next week. That’ll give me a little breathing room to do the cover and a bit of layout research.

Speaking of revision, I’ve mostly been skimming each chapter to make sure that the whole story flows, and to make sure that I don’t do the same exposition twice. So far I haven’t had to make any major changes in that regard, but I did make one other discovery: I use adverbs a lot.

It’s not as bad in the more recent additions to the novel, but really throughout all of my work, I use adverbs way too often. I’ve pretty much just hit ctrl-f to find, typed in “ly” and fixed most of the stuff it found. In particular I had a lot of egregious uses of the worst adverbs of them all: “probably,” “actually,” and “really.” Nine times out of ten, I just cut the word and the sentence still works.

I don’t think that it’s a horrible thing to overdo the adverbs on an initial draft. Inelegant as they might be, they get the point across and serve as decent placeholders for the better description that comes in later drafts. It’s not worth my time to come up with nicer-sounding alternatives right in the first draft, since it’ll probably get changed anyway. That’s what revisions are for, after all.

So that’s my rapid post for today. I’m going to be out of town all weekend, so no post until next Monday, at which point I will be nearly done with the final creative work on Fugitives from Earth. Stand by!

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Beta Reading Roundup

As promised, here’s what needs to be done, in rough order. This might make no sense to you, but I know I have some readers that’ll find it interesting.

Plot refactoring comes first; normally I’d say characters except there were fewer criticisms of them than I’d expected. But the plot definitely needs work, especially the main plot. Especially on Venus and Mars, the actions of the protagonists and antagonists suffer a pretty extreme disconnect where Joanna and Eileen are merely reacting to imminent danger while Rosetta and Belt Group are planning ahead. They should be more directly at odds, or at the very least, dealing with the same situation.

A lot of sub-plots gain precedence over the main plot, a thing that should not happen. I’d hoped that they might function as little vignettes within the greater framework of the novel, but I don’t think that worked very well, and the readers agreed. All of my revisions have been the story of gradually tightening up and reintegrating plot points, and I’m just going to have to do that whole hog this time. No excuse.

Regarding the ending, I think that I was closer than I expected. Eileen and Joanna should capture the Atlas and use it to save the Free Jovians, not for Gracelove, but for the people. It’s also a final eff you to Belt Group if they happen to destroy the Atlas in doing so.

One thing that really needs work is Eileen’s plot in Part III. It’s gone through three major revisions already, and I’m still not happy with it. Neither were the readers. Changing it does allow me to kill two birds with one stone, however, since I can make it have more to do with Free Jove and the Atlas (which, ironically, it did in the very first version) and less about immediate concerns and new characters. This is going to be pretty tough because I have to invent it out of whole cloth, more or less.

After the large-scale plot refactoring comes work on the character arcs. As I mentioned, this won’t involve as much work as I was afraid of; things just need to be smoothed out. Joanna’s character progression needs a crowning moment of awesome, and Eileen’s feelings for Stephen need to be worked out in a way that changes her thinking for the rest of the story.

Oh, did I mention that her plot in Part III needs work? Because it does.

There are lots of little, incidental things that also need playing with. The Free Jovians are interesting, or so people say, so let’s put in some more information on them, shall we? Likewise, Belt Group is everywhere, so let’s drop in some more background, let’s say what it is that gives them so much influence. And UNASCA—where do they come from? Why do they have such power? These questions and more should be answered. Not in huge data dumps, of course, but naturally over the course the story.

Finally, the prose needs to be tuned up. Obviously the language is the very last thing I want to change, since it’ll take time and I don’t want to have to throw out any fine-tuning by suddenly realizing that there needs to be more plot work. It’s hard, lengthy work, but on the other hand, this is my favorite part of editing. It’s almost relaxing to me; it’s like doing a crossword puzzle, except that I get to make up the clues and the answers.

And that’s it. Tomorrow, I start on the actual work, starting from the very beginning. Fun times will be had. And the eight week countdown starts…yesterday.

Compulsions

Yesterday I was browsing Netflix Instant and I stumbled across an A&E documentary series that demanded to be watched. It’s called Hoarders; perhaps you’ve heard of it? Each episode documents the cleanup/intervention of one or two compulsive hoarders, showing their incredibly hostile reactions to people trying to throw away the garbage that has utterly consumed their homes. It doesn’t go for cheap, exploitative finger-pointing, but tries to get into the head of someone who’s life is run by their obsessions.

It’s kind of cathartic to watch. “At least I’m not like those people,” you say, watching a woman break down in tears because she needs to throw away the rotted pumpkins on her floor. Yet, the longer I watched, the more I identified with those people. In one of the episodes I watched, a young man with clinical OCD had become convinced that if he threw away any of the dog hair clogging his carpet, he was directly shortening the lifespan of his dog. He loved his dog, of course, and so even while he was telling the show’s host, “This is stupid, this is so stupid,” throwing away that dog hair took a physical effort.

There are times–more times than I like to admit–where writing is the same way for me. I consider myself a good writer, and I think that I could make a career out of it. But when I actually sit down to write, the idea of not writing well paralyzes me with fear. I don’t mean failing at writing, I just mean writing poor paragraphs and scenes. That’s stupid, right? Obviously your writing is never perfect, and the earlier the draft, the less perfect the writing. The only way you fail at writing is not to write, and yet…it’s damned hard to start typing. And then I feel guilty that I haven’t started yet, and that starts a this downward spiral.

I don’t like to complain too much on the blog here; I feel like nobody wants to listen to me whine. Yet, I think this is literally by biggest obstacle to getting published and getting a career, and if there’s any chance that airing it to the world can help be overcome it, then I’m willing to tolerate some uninterested people.

You can’t tell a depressed person, “Just cheer up.” Likewise, telling myself, “Aw, just write,” doesn’t seem likely to help. I’m not sure what the solution is, here. I’m going to try to write a thousand words a day over the next week, just to get back into gear. It’s always hardest to start writing when I stop for awhile. Then, we’ll see. And hopefully, next post, I’ll have some better news.

Oh, and I don’t want to sound like, “wah wah, my life is hard,” because it really isn’t. So, don’t expect these types of posts to suddenly become the norm.

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Also, within the next two weeks, you’re going to see some changes around here. I’m finally going to be adding such novelties as a blogroll and list of links, and more than likely some pretty major formatting changes. I’m not sure what’s going to happen exactly, but I do know this: you won’t want to miss it.

Various Things Here

As of tonight, I plan to be 3/4 done with my current draft of Fugitives from Earth, with a firm deadline for finishing the rest of the thing by Friday, if possible. That way, I can get the thing out to the beta readers over the weekend. It’s tough sending it out when I know that there are still problems, but I don’t want to fall into the same trap I did with short stories. This way, when people have suggestions–and there are plenty of things to suggest, I daresay–I don’t feel bad changing everything around, because it’s not done yet anyway.

I had a great meeting with the rest of the Northwest Independent Writers Association yesterday. All of the meetings are great, really; it’s amazing how functional the group is after a mere four months of meetings. A couple of them had some great things to say about my story, and for that I was profoundly happy. Sometimes, I need to positive feedback, since my own inner editor frequently just gives me the negative stuff. I don’t know what that guy’s problem is.

On a somewhat different note, I’ve been thinking about the various ways I can actually start my career as an freelance writer, and I’ve been having a really hard go of it. I’m kind of a timid person naturally, but worse than that, I’m often very resistant to change. Unfortunately, what I’m talking about is a damned serious kind of change. As a guy who’s been working at the same job for a decade (this month, actually!), changing not just jobs, but fields, is tough. And this would be a tough place to break in even if I was the most outgoing radical guy around. Oh, how I wish for the days where just a bit of talent would get a friendly editor to take you under his wing and support you while you learned the craft. It’s all dog-eat-dog today, and I don’t even know where to find the dogs, if that makes any sense.

My plan for the time being: write more. I figure that, at the very least, that’s one endeavor that won’t go to waste.

A Very Productive Day

As of just a few minutes ago, I’m halfway through my Fugitives from Earth revision, and probably only a week or two from sending it to the beta readers. That, ladies and gentlemen, is the power of the deadline.

Also, I’m starting to actually feel good about this novel again. I spent a lot of time cringing during my re-read, as you probably remember. Fortunately, the draft’s looking a lot better for a spot of revision, and I daresay I won’t be humiliated for sending it out to the beta readers.

Not that it’s going to be perfect, or anything. That’s going to take a little more time.

NaShoStoMo

So, today marks one week of letting Fugitives from Earth decant a bit in my mind. I’m still working on a few short stories and things like that before getting back into it, but I’ll definitely be plugging away at it again by this weekend.

I’m actually rather enjoying the short story work in between major projects. Once the novel goes out to beta readers it’ll be literally impossible for me to work on it for a month or so while they chug their way through it, and I think I’m going to use that opportunity to try a little experiment.

So, NaNoWriMo is great, right? And why? Because of the magic of the deadline. That little pretend goal takes on Damocles proportions as the month goes on (especially if you’ve been bragging) and that means that stuff gets done. And, frankly, when I don’t have a deadline around, I really miss it. Ones that I arbitrarily assign to myself aren’t as compelling as ones that are tied to dates by circumstances partially out of my control.

So, here’s the plan: for the four weeks after I submit FfE to the beta readers, I will write one complete short story from conception to submission-ready per week. Each story will be at least 3000 words long (as if I could ever write anything shorter) but no more than 7,500 words. There aren’t any other rules for NaShoStoMo. I just need to write.

Using the NaNo method for short stories will be particularly useful, I think, because of the peculiarities of short stories. The economy of plot and language required are totally different for shorts than a novel; the skills are barely transferrable. But because each word is so much more important for a short story, I tend to slow down and seize up altogether when I get nervous. Writing nothing instead of “the wrong thing” is pretty much the stupidest habit ever, and I really, really want to rid myself of it. It’s not like anything you write is ever wasted, even if it just improves your skills.

There are advantage of writers block, as I’ve discovered, but most of the time, it just pisses me off. And I want to fix that.

And So It Begins…Again

The Manuscript!

And there you have it: the very first actual hardcopy print of Fugitives from Earth. With this printing, we enter phase two of the revision. As I mentioned in the last post, I need to re-read it for continuity and plot tweaking (in some cases, more than a little tweaking) before it goes out to the beta readers. This will, I hope, be a little easier than phase one turned out to be; a four-week project turned into ten somehow. Funny how that works with books.

But I’m still making progress, and that’s what counts. It’s very gratifying to see this hefty thing that I’ve constructed entirely out of my imagination. There’s an entire universe between those pages.