Novelling: Dreaded Edits


Technically this doesn’t have to do directly with my current novel in progress, forwarning. On this fine afternoon I was discussing writing with some fellow wordsmiths and we decided to compare short stories. I found one I had written a few years ago but was still relatively proud of and showed it off. Immediately I got feedback and felt an urge I hadn’t really ever felt. I wanted to edit.

I have always dreaded the edit, in my earlier writing days I hated the process. I never wanted to sit down with something I had finished and re-write the bloody thing, I was done with it. I wanted to move on to the next thing. Or, I thought it was good enough, no need to go over it again. Such a naive, stupid thing to think. As I grew older I realized the editing process was important, my first drafts (no matter if it was fiction or non-fiction) were never even nearly perfect. A great deal of editing was always, always, always required. Often though I would spend hours writing and then feel sick of the piece, I never wanted to go back and have to re-do it all over again. So I often put it off until I forgot about the piece.

Then today happened. I took out an old piece that I had actually edited around the time of writing it, even letting others look at it, and eventually posting it on this blog. I let some writers take a look and they had some suggestions. I read through it again, I noticed so many things that I wanted to change. I turned on the change tracker in word and set to work. It took several hours to go through, line by line, meticulously examining and re-examining each sentence and word and comma.

Finally after an hour or two passed I was finished. I read through it again. It was so clearly better. I hadn’t reduced the word count by much if at all but it was smoother, the flow better realized. I felt proud and reposted it to the group. The feedback was even better.

This experience showed me not only is editing not as terrible as I had so foolishly believed but it also is important for your writing. In order to improve we need to see the mistakes we make and realize they are mistakes, they need to fixed or worked on. I used to constantly use the word seem, everything in my writing used to seem a certain way to the viewpoint characters. I never noticed it much before, until this meticulous line edit. Now I avoid using that word at all costs, unless absolutely necessary.

Editing is good and absolutely necessary to become a better writer. Don’t be afraid of it, like I foolishly was.

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Novelling: The Block


Based on previous posts you may know that I have been struggling to write lately. The block has become a wall, one that I have yet to surmount. The odd thing is, I know what I want to write. I’m currently working on a chapter, which I have totally planned out, I managed to get about halfway through and ran into the wall. Last week I had a day where I basically sat in front of the screen knowing what I wanted to write but the words did not come.

It has been very odd. So I turned to YouTube and blogs, what have other writers been using to get over the wall? Based on my not so extensive research I have figured out that most successful writers tend to figure out there own method that works best for them. Some use planning and deadlines, they have to hit a daily wordcount. Some write other things as a distraction to warm up their fingers and minds. Some outline in even more detail until the block is worked through.

I haven’t used or tried any yet. The block still persists. However I watched a lecture by an author and I really want to try what he said. He said to set achievable goals (it’s what he did to finish his book). So during a time of block instead of trying to set wordcounts or planning intricate outlines, set a more simple achievable goal. Write something. Write a sentence or a paragraph or a page. But just write something.

So I’m going to try that.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Novelling: Troublesome Characters


It’s been another slow week. Sloooowww. I didn’t even manage to get a word on the page, not even planning. However I did give a short talk at a local game event about character. Which I will now explain as best my memory will allow.

I don’t think I really understood character or their importance until I started writing this novel. It all started with a game I was building, which became the inspiration for the novel itself. I worked on the game for 4 months, I built the game with the help of a coder and several artists. At the end of the 4 months we had a working demo but struggled to push further. The team moved on to different projects and the game stagnated. I neglected it as best I could but the idea persisted in my mind. The story begging to be told.

One day several months after work had stopped on the game I started writing. In a few days I had the first 2 chapters of my novel complete. It was easy, it flowed through me, I didn’t have to think to write it. I kept working, slowly building the word count. Until the same thing happened the story stagnated. I left it for a couple months. Frustration haunting me.

I didn’t want to give up, I had a solid start and the story still wanted to be told but I realized where my problem was coming from. A lack of interesting characters. My characters were flat, they had little if any personality. This for me is the crux of bad games, films, stories of all kinds.

Characters are the single most important element to any story. Without good characters the audience, player, reader has no one to connect with. That connection is how they feel, it’s the reason why we remember or feel emotion. Any good movie, tv show, game, book understands this. Game of Thrones, The Last of Us, Gladiator, Harry Potter. The characters let us feel what they feel or feel something towards them.

So developing good characters then arguably is the most important part of the story you are telling. Once I realized this I got to work. I struggled at first. How do you develop good, interesting characters? One might ask.

I’ll tell you. I started with what I have come to understand as the lady method. Give them flaws and try to fit them into the story, this didn’t work. Characters get depth when you give it to them. They need a backstory and you need to really understand them in order to portray the depth they have. So first, start with questions to get to know your character. Simple questions, when where they born? Where did they grow up? Who’s there best friend? Did they like school? What’s their favourite colour? Just keep trying to answer these kinds of questions, the more you answer the better you will understand your character. 

Once I’ve asked and answered a ton of questions, I write a simple bullet list, with the character name and three headings. Appearance, personailty, history. (I got this concept from Shealinwrites a writer I follow on YouTube, she’s a fantastic resource). This group of headings really helps to amalgamate all the answers and get a good picture of the character as a person that you can draw on quickly while writing.

But this is just my process and if it can help than fantastic! 

Let me know if you do it differently or have a similar process, I’m curious!

Novelling: Never Enough Time


This week was a tougher week. I barely managed to write a hundred words. So unfortunately I still am sitting at the 30,000 word mark. Luckily though it’s not as if I didn’t get anything done. I didn’t get much chance to write because life kept getting in the way but I had time to think. Which I did quite a lot. I have 20 sticky notes of thoughts in fact to show for it. These notes range from ideas on the climax, to timelines of the different relationships and lots of other random ideas.

This is something I have been doing since I started writing. See before I started writing my novel I would have said that I am an ‘architect’ or planner. I would have told you I need to plan out everything before ever writing a word. That I would need to have a detailed list of all the characters and the plot, of each chapter and the titles and on and on. However on when I sat down for the first time to start my novel, I had done none of these things. I hadn’t even really intended to write much. I was going to jot a short story quickly and that was all. Several days later of course I found myself 10,000 words into a novel that seemed never ending. I’m clearly not an architect. I’m a gardener, or as some youtubing authors say, ‘a pantser’. Gardener meaning the ideas grow and change as you write the story.

Personally I find being a Gardener interesting, as I write it feels as though I’m watching the story unfold, rather than knowing everything that will happen before it happens. However I’m reaching a point where I need notes to stay on top of all the characters and the plot and make sure everything makes sense. I’m blending the traits, this week it was architecture. Hopefully next week I’ll have some hours lined up for gardening.

Novelling: The beginning


I’m writing a novel. I posted about it not long ago, in that post I said I haven’t been posting because of it. True as it is, I’m going to try to change that and write weekly updates about the writing process.

I have been watching hours of youtube, mostly videos of writers explaining the do’s and don’ts or the things to keep in mind, or how to write a good this or that.

This has been helpful, although a great deal of what I have been learning or watching hasn’t been entirely useful yet. Many of the videos discuss things that require a completed first draft. Which I’m still working on. It’s been a fairly slow process (one of the things I’ve been meaning to avoid is pronouns, I just used one, dammit).

I’ll fill you in on what’s happened so far. The story is a historical epic/futuristic apocalypse story. It starts in 2014 with the Ukrainian civil war and follows Anya Liski and others as the world erodes into a dystopia over their lifetimes. A bit ambitious maybe for a first novel. I have no idea how long it will be, or even how it will end. I had the idea brewing for nearly a year before a writing prof of mine told me I should write a novel (a thought I had never had). A few months later I felt the lightening strike of inspiration and wrote about 10,000 words over several days. That was 7 months ago.

That first week of writing was awesome, the story flowed out of me, I did zero planning, just writing. It was a great feeling to just write and write, no mental blocks or wondering if what I was writing was good. After that I tried to continue. I tried to write at least once a week, I managed that for a month or so but around Christmas/New Year’s I stopped. For a while. I didn’t write for nearly 2 months. I thought about the novel constantly but never bothered to write usually out of laziness. I always told myself it was a lack of inspiration but looking back it was definitely lazyness. One day, a few months ago, I suddenly snapped out of it, I picked up my laptop and decided enough waiting for inspiration to suddenly strike, just write. At first it was a bit of a challenge but I pushed on and within minutes of getting something on the page it came back.

I’m up to nearly 30,000 words. I try to write everyday, at least something, even if it’s a plot idea or a character sketch. I want to keep those creative juices fresh and flowing and once I start it’s often hard to stop.

Writing


I posted an MIA a while ago. Foolishly claiming I would keep up with the blogging and stop neglecting it. Clearly I failed miserably at that. But I have an excuse.

I’m working on a novel. I’m approaching 30,000 words and feel like I’m only 15-20% in. It’s all very I know, a novel you say!? Until a year ago I hadn’t even though of myself as a writer let alone having the potential to write a novel. It made me realize how much I need to use the creativity I have.

I work on it almost every day, sometimes its a few words, sometimes its a few thousand.

For anyone who’s interested it’s a contemporary historical epic fiction. I’ll explain. It begins in 2014 with the beginning of the Ukrainian civil war. It follows several characters from different parts of the world as the world slowly devolves, war, disease, famine, natural disasters, all contribute to the collapse of our current society.

I’m not attempting to tell the future, but I would like to think it could be a potential future.

I’ll try to continue to update as I work my way through the writing process. I’m hoping to complete a first draft before the end of the year. Who knows how possible that will be considering I intended to write a blog post at the very least once a month. (You can see how well that worked out)

 

MIA


I have been effectively missing in action for a while now. I’m going to try to change that. It’s not that I haven’t been writing or photographing… I just got distracted from posting. But no more, I find myself with a great deal of idle time on my hands so I figure might as well be productive while standing around.

I have never done any true long form writing, until this past fall when I began a story that it seems won’t be finished for a long time. I’m 10,000 words in with no end in sight. Annoyingly I wrote most of that word count in the span of 3 days and haven’t written much since. That was months ago.

Everytime I sit down to write I struggle. The words flowed so easily those first few days, it was wonderfully effortless. Now I sit and try to force it and… Nothing.

I think part of it is work, I recently got a full time job (which is frustrating and boring as hell). Whenever I have time I try to fit in all the things I want to do, including writing, tv, gaming, friends and the list goes on. With all these things I want to do competing, I often end up either trying to multitask (which never really works) or I turn lazy and stay on the couch.

So I have decided. Time to write more, even if it’s not stories at least it’s something.

Sad Little Bubbles


As spring nears the ice melts during the day and freezes during the night. Sometimes poor little bubbles get trapped and try desperately to escape their icy prison.  Sometimes the ice will melt just enough and a wave might free one or two of the sad little bubbles.

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The Small Victories


Daily Prompt: Write about anything you’d like, but make sure the post includes this sentence:“I thought we’d never come back from that one.”

I look into her eyes and whisper, “I thought we’d never come back from that one.” She kisses me.

We make it back to the dilapidated apartment building we call home. The world has fallen apart, but at least we are together and alive. Scrounging survivors like us are everywhere and meeting others is always risky and unpredictable. Many of us have not come back at all. Each day we survive is a victory.

 

 

Undone


Daily Prompt: If you could un-invent something, what would it be? Why? Are there potential repercussions, or a possible alternative?

I thought about this long and hard. Going through all the things I could think of, but so much of it is useful or has been in some way a progression our species. I thought about guns and weapons, the internet and our obsessions, religion and God. But all of it feels necessary with it’s absence something would be created to replace it. I was stumped.

Then money popped into my head.

It's All About The Dollars!

It’s All About The Dollars!

Humans are inherently greedy. It makes sense, at least from an evolutionary stand point. However money has allowed us to count are greed. We can literally count how much we are worth to the world. We have become obsessed with money and value and accumulation. We always want more, more money, more things, more something. Nothing is enough, there is always something better.

That kind of thinking isn’t all bad, we need to think that way to progress, to be better. But maybe if money wasn’t around we wouldn’t be so obsessed with things and the accumulation of wealth. Maybe we would think more about our intrinsic value, our value to the world. How much we know, or can do, or have done. Art and creativity might be more highly valued instead of stuff.

I realize that the world would be vastly different without money, and in all likelihood we would replace it with some sort of alternative because things have to cost something. Who knows maybe we might eventually reach a point in our society where money is cast aside, where wealth is thought of differently. Maybe our greed will shift to the pursuit of happiness instead of the pursuit of accumulating the means to buy happiness.