Spring Shots

The backyard is blooming.

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As NaNoWriMo 2011 Breathes Down My Neck…

Total Word Count: 212

With the short story finished, it’s time to start brainstorming my novel idea for National Novel Writing Month in November. Only two months to develop a plot-line and build a brand new world scares me a bit, especially with no idea formed yet. However, this is the time when I also find writing the most engaging. When I’m in the full throes of writing a story, sometimes I have to drag myself to the page; but, when I’m just feeling around in the dark for an idea and letting my mind go where it wants, I deeply enjoy the process.

I think I’ll get to a good idea. I have before. But the trick is going to be making it complex enough to pull off a whole novel, and one that I’m interested in seeing to the finish line.

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Applications for the Stanford Writer’s Certificate open on September 1st. I’m going to apply this year and see where it takes me.

The Eight Week Wait

The Hawaii hangover has worn off, and I’m back in the writing saddle.

After writing a story based on the “photographs steal your soul” myth more than a year ago, then re-writing it, letting it sit and stew, and then re-writing it again, it is finally finished. And, not only finished, but in the mail to Fantasy and Science Fiction. I am not so naive as to think that my first submission will be published in a major scifi mag, but I am at least confident in my initial attempt.

Now, I just wait eight weeks for the response to come in the mail. Boo.

The triumphant picture of the sealed envelope containing my finished manuscript. I thought about actually photographing myself putting it in the mailbox, but people at work might have found that a bit strange…

 

 

 

World Building

Today’s word count: 584

While reading this article on the Fantasy & Science Fiction website, I came across this little tidbit:

Don’t like the world you’re living in? Create one in which you could be comfortable with all the bits and pieces. – Anne McCaffrey

When I create a new world, I manufacture the different bits first, the ones that are the most uncomfortable┬ácompared to reality. In Anne McCaffrey’s Pern, these would be the planet’s enemy, thread, and the dragons. These elements call to the reader that they are on a different world, wandering in a different reality. As such, the story pivots around these elements. After these bits are defined, I fill in the blanks. Who are the people and what are they called? What does the world look like? How is the world divided between people? What is their history?

I’ve been struggling with the notion of world building on my newest short story. Currently, the story is set in a world of my own creation. Does a short story allow the reader enough time to understand a completely alien world? Is too much time wasted on that so that the story is lost? I’ve been toying with placing the story on earth instead, either far into the past, and adding a steampunk flair, or far into the future. Still different worlds to the reader, but on the border of initial understanding. My instinct is to continue with the story as it is. As a reader, I always favor reading stories about the foreign and unknown. If the writing is good enough, readers of this story should be able to appreciate the story and also grasp the new world simultaneously. And, if the combination doesn’t work in a short story, perhaps I can parlay the idea into a novel concept for NaNoWriMo (only 118 days to go!).

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Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops – This is post #7 in this series, and after reading this one, I had to read all the others. The exchanges are so unbelievable as to only be real. I can only hope that no one ever writes a blog about things people say in American bookstores.

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I am now halfway through my re-read of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. Next is Path of Daggers and then I will be in unfamiliar territory, which is very exciting. Before I read another word, however, I have to take a break for Heartless, Gail Carriger’s fourth novel.

The Writing Cave

Today’s word count: 638

I started a new short story today. This one is about a world governed by endless war between territories, and specifically how the seafaring societies evolve as a result.

As promised, photos of the newly completed writing cave!

The desk. This is where I wrote this very blog post. How very meta. The poster above the desk reads “All Glory Comes from Daring to Begin – Eugene F. Ware.” I am not normally a fan of the inspirational quote, but I thought this one apropos to get me moving on the writing, and also the poster is a letterpress print. You can buy one from happydeliveries on Etsy if you’d like. (I am going to shamelessly push Etsy this entire blog post, you are forewarned.) Continue reading

Next Stop: Frustration Station

Today’s word count: 462

I finally managed to get some writing done today after a dismal few days of failing at it. I’m lacking motivation right now, despite participating in Clarion, and also running up against some recurring challenges.

1) Passive voice

I don’t know what it is, but I gravitate to this voice unconsciously. When I catch myself, I stop immediately, but sometimes it will be frustratingly late, ie after I’ve just written several paragraphs. I think I might need some professional help to kick this out of my system. A lot of my issues stem from relying on forms of “to be” in sentences. No decent writer uses had, was, were as much as I do.

2) Linear writing style

It is difficult for me to write a story in anything but a linear fashion. However, with the latest short story I’m working on, the pieces just aren’t coming together in a normal sequence, so I’m forcing myself to write scenes as they come to me. It’s difficult, but also fun. The real challenge will be piecing all the scenes together into one coherent story that flows.

Gail Carriger, the best vampire steampunk novelist out there, just released her fourth book in the Parasol Protectorate series, Heartless. If you enjoy witty writing with a healthy dose of steampunk and romance, her books are fantastic. I’m going to be picking it up this weekend and will probably read it in one sitting.

My next post promises to be something a bit more interesting – a look into the writing cave! It will have to wait until it is in a shape for photographs, but that will likely be this weekend to coincide with our housewarming.