Archive for October, 2008

Projects and Planning…

I have a story due in just under two weeks, that I have not yet started on (actively… I’ve been passively preparing, thinking through my idea and how I want to set things up, but other than writing down the title nothing else has been scratched onto paper)… I have spent the last couple of days at work going “blah”, trying to get my head back around [and into] Word (now that the monthly “schedule checks” for work have almost been completed)…

Besides that, I have been (just today) been plotting out a basic idea for a NaNo project…

And I need to check with MC on the details (music sequencing, and amount of information to present) so I can knock out the wedding program… she has already done way more than she should have for the planning, and I hate the fact that I need to actually actively drag her onto this project, even if it just ends up being for “clarification” [read: “No, this song goes here, not there”]… *sigh*

And we are off to Wilmington this weekend, as a chance to check out the house of one of her cousins, as well as just getting out of town here…

So, I need to find the surface of the water, climb back into the boat, and plot the course through the next couple of months… at least, as far as the writing is concerned… (especially if I want to a) reach the goals, and b) not drive myself or others crazy from mood swings)…

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Many Worlds…

I was reading an article the other day over a USA Today… and there was a reference to a “Many Worlds” theory, something that was formulated back in 1957 (the article was about the son of the person that originally formulated the theory).

Okay, so I am not a Physics person, and reading over the Wiki entry [linked above] did not get me to far interms of understanding the theory (the mechanics of how it it works,etc.)… but I get the concept… I got the concept probably about twenty years ago (give or take a bit), when I would wonder, “What if…?” when I would be out in my back yard, playing randomly and just thinking…

This is a common idea for Science Fiction [the idea of time travel, and it’s implications, or just “alternate realities”]… (The premise for the series “Sliders”, the Star Trek episode with the “Good/Evil” Kirk & Spock being returned to the wrong ships, and “Back to the Future”… those are three that come quickly to mind) I know comics have played on this a few times (DC’s “Crisis on Infinite Earths”), and literature has created a niche for “alternate reality (I remember a friend of mine reading Harry Turtledove’s “Guns of the South” when we were in high school).

It’s something I like seeing when it’s done well… I also like seeing it used (or tried, at least – “lake House” was good, but a stretch… “Slinding Doors” looks like it might handle things well… and of course I like “Back to the Future”…)

Just wanted to throw this out there, as much for your consideration as for my future records… Who knows, I may do something with the idea some day…

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Stories… the recap

I finished my story Friday, and after a couple of reads and updates for grammatical goofs (missing word here, wrong intended use of a word there [their vs. there type things]) officially finished it on Monday morning. I turned it in for class last night, where it will be discussed in two to three weeks (I am near the back ofthis rotation).

We were also given leave for our last story of the semester, to do “whatever”… no point of view restrictions, etc. Hmmm….what to write…?

Anyway, I thought I would drop a piece of the story here (yes, here, as opposed to the “Fictional Echoes”)…

He stopped, raised his nose to the air. A sniff told him they were close, ahead to his right, a few hundred yards. Leaves were crunching as they ran. He smiled. Their fear hung thick in the night air, another scent on their marked trail. He gave chase, heading towards their stench, towards their clumsiness, towards the dancing, retreating glare as their flashlights stumbled through the woods. The leaves brushed his coat as he ran through the brush. His tongue lolled from his mouth as he ran, panting. Beads of drool dripped from his mouth.
He heard a crash ahead, followed by the thrashing sounds of leaves being crunched by a flailing body. Something had fallen, had separated itself from the pack, the running voices did not notice they had lost one of their own. He slowed and allowed it a chance to get up. He enjoyed the chase. He could see the figure through the undergrowth in front of him. It was coated in denim pants and a fluffy red coat. He could see the scar lines from branches that had cut into the coat. He drew closer.
It looked around, trying to spot the thing chasing her. He could now identify that it was a her, a she, almost an adult but not quite. She would never know what happened, it would be better that way. She turned towards him. His smile widened. Her eyes widened at the sight of him, jumping at her. She tried to run, but his weight pulled her down. She whimpered, cursing at him, and defended herself the best that her small frame could. His jaws gnashed at her coat, at her arms as she tried to push him off. She began to scream, but the sound was drowned by the gurgle of blood as his jaw tightened on her throat. He jerked his body, shaking her until the neck snapped. Her body still convulsed, as his claws slashed at the clothing and he began to eat.

This story was my first real attempt at a longer horror/suspense piece… something more than a couple of pages, and actually drawing out/describing some twisted things (like, what it looks and feels like to see someone change into a werewolf).

I was talking with someone after class last night, and we talked a bit about approaches. As I was telling this person, as an undergraduate I phoned most of my work in – waited until the last minute to put the story together [and rarely proofed more than the computer’s spell & grammar checks], and was doing good to have actually read the story before needing to discuss it in class. Now, though, I actually give a damn – I want to have a work [several, actually] that I can send out for publishing. I try to give thoughtful feedback, especially to those that appear to be of a like mind – if something feels “off” I’ll look it up, and include some of those notes in my comments.

I am at the point of, “I don’t mind taking some risks” especially in an academic setting, where I can get some feedback. I’m probably repeating myself, to the point of making equine jerky, so I’ll digress…

I’m actually generally happy with the story, and will wait a few weeks to reread it (just in time for class)… but now, I have other projects to work on…

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Editing…

A few words about editing…

Writing is the easy part – it is the act of getting the idea onto paper, and any words or ideas are fine. Things don’t need to anywhere near making 100% sense, and “missing details” can be annotated if research may be needed (something like “[look up New England specialties/seasons]” – an item I actually wrote in my current story). When the story is the focus, the writer gets to use the “don’t sweat the small stuff” excuse, if needed, so the words of the moment can make it to the page. Why stop in the middle of bleeding onto a page to check and see what kind of fish may actually be available for a setting. Hell, even the spelling and verbage don’t really matter that much in the initial draft.

Editing, though, that is where things really start getting fun. That is when the spelling matters, and the minutia that was previously skipped becomes important items. It is during the editing process that the manuscript is reread (and later re-reread, etc.) to start cutting text, tweaking the style and flow of the work, maintain tense [usu. past v. present] and point of view.

The writing may be the fun part, and the really fast part (I know there have been moments that I have churned out a few pages in an hour, in a flurry of motivation), but the editing can be frustrating and brutally slow.

I printed out the existing text for my current story, double spaced for ease in reading and editing. All told, it weighed in at about sixteen and one-half pages [and there is still a little more of the story to be written, but that’s another thing*]. The raw document was about nine and one-half pages when I started editing. The work has now grown to a full ten pages (about to spill onto the eleventh), and I have gotten through the first five pages [about seven and two-thirds pages of the double spaced copy]. I have been working on the editing side since Monday, and today is Wednesday. [Granted, I have been doing this while at work, and only while at work, which by that very nature will slow the process a bit.]

* Okay, the other thing: I knew the front of the story was a disaster – tense shifts and a lot of extra words that I have since dropped to help tighten the text up [a verb lift… ha!]. I have a very good idea for the “Epilogue” portion of the story [and I don’t see it being much more than a page, if that], and realized the editing of the whole work would be time consuming, so I decided to start the revisions before finishing the story (read, I know what I want to do, I just didn’t really want to go there yet). Then, it will be an issue of writing and editing the last segement… Probably a bit of flawed logic, but it’s what I’m running with at the moment…

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I just posted this, but felt like I should explain a little more

The Quarterly Outlook: I am aiming for 3 short stories (5-10k words +) [flash fiction and short shorts can also be considered, but in a composite formula: multiple falsh/ss = 1 regular story… more for ego than anything else], and one novel length work (50k words +). I am also considering other mid-projects (currently, I want to write 1 shorter script – a 1-act play, or skit – this quarter).

A majority of it will be a numbers game. Do I anticipate making all of these goals, on a regular basis? Probably not. I may only get a few short stories done in a quarter, and no “bonus work.” I may not make it through all of a novel. It may take a couple of years for me to get to that tipping point where I can meet all of the desired goals… then hopefully begin exceeding them!

But the important thing, is that by aiming for the the projected output (and I know it is an attainable mark) is that even if I do not make the numbers (yet), I will still be further along than when I started…

In the process of working towards an increased output, I have looked through the 2009 Writer’s Market, and also plan on starting to submit some works over time, as well. I plan on starting to pull the Submission Guidelines for particular publications, as well as review the “prompt specific” entries (for themed issues, or even contest entries) as possible sources for ideas to work on (did you know there is a publication that focuses solely on tea? Tea! And if tea does not play a major role in the story, they don’t want it. An interesting idea could be there… hmmm…)

So that’s it… I’m writing, and I have a generally specific plan in place…

And I have a story to edit…

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300×30… (Update)

I had mentioned a couple of months ago that I was challenging myself to get 300 pages written by September 30th. At the time, it was a goal that could have been achieved by logging an average of almost three pages per day.

Did I make the goal? Not by a longshot. Did I get anywhere close? Not quite. Did I freezse in terror at the thought of what I was trying to do? Not hardly.

I do not have a specific page count handy, which is both a positive and negative (positive: I’m too concerned with current projects to go back and look the information up; negative: specific information is better than an estimation). With that said, I feel confident with an estimate of about 50 pages, with multiple (mostly) complete works – my “Barchetta” script, and at least two short stories. I say “mostly” because they have been written, but not necessarily edited/revised. I also have a couple of works in progress that I will need to get back to…

So… how have things changed? I am trying to be productive, more frequently. I have revised some of my writing goals (sliding into a “quarter” system, for ease in tracking my progress), and am settling into some form of mental rhythm. I have logged several pages over the last few days working on my “Cthulu” story…

The Quarterly Outlook: I am aiming for 3 short stories (5-10k words +) [flash fiction and short shorts can also be considered, but in a composite formula: multiple falsh/ss = 1 regular story… more for ego than anything else], and one novel length work (50k words +). I am also considering other mid-projects (currently, I want to write 1 shorter script – a 1-act play, or skit – this quarter).

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Story Update…

Okay… as I previously posted, I have been working on a Cthulu inspired story.

Now, I will be the first to admit that I have read absolutely no H.P. Lovecraft. Zero. None. So I know the story probably have several mythological loopholes in that respect. Do I care? Not really. It is going to ultimately be my story, loosely connected to that universe… consider it my way to test the waters.

I have gotten almost all of the story completed at this point (1st draft, at least)… I have one scene that I still want to write for it, an epilogue of sorts, but the core of the story is there. Now comes the proofing and revision process.

Next week is Fall Break, and I am hoping to finish it and submit it before class the following week. Standard formatting, it’s looking like about eleven or twelve pages.

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