Archive for May 22nd, 2012

Two Weeks Left…

Unitil the new Rush album, Clockwork Angels, drops… 12 June… just in time for me to spin the hell out of it on a 9-ish hour drive to my MFA residency a few days later.

Not loking forward to either of them, am I?

While I have moved to getting most of my music digitally now, Rush is one of the few that I still like getting the tangible disc version. Just sayin’, I know where I’ll be heading to after work on the 12th.

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One Thing I’m Looking Forward To…

My first residency in the Seton Hill MFA program is next month, and one of the things I’m looking forward to (besides the fact that it’s a week of focused writing immersion), is the featured speaker for the residency.

Donald Maass.

I’m excited, not from a fanboy position, but just from an industry angle. I’ve seen his books around for a couple of years, but used this as an excuse to finally break down and buy most of them… if nothing else, there’s a “How-To” reading component for the “Term Writing” plans that we’ll have to prep, so now I’ll have some new books to read (instead of pulling an old one from the shelf for a reread).

The first books arrived yesterday, and the rest are due at the house today… things look interesting, so far.

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Gaiman’s Commencement Address

Neil Gaiman recently gave the commencement address at The University of the Arts.

(Listening to it is much better than reading the transcript, but maybe that’s just me.)

The moral of the address, which is still one I’m struggling with, is to go out, make mistakes, and make good art along the way. It’s something that MC has been trying to hammer home for the last couple of years, with mixed effectiveness, but it’s still good information to hear… often the more it’s heard the more likely it will sink in, eh? To that end, I’m thinking of streaming/capturing the audio to be able to listen through it more often or if no internet is available.

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Hewson on Revision

I’ve started trying to use Scrivener in earnest (more later), and along the way I’ve picked up a couple of books by David Hewson ( on using Scrivener, as well as others)… His is also one of my pseudo-regular sites that I visit…

I’m dropping this reference here, probably more for me to be able to refer to in the future, but for other writers out there that might be finding this through random tangents, here’s a talk on revision that he is prepping for this year’s [2012] Thrillercon.

A couple of things that stick out as good nuggest, at least from an initial skimming:

When you finish a raw MS you will be able to improve it a finite number of times before your imagination gags at the thought of taking another turn at the windmill. Read the piece three times and you should be able to make it better. Extend that to, say, five and the law of diminishing returns will kick in; you’ll find nothing to change. Be foolish enough to read the thing eight times or so and you will become convinced you’ve turned out the biggest piece of crap since the invention of the alphabet. Which may be true. You just won’t be able to make a considered judgement about that.

He then presents his approach, which to a certain degree I find myself agreeing with, for proofing/editing/revising a project. Basically, a three step pass which breaks down to: 1) Line Edits, 2) “Editorial”, then 3) “Reader”.

His explanation is simple:
Line Edits –

I want to get the little things out of the way first… What am I looking for? Spelling, punctuation, ugly sentence structure, sentences that can be shortened or broken up. This is a cleaning exercise. I want to get rid of all the cruft, anything that can be taken out without causing any problems. Oh, and repetition.

My take: There’s bound to still be a few things that will be missed, or new kinks that crop up during the “Editorial” phase, but by getting many of the niggling little things done, it becomes an issue of addressing any additions made as you go. (Hewson himself admits that he reviews work done the day before, so much of this, depending on individual habits, could be done during either during the first draft, or right after creating the addition.)

“Editorial”

In the last revise we looked for little things. In this one I’m chasing big game. Do the characters feel right? Are physical descriptions consistent? Do they say too much or too little? Can I see, hear and smell the locations? Are there events in the narrative that feel a bit clunky? … What I’m dealing with is excision and insertion.

And he does this by taking pen to hardcopy – printed pages – before taking them back to the screen.

Then finally, the “Reader”:

What am I looking for in this revise? In short: to be entertained. I want to know if the book reads the way I want it to. Whether there are still passages that can be cut. If it feels right. Yes, I’ll spot a few typos and clunky sentences still, and they will be marked. But it’s the feel of the thing I’m looking for. Does it work? … Then I’m through with the book as a personal project…  it’s now at a stage where I can add nothing more to it without outside intervention.

Here’s why it struck me, and why I want to share (and mark it for my own future reference)… I start an MFA program in just over a month, with the end goal of having a novel (theoretically) ready for market by the time I graduate. As part of that process, there are “Term Writing Projects” each semester – marking about 60-100 pages per semester, broken up with a deadline each month [for workshopping as we go, around each deadline]. This is a process that I will likely be going through a lot over the next couple of years, and it’s a state of mind I’ll need to get used to, and I’ll need to make sure I give myself plenty of time to be able to at least rough pass (Steps 1 & 2) the sections before each deadline.

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Guitar for iPhone… Interesting….

It’s not surprising that there are some things that I am slow on the uptake for discovering… Magic: The Gathering, when it first came out, it wasn’t until the Revised set that I was introduced to it. Harry Potter… there were four books out, and the first movie, before I got into the series. Barenaked Ladies (the band, folks)… not until Stunt dropped with One Week. And when it comes to tech stuff… not that I’m not interested in gadgets (far from it) but with the pace that things change and get out-dated, unless it’s in a specific niche I am focused on, I’m likely to miss it…

Like this.

It looks like it first started making an appearance in March but, as with all things on the internet, it sometimes takes random side trips to discover some things. The music geek in me is thinking, “Cool” as an educational accessory, something that might help with guiding for basic finger placement. The instrumentalist in me is responding (much like some of my thoughts on Garageband lessons) with, “Yeah, but what about a bass player?” Then there’s the elitist that goes, “Just get a real guitar… ‘grab a few buddies and start a band’.”

In short, something I wouldn’t mind playing with, and if I were younger I could definitely see myself maybe using this as a starter device, especially if there’s some cross compatibility with the iOS version of Garageband – like playing against lessons (like on the main GB version), or recording directly on the phone – or depending on how much life there might be for it without an iPhone plugged in.

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