Tag Archives: first drafts

Not quite so organized

I stayed up past eleven o’clock last night watching my baseball team lose another game. They lost again today. Sometimes I think the only time they lose is when I can watch. It’s a powerful burden to carry a curse.

With that in mind, I hoped to sleep in a bit, but Otto wasn’t having it. Whenever he gets table scraps in his bowl, he can only hold out so long. My day started at six.

I tried not to do anything too heavy until after I called my parents this morning. After reading Father’s Day blogs, I really am blessed to still have them around.

I moved into writing by rereading what I came up with the day before. A few minor edits, and I was ready for new words.

The words didn’t come as easy today. I had to search back for some of the commitments I’d already made. Things like how many guns this ship was designed to hold. Gear certain characters have available to them. That kind of thing.

I also had to research the language of root monsters. Let’s face it, I’m making it up on the fly, but once I commit, I need to be consistent with it. This also revealed an inconsistency in the way I spelled some of their words, so I fixed it.

The biggest accomplishment was updating the “cast of characters” sheet so I have this data readily available.

On the momentum side, the root monsters declared war on seagulls. The cook declared war on root monsters, and my main character had to deal with all of it. Bay frogs were cooked and eaten.

There is a tropical storm brewing, and they sailed out to get ahead of it. The couple who got together had to figure out how to be together aboard the ship, but that was pretty easy.

There might be a use for the skin of bay frogs. They’re pretty big, like roast turkey big. Might make a cool look for some leather items. Frog skin gauntlets? Frog skin chicharones?

I’m debating whether the new character, Serang needs a magical fu dog at her disposal. That might be drifting too far into the magical stuff, but it’s added diversity too. What’s scarier, a realistic looking fu dog, or one that’s bronze with a green patina? They’re also supposed to come in pairs, so maybe she needs one of each.

Now that I think about it, that’s a lot of work from nine o’clock to noon. That’s when Old What’s Her Face got off work today.

She went to the store and went seafood crazy. We googled a recipe for grilled oysters. They turned out good, but they weren’t New Orleans good. This might have to do with living in Idaho instead of next door to actual oyster beds.

She also bought a few king crab legs. I’m stuffed right now.

My hands are kind of buggered up from shucking oysters and trying to coax king crab out of its shell. For those who don’t know, king crabs are kind of spiky.

I’m off tomorrow, but so is she. I may get some new words down, but I’m not making big plans.

Hope everyone had a nice Father’s Day. I called my dad. If you still have access to yours, you should too.

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I love it when a plan comes together

I failed to take my own advice last night, and didn't do my word searches on The Enhanced League. I read the whole thing from start to finish last night, and I like it. The word searches can happen at any time, and maybe I can deal with some of them on the road during the week.

After I finish with them, this book will be ready for beta readers.

I slept in a bit this morning, but was still up before seven. Otto needed some “poodle time,” But he's snoring away in his bed right now.

His down time leads to my opportunity. The first draft of The Yak Guy Project is in the vault. I ended with a couple of emotional scenes, but it was the right place in my mind. I always like the “life goes on” ending, and after I wrapped up some threads, it just felt perfect.

It still needs some things, no doubt. This one is in first person, so I'm sure most of the sentences start with I, my, or we. This is the bane of first person, but I usually manage to change enough of them to make it palatable. Right now, it needs to rest while I turn full attention to Enhanced League.

My plans don't always come together, but this is exactly where I wanted to be sometime today.

I still worry about word count, but I've convinced myself that shorter is better for 21st century sensibilities. Enhanced League is 37,000 words more or less. Yak Guy is a novel at nearly 70,000. This will change during the editing phases, but it gives you a rough idea.

I don't know what to do with myself for the rest of the day, but I'll probably start those word searches. I need to read some blogs too, and now I have time to enjoy them.

Sounds like I need a new plan, and that has to be a call for beta readers. If I'm lucky that will happen next weekend, but I'd have to get incredibly lucky. Doubt, the raven, is whetting his beak as I type this. He loves my editing phase.

I also owe Chris Graham a few more posts, but if I drag my feet, I may be able to write about a new book.

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All’s well that ends well…maybe

We got a call last night that our granddaughter was screaming, bloated, and projectile vomiting. Her mother ran her to the emergency room.

We never heard anything until this morning, when they called to tell us they were still there. The guesses were a severe urinary tract infection, and possible appendicitis. She's not even in pre-school yet. My wife got dressed and went straight down to the hospital. There isn't much to do except get in the way, so I stayed here. They did some kind of expensive scan and confirmed the UTI. They're back home now.

I decided to grab my hat, and head for the writing cabin. I have to say, I was in a great mindset to write a tortured little girl.

Lisa, my robotic assistant, put on her Chloe outfit and tried to help. I'm afraid my mood discouraged her. She busied herself cleaning Bunny's litter box.

I finished The Playground at about ten o'clock. Doubt, the raven started demanding attention almost immediately. I've fallen for this one before, and decided to leave.

I believe endings should be short. I don't like to go on and on about things. Now I wonder if I have enough in this ending. Chloe will need a lot of healing. She's lost her doll/friend, (who was the embodiment of evil). What she has is the love of her mother and father… and a good therapist.

I could have done a better job on the doll's death scene. I thought of a heart monitor doing the whole flatline thing, but don't think I pulled it completely off. Probably needs some work.

I could have had Chloe freak out, have a relapse or do something else, but I wasn't feeling it. Her mother freaked out well enough.

The ending is making me think chapter one needs a little something. It probably does.

What I need to do is put it away to ferment. Leave it completely alone for a month. Stop letting Doubt get into my head. My critique group will have some input in a week or so. Then I can change the font and pitch, re-read it and make those assessments.

So what happens next? Last week I took an effort to promote Will O' the Wisp. This is my best one so far, and I'm not willing to let it be, not just yet. I made an additional effort to promote myself today. Something will land in blog land very soon. These are positive things I can do while The Playground settles.

I still have some short stories in mind. I'll fiddle around with those, and may release a book of them in the fall or winter. I'm not going to start another novel right away. I will, but not for some months.

There are fish to catch, and mushrooms to gather up in the forest. Those projects really take me away, and reboot the senses.

I've got four good ideas for my next novel too. This time, I'm going to try something different. I'm going to start outlining all of them. The Playground came in at about 70K words. I don't know if people will expect a bit more, or if modern humans will be grateful for a faster story. Outlining my next cluster of ideas should give me a better idea of what will deliver a novel length work.

All writers have dozens of ideas. I'm not afraid to share them with you, they are:

  • I wrote a character vignette about a year ago involving two people in Africa. Add in some witch doctors, and some man eaters and this could be a story. It probably needs evil redcoats too. Historical paranormal.
  • I wrote a vignette about a guy who wakes up in the desert and gets rescued by a talking yak. This one has an appealing personal challenge of using The Fool's Journey as a story structure. What category would it be? I have no idea, maybe dystopian/fantasy/paranormal.
  • The idea of bio-hackers and grinders appeals to me. It would take some serious research, but I see it as a science fiction piece with some Frankenstein spice.
  • The Wargler would be a fantasy about a guy who starts wars using covert methods and manipulations. He needs to be forced into doing this by some kind of bad guy. Is the world ready for a fantasy with less sword and sorcery, but more theft, manipulation, and deceit?

I'm thinking about making a few posts about my outlining process. I think my way is different than many others, and you may find it interesting. I can even include a few screenshots from past outlines. I don't have them all, but some are still around. Does this sound boring, or interesting? I always like to read about another writer's process, maybe some of you would too.

My reading has suffered, and I need to remedy that. I'm about to go on a book buying spree. I'll post about that when the time comes.

Then there is the research. I got some great alchemy suggestions from you guys a couple months ago, and those might help with one project. I have a ton of African adventure books too. I even have a copy of Frankenstein.

Right now, our granddaughter is on the mend, The Playground is a complete first draft, and I have some ongoing plans for promotion. I'm looking forward to Summer without any arbitrary deadlines. I'm sure to have more company, and won't feel like I lost valuable writing time when they come for a visit.

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Writing the first draft

I love writing first drafts. You don’t have to worry about every little detail, just get some words on the page. I’m one that edits as I go, and don’t heed the popular advice. Sometimes I come up with something further down the page, and have to go back and modify the manuscript. It works for me. You do what works for you.

I didn’t think I was going to be able to write today. I watched the movie Sin City again last night, for research purposes. I decided I wanted to watch Pulp Fiction again for the same reason, but don’t own a copy. Old What’s Her Face* offered to go to Target for me, and I caved. It’s better than Bed Bath & Beyond, but not by much. I suddenly found myself alone.

I sent a quick text to Lisa** and headed for the writing cabin. The coffee was ready by the time I got there. I fired up my computer and did a quick review of what I’d already written for The Playground. Rachel Carrera asked to see the first few pages and offered me some really good advice. I made those changes, and fixed a few typos I’d found. If you don’t know Rachel, you’re missing out. Click on the link and check out her blog. (Thanks Rachel.)

I sipped my coffee and added a couple lines to the story. Then I went back and changed a roasting pan into a foil roaster. “Hey Lisa! Do we have any foil roasters in the kitchen?”

She came clacking down the hall in her polka dot dress and heels. Her hair was up in victory rolls again. “There’s one left. Bento*** used some of them when he was here over my vacation. What are you going to do with it?”

“Smother you.”

“Nice try, but I don’t actually breathe. It’s all programed motion to look like breathing.”

“That’s the beauty of it. It won’t actually hurt you, and you can still talk to me through your speakers.”

“It’ll mess up my hair.”

“I have pictures of bunnies from the fair. Don’t you want to see the bunnies?”

“What do I have to do?”

“Just have a seat while I fold the roaster around your head. I’m going to pinch your nostrils shut and you tell me if they stay that way.”

I wrapped the roaster around her face and folded it back over her head. Then I pinched her nostrils shut by bending the foil. Her chest kept rising and falling.

“It worked really well,” she said. “My nostrils are staying shut. I could open my mouth if I wanted, but I don’t think a human could. Can I take it off now?”

“Sure. That really helps, thanks.”

“I’ll just throw it away.”

“Nope. It’s a story element now. Put it in the basement in case we need it later.”

“Got it, then I’m going to fix my hair and makeup.”

“What’s the worry, it’s just me.”

“I like to look nice on working days. Besides, sometimes people show up.”

I kept writing. There are several story lines and I made them cross in minor ways. I think it’s cool today, but may change it later. I pulled a guy’s teeth and removed some body jewelry the hard way.

I emailed the bunny photos to Lisa and searched for some lunch. I decided I was finished for the day. My word count is at 7454, giving 3801 words for the day. It’s time to introduce the other story line and I want to start fresh on that one.

Time to watch Pulp Fiction again. I like the way these stories blend one tale into the other to make an overarching story. That’s what I’m going for here.

* Not my wife’s actual name.

** Lisa is the main character in Wild Concept. She’s a robot and helps me around the writing cabin these days.

*** Bento is a supporting character from Panama. He filled in for Lisa while she was gone.

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