Tag Archives: word count

The dialog I wish I could include

This will post on Friday, but it was written on Thursday. We intend to go looking for a camp sight and hopefully find something.

Word count has been in the hundreds. This is mostly because of other things going on, and familial distractions. If I get to wake up early in the National Forest, the sky’s the limit.

Thursday is also Lisa Burton Radio, and I don’t want to step on my guest’s toes.

This is a bit I’d like to include in Voyage of the Lanternfish. I can’t, because of Copyright and such. However, it’s free to read this blog, and I’ll call it a parody which is also allowed.

To understand it, you need to know James is the Captain of the ship. Dan is his first officer. Trouble is one of the root monsters.

***

Dan and the monsters came down the dock. With full darkness, there was little chance of anyone seeing the tiny creatures in his wake. Trouble jumped and flipped as he walked.

“What’s with him?” James asked.

“Up town. Everybody was doing that Kung fu fightin.”

“Ya ya,” Trouble said. He jumped around in a circle. ” Psh-psh-psh. Kicks fast. Like lightning.”

“I thought the whole thing was a little bit frightening, if you ask me,” Dan said.

***

For those of you who are too young to get the reference, here is a video.

I’m looking forward to some fresh air, some peaceful writing time, and great camping food. There is even a brewery about thirty miles from where I intend to go.

Hope all of you are having a good Friday, and if I find a signal of some kind, I’ll try to update. If not, assume I’m having a great time.

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A great day for piracy

Lisa met me at the top of the stairs. She had those knee high boots that turn over at the top, and her Captain Barbosa hat on. “What are we working on today, mate?”

“Well, figured to read my last chapter, then move the story ahead as much as possible.”

“Sounds like a plan, but I need you outside first.”

I followed her across the deck, then out to the field before she turned around. A black skull and crossbones flag flew over the writing cabin. “I love it, where’d you get it.”

“I made it, silly. I have a lot of time to myself out here, and did it for you. The logs on the cabin almost look like an old ship, if you use your imagination.”

“It’s perfect for this story. Guess I’d better get started.”

“Not so fast, matey.” She spun me around to face a line of logs she’d placed vertically in the meadow. Each of them held one block of ice. She handed me a flintlock pistol and stepped back.

“Really, for me?”

“You need to have the experience.”

I cocked the hammer, took careful aim, and missed the target. Sulfurous black smoke drifted across my field of vision.

She traded me for a fresh pistol, and started reloading the one I just fired. “Better hurry, they get smaller out in the sun.”

I repeated my motions, but this time the ice exploded into a million pieces. “Hey! Look at that.”

“Very nice, now the next one.” She handed me the freshly charged pistol. “You have two more coming at you.”

We repeated the exercise until all the ice disappeared. “Thanks for doing this. It helps to remember these aren’t semi automatic pistols that can be fired over and over with ease. Pirates would have to save their shot, or take cover to reload.” I handed the pistol back. “Guess I’d better get started.”

“Not so fast.” She pulled two cutlasses from the grass and tossed one my way. “Defend yourself.”

I blocked her strike and stepped back.

“Come on, you’ll never learn if you don’t try.”

“These things are dangerous.”

“I’m a sophisticated high-tech robot. I’m not going to hurt you.” She thrust at me, and I batted her blade away to the side.

“But I’m not. What if I mess up and hurt you?”

“Please. Class three battle chassis inside. You’d need armor piercing ammo to get through, and more firepower than that sword.”

I picked up my pace and returned the fight. We clashed all across the meadow, up and down the steps on the deck, and out onto the airstrip.

I took a step back and held my blade up with both hands in a halt position.

“What’s wrong now?”

“I’m tired.”

“You’re old and fat. This is where you get run through.”

“Besides, I don’t have a cool hat.”

“The hat has nothing to do with it. It’s all about skill, stamina, and experience.”

“I’d like to experience some iced tea about now.”

“I can make some.”

“And some air conditioning would be nice too.”

“Fine. Wimp.”

“It was fun though. Loved the pistols.”

“Gotta admit, that seems more your style.”

We headed inside and Lisa brought tea to my office. I took a sip, and placed the cold glass to my forehead. “I’m surprised you didn’t have cannons for us to fire.”

“I called Red Herring, but they’re all rented out. Seems like all the authors want cannons this weekend.”

“You didn’t really. Did you?”

“I know you don’t like the guy, but he has all the story elements you ever need. Besides, buying one would give you a stroke. Rental is the only way to go.”

I opened my iPad and started writing. Lisa piped some quiet pirate themed music through the building.

By the time I finished for the day, I’d written nearly five thousand new words. We captured a ship, got disappointed in the treasure. Experienced a monster of the deep, and witnessed what can only be described as carrot abuse.

I introduced one new character called Stuttering Lewis. Lest this sound like character soup, it’s fourteen chapters in, so you get one here and there. I’ll have a few more along the way, but they’re mostly color and background now. I can’t write a book and call them pirate #1 and pirate #2.

We also unfurled a new flag, but I won’t describe it because it’s kind of spoilerish.

It feels like an end to Act One. That arguably could have been an earlier section, but I don’t mind being a little vague on that part. Acts are more like guidelines anyway. (Sounds good for a pirate story.)

I’ve struggled over the last couple of books to hit a decent word count. This one is not going to have that problem. It may be the rare story where I have to cut things to make it digestible for readers.

Hope you’re all enjoying the weekend, or will if you didn’t score friday off. I still need to work up some interview pieces, but it’s hard not to keep sailing this ship forward.

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Wednesday, I’ll take it

I got to sleep in until about 6:30 today. It felt great. I should mention that my work alarm goes off at 4:00, so this was my version of sleeping in. Did all the morning stuff, and wound up covered with bulldogs.

That’s where my writing day began. Like all writing days, I started with my last chapter. It helps me get into the flow, and gives me a chance to fix typos and such. I usually have something cool I’m trying to do, and that leads to some tweaks to things I already wrote. Today it was minimal and I got right into it.

My characters crossed paths with an assassin, and we got a glimpse of what the tiny monsters are capable of in groups. There was gunplay, some sneaking about, and sinking a body into a duck pond.

One character was fascinated by a glop of apple pie that landed on another character’s cleavage and slowly moved downward until she wiped it and licked her finger. There is something going on there, but she’s pretty broken and it might take a while to develop.

My characters got to the big city, so we’re done with the camping part of the tale. They have plenty of gold, but not in a format they can spend. They are running low on coinage, and only one of them has a head for money.

Not to fear. There are some tiny monsters about to try scavenging for any gold that might be untended around town. Oh, what’s better than eight tiny monsters… eighteen tiny monsters. I’m finding these guys are adding a bit of color to the story. They’re freaky, scary, but funny to a degree too. I might have to have a scene where the characters discuss having too many of them.

My main character has been staring at the ships along the river port. He’s there to do some research with the goal of starting a war, but those ships are sure appealing. Starting the war will free his lady love from the bad guy. We all know that isn’t going to happen, but it’s his current goal.

Things I need to consider before my next writing day. (Saturday) There has been a surprising lack of swordplay in this story. My MC needs to go through a melancholy phase and come up with a partial new plan. I’m going to have to count on the other characters to carry me through this phase. He has issues living up to his father’s reputation, and avoiding it all at the same time. I think he’ll start out manic about all the things he is learning, then depressed that he can’t formulate a decent plan, then he’s going to say screw this and do something completely different.

All told it feels like about 3500 words. It could be as high as 4000, but it was a good writing day. It would have been more, but my daughter is working some kind of swing shift. She likes to talk, and I’m okay with that. Yeah, it cuts into writing time, but I don’t want to give up father/daughter time either.

That’s it until the weekend. Back to the office tomorrow where I have multiple projects I want to work on. I’d like to have 80% of those finished before the weekend starts. If it’s not one goal it’s another in my life.

Bonus points, I have commute time to daydream about my main character’s phases and how I’m going to get through them. Hopefully, I’ll have a plan prior to Saturday morning.

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Bad author! No beer for you.

Today was kind of an odd day. I worked through all the writing chores I could think of. Today is also the day I call my parents, something I do every week. Then my daughter showed up for an hour. She likes to talk about her job and her cat. The dogs are starting to get along with the kitten and it’s kind of cute that he tries to play with them. Otto really is more curious than anything, but he’s kind of indifferent to the whole idea. Frankie concerns me. She’s been pretty good, but she’s gotten slapped more than a few times.

About the time my daughter had to go to work, she put the kitten away, leaving me with the morning phase of the dogs. The morning phase is more calm than the evening phase. I opened the Estivation manuscript and made a light editing pass. Then I added a few words, nothing to really brag about. Something just isn’t working for me yet here. I need to transition the characters from a getting used to the new normal phase to an outright horror phase. I don’t want to jump in too fast, and I just need some more daydreaming time on it. Right now it’s coming across like a recipe card and not an engaging story.

Sooo, I reviewed all my storyboards. Then I created some folders in my word processor. A little time on Google, and I came up with a few names. With names, I created a couple of casts of characters.

Then I wrote 1500 quick words on a new project. File name The Lantern Fish, it will eventually be Something Of The Lantern Fish. It will come to me later.

Lisa Burton

I know, I know. This is bad. It felt so good though. The words flowed pretty well too.

One thing I believe in is finishing the stories I start. I have one (two) chomping at the bit, and Estivation feels like it needs more daydreaming time. I really should force myself to finish Estivation and deal with issues in the editing phase. If I don’t get the length I’m targeting, I can always park it for another Experimental Notebook.

On the other hand, I have worked on one novel and some short stories at the same time. Could a novella work as my side project? I don’t really know, because I haven’t tried before. Short stories and micros, sure.

What do you guys do? I wrote one of my Experimental Notebooks as a side project. The other one was the main project, but there were multiple stories going on at the same time.

I think I can do this by making Estivation my side project.

Here’s where it gets crazy. I have another novel that would also make a great side project. I’m sorely tempted to start it too. This one doesn’t even have a complete storyboard, but I already know all the characters and several situations that have to happen. Then there is that one I may never write, and it has a complete outline.

Winter has always been my best writing time, so I think I have to lay down some rules. Two projects at once might be possible. Four probably aren’t.

Seriously, what do you guys do when this happens? I know some of you write pretty fast, so maybe it’s not an issue to just wait. I’m a weekend warrior and quality writing time is limited. I have to be a little selective as to what I spend that time on.

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Feeling pretty productive

The dogs let me sleep a little today. I even took my time getting started. I did my morning surf through social media and enjoyed my coffee, before opening my WIP and reading what I’d done so far.

After that, the stars just lined up. I was the only human at the house, and while there was some canine intervention, I got do do what I love best. I added new words to The Hat.

Lizzie and the hat bonded, but they bickered all the way. They will never stop bickering, but it’s a lot of fun when they do. They decided to play the 3/4 size upright bass, and that required both of them giving a little. It works to establish the symbiosis they will need to finish their adventure. Some of this required me to go through my phone’s playlist, and I never write with music these days. I didn’t really this time either. I listened to some songs, chose one and paused. Then I wrote about it.

I tried to work the pieces from simple to complicated to show a kind of training sequence and some improvement. I’m not quoting lyrics this time, I did that for Will O’ the Wisp, and chasing the copyright license is more trouble than it’s worth. I think it works without them.

I faked my way through a couple of parts, which is very unusual for me. I like to get it right before I forge ahead. This time, I decided to work outside my comfort zone. I look at my words as placeholders to be modified later. Then I clipped the section and emailed it to my consultant. I included some specific questions, and can make an edit when I hear back.

I know you guys like playlists, so the story includes some Toby Keith, Creedence, Bonnie Raitt, Brian Setzer, Dwight Yoakum, and even Commander Cody. I really liked the line, “We don’t need no stinkin bow.” It feels cliche, so I should try to come up with something better. For this kind of music, the bass isn’t played with a bow.

Lizzie and the hat also got to argue about hat styles, and changes in language. Most of this comes from the hat having spent over twenty years in a box. He missed the start of the electronic age we live in, and that’s been fun too.

Beyond that, I abducted a bunch of children, made it personal, and set Lizzie on the road to unemployment. In this case, stability is very important to the character, of course I had to strip it away. I’m not at that point yet, but the stage is set.

Before Old What’s Her Face got off work, I ended at 7051 words. Not bad for a two day total, and I have tomorrow largely available to write too. I’m into it, and after I talk to my parents, another few thousand words is realistic.

In writer terms, the character intros are over. There was a training event that teased greater things are possible, and the inciting incident went down. It doesn’t quite feel like the end of Act 1, because we haven’t glimpsed the hero that could be. It’s close though. I need to brainstorm the hero that could be part a little.

Drafting new material is my favorite part, and I’m so excited to get back to it. Bonus: I have enough for a couple of months at critique group too, so I’ll stop showing them Yak Guy and see what they think of Lizzie and the hat.

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Partial project day

Today was dedicated to finishing tasks. Some were started, some weren't, and I didn't get all the way through the list.

I need five posts for a promo I'm going to be doing. I still have two left to write, and those that exist need a little something too. Watch this space, and you may find some great deals on my books in the next couple of weeks. I blog about bulldogs, and movies, writing, and all kinds of things, but occasionally I need to mention that I have books to sell. “Hey, I have books to sell.”

The good news is that I don't return to the paycheck job until Tuesday. I have one more day to work on them.

I intended to do some reading today, but failed completely. We went to one of our favorite places last night, then I stayed up late playing video games with my son. Somehow, I forgot to plug in my iPad. No juice = no reading. I used what little juice remained to pay bills today, so I can scratch that off the list.

I dedicated my analog time to working on a critique. My crit group is on life support after several years. We're down to two members remaining, but we're meeting next week anyway. Part of the discussion will be about how to get new members. I don't know too many writers in the Boise area, but I'd really like to keep this going. I get different values from critique and beta readers. I want both.

While recharging, I found a movie. I said yesterday that Skull Island left me a little flat. Today, on cable, I watched Bridge of Spies, with Tom Hanks. This movie gave me more than I expected, and I would watch it again. I knew the story, but seeing it dramatized was well worth it. Great movie.

Tomorrow, I have to get my truck sniff tested. It's an absurd local regulation, but I have to do it. I may check my meds and try getting them refilled while I'm out. I need to write two more promo posts, and I'm going to read come hell or high water.

Next weekend brings the return of company, so no writing. I'm at a point in Yak Guy where I need to decide how much wandering around in the wilderness is acceptable. Too much will bore readers. I could work this toward the end, but it might wind up being a 70K word novel. In this modern era, maybe that is preferable. It's definitely preferable to boring readers with too much star gazing.

Talk to me here. Did you get a different vibe from Skull Island? Have you seen Bridge of Spies? Do you know any Boise area fiction authors who would like to join a critique group? Are you interested in some great book deals in the first week of April? How do you feel about novels on the short side of word count? How in the heck do you guys find time for your reading?

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Not what I expected.

I went to bed last night with visions of finishing The Yak Guy Project. I needed about ten thousand words, and expected to knock it out today. You see, I had a visitor yesterday.

These guys only appear to me about once or twice per year. It's been that way since I was small. Golden Eagles, all the time, but not Bald Eagles. They always herald some version of good luck. It may be a day when I caught the largest fish or some other small item, but it always works.

I had a working lunch with a colleague yesterday. On my way to the restaurant, an eagle flew over my truck. He wasn't close enough to scratch the paint with his talons, but he wasn't much further either.

The fact is I can't force the eagle. He foreshadows luck of some kind, but I can't manipulate it to what I want. I wanted word count, but that isn't why he showed up.

I managed less than a thousand words of fiction today. If you want to see why, you'll have to visit the Entertaining Stories Facebook Page, because they won't let me upload videos here. Not without going through YouTube first. (Hint, it's Otto.)

Have I ever mentioned,”You Can't Always Get What You Want” is one of my favorite songs. It's so true in so many ways.

I know the eagle is telling me something, but have no idea what. Sometimes it amazes me when it happens a week later, but it happens.

Some of you probably think I'm crazy, but when you observe something enough times you start to pay attention.

I managed to be productive in other ways. I wrote some blog posts, with frequent interruptions. I communicated with my Story Empire colleagues about an upcoming project, and we moved it forward.

Something is on my horizon, so I'm kind of excited about that. It could be something small, but it adds a nice perspective to the weekend.

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