Friday, April 28, 2017

Taking a Page Out of Someone Else's Book

I don't know if I've said this before (I've really lost track of all the things I've said), but I've been much more influenced by movies and TV than other books. I imagine that's why my stories are always so dialogue heavy and description light. They're verging on script territory.

There are two possible solutions to this:

  • Give up on prose fiction and write scripts
  • Read more books

I used to read a lot. Like, a ton. Notably, that was during times in my life when I didn't have internet. That is, in my youth, and that one year when I had my own little studio apartment and couldn't be arsed to pay for internet. If I wanted internet, I had to walk the half a block up to the public library and stay within ten feet of their wireless router, where the idea of a chair and table to set my laptop on was a foreign concept. So I would get movies from the library, and books.

But now I have internet. And a chair. And a table. And so I don't do a lot of reading. I just finished Terry Pratchett's Making Money yesterday, and Goodreads informs me that I started reading it August 5, 2014. I can't fathom how it took me that long to read it. What have I been doing with my life this whole time? To compare, just before that, I read had read a previous Pratchett book, Going Postal in 16 days. And before that, I read Thud! in five. Now it takes me 997? I'm so disappointed in myself…

This illustrates how I don't read that much anymore. That needs to change. And I should probably branch out and read something besides Discworld. But I don't want to! (She said with a petulant whine.)

So let me ask you this: what books, or what authors, would you recommend I read? And why? Do they have vivid descriptions? Engaging characters? Wild plots? You know, give me a reason to want to read it. Don't just tell me "It's good." Tell me why it's good. Tell me why I should greedily turn page after page and not drag it out for three years.

I miss reading. Nowadays, I just watch Netflix and spend too much time on the internet. Living in the future is not all it's cracked up to be. I mean, look at me. I'm writing this on a tablet at 1am while listening to music on YouTube. What happened to staying up late reading just one more chapter and accidentally finishing the book at 3am? Now it's one more episode, one more Reddit thread. One more mile down the Facebook feed. So tied to all this modern technology. Soon all that will be left are machines. And where will we be? We'll be machines, too.

Sorry. Like I said, it's 1am. I get existential after midnight.

They say to write good books, you need to read good books. I've heard that. And I laughed. HaHA! But I scoffed inadvisably. I mean, I keep saying that I don't know what I'm doing. So why would I think for a moment that I did? Know what I'm doing, I mean. Why would I think I knew better than the proverbial "they"?

So yes, recommend books for me to read. Novels, short stories, whatever. Preferably something I can find at a library. I'm not made of money over here.

And if you're wondering if I'll ever finish my Camp NaNo story, the answer is yes, I will. This weekend. That's all the time I have, after all. I just don't know how it ends. With death and misery, probably. You know me.

I'll see you Tuesday.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Open It Up To Find the Tick, Tick, Tick of a Heart

So here we are again. I still haven't finished that Camp NaNo story. I only have about 400 words left to go. I've just been busy being an adult. (Don't do it, it's lame.) The story's just gotten so far off track that I'm not sure how to get it to go where it needs to go. I've tried to divert it back, and now it's at a point where I have to decide the fate of my protagonist. Does he get to survive? Maybe.

As usual, I've started thinking about my next project before I get finished with the current one. See, the great thing about the blog is that I have to keep writing and working on stories so I have something to talk about. The terrible thing about the blog is that I have to keep writing and working on stories so I have something to talk about. I don't have a lot of time to stop and think and outline something. I have to just dive in so I have something to show for myself twice a week. Ordinarily, my process relied heavily on "ruminating on things for months" but that's not very interesting.

So the question is, what's next? Do I try to chronicle the tedium of outlining a story? Share my exercises in world-building? Explain every decision in my character profiles. That's really up to you, I guess. This is all for you, I think. And maybe a little for me. It keeps me from slacking off to much.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Flawed Execution

All right, the story isn't done yet. I know, I know. It will be. Don't worry. I'll admit, I wimped out a little bit and dropped the goal from 10,000 words down to 7,000 before they were locked in. But I still haven't even made it to that many words. I will. Eventually.

I just haven't been feeling motivated lately. That's a big part of writing. If you can't muster up the will to write, well, no writing is getting done. "But why?" you might ask. "Aren't you excited about this story?"

Well, that's an interesting question. With a maybe interesting answer.

As with all of my stories, I'm excited about the idea. That's why I choose to write the stories I do. I get an idea, I get excited about that idea, and I sit down to write it. And there's where it all goes awry.

Every plot idea in my head is a gem. It's the best story ever, and it's going to be great and everyone is going to want to read it. But then I start writing. And that all goes to hell. Suddenly my great idea doesn’t seem so great. Something is lost between the idea and the execution.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Chalk Outlines

All right kids. Today I'm going to talk to you about the importance of outlining. Not because I'm great at it and I can extoll its virtues. Oh no. Think of me more as a cautionary tale.

You see, if you outline your story, you can have an idea of the pace and the flow of the thing. You know what should be happening when. You don't find yourself, barely over halfway through your word count, already at the climax of the story.

That's where I'm at. I have about 4,000 words to go, and the story's just about over.

Don't be like me, kids.

Friday, April 14, 2017

A Tense Post

First order of business, I finally heard back from that local publication I submitted to back in the end of January. They didn't want the story. And that's fine. It's actually good. For one thing, I submitted it under the pseudonym I have since decided not to use. And for another, it means you get to read it here. Right now.

Without further ado, I present "Save Yourself."

This was, as far as I know, the only story I've ever written in the present tense. You might ask why. Well, for one thing, present tense creates a sort of sense of urgency, because it's happening right now, rather than being told in past tense from some  future perspective. But I didn't set out to do that. I didn’t have some grand plan about how this would work, and how the story was best told in present tense.

Rather, when I had the idea for the story, I scribbled down a brief moment, ending with "And… the safety's on," which is in present tense. That's just how I scribbled it. And it wouldn't sound right in past tense. So the whole story became present tense.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Leave Our Pieces On the Ground

Now, I've been feeling like a slacker lately, because I haven’t been writing every day. And not writing every day must mean I'm falling behind. Of course that's ridiculous, as you can see from my handy chart.

Whoo! Charts!

I am above the goal word count for each day, so I'm fine. That's the advantage to only have a goal of 10,000. 334 words per day is much easier that 1,667.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Second Guessing and Second Victims

I've been a bit of a slacker and didn't write anything yesterday. But the word count I was supposed to be at was only 2,333 and I stopped at 3,028 on Wednesday. So I think I'm all right for now. As long as I don't give in to the siren call of sleep and laziness too much more.

So where are we at? I'm sure that's what you're all wondering. What progress have I made in this story. It's funny you should ask, because I'm now at the point where I'm beginning to realize that I went astray somewhere in the past week. I've started to make notes along the lines of "Wait, it would make more sense if…" As though any of this makes sense.

When I started this, before I started this, really, I had in mind two particular moments in the life of one character. They existed devoid of any context, and for the most part, any other characters. But now that I've thrown a whole world in around those moments…  things get messy. Both these moments are of psychic visions revealing some piece of the puzzle. They were the first and last visions he had. Whether that's "last in the story" or "last in his life" is still to be determined. But the events that lead up to the latter kind of hinge on someone believing him. Otherwise he's just a guy, saying crazy things, and maybe he's the killer. But someone needs a reason to believe him. At this point, he barely believes himself.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The Oncoming Storm

So far so good. I'm already ahead of schedule, and hopefully I'll stay that way.

I did notice something now that I'm writing instead of plotting. See, I had a clear idea of personalities for all these characters. I knew how they should think and act. But once I put them in the story, that all changed. It's like they had one personality when they were alone and a different one when they were around other people. Hmm… almost like… real people. That might just be me who acts different when anyone is around.

Either way, I've just introduced all the characters. Now they can become whoever they want. I can always go back and fix these first impressions later.