Renewed Focus. Getting things moving again.

Hello,

17543131-male-hand-drawing-focus-concept-with-marker-on-transparent-wipe-board-stock-photo

 

So, 2016 was alright. I suppose. Outside of writing, it was very good. No qualms there at all. My writing, however, moved along okay at the beginning but towards the end it faded and at times stopped completely. I didn’t feel like writing or reading at all. Makes me cringe just thinking about it and even more so when I don’t really know why I didn’t want to write. Although my November and December were good and my Christmas and New Year were both awesome, my writing and reading seemed to slow to a miserable crawl and then stop. That crawl has resulted in my last blog post being at the start of December. That’s just awful. 2017 will not end the same way. With that in mind, I’ve started as I mean to go on.

I’m committing to writing around 500 words a day and on any day I can’t write I will read. I’ve so far stuck to my target and I feel a lot better for it. Since my last post, I have finished editing what I had written so far for my Western story. It has been rolling around in my head for years and it feels good to be continuing to write it as opposed to edit/re-reading it to get myself back up to speed.

When I first sat down to write it back in March 2016, I didn’t use any notes and that turned out to be a disaster. With no path to follow, I ended up making my hero a man who hides away from the villain and nothing really planned for anyone. Lame. That quickly changed when my mighty editing pen…no, wait…fingers changed everything and gave my characters meaning and a road to follow. Now, I’m coming close to writing the twist in the tail I’ve known about for years. It’s weird when I think about it. I know the twist but actually getting up to writing it down is more exciting.

Does anyone else feel like that? When you’re about to write a twist do you get more excited about writing it than you did when you initially thought of it? I’d be interested to hear your thoughts. Or just tell me I’m crazy and move on.

Hmm…what else? No. I think I’ll leave it there.

Have a nice day.

 

 

November without NaNoWriMo.

Hello,

This year, I decided not to take part in NaNoWriMo 2016 and concentrate on my writing and editing instead.

I was already thinking about a story, a prequel to one I had finished back in March this year, as a way of starting my November. That story concerned giant Rockworms and their adventures after they crash land on Earth.  Actually, that makes it sound like they’re a bunch of happy go lucky scamps looking for their next jaunt. They are a species that has been forced to leave its planet as it collapsed around them. This is all down to their King and his selfish ways. I didn’t consider a prequel to the March Rockworms story until I started to like the Rockworms as much as the humans. I managed to make one to the worms charming. Well, I think I did. Since finishing that tale, I wanted to tell his story and of how they all got to Earth and I wanted to write it quickly. With this in mind, I adopted the ‘Pomodoro’ technique. The idea being that you work for 25 minutes and then rest. I wrote for 25 minutes, keeping my face glued to the screen and barely looking away, each day and managed to finish the story within 2 weeks. It would have been quicker but a few hangovers along the way.

Once that story was finished, I moved onto some editing. Way back in March 2015, I started to write a western. I have always loved watching westerns with The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly being my all-time favorite film. I have been forming a western in my mind for some years whilst listening to different metal music on my travels here and there and walks to work. Different scenes would present themselves and then pop up again and again. Initially, I started to write it without much in the way of notes. This turned out to be a bad idea. I ended up starting well but somehow finding myself writing my hero cowering away from a confrontation with the main villain of the piece and letting his friend do all the talking for him. What kind of hero does that? Not my kind. I’m currently in the process of going back over that story and then finishing it. Taking out any parts that don’t seem to make any sense and that move away from the story I wanted to write.

Unlike most of my past writing, I have been pleasantly surprised at how alright most of it is. I’m happy to keep a lot of it but have found some absolutely random rubbish that really didn’t make any sense at all. The edit is going well so far and I’m quietly confident. Though when I finally post some of it on this blog of mine that may disappear. Fingers crossed.

So, November has consisted of one short story and starting the edit of a story I hope will become one of my favorites. See you next year NaNoWriMo.

I finish this post with a question.

What technique(s), if any, do you use when you sit down to write?

 

 

My Pros and Cons and Tips for NaNoWriMo 2016.

nanowrimo-2016

Hello,

As you can probably tell, this is a NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) 2016 related post. I have taken part in three of the last four having decided to miss one year as choosing to edit instead of writing 50,000 words for 2014. I considered taking part again this year but I managed to consider it far too much and now I have nothing prepared. I will, however, be doing a mixture of editing and writing throughout November as a substitute.

This year, I wanted to provide some (hopefully) helpful information for those of you attempting to write 50,000 words in one month. That number does sound a lot and it did to me when I first tried the challenge in 2012.

When you break down that number across the whole of November, it gets a lot easier to take in. The figure (rounded up as the exact figure is daft) of words to write for each day is 1,667. If you decide to commit to 2,000 words a day, that allows you 5 free days to do whatever you like with. I recall assigning those days for hangovers myself.

I only found writing 2,000 words to be a daunting task when I had no idea where my story was going. For the first 2,000, I planned what I was roughly going to write so I could at least have an idea (it is the first draft after all so I didn’t worry too much about getting it right first time) beforehand. After the first 2,000 were written, I planned the next 2,000 and so on. The plans I made were usually just a few paragraphs or even less as a rough outline. As I got into writing the story I discovered that when I knew where the story was going each plan and 2,000 words became easier.

On some occasions, I managed to write more than 2,000 because I was in the middle of an important scene. It was either a heated discussion between the quarrelling villains of the piece, or the hero’s in some cases. Or some back story or a battle scene (there were quite a few). All of which I could not stop at just the 2,000 because I found myself either in the middle of a sentence or that I wanted to finish at natural point (usually the end of a scene or a chapter) before finishing for the day.

Making sure to write at least some if not all of the 2,000 words a day was crucial to help me calmly reach the target and to not lose my sanity. Some days I managed just shy of the whole 2,000 but made up for it in the days after that. Other times I didn’t come close. Let me show you what I mean through a small scene involving me and my too laid back attitude to the word court in 2012.

Wednesday. “I don’t feel like writing anything tonight. I’ve been working all day and can’t face the laptop anymore” (This equals one day without writing 2,000 words)

Thursday. “I’ll just play one game of Pro Evolution Soccer on my Xbox. Then I’ll start.” (Another 2,000)

Friday. “My head hurts. Too much beer. Cannot write today” (Another 2,000)

“Okay. It’s Saturday. What’s my word count? Including today I’m 8,000 words behind! How can I write so many in one day? It’s the weekend! I’ve used all of my hangover days! HOW!!!”

On that Saturday, I ended up writing 6,000 words and then adding an extra 500 words to the next few days until I had caught up with my target. I kept to my plan for 2013 and 2015 and avoided the above, which made the challenge easier to handle.

The Pros of completing NaNoWriMo 2012, 2013 and 2015 were that I had three partially finished novels that I could work on to finish in future. I have since completed the 2012 novel but found that the 2013 novel will need to be started again (I now hate that it is written in the first person) and the 2015 novel is going to be a lot bigger than I thought and requires further planning. Without NaNoWriMo, I would not have discovered this about two of my stories.

NaNoWriMo also helped me to find discipline whilst writing. Since 2012, I have been able to commit to word counts per day to finish a story as I am able to use the same planning I used for NaNo on all my stories ever since. It allowed me to get down on paper (laptop) tales that have been spinning in my head for years. It is a great feeling to do so and to finish. When you do finish, I suggest buying a t-shirt or something to commemorate the achievement from the official website (http://nanowrimo.org/). It’s your own trophy and it helps to ensure that the fine people who organised the whole thing can continue to do so for years to come.

The Cons of completing NaNoWriMo? In my case they were:

  • My back hurt a little bit more.
  • I lost some sleep.

That’s all I can think of. I lay flat on my carpet after each days writing for about 10 minutes and that helped my back. I slept longer on weekend mornings to catch up on sleep.

I hope that this has helped you in your quest to conquer the NaNoWriMo challenge. Good luck and make sure you have some fun in the process.

Goodbye!

To the edit! Second drafts abound.

blank sheet in a typewriter

 

Hello,

Since last time, I have received some hints and tips regarding the planning and execution of a romantic tale. Giselle Marks, author (most recently the Fencing Master’s Daughter. See the link for more details https://www.amazon.co.uk/Fencing-Masters-Daughter-Giselle-Marks/dp/1492815276/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8) and all round lovely person, provided useful guidance, which I will be looking to use when I tackle the second draft of that story. I’m planning to review my romance after leaving it for a few weeks to stew.

Speaking of second drafts, I’ve managed to start to edit two other short stories. The edits have been fairly successful so far but I still have plenty to do. I have managed to pull up some more questions about each piece of writing. Particularly, what is the theme of my story? Have I conveyed this theme well enough? Have I managed to help each character grow and develop throughout? What are the challenges? What are my characters goals? Why did I even write the thing in the first place?

Now, I know most of the answers to these questions but in some cases, particularly regarding theme and growth of characters, I have found that I need to add more detail. Thankfully I do not think I need to add too much but I know more is needed. For instance, with my story about an immortal man in Manchester trying to find his reason for being, I have focused on this but only realised at the end of the story that the other two main characters in the story, a would-be love interest and another immortal who wants more than to just help our hero find his place in the world, do not have much in the way of growth. I have described them but not provided them with any depth.

I have also found in the other story, concerning the end of the world and those who wish to take over it (giant worms) and those who wish to survive it (a recently broken up young couple) that two out of the three main characters have enough character growth. At least it’s more than the other story, right? Anyway, I again now know what to change, or at least where to begin changing, when I continue my second drafts. I always used to look at second drafts as a thing to sort out grammar and punctuation but I know now that is a separate edit altogether. The second draft is a big and powerful thing.

I have had help along the way as well. I’m currently reading Stephen King: On Writing (A Memoir of the Craft). He goes into sweet detail about how he thinks the second draft should go and it has been very useful. I have not been approaching my second drafts with the mindset and that’s where I’ve been going wrong I think. Though, that probably does not fully explain why none of my previous competition entries over the years have failed. Or maybe it could? Three cheers for progress. I just wish it had come sooner.

Okay. I’m going to go back to it. Have a good week.

Bye!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A romance story? Really?

romantic-pics-10

Hello all,

It has been a while.

For the past month or so, I’ve been working on my first attempt at a romantic story. This has been slowed somewhat due to a very interesting Cyber Security and Cyber Crime course I have been taking and passing during that time but I have managed to finally finish it.

I’ve been looking to write stories in genres I don’t usually write in. You know, out of my comfort zone and all that. Once I had decided what to do next, I needed an idea. Initially, I thought about setting it in an office environment or in something that could resemble present day or closer to my real life. But then I thought, nah. I want to do this in the future while World War 3 is in full swing and my love triangle is between three fighter pilots of varying ranks. Obviously.

The result wasn’t really what I expected. I am happy with the characters and the settings but I know I need to go back over the romance parts of my story. I think all I need to do is add more of a back story to my characters and why Commander Angela would want to fall for either jet pilot First class Anderson or jet pilot Second class Andrew.

Andrew is the nice one and Anderson is the annoying one. Anderson winds Andrew up whenever he can when they are not on the battlefield (well, not a field really. A Sky I suppose. Yeah, Battle Sky is better) and vice versa. But when they are in the battle sky they work seamlessly as together. Angela has noticed both of them before and during the war. She knows Anderson from some of her teenage years growing up and she knows Andrew from when they trained together. Though she does command both of them, she see’s something in each that makes her think there might be a life after the War beyond work.

The first draft is completed but as I’ve mentioned I know I need to add something else to make it more romantic. Having never written this type of story before it is harder than I first thought. I know how to be romantic, or at least I think I do, but conveying it on the page is a tricky thing indeed.

So, I have questions. Do any of you have any tips for a budding romance writer such as myself? If you have written romantic stories before what approach did you find to be the most rewarding and productive?

I’ll get back to editing my story and I hope you all have a nice week.

Bye!

How to avoid murdering your career

Hello all,

Recently, I have not had much to write about. I’m currently in the middle of writing a futuristic war romance story (which I will write about when it is completed) and doing non-writing course work.

So, I decided that until I’m ready to write about me, I’ll spread the blog love by re-blogging something cool.

I found this wonderful article on how to avoid murdering your career. I hope you enjoyed as much as I did!

jean's writing

Ever feel like you are strangling a story to death?

I feel your pain. Really I do. Sometimes I think my WIP needs to be put out of my misery.

image delete key Imgflip

So, let’s all avoid the paper shredder. Because there’s help by – 10 Career Killers by David McFarland Story Doctor.

Here is what I learned from reading10 Career Killers.

  1. Critics don’t buy books. Don’t write like a professor, write for your reader.
  2. Idiots don’t buy books either. Don’t dumb down your writing.
  3. Develop a wide range of topics. Don’t be a one-hit wonder. Don’t become bland.
  4. Keep up with technology. Learn to speak. Don’t let fear of the unknown stop you.
  5. Be thankful when fans or critics point out things that need changing. Then do it.
  6. Keep writing. Don’t let success kill your talent.
  7. Invest and save. Remember the law of gravity. What goes up must come down.
  8. Focus on your…

View original post 209 more words

How to you say politely ‘you missed the point’ to an author?

Hello,
Found this very helpful article regarding key elements to make your story work and flow in the right way. And hopefully not leave people scratching their heads whilst reading your story. 

Enjoy

Casey Carlisle

How to say you missed the point Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleI read a review copy for a fellow writer on his novel recently, and was horrified to find he’d not even paid attention to the basics of writing a book… So what key elements do you need to make your manuscript successful?

This author is semi successful, he has a number of books self-published, and I have to admit, the premise of his story is very intriguing. His writing style is easy to read and his pacing and action scenes are up there with the best of them. But I found myself continually frustrated. Some essential aspects to writing a novel had been ignored… and I was like, why? WHY!

How to say you missed the point Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

Apologies if this post has started off as a little bit of a rant, but it leads us to an important question:

How to say you missed the point Pic 04 by Casey CarlisleHow to say you missed the point Pic 05 by Casey Carlisle – yeah, I know, how could you miss this one? In the first chapter (maybe two) it’s important…

View original post 746 more words