Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Getting There

Over the past few days I did a little re-write on my contribution for the anthology. It was good to leave it to one side for a few weeks and to let it float around in my head for a while. I would definitely be expecting at least another couple of re-writes before I have to tackle the dreaded proofread.

All in all I'm happy with how the story has come together and all within the word limit. Spending time in prep has been a worthwhile exercise. Short stories are a format that I will write in again as I've found it very enjoyable.
Next step over the coming weeks will be to get together with other group members and start working on another re-write based on thoughts some of them may have about it and hopefully helping out with one or two of the other stories if needed.

We will also be chatting about other things, like possible titles for the eventual book and the possibility of posting short extracts from the pieces we are all busy on right now.

Though it has been quite of late here there will be plenty more to come very soon.

Noel's writing blog.

Friday, August 13, 2010

And you're worried about writer's block?

It's a common theme with writers I've spoken to, both on line and face to face. It's a question that comes up at every talk or discussion about the writing life.

" How do you beat writer's block?"

My basic answer : Stuffed if I know.

I don't suffer writers block. Never have. I suffer from excessive laziness and a very short attention span. That's why I don't write as much as I should or could. Any bright, shiny, noisy object that comes into my personal space must be investigated rather than work on my current project(s). And that's where the trouble begins.

I shall digress.

The understanding when I joined this crew was to write a short story at approximately 10,000 words. A lot of people throw their hands in the air at that. Others just laugh and tell me that 10,000 is just saying hello. Goodbye must be a novella. 10,000 is just a tad (and a very small tad at that) larger than my comfort zone but out of my reach. First draft was 10,227. Right on target.

So, I put it to bed for a few days, what with disasters seemingly falling out of the sky, and when I pick it up to edit, I have red pen in hand and an eye to kill a few darlings. In Stephen King's "On Writing" he mentions a rough target of ten percent to be shaved off in editing mostly useless, passive words, sentences that go nowhere or add nothing to the story.

I took out nearly two thousand.

And promptly put back another 9,000.

Yeah, you got it right.Literary diarrhea has flowed from my brain, through my fingers and into my harddrive. And some of it is damn good, too!

So, what to take out. My story has moved in a newish direction. Not an unplanned one, but it's fattened my little calf to the point I need to put it on a bit of a language diet.

But - and I repeat - what to take out?

I have some cool characters, a few that are needed for side dressing and diversion. None of them are ripe for the chop. Neither are any of the situations by darlings have found themselves in. But 6 - 7,000 words must be taken out, and I alone have the power to choose them.

The other problem? (Did I mention that there is never really one problem? They always seem to come in herds!) The other problem is oversupply of ideas. I suffer from a very active imagination. Give it a few minutes to run loose and it's off, dragging random factoids, heresay and pure bullshit together into a possible new project. SoI take notes. In the month that I have been working on this project, no mless than 15 more have been noted. More than a few will not survive the thinking/planning process and will be doomed to the box of notebooks stashed cleverly in my office under a growing pile of crap. But at least three (at this writing) have stayed with me, taken root in my clutered and hsort-spaced sub conscious and grown.

Not counting the other projects I was already invoved in. (told you, herds!!)

Thankfully, the urge to write comes along frequently enough to quiet the voices in my head, all clamouring for attention. Look at me, look at me. I focus on what I can, note what I can't, and those I lose, I lose with regret and hope that one day they come back to me so that I may do them the justice they deserve.

But enough of that, back to my story. I may post a bit here on the weekend. We'll see.

From the engine room, I bid you good-night.


Friday, August 6, 2010

First Draft ~ Cripple

I spent much of the past week writing the first draft of my contribution to the anthology. So much for stating I'd try to knock it out in one writing session that would render me zombie-like.
I started at pace, knocking out a third in about five hours before the dawn approached and I had somewhere to be.
When I returned to it, the same blood wasn't flowing through my creative juices so instead of trying to hinder progress, I left it until I had time to turn things over in my mind. The story was the better for it. I paced myself, took time to think about what I was writing. Structurally, I adhered to what I had prepped for myself. Structure is nothing unless you fill in the gaps in between, and I was glad it took the week, wrote in leisure at my own pace, in times of my choosing and to me, that's important and I'm lucky to have that freedom.

I came up 500 words short than my target. That's fine, I've plenty of re-writing to do. From the first draft I now have a blue print to work from. Given it's only 15 pages in length in it's current state, I'll print it out next week and save some of the sight I have left. I'll work from a print out as I set about fine tuning it. There's plenty of time to return to it a few more times and I intend to. I'm excited I've tried something new, I've wrote short stories but they were all filed away completed in first draft form never to be re-visited.

I'm happy with what I've wrote. I wrote it in the first person. I find it easier when writing a character to step into their shoes. I can still step in more but that will require more work. It's possible I'll do it but that won't become apparent until I've read it a number of times again. If it's anything like the process of writing a book I'm sure it will change quite a bit. This time though, I won't have the battle of deciding which words to delete.

This time I need a few more...