To Begin, Begin

To begin, begin--William Wordsworth
Image Source: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/william_wordsworth_120835

Over the past week, I’ve been thinking a lot about this quote. It is a quote from Wordsworth and it was on Duotrope’s splash page. I think they rotate those quotes monthly (or so), but this is the first time that I’ve paid attention to it this year. It struck me because of my “Year of Shadow” where I’m trying to branch out into various other mediums based on the short story that I’ve sold a while back (Ship of Shadows). What I’m hoping to do (which I’ve mentioned before) is to really understand my characters more. To me, the simplest way of doing this is to explore my the characters that I create would be to look at their lives at different stages of their live cycle. So, I’ve been brainstorming this for most of the summer and I think I’ve come up with a way to do this–now I just have to “begin.”

Living the Life

So, one of the things that I’m really hoping to do is to simply have fun with the projects. That is one of the reasons why I stopped working on DSRV Outrider because I had already “told” the story in short-story form. I was trying to simply “re-tell” it in graphic novel form, but it wasn’t working. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I needed to really “adapt” the story to fit the new format (and not just do a 1-to-1 retelling of it), so that it would be new, fresh, and exciting–both for the readers, but also for me, the writer, to work on. It’s hard to be enthused about a story that you’ve already done. I wanted to do something new and fresh and that’s where “living the life” came in. I just pretended to be both the character and the reader and what would I want to see the character do as a reader (what would be cool?), but also, what would the character logically do in this situation? This is also something that I thought about and came up with a couple of good ideas (at least, I think they’re good–we’ll see when I start submitting the script).

To Begin, Begin

I guess the reason why Wordsworth’s quote lodged into my brain is that there is no real reason not to begin. So I took a moment to write down my ideas–not just for the Graphic Novel, but for the novel, screenplay, and pilot episode for a TV episode as well. These have all been kicking in my mind, so I might as well write them down and work on them in small notational increments. Who knows where they might lead? For instance, if I’m able to do enough research in my (limited spare time–maybe in between loading a game or a level in a game), I might be able to do enough research to find a basic plot that I want the character to try to go through and if I can turn enough of those plot elements into paragraphs, then come November when NaNoWriMo is happening, I might (just might) have enough to turn those paragraphs into pages. The same with scenes. A scene can be a sentence or two long so that I know how the character will try to solve the problems in a plot. Did you know that many of today’s blockbusters have only 25-35 scenes (and some of those are taken up by intro titles and credits–and these days, mid-credits/post credit scenes). The Lord of the Rings (extended editions) movies clock in at about 50-60 scenes, but these are the exception to the rule. If I can find one major problem for my character (and perhaps one secondary one–or make it an external/internal project), then I might be able to swing a screenplay as well.) Now, all of this is contingent on my availability of time with school & work, but there’s no reason not to begin. Even if I have to “bleed” the Year of Shadow into 2020, I still feel like not trying is worse than trying and failing at it, so here we go!

Sidney

Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




  • The Independent  (Sci-Fi Short-Story)–
    3rd Draft of 3 Drafts
    Drafting Section 1 (of 3)
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = July 31, 2019
  • I, Mage (Fantasy Short Story)
    Pre-Production Phase (Planning)
    Pre-Writing on Rough Draft & Character Sketch
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = January 31, 2020
  • Current Longer Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel 
    (Sci-Fi) Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32
    Personal Deadline = September 30, 2019
  • HawkeMoon (upcoming) = Edits turned in to editor 5/31/19
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HawkeMoon Updates: Edits

Hawk on a branch with a nearly full moon behind him with a blue sky background.

Image Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/alicecahill/31622378722/

This blog entry will be a shorter one as it is a holiday on Monday in the US (which means a 3 day weekend for me). Hopefully, I’ll be able to get some writing done over the weekend–along with a movie over the holiday (I also have yardwork to do that I’ve put off for a couple of weeks, so it won’t be all fun and games).

HawkeMoon

However, I wanted to just let you know that the editor for StoryHack sent me the file for the edits to my story HawkeMoon. He turned on the “Track Changes” function and I need to go through and look at the edits that he made. According to the notation at the head of the file, there are approximately 217 changes to be looked at/gone through, so hopefully, I can get this done in a reasonable amount of time.

Love or Hate the Process?

Many writers, especially after they reach a certain level of success in writing, hate the process of “editing” their work. Not going to go on a tangent, but you see it all the time: writers whose earlier works are wonderful, but their later works are far less effective because they want their original draft to be their only draft.

For me, I (for the most part) like the editing process, especially when the editor is truly trying to shape the piece of writing so that it can be the best that it can and so that it will shine. I’m hopeful that no matter what level of success I finally achieve with my writing, that I will be a part of the editing process and not resistant to it.

The only time I’m truly resistant to external editing or I hate the process is when the suggestions are going to change the spirit of my story. I make no secret of my disdain for the current love of “bad things happening to good people” sub-genre in fiction thanks to Game of Thrones (one of these days I need to actually explain what that whole sub-genre is, but not today). However, if an editor tries to change my work into a nihilistic story or into a story that resembles GoT (or whatever is fashionable at the time), that’s where I have problems with the process. For me, editing is about making the story better, not turning it into something its not because that’s the current “style” at the moment.

So, I personally don’t hate the editing process, but I do like a lot more when I can see that the changes are there to help the story be the best that it can be even if it isn’t “fashionable.” I’ll keep you updated on the progress of HawkeMoon and I hope you have a great weekend!

Sidney

Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




  • Current Work-in-Progress: The Independent  (Sci-Fi Short-Story)
    3rd Draft of 3 Drafts — Currently Drafting on Section 1 (of 3)
    Deadline = Mythic Mag. July 31, 2019
  • Future Work-in-Progress: I, Mage (Fantasy Short Story)
    Pre-Production — Currently Pre-Writing on Rough Draft & Character Sketch
    Deadline = Mythic Mag. December 31, 2019
  • Current Longer Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows 
    (Sci-Fi Graphic Novel) Script, Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32
    Deadline = September 30, 2019

Year of the Shadow

Arched Shadows on Italian Wall
Image Source: https://pixabay.com/photos/shadows-arch-urban-city-sunshade-1456887/

This has been an idea kicking around for a while now, but I haven’t really been able to decide how to make it work until this year. I wanted to start it earlier this year, but was so focused on my preliminary tests that I didn’t really give it the time it deserved, but I finally figured out a way of making this “Year of the Shadow” work, so I’m going to work at it on the weekends and we’ll see what comes of it.

What the heck am I prattling about?

I’m talking about “The Year of the Shadow.”

Year of the Shadow

So what is the “Year of the Shadow.” Well, the short version is that is where I develop a character that I’ve already published in a story somewhere into multiple projects throughout the year. The long version is that when I was talking with Toni, a fellow Graduate Student and a Writing Consultant at the MTSU Writing Center, I felt that the stories that I’d already published meant that there was something there that intrigued editors enough to buy them and publish them and I should probably use those stories as starting points to help me create longer works with those same characters. She agreed and thought that would be a great idea. I started with Tana from my short story “Ship of Shadows.” This is where the idea for the Graphic Novel came from. However, I got stuck shortly afterwards because I didn’t really know where to go with. I thought I was “unstuck” a couple of weeks ago, but when I tried to write it, I found I still didn’t know what the purpose of the story truly was and discovered that I still felt lost in the story.

Year of Tana

I could have almost entitled this the Year of Tana because my goal is now to focus on the character Tana from Ship of Shadows. In the short story, Tana is a “pilot” of a DSRV. My graphic novel will (hopefully) show how Tana goes from a pilot to a captain. The novel that I’m planning for her will show how navigates being captain and being her own independent contractor/small business owner as she struggles with both crew issues, finding ways to make money, and external issues. I intend to branch off and do a “variant” version of Tana for a screenplay where we see an alternate version of Tana and see her parents for the first time. Finally, I hope to finish off the year with a Pilot for a TV show going back to the novel and using Tana’s adventures there as my guide.

52 Weeks

I’m already 16-17 weeks behind schedule, but I didn’t really have plan earlier (or rather, I had a very nebulous plan), so I can’t really worry about the time lost. All I can do is work hard to make sure that now that I have a plan in mind, to devote time each weekend to making the plan work to the best of my ability. So, while I’m about 17 weeks behind, “The Year of the Shadow” has now commenced.

Characters Lead the Way, Redux

Image Source: https://lonewolf.fandom.com/wiki/Shadow_on_the_Sand

While cleaning up this weekend, I happened to stumble across the original “Rough Draft” that I’d printed out for my story Dragonhawk. This story (to the time of writing this blog entry) remains my one-and-only story that was accepted on the first try. It is truly a “rough draft” in that it is only three (3) paragraphs long (and is probably shorter in total length than this blog entry will be by the time I’m finished writing it). What struck me, however, was the first word on the “rough draft” was Kelfryn, the name of the protagonist.

Inspiration from a Book Cover

So, the book cover above, is from a series of Choose Your Own Adventure books called The Lone Wolf series by Joe Deaver and Gary Chalk. While the D&D books were pretty popular at the time, the ones by Deaver and Chalk really spoke to me. While not part of the Warhammer universe, the illustrations still have that “Old World” feel that marks the Warhammer brand (and what is probably what drew me to that universe). While definatley dark (the character could and often would die and the “adventure” would be over–much like a “game over” screen in video games), I always found the artwork both on the covers of the book and in the interiors to be arresting and fascinating. The above cover of a warrior riding a giant “warbird” was particularly interesting and stuck with me into adulthood.

Kelfryn and Scryfe

As I began writing, I had several incarnations of this image pop up, most notably an idea for a novel entitled Sparrowhawk as I imagined the protagonist would be a young Norse warrior who was mentally bonded to the bird (much like Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders were bonded with their dragons in her series of books (which I, of course, loved and devoured as a child). I was also much taken with the idea of a bird hunting other birds–which is what the Sparrowhawk is named for doing. However, the novel did not progress and that idea fell by the wayside. After I had a few publications under my belt, I decided to revisit the idea, but this time I went back to the original image that had captivated me: the warrior riding a giant warbird. Then it came to me: why not have both the warrior and the bird still be mentally bonded, but why not have them hunt dragons?

The Art of the Character Sketch

From there, I tried to come up with a reason for them to hunt dragons and I likened them to fishermen. They had to hunt dragons to survive. Finally, I reasoned that even with the warbirds, dragons would be too ferocious, so they would only hunt things that the dragons left behind (scales, teeth, talons, etc.) when they went out hunting for food. Then came my stroke of brillance: I used Scrivener’sCharacter Sketch” template to completely write out each of the two main characters: Kelfryn (who became a young “wannbe” warrior) and Scryfe (his devoted warbird companion). I filled out all of the sections of the Character Sketch with a solid paragraph for each of the major categories (I found those sketches earlier this year–that’s how I know). After doing the character sketches, I simply started the story and everything seemed to fall into place–I didn’t have Writer’s Block at any point, nor did I have any major diversions to the story that I dreamed up–both character and plot seemed to just seemed to merge together, so that’s what I’m working towards now–getting back into the Character Sketch mentality.

Sidney




  • Current Work-in-Progress–February 2019: Project Dog  (Sci-Fi Short-Story – 1st Draft)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows (Sci-Fi Graphic Novel – Script, Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32)

Write It Down, Sidney!

Write it down. Written goals have a way of transforming wishes into wants; cant's into cans; dreams into plans; and plans into reality.  Don't just think it - ink it! Michael Korda via AZ Quotes.
Image Source: https://www.azquotes.com/quote/856710

One of my favorite movies is National Treasure (Shh, don’t tell anyone) and one of the scenes in the movie goes like this:

Ian Howe (villain) (whispers): Stupid!
Shaw (Henchman): Who?
Ian Howe: Me. It’s not here, it’s there.

Sorry if the wording isn’t verbatim (I’m doing this from memory). However, the gist of the conversation is that Ian Howe is berating himself because he followed the obvious answer rather than thinking the problem through and in doing so allowed Ben, our protagonist, to get to the “prize” first.

That’s how I feel right now–stupid. Not because I’m on a “treasure hunt” for a hidden Templar treasure in modern day Washington DC and New York City, but because I didn’t right down a great story idea (along with characters) and now I’ve mostly forgotten it! ARRRGGGHHH!

Monster Hunting for the Win

The story had to do (as best as I can remember) a group of three people hunting a monster. I remember the basic plot-line well enough so I shouldn’t be so hard on myself, but as an upcoming blog entry will show, I’m a much better story writer when I have the characters fleshed out along with the plot–and I did (I promise)–I had really unique and interesting characters with fairly unique backstories, but now I don’t because I didn’t write them down! ARRRGGGHHHH! I had the villain and his motivation as well, but I didn’t write it down–I’ll save the Argh this time, but you get the drift. It is so annoying to be working against myself. I need all the help that I can get, so when I get a chance, I need to write it down. And that’s the rub.

Writing on Breaks

The rub is that I came up with this story and characters while working at my second job which doesn’t have a lot of downtime. There’s a normal break, but 15 minutes isn’t a whole lot of time. The problem is that I intended to write this down during my break, but I forgot.

I try to read on the break, but there’s just not enough time–as soon as I get interested/involved with something, it’s time to stop and go back to work. I have my notebook with me and this needs to be when I pull it out and just jot down story notes/character ideas/character sketches or any other writing related thing that I need to remember or otherwise this might happen again. On my break tomorrow (or, Heaven forbid, if I happen to arrive early), I plan to jot down what I remember from this “monster hunting” story in my notebook for future reference (which I should have done in the first place).

ARRRRGGGGGHHHHH!

Sidney




  • Current Work-in-Progress–February 2019: Project Dog  (Sci-Fi Short-Story – 1st Draft)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows (Sci-Fi Graphic Novel – Script, Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32)

Weekly Round-Up (February 3rd-9th)

potpourri

Writing

  • 2nd Draft–Starlight, Starbright: “Exposition” — I worked on the beginning of the story and reworked it to add in more characterization, more character backstory, and to revise the introduction of the story so that it matches the changes that I made in the middle of the story in the 1st draft (I didn’t go back and revise it as I figured I would get bogged down and not finish the 1st draft which is what I wanted to do.
  • The market that I’m aiming this for is a yearly one and it stops taking submissions on February 28th. I already missed a different market that stopped taking submissions on Jan. 31st (& will have to wait until June for their next period), so I don’t want to miss this one and have to wait an entire year (along with it having a different theme, to boot).

Gaming

  • So, I finished the campaign for Star Wars Battlefront II published by EA. I bought it on sale (9.99) and I bought a digital copy. I played the first one (only because it was Star Wars) “day one,” and while it was fun, I really did miss having a campaign (I rarely played the first game, so it was money wasted). I decided that this time I would wait until the game went on sale before purchasing it. I thought the campaign was good–although Iden goes through a character change quite quickly about a third of the way through–and while I liked it, I did find it abrupt. I didn’t even bother with the multiplayer which is this game’s bread and butter because I didn’t like the “loot box” controversy–just let us play games EA, stop looking at you gaming customers as stupid sheep to be fleeced for your shareholders. Not cool.
  • Speaking of multiplayer, this week saw the release of Apex Legends, a first person shooter which mixes the best of Battle Royale games (like Player Unknown Battlegrounds (PUBg), “character shooters” (Overwatch) and cartoony action/combat (Fortnite). This game was released on Tuesday or Wednesday and it has taken the gaming world by storm. 10 million players have played it in approx. 72 hours. Whether it has staying power remains to be seen. Oh, I also one my first match today. It is a three-person team, and my contribution was healing, revives, and calling enemies, but even though I wasn’t the “star” on the team, my help was both necessary and critical to the win! 🙂

Miscellaneous

  • So, not much going on outside of work–for school and for my second job.
  • Oh, I got new contact lenses, but I don’t think there going to work out. I’m extremely near-sighted so we added a “multifocus” lens so that I could do better at reading, but in doing so, the distance is now very blurry and limited and I’m not really “feeling” them. While I can’t go back to my old pair (too old), I may have to try to see if we can’t give up some “reading” clarity to get some clarity for my distant vision because of all the driving that I do.

Sidney




  • Current Work-in-Progress–February 2019: Project Dog  (Sci-Fi Short-Story – 1st Draft)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows (Sci-Fi Graphic Novel – Script, Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32)

Characters Lead The Way

So I’m probably doing what I always do, which is obsess over the details way too much, but after not really caring about characters over the last few years–well, that’s not really true as I cared about them, but cared about the plot and the action far more. However, now that I’m looking for ideas on creating better and more fully fleshed out characters, I’m finding inspiration everywhere.

I’m very close to finishing Babylon 5’s entire run (I think I have about 2 or 3 more episodes), so imagine my surprise when I saw a slew of writing based suggestion videos on YouTube dealing featuring J. Michael Straczynski describing his process on writing, especially characters and characterization.

Writing Excuses Podcast

So there’s a podcast that I listen to called Writing Excuses and they just finished a whole “season” (most of the year) dealing with characters and characterization. I’ve not listened to the whole season yet–you’d think a hour and forty-five minute drive would allow me to stay current, especially when the episodes are only 20 minutes once a week, but when the other podcasts I follow are 45 minutes – 1 1/2 hours, then it is easy to get behind. However, one of the contributors is Brandon Sanderson, one of my current favorite authors, so I really try to listen whenever I can for advice, tips, and “tricks” to help me become a better writer.

The Character “Sketch”

I’ve mentioned it before, but I’m using a “Character Sketch” worksheet from Scrivener to help me create better, more fully fleshed out characters. It has several questions that one answers including occupation, mannerisms, etc., that should help be create better characters. Here, I think actual artists would have an advantage as they can draw their characters in order to express the characteristics they want to show, but I have to use words to create an image or “picture” of who my character is in the story.

Still, even a basic character sketch seems to be helping me create better and more fully fleshed out characters.

Sidney




  • Current Work-in-Progress–February 2019: Project Dog  (Sci-Fi Short-Story – 1st Draft)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows (Sci-Fi Graphic Novel – Script, Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32)