The Independent = Project Independence (aka Space Truckers)–Finished a First Draft of the Story

BOATS

Word Count (What I’m Writing); Updated every 2-3 Days (mostly)

  • Project Ship of Shadows (Graphic Novel) Page Count: 12
  • Whale Song Revision (Fantasy Short Story) (2nd Draft)

Goal = 3 Pages a week.  Working on Rough Drafting a Graphic Novel Page on one day and then writing the page on an alternate day.  250 Words a day on the Whale Song Revision–focusing on the characters this time.
Actual =

Currently Reading (What I’m Reading); Updated Weekly (mostly)

  • For Fun:
    Transhuman edited by Mark L. Van Name and T. F. K. Weisskopf
    Just started this anthology – it was given to me at a LibertyCon some years ago, but I’ve just now gotten around to reading it. I may not finish it/read all the stories, but so far, I’ve read the first story and liked it.
    Traveller RPG: I started this a while ago as a book that I was reading just before bedtime, but I didn’t really make much headway.  I restarted it and I’ve just finished the introductory character generation section and I’m now moving on to the skills section and will be soon moving into the “lore” section.  This is a revamp (rules 2.0) of an old school British RPG from the 1980s.  Updated for modern times, this fairly short book still gives a great set of rules, game system, and lore that I hope will serve as inspiration for new sci-fi works in my own writing life.
  • For School:
    Ancient Rhetorics, Digital Networks: A book that combines New Media (digital rhetorics) and combines them with ideas and theories of the Ancient Rhetorics.
  • For Research/Personal Development:
    Great Aircraft of WWII by Alfred Price and Mike Spick (for Project Skye)
    Great Aircraft of WWII is a book that I’ve had in my collection for sometime–I’ve glanced at it periodically, but never read it cover-to-cover.  Now, with Project Skye, I intend to do just that.

The Independent = Project Independence (aka Space Truckers)!

So I finished a First Draft of a story!  I finished Project Skye earlier this year and I thought I was out of the wood in terms of creating new stories.  However, when I tried to finished Project Poet (the First Draft), it fell apart.  I think I know what happened (a fantasy story with NO magic–just lost interest in it), but the 250 words goal and the “gamification” of Scrivener’s Writing Goals, I finished the story on Friday (July 6th) and t is out to my “alpha” readers.  While I intend to do an in-depth project notes (Author’s Note) posting sometime after the 3rd Draft, I feel that it was huge WIN for me to finish this story by my own “self-imposed” deadline.

250 Words a Day (Mostly)

So, I mostly wrote and stuck to the 250 Words a Day goal that I set for mysef.  Actually, before school started in June and a little into the first week of June, I wrote more than 250 Words a Day.  I discovered that I could write about 650 words in a writing session before I started to get “fatigued.”  As I’d written so much earlier, when I finally got behind in school work and couldn’t do the full 250 words, the Scrivener goal system was only requiring about 150-175 words, which worked out just fine.  I did miss a few days, but never more than 2-3 days in a row.  I also discovered that I don’t write on Saturday nights or Sunday nights, just on weekday nights, but I do tend to brainstorm new ideas on Saturday afternoons/nights, so there is that.  So, it looks like drafting will happen on weekdays and brainstorming/creating will happen on the weekends.

What’s Next?

I’m working on creating some sort of schedule–drafting a new story and revising old stories.  Apple used to work on a “Tick-Tock” cycle.  Tick = new product, while Tock = Revision.  That’s sort of the methodology that I’m working with right now.  This month will be a “Tock” cycle where I revise two works: Ship of Shadows Graphic Novels and Whale Song Revision (which I work-shopped last year at the University’s Writing Center and have been meaning to revise for a while).  This will be a Second Draft, so I will try to apply the lessons that I learned with The Independent to finish this new draft and I will be focusing on characterization of the main characters.   This is where editorial feedback was pretty consistent–the main character just didn’t resonate for most readers so I will be radically changing that character (fingers crossed).

That’s all I have for now!  Have a good day.

Sidney




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A “Big Dog” Barks

Word Count (What I’m Writing); Updated Daily (mostly)

  • Project Independence Word Count: @3700 words (+0 words)
  • Project Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel Page Count: 12

Goal = 168 words (5000 words by July 1).
Actual = Dead tired after that insane 15 hour day.  0 words written last night.  Hopefully, I can do better tonight.

Currently Reading (What I’m Reading); Updated Daily (mostly)

  • For Fun:
    Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson (Fantasy Novel, Stormlight Archive Book 3) (somewhere in 850s in terms of page count–more than ¾th of the way through .)
  • For School:
    Ancient Rhetorics, Digital Networks: A book that combines New Media (digital rhetorics) and combines them with ideas and theories of the Ancient Rhetorics.
  • For Research/Personal Development:
    Great Aircraft of WWII by Alfred Price and Mike Spick (for Project Skye)

Reading two or three chapters in Oathbringer every day.  I really shouldn’t be, but it is so good, that I generally read it while eating dinner (and then I go back out to the library to do reading for school).   Great Aircraft of WWII is a book that I’ve had in my collection for sometime–I’ve glanced at it periodically, but never read it cover-to-cover.  Now, with Project Skye, I intend to do just that.

Game Mode On (What I’m Playing); Updated Weekly (Mondays)

  • Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands (Ubisoft Multi-platform): Open World, Third Person Tactical Shooter–About ¾th of the way through.  Special Ops/Military combat in a fictional Bolivia taken over by a Mexican drug cartel.

    Still working my way through–I’m trying to clear out a province a week, but because I’m catching up from E3 so I only got to clear about ½ of the province I’m currently working on.  I was planning on finishing that province today, but I have far too much to do today, so I’m not going to get to play it next week.
  • Until Dawn (Sony PS4 Exclusive): Third Person, Horror– branching storyline game that features a variety of choices that affect the outcome of the story using a system call the “Butterfly Effect.” I got further along, but now I have a decision to make: do I let the “creepy” best friend die, or do I let the character’s potential girlfriend die.  I decided to stop right there.

Creating a Character

Last week (at least, I think it was last week) I talked a little about the development of a new short story that I’m working on: Project Dog.  Well, I’ve had the plot (events) of the story in my head now for a while (over 2 years).  I’ve written a plot outline for the story (I’ve mapped out what happens from beginning to end), but when I started to write the story, I found that it fell apart after the first few paragraphs.  I created two characters: Etienne and Genevieve, who are Canadian (as the story ostensible takes place in Canada).  However, I’m not Canadian.  I’ve only known one Canadian in my life (from a Creative Writing class, no less), and I only knew him for the one semester, so already I was ignoring a cardinal rule of fiction: write what you know.  So I’m going back to basics and I’m working on a conception of a new set of characters based on characters/people who I do know.

James “Big Dog” Robinson

Just so you know, “James Robinson” is likely a placeholder name.  The nickname “Big Dog” is actually the only thing that is definite.  This character is definitely an African American male (or this universe’s version of it as America, Canada, Mexico, and Central America are no longer individual countries).  As the setting is the future, borders have shifted and James is a product of his world.  I’m working now on creating 1) his backstory–how did he get to the “Canada” environment from the “deep south” environment where he grew up (I think I have an answer for this) and 2) his inner and outer conflicts (I believe I have his outer conflict, but I’m looking for a realistic inner conflict for him).  He is a squad leader, the leader of the “Dog Pack,” a futuristic group (sorry for being so vague here, but I don’t want to give away the mystery of the story.”

Inner vs Outer Conflict

So, I’m sort of obsessing over this element of the character (even more than a simple description of character or completely knowing his history).  Dragonhawk is the ONLY story that I’ve ever had accepted on the first try.  It is ALSO the ONLY story I’ve ever done a true “character sketch” for (Description, History/Bio, Inner vs Outer Conflict).  Being reflective about my writing, I think I’m non being successful in completing stories because of 1) lack of character development (esp. early in the project at the planning stage) and 2) lack of going through the “drafting” process (essentially only doing one or two “drafts” before moving on to the editing/submission process–not dramatizing the story enough/using enough techniques.

Hopefully, this will allow me to be a better “writer” and a better “storyteller.”  Fingers crossed.  Have a great weekend.  🙂

Sidney




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Who Let the Dogs Out? June’s New Project = Project Dog

Word Count (What I’m Writing); Updated Daily (mostly)

  • Project Paradise Word Count: 357
  • Project Skye Word Count: 1617
  • Project Independence Word Count: 3041 
  • Project Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel Page Count: 12

0.  Zero. Nada. Zilch. That’s my level of production since Tuesday of next week.  What happened?  Bad day on Wednesday and a realization that I’m still not focusing on enough on characters when I sit down to “plot” out my stories.  To be fair, school and reading for school interrupted as well as I should write after class (about 4:15), but usually end up spending the time in the sun outside watching YouTube videos instead.  

Currently Reading (What I’m Reading); Updated Daily (mostly)

  • For Fun:
    Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson (Fantasy Novel, Stormlight Archive Book 3)
  • For School:
    Rhetoric in the European Tradition by Thomas Conley (A Book on the History of Rhetoric)
    Rereading the Sophists: Another book on the history of Rhetoric
  • For Research/Personal Development:
    Great Aircraft of WWII by Alfred Price and Mike Spick (for Project Skye)

I wanted to read Oathbringer over the summer break before classes started again, but BS said that it might be helpful to read a Novella entitled, Edgedancer, before starting on Oathbringer.  I finally found a copy at MTSU’s library and I’m reading it now.  X gives a history of Rhetoric.  Great Aircraft of WWII is a book that I’ve had in my collection for sometime–I’ve glanced at it periodically, but never read it cover-to-cover.  Now, with Project Skye, I intend to do just that.

Game Mode On (What I’m Playing); Updated Weekly (Mondays)

  • Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands (Ubisoft Multi-platform): Open World, Third Person Tactical Shooter–About ¾th of the way through.  Special Ops/Military combat in a fictional Bolivia taken over by a Mexican drug cartel.  Difficulty is auto-leveling to its hardest difficulty (Tier One status) and it is slowing down my progress in the game as enemies take more hits to die, but you take far fewer hits to die.  Difficulty is currently set to ADVANCED–the game’s doing, not mine.  Very irksome when all you want to do is finish the game.
  • Until Dawn (Sony PS4 Exclusive): Third Person, Horror– branching storyline game that features a variety of choices that affect the outcome of the story using a system call the “Butterfly Effect.”  As I’m writing this, I haven’t put any time into this game as of this weekend because of E3.

Characters First

So, I just wanted to give readers of the blog a “sneak peek” of what I’m working on this month.  I have notebook after notebook of ideas as well as various projects that are in various states of development.  Project Dog was something that I was working on last summer, but put it away because I couldn’t get the characters right.  I have (what I think) is a strong story, but I couldn’t figure out a way to get the characters to be meaningful or emotional.  So, I’ve gone back to the drawing board.  I’m going to to try to create characters that I would read and enjoy for this second attempt at this project.  When I start, I’m starting not with the story, but with the characters first.

Doggy Dog

A little more on the actual project.  While it wasn’t inspired by the Prothesis Mech Racing, this is the closest analogy to what the Mechs look like in this world (that we have in the real world).  The main character (at the moment) is the leader of a squadron of dog-like Mechs called the Bulldogs.  And yes, the Bulldogs have a problem that they need to overcome.  I’ll leave that alone for now, but I really feel that I have a strong narrative for this one (we’ll see–that’s what I thought for my last two stories).

A New Plan

My goal is to “re-envision” this project by starting with the characters first.  Hopefully, if I can find some really good characters and knock this out of the park.  After I get the characters and create character sketches, I’ll redo the plot outline, and then write a rough draft.  I will hopefully also be able to jot down some ideas for the world and the setting as well.  My goal is to be able to start a 1st draft for this project in July after I finish working on the 2nd draft of Project Skye.  I’ll then keep drafting (going through at least 3 drafts, more if needed) until I get to a draft where I think the story is “showing, not telling.”  If I’m successful, then I’ll do this for all my projects (old and new) going forward.  If not, I’ll tinker with my process some more until I can come up with a process that gets me a story that I’m happy with and that sells to the markets.  I’m producing stories, but I’m not selling them anymore and this is a drag.  Anyway, hopefully I can get back to creating stories that sell and that help move me forward in my goal of becoming a professional writer.

Sidney




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Celebrate Good Times

Important Note:  This is the final week of school for me and then Final Exam Week occurs Friday through Thursday of the following week.  I have a final paper and final exam (and to be honest, I’m behind on other school work as well), so the blog entries may be a bit erratic for the next two weeks.  I’ll try to be consistent, but I may not always upload a daily entry during these two weeks.

Celebrating Student Writing

I missed Friday’s blog entry because I attended an event at my school, MTSU called the Celebration of Student Writing (CSW).  This is the second year that it was held and it is a really neat event for student writers.  Imagine a Science Fair, but instead of science projects, the students talk about the writing projects that they’ve been working on in class.  While some students used technology (one presentation that I listened to was a Podcast)for the most part, it is a decidedly old school affair with tri-fold poster-boards and images to help illustrate the topic.

I’m including a link to a video that Dr. Detweiler of MTSU and his students helped to create last year about the CSW.  Fun fact: I’m actually in the video (unknown to me before I saw it–see if you can find me)

Student Writing

This event is important in that it gives students a chance to talk about their writing in an authentic writing environment.  Too often, papers are just that: “papers” written only to be turned in or read by professors/teachers.  Events like this gives students a chance to interact with an audience to be able to engage and explain their writing work and choices.

Not to go too political here, but this is where politicians err when it comes to funding of higher education and education initiatives.  They complain that higher education is too liberal (or conservative, or whatever is popular to “hate” on in the moment), and complain about the quality of students’ reading/writing/learning (the whole “Why Johnny can’t read” motif), but when events such as the CSW are planned and initiated, they neither show up, nor provide funding, nor talk about them as successes to counteract the stigma that they themselves have created.

This event was dreamed, planned, and executed by a core group of English professors, graduate students, and of course, the writers of the future–student writers.

Have a great day!

Sidney



Being a More Prolific and Professional Writer

So, this will be a shorter post today, but I wanted to riff on something that I read today.  I found a writing prompt that I would like to use with my students–Simile But Different.  There is an extra box in the Pdf version that talks about being a better writer and not comparing yourself/competing with other writers and that’s what I want to talk about today.

Being more Prolific

The advice that the article mentions is that if you want to be more prolific, you need to set aside more time for writing.  This is the change that I’ve been making for the past few weeks and this has helped immensely.  I tend to wake up early on most days, so I try to get up and just draft.  Sometimes that means working on the blog and sometimes it means working on my fiction.  I really need to find a way to shorten the time it takes to write the blog so that I can get both blog and fiction done at the same time.  I have a tendency to either 1) write long or 2) spend too much time trying to get everything just right that it also takes more time to write and I end up either giving my fiction not enough time or not working on the fiction at all.  I still have a lot of downtime where I’m waiting in lines at the store or something similar where I could whip out my phone and pop a couple of sentences/paragraphs out, so I still have some work to do.

Being more Professional

The second piece of advice that I really liked in the piece is that is argues that if you want to be more professional, you should makes sure your work is edited and revised before you send it out.  I’m going to have to work on this myself.  Here Be Monsters has had 25 submissions so far without a sale, so I decided that I should probably relook at it and I found so many issues that I could have sworn that I fixed in the original editing pass.  Since it had so many problems, I also decided to do what Rhonda Parrish had me do with Faerie Knight which was to cut essentially 1/3rd of the story.  Rhonda Parrish also had me look at the ending and essentially end it without any falling action–just climax, and one sentence of understanding/epiphany and then end the story.  While I wasn’t able to quite get there for HBM, I did rework the ending to make Rafe (the main character) more appealing than he was originally (one market didn’t like HBM because they didn’t think he was a very sympathetic/appealing character and this change was to alleviate this problem).

Anyway, that’s all for today.  Have a good one!

Sidney



 

One Down, Two To Go

Citizen X
So, the disadvantage to being able to check your email on your phone means that you are never “disconnected.”  During a bit of downtime during the Super Bowl on this past Sunday, I happened to check my phone and saw that I had an email from the market where Citizen X was on the short list.  I also noticed just by the first sentence that it was a Rejection Notice (You can always tell a Rejection Notice by the way it starts–that “formality” that we all shift into whenever we have to tell another person bad news).  It didn’t put a damper on the game/commercials/fun of the evening, but it was distracting.  Something that I wished that I could have seen on Monday morning, rather than on Sunday evening.  Ah, well, that’s life.  At least, it was short-listed.

Silence Will Fall
I should probably here of SWF’s fate shortly.  The email mentioned early February is when the market whose short-list SWF is on would make a decision.  HawkeMoon was on the short-list at this market as well, but it didn’t make it, but who knows if SWF will make it or not.  I like Silence Will Fall quite a bit, but then I liked HawkeMoon as well, so its always a bit of a “crapshoot.”  There’s a movie coming out soonish that seems to have the same take on SWF (i.e., if you make noise, bad things will happen, but it looks to be a “zombie” movie, rather than a science fiction one).  I hope that the movie doesn’t render my story as an “also-ran” because mine was conceived first and deals with a science fiction concept, but the key idea of “sound” is in both which may be detrimental to my being able to market it in the future (i.e., we’ve seen that concept already in such-and-such movie).

Here Be Monsters
While this one isn’t on a short-list, it is still out for consideration at a market with an upcoming anthology.  Don’t know if the editor is going to choose this story or not.  He’s accepted one story and rejected two others, so far I believe (going by what has been reported via authors who track their stories on Duotrope.  However, my story is one of at least 17 submissions (again, based on Duotrope’s tracking) still awaiting a decision.  Nothing to do here except be patient and see what happens.

Upcoming
Rather than just resting on my laurels, I am actively working on trying to finish the rough draft of Project Skies (the short story with Skye to discover her character)–I am currently drafting section 3 of 3, revising All Tomorrow’s Children to start submitting (I’m currently revising section 2 of 3), researching my next story, Project OPaK.  I had to go all the way back to June of last year to discover the name that I’d given this project.  I also noticed that I really like to introduce Projects, but I’m much slower at finishing them (a blog post for another time).  I have photocopied research for this project and I will transition into Project OPaK as soon as I finish Project Skies.

Two stories Shortlisted–“Citizen X” and “Silence Will Fall”

I just wanted to let everyone know that I currently have two short stories on the “Short List” at two different publishers.  I should learn of their fate later this month.

Citizen X
Citizen X was a bit of a surprise.  I wrote it around the time of Here Be Monsters, but much like HBM it wasn’t highly regarded as I submitted it.  The ending was also something that seemed a bit controversial, so I pulled it from, intending to rewrite it.  However, I began to feel that I was too harsh towards the story and began submitting it again.  I was fairly surprised that it made it to the “short list” round for a publication–I mean, I wrote it, so of course I liked it, but I didn’t publishers would.  Here’s keeping my fingers crossed for it.  Even if it doesn’t make it for publication, I have to count it as a small victory that it made it to the “short list.”

Silence Will Fall
Silence Will Fall is a story that I’ve chronicled many times on the blog–it even has its own Author’s Note where I talk about the genesis and writing of the story.  It also is a triumph of the MTSU Writing Center, as my Consultant graciously helped with a revision of the piece to make sure that the ending that I “re-wrote” made sense and matched the rest of the tone of the piece.  While I have no control of the process anymore–it is strictly in the editors’ hands–I’d love for this one to get published, if only to give my Writing Center Consultant praise for a job well done!

The Short List
In case there are any who may not know what a “Short List” is: it simply means that the story has passed the first round of initial rejections.  The editors will then make a decision for the stories included in their publication from these stories.  Essentially, stories from this “short list” will make it in.  Making it to the short list is similar to making it to a 2nd interview to get a job, or getting nominated in a category for a prestigious award, like the Oscars.  There’s no guarantee of getting the job, or winning the award, but your chances are better–you haven’t been rejected altogether.  That’s the way it works in publishing as well.  No guarantees–they both could come back with a rejection, but at least those two stories haven’t been rejected outright.

Have a good weekend!
Sidney
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