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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Something Old and Something New

Image Source: https://resoundcollective.org/something-old-something-new/

While last weekend wasn’t as restful as I’d hoped–more on that in a different blog post–I did manage to turn a major milestone for myself this semester (although pretty much most of my professors–not all, just most of them–would be pretty unimpressed). For me, however, it represent a sort of moral victory after the absolutely crudey week that had.

Something Old

So, rather than beating around the bush, I just want to let readers of the blog know that I “finished” the short story “Starlight, Starbright,” and sent it off to the first market in its long trek to get published. I was not able to get it finished in time to send to the market that only opens for 1 week every four months (Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores). Small digression here: I really wish they would change that to the entire month as trying to keep track of the one week they are open every quarter is very hard when you have work, school, and all the responsibilities that I do. I’ve had to set a repeating “appointment” on my phone’s calendar just so that I have a hope managing to catch at least one of their open periods throughout the year. Anyway, I had a friend at the Writing Center (thanks Toni!) read over it to for polishing and to catch my biggest writing nemesis: “dropped out words.” Afterwards, I found a market that does Fantasy and Science Fiction (Deep Magic) to start it on its journey. While I won’t necessarily update the blog with every place it goes, I will definitely update you all on where it ultimately winds up–and I’d love for it to be Deep Magic as it seems like a quality market (but that’s not up to me–I only write the piece as best I can and then hope for the best).

Something New

So, I’ve now switched my focus to my new story, Project Dog. I finished writing the character sketch for the main character and I’ve written out the rough draft (most of it–I need to go back and finish the ending). I’ll keep everyone appraised of its progress. I’ve discovered that I simply can’t work on multiple things at a time. I have to finish one or two things and then move on to the next. I’ve toyed with the idea of “long” and “short” projects for a while now and now I feel I just need to commit to it. I just need to work on 1 “short project” (essentially a short story or maybe an academic essay) that is less than 25 total pages. I then have enough brain cells to spare for 1 “long project” (essentially a graphic novel, novel, screenplay, dissertation, etc.) that is over 25 pages in length. No matter how engaging another project may be, I’m simply going to have to limit myself because I just don’t have the time/ability to do more than this. So work will continue on DSRV Outrider until I finish it and send it off and then I can work on something else. I just don’t have time to do more than this, so as long as I get them to be the best I can, I’ll hopefully be satisfied with the quality of the work if not the quantity of production.

Anyway, that’s all I have for now. Have a great day and thanks for reading!

Sidney

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




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

The Tao of Rest

This weekend and the first two days of this week were Fall Break for me and I went ahead and took the entire time to rest and recover.  As I said previously in another blog entry, this semester has been a challenge, so Saturday, I just rested and the results speak for themselves.

A Little Bit of Rest = A Whole New Project

I love creating–if there was job where a I could just create Sci-Fi and Fantasy worlds over and over again and get paid for it, that’s what I would do.  Writing is the closest thing to that “dream” reality, so that’s why I write short-stories and why I’m trying to expand those stories into longer and longer works with the end goal being to turn them into novels, movies, and TV series.  Not two hours after I awoke from a simple nap, a new project with a new setting, history, and tendrils of a “character” came into focus.  While not as visual as a “dream,” it feels more grounded because there’s a history behind the story world.

Those Who Forget their History . . .

This project is an epic Science Fiction project that spans multiple worlds and has a fairly cool backstory.  While I don’t want to give specifics just yet, I think that Stargate is the closest reference point to the project.  I would actually like to use Stargate as a prototype with its variety of formats.  There’s a movie, multiple TV series, graphic novels, etc., and I would like to do the same.  I think I would like to cover different time periods in different mediums.  A short story for one type of project, a graphic novel for a different time period, etc.  I’m not naming the project just yet as I’m no where near ready to work on it, but still, I have to say, for me–a little bit of rest goes a long way.

Have a great weekend!

Sidney




  • Current Work-in-Progress: The Independent (Sci-Fi Short-Story – 2nd Draft)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Project Star (Sci-Fi Short-Story -1st Draft)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows (Sci-Fi Graphic Novel – Script, Issue #1, Currently on Script Page 28)

 

Inhabiting Characters

character-poster-elements-of-literature-round-flat-characterization

PowerPoint Slide showing various types of characters and topics in characterization. Image Source: The Cutest Blog on the Block (http://beccab8.blogspot.com/2015/06/characters.html)

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

  • Revision Month (i.e., “2nd Draft” Central)
    Trying to figure this month out as I was sick and exhausted yesterday, so I worked on the rough draft of a new project, “Project Captain.” At home, I have two 1st Drafts I’d like to work on, “Project Dog,” and “Project Paradise”, in addition to three 2nd Drafts I’d like to focus on “Whale Song”, “Project Sky,” and “The Independent.” I have to decide how I’m going to proceed as there’s no way that I’m going to be able to get through all of those in one month.
  • Whale Song Revision (Fantasy Short Story) (2nd Draft)
    (Researched an article on Whaling, think that I have the two characters–a brother and a sister who are on the opposite sides of the issue.  Still, no Writing so far). Need to find a place to work in revisions–I can draft new material just fine, but I don’t seem to have any time to work on “drafting” revisions.

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.
    The Belgariad David Eddings
    Last week was NOT a good week, so I needed some “comfort food” for reading and my go to book for “comfort food” is the Belgariad (followed closely by Diane Duane’s So You Want To Be a Wizard.)
  • For School:
    Afrofuturism (by Ytasha Womack): This book describes the academic genre of Afrofuturism (essentially African American Science Fiction that deals with social issues in culture).  I just finished Chapter 5 today and I’m at the beginning of Chapter 6 (this book has 10 chapters).
    Wrote out a fairly extensive list of possible research topics to explore from chapter 5. Really intriguing book.
  • 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.

Librarians Lead the Way

So, on the first Saturday of the month, I stopped off at the Chattanooga Public Library to talk to some of the librarians who I once worked with for a few moments. I happened to talk with another librarian who also writes fiction and I was reminded about why I write and the importance of character in stories.

Swapping Stories

When I dropped off my Graphic Novel script, she happened to mention a story that she was working on that, while not genre (Fantasy/Sci-Fi), was still quite intriguing and would be something that I’m sure readers will enjoy when she writes it and gets it published.  However, I was struck by her focus on characters and characterization.  Even at the idea stage, she was really focused on how characters acted in the story, their motivations behind their actions, and the interactions between the characters. This blew my mind! And, I made sure that I told her so–her conceptions of characters and characterizations at the planning stage were light-years beyond what I seem to be able to do, so I learned from her and I’m really going to double down on characters and characterization from now on.

Developing Characters

One of the things that my librarian friend was really good at was drawing characteristics and traits from real life people and then applying them to her characters in a way that made sense for her story. She is really good at figuring out the motivations for what people do and the history involved in their lives and then applying that to highlighting what she needs to for the plot. For the rest of this year, this going to be something that I practice–looking at people in real-life and seeing if I can figure out a possible history for them and motivations of the traits that I see them exhibit. I used to be fairly good at that, but I don’t think I really applied them to characters. So, you’ll probably see lots of posts on characterization as I try to improve and get better at it.

Have a great day!

Sidney




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I earn a small commission on the purchase of these items.

 

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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I earn a small commission on the purchase of these items.

Project Independence–One Week To Go

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

  • Project Independence Word Count: @4000 words (+203 words)
  • Project Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel Page Count: 12

Goal = 167 words (5000 words by July 1).  Currently at approximately, 4100 words
Actual = 0 words Thursday/Friday night.  I wasn’t able to write Thursday night due to fatigue.  Friday night I came home, but was stuck in traffic, meaning that instead of getting home in enough time to write, I was very late getting home and by that time fatigue had set in.

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

  • For Fun:
    Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson (Fantasy Novel, Stormlight Archive Book 3) (somewhere in 1000s in terms of page count–nearly at the end of the book.
  • 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.
    Lingua FractalA Rhetoric book that details the convergence of Rhetoric and Technology and how they interact in today’s world.  Finished a Book Review for it on Friday for class.
  • 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.

One Week to Go

So, I have one week to go on my (self-imposed) deadline for finishing the First Draft for Project Independence.  I have a several former co-workers at the Chattanooga Public Library who serve as my “Alpha Readers” and who give me reactions about the story.  When I worked at the CPLmy supervisor tried to make sure that everyone in the department got at least one weekend off every month.  Mine was the first Saturday of the month.  Since I’ve left the library, I’ve lost that as a “driving force,” and that’s why I’m working so hard to try finish the story by this date.  I know this works, and like I’ve said before, I really try to find something that works, I try to replicate it as best as I can–“If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Would Like to Finish 1st Draft on Independence Day

It would be really cool to finish the story on Independence Day.  This year, Independence Day is on Wednesday.  The symmetry of finishing the project on Independence Day would be awesome, but I don’t think that I can realistically make it based on all of the school assignments that I still have left to do this week.  As this is the last week of school, I believe that I will be working quite diligently to finish all of the material due before the week is over.

1st Draft–Telling Yourself the Story

So, Project Independence is the first project where I’m really concerned with drafting (i.e., going through multiple drafts) until the story comes out like I envision it.  Usually when I finish a story, I edit it and then begin submitting it unless there’s something truly wrong with it or it doesn’t come close to matching my original vision for the story.  Now I’m committed to going through at least three drafts, focusing on different aspects each draft to see if I can improve my writing (& selling) of my work.  Right now, the first draft is me just telling myself the story.  There is a quote that I found online that (I believe) is attributed to Neil Gaiman that (paraphrased) says that the 1st Draft is you telling yourself the story.  The implication is that it really doesn’t matter how good (or bad) that draft is because you’re just trying to get the fundamental elements of the story down on the page.  You can go back and strengthen, revise, and reshape the draft later–just get the story down on page.  This is what Project Independence represents for me.  Just getting it down on the page.  However, this is where I usually edit it and start submitting and this time I don’t intend to to that.

I’ll have a blog post later in the week that talks more about my drafting process, but suffice to say, Wednesday, July the 4th would be an ideal deadline, but Saturday, July 7 is my absolute deadline that I’m working towards.  Wish me luck!

Sidney




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I earn a small commission on the purchase of these items.

 

 

 

 

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




Amazon Associate Disclaimer:
I earn a small commission on the purchase of these items.