Getting It Done

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.

Getting it Done

So, there is a screenwriting channel on YouTube that I recently found and it has reignited my passion for screenwriting and storytelling, in general.  One of the interviewees talked about working at several jobs and working tables as a waitress while writing in order to have steady income until writing became her primary occupation.  I really liked what she had to say–the problem is, she specifically referenced writing at night after the job was over.

I really like the idea of writing while working until writing becomes your primary job as this feels a lot like what I’m trying to do even while I’m in school.  However, I’ve found that writing after class is next to impossible for me.  I usually have to expend so much energy getting ready for class (reading, writing, papers, etc.), that by the time I get home, I’m usually mentally drained.

Adjusting to Make it Work for You

So, for me I really need to do my writing before going to class, to work, or wherever/whatever I need to do, otherwise I do a lot of thinking about writing, but I never actually seem to write.  Writing at the end of the day just doesn’t seem to work for me and since the writing process is so individual, you have to take whatever advice you think will work for you, try it, and then adjust it as you need to do so.  For me, writing before is better than writing at the end.  Just like for the interviewee in the above YouTube video, I really like writing and my projects.  I’m just not a “night-owl,” so I’ll need to adjust my way of thinking and incorporate her advice so that it works for a “bright-eyed, up-and-at-’em” type of morning person that I am.

Whatever works is a good motto to have if you’re a writer–you just need to make sure to adjust and apply (writing) advice to your own unique process and situation.  Something that I need to remember and be reminded of from time to time.

Sidney



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Larger Than Life

Image Source: IZQuotes.com

Reserved by Nature

I am a reserved person by nature. You’ll never find me gadding around being the life of the party. I am quiet and most definitely an introvert. However, as I’m writing Project Poet, I’m finding that maybe my characters really aren’t ciphers, but rather maybe they are too much like me– very quiet and reserved.

Larger Than Life Characters

People want distinctive and memorable characters. I personally am not distinctive or memorable unless I truly want to be–my choice (heck, yes would be hard pressed to find an image of me online) . However, in writing characters who are just extensions of various parts of my psyche, I’ve unwittingly been writing boring characters rather than dynamic and unique ones.

Living La Vita Loca

So, a way to fix this is to give my characters a one-word trait to describe the character’s behavior. For instance, the character for Project Poet just wants to have fun–so “frat-boy”/”party-guy” would get that fun loving personality with a little bit of immaturity & insecurity. Now I just need to characterize (show how these traits manifest themselves in the story) him better and make sure he is larger than life. I also need to make sure his backstory reflects his fun loving outlook on life.

To steal from a popular saying: “go big or go home!”

Sidney



250 Words a Day

Why 250 Words?

As I detailed in a different blog post, 250 words (using a serif font, like Courier, or the like), when typed out on the page and double spaced, equals about 1 page of manuscript draft.  So for instance, if you set the margins to about 1 inch/1.25 inches, double space, and set the font to Courier, then once you’ve typed your draft from top (ignoring headers) to the bottom (ignoring the footers), you should have approximately 250 words on that page.  This was a trick that typographers in the 1930s-1970s used when setting type from authors manuscripts during the heyday of popular fiction/reading in America. It was so ingrained that it was repeated in the writing handbooks of the day (I know because my local library used to have a fairly large selection of how to write books in the 800s that were fairly old when I was growing up and I often saw this advice–too bad that I really didn’t try to use this advice earlier in life–ah, the follies of youth).

By Any Means Necessary

Now that I know this and now that I know many prolific writers have word counts, I’ve started with the very basic–let’s try for 1 page a day (=250 words).  So far, I’ve been fairly consistent and I’ve managed to finish Project Skies and I’m on Scene 2 (of 3) for Project Poet.  The key is trying to get 250 words down by any means necessary.  Yesterday, I failed at it–I’m just going to be honest.  I only managed about 75 words on Project Poet because I left it too late in the day and by the time bedtime came around, I just didn’t feel like working it (Too tired–I was asleep minutes after going to bed).  This morning, when I awoke, and I tried to write while eating breakfast, but the words wouldn’t come.  I took a shower and then thought about all of the schoolwork that I have to do today and tomorrow and the words on the story came flowing out of me–I had to stop writing it so that I could work on the blog.  If I have other things to do (such as schoolwork), I stop putting off the writing, but if I don’t have other things to do, then its the writing that I put off.  As I always have plenty of schoolwork to do, maybe that’s the key–250 words before starting on the schoolwork

Now I just have to find a way to make sure that my schoolwork doesn’t suffer.  😉

Sidney



Two, Two, Two Writing Styles in One

AcademicWritingCreativeWriting_SheltechConsultants

Two Types of Writing: “Formal” (Academic) and Creative Writing.  Image Source: Sheltech Consultants

Academic Writer

One the things that I’ve learned over the past two years is that I have two different writing styles–and they are incompatible with each other.  The first type of writing style is my academic writing style.  This style is super strange in that I need to first find a “container” or “form” for me to be successful.  Once I find a form/container, I’m good.  I can basically write and finish a draft and that draft will be very strong and either may be the one I turn in or only needs to be edited in order to be turned in.  The real time consuming element is finding that “container”/”form”/”design” (or Thesis).  Once I have that, the rest is just putting words on paper.  Writing this blog is akin to academic writing for me: my container = the headings.  Once I put the headings down into the blog post, the rest of it is just writing the words underneath (and that’s the “secret sauce” to the writing of my blog posts).

Creative Writer

So, what I’ve learned during my time at MTSU, is that my academic writing style does NOT work for my creative writing style.  To write creatively, I (personally–may not be applicable to anyone else), need to “build” my stories draft by draft.  I have to take the time to outline (foundation), rough draft (framing), “working draft” (interiors & finishing construction), and submission draft (cleaning and landscaping).  I HAVE to go through all these stages, adding, refining, and generally making the project better at each stage of the process.  One draft will NOT suffice under any circumstances for me (even if I have the container/form.  Skipping through these stages doesn’t work for me–either I go through these stages, or I end up with incomplete drafts or abandoned projects.

Two in One

What I’ve learned is that I need to switch between the two as necessary.  Why have I continued to try to force my academic writing style on myself as my creative writing style is unknown to me.  However, if school is about learning, then I’ve at least found one great thing out about myself that I may be able to use to my advantage in my writing life.

Sidney



Project “Space Trucker”

Project Space Trucker

So this will be a short blog entry today.  I just wanted to let you know that I’ve started the “Rough Draft” of a new project: Project Space Trucker.  Yes, I know the title is inelegant, but it is what the story is about.  Well, not literally about Semi-Trucks in space, but about the future and how a “Trucker” in the future might be realized in terms of world/setting, characterization, plot, etc.

This project has no relation to the 1996 movie Space Truckers.  I’ve never seen that movie & didn’t even know it existed until I googled the words Space & Truck for the above image.  After seeing the trailer (see below), I’ve no real desire to see the movie as it is apparently B movie in every sense of the word (bikini-clad female co-pilot and ship that apparently has a semi-truck “trailer” attached to the back of the ship).  If I ever run across it on streaming (& I have a couple of hours to kill), I might watch it now that I know it exists, but its not something I’m going to go searching for as you can see for yourself from the Trailer posted on YouTube.

Inspiration

No, this project was inspired quite a bit by my commute to school.  I often pass by Semi-Trucks on the road and I started noticing the names of the shipping companies on the trailers or the names of the transport and logistic companies on the sides of the trucks and that started me to thinking about how these companies might exist in a space/science fiction environment.

Also, along the route to school, there is a truck “pull-off stop area.”  It isn’t a rest area per se, but a small set of lanes where trucks can pull off the highway safely and sleep/rest before making their way to a mandatory truck checking area that is a few miles up the road.  This way truckers can sleep/rest and not get fined or penalized for not having taken mandatory rest breaks as required by American law.  On one trip, I saw a couple of truckers conversing with each other outside their trucks and also began to wonder how that interaction might play out in a sci-fi universe.

What’s Next?

So, I really like the way this project is headed so far.  I have a fairly clear idea of the character.  I’m working on the Rough Draft this week and over the weekend, I hope to work on character sketches for the two main characters.  Right now, I’m plugging away on the “Working Draft” of Project Poet (Poet).  I’m not sure what’s on deck after Poet as I still need to go back and do another draft for Project Skye as well, but I’ll update you next week.

Well, looks like I’m out of time for today.  Have a great day!

Sidney



 

Potpourri: The Writing Life

potpourri_wikihow

Today’s blog will be a short one on a few things that happened over the weekend pertaining to my writing life.  These are mostly updates that I feel are important milestones, but each one isn’t really so important that it requires its own blog post.  So, in no particular order, here we go:

Submitted All Tomorrow’s Children

So I submitted All Tomorrow’s Children (ATC) to its first market over the weekend. The market is a “major” market in the Science Fiction and Fantasy short fiction landscape, but I doubt they’ll accept it.  While they say there never receive enough Sci-Fi (and ATC is Sci-Fi), their Acceptance rate is .09%.  That means they reject 99.91% percent of the stories that are sent to them.  Still, I had to try as they are one of the “new” big publishers of Sci-Fi/Fantasy stories.  If the market doesn’t take ATC, I have two more publishers that I consider “big” to send it to and then I’ll step down a tier to the mid-level markets.  You never know until you try.

“Blogging” My Way to 250 Words-a-Day

So, I have a confession to make.  I have several Word Processors–Pages, SimpleNote (Mac App & Website), Scrivener, IAWriter App, and a couple of lesser Word Processors (and have access to Word through my school account and on their computers).  However, I found over the past few weeks, that for fiction, I really just like the ease and simplicity of SimpleNote (which I’ve mentioned in the past), but also, just the WordPress Text Editor that I use to create my blog entries.  While I used to draft in SimpleNote, I’ve now switched to the WordPress blog editor because I can quickly see the word count and when I reach my 250 limit for the day, I then copy and paste the work over to SN.  One I have a completed draft, I then copy and paste that over to Scrivener and make my major edits there.  Scrivener makes compiling a submission draft a breeze and that’s the draft I use to submit.  It was this workflow that helped me to get All Tomorrow’s Children off my computer and out the door to a publisher.

Finished (FINALLY) the Rough Draft of “Project Skye”

I finished this over the weekend as well.  It clocks in at about 4,000 words, but really needs some substantial TLC.  This was an exploratory draft and written “by the seat of my pants” because 1) I wanted to get an idea of the character and 2) I thought I knew enough about the world in order to just write.  The draft is a “poster child” for why I don’t write without outlining.  There are plot threads that just drop out, there are character motivations that don’t work, there’s setting issues, there’s a storm that never develops, etc.  This draft is an absolute “mess” and I will most likely have to rewrite the entire story from beginning to end rather than what I did with All Tomorrow’s Children which was “build” the story from the ground up.  This illustrates the difference in my writing styles: ATC was fun to write for me, while Project Skye was an absolute slog.  I can’t even show it to the Writing Center consultant to illustrate Skye’s character (which is the reason I wrote the story) because it really isn’t a “story” yet (at least, not in the way I think of “story”).  But its done–that’s the best part.  And what do they say?  If you’re at the bottom, you can only go up from there–hopefully, by the summer, I can put together a draft that I feel proud to show off–because it isn’t there yet!

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