Weird West Story Project Arizona = Unhallowed

Female Gunslinger in wide-brimmed hat and long flowing duster with a gun in a holster and knives on her belt looking out towards the audience with a orange sky and yellow sun at her back.
Image Source: https://www.wattpad.com/296700758-fantasy-sub-genre-guide-weird-west

On Monday, June 29th, I finished the first draft of Project Arizona. I’m sure it needs a lot of work, but I like the way it turned out (except for the end, but I’ll talk more about that later in the post). It’s official title is Unhallowed, and it is a Weird West story (a fantasy story with magic and the like mixed with tropes from the Old West — American West). The main character’s name is Arizona and she is an African American woman who becomes a “gunslinger” (one who is Hallowed) in the parlance of the world to fight the evil of the Unhallowed.

Why This Story and Why Now?

Much of the theme around this story has to do with the idea of Justice vs Vengeance. Justice means literally means “just behavior or treatment” and/or the “impartial adjudication of laws” (google it to fact-check me). Vengeance means “punishment inflicted or retribution exacted for an injury or wrong” (again, fact-check me). As we have visual evidence from the past two months (May and June 2020), the American Justice System says that it stands for justice, but what many people involved with it actually try to dispense is vengeance. Now, people may see this as political, but I recognized this much earlier based on the way in which America has conducted its wars in the 20th and 21st centuries (remember, I minored in History). I noticed a discrepancy in which the way America articulates its values and the ways those values actually get realized when we go to war–in my mind, they are two different things, and I wrote this story to explore that idea. The fact that there were multiple high profile cases of social injustice as I was writing this story, just galvanized my desire and need to write it. America (and Americans) say one thing, but do another, and to me, that’s a problem that I’ve been seeing for a while now and major failing that we need to solve.

Why a Weird West Story?

Well, let’s not overlook the fact that Weird West stories are cool 🙂

Also, on a more serious note, Weird West stories are enjoying a moment. As noted in an older blog, the Western as a genre is pretty much dead (for now, especially in movies and TV), but with rise in popularity of the Red Dead Redemption video games by Rockstar, the Western is actually seeing a bit of a resurgence. As such, more inventive stories in the Old West/Wild West are seeing a spike in interest. I think there are at least 3 different Wild West/Weird West games in development (and one of them is actually called Weird West). Not to mention there is at least one RPG that is devoted to the setting (Deadlands). I think that if there is a resurgence in popularity for the Old West/Wild West, it will come from the Weird West genre.

Also, Weird West stories don’t always have to involve Fantasy and Magic. They can be Science Fiction stories as well. Cowboys and Aliens was attempt at such a fusion that didn’t quite work–the title, in typical Hollywood misguided fashion gives an indication why. Still, as one can see, the fusion of different genres can, if done right, infuse the Old West/Wild West with some much needed originality in the storytelling and setting (which is what I hope to accomplish with Unhallowed).

What’s Next For Unhallowed?

I’m working on the 1st Draft for another project now. When I finish it, I will return to Unhallowed for the 2nd Draft. I think I did well on the character, but I want to add in more sensory details, more setting, and fix the ending.

The ending was supposed to feature an elaborate fight scene and “will she/won’t she” choice. The fight scene was massively cut down and the choice was effectively taken from the main character by a discussion in an earlier scene–if she does it, then she loses all support from her team. These are two places that I most definitely need to revisit as they rob the ending of much of the suspense that I envisioned for the end of the story.

Hopefully, during my second pass, I can make the ending as suspenseful as I envisioned it being in my mind’s eye when I had the original idea and wrote out the Rough Draft for the story. But at least it is finished (and done within a month and not the 2+ years that I normally do things, so hurray for small victories!

Have a great day!

Sidney


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




Currently Working On (7/2020):

  • “Project Wall” (Science Fiction Story)
    Drafting: First Draft
  • “Project Arizona” (Weird Western Story)
    Up Next: 2nd Draft (Working Draft)
  • Childe Roland Graphic Novel 
    Up Next: Rough Draft (Story)

Blogging My Way to a Novel

A book cover showing a writer using a pen in a notebook/journal.  The book's title is How Blogging can help you Write Your Novel.
Image Search: https://www.eadeverell.com/blogging-can-help-write-novel/

One of the things that I noticed when I was looking over the stats for my blog posts is the amount of words that I’ve been averaging. I’m actually down overall in terms of words from the past couple of years because I’m not publishing posts as regularly even though the actual word count for the posts has gone way up.

However, when I looked at the word count for the year, I was astounded. Taking the overall yearly word count just for the blog into account, I’ve written enough words to have written a novel every year since 2016!

Yup, you read that right–just doing what I’ve been doing for the blog would have been enough for a novel for the past four years!

60,000 Words (2016)

So, NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) which happens in November has a goal of 50,000 words. In theory, while there is no set amount of words for a novel, 60,000 words has generally become the accepted length in practice–although some would argue that NaNoWriMo’s 50,000 word length could also be considered novel length.

Looking at the blog’s stats–I reached 60,000 words (and change) in 2016. I was fairly committed to blogging–but I didn’t do it every day. If you were to use the calendar function on an old 2016 post, you would see that there were long gaps in posting, although I did post routinely at 5-6 days out of the month (yes, I think there may be some 3-4 days in their, but I generally average 5-6, maybe more). As you can see, while not consistent, I at least wrote something on monthly basis, even if it wasn’t a lot (or daily).

Had I done the exact same with my creative writing as I did with my blog posts, I would have had enough for a (depending on the font choice) 200 – 225 page manuscript and would have completed my first novel.

117,000 Words (2018)

My high water mark (so far) for the blog came in 2018, where somewhere around April/May, I hit my stride and blogged pretty much consistently for rest of the year. I blogged much like I’m trying to get back to now and what works best for me: Mondays-Fridays, 5 days a week. I actually usually do one or two blog posts on the weekend (maybe 3, but usually not more than 3) and then fill out the rest of the week with blog posts either written on that day (or at most, a day earlier).

I managed 117,000 words (and change) that year. Enough for 2 full novels or 1 door-stopper epic fantasy novel. This is the stat that really floored me and set me thinking about my writing, my writing process, and that helped to inspire this post. Just think of all that could have been accomplished had I taken the time to do with my creative writing that I managed with my blog.

Lessons Learned

I’ve learned two lessons from looking at my stats for the blog over the previous years of blogging:

  1. I need to be more consistent in my writing process if I want success. Even if I can’t find the “time,” I need to always be moving forward and to make sure I find time to write at least 5-6 days monthly. If I can also find a way to write daily (Monday-Friday) along with my blog, great–and that will put me in better stead–but at the bare minimum, I must be more consistent about writing.
  2. I should try to use the format of my blog to help me draft my longer works. This format works well for me–Introduction, 2-3 headings, and a paragraph or two for each heading. This is how I’m hoping to help myself become a better and more productive writer without “breaking my process.” That’s the key and I’m hoping that because I like this format–it will work for me.

Well, that’s all I have for today–nothing earth-shattering. Just a realization that I have the capabilities within me to make my dreams come true–if I can just find the consistency (and willpower) to get it done. And of course, not let it interfere with my dissertation for school.

Sidney


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




  • The Independent  (Sci-Fi Short-Story)–
    Editing Draft
  • Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel 
    Finished: Script, Issue #1
    Next: Script, Issue #2
  • “Project Arizona” (Weird Western Story)
    Finished: Rough Draft
    Next: First Draft

A “Scummy” Choice

Skeleton at the computer waiting.  Text on white background that says, "Surely a response will come, I just have to wait patiently . . ."
Image Source: https://sayingimages.com/skeleton-meme/

So, on Friday–actually Sunday morning is when I first saw it–but it was sent on Friday, so that’s what I’m going with . . . so, on Friday, I got a response back from a market that I sent my story to . . . back in September.

Yup, you read that right. A story that I sent to a market back in September of 2019 just sent me a reply as of March 2020.

I just want that to sink in.

Long Response Time Suck!

There’s no other way to articulate it–long response times suck! For those who are wondering, that’s five months and approx. 7 days. How do I know . . . because i have an internal “clock” of sorts that somehow triggers right around the 6 month mark. A week before, my clock had triggered and I went to look up how long it had been.

I’d originally submitted on September 21, 2019 to a Sci-Fi market that I’d never submitted to previously, but seemed to have a fairly high “reputation” as it didn’t have a high “lost/no response” rate and seemed to have a fairly robust rate of submitters along with a open response call for submissions that seemed reasonable. My story fit under the guidelines, so I decided to submit.

Poor choice on my part. I can’t remember whether or not I looked at the length of time for response–I usually do and if I find that response take too long–usually over 90 days is a bad sign, but I often go up to as high as 100-120, then I don’t submit, no matter how lucrative the market or high good of a “fit” my story is as I find markets with long submission times problematic.

Again, I can’t remember if I checked or not (it’s been nearly 6 months after all), but even if I didn’t check, I don’t remember seeing anything in the market listings that raised a red flag.

What’s the Problem with Long Submission Times?

First, it is disrespectful. Your business is a journal/magazine, but you can’t easily fill it with your own staffers (or you can, but may take a hit to your “reputation” if you do), so you solicit material from writers (either actively by sending queries to writers to send their work individually or by opening up your submissions to everyone–either year round or through certain submission periods). However, you “lock” up that story for writers like me who only submit one copy of the story to one market at a time–sequential submissions. Most writers don’t do this anymore for just this reason–the whole idea of the simultaneous submission came about because of this habit of publisher of taking forever to respond to submissions. Digress: I remember in the mid-to-late 80s that the debate over the “ethics” of simultaneous submissions raged quite vociferously with the writers basically winning the practice became standard for most markets so long as the writer immediately informed the market when the story was sold somewhere else and the writer would then withdraw it from consideration.

Second, and back to the point: for writers like me, who don’t do that, then that story is out of circulation for that time period and unavailable for submissions. I estimate that I lost 3-4 chances with other markets in that 5.25 month window that it was out to that 1 market.

So they Accepted It Right–I Mean They Did Take All That Time to Decide

Nope.

A simple form reject of 1 paragraph. Yup, you read that right as well. It took this market 5.25 months to respond to a sub 20 page story with a “canned” copy and pasted paragraph that 1) Thanked me for the submission, 2) Said they could not use it at this time.

Will I be submitting to this market in the future. Unfortunately, no. They have joined my list of publishers that I will no longer send submissions to in the future. While not particularly large (sub 10 at the moment), it is a list made up of 1) a market who gives feedback, but does so in a condescending way that once remarked upon my education rather than my story, 2) a market that responds quickly–too quickly in fact, usually a day and under, I think the longest time out for a story was a glacial 2 days–and NEVER once has responded with ANYTHING positive about any of the stories that I sent, and 3) 4-5 markets that have submission times approaching or over the 180 day mark. One that I used to LOVE submitting to is on that list as the last time I checked it had an incredible 495 day response period. Yup, and as you and I both know 360 = 1 year and 360<495, so you’re waiting well over a year and half for a response to a story that can be a maximum (according to their guidelines) 30 pages. Yeah, I’m not doing that.

Had this market gave substantial and substantive feedback, then I might have felt the long wait justified, but having lost multiple chances at publication for the story only to receive no feedback whatsoever makes me feel like I was robbed and that I made a “scummy” choice in submitting my story to them.

Newscasters love ending their stories with cliches, so I will do so as well: “Once bitten, twice shy.”

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 
    Revising Section 1 (of 3)
    Deadline = February 29, 2020
  • Project Arizona (Fantasy Short Story–Weird West))
    Finished: Story Outline
    Next: Character Sketch
  • I, Mage (Fantasy Short Story)
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = July 31, 2020
  • Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel 
    Finished: Script, Issue #1
    Next: Script, Issue #2
  • Ship of Shadows: Screenplay
    Finished: Script Outline (Rough Draft)
    Next: Script Outline (1st Draft)

NaNoWriMo 2019

NaNoWriMo Calendar--Calendar with checkboxes and word count.
Image Source: https://writerswrite.co.za/perennial-nanowrimo-calendar/

So, I’ve discussed National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) on the blog before, so I won’t belabor the point too much. For those who might not have heard about it, it is a way of tracking your progress through the month (in terms of Word Count) for a novel. I believe that the Word Count is 50,000 words produced in the month of November in order to count towards getting recognition that you’ve completed NaNoWriMo for that year.

While admirable, I’ll likely never “complete” NaNoWriMo because, as I’ve pointed it out in previous blogs on the subject–November is the exact wrong month for me to try to accomplish such a lofty goal (at least while I’m in school). I have far too many school-related activities to do to even begin to work on a 50,000 word draft. Just this week, in addition to prepping a class, I need to grade 38 Annotated Bibliographies and Daily Writings, I need to research and write my own Final Project Proposal and Annotated Bibliography for the class I’m taking to turn in by Nov. 3, and I need to take care of the several school-related things (like applying for an Honor Society by deadline) that I’ve slacked on doing while prepping for Friday’s exam.

So I don’t have time to do NaNoWriMo, right?

NaNoWriMo 2019–Well, Sort Of . . .

While I don’t have time to really invest in writing the full draft of a novel, I do have time to sit down and jot down a handwritten “rough draft” of a novel. As this is, for me, “Year of the Shadow” where I write long projects based on my short story, “Ship of Shadows,” I have a strong idea for a novel featuring many of the characters from the short story. I began writing out the skeletal form of the story, but stopped at Chapter 5. I was just jotting down 2-3 sentences per paragraph, but I wanted something more substantial. What I didn’t realize is that what I was doing was developing a “plot outline” where I was emphasizing the events, but I was also creating character “hooks” that I could use to start discussing the characters.

In beginning of November, I plan to write out this plot outline again, this time going all the way to the finish of the novel. Then I plan to do the same for the Screenplay and the Graphic Novel. As a matter of fact, I think that’s why I’ve stalled on the Graphic Novel. I really want to get Tana’s “backstory” in the graphic novel, but I didn’t structure it that way and now I think I need to go back to issue #2 and rewrite it, so that it is a flashback scene, so that when she actually tries to save a fellow crewperson, we see the motivations behind the actions rather than me trying to tell it through “captions” above the panel.

Summertime and the Writing is Easy

The perfect time for NaNoWriMo, for me, would be the summer. In the summer, I have much more “free” time and I can use that for writing (even if it is in shorter bursts than I’d like). Even though NaNoWriMo doesn’t work so much for me in November, I can use it to get a “Rough Draft” of the novel together (and the same for a screenplay and the graphic novel).

Even though in January, I plan to “switch” to a different project for my “Year of . . .,” that only means that I plan to start thinking about a new story that I’ve published and how I might be able to expand them out and touch on the backstory of characters and figuring out the sequel for the story. However, that doesn’t mean that I can’t actually be working on a 1st draft for the longer pieces. My mind is good at doing “2 things” really well. As I mentioned in the gaming post, I can really do well in manipulating two different modes/registers at the same time. Any more than that, then my mind says too much, don’t want to do it.

This is what I want to avoid–getting too many projects going at any one time (& not finishing any of them). It would be awesome if I can get to next November and have what NaNoWriMo promises: a finished 1st Draft of a novel (and other projects). Once there’s a 1st draft, then 1) I’m invested and am much more likely to see the project to the end and 2) it is far easier to critique a product rather than an idea. Write now, all my longer projects have been just “ideas,” and you can’t critique ideas because you can always change it to make better–to match your vision.

So, to sum up, my goal for this NaNoWriMo is to, instead of using it as month for novel (and other longer writing projects), it is a time to “plan” out those projects and set those plans down on paper and to use the next 12 months, until next November to get those 50,000 words written.

So this is MY 2019 NaNoWriMo Challenge: 1) Rough Draft of Novel “Ship of Shadows,” 2) Rough Draft of Graphic Novel “Ship of Shadows,” and 3) Rough Draft of Screenplay of “Ship of Shadows.” If, at the end of the month, I’m able to get these done, then I’ll report back on the progress. If you never hear anything else about this until next year, then you’ll know that I didn’t get it done.

Hey, at least I’m honest! 😉

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 2 (of 3)
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = January 31, 2020
  • I, Mage (Fantasy Short Story)
    Pre-Production Phase (Planning)
    Pre-Writing on Rough Draft & Character Sketch
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = July 31, 2020
  • Current Longer Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel 
    (Sci-Fi) Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32
    Personal Deadline = December 30, 2019

Reworking My Writing

Chart of the Writing Process: Prewriting, Drafting, Revising, Editing, Evaluating, Publishing.
Image Source: https://www.dailyinfographic.com/the-writing-process-infographic

If you take a gander at the “What I’m working On” section at the bottom of this post (and all of the following posts after this one, you’ll see a slight change. Previously, I had been doing a poor job of trying to list the many different projects that I was working on to give you an idea of where I was in my (many, perhaps too many) writing projects. However, due to the sporadic nature of me getting to work on my writing, I’ve found it difficult to keep up with the upkeep on keeping my writing projects current.

Brandon Sanderson Effect

I really liked the way Brandon Sanderson does his “updated projects.” Now, Brandon is one of my current favorite writers. I really like how he provides a “status bar” for his projects that “gamify” his progress on his projects. I’m not nearly that savvy in terms of graphics, so I don’t know how to gamify my writing in the same way. I tried to do it in the same way as Brandon’s site (just without the graphics), but its just not working. So I’m going to change the way I’m listing them at the bottom.

The Mythic Magazine Effect

Mythic Magazine, a market that I’ve submitted to frequently in the past two years (but haven’t yet had a sale to them yet). However, they have a submissions period of twice a year. So, what I’ve decided to do is to list the projects that I’m working on for that market and how close I’m to finishing it (especially in terms of deadline). I really only have enough time to work on two projects at a time (a shorter one and a longer one). The longer one will be listed as well, but it will be the one that I’ve been working on for a while. That one I’ll update quarterly, while the other two will be updated monthly (my preferred working time-frame).

I’ll also keep readers of the blog up-to-date on projects that have been accepted and where they are in the production process. I currently have one project, HawkeMoon, that I can sort of update everyone on so far.

Anyway, its getting late, so I’ll wrap it up now. Check out the new listing down below. I hope you like it!

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

The Big Squeeze

Bearded man with a Foot on his Face
Image Source: https://www.nojitter.com/big-squeeze

One of the most frustrating things about graduate school (well, there are many which I’ll probably do individual posts about for the next month or so) is the fact that it is my writing time that gets squeezed in the process of “becoming more educated.” I’m not very appreciative of the fact that, as writer, my time for writing every week gets slowly wittled away as I have to complete more and more assignments which touch on, ironically, writing and the theories and applications of the writing process. My Master’s Degree is in both Rhetoric and Writing and my Bachelor’s Degree was in English: American Language and Literature (with a Concentration in Writing), which just means that I took extra Writing courses on top of the required literature courses. Writing is instrumental to pretty much everything that I am and/or do as an individual and citizen.

We Want You To Write–Just Not What You Want To Write

One of my greatest sources of frustration with the educational process in general, and the way Rhetoric and Writing is treated in particular, is the fact that we privilege the teaching of writing as something that is both special and magical in terms of allowing students to find their own voices/means of expression, but also a craft and requires work through revisions, and yet, the program I’m in does not actively privilege my creative writing endeavors. Only a handful of people in my “community” know that I “Dragonhawk” was accepted for publication and not a ONE of them is a professor. Not to appear boastful or braggadocios, but this is a success that pretty much all my professors of writing should be happy about. I’m able, at a high level, to use the techniques that we teach our students (inspiration, brainstorming, drafting, revision, consideration of audience, and perseverance to see it through to publication) to create and shepherd a work to fruition.

No Conferences = No Credentials

No, I’m not talking about the conferences professors hold with their students. I’m talking about conferences that academics attend to present papers and the like. That’s really the only true measure of graduate student’s success. How many conferences did you attend? How many papers have you presented at a conferences. I both understand and am appalled at the process at the same time. Conferences, let’s be honest, are built for the extroverts who love being with other people. Sure, if you’re an introvert, you can (sorta’) get by just attending panels for the ideas and information. But, to use an old analogy–there’s as much noise (socializing) that occurs at a conference as there is signal (information/ideas). Conferences, while stimulating and fun, are not the end all and be all of an academic’s existence–which is what they are at the moment that I write this.

Value ALL Academic Expression

The main reason why this blog has been spotty this semester and that I’ve had very little time to concentrate on anything writing related, is because I’ve been fully committed to writing, reading, and working for class and for both of my jobs. I’m not really happy as the results for all my hard-work have not materialized the manner that I would have expected after giving so much of myself–and foregoing so much of my creative output in order to do all of this work. I think that if I felt that I could talk to (and get praise from) my professors for the creative work that I have done (and am doing), this would go a LONG way to assuaging the dissatisfaction I feel in that others are being treated better because they are playing the “academic” game, whereas others, who are not, seemed to be “looked down on” (and I’m not okay with this. I’m using the exact same techniques in my own writing life that are good practices (using brainstorming methods to come up with ideas, engaging with the material, drafting–including multiple drafts, getting feedback on my writing, incorporating feedback through revisions, and persevering through multiple rejections until I find a market who is willing to accept the story). The fact that I’m made to feel that my writing endeavors are not worthy in lieu of someone else who simply attends a conference is very distressing to me as a writer.

Hopefully, after this (very) disspiriting semester is over, I can get back to writing (and enjoying the things that I write) more frequently. Right now, I can say that irregularity of the blog is simply a symptom of a larger set of issues and hopefully, regularity will return when I can address the larger problem of being made to feel that my worth as a creative writer is less than someone who just enjoys playing the “academic game.”

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)

Reading Fast and Slow & Writing Fast and Slow

https://litreactor.com/columns/fast-draft-hell-7-lessons-i-learned-almost-writing-a-novel-in-14-days

In some instances, I’m a very fast reader and in other instances, I’m a very slow reader. This also pertains to my writing in many ways to my writing. I’m trying to be more consistent in all areas, but I’ve noticed these two traits for a while.

Reading Fast and Slow

I read fiction much, much faster than I read non-fiction. I read quite a bit of non-fiction, but I don’t read it nearly as fast as I fiction. I think it has to do with the “mental stomp” that I use when I read non-fiction. The term “mental stomp” is from one of my favorite books as a kid, So You Want to Be a Wizard by Diane Duane. Nita, the protagonist of the books, uses this “mental stomp” to impress facts upon her mind when she wants to learn something. For me, non-fiction books mean learning, and it is very hard for me to retain information if I just skim the book (which is what a lot of grad students do in order to get through a ton of reading quickly). I can’t do that and its hurting me as I prepare for my upcoming Preliminary Exams. I have to read through the material or else I don’t really retain the information. However, as long as I’m engaged with the book, I can “zoom” through a novel. I routinely read Epic Fantasy (which is sometimes called “Doorstopper Novels” because they are generally so large and heavy that their weight is enough to stop a door from closing). I can routinely read a thousand page novel in under two weeks–and that’s pacing myself. However, I find that my bookshelf is piling up with unread books because of all the reading I have to do for class which leaves little time for reading other works.

Writing Fast and Slow

I tend to be exactly the opposite when writing. I’m a fairly fast writer when I’m writing essays for school, but I tend to be much, much slower, when I’m writing creatively (fiction). I’m not sure why, although I suspect it has something to do with the way my brain processes images. I can “see” the picture of the image in my mind and I’m looking for words to replicate the image that I see. In essays, however, once I have a structure (i.e., thesis and method of explaining that thesis), I “golden.” My mind just fills in the words and sources to explain my ideas. Much like a camera, however, my mind wants to use words to completely capture the scene in my mind for fiction, which often leads me to be far more detailed, in some stories, than I really need to be in most cases. However, even at my fastest, while I’m a touch typist, I still don’t type as fast as I think, so a lot of my issues with writing are the method of input. I don’t really dictate well, and long-hand is great for notes, or jotting down rough drafts where I’m just “sketching out” the action, so the keyboard still remains the best way of writing for me. Even at my best speed, I can only manage about 35-40 words per minute, probably less when you factor in mis-keying and correcting errors, so I probably average about 30 words a minute (which is on the low side for touch typists who can hit anywhere from 50-100 words per minute with training–I think my fingers are too long to be as nimble as they should, but that’s just a supposition on my part).

Anyway, this blog entry was more just establish the fact that sometimes I read really quickly and sometimes I don’t (& why) and sometimes I write really quickly and sometimes I don’t (& why). I hope it was at least a little bit interesting. Have a great day!

Sidney

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




  • Current Work-in-Progress–February 2019: Starlight, Starbright (Sci-Fi Short-Story — 2nd Draft — “Opening Incident” (2/5 sections)
  • 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)

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)

February 2019 Writing Project: “Project Dog”

Furrion Mech ( a four legged machine with a driver housed in the front cockpit).
Image Source: https://www.ecnmag.com/news/2018/01/video-day-mech-racing

So, since I finished Starlight, Starbright last month, I needed to decide what I would be working on for February. I had a choice between several different projects, but I wasn’t sure which one I wanted to work on next. So I let “Lady Luck” decide.

Luck of the Draw

While I do intend to work on horror (or in my mind, “horror-lite”) stories at some point (really, more like Dark Fantasy), I really want to become the best I can at Sci-Fi and Fantasy works. However, I have so many projects that are in process at some stage or that I want to work on (and as one can see from my erratic posting schedule, my time is severely limited) so I decided to let the luck of the draw decide for me. I opened up an app that I have on my phone that does RNG and I put in Fantasy or Sci-Fi. Sci-Fi was the one that was chosen. I felt that I could have assigned numbers to all the projects, but just chose between two that I was working on recently, Project Independence and Project Dog, and the app chose Project Dog, so that’s the one I’m working on for this semester.

Having Fun Again

Now that I’m finishing stories (& working on characters), I seem to be having fun again at writing creatively. Not seeing progress (finishing stories) was a real drag for me as I “tinkered” with my process. I really like seeing the story come together and having something “finished” (even if it needs a lot of work later on in the process to make it better). I’m cautiously optimistic about Project Dog as I would like to use some of the material that my uncle told me about during his time in the military in order to ground the story in its time and place. Hopefully, I can the same success in finishing a 1st draft of Project Dog this month that I did for Starlight, Starbright.

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)

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