Back to the Grind

Image Source: https://medium.com/the-mission/the-daily-routine-of-20-famous-writers-and-how-you-can-use-them-to-succeed-1603f52fbb77

So, last night, I wrote for the first time in almost a week.  I don’t know why I haven’t wanted to write in the past couple of weeks, except that I felt like my writing just wasn’t going well.  While I finished the rough draft of Project Star, it isn’t like finishing an actual project.  There’s not that sustained natural high that there is when one finishes a full project.  However, for some unknown reason, I really wanted write, so I made myself write and I really enjoyed it.

Reading and Writing Taking up the Same Time

I love to read and I love to write and sometimes those two loves compete for my (limited) pool of time.  For some reason, this week, I’ve really wanted to read, but I used the time that I would normally write and just read.  I’m rereading The Mallorean by David Eddings and I feel that has helped me stay sane.  However, my writing time has taken a hit because I’m using that writing time to do my reading.  Last night, however, I was so invested in writing that I wrote very quickly and finished up pretty quickly as well.  I then, still had enough time to read a little bit of The Mallorean.

I Feel Sickness Coming On . . .

The problem is that I think I’m getting sick.  I had a student in class today who had a Sinus Infection and some bronchus going on as well.  Based on how I feel writing this blog post, I really don’ t want to get sick as I have waaaaaayyyyyy too much to do, but it looks like that is what’s happening. Not sure how this will affect my writing as I play it by ear; it just depends on how I feel.  Well, that’s all that I have for now.  See you next week!

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 # 2, Currently on Script Page 31)
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Finished Rough Draft for Project Star

Yay!  I finally finished something!  Last week I managed to finish the rough draft for Project Star, a Science Fiction project that has been in the back of my mind for quite a while.  Even though it isn’t ready for me to show anyone (the main character doesn’t even have a NAME yet), it still feels good to get all of the plot down on paper.

Character Over Plot

Now, I’m a HUGE plot guy, but as I reread The Belgariad and The Mallorean to keep myself sane with all the work that I have to do, I find that now that I know the story so well, I’m skipping over the plot elements and just focusing on the character elements and reliving (vicariously) through the characters the same type of fun serious-comedic dynamic that I used to have with my family before they passed away.  The point I’m trying to make is that even though I read it at first for the story (characters and plot), I keep coming back to it over and over again for the characters.  I knew this instinctively, but I figured my characters were strong enough to overcome my tendency to focus on plot over characters, but that’s not the case.

Balance in the Force

Today, I stumbled across this YouTube video that describes one writer’s preference for characters over plot (I’m adding it at the end of this entry).  While I think that he may push the needle too far in the characters camp, I still found his argument compelling.  I think I’d like to use his ideas to “balance” my writing.  By trying to get the Rough Draft done and focusing on plot, I think now it is time to stop, reflect on the character, and really dig in and give the character a history, some motivation, traits, and a real personality.

Oh, yes, and a name would be nice as well. 😉

Sidney




  • Current Work-in-Progress: The Independent (Sci-Fi Short-Story – 2nd Draft)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows (Sci-Fi Graphic Novel – Script, Issue #2, Currently on Script Page 30)

A Working Writer Writes

This is an extremely hard thing to figure out.  There is something about writing in which we give all the praise for writing that has been written versus writing that is being written.  Grades, publications, and feedback all come from reading writing that that has been produced rather than writing that is in the process of being produced, but for me, I need the drafting process.  I can’t be a “pantser” or a “gardener” because I need the multiple drafts to essentially work on different elements of the story at different times.  For me, trying to do character, dialogue (which is a function of character), plot, setting and theme all in one go is simply too much for me as a writer.  I need to be able to separate these individual elements out rather than trying to focus on them all at once.

The Architect, Builder, and Craftsman

There is an image of the Eiffel tower is being built.  We see its base, and we see it being constructed and being erected slowly, piece-by-piece, but at the end we see the completed masterpiece.  This is basically the way I write.  I build up images and impressions.  They seem so clear in my mind, but as I write them, I find that they are really “fuzzy” and “blurry” (in terms of pure storytelling).  The more I work on them and revise them, the “clearer” they become (again, in terms of storytelling).  While my new stories might not work in terms of publication because they are not as “grimdark” as the current Sci-Fi/Fantasy works, they do seem to be a lot closer to the vision that I had in my head for the original story genesis.  Now I just have to find a way to keep drafting (and perhaps speed up just a bit) so as to get more work done monthly, so that I can finish projects and feel a sense of accomplishment that also drives my writing.

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)

 

 

DSRV OUTRIDER–Finished the Script for Issue #1 (of 4)

“Ship of Shadows” Graphic Novel = DSRV OUTRIDER

So, a couple of nights ago, I finished the first issue of the Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel.  It is 28 pages long (so far) and is the first part of 4 stories.  I’ve decided on a name for the overall series–DSRV OUTRIDER. The DSRV stands for “Deep Space Recovery Vehicle” which is the type of the vehicle that the main character, Tana, pilots.  Outrider is the name of the ship.  This is important because I hope that I’ll be able to write more stories/have more adventures with Tana as a character (my ultimate goal is to have her become captain of the Outrider) and I want to focus more on the ship and its adventures rather than the one story that is SF Horror.

Artist or Go It Alone?

I think I may have to go it alone.  I discovered my artist last year, but it took my all year to figure out a system that works for me in terms of writing and creatively.  The artist was very interested at first, but has lost interest over time–which, I don’t guess I blame him–as it should have taken a year for the whole graphic novel, not just issue one.  I really have tried to refine my writing processes over the past year to be more effective and I’m slowly getting there, but slowly doesn’t seem to be good enough for others.  I don’t mind going it alone–it’s just that many of the publishers for graphic novels want to have a “team” in place (art and writing).

What’s Next? The Art of Adaptation

I need to figure out Issue #2, so I’m going to move it off the “front burner” and work on rough drafting Issue #2 (major plot points).  I had great success with actually writing a rough draft for the story and then writing the second draft on the next “rotation.”  The thing is, in the short-story, one of the characters saves themselves off-screen, while for issue #2, Tana will save her on-screen.  I have an idea of how this happens, but I want to write it down in rough draft first before I actually try to write it in the next draft.  I’m adapting the short-story, but that doesn’t mean that I want to make it exactly like the short-story as the graphic novel affords more pages to go into more detail.  In the story, it wasn’t necessary for Tana to actually save the other character–just to make the attempt.  However, in this story, to show Tana’s attachment to her “mother” figure, she would have to save her to make her character believable.  I’ll probably start to write issue 2 in November (maybe sooner depending on whether or not the proposals that I hope to send out are successful).

Anyway, that’ all I have for now.  Have a great day!

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 25)

Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores, Part Deux

So, I just wanted to say that I did send a story to Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores for this submission period.  I doubt seriously that they will accept it, but I really wanted to have something out to them as I have missed three or four submission periods.

Citizen X

I sent them one of the stories that I finished a while back–Citizen X.  I don’t expect them to take the story as it is an Alternate History story with Sci-Fi elements.  The story has caught the eye of several “slush” readers and been passed up to market editors (at least three separate times), but in each case, the editors decided to pass on it.  However, it was the only story that I haven’t sent them that I’ve worked on recently.  All of the other stories, HawkeMoon, Silence Will Fall, and Here Be Monsters, among others, they didn’t really like (although they did suggest changes to HawkeMoon and asked for a resubmission of it, but I chose not to do that because I felt the changes would have impacted the story that I was trying to tell.  Perhaps that was wrong, but I really try to follow a “hero’s journey” for my stories, but I remember that the changes would have impacted this journey negatively.  Unfortunately, Cosmic Roots and Landscapes allows you to “clear” you feedback and once its gone, its gone.

Compelling Science Fiction

The next major market that I’m writing for currently is a smaller market that’s been closed for the past year (maybe longer) and its called Compelling Science Fiction.  They are actually opening again from October 1st – December 1st (at least, that’s what the email said when I signed up for email notices of their next opening date).  I’m currently working on the Independent and that’s the story that I intend to submit there first.  I’m going to have to do a 3rd draft of the story–I’m concentrating on character for this pass, but I”m already over 1,000 words in and I’ve not yet even hit the inciting incident (which should probably happen in the first 500 words).  So this draft will be the longest draft and the 3rd draft will be me finding places to cut the story down and adding in a little more setting/description (not a lot, but I feel that it is a little bare bones at the moment).

Rotating Projects

The reason why I’m not finishing projects as fast as I was over the summer is that I’m trying out rotating my projects.  I’m working on 3 projects at the moment: Ship of Shadows Graphic NovelThe Independent (2nd Draft), and Project Star (Rough Draft).  Once I finish one of these, I’ll move onto another.  This ensures that I’m never bored and the projects never grow stale, but it also means that it takes much longer for me to actually “finish” a project.  Still, this seems to be working and a lesson that I’m constantly having to re-learn is “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Well, that’s all for now/  Have a great day!

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)

 

 

1st Try

So far, I have only sold one story on the first try: Dragonhawk One of the reasons why I believe that it was so successful is that even though I had the plot for the story in mind when writing the story, I also used (for the only time time since I restarted my writing “career” by buying Storymill and then later Scrivener) the Character Sketch Template Sheets provided by Scrivener.  One of the things that the character sheets forced me to do was to think about my characters from the external and the internal

External

So, on the Character Sheets, there is a place to fill out all of the external characteristics of the character.  What do they look like, what is their background, etc.  All of the things you might ask yourself when filling out a biography for a character.  Sure, it isn’t much, just spaces where you can write a paragraph or so, but I did that for both of the main characters in the story: Kelfryn (the young man who was a Hawkrider, but wanted to be a Dragonrider), and Scryfe (his mind-bonded hawk, who didn’t understand his rider’s obsession with dragons and dragon eggs).  It really didn’t take that long to write out each one–maybe half an hour to one full hour for each one.  However, when it came to describing the characters and knowing the history, my mind was able to weave a narrative around them that made them seem (to the editor who bought the story, and hopefully his readers), well, alive in some undefinable way.  It also made it easier, for me, to come up with a reason why  he was doing what he was doing that seemed both rational and in keeping with the character.

Internal

Perhaps the most important point is the fact that the character sheet provided a place for internal conflicts–i.e., what is the character struggling with internally.  For Kelfryn, he wanted so much to be a Dragonrider of old and to have the status of a Dragonrider.  His great grandfather had been one as had countless generations before that and in the world I created, even though there were no more Dragonriders, there was still an air of mystique about them and a reverence.  Even though he knew it was forbidden in his culture, his desire to bring them back trumped his good sense and he (pardon he pun) “hatched” a plan to steal an egg, thus setting the story in motion.

Concluding Thoughts

As I said earlier, this is the only story which has sold on the first try–and I didn’t even like the story all that much (the kid learns his lesson while I wanted a fun adventure story).  While I may never have another story accepted on the first try, this incident is trying to tell me something: good characters need both internal and external conflicts.  To help me, I printed out several character sheets.  My goal, of course, is to use them for each of my projects to help get at the inner conflicts and to create well-rounded and dynamic characters. I’m starting this with The Independent.  I’m working on the 2nd Draft now and I’m hopeful that a Character Sketch Sheet will help me to create Ryn (the protagonist) into a round and dynamic character.

Perhaps, one day, I can even reach the rarefied heights of getting back to getting a publication on the first try.  It’s something to shoot for anyway.

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)

Writing It All: Roughing It, Writing It, Revising It, Submitting It

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The Writing Process. Image Source: Teachers Pay Teachers – https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Circular-Writing-Process-Chart-3304077

 

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

  • Project Ship of Shadows (Graphic Novel) Page Count: 17 (+1)
  • Whale Song Revision (Fantasy Short Story) (2nd Draft) (Researched Article, No Writing so far)

Goal = 5 Pages a week.
Actual = 1/5 Pages done so far this week. I added a page to the 1st issue last night.

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: FINISHED!
  • 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 3 today and I’m at the beginning of Chapter 4 (this book has 10 chapters).
    Here is a summary from Amazon: “In this hip, accessible primer to the music, literature, and art of Afrofuturism, author Ytasha Womack introduces readers to the burgeoning community of artists creating Afrofuturist works, the innovators from the past, and the wide range of subjects they explore. From the sci-fi literature of Samuel Delany, Octavia Butler, and N. K. Jemisin to the musical cosmos of Sun Ra, George Clinton, and the Black Eyed Peas’ will.i.am, to the visual and multimedia artists inspired by African Dogon myths and Egyptian deities, the book’s topics range from the “alien” experience of blacks in America to the “wake up” cry that peppers sci-fi literature, sermons, and activism. With a twofold aim to entertain and enlighten, Afrofuturists strive to break down racial, ethnic, and social limitations to empower and free individuals to be themselves.”
  • 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.

Writing It All

This year is all about trying different things to jump-start my writing career. Yes, I said career, as I would like to grow myself to become a novelist in addition to a scholar, but right now, one thing at a time.  I realize that I simply don’t have the time (at the moment) to devote all my energies and resources to writing, but I’m really good at focused work on 1 project at a time. My goal then is to rough draft a story, write a story, edit a story, and submit a story once per month (1 X 12).  I’ve come to the realization that I’m slow in terms of writing speed and the level of detail that I want in my writing takes time. Even these blog entries take a while to develop–the writing/drafting isn’t bad, but “tagging” it, slotting in categories, finding an image, sometimes linking to YouTube or Amazon, and well, I can sometimes spend an hour to hour and a half creating one blog post.

Roughing It

For me, this is probably the easiest part of the writing process. I can come up with tons of amazing ideas. Two Saturdays ago, I came up with 4 separate ideas that could become projects later on down the line (of course, I only wrote down 1 of these, so the other 3 still exist in the nebulous realm of my mind taking up space and brain power–note to self: need to jot them down , put them on paper, and out of my mind’s eye). My goal is to formally “rough draft” a project monthly which means that I simply write down a (possible) beginning, middle, and end for a project that month.

Drafting It

This is where my focus has been for most of the Spring and Summer. I’ve really concentrated hard on trying to get WORDS ON A PAGE. I’ve worked diligently on this and have completed 2 First Drafts and I’m working on the script of a graphic novel (1st issue in comic book terms). I’m working on getting it more consistent by doing it “daily.”  Right now, I write for four days a week (M-Th) and I try for 250 words in a session = 1000 weekly.  Now 600 words is about where I top out at in one session, so my goal is to try to slowly increase over my time in grad school to 500 words and maybe boost that to 5-6 days a week, but that’s an aspirational goal–I’m not there yet.

Revising It (“Re-visioning”)

This one is where I’m really up to snuff yet. I’ve done some preliminary research on a story that I’ve wanted to rewrite for while (every since I received feedback on it at MTSU’s Writing Center), but I haven’t had the time in the past two weeks due to the large paper that I had to write. I find myself wondering if it is even worth “saving” or if it is beyond hope and to put it away as a learning exercise and move on to revising a different story?

Submitting It

This too has been a weak area for me. Now that I understand that I’ve probably been submitting my stories too soon in the writing process, I’ve decided to slow down in my submissions. I currently have 0 stories out at the moment. This is probably too harsh. The way I’m presently writing, this is going to take me months to create a story with the level of polish that I hope (keyword = hope) will make me 1000% more competitive in the writing market while other stories that I’ve written will languish until I can get to them. I need to find one place a month and just submit a story that I feel good about and that matches the guidelines of the market. If I submit more than one, great, but you can’t be a published writer if you never send anything out to publishers.

Well, that’s all that I wanted to highlight today: showing some of places where I’m strong in the writing process and some places that need work.  Reflecting minds want to know how well they’re doing and what strategies that they can use to improve and if there’s anything that I love reflecting on, its the writing process.

Have a good day

Sidney




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