1 Little, 2 Little, 3 Little Drafts

First-Draft-Is-Just-You-Terry-Pratchett

“The First Draft is Just You Telling Yourself the Story”–Terry Pratchett.  Image Source: The Salonniere’s Apartments

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.

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.

1 Little Draft

I finished a First Draft on Friday for my newest story.  I’m really hoping that working this way will help my stories to be more competitive in the marketplace (if I’m honest, I know it won’t–too many want people want the nihilism of a Game of Thrones/Breaking Bad/Walking Dead–but at least if, and when, the stories are rejected, I’ll at least know that I’ve truly done the best that I could with them and I was just born/came of age as a writer in the wrong time).

To be succinct, my First Drafts are to tell MYSELF the story.  Yes, I do Outline and Rough Draft, but those are mainly dealing with plot.  I’m more interested in the “story map” in those two stages than I am in anything else.  The First Draft is my 1st attempt to put all those ideas into a tangible story.  And usually, I edit this draft and start submitting it.

2 Little Drafts

So, I’m not going to submit my First Drafts anymore.  Well, what am I going to do?  I’m going to work on revising other works while my “alpha” readers read the story and give me feedback on it.  Once I receive the feedback, I’m going to take those notes and try to incorporate them into a new draft that deals with characterization.  Characters are the most important part of the story and I’ve not really been focusing on them.  I’ve been making them to reflect my personal character which is fairly reserved where they need to be a little “larger than life.”  While I do intend to focus on other aspects, my primary focus on this draft will be characterization and character backstory and ways to show my characters in the best light.

3 Little Drafts

So, I’ll submit it after this draft, right?  Not planning on it.  I’d like to do one more draft that deals primarily with setting.  In the stories that I’ve published, my setting feels like a definable place where the setting in my unpublished stories feels generic and unoriginal.  I’m using this draft to make sure that I really punch up my worlds and make them something special.

Anyway, I hope to exemplify the writing process for my students and hey, if it makes my stories better at the same, well, I’m all for that as well.

Have a great day!

Sidney




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

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Reorganizing My Writing Space/Process

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).
Actual = Rebounded after a day with no words and was able to hit Scrivener’s goal of 167 words, but fell a bit short of my own 250 word (personal) goal.   203 words written last night. 

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.  Will post a non-spoiler mini-review when I finish.
  • 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.
  • 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)

  • Moving Game Mode On to its own (Mostly) Weekly Post

Reorganizing My Writing Space

I’m in the process of switching rooms–well, actually, that’s not true as I’ve already switched bedrooms.  To be more accurate, I’m in the process of cleaning up the disaster that resulted from me switching furniture from one room to another.  This process has been slowed by the fact that school has taken up time (reading, working on papers, etc.) that I would have normally used to put things into some kind of order, meaning that the house is still in a mess even though I’ve already completed the switching of rooms.  However, this has given me time to be more reflective about how I’m positioning (or not positioning) my writing files/projects.  So, I’ve tried to simplify and streamline my files.  I’ve added a simple system in my room (my bedroom) and I’ve added a more elaborate system in my guest bedroom/study.

Reorganizing My Writing Process

A while back, I bought a simple plastic divider that has five slots for holding various folders/notebooks.  I struggled with finding a use for it until recently.  I’m now using it to hold the projects that I’m actively working on.  I’ve decided to put my projects through a more rigorous drafting process: 1) Rough Draft, 2) First (1st) Draft, 3) Second (2nd) Draft, 4) Third (3rd) Draft and 5) Edited Draft.  Each slot corresponds to where my draft is in the process.  For instance, once I finish this draft for Project Independence I will place it in the second slot for the 1st Draft.  I’ll let it lie “fallow” for month or two and then write another draft of the story and concentrate on a different major focus for each successive draft.  As I complete these drafts, I’ll move them up into each successive slot until it is time for them to be submitted.  In many ways, this is just the physical version of gameification of my writing that I’m slowly developing to help me finish consistently finish high quality drafts.

Focusing on Different Aspects of the Process in Successive Drafts: The Art of Win-Win

So, for me, I build on each successive draft so it makes sense (again, for me) to use m strengths and focus on different elements of the story at each stage of the drafting process.  For me, the first thing that slots in is the plot/sequence of events in the story (& sometimes character), character (motivations, backstory, conflicts) usually comes next with a bit of setting, and then finally setting (concrete) along with elements of story telling (in media res, themes, imagery, etc).  Letting me writing space provide both a way to show definite progress as each project moves up through the divider and gets closer and closer to being ready to be submitted as well choosing different aspects of the story focus on during these new drafts is something that I hope will make my writing better as well.  I don’t really like the phrase “Win-Win” as I think that there are always downsides to something (here, it is the limited number of projects that I can realistically focus on at a time given my fairly pokey writing speed), but this is as close to a “Win-Win” situation as I can make it (and it gets those pesky folders off the floor as well, which is, a major bonus as well!)

Thanks for reading!

Sidney




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

 

Gamification of Writing

gamify-your-writing_slideshare

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).
Actual = Rebounded after a day with no words and was able to hit Scrivener’s goal of 167 words, but fell a bit short of my own 250 word (personal) goal.   203 words written last night. 

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.  Will post a non-spoiler mini-review when I finish.
  • 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 Fractal: A Rhetoric book that details the convergence of Rhetoric and Technology and how they interact in today’s world.
  • 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)

  • Moving Game Mode On to its own (Mostly) Weekly Post

Making a Game Out of Writing

I should have done this long ago.  Actually, I did do this long ago, but I set my goals to high and couldn’t reach them, so I gave them up.  What am I talking about?  Well, along with the change in the way that I write blogs, see A Peek Behind the Curtain for more information, I’ve also begun writing using the word count feature in Scrivener to help me “visualize” my way to success.  Like I said before, I’ve used it before, but I set my word count at unrealistically high levels (1000 words and 1500 words) and I could rarely hit my goals.  In general, based on what I seem to do in these blogs posts or when I have unlimited amounts of time to devote to a writing session, I seem to average about 600 words.  Generally speaking, it takes me about an hour to write 600 words, so I average (on general) 10 words a minute when creating a new work (I type at about 35-40 words a minute, but when doing creative writing, there’s a lot of time when I’m searching for the right word/right way to describe something).  However, now that I’m working on “filling up” a progress bar, writing doesn’t seem as much of a chore than it has in the past and I look forward to seeing if I can move the bar some more.

The Progress Bar

Scrivener’s Progress Bar feeds my own particular “OCD” meter.  I love seeing things get completed.  I get a satisfaction from seeing something going from empty to full (like a full tank of gas, or vice versa, like a dirty floor, messy floor becoming clean and empty).  A slight digression: this is why I was so great at sorting donated books when I was an employee of the Chattanooga Public Library.  I loved the feeling of wrangling the messy space of the donation area and making it clean and presentable.  The same is true for my writing.  I looked for sites that would give me what Scrivener did, a progress bar that kept track of my writing, but couldn’t find but a handful and they did not work the way I wanted them to, so I’ve gone back to Scrivener and I’ve used the Progress Bar to keep track of my words.  The Progress Bar feature lets you track words, pages, or # of words needed to hit a specific goal.  This latter choice is the way that I have it currently set.  I’m trying to reach 5000 words for Project Independence by July 1st.  Based on where I am in the story, I’m not sure that I’ll be finished, but that’s my goal.  Scrivener tells me that I just need to write 160ish words to hit it.  My bare minimum is that, but I try to go over if I can.  I count it a double success on those days when I go over and hit the 250 word goal as well.  I need to start buying myself a treat and rewarding myself on the days when that happens.

600 Word Writer

Now that I know that 600 hundred words (or an hour of writing) is my own personal sweet spot, I’m going to try to slowly increase my word count over the next years to see if I can get there per day.  Right now, I’m not going to try.  I really want to 1) habitualize my writing and really lock it in as a habit (too often, I let fatigue interfere with the process and 2) get some successes under my belt.  I’ve gone too long without a publication or even a finished project that I feel proud of submitting without reservations.  So, for now, 250 words remains my (attainable) goal.  Like a weight lifter, I need to be completely comfortable with the “weights” (word count) before moving up to the next tier.

Well, that’s it for today and WordPress is telling me that this post is 695 words long.  See, I’m in my comfort zone.  I may have to learn to stretch it, but for now, I need to learn how to make it a habit.  Have a good one!

Sidney




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

Back to the Future (No, Not the Movie, My Writing Projects)

Future

Writing the Future: All For Nothing.  Image Source: YouTube

  • Project Paradise Word Count: 357
  • Project Skye Word Count: 1617
  • Project Independence Word Count: 2357 (+634 words)
  • Project Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel Page Count: 12

I’m back to writing again–I’m working primarily on Project Independence now that I have a complete idea of the story in my head.  I shattered my 250 word writing goal for today, but in doing so, didn’t have a whole lot of time left to craft this blog entry before my Writing Center shift begins.  

So, I’m Back to Writing

This one is a shorter blog as I have to be in the Writing Center in about 45 minutes.  Basically, I just wanted to let everyone know that I’m back to writing, specifically Project Independence.  While yesterday’s blog was a way to help me discover what time is optimal for me as a writer, today’s blog is to emphasize that sometimes you have to write at sub-optimal times.  Yesterday, I tried to write in the afternoon, but I ran out of time because I was reading outside and I didn’t have access to a wifi-enabled computer.  I would have had to go back inside into the air-conditioning which I had been in all morning and lunchtime, so I just enjoyed the sunlight outside reading.  Today, I just got up early and wrote before my shift in the Writing Center begins.

Writing Future Slang

So, one of the things that I’m really interested in is communication between the various characters.  While I want to tell a very cool and interesting story, I also want to emphasize how communication can help (or hinder) the characters in the story.  Today, for instance, I tried my hand at creating slang for a different planet.  I’m not sure how effective it is at this stage of the draft, but I really like the challenge of taking today’s slang and trying to extrapolate how it might work in the future.

Sorry this blog is so short–consider this a maxi-update for Project Independence.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to craft a longer blog entry tomorrow.  Right now, I’m just excited that I’m actually back to writing the story.

Have a great day!

Sidney




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

Changing Paradigms

good afternoon

Good Afternoon written on a notebook beside a laptop.  Image Source: Depositphotos

  • Project Paradise Word Count: 357
  • Project Skye Word Count: 1617
  • Project Independence Word Count: 1723 
  • Project Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel Page Count: 12

So, again, no new writing done (boo!).  Read on to find out why.

Adjusting to a New Schedule

So, astute readers will notice that the Word Count section of the blog that I recently added has not changed in a couple of days.  There’s are reason for that–while Summer “Classes” have not officially started, my summer “responsibilities” for my Financial Aid started on Monday, the 21st.  I’m now working in the University Writing Center as a Writing Consultant over the summer.  This means my writing time has been severely restricted in terms of time to write.

Optimal Writing Time

Dr. Renfroe, in the very first class I took from her here at MTSU, encouraged us  (grad students) to experiment with writing times to find what worked for us so as to write consistently and regularly.  She advised us that, as students who would be writing theses and dissertations, this was the best and most consistent way to be able to craft these longer works with as little frustration as possible.  Later on, after reading Jesmyn Ward’s Interview on NPR (Persist.  Read, Write, and Improve), I realized that I really needed to produce 250 words a day and to find the time when I was at my best in terms of a writing time.

Early to Mid Afternoon

So, in this past year and half, I’ve discovered that I’m best as a writer during the early to mid-afternoon period.  Some time after lunch, but sometime before, say five o’clock.  Early morning writing (except for maybe the blog) doesn’t really work (for me) as I’m not usually awake enough to consistently put words on the page, even though I’m a fairly early riser.  Late night doesn’t work because my body and mind usually go into “shut down” mode and any energy/excitement for the piece is overcome by mental exhaustion from the day.  No, my preferred writing time is early to mid-afternoon.  My brain is awake and alert, but not tired and mentally exhausted.

This week, I’ll have a couple of hours in that optimal time, but next week, I’ll only have one hour.  Now that I know this, I’m going to have learn to be a little quicker in adapting myself to the changing paradigms that I find myself in to protect as much of that precious “golden time” in the early/mid-afternoons as possible based on the circumstances.

It is true: knowledge is power.  Have a good day!

Sidney




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

Enjoy the Ride

  • Project Paradise Word Count: 357
  • Project Skye Word Count: 1617
  • Project Independence Word Count: 1723 
  • Project Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel Page Count: 12

So, I didn’t get any “mainline” writing done, but I did brainstorm a project and this brainstorming session, while unintentional, was very productive.  I’ve chosen which of the two projects that I will be working on to finish out the month.  To find out which one, read on:

Driving While Dreaming

So, as some of you may know that I have a fairly long commute from my house to school/class.  I usually listen to podcasts and (more rarely) play music.  The reception isn’t good enough to listen to anyone radio station the entire time, so these are my only two realistic options.  However, today, I found myself not really wanting to listen to a podcast after the first one finished playing and all of the stations had nothing but static and I didn’t want to hook up my bluetooth aftermarket connection for my phone to play music, so I just drove.  And what a drive it was.

Project Independent Comes into Focus

So as I was driving, there were long stretches with few cars and lots of quiet and my mind began to wander a bit, I must confess.  I kept my eyes on the road and had full road awareness, but I began to wonder what would happen next in the conversation I was in the middle of for Project Independence and boom, my mind was off to the races.  It was very much like reliving watching an enjoyable movie as scene after scene played out in my mind.  I knew what the main characters were going to do, what they were going to say, who would live and who would (possibly) die.  I had the setting, complications, and reversals all planned out.  This took place from about the base of Monteagle mountain, through the truck rest area and inspection station, and ended about at Manchester, TN (about a 20-25 minute Speed Limit drive).

Recapturing the Glory

When I finally got to school, I took a moment to jot down (in outline form) the key scenes and their importance from my brainstorming daydream.  I’m now super excited to write about it because I want to recapture that feeling and those emotions that i felt while brainstorming the story in my mind.  So, if you haven’t guessed already, Project Space Trucker (which should have a title that I really like now) is the one short story project that I’m working on for the rest of May (& a bit into June if I need to.  I will push Project Skye (which I’ve made good progress on) back to June.  I will work on the Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel on weekends (I owe my artist an email soon).

It was really amazing the way the subconscious took over and helped to fashion out a story that I’m itching to tell.  The moral of this story = if you’re stuck, go out for a drive (or a walk, or whatever), but just do something else for a while.  You’re subconscious is probably already working on a solution.

Talk to you later!

Sidney




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

Submitting Drafts Too Soon?

Terry Pratchett_First Draft_Pinterest

“The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.” Terry Pratchett (Freedom With Writing).  Image Source: Pinterest

  • Project Paradise Word Count: 357 (+244)
  • Project Skye Word Count: 1084 
  • Project Independence Word Count: 1723 
  • Project Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel Page Count: 12 

I came within 6 words of my Daily 250 word count, so I feel like this was a successful writing day.  I would have liked to have gotten to 250 words, but the place where I stopped seemed like a natural “break” in the flow of the story.

Am I Submitting Drafts too Soon?

So, working on Project Skye has been an eye-opening experience.  I’ve discovered some interesting things about my drafting process as a fiction writer.  One of the things I’ve discovered is that I need to “Tell, Don’t Show” first.  I need to tell myself the story first before I try to show it to the audience.  The second thing is that I may be submitting drafts one or maybe even two/three versions too early, and this may have to do with the terminology that I use when describing where I am in the writing process.

“Working” Draft

So, after I outline and write a Rough Draft (sometimes these are separate, sometimes not–although, lately, I’ve taken to outlining using the “Story Map” handout that I’ve mentioned before in a previous blog post, and then write the Rough Draft in the Notes App on my phone) which looks a lot like a “Treatment” for a Hollywood script.  I let that sit for a week or more and then start on the next draft, the “Working” Draft.

To me, “Working” implies that it is a “Work-in-Progress” Draft of the story.  It is, as close as I can make it, the story that I see in my mind.  After the “Working” draft is finished, I compare it to the outline and the vision that I have in my head.  If I’m satisfied with it, I’ll edit it and begin submitting.  If I’m not, it will go through another “pass” to see if I can improve on it.

“Intermediate” Draft

This process did not work with Project Skye.  What I’ve done is created “Intermediate” drafts along the way with each successive draft getting closer and closer to the story/vision in my head.  Unlike, 99% of my stories so far, I’m only on the first major scene, and already I think I’m going to need at least one more major pass at it to get it right.  I’m doing a lot of world-building and characterization in this draft, but other techniques like building excitement by starting the story In Media Res (“in the middle of things”) and cutting of extraneous details that need, but that the audience doesn’t won’t be addressed in this draft (although I have ideas on how I might accomplish these things in the next draft).

However, normally when I finished the draft that I’m on right now for Project Skye, it would go out to various markets, so I’m wondering, if I haven’t been simply submitting my stories too early in the process by not thinking of these drafts as “intermediary” steps to getting to a more “dramatic” story that does what all good writing should do: “show, don’t tell.

Food for thought for me on this Wednesday afternoon.  Happy writing and reading!

Sidney




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