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)

The UnPower of Three

Well, I tried an experiment, but it didn’t work.  For those who are regular readers of the blog, you will remember that late in September (or perhaps earlier) when I decided to try maximize my writing time.  I had bought a set of letter holders and they are designed to hold three letters at a time.  So, my thought was, let me try to select three projects that I’m really interested in and just rotate through these three projects and hopefully I will be able to maximize my writing time and complete 3 times as many projects during the same time.

False Trails

It seemed to work when I finished the 1st issue of my Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel this way.  However, after finishing that issue, I’ve struggled with time and haven’t been able to really finish/work on anything on a consistent basis.  I’m even having problems writing blog entries, which should be easy as I’m basically holding myself now (during school) to 250 – 300 words for these posts (which equates to about 15-20 mins worth of writing).  Add in about 10 mins to find an image, note the image source, and do the tagging for the blog entry, and I’m sitting at about half an hour or 30 mins to do an entry and I feel that is doable, but the proof is in the pudding – the fact that I’ve been highly erratic for the past three  to four weeks is telling me something is wrong.

Going Back One Project At a Time

So, basically, I just want to let you know that I’m going back to working on one project at a time.  I really want to just finish projects and “build” my stories while making them as best as I can. I don’t want to belabor the point, but I just wanted to let you know that I’m going back to trying to finish one story at a time (either rough draft, 1st Draft, 2nd or 3rd draft, and submission draft).  Hopefully, this will help.

Gotta’ run!

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)

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)

 

 

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)

 

 

Find a Reading/Writing Buddy

Reading /Writing Buddies are Cool especially for Deadlines

Deadlines are a pain–they are a necessary evil, but they are also a cause for major stress.  One thing that I’ve found that has helped me over the past year was to find a “buddy” who I could give my work to at a specific time.  It plays on your “guilt” in that you’ve made a “promise” to someone else and when you don’t follow through, you feel bad for letting them down, so you try to stick to a goal and, even if you don’t meet the goal, you try to have “something” for them.  Now, if you have a “guilty” nature and you feel inordinate pressure from owing people something or letting them down, this may not be the technique to use.  Still, I find it extremely useful to actually get things done.

1st Saturday of Every Month

I try very hard (doesn’t always work with school) to get something done by the first Saturday of the month.  Actually, I think that I’ve mentioned this before, but in case I haven’t, I have a couple of reader/responders at the Public Library (Chattanooga), who have agreed to read my work.  So, to get things to them, I’ve tried very hard to get things to them by the first Saturday of the month.

Make It Managable

The key, I think, is to make it manageable.  Realistically, it means what can you do within a month?  As a graduate student and a part-time worker, my time is extremely limited.  I can’t take two or three hours every day to devote to my writing (personal writing).  However, if I write a little every day and take what I’ve written over the month, that usually adds up to enough material for a whole story that I can send to the people to get feedback on.

I hope this helps other writers out there who are struggling with completing material for deadlines.

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)

 

 

 

 

Inhabiting Characters

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

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

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

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

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

  • For Fun:
    Transhuman edited by Mark L. Van Name and T. F. K. Weisskopf
    Just started this anthology – it was given to me at a LibertyCon some years ago, but I’ve just now gotten around to reading it. I may not finish it/read all the stories, but so far, I’ve read the first story and liked it.
    The Belgariad David Eddings
    Last week was NOT a good week, so I needed some “comfort food” for reading and my go to book for “comfort food” is the Belgariad (followed closely by Diane Duane’s So You Want To Be a Wizard.)
  • For School:
    Afrofuturism (by Ytasha Womack): This book describes the academic genre of Afrofuturism (essentially African American Science Fiction that deals with social issues in culture).  I just finished Chapter 5 today and I’m at the beginning of Chapter 6 (this book has 10 chapters).
    Wrote out a fairly extensive list of possible research topics to explore from chapter 5. Really intriguing book.
  • For Research/Personal Development:
    Great Aircraft of WWII by Alfred Price and Mike Spick (for Project Skye)
    Great Aircraft of WWII is a book that I’ve had in my collection for sometime–I’ve glanced at it periodically, but never read it cover-to-cover.  Now, with Project Skye, I intend to do just that.

Librarians Lead the Way

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

Swapping Stories

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

Developing Characters

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

Have a great day!

Sidney




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