A Personal Writing Process

I’ve been to many NaNoWriMo write-ins in my day. Naturally, I’ve conversed with many authors and have heard about personal writing habits that differ from others. I don’t mean planning versus pantsing. Sometimes it’s simple, like a naming convention for files, or a color code for highlighting certain passages for editing. Most authors write a 500-page draft and then whittle it down by one-third; I simply can’t operate in such a manner.

The manuscript for M&M: The Tales of Tyrennia Book II now stands at 235 pages. Sounds a bit short, doesn’t it? Well, in a word, No. The original first draft was only 112 pages. My creative writing classes were in screenwriting; therefore, I tend to write a first draft (which I playfully call Version 0.5) that is 90% dialog. It’s a nasty habit, which I do not recommend for any author. This method is a rather personal quirk or “comfort zone.” I prefer having my plot laid out, no holes or characters ignoring the path of least resistance. Also, it helps me to scrutinize my dialog. pencil

Version 0.5 of Book II moved like a rocket-powered roller coaster. Way too fast and somewhat overwhelming for a reader. Most authors love to write a “page-turner,” but there can be a point where a reader needs to come up for air. My current draft certainly leaves them underwater for way too long. But there were other problems.

Book II’s disparate events in separate locations on a collision course created a dizzying story line. Not only was information zipping by too quickly, but such a plot demanded many shifts in point-of-view (POV).

To solve this problem, I wrote out a small synopsis of each chapter’s events and noted the POV shifts. Yes, way too many. But I also noted the need for characters to perform certain actions, and subsequently work on solving glitches in their plans of action.

So far, I’ve fleshed out the first four chapters and have written a new chapter 5. I saw the necessity of other new chapters as well. For instance, the original chapter 5 is now chapter 9. Because of the minimalist nature of my first draft and outline, the plot is still rock solid. *wipes brow*

Do you have any personal writing quirks in your process?

Don’t Go – Comment Below!

2020: Writing Goals for the New Year

For the New Year, I think it best to keep working on what I have already written, rather than start a new writing project. The first draft of M&M: The Tales of Tyrennia, Book II, is done and the first ten chapters are ready for beta reading. Therefore, a release of Book II looks rather promising.2020

My short story collection, that has been “on the back burner” for far too long, should be completed. I’ve decided to alternate between Book II and the collection. Edit a chapter, then edit a short story, then back to another chapter and so on. The shorts collection has seven titles, so it will be done relatively quickly and I can shift my undivided attention back to Book II.

I’m sure some minds are saying, “Shouldn’t this be titled ‘editing goals’ rather than ‘writing goals’”? Not in my case. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts long ago, I write bare-boned drafts (mostly dialog) and edit in an additive manner rather than a subtractive one. My first editing pass involves a lot of writing, like detailed descriptions, body language, ambiance, and the five senses.

On another note, I also plan on doing many more reviews this year. Of course I’m going to restrict them to books by Indie Authors.

Yes, I know these aspirations appear thin, but I believe in keeping things simple. I’ve found that when I set too large a goal and fail to reach it, I turn into my own worst critic.

What do you plan on writing about this year? Do you already have a work in progress? Are you already planning for NaNoWriMo 2020 in November or Camp NaNoWriMo in April?

Every Time You Reply Little Patrick Doesn’t Cry

2019: Scribbling Forward

Editing and polishing, and then more editing, are the best words to describe my hopes for 2019. I have no goals for writing any new material this year. Stacks of short stories, multiple fantasy novel manuscripts, and blog posts, are screaming for my attention. Oh, the writing is done, but I’m left with the refining. Besides editing, there’s the search for beta readers, addressing any of their valid concerns, and then the slow process of reading out loud.

I’m toying with the idea of a new FaceBook page for finding betas and starting an online critique group. The live chat program known as Discord (popular with gaming guilds) seems to be the perfect venue for such a group. Imagine attending a critique group while nestled comfortably in your PJ’s (I’m sure some of you have a pair with attached fluffy bunny feet), cat on your lap, and a soothing hot beverage. What a perfect way to receive some feedback for your #NaNoWriMo writings from 2018.

Tell me about your work-in-progress. What’s on the back burner? Or a project that’s about to begin?

Every Time You Reply…Little Frankie Doesn’t Cry

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NaNoWriMo 2017: The Final Analysis

Hi Folks!

Well I didn’t get to the desired amount of 50k, but I did get my story on paper. The new manuscript for Book 3 sits at 105 pages for about a 25K word count. Guess I will not be putting in a request for the NaNoWriMo 2017 winner t-shirt.

How Can My Story Be Complete?nanowrimobadge2

I tend to write in a dialog heavy style and later add in other things like exposition, description, body language, and beats. Those 108 pages are probably around 75% dialog. Which of course means it will easily go to 300 pages.

Why Did I Wait Until December 13th?

I flew out to New York City on Nov. 29th and didn’t get back until Dec. 7th. Between  unpacking and catching up on many home chores, this is the first chance I’ve had to sit down and write a blog post.

Did I Do Any Writing While Away?

You know I brought my trusty laptop along and got in a few nights of editing Book One. Only a few chapters are left to edit. Of course, that means I’ll be sending out copies to Beta Readers quite soon.

All in all, I can say that NanoWriMo 2017 went well. How did you do on your project?

NaNoWriMo 2017: Week Three Round Up

Hi Folks! This may come as a surprise. My NaNoWriMo 2017 project is on paper. Did I achieve 50k words? No. Which naturally begs the question how I could possibly be done?

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I’ve mentioned before in other posts that my writing procedure can be somewhat awkward when compared to others. Many authors write 115K words and then delete about one-third of their first draft. My drafts tend to expand. Sometimes I don’t add any beats, body language, inner thoughts, descriptions, or appeals to the senses. There are times when I simply blast out page after page of dialog.

I usually turnout what I call draft Version 0.5, which is dialog heavy. The reason for my peculiar style is the desire to get the story on paper first, and then worry about the embellishments later. My first few chapters will have all of the standard extras and then I start drifting into dialog.

As of now, my word count is 24,394 totaling 108 pages.

Hope your NaNoWriMo project is going well.

 

NaNoWriMo 2017: Week Two Round Up

Hi Folks!

I did catch up over the long weekend and basically maintained a par score word count. However, on Monday night, Little Frankie kept us up most of the night. I muddled my way through Tuesday resembling a tired zombie. I missed a whole day of writing.

The current word count for NaNoWriMo 2017 is 20,854.

NaNoWriMo 2017

Courtesy of NaNoWriMo

On the bright side. When I was up around 3am I made the most of that time. Although too tired to write, I managed to edit some chapters from book one. The beta reader manuscript for book one stands at twenty completed chapters. Only 55pages left to edit from the previous draft.

How are things going for you? Tell me about your project or tell me why you don’t have one.

EVERYTIME YOU REPLY – LITTLE FRANKIE DOESN’T CRY

NaNoWriMo 2017: Week One Round up

Hi Folks,

Writing time has been scant, but I’ve been quite diligent and squeezing it in on a daily basis. I’ve taken my own advice from a previous post on how to make the time. It’s working.

Anyway, after seven days I’ve managed to bring my current work up to a 11,050 word count. I’ve also managed to attend the Treasure Valley Kick-off dinner, a write-in at very hospitable coffee shop in Boise, and hosted a write in luncheon in Mountain Home. There’s lots of indie authors out there.

How’s your NaNoWriMo 2017 project going? Comment below and let everyone know.

MHWI

Mountain Home Write In

 

NaNo2017

Treasure Valley Kick-Off Dinner

 

MJWI

Write In at Moxie Java in Boise

NaNoWriMo 2017: How To Find Your “Comfy-Zone”

Welcome to the final post in this series before NaNoWriMo 2017 begins on November 1st. So far, I have discussed my discovery of Chris Baty and how my mindset during previous NaNoWriMo attempts was wrong. In subsequent posts I talked about how my notions concerning writing goals and time management have evolved.

NaNoWriMo 2017

Courtesy of NaNoWriMo

Now I’m going to reveal how to personalize your NaNoWriMo 2017 project, get into your personal “Comfy-Zone” and enjoy your writing instead of feeling pressured.

Let’s Get Personal

I’m sure you have a laptop and/or a desktop. However, you’ve been using them for a while now. You should acquire (and I heartily recommend this one) a new thumb drive or external hard drive for saving your writing.

As you may know from experience, writing involves more tools than computers and other electronic goodies. There’s nothing like having a small notebook and a pen on your person at all times. You have a few days left, go and purchase those items. After all, you’ll take firm ownership of your writing project and make it more personal. Of course you do not have to spend a proverbial arm and a leg for these items either. Just make sure you don’t use them for grocery lists. They should have only one purpose.

I’ve Got the Time if You’ve Got the Place

You don’t need a laptop to write outside your home (although it’s nice to have one). If you have a notebook, you can write anywhere. Coffee shops are a great place to park and pump out some verbiage. Remember, you must keep your NaNoWriMo writing project special. Therefore, once you’ve picked a foreign nesting area for writing, don’t go there unless you plan to write.

The Company You Keep

Although NaNoWriMo is about your novel, the idea started from a dozen would-be authors in San Francisco. There’s an element of group camaraderie baked into the idea. Make that coffee shop time to write and hang out with other NaNoWriMo indie authors. You’ll learn how others help to refuel and recharge your creative batteries. Just bear in mind that you’re there to write or have a “write-in”, not to have some author group therapy session.

Indie authors writing

A NaNoWriMo “write-in” at a coffee shop

If you don’t have other authors in your area, you can always use the NaNoWriMo site for finding writing buddies.

Have you used any of these “Comfy-Zone” strategies before? Going to try them now? Keep me informed.

 

 

 

Every Time You Reply Little Frankie Doesn’t Cry

NaNoWriMo 2017: How to Find the Time

Pink Floyd, Jim Croce, and The Chambers Brothers have all composed wonderful classic rock songs about our friend and enemy: time. You can’t look at it, hold it, or examine it; time exists without form. Yet, time is incredibly valuable. For every day, and for the whole month of November, time will be prevalent in the minds of any would-be indie author racing for the finish line during NaNoWriMo 2017. So how to make the best use of the time you have for writing? I’ve summarized some of Chris Baty’s great ideas.

*In the last post I wrote about Setting a Proper Goal.*

A Study in Thirds

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It all starts with planning. In the final week of October, try logging everything you do over the course of a day. Identify everything according one of three criteria: Need, Delay, and Avoid.

Some Things Must Be Done

You shouldn’t avoid certain daily necessities during NaNoWriMo. Our days are filled with a laundry list of mandatory tasks, including laundry. And personal hygiene, feeding the cats, feeding the baby, cooking, cleaning, shopping at the supermarket…you get the idea.

These tasks should not be avoided or delayed, or things get ugly. Let’s say that author Bill stops showering and uses that time to write. Other local authors may use his lack of hygiene to their benefit. Imagine the following phone call.

Local Author John: “Hey, Bill. I hope you’re coming to the write-in tonight.”

Bill: “Wouldn’t miss it.”

John: “Good. Because I’m writing a scene that takes place in a foul-smelling bog. And Susan is up to a scene where some survivors find some rotting food.”

Bill: “I’ll bring my thesaurus.”

John: “We don’t need a thesaurus. We just need a quick whiff of you. Then you can leave.”

Sorry for the tasteless jesting, but I couldn’t resist.

Some Things Can Be Delayed

Yes, there are some tasks that should be done, but let’s face facts, putting them off for a month isn’t going to bring ruin to your life. Does the trim in the living room need a fresh coat of paint? So what? The house is not going to collapse for want of paint. Got some wood that needs to be stacked? It’s outside and drying out anyway. Does the back of the TV need to be dusted? No, it can wait. The TV will not explode from dust (although unattended Penguins on the Tele have been known to go up in smoke).

The Things to Avoid

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Study your list of daily activities. Look at the amount of time spent watching TV, commenting on humorous Facebook memes, Twitter, watching YouTube videos, or online shopping and gaming. If you’re going to implode because you’ve missed an episode of The Big Bang Theory or Once Upon A Time, use your DVR and watch it after you’ve done some honest-to-goodness writing for the day. Regard it as a reward for a job well done.

Consider Yourself Armed With New Knowledge

Come November, I hope you sit your butt down and get some serious NaNoWriMo writing done. If you don’t, you’ll never achieve your goal. Let me know if this strategy helped.

Every Time You Reply Little Frankie Doesn’t Cry

NaNoWriMo 2017: Setting A Proper Goal

According to Chris Baty in his book “No Plot? No Problem!” a deadline is one of the most powerful writing tools around. Deadlines are what keep all those newspapers and magazines generated on time, after all. That’s why every NaNoWriMo event has one. However, NaNoWriMo’s set goal of a particular word-count by a specific date is a goal that cannot be amended. Therefore, for NaNo, quality is the goal that should be tweaked.

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Courtesy of NaNoWriMo

The Principle of Exuberant Imperfection

According to Chris, in order to make something beautiful, you first have to make something ugly. This is the definition of Exuberant Imperfection, and is one of the principles where my thinking was completely wrong (I mentioned wrong thinking in a previous post concerning NaNoWriMo 2017). At times I used to stare at my screen trying to craft a perfect beat, or to replace a weak weasel verb. But I’ve learned now that the first draft is not the time to be doing that. Neither is the second draft, for that matter.

Have you ever seen a board freshly ripped from a log? It’s ugly. Once I made a pot rack that started as such a board, jagged and with an uneven surface ten times rougher than a burlap sack. The first thing I had to do was plane the wood to make it look like a piece of stock that one would buy in a Home Depot type of store. Only then could I shape it into its final form.

However, do not misconstrue my meaning. The object is not to aim low, but rather not to set an unattainably high bar. Remember the wise words of Hemingway, “the first draft of anything is a piece of shit.” Just write and keep writing; worry about the small details later when you edit.

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How Will You Approach NaNoWrimo 2017?

Have you been setting the bar too high? I know I have done that in the past, and therefore this year will be different. Let me know if this way of thinking will help with your NaNoWriMo 2017 writing project.

 

 

Every Time You Reply – Little Frankie Doesn’t Cry