Today is the last day of February. Not only is it a short month as far as the calendar goes, it’s also a very short month in terms of the Writing in Public challenge. I had thought about waiting until March 1st to begin, but I wanted to get a boost in my writing through February and knew the pressure of having to come and write about my daily accomplishments publicly would do the trick.
“Harmonious Bedlam” is finished. The final, submitted version is approximately 5,000 words. That doubled the short(er) month’s total salable amount of fiction at just shy of 11,000 words. I suppose it is not bad for the first month of the challenge, along with the total fiction amount of about 50,000 words.
My goal for the Month 02 of the challenge is to write at least 150,000 words of fiction, split evenly between “Into the Wastes” and various short stories. Will it happen? Well, I don’t know that I’ll be able to triple my output so quickly, but we shall see. After all, last “month” only involved 18 days of writing, and 50,000 words were reached in that time. I’m not sure how productive January was, but it may have been on par with February. I feel like I only started writing in the last two-and-a-half weeks of that month, as well. That’s one habit that needs to be broken this upcoming month. When March arrives, the writing needs to happen!
Today was not a very productive day in terms of writing. The day job (Henceforth referred to as “other work”) kept me a lot longer than usual. Not much of an excuse, but when the time’s not there it’s not there.
As such, the focus today was solely on getting the revisions of “Harmonious Bedlam” started, and I made some decent progress. Didn’t write everything I wanted, but there was quite a bit of research time involved with this tale. It’s for the music theme at Crossed Genres, and my way of tying music in was to make it a fantasy setting where a group of magicians use music to emotionally compel and control the populace they rule. Certain kinds of music have a profound emotional impact on me, and it is my hope that I’ll be able to convey that in prose rather than trying to get technical with the music being played.
The rough draft of “Harmonious Bedlam” was finished after an additional 4,800 words. It is much better structured than past rough drafts I’ve come up with, so I think the outlining strategy I followed from the people at How To Write A Novel Now. Now, while that outlining strategy is designed primarily for novels, it was a big help to me for a longer short story of around 6,000 words or so. I’m looking forward to putting it to “Sublease” and “You Are My Brothers” to see what elements I’m missing and where I can improve the story flow.
I have to say the last two months have been a journey for me. A lot has been written, but even more has been learned. I’ll go into that in a post at the end of the month, but I’m very satisfied with the way the time has gone. There are definitely areas where I need to improve on multiple fronts (Technique, plotting, language, and theming for the writing itself, but also efficiency and stamina). But, the forward momentum is there, and it is building.
I had an epiphany about “Into the Wastes” last night that I had to write down before I forget. Five minutes later I was finished with the beginning of an idea that could help fully half of the story come together better. I also had Listerine sitting in my mouth for that long. I didn’t want to get up and spit it out until I was finished.
As with all late night ideas I’m looking at it with an eye of skepticism but also with excitement. I really think the addition of one more character – or the injection of an already present character into an earlier part of the story – will make some of the chapters flow just a bit better and with a greater sense of urgency. Anyway, the planning and outlining continues. My plan is to begin the actual rewrite starting March 1st or 2nd, with a goal of finishing the second draft in 45 days. The objective is for it to be a much tighter story that leaves room for a sequel but is also definitive in ending the current problem.
On short stories, I spent a good part of the day brainstorming and outlining “Harmonious Bedlam.” The later afternoon and evening was devoted to writing the rough draft, and I finished about 2,400 words of it. I’m trying a new experiment with this story in that I’m trying to get a more structured outline in place before the draft process begins. Usually I just come up with a few basic elements to get a rough idea (Rough, get it? Ahem, sorry) of what to write, and then I go to town. This sometimes works, and sometimes results in an inefficient form of writing. I want to up my daily word count, but I want the ratio of total fiction writing to final, salable writing to shift more in favor of the salable. The writing is fun, but I’m aiming for a final product that I hope others will enjoy.
Nothing knew on revisions, but I managed to do at least a little bit in the other three daily goal areas: novel work, short story rough drafts, and short story planning and outlining.
It took a whole weekend to get rolling on it, but I finally finished with “Listening Post”. It clocked in at roughly 3,333 words. I’m going to let it sit until either tomorrow or Wednesday before re-reading it and making the final changes, but it won’t be much more or less than that. I just need to check grammar, make sure I’m not being redundant in the story-telling, and see if there’s any way I can tighten up the plot and action.
The final draft of “Fallout Ariel” (Renamed to “Blue Pearls”) is finished. It’s currently at 806 words, and hopefully will not fluctuate too much.
Lastly, the final draft of “Alien Concept” is finished. Its final word count is 735.
You’ll note that a couple of these goals have been here for a couple of weeks now, and that’s because I keep finding reasons to not get around to them. Specifically, reviewing and revamping the outline for the second draft of “Into the Wastes” as well as doing some reading research of some of my favorite fantasy books.
Another reading goal that has been added is to read a book each week. I’ve fallen out of reading novels in favor of short stories over the last year or so, and it’s high time I get back to it. As stated in an earlier post, reading is just as important a task for writers as writing is. Reading is what gets most of us interested in writing in the first place, and by reading other authors we can see technique in action and learn from it. It’s an enjoyable form of research, and it makes me feel a little guilty when I do it. That’s probably why I keep finding excuses to not do it, but no more!
Writing Goals (Any titles listed are working titles):
Revise and submit “Listening Post” (3,500 salable words or less)
Revise and submit “Fallout Ariel” (1,000 salable words or less)
Revise and submit “Alien Concept” (1,000 salable words or less)
Write, revise, and submit “Songs of Fate” (4,000 salable words or less)
Write, revise, and submit “Signalmen” (4,000 salable words or less)
Revise and submit “Gentle Breeze” (3,500 salable words or less)
Finish rough draft of “You Are My Brothers” and get ready to outline it (6,000 more words of rough draft)
Outline “Sublease” and get ready for the rewrite.
Write outline for the second draft of “Into the Wastes”, a fantasy novel about a company of crusaders sent into their kingdom’s northern hinterlands to deal with one threat, only to discover multiple threats.
Read Rhapsody, the first of the “Symphony of Ages” series by Elizabeth Haydon.
Re-read the prologues and opening chapters for several epic fantasy novels, including King’s Dragon (Kate Elliott), The Green Rider (Kristen Britain), and The Eye of the World (Robert Jordan), amongst others. I’m doing this as an exercise to see if there is anything common in each book’s opening chapters and how that could benefit the opening chapters to “Into the Wastes.”
Yet another bad day for actually getting stuff written. I was at the keyboard for a number of hours, struggling to get “Listening Post” rewritten. I’m not sure what the problem was, but the words did not want to come. It was one of those days that makes a writer think he’s not a writer at all. It’s not a very complex tale either, which had me both puzzled and frustrated.
Further, it ate into my rough draft time and yet another day passed with little more done on “You Are My Brothers.” Tomorrow is the start of a new week, and a new set of goals. And part of those goals will be finishing the rewrites of “Listening Post” and “Fallout Ariel” very early in the week, possibly as early as tomorrow.
I spent more time this week writing rough drafts than I did getting salable material out the door. That’s not necessarily a problem, but it will become one if that’s all I do is draft.
On the resubmission side of things, only one story was resubmitted. That was “Starting From Zeroth.” It was originally submitted to the Asimov-themed issue by Penumbra. It made it to the final round of selections (Which I was pleased with) before ultimately being rejected (Which I was not pleased with). Still, it says good things about the story that it made it so far into the selection process, so I fired it off immediately to somewhere else, and then somewhere else (More below).
One new story was finished and sent out this week. That was the previously named “Ninja Mama” story that has now become known as “Amidst the Swirling Sakura Petals.” I admit it sounds a lot more pretentious than “Ninja Mama” did, especially considering that the origin of the story idea came from a quote by Chief Arino of Game Center CX (Specifically when he was playing a game and said “Papa did this with a Ninja once”). What started out as a lighthearted tale became a very serious one that explores revenge, salvation, and motherhood. And Ninjas.
I’m still trying to strike a good balance between planning, rough draft writing, and revisions. Today is a good example of the difficulty of that. The day began with plans for getting more of the “You Are My Brothers” rough draft finished along with revisions for “Listening Post” and possibly one of the flash fiction pieces. None of that happened. With so many rough drafts that need to enter the revision/rewriting stage I got caught up in doing research on different outlining techniques and wasted much of the day jumping from article to article.
There was some success, though. Of the five stories that need to be revised/rewritten I was able to get outlines written for four of them, and I began work on the “Listening Post” rewrite. For some reason this story has become a challenge to me, and I’m not sure why. Hopefully tomorrow’s work on it will yield some answers. It could be there’s just too much in the plot to contain in a 3,500 word or less story.
Anyway, here are the rather lackluster numbers for the day:
Today was less productive than I was hoping it would be, and a lot of it had to do with my being scatter-brained through a good portion off the day. Did not really get to serious writing until the evening, but managed to put in another ten pages of “You Are My Brothers.” This story is as rough as “Sublease” was, but the overall plot is beginning to come together. And with every scene I write I get a better handle on the pacing and what I can and can’t accomplish with the word limitations given to me. 12,000 – 17,000 words seems like a lot, but it’s amazing how quickly it can get eaten up.
Now you know why flash fiction is a challenge for me! A fun challenge, but a challenge all the same.
Speaking of flash fiction, I came up with two ideas that I need to flesh out more, but one will be a tale about applying for position of the prince that wakes the sleeping princess with a kiss, and the other will occur in the minutes and hours following the sun going out not with a bang, but with a whimper. Will the world follow suit?
Anyway, tomorrow my plan is to get another ten or so pages of “You Are My Brothers” written and finish with that rough draft on Sunday. I would like to revise “Listening Post” as well, and get to work on the reading research for “Song of Battle.” I’ve never tried writing anything with music in it, so it’ll be a great challenge.