WIPika Fridays: What Draft Is This Again?

Another week, another bit of productivity.

First on the block is the editing for “The Lone Blue Strand” for Fictionvale. I received the edits on Sunday night, and have spent an hour or so every day this week working on it. There’s still a little bit left to do tomorrow, but for all intents and purposes it’s finished. I’ll send it off tomorrow morning and wait for the second round of edits to come back my way.

Second accomplishment has been the short story codenamed “Evaporated Ocean.” It’s actually a rewrite of a short story I wrote back in 2012 that didn’t go anywhere with publishers. Looking back on it, I understand why: it’s unreadable! There are aspects of it that are neat (Such as the setting), but the characterization and plot were blah. Not coherent in any way, shape, or form. The core setting is largely the same, but the characters and plot have been changed almost completely. I’ve completed three outlines of it, and have started on what could be the second/third draft of it. I plan to finish that tomorrow, and then Sunday work on heavy edits for it.

First line from it:

Jisan paced along the dry ocean floor.

The name of the story will have nothing to do with evaporated anything, so I hope the idea of the ocean floor being anything other than wet will stand out to readers and make them want to continue on. I try to start my stories either with a conflict, or with a strange premise that grabs them. Don’t know that I succeed at it, but I know I’m a lot better than I used to be.

That’s something I should post up one day. A list of story first lines, from my earliest works to now. Should be amusing for somebody, at least.

The novel outlining has had its ups and downs this week. I’ve completed more than I probably would have had I not been on any sort of schedule, but I’ve officially gotten behind. I don’t know that I’ll be able to make up any time Saturday, but Sunday I will have to put my nose to the grindstone and get caught up. Even if it takes all afternoon and evening, it’ll have to get done! Fortunately we have leftover pizza that we made last week, so dinner’s sorted.

Where reading’s concerned, I’m also behind. I had hoped to finish with Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson before the weekend, but that’s just not happening. Same goes with Writing the Blockbuster Novel by Albert Zuckerman. I want to take my time with them and really read them, so it’s taking longer than expected. Alas.

Still, not bad for the second full week of adjusting to a new writing schedule. I need to hold onto this level of productivity, and ratchet it up. As long as I don’t slide backward, it’s all good from here.

WIPika Fridays: Novels and Shorts, Oh Me, Oh My

Today is the first full week of 2015, and it’s been a fairly productive one.

As of this afternoon two and a half drafts of a fantasy short story have been finished. The story is, at the moment, called “Snowmelt” (Or “Viking Irrigation”) and is consistently coming in at around 3,000 – 4,000 words or so. Not sure what the final count will be, but I doubt it will be much larger than 4,500 words. I may even be able to shave some out of it.

So, what is the story about? Well, it’s set in the Wendigo universe, and follows a 15 year old shieldmaiden who has just been field-promoted to Jarl (Lord) of her land after her father was killed prior to the story’s beginning. She has also survived an assassination attempt by her uncle and his illegitimate son. Men loyal to her killed her Uncle, but she had to personally take down her cousin. They grew up together, and his death traumatized her.

So, how do you salve this hurt in her soul? Well, if we want to be nice to the character we spend the whole story putting her in situations where she can cope, grieve, and recover. But, we’re not going to do that.

Instead, she’s thrown right into the fire. The first place she visits in the story is the farm that her cousin owned, to break the news to his widow.

The following is from the third draft, so it’s subject to change. Also, the names are placeholders at the moment:

Blood pooled on the blackwood tabletop. Ayla raised the wet knife. “Give me one reason why I shouldn’t kill you.”

Ylva sat stock-still, her hands pressed to her sides. She kept her voice level, matter-of-fact. “I am your next of kin, and your Jarl.”

Ayla snorted.

And you don’t want your children raised by the woman who bereft them of father and mother.” Ylva’s hand strayed to her side and touched the hilt of her misericorde, the mercy dagger. The weapon she had killed her own cousin with.

Ayla’s eyes narrowed and her fair face flushed. She slammed the knife down. Its keen edge bit into the cut of goat meat.

Ylva kept her features smooth, but her insides roiled with nauseating guilt. Ayla, how can you ever forgive me?

Ayla sawed at the meat. “How did Sindri die?”

In other news, progress is being made on the Wendigo novel front. It will not feature any of the characters in this particular short story, except indirectly. It will be focused on the happenings of the mainland continent to the east of where this story takes place. No actual draft writing was accomplished, nor will it be until February. But, the outline is progressing very smoothly. The goal is to finish it by January 31st, but I would love to get it done beforehand, if possible.

WIPika Fridays: WOTF Entry, Second Draft

Another week down, but not as much to show for it as I would like. Christmas seems to be a multi-day affair in my wife’s family, and even though it happens every year I never fully prepare for it.

Despite that, most of the second draft of my Writers of the Future entry is finished. Spent last weekend and the early part of the week going back through the rough draft, transcribing it onto the computer, and taking down notes. I usually write the second draft on the computer, but I’m trying to do it by hand again to see what happens. This I’ll then transcribe, and begin work on the third draft.

I’m no longer confident that I will have this draft in a place where I’m comfortable to submit it to something as prestigious as the Writers of the Future, though. We’ll see what happens between now and New Year’s Eve, but I’m thinking it’s going to have to wait until the next quarter. If that’s the case, I plan to still get it finished within the next week or so. I don’t want to keep going back and forth on the story, because it will slow me down going into 2015. And I’ve got some big plans for 2015. More on that next week.

For now, back to writing! Still have a couple of scenes to finish.

WIPika Fridays: “Refocusing” and WOTF Entry

This week was fairly light with regards to actually finishing stories. “Refocusing” is a flash fiction piece that’s stuck with me for awhile. And, if you read this week’s “Drafty Wednesdays” post you’ll have read the opening paragraphs of the story. It’s currently floating out in the submissions aether, looking for bites from first readers and editors. Will it succeed? Maybe, maybe not. The point is it’s out there. In the worst case, it will wind up on here sometime during 2015 as a lead-in to the Soulweaver Universe. An older version of the main character of “Refocusing” is going to be a supporting character in at least the first book, but I expect there will be more stories focusing on her as a child in the future.

I’ve also made good progress on my Writers of the Future entry for the first quarter of 2015. The rough draft is done! I wish I could post up even a tiny excerpt of it or what it’s about, but they are pretty strict about maintaining anonymity for entries. I won’t be able to post anything about it until after the quarter ends.

Suffice it to say, next week will be busy, especially with Christmas coming up. Not sure how much will get done, but we’ll see.

WIPika Fridays: Of Refrigerators and Furnaces

There’s not a whole lot to show at this point of the week, unfortunately. I mean, I did get two stories finished, but they’re so short they can’t be considered much of an accomplishment. Not for a whole week’s worth of effort, in any event.

On the Premises is wrapping up Mini-Contest #24 today. They wanted a story no shorter than 20 words and no longer than 40 words. And of those words, exactly one had to be the word “refrigerator.” A single instance of a single refrigerator. I managed to come up with two stories concerning refrigerators and fantastical elements, but could only send in one. After some deliberation, I chose one and sent it off. We should get results back from that in a week. Several other members of the Writers of the Future forum submitted as well, so it will be neat to see how many – if any – of us make it into the prize or honorable mention categories. I would be ecstatic with either designation, as recognition is its own reward.

I have to admit I’ve started growing fonder of attempting flash and micro fiction. I haven’t been keeping up with my December plan of writing a flash fiction piece each week, but I really do want to get back into it again. It’s a manageable goal, even with some of the other demands I’ve placed on myself. And regardless of manageability, it’s good experience. You learn something every time you complete a piece of fiction, provided you have an open mind willing to accept either criticism from others (Readers, editors, etc) or criticism from yourself. I’ve read several books and articles on the art of fiction writing (From novels to shorts) and have discovered new things about stories I’ve previously written. I now know why certain stories did not make it past the slush gates, and what’s better: I now know how to fix them, if I’m of a mind to. The problem is having so many new ideas pressing that I now understand why a lot of well-established writers simply trunk stories that did not make the cut.

Anyway, that is all for this week. Next week will probably involve a lot less writing as well. My wife is taking the week off from work, but I won’t be sitting idle the entire time. Even if I don’t write any prose, there will be brainstorming and outlining going on. My goal is to get at least four stories outlined, and to make headway into the re-outlining of the first Wendigo novel.

WIPika Fridays: Magical Repairmen and Viking Irrigation Projects

Well, Friday certainly got here quicker than it should have. Holiday weeks tend to make that happen, especially when Thanksgiving got celebrated over two days. We went over to visit blood family on Thursday, and then earlier tonight we had church family over to our house for food, fellowship, and Farscape. So, I am already off the mark for this week on my plan announced last Friday.

Even if I’m off the mark, I’m still hitting somewhat center mass. I’ve written a rough and revised draft of a flash fiction piece set in the Soulweaver universe. It is a short piece featuring an apprentice fire mage sent out on an emergency assignment to one of the city’s busiest craft workshops: one of their ovens has gone out, and it’s up to her to get it started again. The problem is she’s a little frightened of ovens. She has good reason, but it’s still interfering with her job.

First proposed line for the fiery flash fiction story: “The glassworks smelled like cooked meat.”

The short story I had planned for this week still hasn’t entered the rough draft phase, but it’s fleshed out to the point that pen is itching to touch paper. We’re moving out of the realm of fire and into the realm of ice. This story is set in the Wendigo universe and follows a young female Jarl as she tries to establish her place as ruler. A bad drought affects her land, and starvation could occur if the crops do not grow. Worse, her people will not be able to afford to purchase food from merchants because she has suspended all raiding activities against her land’s richest neighbor. Her authority will be greatly tested as a result of these two factors.

First proposed line for the frozen short story: “Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t kill you.”


Introducing “WIPika(*) Fridays” and “Write 1 Sub 1”

On November 28th, while mass riots break out to see who will limp home with that 50″ TV that’s on sale for $99.95, I will start posting up weekly reports on how my writing is going. This will be a little different from the Writing in Public posts, which will begin again December 1st. In those posts I am just giving a basic update on the day’s activities and writing, but with WIPika Fridays I will post up brief excerpts of what I am doing. It will be done in the form of a few sentences or paragraphs of a piece to be submitted, or I will go through some of the things I’ve been brainstorming and how that works for me, or I may show a bit of the outlining process. Or, maybe I will do all three! It depends on the week, and what I think is the most interesting accomplishment for that week.

W1S1 2014 - Weekly ChallengeThis will go hand-in-hand with the Bradbury Challenge  (Also known as Write 1, Sub 1) that I am also starting Thanksgiving Week. My plan with that is to be a little bit more ambitious and actually Write 2, Sub 2. I want to write a flash fiction story each week, and a full-length short story each week. Will I be able to handle that? Well, we shall see. I am starting this during the holiday season for a reason (And not just so I could rhyme back there). Between November 24th and December 31st there are 38 days, or 5.5 weeks. Let’s be ambitious and say that’s six full weeks. Going by Write 2, Sub 2, that means I should have written and submitted 6 flash fiction stories and 6 short stories. I also want to write a novella-length work and get it out to Writers of the Future. That’s 13 stories in six weeks. If I can manage to do that during the general craziness of the holiday season, then maintaining that pace through 2015 should be a lot easier, barring any family emergencies or illness.

Will it happen? Maybe, maybe not. I know it won’t happen unless I attempt it and maintain a positive attitude while doing it. At the very least I will get more written in the next few weeks than I would have had I not pushed myself.

(*) The name of this section was inspired by 2:30 from the following Sequelitis Video by Egoraptor. Warning: profanity, hilarity, and the tearing down of an iconic video game will ensue!