A 370-word post in which we realize that things in the past are not happening “now”.
Right after Christmas, I finished my mid-draft, which represents the complete book before I check for plot holes, inconsistencies, and other mechanical issues. It’s the first time I read the story straight through and it’s the first time I print out the manuscript to give it a thorough redlining.
I also use blue and green lines, and a yellow highlighter, so perhaps I need a new term.
It’s a time when you sit back and try to enjoy the story (I did!). This additional distance means you’re seeing things you couldn’t when you were nose deep in the writing (oh boy, did I!). I discovered my overuse of the word “now”, which is an odd writing choice when the verbs of the book are all past tense. If you’re not a grammar nerd, it’s the difference between “We walked now” and “We are walking now”.
After Control-F’ing the word (trying saying that in mixed company), I found far too many instances. I was using it as an unnecessary adverb, a way to transition into a new sentence, or as an awkward conjunction. Here’s a list of all the ways I used it. Continue reading
This post is approximately 500 words, and it argues in favor of using many words, even when a single one would suffice.
Recently, I was reviewing a passage in my manuscript that reminded me of a word I’d forgotten. I’m an English language geek, so I like collecting words, even if I don’t always put them on display. Rather, many are crammed into the attic in dusty boxes sealed with cheap tape (feel free to analyze whether this is a metaphor for my brain). In this case, I hadn’t used the term, but it did motivate me to reacquaint myself with it.
It’s a word I think many people will appreciate because it describes something we love: the distinctive smell that follows the rain. The scent is evocative, both to the head and the heart. If you’re like me, you take walks to fully enjoy the experience.
This post is approximately 500 words.
I speak regularly with others about writing, many of whom love the idea, but don’t have the desire. As such, it can be challenging to find common ground – common understanding, I should say – when we talk.
I’ve found that analogies are helpful and I’m always looking for a good one. Today, as I wrote and re-wrote a chapter-end that I lamented about nearly a month ago, it occurred to me that sanding wood might be a strong analogy.
If you had woodshop in school or you’ve done a home improvement project, you’ve likely done a bit of sanding. I’m not much of a craftsman, and I always have rough spots on cut wood. So I’d sand-sand-sand-sand-sand, and then feel the spot. Sand-sand-sand-sand-sand, feel the spot.
I learned early that focusing only on the one spot Continue reading
This post is approximately 450 words. Yes, the title was deliberate.
I love writing, which means I’ve spent a considerable portion of my life doing it. I’ve written thousands of pages and reviewed thousands more. If you’re like me, you’ve developed proofreading, editing, and copyediting skills. We understand that spellcheck isn’t foolproof. Long story short (too late!), we have the tools at our disposal to deliver pristine prose.
And yet, the typos return like locusts, plaguing our writing on a biblical scale.
Case in point, I recently had a friend review two chapters of my manuscript. Oh man, were these some challenging ones to write. When your protagonist is following a trail of destruction, it’s tough to keep every new discovery fresh. I was also unhappy with the amount of exposition, though I eventually found ways to make those passages feel natural. I also introduced the monster and tested the mettle of our hero. And lastly, I had finally reached the portion of the book where I’d removed one of my important secondary characters, and I needed to make additional hard decisions about his contributions to the story. These chapters hurt my writing brain. Continue reading
This post is about 350 words.
It’s been about three weeks since my last writing update, where I mentioned that I’d uploaded the first two chapters to this website. Since then, I’ve finished up* the next three, though I’m not sharing them yet.
*As always, when I say, “finished up”, there’s a big disclaimer about reserving the right to go back and tweak them as needed. Or to change things based on revisions to later chapters. Or to fix things that have woken me in the middle of the night. Or when I realize I’m having the same delusion as Ralphie in A Christmas Story.
OK, so rambling aside, I’m satisfied that FIVE chapters are ready for reading. They have cohesion and flow, and each considers the length of the ones before (i.e. I don’t have a 3,000-word chapter followed by one that’s 10,000 words). They have transition and connection to each other, so they are no longer five separate pieces. They feel like the first act of a three-act story. And that’s about 20% of the book completed, which feels pretty good. But….
This post is about 250 words.
It’s been a few months since I published an update like this, but with back-to-school, Boy Scouts, the election, and the release of Gears of War 4, it’s been a busy Autumn.
Oh yeah, and I’ve been doing massive amounts of editing.
I haven’t been idle, even if this blog has been a bit quiet. To remedy that, I’ve uploaded excerpts to the site.
This post is approximately 600 words.
In this post, you get to travel far down the rabbit hole. But instead of landing in Wonderland, you’ll land in the writer’s brain, a place as equally crazy and confusing.
As the title implies, I’ve got too many villains in my first book. At least, that’s the perception readers will have. If I’m careful enough – write well enough – I can prevent them from thinking that, but it’s complicated because I don’t want a simple black-and-white story.
In the mix, some win, lose, die, or are redeemed. Some characters might even be more than one of the following:
- the antagonist of the entire series
- the lieutenant – the character that does the bidding
- the manipulator – the deceiver
- the baron – the non-supernatural foil
- the monster – in a traditional story, the dragon to be slayed
- the foot soldiers – cannon fodder
For characters that come and go, interwoven amongst each other’s storylines within a twisty, turny story, it will be easy to lose my readers. In working through the second draft, I find I’m already there. Continue reading