I’ve started again

1, February,2011

I have finally abandoned the morass of text that is my manuscript.

I started using Ywriter to try to organize all the dud sub plots and orphaned jokes. Instead of pulling it together I started doing a whole new series of ‘what it’s. What if I gave the secondary character his own sub plot, what if the hero used a slingshot to win the final battle, what if the dog was psychic, what if…WTF.

The whole thing needs to be re-plotted and rewritten. It has become a writing exercise. A 10 year, 120,000 word writing exercise.

So it’s time to send it to the trunk and trot out the next story.

This time I’m plotting the whole thing out. I’m going to have a plan for the boring bits that I don’t want to write, and the jokes will align with the plot (rather than the other way around). I want to get the whole thing done in 12 months. I’ve had my play, it’s time to have a serious crack at it. I’m not expecting to produce anything publishable, just something structured and competent – and finished.

I don’t think the million words are supposed to be all rewrites of the one story. Most published writers knock out 3 or 4 (or 5) unpublished novels before they get it right.

So, time to start number 2.

Turds and Diamonds

26, March,2010

I’ve just been reading Mur Laffery’s blog post, Diamonds and dandelions.   She outlines two approaches to success: the take your time and get it absolutely perfect approach, and the pump out lots of stuff and some of it should stick approach.

I like the post but I think Mur misses the essential precursor phase – Elephant Turds and Rabbit Turds.

The Elephant Turd phase is where a writer takes 15 years to produce their magnum opus, and it’s just a huge turd.

If you have had multiple stories knocked back by everyone including free online magazines, you are in the Rabbit Turd phase.

Like all turds, both of these are not for consumption. They do however, if used correctly, make great fertilizer for future growth.  The trick is to know the difference before you stuff it in an envelope to a publisher.

All the various articles/blogs/podcasts I come in contact with mention writer’s block at some point.

Does it exist?  What do you do about it?  Writing your way out of it?   This sometimes overlaps with the issue of finding/making time to write.

I personally find the quickest way to writer’s block is having an enjoyable life.  When I go home and I want to spend time with my family, my job stimulates me to the point that sometimes I sneak into my study in the evening to check my email.

When I sit down to write it can be an effort, I’m not sure where I was up to, the ideas don’t seem to flow, and you know, I don’t care because I’m having a good life.

I’m a dilettante writer, there’s no publisher knocking at my door.  My artistic emo soul isn’t being tortured by my lack of muse.

So if you find youself blocked, maybe you should look around and thank the fates for blessing you with so many distractions.

Now, go clean up the shed, it’s good for your soul.

In my endless search for literary enlightenment I came across this, which I thought I’d share.

“The wise ones fashioned speech with their thought, sifting it as grain is sifted through a sieve.” – Buddha

I think fashioning and sifting speech pretty much describes what we do as writers (unless you’re stream of consciousness, Beat poet, then you’re out of luck).

There is also a little known addendum, passed down from the gurus who live in the remote Nepalese mountains.
“The truly wise ones buy drinks for agents at conferences and trade heavily on family connections in the publishing business.”

And one thought to leave you with.
If you’re a practitioner of the speechless art of mime, I think it’s pretty clear – Budda thinks you’re a moron.

Will Write for Wine was a podcast for beginning writers which unfortunately closed up shop recently.  The archives are still available.

The first ten minutes of each hour long podcast is focused on wine – this consists mainly of reading tasting notes downloaded from the web.  If you’re seriously into wine there are better podcasts out there – check out the list at Winecast.

The show was delivered by two published romance writers, Lani Diane Rich and Samantha Graves, who obviously enjoyed doing it (perhaps a little to much).  The show also supported an active writers forum.

The quality of the content varies from show to show, but in between the (slightly excessive) light banter are some nuggets of very solid advice.

If you have the time for a light, longish podcast, and don’t mind listening to other peple enjoy themselves, then this the podcast for you.  While the actual writing advice is excellent, this is probably not the first poadcast to listen to if you are a beginning writer on the hunt for information.

A note of warning – do not listen to this podcast with ‘in ear’ ear pieces, Rich has a shrieking laugh, and she laughs often.

On the Millionwords scale I’d give it a 600,000

Writing Excuses is a relatively new podcast but a definite must for the begining writer.

“Fifteen minutes long ’cause you’re in a hurry, and we’re not that smart.”

Which isn’t entirely true.

It’s run by three published authors Howard Taylor (Cartoonist),  Dan Wells (Horror) and Brandon Sanderson (Fantasy) .  Brandon is the guy who was selected to write the final book in Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series, so he’s no bunny.

The show started in Jan 08 and is offered up weekly – no signs of fading as yet.

The format is fast paced and to the point.  Brandon poses a question and each writer answers in turn.  The focus is on the practical aspects of writing, no interviews, no self indulgence.

If you’re unpublished and want to be a better writer, you need to listen to this podcast.

On the Millionwords scale I’d give this 900,000.

Remember the 6 Ps

30, June,2008

I will get around to posting something of substance soon.  I’ve been a bit preoccupied by the business of life.  Rest assured by MS is still a pile of crap – everytime I pick it up I find a new major flaw.

As I flick through it I’m reminded of what my Father in law (ex police Search and Rescue) always tells me before I go on a hike “Remember the 6 Ps – Prior Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance”.

The next novel will have a plan.

With that in mind, I’ve downloaded some (free) software designed by Simon Haynes – clever clogs programmer and author of the humorous Hla Space Jock series. 

As well as giving away some very useful software, Simon is also giving away a free electronic version of the first Hal Space Jock novel.

You can get all the goodies from here http://www.spacejock.com.au/

Leave a nice comment and order his other books – what goes around should come around.