Category Archives: Writers Resources

Thoughts, ideas and techniques

How Do You Draft?

hand

About two weeks ago I started a second draft of The Halley Branch, a novel I wrote for the blog in real time in 2015 (I wrote and posted a new chapter every day).  Last night I was talking to someone about drafting, and we were thinking slightly different things.  I am a little curious on people’s opinions about how to draft.  I know, each person does things their own way, like the old arguments about being a Planner or Pantser when writing the first draft, but I am still curious.

I see two major styles of drafting, Old School and Edited Draft.  OK, I made up that last one because I didn’t want to call it “The Lazy Way”, particularly since that is my current technique.  I’ll give you a definition as to how I see these methods. Continue reading

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A few Notes on Genre

fireborn-005

I’ll admit that I’m a person who does not like to pigeonhole.  I don’t believe creative endeavors should have boundaries.  My favorite music often is in the cracks.  Yes, there are people who classify this same music with exactness, but if you actually listen to the music, or study it (which I have), you find that it just doesn’t fit.  I don’t think imagination should be boxed in.

And yet we do need those classifications.  Would you really buy music if you had zero idea what it was about?  The same, of course is true in fiction.  Genre is important.

As a reader, I have very eclectic tastes.  I’m sure you’re surprised ;)  I hate sticking to a single genre.  And truthfully, I very rarely pay attention to sub-genre.  I recently read a sci-fi book.  After reading it, I looked at reviews and was a little surprised that every review talked about the sub-genre and how well the book did, or didn’t fit that sub-genre.  Can’t you just freaking read the book for itself without pigeonholing it!?  I didn’t even know that sub-genre existed, and yet people were up in arms about it.  I thought it was a good book, so why argue that as a purple-western-star-bong sci-fi book the main character would never have said, “Hello”, she would have said, “Well, Howdy, fandango!”? Continue reading

Doing Some Reading, I Mean Editing

hand

I have recently been attempting to edit my book, The Fireborn.  Notice I say “attempting to edit”, not just plain, “editing”.

When I edit, I find myself in one of three modes:

  1. Real editing!  I look at every word with a discerning eye.  I make changes.  I delete things. I add things.  I correct things.  I am editing!
  2. Proof reading.  I read through and pick up some of the more obvious errors and correct them.
  3. Reading.  I read.  I enjoy.  I continue to read.

I sit down for an editing session.  After two hours I’ve discovered that I spent 5 minutes on “Real editing!”, 25 minutes on “Proof reading”, and about an hour and a half just sitting back, reading and enjoying myself.

Hmmm, what’s wrong with this picture?   Continue reading

Poetry and Prose – A Divergence?

Mt. Lafayette

Mt. Lafayette after starting down the ridge

Two paths either diverge or collide, I haven’t decided which…

Early in the history in my blog I decided to post a poem every Tuesday.  This was my first regular feature and the only one that has lasted.  In the past several weeks I’ve occasionally gone back and read a poem or two or five.  I am not a great poet, but I do enjoy many of them.

People who have been reading my blog recently might know that I am in the middle of a writing streak.  I’ve been posting quite a few stories, have been posting a serialized novel and have been editing two other books off line. My prose writing is full-steam ahead.

OK, here is where it all goes wrong. Continue reading

First Chapter of The Fireborn

Fireborn

Yesterday I had a post about first chapters.  At the end I said I would put up the first chapter of the first book I wrote, The Fireborn.  Read it and let me know if you didn’t like/wouldn’t read the book even at gunpoint/think it’s terrible, or, hopefully, that you liked it and want more!  Warning – this is very long.  Remember, it’s the first chapter of a book, not a short story (Oh, and I left in the section header):

Part I

Then the Irish kindled a fire under the cauldron of renovation, and they cast the dead bodies into the cauldron until it was full, and the next day they came forth fighting-men as good as before, except that they were not able to speak. –  Anonymous Medieval Welsh, Branwen the daughter of Llyr, Second of the Four Branches of the Mabinogi (The Mabinogion)

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Elliot Everett-Jones stepped out of his ancient Jaguar and headed towards the cluster of tents across the makeshift car park.  He was thinking that they were more temporary structures than tents per se, when the door of the largest one opened and a man walked out.  Elliot stopped in his tracks and let out an involuntary little gasp.  For half of a second he almost believed his father had come back to life, but then recognized his brother, William.  It surprised Elliot that he had never noticed how much William had become the spitting image of the late Dr. Everett-Jones, though he had to admit that William had changed in the year since he had last seen him.  Elliot waited, letting his brother come to him.  As he watched, Elliot realized that William had also inherited their father’s mannerisms and walked with the same steady stride.

William gave a short “Hullo” as he reached his younger brother.  Taking Elliot’s outstretched hand and slapping his shoulder, William smiled broadly and said, “Great to see you, Elliot!  Glad you can still drive on the proper side of the road after all of those years in America.  You made good time.  Did your rusty old Jag even touch the ground?  Everything coming towards you have a bit of a blue tint and everything behind shifted to the red, huh?”

Elliot returned his brother’s large grin and held his hand in both of his own.  “If I’d known what a nasty, barren plain you were dragging me to, I wouldn’t have hurried.  What a desolate hole you have here!” Continue reading

Upcoming – The First Chapter

My Book

The first chapter of a book is the most important chapter.  If you don’t catch the reader right away, there is no second chance, they are gone, even if the rest of the book is the greatest book that has ever been written.  A lot rides on that opening statement.  Unfortunately, sometimes we can be intimidated by how much weight there is on it.

When I started writing The Fireborn, I wrote a few chapters in the middle and then continued by doing a quick outline to connect them.  I wasn’t planning on actually writing at the time, I wanted to plan and outline, but I had these ideas and I had to put them on “paper” just as they were in my head so I wouldn’t lose them.   The problem was, as I tried to outline the blanks between the chapters,  I did it by writing new chapters.  Sigh.  So I finally gave up, and decided to start from the beginning.

Since I knew the importance of the first chapter, I decided to write a placeholder.  That freed me up and I just started writing at the beginning and didn’t stop (except to insert the aforementioned previously written chapters) until I wrote “The End” two and half months later. Continue reading

Writing, Writing, Writing! (And Revising)

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I’m in a major writing phase right now.  I have been writing and posting more fiction lately than ever before.   Since the ideas have been flowing, I’ve been trying to go with it.  However, I may have to change writing priorities a little.  Here is a small sampling of what is going on and what I might change.

I’m sure you’ve all seen too many The Old Mill posts ;)  So far there have been 16 posts in the series, a total of about 23,000 (23K) words.  I have the entire story plotted out in my head, if not all of the details, and I would guess it will end up being at least 60 posts and 80K words.  Since this is really just a rough draft, that’s quite big for a first draft for me.  The first draft for The Fireborn was about 55K (now on the 4th draft up to about 82K) and The Halley Branch was about 50K (still in first draft form).  There are just so many moving parts to The Old Mill!  I have been putting up about four posts a week. Continue reading

I Need Help – Copyright Laws

Dabble - Sketch by Trent P McDonald

So I was doing a last run through of my short stories and got to the last story and stopped.  I had worried about it before but then decided it would be fine.  I’m not so sure now.

The story is based on the lyrics of a well known song.  There isn’t really much of a story in the song itself while my story is complex and might have bit of magic.  Maybe.  Very, very different from any story in the song itself.  And yet, it is there.  I never quote whole lines of the song (except a couple of key words here and there) and usually just paraphrased the song.  At the end of the story I give the song writers credit.  Before I put in that credit tag I had someone say they loved the story but there were too many cute cliches.  I told them the song I used, they went back, read it and laughed – that is were the cliches came from! Continue reading

Drafts

Fiction

When you read a story here on Trent’s World, you are usually reading an unedited first draft.  Well, maybe not 100% unedited – I usually will take a quick read-through and correct the most obvious mistakes, but it is almost always a first draft.  And you know what?  I’m fine with that.  This is not a literary magazine and most people reading the stories enjoy them.  If I spent the time to get them all “publish ready”, I would have posted closer to 20 stories than 200.

I am bringing this up now because I am in the process of doing another read-through of the short stories that will be included in my short story collection. Continue reading

Expressing the Inexpressible Part 2

Trent's Eye

After “talking to someone on the blogs I decided to try an experiment.  I wanted to write poem to express the inexpressible.  It is possible some of my poems had done this,but this was the only time I sat down with this odd goal in mind.  What I tried to do is increase the rhythm of the poem with the intensity of the words, to build the feeling as the poem built.  You can read “When I Think of You” to decide if I succeeded.

So on Thursday I wrote a post about poetry being able to express the inexpressible, to say things for which no words exist.  Of course I fell flat.  The only way I could think of doing it is by showing examples and maybe two or three people looked at the examples.  It isn’t a new idea,of course.  We express ourselves in poems and others can relate to that expression.  I ended the post by saying i should try the same thing in prose.  So, of course I did.  Try, that is. Continue reading