Tag Archives: writing process

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

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)

hand

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

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

Expressing the Inexpressible

I love the beach...

Here is a confession: I am not a life long poetry lover.  Funny thing, my mother is a poet and has written poetry her whole life, having a some published and even having an internationally known composer use some of her poems for art songs.  But me?  No, I’ve never been much of a poetry lover.

“But Trent,” you say, “you post a new poem every week on your blog!  You read other people’s poems and make nice comments.  Are you hypocrite, just writing and saying things for some evil purpose?”

Of course not. Continue reading

A Bit of Truth Behind the Fiction

Baby Eagle

Baby Eagle

I had lived in New Hampshire for a little over a year.  I was having job issues and wasn’t sure what was happening in the near term.  I took walks and they became longer and longer every day.

One day as I was walking through the woods I heard an awful, pitiful cry.  A large white pine was straight in front of my, the trail turn as it reached it.  High above the trail there was a large bird on a branch with another large bird a bit above it on another branch.  I couldn’t tell what they were, but my thought was immature bald eagles.  They were huge.  Between the two birds was a squirrel.  The squirrel was screaming at the birds.  He obviously wasn’t ready to be bird food quite yet.  As i approached one of the birds flew off.  Not wanting to upset the balance of nature I quickly walked on.  For the next few months I looked for that bird every time I walked by that tree.  After two or three months I moved and have never been back to that trail (moved to a different part of the same town). Continue reading

Ready, Set, G…Uhm, Hold On

hand

I have no reason to procrastinate.  I spent an hour or two last week discussing my short stories with my mom.  After our discussion I went through the list of stories I have written and came up with a final list for my short story collection.  Last night I copied each story I chose to its own Word file so I can start editing.  In my opinion the stories are still pretty much just first, rough drafts.  Some are more polished than others, but some are very rough around the edges.  I want to do at least one rewrite, possible two, on every story and do up to three or four drafts of some of the roughest.

So, where to begin?  I know, start at story #1 and do a second draft.  If I feel momentum, I might write the third draft, but then move on to story #2 – I want to attack each draft with a fresh mind.  Sounds easy. Continue reading

A Question of Names

woman portrait

When you write fiction, how do you come up with the names of your characters?  As I’ve been reading through my short stories once again I’ve been looking at names.  As I look at the names, that question about naming occasionally comes up.  Why did I choose that particular name and what would happen if I changed it?

First a few little details.  Between the short stories I’ve posted here, including the flash fiction and 100 word “Friday Fictioneers” stories, and the stories I have not posted, there are well over 200 stories that combined to more than 250,000 words.  Of course, if I toss in the two books I’ve written, at about 80,000 words each, we are talking about a lot of names, a huge number of names, perhaps thousands of named characters.  Sometimes it bothers me when I find a repeat, but over all I think I did a pretty good job keeping unique names. Continue reading

The Unwritten Backstory (Again)

First step on a long winter's walk - Photo by Trent P. McDonald

(Originally posted December 27, 2013 – One of my first posts it received only one “like”…)

The stereotypical author is often pictured hunched over a beat-up old typewriter creating his or her magic on the spot, pounding ideas furiously onto the keys.  Of course today the “typewriter” has a softly glowing flat screen.  Well, this picture isn’t me.  I do most of my writing during my frequent walks.  Time banging on the computer is needed mostly to transfer the already written story from my brain onto the page.  Sure, I do a lot editing on the PC, but for a major revision I once again put on a comfortable pair of shoes and head out the door.  Storyline, major plot points and even the nitty-gritty of word choice are worked out on foot.

During my strolls I tend to think beyond the finished product, particularly when it comes to short fiction.  I often create a much larger, more detailed story and then whittle it down.  A lot of what gets cut might be called “backstory”.  Although deleted, it’s always kept in mind, influencing the final work. Continue reading