Tag Archives: writing process

Silly Question on Blurbs

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About two months ago I wrote a blurb for The Old Mill.  It wasn’t quite right, so I did a few changes.  Much better.  But then I noticed something.

The blurb was in present tense.

Even though most of my fiction is in past tense, I always write the first draft of my blurbs in present tense, though occasionally I have done an odd mix of tenses (ugh…).  One of the pluses about being in present tense, if I ask questions at the end of the blurb, they can be in present tense or future tense and seem fine: “With Amesbury entering a new “time of dying”, seemingly at the hands of the long dead Thomas Goode, the man said to be responsible for the first “time of dying” in 1821, will Gill succeed and perhaps drive off the black clouds, or will the evil forces streaming out of the Goode Mill, the Old Mill, win, destroying everything, and everyone, that he holds most dear?”. If the blurb is in past tense, can I ask such a question? You know, the action has already been resolved…

So a quick question for you: Should a blurb for a book written in past tense be in the past tense, or does writing it in present tense make sense?

After I write this, I will spend some time on Amazon and see what others have done, but I’d like to hear your opinion as well.

Killing Characters and Reality in Writing….

These two topics, killing off characters in your work and the amount of reality you need, can each take a half a dozen posts or more, but I was thinking about the intersection of the two.

My writing can be called “speculative fiction”: the majority is science fiction, fantasy, urban fantasy and horror.  Yeah, I’m often working with the supernatural, so how real do I need it? Of course I do put some reality in there to make it easier for the reader to connect, but every day things, like sleeping, eating and using the little boys/girls room is only put in if there is a reason.

My WIP, The Old Mill, is more on the horror end of the urban fantasy-horror spectrum. Not really a “real” genre ;)

About the time I finished my rough draft of The Old Mill, I read a blog post about killing characters in horror. Pretty much the idea was, if people aren’t dying, why would the main character, or the reader, be afraid? Of course you can ask how many people died in the scariest book I ever read, The Shining (not including looking into the past), but that book was written in the 1970s, not the twenty-teens! If you finish the book and six of your eight main characters are still alive, go back and kill four or five of them…

Maybe a little extreme, but she had a point. Continue reading

Drafting and Editing

Fiction

Typically when I write “The End” on a story, that is the beginning of the journey. Revisions and editing are a much longer, and to me, more difficult process than writing. Writing is a lot of fun! Editing? Not so much.

We each have our own methods and our own ways of doing things. I tend to get more granular as I write each draft. Ooops, but hold on. I really need to talk about how I define “draft” here, because it may be different than you think.

Draft Numbering

In ways my background as a computer nerd come to the surface in my draft numbering scheme. There are two or three components. There is the draft number and then the revision number and often a date-stamp.

I follow normal writing convention by calling my original rough draft “1st draft”. If I were really following the software model, this would be draft “0”.

I change the draft number when there are significant changes, usually end to end. This is typically rewriting chapters, deleting large blocks of text, adding chapters, adding large blocks of text, etc. Of course, as I said, as I go on it gets more granular, so I’m not adding or subtracting chapters at draft five! At that time, it is just a feeling that there have been significant changes since the last draft number. Continue reading

The Weekly Smile for the 9th of September, 2019 #weeklysmile

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I try to mix up my smiles a little :)  It gets boring if I give the same on week after week after week.  This one is a little different, but if you read my blog regularly, it won’t be surprising.

Back in the late winter and spring of 2017 I wrote and posted a serialized novel, The Old Mill.  I pretty much wrote and then immediately posted each chapter, so it was a very, very rough draft.  That isn’t too unusual for me.  I did the same thing with The Halley Branch, which I posted in 30 consecutive days.  I have also done other serials, from three of four parts, to 20 or 25 chapters.

So, back to the Old Mill, I loved the story.  It was one of my favorites. But I hated the writing.  I mean, it’s not terrible, but I hope I am better than I was in early 2017. I also hope that my well-edited work is better than that roughest of drafts. Continue reading

Conversations About Dialog

Fiction

What do you consider your biggest strength when it comes to writing?  I think dialog comes close to the top of the list for me.  I’ve had several people remark on it.  Yeah, I keep my mouth closed in real life, but my characters blab away…

Truthfully, I overdo dialog.  In fact, in the past I have had beta readers comment on my over use of dialog. Not all – I’ve had others that had positive things to say about it.

I have started editing “The Old Mill”, a book that I posted here as a serial.  One thing that I discovered, to my dismay, is that I have entire chapters that are 100% dialog.  Some are phone conversations.  Others are people sitting around chatting.  After I did one quick pass through the book I almost felt that it would be easier to make it into a play than a novel.  Not just a play, but an Elizabethan era play, with few stage directions. Or perhaps an opera.

Ouch. How do I fix that?

I am now in the middle of a rewrite. One thing that I am doing is changing it from all first person to third person.  Every chapter is in one person’s POV (well, for the most part), but the chapters can be in different POVs.  OK, most are in the main character’s POV, just third person. But I have added other POVs, which really helps develop the characters and makes the entire story more three dimensional.

Does this help with the dialog issue? Continue reading

Editing The Old Mill

I hate editing.

A few of you may remember my serialized novel, The Old Mill, that I posted a little over two years ago.  After finishing the book I decided to put it on the back burner and work on other things for a while.  One problem is that there are a few similarities with my book The Halley Branch and I wanted to put some space between the two.  So the rough draft, which I had posted here, was sitting, gathering dust.  For some reason i couldn’t get the inspiration to pick it up again.  In my opinion, the hardest part of writing is doing the second, third, fourth, fifth, etc. drafts.  The first draft is the easy, fun part.

A couple of weeks ago I picked it back up and started the next draft.  I haven’t made it very far….

The first thing I ran into had to do with names.  I changed the name of one character half way through and have already run into both versions of the name.  I don’t remember why I changed it and which is the final name.  I’m about 90% sure that I will have to make a third version of the name.  The problem is, a lot of names run in the main family of the book, so doing a search on the name is only partially helpful.  I may hit another character with the same name. Continue reading

Data Dumps

You have a great idea for a fantasy. There are four hominoid races that range from almost good but a little more on the bad side to very good, practically angelic. There are also corruptions of two of the races that are evil.  Of course there are also wizards that really don’t make a race, but are different from the others.  Plus, of course a handful of intelligent and semi-intelligent creatures and monsters, like dragons. They all have their own cultures, religions, myths, personality traits, physical characteristics, ways they use magic (or don’t), etc. And, of course, the world has a rich 10,000 year history plus the “Age of Myth and Legend” which gives another 25,000 years.

So there is all of that detail in your story.  But then we get to the story itself. Hold, though, we need even more detail… Continue reading

Today’s Editing – Another Show vs. Tell Post

I am currently doing a few editing run-throughs of my novellas targeting some very specific problems relating to “show vs. tell”. Yes, this is a huge topic and many words have been written about it, but I just want to talk a little bit about what I am specifically targeting right now.

There may be technical names for the various types of “telling”.  I’m not sure.  There are two variations that I am looking at, though I will mention a third as well. Here is an example of the first:

The sun was bright causing a blinding glare from the desert.  John was hot, tired and thirsty.  He knew that if he didn’t find shelter soon that he would most likely die.

Yeah, not great writing, but that is not the problem.  I could dress this up and try hiding the “tell” quality in a fancy wrapper, but if it basically boils down to, “the sun was bright, it is hot and John I tired,” it is pure “tell”. A possible solution might be: Continue reading

Writing Exercises and POV (Part 1)

Lost Star

When I first started this blog I did a series of writing exercises.  Every now and again I do more.  I’m not talking about just following the various challenges, like Friday Fictioneers or Sue’s #writephoto, I am talking about experimenting.  As anyone who read the story I posted yesterday, Honor, knows, I am doing a bit of experimentation again. This time it was triggered by the Ursula K. Le Guin’s book Steering the Craft, which I received for Christmas.

Point of View (POV) and tense are two big choice any writer has to make when starting a story.  They are also areas that are very easy to screw up.  Before i started a blog, I spent some time over at the forums on Writer’s Digest and found that people were very militant with POV.  Pretty much only first person and limited third person from a single person was acceptable.  There could be no changes whatsoever in any work.  One POV, solid like granite. Continue reading

A First Year

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I have always enjoyed writing.  I also enjoyed creating stories.  The problem is, those two things didn’t always coincide quite right.  I would write stories in my head and nonfiction for school, work or different organizations, but I always grew frustrated with myself when I tried to actually write those stories out.

One morning in November of 2009 I posted a poetic line about the beautiful, unseasonably warm day.  A friend told me that she thought it sounded like a great first line of a short story.  So I sat down and over the next few days I wrote a story to fit that line.  What came out was the story Indian Summer, which I posted a few days ago.

A week or two later I wrote another story, a “short-short” of about 500 words.  A few weeks later, in mid-December of 2010, I wrote another longer story.  The new story, Five Long Walks, I planned out in my head before starting.

I was hooked. Continue reading