Tag Archives: writing process

The Telling of Backstory?

I recently completed my second draft of The Halley Branch.  Before I even think about doing a third draft, I need to solve an issue.  Maybe…

I have a bad habit in  my books to have a huge amount of history and backstory to fill out.  Sometimes backstory doesn’t need to be told, just implied, but in these stories, you have to know it to understand the present story.  I also include a lot of philosophy, which often is 100% needed to understand the story.  OK, so how do I get it out there?

In The Halley Branch I have four chapters that are dream like sequences where the main character has a dream or vision that tells him about the past (only one chapter is a dream).  I think this works well, but it only covers a couple of percent of backstory and philosophy.

So what did I do?  I have another four chapters of the main character talking to other people who tell him the history.  It all makes sense in the story and gives us pictures of the characters as much as it gives history and philosophy.  In other words, through the characters’ dialog I am telling you backstory, but I am also showing you vital information about the characters by their action, interaction, the words they chose, and how they chose to use them.

There are two problems, or two sides of one.  A lot of people would call this information dumping, which is really frowned upon today.  And people would say that it is “telling”, not “showing”, which is true.  However, I do have those other 30 chapters of showing, so do these four chapters ruin it? Continue reading

Advertisements

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

Some Thoughts on The Old Mill

Today I posted the last chapter of The Old Mill!  Below are some random thoughts about it.

When I wrote the little snippet of a story, Galvin, I had no idea where I was going to go with it.  More than anything, it was just a quick character sketch of a small town oddball, what I’ve heard referred to as “a bit of local color”.  Later I decided to revisit it.  I used Galvin as a starting point, but it wasn’t long before I took it in a totally different direction.  (Actually, I later added a chapter before Galvin, The Old Mill)

OK, time to step back for a minute.

Years ago, perhaps decades ago, I visited an early 19th century Federalist Mansion, The Barrett House.  This house is in New Ipswitch, New Hampshire, home of the oldest mill in the state.  I was very impressed with the place and its history and wrote a book in my head based very loosely on it.  It was a ghost story about a woman who wanted the truth of her family to be known.  It ended with a gruesome discovery from the early 19th century, at which time the ghost went away.  I later decided it needed a kicker at the end, a bit of a twist, but one that made other parts of the story make sense.

This story was quickly forgotten.

Until now. 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

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