Writing Progress: Week Ending July 9, 2011

I guess it was what’s turning into an average week for writing.  The numbers:

Story of G:

  • New Draft Wordcount: 1,455
  • Background Notes Wordcount: 0

Book of M:

  • Background Notes Wordcount: 514 words

Grand Total: 1,969 words

The previous week wasn’t particularly fabulous, on the writing front, so this week was an improvement.  It doesn’t feel like much, when I’ve done weeks with three, four, five and more thousand words.  And it’s not going t be enough to make any real progress towards long-term writing goals.  If I want to complete a rough draft of “Book of M” in anything resembling a reasonable time, I’m going to have to do better, on average.

On the good news front, however… I put in a good wordcount on the short story, “Story of G”, which I intend to be my next submission to the Writers of the Future contest (assuming I can get it polished up and presentable).  Right now, I’ve reached a point in the story where I’m excited about the direction I’ve set for it, and I feel pretty good about the words that are coming out.  I’m really in the home stretch.

The progress bar, however, is a little misleading.  I still have it reading that my target is 6,000 words for this story.  That was my target.  But I now believe it’s just a tiny bit unrealistic.  My Dear Wife is not suprised – what, me, go long-winded? Perish the thought!  Still, I know I’m nearing the end, and I’ve started writing the penultimate scene of the story.  So I figure the real story, at least in rough draft, is going to come in close to 7,000 words rather than 6,000.  Still, that’s not terribly bad compared to how many of my stories go.  My last submission, “PFTETD”, was almost twice as long.  (And that’s okay by me; it needed to be that long, I believe, to tell the story properly.)  This will be a fairly quick read, I think, for something by yours truly.  It helps that the story is predicated on a fairly simple idea, and a fairly simple twist ending.

I think I’m telegraphing that twist appropriately, as well.  I only this week discovered for myself exactly what the penultimate scene needed to be, and it’s a bit that provides the last clue needed to put together the true ending of the story.  (Remember, I don’t plot out short stories in quite the same level of detail as a novel; I had a vague outline of this in my head, but no hard-and-fast point-by-point.)  I expect this week I’ll finish it off.  At that point, well… you know the drill.  I’ll go through for a first-pass edit, but I won’t make any major changes.  Then I’ll need beta readers.  Dear Wife gets first crack at it (she’s been asking when it’ll be done so she can read it).  But I’ll want other opinions, of course.  Once the feedback comes in, I’ll reassess the story, determine if I think it needs any major changes, and make them.  Then I sleep on it for a few weeks, come back to it, and do one more revision.  After that, presumably, if all goes according to plan, it’s off to the races!

“Book of M”, meanwhile, continued its slow pace of development.  I worked on a sound-table for one of the languages in the story, so I could make sure I got the sound of the language right.  And I’ve grown increasingly comfortable with the name I think I’ve chosen for the co-protagonist.  I also made a few notes on a character that was suggested by Dear Wife.  It was kind of a funny suggestion as we walked through a botanical garden over the Fourth of July holiday weekend.  At first, I wasn’t sure how the character my wife had suggested could be fit into the world and story.  But she had a thought that she shared on just that subject, and the more I thought on it, the more I realized that it could be a very good fit, both thematically and functionally within the story.  I’ll put it this way: “Book of M” is partially inspired by the Steampunk genre, and I now have my “Gentleman Explorer“.

Well, that was my week in writing.  How was yours?

15 thoughts on “Writing Progress: Week Ending July 9, 2011

  1. Hooray for Gentlemen Explorers! Looks like you’re nearly done with the short story, eh?

    As for me…I’m a month into this editing business and right now I’m through about 42,500 of my original words and have the edited manuscript at ~37,500. I wanted to be through more like 50K of the original manuscript by now, but that didn’t happen. (You’d think I’d just be plugging away all the time at this thing since it’s not like I’m working, but to be honest that would just make me feel lazy and guilty if I did, haha.)

    I’m learning, though, that editing a novel can be just as much work as writing it was in the first place! (I just wish it didn’t take so many intense brain hours, lol.)

    • I sort of dread the day when I have to start editing my novel. That’s a far day, yet, but it’s kind of scary. Although I’ve sort of written and rewritten the better part of a novel before, I’ve never edited a novel… As for your own…. 42,500 is pretty close to your goal of reaching the 50K mark. I wouldn’t sweat it ;). My short story meanwhile: yeah, almost done. 🙂 Not quite as almost done as I would have thought based on my original wordcount estimate, but still coming along very nicely.

  2. I find the best way to keep from telegraphing a plot twist is to have no idea it’s coming myself. I just critiqued a novel for a friend, and one plot development took me completely by surprise. When I emailed him about it, he wrote back, “Me, too. That’s the best way to keep from hinting too much to the reader.”

    It was kind of a weird week for me because I’m doing a few different things at once, closing some things out and starting others. I wrote 3,010 words of the new first chapter of my WIP, polished and posted the end of the last current series of mystery stories (though it still needs an epilogue), found the missing floor plan that I had created for one of the earlier stories, and re-read a lot of the first draft of the WIP, making notes. And I still have to create two floor plans for a different story. And I think there’s one more thing that I’m forgetting right now…

    Tiyana, I think editing is actually more work than writing (at least for me). I think it takes more concentration.

    • Actually, I operate from the position that I want the story to offer clues as to what the plot twist will eventually be – I don’t want to pull a complete surprise on the reader without them being able to go back through the story and thinking “Yeah, that makes sense. Because (A), (B), and (C) happened earlier in the story, and that kind of means (D) comes next, and why didn’t I see that coming?” Individual revelations building up to the finale can come as a bit of a surprise, but I want the whole thing to make sense in a satisfying way. I understand the feeling of transition you’re in. By the way, for your floorplans, I think we talked about this back when I posted about my map, but you do these by hand on graph paper, right? Have you ever tried Google’s Sketchup, or another tool like that?

      • Oh, yes, it has to work, you can’t just pull it out of your hat. But sometimes, if you know where you’re going, you hint without knowing it. But if you’re surprised, too, then you can go back and plant the hints you want, without worrying that there are others you’re not aware of.

        I’m not advising this as a system, by the way, it only works if it happens by accident. 🙂

        The best example of playing fair I’ve seen recently is in a mystery I’m re-reading. It’s about a group of young lawyers and one of them has a very unpredictable client (always calling sudden meetings, canceling meetings at the last minute, etc.). One of the young lawyers follows a horoscope in the daily newspaper, pretty much as a running joke, and she usually comments humorously on the horoscope’s advice each day.

        The detective eventually realizes that the unpredictable client is very superstitious (which is the key to the mystery) and follows the same horoscope. So, “this is a bad day for dealing with legal matters” leads to his canceling yet another meeting. And this runs throughout the book, quite fairly, but I’m sure most readers wouldn’t make the connection.

        I never hand draw the floor plans (I don’t own a scanner, for one thing). I use OpenOffice Draw.

      • Yes, that’s a legitimate means to achieve that end, no doubt. I’ve read of several writers who go about it that way. Since I’m a planner, though, I don’t know if I can work that way, myself. If I don’t know where I’m going, at least in a general sense, I sort of lack the ambition to get there. That mystery story you mention sounds interesting, by the way… that’s a clever little plot device. As to the floorplans, how do you find OpenOffice Draw for this kind of work? I ask because I’m thinking I may need a floor plan for a large structure as part of my planning for “Book of M”. I want something that’s easy and doesn’t take long to learn and will help me produce something quickly… but I don’t think I want to do it by hand, because it’s kind of a 3-dimensional environment, and it’s hard for me to visualize an environment like that based only on a 2-D hand-drawn sketch…

      • OpenOffice Draw is okay, but my needs are pretty basic. Just simple floor plans, where the door is, where the window is, where the couch is, and a little stick figure for where the dead body is. You know, the usual. 🙂

        OpenOffice is a free Microsoft Office replacement (well, it doesn’t have a database, as far as I know), and it usually comes with most Linux distros, which is how I know it, though there are versions for Windows and Mac, too. I used the word processor to lay out my novel, and it was good enough for my basic needs there as well: kerning, line breaks, widows and orphans, that sort of thing.

        As I say, it’s free, so you can download it and give it a whirl to see if it suits you.

      • LOL. 🙂 Thanks. I’m familiar with OpenOffice – but I’ve only ever used the spreadsheet and word processing programs. I’m not sure I was aware of the drawing program.

  3. @Anthony: it definitely requires a different thought process…

    I’ve never heard of OpenOffice Draw before. Hmm…looks interesting, though.

    I lurve Google SketchUp, as far as simple visualization goes, and it makes importing floor plans from AutoCAD a breeze. Just pop them walls right up and watch it soar! Though, drawing a plan in SketchUp is simple, as well. (I was brought up on CAD since high school, lol, so I tend to use that first).

    It’s pretty easy to use for most the basic shapes and forms, but…drawing and modifying organically-shaped objects is not easy. I still need to learn the more advance aspects of it myself…

    • Thanks for the thoughts, Tiyana, on Google Sketchup. The limitations on organics wouldn’t worry me, personally, for what I’m thinking about. I’m concerned about an entirely industrial environment…

  4. Intriguing, a gentleman explorer inspired by a walk through a botanical garden! Very steampunk indeed 🙂

    I’m working on a better way of tracking my progress. I haven’t completely worked out the system yet, but it does involve color coding hehe. Word wise, I’ve been chugging through at a good pace. I’m almost finished writing chapter 4. It’s full of first draft suck, but I have ideas for what I need to fix later on.

    • Color coding? Hmm… I’m curious. And first draft suck, maybe, but still: chapter 4… Vs. me (with 0 words of draft)… So maybe that makes up for it? Me… I’ll have spent all this time, and I fear there will still be tremdous amount of “first draft suck”… though I’m hoping it’s not too much…

    • As for my Gentleman Explorer… they’re a supporting character, and do not appear in the story until approximately what I believe will be the 1/3 mark. I say “they” (the colloquial gender-neutral third person singular term, even if improper) because I do not yet know the gender of my “gentleman explorer”. It may, in fact, be a “gentlelady explorer” – I’ve yet to see.

      • If I was at work, I would demand that you recast that sentence to get rid of that singular/plural problem (without falling into the gender problem), but since I’m off-duty I will just wince quietly. 🙂

        The whole thing amuses me because my detective character, though female, is old-fashioned enough that she does use “he” to refer to a person of indeterminate gender (such as a murderer she hasn’t identified yet). But of course, I don’t, though it was how I was taught in school.

      • I had a High School English teacher who taught that the masculine pronoun was now generally accepted for use in the case when a gender-neutral pronoun might be preferred – or in other words that “he, his, him” was accepted as a gender-neutral pronoun in certain contexts. For a long time after that, I tried to use the masculine pronoun when context called for a gender-neutral pronoun. But in use, that’s a hard case to make – he means he, after all – and I rarely do that anymore. On occassion, I use the more cumbersome “he or she”/”his or hers” and so on… but, well… that’s cumbersome. That definitely doesn’t make for good prose. Ultimately, though, I’m not a language prescriptavist: I recognize and accept that languages change and evolve over time. It’s the nature of the beast. And English – at least the North American variety – has evolved to accept the third-person plural pronoun as a third-person singular gender neutral pronoun. It’s been a hole in the language that needed filling. I’d have preferred if another word took that role to avoid confusion (what happens when you want to refer back both to a group of people as well as to a single individual of unknown gender?), but it is, now, what it is…

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