“Story of G” Draft 2: Complete

As of last night… the current draft of “Story of G” is now complete, at about 11,600 words.

That’s far longer than what I originally intended for this story.  I have a terrible habit, in that regard, and it’s been hard to break.  Even as I was deleting things I was adding a lot more new material.

I’ve planned another read-through to clean up this draft and get it presentable, but I’m hoping some of you Dear Readers will help me out with that task as well.  I don’t need much help, just a couple people who wouldn’t mind looking at this draft.  Last time I was mostly interested in story-craft: characterization, story-structure, plot, and so on.  I’m still a little interested in that – mostly because I still have some anxiety over many of the new scenes – but this time around I’m more interested in sentence structure, grammar, spelling, style, passive voice, showing and telling, and that sort of thing.

I’m sort of hoping for at least one person who’s seen the story before and one who hasn’t.  I’ve got one volunteer already, so I’m still taking applications.  😉

And thanks in advance, everyone!

Writing Progress: Week Ending September 17, 2011

“Story of G” is in the home stretch:

Story of G:

  • New Draft Wordcount: 833 net new words
  • Other Notes Wordcount: 0 words

Book of M:

  • Background Notes Wordcount: 0 words

Grand Total: 833 words

This was, hopefully, the penultimate week spent working exclusively on “Story of G”.  I’m about 80% done with this revised draft.  Even though I’m well into the section where I expected to delete a lot, I still ended up adding wordcount.  The portions I deleted needed new segues and new parts to their scenes.  One of the difficult things about this part is that I’ve had to delete some lines of dialog that I really liked because I cant fit them into the new structure of the story.

The ending of “Story of G” is where a lot of the most radical change is taking place.  There was an extra scene added, and the final two scenes are undergoing some significant changes.  Making some of those changes, however, I hit a wall that stopped me for most of one writing day.  I couldn’t figure out how to move from one heavily-revised scene to the next.  I’m still working through that new transition.

I also started a passive voice sweep of what I’ve written so far.  That’s not something that’s very fun. Continue reading

Writing Progress: Week Ending September 10, 2011

It’s been a busy week, but I managed to get some good writing work done:

Story of G:

  • New Draft Wordcount: 1,518 net new words
  • Other Notes Wordcount: 0 words

Book of M:

  • Background Notes Wordcount: 0 words

Grand Total: 1,518 words

This week started off with a holiday (Labor Day for any of you who don’t celebrate it).  You might think that means “Yay!  Extra Writing Time!”  In fact, what it means is “Yay!  Extra Family Time!”  When I get a little time off, I feel like I don’t want to waste it, and that means that I really try to spend a lot of time enjoying it with my family – and that extends into the evening when I might ordinarily do some writing.

Another somewhat unusual thing happened this week.  Dear Wife and I bought a puzzle to work on together.  And yes, you guess it, I’ve lost some writing time to working on the puzzle.  It’s tough though.  The puzzle sits there, unfinished.  It’s beckoning to me… calling to me.  How can I not try and put a few pieces together?  An unfinished puzzle causes a deep cognitive dissonance within me that can only be resolved by putting pieces together.  Oddly, though, I’m not terribly good at puzzles.  Dear Wife has been much more successful at assembling large chunks of the puzzle so far.

Despite those things, however, I’ve had a good week for writing.  I tried to control the siren call of the unfinished puzzle by setting a specific amount of time to work on it before transitioning to writing on several days.  This served me well.  Once again, this week, I did no writing work on “Book of M”, choosing instead to focus on “Story of G”. Continue reading

Writing Progress: Week Ending September 3, 2011

It was another unspectacular week on the writing front:

Story of G:

  • New Draft Wordcount: 392 net new words 
  • Other Notes Wordcount: 0 words

Book of M:

  • Background Notes Wordcount: 0 words

Grand Total: 392 words

It was a tough week, time-wise.  I lost a whole writing day to the day job.  That happens, sometimes.  You’ve got a big project, and it’s due before you leave, and people are depending on you.  And sometimes you don’t find out it’s due today until you get in that morning and see it in your e-mail.  I love my job right now, but love it or not, late days can be emotionally and mentally exhausting.  It’s a good exhaustion – one of knowing you’ve done something important – but it’s hard to sit down and write when that happens.  And if it’s late enough, you don’t really have time anyway – there’s just enough to eat a late dinner and go to bed.  And there was also a bit of the more usual personal time with family and Dear Wife.  If I’m going to lose free time to work, it comes out of writing time first, not family time – and in fact sometimes when that happens you have to redouble your family time (which means even less writing time) because that’s how you recuperate.

This week I didn’t work at all on “The Book of M”: I focused exclusively on “Story of G”. Editing, as it turns out, is slower than writing.  When you’re writing you’re not going back and double-checking when you’ve written or making sure it makes sense.  You’re not worried about “word echoes” or the quality of the prose.  You’re worried about the story and about the characters and about getting the feel right.  All that comes out in the writing.  But when you’re editing, you’re at a different level.  Continue reading

Time is Not Kind

Well… I had a look at my printed copy of “PFTETD”.  It’s pretty eye-opening to give the story a bit of a read after some four months or more of separation.

I still believe this is probably the best story I’ve written yet.  Still, it is flawed.  Right from the get-go, I can see it now.  The opening drags just a little slowly.  The language is occasionally awkward even after several drafts.  There are still some characterization issues.

I’m not sure how I would fix these problems.  I haven’t actually read it all the way through, just the first few pages, so I’m sure there would be more problems revealed with a more complete read-through.

It’s a good story.  But it’s not a good story.  You know, like, really good.  I knew it wasn’t great, but I thought it was really good.  Instead, just as Westley wasn’t all dead, he was just mostly dead (sorry for the spoiler, folks, but there’s a bit of a statute of limitations on classics like these), the story isn’t all good, it’s just mostly good.

So, you know… I might actually learn a thing or two at JordanCon by workshopping this.

Writing Quote: Getting the Edit

Today’s writing quote comes from one-time managing editor of Harper’s: Russell Lynes.  The story of writing goes, of course, that writers love their own work.  We’re simply enamored of it.  We have to be; how else do we summon the courage to expose it to the world, and even – horror of horrors – submit it to the whims of an editor to consider for publication.  It takes more than a thick skin; it takes a belief that what we’ve written is good and worthy of publication.

So, perhaps, it may come as no surprise that, unless we’re well acclimated to the idea, some writers may have a little difficulty hearing that what they’ve written… needs work.  Some writers might even grow a little hostile to the notion that their work is anything less than perfect already.  But here’s a quote to set you straight about that inclination, should you ever feel it welling up inside you:

No author dislikes to be edited as much as he dislikes not to be published. 

~Russell Lynes

Yes indeed.  If you’ve already gone through the trouble of submitting your work, and you now get feedback that the editor requires changes, consider the alternative. Continue reading

Writing Quote: I’m Not a Good Writer…

Today’s writing quote comes from well-known historical fiction writer James Michener.  Let’s dispense with the formalities, and get to the quote:

I’m not a very good writer, but I’m an excellent rewriter.

~James Michener

Yeah.  What he said.  This quote interested me this week because I was thinking that, although I’ve gotten a little better at my first-draft, first-pass attempts at writing stories over the past several years, where I’ve really improved in my skill is in rewriting.  I’ve developed a more critical eye.  I can better diagnose what’s wrong with a story.  And I can prescribe a viable solution.  And I can write it.

This, I think, will be the skill that will most contribute to the potential I have for an eventual career as a writer.

Take, for example, the short story I will (hopefully) be sending off to a publisher in a few days for editorial consideration.  I wrote the original draft about three and a half years ago, give or take.  I thought it was a pretty good story, at the time, but I never sent it anywhere.  I picked it up again when Dear Wife encouraged me to take a story that I thought was in good shape and give it some revision to spruce it up a little and send it off.  We both expected this could be accomplished in the amount of free time I might have over a holiday month between semesters.

But upon actually rereading and considering the thing, I realized it needed a lot of work.  And I’ve put a lot of work into it.  It’s like a whole new story.  There was very little from the original draft that was immediately salvageable.  But that draft provided a good starting point, and new ideas fleshed the story out and made it much better, in my opinion.  The story I wrote 3-ish years ago?  It was unpublishable.  The story I have now?  May be the best piece of fiction I’ve ever completed.

This worries me a little about the new story I hope to start work on soon, “What Happened in August Valley”.  I’ll be writing this one from scratch, not working from an old draft.  (I have several old drafts of stories that I want to work on and rewrite, but I feel strongly about doing this one, first.)  So, whereas the story that’s going out this week went through 3 or more drafts (depending on how you count) this one is starting brand new from rough draft, and may only get a single revisionary draft, depending on my ability to get some good feedback.

Regardless… I think there’s a lesson here for my future.  I’m excited to be developing this skill, and hope to be able to continue to put it to good use.

Happy writing.