IWSG: The Revisions Edition

March 6, 2014

Welcome Insecure Writer’s from far and wide! So, I’m six days into my personal version of National Novel Editing Month, and even though it’s been hard to find the energy to log revision time, I think I’ve been doing pretty well. I’m nearly at 10 hours out of the 50 hour challenge now.

I’ve been bouncing around with my revision projects so far, mostly between going through the Holly Lisle ‘How to Revise your Novel’ course on a second manuscript, “The Angel’s Charlie”, and a follow-my-gut approach to revising a science fiction short, “Gotta Have that Look.” I wrote this version of GHTL during Odyssey, based on an earlier Camp Nanowrimo short that I sent to Jeanne while preparing to attend the workshop, and I both loved and hated the feedback I got on it. I finally broke ground on the revisions back in December or so, and I actually really like some of the changes I’ve been making to it over the past few days. Hopefully I’ll be able to send it back to the Team Ambitious crew in a week and a bit, see what they think of all the new stuff.

One cool bit that I was able to take from the ‘How to Revise your Novel’ course and apply to GHTL was the Holly Lisle three-part fix for talking heads: establish the setting, give a character a prop, and involve a gimmick. (I won’t explain that in detail here: Go buy the course for yourself!)

I’ve been counting other stuff as EdMo time too; if you’re going to reach 50 hours in a month, you have to dig deep. I’m not going out looking for lots of critiques to do in March, but whatever critiquing I do for other writers counts. I’ve also been planning another rewrite of Orpheus, hoping to expand it for the I Am the Abyss anythology. And I’ve been looking for other shorts to revise, finding Jeanne’s feedback on my Odyssey application piece, “The Time Bubble Blues”, and updating a list of every short story I’ve written over the past 4 years or so.

So I guess I’m not feeling that insecure about my writing just now, it turns out. 😀 What about you?

Late IWSG: procrastination and February blahs

February 6, 2014

First, sorry that this is late. I’ve actually been having some issues about juggling ‘What’s up Wednesday’ and the IWSG the past few months, since they both fall on Wednesdays. I don’t want to skip either, but I don’t like blogging twice in the same day or trying to combine two topics in the same post, so… what can ya do?

So, yeah. Insecure Writer’s Support Group. I knew what I had to focus on this week, and next week. Time’s running out for applying to Kij Johnson’s novel workshop, I got some great feedback on my synopsis from Team Ambitious, so… I mucked around, watched television, and didn’t really tackle it until this evening.

I’m not quite sure why I couldn’t rise above procrastination. This winter has been a bit tough on me, energy-wise. I can keep on with the day-to-day, and I’m reading like nobody’s business, but actually getting stuff written has been harder. Also, the feedback that my critiquers sent out was rich enough in detail to be a little overwhelming, and this was the first time in months that we weren’t able to swing a Google Hangout for critiques. So I didn’t have the little ceremony of the virtual critique circle to help me come to terms with the response, just a few files in my email. Maybe it took me this long to come to terms subconsciously with what I absorbed when I skimmed through the files, and that’s something I had to do before I could tackle the work consciously. (Looks back and forth shiftily.) Yeah, that’s exactly what happened.

But at least I’m making progress now.

Fan Expo continues: Friday memories.

August 26, 2011

Well, the lines and the crowds are back to a certain extent, but still not unmanageable.

I arrived around 9:30, and lost a little time trying to come in directly off the street instead of the south entrance, but still, wasn’t too far back in the entry line. Once I got inside and down to the main floor, I headed immediately for the Hayden Panettiere autograph line – only a few guys ahead of me, and neither a star or a handler in the booth, so I figured I’d wait around, hold a place in line and see if she’d arrive in twenty minutes or so, which she did, and she was quite nice as she signed my picture.

After that, I was also interested in getting an autograph from Lexa Doig of Andromeda, who was supposed to be around on Friday, but there was no sign of any life at her booth and nobody else waiting, so I went browsing through the vendors and checking back every so often, depleted most of the contents of my wallet on Joss Whedon comic books and a Doctor Who companions guide.

It turned out that Lexa had a flight delay and won’t be in Toronto until tomorrow – I found that out about five minutes after her Q&A was about to start. But at noon I headed up to check out a few panels – combining different worlds in writing, writing young fantasy, (which I left early to grab a slice of pizza,) and a presentation for a web series about girls in gaming, Pretty in Geek.

I had a little time to kill wandering around the sales floor again, wishing I had brought more money from the hotel, and then it was time for the Serenity RPG session, which was a lot of fun, we had a good crowd of players, the same great GM that I played with last year, and a storyline with flying a passenger and crate to Sihnon, then trying to track down the passenger for his ‘boss’ when he goes missing. I was the captain.

And despite an initially missed connections, I managed to meet up with two local writers after the con, and we ended up talking about pushing each other towards our goals and critiques over the loud music in a sports bar.

This has really been a great day. And tomorrow I’ll be meeting Eliza Dushku! (Weather and airplanes permitting.)

Workshop critiques round 1 round-up

June 29, 2011

Well, at something like sixty-one hours since I arrived in Lawrence, I feel like I’m finally caught up and into the swing of things.

The short fiction group has done two afternoons of critiquing, which have been pretty interesting sessions – we’ve been taking about an hour per story, plus some side tracks, and I learned a lot about the first story that I had critiqued – especially that I had a promising theme buried in the plot that I hadn’t noticed. Four hours an afternoon doesn’t seem like that much of a time investment, but really, the organized activities part of the day so far seems to have gone something like:

  • noon – gather for lunch and sometimes a lunch lecture
  • 1pm – back from lunch, gather in the lounge for critiquing.
  • 5:15 pm – critiques finish, discussion keeps on going.
  • 5:30 pm – leave the lounge to quickly check email and a few other things online
  • 6 pm – gather for dinner downtown
  • 8:30 pm (approx) – back to campus after dinner.
And when you add the time that I’ve been putting in reading other people’s stories and figuring out what I want to say about them in my critiques… it definitely takes up a lot of the day, not to mention just sitting and talking with other writers.
I’m probably going to blow off the group dinner tonight, just because I’m not a fan of mexican, so probably that’ll mean a bit more time to myself to write this evening. I’ve almost got my critiques ready for today, and it’s only 10am, so that’s great. Aliens on Pern, here I come!
But I’ll tell a bit more about the critiquing process first. Everybody takes turns going clockwise from the person who wrote the story – there’s no reading out loud, since everybody’s had the stories to read by themselves – and can say whatever they like, as long as it’s constructive, though a lot of people have adopted a kind of ‘good news, bad news’ approach, starting with things they like, then the things that they think would improve the story, and maybe finishing off with one more nice compliment. Chris M, who runs the workshop, always goes last, and often takes a tangent to give us all some advice or present a resource like a list of senses to try appealing to in your writing.
The first day, I just came up with some synopses, (which I didn’t share with the group,) and my likes and issues list. Since then, I’ve actually been working off my printouts, mostly because I want some excuse to actually hand them back to the writers and not have to hang onto them, so they’ re mostly more filled with my reader reactions than copy-editing points, and anything that qualifies for the likes and issues list, I retype into a new file.
My second story is up today – I hope it goes pretty well. This one, I have slightly higher hopes in than the first day’s story, so it might be a bit harder to take if the criticisms are serious, but I think I just need to keep in mind that everything is usable, and nobody’s really trying to tell me off or put me down, just to help.

The (first!) Kansas stories binder.

June 24, 2011

Well, it’s less than 36 hours before I leave to go to Kansas, now.

As I may have mentioned, all of the participants have sent out their 3 stories to be workshopped now, and the workshop leader, Chris M, suggested that we should have printed them all out and bring the printouts with us. Earlier this week, I started to think about such little practical questions as ‘Do I have enough printer paper? What will I take all these printouts to Kansas in?’ So I stopped at Walmart when doing an after-work practice driving session with my brother on Wednesday, and picked up:

  1. a 500 pack of laser and copier paper.
  2. a 1 inch 3-ring binder.
  3. a new 3-hole puncher.
  4. some binder dividers.

I got most of the stories printed out Wednesday evening and Thursday morning, but I didn’t begin to punch the holes or put them into the binder until tonight, and I quickly realized that the one binder wasn’t going to be enough. I’ve punched out and inserted 245 pages by my count, but the binder’s nearly full, and the 24 stories in all total 475 pages.

I do want to get everything into two binders if I can, especially since the schedule given is that half of us will get their stories critiqued on any given afternoon, in the same split, so I can have one binder for the on-days and one for the off-days. It actually looks like my best strategy will be to get a larger binder, (an inch and a half?) for the group that I’ve started on, since that one has some longer-winded scribes, and keep the one-inch binder for the other side.

It’s starting to settle in on me just how much writing we’re going to be going through, and it’s something very different than I’m used to organizing at one time. I’ve grown accustomed to the idea of running off half a dozen or more copies of my own story to take to one of the critique groups here in town, but Kansas CSSF is obviously a very different kind of thing.

So, I’d better get myself to the store early tomorrow.

Star Patrol to the critters

May 17, 2011

I didn’t really get a chance to send the Star Patrol blogisodes over to the CSSF as a novel workshop sample – applications to the novel workshop have been closed for two months now. But I had a window of about a day and a half when I was seriously considering that, editing and proofreading the writing that I’d done so far, putting together an outline for the rest of the novel, and now I’m seriously wondering if I can get the entire book written this year.

So I decided to do something a bit new, and send the story so far to the critters workshop, along with the outline, and inviting critiques on that. Part of the way the critters structure works is that there’s very little downside in having something waiting in the queue to be sent out, (or out) all the time, if you actually have stuff that you want opinions on. You’re expected to do your weekly duty of critiques, (whether on the shorter pieces that are sent out weekly, or amortized on longer novel-length manuscripts) whether you have something waiting to be sent out or not.

My second short story for the critters, ‘Harry and Mars’, was sent out last Wednesday and critiques for it are due tomorrow, so I put together the revised Blogisodes, reformatted as chapters 1-2 of a novel manuscript tentatively titled “First Discovery”, and added the brief one-page synopsis of the novel’s plot. I’m not quite sure what kind of feedback I’ll get back from the critters, but hopefully it won’t be hard to wait to find out. It looks like if I’m lucky, I’ll get in at the end of the batch of stories sent out June 1st.

National Novel Editing Month update, week 2

March 14, 2011

Total time logged so far: 23 hours, 38 minutes

I guess EdMo is still going fairly well for me, though I’d hoped to be already past the halfway point, especially as I probably won’t be able to do much catchup this coming weekend, as I’m going to the Wizard World Toronto Comic Con Convention! But still, I’ll figure out some way I’m sure.

Being able to go back and forth between several different projects helps to keep my energy levels up for editing, I’ve noticed. Over the past seven days, I have:

  1. Finished reading ‘The Chosen’ Novel manuscript.
  2. Put together my overall critique comments ‘The Chosen’ to accompany the inline notes I made as I was reading.
  3. Also wrote some overall thoughts for a fanfic that I finished reading through in February, “A Kiss to build a dream on.”
  4. Completed a short story critique for critters, and read through another critters entry making notes as I went.
  5. Spell-checked and proofread 6 chapters of my Nanowrimo 2010 manuscript, ‘The Angel’s Charlie’.
  6. Made a few more tweaks and revisions to ‘The Landing’ in preparation to submit it for Odyssey.
  7. Went through a critique of ‘The Long Way Home,’ made most of the minor changes, and started thinking about the issues raised that would take more serious reworking.

The thought of making more serious changes to ‘Long Way Home’ is somewhat daunting – this critique has brought up several items that I think could really make the book better, including:

  • Revising certain scenes to make sure that the characters all have unique voices and the dialog flows with style.
  • Changing the way I handle some of the flashbacks – the reader thought that the way I was always going into flashback when my MC was knocked out or went to sleep was confusing.
  • Raising the dramatic stakes by torturing my main characters a little and having them go through more hardships, because the current storyline actually has a lot of breaks going their way from the start.

I do want to tackle some of this before March is over, so maybe I should be careful to not spend all of my time on the more minor revisions and critiquing other people’s work.

I know that there are a few of you crusaders out there editing – any updates from your part of the world?

National Novel Editing Month update, week 1

March 7, 2011

But first! A scheduling update, as promised.

I said that I’d be adjusting the Kelworth Files schedule, and the fact that I’m not doing a Crusader spotlight tonight is evidence of that. I’ve finished off another series, “Blog the Cat” screenwriting, and there’s a few short features that I want to start for March, and a scheduling conflict with Wednesdays. So, here’s what the rundown looks like for the next few weeks, before A to Z hits and leaves the entire blog a mash of Frenzied chaos…

Nanoedmo updates will be Mondays, as the month of March started on a Tuesday and thus each week ends on Monday, so I can do roundups for week 1, 2, 3, and so on.

Similarly Script Frenzy preparation will be covered on Fridays, as I can do ‘3 weeks until Script Frenzy is here’, ‘2 weeks…’ etcetera, since the 1st of April will be a Friday.

The ‘Wizard of Mars’ chapter reviews will be staying on Wednesday for this week, and then moving to Sunday, since there are two upcoming blogfests that are scheduled for Wednesdays. (I suppose that Sundays will also leave me free to continue doing reviews in April without needing to worry about alphabet letters, if I have the energy to, otherwise it may go on hiatus until May.) Do stay tuned to A wizard of Mars, as some very interesting things are coming up in the next few chapters!

In light of all of this,  the Crusader spotlight feature will be moving to Tuesday. It looks like off-topic Thursday is staying put, and sharing exercises moving to Saturday, though either of them might get bumped in favor of Crusader business.

Okay, with all of that explained, let’s get to Nanoedmo.

Read the rest of this entry »

Clarions and Critters

March 1, 2011

Two updates from last Sunday, actually, that I was too busy to blog about at the time. I got my applications sent on for Clarion 2011 and Clarion West 2011 workshops, so I should hear back from them sometime in March. It’s weird, I’ve been focusing on the stories that I was using for samples ever since January or earlier, but some of the questions on the Clarion application, and the 700-800 word essay requirement for Clarion West, were challenging in their own ways. I may share my Clarion West essay on Friday.

I’m still planning to apply to Odyssey, but even considering the delays of having to send it in by mail, I’ve got a few more weeks before their deadline, and am considering trying a page 1 rewrite of “The Landing” – again, and running it by the crew at Chester’s next week.

I’ve also finally joined the critters.org online critiquing workshop, and started working on my first critique for them. It’s really exciting and scary all at the same time – like a Critiquing Month that never ends!

In other news, National Novel Editing Month has started, and I’m going to be keeping track of my hours spent this month, going for the goal of 50 hours, and also keeping track of what I’ve accomplished. I’m counting critiquing and rewrites as Editing for the purposes of my hours count this time.

And I’ve bought the audio copy of ‘A wizard of Mars’ from audible.com – I already listened to this week’s chapter on audio, and have gone back and started listening to the ones that I already read, which has been interesting. Mostly I think my reading comprehension with the hardcover was pretty good, but every so often I do hear something that I missed. I’ve gotten nearly up to the end of the Wellakh chapter, in just 3 days of listening.

New goals for December

December 3, 2010

Not too much to report right now. Made it back home safely on Tuesday, been back to work, took a while about adjusting back to Eastern Standard time because I didn’t actually get home on Tuesday evening until 11:30pm, which for me was like 8:30 pm.

But I’m back on my usual schedule, it’s the weekend finally, and I’m still trying to settle on my December goals. Probably nothing too strenuous or wordy, though it’d be nice to get a few crossover fanfics updated.

One interesting item is that I have signed up for National Novel Publishing Year, over at their new free digs. I’m not sure if I’m really determined to get published in a year, but it seems like a good place to get support for editing and critiques and query letters and a bunch of other stuff I want to be working on for this coming year – and this past year too, actually, but I really thought that NaNoPubYe was dead until I checked a link that somebody posted of Nanowrimo spinoffs and saw the ‘we’re moving’ announcement.

I also want to get moving on putting my applications together for the 6-week summer workshops – Clarion, Clarion West, and Odyssey. That’ll involve getting more critiques on some of the shorter original fiction I’ve been working on lately so that I can figure out what to revise and submit for portfolios. I was thinking about that today at work, and realized that I wasn’t even sure how many stories I had that fit the bill. Worked it out this evening, after going through all of my word count tracker sheets since February. (It’s pretty crazy that I can’t even sort out what I’ve been writing without a spreadsheet, huh?)

There’s six stories on the list, two fantasy and four science fiction, which seems like a reasonable number to manage. If you’d be interested in giving something of mine a read, let me know!

Also, I thought today would be a good day to play around with some Wordles from my November writing. This first one is just for the Nano 50k proper that I finished on NOWD night:
Wordle: Nanowrimo proper

And this one is for all of my November writing – still dominated by the same keywords, but not quite as strongly it seems to me. Can’t spot an obvious keyword from any of my shorts though:
Wordle: November words

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