NaNoEdMo week 1 progress update

March 8, 2013

Total time logged: 14 hours, 58 minutes. I stopped short of the hour, so that I can easily get one more E on my calendar of goal tracking tomorrow, no matter how busy I am with Toronto ComiCon stuff. 🙂

So, let’s see. I finished the manuscript cut of ‘Won’t Somebody think of the Children’ by tweaking the production a little, and I’ve finished my post-revision review document, which I think has some good notes for whenever I start this up again. I’ve counted some time reading for the “James Gunn’s Ad Astra” slushpile and critters.org critiquing for NaNoEdMo hours, and time I spent reading Holly Lisle revision lessons that I haven’t put into practice yet; query letters, writing one-page synopsis, and seven-day Crash Revision.

I’ll share about the Crash Revision stuff, because I was wondering if I’d actually try that during March. After reading the lesson, it sounds like it’s something I’m glad I’ve read so I could start to let it percolate, and I’m really glad I have the instructions for when I need them, but that a seven day Crash Revision is something that I don’t want to tackle until I have to; like when an editor is asking me for it. It’ll also help if I don’t need to go to the office that week. Trying to do it in seven days just for the practice sounds like it would be incredibly masochistic.

Since finishing that stuff, I looked at my 2013 list of goals for anything editing that didn’t seem too stressful, and I’ve been working at polishing my first Roswell/Smallville fanfic crossover, Arrow through my soul. I always feel like ‘polishing’ fanfic will go quickly, and it never really does, but I’ve made some good progress, and it’s a short piece, around 27k.

One thing I’ve noticed is that even though I’m not trying to follow the Holly Lisle process in any way, what I’ve learned from those lessons is informing what I’m doing, from the way I look at commas and sentence flow, to cutting out wide swathes of text because they don’t add anything to the story I really wanted to tell. 🙂 That’s actually pretty cool.

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IWSG: The Insecurity of waiting

March 6, 2013

It’s the first Wednesday in March, so time for the Insecure Writers’ Support Group. If you haven’t come across this before, it’s a regular monthly blogfest where writing bloggers share their insecurities or post something to reassure or inspire others. 🙂

At this point, what’s on my mind more than anything else is waiting. There’s a lot of the waiting game in being a writer, waiting to hear back from others what they think about your work. Waiting to hear from agents, from potential publishers, from magazines, from contest judges, from beta readers and other volunteer critiquers. I’ve sent the revised copy of “Won’t somebody think of the Children” to two dedicated readers from the critters.org critique workshop, and I’m waiting to hear back from both of them, waiting to hear from somebody at nanowrimo.org about a possible manuscript swap.

And more than anything else, I’m waiting to find out if I got into any summer workshops. I got my applications sent to four during February: Clarion at UCSD, Clarion West, Odyssey, and CSSF Novels. I’m probably not going to hear from anybody for another two weeks or so, and suspect that I’ll be waiting on one workshop until mid-April. Sigh.

But I’m doing what you have to do when you’re waiting; I’ve made my peace with the work I put in, that what I sent out was the best I could have done with the tools I had at the time, and I’m focusing on other things. 🙂 Since it’s March, there’s plenty of editing to do!

Are you waiting to hear back from anybody about your writing?


Starting a revision post-mortem

March 2, 2013

My day began with a certain amount of rejoicing. Finally, after some 15 months, the revision of ‘Won’t somebody think of the Children’ was finished! It’s been a long, kinda strange road with Holly Lisle, but I’ve learned an awful lot about editing and good writing from her.

After sending the manuscript off to two intrepid critters, updating my next chapter in the critters.org queue, sending a critique request in to the Nanowrimo ‘December and Beyond’ forums, and scanning through the bonus lesson about query letters and one-page synopses, I turned to lesson 22, to see what Holly had to say about making revision go quicker next time…

And boggled a little!

The worksheet for lesson 22 is a huge post-mortem on the revision process; now that I’m finished, I have to record my thoughts on every step of the process; how much work I had to do from my first draft, how well I did, and if there’s anything I need to keep in mind for my next revision. I like the idea, and it’s a great example of something to dive into during Nanoedmo, where I can get full credit for the time I spend filling out the post-mortem–

But it’s still a bit daunting, especially as I need to start with the lessons that I completed more than a year ago. I’ve come up with some good stuff so far, but I’m haven’t finished the postmortem on lesson 2 yet.

Hopefully it won’t take me all of March. 😉


One application down, three to go

February 11, 2013

Yes! My application to Clarion West is in, as of yesterday afternoon at Williams. (Elizabeth Twist was there with me when I sent it in. 🙂 ) I think it’s good – maybe not perfect, but then, if my writing was perfect what use would I have for going to workshops? It’s about as good as I could make it given the circumstances.

I’m going to try to get the Odyssey app mailed off sometime this week, and I want to get the Clarion application sent off by Saturday. Then I’ll be able to breathe a bit and figure out where I stand with my missing gnomes before I send that application off to Kij Johnson.

I’m also trying to get the final read-through of ‘Won’t somebody think of the Children’ done within the month, since I’ve already signed on a ‘Request for Dedicated Readers’ at critters.org, and the first chapter is going out to be critiqued on Wednesday. This is my first time doing an RFDR for a long work at critters.org, as opposed to short stories, excerpts, or synopses. It sounds like doing RFDRs is a bit looser and more casual at critters.org, so if anybody is really interested in the manuscript based on what they read next week, I hope they’ll be willing to wait for me to finish up a bit of last-minute proofreading.

So, that’s where I stand on some of my February targets. How’s the ‘month of Blah’ going for you?


A little detour on the road towards Clarion

February 2, 2013

I was organizing some more details on the requirements for the summer workshops I’m applying to yesterday, when I noticed a little problem.

Somehow I’d gotten the idea that the two sample stories I needed to submit for Clarion at San Diego could be anywhere from 2000 to 6500 words. But the limits are actually 2500 and 6000 words, only a little narrower, but enough to be inconvenient.

I was planning to submit “The Time Bubble Blues” and “The Storm Mirror” for Clarion UCSD. The Time Bubble Blues is a good length, but I was counting on a little wiggle room to even say that the Storm Mirror was 6500 words. It can’t pass for 6000.

And a lot of the shorter genre stories that I’ve written recently are around the 1900-2400 word length – that’s a good length for getting plenty of feedback at critters.org for one thing, and the SDMB short fiction contest entries have to be under 2000 words.

There’s one prospect that I like that’s solidly within the given range, which is ‘Northward Ho’, a speculative global-warming story set in Canada that I wrote last May. I’ve got some positive comments and some quick wins from the critters.org queue – but I’m getting a little tired of doing last-minute editing at this point. Sigh. Still, nothing to do but continue on!


Editing and Workshop submissions progress

January 23, 2013

Hi again, friends and followers! It’s been a pretty cold week here in Ontario, but that’s given be some time to stay inside where it’s warm and get cracking on my workshop applications stuff, including the editing. (Yay?) 😉

First off, the Missing Gnomes. I still need to sort some stuff out here, especially with my five-page synopsis, but I pitched the rough outline to the Hamilton Writer’s circle at Chester’s yesterday night, and people really seemed to love the premise, the characters, and a few people started really debating a few of the plot points – including whether my villain can actually reform and seek absolution at the end. (“Pixie crossbow to the back of the head, I’m tellin’ ya! Only way to be sure.” :D) So that was great, really helped me stay excited about that project.

What I’ve been working on tonight, though, has been the “Time Bubble Blues” story. I got something like two dozen great critiques for this story a week ago, and even though people really liked it, there was a lot to come to grips with. After taking a little while to catch my creative breath, I dove into the revision with a variant of an approach that’s worked pretty well with me for short stories before.

  • Start by re-reading all of the critiques in order, and making notes of everything that you’d like to change – not necessarily something that a critter told you to change, it could be something that you were reminded of by something they said. Leave off anything that you like the way it is.
  • Some of the items will be very concrete and easy, some extremely vague and nebulous, but that’s okay.
  • Once the critiques have all been read and the list is complete, find something that you feel confident to fix right away. Fix it, and cross it off or mark an X next to it. Then look for the next thing.
  • As you X off more of the list, the quick wins will become sparse, and maybe vanish entirely. Tackle bigger items when you feel ready for them.
  • If you need to do online research or involved planning to take care of an item on the list, do it, but don’t let yourself get distracted. If you make some changes for a nebulous item but think it’s not finished yet, mark a diagonal slash / in front of that item – that’s half of your X mark.

So, I’ve been going at my list that way for a few days, and this evening I just felt moved to blaze a slightly new trail, so I started at the beginning of the story. There was one item on my list to ‘Speed up the start, give less exposition about how the bubble operates’ so I cut as much as I could out of the first scene, before disaster strikes. Then I just kinda kept going through the storyline, adjusting everything I could think of or remember from the list, re-ordering some scenes, expanding some content and adding a few hundred words. I think I really got some great stuff done.

I guess the next thing I’ll need to do for my next editing session is go through my list and see how many more X marks I can add.

 


Looking for my Gnomes in new places

January 9, 2013

Well, I finally got around to reading through some of the critiques I got back in December for the first sample chapter of “The Gnomes are Missing.” There were some very nice things said in all those emails I got from critterfolk, and a few problems raised that I have to agree with.

I took a little while to think about it, and decided that I needed to turn the project around at this point. When I started with ‘Gnomes’ in late November, I really hadn’t planned it at all beyond ‘Hey, this will be a great thing to write now that I’m done with “Snow Job,” and maybe I can send it to CSSF novels.’ I took maybe 15 minutes to organize a few character thoughts at a local write-in and then dived into the first scene.

So, now, I’m going back to the drawing board. Based on what I’ve discovered about the Gnomes and their friends in Nanowrimo, and what people have said via critters and Six Sentence Sunday, I’ve started a new list of characters, changing around some of the personalities and relationships I began with in Discovery. Next I’m planning to do the five-page plot synopsis, (or as many pages as I can wring out of myself,) and then go back to rewrite the sample chapters with a clearer idea of where I want the story to go.

It’s going to be hard to put some elements of my trial run aside, but I’m also excited!


I’m all crittered out. (For now…)

January 7, 2013

Well, once again I’ve been racing to finish critiquing 10 different pieces of writing from the critters.org workshop queue, to earn the award that’s given out every week for “Most Productive Critter.” I like to shoot for an MPC every so often, mostly because the prize is a pass to go directly to the front of the queue of submitted stories, which can come in handy. The usual wait to get something critiqued on critters.org is a month, and I often get impatient when I have something new that I want to get feedback on.

The last time I earned an MPC, I kept the pass in my pocket for months, until I actually used it to see what the critters thought of the opening to “The Gnomes are Missing.” I actually haven’t really gone through all the critiques I got for ‘Gnomes’ yet, but they’re sitting in my gmail, and then I immediately sent ‘Time Bubble Trap’ through to be critiqued. TBT is going to be sent out Wednesday of this week.

And if I get a new MPC this week, I’m going to use it to get the new revision of “Storm Mirror” out next week – so I’ll have critters feedback on all three pieces I’ve been thinking of for workshop applications. Whoo-hoo!

Getting critiques of your own writing is obviously a good way to improve it, but I’ve found that critiquing other writers via critters has also helped me learn a lot. I’ve sortuv developed a sort of a pattern, which helps when I’m trying to get lots of critiques done quickly but still make them as helpful as possible to the authors:

  1. Read through the story or excerpt, making notes about anything that occurs to me but trying to look at the big picture, not the nits. (Kindle is great for reading to critique!) Read the rest of this entry »

New Year, New Goals

January 1, 2013

Happy New Year to you, friends and followers! I haven’t been that wild about the number 13 for a little while. It didn’t really start as a superstitious thing; I just started to dislike it when I began messing around with number theory and factoring; I tend to prefer numbers with lots of factors to primes, and there 13 is, not just a prime, but coming right after 12, the first number to have five different factors other than itself. 😉

But since we’re stuck with 2013 for a whole year, I’ve decided that I need to learn to love it, and part of that is my ‘Lucky 13’ goals list for the year – 13 things I want to accomplish in the year. Here’s the list:

  1. Apply for Summer workshops: Odyssey, Clarion West, Clarion, and CSSF Novels.
  2. Finish ‘How to Revise your Novel’ lessons.
  3. Submit revised “Won’t somebody think of the children” for critters.org RFDR and nanowrimo.org Feedback/Critiques forum.
  4. New novel-length revision project – get through Block Revision at least.
  5. Finish lessons 1-8 of ‘How to Think Sideways’ (given to me by my sister.)
  6. Finish working through ‘Drawing on the Right side of the brain’
  7. Read 104 short stories (2 per week)
  8. Spend 2 hours cleaning/tidying apartment every week
  9. Polish 50 chapters of completed fanfic.
  10. Complete 2 fanvideos
  11. Write 15 new short stories
  12. Do short story shrine revisions on 4 stories
  13. Start online dating

And, I’ve come up with a short list of steps I want to take in January – not definitive, as I expect I’ll also be working on things like the cleaning and short stories in every month…

  • Finish lesson 20 of ‘How to Revise your Novel’
  • Review critters feedback for ‘Gnomes’ and revise sample chapters accordingly.
  • Flesh out five-page synopsis for ‘The Gnomes are Missing’
  • Cut Block Revision draft of “The Storm Mirror” down to 6500 words.
  • Proofread “Time Bubble Trap” and submit to critters.org queue
  • Get feedback on ‘The Storm Mirror’
  • Earn a critters mpc credit
  • Finish updating 12 stories on fanfiction.net

How about you, have you got anything already on your to-do list for 2013?


How do I revise a short story

December 6, 2012

Yes, I’m still in ‘glide mode’ today, but I’m trying to get a bit more elevation above crash territory. I spent some time on the bus ride home critiquing a new critters.org story, and I’ve been thinking about the short stories I want to work with this month.

One is a ‘Not-really-rewrite’ of “Project Fast Track” – I’m not really using the same characters, the same plotline, or the same theme as that little contest tale I wrote nearly a year ago, but I’m going to go back to that vision of the future, specifically to TimeBubble Inc. I’ve got a new plot in mind and an idea for a main character and what his story’s about. Hope to talk it over with somebody before starting the first draft – maybe this weekend.

I also want to do a new revision – this going to be the fourth draft I guess, of “The Storm Mirror.” Some of what I want to do with it has been in my head ever since I left Kansas this summer, and some of it began to come clear while I was writing “The Witches of Arion” in August. (Which takes place earlier in the same universe.)

I like the idea of trying to apply some of the processes from the Holly Lisle “How to Revise your Novel” course to this short story, but I haven’t actually started with that yet. I should probably just dive in – work the worksheets, print out a copy of the third draft and start marking it up with colored pens. Onward! I can do this! (Those are the Holly Lisle taglines that she finishes every lesson with.)


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