My month of editing draws nigh

February 26, 2013

It isn’t as if I haven’t been working hard on editing for months now – rewriting The Storm Mirror, getting stories and gnome sample chapters ready to submit to workshops, and powering through the last few lessons in ‘How to Revise your Novel.’ But as you may know if you’ve been following this blog for longer than 11 months, March is a different beast.

I’ve been doing ‘National Novel Editing Month’ in March since 2007, I think. It’s not the most popular of Nanowrimo spinoffs, and the online community tends to be terse at best. Maybe this says something about the level of challenge involved. If you’re pushing yourself to spend 50 hours on revision and editing in 31 days, (and especially if you’ve also got a job, family, or classes to keep up with,) you don’t have that much time to chatter about it on a message board.

But I still find that my March editing is worthwhile for me, and even if you’re not crazy enough to commit to 50 hours, I’d like to make the following three-part challenge to all writers out there:

  • Do some editing in March.
  • Talk to other writers about it.
  • Make a list of what you’ve accomplished with editing. Not a to-do list you cross things off from. A done list.

That third element is something that I may have come up with myself. I’m a big fan of to-do lists in general, but somehow when I’m really challenging myself in editing, they don’t seem to fit the bill, at least not in the traditional sense. Maybe that’s because my ‘to-do list’ for editing is always so long that trying to cross everything off would be disheartening instead of encouraging.

The way I do my lists in March the past few years is, I do sort of have a to-do list, but it’s an ideas/possibilities list, and nothing gets crossed off. I finish something, and I write it on the Done list. And it’s really encouraging to see that Done list grow over the month.

So, is anybody else with me?

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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!


It’s just me, I’m still here…

January 28, 2013

Okay, luckily, I didn’t run out of time or post something else before I remembered the Re-introduce myself blogfest.

So, let’s see… I’m not going to worry about finding something to tell you that you don’t know if you’ve been following the blog closely. That could drive me crazy.

  • I love to write science fiction and fantasy.
  • I’m a big fan of National Novel Writing Month, and in 2012 I stepped up as a Hamilton ML (local group leader for NaNoWriMo) for the first time.
  • I’m applying to four great summer workshops in the US for 2013.
  • I’ve almost finished the Holly Lisle ‘How to Revise your Novel’ course
  • I collect all kinds of electronic gadgets and gizmos.
  • I’ve written fanfic, made fanart and fanvids in the past, but haven’t made much time for any of that fandom stuff lately.
  • I love to go to science-fiction conventions.
  • I geek out about really obscure math stuff.

And my name is Chris Kelworth. It’s so nice to meet you again!


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.

 


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 »

Insecure Writers’ Support Group: Workshop Applications

January 2, 2013

Hey, everybody, it’s time for the January 2013 edition of Insecure Writers’ Support Group. At least this time I don’t need to feel insecure about missing the date – I actually got the moment of ‘Did I forget’ yesterday, just as I was posting yesterday’s blog about 2013 goals. Then I remembered that it was only Tuesday, and set an extra reminder to do IWSG today.

But I definitely have something to feel insecure about, because I’m facing the prospect of choosing samples of my work to compete with other sci-fi and fantasy writers from across the continent and around the world, to represent the best I can accomplish and my hopes for a rare opportunity to learn from extremely talented published writers and editors. Yeah. Once again, I’m applying to summer writing workshops.

This year, I’ve got four different programs on my list:

Each of them calls for something different in terms of a writing sample – Clarion asks for two stories, Odyssey for no more than 4000 words, Clarion West for 20 to 30 pages. CSSF Novels wants the first 5-10 pages and a synopsis. So I’ve been trying to come up with material for all of them.

I started the sample pages for ‘The Gnomes are Missing’ in the last week of Nanowrimo, and I’ve been sharing snippets of them on Sundays ever since. During December, I started a new short, “Time Bubble Trap”, that will hopefully be my sample for Odyssey and half of my sample for Clarion. I’ve also been working on a new draft of “The Storm Mirror” for Clarion and Clarion West – the problem is, at the moment it’s too long, still around 8000 words and Clarion doesn’t want any stories over 6500.

I don’t know if any of this writing is going to be good enough to get me into exclusive programs like these, but I do feel secure enough in my dreams to keep trying and see. This summer is one opportunity that I won’t be able to take if I hesitate and miss the applications deadlines – though if I don’t make it this time, there’s always 2014.


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?


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