Signposts from Odyssey

June 14, 2013

Hey there! I know I haven’t blogged since before I left for Odyssey. It’s been a crazy week. But I said soon after I got here that I was going to tell my blog followers some of what I’ve learned about the weaknesses in my writing, and how I plan to work on those weaknesses. Since the first weekend is starting, and I’m starting a new story to be critiqued next week, this seems like a good place to start.

I’ve learned that I have room to improve in: conveying the emotion of my characters.

How I plan to improve:

  • Before writing each scene, note each character involved in the scene, where they start emotionally before the scene, and where they are emotionally after the scene is over.
  • Review after writing the scene to check that I’ve conveyed those as strongly as I could, as well as any other transitory emotions they passed through along the way.
  • Review that all of these emotional arcs seem consistent when the first draft is done.

I’ve learned that I have room to improve in: showing the important stuff to readers (not telling.)

How I plan to improve:

  • Make a list of important things to show before writing every scene.
  • Review after writing, that I’ve shown and not told those things, and if there was anything else important that I’ve told instead of showing.

I’ve got lots more room to improve, but this seems good for a start. Have a great weekend!

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What process do you write in?

September 26, 2012

There was some great conversation between the four of us who showed up to Chester’s Beers of the World for the Hamilton Writers meeting last night – once they turned down the music enough that we could hear each other speak, that is. 😉

One interesting topic that came up was our choice of writing process – specifically between three very different experiences – typing on a keyboard, scribbling with a pen or pencil on paper, and speaking into a voice recorder. It was interesting to see how different people reacted to the different options.

I’m a typer; I have been since I was very young; taught myself how to go beyond two-finger hunt and peck typing, though it took proper typing lessons to cure myself of looking at the screen. I have handwriting so horrible that I can’t read it myself, and I get very nervous about the sound of my voice and my ums and uhs if I try talking into a voice recorder. But I’ve never really needed an alternative to typing – it’s a process that works very well for me.

The new gentleman who brought up this topic for conversation said that he found that a voice recorder and Dragon Naturally Speaking work very well for him – especially after he’s reached the halfway point in a story, which is where the tough part usually begins for him. He can usually cruise through the first half on a keyboard, he said, but then gets blocked if he can’t talk it through. Another writer that I’ve known for many years mentioned that she associates keyboards as a tool for a day job, not a part of her writing process, so she writes her first drafts out in longhand.

Have you found the process that works for you? Is there some special subprocess within those big three that you write best with, (a particular keyboard device, that perfect notebook paper, or whatever?) Do you ever wish that you could find a better process than the one you’re writing with now?


Six Sentence Sunday – The Storm Mirror 4

March 11, 2012

First six. Second six. Third six.

So, Melvin is at the village market, and finding out more about a possible reason for the storm that killed his brother…

“Well, I don’t believe that I’ve ever heard any of the witch’s name,” Auntie said, smiling up at him.

“I asked a few times, but she said that for her kind, names had great power, and asked me every time to call her Sunshine. She lives in a big grey house up on the cliff-top, and used to pay me in the most creative and splendid ways for my most unusual weeds. Until – just after the New Year, she told me that my services were no longer required. It was a few months after that the first storms came, but you know what? Whenever there’s a bad one, the storm clouds don’t seem to come from over the water, or from the lowlands, but they just sort of appear at the cliff-top.”


Not blogfesting today – again.

February 10, 2012

I’d hoped to join into the I’m hearing voices blogfest late with a flash fiction, but it was a long day at work and I just don’t think I’m up for a flash fiction now, sigh. (So much for the promise that we’d get to go home early on Friday, sigh.)

But I’ve been thinking about emotion in short stories lately, mostly because of my still-untitled story in progress. (Maybe I’ll call it ‘Mirror of Storms’ for the time being.) Happiness, unhappiness and grief are all definitely driving engines of this idea – one character, Sarina the witch’s granddaughter, has used a magic mirror that was supposed to rid her of unhappiness, but at a cost. Whenever she has gets angry or sad, the mirror sucks the bad mood out of her, turns it into a storm, and releases the storm over her house. Unfortunately, she lives by the sea, and when one of these storms went out on the water, my MC’s big brother got washed overboard.

Oh – and there’s a curse on the mirror too, of course. 😉 If it’s broken or taken out of Sarina’s vicinity, then the storms will stop, but she’ll be unhappy for the rest of her life. When she’s truly happy, though, that will stop the storms too, and the mirror will crumble to dust.

What do you think so far?


A self-introduction for my campaigner friends.

September 1, 2011

Hey there, I’ve noticed a few people already dropping by from the Platform-building Campaign. I’m afraid I won’t be able to make the rounds myself until I’m back from Dragon*Con, so I’ll be starting around Tuesday, but I thought I’d say a few things about myself so that fellow Campaigners, especially my group-mates, will be able to get a sense out of who this Chris Kelworth guy is.

I’m Canadian. I get a steady paycheque for programming field service technician websites. I write science fiction and fantasy, for middle grade through adult readers. I’m trying to focus on rewriting my collection of short stories and submitting them to publishers.

I’m a huge fan of many things: Firefly, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Doctor Horrible, Doctor Who, Star Trek. I love to read Diane Duane young wizard books, just about anything by Larry Niven but especially Known Space, and also Madeleine L’Engle, Anne McCaffrey, Ursula LeGuin’s Earthsea books, and Katherine Kurtz’s Deryni series. I’ve recently discovered the fun of going to fan conventions – which is what brings be to Atlanta this coming long weekend. (Never been to a convention as high-profile as Dragon*Con before, though.)

I have created fan fiction, fan art, and fan videos. I have a fairly impressive collection of portable digital electronic devices, and love to write my own apps for them when I can. I’m love National Novel Writing Month, Script Frenzy, and several other online writing challenges, and belong to a few local writer’s circles and critique workshops. I love playing games of many types, though I’m not a serious gamer in any particular type, such as console or tabletop RPG.

Thank you so much for dropping by. If you’re a campaigner, please use the ‘follow that blog’ widget or the NetworkedBlogs box to subscribe to the Kelworth Files, and leave a reply telling me something about you!


Spotlight: Orlando Ramos

August 19, 2011

I think it’s time for another spotlight, so I’ll introduce you to somebody who’s left me many nice comments over the past few months, Orlando Ramos.

Orlando’s got some interesting things to say about television, movies, technology in culture, and what to take out of your writing. (Literally, as in what to remove, not what you can learn from it.) Plus, he’s obviously a nice guy!


Workshops

April 27, 2011

W is for…

I’ve had writing workshops very much on my mind lately, and it occurs to me that there’s a remarkable variety in terms of different events and organizations that use that phrase to describe themselves. For instance:

Odyssey, the workshop that I’ve been waiting to see if I’ll get into. I got word two weeks ago that I was on the short waiting list, and that spots would most likely open up around the end of April, though there might be a last-minute drop-out as late as May 25th.

Odyssey is a six-week session with about sixteen participants, lectures, one-on-one consultations with the instructure, guest lecturers, and intense but constructive critique circle sessions between the participants. It’s held in Saint Anselm College, in Manchester, New Hampshire, with all participants living in residence.

I’m not really sure what to expect if I get into Odyssey, but the odd thought flashed through my head as I was listening to ‘Starship troopers’ on my audiobook player that it would likely be a writer’s version of ‘Boot Camp’ – intellectually and emotionally exhausting, but an experience that, if you got through it without cracking, would make you forever a stronger person inside and a much better writer.

Wish me luck on the waiting list thing, by the way!

While I was waiting to hear about Odyssey, I got good news in my email inbox about a completely different writing workshop. Lindsey Grant posted over at the Office of Letters and Light blog asking for suggestions about ‘revision tools’ to help National Novel Writing Month writers work on editing their stories through the year. I was really excited about the call for suggestions, since I felt I had a bit of experience with what worked and what didn’t over at places like Nanoedmo, Nanopubye, and Stringing Words, and so I put together four suggestions and posted them without even really paying attention to the prizes that Lindsey had waved to try and encourage feedback.

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Outlines

April 18, 2011

O is for…

For a lot of years, I was very much a ‘Pantser’ in terms of my writing, and have the very long and rambling Roswell fanfic manuscripts to prove it. Recently, I’ve tried to outline in more formal ways, including trying the snowflake method with Nanowrimo last year, and the Blake Snyder beat board with Script Frenzy, which is working out quite well.

I used to think of my usual ‘writing by the seat of my pants’ approach as a way of taking a journey – whether walking or driving, but trying to get to a particular destination, and possibly visit certain landmarks along the way, but without a map or a planned out route, just a vague notion of which direction I’d find my goals in.

Outlining, so far, isn’t like scouting out the path ‘boots on the ground’ beforehand – it doesn’t have that same sense of immediacy that actually writing does. But, depending on how I approach the outline, it might be like working out a plan with a map, or on Google Maps, or even scouting out the territory in a helicopter ahead of time.

I haven’t made up my mind whether it’s always better to outline in a structured way, like with the snowflake method or the Blake Snyder approach, or more intuitively, just trying to write the storyline out in bullet points, (perhaps working back from the ending.) Maybe both approaches have their points, depending on the situation.

Either way, outlining is a pretty cool way to prepare for a writing trip, and I think that I’m going to keep experimenting with it, in more detail and trying out more approaches.


Infinite Horizons

April 11, 2011

I is for…

Infinite Horizons was the name of a little website I put up years ago for some of my original science fiction writing. It started back when I was at York University, because I couldn’t think of much else to do with the website space I got as a computer science student.

It stayed with YorkU CS for a while, until my accounts got closed after I graduated, and then I used a couple of different free web hosts for the next two years. In the spring of 2001, when I moved into my own place and got cable internet, I put Infinite Horizons up on my ISP web space, but never gave out the link to it anywhere, so it’s just kind of an archive mirror on the dark web now.

The one complete project on Infinite Horizons was “Voyage: Triton”, which I finished before putting the site up, during my freshman year at York. All of the rest of the writing up there was related to the Star Patrol universe – a chapter and a half of a first novel, and a lot of other little snippets and unresolved drabbles. A lot of them were written in the summer of 1998, when I was taking an adult extension course in Creative Writing as an elective, where the curriculum was big on writing stream of consciousness, so when I was doing a class exercise I’d just start on one of the story ideas that I had running around in my head, and never really finish it. That was the same course that started my career in Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan fiction.

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Critters

April 4, 2011

Critter: (noun, dialect.) A reader who undertakes to provide a constructive critique or helpful feedback on behalf of the author of the piece being read.

Critters are great. Critters are indispensable to my writing process, and I suspect that 90% of successful writers have critters of some sort.

Where to find good critters can be a difficult problem. Non-writer friends are often not the best critters, because they don’t always understand what kind of detail is helpful to a writer. Writer friends can make good critters, but not when they’re busy with writing first drafts of their own.

Critter exchanges can be a very good arrangement, or writer’s circles in which the entire group acts as critters for each of the members in turn.

I’ve found some good critter exchanges on the ‘Nano swaps’ forum of the National Novel Writing Month online community, and I’m attend two local writer’s groups that do critiques of pieces that members bring in. I’ve even acted as a critter wrangler for the Stringing Words online forum, organizing their third CritMo (Critter Month) event and pairing up authors with volunteer critters who read their pieces and send in feedback.

Recently, I’ve also joined an amazing online workshop called… (drum roll please,) critters.org, which runs something like the same program on a much larger scale. Here’s how it works, basically:


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