Archive | August, 2020

Titan Slain / The Dreaded Hump

24 Aug

So I was going to post a month ago basically saying, “Yeah, the novel’s basically roughed, I just have the handful of scenes to rewrite and like two to write but I basically know what happens” and here I am, sitting at a 162k rough draft, realizing I’m really going to have to reign in the B Plot (again) but acknowledging it’ll be fine. I’m a better writer than I was even ten years ago. This time, though, I’m not touching the manuscript for at least two weeks short of Ron asking for a swap.

I like setting goals but know that life  happens. If I say, “At this rate, I’ll have it revised and workable by Christmas, plus all the other projects I wanna do.” Yeah – no, probably not. Late March/Early April 2019, my sister and I rented my parent’s time share up near Clear Lake, MB, but they had to go back the day I came (Spring Break), and I was by myself for a few days, and I figured I’d do the writer retreat thing and finish editing the rough draft of Magus’ Gambit. I had to go back a day early for union related stuff, but thought I was finished… just a little tweaking, make sure I got the timelines right. I didn’t submit it until the following fall – part of it, granted, was moving and me getting a shiny new kayak.

So realistically – assuming I don’t get thrown into quarantine for a month – if I leave it alone, let R.J. Hore beta the entire thing, then leave it for an additional few months and start editing it after NaNoWriMo, I’ll have a decentish draft by the end of my January holidays, so aiming to have it edited several times by spring is realistic. Still, happy dance about being done a working draft, my reward is focusing on another project and hopefully gaining the mental distance so I can revisit Titan’s Ascent. Finishing a novel feels great. Getting to finishing always kind of sucks, mostly because of what I call:


The Dreaded Hump

Know what feels great when you’re writing? Writing “The End”. At least, it would if I wrote in the book’s intended order – quilter over here typically kind of develops an idea for an end goal relatively early in the book’s creation. I typically do leave “The End” for the very end, but know what doesn’t feel great? Those final scenes, especially when you’re not exactly sure what you want to happen. Because I didn’t write them sequentially, these scenes might take place anywhere in the novel.

How is this different than Writer’s Block? I’ve posted before I’ve written myself into a corner, but it’s not the same as The Dreaded Hump. Writer’s Block is more like, you aren’t sure what to do and how to do it. The Dreaded Hump is soldiering through the muck because you know the general direction – but it’s only after the fact that you realized there was a much nicer, cleaner way, and it’s more scenic, you know? Sort of like midway through the novel, where you are kind of meandering and you write a scene, only to go back and change it because you were like ‘meh’ about it or hated it but knew you needed to just write out a version of events, so you can later write the ‘good’ version. Heck, you might even have written some scenes you like, and you realize that given the size and scope of the novel, you can’t dedicate that much time to the idea. Out those fun, impulsive ideas go – in with a more tame version, grumble grumble  – not saying you’re deleting those scenes completely; if you’re me they go in a file folder and will probably to be explored in another project. It’s different than what I’ve been experiencing in the past few months – even if I’m lying to myself about ‘almost being done’ or that I’ll be done by Day X. Gone is the fire and fun of this new and amazing project, as well as the sense of accomplishment of finishing. You know you’re making progress… sort of. The end’s not in sight, but you’ve sunk in enough time and words to know that you might as well at least finish the project.

It’s the hours you spend in the gym, or practicing your instrument. No one sees the real work you put in here.

The segments that make up The Dreaded Hump sometimes might be a great scene – on draft 4 or 5. How it helps to give yourself permission in your busy schedule is to think of it like you’re sketching out the frame work, and you need to fill in the details. It’s fine if you know it’ll work and you can do some hard research to make sure you fill in the blanks. Realizing you made a critical error and it’s a genuine plot hole and you have no idea how to go about fixing it, without majorly changing the book? That’s hard.

Writing garbage shouldn’t be confused with doing research and, if you just want the project to die already, take a break. Philander with another idea. If you are creative in other ways, it might be the time to dip your toes, or see what other artists have done to get around similar situations. For me, I respond to physical activity, so spending some time in nature if I can definitely helps.

But finish it. Unless you’re under contract, there’s really no time limit to any of this. And it sucks, putting your baby into the world and letting it get rejected time and time again, but let me ask you: Would you rather have a finished project to have rejected, or a bunch of half-finished and barely starts?


To Split or Not To Split?

17 Aug

Growing up I hated cliffhangers. It usually wasn’t a big deal if I could get the next book in the library, but it wasn’t always the case. The best example I can think of was how in this old Conan the Barbarian Comic, Conan, Belit and their sea-faring army are drugged by the leader of the people they just saved, and we’re told that they’re going to be sacrificed. I didn’t know how they got out of it for years, because it was my dad’s old comics and he’d have a good run of sequential issues with maybe just the one missing, and then ten or so would be missing, and then we’d be in a completely different adventure. Comics tended to follow that serial format, basically it was meant so you tuned in the next week or bought the next magazine.

The internet has made life rather comfortable, as we can marathon old tv series as opposed to making it an event for a two-part episode (Provided your VCR worked. I sound old), and I was able to look up how Conan and everyone escaped(it was a real cop out) but I get it. It’s the same when I’m watching bad reality tv shows: They cut to commercials just when we’re about to find out who won or if the offer went through. Make the audience emotionally invested, so we’ll stay tuned.

It’s so freakin’ cheap and books are supposed to be smarter than that.

If you’ve been following along over the course of the last few months, you know I’ve been ‘Got a titan to slay!’ and what not for Rogue Healer 3. I was initially making good progress and figured I’d be done the rough draft before summer. July was a decent month and I hammered out a lot of core parts, and I even gave myself a ‘You’re gonna nail this, go work on something else and let it percolate’ meanwhile we’re in the middle of August and I’m at just over 151k. Is it done? Well… almost all the scenes are written. Almost, because they’re a hodgepodge of me tweaking this and that; the reality of quilting is you think you want turquoise but you really wanted teal, so it doesn’t exactly vibe. I still have a titan rampaging, even if I have the aftermath of it being defeated written. Stuff will be cut, but I’m also thinking to myself that I could easily give myself another 10-30k.

The previous two books were about 135k, and both felt relatively complete and at the same time feeling like that they were segways into the next installment. I didn’t know if I’d ever sell Book One. This time it’s not a last hurrah, I want to write a five book series, and while I know it can be expanded with novellas and shorts, I don’t want to do that other than to supplement.

After I signed Witchslayer’s Scion, besides starting work on Magus’ Gambit, I wrote a novella that basically served as an inbetweequel for Witchslayer’s Scion. There was something I wanted to expand, but I couldn’t legit a flipping detour in an already 135k novel. Fantasy and science fiction already allow a wide swath, with most contemporary novels being around 70-110k, with fantasy allowing for around 120k for a first time author.

So I’m at the novel and a half stage and thinking I could expand things. So Book Three, Working Title Titan’s Ascent, I’m thinking I might cut this into two parts.

I don’t want to do it with a knife. If I was to change the story for say, a tv series, we’d still want there to be mini climaxes and something to look forward to. The framing and the timing of the episodes would change. It would again change if we were going for a three-act film. But, I’m getting ahead of myself.

So, option One, is try to keep the final draft around the 150k mark, and see what the publisher says. She hasn’t signed Book 2 yet, and I figured I wouldn’t ask until I have the follow-up to chuck. Option Two is be a Precious Artist and go as long as I feel the book needs. Option Three, is go with option two, and intend to split it into two parts, and talk to the publisher. Honestly, I could probably give two 80k novels in ‘part one, part two’ but I’d have to reframe so that part one isn’t all the exposition and lame or vice versa.

80K is still a novel, and shoot add a short story or novella and the length is there. I guess I got to finish a draft before I get ahead of myself, but still: provided I’m being honest and telling people that they’re essentially buying half a book? Assume I’ll try not to sacrifice quality and insist that the release happens in short succession.

When Words Collide – Online 2020

14 Aug

So I’m not sure when I’m going to be around for WWC online, because I’m on nights s so I need to rest some time. Yeah yeah, ‘Sometimes you go sometimes you don’t!’ I wasn’t planning on this year because one of the guys in my station has major seniority and he always takes time off in August. The rotation has to really work out or all I get are nights off, and I could go on abut scheduling and how I never get the stats I want, but it’ll sound like kvetching. I don’t mind working through the pandemic, neither.  We’re very lucky in Manitoba to have relatively low numbers and, I’ll be honest, I’ve been able to be ‘socially distant’ on things like playing tennis and kayaking for the nice part of the year. It’ll get cold and we’ll all bunker down again in a few months, so my main complaint is looking through my old pictures of travel and realizing it’s probably not going to happen until around 2022 (*le sob*).

So writers, readers – those who are just interested in learning about smaller publishing houses, even ethical concerns and some science associated with some literary theory – this is an awesome way to reach out and meet likeminded folk as well as generally network.

But as for me, I’m going to be posting a ton of writing related videos on FB, mostly from Youtube. I encourage you to post back.

For tomorrow, R.J. Hore and I will be at Shelmerdine’s Farmer’s Market (weather pending, it looks fine so far) selling books. I still only have the one title in print, working on it. I have two ebooks ready to self-publish, I need to go to the bank and get some info. Lazy lazy. One’s really just a short story, but you get the idea.