May Online Workshops Now Available

TAKING SIGN-UPS FOR THE MAY ONLINE WORKSHOPS

All of the May Online Workshops have openings. Click the workshop button for description and sign-up. There is still time.

Each workshop is six weeks long and takes about 3-4 hours per week to do.

More information and how to sign up for a workshop is under the green button or under Online Workshops tab above.

All but two workshops have openings at the moment.

Class #41… May 4th … Making a Living
Class #42… May 4th … How to Write Thrillers
Class #43… May 4th … Genre Structure
Class #44… May 4th … Character Voice/Setting
Class #45… May 5th … Writing and Selling Short Stories
Class #46… May 5th … Depth in Writing
Class #47… May 5th … Productivity
Class #48… May 6th … Cliffhangers
Class #49… May 6th … Pacing Your Novel
Class #50… May 6th … Discoverability

-

MAY, JUNE WORKSHOPS SIGN-UP UNDER THE GREEN TAB.

ALL WORKSHOPS START ON MONDAY, TUESDAY, WEDNESDAY.

 

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Writing in Public: Year 2, Month 9, Day 18


Year 2, Month 9, Day 18 of this Writing in Public challenge.

Day Ten of writing the novel HEAVEN PAINTED AS A FREE MEAL: A Ghost of a Chance Novel

THE DAY

I worked around the WMG office from around 3 until 5 p.m., getting things ready for the workshop starting up at 7 p.m.  Then home for dinner, change clothes, and back to WMG with Kris around 6:15 p.m.

Workshop that Kris is teaching (I am just in support mode) finished up around 9:15 for the night, we headed to the store, and then came home. While the workshop was going on I managed to make progress on formatting Smith’s Monthly issue and I did one cover for a short story.

THE WRITING

The writing today went like this: Got in here around 10:30 p.m. and finished up my e-mail and sat down and wrote 1,100 words by 11:45 p.m. Then took a nap.

I did another 1,150 words from 1:30 a.m. to 2:15 a.m.  Short break.

I managed 1,100 words in the next session by 3:30 a.m. and decided to call it a night, even though it was early. Writer lunch tomorrow so I have to be up fairly early.

So a total of 3,350 words.

TOPIC OF THE NIGHT:  The Stages of a Fiction Writer

That’s another lecture I did a while back and some of you here have heard it, I’m sure. But since I really enjoyed taking that last lecture and turning it into a book on a nightly schedule, and I learned a lot and was challenged by the comments, I think I’ll do it again.

Stages of a Fiction writer is a topic I am sure will make some people very angry. It sure has in the past and I don’t intend that. But writers tend to hate knowing at what place on the road they are at. Especially beginning writers in a hurry.

So that should be interesting. I’ll write it in chapters and post a chapter here every night as I did with the last book. And we can have fun in the comment section again. (grin)

And if I really get up some guts, I’ll turn the Heinlein’s Rules lecture into a book as well and post the chapters here.

Stay tuned. Should be fun.

—–

A side note: You may have noticed a change in format here in these daily blogs. Over the next two months up until the end of year two, I’ll be making even more slight changes to make this blog move faster and be more interesting, I hope.

And if the changes work and I get this web site cleaned up some, then on into year three, but in a more fun way with this writing in public.

Also, I will focus on varied Topics of the Night most nights. Whatever I am thinking about when I sit down to write one of these. (grin)

——————

Writing of the novel Heaven Painted as a Free Meal

Day 1… 2,550 words… Total so far on the book… 2,550 words
Day 2… 2,750 words… Total so far on the book… 5,300 words
Day 3… 2,150 words… Total so far on the book… 7,450 words
Day 4… 1,300 words… Total so far on the book… 8,750 words
Day 5… 1,100 words… Total so far on the book… 9,850 words
Day 6… 1,200 words… Total so far on the book… 11,050 words
Day 7… 2,700 words… Total so far on the book… 13,750 words
Day 8… 3,650 words… Total so far on the book… 17,400 words
Day 9… 4,700 words… Total so far on the book… 22,100 words
Day 10.. 3,350 words… Total so far on the book… 25,450 words

——————

Totals For Year 2, Month 9, Day 18

— Daily Fiction: 3,350 original words. Fiction month-to-date: 35,550 words  

— Nonfiction: 00 new words. Nonfiction month-to-date total: 15,900 words

— Blog Posts: 700 new words. Blog month-to-date word count: 10,100 words

— E-mail: 12 e-mails. Approx. 300 original words.  E-mails month-to date: 396 e-mails. Approx. 13,800 words

— Covers Designed and Finished: 1. Covers finished month-to-date: 2 Covers

For projects finished in the first year and links to the posts, click on the Writing in Public tab above.

For projects finished this month and where you can read them, click continue reading below.

You can support this ongoing blog at Patreon on a monthly basis. Not per post. Just click on the Patreon image. Extra stuff for different levels of support and I will be adding in more in March and getting it all caught up. And for those who have been along from the start, hold on, almost ready to get this all off the ground. Thanks for your support.

Or you can just toss a tip into the tip jar with a single donation at PayPal. Either way, your support keeps me going at these crazy posts.

And thanks.

Oo4th_patreon_name


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Writing in Public: Year 2, Month 9, Day 17


Year 2, Month 9, Day 17 of this Writing in Public challenge.

Day nine of writing the novel HEAVEN PAINTED AS A FREE MEAL: A Ghost of a Chance Novel

THE DAY

A work around the WMG office day and a writing day. Fun. Got a lot done up at the WMG offices to get ready for the Fantasy Workshop to start tomorrow. I’m pretty much out of this workshop. It’s all taught by Kris, so I’m going to be getting Smith’s Monthly out and this novel done in the coming week.

And I’m going to be working on workshops.

THE WRITING

So the writing today went like this. Got in here around 9 p.m. and finished up my e-mail and sat down and wrote 1,100 words by 10:15 p.m. Great start for me.

Then took a short nap, got a snack, and did another 1,150 words by midnight.

Off to watch a little television, back in here around 1 a.m. I managed 1,300 words in the next session by 2:30 a.m.

Short break, then 1,250 words by 3:45 when I decided to call it a night, even though it was early.

So a total of 4,700 words. Feeling like I am back up to speed.

TOPIC OF THE NIGHT:  All the comments on Writing into the Dark.

First off, thank you, everyone. The comments are still open if you are just getting to reading the book.

For me, the comments were great fun. Some of you challenged me to explain things in ways I had not thought of explaining them before.

For example, why look some detail up at once instead of just putting brackets and moving on and getting it in another draft. Why not just use brackets?

That was a question. Or something similar to it.

Well, using brackets or other place holder things for details not looked up had always seemed to me to be a very, very bad idea. I had just never thought about why.

I always look stuff up at once if I need to. I jump to my internet computer, look it up, take a couple notes, and then go back to my writing computer and bang onward.

I always figured I did that because when I was done I never wanted to look at the book again. A valid point for me. (grin)

But then right before I answered that question, I had come to a spot in the book I’m writing where I needed a detail. I looked it up, discovered there was more to the detail than I had originally thought, put the detail and the extra stuff in the book, and bam, my subconscious went off using that extra stuff and the plot shifted and got better and richer and deeper.

If I had used a bracket, I would have had no idea I was missing something. And my subconscious wouldn’t have known and thus jump off in a direction on the detail that I didn’t realize even existed.

So by using some marker (like brackets), you are basically blindfolding your creative voice. A damn silly thing to do in my opinion.

Also, let me be blunt. It’s a lazy way to write. Have some belief in your craft. If it needs a detail, find the detail and put it in. Stop being so afraid that you might lose something like “momentum” or other silly reasons to not take the time and do the work when your creative voice needs the work done.

Write the story only once. Stop being lazy and sloppy. Brackets to show where you need to put in a detail later are sloppy. Kill that habit and your writing might get stronger and more dynamic.

So that’s just one of the many great comments that were discussed over the last eight or nine days. And my opinion of it. (grin)

Thanks, everyone. Great fun.

——————

Writing of the novel Heaven Painted as a Free Meal

Day 1… 2,550 words… Total so far on the book… 2,550 words
Day 2… 2,750 words… Total so far on the book… 5,300 words
Day 3… 2,150 words… Total so far on the book… 7,450 words
Day 4… 1,300 words… Total so far on the book… 8,750 words
Day 5… 1,100 words… Total so far on the book… 9,850 words
Day 6… 1,200 words… Total so far on the book… 11,050 words
Day 7… 2,700 words… Total so far on the book… 13,750 words
Day 8… 3,650 words… Total so far on the book… 17,400 words
Day 9… 4,700 words… Total so far on the book… 22,100 words

——————

Totals For Year 2, Month 9, Day 17

— Daily Fiction: 4,700 original words. Fiction month-to-date: 32,200 words  

— Nonfiction: 00 new words. Nonfiction month-to-date total: 15,900 words

— Blog Posts: 900 new words. Blog month-to-date word count: 9,400 words

— E-mail: 17 e-mails. Approx. 500 original words.  E-mails month-to date: 384 e-mails. Approx. 13,500 words

— Covers Designed and Finished: 0. Covers finished month-to-date: 1 Covers

For projects finished in the first year and links to the posts, click on the Writing in Public tab above.

For projects finished this month and where you can read them, click continue reading below.

You can support this ongoing blog at Patreon on a monthly basis. Not per post. Just click on the Patreon image. Extra stuff for different levels of support and I will be adding in more in March and getting it all caught up. And for those who have been along from the start, hold on, almost ready to get this all off the ground. Thanks for your support.

Or you can just toss a tip into the tip jar with a single donation at PayPal. Either way, your support keeps me going at these crazy posts.

And thanks.

Oo4th_patreon_name


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Writing into the Dark: Last Two Chapters

(Every day I will put another chapter here of this book. Patreon supporters, you will get the full book sent to you when it is all done.)


WRITING INTO THE DARK

Chapter Nine

Helpful Hint #2

The first major hint on writing into the dark was being unstuck in time in your manuscript, learning to cycle.

So now, this second hint is to save you more time than you can imagine. It will help you be more productive and keep stress down.

And help you write better books.

Sounds magical, doesn’t it?

Well, it sort of is.

 

Outline As You Go

I do not mean outline ahead in critical voice. Not in the slightest.

Remember, you are writing in the dark.

I mean that when you finish a chapter, write down quickly what you just wrote in a very clear form.

Let me explain what I do so you can find a way that works for you.

When I finish a chapter, I have a yellow legal pad sitting beside the computer.

(I would suggest you use something like a legal pad instead of doing this on a screen. Save the screen for creative writing.)

On that yellow legal pad I mark the chapter number, the viewpoint character, what happened in the chapter (one-line summary) and how the chapter ended.

That usually takes one or maybe two lines on the legal pad per chapter.

On that page, or another piece of paper, I also have what the character is wearing and if they change clothes, I make a note on the chapter line that they changed clothes.

So by chapter six, I have six or so lines on a notepad beside my computer telling me exactly where I have gone and what I have written so far.

This takes me about one minute to do, if not less, at the end of every chapter.

But, wow, does it save me hours of time.

 

Multiple Viewpoint Novels

Most of the books I write are multiple viewpoint novels. And I write one character per chapter. I tend to make each scene a chapter. So if you are writing scenes inside chapters, do a line on your reverse outline for each scene.

If I am writing a thriller, which is often five to eight viewpoints, this outline as I go becomes even more important for me to remember the last time I was in a viewpoint.

Instead of looking back through the book to see what the character was wearing and where did I leave them in their last scene, I just glance at my notebook and go, “Oh, yeah.”

In essence, that yellow piece of paper is an external memory drive for me.

The more complex the book or the plot as it develops, the more detail I put into this outline as I go.

I had one very complex book where each chapter was actually three lines on the yellow legal pad. So my outline took three pages or so of paper when it was all done.

 

Why Take the Time?

Because not a one of us can hold an entire novel in our minds. We just can’t. Not how the human brain works.

And because of that, many people say that’s another reason to let the critical voice outline ahead.

But instead of doing that, just outline as you go.

Write into the dark and outline what you have done.

That way, at a glance you can see the novel on a single piece of paper beside your computer.

You can see what characters were wearing. And where they ended up in their last scene.

One reason for this is to save you hunting back through the novel after being away from it for some life event.

Say you are gone for a week and come back and sit down with no memory or the book or even where you are at. Hunting back through a couple hundred pages of manuscript to figure out what a character was wearing or what they were doing takes a vast amount of time and is very annoying.

And does not help in a restart after a life event.

With an outline as you go, you never have to look back in the manuscript, or if you do, you know which chapters to look in.

This saves vast amounts of time.

And keeps you far, far more productive and moving into the dark because you can see the novel building.

Seeing the novel building right there on the paper is great feedback to the creative voice.

 

Sense of Novel Structure

Again, we can’t hold a novel in our minds, so later in the book you are writing, when you start worrying about the novel structure, are things moving too fast or too slow, you know, standard worry questions, you can glance at the outline page and just see the structure.

It is amazing how clear a structure becomes when just spread out in notes beside the computer, in a quick summary of what you have written.

(Another reason to not let this summary get too complex. Keep it simple and easy to see.)

And if there is a problem in the structure of the book, you can see that quickly as well.

I was doing this once with a big thriller, got to chapter thirty and noticed on my reverse outline I had a viewpoint chapter from a character in chapter four that I had never returned to.

Oh, oh. I jumped back, reread that character’s chapter, realized I didn’t need it, and cut it. My creative voice had put it in back at the start, but then decided I didn’t need that character by the middle of the book. I never would have noticed without that outline of what I had written.

Some of you have watched me write books here on this blog, and then say the book got shorter because I cut out stuff.

So, since I never reread what I write after I get to the end, how do I know to cut out something?

Simple. It shouts at me from the structure of the reverse outline on the yellow pad that I wrote as I was writing.

I can see that everything is on track up until say chapter nine, then the characters go off and do something in a loop and return to the regular through-line of the book in chapter thirteen.

And the end of chapter nine fits perfectly against the start of chapter thirteen. Nothing really important happened in those loop chapters, so I just cut them out.

Not much work at all because I can see the structure clearly from the notes I made after I wrote each chapter.

So again, the quick outline of what I have written saves me a vast amount of time and makes the novels stronger.

So helpful hint to make writing into the dark so much easier: Outline in a very concise, simple, and fast method, on a piece of paper beside your computer, what you have just finished.

Chapter or scene.

Just write it down and then get back to writing.

About halfway through the book, when you need to find something to fix, or figure out a character, you will thank me.

 

One Final Note

The moment I see the ending of the book, for me usually about four or five chapters away, I stop doing this outline as I go.

I no longer need it, and I never think to do it in the typing rush to reach the end of the novel.

And I never save the outlines unless the book is part of a series. Then I toss the outline and character details I have sketched down in a file for the next book in the series.

That hasn’t helped much yet, but I keep doing it anyway.

The outline is for only when you are writing into the dark. After your are done with the story, most of the time that outline is worthless. It did its job.

It saved you time and energy and helped you write a better book.

 

Chapter Ten

 

Helpful Hint #3

One of the things I hear the most from writers working into the dark is trouble finding the ending of the book or story.

Or maybe better said, seeing the end of the book or story.

The ending is there. Recognizing it sometimes takes a special trick.

So let me try to ease some of the worry with this helpful hint.

 

Just Keep Writing

I know that sounds silly, but it actually is the hint.

When you start feeling like your ending should be coming at any moment, but you can’t see it, just keep writing until you bog down.

Then, when you bog down, cycle back about a thousand words and chances are you’ll spot your ending about a page or two back. Then just cut off the stuff you wrote extra after the perfect ending line.

If you don’t spot it, write another three or four pages and do it again.

Now, if you know your ending, of course don’t do this.

But if you are having trouble finding that perfect ending line, just write and then cycle back and you’ll see it.

I know, sounds magical, but it tends to work most times. It’s part of the process of writing into the dark and trusting your subconscious.

Also, back to what I talked about in the beginning of the book. For this to work, you need no fear of writing extra.

Writing extra is part of the process and it applies at the ending. Just cut off the not-needed words and don’t worry about it.

 

Writing to Length

This is a modern world with a thousand ways to publish any book of any length, yet I often hear writers saying they want their next novel to be 60,000 words or some such silliness.

I shake my head and walk away.

When writing into the dark, just let the story be what the story wants to be.

Trying to write to some made-up word length is all critical voice, and that simple idea of wanting a book to be a certain length will pile in the critical voice and shut down the creative voice.

Let the story be what the story wants to be at the length it wants to be.

Trust your creative voice.

Write what you are passionate about or what you enjoy.

And to the length the story needs to be.

 

The Last Key

To really be successful at writing into the dark, or with any creative fiction writing, you are always better entertaining yourself.

So let me give you a few hints to finish this book up. A few checkpoints to remember.

 

— Entertain Yourself

You are a reader, so write into the dark to entertain yourself. You are writing the story for yourself.

 

— Enjoy the Uncertainty

As a reader, you pick up the book and don’t know the story or the ending. You are reading the book for the journey. There is uncertainty in that journey. When writing into the dark, there is uncertainty in the journey as well. Enjoy it. Welcome it.

 

— Write the Book You Want to Read

If you love a certain type of book or wonder why you haven’t seen a certain type of book you used to love, write it. Back to the first point. Entertain Yourself.

 

— Never Write for Anyone But Yourself

Basically stop writing to market. If you entertain yourself, enjoy the uncertainly, and write the books you want to read, writing into the dark is a joy.

Thanks for Reading

I sure hope this book helped some, and on your next book you’ll write into the dark. You might be surprised at just how much fun it is.

And how much more productive you are.

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Writing in Public: Year 2, Month 9, Day 16


Year 2, Month 9, Day 16 of this Writing in Public challenge.

Day eight of writing the novel HEAVEN PAINTED AS A FREE MEAL: A Ghost of a Chance Novel

A sort of discussion day. Did e-mail, stopped up at WMG offices, ran to a bank, got the snail mail, and then had a two-hour discussion with a couple of other professional writers about business and taxes. Fun, actually.

Then back to WMG Publishing and met a couple other professional writers there as well to talk about deadlines and production. Great fun. I love that this little town has so many professional fiction writers in it.

Home for a nap, dinner, dishes, and so on. Then finished up e-mail and worked with Kris on some workshop stuff. Then to watch some television.

Got in here to write around 1 a.m. and fired up on the novel just fine.

Managed by 2:15 a.m. to do 1,200 words, took a break, got another 1,100 words done by 3:30, took another break, and got another 1,350 words done by 4:45.

So 3,650 words on the novel.

Topic of the Night: Last two chapters above. And the comments on the first seven chapters and introduction have been great if you haven’t followed along.

Also, middle of the month, so the May online workshops are just over the horizon. Still room in all ten this month.

——————

Writing of the novel Heaven Painted as a Free Meal

Day 1… 2,550 words… Total so far on the book… 2,550 words
Day 2… 2,750 words… Total so far on the book… 5,300 words
Day 3… 2,150 words… Total so far on the book… 7,450 words
Day 4… 1,300 words… Total so far on the book… 8,750 words
Day 5… 1,100 words… Total so far on the book… 9,850 words
Day 6… 1,200 words… Total so far on the book… 11,050 words
Day 7… 2,700 words… Total so far on the book… 13,750 words
Day 8… 3,650 words… Total so far on the book… 17,400 words

——————

Totals For Year 2, Month 9, Day 16

— Daily Fiction: 3,650 original words. Fiction month-to-date: 27,500 words  

— Nonfiction: 00 new words. Nonfiction month-to-date total: 15,900 words

— Blog Posts: 500 new words. Blog month-to-date word count: 8,500 words

— E-mail: 14 e-mails. Approx. 400 original words.  E-mails month-to date: 367 e-mails. Approx. 13,000 words

— Covers Designed and Finished: 0. Covers finished month-to-date: 1 Covers

For projects finished in the first year and links to the posts, click on the Writing in Public tab above.

For projects finished this month and where you can read them, click continue reading below.

You can support this ongoing blog at Patreon on a monthly basis. Not per post. Just click on the Patreon image. Extra stuff for different levels of support and I will be adding in more in March and getting it all caught up. And for those who have been along from the start, hold on, almost ready to get this all off the ground. Thanks for your support.

Or you can just toss a tip into the tip jar with a single donation at PayPal. Either way, your support keeps me going at these crazy posts.

And thanks.

Oo4th_patreon_name


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Writing into the Dark: Chapter Eight

(Every day I will put another chapter here of this book. Patreon supporters, you will get the full book sent to you when it is all done.)


WRITING INTO THE DARK

Chapter Eight

The Hint of Cycling

Very little that is created is created lineally.

But in writing, our audience experiences a very clear order to a book. And if that order isn’t clear, they leave the book.

So it is logical that new writers come at writing thinking they must create the book just as a reader experiences the work.

But thankfully, it doesn’t work that way as I talked about in the last chapter.

Or, at least, it doesn’t have to.

 

Modern Computer Age

The modern computer age has been both a blessing and a curse for writers. In the day of typewriters, or writing by hand, rewriting was a chore, to say the least, so professional writers quickly learned to not do much rewriting. Especially the top storytellers who were working for a certain amount per word.

They didn’t get paid for rewriting. Only finished product.

The focus was to get it correct the first time through.

That should still be your focus, even though rewriting is easy in this new computer world, and myths of modern publishing expect it.

But back before the computers of the last 25 plus years, making a mistake and fixing it on a typed page was a pain. I know I personally went through bottles of Wite-Out because of my spelling and bad typing.

And the rule of thumb when submitting a manuscript to an editor was no more than ten corrections on a page. If you had more than ten, you had to retype it. And trust me, ten fixed mistakes on a manuscript page looked awful, so I retyped at 5 mistakes.

And I was a horrid typist. I hated typing, especially retyping.

So my two-finger hunt-and-peck method was slow. Very slow.

But now the fixes are easy.

And that causes the problem of too much rewriting.

But it also allows professional writers a wonderful tool that many, many of us have adopted. The tool is called cycling.

Now to understand this tool and use it correctly, you have to be completely unstuck in the timeline of your manuscript. Timeline of the manuscript is page one, followed by page two, and so on until the end of the book.

Those page numbers should mean nothing to you until the end of the book, and even the order of the chapters should mean little to you.

In creative mode, nothing is set in stone.

You are not locked into the moment you are typing. You can go anywhere in the story and type at any point in the manuscript.

 

Cycling

I thought for the longest time that I was the only one who had picked this up. That’s my ego for you. The more I talked with other long-term professional writers, the more I realized that in one form or another, all of us did this.

Let me explain what I do, so you get a clear picture of what I am calling cycling and find a form of it that will work for you.

I start into what I think is the opening of a story or novel. I climb inside a character’s head and get the emotions of the character about the setting around the character, and I type for two or three pages.

500 to 700 words or so.

And I come to a halt.

Every time, without fail. This is now a dug-in habit.

I instantly jump out of the timeline of the story and cycle back to the first word and start through the story again.

Sometimes I add in stuff, sometimes I take out, sometimes I just reread, scanning forward, fixing any mistake I see.

(Remember, this will be the only draft I will do.)

So when I get back to the white space, I have some speed up and I power onward, usually another 500 or so words until I stop.

Then I cycle back again to the beginning and do the same thing, run through it all until I get back to the white space with momentum and power forward again for another 500 or 700 words.

Then I cycle back about 700 to 1,000 words and do it again.

So if you were tracking how I write a story or novel, you would see me go 500 words forward, back, power to the white spot again, more forward, then back.

I am completely unstuck from the timeline of the novel.

Sometimes, when I get a nifty thought, I type it and then write forward until I get there.

But almost always I cycle back, all in creative voice, never once judging the work, just working to make it clearer, make the character better, the setting richer, and so on and so on.

I could never do this with a typewriter.

Only the last 25 years or so since I got my first computer have I been able to do this.

 

How Cycling Helps Writing Into the Dark

When you have no idea where you are going with a story, momentum is often the key to it all.

I have great momentum for about 500 words, about two manuscript pages. Then I run into that “What happens next?” question.

So by cycling back, I am putting the character and the events solidly in my mind by going over them again. And when I hit the white space where I stopped, I have momentum to drive the story forward.

By going back and coming forward again, my creative voice knows what’s going to happen next.

When I am really, really stuck, I often will cycle back a full chapter or so and take a run at the stuck spot, spending 15 minutes or so going over what I have done, touching it, getting my creative voice back into where it was going.

More often than not, that solves being very stuck.

Think of this as the white spaces being small hills and I need to get a run at each hill. And being very stuck as a larger hill, and I need to back up farther to get more speed at the larger hill.

 

Fixing Mistakes

Cycling, knowing you will be done when you hit the end, makes you fix any problem or mistake instantly, the moment you see or discover the problem.

So say a character says something to another character and your creative voice goes, “Damn it, that wasn’t set up.”

You instantly pop out of the timeline and go back and set it up and then work toward the white space again.

You need to have a character wearing something different for a plot reason that came up in chapter four, you instantly go back and fix what the character is wearing, moving forward again through the manuscript until you get to the white space to make sure all the details match.

You need to look up a detail, you stop, look it up, put it in, cycle back and run at the white space again to make sure the detail is correct.

 

Doesn’t Cycling Takes More Time?

Seriously, I get this question a lot and I imagine some of you reading this are thinking it.

But no, this takes far, far less time to get a story right the first time through then try to fix it later. And that goes for putting silly brackets around something you have to research later.

Get it right and be done and move on to a new story.

By having that attitude, you power up your creative voice to get it right the first time.

You don’t write sloppy.

You don’t write for a second draft.

Now are some of my first runs through 500 words sloppy? I don’t honestly know, I suppose so because I am not paying any attention, and I know I will cover those 500 words to clean them up at least twice more, if not more than twice, in very short order.

But to be honest, I don’t notice or care. My subconscious knows this will be the only time through and I’m known for moderately clean manuscripts. Not perfect, no manuscript is perfect.

But I’m fairly clean.

So how much time does this take me?

I tend to think I write (that’s finished, after cycling) about 1,000 or so words per hour, typing with three fingers and taking five and ten minute breaks every hour or so.

Sometimes I am faster. Not slower that often.

If I had to worry about going back for a second draft, I doubt I would be writing. I know the story, it’s boring because I know the story.

I didn’t rewrite when I wrote on a typewriter either.

I never reread my stories after I get to the end.

Why?

Because I have seen every word in the story two or three or four times in the cycling.

And I know I don’t have to.

 

 

 

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Writing in Public: Year 2, Month 9, Day 15


Year 2, Month 9, Day 15 of this Writing in Public challenge.

Day seven of writing the novel HEAVEN PAINTED AS A FREE MEAL: A Ghost of a Chance Novel

I got up way early and was out to the WMG store (Pop Culture Collectables) around noon. I got to work the store this afternoon. Great fun.

Mailed the taxes on the way to the store. Closed up around 5 p.m. and headed to the WMG offices for a short time before heading home. Long nap.

Dinner, news, dishes, and back to the WMG offices to work on some stuff. Then back home. I cleaned up the e-mail for the day, took another nap, watched some television, and about 1 a.m. went back to the novel.

I wrote 1,400 words in the first session, took a break, did another 1,300 words in a second session before getting tired caught up with me. Book is just humming along. No idea where it is headed, but it’s humming.

Topic of the Night: Chapter Eight above. And the comments on the first seven chapters and introduction have been great if you haven’t followed along.

Also, middle of the month, so the May online workshops are just over the horizon. Still room in all ten this month.

——————

Writing of the novel Heaven Painted as a Free Meal

Day 1… 2,550 words… Total so far on the book… 2,550 words
Day 2… 2,750 words… Total so far on the book… 5,300 words
Day 3… 2,150 words… Total so far on the book… 7,450 words
Day 4… 1,300 words… Total so far on the book… 8,750 words
Day 5… 1,100 words… Total so far on the book… 9,850 words
Day 6… 1,200 words… Total so far on the book… 11,050 words
Day 7… 2,700 words… Total so far on the book… 13,750 words

——————

Totals For Year 2, Month 9, Day 15

— Daily Fiction: 2,700 original words. Fiction month-to-date: 23,850 words  

— Nonfiction: 00 new words. Nonfiction month-to-date total: 15,900 words

— Blog Posts: 400 new words. Blog month-to-date word count: 8,000 words

— E-mail: 19 e-mails. Approx. 700 original words.  E-mails month-to date: 353 e-mails. Approx. 12,600 words

— Covers Designed and Finished: 0. Covers finished month-to-date: 1 Covers

For projects finished in the first year and links to the posts, click on the Writing in Public tab above.

For projects finished this month and where you can read them, click continue reading below.

You can support this ongoing blog at Patreon on a monthly basis. Not per post. Just click on the Patreon image. Extra stuff for different levels of support and I will be adding in more in March and getting it all caught up. And for those who have been along from the start, hold on, almost ready to get this all off the ground. Thanks for your support.

Or you can just toss a tip into the tip jar with a single donation at PayPal. Either way, your support keeps me going at these crazy posts.

And thanks.

Oo4th_patreon_name


Tip Jar

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Writing into the Dark: Chapter Seven

(Every day I will put another chapter here of this book. Patreon supporters, you will get the full book sent to you when it is all done.)


WRITING INTO THE DARK

Chapter Seven

Unstuck in Time

There is one critical element in learning how to be a creative writer and writing into the dark with larger projects. And this one element sounds simple, but is extremely difficult to take in and learn for almost all early writers.

That’s right. You are going to think you know this, but you won’t apply it.

You must learn how to be unstuck in time in your book.

Let me see if I can explain this critical element to learning how to write into the dark.

And in all creative fiction writing, for that matter.

And then in the next chapter, I’ll use this very idea to show you how to drive your writing forward.

 

Readers Read From Front to Back.

That’s an obvious point, isn’t it?

We readers all pick up a book, start on page one, and read to the end of the book and put the book down because the story is over.

There is a straight line through the book. Front to back.

Reading is a very lineal process.

And we are all readers.

So when we come to writing, we have the experience as readers. After all, we’ve read thousands and thousands of books, haven’t we? We believe that from front to back must also be the experience of the writing process.

We believe, without ever questioning, that we must write the book just as the readers will read it.

So as beginning writers, and I was no exception to this rule early on, we try to write novels from the first word to the last word.

We believe, and are taught be people who don’t know any better, that the writing process is a lineal process from word one to the last word.

This false thinking is what leads to the driving need for outlining.

This false thinking is what leads to the driving need for rewriting by beginning writers. Their critical voice cannot let them believe it is possible to write a book from word one to the end without mistakes.

Why is that belief there?

Because, as readers, when we picked up a book we loved, we read from word one, and we all thought the author was so smart as to put all that nifty stuff in, and clues, and foreshadowing, and no character got lost and wow it all came together in this nifty climax at the end.

Wow, that writer was really smart.

So as early writers, we think, “I’m not that smart. I don’t know story that well, or plot, or any of that other stuff English teachers teach, so I have to rewrite to put all that in.”

Then, of course, to rewrite, we go back to the beginning and start through the book again like a reader.

Front to back.

The reading process is a lineal process.

The truth is that the creative process is far, far, far from lineal.

In fact, when looked at in a hard light, the creative process is a jumbled mess.

 

Remember You Are Writing Your Only Draft of The Book

That is critical to remember and keep firmly in mind before I go any farther. More than likely you dismissed that in an early chapter, but right now is when this becomes a critical point.

You must fix everything as you go because there will be no second chance, no second draft, no rewrite.

So with that firmly in mind, you are typing along and you realize you forgot some important detail, or forgot to dress a character, or forgot to plant a gun.

If there will be no rewrite, what do you do?

You fix it right at the moment you think of it.

You go up out of the lineal line of your book, float over that lineal line like a creative ghost. And then go back in the lineal timeline of your book and fix the problem.

Then fix the problem all the way through to where you left off and go from there again.

All problems your creative voice thinks of MUST BE FIXED AT ONCE. You are writing in creative voice. Stay in creative voice and fix the issues the creative voice comes up with instantly.

If you write some dumb note to fix it later, or think it will be fixed in second draft, you undermine all the wonderful stuff your creative voice is doing.

Your creative voice, at that moment, thought of that need to fix a problem.

Fix it. Honor your creative voice.

If you don’t, you almost kill the creative voice right there and you let in the critical voice.

When the creative voice knows the critical voice will mess up something, it’s like a little kid. It will just say “What’s the point?”

And stop.

So get unstuck in the timeline of your book and be willing to jump around at will to do what the creative voice wants you to do.

 

Write Ahead, Write in Pieces, Constantly Loop.

There are so many ways that long-term professional writers do this unstuck-in-time creative process.

Some, such as my wife, often write a project in pieces. She’s writing into the dark, no idea where she is going, and she listens to her creative voice.

If her creative voice wants her to write a scene, she writes it. And often she’ll have parts of a book, all written out of order, and when her creative voice tells her, she prints them all out and puts it all together on the floor.

Some writers I know have a scene appear to them, they write it, then loop back and write toward the scene.

I constantly loop back every 500 words or so, and I’ll talk more about that process called cycling next chapter.

Remember, the key is that you (as a writer) are unstuck in the timeline of your book.

That’s right. Let me free you up right here.

There is no rule that says you must write your book like a reader is going to read it.

None.

Get unstuck in time.

 

But Sometimes Straight Through is the Best Way

I tend to build most of my books from front to back. But if you diagramed out how my eye actually works, what I actually typed, as I write a book that feels like it is lineal, you will discover my writing is far, far from lineal.

I will write a few hundred words, loop back, fill in some other stuff, take out some other words, write forward from the place I lifted out of the timeline was, then loop around again and do it all again.

If feels to me at times like I am starting at the beginning and moving toward the end. But in all honesty, it’s more like digging a tunnel through a mountain.

I dig for a little bit, go back, take out the dirt, shape the tunnel a little, dig a little farther, go back, take out the dirt, shape some more, dig some more, and so on.

Eventually I find the end of the tunnel and when I look back I have created a wonderful smooth-sided tunnel. And that’s what the readers think when they walk through the tunnel from one end to the other.

But sure not what the process was.

The belief that we MUST write a book straight through is what grinds writers down.

And what makes many writers believe in all the people who say we must outline.

Logical, actually.

If you believe, deep down, that the only real way to write a book is from word one to the end, then outlining is more than likely something you are going to have to do.

And plan for a short career.

For all of us, the reader must experience our book in a lineal fashion. And we are all readers. So this drive to write from front to back is strong.

But even if you start with word one on a novel and write lineal forward, kill your fear of jumping out of the book and be like a floating god over the characters and the path of the book and let your subconscious have that freedom.

When you can write in any fashion you want, you are not roped into traveling from word one to the last word in the writing process.

And that gives your creative voice the freedom to build that lineal process for the reader in any way it wants.

 

Write the Next Sentence

That’s advice I gave to help you through the rough points, the stuck points.

A key point to remember is that “next sentence” does not have to be the very next sentence the READER is going to read.

It just needs to be the next sentence you are going to type.

The next sentence could be the start of the next chapter.

Or you could cycle back and write some extra description at the start of Chapter Two as the next sentence.

It all makes your book longer, it all pushes the book forward.

Sometimes the next sentence when you are stuck will be the next sentence the reader will read.

But often it won’t be.

And it sure doesn’t have to be to help you keep going.

 

Unstuck in the Timeline of Your Story

Again, this is the most critical point about writing into the dark, or even becoming a full-time professional storyteller.

You must realize you are the writer of your book, not the reader of your book.

You are unstuck in time in your own book.

In other words, you can jump around in your manuscript at will.

Creative minds do not tend to work in a straight line.

And as a writer, you don’t need to.

All that matters is that the reader experiences your story in a straight line from word one to the end.

But no one cares if you write it that way.

And chances are, you won’t.

Or shouldn’t.

 

 

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Writing in Public: Year 2, Month 9, Day 14


Year 2, Month 9, Day 14 of this Writing in Public challenge.

Day off of writing the novel HEAVEN PAINTED AS A FREE MEAL: A Ghost of a Chance Novel

It was a Tuesday. Meeting day. Made it to the meeting by 2 p.m., then walked back from the restaurant to the WMG offices and worked there on workshop stuff and on sorting some stuff and getting ready for the coming fantasy workshop that starts this weekend.

Then Kris came and got me around 6:30 p.m. and I got home, did some e-mail, took a nap with the white cat, then dinner, news, and watched The Voice.

Great fun. The top ten are a great group of artists, of that there is no doubt.

Then up here to finish e-mail and start into writing letters for the strength workshop from notes that Kris and I had about each manuscript.

Then around midnight I want and watched a bunch more television. Then back in here around 2 a.m. to finish up the workshop stuff, right up until my e-mail program died.

Oh, great fun.

Some sort of data base corruption. It wouldn’t even open. So I rebuilt the data base and got it going again and finally finished the last letters to people around 4 a.m. There went the writing for the night. (grin) I wasn’t going to get much done anyway.

Now I need to be up tomorrow early to actually get to run the WMG store for an afternoon. Great fun.

Topic of the Night: Chapter Seven above. And the comments on the first six chapters and introduction have been great if you haven’t followed along.

——————

Writing of the novel Heaven Painted as a Free Meal

Day 1… 2,550 words… Total so far on the book… 2,550 words
Day 2… 2,750 words… Total so far on the book… 5,300 words
Day 3… 2,150 words… Total so far on the book… 7,450 words
Day 4… 1,300 words… Total so far on the book… 8,750 words
Day 5… 1,100 words… Total so far on the book… 9,850 words
Day 6… 1,200 words… Total so far on the book… 11,050 words

——————

Totals For Year 2, Month 9, Day 14

— Daily Fiction: 00 original words. Fiction month-to-date: 21,150 words  

— Nonfiction: 00 new words. Nonfiction month-to-date total: 15,900 words

— Blog Posts: 500 new words. Blog month-to-date word count: 7,600 words

— E-mail: 51e-mails. Approx. 2,600 original words.  E-mails month-to date: 334 e-mails. Approx. 11,900 words

— Covers Designed and Finished: 0. Covers finished month-to-date: 1 Covers

For projects finished in the first year and links to the posts, click on the Writing in Public tab above.

For projects finished this month and where you can read them, click continue reading below.

You can support this ongoing blog at Patreon on a monthly basis. Not per post. Just click on the Patreon image. Extra stuff for different levels of support and I will be adding in more in March and getting it all caught up. And for those who have been along from the start, hold on, almost ready to get this all off the ground. Thanks for your support.

Or you can just toss a tip into the tip jar with a single donation at PayPal. Either way, your support keeps me going at these crazy posts.

And thanks.

Oo4th_patreon_name


Tip Jar

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Writing into the Dark: Chapter Six

(Every day I will put another chapter here of this book. Patreon supporters, you will get the full book sent to you when it is all done.)


WRITING INTO THE DARK

Chapter Six

Some Process Hints

This chapter I’m going to talk about some process hints before we go any farther.

Remember, trust the process.

That takes a belief system in your own work. Of course, believing in our own work is where the critical voice hits us all the hardest. And where are wall which we put up against the critical voice is the weakest.

But writing into the dark takes a belief system in story. It takes a trust that your creative voice knows what it is doing. And it takes a vast amount of mental fight to walk against all the myths and let the fine work your creative voice has done alone and not ruin it with rewriting.

Writing into the dark also takes a complete awareness that uncertainty is part of the process, a normal part, not something to be feared.

Remember, if you start focusing on the uncertainty too much, you allow the critical voice to come in and stop you cold.

So you have to know uncertainty is part of the process, but not focus on it, or care about it.

So now to some hints about major areas we all run into while writing into the dark.

 

Plot Time Jumps

First off, when dealing with time jumps in a plot you don’t know, remember that it is fine to write extra words. You should have no fear of writing extra words. Writing extra words is often part of the process.

So in the novel I talked about last chapter, I ended up having three major time jumps in it.

Of course, when writing the book I didn’t know that. But as I was writing, working my two characters in alternating chapters through their journey, it became clear from what I had set up that there needed to be a section break and a time jump. The characters basically had nothing to do that was interesting for an entire year.

But where to jump to? When to jump to?

Without some sort of idea where the story was even heading, I had no idea.

So I kind of sat there and looked at what I had written and went, “It seems logical they would jump to this point in time.”

Imagine me just sort of pointing at a spot on a map.

So I jumped there, put them back into a rich, thick setting with depth, and started typing. About two thousand words in I discovered the point where I should have jumped the characters.

I shrugged, cut off the extra words I had written, and just kept on going.

I was not afraid to write extra and just explore.

Back to the exploring a cave analogy. When exploring into the dark, we are often faced with two possible paths, one cave goes to the right, one to the left. We have no idea what is ahead, so we pick one and explore.

If it’s the wrong path, we back up and go the other way.

Part of the process.

Have a belief in the process and jumping ahead in a story will never be a problem.

 

Bogging Down

Every writer I know bogs down in a story at one point or another. For me, and for most, it means we have done one of two things.

First, we have written past an ending of a chapter or scene, and the creative voice is just going to make us stop typing.

Second, we are on a wrong path with the plot. (Wrong branch of the cave.)

The subconscious, when it realizes you have taken a bad path will just bog you down and stop you from typing.

What I do when this happens is simple. I look back at what I have written in the last three or four pages.

Writing past an ending on a scene or chapter is usually very, very clear. The ending almost always just pops off the page.

So I cut off the extra typing, do the scene or chapter break, and head forward with the characters.

When I am on a wrong path, I go back searching for the branch in the cave, keeping that analogy going.

When I find the one spot where I could have gone another direction, I cut off the extra words and go off in the new direction. I’ll know I’m going in the right direction because suddenly the story is flowing again faster than I can type.

So bogging down is part of the process as well.

Expect it and don’t be afraid to write extra words or cut words to get back on track.

 

End of Book

When you bog down near the end of a book or a story, it often means you have written past your ending.

I do that all the time on short stories. I’ll be typing along with the sense that the ending should be coming up soon and then I’ll just bog down. Usually I’ll sit there trying to figure out the end before I have the realization to look back a little bit at what I have already typed.

Often, more times than not, the great ending is back a hundred words or so. I wrote it and then just kept typing.

 

The One-Third Point of a Novel

On novels, almost every writer I know hits a stopping point about one third of the way into writing the book. This does not matter if you are writing into the dark or outlining, this one-third point is a deadly spot for all novelists.

And most beginning writers working at their first novel never make it past this spot. This one-third point stopped me on all my first attempts. On every novel I still have troubles with it.

The reason I want to mention it in a book on writing into the dark is because this third point stop is often blamed on writing into the dark. Blamed on not having an outline.

It has nothing to do with it.

Nothing.

Here is basically what happens:

As writers, we are all excited as we get started into a novel. The characters are fun and new, the promise of the novel is like a shining star, the words are all golden, the story flowing like a perfect stream, everything is just powering along.

Then you hit that one-third spot.

Suddenly, your critical voice comes roaring in.

And it’s loud. Damn loud.

Everything you have written, all those golden words, suddenly look like crap. The middle boring part of the book is ahead, or if you are writing into the dark, the fear of not knowing what is next rears up and becomes a monster.

And then the critical voice hits you with the thought, “This book is so bad, so much work to finish, what’s the point?”

That’s the end of the book. It goes into the unfinished file with a promise to yourself you’ll come back to it, but of course you never do.

Critical voice has killed the book dead.

Critical voice: 1. Writer: 0.

There have been some amazing articles written by professional writers about this spot in a novel. It really is a deadly spot.

So how do you get through it?

There is only one way.

Suck it up and write the next sentence.

And then the next.

You must be aware that this stopping point in a book is part of the process and you can’t let the critical voice in the door to kill it.

There are no easy solutions.

And sucking it up is not an easy solution.

Just keep writing, shove the critical voice down into the corner again, believe there will be value in your work, and stay inside the character’s heads and keep writing.

Do not let yourself make any stupid promises to yourself. You are still writing the book, period.

Don’t get sloppy because the writing suddenly got difficult.

Just stay with the characters and stay in their heads and write the next sentence.

Trust your process.

Eventually, the excitement will return and you’ll find the end and be very glad you kept going.

 

 

Posted in On Writing, publishing | Tagged , , | 17 Comments

Writing in Public: Year 2, Month 9, Day 13


Year 2, Month 9, Day 13 of this Writing in Public challenge.

Day six of writing the novel HEAVEN PAINTED AS A FREE MEAL: A Ghost of a Chance Novel

It was a Monday. Managed to get out of here after some e-mail a little after 3 p.m. and headed to the hotel for the upcoming Fantasy Workshop to get that all straight there with rooms.

Then I got to WMG Publishing and another writer friend was there and we sat up a few things, then he helped me with some Patreon stuff, showing me how to do a few things that will come in handy very shortly for Patreon backers.

Then we headed out into the rain to walk, then I hit the snail mail, then out to the WMG store. I was out there for a time, then headed back to the WMG offices. I worked there on formatting Smith’s Monthly for a time, then headed home.

Nap, dinner, news, and dishes. Then in here to do the workshop assignments. Some fun stuff tonight, so it took me longer. I ended up getting done around midnight so Kris and I went off to watch The Voice.

Then another nap, then back in here around 2:30 a.m. to get some stuff cleaned up and finally get to writing. I think I am really trying to clear decks for a big writing push.

Anyhow, only got 1,200 words done before giving up because I have to be up earlier tomorrow.

Topic of the Night: Reba on The Voice. It does not surprise me in the slightest that major star after major star come on The Voice to help the younger professionals and say the same thing.

Tonight Reba said: “I love The Voice. I watch it, I learn from it.”

And then she said to one artist the same thing I have been hammering on here over and over and over.

Reba said, “Everything that’s emotional wins over perfection.”

As I have said over and over, write what you love, write what makes you passionate, write what is in your heart. Do the best you can and move on.

And wow were there some amazing performances on the show tonight. Entertaining doesn’t begin to describe that show.

—-

Writing into the Dark: Chapter 6 is above this post.  And the comments on the first five chapters and introduction have been great if you haven’t followed along.

——————

Writing of the novel Heaven Painted as a Free Meal

Day 1… 2,550 words… Total so far on the book… 2,550 words
Day 2… 2,750 words… Total so far on the book… 5,300 words
Day 3… 2,150 words… Total so far on the book… 7,450 words
Day 4… 1,300 words… Total so far on the book… 8,750 words
Day 5… 1,100 words… Total so far on the book… 9,850 words
Day 6… 1,200 words… Total so far on the book… 11,050 words

——————

Totals For Year 2, Month 9, Day 13

— Daily Fiction: 1,200 original words. Fiction month-to-date: 21,150 words  

— Nonfiction: 00 new words. Nonfiction month-to-date total: 15,900 words

— Blog Posts: 600 new words. Blog month-to-date word count: 7,100 words

— E-mail: 34 e-mails. Approx. 1,600 original words.  E-mails month-to date: 283 e-mails. Approx. 9,300 words

— Covers Designed and Finished: 0. Covers finished month-to-date: 1 Covers

For projects finished in the first year and links to the posts, click on the Writing in Public tab above.

For projects finished this month and where you can read them, click continue reading below.

You can support this ongoing blog at Patreon on a monthly basis. Not per post. Just click on the Patreon image. Extra stuff for different levels of support and I will be adding in more in March and getting it all caught up. And for those who have been along from the start, hold on, almost ready to get this all off the ground. Thanks for your support.

Or you can just toss a tip into the tip jar with a single donation at PayPal. Either way, your support keeps me going at these crazy posts.

And thanks.

Oo4th_patreon_name


Tip Jar

Continue reading

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