Not So Much Progress

Well, I did finish one story but not the meaty story, weekend-writing-goal-fail. I got wrapped up in the first story. It passed with fiancé with relatively little complaint or issue, which is a first. She did have a comment about it not feeling fresh, having done some reflecting I agree – she isn’t a science fiction fan either, color me impressed. I’ve spent some time thinking about how to more explicitly present some elements that I implicitly had woven in. Perhaps I thought I was being clever by being oblique or maybe it was a rookie mistake, I don’t know, I’m still learning. I feel by making the sublte elements more visible I can give the story some mojo, a little more oomph.

Reordering some of the events presented clarity to the evolution of the story. I think in a very short time the story has come a long way, almost unrecognizable from the first draft. I think this short story is stronger, unique, but not different enough to feel weird or terribly unfamiliar.

I’d like to think this story is salable but it ultimately isn’t up to me. Hopefully the untold of hours of slaving in the word mines will start to pay off soon. I still haven’t broken the 1 million word mark but I am pretty close. If you aren’t familiar with the 1 million word rule, it takes that many words to jump the novice fence and into the money making writer club. I don’t know how true that is, I suppose time will tell. I’d like to think every wade through the crap-filled novice river means I am that much closer to catching a keeper and feeding my family, aka student loans – they have hungry mouths.

After reading Writing to Sell by Scott Meredith, I learned some nifty tricks/ideas on how to write a marketable story. One chapter in particular that struck home was the insights into flashbacks. Essentially keep flashbacks short and sweet, or make a chapter. Don’t make this entire weird dialogue in the middle of a moving story where the reader finds themselves magically whisked away, it breaks that magical fantasy land and gets confusing.

Yeah, I’m guilty of that.

I did start editing the meaty story, but I didn’t finish. I ended up cutting the 15k words down to 7k. Cutting flashbacks and streamlining some events really made the difference. I suppose that is the magic of editing. Take 15k words of meh and turning it into 7k words of gold. Still plenty of work left to do, but generally that is where I left things before jumping back into the first story. I need to get that beast slain.

So my new goal is a recycled old goal; finish the second story by this weekend.

What about you penmonkeys, what are your goals?



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8 thoughts on “Not So Much Progress

  1. Julie says:

    Sounds like you’ve made some solid progress, coupled with good insights. Always my favourite combination and it tends to make up for not quite achieving the overall goal.

    As for me, I’m about to NaNo my way through another novel, starting in the next day or two. I live for stress apparently. 🙂

    • Frank Bishop says:

      The casual way you said that implies to me that you have written a few novels and/or are have frequent NaNo miles, how many novels have you written?

      • Julie says:

        That depends on how you want to count the novels I’ve written. Generally I say 3, this coming one being my fourth, but in truth, it’s a bit complicated, and that’s still only counting the ones I’ve finished a draft on. I refuse to count anything that dies before I cross the finish line. 🙂

        As for frequent NaNo miles (love that), I’m starting to really rack them up. I’ve learned that the only way for me to get to the end is to write faster than my effectively trained inner editor can run, which seems to require approximately 2k words per day. :p That said, at least I’m getting stuff done (yes, editing too, in between drafts of new stuff).

      • Frank Bishop says:

        Well that is awesome, I wish I had your enduring blitzkrieg drive to power yourself through novels. Writing a novel can be taxing, making your way through three and doing it in the NaNo format, I can only imagine the mental constitution you had to find at one in the morning when staring at a blank screen. How long did each book take to complete?

        I found the word limit a day was too much for me to realistically follow, I expanded it to a week and that seems to work. To beat the inner nay-saying editor I have to break everything into separate documents. Else he comes out like the snow monster in Ski Free.

      • Julie says:

        I’m averaging around 20-25 days per novel (they tend to be around 80-85k range). I tend to do my writing mostly in the afternoon and evening, so that might also help, for me at least, because then I have the whole morning to work up to it.

        The one problem with continually doing this is that I seem to be stuck on fast forward… Oh well, it could be worse. I could stall. 🙂

  2. rosieoliver says:

    Hm… you learn the rules…. and then you learn when and how to break them. Flashbacks should only be used if they progress the story either by plot o character development… I personally have got to the point where i don’t use a flashback unless I have no other choice. Good luck with your story.

    • Frank Bishop says:

      “I personally have got to the point where i don’t use a flashback unless I have no other choice.”

      That was the big lesson learned this weekend. The fact that other writers are agreeing makes me feel it was a good lesson learned.

  3. Right now I just need to find time to re-read the latest manuscript and begin edits. Interesting about the flashback. Glad to see that having one encompass a whole chapter is OK, since I did that in the first novel. I’m so done fiddling with that thing, would hate to have to go back and fix it.

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