Stupid Novel Progress: Almost Back to Three Weeks Ago

500 new words today on The Stupid Novel, and I’m one chapter away from the scene which stymied me three weeks ago. If I actually make it past that scene, I might, might consider upgrading the working title from The Stupid Novel to Taijiya, which is the original working title…from two freaking years ago. Glargh.

In other news, I started researching e-book formatting. Norilana uses Smashwords as a converter and distributor which has a helpful style guide. It’s a fairly laborious process to convert a print formatted text to e-book. Think I need to code me some macros. Yep.

Stupid Novel Progress: Petting the Plot Bunnies

Plowed through four chapters of The Stupid Novel today. Including rewrites and ruthless cutting, I netted a total of 1.3K words. I think there’s a decent chance the last hour or so of prose might be of the “See Jane nod. Nod, Jane, nod” variety, but it was chok full of plot bunnies. I’ll get some carrots and see if the bunnies are as hoppity tomorrow when I have a fresh morning brain instead of the tired bedtime one I’m currently sporting.

G’night bunnies. G’night brain. G’night Stupid Novel.

Stupid Novel Progress: Ripping Part 5 to Bits

Well, the good news is that I do seem to have rectified the “lost my characters’ voices” problem I was having in my last foray into finishing Part 5 of The Stupid Novel. The bad news is that re-finding those voices has shown me that huge swathes of Part 5 need to be rewritten.

The story couldn’t progress, and I needed to review Parts 1 through 4 in order to see how sections of Part 5 were fundamentally flawed. So I should be grateful to my writing subconscious/instinct/laziness that wouldn’t just let me plow forward. But I’m mostly mad at myself for writing such dreck in the first place. Meh.

However, I do think it’s still possible to bring The Stupid Novel to zero draft by November 1.

Chugging along.

Stupid Novel Progressing. To-Do List Not So Much.

By tabling nearly everything else this week, I’m making good progress on The Stupid Novel. Cut something like 1.3K words yesterday (and wow did they need cutting) and finished the editing pass on Part 4. Starting on the final section, Part 5, today. Might even be able to/hoping to start laying down new words.

But that does mean that I am, as always, falling behind on my to-do list. If you’re waiting on me for something, um, it’s going to be a bit longer. Sorry. Sorta afraid to do anything to derail my momentum at this point.

[Edit: Managed about 20 pages into Part 5 and realized that a massive rewrite was necessary. About 500 new words done today and much ruthless chopping. Brain feels like watery sludge. Rah.]

Weekend Writing Progress and Creative Center Wired to Stress Center Reprise

With my folks visiting this weekend, I didn’t get much in the way of writing (or other) work accomplished. But I did manage to complete this editing pass on Part 3 of The Stupid Novel, and I started Part 4 on the train this morning.

I’ve said it before, but it bears whinging about again: my creativity appears to be indelibly hardwired to my stress center–and possibly my too-many-hamsters-on-my-plate center. Why is it inevitable that the words clamor to be put down and the story inspires with a jackhammer when I don’t have time to write? What exactly is the cosmos trying to tell me?

Stupid cosmos.

Stupid Novel Progress: Chugging Along

Spent the whole day working on The Stupid Novel. Brain is nearing a liquified state, but I’m  beginning to believe that the thing may have some small measure of merit. Also that I may be capable of stringing an adequate sentence together–when the fates align on a blue moon and I’ve got enough caffeine in my bloodstream.

Two-thirds through this revision/review pass of part 3. Hoping to start my pass on part 4 tomorrow

Stupid Novel Writing Progress: Less Sucking…But Only “Less”

Mostly through reviewing part 2 of The Stupid Novel (reference framey: the place I got stymied, which requiring me to go back and do this review pass, was the closing bridge scene of the last part, which is part 5).

Not feeling like I’m making great progress–cut something like 150 words–but I do feel like I’m making some progress.  More importantly, my characters are reminding me of who they are, and I’m remembering as well how I managed to get as far into this novel to begin with: I like this story, and I want to tell it. Always a good thing to remember.

There are even parts that haven’t sucked beyond suckitude. I’ll take what I can get at this point.

Continue reading →

Writing Process: What to Write and Finding Your Voice

I sometimes get emails from folks with writing questions, and a lot of the questions I see have to do with marketing and getting feedback on their work—which is why I put together the Markets and and Workshops pages on my website (and unless we’re buds and I’ve agreed to critique something of yours, please don’t send me your unpublished novel/story/manuscript to crit or edit. I simply don’t have the time). But a friend asked me a few writing questions that aren’t about marketing or feedback, and I wanted to share my take on them:

Q: What is there to write that hasn’t been written 100 times already?

Realistically? Nothing, probably. There’s always the chance of someone surprising me, so I don’t want to say “nothing” definitively. But the basic structures, themes, plots, and character tropes have been told and retold since before stories were written down.

When I write, I’m aware that whatever story I tell probably isn’t going to be original. Hell, I love fairy tales, and it doesn’t get much more “been done” than that. But y’know, Shakespeare didn’t write original stories either. He was shameless and boldfaced about swiping material from various sources. And he was, in my opinion, the greatest writer of the English language evah.

The trick, the goal, the thrill is in telling a story well and imbuing it with yourself, your voice, your perspective. If you write a good story, your readers won’t care that its underlying theme is ancient or that it’s a re-imagined fairy tale or whatever.

Continue reading →

Writing Process: Storming the Castle versus Waging a Prolonged Siege

So I stared at The Stupid Novel, poked at it, prodded it, and kicked it, and it sprawled there, unmoving and lifeless.

Not good.

My difficulty completing The Stupid Novel, and all the novel predecessors languishing unfinished and pathetic on my hard drive, has got me wondering if I’ve been brash in my presumption that “writing is writing,” and if there are fundamental differences in strategies for writing a longer work versus a short story that I don’t know/have the experience to implement. Makes me wanna do a study comparing and contrasting the writing styles and processes of novelists versus short story writers…which sadly sounds hella more fun than thrashing alive The Stupid Novel.

But The Stupid Novel must be resurrected. So I decided to take my friend, Ari Marmell, up on his offer to rant and vent and whimper talk shop about novel-writing. And our back and forth has crystallized a niggling sense of absent voice I’ve been trying to ignore.

My frequent breaks from this project have inevitably blunted some of the internal tangibility I had for my characters: how they think and react, what they’d say and do, who they are. I wanted to focus on putting new words on the page, rather than getting bogged down in rehashing/revising what I’ve already written, so I’ve been avoiding a re-read of the earlier stuff. But it’s past time for me to admit that I’m beyond “bogged” and into “complete paralysis.”

Once more unto the breach. Rah.