Friday, November 09, 2007

Changing my technique

Yesterday, I wasted so much time. I spent all day saying "I'm going to write tonight, and catch up."

I didn't. Come 10:00? I was -worn out-, completely. No energy to lift my hands to the keyboard, much less think. So I wound up writing only around 1200 words.

Today? I've decided I'm going to handwrite during the day, and type it up at night. It got me my 6 and 5k days the first couple of days... I'm going to do it again. And it's working. Fewer distractions (hard to ignore that new email icon)

I've got five handwritten pages, college ruled, front and back. And it just feels so right to get ink on my hands, just like I used to. This has another added advantage... when it's cold? The living room is much warmer than the kitchen, where the computer is... so my fingers aren't as stiff.

I don't know what my word count for the day will be, but it will be substantially better than yesterday's.

The good thing is, I've just gotten to the scene where the antagonist captures my MC... and keeps her captive for a while. It's going to mess with her head, and maybe crack her psyche a bit, as well as serve for the impetus to seek out the final confrontation.

Helloooo turning point.

IN official NaNoWriMo news? Official word count widgets have been released, so now you can see my progress!

That really crappy day you see on the third was when the site crashed, and almost no one got to input their word counts. You see the impressive day four? Yeah, that's day 3 and 4 combined.

Click on the image to see my profile, excerpt, progress graph, etc. :)

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Picking up the pace again

My NaNoWriMo Progress

After hitting a sluggish spot, I had to do a little reworking to get things moving again. After renaming the character, I did a major shift in the action in that dragging, boring scene, and then terminated it, and jumped to the next chapter and scene mercilessly.

It seems to be working. I want my curve back to pointing at the sky, dagnabit! Not to mention, one of my fellow local wrimos has caught up to me not once, but twice! That is just not going to fly. So tomorrow, I'm devoted to getting a much more comfortable margin between us than the paltry thousand or few hundred we've been having. I would have had more tonight, but OpenOffice crashed on me for no apparent reason and I lost around 1,500 words. I did manage to get a screencap of some of it before the program terminated, so it was just retyping, but I'd have a much higher count if not for that. Ah well. I'm a compulsive saver and backer-upper.

Just moved up the plot a bit, have introduced a major villain and set Auriel on his path.

Let's get this party rolling!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Renaming a major character

I'm 17,500 words in, and suddenly realized that I hated one of my main character's names. I mean, really hated it. Not that it was a bad name, I just didn't like it for this character.

So, even though it's being read as I type (I post the day's progress in a locked journal post for a limited audience), I changed his name. And I like the one I chose.

I also did a nice jerking redirection of the scene's action, because I was BORED.

This is one of the greatest things I have learned from NaNoWRiMo. When things aren't working? CHANGE THEM. So what if it's a complete 360 from the previous paragraph. You can fix it when the first draft is done.

So, my story just got a wrenching change. And I feel motivated all of a sudden.

NOw, I've got less than three hours before Heroes, so I'd better get writing.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

NaNoWriMo - Heaven's Bounty

Hola, dear readers!

Yes, of course I'm doing NaNo this year... duh. My word count for day two ended at 11,296... I'd say I'm off to a good start.

I have been doing a little handwriting... I must admit it feels good to have ink on my hands again. The end result is better, too. I positive edit (adding, not taking away) while transcribing, and I have more time to think about what I'm writing, since I write much slower than I type.

This year's nano started out as a fantasy, but decided it was a science fiction story. Gengineered animal-people, a winged bounty hunter, and shapeshifting mutants which threaten the world... it's fun already, and I adore my main character. Here's the blurb I wrote in my planning notebook:

Auriel Shiftal must use every resource at her disposal to find the source of the power that one held her captive in torture. With the aid of her half-tiger partner and a man she wants to love but cannot trust, she will uncover the secrets that once felled the most powerful nation on earth... and may do so again!

It's set in the far future, in a post-governmental collapse New Atlanta... a sprawling urban center that really did devour the countryside and suburbs around it to make a massive megacity that stretches from horizon to horizon.

It's got a few standard sci-fi elements, but I'm really enjoying the characters so far.

If you care to track my progress, here's my profile... web site widgets haven't been released yet, since the site has been dealing with significant traffic slowdowns since October.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Wow, thank you!

Thanks to all of you who jumped on my bandwagon to support the Snellville elementary school kids. Their proposal has been completely fulfilled! That is so awesome.

Couldn't have done it without you guys. Such a small need, and yet it will help many students, and so much more to come! If even one kid starts to love books because of this, I'd say we've done a good thing!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Help some kids get into reading!

Hey folks! Wanna donate to a school-related semi-local project?

Six Apart (the company that owns LJ) is donating $30 gift certificates to anyone who emails them for one to give to the project of your choice at - and I found one that was very modest. $250, for 25 copies of the first book in the "The Series of Unfortunate Events books, by Lemony Snicket" series. It's for a Snellville, GA elementary school, third grade class.

The LJ certificates are free, and the info can be found here:

The project I'd like to support is here:

I think it would be cool if some of my readers could pitch in to help these kids get some books. It's not much, and wouldn't take long. Even if you miss the window on the freebie certificates, a few bucks of your own could really make a difference!

Deadline for the freebies is 5 p.m. PT on Monday, October 1, 2007. We'd only need 8 or 9 people (8.3, to be exact) to donate these certificates to fund this class prohect... And I'm donating mine!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Didja miss me?

Course you did.

Things have been hectic, so getting to my blog has been hard. Three lightning strikes, which took out our stove, television, and telephone respectively. My toddler also overdosed on acetaminophen, which resulted in a three-day hospital stay. I'd rather that not be repeated.

This year's NaNoWriMo is gearing back up. Forums have been shut down, to reopen on October 1. I've already re-signed up as an ML, and have big plans this year.

Since I've proven that I can write a novel in 12 days, and in 14 days (with some risk to myself, I might add) I feel compelled to set the bar higher. NaNoWriMo is about challenging yourself, and it's a great tool for me.

So this year, I'm writing TWO novels. That's write. I'm trying for TWO. One will be under my usual name of Dragonchilde, and the other will be written under our mascot for my area, Mickey Moose. I haven't decided on what I'll be writing for them, yet, though I have a few ideas lying around.

Monday, August 06, 2007

So much going on

A trip to the ER, a positive pregnancy test, and a vacation later...

I'm here. :)

Last night I had a dream. I dreamed of a military group, underground, complete with barracks. A resistance, but with a full army at the ready.

I'm not sure what they're fighting, or why, or what they're going to do. I know there is a white woman and a black man, and she is rewarded with a command and him as second in command so they can have private time together thanks to an extreme act of heroism/sacrifice. (Holy runon sentence, batman!)

I realized that this is my childhood tale of the Wildcats, a silly little story of an orphan who discovers a massive underground military society in the woods behind her orphanage. The man she eventually fell in love with was named Leapard (and I deliberately misspelled it, thinking it was cool.)

It was a silly story, but there's a grain of potential there. I think that with some polished steel, airships, space capability and advanced computers, I could make a decent sci-fi out of it. I'm going to have to work hard to keep it from becoming romnace-ish. The relationship isn't the point, it's simply just a part of the story. I also vow to have more than two characters. With a facility as large as the one I dreamed of last night, there HAS to be more.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Time wasters

One of the things I like to do when I'm NOT writing is to read webcomics. Right now, I've got three that I check several times a week, and that are long-running and frequently updated:

Something Positive - So much anger. So little time.

Clan of the Cats
- Urban fantasy, great art, interesting storylines

Templar Arizona - weird alternate-reality thing. I haven't figured it out yet. but I likes it.

Zombie Hunters - Zombies. Blood. Gore. Humor. What's not to like? It has been running a little slow the last couple of weeks (could we advance the storyline? Please?) but I still like it.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

How to make a million dollars writing


Amazing, isn't it? I bet you thought I was going to sell you something, or tell you a secret that only a select few knew.

Nope. Just write. Writing well helps, but isn't necessary. It really helps, though.

Do not do what I'm doing at the moment, which is surfing blogs, writing blogs, reading webcomics, and not writing.

I'm going to take my own advice now, and write.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007


You know, I was very amused by something in this post by The Rejecter:

It was a high amount for author royalties, too, something over a thousand dollars (which, by the way, the majority of authors will not see in a year).

So many of the people in the comments were talking about how little money that is. I think this is one thing being very poor has taught me; that's a whole lot more money than many people think it is. I hear of "small" advances being only a couple of thousand.

Darlin, when you're living below the federal poverty line? That's not a small amount of money. It's all about perspective. :)

Thursday, June 28, 2007

What Dreams May Come

Had a fascinating dream last night that gave me the change in story direction I needed to get Hacker Dragon back on track. I was writing, but it was slow as molasses... and then I came up with the next twist to get it moving again.

I get a lot of material from dreams. I have very brilliant, colorful, vivid dreams. Sometimes very strange ones, at that. I've got another tale in the works, a seed of an idea that is germinating as we speak. It came straight out of a very bizarre dream involving a blue dragon, hiding in a mudslide, and a strange post-war environment of refugees. I've now got a tale in my head that tells the story of an amnesiac sniper who must discover his identity... all the while he is now working against the people he used to work for.

I don't know where it's going, but I do know what the final confrontation will look like.

Dreams are a fertile source of ideas for me. I was trained very early in life to remember my dreams, and I've gotten quite good at it. I usually lose a little of the "feel" of a dream, but I do remember most of them. Enough to build my stories on. I also tend to work out nasty plot knots as I lie in bed, trying to fall asleep. Given that it generally takes me at least an hour to fall asleep (sometimes longer), that's usually a lot of very focused concentration. Which usually leads to more dreams, more ideas, and I literally work out my novel's problems while I dream.

It's a good system, and works for me.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Obsession and time

I hear about this sort of thing a lot, especially on the NaNoWriMo forums. Someone will talk about a story that they've been writing for years, often five or more. You'll hear about a book that took seven years to write, and now the writer is trying to find (unsuccessfully) representation for it. Justine Larbalestier wrote of one such who is so defensive about their magnum opus that they literally will NOT ever accept any criticism, positive or negative, regarding their work. They still have no representation.

Part of being a writer is learning that no matter how wonderful you think a scene, a character, or even an entire novel is... that other people can and probably will think differently. When you invest so much of your life and heart into one work, you literally become unable to separate yourself from it in any useful fashion. I see truly talented writers get lost in a sea of obsession over a single piece, a single character. I've seen good novels go in the toilet because of a single scene that detracted from the meaning, but the writer was too invested in it to cut it.

Being a writer, a successful one anyway, means being able to step back and look at your work objectively.

Not only that, if you spend all your time and effort on one tale, your other tales get lost by the wayside. When and if you finally get published, your agent and your publisher aren't going to want you to stop there. They'll want you to keep writing, because that's what a career is: writing books. Plural. So if you've spent all your life writing one, you're not going to really KNOW how to write the next.

All writers need distance from their work in order to really be able to improve it. I spent five years away from Nightblade's Fury. That was probably longer than I should have gone, but my life was tumultuous. When I did finally pick it back up, I was able to read it with fresh eyes. If I couldn't see where something was going, I knew that my readers certainly wouldn't be able to. It gave me perspective, and I was able to whip out my red pen and brutalize it.

Here's what my novel looked like when I picked it up after five years and started reading:

2576 x 1932 (807 kb)

Do you really think I would have been that brutal with it right after I was done with the first draft? I cut whole chapters... probably half the novel, lost to the red pen. But when the chaff was gone, I had wheat. And I had a product that I was actually not ashamed to show to others. It's not perfect, and still needs a lot of work, but I think that the end result will be great, and salable. But I won't stop there; in fact, even though I'm not done with this one, it's out of my hands, and I'm already working on the next project. An object at rest tends to stay at rest. Thanks to my completion of Nightblade's Fury, I've got motivation to really work on other things... I want a backlist of novels to submit. When Nightblade goes out to the agents? I'm going to keep writing. Because it may not get accepted, no matter how great I think it is. I don't want to put all my eggs in one basket.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The most dreaded question

We've all got one. The one that is asked when people find out you are/have writing/written a book. It's the one that makes us cringe, and makes us wish we were elsewhere. The one that makes us wish we'd never brought it up in the first place.


"So what's your book about?"

It's exponentially worse when you know the person you're talking to doesn't read the genre you've written in. Exponentially worse than that is when the person you're talking to doesn't even really read at all.

And if you write fantasy like me? Well, might as well just go ahead and take off your hat and take the shame like a man. Err, woman. Because even science fiction gets more respect than fantasy.

My mother broke my heart the other day when she said "Why don't you write something other than that fantasy stuff? Like something about your dad."

Mom, I love you (And I can say this because I know she'll never read this), but no one wants to read about my dad. He was an amazing man... but his story is not remarkable, and it's unlikely it would ever sell. Not as a debut novel, anyway. I'll think about it one day, but I prefer my life to stay out of my writing, at least on the surface.

When I mention that my current work in progress is about an assassin hunting for a demon, I can see their eyes glaze over. They don't get it. And usually, they spout out the usual "I keep meaning to write a book one day." No one ever says "I keep meaning to paint a portrait one day."

There's always this sense that writing isn't a difficult art, that anyone can do it, regardless of actual writing ability, and regardless of the fact that they've never written a word that wasn't for a grade in their lives. And they always think their life story would be interesting to someone else.

But that's a rant for another day.

So tell me, dear readers. What is your most dreaded question?

Thursday, June 14, 2007

You know, it's funny

When you finish a novel, I mean really finish it to the point where no more changes can be made before you send it off to the printer (for the critique group, in my case... I don't do that self-publishing crap), its a strange feeling. I'm done, and have been working frantically to BE done for the last week, but now, I really am. No more changes before handing it off to someone to be READ.

It's scary, exhilarating, and now I'm feeling a little bereft. Now don't get me wrong, I still have plenty of other projects to work on, including one I just started typing up a few minutes ago. It's just that this one has been taking up so much of my mind that it's weird to not be worrying over it.

And it also energizes me to want to finish ANOTHER project. It feels really good to finally be done.

I mean, I've written novels before, but never for someone else to critique, and this is a big step towards publication. It feels good to have a 'finished' product that I'm not too shy to hand to someone else to read!

Final word count: 60,546
Final Page Count: 220

It feels right, lengthwise. Lean and mean, with few frills. I like it. I was shooting for around 80k, but to make it larger at this point will be adding unnecessary bloat. It's possible that post-critique it will make it to that size, but for now, I'm pleased.

Saturday, June 09, 2007


Nightblade draft 2 is complete. A very un-impressive 57k.

However, I've got some major theme reworking to do, and hopefully I can up that a good 20k. I'm about to go over it with a fine-toothed comb and give it some real depth.

Feels good to be finally in possession of a complete manuscript, though, however rough it may be. Here's to the bubbly. And since I don't have any champagne, I'll break out a bottle of Smirnoff Triple Black.

I'll save the champagne for the final manuscript.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

How the mighty have fallen

Miss Snark is retiring.

You heard right. Her Snarkiness will be no more.

One of the most frequently updated and amusing agent blogs is no more.

What brought this on? Burnout, I'd guess. For the past couple of months, very few people have asked any questions that aren't completely stupid or already been answered. She's answered them all, folks.

I think her last round on the COM is probably a big factor, as well. She took on too much. She probably also wants to continue running a successful agenting business, so to do so, she doesn't need to be spending hours a day responding to her readers.

She will be missed.

I Love Miss Snark!

Image courtesy 101 Reasons to Stop Writing. Get one and spread the love.

Friday, May 18, 2007

An excellent week

It took some work to get over the hump, but I'm over it in a big way. Approximately 15,000 words since Monday, and that's taking a break Tuesday.

The end is a little slow, and I've had to do some serious thinking on the overall theme. Somewhere, I lost it. Nightblade is a driven character, but her eventual redemption comes literally out of the blue... a genuine deus ex machina.

I have to do some buildup to that, so that it doesn't come completely out of left field.

Current word count: 54,551. I think adding some depth to the plot and introducing one of the characters as a participant in the story sooner will help pad it to a more respectable word count.

Monday, May 14, 2007

On Rejection Letters

I've been not-writing by reading the Rejection Collection.

A bigger bunch of whiners and wannabes there never was. So many people get so many rejections, and the most anyone can say is "they obviously didn't get my magnum opus" or "stupid poopyhead" (that's a quote, not a paraphrase.

People, come on. I see folks bitching about a personalized rejection... which means the agent cared enough to actually give you some feedback. I see others bitching about receiving nothing but form rejections, and never once considering the problem just might be their writing!

My favorite is here:

The agent thought it was so awful that he/she went ahead and included a rejection for any future attempts.

THAT is dedicated agenting. If only more would do that!

I'm very amused.

What amuses me even more is the number of people who follow directions and expect a person response because they did so. "I followed their submission guidelines to perfection and all they could do was send me a short paragraph form rejection letter?"


And the clincher? This tl;dr boatload of drivel bemoaning the state of the industry.

This person spent FOUR YEARS writing ONE novel. One. They have an english degree, and say "At 25, with only 1 book, I feel like it is impossible to be a writer."

Why aren't you writing number 2? If you've gotten standard form rejections with no explanations at all from all 28 agencies you've queried, something isn't working. Get thee to a critique group. Or better still: start something new.

And throughout this entire rant, this person doesn't consider the obvious: the whole thing sucks. If it it was just one or two things, then you'd get personal rejections. The writing is probably great on a technical level; but if it were only technical skill that got you published, it wouldn't be such a tough biz. English degrees are 100% meaningless. They qualify you to teach: no more.

And then, we come to the point: her manuscipt is 853 pages long. Good GOD. No wonder she got so many rejections. The whole damn novel is tl;dr.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

This Blog's Code of Conduct

Here at A Dragon Writes, I expect all of my commenters (all four of you) to adhere to a strict code of ethics (you've heard of the code of ethics instituted by those chick bloggers, right? Google it.)

However, the touchy-feely niceness doesn't really suit my mood today. So I've chosen to adopt Sean Lindsay's Code of Conduct.

The Bigger Asshole Code of Conduct:

  • I get to be the bigger asshole on my blog.
  • I will define the terms "asshole" and "bigger" at my sole discretion.

It's a simple code, and the implications should be obvious. But for the assholes who want to belabour the point:

  • Your assholarity must be slightly less than mine. (yA < ya =" mA">
  • I reserve the right to enforce this rule by deleting any and all examples of assholiness I deem to be bigger than, or equivalent to mine.
  • This code, and its enforcement, does not impinge on your freedom to practice assholism on your own blog, or in your daily life.

Other bloggers are welcome to use the Bigger Asshole Code of Conduct on their site. For bloggers who are not comfortable with publicly asserting their right to be the bigger asshole, I suggest the use of two simpler codes of conduct:

  • Don't Be An Asshole


  • If You Must Be An Asshole, Be Funny

Monday, April 16, 2007


I'm a fanfic writer. Sorta. I don't really write things like "ships" and crossovers, but I have been known to write/roleplay stories based on other author's works. I have never, mind you, written a fanfic that involved anyone else's characters (don't like to... I write original characters in other worlds.)

I'm going to rant a bit about fanfic writers, today. Not because I'm particularly against fanfic, (I'm not... when I am published, I won't ban it) but I do get annoyed with fanfic writers.

If you write it, this applies to you.

People have no idea what your acronyms are. If you are talking about your fandom with anyone OTHER than another fan of that fandom, don't use acronyms. H/R, R/Hm, JUGHHSTT, or whatever, has no meaning outside of that fandom. Even if the discussion is regarding fanfic, and you are speaking with other fanfic writers... don't assume that everyone knows your cutesy abbreviations. Don't assume we care to find out if we don't know. If someone starts spouting acronyms, I generally ignore them.

You're a writer. Take the time to do just that, and write it out. Acronyms are all well and good, but we as writers have gotten caught up in the tide, and have started getting lazy. It's just a couple of extra letters, people... for clarity's sake, USE them.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Blargh... I am ded

Okay, not really "ded", but definitely not at my best.

I've got the evil block. I take that back. I know what needs to be written. I know how to write it, and what about. But I don't WANT to. I've got the first critique group meeting Saturday, and I haven't written a word in a month.

This is not an efficient way to write.

Hopefully, the critique group will get the juices flowing again. I'm going second, not first, so hopefully that'll give me the kick in the pants I need to get it moving.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Betcha thought I was gone, didn'tcha?

I am in fact, still here. I've been busy of late (not writing, much to my shame) mostly with schoolwork and housework.

Today I'm committed to writing a good bit, so I'll definitely get some work. I've been having trouble with the ending to Nightblade, which is ironic, given that it's the one part that I've had written in my head for years... I know exactly how it's going to end.

I'm just procrastinating, I think.

Anyway, I'm still alive, still blogging, and maybe I haven't driven all four of my regular readers away.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Soundtrack for HackerDragon

I've got my soundtrack for Hacker Dragon. It's an industrial techno compilation, mostly, and it serves my purposes perfectly. Edgy, a little discordant, even a little angry.

Tonight, once I've finished homework, (only two more weeks left in the quarter... looks like I'm going to manage all As again this go-round) I'm going to go in for a major push to do at least several pages on Nightblade.

In other news, this is an APB for all you writers out there: you should be terrified. Epiracy on the same level as the massive amounts of mp3 thefts has begun, and you should be aware of the phenomenon. Kristin from Pub Rants has more.

Please spread the word that this is unacceptable; encourage your friends and family NOT to download these ebooks; we writers exist on the fringe of livability; unlike musicians, a few downloads are DEFINITELY going to hurt us; every book downloaded is one not bought, one not paid for, which ultimately results in lower sales, and can continue until the publisher drops an author.

I encourage you to complain to esnips, and report every copyright-infringing ebook you find. If enough complaints are filed, maybe esnips will pull that category. At the very least, the more that are reported, that'll keep their copyright department working overtime.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Into the climax

I've gotten past that awful chapter, and now am writing the climactic final confrontation. My heroes are making their way in the Bad Guy's stronghold as we speak.

I've already gotten to make some neat settings. There's a tower, but the Bad Guy isn't in the highest tier of it. In fact, he's under it.

I've introduced a third character who is unlikely to survive until the end of the book.

I need to get back to writing. :) Off to the notebook!

Friday, March 02, 2007


Just goes to show, you can always learn something, even when you think you know everything about something.

I've been struggling with stylistic concerns, lately. You may remember a previous post about conjunctions (or that might have been an LJ post, or even an email... it doesn't matter. Someone feel free to correct me, and I'll repost here for your benefit, if you're all that interested).

I've been struggling with the flow of my prose, how things sound. Since I've been doing the latest pages in Nightblade's Fury by hand, in a notebook, I noticed that hasn't been bothering me as much.

I figured out why.

I'm thinking too much about it. I'm concentrating so much on the technical aspects, that I'm losing my style. It doesn't MATTER if it's technically correct, what matters is that it flows. I need to focus on the story, and worry about the technical stuff.

What I may be perceiving as a problem may not actually be one at all; it will depend on what others feel about it.

Check out Orson Scott Card's writing class on style... this is what really got me thinking. He speaks of people so choked by their obsession with "correct style" that they couldn't write at all! You get so caught up in not using too many adverbs, or obsessing over showing-not-telling that you get away from what matters... the writing. It doesn't matter if it's technically correct by MLA standards if people like your storytelling ability.

I'm feeling more up to tackling Hacker Dragon, now. I was thoroughly intimidated, because that story was begun in a feverish haze of emotion and character, and I wasn't sure I could recreate the tone and intensity. Now I know that I can... I just have to stop worrying about HOW, and just write!

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Breaking the wall

I finally managed to shatter the blockage. I won't call it writer's block, because I knew what I wanted to write, I just also knew it was going to be boring and suck horrific balls.

However, I broke out the good old fashioned way... a notebook and a pen. I wrote six full handwritten pages last night, a decent start on a very good action scene. If I can get past this chapter, I'll be into the climax, and it'll be time to kick ass and take names.

In other knews, I've also rediscovered an old tale I wrote god knows when... "Hacker Dragon". It's a sci-fantasy kind of thing, something vaguely reminiscent of the old RPG Shadowrun. I REALLY want to work on it, but I'm determined to finish Nightblade first. So I've decided that I'll hurry up and do that so I can work on the second. I may try writing on Nightblade first, and use the second story as a carrot to work hard.

Sorry for the long time since the last post. I've been so caught up with schoolwork and trying to get past this block that I haven't wanted to waste time with "can't update, nothing's changed" posts here. :)

Monday, February 12, 2007

Dictionary (Thesaurus?): Impossible

Just found a great writing challenge, from A Paperback Writer

Let's play Dictionary: Impossible.

Writers, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to take out your dictionary and flip through it, then stop on any page at random. Write down the first word you see. Repeat until you have a list of ten words.


Level 1: Create at least three novel titles using only the words on your list (a, an, the, and other simple words can be added for style.) You have five minutes to complete this level.

Borough Cemetery
An Underproof Cocktail
The Nag
Excessive Nonage
Steamroller Subculture

Level 2: Create a story premise for the titles you've created from your list. If you get caught on this level, PBW will disavow any knowledge of you.

Borough Cemetery: Citizens of a fortified medieval city discover the victims of a strange plague won't stay in their graves.

An Underproof Cocktail: Farmer Bubba's miracle cherries were supposed to soak up the alcohol from the youngsters' drinks, not turn the teens into killer zombies.

The Nag: She knew he loved her; all he needed was a little half-hourly reminder to show it.

Excessive Nonage: How many times could one demi-goddess cheerleader turn sweet sixteen?

Steamroller Subculture: Homeboy heavy equipment operators battle a demon road crew paving the way to hell.

Level 3: Write an opening line for the title/story premises you've created. Should you decide to continue on with the mission, you have exactly thirty minutes to complete this level.

Borough Cemetery

The Baron would have blamed it all on the gravediggers, but theirs were the first bodies left in pieces outside the city's gates.

An Underproof Cocktail

Seein' pictures of that college fella usin' clay teabags to soak up poison outta bad drinkin' water were what gave me the original idear.

The Nag

She'd left him her phone number, written on his bathroom mirror in red lipstick along with a kiss-print and CALL ME LATER.

Excessive Nonage

"Diana Hunter made the squad?" Heather, who had not, turned purple under her crystal rose blush. "She only moved to town like two minutes ago."

Steamroller Subculture

Bodeen climbed down from the barricade truck and walked over to inspect the surveyor's mangled, bloodstained tripod. "Somebody let Julio back up the dozer again?"

Level 4: Write the story to go with one of your opening lines, premises and titles. You may take as much time as you need, but remember that any idea may self-destruct in as little as ten seconds.

Level 5: Write the stories to go with all of them, and you win Dictionary: Impossible.

Now, since I don't actually have a dictionary, I'll use my Roget's Pocket Thesaurus. It's not quite the same, but should be an adequate substitute.

My words:

  1. laggardly
  2. forward
  3. regard
  4. analysis
  5. defiant
  6. loyal
  7. striking
  8. concerning
  9. profitable
  10. trivial
Level 1

Laggardly Defiant
Striking Regard
Profitable Analysis

Level 2

Laggardly Defiant - A young heiress is quick to anger, but slow to forgive. When it comes time to stand up for her rights, she finally errs on the side of caution... and loses her family's estate as a result!

Striking Regard - A vain man is the idol of an entire country. One woman, above all others, wishes to make him her mate, regardless of his cooperation in the matter.

Profitable Analysis - A statistical analyst gets an entirely new job, serving as a pollster in a microscopic magical kingdom in his own back yard.

Level 3

Laggardly Defiant - My mother always told me that I needed to stop being so easily offended or I'd regret it; that's why I decided to hold my tongue when Baron Von Stuberhauser called me a flaming harlot.

Striking Regard - Jase never really wanted to settle down, preferring not to be tied to one woman, so his reaction to Bonnie's marriage proposal was understandbly vehement.

Profitable Analysis - "What have you been smoking, Abacus?" Marley exclaimed, his bright green eyes wide with alarm.

Level 4 - forthcoming

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Scenes repeating...

It's amazing how reworking one scene can completely change the feel of it, and the characters reactions become more personal and intense.

In the first draft, there are two court scenes; one is the crucial scene where Nightblade learns that her former fiance is involved in an assassination attempt. The second is in her fiance's court, where a serial murderer is brought to justice, and is discovered to be a minion of the main villain.

Well, I decided that one court scene was quite enough. A second was boring. So, I decided to make the action more immediate. Instead of the trial after the arrest, I moved things back to when he is captured, and the body is still fresh. This makes Nightblade's violent reaction make more sense, and the ensuing action scene isn't a rehash of the first court action scene. Instead of an open court, like before, it takes place in a cramped jail. More opportunity for character injury.

Sometimes, the best thing you can do is take a step back, and ask yourself what this particular scene really adds. I've probably a lost a good 10,000 words in the first round of edit, but the story is much stronger for it.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Technical failure

Technology failed me today. I was happily pounding away on Chapter 5, when my laptop died, abruptly.

I searched for the source, and realized I had a pillow sitting on top of my power supply, and it overheated. I'm hoping and praying that it didn't destroy the AC adapter completely, nor destroy my progress.

I'm a stickler for backups, so if I do lose work, it'll only be about a chapter's worth (I generally backup up to disk every two chapters or so.

Ah, the hazards of working on an ancient IBM thinkpad.

EDIT: Good news! It was just a simple overheat. After some fiddling, we got it back. Then the floppy drive jammed, inciting another panic attack, but that was just a random broken bit of laptop that had gotten ramming in there at an odd angle.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Red pen is fun!

Well, many changes have been made to the novel. The main character isn't Shadowhawk, anymore. I've renamed her Nightblade. Still hokey, but at least it's not associated with a gay comic book character!

I'm up to chapter 6 in the red pen revisions, and chapter 4 in the actual rewriting. It's still not where I'd like it to be, but it's improving. The main problem I'm having is I can't get away from "and". In my effort to keep my narrative flowing (no staccato stops with too-short stops) my sentences have taken on a cumbersome rhythm with too many ands. Usually, the sentence is structured something like this:

"The character did this, and then turned around to to that."

It's not feeling natural, but I can't quite figure out an alternative.

Hmm. Methinks I might post an excerpt to Forward Motion for some good, heavy critique.

Saturday, January 27, 2007


One of the most painful parts of the editing process is trimming the fat. YOu know what I mean; cutting out those awesome scenes that are only there because they're awesome, removing the blatant info dumping. My opening page dropped three full paragraphs of a character who was ruminating on his love life. Completely irrelevant to the main character, who kills him in paragraph four. And it would be death to someone who decided to pick up that book in a store... or on an agent's desk.

I've been struggling a bit with an old memory info dump. Basically, once you figure out who the assassin's old flame is, I do this huge chapter-long flashback that outlines their last two days or so together. Nice stuff, good and intense at the end...

But ultimately, only a few parts are even relevant.

So, I've whipped out the axe. I've cut 90% of the scenes from that chapter, and the rest will be dropped here and there as flashbacks, but only where it actually adds something to the story. I cut out two pages of detailed description of her bedroom. THAT, I blame on shameless NaNoWriMo word padding. And I'm going to have to work on that, because I'm still not happy with the results.

Editing is difficult. I've had to cut some really good stuff that honestly just didn't improve the storyline at all. There is one line that I'm quite glad to see go, though, and I'll share it with you because I think I must have been in that weird place where you're not really seeing what you write, but just writing. I certainly don't remember doing it, and I refuse to claim responsibility.
"There was death in her visage, and it showed, even to those who knew nothing of her true profession."
Eeew. Yeah. Editing is hard, but editing is good. I no doubt thought this was bloody brilliant when I first wrote it, but four years of collecting dust certainly changed my perspective on that.

I also cut this happy-fuzzy scene where she gets all buddy-buddy with one of the guards she has to train, complete with "You can come to me if you ever have a problem *hugs*" type dialogue. So out of character! So I switched it to her being her usual blunt, acidic self. Feels better.

The act of writing is such an organic, mystical thing for me. It's me and the keyboard, and words flowing from my brain to my fingers. Holly Lisle says it far better than me: it's an "almost-metaphysical fugue state where you're watching events in the story happen and typing what you see." Editing is far less intuitive, and requires thought, preparation, pens, more paper, and a lot of being honest with myself. It's no wonder that I, like most writers, put it off. It's work, real work.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Chapter One

Well, I've read over most of the story (it's missing about 50 pages... something I'm rather annoyed about. It's alright, I recall what happens, but it still annoys me.), and it's got a good, solid base, and the two main characters don't suck.

I've whipped out my purple and green pens , and have marked the first page all to hell.

I think I'm going to work this chapter by chapter. There's a lot of infodumping, so I'm going to have to streamline that a good bit, and some stuff that comes right out of a bad Mary Sue fanfic. I DID write this four years ago, after all.

It's salvageable, and I'm getting excited about the story all over again.

My basic Plot:

An assassin seeks to slay the man who destroyed her life, only to discover more dangerous quarry awaits. She stays her hand, and they work together to defeat a common enemy. She must face her demons... not only those that haunt her soul, but those who wear flesh and blood bodies.

It's a story of redemption and facing the past.

Cliche? Perhaps. I think it will work, though. After all, if I refused to write anything cliche, I wouldn't so much writing at all.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

A foray into uncharted territory

Well, inspired by a recent Pub Rants Post, I decided to branch out into a genre of books I have reviled for ages as silly, ridiculous, and in general, not worth the paper they're printed on. My own form of book snobbery, my anti-romance stance (snerk).

So, I made a trip to Walmart to see what the big deal was. I found one with a dragon on the cover. It caught my eye, and I decided not to travel TOO far out of my comfort zone; I chose a romance in a fantasy setting. Dark Demon, by Christine Feehan. Vampire thing.

Dubious, but determined to go through with this experiment, I glanced at the cover. $9.99? For a paperback? Even reduced to $7 according to the Walmart price tag, that's still more than I 'm used to paying for a book. Still, I decided to give it a try.

It sat in my suitcase for the next four hours. After a climb into the North Georgia mountains, a long, irritating day with my family, and booking ourselves into a not-bad hotel room, we got the baby ready for bed, and I curled up and peeled the cover to the first romance novel I have ever read.

The first page was not impressive. Not even a little bit. I had expected tripe, but this cover proclaims Ms. Feehan to be a New York Times bestseller. Surely she could find an editor worth a damn? Adverbs abound, and the lack of description is appalling. 500 pages later (exactly), and I STILL don't know what the primary love interest looks like. He does have long hair (of course) and is apparently very warrior like and muscular, but don't ask me what the color of his hair is. I'm fairly sure that the main character has hair that likes to randomly "band" itself orange and red like a tiger or something, but I'm still not sure what her actual hair color is.

During the first few pages, she actually dons a brightly colored vest, which is described as such not once, but twice. No mention of what those bright colors are, only that they aren't the dark colors favored by the women of this village. This stuff literally reads like I used to write back in my middle school days.

The main character is a super-perfect determinedly strong warrior, and of course her lifemate (can't have a fantasy romance novel without some form of eternal love bond, now can we?) spends the entire book keeping her from being just that. And the main character spends most of the book denying their destined love. Naturally.

I'm really trying to give this stuff the benefit of the doubt, but I'm NEVER going to look at the word "channel" the same way again.

One question, if any of you are regular romance readers: Why is it that words like "velvet folds" and "tight channel" must be used to describe female genitalia in purple-y euphemisms (always preceded by the word "feminine") but there's no problem throwing in a random "scrotum" for your viewing pleasure? Why not the "tender mound of his masculine roundness"? Fits the formula, doesn't it?

I still don't get it. And all I have to say is this: if this chick can get on the NYT bestseller list, I'm writing the wrong stuff.

Friday, January 19, 2007

1st 50 printed

Only took about a minute on those industrial super printers at the school. I don't have my printer hooked up to this computer yet (massive motherboard failure on the other comp... thank goodness for backup) and this one doesn't have floppy access anyway, so I'm just printing out my rough draft on the school printers for now. Free that way, anyway. ;)

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Debugging template

Apparently, thanks to the fact that I just got Firefox, I found out that the template I've been using doesn't work in Firefox, at all! BUT, I fixed the problem, thanks to the removal of a tiny snippet of code, so it should work now.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

From the dusty archives

I've finally found the old 2002 NaNo (Shadowhawk's Fire - isn't that an awful title?) on disk. It's incomplete, but more complete than the hard copy I have printed out. I still know what happens (I did write it, after all!) so I can reconstruct the missing pieces with little trouble. I would like to know where the old stuff IS.

I've uploaded the original word document to my Gmail, since for some ungodly reason, the PC I use at home has a slot for a floppy drive, but somehow LACKS said floppy drive.

I've also downloaded OpenOffice, because I refuse to pay $200 for Microsoft Office.

My first goal: GEt this beastie printed out (yay school computers... I can probably print out 10 or 20 pages a night in the labs at school for nothing) and break out the red pen. Then, start with a blank document, and start rewriting.

I think the best advice I've received so far for editing is to leave a project for a year before editing. It really gives you distance, and lets me see the holes that I couldn't when it was still close, near and dear to my heart.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Writer's meeting this weekend

My NaNoWriMo group is getting together for a post-nano pre-critique group meeting. It's something I've desperately needed, to get my tail back in gear.