Weekly Recap – December 6th, 2013

Huntington Beach Pier. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Winter is coming to Southern California! It’s a brisk 47 degrees Fahrenheit this morning. I’m sure those of you in the midwest are are turning your collective nose up at me now. 🙂

Before I proceed, I need to shake my fist at WordPress. I noticed that I was no longer receiving email notifications for comments and Likes. Odd, but after locating that switch, I flipped it back on and all was well again. Then unfortunately, several hours after my previous post, I noticed comments were not allowed. I had to enable a menu that was hidden just to find the box to actually enable comments again.  It was like menu Inception.

Water The Flowers!?

Comments have always been allowed and suddenly they’re turned off? Another thing I’ll be verifying every time I post now…

Enough ranting.

Last weekend, I attended one out of the three days at Loscon 40. Why just one? The two biggest reasons:

  1. Parking blew, bigtime. Thanksgiving weekend near LAX and most of the lots were at capacity. I had to park a mile away in a shady neighborhood and walk in the rain. Not fun.
  2. There were several agents and editors to meet, but I’m not at the point in my career yet where that’s useful to me since I don’t have a finished manuscript to pitch.

On the bright side, I sat in on a couple of interesting panels and shook hands with one of my writing heroes. All in all, the hassle wasn’t worth another 45-minute drive each way, so I spent the rest of the weekend on things more beneficial – like NaNoWriMo!

I’m one scene away from completing my first draft of The Soul Hook. This one looks like it’ll come in around 65k words. It’s interesting to compare the experience of writing my second long-form story with my first. I certainly have a greater degree of confidence in putting the words down. They come easier and they appear “cleaner.” I don’t think I’ll have to break out the industrial strength bleach when I begin my edits.

Then again, that’s easy to say now. The red pen is still tucked away where it can do little harm and won’t come out for The Soul Hook at least until January, most likely February.

I already know Wolf’s Tail won’t have it easy. I’ve printed out the first draft and am preparing to mark it up. During the past couple of weeks, I’ve also picked up where I left off on my research reading. It’s affecting a lot of what I’ve written. Just as researching too much can handicap your writing, I’m discovering the opposite has its own perils. Writing something before you truly know the setting (physical and cultural) can keep your story from having enough veracity to be convincing (this is something I read a great article about recently and will share with you next week).

So do I consider having written those 45k words a waste of time? Surprisingly, not really. I may have to rewrite 90% of the thing, but I learned a lot about characters and writing in general. I gained experience, and to me, that’s worth any amount of words I may ending up tossing in the garbage.

And since I’m preparing to wield my critical eye, I was pleased to come across this highly recommended exercise. The idea is to critique a piece of short fiction that was written by a published author, but rejected by several publications. Once you’ve given your own feedback, hop over here to see how a group of professional editors did the same. I was surprised to find not only how many of the same faults we found, but how many different ones crept up. It just goes to show you that a large portion of how we view stories is based in taste and opinion and that the same story rejected outright by one editor may be given a chance by another.

After you’ve finished your assigned homework and you need a break from being so darned productive, check out the amazing Akinator. Go ahead, try and stump him. Some of you may be familiar with him, but I thought I’d share this time obliterator with everyone else.

Have a great weekend everyone!


0 thoughts on “Weekly Recap – December 6th, 2013

  1. “It’s interesting to compare the experience of writing my second long-form story with my first.” This is so true, Phillip. My first NaNo project gives me the willies. One day I may go back to it, but then again, I might keep it as a reminder of the road I’ve traveled. Congratulations on closing in on your first draft of The Soul Hook…great job! I can’t wait to check out the critique exercise. Enjoy your weekend!

    1. Thank you Jill. I’ve thought about just up and abandoning my first effort, but I figured I owed it to myself to at least practice my editing, no matter how painful.

      Have a great weekend as well!

  2. Great recap. Glad to see progress on the Soul Hook. Congrats

    1. Much thanks John! Hope you enjoy your weekend.

  3. Many good points here Phil – and of course that 45K isn’t a waste. If it took your 45K to establish your setting, voice, character, get to know your story then it was time well spent, even if it has to be re-written. I firmly that no work, when writing, is a waste. Even if you end up scrapping something entirely, it was still worth doing as you’ve just learned another way to improve.

    Can’t wait to see where these projects go from here.

    And yes darn you and your beautiful weather! Although I do have an open fire roaring here alongside my Christmas tree so can’t complain too much 🙂

    1. Thank you, Jex. I agree with you that when it comes to writing, wasted work is a rarity. There’s alway something to learn through the things we’ve done. And your Christmas fire sounds wonderful! Sounds like a great place to enjoy a cup of tea and a good book.

      1. Do you know that’s exactly what I’m doing 😀

  4. I wondered where your comments went the other day! I’ll have to keep a vigilant eye on WordPress on that front…

    I agree that the 45K isn’t wasted. As J.S. says, there’s always some benefit to the writing in terms of a foundation. It’s like an elaborate treatment, in a way. Onward from there!

    1. Thanks Kevin. ‘Elaborate treatment’ is a great way to put it! Hope you have a relaxing weekend planned.

  5. No written word is wasted, Phillip. I don’t know how many I trash to get to something that kind of makes me happy. Congrats on the progress.

    1. I guess it’s all part of the process… Thanks Andra!

  6. This was a great read. I love learning about the writing processes of other writers, and the approach taken with various WIPs. You have a great attitude about not wasting word count. Everything we write, whether it’s usable or not, helps us become better writers.

    Hope those citrus crops are surviving the CA cold snap. I’m heading out to shovel snow from the driveway, but meanwhile I’ll be California Dreamin.

    1. I hope the snow takes it easy on you this week Gwen! 🙂

  7. I’m glad you met your hero (though parking was awful). And yes, here in the Midwest we’re wishing we had that 47 degrees. We’re digging ourselves out from yesterday’s snowfall.
    Congrats on being so close to finishing your novel!!! Woo! Time to celebrate!

    And I commiserate with you on the 45,000 word “exercise.” I had to rewrite my first novel. Someone once told me that in a draft you tell yourself the story. When you revise, you’re telling the reader the story. I didn’t understand the characters. I knew the setting, but I wrote the story as if I were reacting to it, rather than how the characters reacted to it. So, when I revised, I had to get myself out of the story and write it from their perspective.

    1. Great thoughts on the “mistakes” we make on our first drafts. Definitely a bit (a lot) of that going on. The good thing about all of the research I’m doing now is it’s giving me more confidence in the setting and characters.

      Try to stay warm!

  8. Sounds like you’re making great progress, Phillip! That’s awesome 🙂 And um… yes, my nose is turned UP! I’d kill for 47 degrees right now! No, no, I wouldn’t… But I *would* kill for 84 degrees. And I wouldn’t look back.

    1. Oh yeah, 84 degrees is definitely worth a little murder at this point…

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