Friday, August 28, 2009

My longer piece

I am trying to add to the longer piece that I am having my writing group critique. We are taking 20 pages every two weeks. I hadn't read it in a long time. It was something that I started in my first ever attempt at NanoWriMo. I stopped at roughly 15,000 words. I was woefully behind and the story was no longer inspiring me. It is something I was writing from the seat of my pants and I'd hit a lull.

I've returned to it and added another page to it tonight. I actually like it. There are lots of things that need work. Some situations are outrageously unbelievable and those will obviously need to be tweaked. There is a character who I never intended to be more than a bit of comic relief. My critiquing buddies both loved her so I need to work her back in and give her a meatier role in the story. I think I've figured out how to do it, but it's a change I never expected. It is one I agree with though. She's a lot of fun and probably the most well-developed secondary character. Guess I liked writing her.

This is where I am going to turn my attention now -- to this piece. But here is the thing that is going to make me sad. I don't want this to be my first novel. I hear that almost all successful writers have to stick that first novel into a drawer and just leave it there. But I don't want to with this one. Not now anyway. It's a fun adventure story that I think people will want to read. But let's just get it done first and worry about the other thing later.

Who's that man?

When I first started this blog Gina told me to add a photo to my profile. For irrational reasons I resisted, but no more. That's me in the picture with Gina. We are on our honeymoon there, standing near a fountain in the plaza area in front of Saint Peter's Cathedral. We went to Rome and want to go back. Badly, we want to go back.

So, I'm no longer a stranger. You shouldn't be one either. I know some of the folks who check out this blog, but there must be others. If you do and haven't stood up and introduced yourself. Here's your chance.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Life with the weasel

I have been talking quite a bit (like nearly non-stop on here) about how I am doing my best to fight the urge to edit as I write. I have gotten much better about letting the story come first and worrying about buffing and polishing -- or major surgery -- later.

At times it's hard to fight, though, and I let myself go ahead and make corrections and needed fixes.

Jim Van Pelt calls those two writing modes the weasel and the analytic. The weasel just writes. The analytic makes corrections.

Here are his words to describe the weasel mode.

It's marked by headlong rushes into the story, uninterruptable stretches of typing, and stream of consciousness thinking that goes something like this: what-happens-next-what-happens-next-close-your-eyes-and-type-what-do-you-see-feel-hear-smell-taste-what-happens-next-what-is-the-point-of-view-thinking-don't-worry-if-that-last-bit-was-good-yet-what-is-the-surrounding-what-happens-next-keep-your-eyes-closed-and-type-cool-language-on-the-way-get-out-of-the-way-and-tell-the-story-what-would-the-character-do-be-the-ball-danny-be-the-ball-what-happens-next-what-do-you-see-feel-hear-smell-taste-what-happens-next . . . and so on for as long as I can keep the weasel running.

And the analytic.

... pauses for long times while writing, is easily distractable, and will delete two of every three words that make it to the page. The analytic mode is often plagued with doubt, loathing, and other self image issues. It also can feel righteous and smug.

Read the rest of the post here. Good stuff. At least to the guy who seems to be obsessing over this stuff right now.

Monday, August 24, 2009


Leaving the writers' group meeting the other night I thanked the guy who organized it. I have really enjoyed it and got great feedback on the longer piece I gave them to read. They both liked it and seemed to like my characters. That made me feel good.

I am in a group with three writers who write completely different styles. I can see how this could be detrimental in the long run, but for now we are all new enough at this that any critique is helpful.

We are two men and one woman. I am the genre fiction writer. The other guy is more of what I would call the epic novelist. I can see him writing the big family story that spans decades. The woman of our group writes historical fiction for kids, and she does it very well. Very well. I have read some young adult fiction and her voice fits right in with that.

I feel like my work is being critiqued by writers who are at the same skill level that I am, and I know that after praising the other writers that can sound kind of cocky. But I am relieved at what I got back. It was two different kinds of critique. One delved more into style things that I should look at. The other was getting more at believability and consistency issues.

I am rambling now so let me try and get back to my point. I thanked the guy who organized the group because I think it has made me more productive than I have been in years.

I have finished two stories in less than a month. I am close to finishing another. The words and ideas are coming easier and I like that. This is almost all to do with the group. I used to think that I needed a block of time that I used as writing time, at least a dedicated hour. Now, knowing that others are expecting 20 pages from me every two weeks, I don't want to let them down. I am making time to write where I can find it. I'll snatch 15 minutes here or half an hour there. I write in the morning, able to crank out a page or two while I eat breakfast.

Now, this may all be crap. The words and stories may be awful. But I am not worried about that now. I am just enjoying this wave while it's mine to ride.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Writers' group

I need to spend my evening going over the pages I received at the last writer's group meeting. I have read each of them, but haven't hit them with the red pen. Both pieces were good, but aimed at two different audiences.

Anyway, we were supposed to have 20 pages written by tomorrow and I am about 9 pages short, but I think it's OK. I did finish two pieces and get a decent start on a third. I'm not going to feel too bad. Besides, I'll be closer after I write a bit tonight.

I mention this to say that if there is anyone in the Dallas/Fort Worth area who is looking to attend a writers' group and is OK with it being some folks who aren't published or all that polished feel free to join us. We meet at 7 p.m the first and third Thursday of the month at the Hurst Public Library, right in the middle of the Metroplex.

Google it to find the address. We'd love to have you.

Another one finished

Wrapped up the piece I mentioned in the previous post, the one spawned by the book cover at work. At least I think I finished it. Not entirely happy with the way it ends, but I did move it to the 'ready for revisions' file on my hard drive.

It only came out to a little more than 1,500 words so it's not much more than a piece of longish flash fiction. I am sure ti will grow when I go back through it. I can see another 500 words being added, especially as it gets closer to the end. I felt like the story was running out of steam and I went with the tamer of two endings. If I switch that it will definitely get longer. But it could get more exciting.

I went back and gave it a quick read one last time this morning after typing the last sentence and actually like what I did in a few places. I like the way I handled some of the scene setting and I love one of the main characters. He was a lot of fun to write. I think in the revisions I need to do a little more describing of him, because right now I can see him in my mind's eye but not sure my readers will be able to.

Anyway, just sharing that I finished another piece. It's also another one that I am not sure where it came from but is out of character for what I typically write. Got to say, though, that I am having more fun writing right now than I have in a very long time.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


I love the creative process. Everything about it fascinates me and I could spend hours reading about how creative types go from idea to completed project. I plan on writing more about this in the future. I have read some good things on the creative process -- both positive and precautionary -- that I think would be beneficial to share.

But the point of this post is only to say, I don't get ideas. I don't understand how we get them or where they come from. Thinking about this because I started yet another piece last night. I got the idea when I walked by a box of books being given away at work. The books in the box were all of a business nature and the book on top was titled "Don't Buy Stocks." Well that sent my mind running and I wrote four pages of the story that was in my head all the way home.

But it's just crazy that I can pass a box of books, see a title, and come out of a story with it.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Big, fat liar

So I said in the previous post that I was going to do one of two projects next. I am a big, fat liar. Pants definitely on fire.

Instead of doing either one of those I started something else. Just started writing last night using the same main character from the monster story. So I am still in that world, feeling my way around. But it's fun and I am enjoying it and right now the story is coming easy. The intent is for this to be a short piece that is less of a story and more of a peek into the world. Just something fun and exciting. I can't imagine it being more than a few thousand words.

I am two pages in and am sure that if I hadn't started writing at close to midnight last night I would have been able to bang out more.

We are going for burgers to celebrate my dad's birthday today. The place we are heading to is supposed to have one of the 50 best burgers in the state, so I may have my first food-related blog post later today. Also have softball tonight. Final game of the summer season, and, if the funding doesn't come through, maybe the last game for a while.

Hoping to write a bit after I get home and take care of some things that need to be done around here.

Friday, August 14, 2009

My next project

I have narrowed what my next project will be down to two things already in progress. They are both short stories and both are already well on their way. One is about a man trying to get through a dangerous territory and reunite with his daughter. The other is about a man who is slowly going crazy and is having to find out who keeps leaving packages in front of his door for him to deliver.

I know neither one of those sound all that original or exciting, but hopefully I am going ot be able to put a new spin on them. Besides, don't they say that there are no new ideas?

Also, more posts coming soon. I know I have been slacking lately, but all my writing energies were going toward finishing the story. I have some ideas for posts that I have been kicking around and saw a few things today that I'd like to comment on.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


It's done. Wrapped the monster story up last night just before bed. I have been writing in bits and pieces in the mornings and at night when I could find the time or had the energy to turn on the writing part of my brain.

I knew the end was near and last night I got there. I am excited. The story is marinating now for a week or two then I'll go back through it with the red pen of death and brutality.

I read a bit at the beginning of the story again last night to figure out what train number I had the main character getting on so he could get on the same train near the end. To my surprise, I liked some of what I had written. This story is one of the very few times I have had the willpower to fight of my inner editor and just written straight through to the end.

"Just get the story down." That was my motto through the couple of weeks I'd been writing. Well, check mark. That's done. Now I don't know what to do with myself. I have the longer piece that I am having the critique group look at. They have the first half and I'll take the second half next time. I could work on that some more and make it my next piece to finish. Or I could pick up one of the dozens of stories I have tops to on my hard drive. I think I'll make that decision this weekend. Tonight, Gina and I are going out to a movie.

Also, if anyone has any ideas on what markets like stories with monsters playing a central role, let me know. I figure I can start hunting for those while the story is waiting to be edited.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Our 2nd meeting

We had the second meeting of our writer's group last night. We swapped pieces then chatted for a bit. We talked about what we wanted the others to look at in our critiques. We talked about what we were reading. We talked about writing rules and how our writing went since the last meeting. It was a lot of fun.

But I am nervous now. They have two pieces of mine. One is a short that I think is pretty close to being ready for submission. I am hoping I can take their critiques, polish it up, then start sending it out. The second piece is the beginning of a work in progress. I decided against the monster story since I didn't have a chance to go back through it.

I've had some people critique some flash fiction online, but never had a face to face critique with anyone before. I am hoping they like my stories. I feel like I can work on the writing, but it's the story that I worry about. I want the story to be interesting and hold their interest. It's one of the things I asked them to look for while they were reading.

We'll see how it goes. I'll let you know what I hear in two weeks.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


Just an update since I haven't posted anything in a few days.

Nearly finished with the monster story. The ending is in progress. I should wrap it up tonight or tomorrow. Probably too late to take with me to the writers' group. I'd like to let it sit a few days before I dive in and work on draft two.

I am taking Steve's advice here, even though I'd like to take the monsters with me to the group. He's probably right in that I should have a firmer grasp on the piece before I show it to others. That means I need to edit and refine because I know this one needs it. I haven't even looked back at anything I've written since I started this two weeks ago.