Finished revising and resubmitting “The Curse of Knuckles Gap” a SteamPunk western horror (weird west) tale. It had received a couple of polite rejections in its original form so I took some feedback and reworked it. I think it is a much stronger story as a result. My insight here: having someone else read your work helps find the things that you think are there but never really left your head and made it to the page.
Insert usual apologies about not updating blog more frequently…
I received a question from a reader regarding how I constructed my timelines – any special software?
When setting out to write The West Wind, I knew I was going to need something to create timelines. I had never written something so big and complex but knew that I needed something to organize the multiple story lines. I am also a very visual person – I often find myself drawing a picture to help describe some point I am trying to make. Notebooks are fine, but I really needed something a bit more specific. There were several features that, at the time, I thought I needed:
- The ability to capture a short description – these ultimately became my writing prompts for scenes
- Some way of tagging or creating meta data
- A way of showing relationships
I looked at the writing apps that had timelines built in, e.g. yWriter and even basic notecards. They covered most of my requirements, but ultimately lacked a fourth item that I discovered along the way: flexibility! Notecards, I need to point out, was a horrible experience. I didn’t have enough space for all the cards, couldn’t keep the relationships, and most importantly, couldn’t read my handwriting.! My romantic notion of a writer staring at a cork board plastered with notecards was quickly dashed on the rocks of practicality.
Then I started using Visio. I use it in my professional life and in the design of boardgames, the other often referenced hobby of mine on which I will blame my lack of writing… I put together timelines for each of my characters, a timeline for the world, and connected them all together with the dynamic connectors. I found the flexibility I needed to move things around without losing anything and had control over cutting and reconnecting the relationships. I also found I didn’t need to use any tagging, like an action vs reflective scene, instead I used colors. Worked just fine…
Until I found out how much I was missing using the Windows Beta of Scrivener and, as luck would have it, demands of my professional life gave me a great excuse to invest in a MacAir. Darn.
I finished writing The West Wind in Scrivener on my new Mac but then found myself wanting to re-arrange my timelines. No, nothing really easy or cheap for importing Visio documents into Mac drawing programs that I could find. I also didn’t want to go back and forth between platforms. I wound up re-building the timelines in OpenOffice.org Draw which, as it turned out, was needed anyway due to the amount of drift from the original story timelines over the year that I wrote the story. Re-building the timelines got me back in touch with the story and allowed me to implement an idea I had for telling much of Rachel’s backstory through a couple of key flashbacks.
To give some context, here is about the first third of The West Wind timeline as it was orginally in Visio:
A lot! And considering a change of a name in a POV character is not something undertaken lightly, particularly having grown to closely know and care about the character with his current moniker.
Regardless, sometimes you do have to make a change.
Sorry Roland Pritchard, you are now Warren Pritchard. Sincerely, the author.
I just wrapped up sending my feedback on the forthcoming newest installment in David Mark Brown’s Reeferpunk series of novels. I also had the pleasure of beta reading his first two: Fistful of Reefer: Reeferpunk and The Austin Job. His latest work builds on the two previous novels bringing back the main characters and throwing them once again into the line of fire. This particular story’s setting struck a chord with me (yes, I am intentionally omitting details…) through the vivid descriptions David has created. His character development continues to be strong amidst a good story. If you are not reading to provide critical feedback, I think you will find David’s latest story a quick and fun read.
Oh – here’s a hint to anyone else beta reading, don’t use ePub in iBooks. You can export (email, print) your notes, but not the highlighted sections. The notes alone are pretty useless without the text to which they refer. Several hours of transcription later…
Even if only in a small way. I am excited to announce that one of my short stories has been selected to be included in a forthcoming horror short story anthology. My first of, hopefully, many more.
I have written and submitted several short stories recently, each taking place in and around the events of The West Wind. Yes, I know, I should be working on the book but I can rationalize these side efforts in a couple of ways:
- Short stories have word counts. Writing with a word count forces me to write as tightly as I can. A good discipline and habit that will benefit a longer work where there is no word count.
- World building with a purpose. I have heard of writers spending years on world building without eventually even writing the novel. I am doing it the other way around. I wrote my first draft and now I am world building through the short stories. My rewrite will benefit. I also can’t help but thinking that the short stories benefit by being set in a world where it is clear that there are other things going on outside of the perspective.
- Editing. I hate it but learning how to do it takes the edge off a bit.
I am re-writing. Finally.
No more excuses. No more indulgent distractions. Time to buckle down and get going on the re-write.
Rachel’s backstory, though not actually in the novel, was my first task. Something I had wanted to do following reading Jeter’s “Infernal Devices.” The whole “inherit a clockshop” thing seemed a little too trite, too cliche. So Rachel now has a new and better backstory. Much darker and dangerous than previously. Even better motivation than finding your fortune in the American Colonies… fleeing a dangerous conspiracy in England. Unfortunately, Rachel and Clarence are only going to find themselves embroiled in even deeper intrigues. Sort of “out of the frying pan an into the fire” type of thing. Can’t let the two of them off that easy now can I?
Ummm. Well. Not so well.
I’ve heard much about the fear and incapacitation caused by a blank page. I am suffering the opposite. The sight of a full page of my prose sends me running the other direction. I keep finding plenty of other things to do… such as…
I was flattered to be asked by David Mark Brown to beta read his latest work “The Austin Job.” If you are a follower you recall that I had read and reviewed his first work: “Fistful of Reefer.” This next installment brings back some “love to hate” characters from the first book and a few “easter egg” references for readers of Fistful to discover. David continues to develop his narrative skills as he begins to explore the “punk” side of the v1.0 Xpunk genres. Ever present are the over-the-top characters and action that I enjoyed from his first work. Expected release date of “The Austin Job” is on or about December 24.
In the meantime… back to not doing what I should be doing…