How is the first revision of “The West Wind” going Don?

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…

Revision & Editing… Part 4

I have all the timelines worked out, the arrows all going the right way, etc.  If you have no idea what I mean… you probably missed the first three parts.

Step 8: Make it make sense.  This part is hard to describe.  I worked my way up and down the timelines making sure that the scenes flowed well.  I moved a whole chapter because it made more sense earlier in the book.  I also started making notes on some of the scenes suggesting additional content to rationalize action in another location.  I identified long strings of POV scenes without interaction with other POV characters (not sure how I feel about that yet… I suspect a lot of it will get cut maybe to re-appear as a short story…).  Finally, I highlighted the scenes that I wanted to insert as flashbacks.

Step 9: Put it all together.  Having all of the scenes and dependencies helped with the next steep: numbering the scenes in sequential order.  Using those numbers, I created a collection in Scrivener and added scenes to it in the newly assigned order.  Finally, I switched over to the outline view in Scrivener where I could see the scenes and word counts to try grouping them into chapters.  I ran into a bit of a problem here.  I had no idea how to create chapters in a collection and after banging my head against the wall way too long I did what I should have done sooner – gave up and just rearranged the scenes in the binder *Then* I could create my chapters.  With a few exceptions, I was able to group the scenes meaningfully and keep the word count around the 3,000 word mark.  Why 3,000?  Back to Stackpole for the answer – it is short enough to make you want to read “just one more chapter” before I put it down.

I should probably have named this string of posts “preparing for revision and editing” because now I am ready for the real work… the actual revision and editing part.  That’s all for this series of posts.  Thank for following along and please feel free to add your comments.

 

“Fistful of Reefer” (Reeferpunk) by David Mark Brown

Not exactly steampunk, but certainly western…

I got turned onto Brown’s “Fistful of Reefer” by the author himself having bumped into him in the Wild West Steampunk Saloon on S.W.A.G.  We kicked a couple of comments back and forth and he let on that he just released a novel in eBook format.  Intrigued, I downloaded a copy and gave it a shot.  Sorry to say, I had relatively low expectations.  Enough time looking at print-and-play boardgames and unpublished prototypes has left me a little jaded towards anything that has not come from a major publisher.

Well partner, I happy to say I was wrong.  Brown has spun a fun action adventure tale with interesting, believable and diverse characters.  I won’t belabor a full synopsis, but suffice to say it is a story about friendship, good guys, bad guys, lost races, orphans, contraband, hypocrisy, forgiveness and redemption set against a backdrop of a Saturday morning western.  The only thing missing is the Morricone soundtrack.

Reeferpunk?  Sure, why not.  I think the “*punk” breed of fiction lends itself to an ever expanding definition led by imaginative authors finding new ways to mashup the traditional with the unusual.   This is what indie press should be about, authors taking chances and pushing the boundaries.  Sure, there were some technical editing errors here, but the story was interesting enough that I really stopped caring and just focused on enjoying.

I am looking forward to David’s next effort and wish him all the best in his corner of the punk mashup genres.

¡Viva la Revolución!

Gushing fanboy

Ok, committed one of the sins of convention going… Met someone that I am a fan of and going all gushing fanboy. I was worse than a 13yr old schoolgirl, quite literally, she held it together a lot better than I.

I got to meet Howard Taylor of the often referenced here Writing Excuses podcast. I have learned a lot from him and his friends about writing. The encouragement and humor of the show also got me through the tough parts. Having been paying closer attention to his web comic Schlock Mercenary, I picked up the first volume and had Howard deface it.

A great first day at Gen Con.

My first 21 Days

Armed with the knowledge, and some pretty good notes, from Gen Con Indy 2010 seminar “21 Days to a Novel” I gave it a go.

My first major investment was a couple of back-to-school spiral bounds and a box of my favorite pens from Staples.  Total cost < $5.

What I liked about Stackpole’s approach was the focus on the character.  The opinion that readers like to read because they enjoy getting to know a character, feeling the conflicts of the character, identifying with the character.  In short, the advice given by Stackpole, and several others I have read or heard via podcast, focus on the character and write character driven stories.  Character driven stories sell.

I religiously started following the 21 days methodology.

2010 Gen Con and 2011 Gen Con

Aw I am daft bugger.  I should have hit the post button before heading off to work this morning.  Sorry steamers, that means you a double tap of postings tonight.

Getting ready to head off to Gen Con this year (again) got me thinking about how I made it this far with my writing.   (queue the flashback effects)

Almost… a year a go I decided to get more serious about this whole writing thing.  I had always wanted to write a book but just didn’t know how to go about doing it.

I had been attending Gen Con for several years and had noticed an increase in the number of seminars for writers.  Either they were increasing or I was just paying closer attention, not sure which.  Most of the writing seminars were focused on writing for game supplements, but there were a few for writing longer works.

For $8 I took Michael Stackpole’s “21 Days to a Novel.”  This was going to be the seminar that would teach me how to do it!  I attended, took copious notes, and walked away with a kernel of knowledge that I needed to get going.  But still absolutely no idea what I was going to write about…

For those of you heading to Gen Con Indy this year, here is a link to the writer’s events:

Gen Con Indy 2011 Writing Events