Monday, May 2, 2016

Woke up a few dozen times with ideas, ideas, ideas.

I mentioned yesterday that "I have too many freaking ideas!"

Which sounds pretty humblebrag. (I'm not saying they're Good ideas...)

Faerie Punk is packed with characters and locations and scenes and ideas. I passed 120K words yesterday without breaking a sweat. I still have the entire ending to write. So I figured, minimum, it's a 130K word book, which is a little too much. It's better nowadays to write less than 100K unless you're George R.R. Martin or Neal Stephenson or someone like that. You're asking for a lot of faith from the reader, and unless you've proved yourself, I think most will pass.

Anyway, I wondered about breaking it into a trilogy. I can easily reach the proper number of words (at least 150K) just by a proper fleshing out rewrite, but I couldn't think of any natural semi-climactic endings, which is also asking a lot of the reader.

So I decided last night to just finish it and put it out as an ebook in the size it is, and move on.

I woke up a few dozen times last night, each time with an idea of how to expand the book. In other words, my subconscious just nixed my conscious decision.

I woke up this morning and wrote down as many ideas as I could remember. So it isn't a question of having a long enough book to break up, but a question of how these scenes fit in and whether there is a natural breakup point.

I have to believe there is. Unless my subconscious is fucking with me. (More than possible.)

Maybe this will turn into an unwieldy mess, but I have to try. Spend another month writing and I end up with 3 books instead of one.

I have a nice motivational climax for the first book, a vaguely thematic ending to book two, so I now think it can be done.

Extensive rewriting, which I hate.

The RULE is: I can add or subtract, but I can't change. If I stick the RULE, then things will be all right. 

Friday, April 29, 2016

Course adjustments.

Well, I feel like the cover and title I chose for "The Manic Pixie Dream Girl Murders: Blood of the Succubus" didn't work out. I mean, they may have nothing to do with it. Maybe the whole thing didn't work.

But I'm going to go ahead and change the title to "Blood of the Succubus: The Manic Pixie Dream Girl Murders," and go with the red silhouette cover. (Which got by far the most votes anyway.)

I don't believe this will confuse anyone.

I'd also like to do a better job of entering the title. I have only one category for instance, and I'm supposed to have two. Maybe change the synopsis slightly.

Meanwhile, I've written an entire book under the assumption that it was going to be called Fairy Punk. A comment someone made about the word "Fairy" at the last writer's group about the connotation for that word made me rethink it. Not so much because of that but because I'd already been thinking about it. It just started not feeling right.

So I came up with a bunch of other titles:

Faerypunk. (One word. I like this--but I already have a title called Faerylander, so I think that would be confusing.)

Faery Punk.

Faerie Punk.

And the original, Fairy Punk.

I put these up to a vote on Facebook and Faerie Punk won going away. So I've gone back to the cover artist and asked him to change it. Also, I'll have to change the term Fairy throughout the manuscript to Faerie. (I know there is a way to do that on Word, but I can't remember. Lara can probably do it for me.)

I'm still trying to figure this all out.

One of the reasons I'm doing both changes is that I don't want to become known as a gimmicky author. I mean, I'm quirky, I admit that. But it isn't a trick to get people to buy my books, it's just the way my brain works.

But I've got werewolves and the Donner Party, and I've got Bigfoot and the Gold Rush, and I've got superintelligent pigs called Tuskers, and so on.

I think having titles like Tuskers, The Manic Pixie Dream Girl Murders, and now Faerie Punk may look like I don't write serious books, which in effect I do. I mean I'm not going for the humor though I hope there is some there.

So I need to rethink how I approach this. I get way too many Pig jokes as it is. It makes me a little uneasy, you know?

Most of my books are meant (by me) to be taken seriously, but because of the subject matter and perhaps the titles, I think people approach them differently than is intended. I tend to get a lot of "surprising good" comments, which I think is a reflection of them finding that it wasn't a gimmick but an actual book.

But really, is that where I want to start? Maybe I need to take myself more seriously.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

"Damn! Where did that come from?"

Passed 112K words on Fairy Punk, still have several chapters to write.

I've really enjoyed writing this book. I hope the readers will enjoy it as much as I do. This is the kind of epic fantasy I can see myself writing. Set in the real world but also completely fantastical. Just really fun to spin off ideas.

My "Memoirs of Joseph Tindermaker" headings to each chapter are fun. I can just wax poetic, spin out ideas. It explains what's happening in the narrative so that I don't have to slow down the narrative to explain. (Weird, that, since the Memoirs aren't narrative at all and might ordinarily be considered a complete slow down...yet somehow, to my mind, that's different. If you start reading the headings you've bought into the idea of the headings.)

The biggest lesson of this book is to treat each chapter as it's own thing. To be patient. To just approach each day as another step. To not hurry and to not try too hard to come up with an overall plot, instead letting the story develop the plot.

All this is the result of really trusting my subconscious to have a plan. I've written so much, that I completely believe that something will come up, something will happen, it will all tie together.

I haven't lost my joy in writing. I know that sounds sappy, but I don't know how else to explain it. Whatever worries I have for the day, writing brings a fresh mood. Euphoric, satisfying.

I walk along my Badlands trail after finishing and just say, "Damn! Where did that come from?"

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

A Mood Chapter.

I love writing "mood" chapters, where my main task is to evoke a mood. They are easy to write, for some reason. I think they add depth to the characters, feeling to the story.

But I have to be careful that I don't go there too often. They usually don't move the story forward all that much, and if I'm not disciplined, they can be self-indulgent.

But there are times when they are completely justified.

I'm near the end of the "Fairy Punk." Izzy is broke and alone in New York, being hunted by both humans and Fairy. It looks hopeless.

This is the pivot to the final fight. His picking himself up off the mat and going--hopelessly--into battle.

Everything has been building up to this and a little reflection is perfectly in order.

Monday, April 25, 2016

The Ending In Sight.

I've hit 106K words on Fairy Punk and the ending is in sight. I'm guessing at least 14K words to go.

It's like when you've been on a long trip and you're only an hour from home. So close you just wish you were already there, but still far enough away that you're not, if you know what I mean.

Especially since I have the ending pretty much figured out, so there are no more surprises. It's just a matter of doing it. So close that I just want to do it in one fell swoop, but I'm trying to remain measured. Bring a little fresh energy to each chapter.

I was worried about the last chapter, but I've worked out an entry point that makes sense; I'm not sure how it's going to play out, but at least I have a solid concept.

Meanwhile, the Postscript came to me fully formed on my walk yesterday and is already written.

Got the cover to Fairy Punk back from the artist this morning, and it is pretty cool. Pretty much what I envisioned. It's hard to be patient, but I'm going to hold off showing it until I'm closer to publishing.

So close to finishing I can taste it.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

The Rewrite.

You hear it from me often.

1.) My stories are better when I do rewrites.
2.) I hate rewrites.

I hate rewrites (rather than simply dislike them as a necessary step) because I overdid the rewriting in my earlier career. I'd dive down the rabbit hole constantly changing plots and words and then changing them again, and again, and again until the whole thing turned into a jumbled mess. I would no longer feel the story or empathize with the characters. It would all just be words.

When I came back to writing 25 years later, my #1 rule was that I would do NO REWRITING! until I was done with the first draft.

Turns out, this was what I needed. (It also helped that the process is SO much easier. Word processing is 10 times easier than the old typing and correcting. Young writers have no idea. If there is a proliferation of books, I believe this is the biggest factor. It used to take real grit. Walking five miles in the snow to school, uphill both ways, typing your books...)

What I've found when I finish the first draft is that some books need lots of rewriting. Some books don't need as much. Some books are relatively hopeless and require more rewriting than makes sense when I could go write a new book in the same timeframe.

All books need a timeout between finishing the first draft and doing the rewrite--at least a month.

All books benefit from an outside editor.

I've refined the process to what works for me.  So what I do nowadays is finish the first draft, send it off to Lara who can point out inconsistencies and fix plot holes and clean the book up. She'll usually take between 4 to 6 weeks. I also read the book at writer's group and get their critique. (I usually read about the first half, and then maybe the last chapter or two. I write faster than the group meets.)

Meanwhile, I go off and write something else.

When it comes back, I usually accept about 90% of Lara's suggestions, which also require some rewriting. If the book needs some research, I tend to do it then. (Weirdly, I find researching is beneficial to me after I finish the first draft. I know what I need.)

Finally, I sit down to do a rewrite. Depending on the book, I can do anywhere from about 10 pages a day to 30 pages a day. (Every book is different, it seems, in how finished they are.)

So it takes anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks to do the rewrite.

What does the rewrite entail?

For me it's two seemingly contradictory things.

1.) Refine the language.
2.) Flesh out the story.

Refining the language, making it more active, cutting unnecessary words, getting to the point quicker, will cut the book a little.

This cutting is more than outweighed by my fleshing out the story. I tend to be focused on getting the story down on the first draft. Not a lot of frills. You might think that's all good, but the pace needs to be varied occasionally, things need to be explained, descriptions can add to the flavor, a little inner dialogue can add depth, themes can be further developed, telling details can be added, and so on.

This fleshing out will usually add about 10 to 20% to the length of the book, depending again on how much work the book needs.

Then I send it off to Lara again for a clean copy-edit.

I've been forced to do this rewriting process for most of the books I've put out. (Oh, how I'd love to just dish out the first draft. So much more fun!) At first, it wasn't really a conscious thing. Just what needed to be done. Now I've sort of wrapped it into my overall process. I know in advance that it is going to happen.

And, there is no denying the books are better for it.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Random writing thoughts.

A book is as long as a book needs to be. "Fairy Punk" crosses the 100K mark and still has a ways to go. I never expected my little story of punk rocker caught up in Fairy shenanigans to take off like this.

My writing is always improved by rewriting. I hate rewriting.

Just piling up the books, writing every day, having fun.

Walking loosens up the creative juices. I only worry that I'm starting to depend on that.

It took me 20 years to get my business right, and even if I hadn't made mistakes, it would have taken me a good 10 years. I can't expect to get the process of writing (and selling) books any faster.

My Word program stops giving me word totals after 100K. Very inconvenient.

I finally put all my stuff on a flash drive so I can edit my Dropbox and not worry about accidentally deleting something important.  Kind of romantic thing--like micro chips for spies when I was a kid. I'm such a Luddite. All my work in this tiny little thing.

Prince. You don't know what you're missing until it's gone.

I haven't posted any of my books on any of my social media for over two months. Kind of a relief, really. Besides...I don't think it does the slightest good. I'm just taking a step back, doing my writing. Besides, I have material out at four different publishers. Can't do much more than that.

Everything is taking longer...except my writing. I recognize this kind of lull from business. You just accept it--it is often a good thing. Like leaving a field fallow to make it more fertile.

I have some great covers to show off when the time comes. Waiting until the books are finished first.

I'm about to plunge back into the "Faerylander" morass. This is still my magnum opus and my problem child at the same time.

I also want to do my firefighting book, "Devil's Forge." I'd hoped at one time to have it done by fire season, but I'll just have to get it ready by the next fire season.

Everything is going pretty well actually. Especially the writing. Knock wood.