Editing and Cutting Again
I've been doing a lot of spring cleaning with my novel. As I'm writing up new stuff, I'm having to cut out a lot of old stuff. After all, the current goal is to cut those words down, so I need a net loss. Frankly, it's a little demoralizing at times, but that's what this is all about: killing your darlings.
On the bright side, I can at least say that this experience is forcing me to become a more succinct writer. I just cut a diner scene between Jonathan and Reagan in my latest editing session. I liked it, I thought it was fun and it helped play out the personalities of the two men and their relationship to one another, but in the end, there was nothing to be gained from the scene that couldn't be summed up. Instead, I now have a brief paragraph as their car rolls up to Jonathan's first mission as a Paladin. It's tight, it flows with everything that's going on, and it gets the reader right into the flow without the long pause the former scene insisted on.
If I had to take a guess, I'd say I'm about 25% through this edit. It's hard to tell with all the new stuff I'm adding, but I know what still has to be removed and what has to be replaced. Fortunately, I'm thinking I can still take a significant chunk out of the word count. How I'm going to do so without affecting the plot... er... that's another matter. Still, I gotta do what I gotta do. I love this story, I'm excited to share it with all of you, and I'm thrilled at the idea that once this is off the ground, I might actually make a living like this.
Be Excellent To Each Other.
Paladin Playlist 22
Sorry this one's a little late tonight. I was stuck on a level in the game I'm reviewing. By the way, I'm now a published game reviewer. I gotta share those accolades where I can. Keep an eye out for my upcoming review of Attack of the Earthlings for PC on dlh.net.
But, back on topic, today I thought I'd share a lovely song. This song requires a confession. Visitors to my blog... I love Steven Universe. The characters, the plot, and my god, the music. One of my favorite songs, sung by the amazing Estelle, is Here Comes A Thought.
Even outside my writing, this song has helped me out. When I was stressing out because of my job in Vegas, listening to this on repeat on the drive home from work let everything flow out of me. All the stress, all the bitterness, all the anger, whatever was ailing me, it all felt better listening to this song. And you know, there's some perfect spots in The Paladin where Jonathan needs that, too.
So, relax, close your eyes, and take a listen to Here Comes A Thought from the Steven Universe soundtrack, as performed by the ever amazing Estelle.
It can get hard to find the time to write when you're working on other things, most especially a job or school. It requires a lot of discipline and willingness to schedule things out. Full disclosure, I worked really hard and set aside a bunch of money so that I could focus my time almost exclusively on writing, but before I was here, I was in that situation myself.
I worked 40+ hours a week while finishing up the first draft of The Paladin. I hated coming home to my screen because I was so freakin' tired. I didn't want to write during my free time because that was the only time I had to de-stress, to play games and have a social life. Well, I had to sacrifice some of that. There wasn't another option. It was either give up some video game / TV time or I didn't finish my novel. There wasn't another option. It sucks, don't get me wrong, but it is doable.
I'm very fortunate to have saved up money as I did so that now I only really give up one day a week for some extra cash. Still, even with that, I occasionally need to rework things. Tonight, for instance, I had plans to do my writing (and my blogging) earlier in the day, but I was needed to help out with something.
So how do you do it, you ask the rambling would-be author. Schedule. Get a dollar store dry erase board, write out your day, and make sure you set aside a specific time for writing. Give yourself a little time to cool-off from work, but make sure you don't drift away in your relaxing. If you get off at 6pm, get home by 6:30, then give yourself an hour to relax, no more, then make sure you're writing by 7:30.
If you're fortunate enough to free up entire days, treat it like a job. You are writing from 9-5 with a nice lunch break. This is your priority.
'Til tomorrow, don't forget to be awesome!
So... you saw my review on dlh.net, right? If you didn't, make sure you take a peek here. I was pretty stoked to see my name on a review and apparently DLH was happy with it, because I got my second game sent over.
I can't express how great it feels to be doing something like this. I'm using writing to further my career. I have my name on a published piece of writing and I've been asked to continue. I love it! Yeah, I know it's not much, but it's a step. I using skills I've worked hard on to review a medium I love.
So from here, I plan on continuing the game reviews. It's a good chance to lead to better opportunities for me in writing. Along with that, I'm still, of course, working on the The Paladin, fixing up the first few chapters, editing the entire corpus, and looking for opportunities to submit it. I'm also still working on a short story right now, but I'm having difficulties getting it out of the planning stages. Normally, I'd just start writing and see what happened, but the subject matter and genre for this demand that I plot it out. It's... frustrating.
So that's my quick update. Longer posts should resume tomorrow! Thanks for sticking with me everyone!
Don't Forget to be Awesome!
Real world inspiration
Today I was inspired while I was out. It was suggested to me that paladins would have to check weird, strange places like flea markets and craft fairs to check for magical contraband. I conceded that, yes, they probably would have to.
I saw someone selling “mummified faeries” today. Seeing as how I have a scene or two focused around them in The Paladin, it only made sense to think out some of the unconventional places they’d turn up, just in case. Of course this lead to a cascade of thoughts along this line.
What about you guys? Ever get lost in your own fictional world? Tell me about it.
Friends and Family
I’m on the road this weekend, so my posts will be a little shorter than usual as I’m doing it from my cell phone. Still, no excuses for not posting, so expect to see my rants opinions as usual.
I thought I’d muse a bit about friends how they can help with the writing process. Of course you want utilize beta readers and critique partners for actual reviews of your work, but make sure to include your friends and family. Now, yes, their reviews will hold some bias, but that’s not what you need them for. You need them to help legitimize what you’re doing to yourself.
What I mean by that is that you, as a writer, need to accept that what you’re doing is both worthwhile and is what you need to focus on. They’re your cheerleaders and your drill sergeants. If you can’t say out loud to them that you’re a writer, you need to embolden yourself. You need to accept, for yourself, that this is your dream and your path and these people need to know. They’ll hold you accountable and cheer you on.
You want to know what distracted me from actual writing last night? For at least an hour? Non-Euclidean geometry. I didn't even know what that was before I started writing The Paladin, but once I learned it, I had to incorporate it. Then I changed a scene that made references to it, so I needed to do some double checking. And triple. And all the way down that Lovecraftian rabbit hole.
Madness inducing architecture aside, this is one of the more fun, yet frustrating parts of the writing process for me. You'd think I'd be bright enough to do all my research ahead of time (and I do!) but sometimes I need to refresh things. Sometimes that means double-checking a Bible verse in three different translations, sometimes that means watching YouTube videos on the horrors of Eldritch Abominations. Both equally valid and equally likely in my average research break.
I want to share a resource, if I may, that I've found indispensable. Tops of my list that will get me going for hours is TVTropes. Now, a lot of writers check this out for great stuff on characters, examining plot tropes, and remembering narrative structures, but did you know you can learn a CRAP TON about specific places in the world? Pick a county, a state, or a city and search TVTropes and it will tell you about the local climate, local jokes, what food is popular, the arguments people have and so many other thing that will give your story life and make it feel authentic to your setting.
I also check simple things on Google, Reddit, YouTube, and Wikipedia, of course, but there's a personal level to the information you get off TVTropes. Knowing that people on one side of a country you've never visited argue about a certain brand of soda with people on the opposite side is something that won't show up on the Wiki page. Knowing that people in a certain city hate brand name fast food and only eat at local diners is key information in bringing that city to life!
I do give an urgent warning, however. If you're supposed to be writing, limit your time to five minute sessions. TVTropes will consume your night if you let it. Be warned.
You know, writer's block is supposed to be over once you type "the end." I mean, that's the deal, right? Well, now I'm rewriting early sections, so it's completely new stuff and, guess what... yeah, you read the title.
I'm not sure if writer's block is even the proper term. I planned out The Paladin with a lot of sticky notes, a lot of plotting, and a lot of talking things out. Now I'm adding a new section, but I'm so impatient to get done with this edit that I'm not taking the proper time to map out scenes.
Don't get me wrong, I certainly wrote down a summary of what I want, but I haven't gone into the finer details like I did with the grand story. This has led to me writing a scenes, then rewriting it, then deleting it all, then banging my head against the desk over and over. Rinse, wash, repeat. That's not to say I haven't made progress, because I have, it's just annoying to watch a good stream of consciousness get interrupted by me either thinking, "eh... that could be better," or worse, "eh... that's a little wordy for my current word count."
So now I'm trying to reconcile my brain with my heart. I know I need to just write and press forward and worry about editing it later, but I'm already in the editing stage! I have editing on my mind! Gah!
No worries. Just another speed bump on the road to publishing. I will get this done. -insert finger guns-
Don't forget to be awesome!
Paladin Playlist 21
Twenty-one weeks and counting! I love these Paladin Playlists, partially because I get to be lazy and have a topic ready to go, but also because I get to look at how long I've been doing this. I'm proud of myself for managing to get these out every day since I started this blog. Each post has been a step closer to publishing my novel and this is like a reminder of those steps.
So, let's get down to business. Today we're looking at Johnny Cash's cover of the Nine Inch Nails song, Hurt. Now, Johnny Cash took this song and made it his own, so much so that the original artist actually conceded that this wasn't his song anymore. There's a passion and a honesty to the song coming from that voice that just permeates me as a listener.
Johnny Cash was a religious man, especially near the end of his life. When this song came out, it seemed like a man reflecting on the poor choices of his life, his regret and his sorrow. That passion, which I'm sure was intended in the original, was so poignant and real in his cover. It's perfect for any writer's playlist. What writer doesn't have a character filled with regret, with sorrow for a life lived poorly and wrongly? For those they disappointed and those they hurt? It's reflective. It's engrossing. I can listen to it on loop, though... I will admit, when I'm done, I think I need to listen to Girl From Ipanema or Die Young.
So, enjoy Johnny Cash's cover of Hurt.
Okay, so my friends over at Smash Fiction put out a new episode where they played a little writing game. I won't get too deep into because I think it's way better if you just give them a listen, so I'll link that below. Suffice it to say, everyone in the group was required to retell a well known story with changes they made. After listening to them play, I immediately, and I'm talking within an hour of finishing the podcast, played this with a group of friends and they LOVED it.
It was a fun game, it got everything thinking, and most of all, it really got creative juices stirring. It came to me that stuff like this should be a writer's bread and butter when it comes to those strange, rare occurrences where we're expected to socialize with others.
Now I'm on a hunt. I really enjoyed that game and I'd love to find more games that can get a group thinking and, maybe not literally writing, but telling stories. I've played games like Balderdash where you have to come up with fake definitions for words, but never something where story telling was such a central focus. Even when I've run a role-playing campaign, there are often players who are satisfied sitting in the background and contributing only as needed. This game got everyone telling a story, and the fun rules meant that people had to think creatively and act cautiously.
If you want to give it a try for yourself (which I highly recommend) the game is called Surprise Party and consists of players replacing a well-known fictional group with their own set of characters from established fiction, then explaining how this new group would fare better to a player who acts as judge. Check out Smash Fiction's podcast on it, listen through, and give a try with your friends, I know you'll love it. Smash Fiction's Surprise Party.
Be Excellent to Each Other
Keep your eyes open for my debut novel, The Paladin.