So... this is it. You have just a few hours left. How's it coming? Have you met your goals? Well.. I'm going to confide in you. I'm not done, either.
I'm really close! I swear I can be done before midnight. In Hawaii. But I had to work a real job today, so I lost today. Plus, I forgot that November only has 30 days. So... I might have given up yesterday before I should have. Either way, it matters little. I've made some good progress with editing and I'm practically done with the short story.
I think this whole NaNoWriMo is a great thing and it was fun to quasi-participate in it. It forced me to get some extra writing done on the side, which I think was good for me. This was my first time doing it, so I suppose it'll be a nice little bar to set for next year. Forty or so pages on a short story and several chapters knocked off my editing should equal... I don't know... a novella? A short novel? Either way, it's a good target to aim for when NaNoWriMo comes around again.
With that out of the way, there's just one thing left on the horizon for 2017. Yes, that beautiful time of year, when mankind feels just a little bit better, when we're all lifted up and want to treat one another with kindness we tend to forget the rest of the time. When we gather with those we love and even with strangers to celebrate that glorious and rich annual tradition: Star Wars. I'll see you guys at the movies!
It seems strange that I would even bother worrying about something like realism when I'm writing a novel about vampires and werewolves, but I've always found (and I know it's not just me) that adhering to facts and physics where possible can help the reader / viewer to suspend their disbelief.
For example, I remember in the first of the Fantastic Four movies from this century, there was a scene where the Thing stops a semi-truck just by leaning his shoulder into it. While impressive visually, this means that the Thing would weigh so much he wouldn't be able to walk without crushing the ground underneath him! Yeah, I know, it's a dumb thing to worry about, but it's little stuff like that the pull me away from the story.
I bring this up because I'm working with a lot of strange elements in my story and, in my short story, I have a lot of historical elements to throw on top of that. That means I have to make sure that historical characters are acting (reasonably) within their personality and that I don't do anything too anachronistic. That means for a story involving Theodore Roosevelt, I've research the Rough Riders, Jesse Langdon, the M1895 Colt-Browning, population density in the US circa 1909, vehicle preferences in London at the same time, Roosevelt's liquor of choice (none, actually, except for the very occasional Mint Julep,) and a load of other things. One of these is got me today. I made a concession.
Forgive me, my readers, I have a small anachronism in my upcoming short story. In it... someone uses a Molotov cocktail. It works for the story! But I couldn't find any recorded uses of such a device prior to World War II. The thing is, it's just a freakin' bottle with a rag in it lit on fire! Clearly the capability to produce such a weapon was available long before WWII, but it just wasn't popular. I mean, I have to imagine someone made one before 1939, but obviously didn't call it a Molotov. Still... this is technically an anachronism. In a story with vampires and werewolves.
Please forgive me.
After a lot of thought, I decided my playlist selection for today would be Almost Human by Aurelio Voltaire. I've put off using any of his music for my Paladin Playlists because, honestly, it feels like cheating. His stuff is so good and so in line with what I need to get my mind on the right path.
To be honest, I could've picked just about anything out of his library of songs. I have so much material I'm working on and so many situations that his songs fit with that I can really just grab an album and hit shuffle.
This song in particular, Almost Human, helps me get into the mindset of demons and monsters. I have some specific characters in mind, but those are spoilers. Suffice it to say, it's good to remember that villains never think themselves the villain. A good antagonist is one who has a motivation that makes sense. Voltaire helps me keep that in perspective when I'm writing characters that might otherwise be dismissed as simply "the bad guy." Heck, who's to say some of these characters are the bad guy?
If you like dark, irreverent, and thought-provoking music, I highly recommend just about anything from Voltaire. His stuff ranges from hilarious to awe-inspiring, so if you poke around his albums a little, I'm sure something will grab you. Whether it's the silly Brains!, the saucy and risque Cat House Tragedy, or the tear jerking Crusade, there's something for everyone.
God, there's so many more of his songs I want to mention... but maybe it's best I save those for another Paladin Playlist. For now, enjoy Almost Human and see what kind of thoughts it's provokes.
Be Excellent To Each Other!
I knocked out a few chapters of editing today. Sadly, I didn't drop below the 140k word mark like I expected, but I have made some progress.
A few things have been shifted around and I was super happy to be able to slide some dialogue I really liked but had to cut into a later chapter. I know that's not a particularly productive method of cutting content, but there was certainly a net gain. Or loss. There were less words.
That's pretty much how things are going right now. I'm doing my best to remove bigger chunks of plot that don't push anything forward, but I'm slowly leaving the chapters that I hoped I could condense. I'm sure with the rest of the manuscript I'll be able to chop out a few thousand more words easily, but right now I'm, if you'll pardon the paraphrasing of the saying, using a scalpel where I need to use a chainsaw.
At the same time, I wonder: what if there just isn't anything terribly huge to cut? I mean, I did create a new world with a bunch of new rules to explain, which is why Sci-Fi / Fantasy tends to be much longer than normal fiction. Still, I know the likelihood of that is somewhere around lotto ticket range. I think every writer believes they have nothing to cut and, almost universally, are wrong about that. This is almost certainly the case here, too.
Still, without enough beta readers, I don't have enough eyes on my work to help me single out what needs to go and what can stay. So... I guess I just continue on as before. Word by word, sentence by sentence. If I haven't made my goal by the end of next month, I'm just going to submit anyway. I can't sit around waiting forever.
Don't Forget to be Awesome!
No matter how many times I look at something I've written, it never seems to fail. It looks perfect moments after writing, but if you give it a week, it's total garbage. Well, maybe not garbage, but that last sentence certainly could've flowed better. And, man, I really use that same word a lot in this paragraph. And do I really need Giz to mention this last bit? I feel like she's more succinct than that.
They always tell you when you write that you need to put your work down for a few weeks, maybe even a few months, and come back to it with fresh eyes. That never feels true when I've just finished, but I'll be damned if it doesn't work out every time. This is a hefty project, well over 450 pages (unformatted, so don't take too much from that) and with the time it's taking to edit, I feel like it's been forever since I've seen each section. I may take a day on a single chapter... or weeks on a single page! Some of these sections flow wonderfully and others grit on my nerves and make me question my ability to write at all. Point is, it takes a while and by the time I get to the end of this novel, I think enough time will have passed to be giving it fresh eyes.
Another problem is how my writing style starts to drift from the beginning of the novel to the end. Fresh eyes really helps here because when I start writing Jonathan and Reagan, it's like I've just met these two guys. I don't know what Reagan's like in a bar or what Jonathan's favorite band is. But once I've written over fifty chapters of their adventures together, I can tell you everything about them. Which is odd when I go back to the beginning. They were strangers to me back when I first started writing. That means there's a lot of clean up to be done to get them looking like the pair of Paladins I know.
Oh, and the continuity! I absolutely love continuity. I know that's a strange sentiment. It's not like people go out and compliment an author on how unbelievably out of sync his timeline is, but when creators remember the small details, it just makes me smile. Sometimes those details are throw away, I know, but remembering that Samantha likes blue berries from page one to the end, just helps her feel like a more complete character. And... obviously I didn't have certain things in mind when I started writing the novel.
Don't get me wrong, I used an outline. Good lord, did I outline and plan this, but things keep coming up along the way that feel right, that just fit so well with characters and sometimes, that means a little editing to make sure Samantha ate those freakin' blue berries at the beginning of the book, too.
Okay, the rambling is starting to flow through me like the encroaching Dark Side of the Force, so I'll stop it here. Should have that short story up soon! Hope you're as excited as me!
Be Excellent to Each Other
I've touched on this before, but it is of course especially on my mind so close to completing this round of edits. There are two basic ways to get published; traditional and self-publishing. I know a lot of people are advocating for self-publishing these days and that it's lost a lot of its stigma. Amazon makes it super easy to get your stuff online for e-books, but at the same time, that also means the market is flooded with books that probably need a little more work.
What I'm focusing on is the traditional path for now. I figure if things don't work out I can always switch to self-publishing, but the traditional route, while perhaps not as good for those who want total control, does work for those who don't have the dosh to pay for editing, artwork, marketing, and then publishing on top of that. So, to get into the loving arms of a publisher, I first need an agent. They're kind of like salespeople for authors. They have the connections, publishers will pay more attention to them then unsolicited submissions, and some even take care of editing for you.
So, while I'm editing and trying to get my manuscript as neat as possible, I'm putting out feelers for agents. I'm following some on Twitter and other social media. I'm learning about them to make sure that they might be the right fit for my novel. You don't want to send a horror manuscript to a romance agent, right?
When do I know when the manuscript is right, though? I guess you never really know. There's the urge to send it off immediately, but any good writer knows their first draft is garbage. It's supposed to be! It's how you get the ideas out of your head. But when is it ready? Do I send it through an editor first? Do I let the agents take care of the editing? Will the writing speak for itself? It's kind of confusing mess, but fortunately, most agents have submission guidelines to help out. I've got around half a dozen agents bookmarked while I polish up The Paladin. They all have different submission guidelines, which is important to double check. Some want the first couple chapters. Some want a summary. Some want fifty pages. Some want the whole manuscript. It's all a case-by-case basis.
Well, I think it's time to get back to editing. If I hope to submit this by the end of the year, I need to get to work.
I thought it was about time to give a quick update on where I'm standing with my short story and the editing of The Paladin. I'm certainly keeping busy, even between shifts filming and editing for the local university.
For the short story, which I still haven't decided on a name for, I'm approaching the end. I should certainly have it done by the end of the month, so I hope you're looking forward to some more Paladin lore. In much the same way Val's Blog isn't directly tied to The Paladin, this new story is set in the background. And the past. The past background. That. I'm a writer.
Anyway, I'm really enjoying this one as it has required a lot of research on things I just wasn't familiar with. I had no idea when I started this little story that I'd need to know the population density of the US in 1909. Or what the heck a helio-gyrocopter is. Or that when I finally need glasses, I think I'm going with a ponce nez like Theodore Roosevelt.
On the main novel side, editing is coming slowly but surely. I've gotten a couple new sources of reviews to assist with me deciding what goes and what stays, but I definitely need more. Again, if you're interested, feel free to contact me through this blog or using my Contact Page.
I've managed to remove a huge chunk, basically dropping an entire chapter. That helped immensely, but I still haven't quite dropped below 140, 000 words. I should be able to clear that hurdle over this weekend without issue, but it's still kind of a bummer to see that number stand so intransigent.
What about you guys? How's NaNoWriMo treating you? Making your word goals? Month's almost over... Tick. Tock.
So a happy Thanksgiving (to all of you who celebrate such a holiday, and if not, happy Thursday!) I thought today, as something apropos of the holiday as well as cliche, I would take a moment to talk about what I'm thankful for. But this is a blog about my novel, so I need to work that in somehow. So... buckle up.
I've very thankful for my wife, Elizabeth. She's been a great help with this book since I started it. It was my mother who insisted I focus on this, but it was my wife who kicked my butt daily to make sure it got finished. It was her who was my cheerleader and first beta reader. Now, I'm more than certain she's biased toward my work, but that aside, she's been invaluable to me in the creation of The Paladin and all the works associated with it.
Now that I'm out of Las Vegas, I'm only working part time (barely that) to help shore up our expenses. My wife, of her own volition, has taken up the mantle of breadwinner and earns the bulk of our income, allowing me to focus my time on this novel. I owe her a lot for that.
I want to thank my friends that have volunteered to look over the novel. Whether it was one page or the entire manuscript, I'm thankful to have people in my life that are willing to help me out and read some of my stuff.
So what are you thankful for? I'm sure there's something.
Be Excellent to Each Other.
So I've been thinking about ways to flex my creative muscle and shake off the boredom that comes with editing a novel. Writing is where the fun is, as you might know, and staring at the same words I've written for hours on end, tapping the delete key occasionally just starts to wear thin.
Of course reading is on the list, but during my recent move I've misplaced my copy of Queen of the Dead. I suppose I can find something else to tide me over, but I hate having more than one book open at a time. There's movies, of course, which I've been expanding my general field of interest in. I know it might not make much sense, but I was watching There Will Be Blood to help me get in the proper mindset for writing the short story I have on the side (getting closer!)
Video games are certainly a source of creativity, but I have to be careful. One, research and inspiration can quickly dissolve into just wasting my day away. Two, I don't want to get too enthralled and then see it start showing up blatantly in my writing. I'm looking at playing the Bayonetta games right now because, believe it or not, she is an EXCELLENT depiction of a witch. And by that I mean accurate not... well... I suppose she is a pretty excellent depiction, but... anyway, I'm getting off track here. Point is, there is a shocking amount of research and old lore woven throughout her story and if you pay attention to it for more than the titular character's looks, you'll find something amazing.
One last option I'm feeling out is running a tabletop RPG campaign, à la Dungeons and Dragons. I kind like this one because I'll have to think on the fly. I've done a couple RPG games before and I know the game master usually has a heck of a time keeping things together and adlibbing new story line. This could be a neat chance to try something new and see how it goes.
In any case, these are all on my To Do List. Oh, and, you know, get my novel published. That too.
You know, if nothing else, these Paladin Playlists help me keep track of how long I've been keeping the blog. This means I'm on week eight! Yeah!
Anyway, today I'm sharing another song that acts as a sort of unofficial theme, this time not specifically for The Paladin, but for a side story I'm excited to start working on once the main novel is off to a publisher.
Soldiers by Otherwise does an amazing job putting me in the feel for the Paladin Order. They are pretty much just that: soldier. They have a job. They do it for the duty-bound part of them that won't let them turn away from a fight. But this song, With Me Now by Blacklite District... yeah, this is for hunters.
Obviously there are some hunters out there that feel compelled to fight evil for the greater good, but there are some who so it for the thrill. Some that have an entire lifestyle built around killing monsters and living in the glow of it all. There's obviously some specific characters I have in mind and you should meet at least one in The Paladin, but really, this is for the future. There's a story coming where hunters become more and more prevalent. Where the Paladins very system of order is threatened. This song is that the battle cry of the men and women who rush into that battle for the sheer thrill.
Hope you enjoy the song. It gets me pumped every time!
Don't forget to be awesome. This song will help.
Keep your eyes open for my debut novel, The Paladin.