Keep Going

My goodness! The only social medium I use regularly has blown up over the last three days.* Two news sites I read also went from being information-based to semi-hysterical.

But the teachers are still teaching, albeit at a distance. Today workers and bosses at The Young Human Factory gathered to pack meals and figure out deliveries. It was great to see coworkers, but also to see the parents of former students who were volunteering.

Creative writers are no different. I’ve been encouraged by those who are staying the course through the storm.  I particularly liked The Write Practice’s offering of a 14-Day Coronavirus Quarantine Writing Challenge.

The environmental stress weighs heavily on everyone, presenting unique challenges. One of my home-bound acquaintances wrote plaintively, “My coworkers keep putting their naked asses on my papers.”  I can’t imagine the horror. (Note: I HOPE he meant cats, not his children.)

The veteran writer, David Farland, canceled workshops but continues sending his newsletter. He suggested that fiction writers focus on the problems of the characters in their stories:

As you consider those, your subconscious mind will become more and more grounded in your tale, and you’ll find it easier to write with each coming day. As you think about upcoming scenes to write in the evening, they’ll populate your imagination while you sleep, and you’ll often awake ready to write.

I think it’s good advice and I’m going to follow it tomorrow. Today I’m still doing quality-control via the Internet and correcting essays.

*People sometimes tell me to abandon FB, but it’s the best place to keep in touch across four continents, five languages (only two of which I speak), and several time zones.  This weekend, my newlywed American cousin made a suggestion for helping avoid the coronavirus, which our octogenarian Mexican cousin translated to Spanish and reposted – and it was picked up by other Spanish-speakers.

Side Character Rambling

Last week I excised a favorite supporting character from the novel. For fun (aka procrastination), I took her scenes and dropped them into a separate document: almost 1200 words.

Isolated, she appears to be a shadow of the female protagonist: similar parental abandonment, resistance to leaving home, and attempts to undermine the machinations of adults. It’s as if I subconsciously second-guessed my choices in story elements and character arcs.

In some ways, Miss Superfluous a stronger character than the protagonist she resembles.  I thought of melding them, but their different characteristics grew from particular backstories. For now, I’ll preserve her in a file and hope a suitable story environment can be found for her.

Edits Galore

After a long slog to complete Chapter 9’s draft, I realized that my novel turned swampy somewhere in the previous chapters. Published authors tend to advise completing the draft before editing, but I’m a copy editor by training and a dabbler* by necessity.

The following list details the destruction I wrought editing I did to streamline and improve the readability of the story: Continue reading

Tightening the Draft

One of the problems with jumping back into writing for blocks of time (rather than 20 minutes of writing followed by an hour of tech-related issues) is that I have lost the tone of my previous writing.  I start noticing that my words come out flat or there’s a weird disconnect between me and my characters. Continue reading

Are you okay, Boomer?*

I have been trying to instill fear grammar into my young charges. It has been difficult. Some of my colleagues think it’s because of technology; others think it’s because their parents don’t value reading or writing.

I think the Middle School Mafia is trying to break us and take over the Factory.

So it warmed my teeny-tiny crabapple of a heart to hear two boys discussing grammar as one finished his homework.

“It needs a comma.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah. If you leave it out, it’s ‘okay boomer’ like they’re good boomers. But with the comma, it’s sarcastic like ‘Okay, boomer!'”

Now I’m apprehensive about reading the homework. I’m not that old!

*I came up with the title by imagining what a “concern troll” would say. I’m doing my part to destroy the usage by saying to seventh and eighth graders, “OK, boomer.” Because nothing takes all the fun out of something cool like having your teacher use it.


Weeding, Writing, and Restoration

This past weekend I spent several blocks of writing time moving files and saving Scrivener documents as rich text formats. In between, I tackled the Master List of chores, most involving a shovel, rosin paper, and work gloves.

I don’t have much progress to report on any front, but I came across a great post by author Holly Robinson called “Write Like a Gardener, Garden Like a Writer.

…I discovered a gravel path by [the Rose of Sharon’s] roots and began digging that out, too. This path led to more, and the paths defined garden beds where a few scraggly flowers were blooming among the weeds. (…) Just as I became passionate about writing fiction because of that one accidental college course, I became equally dedicated to gardening because I accidentally discovered that path.

Do read the whole thing.

I Lost It…

My entire novel disappeared. I was working on it in Scrivener, took a break to delete old financial files and then…

A pop-up on my OPEN DOCUMENT informed me that my file no longer existed. “This window will now close,” it said.

And it did. The only thing left in the folder were files marked setting and such.

Sure,  I had last week’s backup file on a separate drive, and Chapters 1-6 had been compiled and printed off. But not the current version of Chapter 7. I had spent TWO DAYS writing and revising it, raising the word count from a little more than 1000 to almost 3000.

So it’s back to the writing tomorrow. And from here on out, I will use the compile option every day to save the current chapter as a rich text file in another folder.

Book Review: Write Your Novel in a Month by Jeff Gerke

Note : This is a review I wrote and forgot to post a loooong time ago. Mea culpa.

Gerke, Jeff. Write Your Novel in a Month: How to Complete a First Draft in 30 Days and What to Do next. Cincinnati: Writer’s Digest, 2013. Print.                          

Summary: A fast-paced guidebook that incorporates and condenses much of Gerke’s previous material

Having recently The First 50 Pages, I skipped half of this book after I recognized the first nine chapters as a condensed version. See my previous review for details.

I must mention Gerke’s continued use of film examples in his guidebooks about writing novels. He’s gotten bolder, going so far as to write, “I do that without apology” (9) in the introduction. Too bad he’s using the same examples as The First 50 Pages. Fortunately, he’s added Game of Thrones (TV adaptation) to keep it fresh.*

The bigger issue is that he doesn’t really give much in the way of “what to do next” if one does, in fact, finish a novel in 30 days.

Book Project Conclusion: 

Gift to the Library

*I never watched it because I have no cable, only Amazon Prime. If he had used Justified, however…