Thursday, March 1, 2007

MySpace blogs from Aug. 15 and 17, 2006

Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2006 12:18PM

How it All Began

Hello and welcome to my first attempt at blogging!
What you will find here may be fascinating, it may be boring, but it will certainly be... ummm... typed.

I'm a single father in the southern Indiana area. One of my lifelong goals has been to become a successful writer, but I've never been able to fulfill that dream. I suppose that's due in large part to the fact that, after I left college, I never really wrote anything again. Ever. That's all changed over the past few months, though. I've re-acquired the creative bug.

It all started when I had this little idea for a short story starring my son. I was going to write it just for him, figuring he'd get a kick out of reading a story where he was the hero. This was nearly a year ago, mind you. I wrote the introductory passage, and it was a nice little beginning of what I thought would be a fun read for a twelve year old child. But then life, work, and parenting troubles intruded, and I lost track of what I'd been doing with the story. In fact, I lost all the copies, even electronic, that I had of this wonderful story beginning.

Fast forward to spring of 2006. Those parental troubles I mentioned before? Yeah, they were still around. Basically, my kid was driving me nuts. He was refusing to do his schoolwork, lazing around, giving a LOT of attitude, getting in trouble at school, and basically being a typical angsty teen. At twelve. Ugh. It's pretty much accepted as fact by his teachers that my son is very, very bright, with the potential to finish at the head of the class in whatever he does. But it's also fact that he's lazy, doesn't like to do any kind of work or activity that he doesn't enjoy, has a temper, and generally acts like the world owes him a pass. With a lot of hard work, mostly on my part, I managed to shove him through the last few weeks of sixth grade with marks that got him promoted to seventh. Barely. And in June, he went off to stay with his mother for the summer, as usual.

So I suddenly conceived a bright notion. I'd re-work the story I'd been writing for him before. I'd change the character, who I'd initially written as kind of a happy-go-lucky kid with just a few problems in school, to a not-quite-troubled-but-almost teen that was more in line with the reality of what we were going through. And I started from scratch. I sat down one day in early June and started writing a story outline. It quickly grew into a novel outline, and by the end of the week, I had an entire book, thirteen chapters and a prologue, mapped out in outline form. This was something I'd never done before. My earlier failures at writing a novel, the ones that caused me to abandon my dream, consisted of me sitting at a keyboard and typing sixty pages or so and having the story get away from me so badly that I just tossed it all and started over. I must have done that a hundred times in the early 90's as I tried to live my dream. But this was different, a new (to me) way of writing. So, using my outline as a reference, I started writing. And writing. And writing. For the most part, except for some minor tweaks and changes here and there, I stayed true to the outline, and that's been my saving grace. Instead of having the story go off in directions I didn't want it to after sixty or so pages, I've written 75,000 words of a 90,000 word novel in just over two months. I've had a little assistance in the editing process, but for the most part it's mainly been correcting typos and instances where I've called a character by another character's name. (That happens more often than you might think, by the way.)

The biggest change to come out of this process, though, is that the story evolved from it's original purpose. Yes, I still want my son to read it and perhaps use it to gain some insight into his own life, and the story is still about him and for him. But I've got the itch now. I want this published, and with the reception I've been getting from the few people I've allowed to read it thus far, I think I have a good shot at it.
Just two more chapters and I'll be finished and ready to start the final editing. And once that's done, it's time to officially submit to a few agents!

Thursday, Aug. 17, 2006 9:40AM

Where I Stand
82,787 words, according to MS Word. That's where I stand. Now, I know that actually equates to about 70,000 words in the way that publishers count them (no words under 3 characters are counted, and many common words with more letters are excluded as well) (and a big oopsie edit added in: I was SOOOOO wrong about how publishers count words! My 82K words was actually over 100K by their method!). Why am I so concerned about the word count? Well, at first, I was concerned that I was going to come in under 80,000 words, which most agents and publishers would consider a novella. Many publishers are unwilling to consider this, what they consider shorter fiction, no matter how good the story might be. Most agents I've queried have requested that a fantasy novel be no less than 80,000 and no more than 130,000 words. Now that I've passed the 80,000 word minimum, my concern is that I'll overshoot the 130,000 mark by a great deal. As it turns out, I still have quite a bit of story left to tell before I can join my ending (already written) to the rest of the book.

Now, all that being said, it still comes down to story and writing style. I can't really define my style, or tell you who to read to get an idea of how I write. (What you're reading now? Yeah, that's not how I write.) All I can tell you is that I've had my two editors (who I count with a grain of salt because they're related to me) and several friends, acquaintences, and even one stranger, read selected sections of this novel, and so far it's been received with unanimous praise and requests to read the finished work. There's been the usual pointing out of typos and even the occasional suggestion on tightening something up or fleshing something out, but overall, there've been no suggestions for major changes or even re-wording. So apparently my writing style is one that some find pleasant.

As for where I am now in the story, well, last night I finished the rough draft on a chapter that really seemed to be tough for me, but I think it turned out pretty well. It's not the most action packed sequence in the book, but it's definitely the one where the most different things are going on all at the same time. It's kind of a three-tiered chase sequence that ends with two of the three parties joining together, and a jailbreak at the end. It's hard to explain without giving some details about plot, which I'm doing my best to avoid yet. Someday soon I'll post a basic synopsis, but I won't give away the end or any of the twists I've put in. Suffice it to say, this chapter really kicked me in the butt, but now that it's written, I'm more than pleased with how it turned out. Not only does it have moments of suspense, humor, and action, but it moves the story to where it needs to go next and reunites my two primary characters, who have been separated throughout almost the entire text so far.

Oh, yeah, and I caught myself again last night calling one character by another's name. That seems to be my own little personal pitfall. If this book ever gets published, I hope to God that whoever edits the thing looks closely for that!

Tomorrow, I plan on posting a little snippet about my life and what's been going on. I was going to forgo things like that, but I finally realized that it's a big part of the process. So if you're not interested in hearing my personal problems, skip tomorrow's entry.

No comments: