Last week I began to write a western and loved every inspired second of the process. There was a mixture of seat-of-the-pants writing and pre-planning stuff (beats, or at least that is what Platt, Truant, and Wright call it), and some research (on-the-fly as I went stuff). The project feels both ambitious and natural.So what is the problem?I am in the middle of several projects and awoke with feelings of dread and guilt that I was being irresponsible by constantly starting new things. I set a minimum amount of time that would be spent on the original project, not really expecting to have time for other stories.Happily, I was able to dig back into my western just before midnight. After a day of banging my head against a project that has tortured me for almost a year, the fresh and exciting story premise of Cathy’s Town was like a divine gift. I feel so much better now and happy writers sleep better, I hope. Chances are that in an hour or two I will wake up with some random idea and chew on it until I just get out of bed.My goal is to keep the first draft clean, and by clean I am in no way referring to sexual content. I have a tendency to move writing platforms. Scrivner’s the best! No, move it all into word. Hey, what about Google Docs. All right, let’s reformat for Scrivner.If all goes according to plan, I will write Cathy’s Town: Piano Players, Gunslingers, and Widows in Google Docs, with periodic back-up dumps into Scrivner for the next stage of the process. The first draft should be done without starting over twenty times.Wish me luck.
Not a lot of time to share thoughts today. Raw Recruit, book one of the Legendary Austin Kirk is underway. I wrote about 6,500 words shortly after devising the concept and premise. That has all been filed for future reference and included as world building material and back story, but probably won’t be used. I am exploring the story and taking my time on this one. What I have written is fun and each draft version gives me new characters and insights into previously conceived characters.
The Forgotten Prince by Josh HayesThis version of the Neverland stories combines all the things I love in fiction; scifi action with great characters and a bunch of surprises. I like the way Josh Hayes shows the cast of the original story in interesting new ways. Bella is my favorite, but Wendy and Pan have found themselves in roles that promise a lot of fireworks as the mystery of Neverland is explored.The first chapter sets the tone the book. Hayes uses suspense topped with action to begin his sketch of Hook. I knew I was going to be entertained as soon as I started reading the first scene. Without going into the specifics of the plot, I can say the world building is good. The more I learn about the place where Lt. John McNeal finds himself, the more I want to discover who or what created this alternate world.I can’t wait for book three in this series.
Last night I found Once Upon a Time in the West (C’era una volta il West) on Netflix. The opening scene shows the difference between modern action thrillers and even most of the new westerns. There is so much build up to the initial gun battle, which is short. Lots of setting and character visuals. Over the next few months I plan to explore Netflix for all of the old classics. I don’t have time to write a long article on this movie, but hope to check in later during the week.Once Upon a Time in the WestDirected by Sergio LeoneWritten by Sergio Donati and Sergio LeoneStaring Henry Fonda, Charles Bronson, Claudia Cardinale
THE BEST PART of starting a new project is running around with a new character having adventures like something out of an action movie. World building just happens this way. By day two of the project, I am waking up with ideas and scrambling to get them all down. There are many ways to do this, although none of them seem to really capture the magic of “morning imagination.” I have paper, a smart phone, and a computer. Still, the ideas come too fast when I wake up.
The middle of the night is a good time for story revelations, apparently. Getting back to sleep can be a chore. Last night I was able to hold a picture of void-centric aliens in my mind long enough that I believed I might remember the idea in the morning. Every science fiction tale needs a FTL (faster-that-light) mode of travel, and in the universe of Austin Kirk, that mode is void-centric aliens.Hint, these benevolent creatures are not our friends. They would have us believe the galaxy is a peace and they exist only to serve us.Yeah, right.I hope that you will find The Legendary Austin Kirk a rich and entertaining series. Writing it is a blast and I can’t wait to share.#TheLegendaryAustinKirkTwitter: @PayneAuthor
AUSTIN KIRK is the protagonist of a new science fiction novel by S. E. Payne. As young heroes go, Austin has everything stacked against him. His parents signed up for a hardship tour in space to pay for family medical expenses and left him in charge despite his lack of formal education and physical disabilities. Tough, smart, and no stranger to the street, Austin has a dream and will make it happen if it takes all the iron on Mars. Starting out small is no disadvantage to Austin; he is used to it. So what if he moves with a limp; that started when he was still crawling. And if the doctor wants a small fortune more than the sacrifice of his parents made for little Madeleine, Austin was born with an extra eye to sell. Who needs two? The only real problem, the only force stubborn enough to stop him is a S.K.I.P.P. android left by his parents to keep him out of trouble.Twitter: @PayneAuthor #TheLegendaryAustinKirk
I want this guitar (and many others)! The best thing about this picture is that my daughter took it while we were hanging out after her bass lesson. Yesterday I met a friend of mine at Barnes and Noble for some writing sprints. I live closer to the last major bookstore in town. This gives me a huge edge in getting there too early and sitting in the parking lot dying for coffee. Over the last month or two we have tried meeting at various locations. Barnes & Noble is still my favorite (despite the crap internet connect yesterday).Backstory: Thursday night to Friday morning was a not atypical workday for me. “I don’t always work late on Thursday, but when I do, it is until two a.m.” Hah! Anyway, I hit the rack at three a.m. and punched my alarm at eight o’five.Breakfast burrito.Shower.Driving with an audiobook.Next thing, I am staring at the front door of Barnes & Noble wondering why people don’t realize the bookstore opens at nine a.m. There are young adults, moms with kids, older men and women, and others sitting in their cars (like me) (probably kind of interested in coffee but just going with it). I saw people who obviously worked there slide right in the front door as though their manager saw them coming across the lot. I saw people walking to the bookstore from a distance and others from vehicles.It occurred to me that each time I execute this ritual, I see basically the same thing: people waiting in line to enter Barnes & Noble. As a writer, this makes me happy. All is well with the world. I am not the only person who is book crazy. Once a year there are a crazy shoppers who line up for deals on Black Friday. Here in bookland, we just roll like that.Post Script:It bears mentioning that I am not overly concerned with grammar in my blog posts. I just want to share, but since I am a writer and constantly wish to improve, please feel free to comment on anything you see here whether it seems intentional or unintentional. Thanks-like-crazy in advance!Today’s Friendly Call to Action :)I do hereby, with all grace and ceremony, invite you to join my mailing list. There is no free gift to clutter up your computer or phone. I have yet to actually send an email to the mailing list. Doing so without a good reason seems like something that might annoy people. However, when I have something to offer that is valuable, exclusive to my email subscribers, and free, you will be the first to know. #CTAFriendly
I subscribe to Audible.com because I enjoy getting credits for new audio books each month. A couple of days ago, my phone alerted me that I had two credits and I started shopping. There are several novels ready to go on my phone, so I browsed nonfiction. Which exposed me to Fiction Unboxed by Johnny B. Truant and Sean Platt. Fiction Unboxed, though interesting, tasted like an appetiser to me. So today I started on Write-Publish-Repeat. I had heard of these guys from a friend of mine who listens to their podcasts and I had also downloaded the free “loss-leader” to their Unicorn Western series. (So far that series is fun, but I have not read the entire book, yet.)Similarly, I have not finished WPR. This is not a book review, but a moment I wanted to share just in case anyone is listening. I have read a lot of books on writing, marketing, and everything in between. I have a Master’s Degree in Public Administration, which familiarized me with the Pareto Principle and the 80/20 rule. The concept of “1,000 true fans” is not unknown to me, but rather something I dream about and flounder toward in reality with my marginal marketing efforts (and more marginal budget of time and money). So far I am very familiar with the message Truant and Platt are sharing, yet I am also really enjoying the book and feel as though they may bring it all together for an ah-hah moment. I have always believed that hard work matters, and that is a key message told often and early in their book.I will continue to listen to the WPR audio book. I have already recomended it to one my closest most talented writing friends, and he bought it. If everything goes as I hope it will, I may even write a review when I am done listening and post it. (Lately I have not been writing as many reviews. My life revolves around familiy, work, and writing with sporadic trips to the gym.)I hope your day is going well and getting better.Be safe,Scott
Ch-ch-ch-changesLast week, after two months without caffeine, I broke down and had a large, black coffee at Starbucks. They call a large a Venti, I think. As you might guess, my sophistication, or lack thereof, concerning coffee is rather obvious. All previous intake has been via my ten dollar coffee maker or gas station brew. Once in a blue moon I drank the good stuff. An expert barista, I am most definitely not.Why the return to artificial stimulation? Well, I believe (insert laughter here) that I can drink coffee in moderation, that is to say not right before bed. (For the last thirty years it was not uncommon for me to slam down a 44 oz of diet coke on the drive home from work and then hit the sack. And I did sleep. You bet. Weird, huh?) I am currently studying for a promotional exam while simultaneously finishing the first draft of my work-in-progress, a science fiction / steam punk masterpiece that I love dearly (Her Majesty the Queen).On go-juice induced berserker rage ended with 7,400 extremely raw words splashed across my narrative arc.
That first cup of coffee after so many weeks was markedly different than the previous lifetime of caffeine saturated experience. In the past, I just didn’t feel it. Consumed in moderation, or at least on a reasonable schedule, coffee is my new best friend. I will not be going back to diet soda, mostly for fear of the mysterious chemical cocktail that had me so addicted to the stuff–you know, making midnight runs for a two liter and drinking diet soda with every single bite of every single meal.Then I Realized I Had a ProblemThe coffee I made at home tasted bad and the stuff at my favorite gas station convenience store was not good. With nothing left to do but throw myself on the ground and curse fate, I turned to the internet to learn how to make good coffee. I started with Starbucks here. Taste TestAlong comes Monday morning. I don’t work until later. The wife just went to work and the kids are at school. It is time for some experimentation and a taste test. Since I am not a professional, or even skilled barista, please refer to the Starbucks link above for an explanation of how I made the two kinds of coffee by coffee maker and by coffee press.
ResultsDoes a coffee press really make significantly better coffee? Survey says, oh hell yes! The red cup, which you will see in the author profile picture guarding access to this top secret information at the top of the page contains freshly ground Starbucks coffee made in a press. I am fairly impressed with myself right now. And just to be clear, the red cup / blue cup comparison is merely because I like these two cups; it has nothing to do with the red pill / blue pill dilemma in the Matrix.
This is not only the secret to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and writing, but to life!
Writer’s ParadiseAround this time, I also started meeting with Josh Hayes (author of Second Star: Breaking Through and The Forgotten Prince) at Barnes and Noble or Mead’s Corner (a local coffee shop). We discuss writing, but mostly we set a timer and do writing sprints. This has helped my motivation immensely. I highly recommend the practice. Call me a complete writing geek, but I would rather do this than any other “social” activity.”Thanks for stopping by and reading this article. Please take a look at my author page and see if you or anyone you know might enjoy my science fiction or urban fantasy / horror novels.Have a great day!
Do you have limited writing time but big goals? Are you a writer? If so, are you meeting your writing goals? Writing is a passion, one usually cobbled together from stolen moments and highs of inspiration. But if you get the writing bug and you get it bad, finding enough time is often a source of frustration. Why write more? Because fans like to read more. That is my number one answer. I’m a reader as well as a writer. I’ve fallen in love with a series that I’ve stayed with for 3 years and am now anxiously awaiting the last book – which should come out in two years. That is a whole lot of anxious waiting! And let’s not talk about another story I love that currently exists as short stories spread across several e-zines and books. I have meticulously copied all of them to one spot. I am her number one fan. She has plans to write a book … someday. I want to cry. So yeah, keeping fans from becoming the frustrated and then jaded reader I am today is definitely a goal. When I was a teenager, a new book a year was acceptable. It still is, even though THAT was quite a while ago and long before ebooks. Now, a new book every six months is considered a professional target. More often is great. Fans want to be filled with anticipation – not angst. And professional is the other reason to write and release more books, great books. Because let’s face it, if you have any hope of making a decent income from writing, one where you can potentially scale back that full time job to write, you either need to write and release more or have a really good retirement plan lined up. I’m not a teenager anymore, but I don’t want to wait that long to write full time! So I committed myself to writing more and writing better because I not only love it, but want to make it a career. With a lot of trial and error, I developed seven key techniques and five writing tools that worked. How well? I wrote 4 ½ books in a year and they are the best I’ve written so far.
To be clear, I’m not talking about typing faster. Who cares how fast you typed a page if you end up deleting it? Meeting a writing goal of producing more novels in a year means creating a great story faster. And there are tips, tricks, and tools to do that. It is a paradigm shift to believe writing more in a limited time is achievable. It is possible. I’m proof. But I want to be more than proof. I want to help other writers do the same thing. Seriously! Writing time is a limited resource. Use it well. I’m serious about teaching this to other authors. So serious that I’m launching a pilot class to not only teach the seven techniques and those five customizable tools, but also to work one-on-one with the students to make sure those same tactics work for them. Everyone is different and in a different situation. I want everyone to be successful. Since this is a trial course with lots of coaching, enrollment is very limited. If you are interested in learning more please get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org I’d love to talk to you!(Webmaster’s note: try accessing Autumn’s course here.)
Autumn Birt – Author Short Bio Autumn is a bestselling author in fantasy, epic fantasy, and war – not all on the same series though! She is the author of the epic fantasy, adventure trilogy on elemental magic, the Rise of the Fifth Order. Her newest series is Friends of my Enemy, a military dystopian/ dark fantasy tale laced with romance. Friends of my Enemy will be released in full in 2015 and will be quite the story full of strong characters, tight plots, and lots of action. Meanwhile, she is working on a new epic fantasy trilogy, Games of Fire, set in the same world as the Rise of the Fifth Order. If she stops goofing off and enjoying hobbies such as hiking, motorcycling, and kayaking, she may even be able to release the first book in 2015 too. Stop by her website and blog to learn more about the worlds of her books at www.AutumnWriting.com. You can also find her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Author.Autumn.Birt or more frequently on twitter @Weifarer.
I have come to a point in my writing career at which I must admit my addiction. Oh, sure, there are worse vices, compulsions, and irrational behavioral problems than what I face. And to be honest, I really have no intention of changing.However, it is time to get organized.I have read a lot of books on the craft of writing. Today, I place them in a rough syllabus for further study. All of these titles contain valuable lessons and bits of inspiration. They are like family to me; often arguing and bickering to the point of ridiculousness. Sometimes, as I watch the debate, I see what many of the authors don’t seem to recognize–they agree more often than they think. In many cases it is a matter of semantics and syntax as much as true disagreement. There are complementary layers of greatness in these books on how to write fiction.My goal has always been to learn what I need to write well from the combined tenets of all the best writing coaches I can find. So here is the list in the order I am currently studying them (with no attempt to reveal which is my favorite; it is merely where I am starting today):Story Trumps Structure (by Steven James)I had the chance to listen to this author speak at OWFI and later started reading The Bower Files. If you have a chance to hear him talk, do it.Story Fix (by Larry Brooks)I just picked this one up because I really learned a lot from Story Engineering and Story Physics–which are on my list for further study.Story Engineering (by Larry Books)Although I wasn’t an outliner at the time, and still struggle with pre-planning stories, the observations in this book blew me away. I remember watching World War Z afterward and exclaiming “Right there! That’s the First Plot Point! Exactly like in Story Engineering!Story Physics (by Larry Brooks)This one goes deeper and expands on the ideas in Story Engineering.Blueprint Your Bestseller (by Stuart Horwitz)This book explains, in detail, how to break your book down into scenes and then put it back together in narrative order. The concepts are novel and powerful; it takes work to grasp everything but it is worth it.Book Architecture (by Stuart Horwitz)I wrote a blog article on this one here.Self-editing for Fiction Writers (by Rennie Browne and Dave King)It has been awhile since I read this one, so I won’t butcher it by attempting a summary here. However, it is a must read. One of the take-aways deals with “small scale telling” and is something I use everyday.Writing the Blockbuster Novel (by Albert Zuckerman)Where can you find a step-by-step breakdown of how Ken Follet writes a bestseller? In this book, that’s where.How to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method (by Randy Ingermanson)This is a step-by-step method that I have tried several times with mixed results. Some of the products of this method are awesome enough to convince me I need another look at it.There are many other books on my to-read (and to-re-read) list, but this should do for now.Please visit my Amazon Author Page here to check out some of my science fiction and urban fantasy.(Note: I have NO affiliate links with any of these books)
Three of my favorite books on writing faster are 5000 Words Per Hour by Chris Fox,2k to 10k by Rachel Aaron, and Writing In Overdrive by Jim Denney. Each has valuable insights of their own, but also share a common theme. Fast writing is not bad writing. We don’t have to agonize over each word before moving on.Some legendary authors do it that way. I read that Kurt Vonnegut perfected each page before moving on. Personally, I tend to start from the beginning when writing organically, which results in the first three chapters being heavily polished. The words come harder after 30k words, because it becomes more and more time consuming to read from the beginning as the novel grows.It is a good method and I like it. So does the author of Story Trumps Structure, Steven James. Writing organically is sometimes fast and often slow, but there are many real advantages, assuming you don’t get stuck. I will talk more about this in a separate article.This article is not about plotting versus pantsting, but about productivity.The Number One Reason to Write FastThe best reason to write quickly is not just to make your word count everyday, but to find continuity. There is a high probability that a rapidly written story (a novel in one month or two weeks or nine days…) will need a lot of revision and editing. Parts may be destined for the circular file. But you will learn a lot about your characters and their journey. There is also a good chance that the first draft will be better (and more consistent) than you could have hoped for. As a bonus, all those rabbit trails might be the start of other stories with real potential.So try this to jumpstart your writing:1) Brainstorm an outline in one day; create a list of scenes and characters.2) Set that outline aside and refer to it only when necessary if at all.3) Set a high word count goal for each day am meet it.4) Do not edit anything.5) Take a break before revising.The results may surprise you.