Weekly Progress Report #35

So-so week in writing. I didn’t get much progress done on my book. I did edit Chapter 4. My routine that I rely on was disrupted by a holiday. That tends to throw me off quite a bit not only in writing but also at work.

I did end the week on a positive as I returned to my roots of writing dark fiction in the Weekly Writing Challenge. I think it is one of my best works to date. I had pulled the prompt late on Friday. Usually I pull the prompt on Thursday to give me a couple of days to figure out how I’m going to use it for the story. Friday night, I slept horribly. I kept waking up through the night and then going right back to sleep.

It is rare for me to remember my dreams, but I still vividly remember the dreams I had on Friday night. Possible story lines for the prompt kept going through my head. Every one was discarded for various reasons. Some were tired tropes. Some fizzled out. Others made no sense.

As I sat down on Saturday evening to write the story, my mind was blank. Then I remembered when I was growing up one of my chores was milking the family cow. The winter months when it had snowed were a special time of peace. From there the story unfolded almost magically from my fingertips.

This Friday, I’m going to see my primary physician for my annual physical. He is also going to draw blood to test my PSA and testosterone level. I’m anxiously awaiting the results. Hopefully they are good levels. If so, then I can finish the final coda to my memoir. After that, I plan on being consumed with editing and revision.

The plan is to publish it on Kindle by September. Which means I’m going to also have to learn how to do book blurbs, formatting and coming up with a book cover.

Till next week, time and tide wait for no man.


Weekly Progress Report #34

I had hoped to get into a regular routine of writing, editing and revising this past week. So much happened that it was hard to do so. I unexpectedly started a new position at work. Moved to counter sales. I have little to no experience doing sales, so it is a huge learning curve. Plus having to deal with ornery plumbers is rather difficult. Thankfully, I have a lot of help in learning the plumbing terminology. Yes, I’ve been working there for two years now, but I know all the parts by their item numbers, not what plumbers call them.

My mom came to visit for most of the week. Huge disruption in my writing and more importantly, my thinking time. When it is just Mrs. D and myself, I have ample periods where I can let my mind roam free with thoughts of how this story or that story may go. I did have a good time talking with my mom. This was probably the first time in years that we really talked.

My youngest daughter and her fiancée moved here from Virginia. We will be going by their new house sometime today or tomorrow. They are hoping for some expertise in tackling a few home projects. As I’ve done that quite a bit years ago, I’m sure to have some good input for them in techniques.

I did get some writing done this week, just not as much as I hoped. One thing I’ve been putting off is continuing the Brandon Sanderson lectures. The next one is Worldbuilding Q&A. It’s kind of hard to see the value in a Q&A session, plus I have to watch it at least a couple of times to get all the detail. So it is a huge time sink. Since I’m not working tomorrow, I’m going to mentally schedule it.

I plan on writing one or two chapters of The Altered Part 2 this week, plus go back and edit and revise Chapter 3 of Part 1 and post it.

Till next week, time and tide wait for no man.

Weekly Progress Report #33

It’s been a roller coaster of a week. With the hormone therapy slowly exiting my body, my logical mind thinks that it should be a steady progression. That is far from the truth. Some days I feel much better and then there is a setback for a day or two. Stress definitely causes me hot flashes that can go on long after the stress is removed.

I didn’t post that much last week but I did get a bunch of writing done on my book. It’s progressing quite well and getting exciting to me. I did try to keep to the routine of a regular writing time, but fell a bit short last week. Hopefully I can stick to the routine this week a bit better.

Goals, let’s take a look at where I’m at. I’ve cleaned it up a bit and deleted the completed ones.

  • Rewrite short story Lump -In Progress
  • Rewrite short story The Curse
  • Finish first draft of Part 2 of The Altered Wars – In Progress
  • Continue the Brandon Sanderson lectures

I had designated Thursday’s as my editing and rewriting day. That was the day I was exhausted and didn’t get anything done.

For the second weekend in a row, I got out to the garage and continued organizing. I also started a small project. It’s been a long time since I’ve done any woodworking. I was spoiled when I was in New Mexico with a huge workshop. Now I have a one-car garage to work in and Mrs. D likes to keep her car in it. So it has been a challenge.

Mrs. D is excited that I’m even attempting a woodworking project. I think she had given up hope on me ever doing any. Especially this last year when I was battling cancer.

Till next week, time and tide wait for no man.

Weekly Progress Report #32

Huge improvement in my writing routine. I’ve carved out an hour each night that seems to work really well. If I can keep to the schedule for another week or so, then it will become an ingrained habit. My to-do list is slowly getting worked on.

  • Finish first draft of My Cancer Journey Completed
  • Rewrite short story Lump -In Progress
  • Rewrite short story The Curse
  • Finish first draft of Part 2 of The Altered Wars
  • Setup Storylines page on this blog Completed
  • Continue the Brandon Sanderson lectures

Priorities this week is to work on the first draft of the book, “The Altered Wars” I last worked on it during the month of November. I want to have it finished by the end of June, but we will see.

Worked on the garage workshop yesterday and will continue today. It’s needed a cleanup and organization for a long time. Finally felt decent enough in energy to start tackling that job.

Today is our wedding anniversary. We don’t have anything special planned. As it is the third marriage for both of us, we are both a bit jaded on celebrations. We will occasionally do something, but it isn’t a high priority. On our fourth wedding anniversary, we both completely forgot it. Our two youngest were graduating from high school and our oldest had just gotten her associate degree. Wasn’t until a few days after all the hoopla that my mom remembered our anniversary and let us know. Oops!

We have been together now for eighteen years and Mrs. D is definitely a keeper. She is and always will be my beautiful bride.

Till next week, time and tide wait for no man.

Weekly Progress Report #30

Still haven’t found a routine of writing yet. Eventually, I want to carve out at least 2 hours a day. I’ve found that it takes me about 30 minutes to get into the groove of writing. Then it’s like a burst of creativity that flows directly from my mind to the words on the screen. That last for maybe an hour and then I wind down. It was hit or miss this week to find the time to write.

The end goal of course is to become a better writer. That requires practice, practice and more practice. It was once said that 10,000 hours are required to become a master of a skill. At two hours a day, I should be a master writer in about 13-14 years. Wow! Let’s rethink that analogy as I don’t think that really applies to writing.

I do think by challenging myself and trying different aspects of writing, it has the effect of expanding my writing knowledge. That being said, I have two main challenges each week. The Six Sentence Story is a great challenge as I have to write a complete story in only six sentences. I’ve read other Sixer stories that seem like each sentence is a paragraph. When I write one like that, it seems very clunky and hard to follow. I have become comfortable in writing sparse, to the point Sixers. I’ve been amazed at the breadth of responses to each one. Everyone sees the story in a different way. This week I’m going to try to put in more detail as it will challenge me to define the sixer without being clunky. I may fail, but that’s okay as I want to push the limits of my writing ability.

The Weekly Writing Challenge is another area where I make a concentrated effort to take the prompt in a different way than expected. When I read the prompt after drawing it from the bowl of doom, I almost always discard the first idea that comes to mind. It’s more than likely the usual trope that everybody has seen hundreds of times. I’m looking for ways to surprise the reader with new ideas, new thoughts and new directions for the prompt. For the most part, I think I succeed. The concept is there, but to make it also interesting is the rub. I’ve not always succeeded there.

I had listed my projects last week, so let’s take a look at where I stand:

  • Finish first draft of Part 3 of My Cancer Journey
  • Rewrite short story Lump
  • Rewrite short story The Curse
  • Finish first draft of Part 2 of The Altered Wars
  • Setup Storylines page on this blog
  • Continue the Brandon Sanderson lectures

I did finish the first draft of Part 3. Got started on the first draft of the Aftermath of My Cancer Journey.

After much procrastination, I finally continued the lectures. I didn’t think I would learn much, but was very surprised. Worldbuilding wasn’t high on my list to learn about, but I ended up learning a lot of new things. I put some of them to work in “The Attic” and really liked what I came up with. Expect to see at least two more lecture notes this week.

Didn’t touch any of the other projects. Their time will come when it is supposed to and not before it’s time. I’m thinking I need to learn a bit more about the craft of writing before I can tackle those projects.

Till next week, time and tide wait for no man.

Weekly Progress Report #29

I’ve been struggling to find time to write this last week. My normal routine for the last six months or so is to come home from work, relax for a bit, then eat dinner. After dinner, I sit down and write for an hour or two. As we get closer to summer, the daylight hours are increasing. Dinner time is getting later and later. This doesn’t give me much time to write after dinner. I am a creature of habit and loathe to change even when it is clearly not working. This week, I’m going to attempt to change things up and do my writing before dinner. We’ll see how it works out in the coming weeks.

My writing last week was up and down, mostly down. But I managed to knock one out of the park in writing my Sixer (Six Sentence Story). Arguably one of the best pieces of writing to date. I also attempted a reverse plot story that was not bad for trying a new writing style. Not sure if I’ll do it again, but who knows. I didn’t work on any of my projects this week. They are starting to pile up. Just to keep them straight in my head, I’m going to list them and update each week.

  • Finish first draft of Part 3 of My Cancer Journey
  • Rewrite short story Lump
  • Rewrite short story The Curse
  • Finish first draft of Part 2 of The Altered Wars
  • Setup Storylines page on this blog
  • Continue the Brandon Sanderson lectures

There may be more that I’ll add as I think I may be missing one or two but can’t remember right now. The Storylines page is to present the various continuing stories in one page to make them easy to find. Right now, I can think of four (The Curse, Harry Greun vignettes, Harmony Sixers and the Brandon Sanderson lectures). By setting them up now, it will make it easier to update later.

I’ve noticed a trend lately in that almost all of my titles are one to three words in length. Titles are important as they leave a clue as to what the reader is going to see. I think I need to work on creating effective titles.

Till next week, time and tide wait for no man.

I Goofed, Or Did I?

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My gut instinct last night was not to publish Part 4 of The Curse. I didn’t know why so I overrode what I felt and published it anyway. It bugged me all last night and this morning. I read it again and now I see that I should have followed my instincts.

I wrote Part 1 almost ten years ago and didn’t write another word until I started writing again last September when I was casting around for an idea to write a story. After the first draft, the story ended up being about 1800 words. I had a couple of people beta read it and from their suggestions the story expanded to about 2500 words.

It still didn’t seem right, so I sent it off to another beta reader. I tweaked and added a whole new section which brought the story to 3100 words. By this time, NaNoWriMo was about to start and I decided that The Curse was complete and ready to go. In the next few months I submitted it to six different magazines and received six form rejections.

With every thing going on in my life and the writing challenges that I had set up, I didn’t make the time to go back over the story and see why it was getting rejected. Frankly, I gave up on it getting published. A month ago, I didn’t have anything to write on a Friday and as a lark, I posted the first part of The Curse. It seemed well received, so I decided to post the rest in installments every Friday.

Normally, I like to keep my posts between 400 and 800 words. Anymore than that, it seems to long for a blog post. I know when I read a story on someone’s site that is well over that, I rarely finish the story. After posting Part 2, I was surprised that readers were saying that I had left it as a cliffhanger. I was even more surprised when after posting Part 3 that it looked like another cliffhanger. Why it was so unexpected is that when you read the story in whole, there isn’t an obvious moment where you think “Cliffhanger!”.

Part 4 was hard for me to figure out how much to post. I tried three or four different ending spots but nothing seemed right. Finally I said the hell with it and just posted what I did. I realized afterwards that I needed to add a short note that Part 5 would be posted next week as it looked like the story had ended.

I didn’t get the reaction that I had been getting from the previous parts. I now know why. Part 4 is just a massive info dump. I had been ratcheting up the story up until that point and then it goes completely flat with the dump. Now I see why the story had been rejected repeatedly.

Back to the drawing board.

I’ve got some ideas on how to fix that part. Mostly by eliminating a lot of the info dump and adding in an action sequence or two. Then instead of doing a paragraph telling about the trek to Canada, I’ll need to add in more story lines and more characters. I expect the story to almost double in size by the time I’m done.

In retrospect, it seemed like I errored by posting Part 4, but instead it has given me insight to why the story wasn’t working and how to fix it. I think this was an inspired exercise by posting the story in serial format. I had thought to delete the Part 4 post, but I’ll let it stay to remind me to stay away from the cursed info dumps.

Brandon Sanderson Lecture #2 – Plot Part 1

Overall impression – Getting into the nuts and bolts of writing. The easy going Brandon from the Intro lecture is gone, now it’s fast paced with lots of information. Brandon actually speaks faster and faster as the lecture progresses. Great use of examples using Star Wars, Lord of the Rings and his books which I’ve not actually read.

Below is notes I typed while listening to the lecture. Some of it may not make sense to you if you haven’t listened to the lecture. These are merely highlights of what I picked up on during the lecture.

Most of the time books are not just one idea. Ideas don’t make a book, Authors make ideas work.

3 parts of Plot: Promises, Progress, Payoff.

Types of promises: (Intro to the piece) Don’t have to have them in first draft, but in revision look to make sure you include them.

Tone Promises – Sets the tone and style (Don’t start a wacky comedy book with a tragic incident)

Character Arc Promise – Character desire and what prevents them. (how the character is going to change) Iconic characters do not require an Arc. i.e. Sherlock Holmes, James Bond

Plot Promise – What type of story are you giving the reader. (adventure, romance, horror)

Progress is the most important part of the plot and the hardest part of writing.

Progress is in the complete control of the author. You want to create the illusion of progress for the reader. This is done by the story arc. (Why people are turning your pages) Progress must match Promises or Promises must match Progress.

Payoff is where you make good on all of the promise and progress. Talked a bit about twists.

Part 2 will be on twists and plot types in detail.

All lectures of Brandon Sanderson are now linked on the Storylines page if you wish to follow along in order.

Weekly Progress Report #25

Photo by Miguel u00c1. Padriu00f1u00e1n on Pexels.com

Making progress this last week. I fulfilled my goals of writing everyday. I finished amending Part 2 of “My Cancer Journey” by adding a new section. I’ve started Part 3 which shows how I beat cancer.

I had a really hard time coming up with an idea for my Weekly Writing Challenge. The prompt was a hard one. I thought about it for several days and kept coming up with pretty lame ideas. Asked my wife and daughter for help, but they were stumped also. Finally about an hour before my self-imposed deadline, I had an inspiration that just might work. Started writing and the words just flowed.

After 12 weeks of pulling prompts from the Bowl of Doom, I’m starting to think that there aren’t any easy prompts. Every single one has been challenging. At least I won’t be bored with the prompts. Only have 40 weeks to go to finish this challenge, though I fear at times I won’t be able to due to the hard prompts. Somehow I manage to pull an idea out of the ether each week.

This week’s main goal is to get Part 3 done. I should be able to get the lion’s share done today and the rest of the week to finish and do a first edit. Hopefully, I’ll be ready to ask for volunteers to beta read for me by the end of the week.

I’ve settled into a writing routine which seems to work for me. On Sunday’s, I do the Progress report and the Sunday Ramble. Wednesday is the Six Sentence Story and Saturday is the Weekly Writing Challenge. The other four days of the week are random thoughts, stories or a mini-update.

Till next week, time and tide wait for no man

Procrastination? Or Not?

Inspiration Pad Second Edition. by Marc Thomasset is licensed under CC-BY-NC 4.0

I’ve have been guilty of procrastination lately. I know I should sit down and write Part 3 of My Cancer Journey at least in a rough draft form. For some reason, I can’t find the motivation to do that.

I have been thinking on it all week as far as what I want and should write but I haven’t got to the point yet of actually putting it down in writing.

Then again, I am also wrestling with the idea of going back to Part 2 and rewriting portions of it. I’m definitely going to add to it as I had written that in November of last year and I feel that Part 2 should end right before I got my MRI scan on January 8th.

Truth be told, I think I’m still processing everything that has happened. It takes time to get clarity on this subject. I have written before stating that I didn’t want this to be a point by point story but to add in what I was thinking, what I was feeling and how all that affected my journey with cancer. With being free from stage 4 cancer in only 10 months, I think that this will be the most important thing I ever write. So I don’t want to rush it.

On the other hand, by delaying and trying to make it perfect, potentially a person that really needed to read it won’t be able to before succumbing to cancer.

It’s a balancing act for sure.

I’m going to sit down this weekend and write the first draft. In order to speed up the process a bit, I’ll need some help in editing it. If you are willing to spend an hour or two to help me in this endeavor, then please let me know in the comments section.