Friday, 26 September 2008

Comma Hunting

I've had a week away from the blog, but I'm back.

There'll be no Fridayitis today as it doesn't make much sense to have two Fridayitis posted articles posted consecutively.

Now, I was going to take the weekend off as well but I've just come across this on the The Blood-Red Pencil. I have always tried to follow comma rules quite rigidly until a few comments from a critique partner put me right, but I still think I adhere to them too closely or do I?

I will resist the urge to go comma hunting tonight. . .

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Fridayitis (The All New Sunday Edition)

I can see I'll have to rename this feature 'Sometimes Friday Fridayitis' or stick to doing Saturday and Sunday editions. Too much real world stuff going on for the last two days to be able to post, so we have the belated edition (again).

Okee Dokee so what's been happening?

Well, it's all doom and gloom... publishing is no more!

New York Magazine leads with The End (this as usual has been pilfered from Nathan Bransford's blog - his commentary can be found here.

And Galleycat asks What's A Summer Without Harry Potter Look Like?

Joshua Palmatier over at SF Novelist has put together the Plot Synopsis Project II , so if your at that stage with your manuscript (some writers actually start with the synopsis), or want some practice and guidance then get over there!

In Stocking Books, The Rejecter covers some of the vagaries of buying, selling and stocking books, and it's Rejecter's first post in an age!

That's it folks

I'd say have a great weekend but it's almost over - cya next week!

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Struggling to Eat a Candy Bar

My fear of getting things wrong struck down my writing fingers over the last few days. I have been searching for information regarding navigation in space, in particular, referencing in-system astronomical bodies during combat manoeuvres. Can’t find the kinda thing I am looking for though.

I remember reading something in The Lost Fleet: Fearless where Jack Geary refers to an axis plane that referenced the star in that system, but I can’t remember whether it is relative to the ship or other planets or even the apparent centre of the galaxy. I can’t imagine it’s the centre of the galaxy as that isn’t something easily recognised in the heat of battle, so it has to reference something within the system. The search continues, but I can see I’m going to have to dive back into Fearless again to get some keywords to use for my search. Otherwise, I’ll be stuck on the candy bar forever!

Anyway, on my travels I cam across Astronomy for Science Fiction Writers, which has some nice articles on it.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Resist The Urge to Edit, Re-edit and Edit Again

Whilst pottering through some old emails this morning I came across some that I had sent home from work. I used to do this as a reminder to do something or in this case, I sent myself some hints and advice on writing that I had discovered that day.

Anyway, the two emails that caught my attention both centred around them same words: "as" and "while". One was concerned with "as" only and was a link to I killed an AS in the Absolute Write Water Cooler forum, and the other was concerned with both words because they tend to signify telling rather than showing.

Of course, I had a quick look to see how many occurrences of "as" there were in my last completed chapter and in my first chapter. There were too many! And, whilst I only had a cursory glance some of the occurrences could have been written better.

I’m sure I’ve looked for this word in my manuscript before, but it’s a style rule that I’ve recently learned and recently forgotten! Much as I’d like to eliminate them now. It will crop up again in rewrites, and I’ll have to re-edit, so I must resist the urge to go "as" hunting until the first draft is finished.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Write When You Can

I didn't get much time at my PC yesterday so I took a notepad and pen to bed, and instead of reading I outlined my Candy Bar Scene. Finally - yay!

A timely reminder for me that I should be Writing Every Day, just in case I suffer from a Lack of Writing Time.

Monday, 15 September 2008

The Monday Evening Write-up

So I'm there. I'm doing the candy bar scene. But, it's still not outlined! I've written a scattering of words to get into the scene. It's building nicely, but I'm not there yet.

I expect, what with all the real world stuff that still has to go on in my life that it'll be finished sometime towards the end of this week.

Excellent post from Jessica about Moving the Plot Forward. As usual well worth a read, and sage advice from Nathan about Not Getting Caught Up in the Rush.

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Candy Bar Scenes

Yipee! I’m there. I’m ready to write it. So what now? In fact, what is a candy bar scene?

First, let me define a "candy-bar" scene. It's one that you're just itching to write -- something sweet enough that you can dangle it on a stick in front of yourself so that you can say, "When I've done these next three chapters, I'll get to write that one.

Yum yum – good enough to eat.

But first, I need to outline. This one scene I outlined minimally in comparison to all the others, so now it’s time to go into a little more detail as this scene will be quite complex and I’ll need to get it straight in my head before I start writing.

(I’ll save outlining for another post but suffice to say some writers outline some don’t. I’m an outliner, but my mistake with outlining this novel was I did way too much)

I knew there was going to be a dogfight, I knew the major events of the dogfight and I knew roughly how many ships it would involve. Except there is more now, as I have someone else, another group involved but they may only bit part players in this book; they may never be seen again. Who knows? I’m not even sure yet whether they are pirates, privateers or more likely some kind of faction that I haven’t thought up yet. If they are a faction then they are more likely to make an appearance in a later book, so right now I think they are a faction.

But, right now they are going to throw a spanner in the works, they are going to come in and cause a problem for my main character then cut and run for it when they realise the heat that’s following him. Of course, they’ll slow him down just enough so that the bad guys catch up with him.

What’s the point in all this if there is already a dogfight going on? Well whenever I am brainstorming scenes, I always ask what the worst thing that can happen, and hey presto there’s be some kind of system failure – that may well happen too!

Be evil to your hero!

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Fridayitis (The Saturday Edition)

Welcome to your weekly dose of all things publishing...

Randy Ingermanson is umming and arrring about his next series of posts. It seems he is having trouble deciding whether to post about MRUs or voice. Pop over and add your weight to the comments here.

Over on The Blood-Red Pencil Velda Brotheron writes a snappy article on Beyond Grammar, Spelling and Punctuation.

Nathan Bransford - Literary Agent is Thursday's Blogs of Note! Yay!

Overnight Success Takes 2 to 10 yearsAgent Kristin reminds all us wannabes that there is no such thing as overnight success. Of course, there are some (rare) authors who sell their very first book and become overnight sensations, but even here, that author would probably have been working on that manuscript for at least a year.

That's it for today s the Blogger editor is still messing me about putting is silly CSS styles that have to be removed from the HTML

Anyone know what causes this?

Have a great weekend.

Friday, 12 September 2008

No Fridayitis Today

I'm having a few problems with the editor for blogger at the moment so Fridayitis will appear tomorrow.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

The Magic Number

OK so I didn't hit a thousand words...

But, I did hit around 600- and, I did another 200 or so before the school run this morning...

Rubbish! :-p

Update: I managed my 1000 but a day late :-)

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Losses That Add Up To Something

OK. So, this is my first day out of work.

It doesn't feel like a day off or a holiday, It feels different, it feels like I have lost something, or something has been taken away from me, and now I have a big gap in my life.

Well, I have plenty of things to fill the gap, not least of all my family and my writing, but it still feels strangely sad. (It actually feels like I've broken up with someone I cared about, but have fallen out of love with - if that makes sense).

I need to store these feelings and use them in my writing at a later date. And, right now, I need focus. First a goal - a thousand words today.

Let's see how I do.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Last Day in Work

It's my last day today!

So, I will now be posting from home rather than work.

For Live Journalers mood: sad :-(

To pastures new... (this post is getting a new tag called cheese I think!)

Anyone who hasn't checked out the links I added yesterday please do, as they are excellent sources of information.

Monday, 8 September 2008

Just Added

In Straight From Hel Helen Ginger, a freelance editor, book consultant, and writer, provides insights on Hiring an Editors and other industry related info. She also contributes to The Blood-Red Pencil where editors take the mystery out of book manuscript revision.

The Monday Morning Write-up

Whoo hoo! I’m onto Chapter 15 which should put me around half way through my novel, but it doesn’t... A rough guess is that it'll be at the 30,000 mark at the moment, but I think the actual word count is a little more than that. I’ll have to check it out tonight. So, I’m still only just over a third of the way through my planned number of words.

The reason I'm on Chapter15 rather than 14 is that I kinda cheated actually. I decided to split my manuscript into 3 acts or, as I’ve named them, parts I, II and III. The first split occurs at during Chapter 7, which is a comparatively long chapter for my book. My main character’s circumstances change significantly half way through that chapter, and will again change significantly between Chapter 18 and 19. So I split Chapter 7 into two shorter chapters of around 1500 words each.

Now, that leaves another 7 to 10 chapters for my manuscript to reach its final conclusion, which meets my aims of around 30 chapters for the finished book.

I had a-heart-in-mouth moment when I thought I’d lost some of the work I’d written that evening. No biggie – it was only about 500-600 words, but let that be a lesson to me to backup more frequently!!!!

Friday, 5 September 2008


Moonrat tells us why we should never submit unagented to publishing companies, and just like buses, where you wait for ages and ages and then two come along at the same time, Rachelle Gardner gives us her spin on the same topic in Ask the Agent: Query Publisher or Agent?

In Query Stats by Word Count Nathan discusses query sweet spots, and in his follow up post he tells us the Things he Doesn't Need to Know in a Query.

Gary Gibson, over on White Screen of Despair, asks if the electronic book market in the UK is doomed to die?

The Bookseller reports Waterstone's e-books open for business and also reports on a new way to self publish in writer publishes work through Twitter!

In Gloomy News (TM) Waterstone's sees summer sales drop.

In Not so Gloomy News (TM) US book sales hold up - just.

That's it for this week. I've got a big a few days ahead of me, where I decide whether my future is with my current employers or whether it's time to make a clean break, so whatever you're up to this weekend have a great one and enjoy your writing!

Thursday, 4 September 2008


Rachelle Gardner has written a great post on The Agent Process. One of the questions asked here are about formatting a manuscript.

The format I use can be found here courtesy of Holly Lisle.

Now, there are loads of correct ways to format a manuscript, and probably many more ways to incorrectly format a manuscript, but I never knew that double spaces after a period were frowned upon. Guess what I am doing tonight? I love find and replace...

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

You Know You Want To...

Some great advice from Randy Ingermanson: The Wrenching Truth About Wannabe Writers where he discusses what wannabe's (i.e. me) need to do to improve their writing.

I've been lucky so far, because my critique group have been quite kind to my work. In fact so far, I have been my own biggest critic. Unfortunately my group, which is an online group, has petered out. I think I'll try and finish my first draft before attempting to join another group.

Incidentally, for those who have not experienced a critique group, just reading someone else's work, and looking how to improve it, really opens your eyes on how to improve your own work and that's without having someone cast their eye over it.

Critique Groups for Writers is a good place to start.

Things To Do And To Make You Do It

Excellent post on Author's Echo about writing influences and the actual influence they impart, and also (I have to link to this because it is simply superb) The War of Art, I, II, III, IV, V and VI. This really struck home with me last night, to such an extent that I wrote a lot more than I would have otherwise. This is despite what I said in yesterdays Strike While the Iron is Hot. I really should have updated my cv yesterday too. So I'm gonna have to do that in work today.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Strike While the Iron is Hot

I've been mulling over a post on The Challenges of Writing 3rd Person Limited, but I've not yet committed pen to paper (as it were).

This is probably one of the best reasons I can think of for posting from home rather than in work. By the time I am ready to post from work I usually cannot remember that amazing idea I had a few days previously, or if I can the ideas just doesn't seem as good because I have forgotten some important or stand-out aspect of it. Sometimes it's simply because the amazing idea just wasn't that amazing to begin with.

On this occasion though I think I can do justice to a post on writing perspective, certainly on this perspective because I am over a third of a way through my novel and I had already worked out what aspects would suffer by choosing that perspective in the first place, but I am also acutely aware of the immediacy it brings to my character and his set of circumstances.

What I am rambling about today is I that want to do that post well, and not slam it out on a lunch break, or worse during training. The training I am undergoing at the moment is just a refresher, as it is role I have performed before, but I have to at least look like I am listing to the trainer LOL.

Have you guessed I have nothing to really post about today? Yes? I thought so. I didn't get anything done last night and I might not be able to commit to doing much tonight either arrrggghhh, (hold it together - hold it together, just write a little so that you can get your fix) but I have cool things going on in my story at the moment and I want to write it (now) so who knows.

Monday, 1 September 2008

The Word Felt is Banned!

With A Few Things Writers Can Learn from Harry Potter Editor Cheryl Klein provides an excellent advice on the craft of storytelling.

One of the things I learned from this speech was that the word felt is banned! Well not really but it should be used very much in moderation.

Cheryl goes on to say

When I'm reading manuscript submissions, I'm always alert to the use of the word "felt," especially in the first ten pages Because if you-the-writer are having to tell me how your character feels, Then that probably means you haven't succeeded in getting me in the character's head So I'm not feeling those emotions alongside the character And I read books precisely to get out of my own head and emotions Into the experiences and feelings of these imaginary people.

Of course I took another look at how many times I'd used felt in my first chapter. Needless to say I won’t be posting that info here LOL, but in my defence, I checked one of my earlier drafts and found I had used the word half as many times in the more recent draft, and I think this is because a critique partner had mentioned that the sample I had provided lacked human level emotions, so of course I went and overdid it on the rewrite.

I've revised Chapter 1 now and in and most cases I have rewritten the offending line completely, some I have replaced felt with seemed and in others I've left it completely alone because, in some cases, it is perfectly alright to have that word in there! I mustn't loose site of the fact that any art is subjective and that the word felt would be perfectly Ok for some, but not in the quantities I had used it.

The Monday Morning Write-up

Ok so at least I got some writing done whilst on paid leave.

I finished Chapter 13 properly. I thought I'd finished in the middle of last week, but even through it’s a first draft it needed a little more work.

I've read a couple of books by Alastair Reynolds recently and his work has been inspiring. So much so that there are new plot points kicking off as well, bad things that will happen to my main character. The first one is introduced and largely avoided in the scene I am writing at the moment but there'll be more to come later on in the book.

I've also become conscious that I need to a do a little more world building, again thanks to Mr. Reynolds. One of my critique partners had commented that there was a little to much scene setting in my first chapter so I made a conscious effort to tone it down a little and to weave it in a bit more seamlessly, but I think it is time to start weaving in some relevant history of my universe and some of the politics of that universe. I will most probably slip in the relevant stuff now and then go back to my earlier chapters to see if there is anything I can slip in which will raise questions with the people who read it and anything that will move the plot forwards.

There are certainly organisations in my universe who need more fleshing out.

So, I've done a bit of reading, a but of writing and I've spent time with my family. All in all I've had a pleasant time since my last post.

Hope you all have enjoyed whatever it is you've been up to since my last post.

More later :-)

Back for a bit...

Hey I'm back!

I'm in training at the mo.

Still very unhappy with being forced to work a different role but I'll try and keep the real world related posts to a minimum.

I'm seriously thinking of completing this (re)training for 3 weeks and then leaving, but in order to do that I need to find alternative employment. I should get days paid leave followed by a months pay for redundancy, but that is very big step for me to take. I really can't face going backwards in my job.

Not nice.

If I do leave here then I think I will start posting from home 'cos I do like doing this blog, and certainly like reading other blogs to do with publishing and writing.

Anyway I'm gonna do at least one proper post today.

In the meantime what have I missed? What's been happening?
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