Category Archives: Writing

May Update: Still Writing

book shelf in form of head on white backgrounds

So, we’ve been in lockdown since mid-March. My wife works from home from my old desk so I’m working on one half of the kitchen table. I get up early before my wife and daughter to fit in a few quiet hours to get some writing done and fit in what I can throughout the rest of the day.

I finished that alien short story the end of March. It came in at 45k words so I guess it’s not a short story no longer. I wrote a fourth story which I initially thought might be as an epilogue but is probably a separate story.

I then did another draft of a fantasy short story which I’ve been working on for several years. I’m still not happy with it, but the current draft is a big improvement on the last one. I’ll tinker at again at another time.

I also started editing the first book of my six book fantasy. Draft 2 took until the end of April. Draft 3 took about two weeks. I enjoyed Draft 2. I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the first draft. Draft 3 was less fun. It was staring at the individual strokes of an impressionist painting. Stare close enough and the structure disappears, the dots lose their meaning. I was glad to get to the end and send it off to my beta readers.

Anyway, on to Book 2. I have a feeling that parts of this one will take a lot more work, but maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised. *crosses fingers*

February Update – The Runaway Story

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

It was all so simple. I had an idea for a story—an alien invasion story with a twist. It would be the first story in a second Alienity collection. But then I had an idea for a sequel, a continuation. It was easier to write than the original story, so I wrote it while the other matured.

I finished it. It was good. I wrote the second. I had an idea for a third. So, now I’m thinking instead of another Alienity, I’ll write a collection set in this particular world. I could see ideas sprouting around it. There were at least a couple of other stories that I might pursue. They weren’t outlined. I couldn’t put them neatly into sentences. They were more intriguing whispers.

The first two short stories came in at the 10k-12k range. I always write short. My stories always expand in editing. The second had the potential to expand, but that could wait. I had this third story to write. I had the exact ending already. It would probably come in around the same size as the others.

The third is now over twice that and still growing.  It moves ahead like a rainbow. I go to where the finish appears to be, but it’s still teasing me in the distance. It could need another 10k words, maybe less, maybe more. I doubt it will reach novel length, but it could.

I tend to pants short stories. I instinctively know what I want. All I need to know is where I want to finish. But in this case, getting there is taking a lot longer than usual. The logistics of getting the characters where I want them conspires against brevity.
So, on one hand, I’m really intrigued by this story and at the same time I’m annoyed with it for being so long.

The big crunch is coming though. I am closing in on what I had intended to be the end. Do I finish there and continue the arc in another story, or do I keep this one going? My original ending was ideal for a short story, but as this story moves towards a long novella will it will it be sufficient? Does what would have been the next story become the next section of this one?

I guess I must write it to find out.

My fantasy novel series isn’t forgotten. I’m just leaving it alone for now so I can get some distance from them. In April I’ll start the second draft of the first one. Waiting until then is a chore, but it’s the right thing to do. I need to come back to them as a stranger, seeing them with fresh eyes.

I’ve come to the realisation that the best way to write a first draft is to assume everything written is either brilliant or can be fixed later, and not worry too much about the relative percentages of either. Cold, hard reality can wait for the second draft.

 

2019 In Review

Ogma-72dpi-1500x2000

I finished Book 6 which is now *cough* Book 5. I’m very happy with the ending of the book, but after already experiencing the high of writing the series finale, it felt a little anticlimactic. Nonetheless, the first draft of the full series (6 books) is in now complete. It’s kind of luxurious to see the story from start to finish. I plan to start work on the 2nd Drafts early this year.

I was kind of at a loss what to do immediately after I finished so I toyed about with a short story about alien invasion. This has turned into three stories and more will possibly be added. I have no outline for them. I find that if I know the ending it’s relatively easy to put the rest together. But sometimes, I don’t know the ending or rather I have two diametrically opposite endings that both will fit the story. I don’t know which one until I finish. This sort of story is the most exciting for me to write. It’s like I am reading the story for the first time as I write it.

Overall, in 2019, I wrote 209k words, comprising mostly of the first drafts of three novels. That beats the previous year by about 25k words. I missed writing only ten days in the year. My philosophy is to be honest with myself and not to overly worry about streaks and so on. I write whenever I can but sometimes life intrudes and I have to accept I can’t. On the other hand, there are days when I have the time but not the inclination. On those days, I grit my teeth and write; I write my quota clinging onto every squeezed out word for dear life. It’s amazing what can be achieved in little steps. I have to say having Scrivener on my phone made a huge difference to my productivity.

I plan to achieve the same rough word count this year (ca 183k words or roughly 500 words per day for the entire year). I also plan to start overhauling those first drafts. I am approaching the first book of the series with excitement. I’ll probably end up changing every word I wrote, but, as I remember it, the backbone of the story should hold up pretty well.

I also published Alienity this year, finishing out four short stories. I plan to publish more as I finish them.

September Progress Update

Stack Of Books

I published Alienity back at the end of July. The process of publishing went very smoothly as did the preparation of the paperback using Vellum. I’m not going to publish the paperback for a while until I have more paperbacks ready for publishing. In Ireland, copies have to be sent to the British Library, three other Libraries in the UK if they request them within a year, to Trinity College and several other university libraries across Ireland so the exercise can get pretty expensive.

I am very happy with the stories themselves, particularly The Chosen One. I wrote it from scratch three times from different perspectives, but it clicked together over the summer. I wrote my favorite line ever as part of the edit. I had an ending in my mind from the start, came to dislike it, sought something different, but in the end I gave the story the honest ending it deserved. The tension really adds to the story.

For me, publishing can be a type of release. These stories no longer flutter about the inside of my head, distracting me, demanding my attention, taunting me with their ephemerality. Now that they are released into the wild, my debt to them has been paid and I am finally free of them.

The other bit of news is I finished the first draft of Book Five of my five book fantasy series following on from my short story No Escape. It was really exciting to write those last couple of chapters. They had played out in my mind for so long. It’s the (first draft) culmination of a long writing journey (eighteen months). There was only one small problem. There were several threads left dangling that didn’t fit into the  main arc but demanded on being brought to a proper conclusion. I think a reader will might feel cheated if I don’t resolve them so I am working a sixth book. This will actually be the fifth book in the series. The full first draft of this should be done by Christmas and then work on the second draft of the whole series will begin.

February Update: If the Devil is in the detail, then editing can be like an exorcism.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Finishing the 2nd draft of novel codenamed Spaghetti 1 at about 70k words, I immediately started on the 3rd draft. This draft will work through the detail of the story. I have the skeleton but it needs to be fleshed out in a lot of places. The organs are there, but some are too small or too big or in the wrong place.

This draft is also about making decisions. I must expunge the narrative scars of ideas that went nowhere. The 2nd draft had a level of ambiguity. For example, two mutually exclusive ideas might have been allow to coexist, I have to now choose, one way or the other. Where there are conundrums in the narrative, I have to solve them as I go along, even if it means taking a few steps backward at times. And of course, any decision can set off an avalanche of new ones. And new ideas are coming, better ideas than before, that must be accommodated in the story as if they had always been part of it.

And every detail needs to be carefully indexed so I don’t have to wade through pages of  text later, getting that horrible drowning feeling, to confirm I’m not contradicting myself. From dress to character, from motive to tea preference, everything must be made consistent.

It’s slow. It can be tedious. But is it worth it? Yes. It’s fantastic to see the story take shape, the characters come alive, and the blur come into focus.

New Interview

IMG_2276

Today, IndieBRAG has published an interview with me about my writing.

I’m always bemused (and a little worried) when readers say they sympathise with him [Garscap Torp]. I know him too well to like him. I understand the ego that drives him. (To be fair, I put it there.)

You can read the whole interview HERE.