100 Challenge Julia’s Place – Grey – After the Storm

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It’s been a while since I participated in the 100 word challenge from Julia’s place. It feels nice to get back into the swing of things. I hope you enjoy the post eruption mini below.

Title: After the Storm

“Gary, how long will this last?” Clara asked staring out the window.

“No idea. The radio’s gone silent again. This time I think it’s for good,” her brother replied slapping the device again.

“Do you think we should leave?” Clara watched a car race down the road. Outside, it was growing cold.

“No, I think it’s best if we stay inside. In time, things will clear up. We’re outside the blast radius. I don’t think we’ll be affected.” Clara nodded, but did not believe a word he said.

As the grey ashes fell, Clara knew her world had changed forever.

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When Is A Manuscript Done?

I’ve been editing for some time now. It has been nearly three weeks since I started the process of cutting and manipulating seven chapters of the latest draft of my novel in order to submit it. I’ve found so many mistakes and plot lines that either needed to be removed or drastically accentuated that I am shocked I thought this draft completed in the first place.

This has caused me to do some serious reflection on what a draft is. I used to think that it was another step in the right direction, but a lot of times it is not. Lately I’ve deleted more words than I have kept. I’ve probably been more frustrated with writing through this process than I have ever been. However, I feel as though I am breaking through to another layer of writing that will make me that much better because of all of the toil I experience now.

The main question I wrestle with is, when do you know when a draft is done? You can have friends read it, have them pick over it and give their assessment, make changes based on those assessments, and then redraft. But at some point you have to get it out there. It might sound silly but at times I feel like I am coaxing a little bird along the edge of a branch preparing to push it off so it can take flight. The problem is I cannot be sure this little bird is ready to fly. I know I am ready to move on, but I don’t want to commit a novice mistake and get a rejection just because it is not ready.

I suppose it comes down to believing in your story. That your voice will shine through, and that the editor or slush pile surfer will forgive any inconsistencies that you missed. Hopefully, by the end of the week, I will pluck up the courage to push this feathered little manuscript out into the world. I just hope it flies.  

Cheers,

Bob

Book Proposal Salvo 2.1

I wanted to take a moment and write a quick blog post about what I have been up to and explain the unannounced silence. For the last week I have been in the midst of a redraft. I sent in my chapter and proposal to the acquisitions editor last week and I was asked to send more chapters. It wasn’t because it blew his socks off but because more of my writing was needed for a sound evaluation.

Over the last week or so I have been rewriting and cutting, as I planned to do, in order to send back seven more chapters. It has been a fantastic adventure to wade this deeply into my story once again and see what is there. I was surprised to find some parts better than I expected and others much much worse. I am excited to send the chapters and take a long deserved break from staying up until 1 in the morning and getting up early (at times) to continue slogging along.

This edit sprint has helped me become a better writer. It has also caused me to fall in love with my story again and want to make to see it in print that much more. I will share what I have learned when I am done, hopefully tomorrow.

Keep writing my friends. I will keep you posted.

Cheers,

Bob

 

Add your thoughts here… (optional)

Josh Mosey | Writer

It has a name.

After conducting a poll to determine which of the names were most popular (the most popular category was Other, as in, other than the names we liked), the Weaklings decided to throw all previous names out the window and start fresh. Thus was born Jot: The GR Writers Mini-Conference.

So, for those of you who value putting events in your calendars, jot this down. Jot will be happening February 8th from 7:00 – 11:00pm at Baker Book House in Grand Rapids, MI.

Baker Book House's new event areaNow that we have a name, a date, and a venue, we need to market this thing. And to do that, we’ll need your help. In order to market effectively, we need to create some graphics for the conference. And so, we are having a Jot Logo Contest. Think you have an eye for graphic design? Send us a logo! Make…

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Use Dialogue to Advance Your Plot

When I look back on the first draft of my novel, I cannot help but cringe. I would liken it to a child’s first drawings, but I was not a child when I wrote it. Since that time I have tried to learn the technical parts of the novel while reconciling those rules with the nuances of the craft.

There are things I know: make sure your verbs agree, watch perspective, add a comma at the end of dialogue. However, there are rules I am familiar with that are much harder to learn. Showing and not telling is a perfect example.

Recently, I stumbled upon something that I should have known years ago:  Advance the plot through dialogue.  When I started writing all those years ago I penned what I thought was a nice beginning:

It was terribly early in the morning, before the sun had even bothered to stretch its rays over the sleeping city of Calelleth and Custos was already dressed, sneaking past his snoring roommates, and ambling down the stairs of the Hall of Arx. The reason for his waking before dawn was twofold. First, because it was harvest time and Custos was a farmer, though many who were to join him in the fields had yet to wake and boil water for their morning teas and coffees. Second, because it was still dark and he did not want anyone to notice his going.

Sadly, I thought this was good at the time. It continues for about four pages before someone else happens upon the scene. However since stumbling upon this tip I have crafted something I think is a bit better:

Custos slipped on his clothes in the dark. He dug his work boots out from under a pile of stinky clothes and a pungent waft of day-old sweat assaulted his nostrils. Custos gagged and stepped backward knocking a chair over. It fell to the floor sending a reverberating crash through the silent room. Custos froze. He listened. His roommates were all breathing heavily, save for one.

“And where do you think you’re going?” asked his best friend Comitis while stifling a yawn.

“Nowhere,” Custos replied while pulling on a boot. “Go back to bed.”

“I’m in bed. You’re the one going somewhere.” Custos rolled his eyes and thrust on his other boot.

“I’ll see you in the fields,” Custos said. Comitis rolled over, groaned and then flopped out of bed. “Um, what are you doing?”

“Going to the woods.” Comitis replied.

“How’d you…”

“I followed you the other day.” Custos was glad his friend sounded somewhat ashamed. “I’ll come to the edge, no further.” Comitis said as his head popped out from the top of his shirt.

“Calm down, I’ve never actually thought of going in.”

“Sure you haven’t.

Though I feel like this is an improvement I will leave it up for you to decided. Please comment in the section below.

Thank you.

Cheers,

Bob

Book Proposal Salvo Number 2

This morning was tumultuous, filled with excitement followed by the immediate feeling of regret. Yes, I sent out another book proposal. I am very excited but also had that tightening of the stomach feeling like speeding over a small brief hill in a car.

It’s Away!

I suppose this is how I should feel. If you spent a lot of time on your work (coming up on 8 years now) you should feel this way. After this it’s back to the editing front. I hope to get more chapters done this week. Time will tell.

Sorry for the brief post but I need to get back to work. Thank you to all who encourage and continue to read this blog. I could not have done it without my community. Writing is a solitary process at times. But no writer can get a book published on their own.

Good luck today. Remember your writing goals. Chase after them. Brush that sleep from your eyes and get it done today. Don’t wake up tomorrow with writer’s regret!

Cheers,

Bob

My First Mistake

When I started my novel, all those years ago, I thought ‘Wouldn’t it look cozy next to the Lord of the Rings Trilogy?’. Or ‘maybe I could nestle it between David Copperfield and War and Peace?’. I honestly had no idea what I was doing. This was my first mistake, a terribly aimed goal. I did not believe that my work was as good as a classic, nor should any writer. Everyone must find their own path and write what they love and know and let their book be what it is. However, I think a lot of beginner writers have a few presuppositions about big novels.

The main reason I wanted to write something long was because I thought 100,000 words was the magical number I had to see in my word count. And I did. But I did not know that Dickens was paid by the word as were most writers back then. Of course he could have tangents and funny anecdotes but that is how the publishing world worked back then. Not so today.

I recently heard an acquisition editors say that they train their slush pile surfers to toss manuscripts over 80,000 words. I am not saying this is a rule but something to think about. I realized now that 100,000 words are nice for Harry Potter, but that is not for me.

My practice now is to cut out as many words as I can to strip my story down. Chapter 1 was cut by 1000 words and chapter 2 by 500+. My goal is to create a streamlined story. One that is clear and concise and to the point. I my aim is not to get under 80,000 words just because. However, I am doing my best to kill my darlings. I hope you do as well.

Cheers,

Bob

The Writer’s Lie – That PERFECT Writing Time

When I first started writing it was at a feverish pace. I didn’t have children at the time and my wife was fine with me scribbling away. I spent a lot of time at the kitchen table writing in our old apartment. This was how I finished my first manuscript. It was a great time for wild publishing dreams, before I realized how much work writing is.

Fast forward three years and my wife and I have two kids. I have a house and growing responsibilities. I realize that sleep is now important as I approach thirty, and that I need to manage my time better. Back in the pre-children days I could plan out my writing time. Now I want to spend time with my children and I told my wife, because they are more important, I will sequester my writing time to early in the morning or late at night. A writer never sleeps, or in my case stays up past 11pm.

I was inspired to write this post because I was lying in bed an hour ago thinking, I’m just too tired to write. And then again, if I am too tired I will probably just write something awful that needs to be deleted. I thought I needed rest. I have to drive until about 1am to visit family in New York so the thought was not without merit.

However, I soon found myself dwelling on the ideal writing time. You know that cabin in the woods, coffee fresh off the pot, the sun is just poking over the horizon across the lake and I am already on page fifteen. The story is flowing out of me onto the page and I am typing flawlessly. I think this is the big lie about writing: That there is this ideal time somewhere out there that will unlock our potential. This is what I was thinking about while lying in bed. Then I realized as I did awhile back that it does not exist.

There were times when I first had children where I thought I could not write on a certain day because I was tired. True. There were times I didn’t feel like it because I stare at two computer monitors at work all day. True. Then I thought I needed about two hours to get my gears going to have momentum to write something well.  However, when you look for the perfect time to write, you tend to look for weeks and weeks and stop writing altogether.  This happened to me when my first daughter was born.

The thing is, writing is a lot like exercising. It can be painful when you do it with consistency at first. But soon you will find that doing thirty sit ups are not as hard as it once was. Just as writing that first sentence is not as difficult as it once was. So, find some time to write. Stick to the schedule. Your novel will not write itself. And stop hoping for your schedule to change, your kids to sleep, your work to become more flexible, or all of the worries of your life to fade away. Pick out a time to exercise your writing muscles, and get that novel done. Start today.

Happy writing.

Cheers,

Bob