Tag Archives: writing

On Editing

I was recently hired by a friend to do a quick first editing of their novel. Find awkward phrasing, spelling mistakes, the normal. I don’t have to go too far into detail with the actual editing, however I cannot believe how interesting it has been. Make no mistake, it is WORK, and I have a new found respect for editors, but seeing the good and the bad of a first draft is really interesting.

The story works, and most of the issues I find are with phrasing or the repetition of words. The latter of which I have struggled with in my own writing. It’s also nice to see how a first draft looks in person that isn’t mine.

What I like about it is that it is actually really good. The characters feel real, with the exception of a little too perfect protagonist, but I feel almost like every first time writer is guilty of that. God knows I have been. Otherwise, with the exception of struggling to remember if a rule of grammar has been broken, I’m having a pretty good time with it!

Have any of you done any long form freelance editing? Any suggestions for me?

Only in dreams

“You know what Dee, I don’t want to hear about your dream, okay? I hate listening to people’s dreams. It’s like flipping through a stack of photographs. If I’m not in any of them, and nobody’s having sex, I just… don’t care.”

-Dennis, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

I had two separate nightmares tonight. In one, I was assisting in a murder investigation at a coal mine in South Africa, when a previously unknown pocket of oil was struck. The oil was flooding the mine, and I barely escaped with my life and could feel myself choking on the rancid liquid as I fought for air and saved one of my fellow investigators. I honestly thought I was going to die.

In the second nightmare, I was in a classroom filling out a worksheet, while a strange man would come around and ask basic science questions. I was sitting next to some friends, both those new and those who have gone their separate ways, when he came to me and asked what were the three types of rock. “Easy,” I say. “Sedimentary, Igneous, and… uhmmm,” I stammered.

Guess which one woke me up in a cold sweat. And I still can’t think of the damn third rock. I refuse to look it up.

Continue reading Only in dreams

6 Subjective Rules for Successful Horror

I watched “Beneath” (2013) on Netflix Instant the other day, and was thrown a bit. 1. It doesn’t show up on IMDB under that name, however another movie exists with that name. 2. I couldn’t figure out its internal logic. That’s not always a problem, but does pull me out of the movie a bit.

Horror needs rules. I don’t mean that there always needs to be a killer targeting teens, or a final girl, or anything like that. Horror can have cliche’s as many of them allow us to place ourselves in the shoes of the protagonists. I mean rules as in an internal consistency in the universe.

One of the problems with most horror movies is the inability to set up rules. Jump scares are prized over real atmospheric terror. The killer being mysterious I have no problem with (if it is that kind of horror, and not existential or body horror or the like,) I have issues when the killer isn’t restricted by any kind of rules.

Continue reading 6 Subjective Rules for Successful Horror

A Writing Experiment: Results

So the experiment went well! My players didn’t get as far as expected, but that was due to 2 main factors: me shaking off that game mastering dust since I haven’t run a game in probably a year now, and the fact that I got tired before any of them.

See, even though I have been spending my time mainly writing, I.e., working on my own schedule, I still wake up at 5am every morning on the dot. It doesn’t matter if I fall asleep at 9:30pm or midnight or 2am, it just happens. Weird eh? Last night I kicked them out at 9:15pm and was asleep at 9:30pm. Very early for me but for some reason I was just hit by a wall. Probably a combination of the mental strain of keeping all the pieces juggling in the game, and the Guinness I claimed as my right as game master.

Anyways, it actually really did help me work out a few kinks in my world and as a storyteller. I found something interesting in the meantime, I get much more self conscious trying to explain my story to others in person instead of just as a written story. My story is basically a fish-out-of-water fantasy with a few spins on the genre. It’s been fun to write, but just trying to explain it to someone, I get lost stumbling over myself. How much do I give away? How much do I hold back?

Writing for the game itself became interesting since I had to lay the general story out on the line and more. No longer were the characters just speaking through me, but also interacting and responding to the player characters.

I, and I assume many others, have come to what can be looked at as the adventurer assumption. For instance, the world is threatened, you have the means to stop it through a mysterious item or quest, do you embark on it as soon as possible, or do you research? Can caution be thrown to the wind, or should it be trusted and steps measured. At what point do you say to hell with it and jump through the doorway or read the forbidden book or speak to the creepy old man?

As a game master, I see this a lot. The sections where I assume the players will selflessly throw themselves into a dangerous situation, they debate and research. When I assume they’ll act with caution, they will ride in like heroes, guns ablaze. This is more of an indictment of my abilities as a storyteller, and I’m extremely happy that I tried it. It helped point out the jumps in logic I make because I know what comes next. Not what the characters will do necessarily, but major events that are in the works and when they happen. I’m still working on making the world proactive. I need to remember that even though my POV characters may not be involved in a certain plot point, it still develops and is both proactive in it’s progression, and reactive to protagonist actions.

One of the best things I’ve learned from writing actually came from an RPG book for game masters. Remember that while the players have their goals and are seeking them out, the villain isn’t just sitting on his throne, bored, occasionally ordering minions to go bug the player characters. They have wants and needs of their own, and while the players are doing things so are the villains progressing in their goals. Maybe their goal is to be lazy, but if they’re developing a super weapon or rigging an economic system or whatever the case, they should still be making progress in the vacuum of the player characters. I need to remember that for my stories.

All in all, experiment a success, and it sounds like we might get back together next Sunday so I’m glad everyone enjoyed getting together enough to be up for having another go where we left off.

Also, shout out to Carla Doria M. of “Diaries of the happy loner” for recommending Microsoft OneNote. All my writing I still do in Scrivener, but OneNote was perfect for maps and documents on the fly for my group. Who doesn’t like a MS Paint hand-drawn map of a fantasy world? I made the castle orange so they knew it was special.

A writing experiment

In a few hours I’m going to try something interesting.

A bit of a writing experiment to test the usability and coherence of the world of my novel. I’m going to have my RPG group run through a section of it.

Now, I’ve mentioned in the past that I’m a huge nerd and love Role Playing Games, while I don’t play Dungeons and Dragon’s or wander through the woods in a cloak, the image in your mind is probably true. A group of friends and I hang out, drink beer, and basically create collaborated, guided stories. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. Regardless, we have a good time.

In this case, introducing my friends to the world of the novel as I close my world-building phase, I feel like it will be a stress test on how well the setting itself works before I commit myself to 80,000+ words. It feels like a focus group of people I trust, but in a good way.

Have any of you writer’s ever tried something similar before committing to a fiction setting? Or any other writer’s who play RPG’s and use that in their writing? Any system recommendations? I love Call of Cthulhu, World of Darkness, Delta Green, Shadowrun, and Traveller for instance. And for all my other readers: next update will be about the follow up to my bachelor party. The trip where we went back to the Wisconsin River… Stay Tuned.

Keep Writing Everyone

Bailey was mad I wasn’t holding the elk antler for her while writing this, so as compensation she gets top billing.

I love WordPress.

I just have to say that right out of the gate. It really is one of the ‘social media’ style sites where I feel connected to people all around the world through our shared love of writing. Each day I see people put their emotions on display, inner thoughts, news, and feelings. The fact that I have to stop myself from writing more for fear of being annoying with my amounts of updates is probably proof of point how much I love this site.

A few weeks ago I was having problems writing. I was a bit down on myself as my laptop broke and I was having issues concentrating in one spot at a time (tethered to my gaming desktop computer.) Now that I’ve gotten a tablet and have been writing from various spots I’ve gotten my groove back. A lot of it is thanks to my followers and those I follow. I get a huge kick out of seeing everyone develop and hit milestones, and it may be selfish, but I love having a place to keep a history of my own accomplishments. It really is a mood raiser, and a great way to conquer the glum moods brought on by winter. Putting up a new post and seeing different countries popping up as having visited the site is amazing, and a bit of the positive side of globalization.

Thank you so much everyone for reading. I’ve decided I am going to start pulling together info for my non-fiction book, but I am going to keep writing here day in and day out. When I made a promise a few weeks ago that I would update 3 times a week, I never knew that it’d actually feel like a ball and chain just a few weeks later.

Keep writing everyone, and I’ll keep reading.

Poll: Would you be interested in a non-fiction book about revisionism after the US Civil War?

Hello Internet,

I need advice. I’m still working on my novel, and The Map, however I have an itch to begin gathering information for a new project.

I kind of want to know if it sounds like a good, interesting idea. Maybe not something that’s your cup of tea particularly, but that you can see people reading.

I want to write a book about the revisionist history that happened after the end of the US Civil War.

The plan would be to tackle everything from the “State’s Rights” arguments for the war, to Sherman (I’m on a huge Sherman kick lately), to Lincoln’s popularity, and the issue of slavery in the North. I would try to keep it as non-biased as possible, however would be tackling a LOT of revisionism by post-Civil War Confederate veterans.

So! Can you vote and let me know what you think?

I’d be super appreciative!

Merging of the Worlds

After careful consideration (and the consultation of my buddy Max, struggling with the same conundrum) I’ve decided to merge my new and old idea. The new idea will set a background for the old idea to take place in, that is much more satisfying to write than my original entrance to the story.

Already I’ve accepted it as the beginning. My perspective has shifted to first person, and my opening leads to a much more jaded narrator, but writing my short form horror has molded me to be that way. I guess it works because I’m writing to my strengths instead of what I assume the genre wants. (Action/Fantasy/Sci-Fi, yeah, I’m clearly writing the next ‘Catcher in the Rye.’)

Either way, this is a bit of a new and exciting chapter in my novel, and I already wrote the first chapter as though I was in a drunken fever dream, so there’s that. I might not ever be done with this damn thing, but I’m having fun writing it.

A Question for Novelists and a Humblebrag

I never thought that when I started this blog that I’d be doing freelance editing as well, but here I am! Currently working on two different assignments. Okay, one’s paid and one’s not, but I was still asked! That counts eh? So, now I’m feeling pretty good about myself.

However, I’ve run into a problem while writing. I’m currently working on a novel that I’ve been envisioning in my mind, and developing world design and character notes for about 6 months now, but a new idea popped up. Now, the question is whether to drastically change the design on my world, or keep the new world completely separate. Now, I know that I’m being vague about the ideas, but the characters can conceivably exist in both worlds, but the worlds do not make for good companion stories or sequels. The original novel is fish-out-of-water adventure, the new world would be gritty survival.

So, what I’m asking is, have any of you run into a problem like this? How do you choose between a massive overhaul of a story’s world and theme? Thanks all!

Darkness

I’m back! Sorry everyone, I’ve been having computer issues that have screwed up my schedule, but they have been fixed. Enjoy!

——————

The darkness is my friend.

I’ve had horrible migraines ever since I was a child. My grandmother used to get them so I guess it runs in the family. Sound didn’t bother me, but light turned a regular headache into the feeling of my head being crushed in a vice. I came to know the darkness. When my friends were scared of the dark, I tread through it fearlessly.

I know the location of everything in my room by touch. I think I can see in the dark a little better than most people, being able to navigate my room only by the dim light from my dorm room microwave and alarm clock.

That’s how I can see him. Standing by my door.

It’s not really a person though, it looks to be taller than the door itself, and the outline looks more like it was 2 kids sitting on each other’s shoulders and not the broad shoulders of a man. It would be funny if it hadn’t shown up behind a locked door at 4 AM.

The head is the true giveaway though. It’s the size of a watermelon, and I can only make out the faintest of features. Hints of ears, maybe a nose. Small eyes.

It has to crouch a little. The watermelon looks like it’s standing on one end, about to tip over, as the thing hunches under my dorm room ceiling.

I sit up and the ancient bed frame, probably here since the university was founded in 1867, squeaks. The head tilts back and forth, searching for the sound. The giant head rolling from side to side like a confused dog. It turns its head upwards and begins sniffing the air.

The thing must be close to blind if it can’t see me from this far. Moving swiftly from the room, it tries to seek out my scent. I lie frozen as it breezes by me and I silently thank my mom for buying me all those weird scented new age bullshit lotions supposed to reduce stress and cure headaches.

The bat handle near my bed seems an eternity away as I stretch for it. Moving as quietly as possible, I grab the taped handle and pull it towards me.

The bat thuds against my nightstand, and the thing is on it in a second.

I can see the cheap particle board shred as the watermelon’s hands tear into it. I hear it release a high pitch shriek, like a quiet steam whistle. Pieces of the shattered wood scratch my eyes and I do all I can to keep from screaming in pain.

_____________________________________________________________________

We’ve been next to each other for what must be hours. I can see the faintest of sunlight begin to creep through my heavy drapes. The darkness was my friend. I clutch the bat tighter and curse the sun.

Now it’s time to see whether it’s blind. I raise the bat and begin to stand on the bed, it turns its head towards me and I swing. The bat connects and I hear a sharp crack. It looks at me and I see its hand clench and