Thursday, March 19, 2009

Quick status -- March 19, 2009

Have momentum again. Day job is still consuming a lot of time and brain cells, but I am back on a more regular writing schedule. Daylight saving time threw me my block is in the evening now instead of the morning, but the most important thing is that it’s there.

I have compiled my notes on the 1st draft and have concluded that there are three main problems:

1) Protagonist does not have enough attitude--she needs more attitude to be memorable.
2) Plot has holes (Dad’s story arc, scav’s vs. Taft, and a full reveal of Taft’s plan).
3) There are some boring, confusing and redundant parts.

So, nothing earth shattering. I am estimating about a 30% rewrite, but writing the ~30K new words will be relatively quick as I know the characters and world, and some of the key ‘facts’ the new scenes need are worked out in the parts they will replace.

The rewrite will address problems 2 and 3.

Problem #1 is harder to solve. It could permutate the voice of the book, it could require significant changes to dialogue and it could invalidate some plot points. The plan now is to think about it, but not work it hard until draft #3.

In brainstorming sessions this week, I have worked out about 50% of the outline for the rewritten sections, enough to enable me to start writing them next week.

Hopefully, this momentum will keep up.

The Hump

The hump is a terrible problem I face every day. In order to be productive, in order to write well or to make real forward progress, I have to work long enough to get over the hump. This usually takes me about an hour. After that, I’m into it. My mind is churning away and some wonderful stuff comes out...but that first hour is pretty much wasted.

This kills me when the only available time is less than an hour. It very hard for me to generate anything worth keeping in these short sessions. Sometimes I can do it. Sometimes I can crank out 500 beautiful, clean, in character, in voice words in 15 minutes. But not usually. More often the first fifteen minutes is figuring out where I was. The next half an hour is the mental and emotional struggle to get over the hump. In the last fifteen minutes I usually see the first copy worth keeping start to flow.

My solution is to shoot for 2-hour blocks (or longer), or to psyche myself up and focus on one thing before sitting down. With the right focus, the sprints usually work, however I am most productive when I can work without interruption for 5-6 hours. Past about 6 hours I run out of steam. If I am interrupted for more than a couple minutes, my mind will slip out of gear and find myself back at the bottom of that hill, having to climb up over the hump again.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Writing on life support

Well, day-job is close to killing me. 60-70 hour weeks and triple helpings of stress. My writing is on life support--some days as little as 15 minutes. I have still managed to write a little every single day, but have not done any meaningful work. I’m mostly done reading the 1st draft, a process that should have taken only 1 or 2 days, which has stretched into weeks.

The good news is that most of the book is solid, there are just a few holes to fill in and some character work to bring them out a bit more. The sad thing is that this work will take months...I am estimating about 3 months.

Did manage to write a flash-fiction story for the Writer’s Block and I think it came out well. That will be critiqued this coming week. We do this every few months... the whole group uses a writing prompt to write stories of less than 1000 words, and we critique them together, anonymously, trying to guess who wrote what. One of these flash pieces was the only the only thing I had published last year (Panel Discussion).

Anyway, I should be on to the 2nd draft next week--March 8th-- crap, I thought I’d be querying agents by March.