Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Short Takes

The internet was made for people who hold grudges.
Got a good start on killer cop story. Continuous minor edits on the other 2 pieces to get them to mesh as a novel.
Deleted 85 instances of the word "my" from the P.I. section. Thanks, Mittens!
Test on Islam Friday. Guess I'd better read the textbook Thursday. Heh.
The 10-15k word novelette is a great format to work in -- long enough to have some room to play and let things develop, short enough to allow consistent pacing.
I don't want to do my speech in Communications class. But I will. It's worth 2 letter grades. Tee-dubya-oh. I'd be willing to bail on the class and take a B, but not a C.
Tuesday nights are a little dull if you don't watch "Lost" and everyone else in the house does. On the other hand, I've spent many an hour screwing around on the computer on Wednesdays.
30,000 words.
Ever read something on the web attributed to George Carlin that isn't by him? Me neither.
Does Blogger have a hit counter widget? Or have they decided that my need for external validation is annoying and they have decided to break me of it?
I believe it was Stephen King who said that writers are masters of revenge. Or was it Harlan Ellison? No, now that I think about it it must have been George Carlin.
Spent half an hour researching a company that irritated me last fall. Looks like I'm not the only one. Don't buy anything from www . unbeatablesale . com.
Can't wait to get over to State.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

27,000 words

Not counting schoolwork and deleted/rewritten scenes, and not counting the first chapter of the SF novel, I've written 27,000 words this month. Two novelettes linked by setting, tone, and a few characters.

I'm pumped. I have to write a paper today (about 3000 words on the modern Mormon church, not about the dogma so much as the business and politics of being a religion on the cusp), and then I can get started on the next piece.

I haven't decided if it's going to be a cop story or a contract killer story. I read a bunch of Block and watched Grosse Point Blank over the last couple days so I won't end up covering terretory that's already been done. Maybe I'll make the cop a contract killer. Pretty good cover for him, if you think about it.

I've been writing in bursts of 1000-2000 words/day. Get up in the morning, read over and make minor revisions on the piece I'm working on, then either continue from where I left off or scrapping the previous night's work and totally rewriting it. Break for school and whatever else needs doing, then work from where I stopped before lunch. It seems to be working for me as I've only had to scrap a night's output twice. Bith times it sucked, but I was able to save a couple hundred words.

If you count schoolwork, those false starts, and the SF, my output for April is probably in the neighborhood of 40,000 words. I can live with that. That's probably the highest output of decent work I've had in my life.

It will be interesting to see if I can maintain it, if I've established a new pattern or if, when my mood swings back to black, if I'll go back to nothing for months on end. Somehow I doubt that. One of the things I've been learning in school is how to perform on demand. Professors don't accept writer's block as an excuse for not doing aan essay. Why should I accept if for my personal work? I've always been my own worst critic -- now I need to be my own best teacher.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Clipping Right Along

Finished the pulp noir picaresque "The Toes You Step On Today". Sent it off to Mittens, and she likes it.

So do I. It's not perfect, nothing I write ever will be, but that's OK. The perfect is the enemy of the good, and that's something I've let hold me back most of my life. Done with that.

Started another noir piece. They are amazingly easy to write. (Still letting my subconscious work on the next chapter of the SF novel, hope to get to that this weekend). This one's "Red Mask", and it's almost a parody of the hardboiled PI pulp -- but not quite. I'm not interested in mocking the form, I want to play around with it, turn the conventions and cliches on their heads.

I'm heading down to the library between classes today to pick up a copy of the latest Writer's Market. Let's get this little fledgeling out into the world. Somewhere, there's going to be someone that wants to pay us some money for the right to share it with the world.

I'm in full-on manic mode right now, and intend to ride it as far as I can. Averaging 1500-2000 words/day -- not including schoolwork. Working 5 days a week that's 30k/month -- and that means a novel in six weeks. 3X slower than Spillane, but (I certainly hope) much better than what he published.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Juices they do flow

So, while waiting on part 3 of 4 of the crime story (which I believe would be classified as a "novelette" according to Wikipedia's chart of lengths), I've been playing around with a long-delayed science fiction novel. I find I am an iceberg writer, with pages and pages of notes, charts, sketches, and vignettes that may or may not ever make it into the story itself -- but I need that background, that depth of field, to accurately describe what's going on.

Our friend/relative/housemate F really helped by reading the first two pages of narrative and telling me to go on. I was having trouble with how to get started (from a story perspective), how to select the exact point at which the narrative should begin. As Iain M. Banks says in his fun non-Culture space opera "The Algabraist", you can reach backward as far as the Big Bang if you want, but that's not really practical: you have to select some arbitrary point in time as the beginning. This is true in any fiction, really, but seems especially true for science fiction. When your story is set on an artificial planet a billion years old, settled by humans generations ago, after a thousand-year (subjective) space flight from a future Earth that has since suffered a political cataclysm... where, exactly, do you begin?

With the point at which your main character's lives change is when. That moment from which there is no turning back. There will be plenty of time to fill in the backstory -- I'm planning on interpolary chapters to tell the story of the voyage, and of Earth (at least as much as needs to be told).

The thing that really made it all pop for me was, while discussing the planet with F, I suddenly realized everything I needed to know about the ultimate purpose of the planet, the design of its creators. I knew what it was, and how it worked, but did not fully comprehend the why, and whether or not the why is part of the story or not (I rather suspect it will be) it is a vital piece of that deep background I referred to earlier.

Physical laws in science fiction are like grammar -- you are only allowed to bend them if you have sufficient reason to do so, and you cannot simply throw them out or you are writing fantasy, not SF, just as you would not be writing in English without grammar but in your own language using English words. My construct does not break any laws, but whooboy it bends them.


I really, really, really don't like one of my classes. It's a required class, so I have no choice but to take it, and I can't slack off on it, because I need to keep my GPA, both for prctical reasons (a 4.0 is going to help me with financial aid, class placement, and moving forward in school) and for personal (I have to prove to myself that I can do this, that I can not only succeed but excel at it).

But this class irritates me. I went into it with a bad attitude and that has not changed. I feel like it's a waste of my time and money because I am neither learning anything nor having any fun. Either of these suffices for me -- I have another class where I don't think I am learning anything, but at least the material is enjoyable.

With more and more non-traditional students like myself in school, I think it needs to be acknowledged that we don't need some of the basic classes that kids fresh out of high school require.

I'll go to class, and do my best, and hope for an A. But I'm going to complain about it.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Constant Reader

Thinking about what Stephen King says in "On Writing" about the Constant Reader. We all have someone who, even if we don't specifically write for them, has in important influence on the finished form. J is my collaborator, so I don't count her as my CR. No, the person whose opinion I've come to respect over our years of friendship is none other than... Mittens! (Whose blog is linked over to the yonder on the right there, go visit. I'll wait.)

This is of course presupposing that anyone other than Mits is reading this blog. If you are, thanks. It helps to have an actual as well as a potential audience.

I've come to the end of the second drafts on the first 2 stories in the 4-part noir piece I'm working on, and am almost finished with the third. J is working on the putline and plotting for part 4, and will be redpenciling 1 and 2 in the next few days for the third and hopefully final draft. I've also passed it along to a couple other readers who I trust to give real feedback (Hi there, Mary!) if they choose to.

The second draft of story/story element #1 (I describe it that way because there is a very strong probability that once we are done we'll put it together into one piece, as that is what they really are -- #2 and #3 don't actually stand up alone, and the character development of Rex inthe first three means we would have to do a lot of recapitulation in #4 if we were to try to make it stand alone. Yes, for the first time since our sales back in 2004 we're beginning to seriously contemplate trying to publish!) will be printed in my college's literary magazine soon. Exciting, in one sense, to be in print. A curious letdown in that I won't be getting paid, and I assume the requirements for acceptance are a little lower than they might be for a pro mag. It's still a credit, and I'll be happy to see how people recieve it.

These crime stories, this pulp fiction, is dealing with sexuality issues as well as heists. It's difficult for me to find that line where I am letting the reader know enough about the intimate lives of these characters without bludgeoning them with it.

Thank you, Mittens, for your reading, your editing, your encouragement (and more importantly, your discouragement when I do something stupid. Fawty foa murda does, indeed, suck.)

Once J has worked these first three parts over and given them her touch (and once I've worked over the fourth and given it mine) they will be by W.E. Rifin. Good deal.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Story Notes/Activism/Apology

J has found the worst of the flaws in the second story, so I'm holding off on finishing the third for now so we can go into rewrite. So these stories will be W.E. Rifin joints. Cool -- they will be much better for her work on them.

Over the last few years I've learned to face that I am not as good a writer as I would like to be -- or thought I was. Together, though, we complement each other's strengths. Fortunately, as far as we can tell, we don't have any major shared weaknesses.

Another iron on the fire is the Ignorance Awareness Walk I'm working on with my friend Pierce. We did some brainstorming tonight, hopefully we can pull off a public consciousness-raising anti-discrimination event this summer. It's her idea from the start -- I'm adding input and organization. Because I do have organizational skills. Just not many...

I had a gadget on the bottom of this page, a Hallowe'en Countdown. Somehow it got a malicious script in it and caused this page to redirect to ads for who-knows-what. It was not infectious, as far as I can tell. Apologies to you, Dear Reader, I shan't allow any more of those sorts of things here.