NaNoWriMo 2020 Update!

If there is one thing I have learned from NaNoWriMo this year, it is that I do not have time to write 50,000 words in one month. And that’s not a complaint or an act of self-deprecation, for which I’m definitely not known.

It’s just an acknowledgment that my life and my priorities have changed since the first few years I participated in NaNo with great success. I’m still happy to be participating, and I’ve made some real progress.

Follow me on NaNo!

Continue reading “NaNoWriMo 2020 Update!”

Exercise 10: A terrible thing to do

I know it is already Thursday, but this week was just too stressful to post any sooner – and besides, a writing exercise seemed unimportant compared to the elections in the U.S. The continuing uncertainty is still stressful, but I have gotten a bit more used to it. So, to pass the time, here is the last of the writing exercises from Steering the Craft.

Chapter 10 is called “Crowding and Leaping” and deals with narrative flow and what details an author includes and what they leave out. One line from the chapter that I particularly like was: “Some say God is in the details; some say the Devil is in the details. Both are correct.” Page 118

Le Guin also says that there isn’t really an exercise she could come up with on this topic – it is such a fluid thing and unique to each story (and storyteller). So for a final exercise, she gives us “a terrible thing to do.”

“Exercise 10: A Terrible Thing To Do

Take one of the longer narrative exercises you wrote – any one that went over 400 words – and cut it by half.

If none of the exercises is suitable, take any piece of narrative prose you have ever written, 400-1000 words, and do this terrible thing to it.

This doesn’t mean just cutting a bit here and there, snipping and pruning – though that’s part of it…” Steering the Craft, Page 124

I chose the 1285 word short story I wrote for Exercise 4: Again and Again and Again. To see the original, full length story, go here to that post. I was able to edit it down to 628 words…so here is the shorter short story!

Continue reading “Exercise 10: A terrible thing to do”

November Write Day: Time to Refocus

October was a pretty good month. I started off with a long weekend vacation in Rehoboth, DE, which already feels like ages ago, and ended with a rapid turn towards winter weather the last few days. I’ve found it oddly comforting.

Writing was meh, and National Novel Writing Month is now in full swing, but we’ll get to that.

Last Month’s Goals

  1. Write 6,000 words.
  2. Prepare “Uprooted” for next steps.
  3. Continue yoga and workout routine.
  4. Read more.

So how did I do?

Write 6,000 words?

I honestly forgot that 6,000 words was my goal. I had just assumed it was the usual 10,000. I may have been more motivated for this one if I remembered that I shorted my own goal.

I wrote about 2,850 words in October for part 2 of “The Herb Witch Tales”. I’m kind of stuck on larger structural changes that I’ll get to in the next section, but that stymied my creative flow a bit.

Prepare “Uprooted” for publication?

Yes.

Sort of.  If by “prepare” we mean that I confirmed that “Uprooted” is nowhere near ready for publication. (That’s an important step in the publishing process.)

I sent my draft of 38k words to two readers for some feedback, one being Marcy and the other being my editor. I’ve gotten some incredibly insightful feedback, and it’s spurred a lot of note-taking on my part for improvements to make.

But that means I have another round of revisions coming. that’s not a bad thing. It just means it’s still too early to think about publishing right now.

One piece of feedback was that the end of the story didn’t feel like a true resolution — more of a cut-off before an inevitable sequel. That’s not how I wanted “Uprooted” to end. I want a true ending.

And it turns out, I may be in the process of writing that ending right now. Part 2 of this series opens not long after “Uprooted” ends and actually ties off a lot of the loose ends one of my readers pointed out. So the first few thousand words of part 2 may really be my ending to “Uprooted”.

That also means that “Uprooted” is likely to be in the 40-45k word range, much more in novella territory than short story. The more I think about this shift, the more it makes sense. I’ll just also need to shift where part 2 begins and maybe some of the early plot set-up.

Continue yoga and workouts?

Yes, mostly. I’ve definitely been doing yoga and working out more days than not, which is really the goal. I’ve also started doing longer and more intense yoga sessions, which has been a huge boost.

I’ve found myself sore in the day or two afterwards, which is a good feeling.

Read more?

Yes! I finished two books in October (on Audible), including one that I will be reviewing next week. It’s still difficult to find time to read a physical book, but I’ve managed to work Audible listening into more daily activities, even if it’s just for 5 or 10 minutes at a time. That has really helped.

Goals for November

  1. NaNoWriMo! Rather than writing 50,000 words, my real NaNo goal is to finish the first draft of part 2 of “The Herb Witch Tales”, in whatever form it takes. I’m writing this draft in a journal, so even if I decide to shift part of it over to part 1, it would be amazing if I could bring part 2 to a meaningful close.
  2. Yoga and working out. I’ve been pretty good about this, so I just need to be disciplined and carve out the appropriate time during the day for longer yoga sessions.
  3. Not lose my mind. With work stress, election stress, and creeping holiday stress, I just want to have a good month.

Steve D

The NaNoWriMo Plan, 2020 Edition

It’s kind of ridiculous to think that I’ve participated in National Novel Writing Month each year since 2014. Only once have I achieved writing 50,000 words in one month, but I can’t not participate, even if it’s a last-second decision.

This year was another last-second decision, but I’m excited. Continue reading “The NaNoWriMo Plan, 2020 Edition”

Exercise 9, Part 3: Implication

The last exercise in Chapter 9, the chapter in Steering the Craft on Indirect Narration, is about implying characteristics or setting the mood using location or place. When I think of indirect narration, this is what comes to mind – like the scene setting and music in a movie or TV show, this is how the mood is set. For some reason, I thought this would be easy – maybe because its nearing Halloween and so the “scene” around my neighborhood has been deliberately and obviously set with decorations and pumpkins – but I wound up doing this exercise twice. When I went back and read my first attempt, it didn’t really tell me anything about the character or the mood of the story. So I tried again…

First, the instructions:

“Exercise Nine, Part 3: Implication

Each part of this should involve 200-600 words of descriptive prose. In both, the voice is either involved author or detached author. No viewpoint character.

Character by indirection: Describe a character by describing any place inhabited or frequented by that character – a room, house, garden, office, studio, bed, whatever. (The character isn’t present at the time.)

The untold event: Give us a glimpse of the mood and nature of some event or deed by describing the place – room, rooftop, street, park, landscape, whatever – where it happened or is about to happen. (The event or deed doesn’t need to happen in your piece.)”

Steering the Craft, Page 111-112

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3 Tips for Writing Snappy Dialogue

Creativity Sessions writing process. Evening Satellite Publishing.

The more I write, the more I find I enjoy writing dialogue. The interplay of characters can be really engaging and tends to liven up the story — and the writing process — for me.

However, it can still be a challenge to write dialogue that is both meaningful and compelling. As a reader, dialogue that drones on is somehow worse than long stretches of exposition. So I just wanted to provide a few tips for writing snappy dialogue that moves the story forward and keeps the reader interested. Continue reading “3 Tips for Writing Snappy Dialogue”

Exercise 9, Part 2: Being the Stranger

We are down to the last 3 exercises in Ursula Le Guin’s Steering the Craft writing book – home stretch! This one is the second exercise in Chapter 9, which is about indirect narration – and it was a bit daunting. Le Guin instructs us to write from the viewpoint of a character we disagree with or hate or is extremely different from ourselves.

First, the prompt:

“Exercise 9, Part 2: Being the Stranger

Write a narrative of 200-600 words, a scene involving at least two people and some kind of action or event.

Use a single viewpoint character, in either the first person or limited third person, who is involved in the the event. Give us the character’s thoughts and feeling their own words.

The viewpoint character (real or invented) is to be somebody you dislike, or disapprove of, or hate, or feel to be extremely different from yourself.”

Steering the Craft, Page 100-101.

Continue reading “Exercise 9, Part 2: Being the Stranger”