September Writings

It’s been a busy September, with three weeks of work travel since my last post (currently writing this from an Air BNB). I still plan on finishing up a post about Scythe when I get time. For now, here’s a status update for the past month:

What I Read

Reading’s important. Here are the books I finished in September.

  • Waystation – Clifford D. Simak
  • Farseer: Assassin’s Apprentice – Robin Hobb
  • Elantris – Brandon Sanderson
  • Legion: The Many Lives of Stephen Leeds – Brandon Sanderson

What I Wrote

Project: Giants

My longer-term Science Fiction project. Final major revision: 60%. I expect minor revisions after this. I already pitched it to a few agents at Pitch Slam, and though some asked for material, I am making sure to do the revisions one of the agents suggested before submitting it. Here are a few reasons why I need to do this major revision:

  • Too different: The premise and setting are nonstandard; these are simultaneously the “awesome!” part of the story but also something of a risk: it’s hard to classify this project into a known genre with comparison titles. I had no idea where this book was supposed to fit on the shelf of a bookstore. This major revision is to help keep loyal to the premise while modifying the themes and world into a more familiar setting to be less of a risk. The new version is much more familiar as a science fiction story.
  • Too many perspectives: One of the gimmicks of this story was to only give the main character’s perspective at the very start and very end, leaving their choices and motivations a mystery despite them being the driving force in the story. As a result, I ended up with several extra perspectives that weren’t necessary and another few extra recurring side characters who compete for the spotlight. With the major revision, I’ve found that the clarity added more to the experience than the gimmick.

The major revision is working well and the feedback has been good, so it looks like the querying will be back on schedule soon enough.

Project: Selection

My new Young Adult Fantasy. Worldbuilding / Plotting Phase: 90%. I originally started this project to get a feel for some new processes. Here’s what I discovered with this project:

  • Starting at 10% through the book lets me skip the “refactor the beginning” rabbit hole and only fill in this gap when I really know what I want it to be. I now know what I need this beginning to be, and drafted it in one sitting, a considerable improvement over countless redrafts every time the story develops.
  • When I get stuck on the phrasing of something, such as knowing I need a bit of figurative language but can’t think of the right content, I just leave a note to fill a <tag> in later, or I put [content in brackets] if it is meant as a placeholder. This system plays into the next point. The benefit is that, if I’m in a speedy drafting mood, I can jam through the draft, and if I’m in a deeper, philosophical mood, I can fill in these gaps to add more levels of meaning to the draft.
  • Using a text-to-speech system lets you hear your writing to make sure it sounds “human-y”.  Obviously getting a real person to read it is better, but this is helpful enough. The software I use will completely ignore content <tags> in but will read anything [inside brackets]. This is often used during revision to check sentence structure, but I find this also makes it a lot easier to quickly review yesterday’s work to get into the groove to jam through more drafting.

As for the story itself, I am pleased with the characters, idea, world, and plot, and I am considering having this one be my debut project rather than Giants. My readers will get final wordin this project though.

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