Thursday, January 2, 2014

On Writing: What's In Store for 2014?

One thing I’m not going to do as I look at my writing year 2014 is to say I’m going to self-publish a book.

Not that I’m giving up on self-publishing, it’s just that I keep saying I’m going to publish but I never do, because I don’t have a book that’s ready to go. I’ve got a few that are close. OK, Maybe two. Maybe. But it could be a year or more before they’re ready.
Doleful Creatures is now fully written. Maybe. I started it a while ago and finished it at NaNoWriMo 2013, significantly cutting what had been written in the past and adding a lot more to it. It’s basically a new book, and thus is only a first draft. No way is it ready.
The Hermit of Iapetus – Product of my first NaNoWriMo in 2011. It’s still in that first draft position as well.
And what of Yershi the Mild, 2012 NaNoWriMo baby? Well, it’s there. But it’s the least developed of the three, and the least likely of the three to draw my attention in 2014. So I can’t count it as anything at the moment.
And just the other night, a new plot came to me in a dream (cliché, I know): Folks escape from one dystopian society built in heavily-fortified underground concrete domes into a paradise on the surface which turns out to be an even worse dystopia than the underground version. What makes it worse right now I’m not certain of, but the fact that everyone drives bulbous cars that look like athletic shoes has got to be a part of it. I even got the title as I slept: St. Anthony. Not the town in Idaho, though that’s kind of how it started out. A Facebook friend pointed out that St. Anthony is the Catholic patron saint of lost things, so that increases the Ironic-O-Meter potential of the novel a thousandfold.
I’ve also got a little project called The Farming Dragon, sitting there with only a few chapters written. I’m not sure at this point it’s going to go anywhere.
And Slouching Towards Bensonville, my magnum opus. Nothing. I got nothing on it, except a weird uncle who checks to make sure everyone he meets has YKK zippers on their outfits. That seems a bit creepy.
So what is next?
Editing, obviously.
Beta reading. I’d like to get my wife involved in it, but she’s so busy with other stuff I don’t think I have much of a chance. I also just finished beta reading a novel for a friend, but he’s expressed disinterest in the novel I’d like him to beta read – Doleful Creatures. Apparently, a fuzzy talking animal book isn’t really his cup of tea. And I’m fine with that – why make someone read a book they’re not interested in in the first place? Well, to get an honest assessment, for one.
Editing is an ugly word. But an exciting world. I know there are things in Doleful Creatures that need to be taken out – but I also know there’s more story that hasn’t been written yet. I just have to figure out where it is.
So what’s going to be my process?
Pen and ink are out. I’m a terrible editor in that way. Oh, it’s a great way to catch spelling errors, errors in grammar and such. But errors in storyline and content require a different approach – live on the document. Taking Doleful Creatures through NaNoWriMo helped bring it to life, and that was done with live editing. So live editing it will be once more.
And should I track changes? To a point, I think I will. But just as a mileage marker, nothing more. And by that I mean a record of how much has been added or deleted.
Here’s the approach:
No editing for grammar. This is storyline only. I’ll do a quick read to identify plot holes and where the story bogs down.
But here I retract a bit of my “no pen-and-ink” rule: I’m going to read this to my kids, and make notes where I see things that need fixing, but more importantly, where they see things that need fixing. I hope I can convince them to listen in that manner.

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