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A Look Back… A Look Ahead

I finished my writing intensive at ChuckPalahniuk.net.  It went well.  I got some good rough drafts out of it, and I got to experience some good discussion over form and content.  I met some other writers.  All of that went well.  I’m grateful for the experience.  I would have liked a bit more ‘pro’ level feedback, and not all of the feedback from my contemporaries on my work was useful. Though, my feedback wasn’t always a homerun, either.  Probably the best lesson I took from it was the discussion of dialog, and I think I’ll find that very useful moving forward.

Yesterday I devoured Stephen King’s On Writing (Amazon link).  He spends 100 pages in autobiography mode, and I skipped the majority of that.  He then spends a marvelous 150 pages on the craft.  As I said, I devoured it.  One of his many pieces of advice is that writer’s workshops are OK, but that the feedback is rarely as in-depth and specific as a writer truly needs, which is something I felt at the Chuck intensive.

Stephen has some good advice.  It breaks down to things like: don’t use adverbs or passive voice.  He has some great examples and vivid language to highlight the problems with these.  He apparently doesn’t have a problem with ending sentences with prepositions or the crappy his/her construct, which are my personal pet peeves.  He goes on to say that the two best things a writer can do for himself are to write constantly and read constantly (with a corollary of throwing out the TV). That has the weight of truthiness behind it, and I am endeavoring to increase my daily word count and my daily words consumed.

Which brings me to the look ahead.  King writes 2,000 words a day year round.  He suggests starting at 1,000 words 6 days a week, which is probably good.  Of course, I’m the idiot who chose to run a half-marathon as his first competitive race, so I plan to stay true to form.  In a couple of weeks I start NaNoWriMo, which has a goal of a 50,000 word novel by the end of the month.  This breaks down to 1,666.67 a day.  I think those .67 words each day will be the toughest, so I’m shooting for 2,000 words a day.  This is my job now, so I figure that should be doable.  Of course, I thought I could run 13 miles straight, too, and that turned into a crampfest.  We’ll see.

For awhile now, I’ve been ruminating about what to do with this blog during November.  I don’t want to shut it down, so I was leaning toward dumping my draft up here each day.  That sounded like a very bright idea, and it might be.  However, King makes some good arguments against that sort of thing.  He describes his process with the first draft as a ‘door closed’ process.  No one sees his first draft.  He argues a writer is very insecure about his work as it is in progress and doesn’t have all of the answers.  When a reader innocently asks why certain characters do certain things or what the symbolism of things might be, it causes a loss of creative momentum.  If the guy who has written 40-50 novels is worried about momentum loss, then I think I should be too, so I plan on following his lead and keeping the first draft ‘door closed’ and then having a small group of people look at the ‘open door’ second draft.  We’ll see where it goes from there.

Of course, this means I haven’t answered the question of what I’m doing with the site.  I think I’ll post ideas and thoughts I have about the process of novel writing.  That’s what striking me now.  I might also post some of my daily free writing up here, though that stuff is mostly brain clearing garbage (except for the dinosaur fighting archeologist-magician, that guy is pure gold).  If I write any short form stuff during NaNoWriMo, I’ll post it here, too.  Of course, any story hours I write will go here, though I’m still behind on the latest of those.  Fret not, though.  I’ve figured out my block on the newest story hour.  I’m scrapping what I wrote and starting over, but it should be done today.

I think I’ll also start posting my thoughts on books I’ve read here.  They won’t necessarily be reviews, but my general thoughts and experience while reading or listening to books. I just finished To the Far Blue Mountains (Amazon) by Louis L’Amour.  My father-in-law bought it for me, as the Sackett series is one of his favorites.  I thought it was OK.  It’s fun in a Spike TV action flick sort of way.  There’s high adventure, pirates, Indians, and daring do.  I wish L’Amour had doubled the lengths of the books, though.  I was left emotionally wanting.  Too often, for my tastes, he skipped seasons or, in one case, decades at a time.  It made it difficult to really care about characters when they might die off stage during a 5 year intermission.  For what it was, a set up to a series about a family in the wild west, it was good and fast-paced.  I think the dialog could be better, but the first person voice was well done.

Next up is a guilty pleasure book.  City Under the Sand (Amazon) is a Dark Sun novel.  It was just published this month and is the first Dark Sun novel to see print since those heady days in the late 90s when Dark Sun reached its zenith.  I’m sure it’ll be competently written with a tried and true story, but it’ll take place in a setting I love. My heart is aflutter.

This piece here is 1,000 words so my story hour plus this probably put me in the range or over what I want for a daily word count, which is good.

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  1. Studnougat
    October 19, 2010 at 10:11 am

    Keep hydrated. 2000 words a day, every day seems pretty intimidating. But, 2000 words a day with weekends “off” sounds like a tough, doable job.

  2. October 19, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    We’ll see. I’m definitely taking Sundays off, God told me to. I’ve written about 2,200 today so far. I’m pleased with that. Now lunch and then reading. Woohoo.

  3. Errant Flame
    October 19, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    *jealous* Will try to keep up with the posts – no promises though. : p

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