A Hiatus, Only Smaller

It happened again. As much as I tried to stay consistent, I found my attention focused on things other than The New Writer’s Journey. Granted, the thing I’ve been focused on was the reason for founding the blog, but that’s beside the point. While I have been working away, pen to pad and hands to keyboard, I feel as though I broke a promise to myself. I told myself that I would begin this blog and not stop, preferably ever, or at least until it could no longer be the New writer’s journey.

Now, that isn’t to say that over the last few months that I haven’t been busy, because… well, I have been. The most prominent of which, is working on The Drive Home, and trying to finish the first draft of my sci-fi novel One Last Hunt. And per my new year’s resolutions, that’s what I’ve been doing. I finished my most recent draft of The Drive Home, and as I began to read through it again, I couldn’t help but begin my fourth draft (I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, editing will forever be my nemesis). But I’m making more progress on it than I have in ages.

In regards to my sci-fi novel from NaNoWriMo, I’m working on the very last chapter. The page count has already blown my first novel’s out of the water, which was my plan all along (onwards and upwards, as they say), and I know exactly how I want it to end. It’s nearly there.

So, in this last year, in which I began this blog, how much have I accomplished? In my opinion, and that of a few others, a hell of a lot. In one year, I’ve written two novels, started two others (just a few chapters a piece), and a couple of short stories. Additionally, to expand my repertoire towards more aspirations, I’ve begun writing four television scripts, and two feature length film scripts. I’ve authored a blog, began a number of the hurdles that need cleared before publishing, and I’ve made just enough money to keep food in my belly and a roof over my head. To me, that’s a hell of a lot, and there’s so much more to come.

It was after realizing what I’d accomplished, that my drive to do what I love for a living, telling stories, increased exponentially, and boosted my confidence. I can see what is both a finish line and a starting line, and it’s just on the horizon. Once I finish the grueling process of editing my novel, I can begin a new chapter that will eventually lead to me being able to tell stories for the rest of my life. So, now that I’ve taken a bit of a hiatus, I can resume posts here on The New Writer’s Journey, while still focusing on my projects and moving forever forward. I’ve planned my next post to be the one I promised to post which will be the first excerpt from The Drive Home, and I swear, it’s coming soon. 

*Raises a frosty glass of cold, delicious beer*

“Here’s to what’s still to come, and a future worth writing about!”

~Cheers

Resolutions: A Little Late & A Little Early

Much to my surprise, NaNoWriMo took a lot out of me. I still find myself recovering from thirty days of staring at a computer screen for at least eight hours a day. My most recent issue has been that any time I look at a computer screen for more than thirty minutes, my head begins to ache severely. I’m not sure if that’s a large issue, but I’m already beginning to get over that, hence this new post. Another persistent issue though, is my aching ass from all the sitting. That hasn’t changed, and most likely won’t until I can afford a more comfortable chair to write in.

But I think the majority of my pain has passed. I’ve taken more than enough time to give my brain a well deserved rest, and now it is time to come back with a vengeance. I have been keeping up with the editing of my first novel, The Drive Home, and I have dedicated myself to the goal of having a “presentable copy” of the book by early January. Very early January. So far, in my editing, I am about the 3/5 the way through manuscript and a lot has changed since my early drafts. Near the start of the New Year, I will have a version of my novel that I can comfortably start showing to friends and family without that fear of inadequacy.

Late, 2013, Resolution #1: Have a finished, polished draft of The Drive Home, in the New Year (this New Year!was my resolution at the start of 2013, but it took a bit longer than expected).

That is only the beginning. This is where I will start powering out newer versions of my novel, editing like a mad man, and making it perfect. I mentioned this once before, but Hemingway re-wrote the ending to A Farewell to Arms, thirty-nine times. As much as I would like to avoid that being the case for The Drive Home, I’ll do whatever it takes to make it perfect. I would love to hire a professional editor, which is highly recommended for self published, or any sort of published, authors, but I am more broke than I care to admit (you didn’t just read that). I hope to find a decent editor to review my work as both a copy editor and a content editor, but until I find one that’s inexpensive, my friends, family, and myself will have to do.

That brings me to my first resolution for the New Year.

2014 New Year’s Resolution #1: Finish, and I mean finish, The Drive Home.

I have a plan, a production schedule and even a business plan, to begin uploading and printing, and selling my novel, in six months. Half way through the year is my goal. If I can accomplish this sooner, outstanding, otherwise, six months is a reasonable goal with a finished novel. But don’t any of you worry; you’ll be the first to read sections from my novel, before it goes into publishing. I said I’d do that, and I won’t let any of you down.

2014 New Year’s Resolution #2: Finish writing, then editing, my NaNoWriMo novel, One Last Hunt.

So, I have one finished novel, but during the month of November, I wrote another, completely different novel. I didn’t quite finish it during November, but I did get very, very far with it. Since November, I’ve added another seven thousand words and I still have about five chapters left to write. For the first draft, at least. But my priorities are in order, and the first thing on my docket, is to finish The Drive Home.

I have many more plans for the coming year, but most are dependent on those resolutions above, and the success of each project. Once I near these goals, I’ll keep everyone updated on my progress, my plans, and how I went about achieving these goals. But until then, I’ll keep writing, slaving away at something I love (if only everyone could be so lucky). I hope everyone had a merry Christmas, and have a great New Year, I know I will.

Lastly, if anyone else has any any writing / creative / storytelling, resolutions for the New Year, I’d love to hear them.

WriMo Aftermath

After a few well needed days of rest, NaNoWriMo is finally over. So, did I make my fifty thousand word goal? Well, not exactly, but I’m still extremely excited about what I’ve accomplished. In previous years attempts to finish NaNoWriMo, I’ve steadily increase the amount of words I’ve written. The first year, I wrote fifteen thousand words, a good start, but still left a lot to be desired.  The second years attempt was a much better success at approximately thirty three thousand words.  This year however, I made a massive amount of improvement.

In November, 2013, I managed to write 46,383 words. I managed to get ‘oh, so close’ to the fifty thousand word goal, that I still feel immensely accomplished. A few things in particular caused me to not meet that goal though, and I’m at least glad that I recognize them. The first is due to a powerful urge to live in a comfy house and eat more than top ramen for three meals a day. In order to pay for rent, bills and food, I needed to pick up a few job hours here and there, making it more difficult to find time to write. But I did still make time to write.

The second thing that hindered my completion of the goal, is due to the way I allocated my time. Rather than meeting the approximately 1,700 words per day goal, I often prefer longer sessions of focusing on my work and writing for much longer periods of time, completing five or six thousand words in one sitting. In theory, and quite a bit during the execution, my plan worked extremely well. The plan to write all fifty thousand words in ten long days, rather than spread out over fifty days, nearly worked. I was just one long writing session from finishing my goal too.

The final thing that stumped the writing process, was realizing that, unlike my first novel “The Drive Home,” there was no way my story would be finished in only fifty thousand words. And honestly, that’s great! The goal of NaNoWriMo isn’t to write a full novel in the time frame, it was to write 50K words, but the fact I was so close and yet so far was daunting and exciting all at the same time. However, in the days prior to the competition, I’ve hit that fifty thousand word mark and I’ve got somewhere in the range of twenty five thousand words left or about eight chapters to go. Thinking about how little I have left to write, in comparison to what I’ve already written, NaNoWriMo was time well spent.

So, the last few things I have to say about the competition and what it’s helped create: Some time very soon I will have a second novel written, and no excuse to not get the hell to work on editing, polishing and finishing my completed works for the world to see. And now that the writing month is over, I can get back to creating new and hopefully intriguing content for The New Writer’s Journey, that will showcase the hell out of my novels. Hell, if I’m lucky, the site may not be “The New Writer’s Journey” for very long. Lastly, novel writing month is over and I can’t wait to do it again next year. If my progression through the years continues, writing 50K words will be a piece of cake next year, and all I have to say to that… bring it on.

Ready, Set, Write….Again!

It’s that time of year again, folks! Time for that NaNoWriMo competition: fifty thousand (50K) words in thirty days. Now, just because I’m participating in NaNoWriMo, that doesn’t mean that I have forgotten about my novel The Drive Home. Since I finished my first novel, I have been re-reading and editing my ass off, one cheek at a time. Every time I go back over the novel, I find a thousand things I want to change, reword, edit, manipulate, etc. So, it is definitely a challenge to make it perfect, but as any published writer will tell you, it’s nearly impossible to get your creative works “perfect.”

Hemingway once revealed that he re-wrote the ending to A Farewell to Arms, thirty-nine times before he was finally satisfied with it. Now, the first time I heard this, before I actually wrote a novel, I thought that was ludicrous. Thirty-nine times!? But now that I have finished a novel, and have re-written about fifty percent of it at least ten times, I can’t help but think, only thirty-nine times? So, essentially, this reinforces my appreciation for editing, and I am still working diligently on “The Drive Home” and I am determined to get it just right. I’ve allocated a bit of time each day to read over the book and make more edits.

But, for one month only, I will focus my attention elsewhere. Where, you ask? My attention will be focused on a Novel I have tentatively called: “One Last Hunt.” This second novel of mine is  vastly different from The Drive Home and I think that’s just fantastic! I can’t simply focus my attention on one genre, one style of writing, it’s just not me. I get an inkling to do something, or a sliver of a story idea and I have to see it through to the end. Now, this new novel is pure science fiction, a genre that I fell in love with many years ago. I have had a few ideas that drew from bits and pieces of sci-fi, but I call this story “pure” sci-fi, because I want to include as many ideas from the best of science fiction. It draws inspiration from Firefly, Star Trek & Star Wars, Isaac Asimov, Mass Effect, Hitchhikers Guide, Fifth Element, Doctor Who, etc. Anything that has fueled the flames of my inspiration will be playing a part in this tale.

Without further ado, here is my first attempt at the synopsis for the novel, and it will change as I find that perfect elevator pitch. Until then, this will have to do:

“Marcus is a bounty hunter, a mercenary, and most unexpectedly, a father. Marcus has been in the business for many years, but has battled with the conflicting ideas of pursuing the largest, and most dangerous bounties; and keeping his adopted daughter, Shawna, out of harm’s way. During an unexpected visit from an old friend, Marcus and Shawna will find themselves drawn into the most dangerous and prestigious competition in the known universe. Only one competitor will be crowned the greatest hunter in the galaxy and will never need to work to earn another credit again. The victor will have everything they could possibly imagine: fame, fortune, and tech, but the climb to the top is cutthroat and paved with blood.”

Day one of NaNoWriMo started off with a bang, I knocked out a decent number of pages, and wrote this post for all of you! Is anyone else participating in National Novel Writing Month? I’d love to hear from any fellow novelists, and I’ll keep everyone updated as the month goes along. My next post will be this week and it will be the part 2 of my Top Ten Stories on Television. Alright, time to hit that 50K goal and I’ll see you at the finish line!

Help Me Out Here, Or Don’t

As I perused the web for inspiring ideas and writer’s tips, other than the standard quotes your writer friends happen to have read online, I found myself reading a small excerpt from Stephen King’s “On Writing.” This book is definitely on my “must read” list. Not just because anyone who’s ever written a book or thought of writing a book has read it. I want to read this because every time I’m looking for inspiration, or every time I find myself stuck, something revolving around Stephen King jumps in front of my moving car and splatters inspiration all over the windshield. I hate and love King for this. Everything I’ve read, watched, or heard from him I’ve enjoyed, but damnit, let me enjoy someone else’s work for a change you entertaining, selfish bastard!

This excerpt I found from “On Writing,” makes the most sense of all the writing tips I’ve come across.

On-Writing“I want to put a group of characters…in some sort of predicament and then watch them try to work themselves free. My job isn’t to HELP them work their way free, or manipulate them to safety—those are jobs which require the noisy jackhammer of plot—but to watch what happens and then write it down.”

When I write, or create something, I do so as if I’m watching the movie play out before my eyes. I often don’t know what is going to happen to the characters, even if I know what will happen to the main character at the end of the story, I never know what will happen during their journey to the end. Some characters may die, others may become crippled, or maybe they’ll fall in love. As a writer, my job isn’t to provide divine intervention on behalf of my characters.  It’s not to dictate what they will and won’t do. The characters must learn to help themselves, so that they may live or die dependent on their own actions. In the truest sense of storytelling, my job is to watch and record, then tell you the story of what happened to these people. Thanks again for the inspiring words, King.

What’s A NaNoWriMo?

Ok, I know that I dropped off the face of the earth, or just WordPress, for a little while. Maybe more than just a little while. You know how it goes, life always seems to find a way to force itself into your plans and ruin everything. But that’s just a low down, dirty excuse. So, hopefully, I will be coming back with a vengeance and bringing you plenty of fun and informative posts through the end of the year! So, with that in mind, what are we going to be talking about?

As mentioned a short while back on Facebook, I have lined up a few good posts on a variety of subjects, my novel included. Coming up next is a pair of posts that I enjoyed writing, too ten stories on television: parts 1 & 2. I broke it into two posts so that I may analyze and explain what the show is about and why it made my top ten list. The shows that made te list aren’t all still going on tv, but have all made a significant impact on me as a story teller. More on that later.

Following that post, or maybe between them, will be two post strictly dedicated to my novel “The Drive Home.” The first will feature a short excerpt from the book that really sets the time for the characters and its one of my favorite scenes that, I feel, really brings realism to the characters. The second post about the novel will draw blood from the same vein, only a small pun intended. What good is writing a murder novel if you don’t talk about the minders? So the second post will be a good excerpt from the novel that shows the darker and much more gruesome side of The Drive Home. And I do mean gruesome while I’ve never murdered anyone, I didn’t pull a lot lot of punches when going into detail about the deaths of certain characters, so it may not be for those with weak stomachs. Just sayin’.

Now I’d like to touch on something that I’m very excited for, and the title subject of this post, a little competition known as NaNoWriMo. You may ask yourself. “What the hell’s a NaNoWriMo?” Other than sounding like an awful type of criminal, it’s essentially a writing competition in which the participants are tasked with writing a novel of at least 50,000 words, throughout the month of November. It’s definitely tough, but those who persevere are rewarded. The best thing about the competition is that anyone who completes their 50k word novel, wins! So, all you have to do is finish and you’re a winner! Now, there are some prizes for the best story and they’ll receive some better prizes and that’s my goal for this November. If any one is planning on taking part in NaNoWriMo, sign up on their website and give me a shout, I’d love to hear what you’re writing this November!

It’s Not The Size That Counts…

Before I began writing my novel, I did a lot of research into “how long should my novel be?” What constitutes a short story? Can a novel be too short or too long?” What’s the difference between a novella and a novelette? For anyone starting to write a novel these questions can be a bit daunting, especially since there really is no exact answer for how long your book should be. That is putting it rather frankly, but it’s actually true, to a degree. So let’s break it down into a number of different categories: flash fiction, short stories, novelettes, novellas, novels, and sagas / sequels. In my research I have found many definitions for each of these categories and have put together, what I feel, is a good scale to gauge story lengths by.

Now, there’s something important to mention here, and I can’t stress this enough. There is no set rule or specific length to classify your works by. Everything mentioned below is simply a guideline. Publishers may classify their book types differently than what you find here, or they may be exact, you just wont know until you work with a publisher. Sometimes they state their novel length preferences upfront, on their submission page, other times it’s a simple luck of the draw.

Additionally, there are always exceptions to the rule. Just because a certain type of book is harder to sell than others, doesn’t mean that a unique novelette wouldn’t grab a publisher’s attention with ease. So, here we go, a few guidelines to help classify your work and give you a goal to shoot for when writing.

Flash Fiction – Under 1,000 Words: Flash fiction is a type of story that is often found in magazines or publications to fill a single page. I’ve found that writer’s often tend to take on flash fiction (and short stories) as a sort of challenge. It can be difficult to write an exceptional story in under 1,000 words and still have a beginning, middle, and end. Being able to include those, and still develop a sense of character is a worthy challenge for any author. (I even plan on undertaking this challenge eventually)

Short Story – 1,000 to 7,500 Words: A short story is, obviously, short. If looking to get published, short stories can be a bit more complicated. Unless you happen to have a number of completed stories. Publishers usually aren’t looking for a single short story, only coming in under thirty pages, it’s often hard to justify the cost of publishing. A number of publications, such as magazines, newspapers, websites, and e-magazines, accept single short stories and are great ways to publish them. If, however, you have a number of short stories, that can add up to the approximate length of a novel, a number of publisher do publish compilations.

Novelettes – 7,500 to 20,000 Wrods: Novelettes are a tad easier to write than short stories or flash fiction, because you have more pages to work with. The trouble with novelettes is that they may be harder to sell to a publisher. The reason being is that they are too long to fit into a magazine, and they are too short to be published as a novel. From the research I’ve done, it seems that authors often times combine a few novelettes into a compilation. But, as stated above, there have been novelettes published by themselves. In my opinion, they’re actually perfect for a majority of modern day, on-the-go readers. A short, easy, good read that you can finish quickly and pick up a new one.

Novellas – 20,000 to 50,000 Words: Novellas are excellent for modern day readers, just like novelettes. They’re good for an easy read, but can be just as in depth as a novel. Characters can be deep, plots can be complex, but can still be finished in a couple days depending on how fast you like to read. While many publishers won’t bat an eye at a novel this short, novellas are excellent for e-books. Just like novelettes, they’re easy to pick up and put down, and reading it in your spare time on a screen just seems to work. Additionally, there have been many novellas published as standalone books, so if your story fits this category don’t try to stretch it out any longer than you need.

Novels – 50,000 to 120,000 Words: Now we get to what many writers, including myself, aim for. Novels are the easiest to publish (easy being a relative term, most accepted book length to publish, if you can get a publisher to read your book). The most recognized range of published novels would be between 70,000 and 100,000 words. As I said previously, I can’t overstate the fact that just because you’re not in that “sweet spot” doesn’t mean you won’t get your novel published. My Novel, “The Drive Home,” comes in just over that 50,000 mark. If your work is nearing the higher end of this range, you may want to consider some strict editing and cut your word count back a bit. For a first time author, or an author with little credentials, a publisher might be wary to publish anything over 100,000 to 110,000 words.

I decided on 50,000 words for my goal, because over the last couple years, I have participated in the NaNoWriMo competition. Thirty days, at least 50,000 words, that was the goal. So, that was my goal for my first novel. 50,000 words for someone who hasn’t written a full length novel before can be pretty a daunting task. When I began writing “The Drive Home,” I thought that goal was impossible. Now that I have finished, that seems like a piece of cake. During the time between finishing my novel and beginning the editing process, (“they” say you should put your novel away for two months or so, I took two weeks) I took the free time to start writing something more science fiction oriented. In that two week time period, I wrote one hundred pages, which came in just under 25,000 words. And I have only progressed through about 30% of the story line. By completing my first project, my confidence, my writing, and my speed have increased exponentially.

Epics / Sequels / Sagas – Over 120,000 Words: Novels of this length are often turned away when written by first time authors. If you fall into this category, you may want to consider separating your novel into a sequel or trilogy. Writers who create this type of novel are often well established, to the point that the publisher doesn’t really care how long your novel is, because they know it’ll do well. The most obvious and overly used example: Stephen King. If he wants to publish a novel that’s under 50,000 or over 150,000 words, his publisher will take it on faith, because he’s good at what he does. Personally, I love the idea of writing something that matches the weight of a newborn baby. A book that when you set it down on a table it shakes and lets everyone know, “Hey, I’m reading an enormous book!” But, until I make a name for myself and sell millions of copies, I can be satisfied with writing a trilogy of shorter novels, rather than a something this size.

Wow! That was a lot of information. Hopefully, this sheds some light on where certain word counts are classified. But the bottom line really is, that the story dictates the length of your novel. You don’t want to stretch something over 300 pages when it really should have only been 150 pages. The reader may get bored if you drag your story on. The opposite is true as well. Don’t upset the reader by denying them deep characters or climactic plot points, when you have enough content for a 250 page novel. Either of those scenarios could very well affect the sales of your current or future works.

That’s it. That’s your cue to start, or continue with your writing. No matter what the length, genre, or content, get it done and enjoy what you’re writing. It’ll be finished when it’s supposed to be finished and not a moment sooner.