Over a year without word count updates, and just a couple of posts. Maybe it’s time to get busy on here again.

Despite my seldom appearances here, I’ve been neck-deep in story woes.

Most importantly, the Sycrit Projekt (TM), which is actually neither secret nor much of a project, has been going … blah. Which is where my hiding under rocks is rooted. Working with others is fun, rewarding … and not nearly as easy as I’d like to pretend it is. Especially when the others’ contributions are pretty much: your story sucks, change it, and then radio silence for a few months.

Either way, that’s life. Kind of going back to the mercenary mindset I wrote about, what, a couple of years ago, now?

On the side, though, I’ve been making plans and working on other stories. I’ve sent stuff out for feedback, even took a screenplay re-writing class for my foray into scripts, Trajectory. Fun times.

I should do a more detailed account of the planning stuff, but for now, let me get the word count stuff out of the way:

Gain of a Man Less: 19K –> 51K. Looks impressive when you put it like that, no? (though probably not for a full year) Either way, there’s still something something going on with this story, though not quite as it promised to go last year. I’ve put in a ton of work, structure-wise, and obviously, there’s the word count. But I’ll be going back and trimming the hell out of that word count, before going forward… so, hopefully, I’ll be reporting on it soon enough.

Counter Central: 6K? –> 7K. Notice the lack of question mark? Yes, I threw out the previous 6K and wrote a brand new 7K. Loving this story and where it’s hopefully headed. We’ll see how long that will last.

Chasm: 1K –> 3K. Another story I’m quite liking. It’s low on my priority list, but I like the restart, and I may push on it a bit to see if I can get other people’s eyes on it.

Castles of Sand and Stone: 84K –> 85K. Tiny bit of progress, but I went back and edited quite a bit. Not unhappy with this story. I never am, but it just moves sooooo slowly.

Dancing with Demons: 31K –> 33K. Another tiny addition, but it was a fun scene. I had it in my head, and had to put it on paper. Now, back on the shelf, you!

Turn of the Wilds: Tarnished Red: 11K –> 12K. No new writing, but I decided to add Kata’s POV to this story, and added an older scene that, with a bit of editing, will start another perspective on the main plot, and will keep the novel structure inline with Turn of the Wilds: Bent Steel.

Continuity of Shadows: 5K? –> 13K. No new writing, just made the executive decision to use The Reason For Being Human (Flipside of Reason) as the starting point for this story instead of the previous text. Oh, and I wrote a synopsis with which I’m quite happy. So, okay, some progress.

Leaves Die First: 0.5K –> 10K. No new writing, but I transcribed some handwritten chapters to Word, so yay!

Convergence: 0K –> 0.5K. A new story. There was actually a longer beginning — until I realized that the first 3K words aren’t nearly as cool of a start as the last 0.5K and scrapped them.

Windrise: 0K –> 0.1K. A new story. Loving the idea behind this one. But it’s low on the “high priority” list. If that makes any sense.

Trajectory (Screenplay): Contest came with feedback, which I incorporated and the word count went up. Since this is technically finished, I won’t treat it as progress. But if I do want to do something with this story, based on the ton of feedback I got on it, I either need to take the Machete to it and go crazy, or turn it into prose. I’m considering the latter … later.

Since August 14, 2015:

Of Dragons and Swords: 175K –> 188K. Ended up scrapping quite a bit of writing as I tried a couple of different directions for one scene, and the last attempt may also get scrapped. But it’s, well, moving, so that’s that.

Of Rats in Darkest Corners: 69K –> 71K. Tiny motion that I’m not sure I’ll keep, but I worked through a couple of things that were bothering me before. I also got a bit of an “ah-ha!” moment with one of the POV characters, so happy noodles!

Crossing Roads: 49K –> 53K. Not a huge jump, and some of it may need to get reworked. But the story’s moving forward, so I can’t complain!

Castles of Sand and Stone: 71K –> 78K. Pretty happy with the addition! Still moving slowly, especially since I’m due to kill off two notable characters and I really love one of them, and that will be tough on me again. But that’s been the theme of this story (in more ways than one), so, moving on.

Dancing with Demons: 29.5K –> 30K. Is 500 words worth recording? Well, maybe no, but it was a fun tiny segment to write (some nerdy fun with technology).

The Journeyman: 45K –> 50K. Not unhappy with the bump, and the story’s moving, but I still don’t seem to have much inspiration for it. Even if I do think it’s one of my stronger stories, both writing and concept-wise. It may need a bit of help with the storytelling, in the sense of cleaning up some of the introspection, but other than that, I really have no complaints about it. Other that I just don’t seem to get into it well enough for quicker progress.

Linking Rings: 17K –> 19K. Worked through a major snag (kinda needed to move on with the story). This one isn’t an officially “active” story, but the idea how to handle the problem did strike me, and I thought I should work it in. It’s actually a story I’m pretty happy about, and I have much plans and hopes for it, but since it’s somewhat low in current WC, I figure it should sit until I start finishing some of the stories that are further along.

Gain of a Man Less: 18K –> 19K. Another tiny step forward, but I got the characters to their next scene. Another not high priority story that I have high hopes for. Again, it’s sitting at the back of the line due to its low current WC.

The Turn of the Wilds: Bent Steel: 51K –> 53K. Added a fun action scene (well, not so fun for the POV character, and he’s still in a whole lot of trouble, but it was fun to write). The TotW series has gone through a concept revamp, and I’ll need to work quite a bit on the first book before I return to Bent Steel officially. But that scene will definitely stay, no matter what changes I make to the rest of the book, and it’s always fun writing competent characters in deep trouble, so it was a good break from everything else.

The Continent Series: Empty Spaces: 2K –> 4.5K. I know I shouldn’t be working on this story. It’s book 2 of a series that I’ve barely touched in the last several years. BUT. Oh, that “but.” I’ve thought about the story concept on and off lately, and it offered a good opportunity to scratch an itch to write technobabble for a bit. Furthermore, I’m quite happy with the addition, because it offered some world-building opportunity, and I love world-building!

The Price of Loyalty: 1.7K –> 1.9K. Yes, 200 words. I’ve shattered all world records on word count per year! I originally wasn’t even going to include this, but the truth is that I’ve been thinking about this story quite a bit too. It won’t see the light of day any time soon, but it’s a concept I’ve loved for a long time (very challenging, which is probably why it’s never seen much word count) and maybe some day I’ll have the confidence to dive into it. Until then, here’s another 200 words on this story.

Sake of the Pack: 12K –> 13K. Another story that has been sitting, waiting for me to get over reservations writing it. But I did open it back up for nostalgia’s sake, and it got a bit of a bump in word count. Pretty much finished the next scene. There’s still quite a bit I need to figure out on it, and I’m still somewhat intimidated from the scope of it. I once said I’m not a good enough plotter to tackle the concept yet. Has anything changed since then? I’m not sure. But considering how many other stories I still have to work on, I really have no reasons not to let it sit for a while longer.

Broken Circles: 112K –> 115K. Hah, I actually had to open the story to see where that progress came from. So, yeah, I actually added a very important set of scenes that I’d managed to forget about in the last few months. Surprise! Not unhappy at all, though. The scenes do push the story forward quite a bit.

Trajectory (Screenplay): 61/120 pages –> 66/120 pages. Tiny movement. (I actually have about 72 pages on it, but the rest are possible inclusions, not official ones) The main progress was in figuring out the end scene, though it’s not written yet (I had trouble visualizing how to keep the actions of the MC true to her character while making the planned ending work).

The Chasm: 0K –> 0K. I have not officially started writing it yet, but I’ve done some brainstorming. I figured I’d include it in the update, since it’s a sweeping update. It’s a YA story in an old, old secondary world of mine (Dead Men’s Stand is in the same world). I kinda knew what I wanted to do for a while (about seven years ago, I wrote something that could have been a prologue for it, if I didn’t think it was too spoilery). But the opening is now starting to take shape in my head, and if I ever get the time and inspiration, I may write it down.

Locked Land: 6K? –> 6K? Another concept update. I’ve got a major jump on the world concept and on the plot! A long time ago, when a beta reader of mine saw what I had on it, they suggested some interesting possibilities for the plot. I thought they were very cool, but took the story very close to some existing stories by other authors. The story wasn’t a priority anyway, so I let it sit. But I recently got to thinking about it. And I’m excited to report that I’ve not only figured out quite a bit about the world and the story, but I’ve stayed true to its concept and have not veered towards other people’s IP. I have not put any of my new thoughts into scenes yet, though. And I’m not sure how much of the existing writing I’ll end up using, so I’m putting the question marks at the end of the word count.

Remnants: 1K? –> 1K? I actually tried another beginning for that one, but I probably won’t keep it either. I still love the concept, so I’m not throwing it out, but it’s not this story’s time yet.

Counter Central: 6K? –> 6K? Another “sitter” I’ve thought about lately. So I made a lot of progress on the concept, which I’m VERY happy with. But I won’t bring it back into focus, even though I think some of the themes may be pretty current.

I’d love to say that about sums it up, but, no.

I’ve revived my attempts at short stories.

One is in the works, at about 2.5K. It’s a high-tech story heavy on themes, so it’s taking me a little longer to iron out the end.

Another two are in the brainstorming stage. I’m not sure if I’ll put effort into writing them anytime soon, but I like the concepts, so I don’t think I’ll let them die either.

… and there isn’t much I can say for myself.

The stories have mostly sat. I ventured into script writing (revamped an unfinished short story), but the air got zapped out of it when I read an article bashing flashbacks … and the script is structured around flashbacks. Ah, well. Maybe it will liven back up when my brain processes the whole flashback mess. Maybe not.

My “good ol’ stuff” … a little bit of progress on Of Dragons and Swords (yeah, I know, I’m sick of hearing about it inching towards the end too). Tiny progress on the other two “young protagonist” stories, Of Rats in Darkest Corners and Castles of Sand and Stone. I also nibbled on TotW: Bent Steel, Broken Circles, Gain of a Man Less, and Linking Rings.

The TOTAL, however, works out to be about 15K words written in six months (sans the script, which is probably another 10K). So I don’t really think it’s worth a more detailed word count update.

So, NaNoWriMo went well for about the first week or so … then I fell flat on my face (due to real life stuff).

I got in about 16K total for November, on Of Rats in Darkest Corners alone, before it happened. (Of Rats in Darkest Corners current WC: 63K)

Then, since the start of December, I’ve done some nibbling on a few stories. Nothing worth even updating WCs for. But I’ve been brainstorming on stories instead, and I’m not unhappy about some of the newest decisions.

I’ve been talking about splitting up the two monsters (Broken Circles and Of Dragons and Swords) into three parts each (in about 60-80K segments) for some time now. I finally “modeled” what these splits would look like. And I think they may actually work!

The first part of Broken Circles would consist of all sections before the Team gets split up (up to the end of the Feat). The second would contain the individual endeavors, and the third would be everyone working on the same world problem again, from the new perspectives they’ve gotten in the second part.

Of Dragons and Swords doesn’t split as cleanly, unfortunately. I’m thinking of having a “cadence” to them (of MC leaving and returning, each time with a new perspective). Word count-wise it works, but each end would be after the new arc starts, which I don’t know will work for sure. Broken Circles would have a little bit of that too, but its ends would be more akin to hooks, and not like I plan on doing for Of Dragons and Swords, diving right into the next arc and stopping when it’s already starting to build up.

But I guess I’m willing to try it anyway.

Which means that I may end up first doing the splits and diving into editing each of the first two parts of the stories (which are, for all practical purposes, already shaped, though they need work to bring to the quality I hope they can be). And as long as I stick to the plans I have for each story, I may be then able to finish the third parts much easier too.

I’ve also done a lot of thinking on Turn of the Wilds and the overall story. I’m actually glad it went on hiatus, because where I’ve stopped ended up being the ideal place to have the ah-ha! moment I had on it recently. I’ve pretty much figured out its overarching theme. It’s a pretty huge deal, since I was struggling with wanting there to be more to the morphology of the world than just “wouldn’t it be cool if.” So, now I think I have that! The biggest problem: I really liked the individual book titles I’d come up with (Tarnished Red, Bent Steel, and Scarred Flesh). They worked nicely for how I’d planned the original stories. Now, however, the books won’t be as focused on one individual character per book, but will be more evenly spread between the larger cast (Bent Steel had already gone there — that was one of my concerns with it). Anyway. I’m glad I had my little creative epiphany on it. I’m still looking at a mountain of work, but I think I have a clearer direction, and hopefully a bucket-load of inspiration … when I get back to it.

Against all odds, Dancing with Demons also got a look lately. This goes along with my desire to give my fantasy stories a bit of rest. (Dancing with Demons is a space opera-ish story) To be honest, I’ve been missing the free-for-all pseudo techno-junk babble. It was fun reading through. And it’s still a fun (for me) story. I don’t know when I’ll pick it back up next, but I’ve been working through some of its current knots (in my head), and maybe it will get some love (read: bump in WC) in the near future.

I guess we’ll see.

The promised word count update:

Of Dragons and Swords: 161K –> 170K. Still taking its sweet time. I’m a little frustrated with it, but there’s enough in there that I like that I think it’s not a waste of time. Its fate will be either a major overhaul and trimming that keeps some of the existing scenes, or reworking it into three parts. I’m still not sure which one it will be. I’ll figure it out after I get through the end.

Of Rats in Darkest Corners: 43K –> 50K. This year’s pick for NaNoWriMo. We’ll see how that’s going to work. But I’m not unhappy with the progress so far. For a while I feared there were too many pieces, but they’re finally starting to fit together.

The Journeyman: 42K –> 45K. I’m liking where it’s heading, but, to be honest, I’m back to feeling burnt out on it, though I’ve hardly worked on it this year. Go figure.

Castles of Sand and Stone: 65K –> 66.5K. Another story I like and think it’s heading in the right direction. I did consider it for NaNoWriMo this year, just by virtue of practically having an outline for it and a successful 50K being almost a guarantee I’d finish it. But this has always been a slooooooow progressing story, and I decided I didn’t feel like working on a fantasy novel this year.

Dancing with Demons: 27.5K –> 28.5K. Just one new scene. It’s not a story I’ve got in focus right now, but I did randomly get the urge to work on it once these past several months. Not unhappy with the addition, either.

I also did some editing / tiny additions to Crossing Roads, TotW: Bent Steel, Broken Circles, and Linking Rings. I do wish I wrote faster, and devoted more time to writing … These are all stories that I hope I’ll finish one day (and that they’ll be readable).

Anyway … that sums it up, I think. Seven long months, not enough progress with writing, unfortunately.

… Yup, the /Devo/ song about sums it all up.

A few days away from the middle of February, and I feel fundamentally stuck. Story-wise, I haven’t had a lot of time to work on Of Dragons and Swords (which I was supposed to finish mid-January), and whatever time I was able to spend on it has been like marching in place.

Okay, I should probably take that back. I did write a couple of scenes that I feel give a lot more depth to the story, even if they bloat the word count without moving us any closer to the oh-so-anticipated end. So, no, I don’t hate the scenes. But I do hate the fact that it feels like the more I write, the farther away my goal moves.

Hey, reminds me of the opening of TotW: Bent Steel… Good times.

(Of Dragons and Swords current WC: 123K)

So, I’ve talked about my writing process here before, but probably not in a very organized fashion. The last couple of days, however, in a forum I occasionally visit, people started talking about their writing approaches. I was originally going to answer there, but I realized that the ramble really belongs here … So, here goes nothing:

As I’ve mentioned quite often before, I’m a discovery writer. (in particular, for novellas and beyond; I treat shorties a little differently)

I think outlines are awesome, for the people who can use them effectively. Me … total no-go. If you’re ever wondered what happened to The Sake of the Pack and Brief Horizons, both stories that I believe have huge potential and that I really like, but I can’t get myself to write at all… Yeah, I did outlines for them. Totally sapped my inspiration. I hope that one day, I’ll be able to get over my block for them — but I assume the only way to do this is take them both in completely different directions than I’d intended originally. Brief Horizons will be easier. I even have a few ideas I may toy with later. The Sake of the Pack will probably need a lot more time to bring back into the spotlight.

So, no outlines for me.

Instead, I start a story with a various percentage of characters, setting, and world problem (if such exists) in a “penciled in” state. The main thing for me is to find and constistently follow a unique tone (my catchall term for voice and atmosphere), that fits the setting and at least current main characters. As far as themes — I believe they should come out naturally as I develop my characters, world, and plot. After the story is completed (at least for the novellas — I’ve yet to complete a novel), I do one dedicated edit pass for polishing up whatever themes happened to emerge during the writing process.

When I sit down to write on any given day, I always first go over a portion of what’s already been written. For me, this is an absolutely necessary step. Because I don’t write regularly, and I almost always write at the end of the day, I need to get myself in the correct voice and mindset for the story I want to work on. It doesn’t always work. When it doesn’t work, I either jump to another story, or leave it for next time.

This is my “reader/editor” time with the story. I technically approach it as a reader, but if something bugs me, I correct it on the spot. (except for the parts I know need a major edit or a full re-write — then I’ll just make notes, and I’ll usually avoid reading them, so they don’t leave subconscious traces on whatever re-write comes next).

Once I reach the end of the existing text, I put on my writer cap. As I said, I work without outlines. But I do usually have a next “milestone” towards which I write, that I’ve chosen based on a tentative direction in which I think the story should go.

Depending on where I’m in the story, the milestone may be vague, or pretty detailed.

Usually, I have three stages (percentages are approximate):

0-25% — completely free-flowing. Anything that occurs to me that sounds interesting may end up in the mix, as long as it follows the general tone of the story. Example: back when Turn of the Wilds: Bent Steel was at about 15%, a character appeared out of nowhere and took over the story. Mind you, this was a character I created because I wanted a natural way to avoid an info dump and I wasn’t planning to even name him. Needless to say, he threw a big wrench into my tentative plot, but he’s also the best thing that’s happened to this story so far.

25-70% — the main plot’s in place, the characters are mostly set, the world problems are clear, and I’ve figured out what the subplots are. Still a lot of room for “why not” moments, but I try to have more detailed milestones and I may even have two or more in a row already. Example: Crossing Roads now has its main characters and their motivations more or less set, I have a pretty good idea what the world problem is (though I’m not 100% sure of the details yet), I have at least a couple of ideas how I could handle the end, and I’m working towards a fairly set milestone, though I just scrapped a scene and changed how I’ll get to that milestone.

70-100% — I already have a pretty good idea what the end is going to be. I usually have a list of the major milestones leading to this end. “Why not” moments are heavily scrutinized. =) Example: Broken Circles. I have a pretty good idea what’s going to happen to each of the characters. I know how the plot will wrap up. I still have quite a few unknowns on the details of the subplots and how I’ll bring them all together, but the milestones that lead to the finish line are more or less in place.

Another note: I don’t work with outlines, but I do have “living” summaries of everything that’s already happened, and I keep records of all characters and places and objects of interests, etc. Extremely useful, since I juggle so many stories, but having these also helps me make quick decisions on plot, flow, pacing, etc. while I’m writing, as well as keep internal consistency — and they do come in handy for quick reference.

Here’s an example for The Journeyman (a version without the descriptions of people, places, and things to prevent spoilers, and with the plot points and summary greyed out, since I don’t want this to exist on the internet, in case I actually end up publishing the damn thing):

The Journeyman.jpg

(by the way, the above’s done in “Freemind” — a free mind mapping software I’ve grown very fond of)

I was thinking about writing approaches, and how scatterbrained I am when it comes to which story I happen to be working on.

I’ve more or less worked through the frustration: after the failed experiment with The Journeyman, I think my best approach is to learn to be productive, so that the minor detail that no one story is advancing very fast is made irrelevant by the other, hopefully not so minor detail, that I have multiple stories approaching the finish line, and multiple others coming up behind them, and yet multiple others in the beginning stages. If I can keep the word count fairly constant, I figure my stories will eventually get there…

Anyway. Getting myself to think about all of the above topics got me to realize I haven’t been putting any updates here. Yes, the two and a half months overseas didn’t help, but I’ve also been just … distracted.

I don’t remember the details (I haven’t gone that anal-retentive in my excel spreadsheet), but here’s an approximate account of my writting progress in the last three months:

Broken Circles: 108K –> 110K (slowly trudging forward … to hopefully good things when I get to the end)

Crossing Roads: 42K –> 44K (was not having any luck with a transition there — but I think I may have finally figured out a way to work through that knot; I hope to try my hand at it this weekend)

Of Rats in Darkest Corners: 15K –> 16K (even though the words were few, the progress was good; I had trouble with that last scene, and I think I’ve nearly worked through it; but I’m still contemplating whether I should revise what I’ve written so far to include the dream world I rambled about earlier)

Of Dragons and Swords: 0K –> 16K (yey! Not a “new” story — it’s actually one of my ancient ones that I’ve always wanted to scavange from … and now it’s moving forward; I’m actually happy with this one. The characters are updated and the plot I think is actually bearable now (this is the same story I liked to call my “Lord of the Rings meets Big Trouble in Little China” story — yeah, I was a weird 14-yearl-old); anyway, I think it’s gotten … well, relatively better now, but I’m also having fun writing it, so it’s all good!)

Castles of Sand and Stone: 61K –> 64K (really happy with that progress, even if it’s tiny; this is proving to be a somewhat difficult story to write, and I’m pretty sure that each individual scene from here on will feel like a hurdle — but it is what it is, and this has always been a somewhat tough story for me anyway)

Turn of the Wilds: Bent Steel: 50K –> 51K (another tiny move forward; I’m kind of stuck on this one, in a much grander scale than simply not knowing how to handle the what comes next; because this is part of a series, most of my frustrations here are how do I make it work when I have to work it in with Tarnished Red and Scarred Flesh, and neither of these has come very far)

The Journeyman: 33K –> 34K (my poor stilted story… I still believe this is one of my strongest stories, and I still need to find a way to break through that block; yes, I did try to get myself to work on it again, and I did move the current scene forward; but I still think I’m missing a strong link to the plot, and I’m already too far into the story to get away with jumping into it now … so I’m also trying to wrap my head around how to either machete-edit what I currently have, or just trash it, and start fresh…)

The Continent Series: Empty Spaces: 1K –> 2K (I know, neckbreaking progress! On a story I really shouldn’t be working on right now, for many, many reasons! But I did get the scene in my head, so I had to write it down; I’m actually happy with the tone and setting of this story, and I think it’s gonna be a fun one to write; of course, at this point it’s more of a distraction, but I’ve promised not to stop myself when I get the urge to work on stories that aren’t “actual” right now, so, there goes nothing)

And this … actually wraps it up.

Apparently, the hiatus lasted much, much longer than I thought.

I’m back, though… kinda?

It’s been a notably bad year, with a few really, really good things sprinkled in, to keep me sane. The last major personal upset was that I got nearly all of my mobile electronics stolen (work laptop, cell phones, camera, back up drives, etc…). Other than professional implications (although my company was really gracious about it, especially since the timing, and resulting severity of the theft, was work trip related), the worse personal bit is that a lousy human being out there has a copy of ALL of my creative stuff. And I do mean all. I’d finally gotten off my lazy butt and backed up everything…

Everyone I’ve shared my fears with has tried to calm me down, telling me that the thieves probably won’t do anything with it — hopefully, by now the portable hard drive has long been formatted and sold — but I can’t help it but have mild panic attacks every so often, that some jerk out there has gone through my drawings, or stories… I feel… yuck.

Anyway… This happened some time ago now, so I’m slowly recovering.

But for a while, I couldn’t even look at my stories without thinking of the theft, and the fact my creative work has fallen into a stranger’s hands. This resulted in almost two months of avoiding thinking about my stories… but I finally shook it off, I think … I hope, anyway.

So, back to our regular programming.

Of Rats in Darkest Corners is officially on hold. Before the theft, I did attempt a “Chapter 0” and even started on Chapter 3. “Chapter 0” is at this point horrible. Chapter 3 is going in the right direction content-wise, but feels excessively flat. Furthermore, I think I’m now back to “Fantasy” mode, so the story goes back to its shelf, until further notice. (Of Rats in Darkest Corners current WC: 13K)

On the other hand, Turn of the Wilds: Bent Steel got quite a bit of a bump in word count before the theft. This is the second time in my writing life that a character comes out of nowhere to overtake a story and, just like the first time, it’s all kinds of awesome! I also clarified a direction for the book, so — yey! The biggest frustration… This is actually the SECOND book of the Turn of the Wilds group of stories. Tarnished Red comes first. And Tarnished Red is, unfortunately, stagnating at a couple of chapters, that I’ve been thinking about rewriting anyway … It’s not that Bent Steel can’t stand on its own — but I’ve had this constant nagging feeling in the back of my mind that it’d be better to finish Tarnished Red first, even while Bent Steel was flowing onto “paper” like nobody’s business. And that’s not a good feeling to have. (Turn of the Wilds: Bent Steel current WC: 50K; Turn of the Wilds: Tarnished Red current WC: 6K)

BUT … after my “return,” the story that’s coming back into focus, mostly for reasons of it being close to the (at least official) finish line, is Broken Circles. This one also comes with its own set of frustrations — since the first 20K words were written way back in college, they need a major rewrite not only for language, but also for content. There are also so many side stories (ones that are already on paper, and others I wonder if I shouldn’t tell anyway), that the word count promises to majorly bloat out of proportion. And there’s also the (at least for me) natural fear that I won’t be able to tie all the loose threads into a good end. I mean, I HAVE the end in my head, and in a quick abstract. I know what happens with each of the characters. I know how the plot gets wrapped up. I have the content… but what scares me is whether I’ll be able to pull it off as writing and storytelling. There are some very, very tough scenes coming up. I’m an ambitious writer, but I’m not a good writer yet. And having to write some of these scenes intimidates the fuck out of me. (Broken Circles current WC: 103K)

Finally, the “guilty pleasure” space opera story that turned into a mainstream one … Dancing with Demons. About a quarter in, it stumbled onto a good and I think worthwhile plot, so I’m now taking it out of the “guilty pleasure” category. I’ll keep the focus on Broken Circles, of course, but I’ve found that my writing process must allow for me to jump between at least a couple of stories, or otherwise my writing goes flat. So, Dancing with Demons has come into the spotlight. It’s mostly Star-Warsy type action (think the Knights of the Old Republic games, not the movies — without the Force, and with more factions and mercenaries =), with two awkward (hopefully, not in a Star-Warsy way) love stories (one just kicking up, another already going strong) thrown in the mix. It’s been pretty fun writing it. I don’t know if now that it’s “serious,” the enjoyment of the process won’t change — but I still like the story and hope to bring it to an end someday soon. (Dancing with Demons current WC: 24K)

So, that’s it for my long overdue update. Toodles!

I’ve been working on multiple stories since my last update on Vet, getting scenes out of my head and on paper.

One of my big bits of progress: I got over a bump on Castles of Sand and Stone and wrote 2K words in one sitting. I ended up putting myself against another bump, though. I have to bring a group of people to a certain location and the way I wrote it out this time feels “too convenient.” The justification behind the events is fairly solid, I believe, but my gut feel is that it still reads a little forced. This could be a consequence of my new practice of actually planning ahead for things that happen in the story, but I can’t take a chance — I can’t look at it with “fresh eyes” anymore, so I’m going with my gut feel. Therefore, I’m on hold with this one, until I figure out how to make it all work naturally. I already have an idea, but I’ll have to work through the details before I sit down to write anything out. (Castles of Sand and Stone current WC: 61K)

I wrote a scene I’m pretty happy with for Turn of the Wilds: Bent Steel, the “core” story, and a little over 7.5K words for the “aux” bucket, which is part of the story that I don’t really know if I’ll use in the actual novel or not — it depends on how I decide to structure the whole damn thing.

This story’s actually becoming interesting to work on as a process too, because I’m juggling a ton of characters in it, and the ones that are naturally emerging as “leads” were not the ones I was planning to have as main characters in the beginning. I even have a character who was not planned at the start, was introduced as a transitional POV character so that I don’t have to go into a major info dump, and is now a main mover. (then again, this is definitely not the first time this has happened in a story of mine, so no surprise here) The cool thing is that the story’s falling into place very easily. Practically all little frills I originally added to the world just to make it more “colorful” have become major plot elements, and so far, I’ve yet to go back to fix something so that a new idea works. It’s a really fun way to work on a story, I have to say. Feels effortless, so far. Of course, I’m still in the first third of the story, which means I still have a LOT of work to do on plot, etc… but so far, it’s been great. (Turn of the Wilds: Bent Steel current WC: 24K, plus an additional 15K that may or may not go into the story depending on how I decide to structure it)

Vet has been in a little bit of a bind. I had a dear friend visit over the weekend, and I went through a pretty major bout of nostalgia. Up to about 10 years ago, along with writing, I kept trying my hand at comics. I was never good (see previous post) and I don’t really have the patience for it (see previous post, again), but I like the medium a lot. When finding time for creative work became more of an issue, I more or less went back to 100% prose, taking care of my drawing urges through character sketches and illustrations. But now that the memories have been stirred, I’m sincerely considering giving Vet a try as a comic. I think the story would work well visually anyway (plus, I love to draw me some punks =), and I’m now considering trying the first chapter as a comic too. Not sure if it will work or not, or how far I’ll stick with it, but, hell … why not? (Vet current WC: 11K)

Then, I did some consolidation of my C&R stories (I’m considering “Between Two Broken Mirrors” as a title right now… not sure if I like it enough yet). I’m seriously split between two options for buttoning down this story. First would be to stick with the current format (loose short stories that follow the two main characters); the second would be a true novel format, which will use one of the short stories as the frame, will require a ton of work, and will possibly result in a major rewrite of most of the internal stories. I like the second option because I think the plot device could be kick-ass in light of the meat of the story: a man who’s lost his memories is trying to piece his past together. On the other hand, I like the first option because that’s how the story flows “naturally” — and I’ll be able to include the second POV of the shorts (Cyrus’) — while in the novel version, I’d have to stick with just Richard’s. I’ll have to do a little more soul-searching on this story in general, though. It’s an early story, and some of the themes and on-screen events have always pushed my personal comfort level. Now, I’m not saying that the story’s risque or anything like it. Even some of the things I’m not comfortable with are vanilla compared to some of the writings I’ve stumbled on before. But on a personal level, I’m not sure I want to make this story public. And if I’m keeping it private, then I don’t need to “button it down.” (Between Two Broken Mirrors current WC: 103K)

Oh, did I mention I jump from story to story a lot?

(Oh, and I’ve made the executive decision to always record the word count of whatever story I’m talking about, with the idea that this way, I’ll give myself a way of remembering where I was in the story whenever I said something about it… accountability, AND tractability… Hey ya!)