So, I guess I’m overdue for an update.

First things first — finished major edit of Gain of A Man Less (down to 41K). Tossed out a stupid amount of words, and I kind of feel like I took a step back from the story. On the other hand, at least I can now think of moving forward. Kind of.

Of Rats In Darkest Corners (71K): the soul searching continues. I think I’m back to a non-scientific explanation for the problem, but now I’m having a dilemma concerning the “source” of the problem. There’s a thought that stuck in my head, that would make it much, much tougher on the protagonists’ state of mind. So much so that I’m wondering if it’s not too much. I know the rule of thumb is, do the worst that can be done to your characters without going stupid, and this wouldn’t be going stupid, nor would it be doing drama for the sake of drama alone. But it will change the underlying theme of the story. Drastically. To the point I’m not sure I want to do it. On the other hand, it’s a twist that I feel is potent. Thought process to be continued…

Counter Central (19K): Yes, that one came to life. Got it past that 15K mark I was shooting for at the start of the year. Out for feedback. Happy noodles.

The Journeyman (51K): Got some feedback on it, and it’s got my usual 1st person POV problem. So I have to work in some more detail into the beginning of it and throw it in for a round two.

Sake of the Pack (13K): I’d considered shelving it, but I’m going back and forth on this one. From previous feedback, needs more world detail, but otherwise strong voice and interesting plot, blah blah blah, but I’m kind of feeling “out of the zone” on it. Because it’s a strong voice (my favorite type of character to write, so easy to get into his voice), I almost want to work in the missing details and throw it in for a round two. But I’m not sure that I want to work on this story. Either that, or I need to re-envision where it’s headed and hopefully get back into the zone on it.

Dancing with Demons (36K): Super-happy to report I actually fixed the beginning of this one (its original beginning sucked badly, it was literally a discarded excerpt from mid-chapter of Sake of the Pack). It’s out for feedback, so we’ll see how well this beginning works, if at all. But I did straighten out a ton of issues I had with it before, and I think it’s going good places.

Crossing Roads (56K): Out for feedback. My main issue with this one is length and how quickly it moves toward its plot; similar to The Journeyman, actually. I like each and every scene by itself, but I have the nagging suspicion that taken together, the scenes aren’t moving the plot along quickly enough.

Linking Rings (23K): Fixed the beginning. I still love this story and it’s totally the type of story I want to write. So I did send its beginning out for feedback. At the same time — look at that list of stories up there!! Crazy daisy.

Continuity of Shadows (13K): It’s out for feedback, but I had a glimpse into what to expect… and I’m getting a “main character bored = reader bored.” I’ve always known it’s a risky start (the protagonist isn’t supposed to be bored, he’s supposed to be convinced he’s meaningless, but that probably just shows I’m not a good enough writer to pull it off). But it’s the start that makes sense for this story, so I have to make it work. In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve tried starting it later, long after the “inciting incident,” but that was just bleh. The meaningless bit is pretty much the heart of the theme of this story. But maybe I’ve front-loaded too much of the world in there and I’ve slowed it down too much. We’ll see. I’ll wait for the official feedback before I think about it further.

Castles of Sand and Stone (85K): Out for feedback. Kind of holding my breath on this one, as I have no idea, whatsoever, what to expect. On the other hand, as I’ve mentioned a ton of times before, I love this story to bits, so I hope it won’t go too horribly. =)

Trajectory (27K): Yup, the script has now been inserted into a word document, and I’m (slowly) starting to convert it into prose. It will be novella length and it will be 1st Person POV, so it will take a ton of work to get there… but it’s the right thing for this story. I feel like this could become a really good one. Then again — I first have to make it readable.

The Continent Series: Empty Spaces (4,5K) and The Turn of the Wilds: Bent Steel (53K): They’re both inactive right now, but I’ve been considering pulling them both forward as a first (only?) book in what I thought of as their respective series. Both The Continent Series: Moving Targets (7,6K) and The Turn of the Wilds: Tarnished Red (12K) are obviously stories I like. But … With Moving Targets, I feel the story is more style than plot (it’s supposed to be a cat and mouse chase between a newly minted criminal and an undercover soldier in a “stunted” pre-digital age type society, i.e. atompunk, but it’s a bit … thin, and I can’t think of a way to “fluff” it out without breaking Empty Spaces, which I think works quite well as is). With Tarnished Red, I have this idea of what it should be, I feel like the story is interesting… but I don’t feel interested in writing it. Maybe that will pass, too. Either way, both of these stories/series are on hiatus, but both may reemerge as single standalone stories. I guess that remains to be seen.

Oh, and I’ve submitted to Writers of the Future again. And I have a short story accepted into an anthology. More on this when the time is right…

Now, for various reasons, Gain of a Man Less is top priority. This includes a slight edit of the first portion, a major edit of the rest, and incorporating a completely new direction for the ending. (and actually ending it, so I can send it out).

Of Rats in Darkest Corners is one I want to toss in the feedback pot. I have a bit of a dilemma — one of my issues has always been that the “powers” are magic at this point (think, superhero type stuff). And I like to keep magic in fantasy worlds. So a while back, I brainstormed a way to take the magic out. It’d take some editing (though not too much) to implement it. But I can’t decide whether I really DO want to change it. It moves away from the original “feel” of the story… so, yes, I have a major decision to make: whether to keep the super powers bit, or whether to go for tech gone bad. But it’s a high on the list one, to throw into circulation.

The Journeyman and Crossing Roads are getting sent out for feedback. I may do a quick edit run through each, but in general, I don’t plan on spending too much time on them before I clear Gain of a Man Less and Of Rats In Darkest Corners from my plate.

Counter Central is getting a kick in the butt. I’m shooting to get to about 15K, so that I can get others’ eyes on it. So when I get very stuck on Gain of a Man Less and need to take a break from it, but still be productive, this is the go-to story for new writing.

Continuity of Shadows, with its new start, will get a slight edit pass (mostly for structure) and will again go out for feedback.

Linking Rings will be next; I need to fix some weirdness with one of the POV characters and bump up the hardships of the other. But all these are minor edits, so I hope to send it out at the same time as The Journeyman and Crossing Roads.

I hope all of the above will be ready for next steps by the end of February.

If everything goes great or better than expected, I’ve got Locked Land (I need to incorporate some feedback and write on, ideally to 15K before I can show it), Dancing with Demons (I need to get its beginning in shape; possibly start with Teyin instead of Arex — some brainstorming needs to go into it, but it’d be mostly shuffling things around to fix a meh beginning), The Chasm (write it to 15K so that I can show its beginning around), and Windrise (which is right now more concept than story, but I know it’s strong enough to push).

Sake of the Pack is one I’m scratching my head on; I have feedback I can incorporate to make it stronger, and I’m tempted to toss it in the mix as well. Probably not something I want to tackle in the next few months, but it’s bugging me.

Castles of Sand and Stone will probably go out for feedback to hopefully get tips on strengthening the beginning. It’s not a secret on this blog that I love this story, but I’m completely aware that the beginning is not “modern” hooky.

So… this sums it up. Lots of work ahead of me.

Of Dragons and Swords: 188K –> 200K. La la laaaaala…. Getting closer, and closer… Still not there, though. 10K to finish. I hope I can stay within this limit. I have the two major end scenes in my head though (I’m having a bit of a Castles of Sand and Stone struggle, in that I’m about to kill characters I really like, so I’m reluctant to go into these scenes… but I’ll get there. I hope).

Of Rats in Darkest Corners: 71K –> 71K. Not much of a word count increase (there actually is, but I’m keeping these scenes out of the official WC, in case I change my mind and throw them out). But I’ve added the bit I struggled with (one of the POV characters’ introduction, which was kind of important, but I didn’t know how to originally set up so that it fit the rest of the tone of the story). So, yay!

Crossing Roads: 53K –> 56K. And yes. Halfway in, our MC isn’t invincible anymore. I’d set it up from the beginning, but I finally got to this scene. Luvya, Curse!

Castles of Sand and Stone: 78K –> 84K. Got through a very sensitive for me spot. I hope I handled it well? Readers will tell. If they ever get to reading this story.

Dancing with Demons: 30K –> 31K. Tiny addition, but this isn’t an “active” story, so I won’t complain. A step forward is a step forward.

The Journeyman: 50K –> 51K. Yup. Neckbreaking progress. Well, there was potential neckbreaking in this progress, so does that count? I’m liking how the characters are coming along, though, so, score!

Gain of a Man Less: 19K –> 19K. There’s a bunch of things going on with this story. Not making it official on the diary yet (afraid I’ll jinx it?), but there’re eyes on this, and I’ve been working a ton on edits and the story themes/plot. Just a small word count increase lost in the rounding of the WC, but that’s because I also killed a scene.

Counter Central: 6K? –> 6K?. More brainstorming on this one. I’m REALLY liking it. Kind of tempted to throw it in the “active” mix. Won’t, because of Gain of a Man Less, but tempted nonetheless.

The Chasm: 0K –> 1K. The opening scene was bugging me, so I put it down. Not 100% happy with it, but it’s on “paper.” Will probably end up either re-writing it, or at least editing it a bunch. Not the time of this story yet, anyway.

Trajectory (Screenplay): 66/120 pages –> 117 pages. FINISHED. And sent to a contest. Yay! (first round of results expected second week of January)

 

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.

Since about the start of the year:

Of Dragons and Swords: 170K –> 175K.

Of Rats in Darkest Corners: 63K –> 69K.

Crossing Roads: 45K –> 49K.

Castles of Sand and Stone: 66.5K –> 71K.

Dancing with Demons: 28.5K –> 29.5K.

And … because, pineapples:

Trajectory (Screenplay): 0/120 pages –> 61/120 pages

… 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.