Saturday, January 31, 2015

Steering the Craft, Exercise 7, POV: The Decadent Serpent

Time to dive into Exercise 7: POV (page 91 of Steering the Craft)

To sum-up from the previous post:
200-350 words narrative sketch, event with 4+ people, little or no dialogue
Part 1.1: limited third person, 1st POV
Part 1.2: limited third person, 2nd POV
Part 2: detached narrator
Part 3: observer narrator, an onlooker POV told in first or third person
Part 4: involved author

I wanted to work with something completely new for this exercise. My brainstorm went with a weird sci-fi missing person story, but I'm going to come back to that on my second run through this. I put more energy into my second brainstorm. The first two POVs (part 1.1 and part 1.2) are done enough to post. The rest will follow later this week. As always, comments welcome. Enjoy!

The Decadent Serpent

Keep writing

Just noticed this post on Goodreads. For the writers who glance at my blog: quotes on beating back writer's block. At times, I argue that writer's block doesn't really exist, so perhaps my favorite quote here is Chuck Wendig's "I shove it out of the way and keep writing." But I suppose the main thing I do in order to keep writing is what B J Novak does: I write something else that seems like pure fun. Then when I get stuck on that, the first thing I was working on seems magically more appealing..."

If you do read this short post and link above and feel like commenting, you're more than welcome to, dear reader. Would love to hear your thoughts and advice on keeping on writing and beating back all the countless odds and ends that try to stop one from writing.

Now, to take a look at the fantasy narrative sketch I've been secretly working on in response to that previously mentioned exercise 7 (yes, there is also a weird sci-fi possibly horror one in response to that which is also still in the works). Be back later.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Kameron Hurley's post on earnings from books

And a morning post before running off to work. One of the authors I like (I'm still reading through her Mirror Empire novel from late last year), Kameron Hurley wrote a blog post detailing earnings from her books. Somewhat obvious (we all know the writing business is tough), but thanks for bringing it to my attention i09: The Truth About Books, Money, Awards (And Not Quitting Your Day Job). The details are in the post itself though. Off to enjoy my day job and a beautiful ride through the snow. 'Til tonight then!

Steering the Craft, Exercise 7: POV

Been feeling exhausted due to my day job I guess (perhaps fighting off the hint of sickness as well?), and gotten distracted by several reads (this week I've been focused on The Scar by China Mieville, The Nightmare Factory by Thomas Ligotti, Ebb Tide by Thad Wind, and my listen to The Scar by Marina Dyachenko and Sergey Dyachenko - all great reads, will try to give them decent reviews when I finish them up) - I suppose I should get a Goodreads widget on this blog - but I am looking forward to getting a draft done for the next Steering The Craft exercise. I really like the next one: it has the writer write the same scene from several different POVs. Certainly could be used as an excellent brainstorming method, or character/setting/scene development technique, to use on current works-in-progress (which I admit is exactly what I've been using pretty much all of these exercises for thus far), but I decided to make up something completely new for this exercise. Was thinking something in the horror genre, but it looks like it may end up more odd sci-fi than anything dark or horrific. There's still time for it to warp though, so we'll have to wait and see. Tomorrow night should lend me plenty of writing time to make up for a busy week.

For now, the details on the exercise (there was a lot more detail on the POVs in the book that I would recommend reading - I found them all very concise and understandable explanations and examples):

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Steering The Craft, Exercise 6: The Old Woman

Exercise 6 is incomplete at the moment as the story struck me as deserving of expansion and some extra thought, but it may be worth a read for those interested in the writing process, which is, of course, one intended audience of this blog. Will update when more has been written, but for now, version one and two can be found below.

Exercise Six: The Old Woman

The assignment:

"This should run to a page or so; keep it short and not too ambitious, because you're going to have to write the same story at least twice.
The subject is this: An old woman is washing the dishes, or gardening, or editing a Ph.D. dissertation in mathematics, or... whatever you like, as she thinks about an event that happened in her youth.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Steering The Craft: Exercise 4, Part 3: Structural Repetition

I almost decided not to post part three of exercise four, or at least write an entirely new one for posting, as it contains possible minor spoilers of the series-in-progress, but the details may change a great deal, and hell, if it happens to stir up interest in any of you readers, I would love to know what begs more focus in your opinion and why. I'm sure this is an exercise I'll be repeating many times.
Anyhoo, onwards, to the content.

Exercise Four, Part Three: Structural Repetition

Assignment (quoted directly from the book): write a short narrative (350-1000 words) in which something is said or done, and then something is said or done that echoes or repeats it, perhaps in a different context, or by different people, or on a different scale. This can be a complete story, if you like, or a fragment of narrative.

*Note: I didn't stay within the assignment's word count. In fact, the draft below is in two parts and each part is about 1500 words or so. Each part contains two different characters echoing the other's situation. Let me know how it works for you. Who knows, the day in this exercise could be developed into a short story placed between the two planned books that have been written in an almost complete first draft.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Issues with Present Tense

I usually post quotes that strike me on my Goodreads account when I update the page number I've reached in a particular book I'm enjoying, usually just to remind myself to go back and read it at a later point, but I always get annoyed by the word limit. Seeing as such just happened with my read of Steering The Craft, I might as well start posting more quote on my revived blog.

Here's a fairly short quote regarding Ursula K Le Guin's opinion on the present tense. This is from an extended opinion section of Chapter Six (yes, this post is likely leading into a pending post of Exercise 6) - I really like how Le Guin made the decision to separate her opinion into sections, so as not to preclude discussion of the chapter focus (like say how Sol Stein on writing certainly does...) but still allow herself to share what she's found true over the years. Anyway, the quote to consider:

"[...] A narrow focus isn't more immediate: it merely leaves out more. By avoiding temporal context and historical trajectory, present-tense narrative simplifies the world [...] This avoidance of complexity leads away from inwardness, either of the characters' or the author's mind. So it may gain vividness, clarity, a linear simplicity, at the cost of a great deal else - including real, felt immediacy.
"Neither Schwartz nor I argue with the maxim 'Show, don't tell' if it means that it's better to narrate through examples not generalities, to be vivid not vague. But we both question the maxim when it's extended to mean: List actions and objects, but don't interpret, lest you be seen as judgmental; don't show emotion, lest you be seen as unsophisticated; keep your voice impersonal, lest you risk a genuinely immediate relationship to your reader.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Steering The Craft: Exercise 5: Chastity

Well, Exercise Four Part Three is proving quite useful for diving deeper into the world of my novel, revealing the name of a character's persona I suppose was already being fleshed out, but the piece is also now 2500 words and who knows if it will end up being shared here or not. In the meantime, enjoy a quick read through of the straightforward exercise below. It contains a completely new story to develop. Yeah! And eww, get off me adverb clumped with adjective. I mean to say, it contains a story that shines and glitters and glows. Or rather, it falls into a jungle.

Exercise Five: Chastity
Assignment: write a paragraph to a page (200 – 350 words) of descriptive narrative prose without adjectives or adverbs. No dialogue. The point is to give a vivid description of a scene or an action, using only verbs, nouns, pronouns, and articles. Adverbs of time (then, next, later, etc.) may be necessary, but be sparing. Be chaste.
Critiquing: would the piece be improved by the addition of an adjective or adverb here and there, or is it satisfactory without?

Guiredin stomped through the mud. The door clicked as his child closed it. They had said their farewells over a meal: they tore bread off in chunks and swished milk down after it then Guiredin clamped a hand on Melite’s shoulder and nodded. Melite smiled and hefted a bucket from the floor. Guiredin  jerked his jacket on and clambered onto his ride. The beast snorted, the beast shook its hair, and the beast tested its rider’s balance. Guiredin shrugged, let his beast warm up, and watched Melite walk into the barn.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Random Linkages Between Your Line and Somebody Else's Story

Try putting an unpublished line from whatever piece you're working on into the Google search engine and see what pops up. I did so by accident and stumbled onto Suldrun's Garden by Jack Vance, and Volume 1 of The Bitterbynde Trilogy by Cecilia Dart-Thornton. More to-reads for another day. Off to work with me. Go! Go!

Steering The Craft: Exercise 4, Part 3, Process Notes & Fantasy To Be Read Link

Well, Exercise 4 Part 3 of Steering The Craft is taking a whole lot longer than expected. I ended up deciding it would be about the city's Remembrance Day and the visiting father's. which of course meant I needed to do the exercise twice, two characters each time, in order to have four vital characters involved with about 500 words for each one, with it all connected as two parts within a 2000 word story, so I went ahead and stuck it in a new Scrivener project and am just about finished with the draft - it's looking like another 2-3 days.

In the meantime, I noticed a Jo Walton post on titled Eight Books From the Last Decade that Made Me Excited About Fantasy. Glancing over the post, it would seem I haven't read any of them, though several are on my list or have been read about, and they sound interesting, especially the one "about having a really good meal in a wonderful restaurant". I guess I've been more focused on science-fiction, dark fantasy and horror reads, and need to round out this year with a bit more fantasy. Not that I need to increase the size of my to-read list, and I already have a ton of books sitting on my shelves waiting to be read (my Samuel Delany novel, The Fall of the Towers keeps giving me an orange lazy eye), but such is the reader's sad state.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Steering The Craft: Exercise 4, Parts 1-3

Exercise Four, Part One: Verbal Repetition

Assignment: write a paragraph of narrative (150 words) that includes at least three repetitions of a noun, verb, or adjective (a noticeable word, not an invisible one like “was,” “said,” “did”.

Part One, First Draft:

Steering The Craft: Exercise 3, Parts 1 & 2

Exercise Three: Short and Long, Part One (from Steering The Craft)

Assignment: write a paragraph of narrative, 100-150 words, in sentences of seven or fewer words. No sentence fragments! Each must have a subject and a verb.

Part One, First Draft:

Steering The Craft: Exercise 2

Exercise Two: I Am Garcia Marquez (from Steering the Craft)

Assignment: write a paragraph to a page (150-350 words) of narrative with no punctuation (and no paragraphs or other breaking devices)

Exercise One, First Draft:

Steering The Craft: Exercise 1

A new year. 2014 was a mess with problems spilling over into the now, but I think I have finally reached a space from which I can get back into writing regularly and reach for that childhood dream/boon/curse, depending on how I feel like viewing writing. I tend to lean towards curse, but hey, let's not be negative.

Like I said, a new year, 2015, and things I are edging toward much, much better, which means, I might as well revive the writing blog - these figments certainly do die hard, don't they? *sigh*
I'd like to start this off with clear action. I've already finished 3 exercises from the current writing workshop book I'm reading through, and I'll go ahead post those here in separate posts, in case any readers surprise me and care to comment.