Sunday, 13 April 2014

Log 2014 13th Apr: Ender's Game

Ender's Game; a very popular story, turned into a film garnished with conflicted responses; not so much about the film, but about the author.  Originally a short story published in Analog magazine, Orson Scott Card later expanded it into a novel in 1985, and winning the Hugo in 1986. Card has since added sequels to the original story of children trained to be soldiers, including a side spin-off series.  The film is what I like to think of as the best bits version of the novel, except that would suggest it left out the bad bits of the novel, which it doesn't.  However, it does leave out a lot of exposition that gives the reader some context to put Ender's life into perspective.

The film does have some wonderful special effects that realise the battle room where Ender beats the Formics, and is well worth watching just for that.

Reading wise I'm still working through Wireless by Charlie Stross; a collection of short stories and novellas. All good, but I find that when I read short fiction when I come to the end of a story I want to put the book down, unlike a novel when I come to the end of a chapter and want to read more.

Moving on.

This week I've managed to do three different drafts of act one of my novel.  The first draft was based on two very detailed critiques from T Party members Nigel and Colleen.  The second draft incorporated the majority of the other points made by Caroline, Hilary, Jehangir and the other writers who critiqued my work.  While the third draft included some style edits from a couple of the other writers who commented.  Currently the third draft is being given the once over by my Alpha reader, and then I have a late T Party critique from Vivien, to work through, who did a thorough job of giving the story the once over too.

I've also been talking to Clive, one of my Beta readers, who came around for a curry on Friday night.  That was very productive conversation, and he is looking forward to seeing the next novel, which is good news for me.  Brian, my American Beta reader remains a stalwart supporter who has given me some unique perspectives on the writing process that I cherish.

So I end this week having done mostly editing, which is like writing, and my log tells me I've written 1,122 words, but I can only account for -255 and +514 of them.  It's the one area where Scrivener doesn't quite manage to keep track of work, given the fact I put out three act one drafts that all hover around the thirteen thousand word mark; after editing three thousand words out of the submitted draft.  Still mustn't grumble, and more importantly I have an article coming out in the next issue of Miniature Wargames.  Woo-Hoo!

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Log 2014 6th Apr: T Party Critique

Yesterday was my first T Party workshop critique; of act one of my first novel.

It has left me feeling agitated and slightly shocked, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but it is a thing.  On the whole the comments were fair, if harsh, but necessary tough love; coming from the writers attending the meeting to the writer submitting her work for critique.  It is hard to sit through criticism and listen to one's work being taken apart.  However, quite rightly clunky dialogue and too much telling needs to be brought to my attention so I can eliminate all the instances where they occur in the novel.

What caused me to become agitated was some of the other things said regarding show not tell, where I am left trying to square the circle to address the comments made, without inserting info dumps to tell the reader the answer.  I also made the mistake of not making it clearer to the reviewers that this was the first act of a novel, and not a short story, therefore causing confusion (which is a bad thing to do to someone who is reading one's story where one wants constructive feedback).

So thank you one and all, and remember I'll be back.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Log 2014 30th Mar

I've been away for the weekend, down in Brighton seeing my godson, whose mother is the Comms Officer for Brighton town council, and who was involved in running the Gay Marriage press coverage.  All her hard work meant the press roadshow ran smoothly.  Me, I got to play with my godson and his sister all weekend.

On the writing front; The first of the T party writers group feedback critiques are starting to come in.  I've only looked at one so far, and will need time to process what has been said.

As for writing this week I managed to produce 5,194 words.  Other than that I have little to say really, apart from having had a lovely weekend in Brighton.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Log 2014 23rd Mar: Act 1 Draft

What my partner thinks my hands look  like when I'm typing; from Ghost in the Shell.
Well what a week it has been for me, and all good.  First I've come out of the other end of a very bad chest cough, and I no longer feel like dying.  I also had a review by my GP, and my latest blood test shows that my inflammatory markers are stable, which means that my rheumatoid arthritis is stable; after six months of being off the methotrexate, which caused a decrease of my kidney function during my four years of treatment, this news is to put it mildly, a bit of a relief.  While my kidney function has stabilised, it will need to be monitored every six months for the foreseeable future.

Still mustn't grumble, things could after all be worse.

As I discussed last week, I started restructuring my novel based on two of my Beta readers feedback.  This week I got back the feedback from my third Beta Reader that really kicked the ball out of the field.  Using this, and the first two readers notes I was able to correct my second draft of the novel.  This has been an illuminating experience, which has highlighted my fundamental weaknesses as a writer; a poor educational record, and a bad upbringing.

Therefore I've been addressing the deficits in my writing craft, and have had a couple of minor Oh Doh moments along the way.  Hopefully, I will be able to translate these moments into meaningful skill improvements, and thereby bootstrap the quality of my writing.  We shall see, and I'm now really looking forward to the T-Party workshop critique that I have booked for next month.  Reflecting on how word count is not always a metric for measuring progress, this week I managed to write 2,617, ending up with a draft that was only 1,427 words longer than the one I started with; and trust me when I say I had negative running totals on some days that I wrote.

The biggest achievement was getting the 16,441 words of Act 1 finished, which was a bit of a nightmare; I began with about sixteen thousand words, intending to edit down to fifteen thousand, but ended up with nearly nineteen thousand words by Friday night.  Saturday morning I woke up at six with an idea on how to edit Act 1.  I then went back to sleep, but had to get up at seven thirty, and I wrote throughout out the day, finishing around seven in the evening.  In addition, I managed to knock the remaining acts into submission too.  So a good days writing, and I feel quite euphoric, which is not a feeling I've had much acquaintance with over the last few weeks.  It feels good to be feeling good again, after feeling down in the dumps for so long.

So no chats about what I've been watching now, but I'll probably do a couple of extra posts later, over the course of the week, if I have time.  Thank you all for reading this, and take good care of yourselves, because if you don't have your health then you don't have anything.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Log 2014 16th Mar: T-Party

Meg Davis Ki Agency logo, which is rather nice.
Well Saturday I was off to a T Party event to meet and listen to Meg Davis talking about her being an agent, like in the Matrix; sort of one of these novels has a future, the other does not kind of thing.  She was very entertaining, witty and handled the questions put to her with aplomb.  She certainly gave me a lot to think about, and I liked the approach she has to being an agent representing writers in the ever changing world of publishing.

This has also been another week with further storms on the internet as otherwise nice and reasonable people decide that fisking (a new word to me, which describes a person blogging about another person's blog in great detail demolishing arguments point-by-point) is in someway useful in developing a dialogue that promotes joint understanding.  Colour me unimpressed with the way social media is leading to twitter-storms of hate.  I am reminded that we all think that our opinions are chosen based on evidence; whereas the research shows that we find our opinions as we go along, and then look for evidence that supports our choice, and discounting any evidence that contradicts it.  This largely means that rather than being open to other peoples opinions, and generating consensus, or agreeing to disagree we see strife and division among those that have more in common than they acknowledge.

This last week has seen me working on my first novel as I go through and address some of the story pacing problems my beta readers highlighted, which I did by reordering the scenes to make for a stronger first act.  The computer said I did 1,392 words, but my manual tracking suggests that only 399 of these were actually new words.  The rest of this weeks writing has been me working on other things, with 785 words for a review for a magazine completed, and 1,392 words review for someone else.  So after being ill for three weeks it feels like I've at least put my feet back in the water and started paddling again with a total of 3,407 done.  As some of you may know I am an avid model maker and wargamer  and you can catch up with my hobby stuff here, which will take you to the latest blog entry. 

I read Tom Kratman's Caliphate last week, which can best be described as a near future dystopia.  He is an interesting writer, if only because he deliberately goes out of his way to bait readers with his views that are quite right wing.  Not to everybody's taste, but I think one should always be open to reading books that one finds challenging, and he certainly does that in spades.

TV wise this week was spent finishing off watching Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd Gig.  This is one of my favourite Japanese anime shows, and while it can be a bit opaque at times for Western viewers, the themes and underlying plot that the stories in each episode illustrate are very thought provoking, while remaining entertaining too.