My experimental writing method that seems to be working

I’ve been trying something new with my writing sessions that’s been somewhat revolutionary for me. I used to sit down at the computer and write until I couldn’t write anymore. Hours would pass and on a good day, I would maybe get out 1500 words. Most of the time it was just 1000. I decided to try interval sessions. I write 500 words and take a break. I’ll either spend 30 minutes to an hour eating or exercising or writing a blog post, something to get my mind off of the book. After the break, I come back and write another 500 words and then break again. The first week using this method, I was cranking out 2700 words a day. Now I’m doing over 3300 words a day. It really has removed the pressure of writing “a lot” of words. For some reason, my mind can deal with 500 words at a time much better than write until you can’t write any more in one sitting. I like it so much that I’m toying with a crazy resolution to write six books next year using this method. The most I’ve done is two in a year. I’ll keep you posted on that.

Should you try to write the Great American Novel?

Here’s my latest CreateSpace blog post: The Great American Novel

Want a little taste before you commit to the click?  Really?  Knowing I wrote it isn’t enough?  That’s pretty rude, but here you go:

However,  I don’t believe writers should be in competition with history. That is to say, a writer is likely to fail if they set out to write the Great American Novel. The writing becomes an external endeavor at that point, meaning the writer who sets out to write the Great American Novel is setting out to please and astonish the reader when he or she should be serving the story. A writer’s first priority should always be to satisfy that fictional internal world he or she is creating.

There you have it, your precious sample. Now click, read, comment… please!

Use Emotion to Propel Your Story

This kid has got a great story to tell!

My latest post on CreateSpace is live for the masses.  It’s a little diddy I wrote on how emotion actually moves a story along.  Here’s a little taste:

Your  story will reflect life, even if it’s a fantasy novel with elves and unicorns. The emotions used to tell your story will be the same as those  you find in real life. You can’t invent new emotions to go along with your fictional world. Given that your emotional construct will reflect the real world, you’ll rely on two types of emotions: primary emotions and secondary emotions.

Your primary emotion will develop from your inciting incident.  This is the emotion that propels all of your main characters’ actions.  How they display and deal with the primary emotion will be the backbone of your story.

You can read the rest by clicking here: Use Emotion to Propel Your Story

Early feedback on The Man Who Saved Two Notch leads to Preface (Sample Posted)

When the world ends, the lawless old West will rise again!

I have four or five early readers for my new book, The Man Who Saved Two Notch. A couple have gotten back to me with some invaluable feedback.  I actually wrote a preface for the book that I otherwise wouldn’t have written without their input.  That’s why I use early readers.  They can help you make a book better.

I went through four versions of the preface and the last one is completely different from the first.  Here’s the preface as it reads now.  Remember, this is not a young adult novel like my others, so if you’re offended by graphic situations and language, look away… now!

Preface

I was there.  I seen him die.  The whore and him faced down nearly ten men.  The sun was buried deep under the curve of the earth by the time the first shot was fired.  Clouds smothered the tiny white slit of a moon.  The flashes popping out of the muzzles of their guns lit up the night.  The crack of the gunshots echoed through the emptiness of the world around us.  If you listened hard enough, you could pick up the sounds of dying men fighting for their last breaths.  But I didn’t care to listen for that sort of thing.

When the dust settled and I was sure it was over, I approached him.  His feet was still moving, flexing up and down.  Blood was pouring from all his wounds, old and new.  His eyes were darting left and right.  Words were coming out of his mouth, but I couldn’t make heads or tails out of what he was saying.

I knelt down and turned my ear towards his mouth.

“There’s a lot of ‘em.”  That’s what I could make out anyway.  It came out in a pile of mumbling.  I looked where his darting eyes was scanning and noticed the clouds had give way.  He was lying under a star-speckled sky.

“Yes, sir,” I said.

He reached up and grabbed hold of the back of my head.  “Feel bad about the little ones.”

“Sir?” I struggled to work myself free, but his grip was strong as granite.

“Henry?”

“Yes, sir?”

“I’ve gotta answer for the little ones.” He chuckled.  “I ain’t sure they all deserved it.”

That’s when I knew he wasn’t talking about the stars.  I didn’t know what to say, so I just said, “S’pose that’ll be worked out soon enough.”

He smiled.  “That’s what I’m afraid of.”

A couple of minutes later he spoke his last words.  The bouncing of his eyes come to a stop and he fixed them on me.  “Don’t let that fucking bear eat me.”

I was calling this an Apocalyptic Western, but it turns out the industry is really into the term “mashup,” so now I’m calling this an Apocalyptic Western Mashup.  That’s way cooler… I guess.

First draft of new book – Done!

Working Title and Mock Cover of New Book

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, and it feels so good.  Moments ago, I typed those two words every writer yearns to type once they start a new manuscript.  What words?  These words.  THE END!  I just finished the first draft of a new book.  It doesn’t matter that this draft probably doesn’t amount to more than a very, very detailed 67,000 word outline. 

In other words, there is still a lot of work to do, but the story has a beginning, middle and end, and it’s fully equiped with subplots and deeply flawed characters and dialogue galore.  It’s fleshed out.  I just have to make sure the the skeleton is intact.

Pardon me while I celebrate!

Don’t Write the Words. Live them.

BTW - Real Vampires Don't Sparkle!

Why are the Twilight books so popular?  I can speculate, and I will since this is my blog. I have never read the books.  I tried.  I bought the first one and couldn’t get past page 100.  I am making no judgment on Stephenie Meyer.  I’ve lived long enough to know that tastes vary, and I’m not always going to agree with the majority.  It is what it is.  Just because I don’t care for her style or the books doesn’t mean they are bad.

I have several adult friends who are in love with the Twilight series, and they know I am not a fan.  They’ve tried to convince me that I should read them because I write young adult fiction.  But reading a popular book to try and emulate it is a pointless endeavor.  I’ll explain why in a bit, but let’s get back to my adult friends who read the Twilight books.   When I ask them what they like about the novels, the most common response I get is “I don’t know.”

“The writing?” I ask.

“No, the writing isn’t really that great,” they answer.

“The story?”

“Not really.  It’s been done before.  Awkward girl falls in love with the bad boy.  Bad boy has a heart of gold.  Awkward girl gets in trouble.  Bad boy comes to the rescue. Awkward girl demonstrates a surprisingly strong side.  Bad boy demonstrates a surprisingly tender side.  It’s kind of like Grease, but with vampires.”

“The characters?”

“No, they’re pretty thin and clichéd.”

“There has to be something about the book you like.  What is it?”

“They’re just fun to read.”

And that brings me to why one author can’t effectively copy another author’s success just by writing the same type of book.  You have to enjoy what you write in order for someone to enjoy what you read.  I can’t explain it or prove it, but there is a magical element that occurs when writing from a place of utter absorption… from a place where you’re no longer self-aware.  You are simply enjoying the experience of telling the story.  That can’t be faked.  It has to be genuine.

Those of us who write in the English language are all using the same basic set of words and rules.   Sometimes we’re even placing the words in the same order on the page.  So, writing well has to be more than using the language in a clever manner.  Writing well isn’t about writing at all.  As corny as it sounds, it’s about living the words on the page as you write them.  It is a wholly metaphysical event.

So, maybe that does explain why the Twilight books are so popular.  Maybe it’s because Stephenie Meyer didn’t write them at all.  She lived the words.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

Alternative Design for Lost Days Cover

Needs fine tuning, but I'm leaning toward having a "face" on the cover.

Needs fine tuning, but I'm leaning toward having a "face" on the cover.

The publishing industry seems to think that people buy more books with faces on the cover.  In particular, they think the reading public (something like 58% of which is female) likes female faces on the cover.  I’m not a fan of faces, but I’m not a female.  The protagonist is a 15-year-old girl, so in this case I think it makes sense.  I have some work to do on the image, some blending and lighting, etc., but I’m thinking this may be the direction I’m going with cover for Lost Days.  The back is not included here, of course, but you get the idea.  Any thoughts?

BTW – Don’t forget to join the Lost Days Facebook group for a chance to win a laptop computer.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

Busy Day Off Thanks to the National Writing Project!

I've joined the Crackberry generation!

I've joined the Crackberry generation!

Took the day off from my normal routine, and went to a local meeting for the National Writing Project.  Fantastic project designed to get students and teachers excited about writing. I’m all about that.  Met some great people, and I’m happy to be involved.  

I got home and had my brand new Blackberry Curve waiting for me.  I hate talking on the phone, but I love owning one.  Cool thing with this is I can stick to email, IM, Facebook, and Twitter type communication.  That’s gold, Jerry!  The keyboard is a little smallish, but I can cope. 

I’m going to go play with the phone now.  I’d like to give her a name.  Any suggestions?

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

On writing without a message… or what The Takers is really about

What is the message?

What is the message?

At a very early stage in my writing career, I came to the conclusion that I am not a message kind of writer. I don’t have the writing gene that allows me to write a story with a message without coming off as preachy. In The Takers, I set out to write a book about a boy who wakes up to discover he is responsible for the end of the world. That’s it. I didn’t have any other agenda when I typed out the pages of the book every day for 9 weeks.

The book started with a question I asked myself, “What if? What if a young boy wakes up to discover he is responsible for the end of the world?” That “What if” question is not unique to me. Virtually every story starts with the same question. From that question other questions formed organically. How did it happen? Why did it happen? Who is the boy? As I started answering these questions, the story started to form. I wrote without judging myself or the characters or the plot and various subplots.

After I finished writing, I started editing and rewrites. At that point, I realized there were messages in the book. The book (and the entire series) is about the power of forgiveness and redemption (not in a biblical sense). Oz, the main character in the book, has done some horrible things in his life that actually lead to the end of the world. He is faced with the internal question “Am I a good kid who occasionally does bad things or a bad kid who occasionally does good things?” Ultimately, he is a good kid who has done some regrettable things. The end of the world presents him with the opportunity to set things right.

That was not my intention when I started writing. It just happened. There are a lot of talented writers out there who can write with a specific message without bogging down the story with a lot of clunky exposition. I am not one of those writers. For me, the “What if” question is simply a riddle I’m researching and trying to figure out. If messages come from that (and they most likely will), it’s a bonus result I welcome.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine