writing process

How a Scene Evolves from First Draft to Last

Rewriting a scene is where the magic happens. First drafts are usually crap (although sometimes they have nuggets of brilliance). Many writing teachers will tell you this, but it’s something that every writer needs to learn for themselves.

I want to compare a scene I wrote three years ago as a first draft with the second draft of the scene, which I wrote last week. 

The text still isn’t perfect. I even did two edits to it as I was re-reading it for this blog entry. Is this important? Individually, the small things like which version of the sentence is better aren’t important, but in the big picture of building a well-crafted story, yes, these little decisions add up - to either a good or bad reader experience. READ ON

TBR - To Be Read

To Be ReadThis my “TBR” pile - my books waiting To Be Read, although after I took the photo, I found two more. Every writer has one. Writing is also about reading, about continually both being engaged creatively and seeing how others’ writing styles might influence yours.

Beyond the obvious science fiction, my current list includes fantasy (Sailing to Sarantium), magical realism (All the Birds in the Sky, and possibly Cloud Atlas? That one’s hard to characterize), historical revisionism (1434, the sequel to 1421) and a Malcolm Gladwell screed. Like most writers, I read outside of my genre, even more so than this pile would suggest.

Music as a weapon - too silly an idea?

I’m at a bit of a crossroads with the novel I’m writing (hereafter referred to as WiP - short for ‘Work in Progress”). I had an idea for an alien race that I thought would be different. I built a plot point around that difference. Then I saw something similar in a movie … and I thought it was stupid.

What to do? What to do? Do I re-write the WiP to eliminate that plot point? Do I remove it entirely? Or is it OK?

Anyone who knows a writer knows that we’re very insecure about our writing, fragile, even. So what do we do when a plot point appears ridiculous? Panic. Stop writing. Have long breaks while we try to understand how we got into this terrible dilemma.

Or maybe we ask for help. Read on

Transformative cover songs

One thing that my partner and I disagree on is cover songs. As often as not, her first exposure to an old song I love is through a cover version made popular much later. Again, as often as not, I find the cover version to be lacking any transformative soul. Often I find them to be desecrating a great old song.

I don’t know how many times we’ve started listening to a song, and she’s said, “I know this song. Sarah Brightman sings it!”

To which my invariable response has been, “Maybe she does, but she didn’t sing it first, and she certainly didn’t write it. How about we enjoy the original singer-songwriter?” READ MORE

What Can Scalzi’s First Novel Teach New Authors?

Whether you love him or hate him, John Scalzi is incredibly influential and is probably the highest-paid science fiction writer today. in 2015, Scalzi signed a ten-year, 13 book, $3.4 million deal with Tor publishing.  Part of my learning process is to deconstruct successful novels to see what I can learn from them. It makes sense to look at John Scalzi’s first book, Old Man’s War. READ MORE

The year in writing (so far)

Recently published stories:

  • My First Cosplay  (published July 17, 2016)- How would aliens handle the ‘dressing up’ part of Hallowe’en?
  • Forget Me Nots (published July 25, 2016) A countdown to the end

I’ve noticed that some writers like to keep tabs on how their year as a writer is going. I’ve never done that before, but the ones I see doing it are ones that seem more committed to writing, so I figured that was good company to keep. Here we go!

Short stories I’ve written so far in 2016 (1,500 - 4,500 words each):

  • Death vs Taxes - why does the IRS want to meet the Grim Reaper?
  • The Curator - a diligent zookeeper is trying to save a nearly extinct species, but both of his last two humans are male
  • The Wind Wasn’t Right - Deep space accident investigation leads to a fry cook in Hong Kong
  • Sylvester Down - A luxury yacht travelling out past the moon is attacked.
  • Graceful Degradation - everything fades: songs, books, photos, memories…
  • Zeus Beheld - So the Greek Gods went on a five year voyage around the galaxy, but didn’t understand time dilation, and return 3,400 years later.
  • Dee for the Win - A young man tries too hard to be the best racer in his village.
  • Plus I have opening lines or scenarios for 15 more.

New short stories on this site (100-word 'drabbles')

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