Welcome to the (un)official site for science-fiction and fantasy writer Bryan R. Durkin!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Slowly But Surely

Not a whole lot to report again this week. I'm still working on the TSS manuscript rewrite of course. I just finished up the rough version of Chapter 9, nearly 30% of the way done with the whole manuscript. Then it's back to editing once again to make sure it's polished up.

I think I might be trying to devote a little bit too much time to just this one project. At first, it was exciting to figure out I could make it a whole lot better, but after a month of nothing but TSS, I'm getting a little burned out. It's not that I don't want to be writing, it's just that writing the same thing day in and day out gets a little mundane at times. I think I might start working on some short story projects every now and then, just to switch things up. I've got a fantasy short-short story I did for Creative Writing class last year that I'm thinking about polishing up. Then I've got a military fiction short story that was never quite finished and should probably be rewritten.

Compared to TSS, these are minor projects, and I'm not really sure I care if they're ever published or not. But they will help me keep my skills up and keep me writing while I'm taking a break from TSS. And of course, TSS will still be my primary focus. I'll keep you updated on how things go.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Insert Dutifully Made Post

Well I missed last week's post, and this week's is a little late. Quite honestly, there probably won't be much content to it, either. Basically, here's what's been going on.

Last time, I mentioned I discovered my manuscript for The Serenity Solution was about 79,000 words too long and I had to rewrite it. I've been spending most of my creative energy on doing just that. Currently, I'm about 20,000 words into it, with an end target of about 94,000 words - so about 21% of the way there. Overall, I'm feeling pretty good about the progress I'm making, as well as with the quality of the work. I've also had some good feedback on the rewritten Chapter One. I still need to do some tweaking and polishing, but I think the foundation I'm building on this time is much more solid, so to speak. In particular, the book will be much more evenly (and rapidly) paced, and Harmony's subplot will be significantly strengthened, setting her up to play a much stronger role in any further books. Chrissa Maxwell's role becomes a bit more ambiguous and intriguing, but no less important. She's being set up to be more important in later works as well. Zak Atheeda, Avery Halberd, and Amber Kynterle are pretty much staying the same, as they were set up pretty well to start with.

In other news, I gave a presentation on some of the basics of getting published to a Creative Writing class at my college last week. Granted, there were only four people there, including the professor, but I found it to be a good experience. And I managed to learn and reinforce some things for myself, as well.

That's pretty much everything for now. Hopefully, next week will see some more interesting developments.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

When You Realize You Goofed...

...You have to face it. It's no good trying to patch the problem up. You have to stop pushing forward, and fix the problem at its source.

That was a lesson I learned this last week. It was a suspicion I'd had for some time, but without any hard facts, I thought it was just a fear without any reason behind it. Now I know for sure: The Serenity Solution in its current form is about 79,000 words too long for any self-respecting agent to even bother looking at it.

That's right, you can write a manuscript that is just too long to be marketable, especially if you're a beginning author, like me. I realized the manuscript was a little long, but I had no idea that it was way beyond the bounds of reasonable. Then I discovered that most agents look for a new writer's book to be somewhere between 80,000 to 100,000 words long. Anything much longer than that, and they start getting nervous. Why? Well, quite simply, you have yet to prove that you can deliver. The fear is, if your book is too long, it's possible that most of it is just a bunch of fluff, and attempt to shore up a weak plot or an inability to concisely describe what's going on with the action.

To be honest, I probably suffered a bit from both of those problems in the TSS manuscript. Thankfully, the error was pointed out to me by some good folks from the Absolute Write Water Cooler (see last week's post for link), before I scared off too many agents - hopefully.

Basically, I decided that if I really wanted to get this book on the market, I was going to have to rewrite it. Not an easy decision, seeing as I have already put 2 years into this project. But it was either that, or abandon it, which was absolutely out of the question. It seemed like an overwhelming project to rewrite something which I already thought was good; however, once I sat down to study the problem objectively, I discovered I had a few advantages.
  1. The basic plot was sound. The excessive length in the manuscript was more a result of my being too ambitious in what I wanted to cover in the book, rather than a lot of fluff - although there was definitely some fluff that needs to go.
  2. I already had the setting and back story well established. All I need to do is figure out how to work it into the action of the book.
  3. Characters are already well established. I don't have to sit around and figure out how they're going to interact with each other, as that was already taken care of in the first write.
  4. Some chapters and scenes are well written. Furthermore, beta readers have told me that hook at the end of the book is very well done. Because of this, some of the rewrite will be a simple copying of the good parts and pasting them into the rewrite, then polishing them to make sure they fit well.
So, that's where I'm at right now. I've stopped sending out query letters, since the manuscript is once again "incomplete." I've trimmed down the plot, and created a new outline. New target length for words is about 99,000, though I think it's going to end up significantly shorter than that, possibly as low as 90,000 words. I'll keep you updated.

Sunday, October 3, 2010


I'm great at learning things. Sometimes it just takes me awhile to decide that I want to learn them. Networking is one of those things I read about in the various books I have on getting published, but it involves actually interacting with people, and I'm not too big on that. Which is why I have a blog, instead of having a conversation about all this with someone. Lack of social skills aside, networking is a pretty crucial piece of your strategy to get your book from manuscript form to the bookshelf. For example, sometimes you can find the perfect agent by yourself. But for many of us, we come up with a list of agents that represents only a fraction of the available options. In other words, we need to know people who know people.

I've made a couple advances in my previously non-existent networking strategy this past week. The first thing I did was mention my blog to someone, which ended up with me being asked to give a presentation on what I've learned to a creative writing class. That wasn't originally what I had intended, but at the very least, I'll probably end up learning more stuff through the experience. Time will tell if it's a good thing or not.

The second event happened when I was investigating a possible agent online. I happened across a writer's forum that seems to be pretty extensive. It's a home for writers of all experience levels, including several that have been professionally published. It looks to be a great place to look for advice on both simple and complicated questions. Writers can also share their work there in order to receive critiques on it. I just joined it yesterday, so I'm still exploring the site, but it looks like it will be well worth my time.

Nothing new to report on my effort to get TSS published. I did sent another e-mail query yesterday. I haven't received any other responses back yet, so no news is good news I suppose.

In regards to my Bounty Hunter Quartet project, I finished an outline for the rewrite of Book I, and have started the manuscript for it. I've reached about five pages so far, and hopefully that will be up and running at a good speed shortly. I did decide to go ahead with the high fantasy aspect of it, as opposed to the urban fantasy version. It just didn't seem right to convert the project from its original genre, since I've spent so many years envisioning it as high fantasy. But, the brainstorming process has given me some leads for ideas on possible future urban fantasy projects. I'll keep you updated on how it goes.

Here's the link for the Absolute Write Water Cooler: Absolute Write