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

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Progress Hurts

So as you've probably seen on my little project tracker down there, my short story hasn't gone anywhere. I try not to make excuses about how I don't have time for writing, but this time, I think I'm justified. Starting last week, I realized that I had four papers and two presentations due between then, and these upcoming two weeks. Most of my creative energy has been spent trying to make sure those projects are at least halfway decent.

There has been progress with The Serenity Solution, although I'd have to say overall, it's been less than pleasant. I knew there would be problems, which is why I asked some people to beta read it for me. Of course, I had hoped they would really turn out to be minor, and it would just be a matter of hacking out all the unnecessary words I'd filled the manuscript with. Alas, it's not going to be that simple. It seems most of my first chapters probably shouldn't be there at all. I take way too long to get the ball rolling on the major action, and I use way too many words to describe simple things. The rewrite of the book I had started seemed to take care of many of the slow parts in the original manuscript, but I felt it was lacking the flair and style which made the project unique to me to begin with. So now, it looks like another rewrite is going to be coming up, with some sort of balance between the two being struck. I may well have to fully rework the plot as well, in order to have everything fit together.

The encouraging thing is, most other writers have to go through this process. There comes a point when your level of writing skill becomes professional enough to be publishable, and most writers are cranking out pages and pages of manuscripts years before they reach that level. It's not a waste of time, or effort. The only way you can learn about writing and get better at it is to, well, write. So, hopefully, my apprenticeship is nearing and end, and I may soon be able to call myself a journeyman, if I can maybe start cranking out some publishable works.

I still haven't heard anything back from the magazine I sent "Exequies" to. That's not surprising at all, considering they are overseas, and things move slowly in the publishing world. Of course, you will hear about any news here first.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Yes, Progress

Well, it turns out I wasn't getting ahead of myself when I predicted that maybe I would start making progress now. It hasn't exactly been mind-numbing progress, but it IS progress.

As you can see on my new "Active Project" gizmo, "The Unfound" is slowly making headway. I have a sneaking suspicion this story may not actually go anywhere. At least not as a short story. Were I to expand it into a book, I might have something. Or, I may have to rework the idea in order to keep it as a short story. But, writing is writing, and right now my main concern is just to get the rust off my writing skills.

Progress is also being made on The Serenity Solution. My beta readers have gotten into the first chapter, and suggested some ways on how I could cut it back. I was surprised to see I was using a lot of words to describe something, when I really only needed a few. Of course, most of the original manuscript was written before I went through a creative writing class at school that taught me how to be more economical with words. Waxing eloquent is still a habit I have problems with. Initial predictions show that as many as 1,000 words will be cut out of the first chapter alone. If that can be done for each chapter, my 179,000 word monster will be more like 147,000 words. That's still too big, but at least it's manageable.

TSS is bound to be a slow process though, so in the meantime I'm going to keep working on short fiction, trying to get my name out there a bit. I'll also be polishing ideas for future novels. I still haven't decided if I want to do another military science-fiction novel, or try my hand at some of the fantasy ideas I've got floating around. The success or failure of TSS will probably have a bit part to play in that decision.

More as it happens.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Gettin' The Mojo Back

At the risk of sounding overly optimistic, or even prematurely optimistic, I daresay I've finally gotten around to writing again. Just maybe. I haven't been lacking for ideas, but the pieces on a few of them finally started clicking to where I thought I could hack out something moderately intelligible. The result: a new science-fiction short story. The idea is still in rough stages and taking shape as I write it, so bear with me.

Two years ago, the Fifth Expeditionary Defense Fleet was wiped out by the Coronii Battle Force in what has since been known as Earth's greatest military defeat in history. Over 80,000 crew members died aboard their ships. 1,537 were rescued by a relief force. Fifty-two went missing, and were never found. Until now. When the First EDF makes first contact with a new alien species, they are surprised and overjoyed to find their missing comrades aboard the ship and eager to return home after two years on the alien home world. Among them is Lieutenant Joseph Wilson's wife, whom he had presumed dead. As Joseph tries to get used to the fact that his wife is alive and well, he starts to suspect she's not the same woman he said goodbye to two years ago. Literally.

"The Unfound" is the working title for my new science-fiction short story, and was inspired by several different things, most of which I can't even remember now. The important part is, I wrote down my ideas so I wouldn't forget them! And that's how I came to start writing again. Hopefully the trend will continue. Who knows, if I can develop the background and character better, it may even end up being a new novel-length project. The Serenity Solution started out as a short story idea and grew into a novel, after all.

I also wanted to point out that I've made some additions to my blog. On the right side under my bio, you'll find a list of my "Active Projects." These are stories or novels that I'm currently working on and trying to shape into something that will be marketable in the hopefully not-too-distant future. As I believe I mentioned in an earlier post, numbers motivate me (not in the mathematical sense, but more in the "I'm making progress!" sense). And, this will allow you, my avid and devoted readers, to see if I'm actually doing anything or if I'm just wasting time playing video games. I'm all about honesty, after all.

Below the "Active Projects" you'll find a list of links. These are sites that I've found to be important to my writing career and may also be for fellow writers, or that I've found to be interesting in some way. The list is pretty short right now, but it will grow. In general, I'll try to keep the links in the writing-related field. Check 'em out; you just might find something useful. Thanks for reading!

Friday, February 4, 2011


So yeah, it's been a pretty slow start to the new year as far as writing goes. General lack of motivation seems to be the main issue, with no motivation to do anything about the lack of motivation, either. But, I know the rule: if you want to write, all you can do is sit down to write. So I won't complain or make excuses.

However, there have been a few promising developments shining a light on the otherwise dim outlook. After a final review and edit, "Exequies" was sent to a science fiction magazine, in the hopes that it will be published. If it doesn't get accepted at that magazine, I'll continue down my list and submit it elsewhere. I hope to hear back one way or another within a couple weeks about it.

On another front, I gave the first three chapters of The Serenity Solution to my academic adviser at my university. He's an English professor, an avid reader of science fiction, and he teaches a summer science fiction class at the university. The problem, I told him, was that the original version of the story was just too long. You'll remember I was bemoaning the fact that it had been completed at 179,000 words, when the industry standard seemed to call for between 80,000 to 100,000 words. As you'll remember, I started rewriting the book, but I'm just not feeling it. The characters seem more lifeless, the settings feel rushed, and while the plot works on a technical level, I'm satisfied with how it lives up to the original concept. Thus, I'll be giving him the original version in installments, with the hope that I can get some professional critiquing on what parts of the story can stay and what parts absolutely need to go or be reworked. My problem right now is lack of objectivity. And since I can't be objective and don't really have any clear idea of what I need to do... you guessed it, motivation becomes an issue. Hopefully this will solve that.

In the meantime, I think I'm going to tinker around with some other short story ideas and see if something falls together as well as "Exequies" did. If I make any progress on anything, you'll hear about it here first. ;)