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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

No Rest for the Writer

It's true I've been silent for a couple weeks on this blog, but I haven't been idle when it comes to writing. In fact, I've actually been a bit busier than I thought I would be. I'll break down what I've been up to recently, and then I want to share a writing tool that has helped me in my latest works in progress.

As you no doubt know by now, my science fiction short "Abyss" has been published on Amazon Kindle. I've promoted it through this blog, Facebook, friends and family, and via the Absolute Write group I'm a member of. Beyond that, I really don't know how else to promote it. I lack funding, so I can't do anything fancy. Despite the lack of promotion, it has sold 11 copies (that's a ton, I know...more than last time I posted anyway), and it has received a five-star rating after three reviews. So it may not be getting read a lot, but those who do read it like it, which makes me happy.

The bulk of my work in the past couple weeks has been on Kricket's Key, the sequel to Kricket's Song. After finishing chapter thirteen of the rough draft manuscript, I decided to finally face the issue that's been nagging at me since about chapter five: I got so caught up in making forward progress that I was forgetting to start subplots, the characters weren't acting like themselves, and the whole project was lacking the color and depth I'd wanted to give it. Eventually, I realized it was nothing like what I wanted it to be, and simply pushing ahead would only make it harder to correct in the long run. Thus, I abandoned the first draft, and went back to rewrite it.

The main plot is staying entirely the same. However, I've added in a couple subplots, added a new character, and removed an old character who was no longer doing anything for the story. I'm in the middle of chapter three right now, and I'm much happier with how it's going. It shouldn't take me long to get back to where I was with the first draft, and push on into new territory.

And, as always, I'm jotting down ideas for other projects or random things that currently don't have a home.

Now let me share a tool I've been using, particularly in Kricket's Key, that has helped me with some of the shortcomings I identified in earlier works. One of the issues that was brought up by beta readers for Kricket's Song was that my settings weren't always well-described. I did well visually, but I tended to ignore the other senses. In order to combat this, I read a book on fleshing out setting, and I created a sort of impromptu "setting form" which helps me layout all aspects of an important setting. I fill out the form before I begin writing scenes that take place in the setting, so that I can refer to it as I'm writing. The main issue I have is not that I don't think about the various aspects of setting, it's just that I forget to mention them as I'm writing. This helps remind me to include them. Here is the form:

Project: (This is where I put the title or working title of the overall work)
            Scene: (For example, "Macy gets first look at the prison planet")

Overall Atmosphere (Dark, Desolate, Bright, Foreboding, etc.): (Here I put some adjectives which describe the general feel of the scene...these are "first impressions."

How the Setting Relates to the Senses: (This is where I get into the specifics as they relate to all five senses. There's no "right" way to fill this out. Sometimes I use single words or phrases, sometimes full sentences. The idea is to picture yourself in the setting you're trying to describe, and the list everything you can think of as it relates to the specific sense. I mean everything. This doesn't mean you'll actually use everything, but it will give you a pool of things to pick and choose from.)






So far, I've found that using this form helps me remember to include different details about settings, which creates a more thorough picture for the reader to become immersed in. It's short and to the point, and can be invaluable when you're cruising along and want to throw in a detail or two about the setting. You've already thought it out before hand, so you don't have to kill your forward momentum by starting a whole new brainstorming session.
Well, that's all I've got for now. Back to the grind!

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