thinkinglazy

Aspiring author and random thinker

Tag Archives: aspiring writer

On Writing: the banes of time

I’ve taken the past two months off after finishing my studies and immersed myself in a bout of networking, reading and writing. During that time I managed to kick-in a total of 110k words, surpassing my word count for the year by 37k now (of which 27k was written before this sprint). In two weeks alone I managed to edit a total of 90k words which funneled in to a drastic manuscript change including the plot and characters. I just wanted to contrast between a month of work/study with writing (in which I wrote usually no more than 10k and more often around the range of 6k) and a month of leaisure time (In which I managed an additional 80k of writing and an edit of an entire manuscript).

I’m still not to a level where I want to be, but its been around three years and I’m still writing. Baby steps ought to do it, I hope.

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On Writing: Writeon by Kindle

I recently discovered writeon.amazon.com I wonder how useful it will be. I would appreciate any feedback on my current edit-in-progress book.

https://writeon.amazon.com/read/story/Tarek_Book_of_Kayal%3A_Unity_of_Strength/amzn1.ignite.story.19b4ee305d0a5a04e050007f01004133?ref_=ign_c_rt_st_0

On Writing: Editing after two years

Its been a long time since I edited any of my books, at least 10 months. In that time I have been busy preparing my masters degree, a process that proved to be quite the writing workout.

A week ago I opened one of my older books, the one I have been posting some of its drafts on here (Book of Kayal: Hands of Fate) and started going through it once more. The improvements I have been doing are striking. Everywhere I look, there seems to be room for editing. A touch here…a touch there, until I ended up re-writing about half of the 40% I’ve gone through.

I have to say that the editing process has been this extensive for two main reasons: (1) I have wrote over 400,000 words in total since then; and (2) I have completed two more stories in the series since then and am working on a third one after HoF. Needless to say, the first has directly improved my writing skill while the second has resulted in me adjusting the world accordingly.

Unlike my former attempts at editing, this one has been entertaining. I can’t get enough of this first go, mostly because I have completely forgotten the story and the characters that have been included in the sequels have significantly developed since then.

So to all those who love to write but hate to edit, think about coming back to your books after finishing another story. It will help with the tediousness of the editing process.

On Writing: The Choice Diagram

About a month ago I started working on my new book, a poor choice considering that I have not yet completed my fourth installment of Book of Kayal, because I found myself in a unique position to learn about writing from some incredibly talented writers and professors.

This one, however, is different from all my former stories, mainly because it is an exaggerated and science-fiction version of an interesting former experience of mine, which I chose not to disclose at the moment. Also I expect to improve my skills writing this book at an accelerated rate compared to the other books because of the vast wealth of resources available to me, including mentoring.

Yet I still continue to develop my own writing process and refrain from using that of someone else, unless for exercising purposes, and only pick up elements which I find potentially useful and testing them. One of the new additions I have come to explore is the ‘choice diagram’, essentially a diagram for all the main characters in the story which states the choices they have for all decisions contributing to plot development.

For example, the first chapter/part in my new story, which I decided to name ‘Palladium Falls’, is about a man trying to put together a case stating that robots – specifically a highly, self-evolving type of robots – should have their own freedom. The first set of choices he face is to go through the process through the courts or through the scientific community, he chooses the first. Then he faces a choice of bringing a robot to be questioned, bearing in mind that it would provide both him and his opponent the opportunity to take advantage of this situation, or bring one of the scientists working on the self-evolving program supplied to the robots.

The choices go on as such until the conclusion is reached. At the moment I am experimenting with simple ‘choice diagrams’ considering that I don’t really understand its potential impact yet, or whether it is better to have a complicated/detailed one or a simple one, yet I intend to develop a set of integrated diagrams by which all choices made by the main characters are influenced by one another. Essentially I plan to have this diagram visually depict the perspectives of the characters as they continue to interact and develop.

Maybe this is a completely useless idea, or maybe it is the best idea I have come up with since I decided to pick up writing.

On Writing: Revision Preperations

It has come to my attention that I have not been preparing for revision enough. Hell, I have not even been trying to learn how to do it write and in a structured way.

A few days ago while surfing Youtube, I came across an interesting video about editing your book. After watching it, I decided to start over and take notes, preparing some sort of checklist about how to edit.

The list, a group of simple errors to look for, so far goes as follows:

Error 1: shifting point of view in the middle of scene. EX: A character cannot know if their cheeks are red without seeing them.

Error 2: painting a scene without knowing whose point of view it is. Make sure it is made clear in the first two paragraphs, if not sentences.

Error 3: describing an experience that no one had. EX: Shouting that no one heard.

Error 4: a character thinking about themselves as a different person. No one thinks of themselves as ‘the boy’, rather ‘name’, ‘he’ or ‘I’.

Error 5: information dumps; when actions stop delivering the information mid action narration. Use different situations and organize them like a puzzle so reader could pick up and later feel proud about ‘getting it’. Did I stop my story to tell?

Error 6: the ‘as’ factor/cause and effect fallacy/order of events problem. In cause and effect, the effect does not follow the cause, as should be. EX: ‘He arched his back as electricity shot through his spine’, this should be, ‘electricity shot through his spine, making/causing his back to arch’.

Error 7: the ‘ing’ factor. Things that happen at the same time but should not. EX: ‘Battling as he drew his sword’. It is not possible to battle while drawing your sword, the latter is the prerequisite for the first.

Error 8: telling instead of showing. Vague adjectives without a visual. EX: Fierce is not a visual, drawing teeth is. Cold is not visual but shivering is. Use colors, textures, body language and visual explanation. Happy to be replaced by smiling, trotting, energetically moving. EX: ‘he was intrigued’ to ‘raised his eyebrows in intrigue’.

Exception: when trying to get to once scene from another it gets exhausting to show instead of telling.

Error 9: changing speakers with no new paragraph.

Error 10: speaker tags problem. You cannot smile, or signal a word, it has to come from a sound. Creative speaker tags make you sound like an idiot. Chirped, hissed, howled…etc. Those are only acceptable in fast action settings with no time for a dialogue because it does not slow down the pace.

Exception: pace is more important than speaker tag rules

Error 11: lack of use of invisible tags, (said and asked).

Error 12: Speaker tags at the end of the speeches used often. Put them at the beginning to try and notify the reader of who is talking.

Error 13: separating dialogue with a bead (description of actions) without a natural pause in the dialogue.

Error 14: foreshadowing something that is not used. Do not mention a weapon without having it being used.

PS: Person first said second is more common in adult books than in children books. It is an archaic method of writing, use it more in fantasy and less in other genres.

Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oKw80FwZJU0

On Writing: Refining The Formula

I finally got some time to go on a writing bonanza and started working on the third part of my current five-part-book. I noticed that as I proceeded,my interests shifted and I forgot what message I originally wanted to send, even though I prepared the semi-detailed outline I previously mentioned, and where I wanted the story to go.

I came across another problem, the chapters started slowly loosing flow – not in terms of the story, but in terms of writing style – and it occurred to me that another formula was needed inside the one I originally followed.

Just to keep things updated, I will say a little about the format I loosely follow:

  1. I start with a ‘golden idea’, a unique message I want to send
  2. Then I move to the outlining of my 5-chapter part system, where each book is composed of parts consisting of five chapters each
  3. After the outline I move to the detailed outline of each part as I work on it, so its simply a module-based way of expanding the first outline that clearly states the goal, characters and obstacles for achieving this goal
  4. Then I start writing the part
  5. When I am done with the part,I start repeating steps (3) and (4) until the book is finished
  6. Finally, I revise the content and update it, trying to add small details I feel are relevant or delete ones not related to the story or of little value

But then I noticed over the past few days that the stories, while focusing on the goal and the general progression of the idea, lacks enough descriptive feel. In short, the story and dialogue proceeds just fine, albeit in a liner fashion of which I do not entirely approve, but the setting is becoming ignored.

I ended up having the last chapter composed of great, meaningful conversations that take place nowhere.

This made me realize that I need to further add to the general formula I have been using on an even smaller, more detailed level, that of each conversation and situation. Perhaps this is simply not my style, and I personally know that many people do not really care about the setting and just want to get the message, but still it bothers me that it is not yet coming to me as second nature.

Good luck and happy living.

On Writing: Songs and Poems

Now I know nothing about writing songs and poems, and whatever I know about writing in general is fairly limited, save for one thing: they are amazingly effective and keeping a story in mind.

For the past nine months I have been struggling to get any writing done due to time constraint. The one thing I noticed, however, was that I often had free time in no longer than 15-30 minute chunks. While this was not enough for me to write anything, for it takes me some time to get in the mood of writing and get my thoughts straight, it enough for me to write a verse or short song/poem about one of my stories. This did a good job of keeping it in mind and getting new ideas.

My current work in progress is a continuation of my series “Book of Kayal’ and reached a total of just under 30k words at the moment, about a third of its expected completed length, and I tried applying a new outlining method which, unfortunately, is not working very well for me. I found myself deviating from it lately, even more so when I started writing these little songs, and will have to go through several revisions of the outline by the time I am completed with the story. I cannot say if this is a better thing for the story in general or not, but it is certainly distracting me from progressing with it.

I will continue to keep you updated as something new comes about. Perhaps I will share one of my amateurish attempts at making a relevant song for one of my stories.

On Writing: Keeping Thoughts

As I have told you in the previous post, one of the largest problems facing me is keeping my stories in mind when I have no time to sit and write. Songs and poems were the first of my solutions and, so far, they have been not only keeping my story in mind, but also contributing to the generation of new ideas and motivating me to write.

I have been keeping a little purple book with me at almost all times and use it to jot down notes on any subjects that come to mind. One of the ideas that came to me today stemmed from a reflection on my past and future. I finally realized that what I really want to do in life is: contribute to the betterment of mankind in any way I can, even if the contribution is minimal.

Thus I believe that by using writing to reflect on my few experiences so far I could make a difference and, at the very least, entertain a few people. I am considering writing a book about my failed business, analyzing the possible mistakes at the same time.

PS: notice that there are very few books about failures and many about successes. Is it not possible that we stand to gain more from learning about failures?

Originum: The Seven Houses of Light

I was working on some lore for my fifth fantasy novel and decided to share it here. Let me know what you guys think.

The Seven Houses of Light were Salus’ main solution to battle the threat of corruption from external entities in Nosgard. After embarking on his quest, Deliverance, Salus, the Demigod Emperor Servak’s youngest son of two, realized that the agents of corruption are many and that they act as powerful forces to suppress the potential of Nosgard and its inhabitants.

Because the agents of corruption often worked in both hidden and revealed manners, Salus thought he should have plans to address both types of interference. The Seven Houses of Lights were established to, primarily, battle the type of corruption that requires no revealing, the ones who were acknowledged by the public to be a threat.

In order to strengthen the unity of Nosgard, a council of fourteen active members and one hidden member, initially Salus, was established. They would convene and decide on the path the Republic of Nosgard, formerly an empire, would take, peacefully and with mutual understanding.

Each house was formed by the official unity, usually marriage, of two opposite and distinguished Nosgardian individuals. These houses then would operate individually to generate money so they could finance whatever military, economic or developmental projects were required and decided upon to be in the benefit of Nosgard.

In return for their social status, the ruling families of the Seven Houses of Light were required to educate their children diligently and send them to roam the lands of Nosgard and beyond to learn as much as they can about it and its people. They were taught to become leaders with a strong sense of belonging, understanding and loyalty to the land.

Due to this condition, the Seven Houses of Light often lost many royal members during their dangerous education and endeavors, knows as The Pilgrimage; a risk dictated when they were first founded. The survivors of The Pilgrimage, however, became the pillars by which the Republic of Nosgard stood strong and the reason behind the continuous strengthening of the Seven Houses of Light.

In time, the Houses decided that the unity of Nosgard required a mutual goal, expansion, and began building armies to conquer the surrounding lands. The Eastern Charge was the first conquest sent to the Trakian Isles, and its soldiers were under the employ of the House of Egtahd.

Although the Seven Houses of Light were not affiliated to any city or ruler, only to the Republic of Nosgard, they were each located in a different city where they held their primary operations and responsibilities. Thus the Seven Houses of Light, in time, gained influence and loyalty from different cities, depending on their location. The House of Temperance, for example, was located in Gallecia and recruited most of its members from the city. There was, nevertheless, no rule or condition that they would adhere to recruiting and employing people from certain cities. Anyone was welcomed to join whatever House they wished, should the Houses be interested.

 

House Name City of Origin Insignia
First House of Temperance Gallecia The Eye
Second House of Egtahd Kol The Drop of Blood
Third House of Patienta Partha The Sand Dial
Fourth House of Tawda Alvissmal The Bowing Man
Fifth House of Naka Orkstad Isles The Veiled Maiden
Sixth House of Caritas Senna The Open Coin Purse
Seventh House of Godhet Estgard The Open Palm

 

On Awards: Liebster Blogging Award

I am not a hardcore blogger nor do I think that my ideas are worth of note, for I am mostly inspired by everyone around me, be it in virtually or else.

Winter Bayne (http://winterbayne.wordpress.com/) gave me a shout out for the Liebster Blogging Award – it is decorating the middle of this post.liebster-blog-award-2The process entails me to answer his 10 questions, then nominate 10 other bloggers with less than 200 followers, and present them with 10 questions of my own.

Thus the question answering begins.

  • Name 2 author sites you visit and why – I do not visit any author sites, I rarely have the time to do so, but I do watch Brandon Sanderson’s lectures on Youtube often. I find his way of taking the students through the writing process fairly useful. Sadly, though, I have never read any of his books.
  • Name 2 authors in the same genre as you. If you aren’t a writer  then 2 authors in your favorite reading genre –  I usually write fantasy (just until I reach my 1 million words mar), but since fantasy and sci-fi are usually grouped together, I will assume that both of them are one genre (or at least are very similar) and answer as such. Isaac Asimov is by far my favorite author. His process and way of delivering a message are phenomenal. It is from him that I derived the Golden Idea concept. The second, of course, is the same as every fantasy author’s favorite, Tolkien. He is, in m opinion, only second to Edgar Alan Poe in his writing style, but the idea that he practically invented modern fantasy makes him somewhat of my aspiring-writer inspiration.
  • What makes you bang your head against the keyboard? When a long day is finished and I feel that I want to write but can’t because I am too sleepy.
  • How did you get started Seriously, why did you write that novel? Or blog/business if not a writer –  I wrote my first novel, which I will never publish, because I was at a period in my life where work was slow and a hobby seemed a way to usefully invest my time in a relevant skill, writing.
  • How did you go about doing it (writing the novel for the first time or starting your online business)? It took me a month to finish my first novel, I was excited at the prospect of creating a world and placing its rules, and a lot of free time. Again, it was all possible because of a slow work pace.
  • What did you learn along the way? I learnt many things, but the most important, I think, so far is the ability to make meaning of things where none is provided; to see patterns hidden to others.
  • What’s your theme song? As in what song should start playing when you enter a room? Geneses’ I Can’t Dance.
  • What are you planning this month? I started my second semester preparing an MBA. I am pretty swarmed with work and readings.
  • What really inspires you? Knowing how little I know and how much I stand to learn. Growth is, I decided, my raison d’etre and learning, as I have discovered so far, is the best way to attain it.
  • What motivates you? The small things I notice in life that most of us, including me, take for granted.

As for the 10 bloggers I nominate, I will have to go back to the ones I try to follow as much as I can:

  1. Daniel Michaleski
  2. Joesephine L. Brooks

And these are, apparently, the only two I follow who meet the criteria. I will try to find some time to look for another eight and continue to forward this around.