Saturday, October 27, 2012

the importance of paper

I've nearly finished something I haven't done before: A complete paper edit on my first draft.

Every page of draft one looks like this now:

Two things to take note of.

1st: that little red thing is an egg timer. Fact: editing sucks. Fact: I am easily distracted. Add these two things together and you end up scrolling the endless bowels of reddit instead of finishing your book. (note. you may replace reddit with pintrest, facebook, g+ -- sheesh even myspace or TV tropes if it please you... the result is the same.)

Solution = egg timer. My wife put me onto this trick. Apparently loads of people swear by it and now my voice can join their chorus. Hearing the tick-ticking of that time machine count down 60 minutes is an amazing focusing device. It is akin to doing 'couch to 5k' or any other gamification of an arduous activity to make it more bearable. In the end it works.

Turns out if you break the process of drafting into much more digestible slabs of 60 minutes then at the end not only have I gotten more done, but I also feel more motivated to continue. Cup of tea, wind the timer back to 60 and lets go again. I am Pavlov's dog.

But onto the main point of this post: Paper.

As you may be able to tell from the state of my handwriting I have an aversion to pens and papyrus. The Dragon and the Crow did begin life as a doctor's scrawl in a series of notebooks, but once I made the transition to digital I never looked back. Paper was for publishing -- or so I thought.

Turns out there is nothing like the linear demands of pages to keep you moving forward. And if there is one thing I have learned this year it is the importance of moving forward.

A paper edit is essentially your chance to read your book for the first time. Writing the first draft of anything is like stumbling through the jungle with a machete. You may get somewhere, but all the cuts and bruises you received  take away your perspective.

Today I was in the middle of scrawling some note about the plot logic into the margin of page 99 when I realised what my book was all about. I had thought it was one thing, but it turns out it is another. And knowing this means I can tweak the start, draw out those threads and brambles and make the message clearer.  Thank you paper.

This perspective is impossible buried in the non linear mindset of a word processor. God -- word processor. There is a horrible name for a piece of technology. Word assembler would have been better, Digital Writer would have been even better -- but Processor...

Anyway - the point is that at some point you need to read your work as much as you write...

When in doubt: Print.


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

One of my short stories was just published...

it is called 'Saved' and will most likely upset Christian readers. Oh well.

Find it in the third edition of Dark Edifice magazine here.

An excerpt to give you an idea:

“Look what Jesus sent me,” Molly said with a smirk. Her brother’s face went red.
“Oh come on!” he said, turning to their father and throwing his hands in the air just 
like their mother did when news of the heathens was playing on the monitor. “A dog? I 
prayed for three months for a cart and all I got was a bike.”
“Daniel Jacob Braithwaite, do not question God’s will,” their mother said, pointing 
with a fork. “Your sister asked with pure heart and Jesus saw fit to bless her. Had your own 
request been more pure, you may have had God’s blessing. Now go right back up those stairs 
and put on your good pants, you will not be late for bible group again.”

Warning: It gets darker from here.


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Positive procrastination

I am currently avoiding the first big edit on book two by photoshoping some new map ideas.

This shouldn't spoil anything about where 'The Sceptre and the Sword' is heading, but you can see that I am trying to go for something very different from the map of book 1. That central landmass is actually the rest of the continent that made up the map in 'The Dragon and the Crow'

I don't know about you but I always wanted to see beyond the boundaries of Fantasia.

Also, who knew there was so much to learn about map projections.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Draft one done.

An email from my publisher pointing me to a new review, arrived in my inbox not ten minutes after I hit command+s on the first finished draft of book 2.

The Sceptre and the Sword is an unholy mess at the moment, but I look forward to the next few weeks of spring cleaning to get the 100,008 thousand words in order before I ship them off to Dragonfall press.

Meanwhile I will bask in the warmth of a lovely 25 degree day in Melbourne as well as this lovely quote from the aforementioned review:

You will be drawn deeply into Arkadia as you try to determine where the twists will lead you. And there are some nice subplots that develop some interesting characters to add depth to an already masterfully woven novel.

Thank you - Dianne Dean -- whoever you are.

P.S -- Actually, after a little internet stalking (get used to the idea that we writers are a deeply needy lot and any review -- good or bad -- will lead us down the rabbit hole until we find out who said what and why) it turns out  Dianne Dean is a writer herself who runs the Australian writer's resource page -- lots of cool links there. She has a book out too, 'The Slave Witch' which sounds cool.