Uncle Josh Pulls a Chandler

There is a well-know bit of writing advice out there that apocryphally comes from Raymond Chandler: If you don’t know what to do next in the story, send in a heavy with a gun. Yesterday’s writing session focused on one of the scenes I had come up with during idea development with the way magic could be used and how it would work practically within the story, and I had finally decided to use it in the second half when I have introduced a major crises and then successfully managed to throw enough rocks at my protagonist she hasn’t had a chance to breathe or even think about solving this major crises. But the scene was feeling flat and not helpful in any way towards her growth, just a scene she had to get through. So I decided the Chandler method was needed and took a small character I didn’t Continue reading Uncle Josh Pulls a Chandler

Uncle Josh Averts Disaster

Today did not start well. I didn’t want to wake up and didn’t get out of bed until six or seven minutes after the hour. By the time I got to my desk, tea in hand, I found my computer had decided to take a break from reality and I got a pink screen of death. Then after waiting for the long reboot I launched my novel to find … 0 words. 0 bytes. Nothing. Nada. Not an electronic sausage. I was too tired to panic but so tired that I couldn’t swear loudly and if I had a neighbor in residence, I would have woken him. (He’s a great guy but he travels a lot.) I save the file to Google Drive. Should solve the problem. Except Google Drive also showed a 0-byte file where my nascent novel had been. I must admit at this point I bitched on Continue reading Uncle Josh Averts Disaster

Uncle Josh Yells at Himself

This morning I wrote for the full scheduled hour but only got 1,650 words, but I’m not really upset about that. I’m upset with my internal editor. I’ve been writing the same part of the novel for three days in one long sequence of events, which I suppose I had to do at some point. I can’t write everything out of order because some scenes are just taking longer that others. I am slowly building up to the first point of no return, the place where my narrative character cannot turn back, and this is supposed to happen at about the 20% mark of the manuscript, and I’m probably about 12K into the novel at this point. I have to estimate the first couple of scene that are yet to be written. And my internal editor is beginning to twitch and tell me that I’m taking too long, that I’m Continue reading Uncle Josh Yells at Himself

Uncle Josh Builds his World

I wanted to write about this on the third, but other things were pressing on my mind when I wrote this. After re-reading my first three posts, it almost sounds like I’m exclusively using one source for “how to write a book” which isn’t the case. Bell’s books are very good, but the great bulk of my world building and basic story was done going through Mark Teppo’s Jump Start Your Novel. It was very helpful to get the parts of my novel sorted out that I normally wouldn’t develop all that well and then peter out mid-way through. The most important example of this is my antagonist. It’s not a person, it’s a “raw creative force of the world” which was harder to wrap my head around until I forced myself to write out the exercises in Teppo’s book. Now I understand the power structure of the book and Continue reading Uncle Josh Builds his World

Uncle Josh Ends the Novella

This morning’s writing session was the end of Bell’s triangle of the story. I wrote the core “what is the character’s main question” bit on the first, then wrote the lead in to that, the “hell no I won’t change” bit, and this morning the resolution, which is pretty much the end of the story. In the first five minutes I realized that I wasn’t quite emotionally prepared to write the ending. I stuttered a bit but pressed on and accepted that it will probably need to be re-written, but then again, practically every thing I write is potentially re-writable by the end of all things. No worries. So I wrote and ended up 25 words shy of the daily goal in an hour. Another thing that bothered me about writing the ending was there’s a bit of an emotional punch there, and my narrative character and her best friends Continue reading Uncle Josh Ends the Novella

Uncle Josh Begins in the Middle

One thing that stops me, or at least slows me down, is getting the opening right. I had a horrible habit of writing the opening scene and not liking it or not having enough to keep going so I’d write it again and try to get that killer first line that would somehow make the rest of the novel just flow and the plot work like Lily Hevesh in her studio. So my plan this NaNo was to not write my opening scene. I know what happens. I know where it takes place and I know the key phrases that need to be said, but I’m not writing this novella that way. I am taking the path of James Scott Bell’s Write your Novel from the Middle and I spent day one writing that middle scene, the midpoint Bell describes in his book. I figure when I get to writing Continue reading Uncle Josh Begins in the Middle

Uncle Josh Writes Again (NaNoWriMo 2017)

I’ve had this idea bouncing around for probably the better part of a year, so the exact source of inspiration is lost to memory, but I’m sure I have the note in some app or file somewhere. I had been thinking about wizards and apprentices and how the progression of knowledge got passed down in some stories. The Sith “Rule of Two” seems to have been the rule. The idea I had turned that around. I had an apprentice who needed to find the wizard, because reasons. I’ve since managed to come up with reasons and call it a back story. I have not been writing a lot and haven’t submitted a story for a couple of years. I got tired of rejection. I took a break. I played around with a few ideas but nothing has really gelled so this is all about butt-in-chair and getting my fingers moving Continue reading Uncle Josh Writes Again (NaNoWriMo 2017)

Uncle Josh Tackles Blade Runner 2049

To prepare for the new movie I did not manage to re-watch any version of Blade Runner but instead re-read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, which I’ve been meaning to do for a long time anyway. I walked away from the movie in a definite love-hate relationship with the movie. It is a movie for the hard-core Blade Runner fan and the disciples of film as an art form. It should be needless to quote River Song here… –cut Memories of Blade Runner I remember the basics: Deckard sent out against his will to retire a group of Nexus-6 replicants. He tests Rachel and has a strange non-love story with her. He hunts and kills and finally meets his match with Roy Baty who dies after a hell of a fight and a great speech. The movie’s theme for was empathy is the key to being human, and Deckard Continue reading Uncle Josh Tackles Blade Runner 2049

Uncle Josh Tries to Plot His Way Out of a Paper Bag

Once again I turn my hand to writing and trying to do something with the stockpile of stories I have unsold and unfinished. Once again I turn to structure templates and books on writing to solve the perennial problem of “what happens next?” Once again I map out plot points and realize I still don’t have enough scenes to make it work. My latest attempt at re-writing my 2004 NaNoWriMo entry involved reading a couple of books by James Scott Bell that Dale Ivan Smith recommended. His books list 14┬ástructural checkpoints, 5 in Act I, 4 in Act II, and 5 in Act III. I struggle with pacing in all my stories. To have 4 checkpoints in 50-55% of the book and 10 for the remaining 45-50% is frustrating. This is where I fall apart. I need to find other ways to fill this narrative space. I need scenes. I Continue reading Uncle Josh Tries to Plot His Way Out of a Paper Bag

Uncle Josh Limps to the End of NaNoWriMo

This experiment has not been a successful one, but I know the external factors that led up to this failure: The election took a lot of wind out my sails. OryCon slowed me down, but no more than the other days. The internal failures were consistency: I scheduled a 6-7 am writing hour every day and didn’t follow the schedule for a whole week in despair; and I often didn’t get up on the weekends to write. I didn’t make up that writing time, either. The other internal failure was tracking my progress. I decided to write this one non-linearly. I had a rough outline of what I needed to write and let my mood for each day dictate which scene I worked on. This made for some good writing sessions and for some good drafts. When I knew what I needed to write and let myself go, I wrote Continue reading Uncle Josh Limps to the End of NaNoWriMo