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

Uncle Josh does the NaNoWriMo thing again

This morning the plan was to get up at 6, make a cup of coffee, and start writing for NaNoWriMo. My body decided that I needed to be up at 5:30, but I wasn’t aware of the time and after failing to fall asleep, got up about ten till six and made my coffee and managed to start writing by 6:08. Not bad. One hour later I heard Stephanie up and about and so I called it a day and checked my word count: 1,714. That had to be wrong. I don’t write that fast. Yes, I’m a fast typist but I average 1,000 wph when drafting. I have a new computer. It’s possible the program I’m using (Focus Writer, damn fine tool) wasn’t calculating it correctly. It’s possible something went wrong with the file. I opened it LibreOffice and it confirmed the count. On the way to work, Stephanie Continue reading Uncle Josh does the NaNoWriMo thing again

Uncle Josh Enumerates Some Fears

I’m taking a break from NaNoWriMo to write about NaNoWriMo, because this year is a bit more of an experiment. I have a spotty history with NaNoWriMo. My first try was back in 2004, and I finished the story at 35k. I’ve tried in other years but the NaNoWriMo database seems to only go back to 2011. In 2013 I tried to write Loyalty Oath, which is a story I’ve had in my head since I was a teenager and the novel has been kicking around my someday list since 2005. There seems to me to be enough to this story to warrant a novel, or at least a full NaNo attempt. So this year I am re-writing it, and I’m trying a few different things. One, I’m trying to write each major scene from more than one person’s point of view. I have four main characters in this thing, Continue reading Uncle Josh Enumerates Some Fears

Uncle Josh Contemplates Narrative Bookends

As part of my online writing course, someone asked for a critique of a story that she felt wasn’t working. I offered to blather about it a bit. One of her concerns was the ending falls flat. There was a decent enough emotional ending, but I think I understand her feeling. The rough story: Inspector on unpleasant field work. The draft I have is 8 pages long. The first 6 and a half pages take place in the field, the last page and a half in the office, where the narrator learns she actually suceeded in the external task of the story. In my commentary, I suggested that this feels wrong because it is only one half of a pair of bookends. If the story started in the office, went to the field, and returned, then the bookends may work better. Alternatively, cutting the setting of the ending and keeping Continue reading Uncle Josh Contemplates Narrative Bookends

Uncle Josh Struggles with a Writing Assignment

This post is part ramble, part warm up. I’ve been taking a MOOC from the Univserty of Iowa called How Writers Write Fiction, because I find taking classes can spur me to write when the rejection letters get too heavy on me. This is week three, and the focus is on plot. Here is the assignment: Write a story with any number of characters (these can be newly created characters or borrowed from your Class Session 1 and 2 writing assignments), where an external force demands that a character or all the characters jump into action. No problem there. The thing I wrote for Session 1 was a scene froma story I’ve been trying to write since 2006 or so. Here’s the second part: Additionally, include in the story a separate decision made by a character/the characters that does not result directly from the external force. And….this is where everything Continue reading Uncle Josh Struggles with a Writing Assignment

Uncle Josh Plans for the End of the Year

Now that I have a little more time on my hands, I hope to get back to pet projects: writing, submitting, and reading more. My Better Writing Through Reading project has gone off the rails again, and I hope to get it back on track. This post is about some of the post Hugos fallout, and while the award proposoal by Jay Maynard leaves a sour taste in my mouth, this idea from Cat Valente seems slightly better. Not that I want to replace the Hugos in any way. I’m sure the non-existent problems of pre-puppy slating will be fixed eventually. Cat’s ideas may have some fun ideas tucked away. As an aside, I haven’t watched MTV in ages, but I seem to remember the MTV movie awards had categories like Best Kiss and Best Action Sequence, not whole movies, but parts of the stories. Certainly the Best Kisses need Continue reading Uncle Josh Plans for the End of the Year