Sunday, December 28, 2014

Agonizing Progrees

Beta reviews of the new novel are trickling in and I am horrified at the problems they've revealed.  My thought was that I had found every singe grammatical error, punctuation mistakes, and had gotten the characters, time line, and facts corrected.  Such was not to be: Dangling plot lines, unmentioned time shifts, lackadaisical prose, wooden narrative, lack of sufficient action, no love interest, unresolved drivers, etc, etc, etc. permeated the review draft, as gleefully pointed out by my reviewers - all with encouraging comments, to be sure.

So for the last three weeks since that first review arrived, I've been back at the workbench pounding out the dents from the wreckage, painting over the scratches, polishing up the dull parts, and perhaps fitting a new piece on here and there.  I realized I needed to overhaul the plot engine while I'm messing around and maybe throwing in a better roadmap for the reader. Gives me something to do while I await the final set of reviewer comments.

In the meantime it is tedious work to reread words I've read a jillion times and see, really SEE the problems that need fixing.  Worse is trying to patch the plot holes without destroying one of the subplots or contradicting something stated elsewhere.  Fortunately my use of flashbacks were minimal and mostly served as the Greek chorus to keep the reader informed of the passage of time (i.e. "What happened.")

Thanks to the reviews the draft novel now stands at 125,000 words, which makes it the longest piece I have ever written.  What is interesting was the reviewers asked for more rather than less and none suggested cutting anything.  One even suggested adding more scenic detail to "give a sense of place" to one of the continuing stories. My fear is that such "scenic detail," once introduced, will proliferate like the commas in this sentence, and infest the entire book. Perhaps I might describe a tree, an animal, or the deep-sunk brown eyes of the sailor as he gazes at the empty, hopeless horizon, but that would be all.
After all, I'm not writing a quest fantasy.


Sunday, December 14, 2014

Holiday Joy

Fewer things warm the cockles of my heart than anticipating the arrival of the holiday season.  There's a festive mood everywhere as the winter solstice reaches it's depth and the increasingly darkening days begin to recede once more.

It is a time overfull of activities; shopping for presents, decorating, planning, shopping for food, baking, hectically racing about to get everything ready, cooking, and, oh yes, shopping just for the hell of it!

In two short weeks the festive decorations will be hung on every cornice, traditional songs will ring from every corner, and the air will reek with the scents of cinnamon and sugary cookies. Cookies and cakes will demand to be baked, and the traditional Christmas nut roll created. Candy needs to be procured to give everyone a sugar rush and food must be continually available to add caloric overload as the solstice and the depths of winter approaches.

The traditional tree must be erected and hung with ornaments, every window festooned with decorations, and garlands hung from every doorknob. The ever-vigilant cats will discover the dangling shiny playthings dangling right there, within a paw's reach, and wonder why they're not allowed to play with them.

So much to do and so little time to write as we struggle to prepare for the family members who will shortly arrive to bring cheer and blessings along with presents, luggage, and confusion. As the holiday progresses others will stay for shorter, but no less hectic, periods.  The house will fill with people and chaos.

 Finally, we will feast nearly as well as our French and Italian cousins.  Draughts of wine, sparkling ale, cider, beer, and other liberating beverages will wash down plentiful amounts of delicious food as we enjoy the company and fondly recall times past and people who are no longer among us. Familiar stories will be told and new ones created as each holiday recapitulates those before and lays the groundwork for those to come,

Happy Holidays.r


Friday, December 5, 2014

Delaying Tactics

So I'm back revising the damned novel and am growing very angry at the necessity.  Every fibre of my being screams out to write a short story instead of slogging away to find typos, bad grammar, confusion of time and place, etc and so forth within this monster.  Worse, the completion of this effort will only free me to work on the two other rambling tales of frustration and toil - much like that I experience whenever I touch this one.

But, what the hell, it is writing, isn't it?

Back in the day I had no trouble writing short stories, novelettes, and novellas quickly and sometimes found willing markets to publish them. But as time passed I grew more prolix and more conscious of what (and how) I was writing.  This led me into a long period of introspection when I questioned my ability to cast a tale worth telling.  The decline of my ability to sell a novella-length story to a magazine might have played a part. I attribute this both to my lack of imagination and the declining interest of editors to use up that much space for long pieces.

"Write short!" Schmidt encouraged me, and so I did, which resulted in a LOT of 15K stories that I then had to edit down under seven thousand words to make them salable.  It was a lot of work for few rewards, at least at first, but eventually I re-learned the secret, began to write shorter drafts that required less editing and, eventually, managed to sell a string of shorts. At the same time my trunk continues to grow, overwhelming my list of published tales.

Seeing my short works being published is nice, but I still feel that commercially publishing more than a single novel would be an accomplishment.  That's why I'm trying to finish the novels-in-development instead of adding more stories to my growing collection of  unsold ones.

Someone recently suggested that I ePublish my unsold novellas and novelettes, but my past experience with ebooks makes me doubt that I'd realize any decent income from those.  Maybe they were just that poorly written or lacked publicity or were simply lost among the millions of other works - who knows?

ePublishing is so confusing.