Only four chapters left in the final editing pass for the novel.
I’ll be done early next week. Thank the gods.
Then it’ll be time to gather a list of agents to send it out to, polish up my query letter, and start emailing the thing out.
It’s been…two years? almost three?…since I started work on it. And soon, very soon, I’ll finally have a finished version to send.
So, what have I learned? What lessons will I apply to the next book?
- Definitely break up your editing passes. Trying to fix every problem you see as you see it will only lead to a mess.
- Don’t be afraid to edit the story. Your first take on the story — not just the words, but what happens and why — doesn’t have to be the last one.
- You’ve got time to get it right. Take as many editing passes as you need. No one has to see it until it’s ready.
Wife made it back from Arkansas on Tuesday (huzzah!), so my hermit-writing time is coming to a close.
Overall, I think having the weekly goals really helped me. While I didn’t hit them all (mumble mumble agent-search), I hit enough of them to build up a writing rhythm, and got a lot done.
All told, I’ve:
- written two new short stories, and have started a third
- circulated three previously-written stories
- completed final-pass editing of all but the last quarter of my first novel
- reviewed nine submissions by litreactor peeps
I’d like to keep up some of my new habits. I think the litreactor reviews help me to see similar problems in my own fiction, and practice fixing them. I also think the chapter-a-day editing is the only way I can get detailed editing passes done.
I like writing a new short story every week, but at some point I’m going to need to work on editing them all into shape, so I can submit them. So I’ll keep that one for perhaps the next week or two, then settle into editing what I’ve got.
Another classic that I just never got around to reading before.
And it’s deservedly a classic. Dickens absolutely skewers the ruling classes of three societies: his native England, pre-Revolutionary France, and the post-Revolutionary Terror. The snarky political commentary makes his dips into melodrama excusable.
Three things I learned about writing:
- You can write in the third-person POV without insight into any characters’ thoughts or feelings at all, only their actions and words.
- Admitting that there is a narrator telling the story (while standing outside of it) gives you a chance to comment on the action, not just tell it.
- Even if readers can anticipate a turn in the story, if the characters don’t know it’s on its way, you can generate tension just in putting off the moment that that event happens.
Third and final week. How’d I do?
- Edit one chapter a day: Check. Whew.
- Write a new short story: Check! Last week’s story is up on litreactor for feedback. Newest story will be going up as soon as I have the points.
- Critique two stories: Check and check.
- Find a new potential agent for querying: Dropped.
- Polish and submit a new story each month: Still on track. Got some good feedback on “Wednesday” from the fine folks at litreactor. I’ll revise it this weekend, and should have it ready for submitting by the end of the month.
A nice, quick intro to the physical infrastructure of the internet. Doesn’t really go into how all those pieces work — there’s no discourse on the technology behind a router — but does build a mental image of the boxes, buildings, and people that keep the world connected.
Three things I learned:
- ARPAnet’s first Internet Message Processing machine was installed at UCLA in 1969. The machines were manufactured on the East Coast, but only West Coast universities were open to the idea of the network at the time.
- In 1998, The Netherlands passed two laws to pave the way for fiber everywhere. One law required landowners to give up right of way for holes to be dug, second law required any company digging a hole to lay fiber to also let other companies lay their own cable in the same hole and share the costs. The one-two punch made it cheaper and easier to lay fiber, and also blocked anyone getting a monopoly.
- The busiest route in the world is between London and New York, with more internet traffic than any other line.
Two weeks in. Had a holiday in the middle of this one, so…how’d I do?
- Edit one chapter a day: Mostly check. 5 days out of 7 isn’t too bad.
- Write a new short story each week: Done. First draft of “Wednesday” is complete and ready to submit to litreactor. Draft of second story is coming together.
- Critique two stories each week: Check. This has become the easiest one to do.
- Find a new agent to query each week: Nope again. I might need to drop this one, till the editing is done.
- Polish and submit a new story each month: On track. Hope to get feedback on “Wednesday” soon, and then will revise and start submitting. Also got a rejection back for one of the stories I’d submitted, so I need to send it out again this week.
I’m in love with Elm. No, really.
I don’t know if it’s just that I’ve been away from front-end development for a few years, but working in Elm has been a breath of fresh air.
When my boss offered to let us give Tech Talks on any subject at the last company meetup, I jumped at the chance to talk about Elm.
And, of course, if I was going to give a talk about Elm, I had to make my slides in Elm, didn’t I?
So I wrote elm-present.
It’s a (very) simple presentation app. Slides are json files that have a title, some text, a background image, and that’s it. Each slide points to the one before it, and the one after, for navigation.
elm-present handles reading in the files, parsing the json, and displaying everything (in the right order).
And the best part? You don’t need a server to run it. Just push everything up to Dropbox, open the present.html file in your browser, and voilà!
You can see the talk I gave the meetup here, as a demo.
Fantastically well-done. Weaves together magic, fairies, Great War trauma, romance, sisterly rivalry, and the treatment of special-needs children into one cracking good story.
So very happy to discover there are sequels.
Three things I learned about writing:
- Dribble out your backstory. At the start, offer just enough to explain the choices that brought the character to that point. Introduce the rest later, as needed for the story.
- You can get away with a romance between two characters that have little in common if you make their raw attraction clear and compelling.
- Sometimes the greatest climaxes (or turns in the story) happen when the protagonist realizes something about themselves that they didn’t know before.
Last week I set some goals to keep me on track for a productive summer.
So, how am I doing?
- Edit one chapter a day: Check. I’m working through the novel backwards this time, to keep it fresh for my editing eyes.
- Write a new short story each week: Not complete, but new story (working title: Wednesday) is halfway done, and I’ll wrap it up this weekend.
- Critique two stories each week: Check. By the time the new story’s done, I should have enough points to post it to the litreactor workshop for feedback.
- Find a new agent to query each week: Nope. Need to set aside some time next week to do this.
- Polish and submit a new story each month: Check. I’ve currently got three short stories making the submission rounds, one of which I submitted for the first time this month.
Another strong portrayal of a villain from Grossman.
Avoids the trap of completely rehabilitating Nixon. He’s sympathetic without being likable, and interesting to follow without the reader always cheering them on.
Loses steam in the second half. There’s plot lines that go nowhere, scenes that could have been cut without changing anything, and the climax happens completely off-screen, with no buildup or release of tension.
Still, I learned a few things about writing:
- Delivering most of your plot via dialog — so long as you’re not data dumping — can be a great way to keep the story moving.
- The best villains think they’re the hero.
- Restricting your book to one POV can be too confining. Multiple POV can let you explore other aspects of your world, which you might need if your story takes place somewhere very different.