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Depth, Details, and Dot

So, originally The Mark was a one shot throw away story.  As I began to go further and further along with it I noticed that all my characters were acting like I needed them to act to best sort the interest of the plot.  While this was very convenient, I didn’t find it very convincing.  Who were these people, why were they acting this way, what was their motivation?  So, to answer that question I am currently in a character build stage, going through and mapping out each character from favorite color to shoe size.  When they make their reentry to the stage hopefully they will feel more like a real person and less like Plot Device 1A.

In addition to that, when your character is flat or automated there is no real potential for character growth.  I’m sure you could change they way they act some and call it growth, but it isn’t the same.  In order for a character to go somewhere they have to be coming from somewhere else.

It certainly is fascinating just how many little details go into the actual craft of writing.  When I first became serious about doing it, I sat down and started cranking out words.  Now, not even a year later, my entire perspective of what a story is and what writing is has changed dramatically.

Dot’s favorite color is green, if anyone was curious 😉

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(Not so) Ancient History

(Not so) Ancient HistoryWhy do we have to study History?   I must have heard that question every day I was in a history class.  Invariably, the answer was always the same…we study history so we do not repeat the mistakes of the past.  Considering the staggering number of things I would be glad to not see come around again, this seems like compelling logic.

Just when is History though?  10 years? 25? 50? 100?  How about about yesterday?  How long does something have to stew around before it becomes good enough to learn from?  To place a rather broad lens on the whole thing, anything that is past is history.  Operating on this logic the sentence before this is now History, and the opening paragraph is may well contain fossils.

It is true though.   Over the weekend I decided to branch out from merely writing stories to expand upon my knowledge of writing as a craft.  I have several grammar books and general guides for good story writing, but those can only really take you so far.  So I searched around and found a message board full of aspiring writers and published authors who were sharing advice back and forth, stories of what worked and what did not.  I registered for an account immediately after reading a post from someone who got their submission rejected for what I would consider an unimportant detail; correction, would have previously considered an unimportant detail.  Now thanks to this free exchange of information the same will not happen to me, or others who read the post.  Preventative history on display.

So I’ve been mulling over ideas and suggestions, looking back at what I have written so far and seeing what could be done better and what can be left alone.  So, for the next little bit I’m putting future writing on hold and going back through what is already written and applying some of the tips I have picked up to this point.  At roughly 10k words written in The Mark, I have already blown past the Short Story and am heading firmly toward Novella, perhaps some of this information can give it a little more push and it will land in Novel.

It certainly wasn’t my goal to write a full length book right out of the gates, especially based upon what, at the time, was a piece of one-and-done flash writing.  However, I feel like I owe it to the ideas that I do have for full length books to explore the craft of writing more in depth before setting pen to paper for those treasured adventures.

The Mark (11)

Another update before the weekend sets in.  I will be out of town and may not have access to my computer on the trip, I will be in touch upon my return on Sunday night, however!

Read – The Mark – Part 11

The Mark (10)

My great apologies for the delay in updating the story.  Life sometimes reminds us that it is larger than we are and pulls you in whether you like it or not!  Please enjoy the latest installment!

Read – The Mark – Part 10

The Mark (9)

A new update in the ongoing story of Dot.

Read – The Mark – Part 9

The Mark (Updated)

After some consideration, I’m going to be leaving out the brief spoilers from here on. Since the top post is the first visible I wouldn’t someone coming in after missing a few updates and have things revealed ahead for them.

Read – The Mark – Part 8

One thing that I struggled with when I first began to seriously contemplate the composition of a book was just how much I needed to put into it.  Not that I was afraid of the work, mind you, all these thoughts in my mind were begging to be put onto the page and to do so was an escape, not a burden.  Still, I wanted to ensure that I was getting sufficient quality as well.  It would do me no good at all to push out manuscript after manuscript if the content was only suitable for fixing that wiggle on the dining room table.   Likewise, I would prefer to write at a pace that would get my work into the hands of readers in a time frame that did not use years as a measure.

This is of course compounded by genre of choice having a noticeably higher word count than most other categories.  Fantasy novel usally land around 20k words higher than most other works, some extreme cases can see a Fantasy work doubling the size of the average Mystery.   Thankfully, as a fledling writer my burden will be eased by the fact that offering up a manuscript with that maxes out the word count will end with a “Thanks, but…”.  So 100k is my initial target at the outset once I begin compliling that first novel.  Simple enough.  I guess.

Like anything else, you get better at writing the more you do it.  With that, and a few other factors, in mind I decided to put the novels on the back burner and start small.  Short stories, submissions, flash fiction…and apparently now, blogging.  These are all effective ways to improve your writing toolbox, without taking the full length of time to complete as a novel.  This means there are ample more opportunities for feedback, which again bolsters improvement (if taken to heart, at least).  Another added benefit is a better chance of name recognition if you have several short stories and works in various magazines when you begin to pitch your full length work.

After doing my homework and consulting with various authors, the number that I constantly kept hearing was that 1,000 words was a good day.  This sounds mighty daunting, and yet it doesn’t in some respects.  If you focused on putting out 1,000 words each day it sounds intimidating, but if I change focus and think that only 100 writing days would be required to complete a rough draft of my target then it isn’t so bad at all.  Obviously the math will never come out that clean, but a guy can always hope.

The most important thing that I got out of this, and from my own experience, is that the word count truly should not be the focus of your writing day.  The work is your focus.  It is far more important to touch your work every day, to improve it on a consistent basis, than it is to force out 1k a day.  Besides, the math is never clean.  Some days I struggle to reach 700, others I’m still a blur at 1,200. Don’t let your work linger, get your hands on it every day, improve it in some fashion.  This will keep the story alive and fresh in your mind.  Each day you let it go it will fade a little, and if it fades too much…

In the end your work is what is most important, and if you will stick with it then wordcount will take care of itself.