Still Learnin' about Writin'

Have I abandoned the blog? 

No, that is not what is going on. The last big event here was the Gender in Fiction project and its time to move on. I am continuing to edit Harbinger of Calamity. At this time the book is in the hands of Jim Ferguson who did the first edit of Firetok many years ago.  He was my journalism teacher back when we had one computer for the whole class, now he's is helping me put my unconventional into convention. (RE)Teaching the wizardry necessary to put my storytelling in a form that won't make a reader with a much better understanding of how things are done cringe or dispose of my book. I welcome the help. I have also had a couple trusted advisors lend a hand along the way. The story is definitely where it is and where it is going. Now it's just a matter of polish. I have begun to write the follow up as well, part three I suppose. There is just so much left to tell it forced itself upon me.

What have I learned? 

I am still overusing words. I have been in "had" therapy for years. It's such a nothing word. I can use had in every sentence I write and pull it out and nothing changes. Kind of like offering advice to a kid. So the "had" thing is nothing new. Like and that abuse worked its way in around my had abuse. I think had was a gateway word which led to stronger more addictive things like using t-h-a-t- all the time.  Those are a couple words I tend to overuse and have taken a look at how and when I really should.


Yes, I write redundantly, especially in rough draft- but I don't care at that point it's about getting the story out of my head. I do begin to care later on in the process. Using the same word in two subsequent sentences rarely makes it past my read aloud. Here is one that the automated grammar checker wasn't liking though- started several sentences with the same word. This one has been slipping by under the radar. When I look at three sentences each beginning with "the" it starts to sound pretty children's bookish. Not like Dr. Seuss but more like a child wrote it. Relooking at that whole thing.

Mr. Ferg has also been suggestion some compound-complex sentence therapy as well as some other treatment. I went to a couple meetings, ate a couple doughnuts- but they kicked me out. The moderator suggested I didn't know enough English mechanics to write copy for Chinese cookie fortunes. It didn't turn into a fist fight but I got his message. I'm working on it. I'll keep studying.

The last thing I want to do is get into an English lesson with me being the teacher for reasons already mentioned. What have I found to help in my polish process? A couple things. I use LibreOffice for all my editing. There are a few different extensions you can add to look for mistakes. After the Deadline is a good one. I will admit it took me a bit of screwing around to figure out how it works but when it does it's at least helpful. Grammarly is pretty sweet but it seems only to work online, forcing me to work around it. It has been extremely helpful in helping me understand these English rules and conventions I seem to have forgotten or reinterpreted incorrectly. There are others for certain the discussion of each could make for its own post.

As always thanks for reading. 

Gender in Fiction

Back in November, the idea was born to create an ebook and a series of blog posts on gender in writing- specifically fiction. The project was an extension of the genre project of the same nature from last year. It was fun and a pretty neat experience covered a lot of ground and exposed some different approaches to genre.

My intent was to expand on that and include a couple more people. A little ebook and some blog posts was the initial plan. The project grew and grew in both time and scope. We ended up with 7 contributors plus myself which would make it 7.5 and 6 months before it all came together. But it did come together. It grew into a full blown book, it's only fifty some pages but it was way too big for a blog post.

Did I learn anything? Oh did I.

Here are some of my lessons-

  • If something is well written the reader shouldn't need to wonder about who wrote it. It wouldn't cross their mind. If the writing takes you that far out of the story, as far as I am concerned, it's a mistake. I've lost you. I shouldn't read a passage and have the conscious thought "this sounds like a dude wrote this" and vice versa. 

  • If I am writing a character way out of my realm I should do some research in whatever form it takes. This research would be more beneficial beforehand than after the fact.

  • Some people make ebooks and then work towards turning them into paperbacks. I have never done it this way and Amazon offers it as an option. Someone in the project told me don't do it. I did not. I think it is easier the other way around. I start paperback on CreateSpace and go from there.

  • Formatting for ebook is considerably different from paperback. Amazon KDP does not like PDF. And stuff like formatting seems to get lost in the upload for an ebook- including color. If there is a way to get color in an ebook- I don't know it.

  • Communicating with 7.5 people from different parts of the globe who are all insanely busy is damn near miracle worker territory. One of the contributors very accurately called it herding cats. I am continuously neck deep in several all consuming projects and so is everyone else- try to bring that together. 

  • We were able to communicate as a group of friends and collaborators. It was enriching and inspirational. 

  • The end product was worth the time and effort and completely exceeded anything I could have imagined. I think they call that synergy.

  • A history of being abused is not a very good reason to inflict abuse yourself. I think it extends the power of the initial abuser. This has nothing to do with the book but I'm sticking with it.

Next post I will try to add some excerpt teasers. The plan is for it to be released on May 11.

Thanks for reading- G