Category Archives: Writing

Expanding My Horizons

I’ve spent the majority of my reading time, nearly all of my life, reading Science Fiction and Fantasy novels. I love the adventure and the speculation and possibilities that are inherent in those genres.

Reading outside those genres has happened occasionally, but never consistently. I’ve read Stephen King, though most of his works are essentially fantasy. I’ve read books by F&SF authors who dabble outside their original genre (Stephen R. Donaldson, Bradley Denton and a couple others). And then I’ve read the occasional book suggested by some other media outlet. A radio interview with Joe Gores got me to read a couple of his mystery novels. A recent article on James Patterson caused me to look at his books on the shelf of the bookstore recently, which resulted in my purchase of “When The Wind Blows” (Of course, it treads on SF territory) and the consequent finishing of that novel in a day.

I’m going to make a commitment to myself that at least one in every three books I read this year (and for the foreseeable future) will be something from outside my comfort zone of the F&SF genres. I’m going to try to sample all sorts of stories that I haven’t read, in the hopes that it will expand my vision of what’s possible to do with a story.
After all, I just read a book where I doubt any of the chapters was longer than four pages. I flew through the book and it was impossible, almost, to put down. 416 pages and 127 chapters. It’s not something I’ve seen before, but it was certainly effective. What other techniques are out there that I’m not aware of because my reading has been so insular?

NaNo Update and Other Ramblings About Writing Goals

My NaNo novel is going better, so far, than any of the previous attempts. I’m over 12,000 words, and I know, sorta, where it’s going. I previously never made it much past 5000, and I never had an outline before, not that the one I have is much of one. But any outline seems to be better than none for trying to mash out 50,000 words in a month.

Of course, at 12,000 words, I’m not on target anymore. I’ve essentially only averaged about 1,000 a day, which is far short of what I need to win NaNo. I’ve got to hit 2111 words a day, now, to win, and I don’t know if I can manage it. It was hard just getting 2000 yesterday. I just have too many projects going, and suffering through a cold for the last week hasn’t helped at all. I’ll have to see if I can pop some extra words out this weekend, but we’ve got projects to get completed around the house, too, so I don’t know how much uninterrupted time I can squeeze out.

I’m satisfied, though, with my progress. Even if I don’t win NaNo, I’ll finish the draft of this novel, as it will still count toward my goal for the next year (yes, I worked out my 2010 goals early) of getting three novels drafted.

“Huh, what?” you say.

I’ve come to the obvious conclusion that, if I want to get better at writing, I need to write. And I think I need to write a great deal, so I’ve set a goal of drafting three novels by the end of 2010. They’re going to be written as practice, with no intention of trying to get them published through a traditional publisher. I may even make them available here, in some fashion, if they aren’t total trash. A friend of mine, back in 2006, did a project he called A Short Story A Day, and this will sort of be my novel version of that project. I’m not about to post as I go along like he did. I’m not that comfortable with my fiction yet, but I may post them as I edit them. We’ll see.

NaNoWriMo – 6.5 Hours To Go and StoryBox 0.0.44

I’ve tried to spend the day working up my plot and my characters for my NaNoWriMo attempt, but I kept finding things in StoryBox I wanted to change immediately. I really need to not try to write on the same computer where I develop StoryBox. I did manage, however, to come up with an idea, a half a dozen or more scene descriptions to start the novel, and a description of the final scene, as well as short descriptions of the essential characters. There’s still a lot of work to do, but what I’ve got should get me through the first couple of days. I’ll try to make sure I stay a step or two ahead on the scene descriptions as I go, and I may even get more done this evening as I watch Monster House with my kids.

My main worry, now, about NaNo, is that I’ll spend the time I’m supposed to be writing on tweaking StoryBox. For example, todays effort netted a Recent Projects list under the file menu, tweaks to the Black theme for checkboxes, a Dated Entry option (for doing things like keeping a journal inside of the Box of Notes folder), and the moving of relavent document types to the top of the File Drawer context menu (so if you right click on the character folder, “New Character” will be at the top of the context menu).

Enjoy your Halloween and good luck with NaNoWriMo, if you’re participating. I’ve set a goal this year to complete it, and I mean to. No more 5000 word attempts for me. Mark crosses his fingers, shuts his eyes and says this over and over until he thinks he believes it!

StoryBox 0.0.43

I added two things for this build. A global line spacing setting that changes the line spacing across ALL documents. I will be adding other, more localized options at a later date. I’ve already started the work, but there are some weird issues I’m having to deal with. I also added basic bullets and numbering, accessible from the context menu (put the caret where you’d like to put the bullet, and right click on the text). Again, I will be adding more formatting options as time goes on.

I would have waited to put this build out to provide more options, but I thought, with NaNo coming up, I wanted to at least get these out for people to use on Nov. 1. Which reminds me.

I will probably not be working on StoryBox the next two days, as I’m going to try to take tomorrow (as much of it as I can) to prepare for NaNo, and then on Nov. 1, I’m going to try to get a really big head start. But if something comes up that’s really crazy, send the bug report and I’ll do my best to fix it right away.

Remember – back up your projects nightly, just to be on the safe side.

Some Updates On StoryBox and Other Things

I just uploaded version 0.3.6 of StoryBox, with a new “Preveiw” mode so you can see how any portion of your story will look when all it’s parts are combined. It also fixes some scrollbar issues, and a couple other things.

Also, after a year and ten months of off and on reading, I finally finished Steven Erikson’s Gardens of the Moon, and it was worth the effort in the end. But man, those first couple hundred pages are hard to get into. Too many disparate things going on for my simple mind. I always have problems with novels that start out with a large number of POV characters. Keep me with one for a few chapters, give me some background on the world, then switch. At the very least, do that in the first book.

StoryBox Somewhat Weekly #5

So late on this update. Been far too busy with the contract work. It’s getting close to the end of the project, and the time frame for it is getting tight, so it’s taking more and more of my time.

In any case, I’ve just uploaded Version 0.0.30 of StoryBox, with some changes and fixes to support some of the people that have actually started to check it out. The usual crashes and things to be expected when first real users get their hands on it, and some other insights, too. It’s really nice to be getting some feedback.

Most of it is coming via the “bug” button on the UI, which is probably the quickest way to tell me what’s wrong. It’s making it easy on my side to keep track of things.

If you haven’t already, check it out on the StoryBox Downloads page. You can see everything I’ve fixed, added and changed as well as the frequency of the updates.

I just hope I don’t spend so much time working on it that I don’t have time for NaNoWriMo (which I’m very intent on winning this year).