Category Archives: Writing: Novels, Stories, Blogs and Comics

Entry X

So! For the second time this year, I’ve forced myself to write ten entries in a single day. I’d feel bad about making this last entry a cop-out, wrap-up entry, but I don’t.

So there.

In the future, I’d like to avoid this little bit of tom foolery. Shouldn’t be too hard. All I have to do is actually update my blog in a reasonable fashion so that I have the proper number of entries up per month.

Ha!

Anyway, it’s been fun, but I’d really like to go watch Hellraiser now. If, for some reason, you missed any of the entries I wrote today just click on the following links.

Entry IX

Entry VIII

Entry VII

Entry VI

Entry V

Entry IV

Entry III

Entry II

Entry I

 

Thank you and good night,

-D-

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Paring It Down

For most people, editing is about excising. You trim out all of those unnecessary words and details and phrases and commas. You said too much. You described too much. You gave him too much to say. Stephen King even comes up with a basic formula for editing your story that goes as follows:

First Draft – Ten Percent= Second Draft

It’s one of the more difficult challenges for most writers because you have to determine what’s actually crap and what’s actually good, what actually helps the story and what hurts it. Even if that paragraph is utterly brilliant in terms of language and artistry and characterization, it’s unnecessary. And that’s the key word: unnecessary. Pare it down, clip it out, get rid of it, especially it doesn’t help the story go forward.

I don’t have that problem so much. Yes, I do clip out my fair share of badly used and superfluous words, but, for the most part, that’s not my problem. My problem is my first draft is always anemic and pared down already to the point that the story is skeletal. I’m an impatient reader and viewer and I’ll rail against authors who spend their sweet time getting where I want to be going. And when I write, I do the same thing. Why show this? The reader understands! Why show that? The reader can figure it out.

My murder mystery looks like the following: The body is found. The detective looks at the body. Ah-ha! He says. He captures the killer. Fin

I ignore little things, insignificant things like: personalizing the victim, describing the investigation, adding in a second murder to really kick it up a notch. I know the tropes and the cliches and the tools and the frameworks; I just choose not to utilize any of them because I want to go from A to B in the fewest number of steps.

So my editing process ends up being the exact opposite of Mr. King’s advice. I fatten. I add. I write more pages and boost the word count way up and flesh it out and grow it out. It’s the process of adding flesh to a skeleton. For me and for writers like me, it’s more:

First Draft + Twenty Percent = Second Draft

What about you? How does editing work for you? What do you have to do after completing that first draft?

-D-

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A Little of This, a Little of That

A lot of the books I read end up adding to what I write. Characters, words, worlds, even just that mix of tones (a little darkness, a dash of magic and a small smidge of humor); it all affects how I write.

There are authors who energize; who help me get off of my ass and start writing again. There are the writers who function like literary warning signs. Danger! Do Not Mix These Genres: Disastrous Results! There are the writers that show me that what I’m doing ahs been done over and over and over and over again and maybe I should head down a different path.

I steal styles and I lift characters. I shuffle off with piece of plot and I make off with ideas. Every book I read, every story I see, it’s a jolt of inspiration. Not to take the whole thing. That’s just intellectual thievery.

But every writer borrows. Every writer finds his or her ideas. They lay about waiting to be discovered time and again. They find them, they piece them together, they work them into something new that hasn’t been seen before. They take those old ideas and make them shine like new again. They find new truths buried in ideas that have been kicking around since Man was capable of intelligent thought.

It is the job of an artist, whether a writer or a painter or a sculptor, to take those old ideas and breathe themselves into it.

And that’s…not that hard, really. Art isn’t hard. It’s just the follow-through that some might find troublesome.

Dylan Charles

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Writer’s Commiseration

Writing has never been a group thing to me. I don’t track down other writers to talk to them about the process. I don’t go to forums and chat about plotting and character development. I don’t hang out in coffee houses with other writers and discuss the finer points of the gerund. That’s just not what writing is to me. The very idea of talking about a first draft with a total stranger is akin to discussing bodily fluids with someone you met on the bus. And if you think that’s a needlessly gross analogy, you’ve never read one of my first drafts.

And NANOWRIMO is all about the sharing. NANOWRIMO is the guy on the bus who tells you waaay too much about what’s going on and it’s really hard to get used to. I’ve been writing like I always do: head down and eyes on my own paper. I didn’t watch the little videos. I didn’t read the letters of encouragement. I didn’t go to the forums.

But then I needed to procrastinate, so I watched a video or two and some of the tips were helpful and the cheery attitudes were helpful. I started going to the forums and reading other people’s posts and winced once or twice when I read horror stories of lost pages and falling behind the deadline and struggling to catch up. And I identified with it. I’ve lost work before, whole passages lost to the aether. I know that awful feeling in the pit of my gut when I realize I have to rewrite something and it’s never going to be like the original words and it won’t ever be as good.

And it’s weird, because I’m feeling a sense of belonging. I feel like these people understand the annoying problems of writing, the little triumphs and the depressing feeling when you realize you’ve been writing utter shit for an entire day. So I’m trying to reach out. I’m trying to get involved in a…community. There have been a few tentative posts, awkward attempts at saying, “HI I WRITE THINGS TOO BFFS?”

I still don’t know how I feel about all this touchy-feely, “let’s hug cause we write” thing, but I’m going to at least try. I’m going to try and stop being a curmudgeonly hermit grump. Maybe I’ll even start a forum thread.

God forbid.

Dylan Charles

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NANOWRIMO

This year I’ve decided to write a novel for NANOWRIMO. I’m so out of touch with writing fiction that I figured the best way to get back into shape is to try and write 50,000 words in less than a month. It’s like if you decided you wanted to start running every day and figured the best way to do that was to run the Boston Marathon tomorrow.

The only problem is that I’ve already lost two days. I need to really get into gear if I want to make the deadline. By day nine, I should have 15,000 words. Guess how many I have. If you guessed zero, you’d be right!

So check on my progress and cheer me on here. Hopefully this won’t be a bitter failure that I”ll need to drink to forget.

Wait, I need to start this on a more positive note.

Yeah! Gonna write me a book in a month! Whoo!

Dylan Charles

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A Break from the Fear

I’ve been staring at this story for about twenty minutes now and so far I have nothing. I know exactly where this story is going to go. I know what’s supposed to happen and when things are going to happen. A will follow B which will lead to C and then comes D.

I know exactly what I need to write. I’m just not so sure how to write it. I don’t know the proper words. I don’t know the pace. Nothing is really coming that easily.

Truth be told, that’s how the blog has been feeling lately. Probably as a result of my attempts at constantly feeling the Halloween spirit all the time. There’s only so much good-natured horror cheer a person can make themselves feel before they burn out and start swinging a machete like a Jason Voorhees knock-off.

So I need a break from scary is what I’m saying. I need to get out there and watch a movie that’s not filled with blood splatter. I need to smell flowers that aren’t growing on graves. I need to frolic with pets that haven’t been buried in the pet sematary.

Just for a little bit.

Then back to trying to track down a theater that’s showing Human Centipede 2.

Dylan Charles

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The Process

In order to get myself hyped about writing reviews again, I’m going to let ya’ll in on a behind-the-scenes look at the process I use when writing reviews. It’s also a good way to get two blog entries out of one movie.

1. First, I pick the movie. This involves going through the collection of horror movies available on Netflix. I flip through the list until I read a plot synopsis that makes me wince. This week’s selection is Hanger, a movie about an abortion gone wrong. Quality!

2. Next, I watch the movie. This can take anywhere from the running time of the movie to a full week, depending on how good the movie is. As I watch, I make notes to help me when I actually start to write the review. Usually the notes are far from helpful since they’re usually things like: “Dialog bad. What write movie?” “Jesus Crickets, this sucks.”

3. After a substantial recovery period, I start to write the review. Since I need a screencap for the review and since I always forget to take the screencap while I’m watching the movie, this means starting up Hanger again. A second substantial recovery period is needed.

4. I then write the review a full month after picking the movie. Generally, I’ve forgotten a great number of details, so I end up rewatching most of the movie to make sure I get my facts right.

5. By this point, I’m now the foremost expert on this movie and it’s time to pick the next movie.

Elapsed time: 2 months

This is assuming that everything goes well. Sometimes I’ll watch an entire movie and there’s nothing interesting to say about it, so I’ll move on to something else. Hanger looks promising though.

Dylan Charles

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