1. Michael Pless
    Offline

    Michael Pless Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2014
    Messages:
    211
    Likes Received:
    62
    Location:
    Australia

    Michael Pless' Trouble In New Eden (TINE)

    Discussion in 'Progress Journals' started by Michael Pless, Jan 1, 2015.

    Although I'm a long way from just the start, I thought I'd log my progress here. (I tend to leave my work from time to time in favour of other things and perhaps with others able to see my progress or lack thereof, it'll prod me into keeping my pace up.)

    A few months ago, I finished Cast Into New Eden, a sci-fi whodunnit-ish that was somewhat more concerned with the personal journey of the main character, Steve Wilson. Steve is a(n Australian) police detective seconded for duty with the Federation of Spacefaring Nations some 150 years or so in the future. He is sent via experimental means to the remote planet New Eden to investigate a murder, the first off-Earth. Length topped-out at around 180 kilowords. If anyone is interested, it's up on Smashwords.

    I'm around 35 kilowords into the sequel, Trouble In New Eden. And it needs to be torn down and rebuilt.

    Simply, I repeatedly failed to treat the work as a stand-alone novel, and before I knew it, I had a mass of characters all vying for the reader's attention, and then tried to cobble some exposition into the prose so that the reader would get some idea of who the characters were. Eleven, in total, with some scenes containing as many as six characters. Just too many to juggle (and I think, to give meaningful dialogue to) and I felt the work was about to implode. Given the detail I put into character dossiers, and the way I want them to contribute to Steve's journey, I had to come to a halt and rebuild from the second sentence. (The first is set: The little boy screams.)

    I'm also trying use the AuthorSalon six-act structure which I think has a fair amount of merit. (There's a lot of useful stuff there.)

    I've established the themes for the story, and I know how Steve is going to change over the course of the novel, and I think I have a fairly despicable antagonist. I know where and how I'm going to raise the stakes, to keep things going forward. I don't have a reversal in mind yet, but I will before too much longer.

    I use WriteItNow to keep everything together, which has some really nice features, not the least of which is ease of use. I've tried most, if not all the other leading software and this works best for me. I spat the dummy (pacifier) with Win 8 some months ago, and now work in Linux Mint, with WIN in a virtual box and all works well.

    So I'm just pulling characters out of scenes and assigning important parts of the story to those who remain. I hope it won't take too long, but I'm convinced it's necessary.
     
    Catrin Lewis likes this.
  2. Michael Pless
    Offline

    Michael Pless Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2014
    Messages:
    211
    Likes Received:
    62
    Location:
    Australia
    In between doing some editing and critique for another member, I started reworking TINE from the beginning. Completing the first scene.

    I think it is much better, but it is still a bit thin in terms of detail. The scene is about 3.5k words long. In it I try to get a fair amount of background and exposition in place so that a reader who (for some inexplicable reason ;):)) hasn't encountered CINE has a broad idea of what's going on: who the protagonist and some background on him, his current situation, and a couple of other characters who provide further information on Steve by how he relates to them.

    One means of introducing background/backstory is by dialogue, and I've added a bit more. What I want to avoid is the inelegant and at times, downright annoying way that the writers of CSI handle such things. Forensic scientists do not talk that way but this is fiction so to some extent, they're allowed to say things entirely for the audience's benefit. Although some thought about how they do it would be nice, and is so much of their target audience brain-dead as to need blunt exposition? But I digress.

    After cutting out what I thought was either repeated or unnecessary or was better-off elsewhere, I ended up with a few hundred words extra in the scene. When I've got the first draft of the MS complete, I'll return and revise and add detail.

    Scene 2 beckons...
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2015
    GingerCoffee likes this.
  3. Michael Pless
    Offline

    Michael Pless Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2014
    Messages:
    211
    Likes Received:
    62
    Location:
    Australia
    With section two of chapter 1 more or less at first draft stage now, I'm a little happier with proceedings. I didn't do much to this section because it's relatively short at 2,000 words or so. My review saw some bits removed and detail added, so that in the end, I added an extra 300 words or so. After this, I think I need to make wholesale changes to the personnel - so ar there's just Steve, Saira (Mrs Steve), and George, plus the named but peripheral anklebiters that are Steve and Saria's.

    The importance of this section is the raising of tension to a higher point. Section one ended with the discovery of a corpse; section 2 ends with it not being a colony member. Until now, the Federation thought they had the planet to themselves.

    Although I often mention detail, I'm keeping an eye on it so that I have a pacier manuscript than CINE. So too, Steve's internal struggle: he is clearly unhappy with what he thinks of as a tedious job. I've also mentioned a shortage of metals hampering the colony progress, and this will be an issue until the very end of the novel when Steve proposes a quite viable solution.

    With relatively few words and a fair degree of action, there was little scope for increasing the dialogue content, but I reviewed it, looking to keep the voices of each character distinctive.
     
  4. Michael Pless
    Offline

    Michael Pless Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2014
    Messages:
    211
    Likes Received:
    62
    Location:
    Australia
    There's little point in trying to write, if you don't also read. Currently I'm on Brett Battles's Little Girl Gone. The story is along the lines of tough-guy with troubled past gets roped into solving a mystery. I haven't encountered any violence yet but I'm only about one-eighth in.

    So far I've found a couple of scenes where there are a multitude of characters, taking turns at dialogue. (Not really taking turns, but Battles has them all contributing at some stage or other.) I'm quite interested in this because it is exactly the thing I'm looking at removing from TINE now, so I can take one of two stances, only one of which is likely to work well. Firstly, I can say, "he's done it, so I'm right" and leave things as is; or secondly, I can reread each scene to find out if it really works. I choose the latter, and to be honest, when reading the book just casually, I just imagine a generic group around the main character, and I can't recall clearly the individual traits of each character, except for two who have more to say than the others.

    So, I have the feeling I'm on the right track.
     
  5. Michael Pless
    Offline

    Michael Pless Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2014
    Messages:
    211
    Likes Received:
    62
    Location:
    Australia
    I've got Chapter 1 to first draft status, and it's grown by about 2,000 words as I slotted in added detail, to give a bit more background information. Even so, I've cut 1,400 words from it although a significant part of that has been included in the 2 kilowords I've added.

    I'm still concerned about the expository prose, but I'll revisit it in a month or two to see how it feels as I reread and edit it further if I feel it needs it. The chapter is around 15,000 words, and I wanted to get all the exposition done and out of the way here. Perhaps it's too much, but I'll know more come the end of February.

    The antagonist has made an earlier appearance, in line with Author Salon recommendations, though by their standards, my story progress is probably best described as leisurely. I've made the antagonist out to truly be a despicable person, and in subsequent chapters, I'll build on his cruelty, adding cunning, ruthlessness, brutality, and a monomaniacal determination to achieve his goals. He'll also get a dose of charisma so his minions don't desert him.

    The issue of too many characters in a scene is one that still concerns me, although I have cut one person from the action. The remainder, I think, contribute without detracting from the protagonist's dominance. Along the way, I've sought to strengthen him as well as bolstering his Missus, whom I thought I was portraying in a too-deferential light. So I think that for the important characters, I've got a bit better balance, and it might progress well from here on. At least, I'll be happier with it. (Never truly happy, but that's just me.)
     
    GingerCoffee likes this.
  6. Michael Pless
    Offline

    Michael Pless Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2014
    Messages:
    211
    Likes Received:
    62
    Location:
    Australia
    It has occurred to me that I haven't given any indication what the story is about so...

    Cast Into New Eden featured Steve Wilson as the protagonist, an Australian Police detective who, in the late 22nd century is required by his contracted employer (the Federation of Spacefaring Nations) to investigate the first off-Earth murder on the planet New Eden. Using some experimental technology, Steve is sent there near-instantly, rather than the slower route which takes some forty years. Steve is a loner and lonely, a larrikin, and a damn good investigator. He identifies the murderer, sees justice done (more or less), saves the girl and wins her heart, and decides to stay on New Eden.

    Six years later, he is a family man, the colony is doing well, and he fishes a corpse from the nearby river. The body though, is not that of any colonist. He starts to investigate and concludes that there is another group of people on New Eden. In other words, they've been invaded. He needs to find out what's going on, keep the peace, bring the murderer to justice, and tend to a few other issues besides. Like kidnapped colony members who need rescuing, and keep the unannounced inspection team from the Federation happy.

    He also needs to contend with his adversary, a despicable and dangerous human being.

    My task is to create a book that draws the reader in, giving them enough information about New Eden and the colony and its people, while not boring the few who have read CINE. I've decided on the sub-plots, and the message(s) I want to convey. Because of all this, in many ways, it is more difficult to write this book than the first.

    Still, I'm up for the challenge.:)
     
  7. Catrin Lewis
    Online

    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2014
    Messages:
    1,677
    Likes Received:
    1,072
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Oh, yeah, I know what it's like to have to try to work that!
     
  8. Michael Pless
    Offline

    Michael Pless Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2014
    Messages:
    211
    Likes Received:
    62
    Location:
    Australia
    I mention Author Salon a lot because I'm quite taken by the helpfulness of the articles there. The website slogan is "Where writers work towards publication" which pretty much sums them up. Their six-act structure is quite good, and encourages/promotes introductions of the antagonist quite early - in Act Zero (in their terminology.) I've done this, and removed one of the "extra" characters, reducing the total in the scenes to three at the most. I reread prior to doing this and I thought I had a reasonable balance, all things considered. One rule I was taught though: if in doubt, take it out.

    It saddened me a little to do it, because I thought there was some good writing there, but the story was being propelled along without the character's presence. "All major and minor characters must play a role in plot development and/or protagonist arc." Enough said.

    The antagonist is spot on for cruelty, and there is a suggestion that the protagonist is at least a little fearful of him, though I've slipped-in a hint that the antagonist has a possible weakness. Making him charismatic is not so straightforward, but once I have enough to show, and I've progressed enough with the story and its refinement, I'll ask the question from the forum members.

    AS also proposes that events be underway prior to the story start, and this I did (and had plans to do) as a matter of course. (I'm not sure how much plot I should give away here, but if anyone really wants to know, feel free to ask.)

    Reviewing my work so far, the story feel has changed. Prior to introducing the antagonist, it was a bit casual, with little tension. Now, the antagonist is a part of many conversations or is at the forefront of the protagonist's thoughts, so I can feel more tension, and perhaps pace has picked-up a bit.

    So all in all, I think my manuscript is better for the changes. Chapters 1 and 2 top out at about 24 kilowords, which is not unreasonable, I think, though the exposition is still nagging at me.
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2015
  9. Michael Pless
    Offline

    Michael Pless Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2014
    Messages:
    211
    Likes Received:
    62
    Location:
    Australia
    Sifting out the no-longer-required character is taking time, because he's in a fair few places. But as I go, I'm finding there's a need for detail and also I'm moving exposition around a fair bit, and keeping track of it all adds to the task. Introducing the antagonist earlier has meant changing the story around a major event in the story, namely a murder-and-kidnapping. Originally, the perpetrator was a mystery, but now he isn't, so all the prose and dialogue related to that has to go.

    Plus it has been stinking hot here in Oz and I've had husbandly duties and work to attend to.

    I'm also beta-testing Write It Now, which is specific for novels, and has some very useful features. To better test it, I've backtracked to do things I was a bit too lazy to do in my story earlier, like ascribe relationships and draw up charts for the significant characters, and I've also decided to describe the various locations, and objects, and further compile dossiers on my characters, just to get things clearer in my mind so it's easier to plan and make progress. (A little bit of pain, for a lot of gain later on.)

    I've partially-resolved a couple of plot-points for later in the story, so that I can attend to setting these things in motion earlier in the piece.

    One thing I did that I now regret is the names: in the first in the series, I deliberately chose "common" names for all the main characters (who are the cream of Earth's physically exceptional intellect), rather than (the sometimes) unusual alternatives that seem to be incorporated in sci-fi and/or fantasy. However, a TV series (Rubicon) had some delightful and unusual names - Truxton Spangler amongst them - so now I'm a little regretful of names like Steve Wilson, my protagonist.

    C'est la vie, I guess... time to get on with it.:);)
     
  10. Michael Pless
    Offline

    Michael Pless Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2014
    Messages:
    211
    Likes Received:
    62
    Location:
    Australia
    I've finally cleared the extraneous character from the manuscript so far. I'm feeling much relieved...

    I've spent part of the day sorting out the overall structure of Act III, and found that at some stage I 'll need to backtrack again, as I need to make clearer protagonist's motivations/desires, and also what his initial goal is. Because in Act III, he discovers that his initial goal (rescuing his colleagues and friends) isn't the desired outcome. Although it's important, if he doesn't deal with the antagonist, he might be faced with going through the process ad infinitum. I've also sketched-out the firewall or dead end, where he goes on a rescue mission only to find his friends have been moved to another (and obviously secret) location. This is a major reversal, but I will also need a couple of minor ones, too.

    The complication is a supposed spot-check by the ultimate bossess of the colonization program, but I'm leaning towards making these people essentially military, to help combat the threat posed by the fanatical and ruthless psychotic antagonist. I'm still musing on that. The antagonist also gets shown in what Michael Neff of Author's Salon calls "pinch points" - or scenes where the antagonist is shown in all his unbalanced glory.

    There's a few other considerations, but I'm working through them.

    This may sound incredibly tedious and/or elaborate, but I think it's absolutely necessary. If I go through any novel I'm pretty sure I'll find many elements of the structure I'm using. (There are others, like 3-act, and even 9-act.) And as Neff bluntly puts it, "...if you ... believe... that writing a novel 'your way' or simply 'from the heart' or 'only with my character’s direction' means avoiding or denying the critical elements of commercial fiction and good storytelling... it‘s best to move on quickly... and seek the Elysium of your desire. All best wishes to you."

    This is not to say my planned events are locked in place and immutable. As I write, I tend to develop ideas and the characters often seem to benefit from this trait or that, so I add them in, and this changes the tone of the story and also gives scope for the structure to evolve. It certainly did in my first novel. So I keep an open mind.
     
  11. Michael Pless
    Offline

    Michael Pless Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2014
    Messages:
    211
    Likes Received:
    62
    Location:
    Australia
    It's been a bit like this, y'see...

    I've been touting the Author's Salon 6-Act structure for a while and I've also been beavering away with the writing. Then I realized that my sub-plots were either non-existent or so thin as to be unworthy of the effort. (Another thorough reading of the AS6AS helped this.) So again, I've gone back to the start, so I can add the subplots into the manuscript. It's a bit frustrating, but if I want this to be worthwhile, there is no alternative. One thing I miss in Write It Now is being able to open a window or have an area where I can see the subplots (for example, or to-do list, or other notes-to-me). Keeping things like this at or near my attention would make life so much easier. Other, similar software has these facilities. I dislike intensely, the idea of opening myriad documents in a wordprocessor that I then toggle front to back interminably. Been there, done that.

    While I continue with the writing, I'm bearing in mind that my main character starts-off feeling a bit like a fifth wheel, discontent and bored - his transition from police detective to museum curator has left a void in his life. I'm not quite sure how he will change during the story, but change he will. I just need him to morph into something worthwhile. In the first novel he changed from a cynical loner to someone more open with his emotions. I have the vague feeling that Steve will start to embrace the finer things in his life, but as yet nothing has coalesced.

    The good news is I'm hopefully getting a better story for this effort.
     
  12. Michael Pless
    Offline

    Michael Pless Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2014
    Messages:
    211
    Likes Received:
    62
    Location:
    Australia
    While I've been remiss in updating this journal, I have still been writing, working subplots into the manuscript so far. I'm getting ideas on intertwining them and am very optimistic about their relevance to the characters, setting, and story so far. Word count has increased by around 5-6k, so and is now nudging 50k.

    Steve (my protagonist) continues to be a little problematic, because I'm not certain my planned changes to him (as a consequence of the plot) are going to be significant enough, nor credible enough. As I wrote in the last update, things have not coalesced.

    This has hampered my progress to some degree, plus I've had a few things going on in my life that have taken me away from writing. I cannot write without at least an immediate goal for the session or knowing what my characters are up to, and this has slowed things down. But as I work through the manuscript again, things are becoming clearer.

    Some talk of "writer's block." I don't know what that is, because I have many novels that I want to write, and although progress on this one has slowed to a crawl, it's not a result of some inner conflict or lack of motivation or knowing what to do next - I know exactly what I want to do when I reach the current "end" of the manuscript and I'm itching to get there. Right now, I'm around 3/4 of the way through, setting things in place that will hopefully result in a richer, more complete novel. It's just that I find this bit somewhat more than tedious, essential though it is.

    On a brighter note, I've rearranged my working conditions by updating to a new monitor from one that's nudging about 8 years old. The relief to my eyes is significant, and because the monitor is wide (29" wide), photo editing (which I also enjoy) is much easier. And I canput 2 A4 pages side-by-side and still have room left over for toolbars, and whathaveyou.
     
  13. Michael Pless
    Offline

    Michael Pless Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2014
    Messages:
    211
    Likes Received:
    62
    Location:
    Australia
    I think I'm now making some decent progress. I've been reviewing what I have so far, to ensure I'm setting up subsequent action appropriately. It seems to be better, although I feel I'm only at first draft stage, with not enough detail, and I've been toying with a few name-changes for some larger aggregates of countries.

    I've also almost doubled the word count from when I started this journal, adding a couple of sections. I'm at the stage now where I can start to set up a series of events to make my Protagonist's life a little more interesting. Essentially, what I have is: initiating action in the form of a corpse; and as a complication, the disappearance/capture of the P's close friends all by my evil Antagonist; several sub-plots developing nicely ( hope), all of which require attention from the P at some stage or other; another sub-plot is about to raise the stakes higher; and as a consequence, the P's captured friends are again concealed; the P is learning a bit more about himself; there is another complication looming; a major sub-plot (which I hope adds a bit of humour) is along the lines of the woman who swallowed a fly - it's an ongoing problem that can only be solved by creating another one.

    At some stage I will need to reveal the evilness of the A again, and I'm yet to establish just how, although I have a couple of ideas.

    I'm expecting to add significantly to my progress over the next couple of months.
     
  14. Michael Pless
    Offline

    Michael Pless Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2014
    Messages:
    211
    Likes Received:
    62
    Location:
    Australia
    One of the things my lecturers emphasized when creating a novel-length work, was the need to raise the stakes more-or-less constantly, making life increasingly uncomfortable for the protagonist, or at least, not giving him/her time to rest. Think Raiders of the Lost Ark, for example. Currently, my protagonist is about to settle down for the night of the second day of the story. I'm trying to be careful not to overdo it but when I have the leader of the defectors safely ensconced somewhere, but with a soldier still loyal to the cruel regime, I couldn't help myself. The protagonist decides to look in on the defector, only to find. . . well, a number of alternatives occurred to me, but I've decided it's easier to keep control of the story if the loyalist escapes and ties-up the defector. I was toying with the defector torturing the loyalist, but discarded it as ultimately unworkable; I also toyed with the defector actually being a double-agent but it was just getting too complex.

    If anyone can find a book The Springers by Berkley Mather, it's worth reading just to find how complex a plot can be, and how unsatisfying the resolution, because of it.

    My output hasn't been significant of late but with the passage of time, solutions to issues and worthwhile directions to take the story are occurring to me. I have been making progress, though. Just not enough as I'd like.

    Situation normal, then.
     
  15. Michael Pless
    Offline

    Michael Pless Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2014
    Messages:
    211
    Likes Received:
    62
    Location:
    Australia
    It's nice to report a decent amount of output - in this case I've got around 10kilowords down in the week since my last addition to this thread.

    The writing quality isn't that great (it lacks real depth and detail right now), but I feel that the story I'm telling is not just interesting, but a worthwhile part of the overall novel. I ended up with some conflict between the loyalist and my protagonist (as mentioned last week) and this has added another corpse to the body count. I've also used this scene to show more about my protagonist, his abilities, and his inner conflicts. I'm setting-up for the denouement as I go, and also giving myself some scope for the defector to be not-what-he seems, or in fact, someone who proves to be of real benefit to the colonists: I'll decide exactly what I'm going to do with him eventually.

    I'm at the stage where I can again increase the tension the protagonist has to operate under, by introducing someone who conflicts with him, plus in the following chapter, a severe problem arises that lets me discuss an issue dear to many Aussies (and others around the world). The sub-plot I mentioned on April 17 comes to the fore again, further complicating my protagonist's life.

    My preferred software is still WriteItNow, because I don't wish to have a scattering of files that I need to open, or have to go scrolling up and down a long manuscript while I'm still creating it. A forthcoming version has some wonderful additions, and has been invaluable to me, in keeping track of everything I'm doing.

    I'm still following the Author's Salon 6-act structure, my faith in that remaining undiminished.

    But most importantly, I'm delighted that I'm finally getting to be truly productive again.
     
  16. Michael Pless
    Offline

    Michael Pless Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2014
    Messages:
    211
    Likes Received:
    62
    Location:
    Australia
    A relatively poor week sees my output at around 7 kilowords, but then, I've had a few other things on my plate. As I go, I've been compiling something of a to Do list, as issues occur to me.

    Story structure still seems okay, and I'm about to build on the complication for the defector (him not being entirely as he seems), and I killed-off the antagonist’s brother. This adds to the pressure on the protagonist (although he wasn't directly responsible for the death, he started the action that resulted in it) and he's starting to get stressed, plus those around him are getting increasingly fearful for him and also of, the antagonist.

    In all, things are still cooking along, and I hope I can continue the rate of output. If I do, then I can expect the first draft completed by August. Then the really hard work begins, with reworking the prose, examining the plot for holes, adding detail, omitting needless words (I'm a Strunk and White fan), and so on. It's an exhausting process, considering I have other responsibilities and I write only part time, and anyone who tries to tell me it's easy is clearly uninformed and I shall promptly straighten them out. Still, there's an outside chance that this time next year I'll be on my third novel, and I can (however temporarily) say goodbye to New Eden for a while.

    I got this idea, y'see...
     
  17. Michael Pless
    Offline

    Michael Pless Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2014
    Messages:
    211
    Likes Received:
    62
    Location:
    Australia
    73 kilowords in, and I'm feeling progress was still acceptable over the past 3 weeks, because I've added about 21 kilowords, or one per day. It's all pretty much first draft, so when I review it, adding detail and depth to the manuscript, it will swell. The story takes place on a remote planet, so I need to work hard to give a strong sense of place.

    My habit is to write prose, avoiding dialogue, but a lecturer hammered into me that I should never miss an opportunity to include dialogue. So from time to time, I have to backtrack once I realise what I've not done, and basically swap out the prose. I must be something of a slow learner.

    I'm still able to raise the stakes, and have introduced a character who not only does that but clashes strongly with the protagonist (Steve). This occurs almost immediately after the death I mentioned in my previous post so the pressure is building quite rapidly. There is more to come, but I'll make sure he can handle it all. Steve's family and friends and colleagues are there to help him out as well.
     
  18. Michael Pless
    Offline

    Michael Pless Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2014
    Messages:
    211
    Likes Received:
    62
    Location:
    Australia
    Words are still flowing, and I feel the story is proceeding according to my admittedly far-too-rough plan. I have dialogue where I believe it needs to be, I think, and my efforts to give each speaker a unique voice also seems to be going okay. I compiled a dossier (some briefer than others, according to the importance of each character) for them and within this, I try to include speech and physical mannerisms. I was taught that the goal is to make each person's dialogue distinctive enough that a reader knows who's speaking without there being a need to do so. I still make that clear, here and there, just so I can be sure I don't lose the reader.

    A lecturer had me just write, when I did my first year in novel-writing, and some 60 kilowords later, he handed back my printed work (we used printers, in those days!) and it was quite a stack. He said that the discipline that got such prodigious output would stay with me. I feel he was partly right. For some (me included), there has to be a discipline to writing, and I guess this is why so many "writing" programs have daily word targets or something similar. I always thought these targets were unnecessary and have never used the feature, but I guess, as a part-time writer I still need to focus on completing the work. But I don't always write every day, nor is my output consistent. There are times when I'm considering very deeply, one particular, and important aspect of a story and it can take me days to resolve it. I don't for a second believe I've wasted my time in not writing. (Increasingly though, I do feel I should have spent more time planning my work.) Returning to my lecturer, he may well have started writing because he had a story to tell (and this one certainly did), but I got deeply into writing because I love it. I love the language, and I love using it. I delight in creating a phrase that I feel will tweak a reader's imagination, and I want nothing more than to create a piece that resonates with a reader, staying with them for a long time, and making them hungry for more.

    So far, only nine people have bought Cast Into New Eden, but those who have, truly enjoyed it. That makes it worthwhile (although more would, obviously, be better), and is the spur for the sequel.

    Thanks for reading. I'd best get back into it.;)
     
  19. Michael Pless
    Offline

    Michael Pless Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2014
    Messages:
    211
    Likes Received:
    62
    Location:
    Australia
    I'm feeling rather pleased with the sustained output, with some 30,kilowords down since mid-late April. But the pleasing thing to me is not just the quantity, but the way the story is developing. I feel that it's interesting, with events occurring at opportune moments.

    Although I plan my work to a reasonable amount, there is still some "organic" development occurring. I feel this is not a bad thing, because I create characters, place them in situations, and at some stage in the writing, I feel that "no, my character wouldn't do that, s/he would do this," or "this seems a better flow of events than what I originally intended."

    And indeed, that is what has happened in the past week. There is more action than ever, and the story is becoming richer as well. My protagonist is discovering more scope for conflict (and embracing them), plus the directions I could have taken the story in are coalescing into a single, but complex strand. An added character turns out to be rather corrupt and will clash with the antagonist at some stage, perhaps in a catastrophic manner. This is in addition to clashing with my protagonist, Steve.

    I've also been spending a fair bit of time reviewing the manual for Write It Now - version 5 of which has just been released - and as far as manuals go, I think it's superb and an excellent companion to the software, which I use for my novel. I'm still helping to refine WIN, because the creator(s) are receptive to some of my suggestions. I can’t imagine I would find creating such a complex work so straightforward with just a wordprocessor - there are just too many things to create, employ, and keep track of.

    That said, although I haven't been as clinical and methodical in this work as I will be in subsequent novels - I'm still learning my craft - but I don't ever want to spurn the organic elements of my writing. To a greater or lesser degree, my characters will still have a life of their own, for sure.
     
  20. Michael Pless
    Offline

    Michael Pless Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2014
    Messages:
    211
    Likes Received:
    62
    Location:
    Australia
    It's time for an update! 5kw this week, and things are continuing to hum along. I'm finding though that one of the parts most dear to me is getting closer too slowly for my liking - not that I think I'm waffling or just filling-in because there is much plot detail to expose - and I have a hankering to get there. This tends to make me rush forward so some degree of restraint is necessary. I do this in the form of planning: my software has a feature whereby I can create a summary of each scene or chapter, so that I know what I need to accomplish in each. I've got a screengrab here, for those who are interested: https://db.tt/BDxgUuaL

    Obviously, chapters get more generalised information, but the format is similar.

    There are limits to my planning though, and in the scene for the screengrab, I was unsure until I was near the end how I was going to complete it. It seemed appropriate that Steve gets a gun put to his head just as he's about to give Ballantyne his final hiding. So that's what I did, and it further allowed me to expose more of the nature of other, ancillary characters.

    I'm still just "getting it down" with little real attention to the details that I hope will tickle a reader's imagination. That will come in subsequent drafts. As I go, I make a "to so" list of plot parts I need to ensure are consistent. In the first of the series, I got almost halfway before considering the opening and I changed it completely, adding a lot of information and revealing my main character's fears and some of his weaknesses. So just because I'm moving forward, it doesn't mean I've set things in their permanent place.
     
  21. Michael Pless
    Offline

    Michael Pless Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2014
    Messages:
    211
    Likes Received:
    62
    Location:
    Australia
    I'm not too enthused about this week’s progress report. I simply haven't written much at all over the past seven days, just 1.5kwords. There simply hasn't been the time to write, courtesy of:
    • a faulty computer bought for my (youngest) daughter - it proved to be DOA and I've spent perhaps a total of nearly a full working day to get a refund and it still isn't here yet
    • shopping for a replacement has been quite time-consuming because her requirements are quite specific
    • shopping for an investment property or two for my older daughter
    • a multitude of errands and chores around the house
    • partial resurrection of the opening to a novel I started years ago, for a boy I'm coaching. It will not be my next novel, but I wanted his feedback - he will be brutally honest, I'm sure!
    - it's dreadful when life impinges on more important things! <smile>

    My feeling is that the novel is still proceeding well, in terms of structure, and I have found a way to foreshadow a dark event, should I decide to include it. The more I write, the better I get to know my characters and so too, my understanding of their reactions and overall behaviour increases. Hopefully this makes for a more credible read.

    I think I'm still on track to finish the first draft by around September, and then the real work begins. Somehow I must find time to review and amend my first novel because it is flush with typos. Self-editing is one of the hardest tasks around. There are good reasons why proof-reading is (or was) a career.
     
  22. Michael Pless
    Offline

    Michael Pless Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2014
    Messages:
    211
    Likes Received:
    62
    Location:
    Australia
    I don't subscribe to the "you must write every single day" directive. I try to write each day, but sometimes I just lack the energy or time or both. I truly enjoy writing, but I won't sit at a keyboard and just hammer out something because I have to. That strikes me as wasteful.

    That said, it seems I'm back in the groove, as it were. Output has been steady if unremarkable over the past week, but as I write, I develop ideas for ways to address issues of plot, and am happy with that aspect of it. Solutions to holes in the plot occur readily, and I'm now looking to choose the ones that I think will blend in easily and maintain suspension of disbelief.

    The antagonist hasn't made an appearance for some time, but he's on everyone's mind, but in terms of causing trouble for the protagonist, there is a sub-plot that's keeping the heat building. The sub-plot provides a very useful means of rounding-off an issue or two. I was initially uncertain as to the value of the sub-plot, but as I progressed, it became essential.

    A theme I'm soon to be writing about will enter the manuscript soon, and then things start to come to a head: some illegal immigrants enter the story, the protagonist's friends need to be rescued but he now needs to find them first; the sub-plot I mentioned above contributes to stress levels, and also brings another sub-plot to completion. All this will add dramatically to the manuscript length but I can see a way forward, so as someone once said, more or less, I need only find the right words and put them in order.
     
  23. Michael Pless
    Offline

    Michael Pless Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2014
    Messages:
    211
    Likes Received:
    62
    Location:
    Australia
    Having hit 101 kw, I'm chuffing along quite nicely. I'm into what to me was the most important part of the story, because here at a town meeting, I can get into some local attitudes towards refugees. I'm searching through whatever sources I can find for politician's quotes on the subject, as well as other commentators. Some I'll put in verbatim (the juicier ones, of course), but others I'll paraphrase. There's a lot out there.

    This meeting takes place just on the second major turning point, and I can again build pressure on my protagonist. This also forces the story in an unexpected direction.

    My antagonist hasn't made an appearance for quite a while, and I've made note that I need to backtrack and give him more pages, because I think right now, he's become a bit nebulous - like the Boogie Man - and I need him to be closer to the reader's thoughts. But that's what rewrites are all about. There's other things in the manuscript that will need my attention on the rewrite, and my To Do list is getting lengthy. But that's better than me rowing along, pretending everything is perfect.

    I sit at my laptop and write. I change location in the house from time to time, but presently, though the sun is shining, it's cold enough outside to warrant a fire inside. I have some ANC in-ear headphones on and I listen to random songs from my very large collection of music mostly from before the 1980s, although some of the later stuff appeals. I like Ella Fitzgerald, Dionne Warwick, Eric Clapton, and the criminally-underrated and brilliant Chris Rea, The Beatles, Bee Gees, Joe Cocker, and Enya. Amongst others.
     
  24. Michael Pless
    Offline

    Michael Pless Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2014
    Messages:
    211
    Likes Received:
    62
    Location:
    Australia
    I note that over 850 people have viewed this journal, which I find both gratifying and interesting. The entries are quite general, and I've only made small mention of some of the characters, locations, specific events and so forth, because I felt that was the right way to proceed. But if anyone has any questions about anything I've written here, please feel free to quiz me.
     
    GingerCoffee likes this.
  25. GingerCoffee
    Offline

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2013
    Messages:
    17,605
    Likes Received:
    5,879
    Location:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    It hadn't dawned on me until now to even look at how many people have looked at different progress journals. :bigoops: That is very gratifying. Not that people who have fewer views are any less interesting, there are a lot of very interesting people in this forum.
     
    Michael Pless likes this.

Share This Page