1. Lifeline

    Lifeline South. Staff Contributor

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    Lifeline's Progress Journal 2021

    Discussion in 'Progress Journals' started by Lifeline, Dec 31, 2020.

    So. Goals for the Year 2021—writing related.
    • Make an editing pass through the 25 finished shorts, edit in all those notes I saved, connect timeline dots old and new. This involves outlining the events of each short, figuring out disconnects and remedy them. Write synopses and loglines.
    • Read through the craft books I've bought yesterday. Write a few articles. I'm getting serious, people.
    • Write the remaining shorts in my two compilations Duty and Aptitude.
    • Write the connect between the end of Duty and Aptitude and...
    • Figure out how I want to publish and then hit the button.
    • Start writing the novel.
    ETA: List of shorts for progress and accountability purposes: https://www.writingforums.org/threads/lifelines-progress-journal-2021.168256/page-3#post-1903784
    ETA: List of good writing craft books: https://www.writingforums.org/threads/lifelines-progress-journal-2021.168256/#post-1898286
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2021
  2. Lifeline

    Lifeline South. Staff Contributor

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    This morning, wrote the outline of 'Shatranj' formerly 'Left of Right', the first short in the timeline, situated in 1971 Persia. As much as I like the former title, it didn't fit with the storyline; not as much as the current title does. For all who don't know, Shatranj is the old Persian way of playing chess. The biggest difference to our modern chess is the lack of a queen. I like the irony, because at the end of this short, Liam'll have found his queen.

    The former 'Left of Right' suffers from a number of issues, most glaring that the romance angle isn't as sharp as I'd wish. Root cause: Liam's character arch is incomplete. I failed to include a transition between start and end o_O. Really, I should have known better.

    Also, particularly aggravating, I failed to make the ending as HFN (happy for now) as it could be. It suffers from being too abrupt. There should be a warm glow building in readers as they approach the ending, a slow burn that bursts into flame at the last sentence. So far it doesn't. That's the fault of not enough foreshadowing, using symbols from Persian customs, getting interpreted at a visceral level by Liam (and hence experienced by the reader).

    I've started to read (again) 'The Emotional Craft of Writing' by Donald Maas, because first time around not enough of it stuck in my mind. And, again, did a ton of researching for this outline. This night, I'll start the edit round.
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2021
  3. Lifeline

    Lifeline South. Staff Contributor

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    1k in 'Shatranj'.

    I must say, this rewrite (and it's growing into a rewrite, very much) makes for a much clearer defined—and more sympathetic character as far as the reader's concerned—Liam Hall.

    First time around, I never realised what a perfect line Mohammad Reza (the Shah of Persia, until he'll get forcibly abdictated later) gives me to all kinds of cross-connections between politics and Liam's views towards his son Alexander later on; the most visible of which lays the groundwork for Liam's aversion against all kinds of flying. Apparently Mohammad Reza was the worst kind of pilot: One who insisted he could fly, even when he didn't have the ability required. But no one told him 'No' o_O. I read an account of a terrifying touchdown at Tehran, where Mohammad Reza insisted on taking the controls, terrifying his Generals and his wife Soraya.

    I'll just plock down Liam in this plane, too, shall I? :D
     
  4. Lifeline

    Lifeline South. Staff Contributor

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    Not much done, only 1.6k in 'Shatranj'. But at least I finished the chess match (over phone) and Liam's about to go out.

    I'm dissatisfied with... something. Maybe it's the fault of the romance genre. No one goes out with the absolute, unwavering commitment to find a soul mate, or else. There's no 'or else', not yet. So, how do romance authors raise stakes that the MC can't avoid taking? Or does this only happen after they've found someone intriguing? If so, than my pitiful attempt at writing romance will qualify, because it's only after he meets Khadija that he'll stumble into a point of no return. But he's so passive before, needs to be prodded with a stick into action, the stick being his friend back in the states o_O. Shouldn't there be stakes before?

    I much prefer writing action.
     
  5. Steve Rivers

    Steve Rivers Contributor Contributor

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    Turn it into a scifi romance - their species biology means that if he doesn't mate by the time he's 19 he'll die. STAKES RISEN! :D hehe (i kid i kid!) (EDIT - also, I bet there's an entire horde of horny teenagers that would sympathize with that character! :) I think I just got an idea for a new YA novel..... )
     
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  6. Dogberry's Watch

    Dogberry's Watch Swaggin like a Baggins Contributor

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    I made the mistake of thinking romance was easy to write, but then I understood there has to be substance behind it and it can't be rainbow onesies all the time. I feel like that's such an obvious thing to realize, but it knocked me back a few pegs for being so full of myself, hahaha.

    I wish you luck on this! Romance in an otherwise not romantic story is tricky.
     
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  7. Lifeline

    Lifeline South. Staff Contributor

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    3.3k in 'Shatranj'.

    Liam's fallen in love. Irredeemable, irrationally. With a young girl not his age, station, experience, or culture. Nevertheless. Music transcends borders.

    Tomorrow I'll watch their world come apart.

    Thank you @Dogberry's Watch :)
     
  8. Lifeline

    Lifeline South. Staff Contributor

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    4k in 'Shatranj'.

    This time around, I feel a happy bubble in my chest so I guess this version is already better than the first draft. It's so cute seeing Liam smitten. Him asking his housekeeper about marriage customs was a sight to see. He's planning every step like a chessmatch. Only the real world has a habit of not following his script :D

    I finished the 'Emotional Craft of Writing' (Donald Maas) and yesterday, also a book on outlining. It proved a waste of time as I've discovered by myself every accumulated wisdom in this book. Then I started on Steven King's 'On Writing'. I hope the second part proves of more use than the first one.
     
  9. Dogberry's Watch

    Dogberry's Watch Swaggin like a Baggins Contributor

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    I found it difficult to appreciate this one. I've never really gotten into his work, but I wanted to read that one since he's so prolific. It left me wanting something else.
     
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  10. Lifeline

    Lifeline South. Staff Contributor

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    I'm starting to think you're right @Dogberry's Watch . I'm three quarters through, and the gems of wisdoms are far and few between. Mind, he gives good advise for a beginner writer, but he tells me nothing new in an entertaining way o_O.

    I hope the next craft book will be better. I'm starting to get annoyed with them. So far, the ones who've been worth their money are
    • The Emotional Craft of Writing (Maas)
    • Self Editing for Fiction Writers (Browne)
    • Techniques of the Selling Writer (Swain)
    • Writing the Heart of the Story (Larkin) (finished, moved up here)
    • Save the Cat (Snyder) (finished, moved up here)
    • Writing the Breakout Novel (Maas)
    • Structuring your Novel: Essential Keys (Weiland) (finished, moved up here, with reservations)
    I'm not listing the ones I've found unnecessary. Someone else might appreciate them.

    To be read are
    • Writing 21st Century Fiction (Maas)
    I'm doing my editing round, which counts as draft, 2. Reason why I've suddenly decided to brush up on theory is that I don't want to have to do another draft: next round should be line editing. So I'd better make sure my structure's sound and clear. Ergo: I read up, even if it grates on my nerves. Should have done it when I started writing, back in 2015, but... big picture stuff I discovered myself (not the most graceful, nor the most direct path to getting better at writing but there you have it), and I probably wouldn't have been in a position to appreciate the importance of small sidenotes in one of the craft books. Now I do.

    I'm going to count my blessings. *one* :p
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2021
  11. Lifeline

    Lifeline South. Staff Contributor

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    5.3k in 'Shatranj'.

    Liam has found his breaking point, has made his decision. Next, he'll have to face the music. Tomorrow I expect some editing, but the bones are there. There'll be some highly charged tension beats and the inevitable downfall before... well a romance should have happy end by definition :)

    Tomorrow. Maybe I'll finish this short.
     
  12. SNJade96

    SNJade96 Senior Member

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    I've read some of Weiland's other stuff, and it was more bits of advice that would be useful for a beginning writer but not really for anyone seasoned. I haven't read that one, though, so maybe it'll have something new.
     
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  13. Lifeline

    Lifeline South. Staff Contributor

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    I don't object to reading beginner's stuff—only to pages and pages of padding. I am a beginner writer in the sense that I've never looked closely at any structural topic. I still think that my inbuilt shit-detector will be of more use than a book on structure, but for once in my life I want to be through.

    Yesterday night I started with the Larkin book. It has some drivel as well, but at least it's made me (in chapter 2) stop and think. Which is a rare occurrence indeed these days. Turns out what it advocated I already did, but I didn't do it for its merits—as far as I was concerned, this was just the way my story went. Kudos to my story knowing more about how a story should be structured than me :p

    Now I'll be going writing.
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2021
  14. Lifeline

    Lifeline South. Staff Contributor

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    5.8k in 'Shatranj'.

    The high tension scene is done. There Liam had these grand dreams of courtship, of buying flowers and selecting the best chocolate—he agonised over what to wear—and then what happened? He met Khadija's father in a dirty room where a kid just overdosed. You can't get much farther away from his hopes, in the worst way possible.

    So he found and lost his one true love, gaining... what? He plays the piano again, after more than ten years of it staying silent. It's an expression of loneliness but also, strangely, of hope. I so look forward to his HFN.
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2021
  15. Lifeline

    Lifeline South. Staff Contributor

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    'Shatranj', done at 6.6k

    My first short that I rewrote. Liam has a character arch now, the connection to the next short is there once the reader goes on. It was a special challenge to write the very first short of a compilation. I wanted to hook the reader on rainbows and pink clouds though nothing is perfect and no one expects it really because if so there won't be a story later on; but the present is perfect, very much (I'll give you a hint: It won't be perfect later in the timeline). Let me tell you it was tricky, walking that particular line.

    The reader gets his HFN. All's well with the world. For now.

    Tomorrow, I'll edit 'The Greater Good'. I've not looked it over yet, but as I remember it doesn't have the kind of big issues 'Shatranj' suffered from. It should be good to go with minor edits.

    I'm throwing out a call for Alpha readers for 'Shatranj'. If you want to read and tell me what you think, give me a call. Genre: Romance.
     
  16. Dogberry's Watch

    Dogberry's Watch Swaggin like a Baggins Contributor

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    I'm up for reading!
     
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  17. Lifeline

    Lifeline South. Staff Contributor

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    This morning, I'm outlining 'The Greater Good' and fitting in all the pieces of the puzzle I've identified through the course of the last months. Still happy with the story's structure. Sure, I need to sharpen some angles, but the bones are good.

    The outlining process isn't linear for me. I also think about the last short ('Shatranj'), as well as the following shorts. So it shouldn't come as a surprise that I fell over and for Iranian wedding customs (they are fascinating) by way of procrastination. But what I then discovered hit me hard:

    I found a particular symbol for my bad guys, which fits my theme and storyline—completely, perfectly, with all implications. For one moment, I was elated. Until reality crashed in. This symbol might be perfect for my story, but, BUT, and that's a very big, shouting from the rooftops kind of BUT—it can also be read as a condemnation and judgement of current Iran. With it, I've to be. very. careful.

    My greater storyarc has a theme. It has morals. By 'the end', my readers should understand them on a deeper level than essays and analysis, teachings and interpretations. I'll stand up and be counted.

    I'll use the symbol. But. I'm afraid.
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2021
  18. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Funky like your grandpa's drawers.... Staff Contributor

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    Why? If you're not offending someone at least a little bit, you're probably doing something wrong. How many Iranians are likely to read it anyway?
     
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  19. Lifeline

    Lifeline South. Staff Contributor

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    Are we living in the same world? :D

    By that account, I'll be doing something very right.
     
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  20. Lifeline

    Lifeline South. Staff Contributor

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    'The Greater Good', 2nd draft, editing round.

    I hate editing. It's so much easier just writing new. Unfortunately, I don't need to write this short fresh, only to kill a few words and insert some in their place.

    In between fishing for a few words I'm timelining, which is a made-up word for the process of looking at the timeline and projecting which age people are at a specific time, and making sure that their rank and relationship is believable all through: The major milestone being the age of Alexander and Micah at the start of the novel, at yr 0 (aka 2005); and Liam Hall's rank at this specific date. Does this sound simple to backtrack to yr -33? I thought so as well. Until I factored in all the other secondary characters and event milestones that happen in between.

    The Larkin book holds a few gems of value. I'm still not finished with it.
     
  21. Lifeline

    Lifeline South. Staff Contributor

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    'The Greater Good', 2nd draft, finished.

    Why is it that some days, even though conditions are perfect (it was not too cold out on the balcony so my fingers didn't clam up writing, and the mulled wine was sweet), that some days my mind just can't find words to connect two sentences? Other days, like today, easy peasy.

    I really did good first time around with 'The Greater Good'. Theme and character arc were finished in first draft. I might make another pass through it this evening anyway, because I'll be busy with outlining the next short 'A Man of Peace', which—again—needs a rewrite. I don't know what I thought when I wrote that first draft; probably that I didn't want to write it, had no clear vision of beginning and end so just put some words down and good riddance. Bite me :)
     
  22. Lifeline

    Lifeline South. Staff Contributor

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    Oookayyyyy. I started outlining 'A Man of Peace' and ended up with some research that (maybe?) makes sense for the next short in the timeline, which also needs a rewrite. But I wasn't researching that one. I wanted to know... tries to remember... I can't even remember the original question. Anyway. I now have a list of prison complexes in Iran 1976, compiled by Amnesty International, with competencies and type of prisoners that typically would have been housed there, curtesy of SAVAK (and lots more information I don't want to have). As if I wanted more nightmares.

    In the wake of 'The Greater Good', 'A Man of Peace' shapes up to a big, big lie. It'll be the first short that has the potential to get me into trouble because the timelines diverged at the end of 'The Greater Good', in 1973. Just to state the (hopefully) obvious: I'm writing alternate reality. Alternate reality, hear me folks? It's fiction, through and through. Here's to hoping o_O.
     
  23. Lifeline

    Lifeline South. Staff Contributor

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    Yeah. Well. After a good night's sleep, I know I'm in trouble. I simply can't ignore a well-known figure, and why I did to this day... to exclude him from my timeline would be completely, hopelessly unrealistic. So that's 'A Man of Peace', the title apt and poignant in more ways than the obvious.

    Outlining really has two stages: The first involves thinking about political events and identifying which of them, in what way, I want to have in my short. The second stage is about the individual character and the changes he goes through, the 'character growth' part. Yesterday was all about the political events. Today morning is about character growth. I'll start writing in the evening.

    ETA. Finished 'Writing the Heart of the Story' (Larkin). Despite its tendency to bury Very Important Information (VII) in the middle of a paragraph just before the end of a chapter, I can recommend this book. Made a start on 'Save the Cat' (Snyder) for variety.
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2021
  24. Lifeline

    Lifeline South. Staff Contributor

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    700 words in 'A Man of Peace'.

    Boy, that story is difficult to write. Or maybe my brain's still fried. Will see tomorrow.

    'Save the Cat' shapes up to be of true value. Even if I'm not a screenwriter, storytelling devices don't change that much by medium. His 'thesis', 'antithesis' and 'synthesis' instead of Act I-III (of which I've never been a fan) make all kind of sense.
     
  25. Lifeline

    Lifeline South. Staff Contributor

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    1k in 'A Man of Peace' and the man who must not be named has been referenced. I predict another excruciating evening writing session until I'm at a point where I feel safe again. Okay, that came out wrong. I meant 'safe' as in 'I can switch to writing to my strengths', because the other interpretation is wrong through and through.
     

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