Nastyjman's progress journal

Discussion in 'Progress Journals' started by nastyjman, Sep 13, 2015.

  1. nastyjman

    nastyjman Senior Member

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    Haven't updated my journal in a while.

    I'm still finalizing the last edits for two short stories. Maybe in a week or so, they'll be finally done. Once I'm done with that, I'm aiming to work on another novel.

    With regards to process, I'm going to experiment and try out "progress tracking." It is what it sounds like: I'll be tracking my word count per day and also my words per hour. I've never actively kept track of my word count. I only make a mental note of how much I did in a day, and that's about it. The number floats in the ether of my mind, rounded off by the nearest hundreds.

    I'm going to use a spreadsheet for this. Good thing I'm already adept in Excel sheets (thanks to my day-job).
     
  2. nastyjman

    nastyjman Senior Member

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    Short stories are all done, and on top of that, I also wrote a new short for an anthology. If the anthology takes my short story, that will be my very first published short story (crossing fingers).

    The "progress tracker" is working great. Not only does it keep track of my daily word count and words per hour, it's also keeping track of how many minutes I devote on each process. Since I'm good at fiddling around an excel spreadsheet (it's part of my day job), I've created a formula where it tells me how many hours I spend in writing, revising and line editing. I think this is helpful because it gives me an idea on what areas I need improving on.

    Along with the "progress tracker," I've also created a "submission tracker." I had one previously, but I made the mistake of creating a sheet per story. Now, I'm putting it all on one sheet and using auto-filters to sort through the submissions and rejects and what-not. It looks like a mess at first glance, but with some finagling and spreadsheet wizardry, I can make it coherent out of the chaos.

    Finally, I've also created a "rejection rant free-writing" file for myself. It's my habit to free-write for five minutes before writing or editing my manuscript. I'm listening to a podcast called "Creative Penn Podcast," and on the episode where the host interviewed the author of DIY MFA, she mentioned something about an angst jar. This spawned an idea in my head and then took it for myself. Instead of an angst jar, I will have the rejection rant doc file.

    Since creating the rejection rant file, I've submitted six of my short stories to publications. I've yet to fill my rejection rant file since I'm still waiting for a response (which are most likely rejections).

    Anyway, those are my progress so far. Since I'm done with my short stories, I'm prepping for the final edit on my novel. With the rate of how I edit (thanks to the data from my progress tracker), I'll be finished with the line edits in two months. As always, my goalpost is my birthday. So long as I finish my novel before that, then I'm good.
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2016
  3. nastyjman

    nastyjman Senior Member

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    I apologized to my beta readers about the 3rd draft they received. As I'm doing my line edits on it, I found that there's a lot of crap in it (grammatical errors, repetitions, redundancies, typos, etc.). It must have been a pain in the ass to plow through that.

    Anyway, lesson learned. I should have requested the beta reading when the manuscript was line edited. I did make revisions on the 3rd draft, but that revision was more of a developmental editing. I focused more on the structure of the story, the scenes within it and continuity. That means the sentences and grammar might be skimmed over for the sake of structure.

    With this final draft, I am aiming to fix the sentence level issues, making it a readable experience.

    But I'm learning stuff along the way. I think the big takeaway from this project is my writing process. I'm constantly refining it, and I think I'm finally understanding how my process works. I hope by the time I write my second book, I'll make it less of a chore and more of a rewarding process.

    Another thing I learned is my overuse of facial expressions (wide eyed, clenched jaw, squinting, raising an eyebrow, gagging). I'm crossing almost all of them and replacing them with body language or actual thoughts. I was afraid that I was going to be angry at myself with these awful mistakes, but I took it as an opportunity to teach myself the flaws and weaknesses in my writing. I can't beat myself up; I need to learn.
     
  4. nastyjman

    nastyjman Senior Member

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    First phase of the Final Draft is nearly done. I'm at page 245 of 299.

    With this first novel nearing its finality, I'm beginning to see what my writing process is currently. I'm happy with it, but if things change for the better on the next book, then I will happily adjust it.

    Right now, I'm thinking of phases. On Final Drafts, I have three phases. First phase is line editing with paper and red ink. I'll read through my print out, make notes, make edits and do some strike-throughs. Second phase is revision. Basically, I'll revise the draft with the changes I had made on the print out. Every six pages, I will stop and read the revision I made out loud, so I can revise even further when my words stumble around my mouth. Finally, third phase is final read out. I'll read the manuscript again, searching for typos, and then read it out loud.

    I've applied these phases on my short stories, and this would be the first time I'm applying it to a novel. Hope it will work out well.
     
  5. nastyjman

    nastyjman Senior Member

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    Finished the 1st phase of the final draft. There's a lot of red ink edits on the thing, and I feel embarrassed sending the 3rd draft to my beta readers.

    My rule now for my process is to fully finish the novel before sending it out to any beta readers.

    Taking a break from my novel this week, but will resume work on New Years Day . I will be applying all the edits I had made on the print out and will also read them out loud every chapter. I plan on doing 10 pages a day, so that will take me approximately 30 days to finish.
     
  6. nastyjman

    nastyjman Senior Member

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    Halfway there! I'm 50% done with the final draft of my novel.

    I think I'm on schedule to finish it before my birthday. But if I don't make it at that time, then it's okay. At least I've finished something, and that in itself would be a great birthday gift to myself.

    I also learned something while I'm doing my line edits. Previously, I would read off from the screen and stumble at times since my eyes are quick. I would garble my words up even though I had already fixed the sentence for flow.

    I was doing research on how to read your work out loud, and I came across a tip that suggest you use a pacer. Pacers can either be your finger moving through your text as a guide. Since I'm doing this on the screen, I didn't want to leave fingerprints on it. So instead of a finger, I'm using a long book, held sideways which covers the bottom half of the manuscript. It works well, and I don't stumble and garble my own words because my eyes were too impatient.

    I noticed that my words per hour improved, and it really helps in rooting out problematic sentences.

    Anyway, best luck to all. Keep writing!
     
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  7. nastyjman

    nastyjman Senior Member

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    I'm 66% done with the final draft of my novel. Although the process has been painful, I am learning a lot from it. It's also giving me a lot of confidence on partaking on another novel, which won't be the sequel for this book I'm working on.

    Anyone who's struggling with their book, I say this: push on. Even if you think it's crap, push on. Think of the effort and sweat and tears you put into it as tuition fee.

    Keep writing.
     
  8. nastyjman

    nastyjman Senior Member

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    The final draft of my novel is finally done!

    What a journey, but I'm far from finished though. I still need cover art and an effective blurb.

    Also, anyone want to beta read this baby? Here's the elevator pitch I currently have:

    Twin brothers, who have the ability to transmit injuries to one another, fight crime in the belief that they are superheroes. But they soon find out why superheroes do not exist. The twin brothers must face The Purity Project, an old organization with the mission to preserve humanity and to cull mutants as soon as they're born.
     
  9. Lew

    Lew Member Supporter Contributor

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    There is not a feeling better than finishing the first draft, except for actually holding the final published version in your hand. For cover I recommend Fiona Jayde Media, she did a fine job on mine for the Eagle and the Dragon, advertised in this site
     
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  10. nastyjman

    nastyjman Senior Member

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    Thank you so much Lew!
     
  11. nastyjman

    nastyjman Senior Member

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    One short story down, three more to go.

    Took me two weeks to finish one, from the first draft to the sellable manuscript. Initially 3500 words, whittled down to 2700.

    I love writing short stories because it's exploratory and also it helps me refine my writing process. I think I've got my writing process pat down, but I still want to test out other processes. Just last night, while reading Dean Wesley's Writing in the Dark, he suggested doing an outline as you go. I've never done that before, and his tips on how to do one got me excited.

    I'm itching to write a new story so I can test out the outline as you go. However, I am editing a short story currently.
     
  12. nastyjman

    nastyjman Senior Member

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    Finished the second draft of a short story. That should be all done hopefully by the end of this week. Once that's completed, I'll have two shorts to market.

    Market...

    I'm starting to look into the whole business side of writing. I have one novel complete, but I'm still waiting on a response from a publisher. If they say, "okay," then that's cool. If they say, "nay," then I'm going to set up shop for self-publishing.

    First order of business is renting a PO Box. Why? Well, I need to set up a mailing list, and to have a mailing list, you will need to provide a physical address. Current law is this--if you are sending out emails to people, you must show the physical address of the business. I am not going to share my actual residence, so I will need to get a PO Box.

    Second order of business? Book cover! And I'll be designing it too (gasp). Thankfully, my husband is a photographer and a graphics designer.

    If I do go the self-publishing route, I can finally use books as a tax deduction (I think).

    We'll see how that goes.
     
  13. nastyjman

    nastyjman Senior Member

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    I'm refining my writing process with these short stories. The last two shorts are looking great, and my revision process has become painless, so to speak. My aim right now as a writer is to master my writing process. Despite having the steps written down on an outline, I'm always thinking of ways to refine it and make my process better. And to do that, I should always be learning.

    I am ready for the next novel project. Once I have the two short stories done, I'm aiming to write the sequel of "No Heroes", which would be titled "No Villains".
     
  14. nastyjman

    nastyjman Senior Member

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    Officially started on novel number two today. Wrote about 1,100 words.

    This will be the sequel to my first book, which I'm still waiting on a response from a publisher.

    From my article post called, "Compass (A Rough Outline Method)," I tweaked it a bit for this novel. Here is the following compass for the sequel:


    Inciting incident
    • Theo successfully suppressing Ezra through false memories
      • But then Susan retrieves him
        • But then all of the “suppressed” mutations emerge as well.
          • Theo/Ezra escapes
    Protagonist initial Goal
    • To rescue Ezra
    • To rescue Caylee
    • To destroy Theo’s consciousness
    Antagonists Goal/s
    • Theo needs to return to HQ
    • The three wants to kill Theo/Ezra
    • HQ needs to brainwash Caylee

    Potential Climaxes/Endings
    • Caylee healing Aries after a deadly battle, but Caylee dies.
    • The Purity Project is dismantled, but the Awakening is triggered (anyonr who is affected by it will get powers)

    Potential Middle Images
    • Two muties in a mall, spreading their powers to normal people. The people get knocked out, and when they wake up they’ll have powers.

    Other notes
    • The passthrough: After the awakening of the others in Theo/Ezra, the twins can transfer the absorbed people’s memories and their powers.
     
  15. nastyjman

    nastyjman Senior Member

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    Wrote about 1,200 words last night.

    I'm currently tweaking my process, and I think I'm enjoying how it's progressing.

    When I wrote my first novel, I was literally a pantser, the whole novel only hinged on one idea alone, which is "twins transferring sensations to one another." With this second novel, I'm keeping track of the beats I wrote. So, let's say, I wrote 1,200 words and I'm done for the day, I will then make a beat list of what I wrote, and I'll use that as a quick reference on the next writing session.

    Along with the beat list, I will also give myself one or two scene teasers. Since I follow the Scene/Sequel format, I will make notes for myself what the next two scenes are, but I won't tell myself what the outcomes are.

    For example:

    INCITING INCIDENT: Theo/Ezra is in a coma
    GOAL: Aries needs to enter their consciousness so he can rescue Ezra from the false memories.
    CONFLICT: But Ezra is comfortable with the false memories and doesn't want to leave.
    OUTCOME: ???

    So I tease myself on what will happen, but won't tell myself how it will end. This gives my creative mind something to play around with.
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2017
  16. nastyjman

    nastyjman Senior Member

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    Started late tonight, so I only wrote 770 words. I had to make note of changes that needed to be made for the current scene to work.

    I don't change any past scenes; I only make note of what needs to change. I need to push forward, get the first draft out and then make it shine on the revision phase.
     
  17. nastyjman

    nastyjman Senior Member

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    Wrote 1,031 words tonight.

    I'm getting into the groove of the story. I will be sharing my current process tomorrow morning or afternoon (depending how slow it is at work). Basically it's about pantsers becoming outliners. :supershock:
     
  18. nastyjman

    nastyjman Senior Member

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    As promised, here's the blog entry for "Pantsing The Story With Outlines." You can click this link if you want to check it out on my blog: http://jonmayo.blogspot.com/2017/05/pantsing-story-with-outlines.html

    ---

    I’m excited to write my next novel. Excited because not only do I get to live vicariously through my characters again, but I’ll also get to experiment with a new writing process. I have learned much from writing the first novel, and I’ve been refining the process through short stories. With those, I’m ready to embark on the second novel.

    Now it might sound like an oxymoron to say “pantsing with outlines,” but after you read this blog post, you’ll realize that it’s not.

    So--

    There are two processes I am experimenting with: beat list and scene teasers.

    First one is beat list. I got this idea from Dean Wesley Smith. I had recently read his book called “Writing in the Dark”, a book about writing by the seat of your pants. What I’ve gathered is that Dean would summarize what he had written after a writing session. Along with the summary, he would also make note of the scene’s time and location.

    I like this idea because I had problems with my first novel with regards to knowing where I am in the story. To get me back in the writing groove, I would read the last three pages of the manuscript, which would cut into my writing time. With a summary handy, I can just glance at it and immediately remember where I’d left off.

    Also, if I ever break my arm or something else that would put my writing on hiatus, I’ll have a summary waiting for me. That was one of my concerns with pantsing without an outline: If shit suddenly hits the fan, I would have to read through my manuscript just to get back into the groove.

    With that said, here’s what the beat list looks like:

    [​IMG]

    Chapter tells you what the chapter number is for the beats. Date, Time and Location is (obviously) the date, time and location of the chapter or beats.

    The columns Beat 1 and Beat 2 are for the beats themselves. I am following Robert McKee’s format on notating beats. The format looks like this: Character VERB-ING this or that. So for example, Barry PLACING his hands on Theo.

    For every action there is reaction and more action. You will notice the progression of beats on the above screenshot.

    The Notes and Revision Notes column are basically notes I leave for myself with regards to previous chapters or beats. It can have any type of note, and one type of note I make is “retcon notes.”

    What’s a retcon note? Well, if a past scene or chapter needs to be drastically changed, I’ll make note of it, but will write forward as if the change had been already made. I don’t go back to fix or change scenes; I save that for the revision phase. Momentum is key, and having a first draft finished is very important. You don’t want to be trapped in an endless loop of revisions.

    Alright. Second experiment is teasers.

    This one I discovered although I doubt I’m alone in this. On the bottom of the manuscript, I will write down what the next two scenes or sequels are. Here’s a screenshot:



    [​IMG]



    You will notice that I follow the Scene/Sequel format. If you don’t know what that is, check these links out: Scene & Sequel.

    Once I’ve completed writing the scene or sequel, I will delete the teaser and move to the next. After my writing session, I will write down what the next teasers are, preparing me for the next writing session. Often, I will really tease myself by not writing down a scene’s outcome or a sequel’s decision.

    I limit it to two teasers because I don’t want to overplan. Like what E.L. Doctorow said: “Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”

    So those are the processes that I’m experimenting on. Over time I will refine and enhance it. I am still pantsing my story (because I love writing with uncertainty), but I build my outlines as I go along. Now, “pantsing with outlines” doesn’t sound like an oxymoron anymore, does it?
     
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  19. Stormburn

    Stormburn Contributor Contributor

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    Wow. This fantastic information! Thanks for working so hard in putting this out.
    Your blog is great too.
     
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  20. nastyjman

    nastyjman Senior Member

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    Thanks! I like sharing writing processes, and I love reading about them.
     
  21. nastyjman

    nastyjman Senior Member

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    Wrote 1,200 words today. I think I can do more on the weekends, but then again I do want to finish reading It. That thing is huge and amazing!
     
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  22. nastyjman

    nastyjman Senior Member

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    Little victories!

    I had sent a query letter for "No Heroes" a month ago, which included the first three chapters. I got a response today, and they are now asking for the full manuscript. :D Hoping for the best.
     
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  23. nastyjman

    nastyjman Senior Member

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    Wrote 750 words last night. Also, I sent the full manuscript to the publisher. I have to wait approximately 12 weeks to get a verdict from them (crossing my fingers). By then, I should be finished with the first draft of novel number two.
     
  24. nastyjman

    nastyjman Senior Member

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    Only did 600 words last night because we had to do some shopping for the kitchen (rice cooker busted; needed to get a new one).

    Regarding process, I am again experimenting on something. If you look at this post (http://jonmayo.blogspot.com/2017/05/pantsing-story-with-outlines.html), you'll see that I'm writing teasers on the bottom of my manuscript.

    I found that I sometimes ignore it or I just scrap it entirely because something better came up during daydreaming at work (I do that a lot). Also, there are moments where I daydream about the chain of scenes that would progress, and I have to keep them in mind until I write their teasers down. But I have imposed a two teaser rule, so anything beyond that is stuck in my noggin until I have to write the scene.

    Too much rules imposed, and I barely utilize it anyway. So I read about outlining through index cards, and I read more about it. Basically, instead of outlining with a doc file, you just put them on an index card, one scene per card.

    This gave me an idea to combine my teasers with index cards outlining. Basically, I will write down a scene or sequel on an index card, and at the back of it I will write some notes and other thoughts. I will do this until I can't imagine or see beyond the last scene or sequel I planned. Essentially I won't force myself to plan or outline towards the ending.

    It's experimental, and we'll see where it goes. I already have three scene/sequels planned, and I'm not sure where it will go after that. But I know as soon as I get to write those scenes/sequels, I will see more on what's ahead.
     
  25. Stormburn

    Stormburn Contributor Contributor

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    That sounds interesting. I'm learning that writing is juggling between planning and writing. Then, throw in time management and I begin to appreciate writers who actually produce work.
     

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