Tag Archives: editing

Let Your Freak Flag Fly

This week I reached the end of my Dirty Little Freaks collection of short stories. The last one was titled The End, but I may change that after editing. The plot, in a nutshell, was about a young man telling about a day that was both the best and worst day of his life. It started out nicely enough, with great weather on a late spring day. He took his girlfriend to a secluded picnic spot on the lake that only he knew about. They swam for a while, then went back to shore to rest. Since it was such a nice day, he fell asleep, and when he woke up his girlfriend was being abducted by three dwarves. He chased them and caught up to them just before they entered the cave that was their lair. He managed to get her out of their clutches and she hailed him as her hero. They both thought it was over, but as they walked away he fell into a pit and a dwarf crushed his skull.

Not my best work, but it wasn’t too bad for something off the top of my head. A lot like most of the stories I wrote over the last year. Most of them only suck because they weren’t thought through before I started writing. They all contain a kernel of a good idea that just needs a little nurturing in order to become great.

So now what?

I’m glad you asked. Over the next few days I think I’ll work on finishing one of the in-between stories that I started when I was ahead of schedule one week. I’ll also be starting to brainstorm some ideas for the novel I plan on writing next year. I would like to have some of the highlights of the new book down on paper before I start writing. It would be a welcome change for me to know a little bit about my characters and where the story is going before I shoot off into another dead-end.

My character idea so far is a reluctant hero. Someone who would rather just be left alone, but circumstances beyond his control drag him out into the world and make him the center of attention. He has to learn how to deal with other people and their problems in order to solve his own.

As far as the plot goes, I have no ideas. I know that it will need to fit in with my intended character arc, but other than that it could be anything. Fantasy, science fiction, horror. Maybe a mix of all three. I might even throw some romance in there if I can figure out how to make it work with the character.

Thanks for sticking with me over the last year as I wrote my stories. I ended up with over 136,000 words and 57 first drafts. And like I said at the beginning of this post, each of them is an idea which can be used to write something better. And maybe someday I will.

That’s it for today. I’ll see you next week to let you know how the planning for the new novel is going. TTFN!

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Be Careful What You Wish For

Last week’s story was supposed to be a Halloween horror story, but it didn’t turn out to be very scary. One more story that needs a lot of work to get to where I wanted it to be.

It started telling about an ordinary man. An insurance agent with nothing special about him. But then he met the woman of his dreams. A beautiful woman who could have been a supermodel or movie star. She told him she was there to buy insurance for her boss. And then, once their business was concluded, she asked him out on a date. Things went well, and eventually he asked her to marry him. She said yes, but on the eve of their wedding her boss called Thomas into his study and stole his body. It had all been a setup. Thomas had been a target from the start.

I think that one of my biggest problems was that I was on a deadline to finish it by Saturday. So instead of taking the time to craft the build up and suspense, I pushed it, especially at the end. Of course, this is something that can be fixed simply by taking the time during edits to fill in those holes.

I don’t know yet what I’ll be writing about this week. Tune in next Sunday to find out!

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The Treaty

Last week my story was about a man trying to work out a treaty between the normal world and the supernatural one. The ongoing war between the humans and the monsters was a nasty business and humanity was losing. But there were some in the supernatural community that only wanted to be recognized with the same rights and privileges as the human citizens, and since they were backed by some pretty powerful creatures our hero was willing to go along with it. This theme was probably inspired by the civil rights issues that our country has been struggling with in recent months, and when it popped out onto the page I decided it was worth following. While I might be a straight, married, middle-aged white male, that doesn’t mean that I can’t support the rights of EVERYONE to have the same privileges I enjoy. I am a firm believer in non-discrimination. I voted for Obama twice and right now my car is sporting an “I’m ready for Hillary” bumper sticker.

Unfortunately, the story was actually pretty rambling and doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. It’s another case of a seed of an idea that needs time to grow and be redone in the future. Maybe I’ll work it into something else someday. At the end of the story (or scene, really) our hero is left alone with the queen of the fae, who wants to seal the deal with sex. But since he has heard stories about mortals losing their minds after sleeping with her he tries to get out of it by saying she can only have him if they get married first. He never expected her to accept.

This week’s story is supposed to be a Halloween-themed horror story. I had an idea for it yesterday, but didn’t write it down right away so most of it slipped away. I think it was something about an ordinary man being targeted by a body-stealing immortal spirit. So far my beginning has this ordinary guy (yes, the word ordinary is being overused, but it’s on purpose) meeting a very extraordinarily beautiful woman. I think she is going to be the one that initiates the process that will lead to his downfall, but I haven’t quite worked out how yet. I guess we’ll find out by the end of the week.

In other news, I hit a milestone of 150 days on my writing chain for the Magic Spreadsheet last week. I’m still going strong, but I have to say I’m getting a little tired of forcing myself to write every single day. Which is probably one of the reasons I’m not participating in NaNoWriMo this year. Another reason is that I don’t really have a project to work on. While I could continue to write my short stories and count those toward the NaNoWriMo goals, I have only been writing 400 words a day and I still remember how difficult it was over the last three years to get those 1667 words per day in for the month of November. Maybe I’ll participate next year.

That’s about it for today. If the goblins don’t get me I’ll be back again next week for another update. Have a safe and happy Halloween, and keep writing!

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Fairy Tale Failure

Last week I tried to write a fairy tale. I started with “Once upon a time” and everything. There was a princess, and a poor farmer, and a witch. But when I got into the story, it just didn’t come together. It also didn’t help that it was a short story that had to be wrapped up in a week. I kind of knew where I was going, but it was taking too long to get there. Once again, I had to wrap up my story at the end of the scene, instead of the end of the story.

While the story may be a failure, the effort certainly was not. If there is one thing I have learned about writing in the years I have been practicing, it is that no writing is worthless. Even if it sucks, the idea be refined, rewritten, and edited until it shines like gold. Even bad writing serves as a lesson of what not to do the next time you sit down with your pen. And so, even though this week’s effort was a loss, I have another idea to add to my edit list, and maybe someday it can be redone into something that I would like to share.

I haven’t started writing this week’s story yet, but I’m hoping that it will be more cooperative. No idea at this time what it will be about. I’ll probably just start writing and see where it takes me. As I have done so many times before.

I hate to say it, but that’s all for today. I just don’t have a lot to say, and my time would be better spent writing. See you next week.

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Three for One

This week was a little rough for me, writing wise. I actually finished the story for this week on Sunday, the first day of the week. It was only 800 words, and it was about a girl who was locked in an asylum because she tried to kill herself. Her reason was because she thought she had been impregnated by aliens and she was doing it to save the world. After a while she started to think that maybe the doctors were right, and that she was delusional. Of course, the way my mind works I couldn’t leave it that way. The last sentence of the story is “And then the baby kicked.”

On Monday, I finished editing the fairy story I was working on last week, but in the end I decided I didn’t want to submit it. I’m just not happy with the results, and I think it is going to need a lot more time and rewrites than I can give it before the end of the month. So I returned it to the back burner and we’ll let it simmer a while longer.

Since I finished the editing, I had to figure out what to do next. What I decided was that I would just go ahead and start another story. About a slice of cheese rotting on the sidewalk. That one was finished on Thursday. Friday and Saturday I worked on yet another story, about a woman who goes up and down the street collecting aluminum cans from the trash bins in order to buy toys for the little kids in the neighborhood.

So there you have it. Three stories in one week. I won’t say that any of them are any good, but at least I kept writing. I’ve still got my chain going on the Magic Spreadsheet, even though I haven’t been able to write the full 400 words per day for Friday and Saturday. I did, however, manage to write at least 250, which is all that the spreadsheet requires.

I’m not sure what I’m going to write this week, but I had a thought about an opening line last week and I might just try it. “The only thing better than sex is dirty sex.” What do you think? I’ll be back next week to let you know how it went.

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Ahead of Schedule

As you might have guessed from the title of today’s post, I finished this week’s story early. It was about a man who was cursed to be homeless and destitute until he found someone else who was just as greedy and uncaring as he was. I actually wrapped it up on Thursday, which meant I had two whole days to use on something else.

The problem was that I wasn’t sure what I should work on. I knew I needed to work on something so I could keep my chain going on the Magic Spreadsheet (over 100 days now!), but I didn’t want to start a new story early.

A while ago, one of my writer friends told me about a possible home for story 26, which had to do with a kid going exploring in the woods and ending up in the hands of the fairies. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to try submitting the story to them, because they won’t pay for the story, but since I had a couple of days free I thought maybe I could start editing it, just on case.

The problem that then came up was how do I track my words for the Spreadsheet when a lot of what I am doing is cutting words out instead of adding them? On Friday, I started working without really thinking about it, and I added a bunch of words and then cut out a lot more before I counted the ones I had added. I ended up with 419 words less than I had started with, which was the number I used on the Spreadsheet.

Yesterday I was a little more careful. Instead of cutting the words as I went, instead I blacked them out until I was done. I then was able to keep an accurate count of the words I added (483) before I started deleting.

I’ve still got plenty of editing to do on the story, but now it’s time to start a new one. I might keep working on the edits if I have the energy, but I’m not really worried about it. If I don’t make the September 30 deadline for submissions it won’t be the end of the world.

That’s all I have for today. I’ll be back next week with another update.

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Too Much Story

This week I had the problem of having too much story for my goal. I am only writing short stories right now, and it didn’t take me very long to figure out that the story I had started was not something that could be told that quickly.

I started by showing my main character standing at the sink and thinking about everything that had just happened to him. I spent a few paragraphs talking about how there are secret things lurking just beneath the surface, and how at any minute they can pop up and ruin your life.

And that’s when I made the big mistake. I wrote the following sentence:

My house was a wreck, my car was in the police impound lot, my wife had taken the kids to stay with her sister, and my dog was missing.

So now I had to write a story which covered all of those things. A SHORT story.

Did I pull it off? Not so much.

While I did end up with a story that had at least mentioned all of those things, I actually never got around to wrapping things up into a full circle. The story kind of works, but it really needs to be a LOT longer.

I’m going to count it as done, even though it sucks. Like I said, I did get at least something in there for everything I had mentioned in that sentence. And the last sentence of the story provides a nice ending point. I could certainly do a lot more with it, and the situation brought up in the opening paragraph is totally left hanging, but that part could simply be removed in edits. Or, I could take what I have as a starting point and blow it up into a complete novel. I’m really tempted to do that, possibly for NaNoWriMo.

In other news, I’m still going strong on both the Magic Spreadsheet (82 days in my chain), and on DuoLingo (33 days in a row). I still only know 165 words of Spanish, but at least I am continuing to practice, and hopefully some of it is sinking in.

That’s it for today. I’ll be back next week to fill you in on yet another story in the growing Dirty Little Freaks anthology. See you then!

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A Man and His Dog

Once again I started a story with no real idea where it was going. I began by describing an ugly dog. A mutt whose better days were all behind him. And then I decided that my hero was the human equivalent. A bum who lived out of trash cans, but still had a code of honor.

The story was nothing special at first. I just told how he rolled into town and found a meal in exchange for doing some odd jobs for a widow. But I couldn’t leave it there. Our hero got jumped by an overprotective neighbor and the dog protected him. Together they made their escape, and that was the start of their friendship.

Again, this is a story that will probably need a lot of editing before it becomes what it should be. I think I need to amp up the dog’s part in the story building up to the fight. I might want to bring in the attacker a little earlier in order to foreshadow the conflict and increase the tension.

But at least the bones of the story are there. And I practiced using description, which is something I have struggled with. My writing tends to be a little on the bland side, and I am trying to work on that.

In other news, my Magic Spreadsheet chain is still going strong, and I am still using DuoLingo on a daily basis. I’m not adding new words very quickly, but I’m getting a lot of practice with the ones I already know.

That’s it for today. I’ll be back next week to tell you about Story #32. I wonder what it will be?

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The Prisoner

Last week’s story was different. At least for me.

I decided that I would write a story about a girl who was being held captive in a remote house. She never saw her guards, but she got fresh food on a regular basis and a daily assignment to keep her occupied. Other than the fact that there was no way to leave, it was a pretty comfortable prison.

But it was still a prison, and she missed having contact with other people. Especially her boyfriend. And after getting an assignment to write his obituary, she decided she couldn’t stick around any more and planned an escape. The story ends on the night that she makes her attempt, and, of course, that’s when something new popped into my head which turned the entire story on it’s head.

I realized that maybe the reason there weren’t any other people around was that there weren’t any other people. Maybe she wasn’t being held prisoner, but instead was being kept, like a zoo might do with endangered species. She might have been the last person left alive, and either machines were caring for her, or she had been taken to an alien zoo. I left the question hanging at the end, but I am thinking that when I edit this story I will need to work hints of it into the earlier parts so it doesn’t hit the reader completely out of the blue.

A big thing that made this story different for me was that I wrote it as a series of diary entries. I’m still using the Magic Spreadsheet (over 50 days in my chain now) and I figured that it would be easy to write one entry per day, which it was. There were a few days when I cut the entry short, but I tried to work it into the story in such a way that it seemed like a natural stopping point. But something that came out of that experience was that now I am considering writing something shorter for this week.

You see, by using the Magic Spreadsheet, I am making myself write at least 300 words a day. And since I am writing one story a week, that means that each story has to be at least 2,100 words. The final word count is actually more like 2,500. Before the Spreadsheet, I had some stories that were as short as 500 words, and quite a few that were less than 2,000.

I know that when I started using the Spreadsheet I knew that this was going to be an issue. At that time I had said that if I wrote a shorter story I would get my words in by either adding to or editing some of my older work. I think I’m ready to do that now.

This week, I’m going to write whatever comes to mind for my story, and if it is short, for the rest of the week I’ll work on something else. Maybe I’ll continue last year’s NaNoWriMo story, which wasn’t actually finished, even though I hit the word count goal. It has been a while though, so first I’ll have to read through it to remind myself what I was doing.

Or maybe I’ll start editing the YA superhero story I was working on last summer. I finished it before NaNoWriMo, but it’s just a first draft and maybe it’s time to start edits. I just finished reading EX-Heroes, by Peter Clines, so my mind is kind of in that mood anyway. If you haven’t heard of EX-Heroes, it’s something along the order of the Avengers meets the Walking Dead, and it’s pretty awesome. there are several other books in the series, and they have been added to my to-read list.

So that’s my update for the week. I’ll be back next Sunday to let you know how it went. See you then!

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What Did I Just Do?

OMG.

Dirty Little Freaks #24 was way out of my ballpark. I’m not sure how I got there, but the story took me places I have never been before. Places that are impossible for me to reach. It was a struggle all the way, but I think I can be proud of what I did, even if it was a painful journey.

I started with something simple. A rude comment made by someone at a funeral. As I developed the story, the comment was made by a younger brother and the funeral was the main character’s father. Then things started to get really interesting when I decided that the comment that had been made was true, and that it was about our main character having an incestuous relationship with her father.

It was about pain and loss and love that broke the rules.  And it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to write. I’m not looking forward to editing it, because I know that any changes I make to it will only have to make it better, and I’m not sure how I can. I was really stretching my boundaries on the first draft, so taking it to the next level is going to be rough.

I think that the direction my story took was at least partially influenced by the book I was reading. The Lake of Dreams, by Kim Edwards. It wasn’t about incest, but one of the themes was the death of the main character’s father, and how it affected the course of her life. I could actually see how the story I was writing changed to reflect the story I was reading. That sort of thing doesn’t happen often for me, so it was interesting seeing it happen now. And don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying it was a bad thing, just that it was unexpected and a little frightening to go where I have never gone before.

In other news, that makes 19 days in my Magic Spreadsheet chain, for a total of over 8,000 words. Having the spreadsheet is really giving me that extra incentive to keep writing, even though I might not want to. In the last few months, I have only been worrying about getting the story done, and have skipped some days when I didn’t feel like writing. But now, the focus is on getting at least the minimum in every day, so I have been writing first thing in the morning and taking the rest of the day for myself. The stories have been longer, as I only have to make sure I reach the end by Saturday, but I think they have also been better. We’ll see how it goes in the coming months.

That’s it for this week. I’ll be back next Sunday with another update. See you then!

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