Revisions

I’ve put a lot of my life for the last year and a half into writing. A good portion of that was spent on my first novel, Tishta the Crystal Orb. As part of the process, I shared my first draft here on this blog. Today, I removed the menu item for the book. I’ll leave the posts for posterity, but for now, Tishta has gone into seclusion.

This week, my editor gave me her notes and comments on the version of Tishta that graced these pages. With her help, I believe I can make it into a much stronger story. I’ll be sharing  that experience with you here.

It was gratifying when my editor told me she genuinely liked my story. I was giddy when I read through her editorial letter. Clear character voices, good genuine interactions, delightful hot gay vampire sex, and good fight scenes, were some of her comments. Don’t get me wrong, she had lots of concerns as well, especially with the pacing and the central conflict not being set up early enough. She also gave me tools to address these and to make other improvements.

A couple of resources were Christopher Vogler’s The Writer’s Journey as a study guide to using Hero’s Journey archetypes and story structure, and also, Robert McKee’s Story for working with scenes more effectively. She also suggested reading lots of genre-specific book openings to get a feel for how characters and central conflicts are introduced. I’ve got my summer reading homework lined up.

Serious writing is definitely a case of the more I learn, the more I don’t know. It’s an exciting journey, and I love the welcoming community of writers I’m discovering here in Seattle. I frequently attend writer’s groups and readings. I found I really enjoy reading my stories to people. I hope to create something you will enjoy reading.

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Exploring Audio Stories

Technology amazes me. It seems like I just get one thing figured out and something new comes along. When I started writing again, about a year and a half ago, I didn’t know anything about editing tools, publishing tools, ebooks. You get the idea. It’s been a fascinating journey.

After I completely overwhelmed the free word processing tool, Pages, that came with my Mac, I was introduced to Scrivener. Without it, I would certainly not have been able to manage all the words that came flowing out once I sat down to write. I was crashing Pages on a regular basis. I was frustrated beyond words, and not sure what to do.

Scrivener saved my life, or, at least, my sanity. With it, I am able to organize my stories into coherent scenes, chapters, parts and books. I can move things around to my heart’s content and effectively organize supporting data and stories about my characters. It manages title and other pages, and exports what I write into all the most common ebook formats. A perfect writer’s tool.

I’ve started calling myself a writer, now. The other writers with whom I socialize and collaborate call me that. It’s starting to feel comfortable to say out loud. Until my book is actually published, I’m reluctant to use ‘author’ to describe myself. I’m hoping that will be a reality by the end of summer. But I digress.

Once I got my writing organized into discrete scenes, it became much easier to manage the story arcs. I’m a software developer by trade, and the organization Scrivener provided matched pretty closely to the organization of code. The words I use to describe it are the same for both applications. It feels comfortable.

The more I wrote, the more I needed to hear it. I read it out loud. This helped. I found places where what I had written didn’t flow off the tongue. It was good, but it wasn’t enough. ‘Wait,’ I thought, ‘I have technology, right here on my computer, to record this.’ And so, I did. And I continue to do so. I record everything, and then I listen to it. Hearing it, many things catch in my ear. I’ll hear the same word repeated, or find phrases that sound awkward or incomplete sentences.

After deciding to publish my book, a few scenes per day, on this blog, I decided I could also share the recordings on SoundCloud. These two things forced me into a final beta edit. I was hoping to engage friends, or even strangers, into reading some of the story and providing feedback. I got some and that helped refine the words.

When I posted the last scene in the last chapter of the book, I felt I was ready to have a professional look at it. I sent it off to a story content editor. I should have feedback soon, and, after a final edit based on that, I’ll be ready to figure out Kindle and the other places one can self-publish.

It’s been a great ride. Along the way, I’ve started mingling with the local writers, going to writing groups and read outs. I’m having the most fun I’ve had in a long while.

Two Hour Transport is a monthly North Seattle SciFi and Fantasy Writers event where the first hour is an open mic for SciFi and Fantasy writers to share five minutes of their works, and the second hour presents two longer readings by invited guests. I started attending in January and have read several of my stories there.

This is where I met my friend, Joe Follansbee. He’s an established writer, and also works in radio and audio production. After I shared what I was doing with the book online, Joe decided to record one of his short stories, “A War Beyond War, And I Am the Only Soldier“, and publish it on SoundCloud. It’s gratifying to be able to influence other writers to try new things. With his background, he created a nicely polished recording, including a soundtrack. It’s a good story! You should give a listen.