Sunday, May 31, 2009

My Writing Week 2(22)

Hi all,

I spent the weekend at the Emerging Writer's Festival in Melbourne, going to nine panel discussions of varying quality, some were better than I thought they would be while one was a bit disappointing. I learnt a few things, gained some motivation and got some reassurance.

Overall, I got the impression that the quality of your writing and luck are not the most important elements in becoming published, who you know is much more important, although that did not help one of the speakers, Steve Amsterdam. His mother is a literary agent and he spent ten years working at Random House in the US, but he had to wait until he moved to Australia to get published by a small independent. Interestingly, when he got to Australia he did a Master of Creative writing at Melbourne University, which he did not think much of because it concentrated too much on theory. The one good thing about it was that he and some of the other students have continued workshopping each other's work for the past three years. I was not so fortunate with my masters, all the students fled, except for one, after the course.

There where no panels on speculative fiction, with its only mention being from one panelist using the some what out of date compliant that science fiction writers can't write dialogue and their stories are all plot and no characterisation. Perhaps she should read George Turner, China Melville or Neil Gaiman.

I will write more about the individual sessions over the coming weeks. I took heaps of notes in the dingy Melbourne town hall rooms. I hope I can decipher them.

I am half a page off finishing editing chapter four of Stalking Tigers.

I critiqued a story last week, I think it was a good one, but I have no recollection of what it was about. I can usually recall, what I consider to be, great stories years later, although sometimes I remember a story for not so positive reasons, for example, Howard V. Hendrix's wanky verbosity and over referenced writing in Incandescent Bliss.


Sunday, May 24, 2009

My writing week 2(21)

Hi all,

The editing of Stalking Tigers is going very slowly, even with more time spent editing last week than in previous weeks. I estimate that I cut over 2,000 words from chapter 4, and then added about 2,400 words. I got to the end and decided I had better go back and re-edit a substantially changed chapter. It still heads in the same direction and gets there much the same way, just with different words. One thing I have been trying to do is tweak the main character's attitude, make him a bit more pro-active, a bit more determined. At the moment I am, again, halfway through chapter four. I hope I need to change less in the coming chapters, but then again, most changes should improve it. At least I hope they do.

I critiqued a time travel story that had a lot of plot faults and a huge tension destroying information dump at the start. I recommended the author read K A Beford's Time Machines Repaired While U Wait.

I had a look at the authonomy site run by Harper Collins where authors put up their completed manuscripts for comments and votes. It seemed more of a site for people to try and get their novels noticed by the editors at Harper Collins than a site for serious critiquing. It also had a major drawback of preventing printing of manuscripts. I find it much easier to read and critique off paper.

I had a look at the blurbs for the science-fiction manuscripts that had been voted most popular and the first one was religion versus science - a theme that is totally overdone. It was done in well in Contact by Carl Sagan and Good News From Outer Space by John Kessel, and I enjoyed the religious themes in Damien Broderick's short story collection, The Dark Between the Stars, I also enjoyed it being sent up in Billy Soolee's The Sexuality Theory of Value, but it bored me silly in the Television series Deep Space Nine. I have so far excluded religion from my writing because in the future I think that as science explains more and more there will less of the unexplained for people to say God must have done it. I also think that as human lives get longer and longer, less people will turn to religion out of fear of death. It will still be around though, just not as a theme in anything I write.

I finished reading an Asimov magazine that I hope to review later in the week.

I have booked and paid for my trip the Emerging Writer's Festival this weekend. I hope that it will give me a few insights into writing and increase my motivation. Just deciding to attend seems to have increased my hours spent editing/writing over the past week.

It seems I may have wasted my time buying a membership to Aussiecon 4, in September next year, because according to scientist Kenneth Thomas, civilisation might start to dramatically collapse on the 15th of January 2010 when the alignment of tectonic plates could trigger the Clathrates Gun Hypothesis. Clathrates are huge frozen deposits of methane trapped in pockets under the ocean. Methane is 70 times worse than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas and evidently there is 3,000 trillion tonnes of these clathrates, enough to raise the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere from the current 380ppm to 70,000 ppm, a bit past the 450ppm the IPCC recommends we keep it below. If you want to learn more about the end of the world you can hear about it on an Ockham's Razor's broadcast.

I hope I haven't ruined your day.


Sunday, May 17, 2009

My writing week 2(20)

Hi all,

Another week of very slowly editing Stalking Tigers. I haven't started muttering "I hate editing" yet, but it can't be far away. Not that I really hate it, it just takes so bloody long. I wanted to be rewriting another novel by now. Editing does have its pleasures, such as when I read something that I think is particularly good, and also when I read something that I consider woeful, as I can then feel that my writing is improving. In between those highs and pats on the back there is a lot of re-arranging of sentences and changing of words, especially "I" and "was".

I have begun to cut out chunks of paragraphs where I found myself repeating myself, so at least the novel is not getting any longer at the moment. I am near the end of chapter four and, as I have already edited the last three chapters of the novel, I have now revised about 36,000 or its 133,000 words. Slow progress.

I critiqued another story for critters (I can't remember what I felt about it), and I found a science-fiction story on Infinitas to critique. I need to find out where all the science-fiction writers get their novels critiqued.

Aussiecon4 sent me an email and then a receipt in snail mail, so I am now officially a paid up member of Worldcon when it comes to Australia, and I have plenty of time to create a sparkling persona and perhaps even get published before the convention in Sept 2010. I am still deciding whether to go to the Emerging Writer's Festival in Melbourne that begins this weekend. It goes for about ten days and the second weekend looks like it has a better programme, with panels on pitches and motivation (do I need that!!!) and new ways of getting published. You can find out more about it at

Now it is time to give my tired eyes a caffeine hit and spark them and my brain into editing mode.


I hate editing.

Monday, May 11, 2009

My writing week 2(19)

Hi all,

I was ripping through editing chapter three until I came to a section where I had previously wimped out on challenging my writing, so I stopped and meditated, and started to slowly construct a few sentences as I first poked then sliced bits off it. I've got a note written on my computer that says "If you think the piece will be too difficult to write, write it," but sometimes I try to skirt a challenge. Like other chapters I have edited, chapter three is growing.

I didn't make time to look at other critiquing groups last week. I might go and see if Infinitas has any science-fiction stories in its files waiting to be critiqued. It, like OWWW, is dominated by fantasy. I critiqued a story on critters, where the author said he had written the original version many years ago. It had old-fashioned language and a seventies feel about it. Still an okay story by one of the more prolific submitters to critters.

I did some reading, Yaaaa. On at least three nights I woke up after midnight with my reading lamp still on, wearing my specs and with the book on my chest. Not that the novel/stories were that dull, although one of the stories I read would have to be one of the biggest wanks ever. It was written by a person with a PhD in literature who probably thought their nearly impenetrable writing was oh-so clever; too bad, because there seemed to be an interesting story hidden within it. I am sure I will tell you more about it when I review the Asimov magazine I was reading.

Loved the new Star Trek movie. I went to see it out of a sense of duty and found myself enjoying a remaking of the original series in which Chris Pine, as Captain Kirk, captured William Shatner's facial expressions perfectly. It is also an re-imagining as an alternative universe is created, so any sequels can happily ignore all that has happened in the other Star Trek movies and series. A whole new beginning. Go and see it.


Sunday, May 3, 2009

My writing week 2(18)

Hi all,

I am as tired as. I spent all morning at work yawning. I am getting frustrated with the selfishness of others when it comes to noise.

I finished editing chapter two last week. I ended up adding just over 2,000 words to it, so I am not editing like Stephen King yet (who says second draft = first draft minus 10%). I am more like the author who wrote in their blog last week (I think it was John Scalzi) that their first drafts are usually around 80,000 and then they add to them, substantially, in the following drafts.

My novel's word count is at 133,000 and continuing to increase. Chapter three is growing. I think I might have to cut a few chapters later in the novel where I have a sub-plot designed to show the main character's growth/regression and state of mind right before what he thinks will be the seminal event in his current adventure. The sub-plot doesn't really move the story along, so it might have to go.

I critiqued a couple of stories. One each for critters and OWWW. I am starting to have doubts about OWWW due to the lack of science fiction on it. I might start exploring other speculative fiction critiquing sites. The story I critiqued for critters was written in first person and was wonderful in the way it fooled the reader. It just needed a bit of fixing of grammar etc. I hope it gets published.

I read no fiction last week as I was too tired.