Integrating feedback


My favorite reader and I sat down and discussed the current manuscript draft. He brought up several kinds of issues. Most of these I agreed needed fixing.

  • Fairly easy name issues: Some names are inconsistent, so I’ll want to make those are all correct and as non-confusing as possible. Additionally, two characters have similar names, even if it doesn’t come up often. I should rename one.
  • Prose issues: I have some language tics that can make the prose confusing. Also, I should use more French.
  • Emphasis issues: There are things I bring up early on but it’s not clear at all why they could be important.
  • Issues I am not sure how to fix yet: There’s a character who doesn’t have an arc, and a few other things like it.
  • Issues I’m not sure if I agree with: I’ll wait on my other reader’s feedback and quiz her on these (as neutrally as I can). They concern some world details and other ambiguities.
Sylveon image
Plus français, si’l vous plaît! Image from DBX Fanon

I am so thankful for his feedback. He enjoyed the novel, so I consider it a success already. Writing is interesting in that people have wildly different success metrics, even for the same author. Example: I believe success is making this manuscript something I and John would enjoy reading. Mom thinks success for me would be selling lots of copies. I’d rather not take that kind of pressure, thank you.

Read More

Waiting for feedback


I took a week’s vacation in San Diego, which is a beautiful place. I stayed with John and our moms on Ocean Beach. Every night we got lulled to sleep by the waves breaking outside. Revision was slow going, though, and I sent my second draft off to two readers last weekend. Before that, I’d been the only one who’d read most of the material, and it felt like my private world for two years. I let John in, but only to look at certain stuff. Now he’ll get to read the whole thing. I also sent it to a friend who’s an agent and editor for her day job- she’ll tell me how much more I need to fix and polish it before I send it to editors, and whether I should try submitting it to publishers and agents, publish it myself, or just hide it under my bed.

In the somewhat anxious wait, I’ll work more on the prose of my manuscript. I do enjoy marking it up with comments in Scrivener. I’m most afraid that I have written something worthwhile, because then I must serve the work and make it the best it can be.


Read More

thinking about writing markets


I continue hacking my way through the second draft of my manuscript. I’ve got revision fatigue, so I had to take some time off it while I was working on it. I may start doing some other scratch notes and writing on other stories. There’s the sequel to Razor (manuscript working title), and also a more fantasy-like novel about magic which is complex mathematical formulas. Really!

In some writer groups I find plenty of discussion of writing to market. In SFR this means writing an erotic novel with a shirtless pale-skinned fellow with no head on the cover. The title often has plenty of tropes in it. Now, if you like writing that or reading that, great. I’ve read about writers trying to bend to do that style themselves, often for the money. If it is something they enjoy, great.

I would find writing such a novel extremely difficult because I can never keep anything simple. I also find writing anything I’m not interested in reading difficult. Anyway, I have no idea which genre to market my manuscript in. I recently finished the fantabulous Wanted and Wired, and I think my writing is a little less romance-focused: fewer thoughts about kissing and more thoughts on the ramifications of capitalism.

All that said, I look at my manuscript and can see oodles of things to fix, and also a plethora of things that may or may not need fixing. That’s why I’m turning the second draft over to two friends with the following question: Bury the manuscript and never look at it again? If not, what do I work towards?

Read More

Mahler didn’t write in winter

Blog Writing


I have little creative energy in the winter. Sometimes I get frustrated with this, then remind myself that not everyone can write words or music all the time. That I am able to do it at all, and have any time or energy to do so, makes me a lucky human. This month I’m doing Camp NaNo, and committing to spend thirty hours on revision this month. So far I’m on track.

A friend saw me working on some scene triage the other day, and it led to several people asking if I was going to publish. I responded that I wasn’t sure yet: I could submit it to publishers or do it myself. I could just give the manuscript to several friends after I think it’s as good as it’ll be. Or I can hide it under the bed and nobody except John gets to read it. Publishing would put a bunch of pressure that I could do without. When I was very little I wanted to write novels. Now that I am, I don’t know if I want to deal with the business end of things: deadlines aren’t my favorite and I’m a slow writer. I already have a job with deadlines and other creative projects, like running tabletop roleplaying games, with deadlines.

I have a vacation starting next week- first one since November- and I have some reads I found interesting. In no particular order, I’d love to read most of these:

Also, I should get myself to write reviews for Dubai Double-Cross, Race to Redemption, and The Last True Hero. Posting this here might make me actually write them.

Read More

Complications, spies, and androids


Congratulations, Ashley, Mona, and Lauryn! They’re the winners of the giveaway of the previous post.

The revision process has been slow. I’m depressed enough that I don’t have the energy and focus to tackle what’s next: the really big problems that span several scenes. I need to do a lot of reordering and cutting, and some new writing. Unfortunately I don’t really have the brain for that right now, since I use it on my day job. I’m under the care of several health professionals and can complete job functions, but that’s my productivity limit.

When I’m not staring at the wall listlessly, I play video games, or if I have the energy, read. Reading is the most difficult of these three to do these days, but I did read a spy novel by John Le Carre. I wanted to see how he conveys complicated plotlines through conversation. He makes the game of who knows what when seem simple, and that’s what I need to do with all my information streams.

As far as video games, I don’t have a Nintendo Switch, but I like what I’ve seen of it: one of my officemates brought his in. He loves the new Zelda game. It requires far better reflexes and reaction time than I have, so I’ll watch John play it when we inevitably obtain it.

John ordered Horizon Zero Dawn, which seems to feature using a bow and arrow against robot dinosaurs. It’s post-apocalyptic and involves AI, so I’m game. We’ll see whether he gets to it before I do, as he recently finished NieR and is working on Advanced Puppy Simulator 2016– I mean The Last Guardian. If you’ve played it you will understand the care and detail that went into simulating a puppy. Who is also a gryphon.

I, meanwhile, am awaiting NieR: Automata, which is at home in my mailbox. I’m a huge fan of the game’s director, who’s also done Drakengard, Drakengard 3, and NieR. The games are unashamedly weird, with the stories being awful in a complicated and compelling way. Anyway, Automata features as your team a bunch of killer robots who have to fight other killer robots for existential reasons. The demo music is fantastic, and there’s a bloody easy mode for people without reflexes.

The director for NieR, Yoko Taro, said something interesting about story writing and a technique that I like using: work backwards. Think of a scene or situation in the story, and figure out what had to happen and what has to be true to make the scene work. The first scene to tackle in any story is the emotional climax, he says. He visualizes it since he works with game scripts. I’m not great at visual details, but writing down what is going on in that moment and why lets me expand and build the story’s spine.

Read More