Random Thoughts – Drafting

Update: I’m writing this in a semi-haze, so please forgive if I sidetrack. I don’t intend to edit this post. Just a random series of thoughts.

1. Looking back at what I have done.

Had a long time to ‘debrief’ myself on my plane ride from Singapore to San Fran – freaking 20 hours in the air with 3 hours of layover time in the now Wifi-enabled Japan Narita airport. Being alone in the plane, away from my keyboard did me a lot of good in terms of thinking about what I want.

Personally, I felt that the last story opener I wrote The series on Goodbyes taught me a lot on two things:

  • What I can leave out in a story and let it be said in the white space
  • Weaving some subtext into the dialogue, which I will explore next time, but not in the next few works (don’t think this works that well for the superhero genre)

And with that… well, I think I’m ready to start writing something more substantial. Hence, in this post, I shall present my thoughts on my writing future:

2. The promise I want to make myself going forward

Today is the day – No more unstructured, whimsical writing. I’ve pandered long enough with half-written openers and plot lines in the last two months to know what I want. From now on, everything shall begin with a draft, a complete draft from start to finish including all plot lines, sub-plots and whatever internal message that I would like to convey with the story.

Here the limitations I will set myself to in future as I narrow down what I want to write about:

  • Basics: Semi-fantastical worlds anchored in the modern society.
  • Genre: Action. Science-Fiction deviating slightly to the macabre.
  • Word Length: 15,000 – 25,000 (Lemme bang out a few of these first)
  • Editing: No more editing in the middle of writing! This is the reason for drafting
  • Preferences: I would still like to explore the super-hero theme at least initially.
  • Writing Speed: Bang out more words, less thoughts. 1500 a day is the bare minimum, either in drafting or actual writing.

3. Drafting Requirements:

  • Scene by scene drafting, no ’empty’ space aside from actual dialogue and action sequences.
  • No posting on the Blog.
  • Each scene draft must be complete with purpose and nature of dialogue and what I want to achieve.
  • If I run into trouble with the main writing, refer and change the draft first.
  • Draft first, write later. If I get stuck, always refer to the draft.

4. Starting Now!

Today I officially began to draft a complete story from start to finish, looking at it from a top-down perspective instead of living scene-to-scene and moment-to-moment. So I’m embarking on my own little NaNoWriMo (since I’ve away from home and can’t commit every single day.) But let’s set a weekly target of 8,000 words considering I still write 3-4 days a week.

For my first story, I’m going back to superhero fantasy again. I initially chose horror, but well, I don’t think I’m good at hidden scares, more of a grotesque person.

5. Why suddenly Drafting

From all the research I’ve done about great writers… none of them honestly just pick up a pen and write. I don’t intend to flutter from a structure to another anytime soon. From my earlier works, you can probably tell I’ve a formula I use in my openers as well as my character archetypes. Now it’s just extending the practice into a novella-length work first before extending it again once I get comfortable with it.

I have 2 10,000+ word semi-stories which while I think they are readable, aren’t exactly what I want to introduce myself with. The writing is tolerable but I still want something tighter instead of having a chunk of explanation and dialogue in between. To me, that’s just not good. The story should flow, particularly in shorter pieces.

6. What I want

  • Short: 15,000 – 25,000 words
  • Action to Action – Explanation kept to a minimum, hence my choice of universe
  • Short and curt dialogue, which works well with male characters anyway.
  • No half-page explanations. If it doesn’t work, just change it.
  • Basic formula – Action opener -> Cue to smaller event -> Cue bigger event -> End.
  • By final third of the book, everything should be resolved except a twist.
  • One constant moral throughout the book.
  • Currently I’m looking at Wreck-It Ralph as a good example of how to pull all the above all. Honestly, the cartoons have still the best storylines in modern storytelling except they tend to whine on too long on relationships.

End post. If anyone of you have any exercises, cues or articles on drafting, lemme know.

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The Cure For Writer’s Block: Writing Through The Pain

I was originally going to title this post “There’s something about Mondays.” since it has occurred to me that my most productive content-creation days have always been Mondays, but I don’t want to curse myself.

Not only am I up to 15,000 words now, or halfway through my story. I’ve written close to 3,000 words today with another 2 hours of scheduled writing time to go, I’ve also managed to rewrite my first 5,000 words 1.5 times in editing. I think a schedule where I just go about my editing when my energy is low, is really helping a lot. Not in the sense that the edits are good, but that it drives me forward to write later on. My day started horribly, and now its just going so smoothly.

Another day, another new idea that randomly comes up while writing and I’m rushing through the dialogue and action now, intending to go back and squeeze in the narrative in the places where I want it to slow down. Looking back, I think I might just let my imagination run wild beyond my 30,000 word limit now and cut out the boring bits later on – which tend to be narratives… honestly what gives, feels like I’m writing a script.

Oh well, after 3 days of burn, at least I’m back to having fun again. Hope this boom-bust in my writing doesn’t turn out to be a cyclical thing.

Also, as a side note, I guess it’s important to plan out the boring / transitioning bits of the story as well…. those are the parts I have the MOST trouble on. The rest of the story which are really the important parts, is where I have no trouble with once I get into the flow.

So cheers! Suck it Monday blues!

P.S: Game Of Thrones Season 3 is off to a very good start! Still has a meaningless nude scene, but I absolutely love how deep the scarred the Lannisters are beneath all that pomp. It’s hard to believe there can be a antagonist as well-liked as Cersei and Tyrion.

 

Rewriting

I spent the last couple of hours just doing a whole bunch of rewriting today.

For some reason, I couldn’t get into a creative zone, so I just went ahead and focused on editing and restructuring. Will be re-uploading some stuff once I feel satisfied with them.

Maybe I should revisit my photo prompts to get some juices flowing, brain feels like a block of wood today. Writing feels painful.

Also, I’m in particularly dark mood today, and thought I might let it influence my rewriting a bit. Would be interesting to see how this turns out.

Till tomorrow, Cheerio.

Ramblings Of A Noob Blogger Part Deux

Here’s a few things I have learnt since my last noobish ramblings last week.

WordPress Posting Skills 

  • You can resize and realign photos by clicking on the photo after inserting it into the post. I just realigned most of my earlier posts with those gigantic portrait photos.
  • Quote boxes are great when used wrongly. Quote pictures with blocks of text to align them side by side, or use quotes to create artificial breaks in your post to make it more readable.
  • You can schedule posts for posting anytime, including sending it back to the past and make your first posts super awesome. Neat trick to stay regular instead of binge posting.
  • Viewing on your iPad and iPhone actually bump up your view count a lot. Apparently even when logged in, they are counted as new views.

Rethinking The Internet

  • Google is seriously an awesome site. Referrals from search make up my main views now, and WordPress stats tells me everybody uses Google. They usually end up in my photo prompts since the themes and shots I use are quite popular.
  • I post too much crap and have realigned my content for more original posts or posts with some commentary, except for writing guides, which would be too much crap if I tried to add anything to them.
  • I actually enjoy raving once I get into a mood on a particular topic. I’m posting more for me now instead of a pretend audience, and it seems to be working. More natural flow to the posts as well.
  • If I included a photo in a post and call it something like Justin Bieber Topless, my views will skyrocket. Such is the world we live in. In fact, just post any topic with one of the google top search results as your title or file name, put a few pictures and links inside with the same naming convention, and you are golden.

Isn’t life great. I wonder what amazing trick WordPress has in store for me tomorrow. Screw SEO, Justin Bieber Pics FTW.

The Hunger Games: Of Tenses Past & Present

The_Hunger_Games_poster-0001Firstly, this is NOT a review of the book or movie. I did a bit of reading yesterday, and ended up going through the first few chapters of The Hunger Games: Book One. I caught the movie in May last year, liked the premises of the story a lot, and ended up devouring the entire trilogy within a month of watching the movie. For those of you who have not read it, do yourself a favour and grab the book or for the more visually-inclined ones, just grab the DVD.

A brief overview of my impressions of the books. Generally, the story is pretty good, except the plodding pace in the last book tested my patience somewhat. I felt the the setting and the world created around the story is pretty well constructed, considering the author is using material usually associated with B-grade horror and Japanese Manga. All in all, it is one of the rare book-to-movie translations where both versions are actually quite good.

Yesterday however, I was reading it through the eyes of a wannabe writer, trying to pick up a a few tricks. From this angle, you sense something very wrong from the get go. The entire book is written in the present tense! (cue catchy whistling sound from the movie)

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