Apologies

I know I’ve been absent for a while.

I’m sorry.

The stats for the blog certainly reflect my neglect.

If you follow my Twitter feed, you probably know where I’ve been. I have been fighting the chapter from hell.

Yes, a month ago when I wrote how I was having a hard time progressing, I was working on the chapter that I just finished tonight. Yup, a month later.

But I now have something to show for my troubles.

  1. I have only two chapters left to write of The Veil
  2. I have surpassed my minimum word count of 60,000 words.
  3. The chapter turned out a lot better than I thought it would a month ago.

So tonight, I’m pleased.

This is not a great post, another time I’ll say I’m sorry.

But I just wanted you all to know I’m still around, I’m still slugging it out, and now that this chapter is behind me, I finally feel like I might be winning.

Not a bad night’s work.

I’ll post more, promise πŸ™‚

Is It Too Complex?

I was out in the car today with my wife, babbling about The Veil.

I told her I’m having serious difficulty writing the final four chapters. Simply put, they need to be planned in an in depth fashion. I’ve been lucky so far, my “Chess” approach has worked well and brought me into novel length territory.

But this is the end.

If I don’t get some kind of ending written that has the foundation of being kick-ass, I’m sunk.

So now I feel challenged.

In the midst of telling her this, I started to relay some of the numerous ideas and influences that exist in The Veil. When I was done, she looked at me and said, “Now, I’d have to read it, but something has me a little worried… It sounds kinda complicated.”

And she’s right.

The Veil is a mish mash of various story ideas I’ve had over the past couple years. It incorporates science, religion, myth, conspiracy and so much more, it threatens to spiral out of control. But it’s meant to be several books.

Yes, I know all the weird and complicated maneuvers that are going on behind the scenes, but I don’t intend to show all my cards to the reader in book one. Nope, I want them in for the long haul.

This presents a conundrum. How much do I reveal in Book One?

I need to present some smattering of all the themes and ideas, or I’ll get to book two or three and something will just hit the reader out of nowhere. To me, it’ll be obvious, but the reader is going to shake their fist and scream “Bullsh!t.”

This is where editing is going to be crucial.

I believe I’m not the only writer to do this. To be honest, I’m positive there’s a boatload of writers in the exact same situation.

I’m sure you’ve all read the writing advice that as an author, you should know all the back story; but you shouldn’t feel the need to info dump all of it.

Honestly, some things are useful to build a character’s identity in our mind, but are unnecessary to state explicitly for the reader.

But what if the whole series hinges on that information?

Do you remember the fifth book of Harry Potter, The Order of the Phoenix? It finally revealed why Voldemort went after Harry and his parents. Thing was, the prophecy was mundane. I mean, Duh, any astute reader had that prophecy already figured out. It felt like we’d been baited with something earth shattering, only to have a deflated feeling when it turned out to be the same old “the boy & monster will meet, and one will defeat the other.”

While the actual prophecy was a bit of a let down, it served to explain why it had been so important to Voldemort to find and eliminate the Potters. It answered a question that had been nagging for a number of books.

On the flip side, the reveal of the master wand in book seven seemed forced. There was an article I read on the web that asked a very good question; Why the hell didn’t Voldemort just take everyone out at the end of book six? Well, because it would have been a suck ending. The introduction of the master wand and its ilk tried to a) answer why Voldemort remained in the shadows and b) provide a way for Harry, who hadn’t been the most powerful wizard in the world, to defeat Voldemort. While it was thrilling, it felt forced.

Don’t get me wrong, Harry Potter is brilliant. If I could write a series half as good, I’d consider myself blessed. My point is, if you have an invisibility cloak early on in the series that is part of this mystical triad of items that are integral to the end of the series, couldn’t you have mentioned something about it earlier? Reading the books, I have no doubt JK Rowling knew all about the wand and company early on. She just didn’t let us in on it until the last book.

Given the complexity of plots and themes in The Veil, I need to avoid this. First off, I need to do so because people aren’t going to be as forgiving of me as they are JK Rowling. Secondly, because people really will call me on using big twists out of nowhere.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with big, complex ideas. In fact, I thrive on things like that, which is why my book is filled with them. The key is finding a way to make them feel organic. Book one needs to lay the ground rules. If a stepping stone doesn’t exist in book one, that’s a path I won’t be able to follow.

Editing this thing is going to be a beast. I know that, and I’m not even there yet.

What do you think? Can you get away with omitting some ideas from book one as long as they get put into book two? Or should the whole path be present in book one, even if left obscure?

Or am I making a huge mistake from the start, having it clear in my head that this story is going to require several books to tell?

Of course, it’s too late to stop now πŸ™‚

From Dark of the Moon – Optimus Prime!

Optimus Prime from Transformers 3 Dark of the Moon

OK, I admit it, I’m a bit of a freak for Transformers. Almost as big a fan as I am Doctor Who. So each time something new in the franchise comes along, I’m a little excited for it.

The best part is, my 7yo son is a fan too. So I have a perfect excuse to make trips to Toys-R-Us and check out the latest toys πŸ™‚

But hey, you all know that, right? I mean, this is the blog space that trumpeted the pics of the Megatron and Shockwave toys.

Confession: My favourite transformer of all-time is Optimus Prime.

When I was a kid, I had to have every version of Optimus Prime. It didn’t matter whether it was a repaint, a mini, or a bat, monkey, etc. If it was the current version of Optimus, I had to have it. No other transformer inspired such loyalty.

While I wasn’t a huge fan ofΒ  the flames, I loved how Optimus was envisioned in the live action films. I darn near squealed when the classic Gen. 1 voice of Peter Cullen started with the intro. And man, it was awesome to see Optimus unleash some kick-ass. I mean, the forest fight in the second movie? Damn.

And the third movie Dark of the Moon? It looks like it’s going to deliver some more Optimus-ownin-Decepticon-butt action. Yes, my hopes for the third film are getting elevated with each released trailer.

So along comes the requisite refresh of the Optimus toy for the third movie. No huge surprises here. It looks pretty standard to the previous versions. Clearly they’ve altered the transformation a bit, but that’s to be expected.

But oh wait….

What’s that?

Booyah, Optimus Prime with a trailer!!! OK, my hopes for this film just went Kerplow! Other than the flames, what was the thing we fanboys bitched about in regards to Optimus’ appearance in film one? Yup, where’s the trailer?

Fixed.

Not only fixed, but I’m laying odds plays a part in the plot, cause lookey what Optimus becomes with his trailer….

Some super crazy powered up – winged – version. Yeah, I’m thinkin this version of Optimus is going to own. I hope it isn’t a wimp out and just turns out to be his “Fly me to the moon” outfit.

All this hype is thanks to the good folks of Tomopop.

So verdict? Excited. OK, yeah, Michael Bay, I’ll be in the theatre. PLEASE let it be as good, no, better, than the first movie. Between this toy and the Superbowl trailer, I’m starting to get hyped!

Hitting Milestones

So last night I crossed 50,000 words in The Veil.

Depending on what guidelines you follow, that means I’ve officially crossed into novel length territory.

When I launched this blog in April of 2010, I had written 9,000 words. I admit, there’s been times when I wondered if my idea would actually amount to a novel. There were days whenΒ  the ideas weren’t flowing and I thought it was hopeless. I figured The Veil was bound to be another file in my “Failed Attempts” folder.

But last night I crossed over into novel territory. And what’s even better, there’s still eight planned out chapters. At this rate, I think The Veil will easily weigh in at more than 70,000 words.

It’s funny how a weight feels lifted. This is the furthest I’ve ever taken a story. At this point, the question is no longer will I be able to make it, but rather, how long till I finish it?

So it’s a happy day. I’ll be even happier when I make it to 60,000. That’s the goal I set for myself as that’s considered a lower end Young Adult novel.

My goal is to have the first draft done by this blog’s anniversary. Wish me luck!

Writing Software Changed My Life – For the Better

I’ll admit it, I’m not an organised person. My “office” is a chaotic storeroom of books, bills, important documents, and an assortment of other baubles. To be honest, it’s hard to move in here.

So it’s a tad ironic that when it comes to writing, I crave organisation. I hate having to have multiple Word files. I despise writing ahead because it means putting the scene in another Word file or constantly bumping it down while I write ahead of it. But what if I have multiple scenes that take place later in the book? Ugh.

Because of this, I never really planned out my books, I always wrote in a linear fashion and if I had a great idea for a scene, I would scribble on a piece of paper or just hope I remembered it when I got there.

Writing software has changed all that.

I started with yWriter5. There were two reasons.

  1. It was free.
  2. It was compatible with Windows.

I didn’t mind yWriter. Every chapter was its own file, so I could create a number of chapters and add data to them so I knew what I had planned for that chapter. If I had an idea for a scene in a chapter later than the one I was working on, I just hopped over to that chapter and added it.

There was a place for adding character information, scene information and so much more. And it had an export feature so I could fire it off to Word as a single compiled document when I was done.

The things I disliked about yWriter though were

  • Pop-up windows for writing.
  • The in-program spell check wasn’t user friendly
  • It felt like I was jumping through numerous tabs to find things I wanted.

For me, yWriter wasn’t a perfect solution, but it was vastly superior to Word. yWriter allowed me to be a bit chaotic and free flowing in my writing, yet provided me with enough structure that I could still see where the myriad of pieces fit.

A few weeks back, I saw a tweet about a Windows version of Scrivener.

I’d been anxious to try Scrivener because I’d heard great things about it and some of my favourite authors were using it. So I went ahead and downloaded the free Beta version.

I’m in love πŸ™‚

Scrivener does all the things yWriter does, only it doesn’t have any of the issues I had with yWriter. There’s no pop-ups, spelling is handled much like my WordPress blog and all my info is handy on the left-hand side of the screen. I also appreciate that Scrivener has some built-in templates for characters and locations. Overall, it’s clear why yWriter is free and Scrivener is a paid for product; Scrivener just has more polish. I find I don’t flip from one tab to another because I can lay out my screen with all the info I need.

About the only issue I have with Scrivener is that the Windows version doesn’t have the capabilities of the newest version of Scrivener for Mac (which includes compiling straight to eBook formats!).

Regardless of which you choose (or if you know of another similar product), writing software allows so much more freedom and organisation of materials. I noticed a marked increase in output when I switched. Do you think it could help you too?

The Late-Night Habits of a Wannabe Writer

My Chemical Romance - Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous KilljoysIt’s 11:58pm as I write this.

I’m sitting in bed, propped with my back against the wall. My laptop is sitting on a breakfast-in-bed tray and my wife is sleeping next to me (she has a cold). I’m wearing headphones which have just finished pumping out My Chemical Romance’s newest album, Danger Days: The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys, and have now moved on to Neon Trees’ album, Habits.

My intent was to power through a ton of words on The Veil. Instead, I’ve read Neon Trees - Habitsthrough a number of posts on Twitter, signed an Internet petition (which you should do as well if you’re in Canada & don’t want to see us gouged further for Internet use http://openmedia.ca/meter). Also through Twitter, I went over to Regan Leigh’s blog to check out a guest post on writing book reviews when you want to be a writer. Great post with some decent insights to keep in mind. I left a comment stating my overall love of the article & then finally opened The Veil.

I’ve written maybe 100 words of actual story. However, I’ve also written a number of editing notes on the earlier chapters.

I’m not prepared to let myself edit The Veil until I’ve finished it. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t had ideas as to how I want to change some of the earlier chapters. So I’m taking advantage of my writing software and leaving notes on the chapters as to the edits and new scenes I’m thinking about.

Now I’m here at the blog. Writing an entry that really is just blathering about how I spend my time when I sit down with my laptop to write. And probably explaining why it’s taken me so long to only get 76% of the way to a complete first draft.

So don’t be like me. Stop wasting more time on the Internet. Go write. Now. Like I’m going to try and do.

Clock says it’s 12:14am. Hoping to remain conscious until 1am to at least crank out another 300-500 words.

TTYL

The Decepticon Shockwave

Shockwave toy from Transformers Dark of the MoonIf you’re an old-school transformers fan such as myself, then you had to be a little excited when it was announced Shockwave would be the main big bad in Transformers: Dark of the Moon.

While Shockwave in the cartoon didn’t do too much for me, his comic book iteration was badass. I mean, this is the guy who burst in at the end of issue four of the classic Marvel run and by issue five had iced every Autobot and had Optimus Prime’s head, literally! Shockwave was this large and incredible menace that for many issues stood at the head of the Decepticon army. Too bad Ratchet and those pesky Dinobots had to mess everything up πŸ™‚

The question remains, will this third Transformers film manage to deliver, or will it be the crude comedy, racial sterotype, lack of plot piece of crap the second film was.

Based on the two toys we’ve seen so far, it at least looks like the visuals are going in the right direction. I mean, Shockwave is PURPLE!! How awesome is that?

Please, please Michael Bay, don’t make this film suck.

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