Category Archives: dialog

Surviving the Holidays

Well, I’m here. That means I survived. If you’re reading this, then you too are a survivor. Congratulations!

The holidays, regardless of which ones you celebrate or why you celebrate them, are about tradition and bringing families together. Anyone who survives that dangerous mix deserves their due credit.
I didn’t do it alone, my wife and children helped me through it all with a continuous flow of joy and rich foods. My wife is an artist with food and confection at a level that I strive for with words.
I’d have to say the hardest part of the whole holiday ordeal was not writing. It’s not that I didn’t write or revise at all, but it certainly wasn’t to the schedule I’ve grown used to. It kept leaving me with a nagging sense that I was being lazy and leaving things undone.
I’m revising now, which means I’m learning a LOT about my bad habits and just how horrible and clunky some of my prose can be. 
I’ve got this fantastic thing I do, which likely comes from my personal speech patterns, where I use more complicated words when simple will do. I don’t seem to let it creep into dialog, which is a good sign that I’m not overpowering my character voices.
I’m enjoying the experience so far. Granted, I’ve only revised 6 chapters in to a ~50 chapter manuscript,  but some of them needed serious surgery. I’m talking the “hit it repeatedly with an ax until it stops moving” kind of surgery. Messy, somewhat painful, but necessary. 
I’ve started to receive feedback from my Alpha Readers on some of what they have so far and it’s been invaluable. It’s really quite amazing how much some of them pick up on. I probably drive them batty with how I’m dropping, revising, and re-dropping the same chapters to them on Dropbox, and I’m trying to clean up that process so they’ll have a frame of reference when I give them updated revisions.
I still aim to push it out to some Critique Partners over at CPSeek.com and on Twitter by end of January. The timeline from that to Agent Query Submission will have to be more flexible depending on feedback at that level.
This writing thing is a lot of work. It’s a good thing I enjoy it.

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Filed under Alpha Readers, BookB, dialog, dropbox, family, Feedback, Learning, Motivation, Real Life™, Revision, Twitter

Not so easy now is it?

Remember when I said “the words were easy”? Yes, well. In the days since, not so much. I wrote that post having just passed 80K words. Tonight I wrestled my way past 90,000 words, just barely keeping on track to finish NaNoWriMo and this last 10K has been quite the struggle.

I’m neck deep in the climax of my book and all I can say is that it’s going to need a LOT of revision to make it flow. I’ve got a fight scene that feels like a badly choreographed, by the numbers, blow by blow account; I’ve got some not-so-engaging and oh-so-stilted dialog, and I’ve had to struggle to get every sentence on the page.

The annoying part is I can picture it all in my head and it’s just so much fun when it tumbles around in there. I just have to get it out to share it with everyone/anyone in a manner that’s as exciting and engaging for them as it is for me. The last thing I want on the page is a dry and boring step-by-step technical manual on how to get your ass kicked.

I have 4.5 chapters left of my outline to finish writing, which at approximately 2.5K words per chapter should put me just over 50K for NaNo, and 100K on the draft as a whole. I intend to take the first week of December off in it’s entirety and not look at it. I can’t promise I won’t, as I tend to obsess over these things, but I’ll sure as hell try.

Then it’s time to dive heavily into revision and clean-up and there’s plenty of that to go around.

The good news for the Alpha Readers is that you’ll be getting revised chapters dropped into the DropBox bin on a fairly regular basis. They’ll be in order, and they’ll add up to the whole book when all is said and done.

I’ve got another week of writing (and possibly a bit more) to go, then my two week break before that gets started, so let’s just let me stay concentrated on finishing NaNo first shall we?

– Grimm

P.S. If you don’t have DropBox, it’s fantastic and it’s free, and I get more space if you use my referral link to sign up, and I’m always hungry for more space 😀

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Filed under Alpha Readers, BookB, dialog, dropbox, NaNoFiMo, NaNoWriMo, Revision, Word Count

Draft Progress and… Destilting?

I’m going to keep this blog entry short, as I’m completely bagged and need to get to bed.

I mentioned in my last blog entry that I was moving to a single Main Viewpoint Character, and that I was going to have to drop a few sub-plots.

There was one particular subplot that I really wanted to keep, as it punches up the story and really adds a level of individual conflict for a particular important character.  I think I’ve found a way to bring that back in and hopefully make it fantastic.  We’ll see.

I know one area I’m going to have to do extensive work on after this draft is polishing my dialog.  The chapter I’m working on currently is pretty dialog heavy and I’m trying to keep it tight, but I know some of it is going to look like a train wreck in a day or two.  I don’t think it’s horrible, but it could certainly use sprucing up and “destilting” (despite spellcheck that is a real word, Google it).  I intend to finish this pass on the draft and use the age-old method of reading it aloud to see where it goes off the rails.

I’m nearly back up to 40K words after reworking my outline and slashing and burning a few chapters worth of material.  I still have a LOT of editing to do to the chapters that are there to clean up the story and get it all on the new track.  It’ll be worth every silent little scream.

I’m setting a deadline for this draft to be done in late December or (paying job workload dependant) early January.  Then I’ll do some cleanup and get it out to my Alpha Readers as a more complete book.

That’s all for tonight.

– Grimm

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Filed under Alpha Readers, BookB, deadlines, dialog, Editor, Grammar/Spelling, Learning, Outline Writing, Real Life™, Revision, Viewpoint, Word Count

Settling In.

Ah… That feels good.  Just under 1000 words tonight, not the greatest pace, but better than nothing, and I’m not falling asleep at the keys.  Things have been absolutely crazy here since the last blog update.  

I’ve been writing, but nowhere near as much as I’d like, and as I hinted above, by the time I was done anything even remotely close to meaningful on a particular night, I just wanted to go to sleep, so the blog wasn’t getting done.
This revision is progressing, wrapped up another chapter tonight, which of course will need some major rewrites, mostly in dialogue.  The point is to keep getting in there and write, whether I get 2500 words in a day, or a mere 200, it’s more than I had yesterday.
I’m actually sticking fairly close to the outline on this revision, I think that’s a sign that I either did a much better job fixing the previous draft (in the outline), or I’m getting more comfortable with my own outlines and learning to trust myself a bit more.  Sure, some things are changing here and there, which will require more revision, but I’m hoping every change is for the better.
Work has been incredibly busy, but some of my projects are really taking off, which is a good feeling.  Previously, I’d never had a project make it from concept to market before, they all got killed as soon as “costs” were determined, now I’ve got one on the market (with a reasonable amount of uptake), another that Product wants out by the end of the year (which simply won’t happen with as many moving pieces as they want), and two more that should be at least in pre-production trials by mid next year.
I have people coming to me for advice and guidance, which is both incredibly satisfying, and nerve wracking.  I’ll manage.
On the more personal side of things, I’m itchy, oh so terribly itchy!
You see, I’m covered in hives.  I’ve taken gluten out of my diet for a two week span (I’m on day 10) to determine if I’m gluten intolerant.  For some reason the inconvenience and “bubble-boy” factor that brings into my life and the lives of those around me simply isn’t enough.  Somehow, some way I’m not 100% sure about, it’s brought about a wonderful case of hives.  
I’ve had explanations from the doctor at my workplace, the one who pointed me in the direction of testing for gluten intolerance, telling me that it’s a normal case of my body purging the gluten from itself, to my brother, who’s gluten intolerant (“sensitive”) himself, telling me it’s the result of my body chemistry changing.
To be honest, I don’t give a tinker’s damn why, as long as it stops!  Doctor, and everyone else, says it should last around 10 days from when it started, which was on day 3 of going gluten free.  Well, unless it’s a food allergy to something new that I’m eating (I can’t think of anything new).
Monster’s hockey season has started, first exhibition game was tonight, and she played quite well if I do say so myself (and I just did!), I brought Bear with me to give my Wife some peace and quiet to get some things done that needed doing.  Bear and I had fun goofing off and playing together in the seats while watching the game.
When last I posted, I was heartbroken over being unable to adopt the dog we were fostering.  Well, he’s been moved to a long term rehabilitation facility where he’s getting the care and guidance he needs in a safe environment.  I think it’s for the best (still care for him though and still feel a little bit of hurt that he couldn’t stay here).
My loving wife got sick of me (and herself) moping around and found a litter of puppies that was in a rescue organization.  Needless to say, she adopted a new puppy (with the help of my daughters and myself), who is coming along nicely.
He’s part of why I don’t seem to have as much time to write as I’d like, mostly because he’s still house training which requires “CONSTANT VIGILANCE!” but he’s most definitely worth it. His name is Apollo, and he’s integrating with our other dog Sadie, and the two cats, Mal and Silver, quite well.
That reminds me, going to take him for a quick walk before bed.
Night!
– Grimm

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Filed under BookB, dialog, family, Outline Writing, Real Life™, Revision

Alpha Readers?

RAWR!

Did a good stretch of writing today, and expanding some of my outline points nicely tying up a sub-plot.  Got about 3/4 through a very important scene, of course, I haven’t touched the most important part of the scene yet, I’m getting too tired to do it justice and I don’t want to mess it up.

So, the title says “Alpha Readers?” I wonder if that caught anyone’s attention?  Here’s what I’m looking for in an Alpha Reader.  Someone who:

  • is willing to take this on as a bit of work and return comments in a timely manner
  • isn’t going to worry about spelling and grammar
  • can deal with horrible early drafts and not hate it. 
  • doesn’t mind reading little bits of a story without the whole story
  • doesn’t mind reading a story in a disjointed out of order state
  • isn’t just looking for a preview
  • realizes this is a work of love for me, even if it sucks 😛 (a lot of it is tripe at this point, that’s what revising is for)
  • is willing to give me real feedback, not suggestions on how to fix it though, just what’s broken.

Basically, I’m looking for someone who can help me make sure scenes make sense, dialog flows nicely, and characters are believable.  I don’t need help with spelling and grammar (most of that will be corrected in later drafts, speed is too important right now to get caught up in all the little crap).  I’m trying to sort out style and voice, and make sure my plot and sub-plots work in the end.

What you get for being an Alpha Reader?  Well, you get my never-ending thanks (and possibly a call-out on an acknowledgements page if it ever gets published), and yes, you do get a preview of a book so early in it’s inception that it may be entirely different and you may hate it by the time it’s done 😀

I’ll be connecting with my Alpha Readers privately, who you are will never be made public until/unless the book is published and I have your permission to do so.  I will arrange to get you PDF versions of individual chapters in various states of disarray, which you can mark up with questions and comments and return to me.  I’m new to this, so this will be a learning process on its own.

You have the option to back out of being an Alpha Reader at any time without any hard feelings.  Just thought I’d put that in there.  I can’t be angry at someone if they bail out of some hard work they’re not required to do for me as a favour.  That’s what it is, a favour.  I can’t pay you anything but gratitude (and possibly the occasional cookies or tea if you live close enough).

Of course, if I don’t get any Alpha Readers, I’ll just soldier on until I need Beta Readers, but that may take a while.

– Grimm

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Filed under Alpha Readers, BookB, Character, dialog, Grammar/Spelling, Learning, Story Elements, Voice

Speaking of Dialog

Lots of dialog written today. It’s definitely going to need some polishing and cleaning. Currently it’s mostly the dialog itself without many tags or descriptors to flesh it out. I was just trying to get the flow and pacing right. I’m going to have to seriously come back to some of these story elements and tweak and retouch them, today’s dialog almost got away from me and went off on a tangent. Not necessarily a bad thing, but certainly not a good thing when trying to stick to an outline.

I’m still nailing about 1200 words a sitting, then giving myself a break by rereading what I’ve written and trying to not be disgusted with some of it.
Quite the eventful day, Monster won the third hockey game of her first round of Playoffs, eliminating the other team and moving onto the next round. She’s turning into quite the solid little Goaltender. She stopped 3 break-away’s cold in their tracks. I’m quite proud of her.
Back on the subject of dialog. My youngest daughter, Bear (I assure you, that’s a nickname, we wouldn’t shackle our child with such a moniker) has begun the “Why?” phase of toddler-hood. For those not familiar, out of the 6 of you who actually read this blog on occassion, when I spam you with the link, the “Why?” phase is where the little darling answers every instruction, request, or statement with “Why?”.
The key is that they actually expect an answer, and will not be satisfied with something as banal as “Because I bloody well said so!”, which has been known to work quite well with tweens and teenagers alike. Nope, this little 2 year old cherub actually requires an answer. Lately I find myself having to think of “why” I ask her to do things far more than is comfortable.
“Bear, it’s time for bed.”
“Why?”
“Well, because, um, you’re tired, and I’m tired and we’ll both be a lot less grumpy if you go to bed now.”
“Ok. Nite nite Daddy.”
Nite nite indeed.
-Grimm

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Writing Priority

I’m considering myself on contract with my potential readers. I intend to hold up my end of the deal and have been working to take my writing more seriously and dedicate more time to it. I’m trying to form the habit of writing, which can be quite tricky to do in a house full of people while they aren’t all sleeping.

I’ve nearly completely stopped playing World of Warcraft, not specifically because of writing, but I do find that I get a lot of the enjoyment that I used to get playing from writing. The magic allure of the game just doesn’t seem to be there so much any more. I’ll log in from time to time, more to be social than to actually play it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a fantastic game and the stories in it are marvelous, I’m just having a much richer experience with a word processor at the moment. My subscription to World of Warcraft is set to not renew in mid March just before I go on my work trip to London England. I’m back from England for a week before I head on vacation, so I may not renew til mid to late April, if then.
I’ve been going to the gym on a nearly daily basis, it’s in the office I work my paying job out of, so I clearly can’t go on days that I’m not in the office, but for the past three weeks I’ve gone a minimum of 4 days a week. And I’m keeping fairly active and stretching on the days I’m not in the gym. I find I have more energy on the days I work out than I do on the days I don’t. I also spend a lot of my gym time thinking about writing. You know, when I’m not thinking “just a little more”, or “i think i’m dying”, or “damn i’m out of shape” during the various exercises. Still, it feels good.
I’ve been attempting to put in at least 2 hours a day, and I’m aiming for about 500 words an hour that I can live with. I often write about 900 words an hour, but only keep 500 of them, so it’s working out.
What I’m writing is still very rough work for BookB and will require several revisions before I’m happy enough with it to let anyone see it. It has to have some detail added, stilted dialog knocked on it’s ass, and flow cleaned up. I think it’s more important to tell the story just now, then make it, you know, enjoyable and complete as the next process.
All in all, i’m loving writing. I may never get published, but it’s not as much about the destination as it’s about enjoying the journey.
That’s not to say i don’t want to be published though 😉
-Grimm

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Filed under BookB, dialog, Health/Fitness, Real Life™, Video Games