A couple of books

I read two books last week — one for research, one for pleasure — but I ran out of space and time to talk about them in my ROW80 post yesterday.

The research book was The Crimean War, by James Barbary. It was much more readable than the French Revolution book I read last year, probably because it focussed more on specific people and events than statistics.

The chapter on Florence Nightingale even had me in tears, although that might be more a property of her story than Barbary’s writing. And I got plenty of useful historical details from the rest of the book.

The novel was Storm Front, by Jim Butcher. It’s the first in a long series, which I’ve been trying to start reading for a while.

However, I don’t have much to say about it. It was enjoyable, certainly; I especially liked some of the ways technology interacts with the magic (like dressing up a potion as a sports drink). But it hasn’t exactly left a strong impression on me.

Not that that’s a problem; I only read it for enjoyment in the first place.

ROW80 Week 3: First draft finished!

My progress this week of ROW80 (linky) wasn’t remarkable. I wrote my usual five days, and read two books. However, I only finished one new scene for Conkers.

That’s partly because I’ve been sick this weekend, and partly because I decided to switch to editing, and was using a lack of editing goals as an excuse for doing nothing.

Switch to Editing

There were two things that prompted this.

Firstly, I got my first feedback on my WIP, from the local writers’ group. They were positive about the overall ideas, but pointed out a lot of details I’d need to fix for the story to make sense.

Secondly, there’s the scene I wrote this week. It was supposed to be an epilogue, and it has established where a few of the characters end up.

However, it also includes a confrontation that feels too climatic to be tacked on at the end like that. At the same time, it doesn’t really have any connection to the main characters. And noticing that made me realise the villain in the actual climax doesn’t either.

The upshot is that I want to bring in these other characters much earlier, which means going back and rewriting things I wrote this time last year. And I might as well fix the details at the same time.

New Goals

Now that I’m editing, the scenes-per-week goal doesn’t fit very well. I like AmyBeth Inverness’s advice on counting editing, but I’d also like to include some measurement of progress more concrete than “write every day”.

Not to mention the fact that my scenes are very disorganised — they’re in a variety of text files with unhelpful names, and a few are still languishing in hardcopy notebooks. I’ll have a hard time finding what I want to edit if I don’t change that.

Hence, my new goals for work on Conkers are:

  • Do something towards re-writing Conkers (editing, outlining, or new scenes) at least three days a week;
  • Type up at least one hardcopy scene a week, until I run out; and
  • Have at least one chapter, of the second draft finished by the end of the round. I would also like to do a full outline — so I know which chapter it is — but I’m not sure how reliable it will be until more scenes are finished.

In addition, my other goals from the start of the round stand: read a book every two weeks; reflect on my writing each week; and write five days out of seven (which will now include editing).

Good luck and happy writing

P.S: I haven’t said anything about the two books. As this post is long enough already, I’ll try and post something about them tomorrow.

ROW80 Week 2: Echo

My progress this round of ROW80 (linky) matches the model I set last week.

Once again, I wrote two scenes from my outline for Conkers, one scene for a future arc, and poetry on the other two days of the week.

I have had some new plot elements pop up, which might lengthen the story a bit; but it doesn’t look like it’ll be enough to stop me finishing the draft this round.

I also finished reading a book I started last week. — Agatha Christie’s Taken at the Flood. I’ve said a lot about Christie books already; the only new thing I noticed was the amount of time it took to set up all the characters’ relationships before the murder could happen and make sense.

Continue reading

I've dreamed of evil deeds, and crime, and pains;
I've counted days until my heart turns dark;
I've even filled my rooms with spikes and chains,
And all of it is waiting for a spark.

My minions wait for me to touch the phone,
And armour waits for them when they come here;
With lawful lords I've listed every bone
I'll pick, and whom I'll have to "disappear".

It's on my calendar: TAKE OVER WORLD.
It's written twice, and underlined in red.
I have my flags, all stacked and neatly furled,
And all my loved ones are, by chance, long dead.

Tomorrow is the day.

Am I prepared?
Am I, or is the world, the one more scared?

ROW80 Week 1: Model

I think I’ve managed to start this round of ROW80 (linky) in the manner I mean to go on.

I did indeed write five days a week, and checked off two scenes of Conkers off the list; I also wrote a third scene for a possible future story arc.

Probably contributing to that is the fact I’ve finally found the local writers’ group. I’ve been looking for them all year, but only recently spotted one of their posters and managed to turn up at a meeting.

Reading is still up in the air: whether I finish a book next week depends on how much I read.

Good luck and happy writing!

P.S. I’m going to be travelling on Monday next week, so it’s possible next week’s update will be late. Hopefully I’ll be home in time to post something; but we’ll see how it goes.

ROW80 Goals for Round One, 2014

I’m inclined to just use the same four goals as last round (write 1000 words/week, and five days out of seven; reflect weekly; read six books), since they seemed to work pretty well.

But my real goal isn’t to surpass a word limit each week — it’s to finish writing a story. And that, I didn’t do.

To fix that, I’m aiming specifically to finish Conkers this round. Based on a fairly rough outline, I estimate the full story will be about 50 scenes, 10 of which are still unfinished.

That suggests I can finish Conkers by the end of this round. But I sometimes finish a scene in only 500 words, so I suspect doing two scenes a week should be possible. I’ll see how it goes.

For now, these are my weekly goals:

  • Finish two scenes towards Conkers
  • Write on at least five days
  • Reflect on what I write
  • Read half a book (i.e. one every two weeks)

Good luck and happy writing!

Edit: oops, forgot the linky.

Farwell Sorcery!

I dedicate this to John Wellington Wells, from Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Sorceror. Consider this a Spoiler Alert, if you need one.

Here lies a master of the evil trade.
Hearts would he twist, to fit the smallest need.
Him turncoats sought to have their friends betrayed,
And honest hearts retained, to "do the deed".

Here drowned a a mage already far too deep,
Whose ill-sent ships at last had all come in,
Whose dolled-up sirens echoed through his sleep,
When all their conquests met to do him in.

Here stopped a heart that changed in its last beat,
And lungs that said "Recant!" with their last breath.
The pallid liver found it feared defeat
Too much to wait — to die to worse than death.

We thank the world this body stays at rest;
Its soul is still — it passed the final test.