ROW80 Week 10: Bearings

(other participants)

This was a fairly busy week, mainly due to unexpected things at work.

Despite that, it was good for poetry; as well as reciting poems five days this week, I wrote five of my own, and made some progress editing one I’d given up on.

Conkers didn’t do quite so well; I only wrote 270 words of the 300 I was aiming for. However, I’ve had some insights into why I’m not getting anywhere:

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ROW80 Week 9: Conclusions

(Other ROW80 Week 9 check-ins)

I’ve finally finished reading Writing the Fiction Series! I don’t think it was quite the book I needed right now, but it will probably be helpful later on.

Most of the text relates to publication (marketing, working with publishers, and writing a series that can be commercially successful), which would probably be more useful to a working writer.

The discussion of series organisation did help me get to grips with Conkers, since I’m currently outlining the second draft; but I think I’ll want to read up more on the word-by-word details of fiction writing once I finish the outline.

I did also make some progress on that second draft this week: I’ve sorted out an outline I’m reasonably happy with for the first half or so of the book, and I re-wrote one of the climactic scenes to try to get a better idea of one of the main villains.

My other goals are going pretty well. I’m happy with that 700 words, and one sonnet, as my writing for this week; and I’ve read another 24 pages of Gormenghast.

With one goal for the round done, I’m declaring a new goal for these last few weeks:

  • Write up a complete outline for Draft 2 (of Conkers).

Good luck and happy writing!

ROW80 Week 5: Sideways

My Week 5 of ROW80 (linky) was dominated by family visits and by planning for Conkers.

I didn’t get as far through the craft book (Writing the Fiction Series, by Karen S. Wiesner) this week: only one chapter, and I didn’t quite finish the exercises.

But that’s mainly because the exercises got me thinking about Conkers again. Working through them, and reading some advice from RA Stone on character motivation, I’m getting a much clearer idea of what I want my editing to achieve.

My other goals went without incident: I wrote two sonnets and some prose, and put some time into booking the rest of my Europe trip. I only read 14 pages of Titus Groan (80 to go), but I’m still on track to finish it in Week 9 or 10.

Good luck and happy writing!

ROW80 Week 11 (really 12): Uncharted

(Other ROW80ers)

This wasn’t a momentous week.

I wrote two sonnets, and typed up my existing notes from the re-read of Conkers. And those still aren’t as organised as I would like.
While I did get some new insights into the characters, I didn’t get the clear lists of character possibilities and story issues I was aiming for.

Maybe I wasn’t going to.

I did start Conkers to be a learning experience, and that implies mistakes along the way — omelettes and eggs and all that.

With that in mind, I’ll use the last few days of the Round to focus on my next best option: try writing some stories in only dialogue (or with none at all), to get a better feel for how actions and dialogue fit together.

My concrete goal for the rest of the round is just to write each day.

Good luck and happy writing.

Update: The numbering actually is right (i.e. this is the Week 11 post). I got confused by the fact that I post my week summary on Monday of the following week, so my Week 11 post comes out on the first day of Week 12.

ROW80 Week 10: Landing

This is my 10th update for ROW80 this year (other people’s), and also a bit of a milestone for Conkers: I finished re-reading the first draft yesterday.

For this week, I want to organize all the notes I took during the re-read, and try to get a clear picture of what I want to change when I start re-writing.

Putting that in specific goals:

  • Write or edit (or prepare for the Europe trip) at least five days this week
  • List the different personalities I’ve used for each character (so I can pick a consistent one).
  • Make a list of issues I want to fix in the next draft

I don’t really have anything else to report. Most of my other writing days were spent on travel stuff, and I didn’t finish reading any (other) books.

Good luck and happy writing!

ROW80 Week 6: Diffuse

My week 6 of this Round of Words (other participants) was fairly productive, but not very focussed.

I didn’t do as much as I’d planned on Conkers, only reading 25 pages of the draft. And while I did get a handwritten scene typed up, it was very much a last-minute thing.

The rest of my week was occupied by other writing, including one thing that might turn into a larger project.

My goal of 40 pages per week may have been a bit optimistic; thinking about and taking notes on each page proceeds much more slowly than normal reading. Which I suppose I should have expected.

But that’s not to say there’s not room for improvement. Most of my editing was done late in the week; if I started on it earlier, I could probably get more done without losing too much free time. And I could probably have spent less time playing computer games.

As such, I’m keeping the same 40-page goal for next week.

Good luck and happy writing!

ROW80 Week 5: Resuming

This was my first week of proper editing.

I spent a couple of days drawing up a mind-map of my current plot, then combined all the scenes into one big file to print out. (Well, most of the scenes, anyway. There’s still the missing hardcopy scenes to sort out; but I did get one typed up on Sunday. :-] )

It’s a funny feeling, actually holding the printout in my hands. It’s still got a long way to go before it’s a real book; but now I feel like I’m actually writing a book, rather than a jumble of random scenes.

It’s not really book-sized yet, though; only eighty-nine pages.

Not that that’s a bad thing. I’m planning to read through it and see how it works at the moment before I start re-writing in earnest, and 89 pages isn’t too daunting a number.

And I suppose I should officially recognise that as a goal:

  • Read through at least 40 pages of the first draft each week; aim to read through it all this week.

My other goals have pretty much kept up. I wrote a sonnet on Monday, did my four days of editing, and read through the first Skulduggery Pleasant book.

One thing I particularly liked about Skulduggery Pleasant: one of the key plot McGuffins shows while the setting is still being introduced, but in such a way that you don’t realise it’s more than background detail until much later.

Good luck and happy writing!

P.S. There’s something funny going on with the LinkyTools list at the moment; I may have to adjust the link once it’s working.

Update: The linky list was fixed, but I didn’t add the linky in time, so this post will stay stuck without one.

ROW80 Week 4: Changing Gears

Here’s my linky for #ROW80 Week 4.

My editing isn’t exactly off to a flying start. I did rewrite one-and-a-bit scenes over the three days of editing, and wrote on another two days to get the total of five.

But I completely forgot about typing up the hardcopy scenes, and I haven’t done any outlining whatsoever.

(I didn’t do much reading either; but that goal isn’t due for another week, and I’m ahead of it in any case.)


My current draft of Conkers is in the first person, but switching between several different narrators. One of my aims in rewriting is to change to third-person everywhere, to make things less confusing.

That’s been harder than I expected. Part of the problem is the first-person plural (“we”, “us”, “ours”, etc.). I use those words quite a bit, and the third-person equivalents really don’t have the same meaning.

The other issue is that I can’t seem to focus on one point of view. A lot of the scenes have focus shifting between several characters, which meant the narrator was often describing a scene a different character was more involved in. Now that I’m using the third person, focus just shifts randomly between characters, and I can’t get it to stick to anyone.

This is obviously a solved problem. I need to pay more attention to how books written in the third person stay focussed, and try and apply this to my scenes.

I’m also wondering if outlining will help; perhaps I’m having trouble because I don’t know what the scenes are trying to achieve. And I’d like to do more outlining this week anyway.

Good luck and happy writing!

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.