Tag Archives: blitzing

Time for a New Year’s Change

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If your present methods of work are producing you a stream of stories that are finding homes and an audience — as they say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

But if there’s something that isn’t working for you, it’s time for a change.

This includes sheer boredom. If you want tedium, you can find plenty of wearisome ways to spend your time that are much easier work than writing fiction and marketing it, and probably bring in more money or status to boot. (Say, dumpster diving for items to sell on eBay. Game stores and upscale neighborhoods with designer label trash seem to rule YouTube dumpster vids.)
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Forget the Movie, Give Me the OST

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Some of us love original motion picture scores, and I don’t have to explain that to my fellow addicts. Eighty bucks for a rare Jerry Goldsmith OST CD? Cheap at the price! Okay, that’s a little farther over the edge than some of us. But if you had the money to splurge, you would, too.

It’s not about “I have it and few people do.” That’s a soundtrack collector‘s mindset, a certain competitive completeness. I want to have it to listen to at will. If you gave me a choice, for free, between a full Krull limited edition 2-CD set, and 20 or 30 soundtrack albums that have to be $10 apiece or less, I don’t even have to think about it: I can list a couple dozen off the top of my head that I will take on that offer. Those will give me more happy time than any single complete soundtrack.

A pause to define: There are what they now call soundtracks that are anthologies of pop songs used as soundtracks (that started in the 1970s). I have a few of those, especially when it seems the only way to get some songs or versions of them. Suckerpunch, for example. The covers of songs are great (love of covers is another day’s insanity). But we need to differentiate those from the original soundtrack (OST) or film score. Read the rest of this entry

Revision 01: High-Level Revision and Spectrums of Writers

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ImageAny good book on grammar and punctuation can teach you much of what a low-level revision requires. The low-level revision is also known as the line-edit. It’s the last thing a writer needs to do. Literally. You don’t have to worry about that until the last draft before it goes to an editor to read, but it’s good for the beginner to run one earlier to start seeing what the mistakes are. You can start training yourself to just not do them, or do them less often.

For fiction, you may also need to know conventions of representing speech and thought (very different than MLA Handbook quote conventions), and looking for infodumps, telegrams, reaction before stimulus, and other fiction snags. An eye for spotting these is probably best developed in online workshops, where writers critique each other’s work. I suggest online because in-person critique workshops can be emotionally rough and, since they are based on only the few people in your immediate geographic vicinity, not common interests, sometimes they aren’t a lot of use. Different genres have different templates and the experience of many of us is that someone who never reads romances cannot decently crit a romance novel; someone who never reads specfi has no idea of its conventions of how to read a story, which is very different than the rest of fiction (as James Gunn explicitly pointed out in his courses).

What has been missing is a guide on how to do high-level revision, which is about plot structure, world-presentation, characterization, and templates, not commas and Tells. It requires looking at the very basics of your story. Rather than looking at the beast and deciding it needs dark hair rather than light, you are looking at whether it should have fur or feathers or scales, or maybe be a plant. Because the high-level revision addresses the underpinning of the story, it’s not easy to set down as simple rules the way low-level revision can be. Also, what is good or bad depends on your genre as well as many other things going on in the manuscript. These blogs can guide you, but you must apply it with your own wit and judgement.

Spectrums
As writers have met each other online, in groups of hundreds and thousands, not just the six or ten in our local area, we have found that there are different wirings involved here. No one method of writing suits everyone. Some people have their writing ruined by trying to force themselves into unsuitable patterns.

There are three spectrums onto which we fit, three axes of a 3D graph of where we lie among writers. Of course, few people fall onto the far ends and most of us mix traits in the middle. Read the rest of this entry

Dualing Through a Blitz

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The topic came up at the Camp Nanowrimo of working more than one project to make one’s wordage (well, I’m counting this: as Perian reminded me, it’s camp,  not NNWM). While many people declare they could never skip around, several were delighted to find they weren’t alone in the world.

Back when I was working from home, as a writer, I used two Nanowrimo accounts just so I could track progress on two different novels in November. I would write several days on one, feel like I had emptied that well of ideas, and switch to my other account while the first one filled back up. They were usually moderately different books, so that was refreshing, too. It really helps when I sit down to blitz draft to alternate this way. The later in the month, the more often I switch, too. Yes, I would usually hit 50k on both.

Some people say they simply couldn’t remember and keep straight two stories. Well, writers are like magicians, in that any rule they think is true about their mental limitations, is true, for them. I gather these are the people who never watch more than one television show per season. Or read a novel or short story while waiting for next week’s episode. I am perfectly willing to accept that they can’t imagine or make up more than one story at a time, but not that they can’t just remember the stuff. I may be queen of pantsers, with a massive allergy to outlines, but even I make notes and gazetteers.

That’s the actual problem baffling a dual blitz: they just can’t switch creative gears that fast. If that works for them, great. But I always warn people about working methods to make sure they are working, for you. It doesn’t matter in the least that it works for someone else, or that you wish it would work for you, if it actually doesn’t.

Some people don’t work well with the blitzing technique, let alone its variations, but it’s worth trying a couple of times, especially if writing two pages a day is making a book take forever, so that you do lose track of what you’re doing over the months.

On the other claw, blitzing may seem not to work for you if this is the scenario — You write like crazy for several days, then burn out. You can’t think of a thing. You quit blitz writing every day. You lose habit and incentive. You go back after a while, plink at it desultorily, try to find the fire, finally do and — you’re out of month.

If you dual, you do that same initial burst, maybe take a day to switch by reading your research or plans, maybe just look at the screen and go, “Nah, I’m stuck,” and jump right over to Project B. At that point, you get a second initial burst! You don’t lose the habit, you’re still all fired up, and you see pages stacking up. When that seems to stick, you go back to Project A, and suddenly it’s all new and fresh and you can see what you can do with it. You keep up that fun energy and challenge which is what all the Nanoholics love about Nanowrimo and Camp(s) Nanowrimo.

So try being a dashing dualist — it may make the blitzing work for you!