Why are beginnings so damn hard?

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Everyone who knows me, and some who don’t, are more than fully aware that I’m working on editing the Dark Queen of Darkness. I just finished up the first round of developmental edits, which are back with the editor (Jette Harris). However, I’m not even remotely close to done yet. My process thus far has been to run through her suggestions, pick off low-hanging fruit and then go once through for each of the larger issues to ensure consistency. This usually starts with starting at the beginning. Every time I start at the beginning, I inevitably fidget with the first few paragraphs. It’s killing me.

I wrote the first paragraph to the dark queen almost 3 years ago and it was fucking great. So, naturally, I’ve hated it ever since. The current incarnation is:

There was no mistaking the dark tower. It was the tallest, blackest, and most evil looking tower in the whole of the dark kingdom. Hexe, the dark queen, had built it specifically to say dark queen and sorceress right down to the foundations. She’d even gone so far as to have the words property of the dark queen etched on every stone. The tower was an imposing and unlovely sight, much like Hexe herself, tall, narrow, and nothing but sharp, plain angles.

I think it’s repetitive, not very grabby, and absolutely perfect at the same time. This is not a good place to be when you’re supposed to be editing. At this point, all I have from Jette (the editor) on this is that it’s fine, but maybe not got quite enough hook. As with all of the advice and feedback offered by Jette, thus far, I feel in my gut that she’s quite right. The problem here is that I’m so incredibly close to the work, especially this paragraph, that I’m unable to tackle it with a properly dispassionate approach.

My favorite book openings are those offered by Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams, and JK Rowling. They tend to be chatty and easy. They give the narrator a minute to bring the reader up to speed before launching into the main thrust of the work. And as I write this, I wonder if examining pieces by those authors might not be instructive – A wise writer once suggested I open a few of the books I like and highlight passages that work. Maybe that’s the answer here. Don’t just look at the words on the page, look at why another author’s intro works.

I don’t know what else to say about this, except that for every book I’ve written, the same problem exists. I hate the intro and also love it just the way it is.

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2017 – A Writing Plan!

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So, I don’t have a clever image for this one so here’s a picture of that robot thing from Lost in Space. What I DO have is a plan. A writing plan, and here it is. I’ve got 1 book done, and going nowhere (not I didn’t actually burn every copy in existence.), I’ve got two more than 1/4 of the way through and at least reasonably well plotted, and another 2 that have strong concepts, but perhaps aren’t far down the road in the plotting and writing department. In any case. Here is my writing plan for the year, when I finally get on the Stick:

  1. Finish Deep Space Helpdesk – Priority!
  2. Add a chapter to the burned book and shop it to a publisher or two.
  3. Write The Dark Queen of Darkness
  4. Finish book #2 of the book that shall not here be named, because we’re looking forward, remember?
  5. Work on the book with Thittlebod and Penny Adventure.
  6. Write one recipe box per week for the Seward Journal Newspaper, and one Baked Goods & Bourbon post per week.
  7. READ MORE – I made it through a pitifully small number of books last year owing largely to the existence of audiobooks. I want to fix that this year.
  8. Also, LOADS of editing.

So, there it is, my forward-looking writing plan, yes it includes actually finishing like 3 books, super aggressive, and quite possibly a stupid idea t even attempt, but there it is, at least I have a plan!


photo credit: Sky Noir Robot via photopin (license)

Progress Report – Wine Bottles & Broomsticks

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I haven’t made nearly as much progress as I’d have liked after the first full draft was completed. My goal was to have it revised by last week, but that just didn’t happen. Work, side projects and working-out have gotten in the way. This weekend wasn’t any different. Yesterday I spent two hours at the gym, then we did a family day – movies & dinner. After a gentle prod from the twitterverse, I got kicked into high gear again and sat down to continue revising. So far, I’ve written 3 new chapters and extended another one by about a thousand words. Today’s goal, after laundry, shopping, and cooking is to work those three chapters in and finish revising and first-round editing the final third of the book.

Considering that the last book I tried to write took about 10 years to finish and I haven’t even thought about hitting it again for revisions, this is excellent progress for me. For those interested, I am planning a second book and there is a lot of material in this one that will feed into the second. For the second, I’ve got a basic outline, a few scenes have been sketched and there’s a theme I’m working around. So, all-in-all, not much to show, yet, but I’m working on it.

When I get this one buttoned up for a 2nd full draft, you’ll hear me crowing all about it. So, back to it…