For this semester…

Hi folks! Being that this semester I want to try to crank out a full rough draft of my novel, and that will require tons of new research since I changed the time period, I’m going to cut back on my blog a bit. You’ll still see frequent MFA updates and serial fiction, but for now, that’s about it.

After this semester I will get back to a regular content schedule, but for now, I have to put school first. Still continue hanging out here, because I’ll still be posting, but please forgive any lack of weekly structure.

Thanks!

Behind The Scenes: Happy Birthday, Dad

My father would have been 71 years old today. Two years ago, on his 69th birthday, he was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. His fight against this horrid disease lasted until September 9, 2016. To be honest, it doesn’t always feel like he’s really gone. He traveled a lot for work, so it really just feels sometimes like he’s been on a really long business trip.

My dad wanted to be a forest ranger. Before he died, I promised him I would immortalize him in fiction. I can think of no better way than to name my protagonist after him and base this character on my father in many ways. While James Stanworth, my main character, is also based on Thomas Stanton, a real guy who lived in 17th-century Connecticut, there’s a lot of my father in his characterization as well.

Two years ago, I got the worst news I’d ever received in my whole life. Now, it feels good to be able to honor my father in the best way I know how. Happy birthday, Dad.

Behind the Scenes: Choosing A Writing Program

macbook air

Photo by Markus Spiske freeforcommercialuse.net on Pexels.com

I got a new laptop yesterday. I’m so enthralled with the idea that I can now work on my novel and other projects anywhere. After years of primarily using an iMac–which served me well for more than half a decade–it’s nice not to be chained to a desk.

New computers always put me on the hunt for new software, so I’m currently reevaluating my writing software. I use Scrivener at present, but they want another $45 to download the latest version. I really hate that they want me to rebuy the software I already own just so I can keep getting updates. Despite everything great about the program, I’m not sure I want to spend it just on principle.

Plan & Write A Novel

Then there’s Storyist. I’ve heard wonderful things about this software but it’s $60. I’m not sure I want to spend that simply because I think it’s a little more than novel-writing software is worth to me (especially as I can use a word processor for free). But it is nice.

Plan A Novel

Story Planner is only $10, but you don’t write the novel in the program. After losing my data once in Scrivener (before I was backing up to DropBox), this is a somewhat attractive idea. It provides a place to organize all of your story’s data and allows you to, well, plan your story. It also allows you to set deadlines so you can track your productivity. This one is definitely a contender on my list.

Subplot, which comes in at $15, does pretty much the same thing. I’m not really sure what the difference between the two is, actually, except that this program has an ideas board. They don’t share a screenshot of it, but I imagine it’s something like Scrivener’s cork board. I could be wrong, though.

Edit & Revise A Novel

Continuity, which costs $14 is another piece of software on my radar, though I suspect this program will be more useful when editing a novel. It seems like a great way to check for plot holes and inconsistencies with characters without killing several trees worth of post-its.

Other Apps & Software

There are several other apps in the App Store, and then there are plenty out there on the internet–but these three are programs I definitely have my eye on. Of course, there is always the good ole word processor.

By the way, if you’re on a PC, there’s an open source program called yWriter that I used to love. The design is not that flashy, but it has some great features. They don’t make it for Mac though.

Behind the Scenes: False Starts

I thought I’d share with you a glimpse at the number of times I’ve started various chapters and sections of my book before landing on what felt right.

Screen Shot 2018-05-02 at 5.15.28 PM

In case you can’t see the image above, I have two chapters that I’m happy with, and:

  • 3 chapter ones
  • 2 chapter twos
  • 1 each of chapters three through five
  • 2 chapters about a character named “Peterson”

The total word count of these false starts is:

44,081.

For those who don’t think in word count, let me translate that for you. Generally, I figure about 300 words per novel page. This would be for a standard size paperback.

44,081 / 300 = 146.936666667

So…let’s just round that up to 147 pages. That’s how much I’ll likely get rid of, though I may take pieces of what I wrote earlier where I like the way I worded something. Sometimes, this is what it takes, and I’m okay with that.

But if you’ve ever thought it’d be easy to write a book, it’s not. I’m not saying this to discourage anyone–if you feel you have a story to tell, by all means, you should find a way to tell it. I just want you to go in with honest expectations; writing is work.

That said, it’s awfully fun work!

Form Matters

There are some books that refuse to be written. They stand their ground year after year and will not be persuaded. It isn’t because the book is not there and worth being written — it is only because the right form of the story does not present itself. There is only one right form for a story and if you fail to find that form the story will not tell itself.

-Mark Twain