Steelgods September - Self Imposed Improvements

on Sunday, September 25, 2011
So my car issue might finally have reached it's resolution...or rather we made a decision but still have to finish it up. Which means I (hopefully) can finally put a full week of frustrations and general stress behind me and just accept whatever happens. While I'm still having difficulties transferring back from being stressed every second of every day to actually relaxing again, I'm glad this has finally reached some sort of resolution (even if it wasn't the one I was necessarily rooting for).

What does this have to do with writing? Nothing at all. I just felt like mentioning it.

Steelgods 1 has suffered immensely from my almost mental breakdown, but I'm still hoping to get most of the edits done ASAP. That will require three-ish chapters a day if I want it finished by the end of September, which actually might not be possible, but either way I'm going to try. I want to start my next book at the beginning of October (which currently has a basic premise and a few ideas but no title, actual plot, or magic system yet) and I'll need at least a couple of brainstorming days before I leap headlong into it.

I've been re-reading lots of comments on my previous books as well as current feedback for Effulgent Corruption and The Gears of Anbar. From all this I've been pinpointing things I can work on in my upcoming books. I've actually been doing this the entire time, but I felt it might be beneficial for me to actually write them down this time so that I remember. Some of these things are also things I've been working on for a while and apparently failing at, so they'll still get a mention.

- Decreased Melodrama - This is a big one for me. In attempts to make scenes more "powerful" and "emotional" I draw it out too far and instead beat the reader over the head with how I want them to feel. It's a big problem, the root of which probably has something to do with me distrusting my reader, but the point is that subtlety is both hard to accomplish but a masterful thing when you actually pull it off. This is going to be a major focus in my next dark fantasy novel.

 - A Focus on Voice - Voice is another big difficulty for me, at least based on most feedback I receive. I have an "author" voice, and I have a "Nathan" voice. One of these is good, one of these is funner to write than the other. I need to eliminate the "Nathan" voice (I have the Steelgods books to go all hog-wild with that) and instead try and refine it down to be a consistant tone.

 - Tactful Adult Themes - Another one I've been working on. This includes all types - violence, sex, language, etc. - but the one in particular I have issue with is violence. There's a time when violence can be used to evoke certain emotions, usually shock or horror or disgust. But when violence is overdrawn and overused it makes the reader desensitized and comes off as tasteless. This is actually another big one for me, as I enjoy writing detailed battle/fight scenes but really should be cutting down the content.

- Restraining My Overactive Imagination - This one isn't exactly what you think it is. I'm not saying I shouldn't brainstorm crazy things or invent interesting ideas; far from it. What this means is that, as Pat Rothfuss says frequently, "Everything must be in service to the story." Too often I find myself adding things because I think they'll be "cool," or "interesting." This is a darling that must be killed. It doesn't matter if my specific character as this great quirk; if it doesn't provide any service to the overarching narrative it is just a dead end. It doesn't matter if I think this section of dialogue is funny and entertaining, if it isn't adding to the plot it is just wasted words. I discovery write, which usually results in me adding tons of crap that should ever make it to a second draft. If I can find a way to identify the crap before actually committing to it in the rough, then I'll save myself a lot of time editing (as well as grief in the future when I look back and wonder what the heck I was thinking when I wrote it, and regretting showing people my rough drafts).

- Consistant and Proactive Characters - I've been doing better at both of these, I hope. And honesty, sometimes your main characters just aren't very proactive. Someone doesn't always have to take charge all the time; that doesn't happen in real life. But that doesn't mean I should let my characters slouch about, making half-assed attempts at being proactive before other characters take care of business (unless the plot directs it, which the Steelgods books do in certain instances). Characters need to press on and be interesting and compelling, not slothful. They also need to stay consistant, which is an issue that seems to plague my side characters more than main ones. This one is a bit harder, since I never think my characters are inconsistant, but when readers get a hold of it they are quick to tell me otherwise. So it's going to be tricky, but it's something I'll keep in mind. As was brought up in writing group today: what's the difference between a character you think is acting against their nature, and a character who is developing? How do you know this action is just a change in character rather than an inconsistency? I suppose that's the $10,000 question.

There are other things I've worked on in the past (eliminating modern dialogue and references, creating better act 2's of my books, keeping a pace consistant) but these are my current big issues. We'll see how well I can accomplish them with the next untitled novel.

Stress: The Death of Productivity

on Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Without going into too much detail: we've been trying to buy a new car. Our current car is unable to pass inspections next April without $1000+ worth of work on it, and after paying double what I originally paid for the car in repairs in just the last three years, I'm going to say I'm willing to let it die.

So we've been car shopping. And we ended up in a bit of a mess, one I'm currently trying to remedy. It isn't a huge mess by any means (in fact my parents think I'm silly for being so worried about it), but it's enough to be a nagging itch on my mind.

Which makes it almost impossible to focus, which means Steelgods editing has entered the backburner. The fact I'm sick with a rough cold probably isn't helping this.

If I were to estimate, I'd say I'm 25% through Steelgods. I can get 2-3 chapters a day, which means I only have maybe a couple weeks left for it, but this whole situation and brought it to a grinding halt. I'm hoping against hope that the issue will be resolved tomorrow, so that tonight I can trick myself into being not stressed and actually write the "bonus" chapter I've been needing to add. We'll see how that works out.

In other (more positive) news, I'm now on Goodreads. After much foot-dragging by myself I've finally jumped on, and promptly added reviews for the boatloads of books I've read. My list is pathetic in comparison with my wife's, but that's just the way it goes.

In other reading news, I have now read A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, and A Storm of Swords. All of them are fantastic and probably one of my favorite fantasy series ever. Seriously, they are great.

As a break before A Feast for Crows, I'm reading A Night of Blacker Darkness by Dan Wells. The odd hilariousness of this book is also helping with my stress, so we'll keep on it for now. I don't think George R. R. Martin is the best thing to read when you are trying to not feel down.

So, apologies for disappearing for a few weeks, but hopefully I'll have more updates very soon. I'm also doing game reviews on the Backlog Blog which also has been neglected (I have boatloads of them lined up: I play a lot of video games), but I'm hoping to start putting a review up every other day as a minimum.

Keep it real, I'll try to keep from pulling my hair out.

Steelgod September: Slow Going

on Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Due to life, I've been struggling getting through the Steelgods edits. The "rewrite" idea works but it is also time consuming; I spent most of yesterday rewriting a fight scene (which I actually rewrote last week, so that dumb fight is now officially in draft 3) and then doing the next chapter. I think that puts me on Chapter 4, which is where the plot really starts kicking in. I'm hoping to do one or two chapters a day from here on out, assuming my mood (and schedule) allows.

So that fight I was referring to is actually the first one in the book (which happens right away in the second chapter). My first write of it was decent but there are things inconstant with the rest of the series. The second was more in line but the fight itself was just awful. I finally gave up and actually outlined my first fight (first time doing that...actually it was just half the fight, but whatever) which was what made it work. Finally.

I'm read A Song of Fire and Ice and am on book three (A Storm of Swords). I don't know how I managed to ignore this series up until this point; it's fantastic. Expect reviews of them soon.

Other than that, I'm not doing anything particularly exciting. I'm considering doing a switch off: edit one day, write something the next. I have an idea for a (probably awful) urban fantasy called Half that would be worth a shot. It has no plot and only a basic premise. Nothing could possibly go wrong.

Steelgod September - Let the Edits Begin

on Tuesday, September 6, 2011
This isn't going to be a very exciting post, but this isn't a very exciting blog, so you get what you paid for.

Basically I'm going through the edit of Might of the Steelgods (which is actually The Destroyer of the World, but I haven't got used to calling it that yet). This is a big, major, serious edit, which also means it's going to take a large chunk of time. This is basically the edit I'll be pitching and (should push come to shove) the edit I'd ePublish should pitching completely fail me. Still undecided about that latter part, but we'll burn that bridge when we get to it.

So hey, I have a system. I've actually never done an edit this extensive before (Paradise Seekers had a pretty intense edit, but even it wasn't as in-depth as this one will be) so I've been trying to wrap my brain around how I'd do it.

Here's the points I rested on:

- I am confident when actually writing from scratch. I'm able to get into the story and the writing comes easier.
- On the flip side, when I just go in and edit pieces/parts it can be difficult. Sentence edits are easy, as are dialogue edits, but when I'm changing a small part of a larger scene, the lack of flow can throw me off.

So here's what I'm gonna do. I already re-read Steelgods once over the weekend, and now I'm going through it again at work. I'm breaking it apart by chapters, and then writing snippets of what I want changed at work. So that's fine and good.

Next, in the evening I'm going to pull of the original document on the Macbook, and then do a transcribe edit to my desktop (the Mini). That way I'm still writing, I still have the scenes, and if there are particular words/pacing bits that I liked I can keep them, but I'm intending to mostly write it as if I was re-writing it.

I'm going to try and do 2-3 chapters a day (I can type about 90-100 wpm if I'm blitzing, and so I'm assuming this'll go pretty quick). If I did around that amount I'd be done in ~2 weeks, which would be ideal. I'm allowing a buffer for when I don't get my chapter notes down at work, but those are going pretty quick so I'm not too worried.

Also, this means I'm going to be actually writing, which I need. All weekend I kept thinking I was forgetting to do something important, that nagging in the back of my brain, when the itch that needed scratching was me writing. I'd go crazy if I didn't actually write this month, but instead of trying to write a whole new project and edit Steelgods, we are going for the best of both worlds here.

After that I may spend another month writing (October) and then hit the edits. I also plan on spending that month submitting Steelgods to every place in the whole world. So hopefully it doesn't suck by that point.

That's it from me. Oh, and I'll also be doing minor Gears edits since it's going through writing group. And I'm playing Adam's Pathfinder game. So I'm going to be busy, big surprise.

Here's some Freddy in memory of him. If you don't know how Freddy Mercury is, you are a bad person.

Steelgod September - The Gears of Anbar is Finished

on Friday, September 2, 2011
After around a month (more or less), The Gears of Anbar - The Might of the Steelgods Book Two is...FINISHED!


In celebration I'm posting this post on the new blogger format! It is awesome! We can now tell for sure that it is owned by google, because everything is so white!

At any rate, here are some stats.

Wordcount Stats

Total Words: 112,446
Total Days Covered: 33
Total Days Actually Writing: 28 (Sundays and driving to/from WorldCON)
Words per Day Average: 4,019 (holy crap)
Total actual time spent (in hours) writing: ~40 hours (That's a full time job for one week)
Words per Hour: 2,811 (holy crap again)
Most written in one day: 11,100 words (yesterday, Sep. 1nd)
Least written in one day: 1,040 words (Tuesday, August 30th)

Plot Stats

Number of Chapters: 26 (not counting the prologue and epilogue)
Incorrectly numbered chapters: I have two chapters "2"s for some reason, messing up all future chapter listings.
Characters carried over from Steelgods 1 (physical presence required): 4
New named main characters introduced: 5
Main characters killed: *spoiler*
Times Cevan got the crap kicked out of him: 3
Most used joke: "Like the number" (in reference to when Cevan would introduce himself)
Adherence to original outline written last year: ~40%

Compared to Steelgods 1 (faq)

(note: I'm too lazy to stat check, so this is mostly personal opinion)

Is Gears a better book? Yes
Are there more or less Peacemakers in it? Less
Are there more or less Gears of Anbar in it? ...are you seriously asking this question?
Is there more or less action? Less (aaaand there go my Alpha readers)
Is there more or less lovin with the ladies? Loads more (aaaand here they come back)
Are there more on-screen deaths? No
Are there more impactful on-screen deaths? Absolutely 
Are there...politics? Sort of, yes. 
Is it funner? I think so. 
Better structured? Absolutely. Writing this made me realize how much work Steelgods 1 needs.
Wait, that wasn't a joke? No, there are actual Steam Spiders. does that work? Just read it and find out.
Is Cevan less of a moron? He still has poor self-esteem, but I think he's doing a good job "growing up" over the course of the series. 
What about turning points? The "turning point" moment in this book is (in my opinion) much more dramatic than in Steelgods 1. I'll have a larger impact over the rest of the series.
So you are still planning on writing six of these things, huh? Yep. 
Favorite Gears exclusive character: Pitronus
Favorite series character: Either Roc or Devent
Wait, Devent? Isn't he like a huge jerk? Yes, but he's a complex character, and that's why I like him. Rook was my favorite character from Effulgent Corruption, remember? And he's like a mass-murderer psychopath.
Maybe you need therapy. I've got a BS in Psychology, so I can therapize myself!

...since this has gotten far off the rails, here's the magical WORDLE!

Yeah, I'm surprised Devent and Rosemary are more prominent than Stewart and Pitronus. I guess they are his step-siblings.

I apparently also use the words "like", "just", and "back" a lot. "Back" is a carry-over from Effulgent Corruption if I remember correctly. I should probably keep that in mind when I start the next book.

Next project? Editing Steelgods 1. Then the daunting task of editing Effulgent Corruption. In the mean time I'm debating writing something else, but we'll see.

The first step is outlining the edits for Steelgods 1, because I have a lot of changes that need to be made and don't really have it organized. So I'm going to re-read it, write down those edits, pull up my two Alpha readers' line edits, and go from there.

Anyway, Gears is done! Now to drown myself in video games.

Steelgod September: Finish Him!

I wrote 11.1k yesterday, not counting 1.7k for Adam's upcoming Pathfinder game I'm taking part in. I think having an agnostic gnome cleric in a world where gods are very much real and a reality should prove for a fun run.

But the real story is I wrote three chapters yesterday, leaving one and an epilogue to go. Meaning this book is pretty much done.


I'll blog tonight when I finish it, but it's still an accomplishment. I'll also have stats and what have you during that time, as it'll probably be interesting. Or not. I don't know.

I'm also going to speed-edit it tonight or tomorrow, then take a three-day weekend before starting work on Steelgods 1 (I guess I should get used to calling it Destroyer). After that it's submitting and all that fun stuff.

Overall, as I've said before I feel this book is much tighter than the first one, and I'm going to take what I learned on both it an Effulgent Corruption during my edits of the first book. Hopefully we can cut off the loose threads and make everything fit together better and lose some of the parts that are contrived. We shall see.

I also killed a main character last night, and did things with others that'll make you wish they were dead. So, you know, fun for the whole family.

I'll update tonight with the Wordle, updates, and all that good stuff!

I didn’t sleep that night, not a single minute. I spent what was left of that evening toiling over Devent’s letter, re-reading every word until I could perhaps recite the entire thing from memory. Each time my mind was not made up, my decision concerning the matter foggy and muddled. I didn’t know what to do.

Anbar August - Passing Steelgods, and a new month

on Thursday, September 1, 2011
On the last day of August (yesterday), The Gears of Anbar passed the length of The Might of the Steelgods (soon to be renamed The Destroyer of the World) by 1000 words. Unfortunately, those weren't the last 1000 words of Gears, so I didn't finish the book in one month. Too bad.

My new goal is the end of the week, which is still going to take a considerable amount of work. I have four chapters and an epilogue left, basically the climax of the story, which is probably going to be another 20k. This book is also going to need a touch of trimming to drop it down to "YA" length, though one could argue it's between a young adult and adult fantasy novel.

So that means Anbar August is over and we are back into Steelgods September, which means it's been a year since I started the first book. It also means this is the month I'm doing my hardcore edits of Steelgods 1, since I decided it's actually worth trying to sell after mulling it over for a year.

In other news, aside from editing Steelgods and Effulgent Corruption, I have no idea what my next writing project will be. It isn't for lack of options (James and I went over all my potential ideas and sequels and figured I have 13+ books I could work on), it's more a matter of indecision. After writing a YA I'm in the YA mood, but I also could use another fantasy novel. I probably shouldn't get involved in such a massive task again (we saw what happened with Effulgent Corruption), but I don't know how many more options I have.

Maybe I'll finally write that stupid Canyon story I wrote for a writing prompt over a year ago. That thing was supposed to be third person YA, I think. Except it has no plot.

Well, hopefully the next blog post (or the one after) will be me announcing the completion of my seventh book. It's going through writing group starting next week, and I'm actually excited about it. It's a much tighter novel than Steelgods (Destroyer) was, which is probably Effulgent Corruption's fault. Not complaining.

That's about it from me. We are inching into ending spoiler territory with Gears, but here's a safe quote follows by an awesome Within Temptation song. I don't usually do the whole "this song is my book!" but the first time I heard this song I thought of Cevan for whatever reason, so here you go.

Plus it's a badass song.

“Let’s see,” he considered. “Steelgods’ Day is in a moon’s time, so you’ll be needing to come back here at least an hour every day if you plan on finishing it before then. And there’s also the issue of payment…”
I nodded, reaching into my pocket and pulling out my bag. Anbar looked at me close, then gave a wide smile.
“Eh, two-hundred should cover it. Two-fifty and I’ll watch you the hour you are here and help you to not ruin it. Money well spent, I’d say.”
I blinked. “Two-fifty? That seems…a bit low, to be honest. For silver, I mean.”
Anbar laughed, slapping me on the back again. “Blood an iron, boy, don’t go into business. You can’t barter for piss!”
            I made a mental note, adding that to the ever-growing list of careers that I wasn’t suited for.