Getting The Job Done

Yes, it has happened again… I went silent.

The truth of the matter is that I’m trying to get finished my novel, the one I started in November 2016. It’s very nearly there, and it is just a question of a few more days, if I keep at it.

This is what i wanted to talk about, because it is so very easy to put off finishing stuff, whether it is writing a novel, or building a piece of furniture that’s needed, or sorting out a cupboard… there is an endless list this applies to. What I have been learning is that even if you spend a little time every day, it starts to get done. The pile reduces, the building gets complete, the story gets written. Even if I only have ten minutes that day, (like I did this morning, thanks to the computer going bananas,) I still grab it. Every little chance is still a chance. And it might be that the little chances are all you will have. Waiting for the big moment to do it might never materialise.

It was something of a crux moment for me, getting back into full swing, and pushing hard to finish the novel. I say this, because at the same time, I saw two videos on YouTube, and it confirmed what I was doing, in a sense. I’m going to share them with you all, because I felt they were inspirational, and who knows… maybe they could help someone reading this blog entry?

(As a warning, be aware that strong language is used in the first one, and I think also the second one. Certainly has been used in others of his videos, so please be advised!)

Done Is Better Than Perfect.

Don’t Let PROCRASTINATION and SELF-DOUBT steal your progress from you.

I hope to have finished the novel in the next few days, and hopefully, I’ll be able to start new topics on here… and be more around.


Enter The Night (Part Two)

This is a continuation of what I posted back in March. All of this should be regarded as first draft sketches.

Part One: Enter The Night (Part One)

Samantha couldn’t believe what had happened there. Promises to help her out had meant she had ended up drugged. How hadn’t she seen that coming? And why had she even trusted that weird guy in the first place? Then she had ended up wandering round that party, trying to work out where she was, and how to escape. Then there was that short little hellspawn. The baby faced drunk…Samantha didn’t want to think the words she wanted to use to describe the little intoxicated bob cut English whore. Well, she was guessing she was English from all the television and film she had seen with English people in them. She had been taken off to a bedroom – how big was that mansion, exactly? – and then had been tied to the bed with silk scarves, and a padlock and chain shut around her neck like a freakish necklace. Then that girl slid away, ranting and raving away, talking about her family. That much Samantha had been able to work out.

Then she had to work out how to escape from the scarves binding her hands above her head…

Of course, her cousin had appeared, and was clearly quite different. And didn’t like her, either. He had untied her, and then tried to seduce her… until her temper broke, and kneed him hard, growling menacingly in the process. Samantha frowned at the memory. Why had she growled at him like that? Even baring her teeth, which knowing her luck, had bits of food or something stuck in her braces. those things were annoying her, she knew that much. Typical she had to end up with really crooked teeth.

In any case, that had sent him fleeing, as best he could wit the pain of her kneeing him hard. She remembered breathing hard, the thought of tearing through the mansion, and destroying anything and everything she could get her hands on. It had taken several moments to compose herself, focussing on the pain her teeth were suddenly giving her. It had a habit of happening to her, when she felt extreme rage. Red mists shrouding her thoughts. What was even more embarrassing for her was having to remember the clear, searing urge to tear into people’s throats and… she wasn’t quite sure what she would have done next. In all honesty, she didn’t ever want to know the answer.

Something was clearly messed up with her, for certain…

But not as messed up as that rich family.

Trying to leave that mansion had been a challenge, because she hadn’t wanted to be seen by the bunch of degenerate weirdoes. Weirdo. She had a habit of using that word a lot, thinking about it. But what she had seen in their basement – and how had she managed to end up so lost she ended up there? She didn’t know. But she had noticed the guy she had kneed amongst the assembled crowd, wearing the same dark red robes as the others.

What she had seen next…

The girl with the bob haircut was guided to the altar. Samantha felt her face flush with blood as she remembered the state that girl had been in. She had to be about the same age as her, and… what happened next was all partly her fault, too.

She had seen the stumbling, insensate girl to the stone altar, and watched with mute shock at the large hooded men lift her, and place her flat onto the stone slab. The girl tried to move and get off, the struggle pacing faster and faster, in keeping with Samantha’s own heartbeat. Her body trembled harder and harder as she strained to keep herself hidden, when they started speaking loudly some mumbo jumbo, and then started pulling out a large wooden knife – from what she could make out from the gloom – and started to plunge it to her torso.

The act was too much for her. Despite herself, she found herself racing forwards, her anger gripping her in a vice-like grip. All she could do was watch as her vision gained a reddish tinge, and she was barrelling forwards, wanting to simply tear the men into large hunks of blood spurting meat. The more the crowd tried to stop her, the worse the Red Rage became, and she was there, getting faster, stronger…

She must have been given drugs. It was the only way she could explain it all.

In any case she had ended up at the altar with some sort of wicked-looking large knife, and was ready to start sinking her new knife into anyone she could get to. Then came the moan. Something that was bone-rattling. She remembered seeing the group of blue glowing people floating about, with the leader rising up from amongst them, a black and white striped… something as a garment. Had it been male, or female? Samantha honestly couldn’t remember. Not that it had mattered, because the sight of them had the force inside her turn aro9und, and then flee as fast as possible out of the building.

She groaned at the memory. She was so mentally crazed.

Still, she still had that knife, and it was wicked awesome.

But it still didn’t change reality. As much as she wanted to deny what she had seen, it was pretty clear that the freakshow in the basement wasn’t a bunch of rich people getting their thrills from playing voodoo orgies. It was very, very real. More than that, since that night, she’d been seeing things. Or rather, people. Well, certain people. She couldn’t explain it: it was as if she had a blindfold removed, and could see the world better for what it really was. And she could see the creatures masquerading as humans. The leaches. She’d confronted one in San Francisco. It had been very shocked when she had boldly stated she knew what it really was. It had been weird gripping his throat. On the one level, it was warm and pulse-pounding with nerves, but beneath it all, she could feel what he truly was. Dead. A mockery of nature. That’s what they all were though, right? Those like him. And then there were those three weirdo owls, staring down and watching then all.

The confrontation had made her bare her teeth again, as if something primal was prompting her. Maybe it was her having braces or something, because he had ended up rather disturbed by what she had done. Which was good, because her teeth had hurt something fierce – again. Maybe it was some sort of way for her to know if there was something freaky wrong about her?

Mind you, what was freaky wrong was just how she was simply accepting it all. Okay, it was making her scared – which was why she’d used that bottle of cheap bleach, and had tried to use it to turn the thick coal strands of her hair into blonde – but she wasn’t about to have a mental breakdown or anything. Thankfully, she travelled light, and still had her rucksack. Because when she’d been in that mansion, she’d managed to grab a huge wad of cash from one of the studies, before she had managed to get lost in the basement.

Still, it was worth having been in Chicago, because she’d gained a lead, one that had led her to this pier, and the town that had it. It seemed her mother had moved to the place a few years back. She couldn’t work out why. Still, after that mansion, and the general types that had seemed to know her, was it a massive shock?

Samantha decided to turn, and walk off the pier and back into the town. She needed to work fast and find her momma. Before all the weirdoes caught up with her…

The Writing Program Interrogation…

As people know, I use an old, basic writing program, to keep track of things. One nice thing about it is that asks questions, and these are great to mull over for your story.

I’ve been collating them over time, and creating a list of them. I’m putting up the list, to hopefully help other people:

  • Is it ever too easy for your protagonist to get out of trouble?
  • Does anything in the story make the reader work too hard?
  • Does your story tell the reader too much?
  • Are all your story’s important questions answered? Are the answers delayed as long as possible?
  • Does the story leave any important loose ends?
  • If your story is a first-person narration, does the narrator’s voice seem real?
  • Are your protagonist?s or narrator’s motives clear enough? Leave some dots for the reader to connect, but not major ones.
  • Is all the dialogue in your story grammatically correct? If it is, perhaps you should change it to make it more realistic.
  • Does your opening line grab the reader’s attention?
  • Make sure your story begins with a gripping first page. If it doesn’t, change it.
  • Does your story have flashbacks?  If the flashbacks do not serve important plot purposes, then rewrite them or get rid of them.
  • Is the ending to your story genuinely likely or possible?
  • Is your narrator’s voice consistent?

I can see me work on some blog posts on these, and try to expand them with my thoughts on the matter. Still, it serves a useful reference point for people, so I’m happy to share it.

Preparation, Preparation, Preparation That Hits The Limit

I’ve been neglectful (yet again) of this blog, and hope that one day, I’ll be able to get to squeeze in more time and opportunity to create more posts. I enjoy it, but with various other things happening, it gets forgotten about a bit too much for my liking. But that is for another blog post…

Back in June 2015, I ended up writing a blog post about preparation and planning. This is a sort of revisiting, because in the Cabin for the April 2016 Camp NaNoWriMo (one of the things keeping me busy, but in a good way,) was the comment “I tend to have issues planning ENOUGH if that makes sense. I never quite make my final word count because I run out of story.” This is an interesting problem, from my view. I’m not sure how to fully answer it, either. But I’m willing to give it my personal thoughts, because it might just produce something that can help someone.

The first thing I think of with this is the issue of word counts. After years of bumbling along, and making literary messes, I’ve come to the conclusion that how long a story is supposed to be determines quite a few things. I now regard short stories as episodes in a television programme, and novels to be like films. I think I have touched on this before, but I’ll go through it again, because it connects in with what I’m going to say a bit later on.

To summarise, I regard every hundred words in a short story to equate to a minute of screen time, and every thousand words in a novel to equate to a minute of cinema time. By looking at it in that way, I then have a basis to gauge the length of the story, and thus work out how long I want it to be. This visualising is important, because then I can sit down and think about how much needs to go in, to make it get to that limit. From there, I can decide on the location, and see what research I need to do to get it right, and what interesting details I can learn about the place that can help build the atmosphere of the story.

Take Odessa, Texas, as an example. This is a city of 1000,000 or so people, in the middle of the desert. It has a nearby city it is a huge rival to in terms of American Football, their teams doing quite well for themselves in the leagues. (The Permian Panthers was the idea for the television series Friday Night Lights.) The city also has a meteor crater (which was part of the group that crashed with the Arizona crater meteor,) a replica Globe Theatre, and a replica Stonehenge. It also has connections to the Bush family, if memory serves. Suddenly, from what I have just outlined, you can start to get ideas, because there are some really nice features that could really set things in the story in terms of tone.

I also consider the characters as well. How many will be needed to get to that limit? How do they all interact with each other, and how does that spark chain of events? If I need to, I’ll go and add a character or two whilst writing the story, to add more depth and potential to it. In a sense, the characters are like threads waiting to be woven into a tapestry: each strand adds to the colour and variety of the whole. Not only that, but pull away a thread, and the whole tapestry could unravel. Life is about the events that spark off from the encounters with people, places, knowledge and realisations, when you think about it. And this follows true for story weaving, too.

Of course, it can sometimes turn out that you have managed to get the end, but failed to get to your target. For me, that is no issue at all. It them means I’ll go back through, and try to see what I can do to add to it. Have I described all the characters fully? Have I described all of the locations? Is there any minor or trivial characters than should be expanded on, to help benefit the story? Finishing under the word target isn’t a crisis; you have finished the story, and thus can build on the structure some more.

This should serve as a helpful start to people. I’ll probably end up coming back to this topic, and adding some more in another post, when I have come up with more to say.

Oh, and Happy Easter to all of my readers. May you all have a great and wonderful weekend.


Enter The Night (Part One)

I thought I would share what I read out this month. I intend to read the next part to the writing group next month… once I have worked on it a bit more. I thought it might interest people to see what I had produced.

Feel free to leave comments if you see any problems, or if you like it! Feedback is always useful.


Enter the Night

She stared out, leaning over the rail in an attempt to look tough and mature. It wasn’t the easiest thing to do, but after Chicago…

Still, the sight of the ocean was something that captivated her. She had never seen the sea before. Never once gazed out, and saw endless stretches of water to the horizon. Even at night, with the stormy clouds above, it was a sight for her to see. Samantha just gazed away, not wanting to look away, to go back up the pier and to the reason why she was in this poky little tourist trap. Still, the clothes she had managed to rustle up while she had stayed for a few days in San Francisco helped to make her feel more edgy, more a streetwise brat.

Of course, before she had gone of on her quest to find her mother, she had thought herself streetwise. How could she not be, watching her father deteriorate as she had grown up? Having to clean up and after them both, and try to get some sort of food inside of them? Over time, it just became too much, for both of them. She had screamed and shouted, having a horrible tantrum. A wild, terrible force unleashed from the deepest centre of her. Throwing things, stuff smashing against the wall… and her father pressed against the wall, eyes wide in terror. His words, burned into her memory.

She did that, too…”

She had tried to apologise, to make amends. Samantha looked back bitterly at the memory. Why had her Daddy rejected her like that? Become so distant? Why couldn’t he help her, drive out of her the furious fuming anger that still swelled and welled inside her? And when she lost her temper, she ended up doing things. Maybe what everyone at school said about her was true. Both she and her father were losers.

Her father… she beat back the tears, not wanting to cry like a pathetic little baby. As much as she had defended him, she knew that there was truth in their words about him…

Her Daddy. The memories started to pour back to her, despite her efforts.

A failed musician with a crippling drug addiction that had given him the disease that had eaten him away. He’d tried to get clean, and stay clean, but it never took. Samantha didn’t hate her old man, just felt… disappointed in him. She had listened to his music, and there had been talent, particularly when he had been with her mother.

 The same mother that had vanished when she was just ten days old. According to the stories about her from her aunt. As much as she was mean and bitter at her aunt and uncle, she was also grateful that they had taken her in. a year of foster care had been more than enough for all sides to handle. Home after home ended up rejecting her, meaning she was back at the children’s home regularly. She wasn’t certain if it was her anger or her looks. She couldn’t help it if her Daddy had been a mix of different colours and backgrounds. Well, if her foster families hated it, she despised it. Looking into the mirror, with no clear idea what to describe herself as. Particularly as she had a tanned -like skin, jet black hair, and bright, piercing blue eyes. Like shards of ice staring and stabbing out. Her nose, mouth… one look at her face suggested she was a white girl, but the skin and hair… and then there were her eyes, the same as her mothers, light coloured.

Paler than the sea, for certain…

She had been there for hours, when it had been day and sunny. Strange how the storm had surged in like that. As if boldly announcing something ominous and dangerous. Maybe it was warning everyone that she was in town? Wandering amongst them in her white crop top, black fake leather jacket, fake black leather skirt with the black leggings. Black leather fingerless gloves and black shiny boots with flat soles and knee length sides. She had added the black trouser braces, though she didn’t need them to keep her skirt up. She had gotten hold of a chain, so she could swing it about and keep people back. Was she getting paranoid? After what she had encountered in Chicago, she wasn’t sure…

It had started off okay, her asking people about her mother, showing them the picture she had of them. It had taken her time to put together all of the information she could, researching as much as she could from the Internet before she even thought about setting off.

She might be fourteen, but she wasn’t a stupid child. Despite what everyone thought of her. she’d been patient, putting down into computer file every last scrap of information she could remember from what her father had rambled on about her mother. Towards the end, when the immune-devouring disease had eaten away at so much of him, his mind had started to become incoherent, and he would rave and mumble about her mother. She had been there, staying with him. To hell with school. Her Daddy was dying, and she wasn’t going to simply abandon him.

She had been found by his body, crying her eyes out as she gripped his cold, stiff hand. She had to have three grown men grip and handle her, her anger and mindless need to stay with the only family she had in the world. Then, after a year of the falsity and cold fostering system, her aunt had appeared. It had taken a moment to remember her, having met her… how old had she been? Samantha couldn’t remember now. All that mattered was that she had other family. Her brother’s sister, who had been trying to locate the pair. Daddy had been in the habit of moving them about a lot.

They were all probably celebrating, her aunt, uncle and cousins. She had been hell to live with, she knew it. She just couldn’t work out why, though. The burning, searing rage that ate away inside her. It was there now, stalking and skulking, like a caged animal waiting to escape and unleash itself onto anything or anyone it could. Of course, all of the adults in her life had tried medications with her, but it didn’t help. If anything, it made things worse, because she wasn’t clear headed enough to keep control of the fury. Or at least try to. It wasn’t as if she was successful. Particularly when the other kids at school tried to pick on her, or her cousins. Not that they did that any more. Even if they were much bigger and tougher than she was. So, when they shoved her, she ended up shoving them back harder. Boo hoo.

Of course, it had meant that she had ended up getting a reputation as a bully. What a surprise. The kid with the food blended ethnicity was the trouble maker. she’d spent time looking into it, and sure enough, there were medical studies that were turning up, saying there were an increase in the likelihood of mental problems in mixed race people. Samantha tried to put it out of her head. She knew she was a mistake, a screwed up example of how human relationships could go wrong.

Maybe that was why her mother abandoned them? She was staring at her little baby girl, and saw nothing in the child? What if – and Samantha tried to bury the notion as best she could yet again – had she been rejected? What if she found her mother, and she didn’t want to know her?

But then, what had her Daddy meant by saying that her Momma had gone into a destructive rage like she had?

And then there was Chicago…