Tag Archives: words

Freelancing Like A Boss

I’ve been in a bit of a writing funk for awhile now. The combination of leaving college, working a crap hourly job to pay the bills, and going through some major changes in my life has left me a bit out of my usual rhythm. I’ve been struggling to get back into a regular writing schedule, including blogging, but I’ve only been averaging one blog post per month and barely doing any other writing or revising in a long time.

This past week, however, I’ve been working some freelance writing projects. This has been a great experience for me. I’ve done freelance work before, but because of life circumstances, it had been about a year and a half since I’d done it. Now, I’m on my second paid writing (!!!) project of the week, with more opportunities on the horizon. It’s feeling pretty good, and I’m getting back into a “writing every day” habit.

Having a deadline is great for that.

Hopefully, this will not just help me pay the bills, but also help me get back into a regular rhythm. I’ve got the creative juices flowing on a daily basis, and I’ve got an external pressure forcing me to turn off Netflix, close the DS, and open up OpenOffice to get some writing done every single day. It’s just a matter of time before this leads to spillover into my personal projects, like getting back into a regular blogging schedule, and working on revisions of Contamination.

So here’s hoping these changes work out for the best, and I finally get my writing career moving on the path I’ve been striving for over the last several years.


mani_promoManifestation is available in paperback format through:

CreateSpace and Amazon

and in ebook format through:

Kindle and Nook

Words I Shouldn’t Use in my Books

wordnerdAfter my last post about how some holidays don’t exist in the world of my books, I started exploring another aspect of writing in a fictional setting. Namely, language. Language is a constantly changing and evolving thing, and many words today don’t have the same meaning they had just twenty years ago. New words are being invented all the time. Depending on the origin of the word, this can lead to some complications in some kinds of writing.

Of course, none of this means I can’t use these words in my book. There’s no reason to get too nitpicky about them. But as an etymology hobbyist, I enjoy studying words and finding out their origins and history. I sometimes even write about those etymologies. But even if the words listed below might be found in my book, there’s that little voice in the back of my head telling me that they don’t belong.

Jeez (Variants: Jeeze, Geez)

“Jeez” is a common type of non-profane exclamation. It can be used in place of any number of curse words, such as when saying “Oh, jeez” instead of “Oh shit,” or “Jeez, what the heck!” instead of “Damn, what the hell!”

More specifically, according to the origin of the word jeez, it’s a shorted form of “Jesus Christ.” It first appeared in the 1920s. It’s easy to imagine how this word came into existence if you’ve ever had to censor yourself in front of a child. “What did you just do? Jee–…ze. I can’t believe you just fu–…dge. You’re a pain in my … neck.” And so on.

In my books, everything takes place on a fictional world. Since that world isn’t Earth, there was no Jesus Christ. I always replace any instances of a character shouting “Jesus Christ!” with “Oh my God!” or something similar. I try to avoid jeez as well, though I doubt anyone would notice if it slipped in here and there. Similarly, anyone writing a historical novel set before the 1920s should avoid using jeez, since it probably wasn’t in use yet (though with all words, it was probably in common verbal use for some time before the first written account of its use, and written accounts is all we can base etymological studies on). Though I doubt many people are writing Victorian romance novels where the characters use slang words like jeez.

 Guy

“Guy” is an informal word for a man or boy. Originally, the word only meant an effigy of Guy Fawkes (yes, that Guy Fawkes). After Guy tried to blow up parliament on November 5, 1605, people in England started making and burning these effigies. According to Wikipedia:

In Britain, 5 November has variously been called Guy Fawkes Night, Guy Fawkes Day, Plot Night and Bonfire Night … it became the custom to burn an effigy … of Fawkes. The “guy” is normally created by children, from old clothes, newspapers, and a mask. During the 19th century, “guy” came to mean an oddly dressed person, but in American English it lost any pejorative connotation, and was used to refer to any male person.

As you can see, “guy” basically referred to the doll that would be burned, which was oddly dressed because it was made from scraps of whatever clothes the kids could find. Eventually instead of an “oddly dressed man,” it just became any man. But in a world that never had Guy Fawkes, the word wouldn’t exist. And in a story set place before the 1600s, it wouldn’t have been made yet.

I’ll probably add a few more “Words I Shouldn’t Use in my Books” as I do more research and come up with them. Of course, that doesn’t mean I won’t use them. But it’s good to know where your words come from.


mani_promoManifestation is available in paperback format through:

CreateSpace and Amazon

and in ebook format through:

Kindle and Nook

#NaNoWriMo Progress and Updates

NaNoWriMo.org
NaNoWriMo.org

#NaNoWriMo is here. We’re going into Day 9. Words are happening.

I’ve written before about the Midnight Disease. I have it. It’s obsession. Insomnia. Mania. Ever have a book that was so good, you just couldn’t put it down? You had to keep reading until you found out how it ended? I’m that way right now, but with the writing.

Here’s my progress so far:

NaNoWriMo_2014_Nov_9I’ve written more in the first eight days than I did for the entire month in 2012, when I was working on the first draft of Manifestation.  I’m about as far now as I was 14 days into NaNoWriMo in 2013. I’ve had multiple days, including today, where I wrote over 10,000 words in a day.

The characters are a lot of fun. If you’ve read Manifestation, you’ll be familiar with some of these characters, particularly Gabby Palladino and Tock Zipporah. But there’s some new characters as well, like Jaden Farrell, my telepath. She’s a very different type of character to write. As a telepath, she’s very in-tune with other people’s thoughts and emotions. Her ability to contact people across distances with her telepathy allows me to bring distant characters into the same scene, without needing to use scene breaks to move back and forth between locations. It’s also interesting to explore telepathy as a type of magic. Magic is a very big part of my series, and each character’s abilities are unique. I’m having a lot of fun considering how a telepath will use her powers to overcome various obstacles, such as evading enemies, defending against magical attacks, or defeating magically animated living war machines.

I’ve also got another new character, Aeldra Dekara, the druid. I’ve mentioned her on the blog before, because she was in book five, Possession. I haven’t even gotten the chance to really delve into her capabilities yet, because my plans for her come into play in the second half of the book. But she’ll have a whole new set of magic to explore, melding healing powers, plant manipulation, earth magic, and cybernetic capabilities. She’s extremely versatile and has the potential to become quite powerful. She’s also a blast to write because she has a snarky attitude and she won’t take shit from anyone.

I don’t know quite what will happen in the next few days. If I keep going at my current rate, I might finish this book by around November 20th. Or I might crash and burn. Either way, it should be fun, right?

If you’re also working on #NaNoWriMo, I wish you the best of luck. But I don’t recommend staying up all night in a daze, writing until you drop. It’s neither healthy nor wise. But I’ve never claimed to be wise.


mani_promoManifestation is available on:

Createspace in paperback

and Amazon in ebook and paperback.

 

Cutting like a Samurai

Most writers are familiar with the phrase “kill your darlings.” To non-writers, this can sound like some kind of cruel joke. Writers know, however, that it means sometimes you need to kill your best words, paragraphs, scenes, or even whole chapters, all in the name of the almighty plot.

Natalie Goldberg may have said it best in her book Writing Down the Bones. The book is filled with advice on the writing process and the psychology of being a writer. In one chapter, she compares the revision process to a battle as a samurai warrior:

“There should be no place in your writing for the ego to manipulate things the way it wants and to become picky. Instead, when you go over your work, become a Samurai, a great warrior with the courage to cut out anything that is not present. Like a Samurai with an empty mind who cuts his opponents in half, be willing to not be sentimental about your writing when you reread it. Look at it with a clear, piercing mind.”

The part about not being “sentimental” is the most important thing to keep in mind when killing your darlings. Sometimes a cut is easy, such as when a chapter is meandering, boring, or pointless to the plot. Other times, however, a cut is much harder. You might have a beautiful, riveting scene, one that makes you cry every time you read it. Yet if that scene isn’t crucial to the story and doesn’t fit in the overall plot, it needs to go.

Consider the example of Tom Bombadil in Lord of the Rings. He was a fun and interesting character, and one of the most memorable ones from the book. Yet he is conspicuously absent from the movies. Why? Well, according to the Wikipedia article on Bombadil, Peter Jackson said he was cut because “he does little to advance the story, and would make the film unnecessarily long. ” If you’ve read the Lord of the Rings books, you should have a hard time arguing with this point. Bombadil is fun. He’s charming. He’s a fascinating character. But he appears only briefly in the books and then has no further impact on the rest of the struggle against Saruman and Sauron. Since he has no real connection to the main plot, he had to be cut, and Peter Jackson did what any samurai had to do.

I’ve been doing a lot of revising lately. The progress bar on the right side of the blog shows the progress on the latest draft of Manifestation, based on input from the independent editor I hired. Part of the edits I’m making have been cuts, and some of them have been hard. In particular, the opening chapters (which I’d already cut down substantially from previous drafts) had to be trimmed. There were some excellent scenes in those chapters, and I really enjoy them. However, they amounted to back story that had no direct relevance on the main plot. It hurt to see some of them go, but I had to be a samurai and cut them out.

I’ve cut a LOT of words all said and done. The earliest draft of Manifestation was 124,420 words. The next revision actually expanded on several scenes to fill in some holes, and ended up at 139,312 words. Then I cut a lot of back story and any slow scenes that were dragging down the plot, and it went down to 112,297 words. The most recent set of cuts have dropped me down to 102,663 words. Yet even while I’m cutting, I have to add a bit here and there. For example, when I cut one chapter, I’ll need to add some elements to the next chapter to make sure there isn’t a hole now because of the missing material. What that means is I can’t just take the longest draft of 139k and subtract the current 102k to see how much I’ve cut. When I added up my individual cuts, they added up to a grand total of 58,391 words. Which means I added back in about 21k of new scenes while I’ve been making all the cuts (and the new scenes are a whole lot cleaner and better than the old ones).

Fortunately, “killing your darlings” doesn’t have to mean killing them dead. You can just “critically wound your darlings” and leave them bleeding in a sub-folder on your computer somewhere. Then you can use them again, such as in a future short story. I’ve written a lot of short stories for the Arcana Revived series, starting with Radiance the story of a young girl who has to cope with change when she undergoes a supernatural transformation. I plan on releasing a number of other short stories later this year. Some of the chapters cut from Manifestation may be adapted into short stories as part of that set. After all, an interesting and fun back story might not fit with the main plot, but it could still be a fascinating standalone piece. Such a piece could serve as an origin story for a character, revealing important pieces of their history. By using a cut scene as a short story like this, your “dead darlings” can be brought back from the grave and given a new life.

Writing is hard. Revisions are hard. Some of my writer friends say they think the first draft is the hardest. I disagree. You don’t need to kill your darlings in the first draft. Unless you can keep a cold, controlled samurai view of your work, revisions end up being the hardest part.