Abandonment Party 3: Chapter 7 (First Draft)

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I talked to my friend Kim a few days ago. She says she’s stuck on writing chapter six of her book. I keep telling her about my “put down any nonsensical idea you think of” method but I don’t think she has the hang of it yet. She says she wants to get it right the first time. Where’s the fun in that? But I can’t bear to see a friend in trouble so I looked online for the best advise about first drafts I could find. Quotes from the finest authors in all of history! Take a look at what I found, Kim:

The first draft of anything is shit.” – Ernest Hemingway

This is the one that came up most. I call my first drafts crappy, but there’s still the glimmer of excellence within. A budding potential! Sorry, Ernest, but you’ve crossed the line this time. And stop swearing on my site!

I don’t write a quick draft and then revise; instead, I work slowly page by page, revising and polishing.” – Dean Koontz

Wow, this guy sounds more your style, Kim. I’ve never read any of his novels, but they’re always next to Stephen King’s at the book store so they must be finished at least!

No passion in the world is equal to the passion to alter someone else’s draft.” – H. G. Wells

Ha,ha, no kidding man! Some guy read your stuff and thought that it needed more Tom Cruise! Kim, hurry up and finish so I can tell you what to change!

I hate first drafts, and it never gets easier. People always wonder what kind of superhero power they’d like to have. I wanted the ability for someone to just open up my brain and take out the entire first draft and lay it down in front of me so I can just focus on the second, third, and fourth drafts.” – Judy Blume

Stop daydreaming about fantastic scenarios and get to writing, you slacker! I want another Fudge sequel!

I don’t fiddle or edit or change while I’m going through that first draft.” – Nora Roberts

Good advice. Now edit your quote so you don’t include three verbs that mean the exact same thing.

Normally I do a first draft using pen and paper, and then do my first edit when I type it onto my computer.” – J. K. Rowling

Oh, brilliant, J.K. I can see why you’re the queen.

That’s all for now, Kim; I’ll look up more quotes later. Ponder these authors’ sagely words and tell me how it goes.

Continue reading

Abandonment Party 3: Chapter Five (First Draft)

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In these chapters I’m having several stories progress simultaneously. This is challenging for a few reasons: First of all, events that occur in one story effect the others. I will have to make sure these timelines match up.

Second, I want to make each story progress for a satisfying amount of time before I switch over to a different one. I hate it when the point of view keeps changing so fast that it seems as though nothing of importance is conveyed. Anyone keeping up with One Piece may know what I’m talking about; some chapters seem to do nothing but “check in” with the seven groups of people running around.

Fortunately for Oda, AUTHOR OF ONE PIECE!, he didn’t start doing this until his story had been running for fifteen years. I know the characters, I know the score, and I’m willing to wait it out as the master plan comes together.

I’m the same way when I’m writing; I would not want to pull this kind of stuff in book one. I think switching around between characters before you even know who they are is tedious. I’ve seen some authors do this, though! Can you believe that? There was this one time I started to read a book called A Game of Thrones. Every early chapter was about a different guy! I’d start to get invested in dude number one and then–BOOM! Perspective would switch to someone else. It would leave me hanging before I even had a reason to care about the person being left behind! I couldn’t stand being introduced to new characters only to switch just as things were getting good. I put that book down and went to play Baten Kaitos for the third time instead. Now THAT is a masterpiece of storytelling:

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I can only assume that everyone else who read that Thrones book felt the same way. That poor writer, whatever his name was. Continue reading

Abandonment Party 2: Chapter 28 (Second Draft)

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I just realized something: This might be a good time to talk about story endings! Or rather, MY story endings! Sorry, Animal Farm.

But George Orwell knows I’ve been disappointed by endings before. I wanted to make an ending that’s engaging. But how? I was concerned about this when I wrote the ending for the first book. I mean, the climax is done; the best part is over, right? What’s left to do? Have everyone talk about what they’ve learned? End with a line of pure and utter wisdom?

Yeah, some of that happened. But that doesn’t mean I have to leave all the conflict out. Why not make the aftermath a struggle? So that’s what I did: I had Mean and Dark struggle with the idea of his hidden identity. It was intense; I think they even spilled a soda.

I thought the scene worked so well I actually planned for it this time. Amazing stuff, this “experience.” Now THIS ending has struggles everywhere: King blames Mean for what happened to Parlay; Tome is suspicious about Dark; Darrow has a bit of a rivalry with Tenny.

But every conflict is quickly resolved or smoothed over with humor. I can’t leave the reader with an ominous feeling.

Not yet, anyway.

Continue reading

Abandonment Party 2: Chapter 29 (First Draft)

The final chapter!?

Well, here it is: the final chapter of the book. It always seems so far away when I start a draft and see that empty folder with a lonely file named “Prologue.” But that’s how it gets done: I just work at it every day until I reach the goal. And before I know it a year has passed and I’m sitting at my desk staring at a folder full of literary goodness.

Man, this is inspirational stuff. I sure hope an uncertain kid stumbles upon this blog someday. He’ll be searching for his purpose in life and then he’ll read this. It’ll probably motivate him to go explore Mars or something. Continue reading

Abandonment Party 2: Chapter 24 (Second Draft)

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Look, I’ve been loving this Lady Knight book over at Mark Reads. But I had a bit of a disappointing experience last week: I got to the last chapter and there WASN’T a climactic battle with the main villain. Can you believe that? Sure, there was a thrilling castle infiltration scene and an excellent fight with the warrior bodyguard–but when it came time to finish the head honcho himself? Done in two pages with little effort!

I’m not upset though; this is one of the reasons I wanted to write stories of my own. I realize that authors won’t always do what I want them to do. They’ll spend hundreds of pages hyping up a character. Then when he finally appears they’ll have him say a handful of lines before getting cut down in one stroke. I’ve come to accept it. They do things their way; I do things my way.

And what is my way? An epic struggle against the antagonist for seven straight chapters! YEAH–HA HA!

And if you don’t like it you can write your OWN story where the bad guy makes himself invisible and stands on a table. 😉 Continue reading

Abandonment Party 2: Chapter 25 (First Draft)

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 Matt, I almost don’t want you to read the first drafts for these final chapters. It isn’t because they’re more horrible than the others. It’s just that I hate to see the ending incomplete like this! It’s flawed. I don’t want you to get to these cool parts and think “Wow, this would be amazing if the writing didn’t suck.”

It would be like watching the end of Terminator 2, only to see Arnold get dropped into a bowl of pudding. Then Sarah Conner fist-bumps John while the T-1000 explodes from the power of robot tears.

Oh, sorry, that ending would still rock. I know I was going for a “worse ending” there to use as an example, but I just can’t seem to describe one that would be disappointing. I’ll try harder next time Matt–go ahead and read the chapter. Continue reading

Abandonment Party 2: Chapter 22 (Second Draft)

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Well, this chapter took a while. Was it tough? A little. This side-story with Mackaba needs to be handled carefully; if it doesn’t seem important enough the reader could lose interest in the finale.

But I gotta be honest: my immense resolve to write was tested. See, I got invited to the Hearthstone beta, and I might have spent a few nights playing cards when I should have been describing wind-swept landscapes and coming up with sarcastic things for government officials to say.

And then my friend Matt got into the game too! What am I to do!? Leave him to discover the deep mechanics of the cards by himself!? The Knife Juggler gnome card has complex strategies that must be explored!

I helped him out, and I’m lucky that he goes to sleep a few hours before I do–leaving me time to write without any excuses. Yep. Sometimes your willpower is only as strong as your friends’. Or at least it’s as strong as the wife that makes him turn off the game and go to bed. Continue reading

Abandonment Party 2: Chapter 23 (First Draft)

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I don’t normally talk about “feelings” and metaphors in my story, but the events of this chapter–and some events in real life–give me an opportunity to do so. Without spoiling anything in the chapter I will say it is about anger, and the prison it can create for a person. Lashing out in rage can seem like an outlet; but when it occurs it is anything but a release.

A few days ago a commenter in the Mark Reads blog ranted about some characters in Lady Knight by Tamora Pierce. It started out well enough, but he let his anger get the better of him: turning a constructive discussion into a full-on hate-driven rampage. It ended up hurting many taking part, even insulting the integrity of the author herself.

And this is where the “prison” part of anger comes in: he is now banned from the site forever. The excitement you feel from anger is short-lived; the consequences can be quite permanent.

Anyway, this chapter has something similar happen. In metaphor, of course. I mean, it’s not like I’d put in a LITERAL prison that’s set off by anger! Ha! That would be silly. Continue reading

Abandonment Party 2: Chapter 21 (Second Draft)

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This chapter is filled with hateful dialog, uttered by the antagonist, Pinada. I believe writing such things is helpful to me, though. Yeah, you heard right. See, I get angry at people sometimes. People that have done horrible things. Or maybe they haven’t done anything much at all.

But every time I want to lash out at those people I reign it back. I think: “save it for the books.”

It’s another way for my writing to serve me: I’m able to channel my anger in a positive way, and I’m also able to make a believable villain. I can also observe how evil people are treated through the actions of my characters. It can serve as a reminder to what happens to people that decide to act out on their rage. If I’m in the real world and I ever feel that I’m starting to act like one of these villains, well, I know I need to shut up and walk away or else I’ll get a table dropped on my head. Continue reading