BOOM! I’m on a Roll

This post will be short(ish) and sweet. I’ve been in a little bit of a writing slump as of late. Not necessarily because I don’t have any ideas, but rather, I do not have much free time to write. However, over the last couple of days I’ve been able to sneak in a couple of hours of writing time. It’s not much, but it is a start.

Mademoiselle Durand and the Dead Man’s Map has just re-hit 30,000 words (part of the whole ‘it’s been done before’ episode I referenced a little while ago). It was a satisfying feeling, and I have promised myself No more massive changes – until I reach the editing phase, at least.

This story is shaping up to be a bit more complicated than its predecessor. It has an A plot and a B plot! I’ve got two teams from the ship on two different islands, having two separate adventures; I even have figured out how the two plots will converge in the finale. Mostly. But I still have time to work out the particulars while I’m working on the writing.

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My mysterious island inspiration…or my fantasy vacation getaway location.

I have been inspired, of late, by some classic Victorian adventure fiction. In particular, Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World. No, there will be no Dinosaurs or fantastic creatures involved. however, I’m aiming for a sense of “otherness” for the island locales. I like the idea of unexplored islands, and the secrets they might contain, within the confines of an adventure story. I have a couple of ideas I’m fleshing out in the story right now, and I’m excited to share them once the story is finally finished.

Despite the setbacks that life has thrown my way lately, I remain determined to get at least one story out before the end of the year, two if I set my mind firm in the task of completing my projects. I am now off to continue writing a bit before bed…after I gaze at tropical islands for a few more minutes.

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A Quick Break from Steampunk.

I’ve devoted a lot of time on this blog to my interest in alternate histories and steampunk. But I have other genres that interest me.  I even have pieces of written in those other genres. They are terrible,  and will likely never see the light of day,  but I have written them.

My major interests trend toward science fiction and fantasy,  which is a reason why steampunk appealed to me in the first place. Melding historical and fantastical, and a dash of science… Yes, please. My true magnum opus (if I can ever get the courage to do something more ambitious) is a space opera style story. I’ve got the characters,  the basic storyline,  and a few fun ideas. 

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Science fiction grants a writer the opportunity to literally create new world’s on the page for their readers –  alien world’s filled with creatures and dangers beyond our wildest imaginations. Then, flip the story,  make it personal,  relatable, allowing the reader to see that it doesn’t matter how my heads you have,  whether you are solid or vapor,  or what color your skin is, we all have hopes,  dreams,  fears,  and a will to survive. Plus,  I really love writing and reading about epic space battles.  I can’t help it,  I am basically a 12 year old in a 35 year old body.

In the interest of giving equal time to science fiction,  I thought about some of the things that I have done in my science fiction projects, and the rules I set for myself as a writer.

I try to make any technology in the story relatable to the reader. It’s purpose and use should be plausible,  given the level of technology in the story.  You shouldn’t have a race of primitive cave dwellers that have the ability to travel through space –  or perhaps you can –  as long as you can justify it within the confines of the story in a plausible way. Although, I don’t feel that it is always necessary to go into extreme levels of detail in the story as to the inner workings of a transmat device,  for example.  As in the real world, I imagine the majority of people would use such devices without knowing a great deal about the technology –  just a basic knowledge of how to operate it,  and what the desired outcome of using the device should be. Too much technical detail can bore the reader.

I try to stay consistent with the physics in your story. Is FTL travel a possibility?  Have other means of interstellar travel been invented?  Perhaps travelling through wormholes,  or the implementation of warp drives in your characters’ ships allows the travel between two distant stars. I have opted for the latter technologies in my project,  as I find travelling faster than the speed of light to be too much of a stretch of the imagination.

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With alien species,  I try to keep it diverse.  Sure,  there are lizard-like species in my story, grays, and even a small squirrel-like species,  adept at crawling through ductwork and repairing ships.  But all of those species are fairly humanoid; two arms,  two legs,  a head,  eyes, nose,  and mouth.  I have tried to add some newer elements.  I have a race of living electrical current., which has no physical form,  but can interact with the rest of the universe. I also have several silicon-based life forms I’m toying with. Since these are written works,  I don’t have to worry about special effects.  So the more out there,  the better.

In all seriousness,  I try to make them relatable. Fear of death unites us all. Working against a common enemy is another great uniter. However,  at the end of the day I try to do what all authors do: show the readers that despite our differences,  we have much in common.

Writing Rituals

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I spent several hours last night writing. I started with a quick blog post, to get the creative juices flowing and then followed that up with some time on one of my current projects. It was strange, after the post here, I just started typing in the story, and before I knew it, I had written a little over 1,100 words.  I was quite pleased with the progress. Most days I’m lucky if I have the time or inspiration to write 500 words.

This got me thinking. I know that when I write something other than one of my projects, it does seem to help me to maintain a longer writing session. Usually I’ll write a little in a word file – what happened at work, or things I would like to accomplish. It seems like if I get my real-world concerns down on paper (or in a document), I am able to focus more on the task at hand and worry less about what else is happening in life.

I have a few writing rituals that get me in serious writing mode. If I don’t perform a few of those rituals, I can still write, but the more I don’t have done before sitting down to work, the less focused I am, and my writing session ends up much shorter than usual.

I always have to have my notebook by my side. My notebook is the home of all of the little notes I jot down. I have a horrible memory, so if I get an idea for one of my stories, or for a new project, I grab my notebook and scribble it down. The notebook was where I jotted down my idea for Captain Drayton’s funky eyeball, and where I initially decided to change my rough idea for a pirate story into something that fit more into fantasy (at that point, I had not decided to try steampunk).

I also have web pages open at all times, so that my research is available immediately. I use scrivener for my writing and organizing, so I have a special folder in each of my projects where I put information as well. I mainly use this for photographs for inspiration, as well as storing all of the links I use for research. In the event that the project is something I want to publish, I’ll also store the links to the store pages for those stories.

There has to be something for me to drink/snack on as well. If I am really in the zone, I will forget to eat or drink, at least for a while. I become a bit obsessive when I’m writing. It is too easy for me to get lost completely in my project, and I won’t even realize what time it is until something distracts me from the writing.

It seems like my little rituals each help individually, and if all of them are performed together, my productivity is greatly improved. If I can continue to write like I did last night, I should be finished with this project in no time. Then I’ll just need to come up with a name, get a cover design I like, edit, edit, edit, and it should be ready to publish.  It’s still a lot of work, but I am looking forward to finishing another project, and getting it out there for people to read, and hopefully enjoy!

For the writers out there:  Do you have any special rituals or habits that help you clear your mind so that you can focus on writing?  Or are you among the lucky that can sit down and write with no problem?  As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts.