Really, I have nothing to say in this post, I just wanted to use the title “Hit or Myth”. Seriously, it was too good of a pun not to use. Is it a true pun, though? Or just a play on words? Or are they one and the same?
Answer: I don’t care, I like it.
Which brings me to the real meat of this post: the first draft.
There are a lot of very good writing resources, and very good writers, that state the first draft of a novel sucks. It blows. It is nothing but pure, unadulterated, uncut, shite. And they aren’t wrong. This post is not here to disprove that notion. Although I haven’t read many writers’ first drafts, so I cannot so for certain whether or not they do suck the hairy nuts of a ripe and smelly yeti.
But what I can say is mine don’t.
Don’t get me wrong, my first drafts can party with the best of them; they know the beauty of some good sweaty yeti nut suckage (Don’t we all?). It’s just that my first drafts aren’t the type of drafts that need to be ripped apart and then pieced back together. At this point in my career and writing experience, my first drafts are about 85% to 95% solid (with the exception of commas. I am comma illiterate,).
It’s that last little 5% to 15% that has the bees on their knees taking it from that sweaty yeti (I have no idea what that means, but it was fun to write!). Those bits and pieces of the first draft that don’t quite fit, that are out of context, that ruin the pacing, that are so factually incorrect that I have to wonder if someone didn’t sneak in and write those parts without my knowing. For me, those are the things I fix.
I don’t go back in and rip out this chapter or rearrange that chapter. I don’t cut characters and switch others’ motivations. I don’t suddenly decide that the setting should be the surface of mars instead of the surface of the moon. I just don’t do that. The novel I write is the novel I intend to turn in to my publisher. Why would I spend all of that time writing only to toss out what I’ve written and start over? That’s crazy talk.
Now, to be honest, there is that time thing. My 2014 schedule was writing a 75K word novel a month. Which is totally doable, by the way (I’ll save the details on that process for a different post). But a novel a month pace means I didn’t have the luxury of trashing my first version and starting over or Frankensteining the shit out of it until it’s a new creature. The novels were the novels and fixing the boo boos was my only solution.
That kind of pressure, and constraint, means I’ve gotten pretty damn good at sorting out my thoughts as I write. Do I outline? Somewhat. But I always deviate from the outline eventually. The story goes where the story goes. Yet I never try to force the story in any particular direction. That’s why, when it’s all said and done, the draft I have is pretty much what’s getting published.
But, what about my first novels? What about those novels that came before all my experience with cranking out pulpy goodness?
Same process. I’ve always been this type of writer. Even with my very first novel, Dead Mech, the version that was podcast was the version that has been published. First draft. Now, I did a LOT of editing along the way with that one because it was a drabble novel. Each section was tightened as I went. So there is that. But my second novel, third, fourth, fifth novels, all had one draft that I fixed and tweaked slightly then turned in. Done!
Would I go back and fix some stuff in those novels? Maybe. I’m sure I could. But why? I have great feedback on them and even if I did fix some things there will always be people that will find fault.
And that’s the key! There will always be people that find fault!
Trying to write the perfect novel is impossible. Impossible, I say! Why? Because reading is subjective. Once you are done and that puppy gets put out there then it’s up to the individual interpretations of the readers. And boy will they interpret! You could work for hours and hours, days and days, on a specific chapter, fine tuning it until it sings and there will still be folks that say, “Meh”.
That’s the biz.
And I guess that’s the main reason I don’t go back and rework everything: who’s to say the new version is better? I can’t. I’m too close to it. So I fix the typos (except the commas, because I just, can’t) look for continuity issues and then I’m done.
Done. Wipe my hands of it and hit send to my publishers. Bam!
What does this mean for you as a writer (if, in fact, you are a writer that is reading this)? It means your process is your process and if you feel good about your first draft then don’t mess with it. It’s okay to like it and think it isn’t a piece of shite. It also means it’s okay to hate it and shred it. Your process. Yours. No one else’s.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you crank out a crap manuscript and then argue with the world when they say it’s crap. Keeping a first draft means the first draft has to actually be good. That’s the catch. Just because you wrote it doesn’t mean it’s readable. But with experience you learn what works and what doesn’t. I have more than a few incomplete manuscripts I’ve ditched because I knew I was wasting my time on something that wasn’t any good.
Did any of this help? I hope so. At the very least I want to expand your concepts of what can and can’t be done when it comes to your writing process. Want a quick hint? Anything can be done. There is no can’t. There’s just quality. And readers are the final judge of that.
So, that’s about it for this week. Next week I think I’ll dive into my actual step by step process of how I write a novel, from idea to submission.
It’s 2015, y’all, and Views From The Captain’s Chair is back!
I have sort of made a resolution, although I hate to call it that since we all know how well resolutions fare (hint: they don’t). What’s my resolution? To keep up with writing a weekly blog and give a little insight into how I got where I am as a full-time writer and how I get through the process of day to day writing without losing my shit. It isn’t always easy.
Now, what I won’t be doing in this blog is reacting. If there is a publishing issue out there, and we all know there always is, I’m going to ignore it and not weigh in on the subject. Why? Well, for one thing, there are way more qualified writers and publishing professionals out there that can give you insight into the many facets of [insert publishing kerfuffle du jour]. But, the main reason is because none of that crap is my problem, it’s all just a distraction from what I should be doing, which is writing.
We live in such a divisive, and punitive, world that I don’t feel the need to add to it all. I’m just gonna be Jake and let y’all know about what I’m doing, why I’m doing it, and why you shouldn’t give two craps about me because your life is your life and your path is your path.
See that? I just told you my blog posts really aren’t worth your time. Read them if you want some insight into my process, but always remember, if you are a writer reading this, that your process is your process. There is no one single path. There aren’t even just two paths. There are infinite paths. INFINITE! Find yours, fight to stay on it, and read my shit if you want some entertainment or company along the way.
With all that said, I’m going to dive into what my 2015 is going to look like and why/how I got here (hint: not on a Segway). Ready? Away we go!
First, I have eight novels to write for Severed Press. Last year I was contracted to write a novel a month, with a couple months off in between. This was good because it gave me focus, gave me advances (income for the win!), and kept me disciplined. But, what I learned is my natural compulsion for punctuality was ripping my soul apart.
Okay, that’s a bit hyperbolic, but it’s close. I’m a little on the spectrum when it comes to timing. I get to movies a half hour before they are supposed to start; I’m never late turning in library books; and I have to force myself to be fashionably late to parties. I have punctuality issues, I know this.
When I found myself behind with novel deadlines in 2014 I came close to freaking out. I learned something in 2014 that I am now applying to 2015. What did I learn? I have focus and discipline, I don’t need the killer deadlines. I have never worked so hard at a job in my life, and if I fail then my family goes broke, so that is drive enough. The deadlines were more a distraction than anything.
So, in 2015 I will not have any deadlines except for December 31st. I have to have eight novels turned in by then. I can do that without going cuckoo for cocoa puffs.
What are these novels, you ask? Well, let me tell you! In list form!
In Perpetuity- A military space thriller based on a short story I wrote a long time ago. There will be lots of blasters and star fighters and pew pew pews and aliens and space battles galore and all that cool shit. Yes!
AntiBio 2- I’ll be wrapping this series up with this sequel. It hasn’t done as well as we’d liked. Oh, well.
Z-Burbia 6: Rocky Mountain Die- Yeah, baby, that’s the title! This novel will wrap up the Stanford part of the Z-Burbia saga. This doesn’t mean I’m done with the series, but I may be taking it in a different direction. Maybe.
Kaiju Inferno- The third book in my Kaiju Winter series. Shit gonna get crazy!
Mega 4- Team Grendel will be back and the adventures will be AWESOME!
Dead Team Alpha 2- Gonna wrap this series up as well. Like AntiBio, it never took off. No worries.
Kaiju Fall- The finale to the Kaiju Winter series.
Eighth Book To Be Named- Could be another Mega or more military space goodness. We’ll see. Huzzah for flexibility!
I’m also working with a good friend of mine from back in the high school days, Joel Barber, on a comic book series. It’s post-apocalyptic, but not dystopian. First script is done and we’re going to be pitching it to a specific comic book publisher. We may have a good shot at getting this. Fingers crossed.
I may get back into narration and tackle my Kaiju series as well as DTA. I should (hahahahaha!) have the time to do some recording/producing. That’d be cool. When will that happen? As soon as I get a new Mac. I can’t trust my current Macbook to handle the stress and there’s no way I’m recording for six hours just to have it all get dumped because my ancient Mac shits the bed. Not happening.
Possibly working on the script for MALK: The Movie. This is a continuation of the short film I made with Team Long Shot for the 48 Hour Film Project. Hoping to get enough interest and funding to make a feature film. More fingers crossed!
I also have two new novel series I want to get working on. One could be an extension of the Z-Burbia universe and the other is brand new, but totally awesome. What are they? Ha! Wouldn’t you like to know! I’m a brutal tease! Muwahahahahaha!
And, as always, I’m sure I’ll get myself overbooked on other stuffs. It’s inevitable.
In addition to all this work, I may take a very long vacation with the Fam over the summer. A cross country road trip out West. The plus of a long trip like that is I can write in the car while we drive. The minus of a long trip like that is I can write in the car while we drive. Oh, the dichotomy of life!
Oh, wait, there’s more! In addition to the Severed Press novels coming out, I also have two series from Permuted Press being released (I think).
The first is ScareScapes, which is a middle grade horror/scifi adventure series. Think Goosebumps in deep space meets the Scooby-Gang. I know there are plenty of kids ages 8-12 that want some good horror/scifi fun, and plenty of parents that are trying to find that fun for them, so this series is made just for them. It’s gonna be great! Be on the lookout for these this summer, I believe.
The second is my Reign of Four series, which I have loosely based on the reigns of Edward I, Edward II, Edward III, and the Black Prince of England. This series is full on medieval space fiction. Everything is stripped down tech wise and it centers more on the drama of life than on the action of space. Don’t worry, though, there will be blood! And guts! And sex! It’s Game of Thrones in space, yo! Hopefully these will start coming out before the holiday season. Hopefully.
Is that all? Dear God, I hope so. I think that’s enough for one year.
I hope (I’ve got a lot of hope) this info gives y’all a little insight into my writing career. It’s not all sitting on the couch watching American Horror Story while eating Doritos. Sure, that’s a big part of my process, but not all of it.
Happy 2015, y’all!
Happy 2015, y’all!
The Party is back and there be some micro-fiction in your future!
Know what else is in your future? A $.99 copy of Kaiju Winter! Yep, it’s on sale for the next couple of days at Amazon. Just click the pick and you are good to go! $.99 for giant monsters crawling out of the Yellowstone super volcano to destroy the world! Hells to the yes!
Now, on to the drabble!
A Simple Job
Manozzi looked at the gun in his hand then down at the bleeding body on the ground. It was supposed to be a simple job. A huge payout. A way to get out of the life.
“Just step into the closet,” the egghead had said. “Count to fifty, step out, and kill the first man you see. Don’t hesitate. Just do it. Then step back in the closet, count to fifty, and you’ll be back.”
Manozzi thought it was insane. He doubted every word. But he did as he was told.
And now he was dying at his own feet.
Disclaimer: You can’t ever leave the life.
Happy Holidays, y’all!
This will be the last Party of 2014! Well, not the last “party”, but the last Friday Night Drabble Party. There’s just too much going on in the Bible-Sullivan casa the next couple weeks to keep up with the free micro-fiction. I gots egg nog to drink, yo!
So, in honor of the season that’s the reason for treason (that’s how it goes, right?), I have decided to spread some holiday cheer with a drabble that is sure to upset some. But, hey, it’s the internet, so when aren’t people upset over trivial things?
Hope y’all have a great Holiday season and get lots of goodies for Xmas and Hanukkah, and Kwanza, and Solstice and whatever the Spaghetti Monster peeps get!
Going Down In Infamy
“Shit! Did he see us?”
“No, I don’t think so.”
They ran for their lives across the barren, snow-covered landscape.
“Did…did you see them? All those little bodies…stacked up…bleeding.”
“I saw them.”
“How…how could he do that?”
“I don’t know.”
“Sure, we made fun of him here and there, but we make fun of everyone. We were joking! JOKING!”
“I don’t think he cares. That guy has always been off.”
“We have to find Santa.”
“You didn’t see?”
“He was on the bottom of the pile, Dasher! Rudolph stacked the elves on him!”
Disclaimer: You better watch out!
Look at this thing of beauty! Kaiju with three heads! THREE HEADS!
For those that do not know what Kaiju are, just think Godzilla and all those giant monsters. That’s Kaiju. Kaiju are cool.
And, since Kaiju are cool, Severed Press has released book two in my Kaiju Winter series.
Kaiju Storm has been unleashed upon the world! And by “unleashed”, I mean published and ready for your eyeholes to absorb. Yay for eyehole absorption!
The Yellowstone supervolcano has erupted and out of the massive chasm of its smoldering caldera came the kaiju- giant monsters bent on destroying everything in sight! Federal Marshal Lu Morgan and her ragtag group of survivors and government agents fought hard to stay alive and defeat the massive monsters, but now a second eruption has sent things even more deadly flying up into the ash cloud that covers the land.
The US government, the survivors of the eruption, and a team of scientists must fight a new evil that falls from the sky and turns animals, and people, into grotesque creatures bent on killing every living thing in their path. It is a race against time, and a race for survival, as all involved struggle to find answers as to where the monsters came from and how to stop them.
If stopping them is even possible!