Finished Draft 5

So, draft 5 of ‘Wandering Stars‘ is complete. Well at least I have had a full pass through with the corrections I made starting back in October. Mostly this was about sharpening my point of view, keeping it more solid and consistent. I also made a few huge plot changes towards the end that came with a plethora of character modifications etc. So, basically I did a whole lot of stuff that I could have avoided if I had done more planing from the outset and less ‘winging it’.

But, that was sort of the whole point, I guess. I started this project as just something fun to do and it has become increasingly more serious and the tone of the book reflects that. At first, it was very light and silly at times, whereas now it is certainly a lot darker and more intense. Though I feel the whole piece still has a positive and uplifting vibe. I know distopia is all the rage at the moment, but by the time my book is really finished and ready to put out into the world, that fad will most likely be over anyway. The bottom line is, no matter what the industry is doing or what trends the world is going through, a good story is always worth telling and finds its way into peoples lives. Whether or not my story is what people would consider to be good or not, is beside the point…at the end of the day, my book won’t make it out into the world until I am completely happy with it.

I know that it still has a long way to go with editing. It stands at about 92000 words now and I know it is probably still 10000 words too flabby. Cutting out the last 6-8000 words was a hell of a mission and took its toll on my story arc, but now I know how much tighter it is.

There are a few more sections that are suspiciously superfluous, I know I have to go back through and floss them out.

I got a lot of tips from this guy, Larry Brooks, and his blog;

He talks about making sure each scene of the story is mission driven. Trying to make certain that every scene has a goal and drives the story forward, as well as revealing character development. It’s hard to be so ruthless when some of the really fun stuff that you love about your story, suddenly is revealed to be arbitrary, but it definitely makes a difference in the long run to shave it all off. Like a big messy beard that would look much nicer as a little goatee.

Brooks says that if you can’t sum up your story in 9 sentences, each one dealing with one of the major plot points then your structure needs revision.

Hunger Games (9) – The Entire Story in Nine Sentences

When I tried to do this with my book, I came to a grim realisation that my story is suffering from overflow…I needed at least 2 sentences at times to explain what happens and at the end, I kind of had two climax points.

Hmm…well this is what I will be looking at in draft 6. (I call it draft 6, but really it is all one long never ending draft that makes me feel at times that I will never be happy with it.)

My goal is to get it down to 85000 words, and be able to sum it up in 9 sentences with a nice solid plot summary. Then, maybe we will be ready to move forward.

Meanwhile, I’m going to get on with writing the short stories to build the back world and think about publishing them online.

OK, enough for today…I’m going to go eat more Easter eggs. Happy good Friday to all!

Crazy Animal Wednesday

Since my book is set in space, I spend much of my time thinking up weird creatures that could inhabit other worlds. I spend a lot more time than I should perhaps on this, I think it is just about the funnest part of the process. Maybe one day, I should start to introduce my catalogue of creatures onto the blog.I should do proper illustrations first.

I like to think about how the planet my creatures come from could have produced such an organism. How gravity, temperatures, topography, sunlight and chemistry etc, can influence their evolution. One of the best ways to get inspired for creatures though, is often just to take a look at what we have on Earth. There is such a variety of life on our own planet that you don’t have to look far to really find something bizarre. The amount of people posting videos on You Tube of their ordinary cats and dogs doing ridiculous things is a great example of just how alien things that we think of as ‘common’ can sometimes appear.

But if you want to go full alien…this is a pretty good place to start.

Updated weekly, this tumblr page constantly gives me examples of really kooky animals that have some extreme features of adaptation. Often with some pretty funny captions too.

For example, this is the piglet squid. I have never heard of or seen anything quite like this, and if I came up with a creature like this in my book, everyone might think I’m crazy…but see…anything is possible.

Could I go a year without looking at words?

I don’t have very good eyes anymore. I used to have fantastic eyes. I used to be the person who would pride themselves on having better eyesight than anyone else.

“Someone has lost an earring – step back…I’m on to it!”

Not anymore…now I have astigmatisms and all kinds of floaters drifting around, waging imaginary battles as they dance across my ever moving sight. My eyes are bad, and my increasing involvement with computers in the last decade have been so heavily responsible for their on going deterioration.

I have a fantasy, I wonder what it would be like to live somewhere remote and spend an entire year without looking at a single word of print. Somewhere where there are no sign posts even…nothing…in any language. Not to take any books, nor write any thoughts or ideas. To live one full year without so much as looking at a calendar. Would it be possible? Would I go insane? Or would my eyes regenerate themselves from looking only at 3 dimensional spaces. It would be a great feat if I could go just one week without touching my mobile phone.

I think so many humans are deprived daily of the chance to see long distances. We are crammed so close together in our cities most of the time, we are lucky if we can gaze a few blocks away. I am fortunate here in wellington that there are many mountains and rolling hillsides that it is quite easy for me to climb up and look out across great distances. One of my favorite runs takes me up the top of a great big hill where I can see the coastline on both sides of the harbor. It is stunning and I am so grateful to be here in this amazing landscape.

I don’t know if I will ever get around to trying out living a year without looking at print, but it is still an interesting thought. To spend a year like our early human ancestors, living with no means of documenting one’s thoughts and also gaining no insight in to the thoughts of others. It might sound like a horrible scenario, but it’s still a notion that I often daydream about on those days when the computer is ruling my horizon with a menacing glare, and all I can think about are those hills and forests and oceans that I would rather be looking at.


Relay For Life

I just woke up and it is midday. Though, I woke up at 3 am also today and went to Relay for life where I ran around in circles for an hour and thought about all the people I know whose lives have been touched by the horrors of cancer.

It was a great morning, i ended up running 20 laps of the circuit, which I worked out was about 11.2Km. Not bad for an hour…but boy am I ruined now!

I thought mostly about my beautiful mother who passed away from cancer in 2008 and how much I would love to see her now. She would be so happy that I’m writing as it was always her dream to write books. She was the biggest book worm I ever knew and I wish she was here now to share in my new passion.

Thanks Mum, for all your inspiration.

Podcast Joy

So it has been a while since I posted,

I am still getting my head around this blog and what the whole process can do for me. I have been looking at an excellent blog:

Welcome To The Creative Penn

By Joanna Penn.

There is a wealth of information on there with some great tips for new writers. It is great to hear other peoples stories about how they got to where they are and importantly the mistakes they make.

There are some great podcasts on there too of interviews she has done with other writers and people in the industry.

I find myself thinking that this is something I will be doing one day, interviewing people about their books etc. and immersing myself in the industry. However, I know how far away this is. I need to keep writing and writing and reading and researching and then, when I feel ready…I will be able to launch myself in to the public sphere and call myself a real author.

I also got a great idea from her blog, and have come up with an idea for writing a series of short stories linked to my main novel and put them up on my blog page. I can start building my world and bringing it into the public domain.

I can’t wait.

Orca Day!

Today I saw orcas in the harbor, or to be more exact, my partner saw them with his amazing – still fully functional eyes. Then I said…”lets go chase them!”

As they were slowly doing a tour of Wellington harbor’s coastline, it was quite easy to hop in the car (with our hydrophones of course) and go driving after them. Naturally, there was a bunch of other people chasing them too, so we joined the orca circus. A parade of cars politely following them around the bays, anyone who could afford a few minutes out of their day was there, and maybe even those who couldn’t afford it.

Sometimes, when nature calls, you just have to stop whatever seemingly vital task you are doing, and look at something amazing in our world…just to remember that the task you were doing, isn’t the be all and end all. Our world, rolling around our beautiful star, doesn’t need us at all. It doesn’t need our tax money, it doesn’t need our laundry, it really doesn’t need our ever recurring traffic jams.

Earth can shake us all off at any time, like a dog sheds its winter coat. It is a humbling thought to know that no matter what we do to the planet, she can wipe us away at any moment, purge us like an unwanted virus. The point of acknowledging this as often as I can, is so that I can enjoy our green home that much more. To be thankful for each day I have here, especially the ones where I get to see dolphins or orca, or rainbows or unicorns…oh wait, not that last one. (I wish, I wish!)

Well, anyway, we didn’t manage to record any sounds of the orca, they just weren’t clicking today. However, just seeing them, only meters away form the shore filled my heart with joy and my day with inspiration.

One day, I will go into explaining the depths of my obsession with these wolves of the sea, but for now let it just be enough to say, they compelled me to get off my seat and get out in the day. Then, they compelled me to write, write, write and get my words out, like spray from a blow hole. PFTTTTT!!!

Love and respect to our mammal friends who dwell in the deep.