Of Projects – The Long and the Short.

Yesterday was my  birthday. I was home alone; I had no one to answer to. I could decide to do whatever I wished. I decided to drink tea, eat chocolate, listen to my new The Cog is Dead CD, and write. The most difficult decision was what to write.

I have a few projects on the go right now:
  • The Day of the Dirigible, part of The Adventures of Viola Stewart series. This short story is a prequel to Doctor Jack. It is the first story in  a collection of steampunk short stories based on a character - Viola Stewart. She is a Victorian era oculist/optician (women were not yet allowed to practice as doctors).  I am currently doing final rewrites.
  • My second Adventures of Viola Stewart work-in-progress is Doctor Jack. It is currently a 35K word first draft novella. Jack is a darker steampunk story - more of an alternative history. This is now in the hands of my first beta reader and will be heading into the first round of rewrites.
  • The Department of Curiosities. This is a novel length WIP manuscript . Currently, the first draft is just over 46K - 54% complete! This is a steampunk novel with considerably more intrigue. We meet Miss Mathilda (Tillie) Meriwether as she joins The Department of Curiosities.
  • My final (current) WIP is The Wizard of St Pauls (name to be confirmed). This is a gaslamp/paranormal steampunk novella. I am only jotting down ideas and a possible outline  for The Wizard, as this is earmarked for NaNoWriMo in November. I can't start the actual manuscript until November 1st. You can find inspirations on my Pinterest page

birthday stash 2014smI think another cup of tea is in order. Then I get dinner and chocolate cake (and maybe a movie) with the family. My day is set. Enjoy your day.

Right: Some of my birthday pressies: all the fun things, including a Monty Python sketch birthday card, Doctor Who, Star Wars, Shakespeare, octopuses, steampunk - The Cog is Dead. The Department of Curiosities - Manuscript Word Progress: (54.2% first draft) Total Words:   At 1st draft only: Revised Words: 

Of Cameras and Their Point of View.

I have commented previously on how invaluable I find my writers' group.  We meet once a month, at the local library. Last week I took a break from writing Doctor Jack - to enjoy the company  of my fellow writers and discuss the final scenes of The Department of Curiosities's fifth chapter  (my novel length manuscript work-in-progress).

chapter51strewritesThese scenes of Chapter 5: Of Resurrections, Discoveries and Assassinations/Eliminations (still being decided) - follows the despicable acts of the antagonist's henchmen. No spoilers. From the start, I envisaged the henchmen as almost faceless non-individuals. They do not speak. We never learn their names. They act almost as one. We do not get any insight into their thoughts, feelings or motives. Nada.

This has forced me to practice writing from a new point of view (POV) - that of the 'Camera'. Not an easy task! Personal descriptives kept sneaking into the prose. One sentence that had to be culled was:  'This had been expected, and planned for.'  How can a camera interpret their motives or intent?  Smells, vision and sound need to be self-explanatory - or suggestive. Gone was also 'With all secrecy lost'. The reader must interpret for themselves.

This has been a great learning experience. If I can pull it off, the henchmen will be just that little bit more detached and hopefully produce some discomfort - like emotionless robots. My take home lesson this month has been: The camera does not think. It does not interpret. The camera only sees.

Of Lessons, Practice and Satisfaction.

I often say - "I learn something every day." In fact if I don't learn something new, I sometimes get disappointed. There is a wonderful world out there - so much knowledge, so many talents and skills that are to be found in our Earth's inhabitants. If I can but glean just a miniscule amount from any of them, then I am happy.

Though our writing group only officially meets once a month, it is one place where I always learn something (and not always about writing). Last month, I had very useful constructive feedback on Chapter 3 - of The Department of Curiosities.

  1. on dialogue, setting out dialogue and associated action
  2. building tension, plot and storyline - specifically within a chapter.
  3. culling, minimising or spreading around 'information/background dump'
I finished the rewrite to both chapter 2 and 3, spreading out background where it was more appropriate - and to reduce boredom.

This month, I proffered the first part of chapter 4 - Of Diaries, Ghostmen and Despicable Acts. I steeled myself for another long list of rewrites. In the end I had less than 1/4 of the rewrites as last month.   I was complimented on the improvement in dialogue and pace of the story.  I came home and finished the rewrites on the same afternoon.

It is extremely gratifying when I get constructive feedback. Without it I could not learn more of the craft of writing. Without it I could not gain the confidence to try new things. There is a comforting sense of satisfaction when I realise that I have actually learnt something - and even more when I have put it into practice.

Tomorrow I look forward to writing more - and learning more. I love this writing gig!

Manuscript Word Progress: Total Words:   Revised Words:  At 1st draft only: