After A Week Of Re-Writes, We’re Back On Track!

About a week ago, I realized what I’d written for my book since the start of the New Year wasn’t working. The material just wasn’t up to the standards of what had been done so far. It was a slow tedious bore with little imagination or artistry, at least by my standards. As the previous chapters were everything I had hoped, I knew it would be a disservice to end this story in a half assed way. I sat down and started to re-write my third act.

It seemed a mountainous task. I had written a full two and a half chapters. Would it be possible to get back the magic that birthed this story? It was time to be like an episode of ER. Break out the defibrillator and make this thing live!

Of course I’m no George Clooney when it comes to fictional medicine. It was going to take a lot of work to get this done. I had to cut out a lot of material and find what I could replace it with lest I be left with either two chapters that were too short, or one chapter that was too long.

Well, eight days later, I am pleased to report that many electrical shots later, chapters 14 and 15 of my book are alive and well. I trimmed a lot of the fat, re-wrote prose I didn’t like, added dialogue to break up the descriptive passages, and created an overall much more readable experience for all. I’m most pleased with the final results.

As a bonus, my chapters were also not The Thing in disguise. Otherwise they would have bitten my hands off at the defibrillator machine.

Yes, my story had not been taken over by a malevolent shapeshifting alien after all. As a writer, things have been looking up.

As an added bonus, I realized one of my character’s actions didn’t make too much sense so I wrote a few new lines of dialogue to fix it. As a result, I may have set up a nice little action scene or vignette to take place in the next chapter, ensuring it isn’t just a 20 page long conversation. What a great time to be a writer, no?

I’m glad I had the skill to recognize when some of my own writing wasn’t working. Because of that, I’ve saved myself a lot of trouble for the future. These next few chapters are going to be great fun to work on, and they will hopefully at long last bring this story to an appropriate and satisfying conclusion.

Until the sequel that is. Because I need to figure out what chapter The Thing is hiding in.

Chapter 14 Lives!

“It’s alive! It’s alive!”

The wonders a re-write in the right frame of mind can do. Last week I posted a little story about concerns I had with my climax in the novel. I had come up to my final act and have a mere four or five chapters to go. I had finished chapters 14, 15 and had started on 16 before figuring out very quickly that something was wrong. It just didn’t feel alive or meaningful like previous chapters had been, with little character moments and more a slow trudge to the next plot point.

I never believed writing was as simple as point A to B. Point A to B is but the pieces of bread for a sandwich. It’s what’s between the slices that makes a piece work.

After putting the manuscript down for a few days, I began a mission. I was going to fix this climax and fix it good. I sat down and jotted out some ideas, discarded plenty of bad ones, and took to the keyboard to tear it up like a trip to the disco floor.

The writing process took many hours. I just about sucked up an entire day. Scratch that. I did suck up an entire day. I must have cut 1000 words out of the chapter, replacing them with about 3000 better ones. Upon completing the chapter at 7pm, I knew it was finished.

Okay, not finished finished. There is still that later tweaking edit that will come after the manuscript has been set down for a few weeks. But still, it is so much more alive. It moves with a purpose, there are more of those little moments, and it really feels like a massive, unpleasant journey for the main hero, who after a physical altercation with one of the villains, isn’t exactly in the best of conditions.

So Chapter 14 has become like one of those stupid slasher villains. You know? The ones that they shoot, chop up, blow up, grind up, drop in acid, mail all their pieces to different parts of the world that still keep coming back for like 10 movies? I suppose that’s what this book has been. Just when I think it is dead and I should give it up, it manages to pull off a miracle. It pulled off a big one last night, and now now of my two finished chapters is fixed. One more chapter to spruce up and then I’ll be going through chapter 16 to figure out what precisely will be going on there.

So after a late night of work in the lab with Igor, we have made this corpse of a chapter into something living. It may not be the best chapter in the book and could still use some tightening, but it is now worthy to be counted amongst the earlier chapters.

We are now up to 338 pages of good solid material and have, let me see, at least three chapters to go, but it may end up being four. I’m excited.

Latest Articles From MoviePilot

As someone who is deeply passionate about narrative fiction, film has always been something that deeply fascinates me. As such, one always wants to share their thoughts on movies and what they meant to them. Recently I was finally given a platform to try that out on, and it has been quite the adventure.

Working for MoviePilot has been a real treat, though it has taken some of my resources away from the novel. But no matter. Life as a paid writer has been extraordinarily fun and has given me a platform to speak about film. I have thus far earned 38 dollars. Not a lot, mind you. I still very much need to figure out a good formula to get my articles maximum hits. My last three didn’t exactly break a thousand.

Still, working on all of these has been a real joy, and I would like to share them with all of you.

My first article is a list of 10 Black and White horror films that in spite of their age, still scare the audience pretty good. The next is a retrospective on the original Westworld, the movie that inspired the hit HBO tv series. After that is a brief list of top 10 underrated sequels. After that is a little quickie on top 10 greatest movie taglines.

Hopefully soon these will be getting more hits. We shall see. In the meantime, please enjoy these pieces as I’m very proud of all of them. Please feel free to share as every little bit helps.

10 Black And White Horror Films That Are Still Very Scary

While Waiting For Season 2 Of ‘Westworld’, Watch The Original Classic

10 Sequels That Deserve a Second Chance

10 Taglines That Sell Their Movies Perfectly

Thanks for reading and I will be checking back with all of you soon.

 

Needing Another Re-Write

Yesterday I came to a painful realization. Much of the material I have written over the last few weeks may need to be discarded, in particular the latest fifteen pages for chapter 17.┬áIt just doesn’t seem to work.

Writing it is less an exciting endeavor and more an exercise in tedium. Not enough happens in these chapters so I either need to spice up the sequence of events or combine them into one. The latest chapter, for which I have written a fair amount, just doesn’t seem to be coming together. I have conversations that run for several pages, as many as seven some times. Dialogue is of course an important plot driver in fiction, and the dialogue here is crucial. But it runs too long. I don’t want this book to consist of conversations that last fifteen or twenty pages. That’s not high fantasy and adventure.

What really bugs me is there just doesn’t seem to be the right kind of build up for my conclusion. I am on the cusp of a major set piece, the most elaborate series of action sequences in the novel and the centerpiece of the entire story. Everything has been building up to this. This is where the characters have their arcs settled, where the villains are done away with (until the next book) and the set piece to end them all takes center stage. A battle between two dragons. The build up to that better be damn good.

Also, there is often a lack of suspense. One of the driving forces to the action is a character needing to be rescued, yet there isn’t enough mention of him and there aren’t any little tidbits that make the threat seem genuine. You know how it goes when a character you love is in jeopardy and you go through page after page wondering if they’re still okay. It is a nail biter. As it stands now, there isn’t much of a nail biter here.

I’ll need some further time to collate this novel, because most of the material we have up to now is really good, and there is plenty of this latest attempt I can and will keep. But it’s just not ready to be put to the page yet. Something is missing. Funny thing is it may be the smallest little detail that strings it all together, something that once found it will seem like it was there all along.

Maybe I wasn’t quite ready to come back yet. Maybe it has just been an off week. I don’t know. But I do know that if I don’t have fun writing it, people probably won’t have fun reading it. It will take a bit to get that spirit of fun back, but when it comes, I will finally finish this draft.

Struggles With A Re-Written Climax

I finished writing another chapter of my book last night, so now I am on the home stretch for this draft. For the first time in a while, this blank page scares me. This will be the most drastic undertaking since the book first began, as I am re-writing some 80% of my climax.

This drastic undertaking began with two things. One was a fruitful time with a very talented editor. My original climax was (and still more or less is) an almost two chapter long fight scene between two dragons, one good and the other evil. I wanted to finish it with a Godzilla style monster mash as the Kaiju genre was a heavy influence on this fantasy adventure epic.

Plus two dragons punching each other is awesome.

My editor called the two chapter brawl tedious. I had tried to spice it up, make sure the action didn’t get repetitive, and divide it up into distinct acts. Still, while I was going through my edits, I wasn’t having fun. It didn’t occur to me at the time that if I wasn’t having fun editing it (as I had in so many other chapters), the audience probably wouldn’t have too much fun reading it.

Then the answer to my troubles came.

I had two other characters who will eventually become the main onscreen villains of the series. They were so well built up, had some great moments together, and were an all around great addition to the story. Problem is they kind of drop out of the book shortly after they have their first on page scenes. I was worried that audiences wouldn’t be able to connect with them given their short page time.

They were not present in the climax. That’s when it hit me that they should be there. They should be in the tick of it, making things as difficult for my heroes as possible. Surely this would spice up the action just the way it was needed, and bring this book to a more exciting, extravagant and satisfying conclusion.

I have many ideas on just what to do, and am confident I can pull it off. It is just that first step that I must take tonight in order to get the ball rolling. I aim to write my daily 2k words and at least get started on setting up this sequence. Funny thing. I don’t know if I have two chapters left to write for this book or three, depending on how long this battle will last.

My fear doesn’t come from lack of ideas. It is because I have so many ideas, I am not quite sure just how I will sort them out. It is going to be a tough ride to the summit of the mountain. I can see the top. I know my ending. It had often been told to me that the ending is the hardest part of any story. That is not the case with me. With me the ending is one of the first things I figure out as an ending helps tie together the themes and ideas I want to explore. The beginning is the first slice of bread and the ending is the second.

The real trouble is always what sort of things you want to put on the sandwich.

First Day Back – Another Chapter is Done

Greetings all from everyone’s favorite aspiring high fantasy novelist.

Well I took a good deal of time off my book for the holidays. Two weeks as it were. I was worried that getting back into the swing of things would be far more difficult than it turned out to be.

The day before yesterday, when I opened up my word document for the first time in as many days, I wrote over 4k words, completed 10 pages of material, and was able to bring chapter 14 of the book to a close. The night ended with me porting over some materials for chapter 15, which is still in progress and will likely be wrapped by either today or tomorrow.

It has honestly felt pretty great. My leading man (or rather leading fire breathing lizard) has a very distinct voice in how he narrates, and I always fear while writing the prose that I’ll somehow lose him. But after a few moments of short pondering, he came back and in a big way.

Also there were the little details that always make writing a joy. I often find that, at least with me, small touches in the prose of character actions or dialogue help bring a scene to life.

For example, earlier in the book I had my heroes go to a stable run by a foul mouthed old sailor. The scene as it was was pretty bland, but necessary to the plot. While doing this latest draft I just had the idea to turn the sailor into a 12 year old girl, with every bit as foul a vocabulary. And we all know how most parents are with language, so while the girl is delivering her profanity laced exposition, she is occasionally interrupted by her bother yelling at her to watch her tongue. What was one of the most boring scenes in the book was thus transformed to one of the funniest, all from simply changing the age of one character.

Yes, little details have been a major lifesaver for me. So much material that is good and funny, even a little sad. During this last chapter, those little tidbits were not in short supply. Easiest 10 pages I’ve ever written.

Now chapter 15 is five pages in, and for the most part this will be a port, so it should go pretty quickly. After that comes chapter 16, 17, and maybe even chapter 18 if this book turns out to be longer than I anticipated. It is already a chapter thicker than I originally thought it would be. Not that I am complaining.

After Days Of Writing, Back To The Book

The last few days I have been writing just about everything except my book.

I just arrived back from Ohio day before yesterday. That was a busy day, picking up the Thing of Evil (my new kitten) from the pet store, cleaning up my apartment, and figuring out my issues with the internet.

Then I was offered a script reader and reviewer position at a film festival that may not pay much, but something is better than nothing so the saying goes. I spent all day yesterday reading the script and writing a review to get it out before I went to bed.

Then came MoviePilot. I had two articles ready to be written, and figured one of them wouldn’t take too terribly long. It would give me the opportunity to earn a little more from that site as well, and that could hardly hurt.

All told, I spent six hours writing yesterday, and not a single word of it was prose fiction. I guess writing actually is work, rewarding though it is.

So here’s the article I wrote for MoviePilot. Top 10 Black & White Horror Movies That Are Still Very Scary.

Today I had a short shift at the store, a quick four hours from 5 to 9 in the morning. I now have a full day ahead with not a lot to do, except one thing.

Today is a fine day to write a book. I have six or seven hours left before I need to get to bed, and that may be just enough to wrap up another chapter. Maybe even start on another. I plan on finishing this draft before my next vacation, which will happen in a few weeks time.

With all the extra writing I’ll need to do, it will certainly be a chore. I know right now I’m not exactly grounded in the mythical world of Haiden. Give me a few minutes though, I’m sure it will all come back. I’ve been off this book for a few weeks and the ideas have been building up for some time now. The dam is about to burst.

Indiana Jones Meets Harry Potter

Another day, another photoshop. After the warm reception to my previous post on Indiana Jones and the Halls of Erebor, I decided to put my favorite hero ever, Indiana Jones, into another franchise that is very near and dear to me, taking him to another realm of high fantasy and magic.

And giant snakes.

That’s right. Indiana Jones now finds himself at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and is pitted against Voldemort, the Death Eaters, and his personal favorite, a deadly basilisk.

Now I know Indiana Jones was active in the 1930s and the main Harry Potter arc takes place in the early 2000s, but come on people! It is Indiana Jones meets Harry Potter! Granted, Indy could have gone to Hogwarts while Lily and James were going to school and that could have been fun, but I didn’t feel like doing that so here we are.

How does Indy get to Hogwarts? I dunno. Maybe he is invited by Dumbledore and becomes the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. They switch that teacher out every few weeks anyway. Maybe he winds up on Platform 9 3/4 while fighting some Death Eaters and makes his way to the school from there. But who cares!? We get to see Indiana Jones fight a basilisk

So without further delay, here is my latest photoshop.

indiana-jones-and-the-school-of-magic

Ah, such creative potential with this one. How would Indy get along with our three young stars? Would he and professor Snape actually find some common ground? How well would a fight between him and Delores Umbridge go? Probably not too well for Delores I would gather. One thing is clear. Voldemort is going to have his hands full with this muggle.

Hope you all like the eye candy.

My First Paid Article

The year of 2016 has come and gone, and the first dawn of 2017 brings with it a glimmer of a hopeful future for me. Today I completed and published the first piece of writing for which I’ll be paid.

It seems fitting that I chose this subject matter. The 1999 game Aliens vs. Predator is one of the many works of fiction that jumpstarted my desire to work in the field of storytelling as a filmmaker or novelist. How poetic that should be the subject of the first bit of writing that would actually put a little cash in my bank account.

This was an article that was in my heart for years, ever since the bungled release of the Alien vs. Predator films, I always wanted to talk about what made the series special, where it had worked before, and why the movies failed. I must have worked four days on this piece, collecting the images, researching the facts, making sure all the bases were covered so that it would all come together.

In the end, I’m very thrilled with how it has turned out and believe it is my best piece for MoviePilot yet. I hope you all agree.

A Different Kind of Star Wars: Rise, Fall & Future of ‘Aliens vs. Predator’

Read at your leisure and you are encouraged to share this piece to your heart’s content. After all, the more it is read, the more it helps me get established in this field. Also, offer up any thoughts you may have for improvement or ideas for future articles.

Thank you to all who helped me get this far, and Happy New Year.