5 Reasons for finishing the first draft-

I haven’t been writing for very long. I think that is a given. Or at least I haven’t been taking it as serious as I do now for very long… Having only one short story published and one novel that is unpublished isn’t a very big resume. But I can tell you that in my drawer are hundreds of undeveloped ideas. They sit there collecting dust, the pages worn and cracked from my personal creative neglect. They’re like small children starring back at me wide eyed begging for some sort of attention. They are my unfinished drafts…

I hate unfinished works… Most of these are the first two or three chapters of novels I started and quickly gave up on. Others are short stories and novellas that just never panned out or I forgot about. The truth is, each one of them represents me giving up on a project. And I hate that… I hate quitting or letting go of something to soon.

Now, truth be told some represent a time when my writing skills were very weak. The ideas needed to be abandoned… Going back and reading them today I’m thankful I didn’t pursue them. But then there is that other group. The group where that little demon was sitting on my shoulder digging his talons in deep, piercing my skin and barking in my ear the two words I hate to hear most: You Stink!!!

So many times I would listen and let go of something, taking the advice from my inner critic instead. I hate that. It drives me nuts because as I look over these stories now something stirs that says: This isn’t so bad, you’ve got something here…

A few I can actually remember when I got the idea and started writing them down. I remember the pleasure of taking the pen to the paper and making the strokes. That magical feeling of a story coming alive in your mind that it causes your hand to move so fast you can barely read the writing on the page. But now they sit here, starring back at me, saying finish me, please… Why did you ever leave me…?

Last year I wrote a short story called “Compulsion.” Just about 6,500 words is all it was. Is it the best short story I have ever written…? No, probably not… Does it need some fine tuning and a little editing…? Sure you bet it does… But I did something for the first time, I stopped listening to my inner critic, that little demon beast that sits on my shoulder and I went to Kindle and – published it…

I didn’t care what people thought. I didn’t care if I walked away with nothing but 500 one star reviews. The end result was I was happy with it and I enjoyed the little story… But just finishing something was pleasing enough and it made me realize that I can actually do this…

This week: Thursday and Friday Compulsion will be up for FREE on Kindle… And every time I look at it I’m reminded of my current project and how important finishing it will be… So here they are- My Five reasons for finishing the first draft of your manuscript… Hope you enjoy!!!

1. You gain confidence that you can do this-
• Confidence is what holds most writers back… It’s diminished by the voice on our shoulder. Ask yourself how many times have you’ve given up on an idea that was good and decent only to regret it because the inner critic controlled you choice to do so…

2. The first draft is never perfect-
• Every writer has a bad written first draft… Some may say they don’t, and I’m sure there are select few out there, but most do… I stopped going back and revising as I went. It took me awhile but I finally realized that polishing and re-writes are a separate process for a reason

3. You learn from the experience-
• You learn what process works for you… I would also say you discover where your weaknesses are (Dialogue, plotting, grammar, etc) I think my weakness is in grammar. I hate it, writing would be easier if there were no rules… But a story would also likewise stink as a result. Everytime I write I learn something new about my personal grammar…

4. It means you’re legit-
• Being a writer isn’t about having published works, writing is about finishing… I really believe that… Publication is the reward for the effort… So finish, it means you are a writer…

5. Finishing is the first step towards publication-
• If you don’t finish something you are never going to get published. It’s that simple. When you finish, then you can now submit (After polishing, revisions, re-writes, etc)

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My 5 Principles of Writing!!!!!

So the other day I was asked a simple question. What is my writing process…? In all honesty I was a bit taken back by the question. I mean I’ve only published the one short story and my first novel is collecting dust in the bottom of some dark desk drawer. My current work on the other hand is going quite well and I’m enjoying the story thus far. But still, the question seemed odd simply because I have never really given it much thought until now. So I pulled out a pen and paper and thought of what I do… These aren’t tips, they’re just principles I try to adhere to when writing…

1.       Plan-

That’s the first thing I do, no matter what is I plan out what I’m going to write. There are some writers; like John Grisham; who create a detail chapter by chapter outline. Shoot me in the head now, that’s not me… I would rather have my teeth drilled then to create a chapter by chapter outline… But I still do plan something out. I use a 7 point plotting system that was created by Dan Wells. It has always seemed to work for me and I highly recommend it… I’ll provide a link below.

I think planning is essential. There are some like Stephen King and Dean Koontz who have a certain level of creativity that many of us have yet to tap into. Those gentlemen can simply create a premise and then sit and write page by page… That doesn’t work for me, and if you are a new writer it probably won’t work for you… Maybe it does and my muse here is pointless but all the same I plan and plan well. Do I stray from my one page outline, you bet…. But I still plan.

Dan Wells on story Structure-

2.       Write-

Seems kind of like a duh answer doesn’t it… I make it a habit to write something everyday… Doesn’t matter if it is 250 words or 2,000 words… Each day I just keep trying to build and build until I hit the end… Also, another important point I want to make here… Writing doesn’t mean revising… There are some that revise as they go… Dean Koontz says he writes one page at a time and he doesn’t move on to the next page until that page is done… There is some times where he says he has done 30 or 40 drafts of a page before moving on… Hats off to Koontz, he is successful for a reason and I’m sure there is a lesson to be learned there…. But I would go mad spending one full day on just one page…. It may work for you to revise as you go but I think the revision process should be separate… Hey, maybe I’m wrong… I mean I’ve yet to publish a full length novel and top the NY Times… But I write, and I don’t look back…

3.      Finish

Believe it or not this was always my biggest challenge… I have probably over the past seven years started thirty novels. The problem was none of them made it past chapter 2 or 3… A better idea would always come along or, I would listen to that little demon on the side of my shoulder whispering in my ear saying “That bites…” Well I eventually stopped listening to the demon and I finished something… Of course in the end it did suck, but I finished and that was enough to tell me I could do this… I stopped writing towards what I felt the market wanted to hear, stopped worrying about grammar, prepositions, and comma splices (whatever those are) and just wrote in defiance of all the rules… I wanted to tell a story and decided finishing a story was far more important than the doubt that would creep into my mind… Finishing the first draft is always the first step towards publication…

4.       Step Away-

Every time I would listen to an author give advice I would always hear them say this… I couldn’t understand why… When I finished something I wanted to start revising / re-writing right then and there… But I finally listened to this advice… I stepped away from the manuscript for about three weeks… Didn’t look at it, didn’t think about it… I actually took this time and started planning the next story… When I came back to it, I saw it from a fresh perspective… Take the time when you are done to simply walk away and give it time before coming back…

5.       Re-Write-

I re-write it paragraph by paragraph… The process is much quicker and easier however because let’s face it, the foundation is already there… But I focus on plot lines that need fixed and even grammar, punctuation, etc. during this process… Some like to split these up, fix plot line and then come back and focus on grammar, I tend to like to keep them together and knock them both out at once… In the end this is where you take that glob of clay and refine it to look like a bowl… It’s my favorite part of the process… I’m seeing the story take shape and become more like a novel, something someone would actually want to read…

Now these are nothing more than simply principles I try to adhere to… It’s not the way it has to be done… As writers if there is anything we have learned it’s that every writer is different. This is simply the process that works for me… I would love to hear about how others go about it… I have always found the different writing techniques from one writer to another very fascinating… Anyway, thanks for stopping by and happy Hump day… We’re half way through the week!!!!!


Gaiman and The 8 Rules of Writing

So it’s been quite some time since I have posted or even partaken in any social media… I have been on a pretty big break trying to refocus on writing and specific goals for the new year, spend some time with my wife and son… But I’m glad to jump back in, and ready to fire out as many ret-tweets as I can, catch up with many of my ASMSG friends, and reenter the virtual world of who knows really what….

So I’ve never been one to really give much weight into the various list that bare the title “Rules for Writing…” It has always seemed to me and been apparent that everyone has a different method as to how they accomplish their specific writing goals… What works for one may not work for another… But recently I came across a specific blog on the Brain Pickings website that centered around Neil Gaiman’s 8 Rules of Writing. At first I groaned thinking “Great, now Gaiman has given into the subject.”  But I was pleasantly surprised because in all honesty these are more than just mere rules; they are more like principles to apply to our daily writing life… Hope everyone enjoys!!!

1. Write.

2. Put one word after another. Find the right word, put it down.

3. Finish what you’re writing. Whatever you have to do to finish it, finish it.

4. Put it aside. Read it pretending you’ve never read it before. Show it to friends whose opinion you respect and who like the kind of thing that this is.

5. Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.

6. Fix it. Remember that, sooner or later, before it ever reaches perfection, you will have to let it go and move on and start to write the next thing. Perfection is like chasing the horizon. Keep moving.

7. Laugh at your own jokes.

8. The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it ­honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.


Sticking it out – A 12 Steps for Writers Short

“Hey there,” the old man said. “I know you. You’ve been here before. You may not remember me, but we talked after the last session.”

I looked at the old man. “Yes, you gave the lecture last time, the one on giving up.”

The old man smiled. “So it’s good to see you came back.”

“Well they say it takes twelve steps to break free.”

He laughed. “And what step are you on?”

“You kidding, I’m still looking for an escalator just to avoid the stair case.”

He placed his hand on my shoulder. “Admitting you’re powerless is tough; it’s amazing how many of us have eventually broken free and gone on to find success.”

“I heard you wrote your first bestseller after you went through the program.”

“I’m not the only one. Dozens of us have made it out.”

“I can’t wait for that day.”

“Don’t worry,” he said. “It will come soon enough.”

“Well with the stack of bills collecting on my counter I would hope it comes sooner rather than later.”

“Well then, you’ve got the wrong idea.”

I frowned. “How so?”

“If money is all you hope to gain then you’re stuck just staying afloat where you are.”

I sighed, I knew he was right. But I had convinced myself long ago that this would be the only way.

“I was like you once,” he said. “Big dreams. Lunch with agents, million dollar contracts.”

“But you made it.”

“Sure, but I was ten years into my project and still searching for an agent that would accept my lunch invite and I still hadn’t earned a dent in those millions.”

“How did you eventually do it?”

“Two things,” he said. “One I stopped writing what everyone else expected me to write and I just wrote the story I wanted to hear. Second, I finished something.”

“Sounds easier than it is.”

“Well it is,” he said. “But not giving up on the story is important.”

“That’s my problem right now.”

“What is?”

“Giving up on the story,” I said. “Sometimes I write and I write and I feel as if I’m backed into a corner. I’m twenty thousand words into it and I’m just not feeling it. I think this is the wrong idea.”

“Is that why you joined the group?” He asked. “Because you felt like you got the wrong idea?”

“No,” I said. “I joined because I’m frustrated with my idea. I like the story but I’m just stuck.”

“I’ve been there many times. You feel like you want to beat your head against the keyboard.”

“Yeah and then throw it across the room.”

“Sometime we writers go through that stage. It’s like we’re on board the Titanic and we’re scooping water out with a small bucket hoping we can save her. In the end she just continues to sink.”

“Any advice?”

“Slow down,” he said. “Writing isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. Pace yourself. Some days you’ll write until your eye lids close and other days you’ll leave with only a sentence to your name. Just write and finish.”

“You’re big on finishing.”

“Finishing is the first step to publication.”

“But I don’t want to write something that’s pure crap.”

He laughed.

“What?” I asked.

“Edits and rewrites are a process for a reason.”

“I hate em,” I said.

He nodded. “Well do me a favor.”

“What?”

“Go home, sit down, and just write on the story.”

“That’s it…”

“You outline?”

“Yeah,” I said. “Pretty extensively too.”

“Then just put that outline aside and just write.”

“But what about all the plot points I have.”

“They’ll still be there,” he said. “But let the story lead you for a bit. Let it take you on a journey. Trust me… There is no better feeling then letting the story lead you to discover something new.”

“Sounds almost enchanting.”

“It is… And it’s worth it.”


Interview with Ruth Watson Morris

Why don’t you start out by telling us a little bit about yourself…? What’s your idea of a relaxing day..?      Kicking back with a good novel and a cup of coffee, I read on average around 5 – 6 novels a week, If I can get passed the first 2 chapters I know it’s going to be a good book.

What was your families’ reaction when you told them you wanted to be a writer…? Were they supportive or did they think you were crazy…?

My children have all read my series so far and are great fans, I hope they are proud of what I have accomplished so far.

So tell me about your favorite:

Author…? Kelley Armstrong… no! JK Rowling… no! I have a lot!

Film…? Again it’s hard to choose, Twister!

TV Show…? The Big Bang theory!

Have you ever read a book, then later saw the film, and thought “Oh man, they screwed it all up…?” Yes, Lord of the Rings with lots of they’ve missed a bit! Perhaps not screwed it up just didn’t do it quite the way it should have been.

Tell us about your book…? Tell us a bit about the main Character… Is he/ she based off of any one in particular…? What inspired you to create this character…?

Orion is the latest book, the main character is based on my lovely son, he’s now 22 and is over 7 feet tall. An amazing guy and a gentle giant, he’s always loved astronomy and biology. He stands out from the crowd. Before he hit University I wanted to get him reading.

Where did you did you get the idea for your book…? What inspired you or caused you to say “Ah ha…” My Eureka moment came from watching the Meyer film ‘Twilight’ not that she did a bad job, but it was very child-like and cheesy, I just thought that a hero should be that, a living breathing being and perhaps from a different planet.

What was the most difficult part about writing this book…?

Killing one of the big characters off, especially as so many people liked her.

Let’s chat for a minute about your writing process… Do you outline, or are you one of that that just sits and starts writing by the seat of your pants…?

Book 1 was just a let’s just do it, Orion had more planning involved because I knew where the series was going from there. Book 3 is all planned and all worked out and every step is checked and double checked.

Do you write in the morning, evening, or are you a graveyard writer…?

My best ideas are usually the early hours of the morning or while sitting on a bus, I tend to have to take pen and paper so I don’t forget anything!

When you write, what are the biggest challenges you encounter…?

Making sure that the characters are not over the top! (Even though their personalities sometimes are).

Do you know much about your characters when you start, or do you get to know them as you go along…?

By book 2 they seem to have developed on their own, but yes I know them well enough now to know how they would react to a situation.

If you could write in a genre different than the one you are writing in now, what would it be and why…?

Comedy, the world gets very serious at times, it’s nice to escape all the seriousness of life.

Who stands out as being your favorite writer…?

Kelley Armstrong has got to be the winner here, I have all of her Women of the other world books.

If you had the chance to sit down and talk to any writer dead or alive for one hour who would that be and why…?

Tolkien, he’s wonderful I have read Lord of the rings 7 times and the hobbit even more than that. Who wouldn’t wont tips from him!

What can we expect next from you…?

Book 3 Sky, the search for the dragons.

Blog – http://voxianwatsonmorrisfantasybooks.blogspot.co.uk/

Fan page – http://www.facebook.com/TheVoxianSeriesOfHorrorScienceFictionFantasy

Twitter – @Fantacia1


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