Writing

manuscript and notebook She Who Comes Forth work in progress

The Tail of the Tale

 

Back in January, I typed “finis” at the end of my work in progress. Since then, I’ve gone through it twice, once to find gross errors and inconsistencies, and a second time to streamline the prose and reduce the word count.

Everything went swimmingly (a word to be used sparingly or not at all) until I came to what’s still called #15, which is the final section of the novel. (I haven’t decided where to put chapter breaks yet). The crisis and climax happen in #14. Why, some may ask, is another whole chapter needed?

In music, there’s something called a coda. Here are some definitions, snipped from Wikipedia:

In music, a coda (Italian for ‘tail’) is a passage that brings a piece (or a movement) to an end. Technically, it is an expanded cadence. It may be as simple as a few measures, or as complex as an entire section.

Coda (It.) (1) The tail of a note. (2) The bars occasionally added to a contrapuntal movement after the close or finish of the canto fermo. (3) The few chords or bars attached to an infinite canon in order to render it finite; or a few chords not in a canon, added to a finite canon for the sake of obtaining a more harmonious conclusion. (4) That closing adjunct of any movement, or piece, specially intended to enforce a feeling of completeness and finality.

Notice the bits about creating “a feeling of completeness and finality,” and “obtaining a more harmonious conclusion.” Also that it may be “as complex as an entire section.”

Prologues are a contentious subject among writers, but I haven’t seen as much discussion about devices to end a novel. I’m not talking about epilogues, which are disconnected from the story, both chronologically and otherwise. Some novels need what might be called a “literary coda.”

Such a device directly follows on from the events of the preceding chapter. It’s a kind of runway to land the reader gently rather than leaving them gasping in midair after the crisis (even if there is a sequel, but especially if there isn’t). Or maybe it’s like the gang getting together at the pub after the big game instead of going straight home. It’s a chance for the reader to linger a while longer with the characters and setting, savouring the reading experience. (Assuming it was positive, of course).

Loose ends (some of them, anyway) are tied up and a few final revelations presented. Going back to music again, the final chapter is like an encore, a way of prolonging the story for the reader who just doesn’t want it to end.

Back to the WIP. The first half of my final section was fine, but the closer I got to that “finis,” the more obvious it became that my main character (who is also the narrator) had been taken over by someone else — me. She was no longer talking about what was important to her, but rejoicing that she had arrived at The End. She was voicing my emotions, not hers.

The last paragraphs had an overly reflective tone, dwelling on earlier events already known by the reader. They didn’t sound like a 21-year-old with choices to make and apprehensions to deal with. The voice was that of the middle-aged writer who was almost finished. “Whew, we’re all done, and isn’t that great!”

A rewrite was in order.

A couple of things I had to keep in mind:

  • Until a book is published (and really, not even then, if it’s an ebook) nothing is unchangeable. I’ve had to persuade myself of this repeatedly while writing this novel. Just because my characters do or say certain things doesn’t mean I can’t change them or even (gasp!) delete them if they aren’t working. I am, after all, The Author.
  • Unless a scene or chapter is 100% horrible, wrong, and bad, I prefer to work with the existing text than to go back to a blank page. Some may consider the blank page a fresh start, but I don’t need blank page anxiety at this stage. I do, however, recommend making a fresh copy of the section to be edited before slashing and burning. The original, with all its faults, is safe until the rewrite is done.

This rewrite turned into the usual dog’s breakfast, with different colours and highlights marking problematic text, new text, and text moved from elsewhere. Then there were my exhortations and critical comments to myself, in ALL CAPS, so I didn’t overlook them.

SWCF screenshot pic

This is actually a selection of random paragraphs from the “Deleted Stuff” file, but looks just like sections of the actual manuscript, post-rewrite.

The rewrite is done and I’m happy with it. We’ll see if that satisfaction persists. I need to go through the whole manuscript again (at least once), this time zeroing in on words I may have used too often or inconsistently. Then there’s the matter of chapters. I’m excited about that, since I’m planning to give them titles instead of numbers.

About which I’ll post later.

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FREE ON KINDLE: HUNTING THE PHOENIX (BOOK 4 OF THE HERBERT WEST SERIES)

Hunting the Phoenix is available for free via a special promotion until end of day Sunday,  June 17th.

This is the final book of the Herbert West Series.

AMAZON:   USA   UK   CA   AU

Journalist Alma Halsey chases the story of a lifetime to Providence, Rhode Island and finds more than she expected – an old lover, Charles Milburn, and an old adversary, renegade physician Herbert West, living under the name Francis Dexter. Fire throws her into proximity with them both, rekindling romance and completing a great transformation.

Middle-aged and cynical, journalist Alma Halsey looks back on the missed chances in her life with bitterness and regret. Revisiting her home town of Arkham, she comes into possession of a letter that changes everything. So what if it’s not addressed to her, but to her old flame, librarian Charles Milburn? Suddenly she’s chasing down a big story, and maybe she’ll reconnect with Charles as well.

Giving up her New York City life, Alma moves to Providence to track down another man from her past – one she’s assumed to be dead for more than 15 years – renegade physician Herbert West. It seems he’s living in Providence under the name Francis Dexter, and is once more engaged in nefarious doings. Once she’s gathered enough information, Alma plans to write an expose.

Things get complicated when Alma discovers that Charles Milburn is also in Providence, working for “Dr. Dexter,” and English neurosurgeon Edward Clapham-Lee is also looking for Herbert West. Everything goes wrong when the house she is living in catches fire. Seriously injured and far from home, Alma is forced to accept the hospitality of the man she has made her quarry. In Dexter’s house she finds healing, strangeness and unexpected friendships, and realizes her real quarry is herself.

The three celebrate their renewed friendship with a summer vacation on Cape Cod, until the appearance of Edward Clapham-Lee – a man as amoral and dangerous as Dexter’s former self – demands a return to Arkham for a final reckoning.

The Missing Rung

Here is a humorous story from fellow writer John Paterson. It was recently published in Island Writer Magazine.

John R. Paterson's Blog

I was honoured to have on of my short stories published in the summer, 2018 edition of the Island Writer Magazine, The Literary Journal of Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. I was further honoured to be asked to and read the story at the June 6 meeting of the Victoria Writer’s Society.

The Missing Rung is a work of reflective creative non-fiction that captures the lighter side of an early childhood predicament. It’s humorous, and a quick read. Enjoy!

The Missing Rung

John R. Paterson

After breakfast Dad and I stood back while Mom cleared the kitchen table for the last time. Dishes removed, she dampened a cloth and wiped it down. The varnished surface glistened, except for a dull patch in the centre where countless serving dishes had worn through.

“Hurry up Chrissie! Eaton’s’ will be here soon with the new table and chairs,” Dad said. She ignored…

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The Herbert West Series Complete ebook cover image

On Sale This Week: The Herbert West Series Complete

The complete Herbert West Series is available at reduced prices from Wednesday, May 16th through Tuesday, May 22nd.

At Amazon.com only.

Includes all four novels of the Herbert West Series: The Friendship of Mortals, Islands of the Gulf Volumes 1 and 2, and Hunting the Phoenix.

Herbert West, a scientist obsessed with reversing death, is transformed into a physician of last resort.

From ancient Arkham to the agony of the Great War, from Acadie to the islands of the West Coast, a brilliant but amoral physician is subjected to travails and entanglements, to become a source of healing — and of peril.

Bonus: Chapter 1 of She Who Comes Forth, the sequel to the series.

A $7.99 value for as little as $1.99. Act sooner rather than later. Click here to purchase.

Announcing the Winners of the ASF Short Story Contest!

Winners of Rachael Ritchey’s Adventure, SciFi and Fantasy short story contest announced today!

Rachael Ritchey

contest header win pic.jpg

*Before you do anything else, push play on this video. You will want Victory music playing while you enjoy the inaugural ASF Short Story Contest results!*

Back in November, I got this hairbrained idea to put together a short story contest based off a book cover I’d randomly been designing just for kicks. I put some feelers out, and BAM! some people were like, “Heck yeah! I wanna do that.” SO here we are!

It was an absolute blast reading all the entries…well, all except the judging part. I would rather not do that part, but the stories are inspiring. It’s thrilling to see all the passion and talent.

Thank you to every person who submitted to the contest! The coolest part is that we’re going to put together an anthology of Adventurous Scifi & Fantasy stories. Once we’ve polished these babies up and made them shine, we’ll slap ’em into…

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‘Ullo Everyone! It’s proper ‘Patchwork Warriors’ time!!

Here’s a word from Karlyn, one of the main characters in RJ Llewellyn’s lively and harrowing novel, Of Patchwork Warriors. She gives a pretty good impression of the book. I’ve read it and recommend it to those who appreciate tales of action and adventure with a bit of magic and some grit mixed in.

heroicallybadwriter

Hi Karlyn here!!

‘Lo everyone! I said I’d be back didn’t I?

For meself, speaking personally, I was pleased  wiv’ the way ‘Of Patchwork Warriors’ went. There was a lot of running about, thumpin’ blokes wot deserved it, stabbing a few an’ I got to climb up as many trees as I wanted to AN’ talk to so many really interesting and clever bees and butterflys. AN’ a made a really best good friend Trelli, who understands me. And is kindly an’ sweet.

AND ‘course there was (hee-hee) Flaxi, whose proper name is Arketre but she’s got this lovely blonde hair! So my pet name for ‘er is Flaxi!….But I’m not supposed to say too much ‘bout us ‘cause Flaxi’s particular about HOW much you lot should know. She says ‘I don’ want to go a walkin’ about their bedrooms do I naw? So they can jus’ use their Good…

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Carrie Rubin and Audrey Driscoll — Authors Who Deserve More

A delightful surprise to read this post on Mark’s blog, mentioning one of my books along with The Bone Curse by Carrie Rubin, which looks really interesting.

KingMidget's Ramblings

Audrey Driscoll is a blogger/writer who has followed my blog for some time. I have always appreciated her likes and occasional comments, but I only recently returned the favor and started following her blog a few months ago.  It’s the kind of writer’s blog I appreciate. Most of the time you don’t even realize she has pursued publishing efforts because much of her blog is dedicated to her other pursuits.

A few weeks ago Berthold Gambrel posted a review of one of Audrey’s books, The Friendship of Mortals. Interestingly, Berthold learned of Audrey from my blog, likely because of a comment she left there that he then followed down the WordPress trail. His review inspired me to read The Friendship of Mortals. And I don’t know why. I’ve never read Lovecraft and haven’t the foggiest idea about his (her?) books and stories, although I’ve heard the name occasionally over…

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A Book Series Infographic

A while ago, I read a couple of posts about creating infographics to promote books or enhance blogs. Being a keen user of Canva for the past couple of years, I suspected they had templates for that. They do — lots of them, including many free ones.

Here’s an infographic for my book series I whipped up using one of the Canva templates. I changed the background and text colours, and, of course, the text and pictures. It really was quick and easy.

Give it a try: www.canva.com

The Herbert West Series

 

 

type

Editing? Ask Yourself This. And This.

manuscript and notebook She Who Comes Forth work in progressI’m in the process of turning this pile of scribbled-upon paper into a book. In other words, I’m editing the first draft of my work in progress. (Well, okay, I’m actually working with a Word document, but it started out with pen on paper).

As I work through each of the fifteen sections that may very well end up being chapters, I ask myself questions like these:

blue flames question markWhy?

Is this logical?

Would it really take that long?

Could it possibly happen that fast?

Why this word/sentence/paragraph? What do they add to the story?

Why would he/she/they say/do/think/want that?

Does she know that yet? Why would she care?

Etc.

The first whack at the first draft is really hard. And annoying. Here’s why: to create that first draft, the imagining part of my brain worked full blast, making up scenes and putting down words. That was hard enough.

But editing that first draft is a negotiation between the Editor side of the brain — asking all those questions — and the Imaginer, who must re-imagine and re-create. “Hey you, this doesn’t make sense. Come here and fix it!” The two sides don’t always get along. The Imaginer is a free spirit and doesn’t like being ordered around. The Editor is a bit obsessive.

In fact, I started writing this post to get away from the situation. Sections #6 and #7 needed some significant tweaks to make plausible a really important scene in Section #14. Think Rubik’s Cube. And I finally got around to figuring out just how many days elapse over the course of the first ten sections. Surprise! There’s no way my character could get a reply on Day 19 to a letter she sent on Day 15. It’s a long way from Luxor, Egypt to Providence, Rhode Island, and no one was sending emails, texts, or even faxes in 1962!

Fix, fix, fix!

hammer and anvilI don’t know about other writers, but when I finish a scene or chapter, it’s tight, like a glued and clamped piece of woodwork. Each line cues the next one. There’s no gap into which a little extra can be wedged. If a scene needs to be adjusted or corrected, I have to wrench the whole thing apart and rebuild it.

Aaargh.

Creating a timeline was a great idea. Inserting DAY 1, DAY 2, etc. into the text was an even better one. At last I feel in control of chronological details. I wish I’d thought of doing this earlier. A bonus fact I’ve discovered is that 1962 and 2018 share a calendar, so I can even get days of the week right. But then there are those moon phases, which aren’t the same.

Copy of Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes used paperback

From the basement’s random used book collection.

BTW, if you want to see writing with a lot of strong verbs and minimal use of that frowned-upon word, “was,” grab a copy of Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes and read the first couple of chapters. It’s amazing, full-tilt action writing, and yet poignant and poetic. Something to strive for while massaging text.

When Writing is the Cause of and the Solution To Anxiety

Here is a thoughtful post by indie author Chantelle Atkins, about writing and emotions.

The Glorious Outsiders

For a lot of people, writing can be incredibly therapeutic. It provides an emotional outlet, a chance to say what we think and feel, the opportunity to have a voice and be heard. Whether we publish our work or not, there is no doubt that writing provides an emotional release, as well as a creative one. Throughout my life, I have often turned to writing to soothe and comfort me. I’ve used it to combat and work through feelings of anxiety, loneliness and anger. As a young child, I wrote a diary religiously, and I still have them. Piles of notebooks filled with my inner thoughts and emotions, as well as my hopes and fears. There is no doubt in my mind that writing has helped me in my life and provided a kind of therapy when needed. For this reason, I would recommend it to anyone who needs to…

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