Writing Comments

Tin Man Synopsis

For those interested, here is the “working” synopsis for the first volume in the Tin Man series. I started this story during the 2011 NaNoWriMo contest and I am hoping to have a completed first draft before November 2012.

“A very special and unique military unit was thought to have been killed in an explosion near the end of the great war, but one of them was accidentally discovered. The military scrambles to take custody of the soldier and secure the sensitive information he possesses. But the technology company Cyber-TEK gets to him first hoping to use him to locate his teammates and protect their interests.

On the run from both Cyber-TEK and the military, the rest of the unit comes together to protect not only themselves but also their secret, which forced them to fake their deaths years earlier and go into hiding. Only one man can unite them and lead them, but he has gaps in his memory from his traumatic war experience. Can he regain his lost memories in time to save his unit and more importantly to protect their secret?”

I’m sure this synopsis will change again and again as I flesh out the remainder of the story, but you get the basic gist.


Movie: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

I recently saw the 2011 movie “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” and I enjoyed it very much. I have not had a chance to read the novels but it’s on my list of things to do.

I couldn’t help but be drawn into the  character of Lisbeth Salander. There was so much of myself that I saw in her. There was so much of my life that was like hers … it was frighteningly similar.

Another reason I enjoyed the movie was because I found Lisbeth Salander to be the best bisexual character I’ve ever seen on the big screen. It’s nice to see a bisexual character that is not stereotype and not the bad guy.

Lisbeth’s a strong woman even after everything she has endured in her life.  She is powerful, a damsel that doesn’t wait around to be saved by the dashing strong man. She is independent, trying her best to gain back control of her life, control that was wrongfully taken from her.

She’s not perfect… she has flaws, fears and weakness like all humans do. But that’s okay. No one should be expected to be perfect, just be real.

If the average movie goer can get past her outward appearance, the piercings and tattoos, they’ll see a woman that is an excellent role model for young people today, especially for women.

For more on this trilogy and is quality writing, check out this link.  You might enjoy it.


Too Detail, or Not To Detail

I was reading a science fiction paperback novel this past month, just got thru the first 7 chapters and I didn’t like the pace. The chapters were wordy and overly descriptive IMO, and the story didn’t move much. I understand that the author is just introducing the major characters in these first chapters, but it was painful for me to read.

I was reminded of another science fiction paperback novel that I read last year, that seemed to fly thru the pages with lots of action. That story moved at warp speed! It lacked flowery descriptions and internal conversations. However it allowed you to get to know the characters as you went along by virtue of their words and deeds… kinda like real life.

So which is better?

It’s a personal preference really. I’m a very analytical thinker and I can’t tolerate too much fluff. I want every piece of information imparted in a story to have relevance, either immediately or later down the road. If it doesn’t serve the characters or the story then cut it, you don’t need it.

Weeding the Garden

In January I took a break from “Tin Man” (my 2011 NaNoWriMo project) to clear my thoughts. I focused instead on cleaning up the various volumes of my “Son of War” (SOW) series. It was a time to ask myself “does this serve the characters or the story?” If it didn’t, I needed to cut, prune and weed it out of the story. It’s harder to do than you would think. We writers tend to get attached to dialog, scenes, situations etc like they were our own children. I put alot of work into those sections and don’t want to see it “on the cutting room floor“. But just like weeding a garden or pruning a tree yields better results in the end, cutting the fluff yields a better flowing story.

So I’m planning to invest a few more weeks this month on SOW and get it back on track. Then I can hopefully look at the details I already have and decide what to keep and what to put into cold storage for use later in another volume or another story.

Never throw anything away or delete it permanently. You might be able to use it elsewhere or down the road.


Son of War Series – My Dark Soul

As planned I set aside “Tin Man” (TM) for this month, to give myself some space. I’ve been staring at it for over 2 months straight and now I can’t even see it anymore. Time for a change of pace.

For January I’m headed back to my “Son of War” (SOW) series. This one is my baby. I’ve been working on it off & on for more years than I can remember. It has changed shape several times and its current form vaguely resembles its initial one. I guess you can say it is growing up big & strong like a baby should.

Here’s a little history on this series…

It began as an attempt at a Star Trek fan fiction piece, set just before ST6: The Undiscovered Country (one of my favorite Star Trek films). Then I fell in love with the original characters that I had created. I enjoyed writing for them more than the preexisting Star Trek characters. After all, Spock, Kirk and Sulu were already established characters, so there wasn’t a lot of wiggle room there.

That’s when my story took a left turn.

I dumped all the preexisting Star Trek characters and moved the focus of my story away from the Federation. It’s still in the Star Trek universe with Klingons, Romulans and Vulcans …oh my! But the point of view of the story, the main character, is not your typical Feddy viewpoint. In fact the entire mood of the story is very non-Trek. There’s no guaranteed “happily ever after” ending. There’s no safe character that can’t possibly be killed off. And those that are killed off (surprise surprise) … actually stay dead. No, I took the holodeck safeties off for this series. Nothing is off limits.

That is probably why this series has such a dark and ominous tone to it. I often refer to it, and the main character, as having a dark soul. There are a lot of depressing elements in this series:

  • Death
  • Suffering
  • Persecution
  • Helplessness
  • Discrimination
  • Isolation
  • Manipulation
  • Hopelessness
  • Despair

And that’s just the first volume! It’s no wonder I named the first book in the series “The Dying Soul” (TDS).

This first book introduces the main character at the most vulnerable point of his life. It is about passing thru change/death and being reborn. Before he can become the man he is destined to be, he must first die and leave his past and his pain behind. He then can embark on a journey of self-discovery, to learn who he is.

(Now before you start commenting about “it sounds like a religious theme”… let me point out that “dying & being reborn” is more a nature theme and its in everything. Religion does not have a lock on that particular theme.)

One of my many goals for 2012 is to finally finish the first draft of SOW:TDS. With TM also on the playing field vying for some of my very limited free time, we’ll see which one gets to the completed draft stage at the end of this year. It would be fabulous if both stories made it. Wouldn’t that just frost my NYE cake!!


New Year, New Thoughts

Happy New Year!  Feliz Año Nuevo! Feliz Ano Novo!

I’ve been a busy spinner this month. First I gave my brain a break by putting the “Tin Man” (TM) project on the shelf for a month. Need to get it out of my daily thoughts so I came come back to it in February with fresh eyes.

So what will I be working on?

I am going back to my monstrous multi-volume story “Son of War” (SOW). I left it in state of chaos last Fall when I focused my writing efforts on my NaNoWriMo project instead. Recently I began tightening the outline more and straightening the derailed plots this month. The characters in that series are very opinionated and have led me down many interesting paths. However this year I’d like to finally nail down this wandering series and finish the first volume by the end of year. It’s a daunting task for this huge series since any decisions I make in any of the volumes will effect the others.

I plan to return to TM in February and make some serious decisions on what to keep and what to dump. There’s also room for a sequel or two  if I write it that way.  I also have plans to finish the first draft of TM by the end of this year. We’ll see.


Prepping for the Holidays

Santa's a writer tooAs crazy as November was with late night writing frenzies, I’m taking it slow in December. One of the nice NaNoWriMo prizes was 50% off the Scrivener software (from Literature and Latte).  It normally sells for $40, so the 50% discount made it much more affordable for this starving writer. Also I am fortune that this software, previously available only for the MAC, was just released for Windows, which means I can use it.  Double good news!!

I already went thru the tutorial, though I did try to plow thru it on my own at first, being the tech-geek that I am. The tutorial was VERY helpful and it explained a lot of the features of the program. Granted I probably forgot most of them after using it for 10 minutes, but the tutorial and users manual are always there for me to refer to when I need to.

Write now I am transferring my story into the Scrivener program before I continue writing. I am about 60% thru the transfer and then I still have @ 20% of the story to finish writing. Using this program will help me to move around scenes and chapters easily. After only a few weeks using Scrivener I can tell you that I’ll never go back to MS Word.

With the holidays around the corner and the workload at my job picking up, I don’t anticipate being able to do much writing this month. I do expect to finish transferring my story into Scrivener and planning out the remaining chapters a little more before the end of the year.

I hope to make 2012 the year of the finished novel!


Writing the write way!

piles of paper

Is there a right way and a wrong way to write? Most people have their own style or preference. Nowadays most writers use computers and word processing programs. But even they have come a long way. Having the right tools can help your story writing process, as I learned recently…

When I started writing my NaNoWriMo story this past November, I began with MS Word. I wrote a paragraph thinking out the beginning, middle and end of my story. Then I fleshed out each sentence and created a general outline with important plot points. And then I added to the outline, subsections and sub-subsections detailing where I wanted the story to go.

Of course I always kept in mind that my characters tended to hijack the plot early on so I wasn’t married to this preliminary outline. It was more like the dashed white lines on the highway. They keep you in your lane so you can get to your destination safely but they don’t prevent you from changing lanes if you wanted to.

By the time my outline was completely detailed and ready for the meat adding part (ie: dialog, narratives and actual complete sentences etc) I had a multipage 1-2k document. Unfortunately this is the part where MS Word started to piss me off big time!! As my document grew the auto-formatting gremlins would come out of the wood work and start tormenting me. Since I was still essentially in an outline form, Word would try to indent and add numbers or bullets to my entries. If I highlighted a line over here it thought I wanted to do the same elsewhere. No! Did I tell you to highlight that section? No, I didn’t. Bad MS Word, bad!

And if I tried to use the Outline View to control how much of this big bulky document I could see at one time, it would crap out on me and turn every section into the same level and thereby defeating its own purpose. It was more than this ADD-enhanced story teller could handle. Aye aye aye!!!!!!

Then the clouds parted, light streamed down from the heavens and a chorus sang in harmony “Scrivener“. Yeup, I was saved. I found the way. The write way to write. More on my Scrivener experience on a later post.


NaNoWriMo Success!

Today I reached the 50k word target for the NaNoWriMo competition! This was my first year participating and I honestly didn’t think I had the time to dedicate to this highly intense writing tournament. But in the end I’m glad I did. I met other writers from the area and picked up some tips and techniques that have helped my writing improve.

Unfortunately, my story isn’t completed, even with 50k worth of meat on the bones. I will make my own personal goal of adding another 25k in December (at a more relaxed pace) and hopefully that should get me closer to finishing the first draft. Several other WriMos have mentioned publishing their work after they’re done writing and I have to admit to being charmed by the idea. But FIRST I have to finish the story before I can make any plans. So tonight I’ll go to bed at a more civilized hour and starting tomorrow I will start my trek toward the 75k total word count on my story “Tin Man”.


NaNoWriMo: It’s the 12th and I’m up to 16,829

That means I’m about 4k behind the pace. At this rate I won’t hit 50k until the first week in December. The culprit was my busy social schedule last weekend which kept me away from the computer. However I have made progress…

First my story has a new title “Tin Man”, but I might change it again before I’m done. The characters are all fleshed out although, truthfully, I did that last month (shhh….).

I have the outline completely done and I started adding meat to the bones. I have some dialog too but I’m not sure how much of it I’ll keep at this point. Adding dialog increases my word count but I don’t think the story is ready for that level of detail just yet.

Still it is some how liberating to let the characters speak freely without confining them to my outline. They tend to surprise me at times and I like that. But I have to be careful since my characters have been known to hijack the story and leave me out in cold.

Gotta stay on track. I’m hoping to get up to 21,571 by end of the day Sunday but that will be difficult since this weekend is another busy one. Maybe I can sacrifice sleep, it’s over rated anyway. Yeah, I can sleep next month.


NaNoWriMo 2011

Getting ready for NaNoWriMo this year … the National Novel Writing Month. Looking forward to crunching the keyboard at warp speed to hit that 50k mark. This is a fun event, a challenge really. This year I have a few friends also participating. If you’ve never done it check it out http://www.nanowrimo.org/. May the writing begin!


step into my parlor