Updates and a Return to Blogging

First, let my start out by saying I’M DONE!

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My cut revision to remove 10% of the words from my first novel has been completed. My target final word count was 98,792. I finished at one word below target. Cutting 11,000 words from a story that I already felt was reasonably solid has taught me a lot about concrete writing and about removing redundancy. If you’re a writer and haven’t yet tried doing an extensive cut, I recommend it. From a craft perspective, it has already changed the way I write, and made it for the better.

This is also the point where I tease that I will be asking for beta readers of the completed cut to make sure I haven’t gone too far and ruined what I had. So be watching for a post recruiting beta readers.

Up next, for the next two weeks will be business related writing – I need summaries, queries, and bios built as I start sending this book out for representation. And I’ll be returning to blogging on the series I have planned – writers productivity, mechanical keyboards, and podcast reactions.

And most especially towards the idea of what constitutes a trustworthy writer and what I can do to foster a community of them.

So, expect a few more posts over the next few weeks as compared to the recent past.

SITREP – 2018-02-19

So I apologise for missing last week’s reaction post. I’ll be missing this week’s too as I’m on a self imposed deadline to complete my 10% cut revision of my novel by Thursday.

Fingers crossed – I’ve only got 5 chapters left to do.

At that point I’ll be putting out the call for another round of readers while I prep summary, synopsis, pitch, and query letters.

So if you’d like a chance to provide feedback regarding my novel, keep your eyes peeled.

For those who alpha read for me before, I’d like to have you read again of possible.

Thanks!

Coco (Film – 2017) – Review

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Coco – courtesy of Disney Pixar

Short, sweet, and to the point – I loved Coco.

I loved what it made me feel even thought I didn’t exactly love how I felt (WARNING: this film will cause feelings, especially if you have experienced familial loss).

I loved the themes, the animation, the music, the characters, and the voice acting.

I loved that it never felt as though the filmmakers were trying to “pander” to anybody or assume the audience was stupid. By that I mean that I, as a non-Mexican who has only limited understanding of what the Day of the Dead represents, never felt like I was being coddled nor that the subject matter was too precious that it couldn’t be shared with “outsiders”. Everything played straight.

But what I think I loved most of all was that this showed that two people/writers/groups/films can have the same story idea (on the surface at least), and yet tell completely different stories.

One of the first things that I learned from Brandon Sanderson via the Writing Excuses podcast was that often, the difference between a good story and bad story lay less in the nature of the idea and more in how that idea is implemented. To paraphrase:

A great idea written by a mediocre author will not be as good as a mediocre idea written by a great author.

The understanding that you don’t have to have the most unique, the most entertaining, the most transformative, or the most artistic “idea” to be successful was liberating.

On the surface, Coco could sound very similar to another animated film from the recent past – Book of Life. Both are about the Mexican tradition of the Day of the Dead. Both have music as a central theme, and how music relates to the protagonist. Both have the protagonists’ families as being VERY against music and trying to “force” the protagonist into the family business. Both feature visits by the protagonist to the underworld and a need to escape. Both discuss families and forgiveness. Both have prominent participation of Mexican directors, writers, and actors. Both are CGI.

But these movies are as different I think as one could get for having what seem like similar trappings.

And that’s what I love – both Coco and Book of Life are films worth seeing. Both are worth enjoying. And both have place in helping us learn to forgive our families and in teaching us to make room for the rising generations.

Go see Coco.

I’m probably going again.

Writing Excuses 10.01 – Homework

From this last week’s Writing Excuses podcast.

Writing Prompt: Write down five different story ideas in 150 words or less. Generate these ideas from these five sources:

  1. From an interview or conversation you’ve had
  2. From research you’ve done (reading science news, military history, etc)
  3. From observation (go for a walk!)
  4. From a piece of media (watch a movie)
  5. From a piece of music (with or without lyrics)
  1. From an interview or conversation you’ve had: What would Spiderman do if he lived in Kansas? A question that came up during a conversation I overheard and I loved the idea of Spiderman standing in a field, looking around without any buildings to swing from.
  2. From research you’ve done (reading science news, military history, etc): Girls sci-fi adventure story (ala Heinlein Rocketship Galileo or Rolling Stones) featuring asteroid clumps held together by van del Waal forces. Was reading an Ars Technica article about van del Waal asteroids.
  3. From observation: Story of a girl who is homeschooled on a train. Her mother has died or left or wasn’t know or something, but she travels with her father on a train (conductor or engineer or coal man) but the nature of his life is such that they have no permanent home. He lives on the train at night, sleeping in a car, paying for his meals from his salary, and ensuring that she is educated. As they travel, she experiences in real life the locations she’s learning about. Like a personal tour of the historic site in Europe or the US. Haven’t decided which.
  4. From a piece of media: From BOM reading, the story of a man who survives the complete destruction of his people and had to integrate himself into the encroaching society. His people killed themselves off and the wanderer runs into a new civilization. Would he pretend he was mute? How would he survived?
  5. From a piece of music: Jack Johnson song “Situations” on the In Between Dreams album. I’ve always wanted to do sci-fi story that coincides with these situations. There’s a race that lives in the Oort Cloud that does not like us that is directing comets at us to kill off our race. The way of writing the story would be to make it all seem like some natural occurrence (the situation that’s just begun, but is too late, only chance for you controlled by denizens of hate, the one that no one sees dismissed as fate.)