Posts Tagged ‘thesis’

I did not finish watching the Netflix show 13 Reasons Why, owing to how depressing it was (I like dark stuff, but that show just took the joy out of living!). But in recent weeks, one scene from that show, a surprisingly not-sad scene, has been coming back to me. In a flashback, the main character Clay is critiquing another kid’s essay, and notices the latter uses the word “unique” several times. When the other kid asks why that’s an issue, Clay says that if everything is unique, it means nothing is unique. And on the surface I agreed with that sentiment, but I didn’t realize how it applied to my own writing until almost a year later.

As many of you know, I recently finished a fourth draft of my college thesis Rose, and that I had the novel beta read by a couple of people, including my colleague and good friend Joleene Naylor. One of the things she pointed out was a problem throughout the novel, and which I’ve been trying to avoid in subsequent stories, is repeating words, especially adjectives. Apparently I’ve been using the word “unique” several times in a single chapter or paragraph, though “unique” wasn’t usually the word I used.

Actually, it tended to look something like this (not an actual line from the novel, but I think you’ll get the idea):

Rose stood in place, refusing to show her fear. Angrily, Akira placed the book on the table.

See how I used “place” twice? A better way to write this might have been:

Rose held her ground, refusing to show her fear. Angrily, Akira placed the book on the table.

See the difference? And I had to do this throughout the fourth draft, identifying where I repeated words in close proximity to one another, and then coming up with a better way to say it.

And I feel like this is a really common issue that writers have to deal with at some point, or possibly at several points, in their careers. Despite our reputations for loving really big words (verbose, callipygian, penultimate, etc), when it comes to fiction, we tend to just use everyday words. After all, we’re normally writing for everyday people, not for a small niche of scholars or people associated with a small religious movement. So if a simple word, like “unique” or “place,” fits the bill for telling the story, we’re likely going to use it. And we’ll use it again and again, if it’s the first word that comes to mind.

But as the above points show, you have to vary what words you use in order to tell a story and not distract the reader. And that’s something I’m trying to learn how to do as a writer. You know, along with learning how to write good short stories. And writing good stories in general. Again, I leave that up to the feedback of my readers. But this is getting a lot of emphasis as well. Because as great as a story is, the language it’s told through can determine how successful it may be. Imagine if Harry Potter had been published and it read like a sixth grader had written it. I guarantee it wouldn’t be the phenomenon it is today and I might not have been inspired to be a writer (unless JK Rowling was in the sixth grade when it was published. Then she’d be the Mozart of literature).

So while I may never actually need to know twelve different ways to say “unique,” hopefully in the future I can avoid making mistakes like the ones above. And if I do (because let’s face it, no author is perfect), I hope I have a good group of editors and beta readers around me to point out those mistakes.

And if you’re an author who makes this mistake, the only way I can think of to avoid it is to do what you’re already doing: think about the words you use. Just do it a bit harder when it comes to the individual words themselves. At least, that’s what I’ve been doing. And I think it’s been working.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. Expect another post from me (or maybe even two) very soon. Until next time, pleasant nightmares.


Well, I didn’t expect this to happen today. I figured it would happen at some point this week, but I never expected to get through the last three chapters so fast (especially since one of those three is thirty-three pages long). But yeah, I finished the fourth draft of Rose, the one edited with beta reader feedback! And all in a single month. Damn. I’m kind of proud of that rate of progress.

So if you’re among the many new Followers of Fear who are hopping onto this blog recently (hi! How are you? Are you enjoying my ramblings and opinions?) and you have no idea what Rose is, it’s a novel I started writing in college as my thesis project. The story is about a woman wakes up with amnesia and starts turning into a plant creature (and that’s just Chapter One). I did two drafts of it during my senior year of college, left it alone for a year, tried to pick it up again after I got my job, found progress very slow and dropped it, picked it up again this past summer with a new plan of going about editing the story, got through the third draft in four months, had some great beta readers look at the book and give me their feedback, and then somehow edited the book in a month (still gotta toot my horn on that one).

And you know what? This has been the most challenging story I’ve ever had to work on. I know I’ve said that before, but it’s the truth. Throughout the writing and editing process, this story has mutated more than the titular character does (because how else are you going to describe what she’s going through?)! Even during the very first draft, the story went through major changes. I initially had a different direction entirely for the story, which involved a lot more elements of Japanese folklore than appears in the novel (already heavily influenced by Japanese folklore), and involved some apocalyptic elements too. Thankfully, my thesis advisor helped me see how unfocused that direction would’ve been, and how much more intimate and scarier it would be if I went in another direction. This ended up being the route the story took, and if my beta readers can be believed, it’s a good thing I did, because the novel works the way it is now.

But honestly, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. So much changed with each draft, sometimes during the editing of a draft. Elements were added, subtracted, moved about, propped up and knocked down every day as the writing and editing needed. I added an entirely new plot element to the third draft to both add some length to the story and to foreshadow something that would be revealed later about one of the character. In the fourth draft, I changed the location of one minor element just so it wouldn’t seem unnecessary. I even wrote a whole new chapter for the third draft because I I needed it to do some necessary revelations about the antagonist.

Hopefully this happens to Rose very soon.

I keep thinking of those weird metal amalgams where if you add the right sort of current to it, you can change its structure (I’m pretty sure that’s a thing). Rose is very much like that: ever-changing with each new iteration, and hopefully becoming better each and every time.

Now that I’ve made that deep metaphor, I think I’ll talk about page and word counts, because I like talking about that. And while the shift from second to third draft was pretty dramatic, owing to the fact that I added about forty-thousand words of material to the story, third to fourth wasn’t that dramatic. If anything, it’s a bit smaller: the third draft was 266 pages (8.5″ x 11″, 12-point font, Times New Roman, double-spaced) and 84,677 words. The fourth draft was 264 pages and 84,390 words. A total drop of two pages and 287 words. I honestly thought it’d be a bit more, but I guess I was wrong.

So what’s next for Rose? Well, after four drafts and great feedback from my beta readers, I’m going to try looking for a publisher. I’ve been doing my research and I’ve got a few leads that I think could pan out, so hopefully I’ll have news within the year to share. And in the meantime, there are a couple of short stories, one novelette, and a blog post for Self-Published Authors Helping Other Authors I’ve been waiting to work on till I was done with the fourth draft, so I’ll likely start on those tomorrow. Hopefully I can get them all done before any publisher takes an axe to my door in their eagerness to publish me (I wish!).

Well, Followers of Fear, that’s all for now. It’s getting late, I’m tired, and I’ve got a big day tomorrow. I’ll let you know how things are going as they happen. Until next time, pleasant nightmares!


It’s always satisfying to finish a manuscript. No matter the length, it’s satisfying to know that you’ve put in so much time, sweat, blood and creativity into writing a story and that it’s finished, that you were able to get over your fears before starting, keep going, and see it to the end. And after attempting a third draft a little year ago, failing miserably, and taking a year to work up the courage to try again, it’s especially satisfying. Hell, I even bought fancy honey-wine to celebrate this momentous evening.

Now if you’re unfamiliar, Rose is a novel I originally wrote as my college thesis. It follows an amnesiac woman named Rose whose body starts to go through incredible, terrible, magical changes. The only source of information on her condition is a man who claims to be her boyfriend, but he’s got some terrible secrets and isn’t all he claims to be. It’s a dark and bizarre story, with themes of dependence and abuse, perception and memory, in a story influenced by Stephen King’s Misery and Japanese mythology.

It’s also been the most challenging story I’ve worked with. I had to scrap my first attempt to write it because I made the story too bizarre, sprawling and complex, then go back and make it a bit simpler and contained. Then I had to write an entire first draft, then a second draft within a few months. Then I had an internship in Germany and a job search, followed by an attempt at the third draft. That draft, as I said before, was a complete and utter disaster due to the lack of routine I had at the time. I took it up again back in late June, after I needed a break from sci-fi and Full Circle and, with a routine, I managed to get through the draft in about four months, incorporating the suggestions from my thesis advisors to great effect while I was at it.

And I’m very proud of this draft. Every time I’ve worked on this story, it’s changed significantly. Plot points, emotional connections, characterizations, they’ve all gone through some incredible rewrites. With this particular draft, I feel like I’ve been editing the work of a different author, giving his work a much-needed makeover. I even added an original chapter to the manuscript, which also took the top spot as the longest chapter in the novel (I spent two week with Dragon Speech-to-Text software writing that chapter so it wouldn’t take a month or longer). And while this story is far from “done” (my high school English teacher said that stories are never “perfect,” because that’s impossible. But they can be “done,” where you can’t do anything more to improve it. It’s just “done”), it’s definitely in a much better shape than it was at the end of the second draft. It’s a draft I’d actually be proud to show other people.

Now before I show you what’s up next for Rose, indulge me in my bad habit of looking at page and word counts. Which with this novel is actually necessary: my advisor told me to double the word count of the novel when I did the third draft (I’m pretty sure it’s double the word count now, not add ten or twenty-thousand words). So how did I do with that? Well, at the end of the second draft in spring of 2015, the page count was (with 8.5″ x 11″ pages, double-spaced, Times New Roman 12-point font) 164 pages. With the third draft, the page count is 266 pages, an increase of 102 pages. With the word count, the second draft was a whopping total of 48,914, a respectable novella-length story. In the third draft, I got the word count up to 84,677, a good-size novel,  just a bit shorter than Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. And I like to think that every new word was necessary. I really had the chance to delve deeper into the characters, as well as the events that made them who they are. All in all, I think it’s a more fleshed-out novel.

Of course, critics, readers, and editors are free to disagree with me. We’re a democracy, we’re allowed to do that, even if others don’t like that.

And that brings me to what’s next for Rose and for me. And I have a few ideas on that:

  1. No return to Full Circle just yet. I’m still not ready to return to the world of Reborn City and finish the trilogy. Yes, the first draft needs ending, but I need a bit more time and a bit more horror before I do any more sci-fi. And since I don’t exactly a legion of fans breaking down my door to know when the story will be out, I think I can afford to take some time (George RR Martin wishes he was me in that respect).
  2. Beta readers and submissions. I have a couple of beta readers who have agreed to take on Rose, read it and give me some feedback (I’m sending the manuscript to them right after I’m done with this post, as well as backing up my flash drive so I don’t lose the novel). The plan is to take their feedback and incorporate it into the novel if I feel it works for the story. And after that, I’ll start submitting Rose to publishing houses and agents that specialize in horror. Hopefully it’ll find a home soon, and I can get it published. After that…well, I’ll see when I get there.
  3. Some shorter works. I have a list of short stories and novelettes that I keep so I don’t forget any of the fabulous ideas I have. It’s currently 57 pages long and closing in on 800 ideas. I figure I should at least get through some of those, as only a few of them are crossed off with at least having a first draft written out. I already have another list of stories I’d like to work on in particular, and I’ve picked my first from that list. I might even get started on it in the next week, after I do a bit of research for it. And maybe after a few of these stories are written, they’ll get published. Fingers crossed, right?

And that’s where things stand right now. I hope you continue to stay with me as I move onto the next stage of this novel’s evolution, and maybe write the next stage of my writing career. Until my next post, goodnight Followers of Fear, and pleasant nightmares.

It’s unusual that I give an update on draft progress when I’m in the middle of the third draft. Usually after the first draft, I only give updates when the draft is finished. However, given the unusual journey and evolution Rose has gone through, as well as the all the work that still needs to be done, I feel that giving an update at the one-third mark is warranted. Let me explain:

I began work on Rose during my senior year of college as my thesis project. I had been sitting on the idea for about a year by that point, and had done quite a bit of thinking into what sort of story I wanted to tell. I started in September 2014, went back and started all over again when I realized the direction I was going in was all wrong for the story, and then finally managed to finish the first draft in January 2015. I then banged out a second draft in time for thesis discussions in April 2015. At those discussions (which you can read more about here), I was given a number of suggestions on how to improve the novel for the third draft, after which I could probably start thinking about publishing.

One of those suggestions, which I did not mention in the post about the discussions, was that I add a whole lot more words to the word count. Like, ten to twenty-thousand words more.

Yeah. I know. Even seasoned authors might find that a difficult challenge to accept.

In any case, I planned to get back to this story eventually, just not immediately. I first went to work in Germany, and then went through the job search. During that time, Rose was never far from my mind, but I never felt it was the right time to work on that story. After I got my new job and moved into my own apartment though, I did feel like revisiting the story. And I utterly floundered trying to edit it. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, moving had entirely changed my routine, and without being able to get that routine back, I was unable to edit as I used to. Thus, it took me three months just to get through five chapters. After that, I had to stop and reevaluate what I was doing if I was to continue writing at all.

And then two months ago, deciding I needed a break from work on Full Circle, I began working on Rose again, even though I thought I wouldn’t get to it until after my Boston trip. With a new routine in place, I managed to get through the five chapters I edited last year in weeks rather than months. And then I got through Chapter 6, and then finally Chapter 7, finishing edits on that about an hour before I left to go see The Dark Tower.

And now I’m one-third of the way through the book. And it feels almost like I’m working with a totally different story, like this is the first go-around with Rose rather than the third draft of (and the fourth dive into) the story. Hence why I feel it is necessary to write a progress report at this point in the third draft.

So if you’re new around here, you’re probably wondering at this point, “Okay, but what’s the novel about?” To put it simply, Rose is about an amnesiac girl who finds herself turning into a plant creature. It is as bizarre as it sounds, more bizarre than I remember it. But it’s also a very dark story, exploring themes like abuse and dependence in relationships, as well as how truth, falsehood, and memories shape our perceptions of our ourselves and others. So yeah, as bizarre (and possibly comical) as it sounds, it is still a scary story.

And I have to say, editing is going very well. I’m incorporating as many of the suggestions from my thesis discussion as I can, and I’m definitely seeing an improvement in the story. The characters definitely feel like they’re actual people in this strange situation, and I feel like if this book does get published, people will really respond to it.

As for that suggestion to add ten to twenty-thousand words, I’m actually doing okay with that. I’ve thought about scenes I’ve wanted to expand, and I’ve even looked ahead to certain parts of the book to see where I can make some additions. And in the first seven chapters, I think I’ve done a good job of that. Let me break down the numbers (already I can hear my longtime readers groaning about that, they know I love to do this): in the second draft, the first seven chapters measured up to 44 pages (8.5″ x 11″, 12-point Times New Roman font, double-spaced) and 13,579 words. In the third draft, I’m at 70 pages (same parameters) and 20,990 words. That’s an increase of 26 pages and 7,411 words. And I like to think none of it is unnecessary.

So what’s next? Well, I’ll get to work on the next fourteen chapters, and hopefully be done with the end of the draft by the end of September. I’ll also try to add another three-thousand to thirteen-thousand words, if I feel that amount would help with the story. After that…I’m thinking beta readers, more editing, and then maybe an agent/publisher. We’ll see.

Well, it’s late, so I’m off to bed, my Followers of Fear. You have a pleasant night and pleasant nightmares. Until next time!


I was tagged again by my friend Kat Impossible from Life and Other Disasters. Well, technically she tagged anyone who’s a writer who read the post, but I’m pretty sure I at least crossed her mind as someone who would do this post. Anyway, let’s get started.

What genres, styles, and topics do you write about?

Well, there’s an easy one. Horror stories, of course (though I do like the occasional dive into science fiction). Usually my stories revolve around teenagers and young adults finding themselves in fantastical and terrible situations, usually ones involving the supernatural. However, they’re often human stories where the characters are growing and sorting through an internal conflict while dealing with an external conflict. At least, in the novels that’s how it is. With the short stories, it may just be me writing a story and trying to leave an impression on the reader.

How long have you been writing?

Probably since I could string two words into a sentence on a page. *laughs* But I don’t think I started writing seriously with the goal of being a great author until I was maybe ten or so. I think it was a conscious decision that I liked to write, so I should make that my life. But it could have easily just been a gradual thing where I found myself entranced by storytelling, doing it often, and then someday knowing that this is what I want to do.

Why do you write?

Besides the fact that I enjoy storytelling? Well, I have a pretty active imagination. I spend a good chunk of each day in stories, whether they be books, movies, TV shows, or daydreams. While they’re up in my head, they can be pretty fluid and volatile, changing and shifting and God only knows what. I’m neuroatypical, so while I love being an eccentric, I do like a little order in my head sometimes. Writing these stories down helps to exorcise them from my brain and make them static. It’s freeing, in its way.

Plus, I just LOVE sharing my stories with people and getting their feedback (it’s an author vanity thing. We all have them, to some degree).

What is the best time to write?

I’d like to say, “Whenever.” However, I find the evening is the best time to write. Since high school, evenings have often been the only time available to me to write. Yeah, sometimes in the afternoons or even the mornings opportunities to write come upon me, but often it’s limited to the evening, especially after so many years of doing this. Perhaps if I ever become able to write full-time, I can work on being more flexible, but for now it’s not until after dinner that I’m able to effectively summon those creative energies.

What parts of writing do you love and hate?

I love:

  • Being able to tell a story and exorcise them from my head.
  • Share my stories with people.
  • Be as creative and dark as I want to be.

I hate:

  • How easily ideas come to me but how hard it is to get even one of them on the paper
  • Not having a large audience

How do you overcome writer’s block?

Usually when that happens there’s a problem somewhere in the story and I need to go back to fix something before I can move forward. That’s usually how it works, anyway.

Are you working on something at the moment?

At the moment I’m editing my college thesis Rose, about a girl who starts turning into a plant. I’m in the middle of the third draft, and I’m nearly a third of the way through. I hope after this draft I can start having it looked at by beta readers, but we’ll see where we are when I’m done.

What are your writing goals this year?

Finish the third draft of Rose and get a few short stories written and published. And if I can manage it, I’d like to reach a thousand followers.


Do you write? You do! Great, you’re tagged. Have fun, and make sure to link back to me when you do.

A screenshot of "A Project in Western Ideals."

A screenshot of “A Project in Western Ideals.”

Life’s been going very good for me. I moved into my new apartment (the kitchen’s still a work-in-progress and I still need to take out all the boxes to the dumpsters behind the parking lot, but I’m working on it), I put out a new book (and so far, I think it’s doing well), my birthday’s coming up (yay me!), and I start my new job a week from Monday (I’m planning on making a very good impression). And to top it all off, I’m editing again!

Yeah, remember when I was like, “I’ve just finished a novel and I just don’t feel like doing any work?” Well, a couple days ago I started doing something I hadn’t done in about a month or so: editing. To be specific, I began editing “A Project in Western Ideals”, the short story I wrote last summer about a girl being turned into a human Barbie doll. As of last night, I’mabout three-fourths of the way through the story, though an ending that satisfies me still alludes me (you’d think after having an ending with witchcraft, and then two endings involving an alien-like organism, I’d find something that worked! Apparently not). I’m going to try to finish the story tonight, though I’ll need an ending that works. I wonder if I change the beginning…

Anyway, after that I plan to get right back into my novel-as-a-thesis, Rose. As you well know, I started on the third draft of that story a couple of months ago, after almost a year of not working on that story (I was busy in-between drafts). but I couldn’t get through the first chapter before I had to work on Video Rage again. Now that that’s out and I’m out of the funk that settled over me after I completed the final draft of VR, I’m looking forward to getting back into that book and doing all the work that needs to be done. A lot needs to be changed, and quite a bit needs to be added, but I think I’m up to it.

The writing space in my new apartment. Pretty sweet, huh?

The writing space in my new apartment. Pretty sweet, huh?

You know, I think writing is a lot like every other skill or profession: there are times when you are in love with it, and times when you just don’t want to deal with it. There are times when you are amazing at it, where everything you write is worthy of publication and awards, and times when everything you write is dreck. I had my phase, where I just couldn’t write anything besides a blog post. But now it’s over, and I’m ready to start something new. Maybe that’s because so many new things are happening in my life. I moved into a new apartment, complete with my own little writing space (you can see it on the right). I’m starting a new job a week from tomorrow. And my birthday is coming up later this week, among other things. Basically, with so much energy of the new in me and around me, how can that funk not be lifted?

So expect a bunch of updates on the writing life in the weeks and months to come. I’m going to definitely try and get Rose done before it’s time to get ready for National Novel Writing Month. Wish me luck in the meantime, my Followers of Fear. I’m definitely going to need a little bit of luck in the weeks and months to come.

So I finished that outline for that new novel I plan to write for NaNoWriMo later this year. First draft of the outline, anyway. I probably will revisit it again before November, make some more tweaks and possibly add a scene or two. It’s a ghost story, and since ghost stories tend to involve the protagonist or protagonists being affected on a very personal level by the spirits involved, often by exacerbating personal problems as well as actually haunting the people involved (ghosts and ghost stories are very intimate that way, I’ve noticed), I’ll want to make sure that that’s done right in this story before I write it.

Now that that’s taken care of, I’m finally getting around to working on Rose, the novel I wrote as a thesis for my senior year of college. If you’re unfamiliar with that novel, it’s about a woman with amnesia who finds herself trapped in the home of a man who says he’s her boyfriend, her body going through astounding changes which this man says was to save her life. I started writing it in September 2014, went back a couple weeks later to rework the entire story because the direction I was going in at first just wasn’t right for the story I wanted to tell, and finished the first draft in January 2015. Not too long afterwards I did a second draft that I finished around April, and I haven’t touched it since.

So yeah, it’s been nearly a year since I worked on that novel. But between working and living in Germany, writing some original short stories and editing Video Rage twice and giving Laura Horn a much-needed second draft, can you blame me?

Okay, I might have also been a bit hesitant to approach Rose again. During my thesis defense at the end of my senior year, my advisor told me that if I were to get Rose up to the level worthy of getting it published, I would have to do quite a lot of work on it. And not just grammar and spelling, though that was mostly okay. I had to work in new scenes, space out some others, rework a couple of characters, and change a bunch of stuff in the beginning of the book. Add to that the normal work of editing, and I’ve got one hell of a third draft ahead of me. It’s a bit intimidating, almost like starting a new novel and facing a blank page asking for sixty-thousand plus words.

Yeah, the horror writer’s scared of his own creation. Make fun of him and the irony. Go ahead, get it out of your system.

But you know what? I think I’m up for the task. I took Laura Horn, which I was sure would need an entire rewrite, and the worst that it came to was a few tossed chapters and one major plot point subtly changed to better reflect actual circumstances. If I can tackle that (and LH was a much longer book, by the way), I think I can tackle Rose.

And not only that, but with this being the third draft, I think once this is one I can send it to n editor for a final look-over before I get ready to publish the book. So if we’re lucky, I could have Rose ready for publication by the end of the year. Wouldn’t that be great?

So I’m going to get two articles out of the way, and then I’m going to get straight onto Rose (unless I get the notes back on VR, in which case editing that takes precedence). Wish me luck, my Followers of Fear. I’m going to be very busy these next couple of months (though that is kind of my life in general).