Posts Tagged ‘thesis’

 

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.

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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.

I TAG YOU, BLOGOVERSE!

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).

As you know, I’ve got a billion different projects going on all at one time. I mean, I’ve got four books at various stages of the editing/compilation process, and I know that some of you are very interested in getting your hands on at least one of these books. So here are some updates on a few of the projects I’m working on getting out to you, the Followers of Fear.

Video Rage

I already mentioned this on my Facebook page and Twitter feed (which, if you are not on, I suggest you check out), but as of last night the third draft of Video Rage, the follow-up to my debut novel Reborn City. As many of you know, I had an editor, Britney Mills, help me look for any problems that I’d missed while working on the second draft. I’m pleased to say that after all the work on this draft, VR looks even better than before and may soon be ready for publication.

But first, I’m sending the manuscript back to Britney for another look over. Together we’ll catch any other problems we might’ve missed, and after all that’s been taken care of I can start working on getting this book out to you guys.

In the meantime, why not check out the first book, Reborn City? It’s the story of a Muslim teenager forced to join a street gang in a dystopian city-state, and the strange connection between the gang’s leaders and a shadowy organization that rules over the city. It’s also currently my most popular book. which I guess means I did a good job writing it. Anyway, if you’d like to check out Reborn City, it’s available in paperback and e-book from Amazon, Createspace and Smashwords. Happy reading, and let me know what you think when you’ve finished reading it.

Teenage Wasteland

No, that’s not a song by the Who. The title might be similar, but it’s not the same thing. It’s also not about teenagers high on acid at Woodstock, but my upcoming collection of short stories revolving around teenagers. And I’m happy to say that I’m making good progress on the collection.

As I’ve stated in previous posts, I’d like for TW to have at least thirteen short stories. So far, there are seven confirmed to be in the collection. Some, like Buried Alive or Travelers of the Loneliest Roads, have already been published and are just getting touch-ups. Others are originals that haven’t been published anywhere else (yet), such as Cult of the Raven God and A Project in Western Ideals. Some of those are getting touch-ups as well, but others, such as Project, will require more extensive editing.

Anyway, I plan to get through the last two short stories of those seven, and then I’ll take a break to get through another big project that needs some work. And after that, I plan to work on the other stories in TW until it’s time to prep for National Novel Writing Month (more on that when we get closer to November).

Rose

That big project I just mentioned? This is it. And if you don’t know what Rose is, it’s a novel I wrote as my thesis project during my senior year of college. The story follows a woman with amnesia whose body is undergoing some strange changes and her relationship with a strange young man who says he loves her. The story is pretty dark and strange, and I’m quite proud of what’s been done with it so far. However, there’s a bit more work to be done, so I’ve got at least one or two more drafts to go on this, and I plan to get started on the next draft after I finish with the stories from TW. Hopefully I’ll be done with it by the summer.

 

That’s all for now. If I have any more updates, I’ll make sure to let you know. Have a good rest of your day, my Followers of Fear. I know I will.

 

As many of you know, I’m a self-published author. I decided to go this route after finding not a lot of doors opening by going the traditional route and hearing a bunch of stories from fellow writers and bloggers on how they self-published and found success as writers. Since I made that decision, I’ve published three books, started writing for a website devoted to helping self-published authors, made lots of friends and found lots of new followers who went the same route as me, and am working on publishing a fourth one the same way I published the first three, though I like to think that with every book I get a bit wiser on how to go about publishing and marketing the books.

Do I like self-publishing? Yes, very much. For one thing, I’m the boss. I get to work on what I like, when I like it. I also get to meet and work with all sorts of interesting people and work on exciting projects with them, like anthologies and Self-Published Authors Helping Other Authors. We independent writers also tend to share information with each other, working to figure out what works and what can help us reach new readers. It’s pretty nice, being able to do all this and not rely on a publishing company.

But lately, I’ve been considering going traditional again. Or rather, other people are making me consider going traditional again, despite the fact that I never had much success the traditional way to begin with. At first, it was only my advisor on my thesis, who asked me, “You don’t want to stay self-published forever, do you? You want to move up eventually, don’t you?” Or something to that effect.

Now, I could brush that off, he’s traditional and a professor at a university, which isn’t exactly big on the self-publishing craze (though maybe some sociologists and business professors study it for academic purposes). But then a friend who’s helping me look for work suggested that I look into getting with a publishing company. And even my mother suggested something similar.

Now normally I wouldn’t even consider these suggestions. Like I said, I like self-publishing. I’ve even gone as far as to say that it’s the way of the future.

But even if it is the way of the future, that doesn’t guarantee I’ll have that many readers. In fact, I don’t have that many, or at least not as many as I would like. For a guy who hopes one day to write full-time, that’s pretty sad.

Plus I’m still between jobs these days (yeah, I know. I expected to be working by this time too), and while I’ve made headway in the job search, it really sucks that I’m not working and making money. Plus while I’m between jobs, I’m living with my dad, and while we’re good friends and love each other, we can rub each other the wrong way sometimes. Plus I just need my own space to spread out, act my own eccentric self without wondering who’s watching. Maybe get a couple of cats too while I’m at it.

Add all this together, and yeah, a contract with a publishing company sounds enticing. To many authors, that’s like winning the lottery. And it would be nice to have the support and distribution that would come from having an agent and an editor and a company with maybe it’s own marketing team. And the royalties from all of that? To say the least, it sounds like a golden deal. Heck, even folks like E.L. James, Andy Weir, and Christopher Paolini–bestselling novelists who all started out as self-published–took that deal when they got big.

But that’s the thing. They got big. Publishing companies saw them and saw profit. Truthfully, it’s still very hard even with a big company to make it a success. The Martins, the Rices, the Kings, the Rowlings, they’re rare. Most writers, both traditional and self-published, still have to have day jobs in order to pay their bills. And funnily enough, because of the self-publishing boom, publishing companies are even more selective about who they take on than ever before.

And if one does manage to get with one of the publishing companies, you don’t always get the marketing team to make sure people know your books. No, you still have to do most of the advertising yourself. And with the company, you don’t always get to publish what you write. No, they publish what they feel is profitable. At least with self-publishing, there’s still the chance that you’ll publish an unexpected hit that the companies rejected as a surefire fail.

Still, I wonder if maybe I gave up the traditional route too soon. And if I want to, I have the stories and the resources to try again if I want.

But at the same time, with every year I’m learning new tricks that allows me to reach more readers and get books out there. I could still make it as an independent novelist, and find myself writing full-time either way.

And maybe I’m only wondering this because I’m in a not-so-great place in my career right now, and some people who don’t really know the industry or doubt the power of the independent writers are speaking in my here. Or maybe they’re onto something and I really should try a career change.

I don’t know. What do you think?