Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Penmonkey Asks and I Answer

This is what a penmonkey looks like. I've seen it firsthand
and let me tell you that everything that's here is essential
to my own writing. Your mileage may vary.
Image swiped from Chuck's site. Hope he doesn't mind.
Last week good ol' Chuck Wendig prompted his readers (count me among them) to self-evaluate their own writing. Here are his questions (in italics) with my answers.

How’s it going, writing-wise?

Better than ever, thanks for asking. I'm feeling like I'm really, really getting the hang of putting one word after another and stringing it all into a coherent story.

How goes progress on any current projects? Whatcha working on?

I've finished the latest revision of the novel I started last November and I've submitted it to a publisher. I'm crossing my fingers that they'll pick it up but I'm not holding my breath. It's easier to type for a longer period with crossed fingers. My wife doesn't much appreciate when I'm turning blue, either. So that's what I've been working on since summer. I've been talking about this since summer here on the blog if you've had the chance to take a look.

I'm also prepping the next novel which I'll start, of course, on November 1. It's another SF book with some fantasy elements. More on that later.

Any problems with said projects? Issues you’re having?

God, writing a query letter is harder than it sounds. Everything I came up with sounded not-quite-right on nearly every level. Finally something clicked and I knocked out the query and a synopsis (which I'd never written before) in a weekend. Somehow when someone asks me to do something I've never done before I run around like a headless chicken, flapping my arms and wondering how the hell it's going to get done. When I've worn myself out I sit down and start typing. Then I trash it all and start again. Everyone goes through that process, don't they?

Anything I or the lovely community of terribleminds can help with?

Hey, really - just knowing that you're all out there if I need you is enough. I appreciate you offering.

Beyond individual projects, how’s the bigger picture looking?

Pretty rosy. I'm heading towards the future with a bright light all around me. I feel like things are better than ever and I'm really, really looking forward to writing the next novel. And some short stories. And some flash fiction and blog posts for The Confabulator Cafe

What are your strengths as a writer and storyteller?

Ideas and dialogue. I also have the discipline to sit and do the work every day. I can see what I want to write and then start planning.

More importantly: what and where are your weaknesses?

Aw, jeez. Really? I have to put this out in public? Sometimes I dialogue too much and then the action suffers. I mean sometimes I forget that the characters have to do things before they can talk about them. Readers get bored with dialogue. I don't, but then I'm a weirdo. I like people talking. That's life. People talk.

The other big weakness in my Zero Drafts is that I don't make the danger dangerous enough. That's the thing I've been working on with every draft of every story for the last two years. I think I'm getting better and it goes hand in hand with over-dialoguing. So - yeah, that's what I keep working on.


That's the end of his questions. I didn't pop these into the replies under his post at his website, but Chuck seems to be the kind of guy who won't mind that I did it this way instead. He encourages us writerly-types to be writerly-types. He's as much an internet Jesus as Warren Ellis is, though with a different focus. His 250 (and sometimes 500) Things books are very helpful as reminders of why we write.

He's foul-mouthed and the images he stabs into his readers' brains with alacrity are startling to say the least, but he makes the point. Sit your butt down and write like you have a pair. 

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