Saturday, 29 March 2008

So much for make-believe

I have to give it to them, Shimmer Magazine were very quick to respond when I sent them RWBW. I only wish that they had accepted it. Editor Beth sent it back with the comment

"I've read quite a few stories where priests consider their faith; it's really hard to make such a classic story feel fresh."

A fair enough comment, I suppose. If that's how she felt about my story then that's how she felt. It was only to be expected as they have a long list of things that they don't want to see which will make me scrutinise their magazine much harder next time to find out exactly what it is they do want. They seem awfully picky (would I be saying that had they accepted? Perhaps not.).

The worrying thing about the comment, I guess, is that her comment which can be summarised as 'your story isn't original' is near the opposite of what Murky Depths said about the same story 'fairly original,' (or something).

It's strange having my work getting such mixed comments, so which of them is right? It's bringing a lot of worries to the surface about the novel. How will agents and editors look at it and decide whether it's good enough? All these writing tips pages say to get it as good as you can. But how good do they mean? I can keep writing and fixing and drafting but will it still get rejected if it has, say, 15 minor errors like typos and misplaced punctuation? Will it then get rejected, commentless, leaving me to wonder why it got rejected when all it needs is a slightly better copy edit rather than an extensive rewrite? Is it like a driving test? One major mistake or fifteen minors and you fail?

I can only try my best in the end but still it's causing me some concern at the moment. Plus, as each rejection comes and goes I'm becoming less and less enamoured with the stories doing the rounds at the moment and I don't think the next batch are any good either. Maybe the third generation shorts will have potential....

Oh well, bugger it. Back to work.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

So that was Easter

I blinked and I missed it!

Posting a little late this week, I spent the holiday at my parents. Nice to be with my family again and see a few friends I've not seen in a while, but I always get stressed because I don't have a writing nook, a little quiet sanctuary to hide away in when I need to get my writing done.

The novel is getting along, a few more chapters as good as I can make them for now. There are still a few scenes I'm not 100% on but hopefully if I look at them again in a few months I'll either have forgotten why I didn't like them or have come up with a solution. Anyway, I'm hoping Act One is almost finished (I mean it this time) and I'm looking forward to getting stuck into Act Two.

Weird Tales rejected me, perhaps I'm aiming too high submitting to these high-end mags... Nah, you gotta aim high otherwise what's the point? So RWBW has gone to Shimmer Magazine.

Only a quick post today. Things are simply ticking over.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, 17 March 2008

Shake it all about

There's nothing much to report at the moment. The weekend was very productive, scenes were rewritten and now I'm reading through them adding in a few details here and there, taking out or replacing a few words that I didn't feel were exactly right.

I got to use an amazing new word, auscultations, in a sentence that makes what the word's meaning very clear from the context, this has made me feel annoyingly smug.

Near the end of the weekend I had to get out of the house, even though the weather was miserable. It was either go outside or go insane, so I went for a walk.

Ann Vandermeer, editor of Weird Tales, has been ill recently, that's why she hasn't got back to me. Give it a week, maybe two before I get the rejection.

I'm about two-fifths into the final book of Joe Abercrombie's First Law trilogy. I have to say when I started the first book Blade Itself I wasn't all that impressed and once I put it down I told everyone 'I liked it, I did, but ask me to tell you a single thing that happened.' But then I bought the second one Before They are Hanged and I loved it and I think I love the third one Last Argument of Kings just as much.

But in a strange way I wonder why. Sure the characters are well written, vivid and I have to find out what's happening to them in each of their personal adventures and get excited when I know two of them are about to cross paths. Sure it's well described, its clever, its funny, its astute. (A particular favourite line today. "They say that luck is a woman. She's drawn to those that least deserve her.")

But it's nothing I haven't seen before. There's nothing wrong with that, don't get me wrong, I love it, but why do I still get such warm and giggly feelings now when the common man underdog gets one over on the overbearing, unbearable toffs? I've read scenes like these more times than I can count but how come I'm still grinning like a nutter while I'm reading it on the tube? Because these are different toffs getting it in the ear from another underdog, I suppose. I guess it's like it is with people. Just because I have one friend doesn't mean I won't go out looking for more, it's those small variations that make things interesting. God is in the details.

Well, enough musing from me, back to work.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, 8 March 2008

Too Hard?

Good morning!

At least it is while I write this.

I was having a lot of difficulty with editing recently. I was reading each line, cursing because I didn't think it was very good and then trying to exchange it for something better. It was all taking a very long time even to get a page done and I was absolutely exhausted by the end of it all.

Now here's a strange thing you didn't know about me; most of my epiphanies happen in the shower. When I was younger they happened when I was brushing my teeth, now its the shower. It's like my brains been working hard on something without consulting me and hands me the results with a rather self-satisfied smile on its face while I rub shampoo into my curly locks.

So here was the epiphany I had on Wednesday. I'm trying too hard. Editing needs a gentler touch than the one I've been giving it. I could sweat over a single sentence for hours over how Theo opens the door but I shouldn't be. If the sentence says clearly and concisely what needs to be said that's all that matters!

No matter what kind of story you're writing or whatever scene, horror, romance, comedy the sentences themselves don't matter. They need to be clear, of course, they need to give that crucial bit of info to create the image in the reader's head, but the horror or romance or comedy comes from the paragraphs, the story, not the sentences.

I recently finished reading Dexter in the Dark by Jeff Lindsay and there was one scene in particular that sent a chill down my spine. Now ask me to point out the one word or the one sentence that made that scene scary. I can't, of course I can't. It was the scene being described I found scary, the situation itself. I imagined myself in that situation (someone trying to break into your house while you're still inside, unable to see out the windows because your own reflection obscures the glass) and I got scared. That's how you write. That's how you make the reader feel what you want them to feel. Pretty, well chosen words are great and help to enhance but clear, well thought-over description beats all.

Right, with this newfound idea on editing and redrafting (which is working wonders) I have to go rewrite a few scenes.

Weird Tales still has my story RWBW. If they haven't got back to me by Wednesday I'll chase them. Also I'll be sending Of the Father to Shimmer magazine if I have time today.

Well, that's it from me.

No wait! I had a strange dream last night and the last thing I remember before my alarm woke me was a song. It had a kind of samba rhythm and the only lyric I recall was "I played my Xbox but it was a Kiss Box." Not the best lyric ever but it seems so... not like something I'd think I'm near convinced it's part of an actual song but can't find it anywhere on Google. Can anyone conform its real or am I just nuts?

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, 2 March 2008

The Week Off Concluded

And what a week it was,

I had my first ever filling at the dentist and experienced my first ever earthquake. Nice.

I decided to have today off from writing.

At the stage that I'm at of the novel the creative part is very much over and it just feels that to get it done is simply a case of time and effort. This being the case I try and work as hard as I can for as long as I can but I do start to get exhausted but it still takes me a couple of days to pry my fingers off the pen.

Well, today I managed it. It really is the right thing to do, I'll go back to it tomorrow or Tuesday feeling refreshed and hopefully get another chunk done, hopefully, wrapping Act One completely. I've decided to rewrite the last two or three chapters of it. I want it to have a small feeling of climax at the end, a small victory for the good guys. Then, once Act Two starts I can start the build again to end in a bigger climax and then end Act Three with the Big Finish. That's the plan anyway.

I was really hoping to have Act One finished by the time I went back to work. There are two sides of me it seems, one wants the thing out the way as soon as possible, done and dusted so I can find out if people like it while another part of me wants everything to be perfect and wants to take its time and really make it something good. I seem to see-saw through them but in the end I think I'm grateful to 'perfectionist Grey' because all my favourite authors and directors and such are the same, they take their time and try to make something the best they can.

If only it didn't take so damn long.