Lately, I’ve been doing several different writing activities. I’m planning to attend the annual Pennwriter’s conference in Pittsburgh in the middle of May. There’s the logistics of travel, hotel reservations, and picking the talks. With this conference, though, opportunities abound, such as pitching a novel to agents. I’m reading (more like studying) Shifting Mars’ Sands, and preparing an elevator pitch as well as being able to discuss it in detail when I hook an agent. (Yeah, I used “when,” not “if.”)
Also, I’ve been critiquing pieces for my Saturday writers’ group. The pieces range from obvious first drafts to fairly polished drafts. I see a variety of issues. Some are overwritten, providing description of the ordinary, yet ignoring details to further understanding. Others exhibit structural issues from a vague protagonist story goal to extraneous scenes detailing secondary character background that dubiously relates to the story. Still others, plod along, seemingly not advancing the plot or advancing it at a snail’s pace.
Several were interesting because they were structurally sound and reasonably written. The help the group could offer was more centered around author intent and bringing out nuance, rather than correcting anything. I find these reviews far more compelling.
I wrote a 4,200 word short story set in the future where the government has taken various steps under the rubric of addressing climate change, yet with a different true goal altogether. This is intended for another anthology, if it comes to fruition. Otherwise, I’ll find a different market for it.
I’m working on another short story (the first draft is nearly finished) intended for an anthology with a theme of spies and heroes. Once the draft is done, I have a bit of work of adding character emotion to it. This is the one area that I always have to go back integrate into the draft.
I’m in the middle of writing a murder mystery novella, and I’m outlining a novel based on my first story idea from back in the late ’90s. Although I wrote the novel already, it’s fundamentally broken, and that version will never see the light of day. I’m redoing it from scratch, primarily focusing on story structure based on Story Engineering by Larry Brooks. So far, it’s going well. I’m keeping most of the same characters (some are being renamed, though) and most of the major plot points. I’m dropping, combining, or reworking some secondary and tertiary points.
I expect to publication news shortly, so stay tuned.