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What a Novel Idea | Kestrel's Aerie

What a Novel Idea | Kestrel's Aerie

What a Novel Idea


Welcome to February, and to what seems to be a trend here lately: my monthly post on the blog. The good news is, I’m hopeful the funk is over, and I’ll be posting more regularly.1

Now, you may (rightfully) be wondering why this professed change in my blogging habit. (And yes, I know: Seeing is believing, so you are welcome to take any pronouncements herein with a measure of salt.) I’m so glad you asked! As it happens, I was reading this article from Men With Pens this morning. One of the points the author made was that he not only committed to writing an hour a day, every day, and but also to blog about it to maintain accountability. That last part struck a chord with me: Sure enough, back on New Year’s Eve, I wrote this (emphasis added):

So, I intend to flesh out the novel to about 80,000 words, write a real ending, and make it something I’m not hesitant to share with anyone. Of course, I also intend to keep you posted, through this blog, on the progress.

So here we are, five weeks later, and what more have I told you about The Obsidian Throne – Book 1? Yeah…zilch. Zero. Bupkes. Time to rectify that, wouldn’t you say? Of course, members of my writing group (and for all I know, they may the only readers I have left here…) have been kept apprised of my progress, but let me get the rest of you up to speed.

When I finished NaNoWriMo, I had around 54,000 words, including an ending scene that I hated (it basically turned the story into a romance instead of a fantasy). Those 50K+ words were divided into nine more or less equal-length chapters. Since then, I’ve added four complete chapters, which total 14,000 words, and almost 5,000 words of a fifth (and concluding) chapter. No, I still haven’t written the ending: “Stuff” keeps happening (in the story), so I’m not quite there yet. But I’m getting close: I’m at the night before the last day of the story!

Earlier this week, I did a very quick and dirty edit of the first nine chapters (without the sappy romance ending), uploaded it as a PDF to Google Docs, and linked it to my writing group. I’ve already received one short critique from one of those people, which didn’t tell me much I didn’t already know: The characters are pretty shallow; there are a couple really glaring plot holes; there is a “what were you thinking?” scene that needs some work. There is also a climactic scene that I really like, but it was pointed out that the main character’s action in that scene is rather, well, foolhardy at best. So, I need to either cut the scene, or make it more plausible in the context of other events in the story.

On the plus side, the crit included the very important words “I want to read more!” (I’m paraphrasing, but that was the sentiment.) So I’m encouraged by someone whose opinion I value very highly, to keep on with my writing and revision.

Given that encouragement, and the very constructive criticism, I’ve started thinking about rewriting the entire first chapter. The premise for the main character’s motivation is, to put it bluntly, very weak. My only defense is, I needed to start the story somewhere. It does get better after that, honest! *grin* But I think I can make the beginning even more dramatic by moving a scene that happens in Chapter 9, to Chapter 1. And I don’t have to change a lot in the intervening chapters. (Well, nothing that doesn’t need to be fixed in any event.) And throughout all that, I need to turn my papier-mâché characters into real people. And my villain needs to be more villainous. Oh, and it probably wouldn’t hurt a bit to finally write the final scene!

Yeah…a beginning, a middle, and an ending! What a novel concept…

Unfortunately (perhaps?), I won’t be taking anything with a real keyboard to New Zealand with me. I have, however, jotted down some ideas to work on when I get back, and I’ll have my iPod, my Droid X, and my wife’s iPad if I think of anything else I need to make note of. Thus, no excuses when I get back. And around the first of March, you can expect to see another update here on how I’m doing on the novel. I sincerely hope to report that final scene is…finally written!

  1. Well, except for this month: On Sunday, Mrs. Kestrel and I leave for New Zealand, and I won’t be able to blog again until after February 25. There might be pictures.


8 Responses to What a Novel Idea
  1. Tami
    February 4, 2011 | 13:11

    Woot for continuing the blog, good sir! (I wonder who mystery critiquer could be? “I’d have written that book, too, if it weren’t for you crazy kids and your dog!”)

    *big hugs* DEFINITE, HUGE pushes to keep writing. You got da mojo, all you need now is the practice. <3
    Tami´s latest blog post is UF Novel Giveaway!My ComLuv Profile

    • Kestrel
      February 4, 2011 | 14:54

      Oh man! The one time I don’t embarrass you with major linkage love, and you call me on it. ;)

      (I’d bet many regular readers knew it was you, anyway.)

      So yeah: If you want to know a thing or three about writing, folks, you could do a lot worse than subscribe to Tami’s blog (and you get all kinds of cool extras, like sketches, recipes, and steampunk weekends, to boot!). Speaking of cogsmithing…y’all know about CHOOSE, right?

      • Tami
        February 7, 2011 | 12:13

        Oh, I wasn’t linkwhoring! I was just being smug, since you’re right – everyone probably knew who it was anyway. *grins and hugs*

        (also, *blush* <3)
        Tami´s latest blog post is UF Novel Giveaway!My ComLuv Profile

  2. Lerali
    February 4, 2011 | 13:12

    I’m not part of your writing group but I do read your blog posts. I started originally reading your blog as it had Warcraft related content but I have been really enjoying reading about your creative endeavors. Good luck!
    Lerali´s latest blog post is Is WoW DyingMy ComLuv Profile

    • Kestrel
      February 4, 2011 | 14:57

      Ooh! A new commenter makes herself known! Thank you for the encouragement, Lerali! Every little bit helps, believe me. :) (And kicks in the butt, such as those I get from Ms Moore, above, tend to bruise after a bit.) :p

  3. Graham Strong
    February 4, 2011 | 21:11

    Hi Steve,

    I followed you trackback on my guest post at Men with Pens, and thought I’d investigate…

    Yeah, I know how you feel — and I’m finding there are many writers in the same spot. Start a novel with the best intentions, but then get bogged down with life, fears, loneliness, frustration (name your poison here…)

    The great thing about the hour-per-day method is that it erases all of those. You are free to do whatever you want, as long as it is one hour per day of honest work towards your novel. You don’t have a deadline for the first draft, you don’t worry about plot or characterization (so much), and you certainly don’t worry about publishing.

    The only thing you have to worry about is your hour per day.

    It worked for me — I’m now writing the second draft, and although I’ve had to adjust my tactics a bit (see my latest post in the CommentLuv below — there are several reasons)it got me a first draft completed.

    Now that I’ve reached that goal, I can move forward with the next.

    Glad you found some value in that post. Good luck with the rest of your writing!

    Graham Strong´s latest blog post is Writing the Second Draft- How I’m Surviving the Transition from Muses to Musing – Day 151My ComLuv Profile

    • Kestrel
      February 5, 2011 | 08:11

      Hi Graham!

      Thanks so much for visiting, and for the encouragement.

      You’re absolutely right: Finding an hour per day should be easy for anyone. While I’m not dextrous enough to use my iPod or smartphone for composing, I know many others who could (and who knows? I may give that a try on my upcoming trip).

      Of course, as you learned, the key is not merely to start, but to persevere.

      What I found most intriguing about your article was how you gained motivation not only from the daily hour of writing, but by blogging about your writing too. Silly me: I read scads of blogs by writers, authors (is there really a difference?), editors, agents…and it took your single paragraph to make me realize that one way to keep my work alive (for myself) is to tell others about it. Enlightenment is a wonderful thing!

      Thanks again for your comments!

  4. […] be many updates on my work-in-progress (WIP), The Obsidian Throne – Book 1: The Magic Returns. As I wrote last month, I intend to chronicle my odyssey of transforming what is currently a very rough draft (in truth, […]

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