I’ve never made any secret of the fact that I was a pretty lousy English major. I couldn’t diagram a sentence to save my life (or my self-respect) and I would not read anything that bored me, which was nearly everything (I arrived at class early to eavesdrop on my classmates, from which I gleaned enough details to pass quizzes). I did well on essays because, despite reading precious few of the assigned pieces, I could hone in on some key point and belabor it with zeal. I attended class faithfully, wrote well, and had an excellent memory for the few things I learned along the way. Those few things have not served me well. Continue reading
Category Archives: Writing Process
The Problem of an Ambitious Mess
I haven’t posted in a while. For reasons. Let’s start at the beginning. Back in the spring, a good friend (who knows my penchant for dawdling) extracted a promise from me that I would finish a 90,000-word-minimum draft of a mystery novel I was halfway finished with. This draft’s deadline? August 1. Now, August seems a long time away when you haven’t even dragged the lawn mower out. I agreed it was a fair deadline. And then I got invited to an awesome workshop. Continue reading
Old West Research
So, one reason I haven’t posted in a while – I’ve been busy. Top of my to-do list is revising some historical fiction that, even at this stage, requires a lot of last-minute research. For example, despite growing up in farm-and-cattle country, I actually didn’t know the exact definition of “oxen.” I mean, sure, I’ve seen an ox. But the textbook definition? I had to look it up. Sadly, once armed with this precise knowledge, I realized I needed something else for my story. Continue reading
National Novel Writing Month
So. Nanowrimo. I spent a lot of time considering which idea I’d tackle this year. I’ve got a whole cache of ideas waiting: a post apocalyptic one, a werewolf one, a fantasy one, a steampunk version of ‘Puss in Boots’ that’s way cooler than it sounds (and, come on, it sounds pretty cool already). But this year, since I was already exploring mystery in a Gotham online class I decided to tackle a mystery. I’m simultaneously revising a time travel novel and, comparing the genres side by side, I can see all the pros and cons. Writing a modern-day mystery means having to get things right (things like how the legal system works), and you can’t just make that up. I enjoy research, but will admit, it can be a bit exhausting if you’re tackling a profession or a scenario that you don’t know much about. Of course, while you’re free to make up things like “how time travel works” it can be a real challenge making a made-up thing sound at all believable when, say, you know nothing about physics.
I’m bouncing back and forth between the two and wondering if I’ll end up loving contemporary crime fiction more than speculative fiction. Realistically, I imagine compromising and eventually writing sci-fi detective novels. That could be even more awesome than steampunk Puss in Boots.
Disappointment and I are such old friends that I no longer have any qualms about letting myself down. While this is a fabulous approach for self-acceptance it’s not so great for getting things done. So, when a friend recently proposed holding my writing efforts to her standards, I was horrified. After discussing what would amount to a part-time job’s worth of hours-per-week, I promised to email her every day and report in on how much writing I’d done. I was really, really worried I’d acquit myself poorly. That was a month ago. So far it’s been a whole new writing experience. Chores, errands, and diversions of every sort used to preempt my writing because I could just write later. Now, the idea of telling someone else “I decided to rearrange my sock drawer in lieu of pursuing my dreams” makes me cringe.
I’m a little embarrassed at how much writing I wasn’t doing before. But it just goes to show how much it can help to shake things up. Now, when I find I can’t sit at the computer for one minute more, I take a notebook to the kitchen and write longhand, standing at the counter. (A little of that goes a long way, in case anyone’s wondering.) My writing my not have improved (yet) but I’m certainly doing a lot more of it.
Stay tuned. Next up, a new writing class through Gotham and Nanowrimo.
The Power of Paper
I was listening to an older episode of Adventures in Sci-Fi Publishing and ran across an interview with Neil Gaiman. He noted the difficulty of writing when one’s computer offers so many avenues for distraction (from the internet to spider solitaire). He suggested switching the internet off or writing for a while with pen and paper.
Pen and paper. Continue reading
With a little help from my friends…
It’s been a while since I posted anything, chiefly because I’ve been working on a sci-fi novel and a couple of short stories for the Minnows Literary Group’s next collection. The other day, I ran aground on the novel. I hadn’t planned on it, but the characters in the story happened upon a secret room in the very old spaceship they’d acquired. I was faced with the obvious question, “what’s hidden in there?” Since I hadn’t planned for it, I didn’t have anything plot-related in mind. But something had to be in there. Continue reading
An Author by Any Other Name…
When I started this blog, as K. P. Hornsby, I had yet to publish fiction and I was working in a research position where I occasionally prepared blogs for an employer. I wasn’t sure at the time how much would I write publicly under my real name and I wanted to keep a firm dividing line between my fiction and non-fiction writing. Since then, however, I’ve had the opportunity to devote my full-time writing efforts to fiction. And, following the successful sales of Out of Time and the advice of my good friends at the Minnows Literary Group, I’ve decided to use my real name instead of my pen name. Continue reading
Today’s Fun with Research – Locks
Much to my combined surprise and chagrin, I keep finding commercial websites really handy when it comes to quick-and-dirty research for fiction. The academic part of me wants to restrict my efforts to university-based websites, but I keep finding great answers to simple questions by visiting site’s like Schlage’s – and it makes sense, when someone has a product to sell, they’re going to spice up the pitch with some interesting details. So, why read a thesis when all you want is a brief history on metal locks?
The Perfect Flaw
I’ve been struggling lately (by struggling, I mean ‘realizing I don’t do it, but need to’) with the fact that main characters actually have to grow through the course of their journey. Getting it right is really, really tricky and I’ve been thinking about flawed characters and the way they grow or adapt. (Characters don’t necessarily have to be flawed to show growth, they can start out merely young, naive, or uninformed, but I’ve found that the addition of a real flaw makes for a more interesting story.) Continue reading
Filed under Writing, Writing Process