Posts Tagged ‘the choking rain’

As you are aware, by this point in the proceedings, the plan was to have reached 40,000 words, the putative 2/3 mark of this monument to one man’s ambition. However, as you are also aware, from having read the title of this post, things this week did not go entirely as planned.

Through a combination of events largely out of my control, I couldn’t keep up the pace this week. Apparently, 32,000 words per month is my limit. (Already the experiment is yielding valuable data.) Even before Life took precedence, I had decided that 2000 words per day, even working only four days a week, was just too much. It was eating up all of my “free time,” and this gig doesn’t pay well enough for that. (Doubtful that it ever could.) So I ratcheted my goal back to 1500 words per night, which will extend the time it takes to finish, but not as much as you might think, since I’m so far into it already. I’m thinking ten weeks instead of eight. This should still leave enough time to make my September 15 deadline. (And if it doesn’t, I-the-publisher can fight me-the-writer over it.)

For the record, I am at 37,418 words. Since I already gave myself permission to slack off, however, this means I am only about 1100 words behind schedule on the sequel to The Choking Rain, which will now with 90% certainty be called The Scent of Death. Our Heroes, having hied themselves to an Asian kingdom where they don’t know anyone, don’t speak the language, and which is threatened by both revolution from within and invasion from without, have been attacked by a mob in the market square, resulting in becoming separated from their guide, the princess they’re protecting, and one of their own gang. Add to this a mysterious method of assassination, a gallery of untrustworthy high officials, and a couple of “allies” with their own secret agendas, and it’s all pretty much business as usual.*

And that’s all I can tell you. Fortunately, as part of the outlining process, I know who’s who and who’s not. Unless you count this character, who just kind of showed up and introduced himself, and that guy who’s not what I thought he was, and the other fellow who’s now…

I’m telling you, this would all be a lot easier if the characters would just read the outline first.

*And that’s not including the fact that their fearless leader has taken on a new identity so secret he won’t even tell them.


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As of the end of Week 4, I am at 32,189 words. (Target threshold: 32,000.) If you remember, at the end of last week I was about to embark on a Big Action Scene. Turns out 50 bandits was a little on the heavy side, and I settled for 30. How that all turned out, who faced up to the danger, who was shoved to the sidelines, and who got shot, you’ll have to read the book to find out.

The plot is beginning to coalesce, with the cast of characters growing, potential villains set up, potential allies acting mysteriously (could they also be villains?) and making various shocking disclosures. (All I will say is that there are more people sneaking around the palace after lights-out than there were during the day.)

I am now considering a tentative release date of September 15. This presumes, of course that (a) I finish on time; (b) I can commission a proper cover, not only for this book, but a coordinating one for The Choking Rain as well; and (c) editing does not take more time than I anticipate. Plus, of course, I need a title. The Scent of Death is hanging around like, um, a mysterious and sinister perfume, and unless something really cool comes up, that will likely be the winner.

Meanwhile, of course, the Smashwords July sale is still on, and you can get all of my titles at reduced prices (one is actually free). So don’t be shy; I write these things to amuse myself, but you might find you like them too…


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Bottom line: After two (four-day) weeks of 2000 words/day as my goal, I have written 16,147 words. So far, so good! I will not say it’s been easy (hence the four-day work week), because it takes up all of what I would otherwise refer to as “my free time,” but oddly, it’s finding the time that’s difficult; the writing has been surprisingly easy.

Oh, I do it in fits and starts, and (real) Internet research has led to some (unnecessary) Internet “research,” and there are points every evening when I think, “Maybe I’ll cut myself some slack tonight. I have a few extra words banked from last night,” but so far I’ve managed to get past that (except last night. Last night I stopped at 1400. I was wiped.)

I don’t know how I can do this on some projects and not others. It definitely has to do with outlining. The one time I tried something like this on the fly, I wrote 6000 words in two days and burned myself out for a week. But the one time I’ve worked for hire (and thus using an outline someone else imposed on me), I cranked out 2000 words a night without any trouble (which is what inspired me to try it this time).

Obviously, then, it’s not a matter of typing too much (although with this and my day job, I worry about that). It’s more a matter of mental exhaustion. (So, yeah, four days on, three days off.) If I do this again, I will throttle it back to 1500 wds/day. It’s less about the daily word count and more about avoiding those long stretches of writer’s block that come from not knowing where you’re going.

So that’s where I am, and I wouldn’t be doing my duty if I didn’t remind you that this is a sequel to The Choking Rain, available on Smashwords and Amazon.* While you’re there, check out my other books as well, and if you’re one of those sainted people who’s already bought one, please consider giving me a review on Amazon. You have no idea how important those are (to any author).

So in two weeks, will I be at the half-way mark, or will I be a gibbering mass of dangling participles huddling in a corner?

Beats me, I haven’t outlined that far yet.


*Current leader in the title race is The Scent of Death. I’m still taking suggestions.


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I’ve never really tried writing to an outline before, but now I’ve outlined the sequel to The Choking Rain, provisionally titled Something in the Air (but very much subject to change), and I’ve spent the last two evenings writing the first 4300 words. The idea is to write 2000 words a night, which would bring in the first draft before Labor Day.

I hadn’t planned to write another novel so soon; the idea was to concentrate on short fiction this year. But after a couple of tries (and one completion), the Muse wasn’t hanging around. “Well,” I thought, “no plan to do something is good if it keeps you from doing anything,” so I allowed myself to think about writing another book–but only if I could get it done quickly. None of this “twelve months and a bit” this time. None of this foundering in the middle trying to figure out how the plot was going to get from A to Z. (A and Z are easy. It’s L, M, and N that will kill you.)

So I tried outlining, and surprisingly, it wasn’t tough. (I’ve had this idea for a long time, so that helped.) I had the outline done in half the time I had allotted, including details for the first dozen chapters, so I started even sooner than I thought I would. So far, I’m 300 words ahead of schedule. We’ll see how tonight goes.

I’ll keep you all updated every week or so, unless I fall completely behind, in which case I will close this page and start writing under an assumed name, something with fewer expectations. I’m leaning toward “Will Shakespeare,” since no one thinks he ever wrote anything anyway…


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I’ve always been what they call a “pantser,” which is to say I write by the seat of my pants. Now, I know, from one experience in writing in someone else’s universe, that outlining can increase my output dramatically, but it never seemed to work for me. I tried it to a degree in The Cosmic City, and it helped keep me moving, but it didn’t achieve the results a true outline can bring. And so far as writing short stories is concerned…forget it.

But I’ve been blocked lately from writing much of anything, so much that when a couple of my friends asked me, a week apart, if I was writing anything I had to admit that, no, nothing specific at the moment. (Although yes, I was and am still writing.)* Okay, I thought, I was going to concentrate on shorts this year, but if you’re not writing, you’re not writing. Even writing something that may never turn a dime is better than sitting around feeling like a lump.

So I grabbed an old idea I had, a sequel to The Choking Rain, and I started noodling with it. I thought, outlining is easy, and it counts as writing. If I get stuck or inspired by something else, it’s easy to put aside. On the other hand, if I could create an outline in say, eight weeks, I could probably have a book written before Halloween. That’s about half what it usually takes. Not a bad use of my time whatever happens, and I can still spend the last two months of the year writing short stories (which have a better chance of selling).

An outline for a 60,000-word novel means (given my typical chapter length), setting up 40 chapters. If I were shooting for an eight-week schedule, that would average five chapters a week, or one a day. (I don’t work weekends.)

In two days’ work, I have outlined eight chapters.

Now, they will get harder. I haven’t created any real characters yet, only cut-outs, and characters are hard. But then again, they don’t need to be fleshed-out at this point. And if I can even approach four chapters a day, I can finish the outline in two weeks.

That means I could be writing a new novel by the end of the month, and finished before Labor Day. My previous record is just over a year (albeit that was 85,000 words).

I’d better start designing a cover.


*Why do people who have known you for decades, and have always known you as a writer, ask if you’re “still writing”?


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As both of the regular readers of this blog know, I recently posted a novel of mine, “The Choking Rain,” on wattpad.com, a free site for posting novels and short stories, whether original or fan fiction. According to the site’s own tracking, successful authors can attract thousands of fans to their work, and while there’s no direct monetary return, if you have a blog or other, non-free content to offer, it has the potential of drawing all of those people in.

My own experience, as recounted here, was far more modest. Even after being a Featured story, “The Choking Rain” has attracted hundreds, not thousands. Still, that’s hundreds of people who had never heard of me before, and it’s still accruing nearly a hundred new readers a week, of whom a measurable number appear to be visiting either my website or my Smashwords page. Not bad for a free service.

I attribute the popularity of wattpad.com, and blogs, and such things, to our innate need to make ourselves known, to rise above the crowd, to scream “I’m here!” to an uncaring universe. We all want to believe we’re special and have something to say, right? Wrong. I was a little surprised when an acquaintance who had previously written a piece of Star Wars fanfic (maybe 5000 words, no small feat), said she wasn’t interested when I told her about wattpad. She said her work was too amateurish, too juvenile. I told her, in all honesty, that a lot of what I had seen was more amateurish than what she’d written. (As I have said before, this is not a criticism. Everyone starts somewhere.) But she didn’t care, wasn’t interested, didn’t want to know, so I dropped it.

Now, not everyone wants to be a writer. (In fact, in my book, this is the first test for determining if a person is sane. You don’t have to be insane to be a writer, but you won’t have to wait long.) But if you’ve already got the story written, if once upon a time you cared enough to devote the time to think and write, and maybe even edit a little, and to distribute it to even a few of your friends, then why not take the plunge and put it out in the world? For heaven’s sake, if you’re that ashamed, use a pseudonym–it’s the Internet, after all.

But hey, I’m not on that committee. It’s not my story, not my life. To be honest, there’s stuff I wouldn’t put up there either. Although now that I think about it, maybe I should…

Then again, I’m a writer, so I’m probably not sane anyway.

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As you may have noticed from elsewhere on this page, I have published a novel called The Choking Rain at Wattpad.com. For those not in the know, Wattpad is a site where anyone can self-publish short stories or serialized novels, offered to Wattpad users for free. Wattpad membership is also free, so your potential audience is very large indeed.

Much of what one finds on Wattpad is fan fiction, and much of what finds appears to be worth exactly what you’re paying for it. This is not to denigrate Wattpad authors—not only are some of them quite good (I am not the only published writer using it, by far), but even those who are not so good are honing their craft, a necessary step for any author—in fact, it never ends.

The Choking Rain, frankly, is an example of that. I wrote it quite some time ago, and I like to think I’ve improved since then. I did review it before I put it up, and I would not have done it at all except that I personally like the novel and, although it failed to find a traditional publisher, it was rejected more for being too “niche” than any other fault I could determine. So, with a little updating, I felt it was safe to publish without tarnishing my reputation. It also helped that the story lent itself well to serialization.

In researching Wattpad, I found its offerings boasted an astounding number of readers. (The site keeps public count of “reads,” which is anyone who looks at a story or chapter. A full perusal of Rain by one person would yield 35 “reads,” one per chapter.) Even taking that into account, however, a lot of novels were recording several hundred thousand reads over the course of a year. Divide 100,000 reads by 35 chapters and you’re talking a lot of fans.*

So I tried it. At first, I was pulling in about 20 reads a day. Considering that before this, nobody had read the book, 20 reads was significant, even if most of them were restricted to the first installment. As I progressed, the number remained pretty static, but at least a few readers were following the story.

Then Wattpad contacted me and said they wanted Rain to be a Featured story. This means you get on their menu of promoted stories for a couple of months. No fool I, I agreed, and the entire book was Featured as on December 1.

It went from 20 reads per day to 500 in less than a week. And it has remained there, so that as of this writing it is just under 7500 reads. Most of them are still limited to the first installment, but there’s a fair number of people actually reading the book, and that’s cool. And around 500 new people per day are clicking on my story, so that’s very cool.

I don’t know that this is going to make me any money; I don’t know that it has so far, certainly, but it’s been fun watching the numbers climb, and the comments have been for the most part gratifying. People are reading what I wrote.

And that’s very cool, too.

*2,857, just to save you the trouble.

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