Monday, July 31, 2006

Novel Progress 2

As of now, a have about 27,000 words of rough draft, so the 1000-words-per-day pace is holding. I've come up with several secondary characters and am getting a feel for their personalities. I've also thought up some ideas for the opposition.

I've read advice that when planning novels one should start with the plot and create characters to fit, and I've read advice that one should start with the characters and develop a plot based on the characters' desires. For better or worse, I started with the main character and a problem he had volunteered to solve.

The main character is actually someone who has been kicking around in my mind for some time. I've tried to write stories about him and a couple of other characters before, but I've always given up 10,000 to 20,000 words in when I realized how derivative everything I wrote struck me. This time I told myself that I didn't care, that I would concentrate on coming up with a story that I thought was fun and quit worrying about being derivative.

The goal is to get a rough draft completed from beginning to end. Once I have that to work with, I can cut or replace anything that I think readers have seen too often. The interesting thing is, now that I've made the commitment to keep going, the ideas have been starting to flow.

I have a good idea of what the opposition wants. I think it is a well-intended goal, not a cartoon evil-for-evil's-sake that one too often sees in fantasy. The conflict will be generated by their methods causing problems and the goal itself causing unintended consequences. I hope I have the skill to pull it off.

I still have no idea what the ending is going to be.

Technorati tags: novel writing, writing

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Seeing Things in a Different Light

You know, I don't think it has ever occurred to me before, but The Sound of Music is really about the worldly corruption of a nun.

I now have more respect for that stupid movie.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Novel Progress

I have about 20,000 words of my novel roughed out. It is still going well, but it is still just a beginning. What I have, I haven't yet started to hate, which is something.

It averages out that I'm writing about 1,000 words per day, which I understand is pretty good for fiction.

Technorati tags: novel writing, writing

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Brief Review: A Colorado Country Girl's Self Bondage

I don't know what originally attracted me to this story (NSFW); it's possible that I thought the title intriguing. I don't even remember how I initially found it. A lot of BDSM flavored erotica tends to scare me away, because thoughts of people being hurt and thoughts of sex mostly conflict in my mind. Ropes and chains are cool, but whips are kind of freaky.

Anyway, when I first read it, only two chapters had been posted. I enjoyed reading them, and a few days ago, I again looked the story up. As of this writing, four chapters are up, a bit more than 12,000 words, so far. I don't know if the author intends to continue adding to it or if it is now finished. I hope she has more to say.

The author claims to be a 49-year-old woman and that the story is true autobiography about her youth. I do have some doubts. For instance, she claims to have hung herself from her arms for improbably long amounts of time, and to even have fallen asleep while hanging overnight. Is it possible? I don't really know, but if I had to guess, I would guess not. And when she relates the scene of her discovery that her mother was kinky as well, my BS meter screamed.

That said, I'm not sure if my doubts damaged my enjoyment of the supposed recollections that much. There is something charming about the stories whether they are true or not. In a favorite incident of the reviewer, she talks about first hogtieing herself and then using a pencil stuck through a wad of paper held in her teeth to turn the pages of her high school reading homework, thus accidentally reinventing the ball gag. If it's true, it's cute. If it's not true, it's a humorous authorial invention.

The story is told as a series of such vignettes held together by the narrator's growing awareness that she is seriously kinky. She talks about first discovering that bondage turns her on when her boyfriend playfully ties her up at age sixteen, about learning how to tie herself up, about inventing her own rack (the painful kind), about discovering her exhibitionist streak, and so on, all told through the eyes of a teenager excitedly discovering her true self. I liked it.

Technorati tags: reviews, recommended reading

Novel Thoughts

Yesterday, I wrote about 2,700 words for my novel. That gives me about 13,000 words of rough draft. I don't know yet what I'm going to do in the middle or end, but the beginning is going fairly well. I like the main character.

The novel is a fantasy. I am rather tired of the pseudo-medieval or pseudo-renaissance settings so common in fantasy, so I'm going more modern. The technology level of the primary setting is roughly that of the United States in 1950 with a few changes. They don't have internal combustion engines, concentrated fuels, or explosives. They do have electricity and external combustion engines. Medical technology is closer to 1975 or so. The have short-range electric cars and dirigibles.

I'm debating with myself whether I should include sex scenes. I currently intend to post it to the Web eventually--if I finish it--and many, perhaps most, of the popular Web novels have a good dose of erotica. I certainly don't have anything against erotica. I especially like the amateur erotica posted to the Internet. It is interesting to see what people reveal about what turns them on when they are primarily writing for themselves. It's true that a lot of the writing runs from god-awful to rough, but some of the writers are skilled, and I know of a few who write at a professional or near-professional level.

On the other hand, the focus of the novel isn't erotica. I'm 14,000 words in, and no natural place for a sex scene has yet presented itself. If some of my ideas pan out, there will be a few natural places for sex, but the scenes will make up only a small portion of the novel. I could probably fairly easily make an adult version of the novel with the sex happening on camera and an adolescent version of the novel with the sex happening off camera. I might try that. That's assuming that I can write a sex scene that isn’t laughable.

If this thing actually turns out to be good enough that I'm not embarrassed to send it to publishers, I'm not sure what having posted it to the Web will have upon my chances for getting a book contract. The late Jim Baen, publisher of Baen Books, said that posting free novels to the Web appeared to help his sales, but most publishers might not think that way.

Oh well, I'm getting way ahead of myself.

Technorati tags: novel writing, writing

Monday, July 17, 2006


Approximately July 5, I started working on a novel. It has been going pretty well, so far; I have about 10,400 words roughed out. Over the years, I've attempted serious writing several times, but I've always given up.

Technorati tags: novel writing, writing

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Fair Analysis

This seems like a reasonably fair analysis to me: Why Russia loves Putin

Technorati tag: recommended reading

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Some Good Stuff

Gates of Vienna has a nice essay about the origins of Western civilization.

Steve Sailer tells why societies that are organized by extended families are going to have trouble with modern economies.

Jerry Pournelle's useful reviews will no longer be appearing in Byte. You can find them here instead.

Technorati tag: recommended reading

Brief Review: Once More With Feelings

Once More With Feelings, a free Internet novel by the author who uses the pseudonym "The Night Hawk," is a pleasant wish-fulfillment fantasy in which a misanthropic middle-aged man dies and then wakes up in the body of a 14-year-old girl. Given another chance, does he take the opportunity to do better this time?

Because the protagonist is seldom confronted with serious dilemmas, the story isn't particularly dramatic. Even the team in the volleyball subplot has an improbably easy time overcoming its opponents. Because it's difficult for an author to build tension if his characters aren't put in either mental or physical danger, those looking for a nail-biter or page-turner will want to read something else.

On the other hand, the author apparently wasn't aiming at drama, but at a feel-good story. In this he succeeds well. The reader is frequently given vicarious pleasure when the newly young protagonist inadvertently helps herself by helping others. I often found myself grinning at all the sweetness and light and the not infrequent amusing situations. Those who are feeling down and in the need of a pick-me-up might like this one. I enjoyed it.

Technically, the novel is erotica. The sex scenes are arousing, but stroke isn't the focus of the story. It's primarily a character study with the message that nice people finish first. Given the (new) age of the protagonist, those who are disturbed by underage sex should skip this one.

Once More With Feelings can be found here, here, and at the Storiesonline site.

Technorati tags: reviews, recommended reading