• Tag Archives edits
  • On Creative Headspace

    October has just started and I had to spend some time thinking about what this month will look like in terms of work (roughly). If I’ve learned anything from my years in this business, it’s that one needs to be organized. Fortunately, my natural thinking process involves putting everything into lists under various headings and then looking at those items and breaking them down day by day. Some stuff is written down on paper, other stuff is written down in my head. Regardless, those items are then transferred to a calendar—both real and mental—thus informing me what each day entails. For the most part, I’ve learned to leave tomorrow in tomorrow, even parts of today in their respective parts of today. All that matters come nightfall is that the day’s tasks are done.

    This eliminates confusion and keeps a rein on anxiety.

    So what does my October to-do list look like?

    So far:

    – regular Web upkeep like this blog and backlog SEO work

    – edits for a client

    – finding out the finer details for a job I’m signing papers for tomorrow and then doing the work thereof

    – Inktober until the end of the month (daily ink drawings posted to my social media channels)

    – Ship off Kickstarter rewards for the Axiom-man/Auroraman: Frozen Storm campaign to Jeff Burton (this includes getting things done at the local printer for the paperback; my part of the lettered edition hardcover is done)

    – posting the Gigantigator Death Machine serial novel, behind-the-scenes stuff, and essays to Patreon

    – writing and sending out The Canister X Transmission every week

    – writing . . . something

    – drawing . . . something

    – business admin

    – anything else that comes up (to be sorted into the list depending on the item’s timeline)

    Welcome to my October.


  • My Writing Process – Don’t Really Have One

    APF Desk 010417

    For some reason I’ve recently been giving a lot of thought to my writing process and I came to the conclusion I don’t really have one. At least, not in the conventional sense when someone thinks about how an author writes a book. Usually it involves notions of slaving away over the words, crafting each sentence to perfection, doing rewrite after rewrite, line editing, copy editing, proofing and so forth.

    None of that applies to me. Not in that sort of depth, anyway.

    My first book, A Stranger Dead, and from what I recall, involved a lot of that: slaving away over each word. Being a first book and first effort, that’s how I thought book writing was done. And, hey, if that’s how you write your books, by all means, whatever works, right?

    But for me, I’ve been following the same writing process for at least a decade. It’s bare-bones simple, and doesn’t require a lot of brain power other than the first draft, and even then, I’m not exhausting my mental energy to the point of being brain dead after a writing session.

    Though there are exceptions, this is typically how I write a book:

    – A title or basic premise comes to me

    – I let it stew in the back of my head so my subconscious can work things out without me consciously thinking about them

    – The first line of the story comes to mind

    – I get to work on the first draft

    On the first draft:

    I’ve only outlined a book once, and that book is still in process as of this writing. I will also be outlining another book to finish it off because it involves time travel and I got myself into a possible paradoxical mess with the thing so I need to iron out the details so it’s paradox-free (something that’s very important when writing time travel stories). Other than that, I simply write a book as it comes to me, scene by scene, sentence by sentence, word by word. I don’t think about what I’m writing. I just write it as I see it in my head and that’s it. I’ve written enough books over the years to know the golden rule that every word needs to serve the story, so I don’t have to worry about scenes being cut later because they’re just fluff.

    And that’s it. I write the story start to finish and do not edit as I go along.

    Sometimes I know how it’s going to end, sometimes I don’t. Sometimes when I do know how it’s going to end—and since I let the story tell itself—that ending either doesn’t happen or doesn’t happen how I originally envisioned it. But whatever. I let the story do the talking, not me.

    After the first draft is done, I run a spellcheck and print it out.

    I leave the book alone for a while, sometimes a week, sometimes a month, then get to work on the second draft.

    On the second draft:

    By leaving the book alone, I had a chance to mentally distance myself from it before going at it with fresh eyes.

    You see, you write and read at different speeds, so while taking my pen to my first draft, I read it at a reader’s rate and am able to smooth out choppy sentences or catch words I repeat—every writer has a go-to word or phrase in their first draft—and make sure story continuity lines up. It’s this latter point that always astonishes me: the way your subconscious keeps track of everything between writing sessions and keeps the story in order. I might add a sentence or two or delete a couple redundancies. Nothing fancy.

    I then type up my second draft edits and print the book out again for draft three.

    On the third draft:

    This is the polish draft, and after having done a solid clean-up on it in draft two, this draft is a way to catch anything I missed the first time and do a spit shine on it. Seldom are any substantial changes made. Again, it’s done at reader’s rate so I just read along and tweak things here and there.

    These changes are typed up and the book goes off to my editor.

    I wait for the editor to do what I pay him for then get the book back from him.

    On the editor’s draft:

    At this point I’m already getting sick of my own story after having been through it three times, so all I do during this phase is go through my editor’s edits and only his edits. I agree with 95% of them; the remaining 5% are usually matters of taste and preference and not actual errors.

    My editor’s work is now complete. He gets paid, and all he has to do is await his editor’s copy in the mail when it’s ready.

    I take the editor’s draft and do a three-quarter format on the book.

    On the partially-formatted book:

    The book is now resembling what the reader will eventually see in terms of layout and trim size. Chapter headings are decorated and basic front and back matter are put in place. The only thing that’s really missing are the headers and footers.

    I print it out.

    Since I consider my editor’s draft draft number four, this partially-formatted book is my fifth and final draft in which I go through it and catch anything my editor or I might’ve missed. What’s helpful about this stage is the new layout of the book. There are less words per line at a 6 x 9” trim size than your standard 8.5 x 11” piece of paper. Things read differently and any error seems to jump out all the clearer.

    These mistakes are fixed and are typed into the computer.

    I then go on to finish the book with its final bells and whistles.

    On the bells and whistles:

    These include adding the headers and footers, the title cards and any ad matter in the back.

    At this stage, it’s just an issue of making sure all the formatting is in place, and the book itself is done.

    Paperback formatting is always done first, then the various eBook formatting required for the different platforms comes after.

    On the off-chance I catch a mistake while formatting, I then have to sort through the different files and make the change in each. It’s annoying and a pain but has to be done.

    Then that’s it. It’s off to press.

    Of course, during the preliminary format I get my page count thus can create my cover, but that’s not the topic of this post.

    But that’s my process. Five total drafts, four of which are mine.

    A long time ago a writer friend gave me the greatest bit of publishing advice I’ve ever received. I’ve repeated it a bunch of times to writers in all sorts of forums and venues over the years, and it’s this: it’s only a book. And that’s how I treat my novels: they’re only books. That’s all they are. They’re stories. They’re fantasies. They’re entertainment. Like I always say, kingdoms won’t rise and fall based on something I’ve written so I’m long past the stage of obsessing over my stories.

    I just write the damn thing, clean it up, then share it with you.

    That’s the process, if you want to call it that.

    That’s it. Thank you. Good night.


  • Writing Corner – My Current Office

    For years I used to sit down at the computer desk and write my books, and only once have I written an entire book longhand–never again, by the way–but there came a time where I would be sitting on the couch and be inspired and would want to write, but couldn’t immediately/conveniently do so because the computer was all the way upstairs, I’d have to wait for it to boot up, get myself settled, etc. So, a few years ago I bought a laptop and have since done all my writing on it. Now I can write anywhere in the house. For a while it was on the couch in our rec room, then I took a liking to sitting in bed and writing, but these days I’m on the big comfy chair in our front room. What you see above is my current office as I work on Secret Project No. 1. I’m getting a lot done in this space and, so far anyway, plan on using it for Secret Projects Nos. 2 and 3.

    Production work for these books will be done on the desktop in the studio, but the editing will be done anywhere, most likely in bed as I like to lay down and do my edits. Don’t ask me why. I might go the coffee shop route and do my edits there. Not sure. For each round of edits, I always type them up on the desktop computer as that’s where the printer is and that’s what I’m used to.

    Anyway . . .

    What about you? Where do you write?