Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sunday’s Thoughts - 2010-08-29

Sunday, August 29

Hello, again. Here we are at the start of another week. That last one went by so fast. These thoughts keep popping up in my mind.

One thought that kept popping up goes back to my Alien Journal project I started on six or seven different occasions. I just can’t seem to get myself to a point where I can stay ahead of this project. Right now, I have placed it on a spot one my storage shelf called ‘limbo.’ When I can get it out, I will probably try again.

The problem I come across in this venture is not being able to shut up the internal editor between my ears. Also, I start looking too far ahead and not letting the story flow. Looking too far ahead gets me to a point where I feel overwhelmed in working on the project. This causes me to avoid what I should be working on.

My assignment this week (besides editing my novel) is to reassess whether or not I should do this project. The other problem I may have stumbled across was that I wanted to make the Alien Journal an action adventure/comedy combination story. I can get the action adventure part, but the comedy does not come too easily. I may need to stick it in only when it fits and try not to force it.

This week will be dedicated to trying to figure out how I wish to proceed with this project. I have several ideas but I do not know how this will come out.

The main thing will be that I plan to have fun doing it. If it is going to feel like work, then, there is no way I want to spend time on the project. Sometime, my fun ends after I finish creating the characters, plot, and basic story line among other things. I have also found that it can be fun to finish the story. I will endeavor to make the editing and formatting of the journals more interesting as well.

Well, here goes. I hope to let you know my decision next Sunday. What projects are you struggling with and what do you do to help yourself through them?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Writer’s Wednesday - 2010-08-25

Wednesday, August 25

Hello, it is time for another pearl of wisdom (cough, cough) from the mind of Clark Stone. Just kidding. I just hope someone gets something out of what I write. (Big Grin)

Today’s topic will be “My Grandmothers Soup” or how we can weave our memories and experiences into our stories. I think I may have covered the use of one’s memories and experiences in the past. So, here it is one more time.

Over the years, I’ve heard many times that the truth is more fascinating than fiction. I also believe that it can be funnier than fiction. There is bound to be something in one’s past that is funny and can be used one’s fiction to spice things up.

The example I will used in today’s post will be about the time my mom’s mom decided to cook some soup for my older brother. She knew he would arrive sometime around lunch coming in from Northeast Louisiana University in Monroe. Soup is my older brother’s favorite food. Not to mention that I like it too.

She had a good sized pot on the stove when we arrived. The funny part is what came next. She reached into the freezer and pulled out a package of what she thought was okra. It turned out to be sliced jalapenos. As soon as she realized her misstep, she fished out as much of the pepper that she could find.

Needless to say, she wanted to scrap that pot of soup and start over, but I talked her into keeping it. Knowing my older brother, he would have been upset if she tossed out soup. Not only did I have to convince her not to throw it out once but three times.

On the fourth time, my older brother had came in the door and he stopped her. By this time, the soup was ready. David (older brother) got a bowl and filled it with soup as did I. Not to be outdone, if we could eat it, my grandma was not going to let us eat it alone.

She placed three large glasses of ice on the table along with a gallon of cold water out of the refrigerator. All three of us sat at the kitchen table and ate that soup. Though it tasted great, it was very hot. By the time we finished our first bowl, the water in that jug had dropped to the halfway point.

To this day, I wished I had a video of it because it would have shown three people around a table with sweat pouring out, crying, eating soup and drinking water. Several other people came in but they refused to eat any of the soup. We ended up polishing off that pot of soup before we left the table.

What if one of the characters in my story mistakenly put in some sliced jalapenos? What if she did not catch it until she served up? What happens when her guests start eating it and the soup gets hotter with each spoonful? What if her boyfriend really loves spicy food? Then again, what if he does not?

As you can see, the one misstep could lead to a whole bunch of “What If?” questions. Could you build a scene about an event in your past? Do you think it would make a better, more believable scene? I do.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sunday Reflections - 2010-08-22

Sunday, August 22

Hello everyone. Sorry for the big gap in my posts. I am re-evaluating the way I work my blog. I know that I am not going to be able to dedicate time every day to this project. I would like to but it seems to evade me.

Thus, this is a time to reflect on my goals for this blog. What I would like to do is to be informative and maybe post items that would interest others. I also would like to continue contributing to my writer’s ideas.

I want everything placed in my blog to be useful in the arena of writing. I hope that some of my ideas would benefit someone down the road. For instance, re-evaluating one’s goals is something every writer needs to do. I wished I had some pearls of wisdom on this subject, but alas, I do not.

At a resent program at a local writer’s program, the speaker said that it is good for someone to sit down and review past goals and then re-evaluate them as well as update them. To me, that means that I need to mark the goals I have completed and pick out more goals to work on.

Don’t forget to break down those large goals into manageable bites. Something I started last month that helped me keep my spirits up was to start writing down what I accomplished during the day. When I feel like I have not done anything, I look at this list and it tells me how much I have done. Granted, on some days, that particular list is small, but on most days, it turns out to be quite long.

It feels great to chip away at those goals even though it is one bite at a time. I know I wrote about it in an earlier post, but I met one goal that took me 25 years to complete. That goal was completing a first draft to my novel.

Once that was complete, I looked over the manuscript and started writing down what editing I need to do. The book was written in separate scenes. So, in my month to do list, I built a list of “to do’s” for doing the second draft. Since I have 111 scenes in this novel, I have 111 to do items – one for each scene. Yes, I may complete anywhere from one to eight scenes a day.

When I complete a goal, I change the goal’s text color to blue and add the date I completed the goal. So, when I look at that particular list I can see the progress I made. This seems to give me the inspiration to keep moving.

Now, I can tell you that my to do list is quite long because I have other things on it besides my book “to do’s.” How long? You say. Let me see; as of this morning, 768 items listed on my to do list for this month. How many have I completed? 71 of them so far.

As for my goal for this blog, I believe I can keep up with three posts a week. If I run into a topic that I need to expound on, then I may add an extra post every now and then.

How do you plan out your goals? Let me know. Have a nice day.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Friday, The 13th

Friday, August 13

Hello, this is one of those days that everyone usually takes extra care when they do things. It is supposed to be an unlucky day. I sometimes think it may be and other times think it may not be.

Then someone called to borrow money. I guess I became unlucky today. Really do not like to loan money but sometimes I feel I have to help some people. I do not know how this will turn out, but I can just hope I get paid back.

Then again, my father always said that Friday the 13th had always been lucky for him. He said that he got hired for the two major jobs of his life on that day. One he worked for over 12 years and the other over 17 years before he retired.

Actually, we celebrated today with a grilled steak. The thing was huge and will be used for several meals. So, mom likes this kind of luck because the meals are already cooked.

So, it is up to you whether or not today is one of those unlucky days or not. To me, I am still breathing and driving mom nuts at times, so, I have to say today is another lucky day for living.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Writer’s Wednesday – 2010-08-11

Wednesday, August 11

Hello again. Today, I wish to jump into the subject of editing one’s work. This all-too-important part of the writing process for the most part is not my favorite. Yet, if I do not do it, no one would be interested in reading my novel.

My first true foray into in-depth editing of a novel started yesterday. I managed to edit 8 scenes in about 4 hours. While I am editing, I take notes of material that I need to be looking for. One thing I look for is sentence structure. If the sentence sounds stilted, I will rewrite it. I try to take out the unnecessary words and phrases in order to get to the point or action.

Here is an example of a sentence that I would changed:

“He started walking toward the exit.”

I would cut that back to

“He walked toward the exit.”

Yes, the word “started” denotes time. Yet, when I look at my manuscript, I have a “began,” a “started,” or some other verb followed by a gerund (a verb converted into a noun by adding “-ing”: adding, walking) or by and infinitive (placing a verb behind the word “to”: to go, to get) scattered all through my scenes.

I may let a few slide by, but most of the time, I will convert the gerund or infinitive into the appropriate verb thus making the sentence more active. In the course of my editing, I found that I can cut some adjectives and adverbs. But sometimes, I feel that some have to stay or the meaning does not come through the way I want it to.

Next, I start looking for words that I overuse. One of those was the word “felt.” I managed to reword or restructure the sentence to get the main meaning and get rid of the word “felt.” Now, that does not mean I got rid of all of them.

One other thing I discover doing was using the character’s name or pronouns for the character in the scene in every sentence. I should be able to describe the scene and let the reader know whose point of view is the scene is in.

I also added material that foreshadows events that occur later on in the book. The only reason this is hard is that I now have to go through the book to collect notes that I made. It really isn’t that hard but just time consuming.

Now, I think it is time for me to shut up and get to work. I hope this helps you in some way.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Sunday Thoughts - 2010-08-08

Sunday, August 08

After thinking on it off and on over the last week, I have decided to change my Sunday format. It seemed that I have been getting bogged down in my lists. I still will have them but I will no longer put them up.

Now, that does not mean that I will not expound on what I managed to accomplish over the week. I will still discuss that part of my life but I do not know if I will do it all in today’s post.

At times, I feel that my wheels are just spinning and I am not making progress. I know that is not true because I look at the list of things I write down in my daily journal as accomplishing during the day. Yes, there are days I get more accomplished than others. I still have to make out a list of items I need to do during the day and make sure I keep that list in front of me. If it gets put out of sight, then I will forget what I planned for the day.

I have started my first book of this month. This I feel is something I need to do to help me in my writing. Seeing how other stories are written can help me in that regard.

As for my room, I have spent time in there looking through two file boxes of material. I still need to go through each of the folders and arrange them in the order I wish to keep them. For years, I have tried to keep up with a scrapbook or build pages to a scrapbook. That is one thing I found in this file box. I had about folders containing material for my scrapbook. It will be one of the items I will look through at a later date.

Other subjects in the files are my photos, printed journals, three folders of recipes (cut out of newspapers and magazines), writing materials, various magazines, cartoon and humorous stories, and hundreds of newspaper clippings. All of which I need to go through. I do not know how this will turn out, but if I try to think about all of it at once, I know my head will explode.

My first stop was with the recipes. I pulled the three folders I have on them and started looking through them. I got rid of many of the recipes that I felt that I would never attempt. That still leaves quite a few. I found some that I think I want to try.

I will spend the upcoming week working on these recipe files. I may enter them into the computer. Many will probably go into a improvised cookbook where I mount the clip onto a sheet of paper and place in a plastic protector sheet and then into a binder.

I continue to work on a karate Kata or form that I want to be able to perform in a karate gathering in Des Moines, Iowa in September. I managed to practice it over a dozen times. That is nowhere near the number of times I need to practice it to get proficient in it. I am getting closer but I need to do more. I have something in the works that I want to try so I will let you know how that turns out.

Sorry for spilling out so much non-important stuff but I felt that I needed to get it off my mind. I still want to do something every day and I am thinking about it. It is not that hard to build these posts and I do not know why I try to keep from doing it. But, I do not know why I do half the things I do anyway and don’t even try to figure out why. I just think I like doing it so I do it.

Have a nice day and smile - Clark Stone

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Writers’ Wednesday - 2010-08-04

Wednesday, August 04

Today, I wish to cover the topic of book reading. Every since I joined Nola Stars and RWA, I have heard authors say that one should read what they write. One reason is so that the person can learn what the publishers are looking for. But I also have heard some say that one should read period.

To me, this means that if one reads both good and bad novels, one could pick up the nuances of the work and learn from them. Mainly, how to write what would sell and avoid what could get your work rejected.

How one uses a sentence, paragraph, description, dialog, etc., can either grab the reader or repel her/him. I know I have material in my work that needs editing. This means that I need to polish each sentence and make sure the words flow.

Recently, I have found myself doubting my writing structure. By reading, I am finding my way back to what I need to do. The problem with me is that I really do not read enough. Though, I just tried to read an e-book I downloaded and could not read too much of it. The story seemed to be interesting but the writing seemed to be a bit stilted. After reading about five pages, I stopped. I will go back and try to read more.

As for reading material, I have plenty to choose from. Mom has a collection of at least 50 or more books to choose from. My problem is that I do not read very fast and I can find that I’ve run out of time to work on other material. Yet, I have decided to set aside at least two hours a day to read.

Reading books will help me through this task. I have some books that I might even read again just so that I can pick up the methodology of the author’s writing. I like these books and I know they were successful. I will not know that about a new book I picked up.

I like to write science fiction. But reading other genres can help if only in providing examples of good writing structure and storytelling techniques. In high school, I did not want to read, but if the story got interesting, I would read through it.

What do you take away from a good book? Does the book give ideas on how to write your book? Let me know.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Sunday Report Card - 2010-08-01

Sunday, August 1

Hello, another week has squeaked by and I find myself short on my goals. Yet, I am happy with what I have accomplished.

This week, my 10,000-word goal (Goal 1) got 2,952 words. Then this amazing thing happened. I got to the end of my novel. Though it is the first draft, I have never made it to this point in novel length. Now, time for editing the thing has come. I still plan to write some as well. I will probably lower my word count until I get the book completely edited.

I only got four addresses and phone numbers for this week’s Goal Four. Still need to go through my address book and confirm numbers I have not called in a long time.

Goal Six has me looking through my storage boxes and crates. I looked through two of them and found myself unable to part with much of what they contain. What I found that I need to separate the material and store like material together.

In the process of looking through the boxes, I found some material I can part with but I need to gather other items that go with it. I found some Romance Writers Reports that I plan to donate to Northwestern State University.

Goal Seven covered the Nola Stars Extra edition of the Nola News. I have four pages left before I can post the electronic newsletter supplement to the Nola Stars listserve.

In my search of web pages, Goal Eight, I found several of them that gave me ideas on how to fix mine. I will play around with the ideas this next week to see where I go.

I have gone through 20 of the Miller Reunion photos and adjusted them so that the subject took up more of the photo’s space (Goal 12). I haven’t gotten around to naming them yet (Goal 13).

Goal 14 had me contact a friend that had not made it to the reunion. We talked for 20 minutes last week. Next step would be to send an email.

This week’s goals are
  1. Write 5,000 words toward all stories
  2. Go through novel and check the story timeline
  3. Edit 40 scenes to novel
  4. Build 8 scrapbook pages for Nola Stars
  5. Catalog 70 articles I have collected
  6. Update my personal telephone directory (confirm or add 10 numbers)
  7. Start repair work on floor around air vent in bathroom
  8. Build last 4 pages to the Nola News Extra
  9. Write two reviews for books read
  10. Start reading August’s first book
  11. Write an article
  12. Look through 50 Miller Reunion photos and adjust for content
  13. Start naming people in the photos.
  14. Gather writing material together that I wish to donate to NSU.

What are your goals for this week? Did you accomplish your goals last week?