SOMNUS First Draft Finished

Done.

… for now, at least.

The first draft of SOMNUS, my stand-alone, sci-fi heist novel is done. I just finished typing future-Andy some notes, corrections, and things to finish. The files are saved. Everything is tucked safely away into Drobbox. And I don’t want to see the damn thing for at least six months.

Minimum!

Hell… maybe not for a year.

In fact, I might never pick this one back up. It was a HARD project. Or is a hard project, I suppose. For, while I’m finished with the first draft, the thing is hardly “done”. But this one may be as done as it’s ever going to get. I need a break from intergalactic corporations and scheming smugglers. I’m ready to work on something new.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m proud to have worked my way through the first draft of another novel. But this one was an ambitious undertaking. It contained a lot of firsts. Firsts for me, at least.

  • It’s my first far-future sci-fi book.
  • It has multiple overlapping and non-sequential timelines.
  • It was my first fully-outlined-before-I-even-wrote-a-single-itty-bitty-word novel.
  • It was my first project in Scrivener.
  • It’s my first go at an ensemble of POV characters.
  • The main protagonist is not a good guy. I try to make him relatable and likeable, but he’s definitely a bad, bad man.

So… it was hard. And now it’s there. And it’s mine to do with as I choose. Or not.

I’ll take SOMNUS out of the cupboard one of these days. Probably. When I do, I’ll decide if I want to invest more time in it. I might even be excited to do the re-write.

Who knows?

But now, and for the time being…

ON TO THE NEXT BOOK!

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Character Description – Reprise

DescriptionThe October 21 episode of Drive Write focused on including an appropriate amount of description in stories. I recorded the podcast in response to some comments that David Farland made in an online panel and discussion of those comments in this thread on the WotF forums.

Please give that podcast a listen and read through the comments for more context, but the gist is this:

Many starting authors fail to include enough description in their stories. This doesn’t mean that all stories will benefit from more narrative description. It means that otherwise good stories will suffer if they don’t have the description necessary to engage the reader and drive the plot.

It was a good podcast and well-recieved. I’m sure my thoughts on the topic will continue to evolve as I gain experience and improve as a writer.

The topic generated enough discussion for me to keep it in mind as I worked through NaNoWriMo this year. I was reminded of it again when I saw this Dave Wolverton quote in an email update from the Writers of the Future contest.

Again, I’m not saying that every story needs some hypothetical percentage increase in descriptive content. There are, however, plenty of us who suffer from the white room syndrome. A little reminder to clue listeners in on the whos and wheres of our stories is a valuable thing.

So… this is a comment from Dave Wolverton. Wolverton is the Coordinating Judge for the Writers of the Future contest and this is in response to a question about common mistakes that judges find in WotF submissions.

“Originality is the key element to a story being selected as a finalist in this Contest. It always has been and always will be. You need to come up with fresh ideas to be a successful writer, so we are looking for those who have their own imagination.

“Your story must also resonate with the reader. The main problem that I see are that setting or character description are lacking. The writer has not informed the reader enough about where you are, the circumstances, or the character is barely described. This accounts for 90% of all story flaws.

“Other flaws include the fact that the idea is not new, or the ‘world’ that the story is situated in has not been thought through enough.”

Interesting advice from someone who sees more than his fair share of stories. I felt a quick reprise on the subject of appropriate description was worth a post.

Cheers!

Drive Write: Writing Out of Order

Drive Write podcast

DriveWrite: Episode 13 – Writing Out of Order

This week on Drive Write I’m talking about writing out of order. The gist of my argument is, if there’s a piece of your book that you’re excited to write… write it. Stitch everything together later.

You’re going to have to write the entire story eventually. Might as well write the stuff you’re excited to write when you’re excited to write it. Right?

If you’re doing NaNoWriMo this year, you should be past the half-way mark at this point. Great job!

Regardless of how you’re doing this year on your NaNoWriMo project, you might benefit from a little encouragement and strategic advice. If you’re not already listening to them, I’d encourage you to check out Mur Lafferty’s daily I Should Be Writing podcasts. She’s posting every day through the month of November to help us all accomplish our 50k word goal.

Thanks, Mighty Mur! =)

Until next week. Good luck, be well and write hard.

Three More Sleeps…

Three more sleeps and then I launch the Droblar web comic. (-_-;)

    That’s me sweating bullets, by the way. ^

Thanks Google for the emoticon.

I have to admit that I’m nervous. I’m not sure how to pace the script. I’m not sure how to pace the artwork. I don’t want to draw every movement – functionally animating the darn thing. I don’t want to be too sparing with the artwork and run the risk of leaning too heavily on narration.

… but wait, there is yet more rending and gnashing.

I’m still learning how to draw. I’m still learning how to illustrate on my Surface Pro 2. I know how I want all the characters to look but there are still several that I’ve yet to draw. Like… even once. I also most certainly do NOT have anything close to 360° references for, well… any of them. Nor do I have a handle on conveying emotional states in the artwork.

Let’s face it. I’m completely winging this.

You know what, though? I’m launching on Tuesday regardless.

I like the story. I want to share it.

I had a chance to talk to Howard Tayler of Schlock Mercenary and Writing Excuses fame at WorldCon this past September. I attended a small group meet ‘n’ greet called a coffeeklatch. In fact, it was the morning after the Writing Excuses cast won their Hugo. The coffee was attended almost exclusively by fans. That’s cool and all, but I was hoping to talk nuts ‘n’ bolts about graphic novels and web comics.

My disappointment was short lived, however. Howard took an extra 15-20 minutes after the scheduled meeting to talk one-on-one with me. Thank you Howard for being cool like that. Anyway, I think the conversation was instrumental in pushing me from sketching scenes from the story to actually telling the story.

Much of the conversation can be summed up as, “Get over yourself, Andy. Stop inventing artificial hurdles and excuses to not share the story.”

So… I’m not.

I’m diving in with plans for success. If things go pear-shaped, I’ll regroup and adjust accordingly. But for now I am going to give it my best and be content (if not happy) with the results.

Another thing that Howard mentioned really stuck with me. Interestingly, it was nothing more than a passing aside during an unrelated conversation with a fan during the coffee. The comment was that you’re never going to be happy with the artwork. I think that’s true. I’ve spent enough of my life engaged in various artistic endeavors to know that the more you know, the more you realize there is to know – and to learn.

Artwork is like that. I’m absolutely certain that when I post the 200th panel for the Droblar story, I’ll look back and wish like hell that I could take a mulligan on panels 1-199. But I won’t. I’m going to do my best and I’m going to tell this story. I need to get it out of my head and onto the page. By the time I finish it, there’ll be a dozen more clamoring to get out. I’ll take what the Droblar teach me and those future stories will be the beneficiaries of the lumps, bruises, and learning experiences that I’m sure to encounter over the next several years.

This is a big commitment, but I’m excited to see where it goes. My goal is still to publish only once a week. We’ll see how things go. As I get better with the characters and with my tools, perhaps I’ll be able to up that to twice per week. If I do, fans of the Droblar and regular visitors to the site will be the first to know.

Dani Miller and the Droblar are coming. Drop by droblar.com on Tuesday to say hi, and please accept my thanks for all the support!

Drive Write: Character Descriptions

Drive Write podcast

Drive Write: Episode 8 – Character Descriptions

This week on Drive Write, I talk about describing characters for your readers. One of the critiques that I’ve received in the past is that I fail to give enough physical description of my characters. I still think that there are plenty of situations when it’s more appropriate to leave a lot to the reader’s imagination. However, I will concede that a reader should at least have enough descriptive context to form their own mental image of characters and the settings that they’re in.

Like most things, this can be done well or poorly. In today’s cast, I give an example of a classic descriptive-blunder that I made in an early draft of Cravings. Let me know in the comments if you have description tips or pitfalls to share of your own.

Drive Write: The Confidence to Fix Stuff

Drive Write: Episode 4 – The Confidence to Fix Stuff

This week on Drive Write I’m talking about mistakes, poor writing, and crappy first drafts.  I’m also talking about having the confidence to write those things and then to fix them. I hope you enjoy the cast and please share your thoughts in the comments.

Sunday Sketch: Danica

I haven’t done a Sunday Sketch in a while. Sorry about that and please accept my apologies if you enjoy them. Illustrating is definitely a sideline to my writing and it’s suffered due to my travel schedule this past month.

Speaking of travel…

One of the things that happened at Worldcon was that I was able to talk one-on-one with Howard Tayler from the Writing Excus… wait, excuse me. Howard Tayler from the Hugo award-winning Writing Excuses podcast.

I was hoping to track down some nuts ‘n bolts-type info on illustrating graphic novels. Specifically, I was having trouble finding online, educational resources and mentorship for authoring and illustrating them.

It’s tough enough to sift through novel-writing resources. For novels, there’s a lot out there and finding the stuff that works for you can take some time. When you get to graphic novels, things simply get weird. Everything focuses on superhero fan art and doe-eyed anime preteens. Plus half the stuff out there is in Japanese. I took one semester of Japanese in college and holy-hard languages, Batman.

ANYWAY…

I was talking to Howard about that stuff, but the most valuable take-aways I left with were:

  1. Something that I should have admitted to myself all along, and
  2. Something that was very good for me to hear.

Something I should have known all along:

START THE DARNED PROJECT!

I mean, it’s not going to draw itself and the more you learn, the more you know you have left to learn. If you wait until you are absolutely perfect at a particular thing (doesn’t really happen, btw), then you’re pretty much guaranteed to never actually DO anything with the thing. If you think that you get better, and then get better, and then suddenly you barf complete projects and sneeze finished manuscripts, you’re wrong.

And I was, too.

Again.

Just like writing a book… start.

… and then keep at it.

Something that was very good for me to hear:

“You’re never happy with the artwork.”

Now why is it a good thing to hear that the project you’re committing hundreds of hours of investment into will never make you happy?

Easy.

It lets you move on. You’re never going to be happy with the art. Deal with it. Or… don’t do it. Don’t start. Quit. Go do something else. Something that you find rewarding.

But if you can’t quit? If there’s simply no way you can’t not do this project? Start. Do the thing. If you can’t be happy with the art, be content with it. Keep moving.

Hearing a pro like Howard make that statement was just the push I needed to get over myself. To appreciate what I could do. And to accept that I’ll be able to do more – and do it better – later.

Even if that means I will never be happy with the artwork.

Droblar: Dani Miller

Too excited not to share

Ok. Ok, ok, ok.

I probably shouldn’t be posting this, but I just gotta. I’m way too excited about the project not to share.

This is only a test panel for stylistic choices, pallette selection, and whatnot. For instance, I know this isn’t the font that I want to use. I’m not sure yet about the dimensions. Etc, etc. Blah, blah, blah.

BUT STILL! They live! My little droblar guys are live, inked and in color!

As soon as I figure out how I want to publish the story, I’ll start posting them to a dedicated website. I already have one reserved (droblar.com), but for the near future these little fellas will live only on the blog. Also, new panels won’t come out very quickly as I only draw on Sundays.

I’m rambling.

Aaaaanyway, the story is finished. All that’s left is to draw it. And I’m awfully excited to say that it will look…

something…

like…

THIS!

Droblar - Page One

 

Sunday Sketch: Flight From The Bystrica

This week’s *cough* belated *cough* Sunday Sketch is from a scene towards the end of the Droblar graphic novel.

I’m obviously still playing with the visuals for some of the characters. For example, the Droblar in this sketch is supposed to be Bing. This looks more like Steve’s head/neck shape with Bing’s face. Also, the girl in this shot is far too mature looking for what I have in mind. I’m having trouble drawing kids and I haven’t played around with costume ideas for her yet, either. =\

I was also trying to play with motion in this sketch. I like the way it turned out for Bing and the girl. The monster chasing them is supposed to look like it’s vaulting from rock to rock on long claws. I’m going to have to play with that some more to really capture the movement as I’m envisioning it.

I hope you all enjoy the sketch of this scene and please let me know what you think in the comments.

Droblar: Flight from the Bystrica by Andy Rogers