Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Excavating a Genre - Reading Mimics Reading

This is kind of a "meta" post. 

I realized today that one of the things that attracts me to the "Orphan on a Train" story is because it mimics the experience of reading.  Or, part of the experience of reading.

Most of the time, we read old familiar series and books -- books by authors we trust, in genres we can count on.  Reading these kinds of books are like visiting your well-loved grandmother.  You know what to expect, including the nature of the surprises you'll find. (Some genres might be like a well-loved but psychotic grandmother -- a little scary, but at least in a familiar way....)

But looking for a new book or series -- something out of the ordinary for you -- can make you feel a lot like that orphan on a train, headed for an unknown new territory.

We often approach unknown books with suspicion and trepidation.  We fear we are being sent into a joyless existence where we're stuck with people whining or boasting endlessly about things that bore us to tears.

It is a real fear.  Every kid has had to spend time sitting on the couch while the adults catch up on their gall bladder operations or the latest gossip about people we don't know, who did things that are so completely uninteresting, you wonder that they didn't die of it.

That, for most kids, is torture.

And, frankly, most books are a little like being stuck listening to Aunt Sadie's liposuction procedure.  They are suited to some one else's taste, but not to ours.  So we mostly stick to the familiar.

But now and then we have to step outside and try something different.  You hate eggplant, but out of politeness, you have to try that Chinese eggplant dish that your companions ordered at that dim sum restaurant.

And by the time we're grown ups, we've tried enough new and strange things to know that sometimes trying new things pays off in spades.  Sometimes it becomes the new favorite thing - the thing that you want to know more about, and look forward to spending as much time as possible with it.

And when I think about it, many of the books that are on the list I gave at the start of this series, were books I read when I was in that mood: I was out of books, and wanted to try something new, and had been driven into unknown territory.  I was sampling books without jacket copy.  Unknown, untested, likely to be painfully boring, or a bitter as badly cooked eggplant. 

But no guts, no glory.  Somewhere out there are books you'll love that you'd never know about if you didn't jump into it blind once in a while. Somewhere there is shrimp stuffed eggplant in sweet and savory garlic sauce, that is so delicious, it makes you want to faint.

And besides, sometimes there is nothing else available. Like the orphan on a train, you have been forced into unknown territory.

And, to take this to one more level of "meta":

Many of us, as writers, are driven to write by the reader inside us.  We approach a new idea with the same feelings of trepidation and anticipation -- looking forward to the experience of opening up a new world.  And that world has no reviews, no book jacket, nothing to tell us what it will be like.

And sometimes it feels like we're the orphan sent away on that train, forced into something new by the muse, but more often, we're the runaway orphan -- the one tired of same-old, and in search of something new, something we invent ourselves.

See you in the funny papers.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Still working on sound....

This week I finally broke down and bought myself this nifty pocket recorder.  It's expensive ($200) but the sound is good.

However, I also found that I'm still a little limited as to where and when I can record.  Closets are not as good as people say -- it depends on the arrangement of the clothing.  (Clothes act as wonderful sound dampeners, but if you have any exposed walls, sound still bounces off it.)

I did discover, however, that a plastic banker box with a pillow in it is a great miniature sound booth.

I have also realized that a lot of my fiction, especially the odd, extemporaneous stuff (such as Death and the Writer) is really suited to be a told story.

And... I have enough material -- that is fiction and stories -- to keep me reading in a weekly podcast for well over a year. 

(And heck, I could do a "writer" podcast with all the old posts here, and keep going for a LONG time. I might do that as a monthly thing.)


It all comes down to recording time.  And also if I get better at this, so I can spend less time editing.  Still, I have found that I can record a story or chapter a night without much stress to the system. (The editing takes longer, but can be done any time. Recording has to be done when things are quiet.) I just have to see how that works out.

I hope to start a weekly podcast in December, and to continue it through the year.  This will likely interfere with my blogging time, but I expect to continue blogging in fits and starts as I have lately.  (Again, the goal is to blog when I have something to say rather than to be sure to hit my posting goals.)

Just now I have to go back and re-record a few lines of The Curse of Scattershale Gulch which turn out to have purring going on in the background.  (Yeah, purring.  Loud, clearly audible purring.  I didn't think Max liked hearing me read aloud.  Clearly I was mistaken.  He just wanted to join in.)

See you in the funny papers.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Story Game meets Discovering a Genre

I realize that one of the reasons I stalled on the "discovering a genre" series is because I lost track of the purpose. 

I originally had the idea of doing this as an extension of the Story Game.

In particular, I wanted to explore a model for a "create your own" aspect of the game.  When I started this a year and a half ago, with the Situation Game, I picked a certain kind of romantic suspense story because I wanted to work with certain formulaic aspects of it.

(For those who weren't following the blog at the time, you can start with the Introduction to the Situation Game, or ending "Let's Play" post, which has an index to multiple posts.  I've done a few minor games and series since. One day I'll get them indexed....)

So when the "Orphans on a Train" pattern struck my fancy, I thought it might make a case in point for building a game out of a very different sort of "genre."

But, you know what? I don't think the "Orphans on a Train" model is suitable for the kind of story that works with the story game.  It's not formulaic enough.  Yes, there are very common tropes and patterns, and they kind of reach an archetype.... but they vary too much to make a kind of story that works with something like the Situation Game.

(And yet, I have some thoughts about how there could be a different kind of game involved, more on that later, first I want to talk about why it won't work for the game....)

Two things struck me in thinking about this:

1.) Ideal Game Stories are Suitable for Satire:

The kind of story that suits the original story game has got to be both predictable, and that predictability has to be part of what is satisfying about it.  Those kinds of stories are part story and part ritual.  We might make fun of the fact that the villain in a certain kind of romantic suspense is always someone the heroine trusts, but that is also what we read it for.

The Orphans on a Train story doesn't fit because the whole point is that it's a story of discovery.  While it might be predictable on some level, it isn't the predictability that satisfies.  It's actually the discovery that is satisfying.  Therefore the tropes are less obvious.  But I think they are still there.

2.) I Don't Want to Repeat This Story (or not exactly)

I am interested in writing a bunch of stand-alone mystery-suspense stories. But I'm not really interested in writing a bunch of Orphan on a Train stories.  I really only want to write one.  This is because, when I read such a story, I find that I'm not reading it to find out how it ends. I'm reading it for the journey itself.

And I don't actually want it to end.

What I personally want out of the story, is kind of like a TV series or even a serial.   It could be a series of episodes that never end because they don't really have a plot arc among them (just a bunch of little stories) OR if they do have a plot arc, it wanders endlessly like life and soap operas.

This is why I decided to set it in the world of The Serial (see, The Case of the Misplaced Hero). 

I don't think this kind of story needs a game really.  In some way it is driven not by the need to vary the same pattern, but to continuously break the pattern.

But then it struck me -- any series is kind of like a genre unto itself.  This is particularly true of the kind of long, unending series written in the mystery genre.  The great ones have their own patterns, with specific pay offs which are expected and loved by the audience, but also risk boring the audience.

Which is, of course, just like the problems of formula fiction -- how to present the desired formula while keeping it fresh.  That was a part of the purpose of the Story Game: to randomize expected elements to keep them fresh and force creativity to another level.

But for all the similarities in purpose, I don't think this is suited for developing a game.

What it IS suited for is developing an important writing tool that I think everyone should master: the Series Bible.  That's a basic foundation for a whole  lot of activities. (Including the possible creation of a game, later.)

And I think that's where I need to focus the "Discovering a Genre" series.  Examine this "genre" to discover the elements I really want to use.

Next time (I hope it will be next week), I'll pull together what I've already talked about, and look at them in the context of what I want to do with the story that's already forming in my head.

See you in the funny papers.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Coming Off the Busy Week....

I really wanted to have my first actual audiobook ready for your download before Halloween.  That's why I chose the only Mick and Casey ghost story. (The series does not usually have a paranormal element.)

However, it's a novella, which means it's about a half-hour of recording, and recording a half hour is exponentially more troublesome than recording 10 minutes.

Part of the problem was recording quality (the weak USB mic requires that I hold it close to my mouth, which means I have a "pop" problem) and partly because my elderly deaf cat may not be deaf.  It seems like as soon as I start recording now, she comes into the room yelling, and starts running around and sharpening her claws.

Which in turn wakes Max up, who says "Hey,  who are you talking to?  Can I eat this cable?"

As a result I had more re-recording to do than I expected, and not enough editing time anyway.


You guys are getting an audiobook ghost story for Thanksgiving instead. Or maybe Christmas....

I do have some interesting thoughts for you on Wednesday -- kind of a sideways step from the Discovering a Genre series. 

In the meantime, don't forget to vote.  Seriously.  Those who do not vote have no more power than those who cannot vote.

See you in the funny papers.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Death and the Writer - a Halloween audio story

Getting this week's audio file ready turned out to be tougher than expected.  But I did manage to get it done and up on YouTube.

NOTE: at the time of posting, YouTube is still processing the file.  It should be available soon, however.

This week, a short story for Halloween: "Death and the Writer."  It's a little fable for writers, (and yes, it kinda looks back at the days of legacy publishing, when you needed an agent and publisher to publish a book). 

I still hope to have the audiobook of The Curse of Scattershale Gulch done before Halloween. That will not be posted on YouTube.  I'm hoping to make a downloadable MP3 available to my blog readers and newsletter subscribers.

See you in the funny papers.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Too Busy Writing....

Too busy writing to post anything tonight.

There will be audio tomorrow -- a Halloween story embedded in the blog, and maybe another for download as an MP3 file.  Everything is recorded, but the cats "helped" by adding sound effects, so there will be extra editing and also probably some re-recording.

And that will be the end of the audio "blog" experiment -- but I will take up a fiction-only podcast later on.

In the meantime, kerfuffle and family visits will take place later this week, so... probably no posting again until next Tuesday or so.  (Other than, perhaps, an announcement of the audiobook download.)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

First Readings 3 - Choosing a Voice.. and Mick and Casey!

Finished up the third experimental podcast, in which I am teaching myself to read aloud and record.

In this week's episode, I finally read from my own work -- an excerpt from Chapter 7 of Have Gun, Will Play.

It's probably not the best excerpt in terms of reader interest, but it was perfect for this spot in the ongoing learning project, because it had a good deal of narration, and a little dialog with several different characters.  I'm getting comfortable with Mick's voice, but nobody else's voice comes out quite right. 

Still, I had a lot of fun, and it's a stepping off point for doing my first audiobook. I'll be recording The Curse of Scattershale Gulch this week, in hopes of having a free MP3 download for Halloween week.

The video is uploaded, and seems to have finished processing. 

See you in the funny papers.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Story Game - Fortune Cards and Writing Prompts

I came up with a new game -- it's actually going to be part of the larger game later on, but for now it is a fun game for creating writing prompt.

I created a set of what I call "Fortune Cards." These are elements and turns of plots and catalysts that change the direction of the scene.  They might be a character's mood or goal, or something that happens.

My eventual use would be where I could pull out a card at random to throw spanner in the works of the scene.

But I find that I can pull three cards at random, and they make one of those writing challenges.  You know, where someone gives you a list of words or elements and you have to come up with a story that uses them all.

So here is the writing prompt for this week.  Three cards, drawn at random:

  • 1. A large angry dog
  • 2. A conversation overheard
  • 3. A magnetic personality

The challenge is to come up with either a complete microfiction, or a concept of a longer story, using these elements as major elements of the story.

In the meantime, I'll be posting a new audio podcast tomorrow -- this time with a selection from Have Gun, Will Play.

I'm also recording The Curse of Scattershale Gulch as a gift audiobook for those who have subscribed to my newsletter, or read the blog.  I hope I can get it properly done before Halloween.

See you in the funny papers.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Thoughts on innovation and Publishing from FutureChat

There are always interesting ideas that come up in #FutureChat (Porter Anderson's Friday morning Twitter chat - 11am eastern time).  But it's always a little frustrating because even with multi-part tweeting, it's hard to get complex ideas across.  (On the other hand, being forced to communicate 140 letters at a time, including hashtags and reply addresses, can focus the mind wonderfully.)

This week, there were a couple of issues I wanted to talk further about, even explain.  We were discussing innovation, and I tend hold a contrarian position from most publishing folks on just where the curve of innovation happens to be right now.

In particular, I think that publishing is so far behind the curve that they can't recognize it when they see it.  They're kind of like the line from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy about humans, who are so backwards we still think digital watches are a keen idea.

This week, we were discussing the fact that ebooks were still basically plain "vanilla" ebooks -- just linear text.  And yes, basically the same format as oral storytelling.  It was noted that attempts to innovate -- particularly with interactive books -- have failed to catch fire. 

Some people see this as a sign that the reading public is behind the curve. I see it as the opposite: technology has so far bypassed the publishing industry that even the general public, and laggards, are ahead of the publishing industry.  Publishing's most bleeding edge thinkers are, thus, coming up with ideas that suit the technology and world of decades ago.

It's like communications: When I was young, the idea of a video phone seemed like the coolest thing.  We were sure that in the future, everybody would have them.  And yes, we do.  We can indeed make video calls on the internet. It doesn't cost anything. And yet, we don't use it much.  It's something for special situations, where seeing someone is as important as what is said.  Given all the ways we have to interact now, how do people routinely interact?

Texting and old-fashioned voice phone.

The more advanced and bleeding edge we get, it seems, the more the more useful we find to the simplest forms of communication.

Why is this?

Most technological innovation amounts to reinventing the wheel. We don't need to reinvent the wheel. We just need to invent new ways to enable the wheel.  The wheel itself is fine.

We also live at a time when everything is integrating. We don't need to reinvent the wheel. We can make use of wheels that are already out there... as long as we create things that are actually compatible with the wheels that ARE already out there.

What modern, up-to-date consumers need from publishers is flexibility.  We need to be able to consume our content in whatever way we currently like best.  And more importantly, we need to be able to consume it in whatever way we will like best next week.  Because that will be different.

So when it comes to delivering content digitally, SIMPLE is better. No fancy formatting (don't define the fonts and layout -- let the reader choose their own defaults) interactivity via links only.  The idea is that content creators should focus on content, and let the delivery be handled by the forms people are using.

Yes, people will buy great proprietary products -- that is, products that are locked in and too complex to be very flexible --,but only because that one specific product is cool.  We also liked Pet Rocks and Chia Pets.

For a product, that's fine.  For something as wide ranging as publishing, universality will always win out.

The real innovation comes from realizing we are a part of a hive.  Content flows throughout the wildly changing open-sourced world out there.

You want to include extra materials? Just include a link.  And Google and Twitter provide even faster, richer and more enhanced supplemental information.  The internet itself IS the enhanced edition.  Interactivity? More information?  Discussion?  Games and the internet do it better.  No matter how much work we do, we'll never provide an enhanced product better than what's out there.

And no matter how well designed, it will not beat the accessibility and ease of use of the internet.

The real, world-changing innovation in publishing is happening out there in the world.  We don't need to do it.  As I mentioned on #FutureChat a couple of weeks ago:  Amazon created WhisperSync, which connects the audio and text versions of Kindle books.  It's not a sexy new thing.  It happened almost invisibly.  It doesn't require a different edition of the book or the audiobook.  It just connects them up.

Heck the self-publishing platform -- for ebooks, print books and audiobooks -- is the real innovation.  Social media, podcasting. RSS. Blogging.

These are the real innovations that transform the book.

You could say that the things that really transform the book are not about transforming the book.  They're about taking advantage of other, already created resources.  It's about understanding the new paradigm -- which is about connection.  It's modular.

Publishing should be thinking about innovation in terms of content. About creating things that are worth connecting.  It's about creativity, not about technology.  Let tech innovators create the tech. Let the customers decide how they will use the tech. We make the content they consume through that tech.

And most importantly, remember that innovation isn't innovation unless is solves a problem of the user.  It's just novelty or niche products. Like video phones.

See you in the funny papers.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Excavating a Genre 3 - Picaresques, Road Movies and Quests

(This series starts with Part 1 - The Book List), and Part 2 - Looking at Theme with Understood Betsy.)

Many of the stories I listed at the beginning of this are very episodic.  This is true of a lot of children's fiction, and even of the early grown up fiction that influenced so much of children's publishing.

"Episodic" is a kind of plot structure, and I think it's important to this "genre" I'm trying to uncover.  But to identify it, I need to take a step sideways and look at similar genres with similar structures.

Anna and the Picaresque

In college, one of my professors, when he read the novel I was writing as my graduate school entry submission, got all excited and told me the story was a "picaresque."

Later on, I came to learn what a Picaresque really was -- it was a popular kind of story in Spain about a wandering "Picaro" -- basically a trickster/adventurer.  Often very loosely plotted.  And I've heard the term applied to all sorts of books from Don Quixote to Puss In Boots.

And yes, The Adventure of Anna The Great is that kind of story.  It's about a girl who dresses as a boy, takes her sword and her horse and sets out to find adventure.

But at the time, I didn't realize he was using the term to describe the swashbuckling side of the story, or the character.  What he talked about was more the structure of the story.

This was before it was finished -- and before the connecting plot was clear -- so what he saw was a series of episodes.  What I would describe as a "road movie."

On Roads and Buddies and Quests

A Road Movie is a popular genre in Hollywood. It actually has two kinds of story -- the journey story or the relationship story. (I.e. the Buddy Movie -- but one that takes place in a car.) 

The difference between the "journey" and "relationship" type stories is important, though: The relationship or Buddy story is usually about what happens inside the car.

That is, you stick two characters inside a car and trap them there for the distance of the plot, and things boil over and they become better friends or learn things about themselves.  Everything outside the car is really just a catalyst for this relationship.

The non-relationship Road Picture, though, is about what happens outside the car.  As with the story of the lone Picaro traveling from town to town, it usually has a single hero, or a team of characters whose relationship is reasonably settled.  Or just a relationship that develops, but not so excitingly as to overshadow what goes on outside the car.

And now that I think about it, there is a third type of story -- which is a hybrid of the two.  I think of it as the Wizard of Oz model, but I suppose it's really a variety of the classic Quest story.

This kind of road story begins with a lone hero who travels along and acquires companions, who each have a quest or two of their own.

I think, though, that Quest stories tend to lean in one direction or other when it comes to whether they are a relationship story or a journey story.  They are more often about the Quest -- which is "outside the car" -- but not always. Sometimes the quest is just a MacGuffin, and it's all about the bonding among the characters.  I would say a good example of this is many of the "Male Bonding" comedies about a bunch of friends who head out on the road.

(I want to pause to point out here that I'm not talking about character development here -- and I'm not talking about the difference between "character driven" and "plot driven."  A quest story can be totally character driven, and have amazing and deep character development. And, frankly, a buddy story can be strictly by the beats and still be totally plot driven.  What I'm talking about is the structure of the plot itself.  Regardless of characterization, what drives the plot?)

But to get back to "outside the car" stories: A lot of classic television drama fell into this model -- from Maverick to Route 66, to The Fugitive to Kung Fu.  An itinerant hero travelling from town to town, experiencing an episode at every town he meets.  Of course, the "episodic" nature of this kind of story is ideal for a TV show, but it shows up in movies and books as well.

The focus of these kinds of Road Stories is often a series of encounters in which we, and the hero, learn about something new and unknown.  And the hero may make a difference to that new and strange situation (in classic Wandering Hero style - slays the monster and moves on) OR the hero may learn and be changed by the wisdom or example of the strange folk he encounters.

And that takes us back to Understood Betsy and the whole concept of being faced with new and strange things and coping with them and learning from them.

And that, I think, is where the Picaresque and the Road Movie fit perfectly with the Orphan on a Train sort of children's story.  These are stories about life -- in all its variations -- outside the car.  Out in the real world.

Next time I'll talk more about a couple of these stories, which provide great examples of variations on this structure and this focus on the world out there.

See you in the funny papers.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

First Readings 2 - One Voice at a Time

The second episode of the "podcast" is up.

I didn't do the reading from a Mick and Casey story because I realized that excerpt wasn't right for the subject of the podcast -- which is about a preliminary step in learning to do voices, before going all out for dialog.

In this episode, I picked a poem from a pulp magazine I was studying ("New Love" March, 1943) and read it in four different voices.

The audio is a bit sloppier in this one because I had a lot of fun playing with the voices. (I only did four on the podcast, but I did a dozen or so in the privacy of my basement.  Editing is a wondrous thing.)

Unfortunately, YouTube seems to have screwed up the "thumbnail" in the preview -- so the video comes up with that blank, three dot icon of deleted images.  I am told that sometimes the thumbnail catches up.  Here's hoping. (The video plays just fine...)

 Tomorrow, the next written post about Excavating a Genre.

See you in the funny papers.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Update - Genres, Voices, and My Cat Thinks He's Star-Lord

One of the reasons I'm having a hard time moving forward on the Excavating a Genre series is because it fits in with this audio stuff I'm doing.

So every time I sat down to write, I would git distracted with an "oooooo, shiny!"

But eventually I figured out that I was also trying to move on to the wrong subject in that series: I've got to talk about genre structure, and a couple of similar genres next time -- in particular the 'Road Movie' and the quest, and hte "Buddy picture" (which is not actually a part of the genre I have in mind, but overlaps with it a lot).  But it also has something in common that a teacher in college told me that I was writing -- the Picaresque.

And that explains to me why this genre, or trope or pattern keeps making me think about The Serial, and it's world.  What I have in mind has a different tone, a different pace, and is likely for younger readers -- but the genre nails the same structure and themes.

So that's what I'm going to post about on Wednesday.

Tomorrow, I'll likely post the next audio/podcast experiment.  I have the rough cut all recorded, but it definitely needs editing, and I don't have visuals yet.

For those waiting for my promised reading of a Mick and Casey excerpt -- I decided not to go with that this week, because something more frivolous actually met the needs of the subject.  I read a short poem over several times in different voices.  It was fun.

In the meantime....

My Cat Thinks He's Star-Lord.  And Drax.

So Max likes to have disco music on in the background when we play "Mousie" (in which I throw the mouse and he catches/chases/wrestles it).  But I have to throw it just right for whatever game he's playing at the moment.

Lately, with the "Awesome Mix Tape" soundtrack from Guardians of the Galaxy playing in the background, he wants me to throw it so it lands inside the "Temple of Doom" (aka, the remains of the cat tree) and he makes a bunch of wild and awesome moves to retrieve it.  Just like Star-Lord in the opening of Guardians.

Then, at the end of the game, he plays Drax the Destroyer, where he parks himself somewhere, and NOTHING goes over his head.  His reflexes are too good.  He will catch it!

(This, for those of you who have not seen Guardians of the Galaxy, is a reference when Rocket points out that Drax is very literal, and that metaphors go over his head.  Drax says:  "Nothing goes over my head!  My reflexes are too fast. I would catch it!")

If you haven't seen Guardians of the Galaxy, btw, you've missed something that's a LOT of fun.  All Marvel movies seem to have more of a human touch than most comicbook/action pictures, but this one has an even sweeter, lighter touch.  Clever, funny, human -- especially in depicting the non-humans.

See you in the funny papers.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Post Delayed Due to Sleepiness

The next Excavating a Genre post is coming. Honest.  It will be about rebel orphans, and the "Picaresque" tales and maybe some related literary genres -- like road picture and buddy stories. (Although that may be saved for another post....)

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

First Readings 1 - Getting Used To Your Voice

My first audio podcast is up on YouTube. (And also embedded below for your listening pleasure.)

I had a little fun with the images (which are presented in a boring slideshow over the sound track), and a little trouble with levels (I've got a cheap mic -- sorry if you have to turn it up and down).

This is a learning experience for me. I have a little audio learning from film school (waaaayyyyy back in the seventies).  Teaching for 25 years made me not all that shy, but I really don't feel comfortable reading fiction aloud.  So I've been practicing my reading aloud for awhile, and now I've got to move on to do something more formal.

I was going to do a written blog series on this ongoing project, but I realize that is silly!  I need to do audio, so why not do an audio blog!

The first four minutes is the "blog" part -- where I give some advice on the first step, Getting Used to the Sound of Your Voice.  The rest is a reading of the first few pages of a classic -- and out of print -- mystery novel.  Murder in a Hurry by Frances and Richard Lockridge.

If you can't find a used copy, you can read it on line at The Open Library. (Murder in a Hurry online.)

I picked that particular book because the opening pages have no dialog, and I wanted to start with something that didn't require voices.  It's also kind of difficult.  Richard Lockridge was prone to write convoluted sentences.  (But the advantage of recorded audio is...EDITING!)

Next time, I'm going to start on character voice -- but I'm also going to start with something easy, something that requires only one voice: Have Gun, Will Play.  I'm going to try to do Mick.

See you in the funny papers!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Finding a Blogging Schedule

The kerfuffle in my life seems to be relenting a little bit.  The plan I had, before things spiraled out of control, was a new schedule.  I never got a chance to try it.

Find Your Best Time To Work

That's what everybody says is the most important thing about writing productivity.

I find that, for me, the times closest to sleep are the best time for my writing. However, I have to be free of any kind of social interaction.  In the morning, I have only had good luck writing when I didn't actually have to interact with anybody before the writing session -- and I mean not even making eye contact.  Even the slightest interaction, and suddenly I am out of the dream-state and into reality.

Unfortunately, I'm a night person, so the world is always waiting to pounce on me when I get up.  So morning is right out, unless I'm on a roll.  Morning is a good time for kerfuffle.

Which leaves my other prime creative time as evening.

The problem with evening is... blogging.

Blogging has deadlines.  The natural time to finish up and post to a blog is last thing at night -- because you want it to post in the morning (for a number of reasons I won't go into here).  So unless you are an early riser (which I am not) your last chance to make those little tweaks and changes and such happen the night before.
And because it is my best working time, I tend to do a better job of writing a blog post at night as well.  (Actually, that is when I tend to finish a post. During the day, I write unfinished posts.  Then when the deadline comes up, my brain kicks into gear, and I finish it.)

So, a couple of months ago, I decided that what I should do is allow myself to blog all I want.... before 5pm. After 5pm, no blogging at all.  I can do anything else, but not blog.

I never got a chance to try that out.  Stuff happened.  The kind of stuff that has you scrambling to remember what day it is.  What I usually do to protect my sanity during those times is stop trying to do things that matter (so I haven't been writing fiction or doing art) and start screwing around with things I had on the back burner.

Which is mainly, for me, rough drafts of blog posts (unfinished, because I'm writing in the day), and .... audio.

Or more specifically, reading aloud, as a practice for creating podcasts and audio books.

Or even more specifically, writing unfinished blog posts about my experiences in reading aloud in preparation of creating podcast audiobooks.


For this week, to get back into the swing of everything, I'm going to break my rule about no blogging after 5pm, and finish up some blog posts to be posted later.  And....

I'm particularly going to finish up those posts about my Audio Project.  But I'm going to do something interesting: They're going to be audio blog posts.  I'll post them on YouTube and embed them here.  Each post will include a few minutes of blathering about the project, and I'll read aloud an excerpt of some fiction -- mostly other people's but sometimes my own. I expect to post them on Tuesdays.

I have finished the audio portion of the first post.  I need to put some images to it to turn it into video.  (This will be faux video: just some "slides" to accompany the audio.)  I think I'll have this up tomorrow.

See you in the funny papers.