A Writer’s View: A May Roundup

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr)

I figure with all the writing I do and have planned, it’d be fun, educational, and good experience to reguarly share my findings on writing.  So . . . I am.  Probably about once a week or so I’ll spew forth the latest seltzer water of wisdom I happen to have handy.

Right now most of these insights come from my first public fiction project, “A Bridge To The Quiet Planet.”  I’ve written fiction a lot before, have edited, have consulted, but figured it was time to return to fiction in style – with a novel.  Short summary: science fiction/fantasy fusion combination of road-trip and religious pilgrimage goes dreadfully wrong.

So the insights to share for May – any one of these might become a later column.

  • Agile works really well for writing – the mindset and the methods.
  • Writing is about loops, finding cycles and patterns in your story.  Because of this plotting one idea may lead to changes, expansions, or new ideas.
  • Never assume anything in your story is “true” until it’s written – discovery is part of the process.
  • Look for Congruence – when things “feel” right.  You want this on all levels of your work, and before you move on from one thing (say from a character idea to a character outline) make sure things “feel” right.
  • Your inner voice is probably right.  The voice that comes after that voice and points out all its flaws is probably less reliable.
  • When plotting, your story may become “timey-wimey” – ideas later on may influence earlier sections.  That’s fine.
  • Characters are the true measure of your world and writing – knowing them means you know your world and story.
  • Characters are a great way to discover your world – designing them makes you ask specific questions you may have missed.
  • Think of your audience – keep them in mind in your writing, what you say, what you deliver.
  • Enthusiasm beats self-loathing for a writer every time. Better to succeed by creating better than tearing down.
  • Beware “Big Rock” ideas that you’re so committed too they drag the story and other ideas down.
  • Don’t “commit” too early to ideas, concepts, or scenes.
  • A small change may quickly scale up and affect your story.
  • Give yourself a place to record ideas without commuting to them.
  • Start over as early as possible so you don’t have to later.  My restarting the plotting cost me 4-6 weeks, but I can’t imagine what’d have cost me if I’d rammed through with my lame initial plot.

Hope these give you something to think about!
– Steve

Steve’s Update 4/30/2017

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com, www.SeventhSanctum.com, and Steve’s Tumblr)

Let’s get to my weekly  Scrum style standups – and this is a pretty big milestone!

So for a month I’ve been using a lot more Scrum/Agile techniques, and that includes these weekly reports.  Now I can assess how it went!

The answer?  Pretty damn good.

More done, less stress, better sense of what I’m doing, more adaptability.  There’s a lot of blog posts about to come on this (which is also good as my blogging is erratic and I want to fix that).  These posts should also help you get up to speed as well, and after I tweak my methods I’ll probably do a roundup.

Major goals of this month:

  • Get Way With Worlds Minibook #1 back from editor.
  • Write at least 30 more questions for Minibook #5 and/or #6.
  • Start and write first chapter of my fiction piece “A Bridge To The Quiet Planet.”
  • Attend Fanime and speak (probably one day as Professor Oobleck)
  • Some general writing.
  • Experiment with Amazon Ads.

But hey it’s the end of one Sprint and the start of a new, so let’s get to status!

So what have I done the last week?

  • Way With Worlds Minibook #1: This is not late exactly as I had no deadline, but clearly have to check with my editor.
  • Way With Worlds Marketing: The newly printed bookmarks come today.  So yay!
  • Publicity: I’ve wanted to reach out to comic shops to speak at.  So far it’s kind of 50/50 on possible results – one not interested, one interested but noncommittal, two interested.
  • Seventh Sanctum Spotlight: Got people responding so I will probably start that this week!
  • General: A few social events here and there, nothing much out of the ordinary.

What am I going to do this week:

  • Way With Worlds Minibook #5:  Write at least five more questions.  I may need to accelerate these.
  • Seventh Sanctum Spotlight: Post my first entry.
  • Professional: I have two professional events coming up,this week.
  • Social: I also have a Bad Movie Event with some friends and my girlfriend.  Thinking this week might not be the most productive.
  • “A Bridge To The Silent Planet:” I’m going to plot this in one go or so over the weekend.  It’ll actually involve an experiment in writing organization.

Challenges and blockers:

  • Fanime may or may not have me do a third panel.  If they do, then I have to spend time to polish it.  I’ve budgeted time.

– Steve