My Writing Month – January 2017

Work In Progress

I Don’t Do Pants and I Cannot Lie…
As part of my campaign to write every day in 2017, I set myself some writing goals for the year and one of them was to finish writing any outstanding “Works in Progress.”

I read Stephen King’s “Bazaar of Bad Dreams” last year and one of the short stories included in the anthology was “Obits.” I loved the premise of someone writing fake obituaries on his iPad and his intended “victims” dying in real life.

It was a nice twist, however, I thought King’s ending could’ve been a lot stronger. Yep, I went there. I criticized the master. His ending left me empty to the point my wife suggested I write my own spin on “Obits” and give it the ending I wanted. That was how “Killed By Death” was born. I thought it was a cool title for the story I had in mind and it had the bonus of being a great song by my favorite rock band, Motorhead.

When I began writing the story, I adopted an approach that I’d never utilized before –
“pantsing” – which meant no plotting/outlining beforehand. Fueled by Panera dark roast coffee, the words would flow directly from the storybook in my head straight to the keyboard.

Things were going wonderfully well for the first 5,000 words or so, and then disaster! I wrote myself into the literary equivalent of painting myself into a corner. I read and reread what I had written and it just didn’t float my boat. So, I did what I thought was the best course of action. I left it untouched for several weeks (months).

When I opened the Word file again and gave it another reading, this time through “fresh” eyes, I could see it needed CPR. Actually the less generous may have suggested the last rites. But, I knew what needed to be done to salvage my work – “Killed By Death” had to be rewritten in first person POV for some much-needed impact. I also knew I had to do some outlining for where this monster was heading, otherwise I would have been back where I started.

The Haunted Pen - Killed By DeathOutlining had given me the direction I needed and I’m now in a position to start adding new text. A conversation I had with some fellow writers on Facebook gave me some interesting story twists that I’m also investigating. Well, not exactly right now as I’m writing a blog post, but you know what I mean.

I’m not going to give too much away, but “Killed By Death” will merge influences from Stephen King, a Japanese manga series, a classic noir movie masterpiece from the 1950s and my own twisted imagination. Are you scared?

I hope to have the first draft finished by the end of the month. After that it will sit, untouched, to marinade on my thumb drive (and numerous backups) before I begin the revision process.

With regard to pantsing, I’ll definitely try the technique again. However, it would be on something like a 1,000-word flash fiction story where I can focus on a moment or an emotion, rather than a 10,000-word short story.

2017 Writing Goals – Update

1-13-2017-badge365 Challenge
As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m a member of the “365 Writing Challenge” Facebook user group. The group’s aim is to help writers develop a daily writing habit by setting a daily target word count. Mine is writing 250 words a day. I write during my lunchbreaks at my day job, so 250 words should be achievable during the week, leaving the weekends for longer writing periods and higher word counts.

I’m proud to say that after 14 days, I average 824 per day and I won a badge for my efforts – RESULT!

Blog Posts
It’s my aim to post/write at least one new blog post per week. When this goes live (January 17th), it will be my fourth post of the year, so I’m ahead of the game – RESULT!

The Haunted Pen Website
One of my goals was to drop the “” from the site’s original URL and change it to “”.

I’m pleased to say that happened on January 6th – RESULT!

I’ve noticed that since making this change, my Google ranking/visibility has increased – RESULT!

I also stated that I wanted to double my Twitter and Facebook followers during the course of 2017. On January 1st, I had 268 followers on Facebook and 1,250 on Twitter.

On January 14th, I had 294 followers on Facebook (+26) and 1,276 on Twitter (+26) – RESULT!

writing-the-private-eye-novelRead More
I’ve just finished reading the Private Eye Writers of America’s “Writing the Private Eye Novel: A Handbook” by Robert J. Randisi. I found the book to be an excellent resource for potential mystery writers. Some of the references were a little dated, but if you want to see how established authors of the genre write, the book is a must-read.

Read Now
I’ve just started reading Hallie Ephron’s 2016 revision of “Writing and Selling Your Mystery Novel,” and my latest fiction choice is Sue Grafton’s “X”.

Any writers who are fans of Sue’s work should take a look at her website. Under the Journal Notes tab, Sue shares pages from the journals she kept while writing some of her novels (“G”, “H”, “J”, “K” and “L”). They’re a great read and give you some very interesting insights into the way she creates her stories.

It’s my intention to post monthly updates. Please feel free to check in and see what I’m working on, keep tabs on my writing goals and anything else I feel like telling you about! post

2 thoughts on “My Writing Month – January 2017

  1. Caleb Browner says:

    Killed by Death sounds like my kind of read! And as someone hoping to become a self published author, hearing about your successes is very inspiring. I think I’m going to set myself a daily word count goal as well! I’m pretty long-winded, so it shouldn’t be hard. I can’t guarantee how much of it will be any good though.

    Best of luck!


    • Dave Burnham says:

      Thanks for the kind words, Caleb. I appreciate them. “Killed By Death” seems to have taken a life of its own. I thought I knew where the story was going but my characters have taken over and are taking me on a wild ride.

      Setting the daily word count is a good idea, but don’t let it rule you. There will be days where it does not happen. I recorded my first zero last week due to illness.

      I wish you nothing but good luck and thanks for leaving a comment.


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