Progress on the first draft of my latest story, Killed by Death, has come to a screeching halt. However, it’s come to a halt for the best reason of all – it’s finished!
One of my goals for 2017 was to write longer short stories and the first draft of Killed by Death is 13,281 words. This gives me plenty of scope for editing/rewriting during the second draft – RESULT!
Next on the agenda for Killed by Death, after leaving it to marinade for a few weeks, will be to give it a read through – on paper, NOT on screen – and take notes for revision purposes. Before any reading/editing is performed, I’ll compile what’s needed for the note-taking process – red pen (highly important), highlighters, Post-It notes of various colors and sizes and a special notebook dedicated to the story. Oh, I forgot one other very important item…coffee, lots of coffee!
When that’s done and all is assembled in front of me on my new super-shiny, spacious L-shaped writing/laptop desk, there’s nothing left to do but start reading…
This will be a hard task. I’ve lost count of how many hours I’ve poured into the first draft, deliberating over character names, which point-of-view to write the story in and the always-present question of “what happens next?”
I know I’ll have to ‘kill my darlings’ as Stephen King says, but when the smoke clears and the dust settles (I really must stop watching WWE promos), the story will be leaner and meaner thanks to this process.
“Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.” – Stephen King
Also during the month of March, apart from buying the new writing desk, I’ve been compiling a lot of notes for future blog posts that I’m looking forward to sharing with you.
I’ve also been working on some plot points and prompts for a piece of flash fiction entitled “Two Minutes to Midnight” that I’ll be working on after I publish this monthly review. Rock fans will recognize the title as being a classic Iron Maiden track.
2017 Writing Goals – Update
As I’ve mentioned previously, I’m a member of the “365 Writing Challenge” Facebook user group. I set myself a daily target of 250 words. I figured that would be easily achievable on weekdays when I write during lunchbreaks at my day job. That would leave the weekends for longer writing periods and higher word counts.
Here are my numbers so far:
- January – 25,085 words @ 809 daily average – RESULT!
- February – 33,797 words @ 1,207 daily average – RESULT!
- March – 39,283 words @ 1,267 daily average – RESULT!
I’m proud to say that over 90 days, I’ve written 98,165 words at an average of 1,091 words a day – RESULT!
Using my target goal of 250 words a day as a guide, I should have written 22,500 words after 90 days. My three-month total is 98,165 (+75,665) – RESULT!
Another benefit from my increased output is that I’ve already achieved my quarterly, half-yearly and three-quarterly word-count goals, meaning I’ve been awarded more badges (I like badges) for my efforts – RESULT!
For 2017, it’s my aim to post/write at least one new blog post every week. When this monthly roundup goes live (April 3rd), it will be my 16th post of the year, so I’m still ahead of the game – RESULT!
One of my blog-posting goals for 2017 was to send out an invitation to my fellow writers for guest blog posts. This went out via the website on February 13th and has been frequently reposted on Facebook and retweeted on Twitter. Apart from Tam May, no-one else has stepped up with any proposals, as yet. Now that the first draft of “Killed by Death” is completed I’ll actively be looking for more guest bloggers.
At the start of the year I stated that my aim was to double my Twitter and Facebook followers during the course of 2017. On January 1st, The Haunted Pen’s Facebook page had 268 followers, while the Twitter page had 1,250.
As of March 31st; The Haunted Pen has
- 383 (+115) Facebook followers – RESULT!
- 1,328 (+78) Twitter followers – RESULT!
During March, I committed more time to writing than reading, but that being said I added two more titles to my read books list.
Top Secret 21 – Janet Evanovich
This is Evanovich’s 21st full-length book in the popular Stephanie Plum series, so it’s not just a witty title. Regular Evanovich readers will be conversant with the cast of characters and not that many people are going to sample the 21st book in a series to get to know them, unlike me…
SPOILER – Trenton Bounty Hunter Stephanie Plum is on the hunt for a big money skip, Jimmy Poletti. He’s a used-car salesman who’s been selling more than just cars. But he’s not her only problem: vertically challenged Randy Briggs (think Joe Pesci in the “Lethal Weapon” movies) has become the target of a trigger-happy, rocket-wielding villain and Plum comes into the firing line by association.
Much of the humor is slapstick, but the plot, characters, and dialog carry the novel. The story features Russian Vodka salesmen, Atlantic City casinos, a scary walk along a building ledge and a vial of Polonium-210 – all good family fun. It’s an enjoyable read and I wasn’t disappointed.
My copy (picked up from the bargain table at Barnes & Noble) included a 32-page prequel to the first novel in the O’Hare and Fox series – “Pros and Cons” – co-written with Lee Goldberg.
Lean Mean 13 – Janet Evanovich
I enjoyed this book. The plot was predictable, but I’ll continue to read the series. The books give me a laugh and a fun couple of hours of reading.
SPOILER – Stephanie Plum’s ex-husband, Dickie Orr, has disappeared and – surprise, surprise – Plum is the prime suspect. Is Dickie dead? (Can you say “Dickie Dead” fast three times?) Can he be found? Can Plum stay one step ahead? Joe Morelli, the hottest cop in Trenton, New Jersey, is keeping Plum on her toes, but I suspect he wants her in other positions as well. It becomes a cat-and-mouse game for Plum and the ultimate prize might be her life…
Creating Characters – Writer’s Digest Books
This is an excellent and fascinating guide for developing all kinds of characters, whatever the genre.
The book is full of thought-provoking tips that discuss genre as well as developing characters to make them more life-like. The tips are clear and give examples so the writer can practice doing whatever is being discussed. You’re also given titles of books written by popular authors whose particular book uses the example being discussed. This is not the view of one writer, the book contains advice from more than 20 different authors, such as Chuck Wendig, Joseph Bates, James Scott Bell, David Corbett, Jeff Gerke and Jack Smith.
Reading this book is like being able to pick the brains of many different authors and steal their secrets. If you have any interest in the writing craft, buy this book. You won’t regret it.
The Long Goodbye – Raymond Chandler
Raymond Chandler has style with an uppercase “S.” He has finesse. His use of metaphor is so good that even 58 years after his death, he’s still an original. But for all that, he was still a very sensitive writer. Featuring everyone’s favorite gumshoe, Philip Marlowe, The Long Goodbye depicts a sad 1950s Los Angeles. Like many other people, I believe the book to be as much about Chandler as it is about Marlowe. One of the characters is an alcoholic writer…
I’m roughly halfway through the story and enjoying it immensely. Here’s a few gems –
“That’s the trouble with cops. You’re all set to hate their guts and then you meet one that goes human on you.”
“I’m killing time and it’s dying hard.”
“I belonged in Idle Valley like a pearl onion on a banana split.”
“I went out to the kitchen to make coffee – yards of coffee. Rich, strong, bitter, boiling hot, ruthless, depraved. The life blood of tired men.”
Many critics and readers believe “The Long Goodbye” one of Chandler’s best works. I’ll withhold opinion on that until I’ve read more of his titles. One thing is for sure, Chandler may ‘only’ have been considered a genre writer, but in my opinion, he’s one of the best writers of the 20th century.
I’ve also a few pages into “90 Days To Your Novel” by Sarah Domet and I like what I’m reading.
I’ll be updating my progress by posting monthly reviews. Please check in and see what I’m working on, keep tabs on my writing goals and anything else I fancy talking about! Don’t be shy – please feel free to leave a comment.