Update & Heads-Up

Posted: February 10th, 2015 under Craft, Interview, Life beyond writing, the writing life.
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We’ll start with the heads-up.   A few weeks from now there’ll be a podcast up on Gamer’s Tavern, in which we have a discussion of the Deed of Paksenarrion and its connections to RPGs, and other stuff.   I don’t know the date yet, but will post it on Twitter when they tell me.

Update on book in progress, now known in-house as Cold Welcome, though still with a filename of Vatta06.   This is confession time, and a warning to those among you who are starting to write fiction.

I’m slightly stuck until I work out the detailed chronology (it’s becoming critical)  and have discovered (again) that I can’t work out detailed chronologies on the computer.  I have to draw them a certain way.  Duh.  And while mildly stuck and not willing to do that,  I’ve been mucking about with the first chapter.  Mucking about with stuff already written is much easier than digging into timelines.   In other words…I’ve been slacking off.   I’d like to blame the migraine I had but…no.

Last night I had a bright idea for it, and rewrote the first so-many pages, breaking all the rules for my kind of writing, among which includes “Don’t waste time mucking about with the early stuff…keep going forward.”  As a result, I looked at it this morning…and sure enough, it had all the appeal of a bowl of cold, gooey porridge without salt, sugar, butter, or a handful of nuts.  I had spent several hours makng an imperfect opening worse.   In fact, I now realize, every time I’ve touched that first chapter in the past week I’ve made it worse.  A little more worse, and then I would try to “enrich” that, and enriching bad doesn’t make it anything but worse.  Like saying “Oh, this dish has too much salt in it” and then throwing in three spoonfuls of salt.

This does not mean that other people can’t rewrite their beginnings before they finish the book.  If you’re one kind of writer–an outlining writer, a writer who must polish each stone as you set it in place because you have already finished the design–then you can polish that first chapter before finishing the next.  But for each writer there’s a natural, most efficient (for that writer) process, and if you know your process–if it works for you–then stick to it.  I do know my process, so when I deviate from it, it’s my own fault when a passage gets worse and not better.

However–another lesson from the same situation–it does no good to beat yourself about the mental head and shoulders when you screw up that way (or any way, actually.)   I now know where I went wrong, and what I need to do instead (finish the doggone time line, sitting there on top of the printer and only about four days long, up to the “present” of the manuscript. )  No wasting time berating my stupidity.  No more messing with the text until that’s done.

Even experienced writers do it wrong sometimes.  And it’s fixable–you won’t have to read the cold gooey porridge pages.  So if any of you have messed up something in your story…it can be fixed.  You can fix it.  Shrug it off, fix it, move on.

I will get back to the name-the-life-raft contest shortly, but will get the timeline up to date first.


  • Comment by Marian — February 11, 2015 @ 12:55 am


    Have you tried Excel for timelines? Years broken into months along the top and then characters/plot lines in rows underneath, colour coded or whatever works for you?

    It allows inserts time-wise (by adding columns internally) and plot lines/modifications (by adding rows internally).

    It can be broken up into printable pages and printed as-is, or shrunk, or broken into pages (by telling it to print whichever page you want).

    If it is too $$ to buy, the free versions in Star Office or Open Office work just as well.

  • Comment by Sharidann — February 11, 2015 @ 1:46 am


    Good luck on the Fixing!

  • Comment by Dale — February 12, 2015 @ 10:08 pm


    Thanks for this peek behind the curtain! Somehow, knowing that even you can’t just sit down and blast out a book makes the whole process somehow less intimidating. As in, maybe I could actually try to do that too, someday. But not today!

  • Comment by elizabeth — February 14, 2015 @ 10:33 am


    No…I’ve looked at it, but my brain doesn’t work that way. I need to do it by hand, in the way that works for me.

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