Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Productivity Update and a Project to Ponder

Last night, I posted a new chapter to The Revenge of the Fallen Reboot for the first time since November.  To get it done faster, I lopped off the last half of the chapter and made that part the next chapter, filled in the blanks, and posted that sucker.  This chapter features a Crowning Moment of Awesome (see TVTropes) by none other than Starscream, who I'm hoping is a proper Magnificent Bastard in this story (as opposed to the actual Revenge of the Fallen movie where all he does it get beaten and verbally abused by Megatron).

Two more chapters and an epilogue left to go.  The Fallen has actually risen again and all hell is breaking loose.  Only two reviews so far and only one of them is from one of my regular readers.  I guess when you don't update for five months, people tend to lose interest.  Oh well, serves me right for ignoring my fans.

I also submitted my Vikings-and-monsters story "Nicor" to Basement Stories, a webzine specializing in character-driven speculative fiction.  "Nicor" is among my more character-driven stories--the story is "about" a Danish teen's disillusionment with war that just happens to come at the hands of a bloodthirsty man-frog rather than a mindless dismemberment festival--so hopefully they'll enjoy it.

I also had Chapter 14 of Battle for the Wastelands ready to go for my Kennesaw writing group's meeting last weekend.  Unfortunately, a last-minute work obligation came up and so I had to bow out.  This is the first chapter in awhile where Grendel is the POV character and I hope he does some things worthy of his name.

(He doesn't do things For The Evulz and is fairly quiet, unlike some of his more psychotic lieutenants.  But if he thinks something needs to be done for his own good, the good of his family, and/or the good of the realm he rules, it's going to get done, morality be damned.  My friend Jamie said that constant puppy-kicking is not good enough for a character to be a good villain--and this is after I depicted Starscream in the ROTF reboot deliberately shredding the parachutes of downed human pilots for kicks, something an Air Force officer like Jamie has every reason to hate--and after some thought, I've come to agree.)

The plan right now is to go through the completed fourteen chapters and make sure I'm using action-verbs as means of describing the world without boring the reader.  Think a sentence like "David walked down the long hallway, his image reflected in the golf leaf on the walls.  The wind from an open window tousled his dark hair."  Dean Koontz is really good at this, as a quick flip-through of my middle-school-era copy of Watchers revealed.  One of the criticisms of my story is insufficient sensory detail and Koontz's way is a way do it without blobs and blobs of boring descriptive passages.

Once that's done, it's time to start cranking out new chapters and not look back.  If I write more continuously and spend less time perfecting earlier chapters, I might be able to meet my Veterans' Day deadline.

However, now I'm starting to wonder about the wisdom of another project.  Amanda Williamson, the organizer of my Kennesaw writing group, said she liked my horror fiction (which takes place in our world) better than my alternate-world fiction because there's less worldbuilding and more characters doing things.  Another problem I've noticed is that my individual novels tend to mutate into series, which are harder to sell.  Wastelands did that, as did The Gates of Vasharia, an older series now on hiatus.

I've got an outline for a short story whose point of origin was a Lovecraftian RPG (I think it might have been Call of Cthulhu itself) commenting on how a good setting would be a formerly-rural site of blasphemous rituals to other-dimensional horrors that's been suburbanized.  Like Love Canal, the town built on a toxic-waste dump, there're horrible things just waiting to come to the surface.

I figured if I developed each "story bit" (scenes separated by ***) into a chapter, it could be a full novel.  And given how it's set in our world rather than an expansive fictional world waiting to be explored and has a very definitive ending without lots of loose ends, it's a lot less likely to mutate into a series.  And a one-shot might be easier to sell that a story that is pretty obviously the beginning of a series.

Of course, starting on new projects when old projects get left undone is why I've got all these unfinished novels, most of which aren't ever going to see publication.

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