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Author Topic: Alasdair Stuart's Writing Progress  (Read 5304 times)
Alasdair5000
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« on: February 23, 2007, 11:44:43 AM »

Fiction
First Drafts-Flash

-Prometheus, a thousand words on why I should stop looking at NASA photos.
-War Baby, jams a couple of things from my childhood into a cloning-shaped cookie cutter.

Full Length
-Samaritan One.  Five hundred words in.  Most of them may change.
-Being Michael Corner.  Is kicking my ass.  At the moment I can't see a way to do it without turning it into a pale, irritating clone of V For Vendetta, a book I love far too much to do that to.  This one may be getting put in the drawer for a while.

Second Draft
-Receiver.  The original idea for the B plot is looking more and more hackneyed the more I think about it.  Starting to wonder whether I need to shelve this draft, write it from scratch again and fold in the bits I need.
-Rafale-The human plot needs both bulking out and tightening up.


Non Fiction
-Hub issue 2 is out in about a week's time and I'm incredibly pleased with the nonfic I got for this one.  Oddly, it was actually easier to do despite me writing less of it than issue one.  In particular, Chris Brosnahan's look at English dystopian fiction and Brian Stableford's piece on matter transmission in science fiction are fantastic.

-Beyond Magazine.  Need to work out full length article pitches for them and source illustrations/photos.

-Fractalmatter.com-Need to read CASANOVA 1-7 for the overview and hassle ITV for the contact details for the PRIMEVAL production crew.

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Alasdair5000
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« Reply #1 on: March 16, 2007, 06:29:57 AM »

Back!  Because my subconscious demanded it!

Fiction
First Drafts
-Marnie's Ladder-Making my brain ache.  I've got a great setting, I've got interesting character dynamics, I've got some fun action/adventure stuff, a light smattering of gore and...I can't write the bloody thing.  This may be being put in a drawer.
-As Yet Untitled Elspa and Zos story-Fantasy.  Honest to God fantasy which is not something I normally do.  The ideas are there, it just needs a little more time to marinate.
-Samaritan One-I get the horrible feeling the three thousand words I've got for this are actually just a means of getting it out of my system.  I have a niggling idea about how to do the concept in a much more fun way that may end up happening.

Second Draft
-Receiver.  Thought about it.  The B plot gets dumped and I approach this in a different way.  I've been trying to write some form of 'rescue fiction' (This is what happens when I reread Global Frequency) for a while and I have an idea that might fit this.
-War Baby-There's a faster, meaner nastier version of this which will be getting written next week.
-Rafale-Know where I'm going with the human plot.  Again, on next week's slate
-3 Views of Joe-Is out with someone at the moment but there's a tiny little speed bump in the text I can't get my mind off.  I think I'll chop it out, and if/when it gets rejected send the revised version elsewhere.

Non Fiction
-Hub 2 does in fact, look the business:)  This isn't me being arrogant either because I had nothing at all to do with how it looks.  The publicity blitz seems to have worked this time too.  SFX are running a news story on us!  Which, hopefully, will shift some copies.
-Beyond Magazine.  Need to do everything I needed to do last time.  It's been quite a hectic couple of weeks.

Roleplaying
-Need to work out the Traveller pitch thing.
-Need to work out extra ideas for the '2 Hour Adventures' range.
-Need to finish the long overdue thing.
-Need to write up the Magellan Prime document and pitch it as a gaming universe.

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Alasdair5000
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« Reply #2 on: March 26, 2007, 06:06:44 AM »

In The Fetal Position, Listening To The Police's 'King of Pain' OR Learning to Deal With Rejection

   Robbie Williams said it best when he said 'Ouch.'

   Six months ago, I submitted something to Interzone's e-sub window.  It was a story called 'Montgolfier Winter' and I thought it was pretty good.  I submitted it, passed the first round of reading, passed the second round of reading and then...nothing.  Then, Christmas.  Then, New Year and then...nothing.

   I don't know about anyone else, but I have a sense about rejection emails.  Without opening them I can feel, on some primal level that they won't contain good news.  And, the email from Interzone, when it came, didn't.  What it did contain was the single best, detailed critique of a piece I've ever read.  Which of course, also means that it was like being verbally beaten up.  I won't share the contents itself but they liked what was good and pulled absolutely no punches whatsoever about what was bad.  And what was bad, wasn't what I thought it was.

   I'm quite good at dialogue, it's something which I enjoy doing and when I'm on, it has a really nice pace to it.  When I'm off, it's sub West Wing-banter and when I'm really, REALLY off and not paying attention then, urrghh.  The dialogue was one of the reasons why Montgolfier didn't get any further.  In fact, it was the main reason along with some very clunky text.  The basic ideas of the story, the basic plot?  Solid.  the execution, not so much.

   It knocked me on my ass.  I'd thrown myself completely into Montgolfier and I thought it had a real shot.  To make matters worse, about fifteen years ago when I was about...fifteen I submitted something to Interzone and again, got a knockback.  So, the fear, the little voice at the back of my head was going

'Fifteen years Al, fifteen years and you're still not good enough for them.'

   Then, after a day or so, the positive elements of the crit began to filter through.  The ideas were there, the ideas were the right calibre.  It was the execution, it was the nuts and bolts, the mechanical stuff that had let me down.  Or, to put it another way, the stuff I should have paid attention to.  The disappointment gave way to frustration and irritation at the thought of what I'd not done, and how I'd let myself down.

   So, a few days alter, I did the only thing you can do in that situation.  I went back through another story, spent a full day rebuilding it and submitted it elsewhere.  Montgolfier itself is next on the list, but at eight thousand words it's a hefty edit.  I borrowed a book on grammar (Apparently one of the other things that let me down), I changed my proof reading methods and I got back on the horse.

   I got close, and close isn't good enough, but close will do for now.  The e-sub window opens again in six weeks and I'll have something ready for it.  Montgolfier itself will be sent out elsewhere later this week and I've come out of the experience a little battered, a lot wiser and a lot more focussed.  Dialogue no longer gets a free pass, I no longer proof read on the screen and my subscription to Grammar Girl's podcast is next on the list:)

   I got close.  Next time I'll get it.
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Alasdair5000
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« Reply #3 on: April 04, 2007, 04:29:45 PM »

'That did just happen, didn't it?'

   The last twenty four hours have been...odd.  In the good way:

ITEM:  I resubmitted my form letter to SciFi Now, powered partially by a fervent desire to be less of a wuss when it comes to submitting stuff and partially by 300.  Seriously.  Don't laugh.  Gerard Butler got his first acting gig by basically being a pain in the arse until someone gave him a job to shut him up.  Now, he's a Spartan death machine, in line to play Snake Plissken in a remake/prequel to Escape From New York AND in line for a role in Watchmen.  So clearly, it's a method that can work.

I got hired.  I'm now a freelancer for a major magazine.  This pleases me utterly.

ITEM:  I got contacted by a friend who is developing a web store/publishing company and wants my help.  And wants to give me money in return in a business arrangement.  Dinner is being had, plans are being hatched.

ITEM:  I got another roleplaying hit which, in a moment of swooping religious irony, looks set to see me working out the D20 versions of real world Wicca rituals.  Within hours of starting the annual 'One Service A Day' closing stage of lent.

ITEM:  Got 'Lenny and The Travel Ninja' turned down in a manner which was not only very friendly and positive but also cemented my own concerns with the story.  Onto the operating table for you Lenny.

ITEM:  Worked out how to fix Montgolfier Winter.  I think.

   So, awesome, basically.  I feel slightly like Ed Norton as The Pixies play and the empty buildings collapse in Fight Club ('You met me at a very strange time in my life.') but I kind of like that.
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Alasdair5000
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« Reply #4 on: May 18, 2007, 06:01:29 AM »

Meanwhile...

Well those five weeks or so were fast:

ITEM:  My first piece in SciFi Now is in the current issue and to my astonishment, I've not been edited.  At all.  To my complete lack of astonishment, several regulars on another magazine's message board have decided that SciFi Now is evil because it's NEW and doesn't know exactly what it's doing despite having been around for two whole issues.  The best revenge is living well, but sometimes the revenge you want is making insecure trolls cry.  Hey ho.

ITEM:  IJorvikgames.com is GO.  One third of the 3000 plus stock items are now fully imaged and a bunch more copied.  This is good.
The fact we have paying customers?  Better.

ITEM:  Currently waiting on contracts/finalisation on three roleplaying products.  'Corporatocracy' is a Cyberpunk Corp supplement.  93 Games may well be using me for some supplements for their 'Swing' game and Old Kingdom Games appear to be gearing up the awesomeness that is Gnomecha with me onboard.

ITEM:  Lenny has been published in Hub 6.

ITEM:  Get Montgolfier fixed and sent to Asimov.  Get Rafale fixed and sent to Interzone.  Get Eliza Danger, Girl Daredevil fixed and sent to the Pod.


Now all I have to do is go on holiday:)

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Alasdair5000
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« Reply #5 on: June 29, 2007, 10:30:27 AM »

I'm in the sky tonight, there I can keep by your side...

Weeks.  Fast.  Wow, etc.

   I've never been busier than I am now.  Not all of it's paid work but the last six weeks have seen the following happen:

-Taken on as a paid reviewer by a major website.

-Got an audition piece with a magazine which is not going at all well.  It's Macguyver time on this one as circumstances (Or my aftershave, it's so difficult to tell which) have meant that of the four people I've contacted for quotes, so far only one of them has got to me.  Not a bad thing, just a thing which requires me to (cue Tom Cruise hand waving) darwin, I-ching etc etc...

-Two short stories written as a writing exercise for write club and I don't like either of them.  Olympus needs a thousand words of character interaction dropped into it and the weirdness of the setting hammered out.  It's an interesting piece and there's a good little story there but I do one day hope to be able to write ABOUT the action, not about what happens just after it.

It would also be super if I could generate protagonists who don't have my voice.

Marnie and the World, on the other hand needs to be taken apart and put back together again.  Again I like the idea and again I haven't given it enough room.  Crucially as well, both stories are essentially 1200 words of 'So, Warrick, what's a microscope?' style exposition and I need to work some conflict in.

I need to be better.  And to be better I think I need to write simpler and to write simpler is VERY VERY difficult for me.  I write like I cook, throwing ingredients in until it looks about right and that's got to change.  I've got the training for this but at the moment not the focus or the emotional connection and it's that last one that's really bothering me.
   The subject quote is from 'Next Year' by the Foo Fighters which is a song, I'm not ashamed to say, that gets me all Celtic and misty.  It was the theme tune to 'Ed', a largely overlooked and quietly rather wonderful show about a lawyer that owned a bowling alley.  It had a very weird sense of humour, a distinctly left of centre perspective and it reminded me of where I grew up constantly.  There's something very odd about the Isle of Man and Ed's odd combination of poignancy and comedy reminds me of it, a lot.  I want that sort of emotional response in my writing and I just don't have it and I'm not sure why.  Slightly worryingly, I'm not sure I know how to do it either.  Smart people I can write, nice people I can write.  People who you care about?  I'm honestly not sure.

   Anyway, this minor crisis of faith has been brought to you by Dave Grohl, the letter 'E' and the yeat 1976.

  Next post, in a week no less (Yes that's right reader!  There has to be one of you at least:)  Yes actual, honest to God  weekly updates.  Maybe even with pictures!  Because I'm going to a thing!  Turns out 'Connected', published in Hub has been recommended for the shortlist for the BFS Best Short Story of the Year award.  Whilst I have a celluloid cat's chance in hell of getting on the short list it's kind of cool.  Especially as I'm reasonably sure the do's in the pub from The Day The Earth Caught Fire!  If Leo Mckern's sitting in the corner looking worried I'm OUTTA THERE.
« Last Edit: June 29, 2007, 10:34:22 AM by Alasdair5000 » Logged
Alasdair5000
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« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2007, 11:40:20 AM »

Nightwatch, with speed lines

   So, that took a while.  Anyway, let's try a different tack, just short stories this time:

Marnie and the World
   On the bench, will be rebuilt at some point.

Cathedralville
   I thought this was fantastic.  Two seperate editors have now said it isn't and given me some useful tips as to why.  Time to rebuild this from the ground up with quite a cool framing device.

John Virgin
   On it's fourth rewrite and there's half one still to go.  Pretty happy with it though.

Haunts
   Needs a title change and a final pass but this is getting there.  For those of you paying attention, Haunts is directly inspried by both my experiences growing up and that Foo Fighters track I mentioned last time.

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