Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Editing Hell

Wow, I haven't done much with the blog lately.

Truth is, I just finished the draft for a project and have moved into the editing phase. I used to love this part of writing, but the love is quickly fading.

For some reason, I am still finding little grammatical, spelling, and syntax errors on the third go-round. And another thing. Isn't the word count supposed to go down as one edits? I've somehow gained two thousand words through my edits.

The one good thing that has come of this process so far though, is that I've already begun to develop the sequel to my "still unpublished" project, and I think it's going to be a doozy! Heck, for that matter, I've already come up with a title. I am thinking I will call the next (sequel) story: A DEMON AMONG WOLVES.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Magic of Publication

If this post seems like outright self-promotion, that's because it is.

The September issue of Eclectic Flash is out and containing two of my flash fiction stories. The stories to look for are:

My Mind's Eye by J.L. Stratton, page 36
The Sentient Soldier by J.L. Stratton, page 70

Both stories are speculative fiction. My Mind's Eye is an epistolary piece. The Sentient Soldier is a science fiction piece with social undertones.

Please take the opportunity to visit Eclectic Flash (click the word) and check out their literary journal. You can read the magazine for free through the online reader or buy copies of the magazine through a link on their site.

Read my stories, then feel free to post your comments.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Treasure Found

I've heard many times that one person's trash is another's treasure. I do not know where the phrase originated but I now understand the meaning a little more.

This weekend, I was with my wife running errands, which meant we had to spend time at the Dollar Tree. For those of you who do not live in the South, the Dollar Tree is a variety store that sells everything for one dollar. My wife loves the Dollar Tree and I would say that a good percentage of everything we have littering our house is from said store.

Believe it or not, the Dollar Tree actually has a literature section. Yes folks, you can buy books there - Novels for one dollar.

Anyway, I found a book that turned out to be quite entertaining. The book is written by Bill Keaggy and is published by HOW Books.

Honestly folks, the book is 232 pages of pure insanity. I loved it. Let me set the stage for this.

Imagine, if you will, you just emptied out your shopping cart, suffering through the heat and inconsiderate drivers moving too quickly, and too closely down the parking isle, when you spy a small scrap of paper in the bottom of the cart (or buggy, if you're from around here.)

The scrap of paper turns out to be somebody's shopping list, used and wrinkled, and worn fuzzy from over handling. You open the shopping list to find a treasure trove of hilarious writing, scribbles and tears.

The list may include things like this list of a person shopping at WalMart:

Stockings
Undergarments (for work-possibly w/red stripper shoes.)

Don't you want to work where this person works?

Yes, I bought an entire book full of found shopping lists. Wait. Don't laugh. The book was very well-written and edited with pictures of each list, along with captions explaining the author's thoughts.

I laughed until my belly hurt. And then I began to feel a little creepy for reading other people's private stuff. It was great.

I would recommend everyone with a sense of humor buy this book. I'm not sure it is available in mass at the Dollar Tree, but I'm sure it can still be found online by clicking here.

Oh, and by the way. Here's the Author's website.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Percolate Easy

Percolate:

Transitive and intransitive verb to make a liquid or gas pass through a filter or porous substance, or filter through in this way:

Intransitive verb to pass slowly through something or spread throughout a place.

• I let the idea percolate through my mind.


I took the title of this post from the history of Headquarters company, Third Battalion, One-seventeenth Infantry. To summarize what the quote below says, Percolate was a code word used in WWII by many units to designate the order for attack on the enemy. Easy was a word derived from the Time of day the attack was scheduled to take place. In this case 8am because eight starts with the letter "E." If the attack was to take place at 5am, the command would be "Percolate Foxtrot."
Percolate Easy is the Master Thesis written by Capt. William P. Buttler. It was written in June 1947. Percolate Easy takes its name from a simple but effective strategem used by regiment to indicate that an attack was due. When a battalion staff officer answered the ring of the field telephone carrying a call from Regimental HQ, the only words needed for the latter to order an attack for the following morning were "Percolate", followed by the word indicating the hour for jump-off. A word beginning with "E" designated 8:00...thus "Easy".


Now that I've given the history lesson for the day, allow me to discuss "percolate" as it relates to the craft of writing.

I like to let ideas percolate. At any time, I might have five or six story ideas and numerous characters percolating in my head. Most of this percolating is done on the subconscious level but, occasionally, a character bubble will bump into a story bubble and magic happens. I imagine some kind of chemicals are released in my brain and an idea comes to the surface. I sometimes dream of this character within my story idea.

Do other writers do this? Post a comment and let me know what you think.

I imagine that some writers can keep all this information in their head and begin putting words to paper. I know of many writers that simply take their character and story idea and let them develop as they write the story. I, on the other hand, am somewhat of an outliner. I take my percolated ideas of story and character and put them on paper in the form of an outline and character sketch.

I start with just one or two characters and a single plot story arc. I then add characters and plots as I write, being careful to update my outline as I go.

What about the rest of you? Do you start simple or outline in great detail. Do you begin to write and add plot lines as you go, or do you have it all figured out before you start?

And one last question. Do you ever leave any of your plot lines open or unresolved at the end of the story. My current project will end with one minor plot line unresolved. I feel this allows me a  spring board for a sequel that is already percolating in my mind. Is it wrong to do this or is it common practice?

What are your thoughts?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Ever-Continuous Story

As I near the end of the draft of my latest project, I find it increasingly difficult to actually finish. With only two scenes remaining, my writing has slowed to a snail's pace. Also, I find myself getting distracted because I am already developing plans for a sequel.

I guess the characters of this project have finally gotten under my skin. Meantime, all other projects and responsibilities in my life are not getting much attention.

I have sections in my back yard where the grass has grown so tall that I'm afraid to mow it in fear of what might lie underneath the jungle-growth. Had to take some time last weekend to replace a radiator and perform some other needed maintenance on my daughter's car. I hear the subtle voice of a previous writing project calling me, begging for attention, and yet, I still keep thinking of the continuation to a work not even finished yet.

On the upside, I will attend a meeting for my local writer's group tonight for some much needed inspiration and motivation.

Tell me, other writers. Do you ever run into this problem? Do you ever get to the end of a draft and find it nearly impossible to simply eek out enough words to complete a couple of remaining scenes?

How do you go about just letting go and finishing the project?