Makin’ the rounds

I’ve been gettin’ around the Internet lately, exploring my world and seein’ what all is up and who’s got it goin’ on.

Know what? A lot of people got it going on. For starters, I’ve been reading a lot of #FridayFlash entries lately. Theoretically, the entries are a thousand words or less, which is why they’re flash pieces, and so, it’s not hard to get through a few a day over a weekend.

I tend to limit my reading to those who’ve commented on mine in the past, but I’m always open to expanding my horizons. Lately, I’ve found a couple of writers whose work is set in a sort of hardboiled noir style. Very cool, and it makes Dashielle Hammett’s prose mild and soft in comparison. I love that stuff. I can feel the gritty streets and the dirty deals, I can taste the unfiltered cigarettes and smell the hats and suits and lady’s talcum-touched noses. Awesome.

These people are amazing talents, and I never fail to be a little intimidated when it’s all said and done. I mean, I don’t know if I live up to that level of achievement. But I so do love the reading.

How much online reading do you do? If you do a lot, would you be interested in seeing these writers? I can point anyone who’s interested to the collector where the #FridayFlash pieces are entered; you can choose who and what you want to read from there. Or I can recommend my favorites. I’ll leave it up to you, if you’re interested, of course.

But these folks are good. Very good. And I wonder how to climb to that level or how to decide whether that level is above or lateral to me. We’ve talked that one to death, but now I want to know: How do you decide what to read? How do you determine whether you’re ready to go into the industry or if you still need work? How do you decide what level you’re writing at, and is it where it should be or needs to be, or does your own standard supersede any other? (Mine does, I suspect.)

In short, do you read and compare yourself to other writers, or do you just read for fun? because you like the person? because you’re both wannabes?

Just curious. Hope you all had an awesome weekend.

-JDT-

All original content © DarcKnyt 2010
All rights reserved

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Friday again?!

Wow, I turned around and look what happened – it’s Friday again!

That means my #FridayFlash piece went up (it was already up, since Wednesday if you want to know, which I’m sure you didn’t but now you do anyway), and it also means another week has gone by without much happening.

So I won’t pretend to have anything to say. I’ll simply wish you a happy weekend and hope to have something of more merit to share on Monday.

Check out my #FlashFriday piece and let me know what you think of it. Visit some of the other participants and see what they’re all about too if you want.

God bless y’all. See ya Monday.

-JDT-

All original content copyright 2010 DarcKnyt
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

This, that, and the other…

Hey, got a couple of quick things for you today. Not much. Don’t want to get in the way of your weekend.

Did you notice this…?

Guess what? I’ve been doing some writing exercises. Just staying loose, really, but some of them have morphed into sort of vignettes. I don’t think they’re stories, really.

Matter of fact, I posted one today for #FridayFlash. Check it out if you’re a mind to. Let me know your thoughts too.

I posted one on Wednesday night too, to not much fanfare. It was the first thing  I’ve posted in a while, if I recall correctly.

Speaking of that…

I’m seriously considering starting a new novel. I haven’t started a new one since late 2007. That one’s languishing in the unfinished pile because it needs work. Lots of work. And I’m a little daunted by the amount of work.

My current “manuscript” didn’t seem to hold up to the editing process too well. I put it up against the four-part story structure, and it’s missing the last half of Act II, a pinch point, a second plot point, and the entire climax has to be redone. With all that going on, I don’t know if the story’s worth fixing.

I’m thinking of calling for people to look at it as is and tell me if they think it should be salvaged. But most people I know who could do that are writers and don’t have enough time in their schedules to do that. So I’m sort of drumming my fingers, thinking about what to do on it. Rewriting the last half of the book and making it worth submitting is more exhausting in my mind than starting over.

Thoughts on that?

And the other…

I got a call on Wednesday from the company with whom I interviewed a week ago Thursday (May 6). They wanted to let me know they opted for another candidate.

Story of my life, yo.

I’m not upset though. I just have to start this whole process over and keep at it until something breaks. Or, you know … we have to move into a cardboard box.

If you’re the praying type, we can sure use it.

OH, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Onyx! May it be the best and grandest you’ve ever had. 🙂

That’s all, folks!

Have a great weekend, everyone, and I’ll talk to you again next week.

-JDT-

All original content copyright 2010 DarcKnyt
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Post Critique Syndrome

Hangover1 Okay, so most of you are probably aware of the discussion which occurred on my fiction blog over the weekend. I posted a bit of a novel I’ve been kicking around for a few months. It’s the opening. But I posted it as a piece of #fridayflash, which is limited to about a thousand words. I wrote the piece at about 3 a.m. on Friday morning, read it and trimmed to to under 1K, then posted.

And it promptly met with mixed reviews.

Most folks found it entertaining and emotive, but some questioned the direction I chose for the piece. New blog buddy Linda had some excellent things to say. Foremost among those was use of the term “post critique syndrome”. It’s very much like PTSD in some ways. I was shell-shocked, discouraged, a trifle depressed and in the end, just wished I hadn’t posted the piece at all.

But CalliopesPen showed up and offered me some outstanding, glowing words. I sat and basked in them for several hours before I could even realize I had no words to describe how she’d made me feel. Sherri was also encouraging, and my loving wife? Well, she’s always the most amazing and supportive of all. Those who enjoyed it really did. Those who thought it could’ve used a bit less had me on several counts – too much adjective-spicing, too abrupt an injection of the fantasy element (even though this was deliberate, the 1K limit made the couple of sentences I used for that portion of the story severely inadequate), should’ve said more with “less words” [sic].

Then, Linda went a step further. She emailed me a line-edit critique of the piece.

It was amazing how many mistakes I’d made. How much I’d been lazy about the writing portion. I tried to work the piece as both a study in character and a fantasy-western piece, and that just didn’t work, period. I did overuse adjectives. I made sentences more complex than they had to be. Some of the wording could’ve been smoothed out and solidified by just saying the plain, ordinary thing I intended. But no, I tried to get all literati and eloquent, and boing! – weak piece. Big surprise.hangover

In the end, what happened here can be boiled down to this: I tried too hard while not trying hard enough. I didn’t put enough effort into cleaning the prose, and I put too much effort into trying to “write”, like I think I’m supposed to write, like I’ve always told myself I write. Different pieces cry out for different voices to me. I’ve written some which were deliberately lyrical and lilting in tone. I’ve written them punchy and direct. I’ve written in the style of Poe and Lovecraft. I’ve written like King, and like Hemingway. In all of that, I never lost sight of the writing and the style.

In this short bit, I did absolutely lose sight of the writing. I blame those who came by and offered only accolades for previous works I’ve done. (Just kidding.) It inflated my ego to the point I thought I wouldn’t get anything but glowing reviews for this one too. (Not kidding there; my ego was out of control this time. I didn’t even imagine I’d get so many people calling out my flaws.)

Well, I’ve learned my lesson. I got over my PCS, and moved on to the point of being my usual, thick-skinned self (with a little more humble added, me hopes).

I’d love to do another character study, but this time I’m going to stay focused and remember my KISS principle. Finding the best way to say something with as few words as I can is the goal. One of the comments I received stated “I’d never suggest you eliminate adjectives from your writing.” That person is being honest, but for me, the best medicine is the harshest. Taking things to their extreme as much as I can helped me break my hangover2 addiction to, reliance on, adverbs. This part about the adjectives is the next step. Finding the best noun-verb combination to say what I want to convey is the best medicine for me. It’s just how I work best.

So next Friday, if I have time to do an entry, I promise to make it better, and pay attention to those things I didn’t pay attention to this time. I promise to apply the lessons I learned from all the wonderful people who challenged me to stop trying to pull a fast one, stop thinking more of myself than I ought. Most of all, I promise to apply the lesson of humility I learned. It was long overdue and desperately needed.

So, to Linda, CalliopesPen, Sherri, Louise, Al Bruno III, and every one of the great people who sounded off on the piece – thank you. I needed you this weekend and you delivered. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

So … how was your weekend? What did you all do? Have fun? Ready for Christmas yet?

-JDT-

All original content © 2009 DarcKnyt
ALL rights reserved.

Weekend’s Here!

Hey, everyone, just a brief update today – it’s Friday, and that means #FridayFlash has been posted right here on my fiction blog. Go check it out if you’re interested. I went away from horror this time. I sort of have this story going on in my head – though not all the details are worked out – along the lines of a fantasy-western, cowboys-and-dragons thing. I have a story planned out, but nothing written except one vignette I did a while back. It’s on my short stories page and it’s called “Western-Fantasy Vignette”. If you’re interested, today’s entry would be the opening for that book.

Nothing doin’ here but the same-ol’ same 0l’. How ‘bout you? Plans for the weekend? What’s on your docket?

Have a good one and I’ll see y’all on Monday. Be safe and God bless.

-JDT-