Breakthroughs

Well. I haven’t written a line – not a single word – since my last blog post. This represents the first bit of writing I’ve done since then. I’ll try to provide some updates on what I’ve been doing.

Work

The move is done. DONE. And, everything works. There was a single macro which needed to be updated. I guess I didn’t crawl through it far enough, but there, down in the code lines near the bottom, I found references to our old IP address for the server. Changed them in a single, simple maneuver, and re-ran the macros. They’re fine. Just fine.

Next came the website. It’s fine. Now I have to go about updating the heck out of it. On that front, I’ve also made progress.

Programming

I started a new module from the video series my boss paid for. As you may recall, I paid for one set of programming video training, and my boss paid for another. When I first started taking them, I learned a lot, but didn’t feel I was “getting” it. I was worried the value from those videos wouldn’t be there and the money was wasted.

But.

Today – actually, last night as you read this – I launched a new module which spoke about the exact problem I’ve been wrestling with for more than five months.

I can’t tell you how my jaw hit my chest. I can’t tell you how stunned I was. I sat in stupor for something like ten minutes watching as the exact problem I’ve been wrestling with got point-by-point deconstruction and walk-through. I almost fainted with relief.

The first thing I did was give thanks to God, and glory to His name. The second thing I did was eat dinner. The third thing I did was watch the video again and take a second set of notes on it. I’m likely going to do that again – and even again if necessary – until I feel I can implement that solution on the problem which has plagued me, vexed me, taunted me since May. Now, I’m going to end this. I have the tools. I just need to gain the skill in using them.

I will win. And I am so glad.

Writing

While I’ve not written anything, I have done a lot of reading about writing. (Which just seems strange, doesn’t it?) I have a new favorite book on craft, which shows so much about subtext, structure, how to construct scenes, build subplots… good, good stuff all over. Fantastic.

I’ll be sharing some of what I learn over on my fiction blog, but for now, I want to continue to absorb and learn. For the first time in my life, I felt the need to take notes and highlight in a book on writing craft. I’ve learned that much.

I also learned a new method of outlining, using what’s called the step outline. It’s amazing and while I’m not much of a non-digital guy, I believe this is the method for me. I’ll be describing it in some depth as I struggle to get the hang of it.

I’m ready for a weekend. How ‘bout you?

See ya on the other side.

-jdt-

Mad Progress

I didn’t realize how much progress I’d made on outlining my next several projects until I stopped and took inventory.

Oh, I learned some lessons along the way too. Like, sometimes the old ways aren’t the better ways after all.

Writing

I’ve fully outlined my next two book projects. At this point, I’m torn about which one to write first… and when to start it.

The first is a new book I’ve been conceptualizing for a long time. The book starts in third person POV and moves to first person for the bulk of the story, then back into third person again. I can’t tell if this is the best way to go or not. I thought initially it was the best way to build sympathy for my main character, or empathy even. But there’s a lot I can’t show the reader in first person and I don’t yet know how much of that will be critical to the story. The way it’s laid out now, it’s strong and effective (as long as I can actually deliver the story well), so I’m inclined to leave it. It’s just harder to provide privilege knowledge gaps this way. Harder, but not impossible.

I’ve recently seen an example of this and I have to admit, it was masterful.

Anyway, I can’t decide if that should be the next one I start, because I also finished the outline for my first darling, Spectral Analysis, the book formerly known as Ghost Hunters. A lot of folks who read it in its first incarnation liked it. I got good, positive feedback. I believe those same people are going to like the story even better now. It’s stronger, has been shored up dramatically, the holes filled in, the tension ramped up. I haven’t been this excited about that story in almost five years when I was closing in on its completion.

And, I have a rough map laid out for Witch Hunt, the sequel for Spectral Analysis, and an embryonic idea for the third installment too. Overall, that series has come alive again in me, and I’m looking forward to it. Beside all that, book series do better on Kindle than stand alones unless you’re Blake Crouch or Joe Konrath. Or someone big. So I guess my best chance is to get the series going.

But this other book – and it’s a stand-alone – is growing on me. It’s one I’ve looked forward to writing for a while. “A while” might’ve finally arrived.

I have about four other books in various stages of completion. Mostly, I have to come up with the major sequences for each act (four of them per Dramatica theory, though I need not use them all) and then turn those sequences into the series of events comprising them. Once done, I’ve got 64 events to guide my story along its path. Coming up with those 64 events is the trick, of course, but honestly, when the story’s been roughed out in your head, it’s more time consuming than difficult.

‘Course, I have to discard my first ideas and force myself to come up with better ones. Or at least different ones, to verify whether they’re the best choices to narrate or not.

Writing…what’s better?

So, there.

Cooking

I might’ve come up with a method for making scrambled eggs fluffy every time. I’ve had some difficulty with them getting tough or rubbery on me before. But lately, I’ve been experimenting with a new way of doing them and I have to admit, they are awesome. Fluffy, flavorful, but not rubbery or too egg-y tasting. I might be able to get away with them as bread substitutes on my low-carb lifestyle way of eating.

I’m posting my findings over on my loving spouse’s recipe blog, so check that out if you want to know what I’m doing. (Yeah. Right.)

Hope you all had a good weekend. I sure did!

Now, if I can just finish my projects today…please God.

-jdt-

It’s Not Exactly Writing…

…but it IS writing related, I suppose.

I’ve been outlining a lot. I’ve got a new method I love for developing a story plot and outline. It’s a lot more work than just filling in the milestones or sections of a story map like I’ve done in the past. I think the payoff, however, is going to be richer stories for the effort. At least, I hope so. Some of that payoff, naturally, depends on my skill as a storyteller, so there’s a risk.

Doing this, I’ve outlined my old, beloved manuscript (I mentioned this before), it’s sequel, a new stand-alone novel (which I initially worked over with my beloved wife using The Hero’s Journey model), an idea I’ve had about a haunted woman which is now a developed plot, and my languishing literary attempt, which didn’t have an outline, map, goal, or anything else which would have made it a real story. So…all that in the last month or so. Not bad.

I have a few more on tap, too. I can’t wait to run them through this mill and see what turns out the other side!

I like this new method, which is a sort of streamlined version of utilizing Dramatica Theory of Story (Google it if you’re interested), which provides me with some key elements to the story I’m working on. When I segment those key elements in the existing story map I’ve mentioned before, I end up with four markers for each act, which are then broken nicely into four sequence of events each, and each of those sequences has four events, giving me sixteen events per act, for a total of sixty-four. But this varies; it could be as few as forty-eight events, wherein each act has four sequences which are broken into only three events each. See how that works?

I hope so. At any rate, this new method provides a great structure, but I’ve also been reading another book which posits another way of looking at those sequences. They all work together for the story, so it’s not that big a deal, but I’m always on the look-out for an easier way, a simpler way, a way which more clearly defines things for me so I understand and execute them better.

I’m learning about subtext too, and how to create it, and how much readers love it. So we’ll see if there’s the possibility of getting that included in the stories too. But that’s more at the scene level and the outline level, frankly.

So not much writing, but a whole lotta learning and outlining. It’s good stuff. I guess maybe next month I’ll get back to writing.

In other news, I also uploaded another stand-alone version of a short (long) story from my collection books. This one’s called Remember Me, and it will be free (provided it’s live) from Monday (today as you read this) through Wednesday this week, so be sure and get your copy while it’s free! At the time of this writing, however, I don’t have a link to give you with the correct title, so it’s not “live” yet. When it is, you’ll be the first to know it!

Also, BIG – and I mean BIG – stuff happening at work. Prayers are appreciated.

Hope you had a good weekend!

-JDT-

Smiling Monday

I had some great things happen this past weekend!

For one, my kids watched The Terminator with me, one of my all-time favorite movies! (Bad time travel theory, though. *Sigh*)

Second, I had another FANTASTIC writing weekend!

Warning!

If you’re not a writer, this is going to be boring and long, so you might want to jump ship now before your head explodes, or whatever happens to people who are uninterested in a topic but keep forcing it down for some reason.

So, my great event was: I got another story outline hammered into rough shape over the weekend!

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