Death of a Story

Philip HarrisWritingLeave a Comment

In the Hall of Rusted Widows is dead. It happens sometimes – a story I think is going to be great just doesn’t quite work. Sometimes it’s because I don’t really have a story, I just have an idea. Sometimes it’s because I’ve wandered too far off track, and I need to regroup and take another run at the story. Sometimes, frankly, I’m just not a good enough writer to pull off the story in my head. Of course, no story is ever as good as it started out in my head, but sometimes I just can’t find enough of the imagery to get anything close to the story I’m envisaging. In the case of Rusted Widows, it’s kind of a combination of all three. The 4,200 words I have now tell a different story to the one I outlined, there’s too much concept and not enough story, and I can’t really find the right words to get the emotional resonance I’d need for this story. At least not in its current form. So, In the Hall of Rusted Widows is going in the abandoned folder. I like the overall idea though, and I’ve got a feeling that part of the problem is that the story I outlined is … Read More

Metrics Monday – 10th November 2014

Philip HarrisMetrics, WritingLeave a Comment

Deep into revisions this week which means a lower word count – 4,051 words. That sounds pretty good but I spent over 14 hours writing to get that. The beginning of the week was spent getting Leah ready for a second trip to an editor. The first round of editing was a high level, development, edit focusing on big picture issues. This week was spent addressing those and making a few last minute tweaks. The second edit is a copy edit and is focused on grammar, spulling, etc. Once I’ve gone through that feedback and made the appropriate changes there’ll be a couple of rounds of proofreading and then the story will be ready for release. More on that next week – including the reveal of the final title of the story. With Leah out of the way I made a last ditch attempt at avoiding working on the Glitch Mitchell and the Unseen Planet edits by starting a sequel to Leah (Friday) and doing some more work on Reg vs the Martians (Saturday), a story I started at Mary Robinette Kowal’s short story workshop. Saturday’s writing didn’t go that well (mostly because I was hungry and couldn’t get to the kitchen to graze) so on Sunday, I finally gave in and pulled … Read More

I admit it. I don’t like editing.

Philip HarrisWritingLeave a Comment

I finally started going through my editor’s changes to Glitch Mitchell and the Unseen Planet today. Basically, I couldn’t think of an excuse not to. Leah (working title) has gone to its editor, the Glitch cover is progressing nicely (and looking really good) and I’m waiting for editor feedback on the first fifty pages of The Zombie Book. Yesterday, I delayed things by working on the short story I started at Mary Robinette Kowal’s short story workshop – Reg vs The Martians but it didn’t go that well and I need to mull over the plot a bit more. That really only left Glitch. I got through two chapters, about 7,238 words out of 60,823 before I gave up. It turns out I really don’t like going through edits. I had to resort to Bob the Bahamas cat to get myself going again. It’s a holiday here in Canada on Tuesday so I’m taking Monday off and one of my tasks will be to get through at least three more chapters. We’ll see how that goes. [“I admit it. I don’t like editing.” by Philip Harris first appeared on Solitary Mindset on 9th November 2014]

Metrics Monday – 3rd November 2014

Philip HarrisMetrics, WritingLeave a Comment

Two updates this week as I missed last week due to my trip to The Stanley Hotel. First up, October 20th-26th A slow start to the week and then the retreat really kicks in on Friday. Apart from the outlining on the Sunday, all of this work was revising. When I’m working on a story I leave myself little notes on things that need to be fixed later – usually because I don’t want to break up my flow but sometimes because I have no idea what to write at that point. I wrapped up most of the first draft of The Zombie Book on the 19th, leaving just those notes to deal with. I originally thought I could do that pretty quickly and then spend the retreat working on something else. It didn’t work out that way. As I went through the draft, I found a lot more of the notes than I’d expected. Including some things like [Something should happen here]. Fixing them took a lot longer than I’d expected but after a big push on Friday, I wrapped up the first draft of The Zombie Book at 7:36pm on 25th October 2014. Final word count was a very respectable 77,296 although I’m expecting that to go down by 3-4,000 … Read More

The Stanley Hotel Writers Retreat

Philip HarrisChatter, EventsLeave a Comment

In a few hours , I’ll be flying to The Stanley Hotel in Colorado for a five day horror writing retreat. The Stanley is the hotel that inspired Stephen King to write a little book called The Shining, hence its choice as the location for the retreat. In case you’re wondering, no it’s not the hotel that features in the Stanley Kubrick film. For me, it looks like it’s going to be more of an editing retreat. I have Glitch Mitchell and the Unseen Planet, Leah, a new short story and The Zombie Book, all ready to be revised. I find revision a lot harder than writing fresh words (which is probably why I have the backlog) so I’ll probably add another writing project or two in there as well. Maybe a short story, maybe a sequel to one of the novels or Leah. There are some events planned as well, readings and panels at the Estes Park Library, some trips out for the attendees, a haunted hotel tour etc. But my main goal is try to finish a couple of those projects, starting with Leah which I’m hoping to self-publish by the end of November. [“The Stanley Hotel Writers … Read More

Metrics Monday – 15th September 2014

Philip HarrisMetrics, WritingLeave a Comment

My mildly obsessive nature came in very handy this week. At least as far as my writing goes. On Sunday afternoon I found myself a few words (5 to be exact) short of hitting the 1,000 word mark for the day. So, I went back to the keyboard with the intention of writing a couple of paragraphs to hit that nice round 1,000 word number. I ended up writing for about half an hour. That brought me to within 100 words or so of the 45,000 word mark on The Zombie Book (working title). I then decided to make another little push to hit that milestone. Having done that, I found myself just shy of 9,000 words for the week. Obviously, I couldn’t ignore that so I carried on writing. In the end, I managed 9,053 words for the week which, while not an actual word count record, is certainly in the top three. All those words were on the untitled Zombie Book. The outlining was where I sorted out the second half of the book, smoothing over the cracks created by me veering off the outline during the first half. There’s still one subplot that doesn’t flow quite as neatly as I’d like but I’ll deal with that once … Read More

Metrics Monday – 4th August 2014

Philip HarrisChatter, MetricsLeave a Comment

It’s almost too hot to type in my office at the moment. I sit here with the blinds closed, my fan on high, the hostile sun beating down on me through the glass and feel guilty for missing Vancouver’s rain clouds. Still, I managed a respectable 4,878 words last week. Most of that was working on The Zombie Book but I got some beta reader feedback on Leah and had a day off work on Friday so I spent some time tweaking my novella. That particular story also has a final name – The Girl in the City. It’s now gone off to an editor a development edit – basically a high level pass to pick out broad issues. Things like character inconsistencies, fundamental writing issues etc. A development edit is different to copy/line editing which is much more focussed on the specific words. That comes later, when I have a draft I think is ‘finished’. I also got the editorial feedback on Glitch this week. A big thank you to Eliza at Clio Editing. She did a great job, picked up lots of errors and some high level issues that I’ll need to fix. This week I’ll be focusing on The Zombie Book again, although I do have an … Read More

Metrics Monday – 21st July 2014

Philip HarrisMetrics, WritingLeave a Comment

The main writing goal for last week was the completion of the first draft of my new science fiction novella, Leah (working title that has already been changed to something I’m not quite ready to reveal). A big push on Saturday saw me wrapping up pretty much all the edits a day early, leaving just a few loose ends to clean up on Sunday morning. Final word count for the story was 17,564 which just about pushes it into official novella length. Maybe it will get longer during editing, or maybe it will get shorter. Time will tell. I’m doing something a little bit different with Leah – beta readers. I’ve got three very kind volunteers who are going to read this early draft and give me feedback. This is the first time I’ve done anything like this so I’m looking forward to seeing how it goes. Total word count for the week was 4,215 which is very good considering how much of my time was spent revising. That said, I needed to make sure I had another project to roll into as soon as Leah was finished, so I also spent quite a lot of time outlining my next novel – currently known as The Zombie Book. Leah was completed … Read More

Metrics Monday – 14th July 2014

Philip HarrisMetrics, WritingLeave a Comment

Vancouver’s heatwave continues which is making it very tough to work at home. Unfortunately, I’m working on the edits to the first draft of Leah which means I need to work on the PC in my office. I really should get Scrivener set up on my old laptop so that I can work somewhere cooler, like the Sahara or, failing that, the library. Still, I managed 3,610 words. The vast majority of that was on Leah and that first draft is almost finished. My wife had a horse riding lesson on Sunday afternoon so I took my iPad along with me and spent half an hour or so working on a chapter by chapter breakdown of my next novel. It’s something I haven’t done before, outlining at a chapter level, and I’m still using the seven point story structure but I think having a more detailed outline as well will help me avoid writing myself into a corner. That’s the plan anyway. Goals for this week (beyond a couple of more interesting blog posts) is to wrap up Leah and the outline. Shouldn’t be too tricky, even with the heat. [Metrics Monday – 14th July 2014 by Philip Harris first appeared on Solitary Mindset on 14th July 2014]

Metrics Monday – 7th July 2014

Philip HarrisMetrics, WritingLeave a Comment

It was all Glitch all of the time last week – 5,743 words of revisions and a completed third draft. Sunday’s 2,441 words was also my third most productive writing day – a direct side-effect of the need to finish the draft before sending off for editing. Next up, finalising the first draft of Leah – it’s a bit of a mess at the moment, all sorts of random chunks that need to be deleted or expanded or moved around. That should keep me busy for a couple of days. [Metrics Monday – 7th July 2014 by Philip Harris first appeared on Solitary Mindset on 7th July 2014]