Structural Integrity at 73%

Philip HarrisThe Ghost Smuggler, WritingLeave a Comment

On Thursday afternoon I pulled up The Ghost Smuggler and started the revision process. I’m starting with a high level look at the overall structure, looking for holes, ripping out the weak parts and adding more conflict, more plot and anything else I can think of that will make it a better book. I’m experimenting with Scrivener at the moment so I’ll be using it for the second draft. It will be a good test but I’m also starting to really like the way Scrivener lets me jump around, view multiple parts of the manuscript and generally work more efficiently. The only downside is that I will only be able to work at my main PC, no sitting on the bed with my Chromebook. Still, I don’t like editing on a laptop anyway. To kick things off, I needed to move my full manuscript from Word into Scrivener. If you’re not familiar with Scrivener, basically it breaks a novel/story/script into chunks that you can manage individually. It makes it easier to move around the document, reorder scenes etc. In my case I went with one ‘chunk’ per chapter but it could easily be one per scene. Scrivener imports Word docs and has a … Read More

So This is Christmas…

Philip HarrisChatter, Glitch, Movies, Television, The Ghost Smuggler, Video GamesLeave a Comment

I have mixed feelings about Christmas. I’m a big fan of the whole goodwill to all men, peace on Earth thing, not as big a fan of the incessant commercialisation. And the perfume adverts…don’t get me started on those. In fact, don’t get me started on any Christmas ads. I’m lucky in that the office shuts down from Christmas Day to New Years Day. That doesn’t always mean everyone gets that time off because it’s not unusual for us to have a project in the final stages of development which means a few people are in the office fixing bugs, testing, coming up with last minute design changes etc. But at the very least the constant stream of email and meetings eases up for a week. Normally, I just stick to the one week of vacation at Christmas but this year I wanted to get some extra writing done so I took Friday, Monday and Tuesday off which means I’m on the third day of my Christmas break already. As usual I’ve got a whole string of things I’d like to get done. Finish off the first draft of Glitch Mitchell and the Unseen Planet. Write the first draft of a play … Read More

“My only friend, the end”

Philip HarrisThe Ghost Smuggler, WritingLeave a Comment

At 9:14pm today, I wrapped up the first draft of The Ghost Smuggler. I’ve edited out some of the notes I’ve been keeping and cleaned up a few stray blocks of text and this draft comes in at 73,936 words. There are still some notes in there so the actual word count is a bit less.  Of those words, 17,514 were reclaimed which leaves 56,422 new words. I started this rewrite on 4th February 2013 and it took me 96 hours and 41 minutes, spread out over 198 writing sessions (covering 188 days of writing). That’s an average of  584 words an hour. I did actually write more than that (64,169 words in fact) but the rest (7,747 words) got deleted before the draft was finished. If I include the deleted words as well, I averaged 664 words an hour. Of course, there’s still a lot of work to be done before this is even close to being a real book so the final length is yet to be determined. But before any of that work starts, the book has to sit and fester for a few weeks – to make sure those really flaws stand out when I start revising. [“My only … Read More

“Fevered. Feeling hot, hot hot”

Philip HarrisThe Ghost Smuggler, WritingLeave a Comment

Vancouver’s glorious summer continues which means our apartment continues to try to roast us alive. Yesterday was the last day of my four day “writing weekend” and despite the heat I managed to get almost two thousand words added to The Ghost Smuggler and complete the second exercise for the brevity workshop. It was tough going though. Even my usual trick of sitting in the bedroom with my Chromebook didn’t help for long. I managed to make it to 4:30 but then gave up and went and bought far too many Angry Robot books (21 to be exact). Overall, my writing weekend was a success, despite the heat, and I ended up writing a total of 7,688 words. For a lot of people that’s not particularly impressive but for me, that’s good. I’m usually looking to average 500 words a day when I’m training for a marathon. Friday’s day off also helped me set a new weekly record last week – 8,871 words. That’s just over 2,500 words more than my previous best and it’s really down to how much I’ve been focusing on my writing recently. I’ve got my writing head on at the moment and more and more I’m … Read More

THE END (Sort of)

Philip HarrisThe Ghost Smuggler, WritingLeave a Comment

I wrote the last chapter of The Ghost Smuggler yesterday. It was a lot shorter than I’d expected but it ties nicely with the opening chapter and although the actual content is quite different to what I’d originally planned the overall tone is the same. I like it. Of course, the book isn’t actually finished yet. I finished off an earlier chapter this morning and then, as I mentioned yesterday, I’ve got two chapters to replace completely. I think there’s a new chapter to add as well. Once I’ve written those, then the first draft will be done. I fully expect that to happen this week. I don’t normally skip around like this but I’ve been using my Chromebook for writing a lot and because it’s not really practical to have the whole manuscript on Google Docs, it’s a bit harder to jump back and rewrite/fix the earlier sections of the book. Instead, I left them as is until I’d finished off the rest of the book and knew exactly what I needed to do with them. I also started a new story yesterday. I’m not even remotely ready to start writing it properly but I’m excited about the idea and what … Read More

Forward Progress

Philip HarrisThe Ghost Smuggler, WritingLeave a Comment

When we left our hero (that’s me), he was knocking on the door of the 70,000 word mark of his novel, The Ghost Smuggler. Yesterday, after some back and forth as I deleted and rewrote chunks of the book, I reached 70,310 words. The scene I wrote was a big showdown between Kaei and one of the protagonists and I think it turned out pretty well. There’ll be more work to do during the revision stage but I’m happy with it as a first draft. I’ve been targeting 80,000 words for this draft which is about 30,000 words less than my original first draft and a nice length for a first novel. Based on where I am now it’s going to come in pretty close to that number. Kaei has dealt with one of the main protagonists and is just about to deal with the other, then there’ll be a brief closing scene and I’ll reach The End. The first draft won’t quite be finished at that point. I still need to go back and replace a couple of chapters to tighten up the story and fill in some plot holes. I think that’s going to get me pretty close to … Read More

Writing Day Down

Philip HarrisMovies, The Ghost Smuggler, WritingLeave a Comment

My first “writing day” of the year was a reasonable success – 2,295 words added to The Ghost Smuggler. That’s not great but I enjoyed myself. I also spent some time posting the first exercise for the brevity workshop and critiquing some of the other students’ work which chewed up some of the writing time. And I got a free cookie from Subway. I was hoping to hit the 70,000 word mark yesterday but I found that by about 4pm I was getting tired and distracted. When I wrote a chapter that could be accurately summed up as “I walked to the top of hill, there was nothing there so I went somewhere else”, I decided I should stop and go for a run. The good news is that on the run I worked out what to really do with that chapter and in the process filled in a small plot hole I’d be studiously ignoring for some time. Unfortunately, this morning I realised there’s some inconsistency in the way I’m getting characters in and out of the spiritworld that I can’t ignore. As Brandon Sanderson is fond of saying, I can “fix it in post” and I think that fix … Read More

Like a Snow Day But Warmer

Philip HarrisThe Ghost Smuggler, WritingLeave a Comment

With the end of The Ghost Smuggler in striking distance and the temperature in Vancouver dropping, I decided to take today off from my day job and make it…a writing day. I’ll be locking myself in my office and hammering out words for most of the day. It’s a holiday weekend in BC as well and we have no plans apart from 42km of running. All of which means I’ve got four straight days available to write so this is going to officially be a “writing weekend”. I don’t think that’s enough to completely finish the first draft. I may get to “The End” but there are a couple of chapters I want to rework and I’m pretty sure there’s a hole somewhere that means the book won’t make sense to anyone but me. I want to get those fixed before I declare the first draft complete and put it in a virtual drawer to cool off before I start revising it. The day has already got off to a good start. I woke up early (as usual) and lay in bed for an hour or so, mulling over plot points and scenes and characters. I ended up with some nice … Read More

Out Now – Origami Man

Philip HarrisFree Fiction, Out Now, Stories, The Ghost SmugglerLeave a Comment

My new fantasy story , Origami Man, is up at Hogglepot. This one started with the image of a man made out of newspaper talking to a newspaper boy. Initially it was going to be fairly lighthearted but it didn’t really turn out that way in the end. Despite the fact that I’m not running at the moment (that starts back up tomorrow morning), this week has been surprisingly busy – mostly with work. I did manage to scrape together a couple of writing sessions to finish off a new story – CAvE – and add just under two thousand words to The Ghost Smuggler. I’m now reaching the point where I’m doing more and more actual writing rather than just reworking content from the earlier drafts. I’ll still be bringing some stuff over but from here on it’s mostly new content hanging on the bones of the early draft. That means I need to be a lot more disciplined about sitting down and writing. My goal is to get the first draft of the rewrite complete by the end of August so that I can be ready to pitch it at the Surrey International Writers’ Conference in October. That’s the goal anyway. It’s a … Read More

Trust me, I’m a Writer

Philip HarrisThe Ghost Smuggler, Writing, Writing AdviceLeave a Comment

I’ve taken a couple of online writing courses and had the original version of my novel, The Ghost Smuggler, critiqued and I’ve learnt a lot from those experiences. I’ve also learnt to trust my instincts. I got a lot of good feedback from those courses and especially from Jeff VanderMeer’s critique and my writing has definitely improved as a result. What I noticed though, was that at least 50% of that feedback related to writing that I wasn’t happy with. There was something missing or something “off” about that part of the story that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. I knew it was weak in some way, I just wasn’t sure why. Or, it was part of the story I didn’t like, I just hadn’t been able to come up with anything better. Having a third party read the story and point out, not only that the writing was weak, but why was invaluable but it also showed that my instincts weren’t completely out of whack. I just needed to persevere and keep refining the story until it worked. Which brings me to The Ghost Smuggler. There’s a point in the novel where our hero gets captured by a bad guy and, … Read More