The Girl in the Wilderness Draft Zero

Philip HarrisBooks, Indie Publishing, WritingLeave a Comment

Last night I wrapped up Draft Zero of my next release, a sequel to my science fiction novella set in Michael Bunker’s world of Pennsylvania, The Girl in the City. It’s called The Girl in the Wilderness. What does Draft Zero mean? Well, it’s what I call the very first version of the novel that tells the story from start to finish. There’s usually chapters and paragraphs I know I need to rewrite, foreshadowing I need to add, and almost certainly plot holes you could drive a truck through. But the key points are there and (probably for the first time) I’ve got a good idea of the whole story. There’s still a lot of work to do before the book gets out to you, but it’s a great feeling nevertheless. I hadn’t originally planned on writing a sequel to The Girl in the City and it stands alone very well, but a lot of people have been asking if there will be more stories featuring Leah and I had some strong ideas so I decided to turn the book into a trilogy. The third part – The Girl in the Machine – will follow later this year. I was originally planning on making books two and three novellas that would be roughly 50% … Read More

April Update

Philip HarrisChatter, Metrics, WritingLeave a Comment

I remember a time when I used to post here pretty much every day. Good times. Talking of good times, the last couple of months have been less than stellar – too much sorrow, too much frustration. Hopefully May will be better, I’ve certainly got plans for it to be better. We’ll see how those work out. I did manage to keep up my writing streak though, although after March’s record breaking word count, April’s was a more typical 17,205 words split between a couple of projects. The bulk of my time was spent on the sequel to The Girl in the City – The Girl in the Wilderness. My original plan was the book would be a novella – about 25,000 words. I reached 42,000 words by the end of April with at least 10,000 to go which puts it well into short novel territory. Given that the point of writing this particular book was for a quick break between the full length zombie books I’ve kind of screwed things up. Never mind, it’s a good story. Apart from The Girl in the Wilderness, I put the finishing touches on a new short story and sent it off to the editor. It’s for a fantastic anthology so hopefully he’ll like it. More on that another … Read More

41 Days Later…

Philip HarrisMetrics, WritingLeave a Comment

My original plan this year was to post a monthly update on how my writing is going. That hasn’t worked out too well so far. The January update was late and thanks to an unexpected and extended trip back to the UK the February/March updates have been MIA… until now! First up, February. It was a moderately productive month on the writing front – 18,210 words spread across a couple of projects. The first was book two of my zombie project. I wrapped up the first draft and it clocked in at 95,296 words which is a) longer than the first book and b) longer than I expected. I suspect it will drop a bit during revisions but it’s a very healthy first draft. I’m very happy with how the book turned out. Sadly, the first book is stuck in editor limbo and I’ve just heard it’s going to be delayed even longer. Needless to say, I’ve got a different editor lined up for the rest of the books. Once Project Zombie Book 2 was out of the way, I wrote a new short story. I’m not talking about this one much at the moment, but I will say it’s destined for a very … Read More

1,000

Philip HarrisMetrics, WritingLeave a Comment

On the 30th of June, 2013, I decided that I would start writing fiction every day. I haven’t missed a day since. The goal of starting the streak was to help motivate me to keep writing, even on days when Ethel the  Muse was absent or the whole idea of writing seemed like a colossal waste of time. It worked. There were a couple of close calls, and some very short writing sessions, but overall it’s been relatively painless. During that time I’ve written 725,072 words (510,217 of which were on new writing, 175,076 on revising and 39,779 on outlines). That doesn’t include time spent blogging which is another significant chunk of words. All that writing took up 49 days, 20 hours of my life which actually doesn’t sound that much to me. That’s less than 5% of the total time. Clearly, I’ve been slacking. If I wasn’t writing, I’d probably have frittered that time away. Or maybe watched 1595 episodes of awesome TV. Here’s how those words break down on a monthly basis. (This is calendar month and I started on a random date so the first and last months aren’t a full 31 days). The best month was August 2014 at 33,637. At that … Read More

The Unbearable Lateness of Being

Philip HarrisMetrics, Writing2 Comments

So, yeah… I was planning on doing a monthly update on writing type stuff but it seems February has kind of gotten away from me. Of course, the obsessive compulsive part of my psyche won’t let me get away with not posting a January round up so if everyone could just pretend this is being posted at the beginning of February rather than the middle, I’d appreciate it. Thanks. January was pretty well dominated by my day job. We’re just finishing up a new game and we’ve reached the part of the project where we try to squish all the bugs. This is the point in development where all the dumb mistakes you made a year ago come back to bite you in the life-work balance. So, my days have been filled with seemingly endless bug reports and requests for “one last change”. We’re nearly done, at least with that bit, so with luck things will ease up for the next couple of months. Despite that, I managed to maintain my writing streak and hit 946 days at the end of January. I’m in full on editing mode at the moment but still managed to reach 17,971 words for the month which puts me ahead of last year’s January total of 15,720. … Read More

50 Ways to Unblock Your NaNoWriMo Novel

Philip HarrisWriting, Writing Advice1 Comment

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) has rolled around again. If you’re not familiar with the concept, basically the goal is to write a 50,000 word novel in one month and despite the National moniker thousands of people around the world take part in the challenge. As usual, my day job takes up too much time for me to commit to the 1,667 words a day it takes to hit that goal but I know a lot of people who are attempting it. Today is the halfway mark of the month and it’s become traditional for me to post some helpful prompts for people who’s NaNoWriMo novels aren’t progressing as well as they might like. So, without further ado, I present to you NaNoWriMoLax 2015 Giant worms erupt from the ground and swallow your hero whole A malevolent AI shuts down the Internet The hero’s best friend/husband/parents are revealed as aliens A firestorm hits the city Earthquake! Zeus appears in the sky and sends your hero on a quest to find a golden goblet/sword/cheese The hero has been poisoned The hero has misheard something he’s been told and does the opposite of whatever it is he’s supposed to be doing A trip to the bathroom turns nasty … Read More

A New Story

Philip HarrisChatter, WritingLeave a Comment

Ethel the Muse struck this morning, just as I was getting up. I’ve had a new story sitting in the back of my mind for a couple of weeks now, and today Ethel decided to provide me with an intriguing opening to get things going. I didn’t want to lose the words so while I was eating my breakfast I fired up Scrivener and wrote the first few sentences. Here they are, unedited and unexpurgated. It wasn’t until the fifth doctor appeared that I really got concerned. Even then, it wasn’t just that there were five doctors clustered round the scanner pointed at my leg. That was to be expected. After all, I’d come to the Medical Centre specifically to get a scan, in an effort to find out exactly what was causing the rapidly growing lump on my shin. My concern was triggered by the child-like look of delight on all five of the doctor’s faces. I don’t have any idea where the story is going, whether it’s a short story or a novel, or even what tone it is, but those things will sort themselves out eventually. For a limited time, I’m giving everyone who signs up to my mailing list 5 free books, … Read More

How to Write Every Day

Philip HarrisIndie Publishing, Writing, Writing AdviceLeave a Comment

On 30th June 2013, I sat down and decided I would start writing every single day. I haven’t missed a day since – which means a couple of weeks ago I hit the two year mark in my writing streak. I’ve already posted a by-the-numbers breakdown of my streak so far, but I thought I’d also post a few tips on how I’ve kept that streak running. I’m talking specifically about writing here, but the same principles apply to forming other habits – like running or push ups or monkey juggling. So, here are my tips for anyone trying to get the writing habit to stick. CHOOSE YOUR GOAL WISELY The first thing you need to do is decide what habit you’re trying to form. I kept mine very simple – write or edit some fiction every day (blogging doesn’t count). No word count goals, no time goals. As long as I write at least one word, I’m done. In reality, I try to get down at least 100 words, otherwise I feel like I cheated. The key here is to not overstretch yourself. Pick something that you are confident you can achieve. It’s very easy to get overexcited and commit to something that’s too hard. Goals like “write 10,000 words a day” or “write a novel … Read More

Two Years of Writing

Philip HarrisMetrics, WritingLeave a Comment

It’s been a while since I made a pure metrics post, I’ve been focusing on writing and editing, rather than writing about writing and editing, but I recently passed a milestone that I thought was worth talking about. On 30th June 2013, I sat down and decided I would write every day, and I haven’t missed a day since – which means a couple of weeks ago I hit the two year mark of my writing streak. So, what does 2 years of writing look like? (Click to enlarge) To save you getting your calculators out, all those spiky lines add up to 535,588 words (366,065 of which were shiny new stuff, the rest were revisions). I spent 37 days, 14 hours, 56 minutes of my life writing those words. That’s 593 words per hour overall but that rate increases to 790 words per hour when I’m writing something new. This graph shows how I split my time between outlining, writing new words, rewriting old work or revising. (Click to largify) It’s pretty clear from that what I’ve been doing for the last few weeks – revising. That’s good though, one of my goals for this year has been to revise the almost finished stories and novels I have kicking … Read More

Building the Apocalypse – The Middle of the End

Philip HarrisApocalypse Weird, WritingLeave a Comment

After three rounds of my own revisions, my Apocalypse Weird novel, tentatively titled Siren’s Call, has gone off to Wonderment Media’s editor, Ellen Campbell. Now the waiting begins as Ellen reads through the draft and tracks down any issues – not just bad grammar and spilling mistales but also parts of the story that are too slow or don’t make sense or just basically need to be improved. A lot of writers find this bit of the process very nerve-racking, and to some extent I do too. But I also enjoy making the book better and getting other people’s perspective is a key part of that. I’ve used editors on all my indie books and that won’t ever change – I just can’t bring myself to put a book out there until it’s run past several fresh pairs of eyes to catch as many issues as humanly possible. By the time it’s finished, Glitch Mitchell and the Unseen Planet will have been through five different editors and proofreaders (as well as one or two beta readers). There’ll still be issues, I’m sure (even the big publishers miss things), but I’ll have done everything I can to get it as close to perfect as possible. An editor can really make or break a project. Thankfully, … Read More