Bottling Lightning

Philip HarrisStoriesLeave a Comment

I finished writing the first draft of my new story, now called Bottled Lightning, last night. It’s a science fiction story – a first contact science fiction story in fact – and it’s a lot longer than I’d originally envisaged. My first thought was that it would be a sub-1000 word vignette, then I thought it would finish up around the 2,500 word mark but the story just kept rolling until it hit 5,498 words. It would have actually been longer but while I was in the gym last night I listened to an old episode of Writing Excuses that talked about ending your story in the right place and I ended up (do you see what I did there?) stopping several paragraphs earlier than I’d originally planned and integrating some of that material into the beginning of the story. My next step is to try to turn the story into something that I actually like because I’m not particularly happy with the story as it is. I think the concept is okay but the opening 1,500 words feels sloppy and directionless and…well, crap. In a day or two I’m going to dig out my virtual red pencil and chop out a good … Read More

Too Much Fun with Writing

Philip HarrisThe Ghost Smuggler, Writing, Writing AdviceLeave a Comment

The new draft of The Ghost Smuggler that I’m writing at the moment is definitely a very different beast – hopefully a better beast. There’s the switch from third person to first person which is obviously a significant change but there’s other things as well. There’s less traveling for a start. I noticed during the first draft (and this was reinforced by some of Jeff VanderMeer’s feedback) that I have a tendency to fill in all the gaps in a timeline. If characters need to get from A to B, well, I need to talk about that and all that travelling gets boring very quickly. That’s not happening any more. I’ve also moved some of the scenes to different locations so that there isn’t any travelling in the first place. In the book, our hero, Kaei, is hired to find someone in the mines under the desert city of Karabar. Originally Kaei travelled across the city to accept the job, then travelled to meet another character that was going to help him, then walked back across the city again to get to the mines. Now, everyone meets up in one place and heads out to the mines from there. Much better. The … Read More

…Previously on Solitary Mindset

Philip HarrisChatter, The Ghost Smuggler, WritingLeave a Comment

My last post ended with a bit of a cliffhanger. I was 17,720 words into the rewrite of The Ghost Smuggler and had just convinced myself it was all a waste of time. This week, I’m 20,702 words into the rewrite (just over a quarter of the way through) and I’m still not completely happy with it but I’m pushing on. Most of those words came on Saturday afternoon which was a bit of a surprise as we spent the morning on a jetski tour which was very exciting, but also very tiring. Great fun though, highly recommended. Last week was also the second week of the Clarion Write-a-Thon and I’m on track for hitting my 15,000 word target. No writing so far this week but I have been sending out a few submissions – thirty eight so far this year (that’s already the most I’ve sent out in a single year).

Deep Fried Twinkies

Philip HarrisChatter, The Ghost Smuggler, WritingLeave a Comment

I ate deep fried Twinkies last week. Three of them. I wish I could blame alcohol for my momentary lapse of common sense but unfortunately I was alcohol free at the time. The only consolation is that I wasn’t the only person. Two other people ordered the same dish (although one of them had the sense to only eat half of a Twinkie, not all three). Ah well, I pushed myself a bit harder on my run yesterday, maybe that will make up for it. I spent two days in Orlando last week (that’s where the Twinkies were (but they weren’t the reason I was there)) which meant two days of travelling. I didn’t even get to enjoy the sun, tropical storm Debby meant it was wet, windy and very humid for my trip. Thankfully, she didn’t interfere with the flights, other than a bit of turbulence on the way in. I did a lot of reading during the flights, finishing off Caitlin R Kiernan’s The Drowning Girl and reading most of Mistification by Kaaron Warren. The former I enjoyed, the latter not so much. There was also lots of good food and some pretty productive day job time. It was also … Read More

Write-a-Thon Day One

Philip HarrisChatter, The Ghost Smuggler, WritingLeave a Comment

It’s day one of the Clarion Write-a-Thon today and the day of our latest half-marathon – the Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon. I got a new personal best of 2:00:18 which is good but not as good as breaking the 2 hour mark (which my wife did do with a time of 1:59:45). After the race, we spent the afternoon watching England lose to Italy in the European Cup and a very interesting Formula One race. Then it was out to Max’s Burgers for some very delicious food. After all that, it took a great deal of effort to drag myself to the keyboard but drag myself I did and I managed to write another 819 words of The Ghost Smuggler which brings the total word count to 10,731; not a bad start to the week. Incidentally, last week’s total was 3,111 words which was pretty good for five days of writing – at least for me. I’m heading down to Florida for some business meetings tomorrow which is going to make writing a little bit tricky but we’ll see. It will definitely mean no blog posts for a few days.

On Surprises and Commitments

Philip HarrisThe Ghost Smuggler, WritingLeave a Comment

I had a surprisingly productive evening writing yesterday. I wasn’t planning on doing any writing to be honest. I was planning on spending a quiet evening lying on the sofa catching up on some gaming. Or reading some more of The Drowning Girl (I’m travelling next week and want to get it finished so that I can return to my Kindle for the trip). Or just sleeping. I was not planning on adding another 1051 words to The Ghost Smuggler. Still, that’s what I did and I’m glad. I’m reasonably happy with progress although there are a few tweaks I want to make today. I also signed up for Kat Howard’s Intro to Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction course at LitReactor. I debated whether it was a good idea for quite a while but I really enjoyed the first course I took part in (Jeremy C. Shipp’s) and it definitely gave me a creative boost. Hopefully I’ll get the same thing from Kat’s. I’ve also signed up for the Clarion Write-a-thon a six week writing fundraiser that runs alongside the Clarion workshop – you can sponsor me through that page if you’re feeling so inclined. My goal is to add another 15,000 words … Read More

Two Hundred Submissions

Philip HarrisChatter, The Ghost Smuggler, WritingLeave a Comment

Not a big writing day yesterday, unfortunately. I did manage to scrape together another 404 words on The Ghost Smuggler but that took me to the end of a chapter and I didn’t want to start another one. I’m going to struggle to find time to do any writing today – I have an early dentist appointment and the first night of our Marathon clinic this evening. I’m still on track for a a 2,500 word week though, thanks to the good start I got on Sunday. I did make my 200th submission last night – This Is Not the Apocalypse You’re Looking For to Clarkesworld – plus a couple more bringing this year’s total submissions to 27. It looks like I’ll easily break last year’s submission tally of 36. Yes, I track all that stuff. The increase in submissions is partly due to me sticking to Heinlein’s Fifth Rule but also because there’s a decent number of good quality markets that measure their response times in weeks or even days rather than months. It’s a lot easier to send a lot of stories out if it doesn’t take long for the rejections to come back. One day I’ll post some stats on … Read More

Heinlein’s Writing Rules

Philip HarrisMeaty Mondays, Writing AdviceLeave a Comment

This is the third in a series of Meaty Monday posts – longer posts where I ramble on about writing related topics. You can find the first Meaty Monday post here. This time I’m talking about Robert A. Heinlein’s five writing rules. I first heard Robert A. Heinlein’s writing rules quoted by Neil Gaiman when he was in Vancouver promoting Anansi Boys and they’ve stuck with me ever since. They were originally published in Heinlein’s 1947 essay On the Writing of Speculative Fiction (republished in Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy, among other places). The bulk of the essay is about the types of science fiction stories (human interest or gadget-centric) and the three plots that human interest stories can have – “boy meets girl”, “the Little Tailor” (the little guy who becomes a big shot or vice versa) and “the man who learned better”. It’s Heinlein’s five rules or “business habits” as he calls them that have gained the most attention though. 1. You must write This one is obvious really, let’s face it, but all around the world there are people that would like to be writers but aren’t actually doing any writing. 2. You must finish what you start More good, solid advice. This is one I follow … Read More

The Ghost Smuggler Rewrite Week One

Philip HarrisThe Ghost Smuggler, WritingLeave a Comment

Okay, where were we? Oh, yes. Tuesday was the first big test of the new writing regime – a full day of work plus running plus writing – and from a pure word count it was pretty successful. I added another 1200 words (679 of which were salvage) which took the manuscript up to 4599 words and pushed me over the 5% point. Wednesday was a day off – both from running and from writing. Instead, I spent the evening on a ‘team building event’ at the brewery where Granville Island Brewing create their limited edition beers followed by a meal at The Sandbar. Delicious fun, but not conducive to writing. Thursday was equally unproductive, at least from a writing point of view but this time without the convenient excuse. I did go running but by the time we got back I was too tired to face the keyboard. I did decide to change my writing regime, though. The original plan was to go to the gym in the mornings, then work, then run and write in the evenings. I decided on Thursday that was a bit too optimistic. For some reason it’s a lot easier to get up and … Read More

Was It Something I Ate?

Philip HarrisChatter, Movies, The Ghost Smuggler, WritingLeave a Comment

Not an enjoyable day yesterday – let’s leave it at that. I forgot to mention yesterday that we went to see Prometheus on Sunday. I won’t join the hordes of people reviewing the film but I will say that while it’s not the best movie I’ve ever seen, I did enjoy it. It’s not Alien and it’s not Aliens but it’s still worth seeing. Despite the distraction I alluded to earlier, I did manage to find some time to write another 1337 words on The Ghost Smuggler – which is nice – and only 196 of those words were directly salvaged from the original draft which is also nice. I’m not completely happy with what I have so far, although it does feel a lot tighter than the original so that’s a step in the right direction. Of course, I don’t know if that’s because I’m over analyzing or if there’s still work to be done. I’m going to press on and see how things shape up.