Thursday, February 24, 2011


In a moment of brilliance -- or perhaps just idiot savant-ness -- I figured out the integral flaw in my very first attempt at a novel. It's a project I've long thought was worthy of having been written but more than once person has pointed out error after error. It was never that I didn't think that the errors were un-fixable; I just didn't know how to do it.

At work last week, however, it dawned on me where the crux lay: the main character's passiveness needed to be changed to make him more active. Now, that might seem like a pretty easy thing to pick out when reading a draft -- and it was -- but like I said the problem wasn't in not knowing the flaw; it was knowing how to fix it.

I think the problem is pretty much resolved now, though, which makes me happy. The main character has really blossomed in my re-writes (and I'm only about 20 pages in, with an additional 10 or so pages of new material). Not only has he become more active in his own story, but his actions make him significantly more empathetic, which was a big issue for people in previous critiques.

As a side note, I took comments from a few people to heart and made what was essentially a Victorian-era pastiche piece (as an homage to Charles Dickens) into a Steampunk piece.

Now, in my defense, I feel like this change is worthwhile. Steampunk is a very broad genre, and I feel like this piece can be made into what some chidingly refer to as 'Li-fi' -- literary science fiction. I'm ok with it being that, because I think that it fits more in line with literary fiction, rather than entertainment fiction.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Giddy With Inspiration

Three years ago, when the Milwaukee Writers Workshop still had all of its groups on one day, I braved the novel critique with a project that was nearly seven years old (at least) and in its fourth or fifth iteration. It was a novel that was (perhaps still is) my former* wife's favorite piece. A colleague in the group, who I thoroughly respect for his critique and his writing skill, offered up the advice to turn what is essntially a pastiche of a Charles Dickens novel into a science fiction piece. At the time, I had no idea how that could be possible. 

Over the last two days, though, I think I've discovered how I can make that happen. I'm entrenched in the Steampunk genre now. I love it more now than I did when I first discovered it, than I did when I fully recognized its potential, and than I did when I read "The Difference Engine" for the first time. I enjoy the genre, and I enjoy its capabilities. Now, I believe I have truly discovered the root of the story that began as an attempt to write a Victorian novel. 

So, putting most other projects aside, I am going to revisit said project -- which I haven't looked at in nearly two years -- to try and hammer out this new direction. I have it in my head, and also on a ton of scraps in my bag at work, and I think I can really make something marvellous out of it. 

Also, in short story news, I completed a brand new story this week that's roughly 4200 words, and it's about cowboys, in the future, in a post-catastrophe America. It's fun. 

*I like to use the term former for my soon-to-be-ex-wife because it sounds better. It's like being the former president: the title is still there, because the importance of the position hasn't changed, but there's no real duties that lie therein. We're still friends, which is nice, so she's not really an "ex," just (as I say) former. 

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Updates Feb. 2011

So here's the scoop. Since the beginning of the year, I have the following new pieces written:

"The Pariah of Langeford" -- 1100 words; pseudo fantasy
"Electric Golems" -- 4700 words; steampunk
"The Pageant Fire" -- 1700 words; contemporary
"The Horticenter" -- 900 words; futurist science fiction
"Annalisa (WT)" -- 3400 words; steampunk
"Thomas, Boy Wonder" -- unfinished steampunk

I have also been working diligently with a new writing partner on an extension of the "Westerward Expansion" story that unfortunately got rejected (by default) for the Clockwork Choas anthology, which I hope to see very soon in publication. The project is a series of letters, along with narrative, between the two main characters presented in the short story. I believe I'll be polishing the short work to be sent out as a stand-alone with the longer work to follow.

I also sent out "The Pod Village of San-Zhr," which is an older story, but one that I liked quite a lot. It went out to an anthology for stories of liminality. Needless to say, I am excited for that one.

Once polished and critiqued, I will be sending out "Annalisa," "Thomas, Boy Wonder," "Electric Golems," and "The Pariah of Langeford." I think they're all solid and with a good polish should prove to be good works. My hope is to get at least two pieces published this year, and I know that there are a few new publications to look forward to.

I'll also be trying out a bit of something new on the blog, but I'll need some help from my trusty readers: I would like to answer writing questions. I have one in the wings -- perhaps by Friday or Saturday -- and that should give some idea of what I'm talking about. Feel free to send me things. You can send it to; just be sure to put something like "writing question" in the subject, so I know to mark it properly.