June 23, 2011 at 8:41 pm (transgressive fiction, Writing)
Tags: editing, police procedural, transgressive fiction, Writing
I talk to other writers and read other writer’s blogs about writing and revision/editing. Everyone seems to say that writing your first draft is the easy part and that editing is where the real work starts. I do not disagree. My police procedural, The .9 mm Solution, is being completely restructured while my dark comic Transgressive fiction, Weekend Getaways, or Adventures in Contract Killing, is getting expanded into even weirder extremes.
It is tedious and detailed work. It requires an almost re-thinking of the project, attempting to separate yourself from the original impulse that caused you to start writing the piece while at the same time not lose the spark of that impulse. Frustration can lead to satisfaction.
What I am finding as I delve into each of these disparate pieces is that there are hidden treasures, sections of description, turns of phrase, foreshadowing, interesting characters or locations. I am finding aspects of my writing that were not there five years ago, much less in my formative years. Experience in life and practice of craft do yield positive results.
Yes, the actual work of editing and revision is still fraught with fright and requires the ultimate in patience and concentration. But if we look in closer, avoid for a moment “The Bigger Picture”, those hidden treasures are our rewards and the signposts toward the completion of our work.
June 16, 2011 at 8:52 pm (Writing)
Tags: editing, KWA, novels, police procedural, Writing
I’ve been working on a police procedural entitled “The .9 mm Solution” from an idea inspired by discussions with my brother-in-law. He has some straight-forward ideas about law enforcement and the penal system. So, I formed them into an idea for NaNoWriMo in 2009. I’ve been working on various drafts since then.
I think I get it down to something workable and entertaining and figure it might be the traditional type piece that could secure an agent. During a KWA meeting last year, I read the first chapter in a small workshop. Gordon Kessler, one of the founders of KWA and the current president this year, made some comments causing me to revise that first chapter. I saw him again at the KWA Scene conference, passed on to him fifty pages (along with the revised first chapter) and waited.
THIS is why we need feedback. We CANNOT work in a vacuum.
I got back the binder at a KWA monthly meeting and when I got home I didn’t see any notes until about page 20 or so. “This is where the story starts.” I’ve always read that in blogs and in Writer’s Digest articles, etc. What you think is your beginning is not; it’s the prelude to your beginning. And love it as you might, you’ve got to chuck it. Start where the starting is good.
Along with that, I realized that I needed to change the focus and center of attention and restructure it completely.
It’s like a jigsaw puzzle where you pull the pieces apart, keep what fits and find new pieces to fit the old pieces. As long as you still are in love with your story, the heart of it, the sense of it, then it makes sense to keep going.
I’m still looking for the new pieces. I’ll let you know when I find them.
April 13, 2011 at 3:21 pm (Writing)
Tags: editing, police procedural, transgressive fiction, Writing
As a writer, do you choose what to write or does it choose you? There is a possibility that both can happen.
Of my two works in progress, I came up with the first line to my dark comic transgressive piece, Weekend Getaways, or Adventures in Contract Killing, simply out of the blue.
“I never gave much thought to killing people, outside of the usual.”
There was no character or plot or theme. It was simply a line. A greeting, if you will, to a new friend who I have had to get to know over a long period of time.
On the other hand, my procedural, The .9 mm Solution, was developed over a long period of time by discussions with my brother-in-law who had some unique perspectives on the justice system which seemed to coincide with my theories on the penal system. Between the two of us, conversion at various family gatherings, the story took form. Yes, as with all revisions, it has evolved. But there was at least a conscious effort involved.
So, as a writer, do you choose or are you chosen?
March 29, 2011 at 12:29 pm (Personal, Writing)
Tags: balance, editing, literary life, police procedural, transgressive fiction, Writing
As I consider the pieces that I have been revising since the beginning of the year, the word “balance” has come to the forefront in my mind for several reasons associated with writing and the literary life.
First, there are the pieces themselves. The .9 mm Solution is a police procedural in which a pair of FBI profilers tries to track a serial killer who is eradicating criminals and other figures who have not been brought to justice. It alternates between the elements of the investigation and “diary entries” in which valid points of view regarding society and the judicial and penal systems are brought into question.
The counterpoint is Weekend Getaways, or Adventures in Contract Killing which is a dark comic transgressive piece about one man’s attempt to better his life after coming through a life change. He meets an older man who introduces him to the fascinating world of contract killing and finds a renewed vigor. But how long will that last?
To go back and forth between these two is actually a relief. The dead serious highly detailed aspects of the procedural contrast against the out-there aspects of the transgressive piece with its colors and fonts to provide a sense of balance in my mind as I revise and edit.
The most obvious sense of balance as most writers are aware involves their “real” life with their “writing” life. Jennifer Neri is a mother and a writer who finds the time to parent, write, AND blog. Lawrence Estrey, beside being a writer, is also a musician and a photographer and is also apparently quite computer literate (if you read certain posts in his blog). From all appearances, they have achieved a balance. It may have been more difficult than how it appears simply in blog entries. But in order to survive as a writer, the concept of balance is paramount above all else.
What ways do you as a writer maintain balance in your lives? Do you wish you could do more writing or have more time to be just a person?
February 23, 2011 at 1:53 pm (Personal, Writing)
Tags: dark comic, editing, hard-boiled, police procedural, revising, transgressive fiction
In previous posts earlier this year, I indicated that I would only be working on projects already written and at least in a third draft stage or above. No new projects. Must re-focus and re-evaluate.
When I contemplate those projects, I notice a variety of style and voice. I’m wondering whether I am eclectic (perhaps presumptuous to say) or just haven’t found my voice and style yet (sad to consider).
SWANSONG – Hard-boiled story of a disgraced former Wichita Police detective, run out of town on the proverbial rail, now being forced to return home after his self-imposed exile to investigate the possible disappearance of his younger brother.
WEEKEND GETAWAYS, OR ADVENTURES IN CONTRACT KILLING – A dark comic Transgressive piece in which an unnamed narrator with what seems to be a drab and listless life meets an older gentleman who introduces him to the fascinating world of contract killing.
THE STOOGES – A dark comic crime caper in which three very petty criminals band together to pull of a scheme in order to make some serious money. The first thing they have to figure out is what caper to pull off…and then how to accomplish it.
THE .9 MM SOLUTION — A procedural in which a team of FBI profilers tries to track down a perpetrator who is killing bad people who have avoided criminal prosecution. An underlying sense of social commentary exists in the diary entries of the unknown subject.
So, they all deal with crime but take different paths to achieve the ends of the story. Now my wife (who as you are aware is also my editor) would pass this off to my supposed multiple personalities. I’ll accept that answer. (Obviously I have to. She’s my wife.) However, I also believe that you use different means to accomplish different ends.
As with my other passion, cooking, how you prepare each meal is different in terms of spices and sauces and cooking style. Each meal should come out great (if not exquisitely) and the ends always justify the means. With a meal, however, you only get one shot.
As I proceed through this year of editing and revision, I will take into account the many tools at my disposal and hope that I can use them to the fullest advantage that these stories will require.
November 1, 2010 at 10:06 pm (Writing)
Tags: crime fiction, hard-boiled, NaNoWriMo, novels, police procedural, Writing
Well, let the games begin. I’m sure that for the younger crowd, the games began just past midnight.
A brief reminder for those of you unacquainted with NaNoWriMo. It stands for National Novel Writing Month. It is an online event (more so than a “contest”) in which the goal is to write a 50,000 word novel in the 30 days of the month of November. I use it as a tool to actually force myself to sit down and write. Not that I have a problem with writing or anything like that. It is more the idea of integrating the writing of a novel within the framework of a busy time of year.
There is so much going on right now in my life and so much more because of the “holiday season”. However, I have “won” this thing for each of the last three years. In 2007, I wrote “Swansong”, a hard-boiled piece about a former disgraced Wichita police detective returning to the city five years later to find what, if anything happened to his kid brother. I’m working on the sixth draft of that. In 2008, I wrote “The Stooges”, an episodic dark comic crime caper about three losers deciding to commit a crime in order to make money, but first trying to figure out WHAT crime to commit. In 2009, I honored my brother-in-law, Greg, by writing “The .9 mm Solution”, a police procedural involving FBI profilers. I’m on my fifth draft of that. (He got a nicely bound copy of the fourth draft.)
This year it’s “Professor Thug”, a crime fiction about a former gang member/convict turned college professor with a unique and unorthodox style who’s forced to return to some old haunts to investigate the murder of a former student. The character is inspired by a current co-worker whose appearance belies his intelligence. He has been a pleasure to know and converse with.
I have found two things about NaNoWriMo. First, it is very motivational for me from the standpoint of developing a story and then forcing myself through an utterly horrendous first draft. Eventually, it will become something. But I can not be like Flaubert and casually write, searching for the perfect word. At least not until I have 50,000 imperfect words to play with first. The other thing is that I am amazed at how many people here in Wichita, KS are involved. The large percentage of them are considerably younger than I am but that is a gratifying thought. For whatever reason they are involved is not as important as their involvement itself. That means creative people attempting to express themselves.
Tonight, 3756 words. That puts me ahead of the day two schedule. More updates to follow.