‘Tis true. I have not posted or reviewed a book in a long while, but I have been busy with other things readerly and writerly.
After I finished the draft of untitled Book #1, I realized that (along with structural issues), I need to work on the words and sentences. I needed to learn how to create tension through the mere act of rubbing two sentences together. Not long before, the immensely talented Richard Thomas followed me on Twitter (presumably based on some kind words from the folks at ChiZine about reviews that I no longer write!) and I started reading more of his short stories (100 of them in two collections and a bunch of lit mags). Soon thereafter, I saw that he would be teaching an intensive class over at LitReactor.
It was a difficult week and RealLife(tm) and #dayjob conspired to keep me from finishing the final assignment, but I learned more in those seven days than I had in the previous year. Richard was a great teacher and his feedback was invaluable — humbling without being humiliating. I also learned that I need to practice. A lot.
So, I spent most of the summer writing, editing (even submitting) short stories, exercising long-atrophied muscles and trying to hone my words.
I got better. Not great, but better.
Now that the kids are back in school, I’m ready to get moving on Book #2.
It’s probably not coincidence that, at just the right time, Richard wrote an article about Writing a Novel Without Plotting it Out. Now, I don’t have the chops to pants my way through, but Richard mentioned some things that I need to remember when writing and can incorporate into my outlining process.
In addition to tracking timelines, plot elements, character arcs, my new outline adds entries for setting, sensory information and more. Without further ado, here is Cheffo’s Outline for Book #2, filling in at 25 square feet:
I have some short fiction that I am working as well, mostly flash and micro stuff where I have to pay attention to making sure that each sentence and every word does double- or triple-duty.
This writing thing is harder than I thought it would be, but also a hell of a lot more fun!