Thursday, April 22, 2010


Ah, readers. What joy is this that brings them like flocks to any writer who wants to be read?

I'm not talking about being put in print and becoming a bestseller - that would be fantastic, but that's not what I'm talking about. Indeed there are many ways to get readers to your work.

But the readers I'm talking about in particular are those I've had experience with: people I know by degrees.

When I wrote my first book, my entire family read the book, or at least parts of it, and I got good reviews, which is pretty much to be expected. Then I shared some of my writing on the internet, and I got good reviews, which is less expected. Then I started going to a class on writing, and we've only shared one piece so far, but mine was received glowingly. I have fans in these people I hardly know. I wasn't even that proud of that piece - but it was good enough, and I made people happy to read it. Many a lively discussion was wrought of the fire of my words.

But then we have the anomaly, which I treasure. I sent a complete novella to a fellow writer on the internet, who had requested it, and she came back with advice for me. Particularly, she sees merit in my story, but found herself not liking the characters, and indeed she thought they all sounded the same. All of this is stuff I can work on - and I will - but what I cherish is that I finally have some constructive criticism.

Granted, this writer had only read the first 3 chapters of the novella, but the problems she found would be present throughout. And the funny thing is, this novella was the shortest work I'd done, but with all the editing I'll have to do to make my characters sound unique and have them be likeable, well, chances are it's going to get longer, and maybe even reach the length of a novel.

But one thing I am proud of: I seem to have a knack for plots. The only feedback I've had either liked my plot in book one, or saw merit in the plots of books 3 and 4. So I feel confident about my plot-making skills, even though my characterisation skills leave something to be desired. But, and here's what I hope for, there's a fair chance that all I'll ever need is 2 drafts of something - the first to get the plot down and get all the pieces in place, the second to do proper characterisation.

And as I get better at inserting characterisation after the fact, then surely I'll get better at putting it into the first draft right alongside my plot.

So I sit here, thinking, "Gee, I might actually get somewhere with this." And that's the best news I've heard in a while.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


Okay, so when I finished high school, I immediately went to University to study physics and maths. That didn't work out, and I quit halfway through. Cue a few years of working day jobs, and then I want to go back and study again.

So I go back, starting halfway through a science degree. But I don't remember the equations, and I don't remember correct protocol for lab write-ups, so I fail at that and quit again.

Then a couple of years later, bringing us to the start of 2010, I get told about this program run through an employment agency and Flinders Uni. It's an arts degree, but not the whole degree. It's run over 2 years, with 1 subject per semester, so 4 subjects total. They're all first-year subjects, so basically what you have after 2 years is a complete semester's worth of subjects for first year in an arts degree.

Well, I'm doing that, mostly because the first subject was Short Stories And Their Writers. I'm loving it so far, and next semester we have a social sciences subject. I don't know what it's called, or what we'll be studying next year.

There are 9 of us in the class, and most of those want to be teachers. Curiously, the only other guy in the class also, like me, wants to be a novelist.

So why am I telling you all this? Probably because it's on my mind, as I just wrote the second short story for class. 1313 words of pure alrightness. It's not my best work, but it's not my worst either. But it'll still be well-received in class, if my first story is anything to judge by.

These 2 shorts aren't for grades. They're just for class discussion, so we can learn a bit about editing and critiquing, and the basics of writing. For grades, we have an essay, a test, and a 2 thousand word short story to hand up.

Well, the essay was due last week. I came prepared in class, and my 2000 word essay was fairly good, if I say so myself. What I found when I got there, though, was that 3 people hadn't shown up, and the other 5 had all got extensions for over the holidays. So I was the only person to hand in my essay on time. That just bugs me a little.

Not that I was pressed for time, and not that extra time would've resulted in a better essay. It was about as good as it was going to get. But still - a deadline is a deadline.

I'm most surprised at the other guy in my class - the one who wants to be a novelist. Surely he must understand that authors have deadlines, so why is he getting an extension. Also, for the first short story we had to hand up for dissection and no grades, he hasn't finished it yet, and it was due 3 weeks ago! I'm just surprised, is all.

But enough about me. Do you come here often?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Wine and word count

As I sit here typing on my laptop, there is a nice glass of wine nearby. It's my treat for not having any bills this fortnight. But I begin to think about a very important part of writing - the output.

In my daydreams, I'm rich and living in my dream house on the beach, and my close family is all local. At the moment, I have a brother and his girlfriend who are in another state of Australia, and might be moving to England for a year or so. I also have a step-sister and her fiance living in England, and my dad and his wife are about 3 hours away by car.

The only part of my family that is near at hand is my sister, my mum and my mum's parents. But in my daydreams, we're all in the South of Adelaide, my home town and a place I dearly love. And we're going on a wine tour for my birthday, but that's besides the point. It is daydream land anyway, so I can do what I want.

But anyway, we're all local and I have my dream house, and a wife or fiancee, and I'm prolific writer. My entire family wants to read everything I write as soon as it's written (see, I'm coming back to output) - so I concoct a plan. I'm going to give everyone a flash drive and save all my writing to it. Then, whenever they come over, I can simply update their flash drive from my master file (and I have 3 flash drives myself, so I always have a backup). What this does is give them plenty to read before it comes out in stores, and for me, I now have half a dozen backups of my writing that aren't even in my house, so if my house burned down, it wouldn't be a problem. Well, past insurance claims, anyway.

But how much can I really write? Can I keep the family happy with how much I write, so if they only visit on weekends they'll still have plenty of new stuff to read?

I think I can. But only if by that point I'm a full time writer. I can write 1500 words in an hour on a good hour, and if I was full time and actually seeing money for my work, I could work many hours in the day and night.

I once wrote a 124,000 word novel in 2 months, and I could've done it quicker. My current goal is to learn how to write a 65,000 word novel in a single week. Let's think about it... those 2 months, the first month I hit 65,000 after 2 weeks or so. And I wasn't even writing all day every day. So really, I could feasibly manage a novel of that length in a week.

I have also learned that the speed with which I write doesn't affect my quality of writing. My first book took 5 months, and I love it to pieces, and I'd give it a 7 out of 10 on the first draft. The novel that was twice as long and only took 2 months, well, I'd have to give it a 7 too. It would've been an 8.5, but I fudged some of the outline of the second half, so a good portion of it needs rewriting, so it went down to 7 overall. If I split it in half, the first half would be an 8.5, and the second half a 6. The second half was written slower than the first half.

My second quickest book I am very happy with, and was 40,000 words in a month. I would give that an 8.5 too. So really, the speed with which I write doesn't affect the quality of my writing, unless you consider that the slower I write, typically the lower score it receives.

So learning to write a 65,000 word novel in a week shouldn't be a problem. It's just a matter of spending more time per day writing, and having plenty of outline done.

Yes, I'm an outliner. One of my internet friends is a very quick writer, and she rarely uses an outline. It works for her, and she has been known to say, "Why would I do an unneccessary outline when I can do just a good a job without one? It's just extra time and work." And I like that logic, but you see, I've tried writing without an outline, and I find myself waiting for inspiration, so the overall process takes more time anyway. For me.

An outline for me is pretty bare bones. It usually takes me 1 or 2 days. So let's say I do an outline for a book in 2 days. I then give myself a day off. Then it takes me a week to write 65,000 words constituting a novel. That's 10 days, which is a nice round number. That's where I hope to be when I'm writing full time.

This way, I can work in 3 week shifts. 10 days per book, then 11 days off while the next idea percolates and I spend time with my family, wife, internet friends, my blog, everything like that. And that's 3 weeks, and then the fun can start all over again.

There are 52 weeks a year. So if I do this 3 week thing, I can write 17 books in a year, and have an extra week to take all to myself. Probably the week of Christmas and New Year's Eve.

And why would I want to write 17 books a year? Don't most authors write simply 1 book a year, or maybe 2 at most? Maybe that's how many they publish, but not all books are destined for publication.

I have a saga or two in me that I want to see published at all costs. I will write them in 3 book bursts, and then do my all to see them in print, regardless of how much editing that entails. But those are all set in the same world, and will be printed under the same name. That's my *serious* writing business. I also want to write in several different genres under several different names. So while I may only release 2 of my saga books a year, that leaves 15 other books to try and get published in genres that I don't take as seriously as my sagas. I still take them seriously, mind you (they are business, after all), but my sagas are my babies. So let's say 5 books per different genre, and some of them won't be published. That sounds reasonable to me.

And if you're wondering how insane I am for wanting to put myself through this, consider another internet friend I have. She writes in one genre under 2 different names. All her books are stand-alones, so they're not part of a saga, so she can query each book as it's written. She wrote 1 million words last year. Yup, 1 million, for the same genre. She's also sold 7 books in a year under her 2 different names.

But let's do the numbers. My books are typically 40-65,000 words. Let's be generous and say 65,000. My books that are longer than that will be about 120,000 words each, on average, and I'll give them 2 weeks of writing as opposed to one - so 2 3-week cycles in a row of outline, write, break, ouline, write, break. So that's still basically 65,000 words per 3 weeks, and there will be 17 of those cycles.

65,000 times 17 = 1,105,000 words. 1.1 million. And my friend did just over a million herself last year. So it's entirely possible, especially if I forget to take an 11 day break at some point a couple of times. And she's sold 7 books in a year, keeping up with the editing and querying process.

So really, I think this is a viable plan, and something to aim for. But hell, when I think about being that dedicated I'm already making enough off writing to be able to pay for a beach house, so the motivation would be there. At the moment it's just a daydream that I am incessantly working towards. Who knows? In 5 years time it might be a reality.

In 5 years time, my family might all be local, and I can go on a wine tour for my birthday with my wife and family, and be producing 1 million words a year and selling 7 books a year. To say that I envy my friend would be a bit misleading. I don't believe it's possible to envy someone for something that you know you can do yourself, if only you become dedicated.

And I am dedicated. I just haven't started producing that much work yet. I have other life stuff going on, and I've let myself be slack, because I have yet to see a pay out for all the hard work.

But even as we speak, one of my books, one that I gave 8.5 out of 10 and am very happy with, is with a beta reader. Once I get it back from her, I can send it out to publishers and agents, and who knows, I might just find my payout to give me the output dedication I so greatly desire.

I might not even have to get a day job! It will be an uphill battle, but I believe in myself, and I want it so bad. Watch me do it.

And now for some more wine!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Finding time to write

On a message board I frequent, there was a discussion on how to find time to write. Now, I'm unemployed right now, under order of my doctor, until some time next month when I can legally look for work again. I'm also unattached - no wife, no kids. So for me, it's not so much about finding the time, but convincing myself that it isn't a pipe dream and getting my butt in the chair.

I usually write for an hour at a time, and can get quite a bit done. I have no trouble putting myself in the right time and place for the setting of the story. What can I say? I've spent most of my life day dreaming, so putting myself into a made up world with characters that don't exist comes really easy for me. And it's fun. I love it to bits.

But then, I still rarely do more than 2 hours of writing a day. Granted, I get a fair amount done, but I feel lazy. It makes me feel guilty to watch DVDs or read books, even though they keep my imagination whetted, which is rather important.

But come next month, and hopefully I'll get a job quick smart (really, I need the money, and part of my plans of world domination involve working a day job until my writing is popular enough for Phase 2.) and so I won't have to worry about feeling lazy - if I get any writing done at all it'll be extra work that I didn't have to do, for no money straight away.

The problem then will be having the energy to keep up with it. If I work in the city in a 9-5 job, chances are I won't get home till about 7pm every Monday to Friday. I had a job after I wrote my first book, and I had that job for 6 months. I said in the interview that I had just written a book, and I said what I really wanted was to work AND write at the same time. That's where I wanted to be in my life. But what happened was that I was so worn out that I didn't write.

So what'll be different this time? Well, this time I've written more than 1 book, got involved in a writing forum, did NaNo, doing Script Frenzy this month, and I now have clear cut goals that I know are possible to achieve that will give me a better life than just working a day job.

So I have to hope that I'll be able to work into the evening and get stuff done, and keep the reading for in bed at night, and the DVDs for the weekend.

When I first started writing seriously, it was during NaNo. I wrote in the mornings and afternoon and not in the evening. As I progressed from November, I started leaving my writing later and later, until it was afternoon and evening but not morning. Now in Script Frenzy, I've yet to write earlier than 7.30pm. So even if my new job means I'll be getting home at 7, I'm now used to writing in the evening.

It's not just past 8pm here in sunny South Australia, and I haven't written anything. But I won't be going to bed till at least 11, and I've run out of things to do on the Internet once this blog entry is done. So hopefully I can get some work done. At least an hour.

The way I figure it, to be a full-time writer, keeping up with deadlines and the like, and writing in multiple genres under different names (more releases), I figure I need to spend at least 2 hours a day writing new material, plus any time extra for editing.

That's to meet my goal.

To just be published, I can keep going how I am. But I have Plans, capital P. So I need to put in the extra effort.

Anyway, I'm not going to start querying until I've done a lot more work, and I want to get that done as quickly as possible, so even if I get a full time job, I need to find a way to work 2 hours of writing into each and every day, while still reading and watching DVDs.

I can do it. I have to.

But for now, I'll just work on my script, which isn't a pressing matter. I'm supposed to do 100 pages this month, and I'm up to 52 and it's only the 13th. I figure I'll do somewhat over 100, but not by much, and then the next month is where I have to get serious, not just about writing, but about life in general.

If I'm going to have the lifestyle I want, I have to tread a very precise road.

Basically what I'm saying is, wish me luck. And hi.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Script Frenzy and the building of an Empire!

Well, I'm working on building my empire this month. How? you ask. Simple. I'm writing.

April every year is Script Frenzy (google it, I dare you!) - where you have to write 100 pages of script in 30 days. Whether it is a movie, a play, a comic book or, like what I'm doing, a TV show, it has to be 100 pages. It's actually pretty simple. With the formatting I'm meant to use, 50 pages is roughly 7.5 thousand words. So really, 15-20 thousand words in a month isn't much. And there are guides on the Script Frenzy site that tell you how to format the different endeavours.

So, 15 thousand words sounds like a lot, right? In 30 days? That's only 500 words a day! Never mind that NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month or simply NaNo) is 50 thousand words in 30 days!

But enough of me pimping out these internet competitions (really, google them!) ... I'm here to talk about my empire!

Let me preface this by saying that I have written 4 books so far, all in different series or genres. And then there's the 2/3rds of a book that is the sequel to my very first attempt at novel writing. Well, that first novel is still the love of my life. After Script Frenzy is over (and I've done maybe 3 episodes of a TV show) I'll be going back to that sequel and finishing it off. Why finish a sequel when the first book hasn't sold yet?

I'll tell you why.

Because I have plans. Devious, wicked plans of world domination. In those plans, the first step is to have the first trilogy written before I query agents and publishers with the first book. When the first book is accepted, then I'll tell the agent, "Oh, by the way, I have books 2 and 3 already finished... you know, if you want to take a look at them?"

Step 1 of the plan falls into place as my agent reads all 3 books and falls in love with them. She now pimps that entire series to publishers. Step 2 is where the publisher of my choice (with all hope) offers a 3-book contract on that trilogy, and I spend the next couple of years editing them to demand, and writing the next trilogy.

But never mind books 4-6 yet. That trilogy waits for another day. No, what happens next is Step 3: my 3-movie deal with a major Hollywood agency! So, while those movies are being made, I get the next 3-book deal for books 4-6, and I start pimpin out merchandise on a website. That's step 4.

Step 5 is the movie deals for books 4-6. Step 6 is publishing book 7, and step 7 is getting the movie deal. But step 8 is where all my hard work of this month (and countless months in the following years) pays off - the 3-season TV show!

So there you have it. 7 books, 7 movies, a 3-season TV show, and finally my characters are spent. But there's more to it - no, not just merchandise. There's the reality TV show (which I will NOT give details of - it's a secret), which goes for 2 seasons. There's the band that I will write lyrics for, who will get a 3-CD contract with further projects to be decided upon later. There's also the chain of fast food restaurants, designed specifically so that if they flop McDonalds can take the shop over and not have to do any major remodelling, and then there's also 1 theme park on every continent, which will draw money from the local government due to all the tourism that will come their way.

And did I mention the merchandise store, that sells everything from clothing to jewellery to makeup to musical instruments? This chain of stores will be owned by the Hollywood company (giving me royalties of course) or maybe the publisher or maybe the record label or maybe all 3 together, and the money from that will go towards my next big project: living fat and happy.

Well, actually, after I've built that empire I'll be spending my time doing it all over again with a different series. Even if I'm a billionaire, I'll still want to write.

And all this can be mine in around 7 years or so. So yes, this month I'm building my empire. Right now I'm laying the foundations: establishing the setting and themes of the TV show. After April's Script Frenzy is over, I'll be working on my 7 books, which is more foundation laying.

The hard part is going to be keeping a straight face and not having a heart attack when I sign my first million dollar contract.

And if I sound delusional, don't mind me. I'm just a man with a plan. Granted, I need other people to like my writing, so I haven't forgotten that this is a multi-person venture. But there's no telling what rich people will be willing to spend when they think they can make money off of me. The fact that I'm making money right beside them is just good business sense - keep everyone involved happy.

But I've rambled enough. I have a script to write! Be good to yourselves, faithful readers. (And if you're an agent reading this and want to be a part of my empire, please, let me grovel at your feet and submit the first book, whether I've finished the first three in accordance with The Plan or not... really, I'm an excellent groveller. I'm the youngest of three. You learn things.)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Woo, my very own blog post! And it's not even my birthday!

Greetings, Internetters! You will immediately notice that this is a blog, but we'll come back to that in a moment. More important is that I use the exclamation mark far too much in my Internetting. You see, I'm on a diet - I'm trying to cut out the serial comma from my intake, and as always, one vice is replaced by another. Here it is the exclamation mark replacing the serial comma. !!! They're everywhere!

But back to this being a blog. Yes, you're right, I should do an introduction of sorts. This is "Cliff Face's Writerly Musings" - and I am Cliff Face. Oh, but it's a pen name, so don't worry. You can call me Bic if you'd like, though I won't hear you. And yes, I am a writer. An unpublished, unemployed writer of some talents. Oh, don't you worry - one day I'll have a mighty empire founded in the written word, and then I can say to you all, "See, I told you I wasn't illiterate!"

You should also be warned that I use dashes far too much - see, there's one now (and I use brackets a fair bit too!) - but that's neither here nor there.

Anyway, I promised someone I would link them to my blog as soon as I had made my first post, so I'll at least attempt to cut this ramble short, and not go on and on in my fictional ways.

More to come! Stay tuned, and if you go out of tune, a music shop should be able to fix you up.