Technology is your friend. 

Normally when people expound on the virtues of technology, as it relates to the writer’s craft, I tend to go straight for the disasters of spell checker. After that, there is google search for the words spell checker doesn’t know exists yet, and Wikipedia for the general information and stuff. That’s about as technology oriented as I get. I view having to type out a book into Word so other people can use it as a necessary evil. Necessary, but definitely evil. 

As a rule, except for blogging, I write longhand. That is, with pen and paper. Yes, like you did in school. After the joy of writing, then comes the drugery of typing. 

But, after typing five manuscripts I have discovered the technological benefits of Windows Split-Screen. It is probably the coolest thing that’s happened to me in a while. 

Originally I would take each chapter out and set it next to the computer and open up the Word program. Then, after coffee and emotional bracing, I would start typing. You look at the paper and read a sentence or two. You type a sentence or two. You look back to the paper and read a couple more sentences. And so on, and so forth, ad infanitum. It really is a big pain. 

Yet, as of late, I have found that my computer has a split-screen option. So now, I take the manuscript and scan it to PDF. Once I have the manuscript on PDF, I put the PDF and word up in split-screen. This way, it’s everything on the same screen. It’s way easier to go from one document to another. It’s generally less work. And, the scans of my bad handwriting are generally easy to read. 

It has taken a good deal of axnxiety out of the drudgery that is typing. Which is, in every respect, very cool. 

Technology, apparently, can be useful. 

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Blessed darkness

I’ve never been one to settle on a specific genre. I have too many varied interests. And, I get bored easily. So, I look around and want to try new things. 

That being said, you are always a product of your first love. That one thing that you find and realize that you know it better than other things. That thing that makes you believe you can tell stories about it. That thing, for me, was the darkness. 

 I started my pursuit of storytelling with the occult. The landscape of vampires and the darkness of the night. I have always been drawn to the more opaque views of existence. I find that they make the best stories, not only for the storyteller but for the audience as well. 

My lack of staying power, squirrel!, has led me off in other directions. Out of the darkness and into other worlds. The worlds of the long-lost Knights Templar, the secretive world of international spies, and the salvagers of deep space. Worlds that are very different for the darkness from which I started. 

It is sad to say, but I have come to find that those marvelous worlds did not bring me the satisfaction that the darkness has brought me. Satisfaction, or happiness, curiosity, drive, passion, maybe all of those things. I have found that I am quite comfortable in the world of the less-tangible. 

I have come to this understanding just recently. It wasn’t through writing, those it explains the malaise I’ve been going through. It came from watching television. Yup, the box that melts your brain. It actually has some intriguing things on it. 

Since the day that I saw the previews for it, I have wanted to watch Penny Dreadful. Unfortunately, I didn’t get Showtime, so it was not to be. But, once I stumbled upon Netflix, I found it was there waiting for me. I also always thought they made 4 seasons of the show. So, when the small words “The End” came up at the end of season 3, I was at a loss. 

I found that it wasn’t the loss of a season I was going to miss, but the darkness of the series. It took on all the things that great fiction takes on, all of the shadowy places and unpopular ideas. 

It was then that I understood why I was having a writer’s malaise over the last year or so. It was the brightness of the worlds I have invested my time in. They have lacked shadow and a sense of dangerous ground. Not dangerous to life and limb, as spies lead dangerous lives. It was the dangerous spiritual darkness that warms my soul. I had set it down, somewhere along the way and forgot to pick it back up. 

This revelation is good news! Well, good news for me. I have been wanting to write something more dangerous after my half-finished sci-fi deep space adventure. Now I know that I need to go back to my roots. Maybe not all the way back to the world of my friend, the vampire Lady Sara Anne Grey, but to somewhere that makes people nervous and unsettled as they read. 

I write the things I want to read. Maybe, I want to read for occult works. Yes, maybe. 

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Character Descriptions

I tend to do my character development the same for each new project. Normally, I start with a name. I find a name that I like. Sometimes, this takes longer than you think. 

But, what’s in a name, you ask? Actually, quite a bit. The name, and the station that individual holds in the story tells me a lot about what they are going to end up looking like.

With the a name and a context for the individual, I then flesh out the details of the character. These include physical features, small quirks, and tattoos, education, current occupation, parents status, etc. I write it all down in a standard template method in a book notebook. This way, the character stays the same throughout the story. They also stay the same when they are brought forward into new stories. 

I have found that this process works quite well for me through a solid half dozen finished stories. So, it’s also no great surprise that I decided to change it for this new story. I know, find a process that works, and keep it.

It just seemed to me that this new project required a new take on the characters. The story is going to contain much more sexual deviance than anything I’ve done to date. The individuals involved need to match what was in my mind’s eye. 

To help with this, I decided to go after the a person or couples sexual preference and deviances first. Next, came the names. Then, I spend a bunch of time cruising the Internet to find images of what I wanted the individual to look like. 

Now, I need to take each one of them and flesh out the rest of thier backstory and personality. That will still be a great amount of work. There are a lot of characters. But, I feel good about this approach. It seems right for this project. 

I’m sure that when I go back to write a follow up work for one of the established series that are going, I will return to the time tested method. For now, this new approach is a pleasant change. 

I say it good to change it up. Now, and again. 

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The winds of change.

And, as soon as inspiration hits, it’s replaced by different inspiration. Case in point, the new Sara Grey story I was going on about. Ya, it’s on the back burner again.

I know. Right? 

This is the way things work in my little corner of the universe. It’s not even remotely cast in stone around here. Here’s the story. 

I was Netflixing the other day (minus the and chill part) and ended up cruising the Internet on my phone. Nothing in particular. Just FB, Twitter, some Boom Beach, and other random crap. In the midst of it, I had an revelation. I had a thought that totally drew together a story project I’ve been working on for a year or two. 

I had always had half a story. Half a story that I couldn’t figure out how to tie all the pieces together. Then …. Cute Internet chick, quick thought, love interest idea, and BOOM! Oh Hell, it all makes sense now. 

So, for two days after that, I thought day and almost all night about this new book that has been lingering five books down on my to-do list. It rose out of obscurity and became my next must-do project. 

After thinking, and thinking, and some more thinking, I sat and penned the first half of the outline for the story. And, it’s good! Damned good by my standards. It’s gonna be awesome!

So, as quickly as something good came, it was replaced by something better. I have a lot of work left to do before I can start writing, but I can’t wait to start writing. I’ve never written a murder mystery before. It will all be a new experience. 

I’ll make sure I bring you all along for the ride. 

Later! 

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Old Gods on New Streets.

You never forget the ones you love. That’s true, wether it be real life people or fictional book character people. 

I remember thinking when I finished writing Progression: A Sara Grey Tale, that I was finished with that story. Time to move onto other projects. I’d had a full run of vampires at that point. Maybe some science fiction? Maybe a good thriller? (Turned out to be a couple of thrillers)

There were many new projects to be considered. I thought I might write another vampire story at some point. It might be based around Anyonio, Sara’s vampire lover and creator. That would be a good story! But, it could wait. 

I created a completely new world. It revolved around Kristin Hughes and her international nuke hunting team. Good stuff, actually.  But there in the background, Sara has always been with me. A constant happy companion. 

About a month ago, I started watching a show called Lost Girl on Netflix. It’s about a girl who’s a Succubus. It was good. Interestingly, it had a unintended side effect on my subconscious mind. Somewhere in the back of it,  Sara Grey was resurrected and brought to the fore. 

Sounds crazy but it took like a week and I had a whole story outline figured out in my mind. It took like another two days and I had figured out location, timing, and side characters pretty well. I had pulled the vampire universe back out of the void and blew the dust off of it. 

So now, apparently I’m writing a new vampire book. Not a nice easy offshoot about some second tier character, but a full blown new story about our main heroine. Old gods on new streets indeed! 

It’s cool, vampires make me calm. It’s all good.

Pen and parchment, here we go.

Later.

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The end is always bittersweet.

The ending. That point in a not-so-new story when you pull it all together and put a bow on it. Personally, I always find writing these last few chapter to be a tad melancholy. You know that you’re just about to be done writing something that you’ve been working on for a long time. It leaves a feeling of creative withdrawal.

Obviously, your connection to the story you have created is by no means over. There is typing, and proofreading, and editing, and progressing, and ugh! The stuff that needs to get done to make a book out of a story comes after the creativity. That is work, not storytelling. 

The creative process is the thing that fuels writers. I mean, no body go into being an author because they love fixing grammar. I mean, nobody! Writer’s write, because they have stories to tell. They just tell their stories with pen and parchment, as opposed to fire pit and loud speaker. Okay, well annunciated speech? 

Anyway, the end of the story is the end of the story. It’s the culmination of your work. It’s the time to think about the next story. That one that’s been brewing in the back of your skull all the time you have been writing this current story. Still, the one you have is your current love, and you want it to go on and on and on. (Emotionally, not really. No one wants to read War and Peace these days.)

So, you wind it up and tie it off. You pull it all together and finish it up. The sense of closure plays with your emotions. You want to not finish it, so you still have it, but you don’t. And it’s passing into completeness is bittersweet. But, it must be done.

For full disclosure, I still have about 2 chapters left to write. I’m just projecting my feelings forward a little. LOL

At least, that’s my 2 cents.

Later.

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Loose ends. 

I equally love and hate the climax of any story that I’m writing. I love it, because you have reached the point in the story where it all comes together. I hate it, because now you have to go about tying up all the loose ends that you have left scattered about. Yup. More work. 

You might think that tying up the loose ends is a trivial task? Sometimes it is, and most times it is not. If you’ve been precise throughout your storytelling, then most of the loose ends will fix themselves as you wrap up the final chapters of the story. If you have not been attentive to all of the extra information you have inserted into your storyline (this is usually always the case with me), well then you have to go back through the story diligently and make sure everything is accounted for. Yup. More work. 

I tend to do the loose ends cleanup when I’m typing the handwritten chapters into the computer. The typing gives me time to clean up the individual chapter that I’m working on, to add dimension and extra information when necessary, and to spot loose ends. I don’t tend to see them when I’m writing, because I’m normally in the moment of the story and busy getting it out of my head and into paper. If for some reason I’m not in the moment as I’m writing, I usually stop and go do something else. You can always tell when an author didn’t have his heart in what he/she was writing. Always. 

I think that, in general, you need to have stepped back from the immediacy of the storytelling to be able to see the loose ends, and to be able to see where they need to be tied back in. Knowing where to tie things up is also important, it helps keep the flow of the story smooth. Personally, I tend to bring it all together toward the end, as it climaxes. It just seems better that way. At least to me.

Well, that’s my two cents. 

Get a pen and paper, and get after it!

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