Category Archives: Contests

Feedback Received For Draft 2

So I gave Draft 2 to a couple of people and got some excellent feedback on it, particularly from my brother.  He gave my submission a really thorough read over; today we sat down and talked about everything.  I was really glad that he picked up on the one problem chunk I mentioned last time (the part of the story that I’ve been thinking should go),  so we talked about that.  He gave me some great ideas for how I can go about fixing it.

Now I’m going to take some time to really figure out what I want to do.  I’m going to have to go back and look at the characters again (particularly the Gelfling) to decide where the story wants to go from here.  I don’t have a lot of time left (the contest closes in about 4 weeks), but I’m considering a major rewrite of some of the middle pieces.  I’m going to sleep on it though, and make a definite decision tomorrow before beginning draft 3.


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Draft 2 Completed!

This is about a day behind schedule, but I am finished the second draft of my Author Quest submission.  The second draft came in at 7,855 words, about 350 words longer than the finished first draft.  I’m really happy with that word count, as I was able to completely remove the chunk I wrote to finish off the first draft; that chunk was written in a writing sprint and wasn’t something I initially wanted to include, so I’m glad I could remove it without worrying about the word length.

I spent a lot of time in this draft fixing characters and dialogue.  I took a couple of days to work on some of my characters, particularly the Gelfling, in order to make sure their characters were consistent.  One in particular, named Keefe, seemed to be one thing and then went and did something that seemed very out of character, so I spent a lot of time smoothing that out.  I also had the Skeksis Emperor do something similar, so I worked really hard to fix that, too.

I also started working on the setting and descriptions.  The one place that I had a lot of trouble visualizing was the Skeksis laboratory.  So I sat down and sketched it out while watching Dark Crystal scenes on Youtube.  In the end, I think I’ve got a pretty good handle on the layout.  I also made a real point of trying to fix up descriptions of people and places.  I’m sure what I’ve got now will still need some work, but I think it’s a good start.

I ran into a couple of snags while I was working on this draft.  The first one was when I started debating about whether or not to keep a chunk of my story.  I liked what had been written, but it’s possible the story would be better without it.  In the end, a friend advised me to keep it for now, as I can always fix it later if I need to.

The second snag was when I wrote about a character panicking.  That got me thinking about whether or not the creatures of Thra (Gelfling in particular) have hearts and lungs.  I spent most of an evening trying to research that, but couldn’t come to any conclusions one way or the other.  If anyone knows the answer to this question, I would appreciate it if you could let me know either here or on Twitter.  If no one replies (and I can’t find the answer on my own), I’m going to have to assume that they do for the purposes of my story.

So the contest is over on the 31st of December.  I have just under a month now to fix up my submission.  With that in mind, I’m planning on letting a few people read it so I can get some feedback to help with the edits.

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Beginning the Edits

After leaving my first draft alone for a couple of days, it’s time to start editing.  As my first step, I reread what I had written. As I had expected, there’s a lot wrong with it. The dialogue is rather clumsy. So is a lot of the description. There’s an awful lot of repetition. The setting needs a lot of work. So do many of the characters. And of course there’s that chunk I wrote to finish off the draft, which wasn’t gone over the way everything else was; that’s going to need a lot of work.

But in the middle of everything, I also found a lot of things that I liked. Once the story got going, for the most part it seemed to move along rather nicely. This was really thanks to the Skeksis, and one in particular. The scenes with him were just as much fun to read as they were to write. While I know that the rewrites are rather extensive, the scenes with him made me feel like I am on the right track.

So having reread what I’ve written, it’s time to start fixing everything up. My plan is to start with the characters, making sure they’re all solid before even attempting to rewrite their dialogue.

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Draft 1 Completed!

I wrote an awful lot today.  A few days ago, I managed to get draft 1 up to about 4,500 words.  I then hit a snag, where I wrote some dialogue that I really, really liked.  But it didn’t work at all for the story (it felt like I’d written myself into a wall, where there was nowhere to turn).  So I spent some time mulling the scene over, trying to figure out where exactly it went wrong and what I could do to fix it.  In the end I realized that most of the dialogue I liked had to go, so I killed it and powered on through about 3000 words, bringing the draft up to the required 7,500 words I need to submit it to the contest.  Along the way, I also fixed up the remaining problem areas of my original four sections.

Having gotten the length I wanted, I’ve decided that now is the perfect time to put the story aside for a couple of days before beginning a round of editing.  I’m quite interested to see what will need to be fixed once I give myself a bit of space from the story.  I know for a fact that there are some areas that will need extensive edits, as well as some smaller things that will need changing.  But all of that can wait  as I take a break and celebrate this draft being finished!

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Draft 1 is Slowly Shaping Up!

The first draft of my Author Quest submission is starting to shape up.  Last week I came up with a much more exciting beginning to the story.  With that in place, I’ve had to rework a lot of the other pieces I’d already written but it’s been well worth it.  Everything is now reading a lot better.

The main thing that I added was a new character named Keefe.  Well, he isn’t really new per se, as I had planned on using him later in the story.  But originally the opening was very bland, full of a lot of exposition and very little dialogue.  Bringing Keefe into the story right from the beginning has given me a lot of room to draw out character and move things along without having to be bogged down in explaining everything.  Of course, adding him to the beginning has meant I’ve had to change a lot, which has been a really good thing for the story.

So with that said, I originally had four sections which I wanted to keep but knew needed very much to be fixed.  I have since “fixed” three of them.  The revisions are by no means perfect, and will themselves needed to be worked on, but the story is now flowing much better since I have reworked what I have.  I’m also currently up to 6 sections and just over 4000 words (although I’m not sure where the word count will be once I make the necessary revisions to that remaining unfixed section).

One thing I’m not really sure about yet is whether to submit my story in chapters or not.  So far I’ve just been separating the different sections and not worrying about it, but I have identified one place where I could easily put in a chapter break.  I’m not too worried about this right now though; I’ll just have to decide when I’m getting closer to submitting this story.

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No NaNoWriMo For Me This Year

I gave it a lot of thought, but decided not to participate in NaNoWriMo this year.

The biggest factor in this decision is that I want to devote my writing time to the Dark Crystal Author Quest.  I currently have a couple of thousand words written, but am going back constantly and editing things.  I considered writing a Dark Crystal novel during NaNoWriMo and using the parts of it that I liked as part of my submission, but that would leave me with only a month to polish things; in the end I decided that doing what I’m doing now is for the best.

I also toyed around with the idea of writing several short stories that would total 50,000 words.  Those I could use as part of my writing goals for the year (goals that have largely fallen by the wayside for a variety of reasons).  But once again, I decided that I need to focus on my Author Quest submission and thanks to some other commitments, don’t want to juggle any more projects at this time.

So I’m going to pass on NaNoWriMo this year.  But best of luck to everyone who is participating!

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An Outline for Author Quest

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been working on creating a rough outline for my entry to the Dark Crystal Author Quest.  I’ve been playing around with characters and plot a little bit, making a working outline, which I’ve been modifying as needed.  About a day or two ago, I had an outline which I was relatively happy with.  I also re watched the movie a few days ago with some friends.  We talked a bit about how the Skeksis were, giving me some ideas for writing a few scenes.  So all in all, I felt ready to start my first draft.

Then today, I was doing a bit of research on the Emperor, skekSo, and totally had my mind blown.  In the movie you don’t get to know much about him (besides that he is terrifying to the other Skeksis, as evidenced by their interactions with him), so I was trying to get a feel for how to write a scene with him in it.  And it turns out that the young skekSo is pretty much the opposite of how I envisioned him.  But it doesn’t matter: the opposite is so much better!

Armed with this new information, I’ve got to rework my outline a bit.  But I am super excited for where I can take things now that I have a better understanding of his character.

It’s at times like these that I really love writing!

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Dark Crystal Author Quest

A few months ago, a friend of mine saw a link to the Dark Crystal Author Quest.  The Jim Henson Company is looking for an author to pen a new novel in the Dark Crystal universe and my friend wants me to enter it (of course, this is also the same friend who every time I see her, she asks if I’m rich and famous yet.  So I think this is her way of encouraging me towards fame and fortune and the eventual lending of said future fortunes).

When I first heard of the contest, I was excited for it, but had a really hard time thinking of the Dark Crystal as a universe; for me, the film has always seemed self-contained.  So over the summer I got my hands on some of the graphic novels (notably Creation Myths Vol 1 and 2, and Legends of the Dark Crystal: the Garthim War).  Reading through those books made the world come alive for me in a way that the movie never really seemed to.  Sure, there were some things that seemed a little wrong to me in the new stories (the movie always made me think there used to be many Skeksis and Mystics, not just eighteen because of the line “Yet now, there are only ten: a dying race, ruled by a dying Emperor, imprisoned within themselves in a dying land”).  But now the Dark Crystal seems much more than just the story of Jen and Kira; now it actually feels like a land with many more stories.

The contest officially opened earlier this week and runs to the end of December.  I have an idea for a story, so wish me luck as I fix it up and submit it in the coming months!


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