Friday, April 24, 2015

Apostate 0.2

    Day 5 of my apostacy.
     There is no Heaven but clarity, No Hell except confusion.
     -- Jan Struther 
     In our last episode, I was reading Rachel Aaron; 2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better and Libbie Hawker; Take Off Your Pants! concurrently. I stopped that.
     Both Rachel and Libbie use a three-legged stool metaphor and give detailed suggestions for outlining. Reading both concurrently, I confused who said what and was not able to keep them straight.
     Since I began WFWB first, I shall read it through to a conclusion. Then I shall return to TOYP.

     So you wanna know my word count? Yeah, of course you do.
Day 1: 1,424
Day 2: 814
Day 3: 824
Day 4: 0
Day 5: 3,069 (Equal to my best day ever.)
     If you missed them before, here are the links to the posts in this series: 
Apostate 0.1

     And links to the books:
Rachel Aaron; 2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better
Libbie Hawker; Take Off Your Pants!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Apostate 0.1

     Half an hour ago, I decided to blog my conversion to pantser apostate step by step. Twenty-five minutes ago, I figured out 'step by step' reporting was impossible, so I settled for reporting by milepost.

     This is the first milepost.

     So you can follow along, let me tell you how I will organize these posts.
     My conversion shall be based on these two books:
1. Rachel Aaron; 2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better and
2. Libbie Hawker; Take Off Your Pants!
     Because I'm lazy, I shall refer to Rachel's book as WFWB and to Libbie's as TOYP.  When it's not too much trouble, I shall italicize the abbreviations. 
     I read both WFWB and TOYP concurrently on my Kindle. I just started 'em.  I've read far enough in WFWB that Rachel has named the three legs of her method -- Knowledge, Time, and Enthusiasm -- and I've read her descriptions of the first two (okay, now I've read all three). In TOYP, Libbie has laid out the Story Core (she chose to capitalize the term) and gave examples, but 16% deep into TOYP she's still selling me the book.
     When I finish both books, the post I write then will be Apostate 2.0.
     When I finish one book, the post I write will be Apostate 1.0.
     Between Apostate 1.0 and Apostate 2.0, the posts will be titled Apostate 1.1, Apostate 1.2, Apostate 1.3, and so on.
     Until I finish the first book the posts will be titled Apostate 0.1, Apostate 0.2, and so on. 
     Get it? *;) winking 

     In the Gospel according to Rachel, Knowledge is the outline. It is the map that shows you where to go and how to get there. 
     This is what I expected.
     I have mapped out my writing before. I mean, I finished my writing for the day and left myself notes about what I wanted to see happen next in the story, which characters were where, what was at stake, and what I needed to set up the next scene. This was my map. It formed the skeleton for me to write over the next day. And because I appended it to the end of the day's writing, I often literally wrote over it.
     I do not know if this is what Rachel meant by Knowledge, but this is the way I took it. So I spent 5, maybe 10 minutes sketching out where I was going and how I was going to get there in the next several thousand words in my work-in-progress.

     So how did I do in my first day of apostacy? That's all you really care about, isn't it?

     Drum roll . . . .

     Day 1 as an Apostate: 1,424 words. 

     Disappointed? I'm not. That's my third highest daily word count this month. And here is the kicker.
     I spent my morning in a dentist's chair having a crown applied. I started my 'day job' this afternoon, and because I started late, I stayed at it until 8pm. Next came dinner and then I got to write.
     My day's word count came from less than an hour of writing.

     But you wanna know what's really great about that? Greater than the speed? 

     Drum roll . . . .

     I was excited about the writing. I was enthused. I knew where I was going and the words poured out of my fingers. I enjoyed it more than I enjoyed writing since 'Certified Street' grabbed me in my sleep and drug me to the keyboard at 3 in the morning.

     Dean Wesley Smith calls his style (pantsing) 'writing into the dark', so I'm not going to apologize for calling pantsing The Dark Side.
     I now write on The Light Side.

The Jedi has returned. *:D big grin 

Saturday, April 18, 2015


     I am a pantser. That means I write by the seat of my pants. I follow Stuart Woods's procedure for writing: I read what I wrote yesterday, I edit that, and then I write today's copy.
     No outline.
     Well, sometimes I leave myself notes at the end of the day about where the story is and where it is going. More often than not, I write into the dark like Dean Smith
     Sometimes this creates disconnects in the story, and I have to go back and change something that happened pages and pages before. Just this week, I wrote one scene three times. It started with six characters sitting at a table. Then I realized that two of them had to be elsewhere, so there were only four at the table. Next I realized that two had to be off doing something else, so only two could be at the table. That means my progress for day one was 2,194 words; day two, 123 words; day three, 0 words.
     Keep this in mind. 

     I believe that writing is art; publishing is business. Write for love; publish for money. 
     I have business goals. To meet those goals, I need to write 4,000 words a day. I have never written 4,000 words a day in my life. Recall my progress on that one scene in the paragraph above.
     How did I discover that?
     To regain the habit of daily writing, I enrolled in NaNoWriMo Camp for April. I set my word count goal at 60,000, which divides down to 2,000 words a day. I saw this as a stepping stone to achieving my goal of 4,000 words a day.
     By 05 April -- 5 days in (goal: 10,000 words) -- I had written 6,424 words. I saw I was falling behind. I set up a spreadsheet to record my writing progress.
     By 18 April -- 18 days in (goal: 36,000 words) -- I had written 13,330 words. *:-O surprise
    The evidence is persuasive beyond a reasonable doubt. Pantsing will not support my business goals. 

     I like David Gaughran. David has earned my trust and my respect. When he talks, I listen.
     David recently (that is, yesterday) wrote of his troubles as a pantser and of making the switch to plotting. He recommended two books: Rachel Aaron; 2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better and Libbie Hawker; Take Off Your Pants!
     Any book that promises to take my writing from 2,000 to 10,000 words a day gets my attention. I have heard and heard and heard about Libbie's book for the last month. It has my attention now.
     Rachel's ebook is 99¢. Libbie's is $2.99. I am grateful that these how-to-become-a-plotter books are inexpensive. 

     I am a pantser. I shall become a plotter.


Monday, April 13, 2015

eBook Review: Beat the Last Drum

Thomas FlemingBeat the Last Drum: The Siege of Yorktown 

  • Product Details

    • File Size: 3851 KB
    • Print Length: 278 pages
    • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
    • Publisher: New Word City, Inc.; 1 edition (February 26, 2015)
    • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
    • Language: English
    • ASIN: B00U2MF8WG
    • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
    • X-Ray: Enabled
    • Word Wise: Not Enabled
    • Lending: Enabled
    • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars (16 customer reviews)
    • Price: $2.99 

1. Short review: *:D big grin (Amazon rating: 5 out of 5 stars -- I love it. Will read it again soon.)

2. Long review:
2.1. What I liked: I enjoyed Beat the Last Drum very much. I looked forward to returning to my Kindle to read it. In its place, I now read Bushido. I plan to read BtLD again once I finish Bushido.  It is that good.
Roller-coaster or walk-in-the-park? A roller coaster punctuated with walks in the park.
Outstanding value for the money. Easily worth ten times the price I paid.

2.2. What I did not like: Does not apply. First to last, it's good.

2.3. On the basis of reading this book, will I buy the author's next book? Yes. Searching for more books by Thomas Fleming.

2.4. The work in a nutshell:
     BtLD is a comprehensive history of the Yorktown campaign. It covers the naval actions -- French and British -- that determined the outcome, Washington's march from New York to Virginia (no small feat), the siege, the dithering of Clinton and Graves, Cornwallis's surrender, and the effect the news of the surrender had on affairs in England.
     TF managed to give his history immediacy by including excerpts from journals and letters written by American, French, and English generals and sergeants, too. He included letters from German troops pressed into service for England.
     I knew the ending before I began, but TF still made it exciting. I felt the surrender negotiations would collapse at any moment over trifles.

2.5. Other:
     There is so much in BtLD that I find it hard to choose a start. 
     History is best and most true when it is not written as history but is written as a near-contemporaneous record for another purpose.  Arthur Gould Lee wrote the letters that make up the majority of No Parachute to ease his wife's fears; the excerpts from his diary give the lie to his letters. Thus his book is a better story of the RFC in 1917 than the official history.
     Before I have written that history is about lies. The closer the sources are to the events and the less their intent is to record them for public consumption, the more true they are. Such histories lie less. When these are collected, lies creep in because the editor chooses which sources to include and which to exclude.
     In college, a professor shared his monograph with me. The thrust of the monograph was that DuPont built a gunpowder mill on the first fall line of the James River in Virginia. That one mill supplied two-thirds of the gunpowder used by the Continental Army. This explained why Cornwallis was at Yorktown. He was there to be supplied and reinforced by sea before he marched up the James to destroy that powder mill. 
     The half hour I spent reading that monograph and discussing it with its author taught me more about history than all the classes I took. I learned that recitation of events and dates is historiography. The purpose of history is to explain why events happened. 
     With the passage of time and more reading, I have come to doubt the professor's explanation of Cornwallis's actions. But I have never forgotten what I learned about the purpose of history that day. 

     Americans may be interested to learn that in all the years of Cornwallis's service to the crown, Yorktown was his only defeat. He won every battle he fought before Yorktown and every battle after. He went on to illustrious campaigns in India and Ireland and governed both well. 

     TF made it clear that Lafayette was a captain of reserves in the French army but a major general in the Continental Army.

     One thing I saw in BtLD that TF did not point out is that the Continental Army marched and worked faster than the British or the French. During the march from New York to Virginia, the American army took a day to cross the Hudson; the French army -- of the same size -- took four. During the siege, when the Americans stormed the British forward redoubts, they dug parallel trenches the same night; morning found the American army under cover. The French were still digging. (This was never so pronounced and astonishing as at the siege of Boston. The British knew the Americans had to take Dorchester Heights, but their officers opined that the work required 3 weeks and that gave them plenty of time to counterattack. Knox moved his guns there and entrenched all in one night. The British sued for terms the next day and quit Boston within a week.)  
     On the field of battle, the Continental Army could not stand toe to toe with the Royal Army. It could, however, defeat the Royal Army on a field of its own choosing. The Continental Army's ability to outmarch and outwork the Royal Army meant that more often than not, the Continental Army chose the field. 


2.6. Links: Thomas Fleming

2.7. Buy the book: Beat the Last Drum