If we were having coffee 3

coffeeIf we were having coffee . . .

I’d tell you I wrote fantasy fiction for the first time in seven months this week, and it felt good. I did a word sprint with some friends. What that involves is, everyone checks in (we used Twitter for it), then starts writing at the same time, stops at the same time after 15 or 20 minutes, and compares word counts. I managed to produce three pages of fiction for about 45 minutes of writing time, which could be a record for me. Typically I’m doing well to get a page and a half per hour.

I noticed something interesting about writing that way. What I came away with was all action and dialogue – almost no description or exposition. Of course, stories need a little description and exposition, but those can be added in revision. I was so happy with the three pages I came away with that I’m thinking about getting an egg timer and writing action and dialogue in 30-minute stretches a few times a week until I have 100 pages of it. That could easily turn into 250 once I add the descriptive parts. Action and dialogue move the plot. I’d rather have 10 pages of nothing but action and dialogue than 10 pages of description, because once the action and dialogue are there, you have a viable draft to work with. If all you have is description, it’s much harder to turn that into a story. At least the way I write.

I’d tell you I haven’t forgotten that I promised to write a post about the story of my wedding day. I plan to do that very soon, perhaps for one of these Saturday posts.

And I’d tell you a little secret about how I think about blogs. We joke around a bit about Part Time Monster Media with its affiliates, but really we’re just being silly with that. I think of social networks as places. The thing that makes blogs different from Facebook and Twitter is that both those networks are set up so they feel like one huge, crowded place. WordPress isn’t like that – it feels like a lot of small, interconnected places.

My Facebook timeline doesn’t feel like my own space in the same way that a blog does. At best, my Facebook timeline is like a tiny little room in a huge hotel. People will like my posts there if they happen to see them in their feeds, and tag me with stuff. But no one ever comes and looks at my timeline unless they’re looking for something specific. The blogs are more like little countries to me, each with its own ruler or rulers and its own way of doing things.

Good fantasy geek that I am, my metaphor of choice, in my own private brain, it to think of blogs as kingdoms. And I’m very fortunate to be part of a federation. Because really, who wants an empire these days? I think of Part Time Monster as the capitol and Sourcerer as the second city of our little federation. Each of those blogs has its own identity, but they would be very different if they weren’t so closely affiliated. This blog is my private estate – just a quiet little village in the countryside. Our friend and constant collaborator Jeremy also has his own estate now, and I couldn’t be more happy about that. And we have allies. Lots of allies. Just go and read our Feminist Friday threads, or take a look at how I’m using my Twitter account these days, and you’ll see what I mean.

I view Twitter as a huge commons, for two reasons. It gives me a way to find potential readers, and it gives me a way to interact with bloggers as bloggers. I know tons of bloggers who write things that are good but, for various reasons, I’m not able to reblog them or link to them. Twitter gives me a way to see what they’re posting and help them with my social media without featuring them on my front pages. On Twitter, it doesn’t matter to me what you’re blogging about. Food blogging, mommy blogging, using your blog as a personal journal – as far as I’m concerned, all those things make you just as much a blogger as people who write literary essays and social commentary. And I like to know and help out bloggers.

I’d tell you that I’ve finally figured out how to keep up with 50 blogs a week, and I’ll explain that in my “Blog Traffic and Engagement” post at Sourcerer tomorrow. It’s such a simple solution, I can’t believe I just now thought of it. And this is a funny thing. I’ve been following blogs so long, I could write you a passable history of the blogosphere (I may do that next year), but I’m still learning things that make me feel like a n00b for not knowing them all the time. This week, it happened twice – with the writing sprint and with the way of organizing 50 blogs so that I can visit them all once a week.

Then I’d ask what’s up with you? Feel free to tell me on the thread.


About Gene'O

Compulsive writer, amateur photographer, and blogaholic. Also an evil genius.

14 thoughts on “If we were having coffee 3

  1. Rose F says:

    Learning things is always good. I always focus on actions and dialogue in my first drafts. Descriptions come in revision, and it helps keep them on track rather than having them bloat the story. I will say that I tend to have too much exposition in my first drafts, but that’s because my characters tend to internal monologue, and I just let them do it and cut it out later rather than try to turn off my stream of consciousness.

    That’s a good analogy. I guess my blog is some kind of relay station in the middle of the blogosphere where I’ve got monitors on everything and private space, which is just how I like it in RL. I’ll be interested to hear about your blogging discovery.

    I’m working on a new story this weekend. It’s always a little like making friends with a strange animal.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Gene'O says:

      Wow, that last line is a very apt description of a new story. Sometimes it’s more like discovery than creation for me.


      • Rose F says:

        Always. My planning stages are kind of like a skeleton or scaffold that I used to give the story structure, but the story grows on those things in its own way, and I learn more about the story and its world as I go. Then I have to update and fill in my note documents and worldbuilding stuff so I don’t lose what I’ve learned…although there’s always a dance going on between needing to tkeep track and needing to go further.


  2. moussavic says:

    wooooow , it’s a wonderfull shoot


  3. I couldn’t agree with you more regarding the writing of description after action and diologue. I am about to see The Edge of Tomorrow and looking forward to it. My wife and I watched Non-Stop the other day and holy moly what a bad movie. Just horrible. Like a biological weapon bad. So I like Tom Cruise and I really like him in Sci Fi so I have expectations.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Gene'O says:

      it never occured to me to just forget about the description in the first draft until I did that sprint. I tend to try and produce a whole, credible, readible text as a first draft. That’s probably not the best way to do it, I see now. Wish I’d learned that in the fiction workshop 20 years ago.

      I hope the movie meets your expectations, or at least doesn’t disappoint.


      • I too used to do that and I would find myself freezing. Looking for perfection really stifled my creativity. It took my while to finally realize how important it is to get something down on paper and I’m often delighted and surprised at where the story goes.

        And the movie was so much fun. If you enjoy video games you will love this movie.


        • Rose F says:

          I used to get so frustrated because I would HAVE the dialogue or scene blocking or what-have-you in my head and then lose it by spending forever trying to describe things that I could just go back to add later. Finally I realized, “Why don’t I just write what I have and put the rest in later…?”


          • I understand completely. And for myself, I am writing genre fiction, not a Booker Prize wanabee, so description is the least integral part of the story. My problem is my diet of Big L literature for so many years made me always wanting to marinate in the internal details of a world, the characters psychology, what the colour of the paint on the wall symbolizes, the shape of a teacup, and on and on. And none of that is me, my style, or what I want to do. I want to write a story. I want to have fun writing it and I want people to be entertained. When I keep that in mind I get work done.


            • Rose F says:

              One of the things that draws me to speculative fiction is the ability to create and “play with” things like religion, cultural norms, psychology, systems of magic, scientific discovery, etc. So there’s a place for description, of course, but I think that there’s a point where it becomes too much or forced, especially things like detailed descriptions that don’t serve a plot purpose. Ironically, I managed to get 4 lines of physical description into my rough draft yesterday.


  4. trentpmcd says:

    When I first started using Facebook I wrote a few things “for posterity” and was almost surprised that things pretty much don’t exist after a couple of days. In some ways it isn’t a lot different here, but then again, if I look at today’s hit count only one thing I’ve posted in the last couple of weeks has been visited today while things I posted back in January, February and March have all popped up. Although people do mostly look at the most current posts things don’t just disappear

    As far as small community goes, I seem to see the same faces on the likes and comments of the different blogs I follow. With however many tens of millions of WordPress blogs that seems to imply I’ve unintentionally become part of one small sub-community.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Gene'O says:

      That’s very interesting about the sub-community. I tend to see the same thing, but I know a few bloggers who move in such wide circles, I’ll sometimes find a new blog and see them commenting there, which is cool.

      And no, content doesn’t disappear here the way it does on FB and Twitter. Hadn’t thought of that. We get search engine traffic on 4-month-old posts. And also, at some point early next year, we’re going to take a weekend off and spend it going through our archives and repackaging the very best stuff to run again. I’m thinking that’s how we’ll finally get to the point where our FB pages are growing. Repackage the best stuff just to do well on FB, and recycle two or three posts per day directly on the fan pages on a three-month schedule. This is why we’re posting at such a frantic pace right now. Trying to generate enough stuff for some of it to be good enough to share anytime.


  5. hannahgivens says:

    Glad to hear you’re making progress! I have a midterm on Tuesday and have mostly been working on that. During a few shirking sessions I suddenly realized I’d finished all the dumb scene replacements I was hating so much, so there’s that, not sure how I missed the fact that I was almost done. But then I realized I need to do another re-read of section 1 and redo the POV in several scenes, which was EXACTLY the problem I had with the old draft of the story, so I’m really mad that I started doing it again without realizing it. I’m trying not to get bogged down in editing since section 1 isn’t even quite finished, but I can’t move forward until I actually know what I’ve done already and have established who knows and feels what. I’m getting frustrated.

    I like that blog analogy!

    Liked by 1 person

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