Welcome to my worlds!

I'm James Maxey, author of fantasy and science fiction. My novels include the science fantasy Bitterwood Saga (4 books) the Dragon Apocalypse Saga (4 books), numerous superhero novels including Nobody Gets the Girl and the Lawless series, the steampunk Oz sequel Bad Wizard, and my short story collections, There is No Wheel and Jagged Gate. This website is focused exclusively on writing. At my second blog, Jawbone of an Ass, I ramble through any random topic that springs to mind, occasionally touching on religion and politics and other subjects polite people are sensible enough not to discuss in public. If you'd like to get monthly updates on new releases, as well as preview chapters and free short stories, join my newsletter!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Hat update, Stellarcon, Writing Tip # 772

So, I mentioned in my last post my hopes of buying a wizard hat at Mysticon. Alas, the vendor who'd had the cool hats wasn't at the con.

Fortunately, I get a second shot at eclectic habidashery this weekend at Stellarcon in High Point. Fingers crossed!

Also this week, I've been working on my next novel, the follow up to Greatshadow, which is called Hush. I'm under contract to turn in Hush by the end of November, a very doable goal if I just maintain the right BIC* ratio. I plan to start posting cumulative word counts starting Sunday the 13th, with a target of producing 10k words a week through March, April, and May, to produce a rough draft about 120k words long.

Some writers I know are even more prolific than 10k words a week, but for me, 10k is something of a struggle. I could type 10 words in a few hours, but imagining what works out to two and a half chapters of plot points, settings, character interactions, and profound questions for the reader to ponder in the course of a week is a serious challenge. The brain buffer is often emptied by typing faster than it fills by day dreaming.

But, over the years, I've offered, if memory serves, 771 bits of advice on writing, and I realized this week that I actually have a 772nd hopefully useful tip: End every writing session at a peak. This is a trick I learned when writing Nobody Gets the Girl. It used to be that when I sat down to write fiction, I'd feel obliged to keep writing until my brain was completely empty. I'd normally start off slow, build to a peak where the words were flowing easily, then fall back into a valley where it became harder and harder to figure out what was left to say. Now, I usually try to stop long before I hit the valley. Last night, I was writing something of a chase scene. This sounds exciting, and hopefully it's interesting reading, but in some ways it's the sort of scene that is kind of boring to write. Mainly it's choreography. "A" happens followed by "B" followed by "C". It's more reporting than creating. But, the whole point of the scene was to take my narrator, Stagger, from one setting and place him in another. So, I reached the point last night where he meets the next major character to be introduced for the book, and where his "life" undergoes a radical change thanks to the actions of this new character. (Life is in parenthesis since Stagger is a ghost.) I was super-excited about writing the description of this new character as he first meets her... so I stopped. It was getting late and I'd produced a reasonable number of words already. Most importantly, the next time I sit down to write, I don't have to struggle up from a valley to build momentum. I'll be starting at a moment that is of great interest to me, and hopefully the writing session will flow out as peak-valley-peak, rather than valley-peak-valley.

Hope that's useful. Updates on Hush will follow on a weekly basis, I promise.

*Butt In Chair

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