Peter Hentges (jbru) wrote,
Peter Hentges

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Final hour

An odd day of work today.

I drove in, choosing internal combustion rather than battling the 20+ mph winds on my bike. So I got here a bit early, clocking in around 10:30. There was a bit of work on the board, but most of the work on the schedule was assigned already. I did a few parts of the job on the board before I realized it wasn't due into Tuesday afternoon.

By that time, however, the highly stylized job that is due at 6:00 a.m. Saturday was nearing completion of the prep work by a co-worker. Once again, nearly any style reference we get from a customer is inconsistent. So we make choices for consistency and apply them throughout, hoping we won't be asked to edit things back to inconsistent. Most of the time, the customer doesn't notice.

That job has kept things fairly busy for most of the night, but now it's in its final stages and, therefore, back with the co-worker so that she can pull all the parts together and make sure our consistencies are consistent.

In my last hour here at work, I thought I'd ramble on a bit about this writing that I keep talking about in my "Mastery" posts.

I started writing my first fantasy novel when I was about eight. I think I had the loose-leaf lined paper holding my handwritten words in a three-ring binder until I was about 25 or so. I had a full outline of the action and a good several pages of the initial action. It was, upon reading it later, about as horrid as you might expect. Fully juvenile with a bunch of wish fulfillment elements and also very derivative as it was based on some D&D tropes.

My first publication came as a result of a class exercise in high school. We were to write a descriptive scene. I dove into my gaming experience again and whipped up a quick scene about a half-elf archer raiding a bandit's cave to retrieve a merchant's goods. The results were published in my small-town newspaper.

Thinking back, I recognize some of the value of that exercise. The main character truly lived in my head for a while. He had motivations and skills that were unnatural to me but was also familiar enough that I could relate them to others. As I often do when writing physical action, I acted out parts of his movements so I could describe them even if I didn't know why he was making them.

The main difficulty I find myself having these days is in completing things I start.

Part of me thinks this is because my ideas aren't fully formed when I start. I have vivid visions of scenes, get excited and start writing them down. Then I run out of energy or the action wanders off without direction. Part of me thinks this is simply a matter of practice. That if I slogged through the aimlessness and wrote a conclusion, any conclusion, that I would have better luck revising the work than writing it the first time.

One of the skills I've learned over the years is that of evaluation. I look at other people's endeavors and often can think of better (or at least different) ways they could accomplish their goal. So one way I think I can improve my writing is to wait for two vivid scenes before starting my writing: a beginning and an end. Whatever crap I have to spew out to get between those two doesn't matter in the first draft. Once I have a whole, I can put my evaluation skills to work and make the revisions.

I find my current method of thinking to favor the short story form. In fact, much of what I write currently has the feel of short-shorts, like those of Manly Wade Wellman. So by revising this, I hope to either flesh these short-shorts into full-fledged stories or find my footing in longer forms.

My first publication in the gaming industry was a sourcebook on medieval Spain for a role-playing game. Therein, I mostly reported and reinterpreted historical locales and events. I did have to write some pure fiction, however. It was in the same style and so read like a historical narrative. Such an event occurred, these important people were involved. One of the things I've thought of doing is going back over those fictional bits and picking a point-of-view to re-tell those events. There might be something there.

I would, of course, have to avoid the "game-y" aspect that would be so easy to fall into. That could be worked out in revision, however. Easy enough to lean on the tropes to find my way from start to finish and go back to axe them out on revision. Hmm. Interesting idea and one I will explore over the next few days.

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