lundi 24 décembre 2012

Writing for friends

So a few weeks ago, one of my friends told me about a project : do some kind of cheap indie zombie movie, just for the kicks.
Being a writer, i told him i was interested in writing it, for fun. And to add one line in my magical writer resume. You know, in case i ever get my ass to Hollywood and write a re-re-re-reboot of the Spiderman franchise for Sony.

But here is the problem with working for friends and/or family on this kind of project : you have to tell them who's boss the very first day. Hell, even before you take the gig.
Because those people won't see you as the writer (even if you are a real writer, with article, books and so on with your damn name on them). They see you as good ol'Bob, the guy they've known for 10 years.
So they will chime in. And you can't use every (sometimes even any) of their ideas. Because usually you can't fit them into whatever you have already written.

For example, a few months ago a high school friend came to me with a web series project about time travel. He pitched me an idea and wanted me (the writer) to take his basic idea (basically, 'something with a car-time machine in it') and turn it into a short abstract and a few lines about the people and the tech and so on.
So i spend a few hours doing my thing : writing basically what could be a first 5 to 10-minutes episode about some guy traveling in time. It's not Back to the future, but it's solid enough, with alternatives at every plot point for him to chose from.
And basically he took what i had done and decided that instead of the light-hearted homage to time-traveling movies i had written, the story should be some conceptual mambo-jambo about some guy that believed he was traveling through time, while he really doesn't. But for some reason he does not get that nothing happens.
And after that the project just died.

So on that new project, I'm keeping my independence.

And so it was

For Christmas i am alone in my tiny apartment.
So i wrote the final chapter to my book.

Mainly it means i had enough willpower to write almost everyday for 3 months and finish something.

What about the future ?

Well first, editing.
Then, second draft.
Then i'll give the book to a few people and get some feedback.
Then third draft.

Then i'll try and sell it.

After that i'll be leaving the fiction writing alone for a bit. My non-fiction editor has asked me for 2 new books and a few articles, so i'll do that for the holidays.

mardi 11 décembre 2012

Still going strong.

Today i hit a mark : after the end of the 66th chapter (that number, as stated before, could be cut shorter in the final draft), i'm on the verge of starting the 6th and final part of the book. So far it's 200 pages of action and investigations.

After i finish it it's gonna be sent to a few friends for review and edits, then in January i'll start to shop it around and hopefully get it published.

As i said before, this book has been in the works for about two months now, and i wrote 1500 to 5000 characters every day for those two months. Now that it's nearing completion, i'm not sure what i'll do next. Maybe i'll just work on my "day job" (magazine articles) for a while, then get my second non-fiction book really going. And maybe i'll work on my second fiction project - which is way heavier than this one - while i'm at it.

So stay tuned ?

mercredi 5 décembre 2012

In other news - II

As i said, my first contracted non-fiction book is out and about.

The US Army Soldier, a review of US Army equipment in 2012

It's available here in French, and i have no idea how to get it in English for now (except in my own collection).

Work is going well

So i've been on this book for about two whole months now, a piece at a time. And now it's almost finished, with a few chapters still to go. I've got two main parts to cover - one to finish, has been laid as a flow chart on a piece of paper, and one to round it all up and provide the missing answers, and and opening into a second book if this one sells.

I'm pretty amazed at the fact that i worked at this so long, piece by piece. Usually i suck at following up and cave after one or two weeks, and translations and non-fiction i write on a sugar high in one day or a few when it's a book or a whole magazine. Here i took the time, let the ideas bloom day after day, and did not stress myself or put any pressure on my creative flow. And amazingly it worked.

I'm pretty shocked at my own awesomeness.

mercredi 21 novembre 2012

In other news

So i got a call from my editor about 30 minutes ago, and the first batch my first book (non-fiction) has arrived. I pick up the finished product friday morning.

Yay for me !

jeudi 15 novembre 2012

On taking the time to write

So this past week i did not write as much as i usually do.
Why, i hear you ask.

Well usually my writing times go as follow : i do a minimum of one hour every evening / night : one "theoretical" chapter - second draft can make multiple chapters fold into one - that can go from 1000 to 5000 characters depending on where it is in the story and how much time i feel i have. Sometimes i sit down for a thousand characters because i feel i need to rest and it's already one in the morning, and i end up writing for a few hours. Sometimes i just write a few lines, just because i force myself to.

Usually i don't write on Friday night.
Not because i'm a social butterfly and go to clubs, pubs and whatnot. Just because i get home at 9 and have to get up at 7 the following morning, so i don't go around writing until the sun goes up.
Plus i don't have any social life. I'm a writer guys. Come on, be serious.

So last week to make a few bucks i ended up doing some technical translation for the patent office. And that ended up being my "writing time" for a few days. Plus i had a kind of sleepover at a friends house (allowed me to go driving around in a Crown V Police Interceptor, so that was fun, but also "research", kind of). And so i did not write anything for those two days.
And so yesterday i had to kick my ass back in gear to go back to my book. And i kind of wondered if the flame was gone. But it wasn't, so yay for me.

mercredi 31 octobre 2012

How about ideas ?

Well of course you all know ideas are the core of the book. Because if you have no idea, you have no book.

Ideas can come from pretty much anywhere. But are you prepared to take them when you get them ?

I don't try to keep them all in my memory, because that's just crazy. Especially when they come to me in the middle of the night.

ideas are a low-tech process for me. they can't wait for the computer to power up, and i hate typing notes on a computer/phone/tablet.
Plus i need to be able to get my ideas down anytime anyplace.

So i have this old notebook.

Now, i'm not some hipster and i am a writer : i have no money. So forget the stupid moleskin notebook. It's expensive and way too small (or not compact enough if large enough) for all my creation to flow.
So i use a 100 pages phonebook-type notebook. The tabs allow me to go back to each project faster.

I use at least two colors on each page, sometimes three or four, to keep track of what i edited along the way
Because one modification can seem very bad a day or two after you got the idea.

And i use pages from right to left. But that's just me being weird.

Once ideas have been laid on the page, they usually go through an excel sheet. a logical structure is laid out, be it for characters, story flow or how the book will be structured when i'm working on non-fiction.
The layout allows me to get back to pertinent information in the blink of an eye. For example, i can know right away what a particular character is, what he/she drives, what his relation to other characters is...

Then ideas are translated into text. That's when i have to get creative, to make the raw information appealing enough.

jeudi 25 octobre 2012

So, why write your own books ?

Well, that's a nice question you got right there. And thank you for asking.

I read somewhere a long time ago that everybody thinks they can write one book. I'm not sure it is true, but I'm pretty sure most people can come up with one book.
It does not have to be a work of fiction. But everything knows something about a subject, has a fiction story on the ready, or had a life worth narrating. Well for the last one, you have to wait until you're at least 40.

There is no telling it would sell or even get published though (self-published work does not count).

So what about me ?

Well I've been reading books since i could read basically. Based on what I gathered from my years in psychology, I'll say the main reason for that was an educated father, always reading history, works of fiction and so on.
 And after reading stories in books, i made up stories for my toys. Because after all Lego men are not just pieces of plastic, they where heroes of their own world.

Then i would just tell myself stories when i got bored. I long train/subway/car trips, i would invent worlds and watch/have adventures in it. Epic adventures, i might add.
Oral presentations at school were also my forte, because you could turn any subject into a story : review the protagonists (be they historic figures or atoms...), tell where they came from, where they went, and what happened when they crossed paths.

Then a few years back i got my first gig as a writer. Granted, i was not mystery or even fiction writer : i wrote (and still do) articles about security forces, weapons, tanks, and all that. But it got me going.

A few years after that I decided i would write a tentative first book. That did not go far. Well i'm telling that but it got to the point where i have a complete story with every twist detailed (pretty much a movie storyboard, without the pictures, they are in my head). In two years i wrote about 10 short chapters.

Then i got my first book contract. Once again, not for anything fancy, just for an 84-pages book about the US Army in 2012.

But it got the machine running again.

So now i have four books in my metaphorical drawers. One is my old project, going back to 2009 and not going anywhere fast. The second is a WWII story with a twist, with so much research needed i don't have the physical time or money to get it rolling (or maybe it's just me finding an excuse to do nothing).
The third one is a brand new story using the characters and settings of my first project (i'm stripping it for parts but the frame is left intact for completion and/or re-writing later) and is running not as full speed, but at a nice steady pace (3 weeks have produced 23 chapters for about 50/60 pages at 1500 sign/page) so far.
the last one came at me one night and has been shaping up nicely, but will demand a more dense approach, being set up in a parallel timeline (the 3 other project use the events of our very own timeline for the time being).

And fear not, all of those will feature blackjack and/or hookers.

jeudi 18 octobre 2012

But... Why ?

Sooo... New blog eh ?

What's up with that ?
Is a blog still relevant now ? I mean... with The Facebook, Da Twitters and all those things, blogs are pretty much like newspapers now, nobody reads them and they just take up space in your living room/attic/toilets. Am i right, hip people ?

So why ?

What the hell am i trying to do here ? Be oldschool ?

Well, in a way. You see, i'm a writer.
But not any kind of writer : i write pieces that get published in magazines. Those papery things, yes.

And i write books.
I mean, i'm trying.

Well i wrote one that is schedueled to go on sale sometime in the next 6 months (according to my contract).

And i have a few other projects.

The blog is gonna be about that. About writing books, about working with the publisher, about signing contracts.

Because one day i woke up and said : well then, i'll go write my own books. With blackjack. And hookers.