Just The Usual Paranoia

by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner

So, someone from LA seemingly randomly popped up in my Webstats. They looked at the post about my hope to wrap up the first draft of the novel starting December 1st then vanished.

My fear, of course, is somehow they’re using the fleshed out outline I sent a manuscript consultant once to write a screenplay based on the cherry picked best bits.

While this is possible, it’s not very probably.

I suppose you could use the seed of my novel for a screenplay, but the story is so personal and specific to things I know that the end result wouldn’t be anything like what my vision is. So, I suppose the worst viable case is they my use the names I’ve thought up — which are pretty good — to populate their own universe.

Or something. Something like that.

But as I keep saying, you have to make decisions on what you do know, not on what you don’t know. At the moment, I have no reason to believe any of these fears are real. But SOMEONE from LA is interested in the state of this novel, which leaves me with lingering questions.

All Systems Go, Redux

by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner

I’m feeling pretty good about the state of this first draft at the moment. I just about to reach the denouncement of the story and once I do that, I will have just a few more scenes to write before I finish up.

Then, once I am done, I’m going to distract myself for a few weeks. Then, with fresh eyes, I’m going to read the whole first draft. THEN I’m going to futz with the outline some before I sit down and rewrite the whole thing and as such, produce the second (Beta) draft.

That’s the plan, at least.

A whole lot of things could go wrong, but all systems are go at the moment for me to be in a position to query this novel as part of the autumn 2023 querying season. That’s the dream.

It would help a great deal, of course, if I had a Reader. Or if I could prove myself worthy to literary types who might allow me to pay them so I could take things to the next level. I may try to save up the money necessary to get an editor of some sort of the beta draft so I can make the story as good as possible before I query.

At a minimum, I feel safe in believing I at least won’t embarrass myself. I have a huge amount of work to still do, but if I can just meet the metric of not embarrassing myself, I’ll be quite content.

Ok, Maybe Christmas

by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner

I have done some rough calculations in my mind and it’s looking like it’s going to be as late as Christmas before I wrap up this first draft. I say this pretty much because it’s proving far more difficult to force myself to write when I don’t really feel like it.

So, in a sense, I’ve developed some pretty bad habits where I just daydream a lot and write in bursts of creativity. I feel very sheepish about this because I’m kind of in an ideal situation to write and to actually buckle down and write even when I don’t feel like it is just don’t something I feel like doing.

I don’t want writing to be a chore. I love writing enough as it is to produce a lot of copy in one sitting, but this impulse to write happens at such random intervals that there is definitely a “drifting toward my goal” element to it all.

In my favor when it comes to speed is I’m in the third act and things are moving a lot faster for the reader, and, as such, should move a lot faster for me the writer. Some of the scenes are a bit problematic, however, so I have to psych myself up to write them. Which, of course, slows me down.

But I’m feeling pretty good, all things considered. For all its shortcomings, this first draft is, if nothing else, intriguing. I think, all things being equal, that if you didn’t know me and just picked it up that you would probably be interested enough in the plot and characters that you would finish it out of curiosity, if nothing else.

My source of inspiration.

Having said that, I’m well aware that I have a HUGE amount of work to do between the first and second drafts. I really have to force myself to leave my comfort zone on a number of fronts.

Everything from having to read more on a consistent basis to writing maybe even when I don’t feel like it are things I have to work on. And that doesn’t even begin to address the issue of what I’m going to do about finding a literary type to help me with the other novels in this project.

It really hurts how I can’t even find one I can fucking pay to help me. What is it about my personality that so turns off literary types who I need to consult to finish these novels?

I guess if I actually sell the first novel, that might give me the credibility to persuade reluctant literary types to help me going forward. But thinking about THAT reminds me of how when prospective literary agents do due diligence on me THEY might dismiss me as a drunk crank.

Anyway, I remain very pleased with how things are going. I have the infrastructure of a great pop novel on my hands. It’s my responsibility to allow it to live up to its potential by working hard between first and second drafts to make it more professional and cogent.

I Still Desperately Need A Reader

by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner

One of the biggest reasons it’s taken me so long to get to this point with this project is I’m doing everything in a vacuum. All I have is my own internal true north as to what to do. This has served me well, and, yet, I gave the first chapter of this first draft to a really creative woman I know and she startled me with how insightful some of her observations were.

Garp had a Reader

Things that I totally missed, she pointed out, leaving me feeling rather sheepish.

Add to this the fact that literary types apparently think I’m too big a drunk crank to even allow me to fucking pay them to help me with this project and, well, I sometimes feel like I’m developing and writing this novel with one hand behind my back.

But it’s not impossible to overcome. What is probably going to happen is when the time comes, I’m going to be a beta reader so I can find beta readers and a lot of the dumb mistakes I’ve missed because I don’t have a reader I’ll will get fixed. At least, I hope that’s what’s going to happen.

That’s the plan, at least.

All systems continue to be go for me to wrap up this first draft pretty soon. But I did a rough calculation in my mind today and I think I have to accept that it’s going to be closer to Christmas when I finish the first draft than I originally expected.

I continue to just drift towards my goal. It’s just a lot more difficult than I imagined to buckle down and write maybe when I’m not in the mood. But I’m hoping I’ve got it wrong. I’m hoping can summon the energy to put on my big boy pants and wrap this novel up as quickly as possible.

It’s a pretty interesting read, if I do say so myself. There is a lot — A LOT — of room for the characterizations to be fleshed out, however. Too many of the characters remain just moods that change as necessary for expediency sake. But, over all, I’m quite pleased.

I still need a Reader, though.

December 1st: D-Day For Beginning The Process of Wrapping Up The First Draft Of My First Novel

by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner

I hope to sprint my way through the last 40,000 odd words that will make up the third act of this first draft of my first novel. That’s way too many words, given that I’m at just about the ~100,000 word mark right now. But this is the first draft and, as such, I’m giving myself a lot more leeway than I might otherwise do.

Inspiration in a bottle.

I have a massive amount of work to do between the first and second drafts, as well. But for me the issue is I’m in a pretty good position to make the second draft of this novel sufficiently professional in quality that when the beta readers are finally given it, I feel confident I won’t embarrass myself too much.

The beta reader process is going to be a whole different mindset for me to be in once I get that far. It’s going to be a real struggle to get anyone — and I mean ANYONE — to actually be willing to read the whole thing and give me the type of input I need. I may be forced to save up the money necessary to get an editor to do a run through of the beta draft to get it up to snuff.

If nothing else, this first draft is interesting, intriguing. It’s a real easy read with no literary aspirations at all. It’s meant, as I keep saying, an Old Brown Shoe for anyone who has read the original Stieg Larsson trilogy.

I really need to do a lot of reading, that’s for sure. That’s the only way I’m going to flesh out the second draft so it has an air of professionalism to it, the type your average reader of a pop novel will expect. I’ve come up with a very extensive universe and the issue is to put more of what I have in my mind about what’s going on on the page.

Anyway, I think it’s going to be really funny if, after talking about and writing about this first novel for a few years I actually to manage to produce something good enough that it gets published. But I still have a ways for that to happen. But I am still on track to query during the fall 2023 querying season.

Now To Do Some Drinking, Er, Writing

by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner

So, I’ve reached a huge milestone in my efforts to write the first draft of my first novel — I have finished the scene summaries of all the scenes leading up to the end of the novel.

My writing inspiration going into wrapping up the first draft of my first novel.

So, really, pretty much all I have to do is just sit down, get drunk and do my best Philip K. Dick impression — without the crank, of course. If all goes according to plan, within a week or so, I will have a finished first draft. Then, as is the rule of thumb about such things, I will give myself about a month to rest, think about other things and hopefully do a lot — a lot — of reading.

Of course, I say that all the time and then all I do is continue to exactly what I’ve been doing is, which only reading my own content as I produce it.

And there is the issue of any number of things could throw a curve ball at me that might delay — or change the context — of things going forward. I’m having a soreness around a tooth and my fear is I’m going to have a severe toothache of some sort to the point that I won’t be able to write until I get the tooth fixed.

As such, I feel compelled to write as much as possible as quickly as possible. I have a bottle of whiskey to drink and a little extra time…so on paper I should be able to finish this first draft sooner rather than later.

But, again, anything could go wrong. I have to just write as much as possible to see if I can get this first novel done before all hell breaks loose one way or another.

Once I Finish The First Draft, Things Should Move Much Faster

by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner

The biggest thing that has been slowing me down with this first book is, well, development. I have a number of different levels of development and as I plow through the first draft go through those different stages, everything changes. A great deal.

Sometimes, things change so much that the whole thing collapses and I don’t believe in what I’m writing anymore and I have to start all over again. That hasn’t happened this go round — so far — so I’m feeling confident that once I finish this first draft I can effectively end development and just use a montified version of the first draft’s outline.

If I can do that, then things really will go faster.

There might be some delay because I’m going to have flesh out each of the scenes again after I read the finished first draft, but other than that, the actual writing of the second draft should go really, really fast. I will be very much on track to finish a Beta Draft around April – May. Then, I can turn around and go through the Beta Reader process with that daft.

Then, hopefully, I will be ready to query a third-ish draft as part of the fall querying season. Then, well, I’m going to need prayers and good luck.

‘Shut Up And Write’

by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner

Repeatedly during this years-long process of developing and writing these planned six novels, I’ve felt like just following everyone’s advice. You know the advice where people tell you to just “shut up and write.”

I really want to do that. I really do. And, yet, I’m kind of isolated at the moment and don’t have a wife or a girlfriend to talk to about this project so, here I am. I’m such an extrovert that whatever is on my mind, I’m going to talk about or write about — in the extreme.

So, even if I vow to myself to just “shut up and write” inevitably, I’m going to get drunk and say screw it, I’m going to write a 1,000 word blog post about the state of the six novel project. I really vacillate wildly within my mind about all of this. I suppose it boils down to you take yourself wherever you go and it’s not like I would be happy if I wasn’t producing meta-text about working on a novel. That’s who I am.

And, really, as best I can tell, it’s a very no harm no foul type of situation. As long as I continue move forward with the novels, I don’t see any problem with writing and talking a lot about what I’m doing. I know A LOT of people find it all very annoying because they find the whole subject narcissistic and pointless if there’s nothing to read.

After way too much conspicuous talking and writing about writing a novel, things are finally beginning to lurch forward. I should wrap up a solid first draft in a few weeks and be on course to going through the Beta Reader process around April or May 2023.

In other words, things are starting to get exciting.

Things Are Beginning To Lurch Forward With My First Novel

by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner

There has been a subtle change in the momentum of this first novel in just the last few days. Things are beginning to speed up. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel with this first novel and soon, after about a month, I’m going to sit down and rewrite the whole thing to produce the Beta Draft.

I’m so excited. And I just can’t hide it.

Things should go a lot faster now because when I write the second draft, I can simply go through the outline for the first draft (with a few modifications) and, as such, I won’t spend so much fucking time moving scenes around so there is an ebb and flow to the scenes.

I have really, really arbitrary rules about some structural elements of the novel and I think that is a representation of “first baby syndrome.” Once I begin work on the SECOND novel, I think I won’t be so tense and strict in my weird arbitrary rules.

At least I hope not.

I’m generally not one for rules, but I was trained as a journalist and it was comforting to have a very strict structure to follow when writing a story. It’s the same way with how I structure novels. I have these rules that I follow so I don’t end up with a 1,000 page mess that goes nowhere.

In that respect, I’m a very strict, very extensive “plotter.” I like to have absolute control over my not just the plot but my characters because I know the story so well that I don’t have any wiggle room, no risk that I’ll go off on some dumb, boring tangent that nobody wants to read.

Anyway, I’m pretty pumped about how things are going. I hope to push myself harder so I can wrap up this first draft in a few weeks. That will be pretty cool.

On The Issue Of Dialogue

by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner

For this first draft of my first novel, I’ve lulzed worrying about the finer points of dialogue. I just go with my gut and write something, anything to so I can wrap up a solid first draft.

My literary hero.

But once I finally get around to the second draft, I’m really going to be a lot more careful about the technical elements of dialogue in the sense that I need to make all the characters sound different as well as make what and how they talk engaging.

I have a number of books that I’ve been reading on the subject, but, to date, I really haven’t found them all that helpful. Pretty much all they say is, “Nobody knows nothing — just study people and play it by ear.”

But there are things you can do, I suppose, to improve your dialogue. And, as part of the general process of taking things to the next level between the first and second draft, I’m going to be a lot more careful about the dialogue I write.

I have the basic framework of a really, really good pop novel. I just need to put on my big boy pants and take things a lot more seriously going forward once I start working on the second draft early next year (at least, according the way things are going at the moment.)

Anyway. Wish me luck.