Lexifabricographer For when the right word just won’t do…

February 16, 2015

Writing goals – The other stuff

Filed under: wordsmithery — Tags: , , — lexifab @ 11:47 pm

The goals I talked about in the last post are what I consider my baseline: the minimum I need to do for me to meet my own definition of a working writer. Without wishing to quibble over definitions, if I get that stuff done, then I know that I’ve been working on my craft (critical to success), contributing to my community (important if incidental) and building a public platform (a necessary evil to support a future career).

But let’s face it: I get bored easily. I crave novelty. I’m not going to be satisfied with diligently knuckling down and doing all the homework I set for myself. To keep myself from going spare as soon as things get boring and/or difficult, I came up with a collection of other projects that I am either hoping to fit into my year or quietly turning over in my head to see how to make them work.


Apart from a few round-robin stories and Lexicon games, I’ve never actually collaborated on any writing project longer than a song. I’ve never co-written a short story, scripted a comic for an artist or a film maker or written a play for live production [1], much less plotted and written a novel with someone. I like working with other people on creative projects. More to the point, I finally feel like I’m at a point in my life where I could stand my collaborator telling me that one of my ideas sucks and we should go in a different direction. Once that would have been a crushing blow to my ego. These days – eh, ideas are easy, and if by chance I disagree about the suckiness of the idea, I can always use it for something else.

One of the things I will be doing this year is looking for opportunities to collaborate. With someone. On something.

Serialised fiction

I keep going back to look at Wattpad, a mobile-friendly platform where tens of thousands of authors post short fiction for readers to consume on their phones. Apart from masses of fan-fiction and fictionalised erotica concerning members of boy bands, Wattpad hosts a large quantity of serialised fiction. Some writers post their draft novels chapter by chapter (in various state of polish from ‘ready to publish’ to ‘might have been spell-checked’) while others just follow the story and see where it takes them.

The idea of writing in full view of the public is in equal parts repellent and fascinating to me. I’ve seen authors discuss using Wattpad as a sort of crowd-sourced critique, which I think would definitely have its pros and cons. I’m personally uncomfortable with the idea of someone watching me as I write, reading over my shoulder and commenting as I go. In trying to imagine what that would be like with even a tiny fraction of Wattpad’s 40 million readers, I’m coming around to the idea that I have to try it, just to see what it’s like.

If I dip my toes in that raging torrent, it will be with some form of serialised fiction – short chapters of a longer piece that might or might not cleave to novel structure, designed to move along at a fast pace and have reusable characters and setting. That’s a kind of writing I feel reasonably confident with, although I would definitely have to work on nailing my endings.

Shared world

I’ve always liked the concept of a shared world, where different writers working from the same core idea, often outlined in a ‘setting bible’, come up with their own storytelling angles. George R R Martin used to be famous for a series called Wild Cards (a modern, realistic take on superhumans before that was its own subgenre) and I’ve always liked the concept if not particularly the execution of the shared world anthology. Which is not to say that I think I could do it better, per se, but it would be interesting to create a source document laying out the world, the tone, the important characters and setting details and see what other people make of it.

I think the only thing stopping me would be working out what to do with it afterwards. Well, that, and coming up with an world sufficiently interesting that anyone else would want to play with it.

Comic script

I mentioned this earlier, but I’ve only ever dabbled secretly in writing comics. I’ve written/drawn a few over the years (none remain!) but I’m pretty sure I’ve never written a straight script to be illustrated (either by me or by someone else). I’d expect to find scripting challenging – a focus on spare dialogue and crisp description doesn’t leave a writer with much to hide behind – but it feels like something that would be worthwhile.


That’s my list of standby projects, in case I suddenly inherit a great wedge of spare time from somewhere. and of course in between all this I’m working, minding kids, doing domestic chore and house renovations, regaining the minimal command of the ukelele I had when I was eleven or so, and doing all that writing stuff I mentioned in the last blog post. Easy!


[1] Actually I kind of did a couple of these back in high school, mainly with my buddies Evan and Chris, but I wasn’t usually the one who took the reins and made anything happen, so I don’t really count those either. Besides which, that was going on thirty years ago…



  1. …there’s any number of abandoned pieces in my stories folder that will probably never get more attention than they already have. You’re more than welcome to most of them if you want them (NB: they are rubbish, or at least, they’re not anything I can do anything with).

    So send them on down, and you can nominally tick ‘collaborate’ off your list. 😀

    Comment by Dr Clam — February 18, 2015 @ 6:51 pm

  2. Email incoming in a day or two. I’m starting the novel today, after an ill-thought-out declaration at the CSFG meeting last night.

    Comment by lexifab — February 19, 2015 @ 8:19 am

  3. My writing goals are way modest. Being a cheerleader for stretch theory is one of my writing goals. The other is to explain my rejection of Ockhams razor and how it related to my epiphany. Of course, I don’t think I will ever feel like I’ve completed these writing tasks.

    Comment by Marco — February 19, 2015 @ 10:32 pm

  4. Marco – while I have to admit I scarcely understand stretch theory, much less your fascination with it, I think that’s an admirable goal. Let me know when you make some progress. (I’d be interested in the Ockham’s Razor argument as well, though I would probably start from the skeptical standpoint that arguments against it are likely to be a consequence of overthinking it).

    Comment by lexifab — February 20, 2015 @ 8:31 am

  5. My argument against Ockhams razor Is not per se an argument that one should take the more complex option when someone, or science is deciding between two options. It’s about looking at science from first principles and separating that which is experimentally derived and that which is determined by other means, such as consensus, generalisation, simplification or similar. In science, incumbent ideas have as much status whether they are experimentally verifiable or not. The world of science, especially the historical sciences, is littered with such incumbent ideas that are unproven, yet have no case to answer, while all alternative more complex ideas have to have evidence. This is all well and good, but new ideas’ evidence has to fit in to a labyrinth of incumbent ideas – Seperating experimentally derivable ideas and those that are not is both possible and fruitful. One has to accept, though that the truth is always complex- we have to simplify to make use of what we know, but the simple way is not necessarily the truth.

    Comment by Marco — February 20, 2015 @ 11:40 pm

  6. Something’s gone wrong with blogger. Dr clam’s blogs have locked me out…Saying that I’m not invited…

    Comment by Marco — February 26, 2015 @ 8:22 am

  7. Hmm, something could have changed in his settings, or if he’s running a security app it could have temporaily blocked your IP region for spam attempts. Have you tried again a bit later?

    (Obviously you are showing up here just fine)

    Comment by lexifab — February 26, 2015 @ 10:12 am

  8. It’s obviously unintentional, and he might not realise what’s happened. Going to look for his email address now……

    Comment by Marco — February 26, 2015 @ 2:22 pm

  9. Ok. My bad. It was intentional. Not sure how to take it. I feel pretty silly for having pushed buttons and disrespected cherished views to that point I guess. That is, I feel silly for not realising that I’d pushed it that far.

    Comment by Marco — February 26, 2015 @ 7:29 pm

  10. Hmm. Me too. I don’t think I’ve commented on anything for ages though.

    Comment by lexifab — February 26, 2015 @ 8:26 pm

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